Flight Booking – When is the Best Time?

Best Times to Plan Flights - save money and time!
Best Times to Plan Flights – save money and time!

For most individuals, booking a flight is done without much thought for when the best time might be from a financial perspective.  We usually fly according to preference to our schedules, what works for our jobs or vacation days. However, if you are traveling on a limited budget, your preferences may be unable to dictate when you travel. Instead, you may need to find the best deals on airfare. So, when is it the cheapest to to get better flight rates?

The first and most obvious to all is of course – in the off-season.  If you are traveling to a popular vacation destination, such as Orlando, Florida or Denver, expect to pay more during peak tourists months.  In the case of Colorado, for instance, during the winter months.   Ski enthusiasts flock to Colorado to enjoy some of the best skiing in the United States.  Airlines know this, so they charge high fares for flights to this highly-sought-after destination. On the other hand, Colorado isn’t so popular in the summertime, for obvious reasons.   It is harder to fill flights to Denver, so the airlines offer deals and discounts. If you can, without ruining your trip, take advantage by booking your flight in the off-season.  Of course if you like to ski, there are few options.  

The point is that booking trips in non peak, or less-than-peak seasons could help you save on your flights.  Moreover, since it is the off-season, you could also receive a discount on your car rental and hotel too.  If possible, always bundle, it gives you better deals.  Where ever you are flying, check when peak season is for that area.  Never assume you know when peak season occurs at your target destination, you can be pleasantly surprised that just switching your schedule by a few days or a week, could save you quite a bit.  

Another good time to to book your flight with an eye to saving money, is in the early morning or late afternoon hours. Usually, airlines have early morning flights departing at five or six in the morning.  Rarely are these flights booked solid.  After all, who wants to get up that early to start a long day’s journey? If you want to save money, you should become a morning person.  Remember, airlines offer discounts to fill flights. You are more likely to get a discount on a 6 am flight than you are a 9 am flight. Afternoon flights are also a wise choice. Vacationers usually want to fly in the morning or at night. Some feel they waste a vacation day by departing in the afternoon, so these flights are usually less full too, meaning discounts.

Avoid booking flights during the holidays. One of the most expensive times to travel by air is during the holiday seasons like Christmas and Thanksgiving. We want to spend time with our family, especially long-distance family members. Unfortunately, airlines know this and they try increase their prices for flights.  Since it is hard to avoid those times, try to book your flights for those times early in the year.  Early flight booking is sometimes rewarded.  It won’t alleviate the busyness of the airports at the time of flight, but that’s another issue.

When flying during the holiday seasons, you may save money, don’t fly a day or two before a holiday, like Christmas. These are peak travel dates; they are when those passengers who have limited vacation time or are procrastinators are trying to get home for the holidays. By flight several or more day away from the actual holiday, your flight will still be expensive, but you may save $50 or more by spending an extra three days with your family.

The best days of the week to book flights are Wednesdays and Saturdays. Mondays and Fridays are the most expensive flight days.  Logic dictates that people traveling for weekend getaways usually fly on Fridays.  People traveling for business tend to fly on Mondays. These days are the airlines two most profitable flying days, so avoid them. By flying on Saturday, you miss most of the weekend warriors; remember they flew on Friday.

The bottom line, flexibility is your friend.  Booking as early as you can is important as well.  We can’t always book flights when we can save money, but for those times that we can control, making a few simple changes to your schedule, bundling travel products and leaving early or late, can leave you with a little more cash to spend when you arrive at your destinations.  

As always, feel free to contact your travel agent for any assistance with travel. You are going to pay commission to someone, (even Travelocity and Expedia) make sure it is someone you can call when you have a problem.  

Is Your Travel Agent Afraid of Travelocity and Orbitz?

When You Invest in a Vacation, Make Sure a Travel Agent Has Your Back!
When You Invest in a Vacation, Make Sure a Travel Agent Has Your Back!

With the onset of new digital technology, the world has become a smaller place with websites like Travelocity and Orbitz popping up on the Web. These travel web sites have been very successful at facilitating travelers to book their own airline and hotel reservations online.. So with this huge push from the internet to take over the travel industry, one has to ask, “Are travel agents obsolete?”  Your travel agent will be the first to tell you they are just fine.  

If you have browsed some of these travel sites, you have observed that they are amazing in the diversity of travel options that they make available. And it is impossible to deny that many thousands of people have taken advantage of these services.  However, no matter what your reason for traveling, travel agents still have their place.
 
Most travel agents agree that for those who just want to book a hotel and airfare for a couple of nights, using and online service is just fine.  Travel Agents don’t make much on these types of trips and these travel sites free them up to serve customers who really need their expertise in planning vacations, tours and other specialty planning. 
 
There are some very specific services that a living and breathing travel agent can provide that simply cannot be replicated by an automated web site.
 
1.  Business travelers find that the services of a travel agent free them up to focus on their business objects for the trip.  A travel agent will take care of all booking details from air and hotel to rental cars and entertainment for clients.  Your travel agent will, over time, will develop create your travel profile ensuring that each and every time you travel they know where you like to stay and all the details are handled with a simple phone call.
 
2.  Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure your travel agent is invaluable if you encounter problems you have someone you can call.  Travel disasters are never part of the plan but if you have a travel agent who is dedicated to providing you service, he or she can find those alternative routes and resources to do all they can to get you to your destination.
 
3.  You may have travel preferences that you want to achieve with each trip you take. A travel agent has your profile and your travel history so they can do what they can to accommodate your preferences. Perhaps you or someone in your family has special needs such as a diet limitation or a need for accommodation due to a disability, it will be a travel agent that sees to it that your needs are provided for and you are well taken care of on the road.
 
4.   If your travel itinerary involves making connections with complex travel schedules and itinerary challenges that just cannot be described to the generic screens of an online travel service,  you can explain these complications to your travel agent.  
 
5.  When reservations get lost, and they do, when those reservations were booked online, there are few people you can call for help.  The deal for “5 nights in paradise” may or may not be online now and since you did not deal with an agent you may find yourself stranded in paradise.  A travel agent gives you someone to call for help.  
 
While the online travel services do provide a valuable and affordable alternative to the general traveling public, it is easy to notice their limitations if you are trying to book a trip that is tricky or if you have specific needs that the screens do not anticipate. Human travel agents still do have a place in the world of travel and they will help you plan, budget and book the trip that meets your travel needs and purpose

Four Best Places to Travel You’ve Never Heard Of!

Travel to Beautiful Places
Travel to Beautiful Places

For those of us who love to travel, finding the next travel adventure is always fun.  And after while it is easy to think we have seen it all.  And when you think about it, it’s easy to think that after millennia of people traveling, not to mention how quickly the world has shrunk with access to the Internet, that we would have seen it all.  

But here are four beautiful and intriguing highlights from places to travel that might not be as familiar. If you’d like a full list from National Geographic of the best trips for 2018 – some familiar, some not – check it out here 

If you’re craving a break from busy-ness and noise for your next travel destination, Haida Gwaii will give you the silence you’re longing for.  A 180-mile-long archipelago off the coast of British Columbia is the ultimate getaway for nature lovers.   May-September is the summer travel season, with more tourist services available, and a greater chance of seeing spectacular wildlife like the Orca migration.  But if you’re into surfing, try October-May for the best waves.

To get a feel for what life was like for the Vikings, hop a ferry from Denmark or Iceland and check out the Faroe Islands.   Located about 400 miles off the coast of Northern Europe and accessible by flights and ferries year-round, the Faroe Islands are ringed with dramatic green cliffs that plunge into the ocean, sparkling bays, and breathtaking Nordic scenery. In the city of Gjógv, stay in an authentic sod-roofed hotel and take hikes up into the mountains with a spectacular view of the gorge below. Go in July or August for mild temps and long days. 

A hidden travel gem lies in the Western Baltics, which is already a somewhat-unknown region that is brimming with breathtaking scenery and a proud cultural heritage. The Via Dinarica is a year-round adventurer’s wonderland. Love gorgeous summer hikes and biking tours? May-September, this trail stretches through 1,200 miles of varied terrain and eight different countries.  If you’re into skiing and snowshoeing, hit the Via Dinarica from January to mid-March for a pristine wonderland. Stay in remote mountain shelters, or immerse yourself in centuries-old tradition by staying with local host families.  

We see a lot of Japan’s bustling cities, its towering skyscrapers, its industry, its bright lights. But if you’re interested in reclining into the contemplative heart of Japan, seek out Koyasan,  a pristine monastic complex two hours south of Osaka by train and the seat of Japanese Shingon Buddhism. Many temples here offer guest rooms, and you can get a feel for what monastic life is like in the lush, misty mountain interior. Savor the simple flavors of clean Buddhist eating, take in morning rituals, or hike by lantern and moonlight along winding green mountain paths. After the intense and amazing sensory experiences that the large urban areas of Japan provide, Koyasan really is the perfect retreat into silence, simplicity, and mystery. 

One of the many reasons I love what I do as a travel agent is that there is just so much to see, to take in, and to learn. We all have the amazing opportunity to launch out into new places, to find some new adventure that will change us forever — and I love getting to be a part of that process.

If you’re feeling that pull to places that are new to you, contact me today and let’s start planning your next adventure!

Five Things to Love About Cruising

disney cruise ship
Disney Cruise Ship

One of my favorite ways to travel is on a cruise.  Many people love cruising and many more wonder if it is the right mode of vacation for them.  Cruising can take you anywhere you want to go and makes an amazing vacation.  In this article I want to share my favorite reason for taking a cruise.   

A Cruise can Help You Completely Unplug

One of the best things about a cruise it that one can completely unplug if they so choose.  Let’s face it the cost of staying connected in international waters can be high, no matter how deep your employers pockets.  This fact makes it easy for travelers to feel a little less guilty for not checking emails.   Don’t get me wrong, all cruise lines offer communication availability, but when you are in the middle of an ocean it is easier to resist the temptation to check email and twitter.  

There is a Cruise for Every Taste and Every Age

Cruises today are no longer “one size fits all”.  Today there is everything from family and honeymoon cruises to adult only cruises designed for adult fun.  Not to mention there is everything in between.  One can take a cruise to exotic places or take a local river cruise, depending on your taste.   Cruising used to be more for the senior set, but today you only have look around the lido deck to see the diversity of ages and interests.  

There is a Cruise Destination for Every Adventure

Norwegian Cruise
Norwegian Cruise

Today you can go just about anywhere, for any reason, on a cruise.  There are fun-in-the-sun cruises, adventure cruises, photography cruises, eco cruises, senior cruises, river cruises, Alaska cruises and just about anything you can think of cruises.  The point is cruises are no longer limited in scope.

Additionally, there are even no time restraints with a cruise these days.  You can take a short cruise for a few days or do a long repositioning cruise for a couple weeks or more.   

You Can Sleep in the Same Bed Every Night

It is nice to unpack your bag at the beginning of your vacation and not have to pack up every day.  Although you can be in a new port every day, and do a different type of excursion, you can get back on the ship and enjoy a good night’s rest and be ready for your next adventure.  

The Food is Always Amazing

Cruise food
Cruise Food

Although it is not the main reason for cruising, it is wonderful to enjoy so of the worlds best foods on a cruise.  With many of the best chefs in the world working on cruise ships, it is so much fun to see what kinds of epicurean delights are whipped up on ships.  

I know there are lots of jokes about all the weight gained on cruises, but the truth is that the food on cruises these days is healthy and amazing.  Additionally their are gyms and spas to help keep things in check.  No matter where you go or for how long, you will enjoy the food.

If you have been thinking about a cruise, there is a lot to choose from today. Cruising has grown to be an travel specialty all its own and whatever you have in mind, there is likely a cruise to make it happen.  For more information please contact Sharon and together we can figure out the best cruise for you. 

 

Why Hire a Travel Agent?

Travel Agent
Time to Get Away!

In this do-it-yourself world we live in, with everything we could possibly want just a click away, it is seems easy to book your own travel.  With sites like Travelocity and Expedia, it is easier than ever before to take your next vacation.  Let’s face it, most people use these sites because they want to avoid paying a travel agent to plan their trip, thinking they are saving money on commissions.  The sad truth is that the commissions are baked into the prices and you pay commissions to someone, and when you use Travelocity, Orbitz and Expedia, you pay it to them, and you do all the work.  If you use a travel agent, the same commission is paid to the travel agent and they do all the work.

So when should you talk to a travel agent?

  • Contact a travel agent when you are planning a vacation that is important.  I recently stood in line behind a couple who booked their vacation through Orbitz and when they arrived at the hotel, there was no booking for them on record.  They were meeting other family members for a major celebration and needed that reservation.  The hotel took no responsibility so they called Orbitz who said they could not find any record of their reservation and could not help them.  Fortunately, after about an hour of tension and emotion the hotel stepped up and found them a room.  If bookings are made through a travel agent, there is someone to call who will help.  Mix ups can happen, but a travel agent has many more resources at their disposal to resolve these types of problems thus eliminating your stress.
  • Contact a travel agent when you are traveling outside your own country.  International Travel is just much more complex and you want to make sure your travel documents are in order.  Even traveling between friendly countries has rules and travel agents can help you wade through everything and keep you on the right track.
  • Contact a travel agent when you plan to travel to Walt Disney World.  One of
    Magic Kingdom

    the reasons I specialize in Disney vacations is because it is not as simple as buying the tickets and getting in line.  The Disney parks are busy and whether it is your first time or your fiftieth, a good plan will help you get the most for your money.

  • Contact a travel agent when you just don’t have the time to plan a vacation.  Travel agents are a huge asset for helping you research prices, locations, comparing resorts and so on. The most savvy travelers know that doing all the travel research can be time consuming and mind numbing.  If you are short on time, a good travel agent will help you wade through options and stay on budget.

Traveling is one of the most exciting and interesting activities.  We all work hard for our time off and getting that vacation right is very important.  Don’t leave it to chance, trust an travel  agent to make your vacation perfect and handle all the details.

Disney News

Disney News at Disney's California Adventures Paradise Pier
Disney News at Disney’s California Adventures Paradise Pier

Disney news abounds everywhere and so I thought I would add some news I get every day.  Here is a little Disney News that might help if you are are planning a Disney vacation in 2018. 

Florida Residents 

Florida residents can save 30% on Walt Disney World theme park admission with the 3-Day and 4-Day Disney Select Tickets.  Florida Resident Disney Select Tickets can be used on nonconsecutive days and give you access to one theme park per day for up to 4 days. Tickets don’t expire until 6 months after their first use which must occur on or before December 31, 2018.  Contact Your Mouse Expert for more details.  

RunDisney

The Annual Walt Disney World Marathon is one of the most popular race events in the U.S. You’ll find that registration often fills up within days of opening.  Although you have missed this year’s event,  tickets for January 2019  go on sale April 17, 2018.  So start training and mark your calendars.   

Mardi Gras at Universal Studios

Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras festivities will kick off in less than a month, and the four of the acts that will be playing on the Music Plaza Stage have been revealed.  The Beach Boys will be featured on February 10th followed by Kelsea Ballerini on February 17th, Andy Grammer on February 18th, and Foreigner on March 17th. More information is forthcoming. 

Mardi Gras runs every night from February 3 through April 7, 2018, but the concerts will only occur on select weekend nights and Your Mouse Expert can help you plan a trip to Universal Studios.

Dates to Keep in Mind in 2018

  •  April 13: Pixar Fest Begins at Disneyland Resort
  • Coming this summer to Disney California Adventure Park, Pixar Pier will transform the southern shore of Paradise Bay at Disney California Adventure park with whimsical neighborhoods filled with characters from some of your favorite Pixar stories.
  • Coming this summer also is Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World
    in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  All the Toy Story characters and friends will welcome guests in the new Toy Story Land. 

Magical Disney Savings

Disney Magical Savings - Save up 20% on rooms at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels.
Disney Magical savings – Save up 20% on rooms at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels.

When you are planning a sun-and-fun-filled visit to Walt Disney World® Resort, staying in the middle of the magic will help them make the most of their vacation – and now is the time to book for you, Magical Disney savings!

With this Magical Disney savings offer, you can save up to up to 20% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels.

  • For stays most nights Feb. 18-April 14, 2018. Book through March 7, 2018.
  • For stays most nights April 15-June 10, 2018. Book through April 7, 2018.

Plus, there are more Magical Disney savings when you upgrade to a room and ticket package that includes a minimum 5-day theme park ticket with the Park Hopper® Option or Park Hopper Plus Option, they can get one more day added to the ticket, FREE!*

The following room types and Disney Resort hotels are excluded:

  • 3-bedroom villas
  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Cabins at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter

Booking Information:
This Magical Disney savings offer is available to book as “Sun and Fun Room Offer” through the “Room Only” path in the “Quote or Book” module on DisneyTravelAgents.com, or by calling the Disney Reservation Center.

Campsites included at 10% discount for Sunday through Thursday stays April 29 through May 24, 2018. Moderate and Deluxe suites may be available at a lesser discount.

*Tickets and options must be used within 14 days of first use. First use must be by 12/31/18.

For immediate information call Your Mouse Expert  214-264-7146 or email sschierling@themouseexperts.com

Disney Specials for 2018!

Save 30% on Aulani a Disney Resort and Spa
Save 30% on Aulani a Disney Resort and Spa

Happy New Year!  Disney is starting the year off right with some cool Disney specials that you may want to take advantage of.  With snow flying most of the country it is fun to dream about warmer climates with sun and sand.   

Disney Specials happen throughout the year.  The biggest advantage of working with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner is that we follow your reservation to make sure that you are taking advantage of the best Disney special available for you.  

Here are the details of this Disney Special at Aulani Resort and Spa in Hawaii:

Now-May 9, 2018, you can save up to 30% off Ocean & Partial Ocean Views, and 25% off Standard, Island Garden & Poolside Views at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa for travel dates April 9-June 7, 2018. They can even save up to 25% on 4 consecutive night stays, with 25% off Ocean & Partial Ocean Views, and 20% off Standard, Island Garden & Poolside Views. And when your Clients book this offer before Jan. 10, 2018, they’ll also receive a $150/stay Resort Credit. 

To Summarize: 

Booking Window:
Early Booking: Nov. 16, 2017-Jan. 10, 2018
Broad Offer: Jan. 11-May 9, 2018

Travel Window: April 9-June 7, 2018

Early Booker Disclaimer: Savings based on the non-discounted rate for the same room. The number of rooms allocated for this offer may be limited.  Resort credits may not be redeemed for cash in whole or in part, sold separately, transferred or refunded, and expire at 11:59 p.m. on package departure date. Limit 2 rooms per reservation. Excludes suites and 3-bedroom Grand Villas. Additional charges may apply if more than 2 adults per room. Cannot be combined with other discounts or promotions. Advance reservations required.

Broad Disclaimer: Savings based on the non-discounted rate for the same room. The number of rooms allocated for this offer may be limited. Limit 2 rooms per reservation. Excludes suites and 3-bedroom Grand Villas. Additional charges may apply if more than 2 adults per room. Cannot be combined with other discounts or promotions.

For immediate information call 214-264-7146 or email sschierling@themouseexperts.com.  You can also fill out our convenient request form.   

Why keep on dreaming of exotic places, find out where Disney can take you.  

Disney Vacation Planners Concierge Services

When You Already Have Accommodations

As a Disney Vacation Planner, I often have clients call me who book alternative accommodations in the Orlando area but need help planning some Disney activities.  Since I don’t charge clients for my planning service because I am paid by Disney when I book accommodations and the like, they wonder if I can still help them.  The short answer is yes, I can help.   When you already have accommodations but need a little help planning your Disney vacation, the Disney vacation planners with Ears of Experience developed the Concierge Service.  Whether you want to know the best time of the day to visit Walt Disney World® Resort, or you need dinner reservations after a day on the rides, we are here to answer any questions you have and will help you plan down to the smallest detail. 

Your Authorized Disney Vacation Planner can help you enjoy the Magic of Disney Fireworks
Your Authorized Disney Vacation Planner can help you enjoy the Magic of Disney Fireworks

Your Authorized Disney Vacation Planner with Ears of Experience offers two concierge packages customized to your needs.  When you want an itinerary and dining reservations or you want a hassle-free Disney vacation experience we have a package to help.  

Whether you have your own accommodation or not, the services of an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner will save you time.   If you don’t stay on a Disney property we can give you some tips and tricks to help you navigate the parks and still have a Magical Vacation.   For more information contact Your Mouse Expert at sschierling@themouseexperts.com.  
 
 
 

Walt Disney World Fast Pass Tips!

Getting to Your Favorite Ride Is Very Important!
At Walt Disney World Getting to Your Favorite Ride Is Very Important and the Fast Pass helps you Enjoy the Magic quicker!

Over the years Walt Disney World has developed many ways of helping guests get the most of their time spent in the parks.  The latest development is the advent of the Fast Pass.  In the not-too-distant past, a Fast Pass was obtained by taking one’s entrance card to the nearest Fast Pass dispensing machine and selecting the rides for which a Fast Pass was desired.  It always meant that when entering a Walt Disney World park, that one member of the party did a mad rush to a machine with the cards for the entire party in hand.  Usually the most “fleet-of-foot” in the party was elected to the task.  

Walt Disney World created The Magic Bands and My Disney Experience App to make Getting a Fast Pass a Breeze.
Walt Disney World created The Magic Bands and My Disney Experience App to make Getting a Fast Pass a Breeze.

Today, Walt Disney World has invented the Magic Band and My Disney Experience app, the process has been much simplified.  One can actually make Fast Pass selections in advance of the trip, making the entrance into the parks much more leisurely.  

There are some key things to think about when choosing your Fast Passes, even in advance.  Here are a few tips for those of you who prefer to do your own planning. 

  • At 7:00 am 60 days prior to your arrival date at a Disney resort, your party can reserve up to 3 Fast Passes per day (equal to the number of days you have on the park tickets in your My Disney Experience account).  You cannot choose to have more than one Fast Pass per attraction.  Once you choose your Fast Passes they will automatically link to your Magic Band.
  • Fast Pass selection for Epcot and Hollywood Studios are available in two tiers.  The tiers are determined by the popularity of the attraction so you can only pick one attraction from tier one and your remaining 2 (of 3 per day) selections must be made from tier 2.  Test Track, Frozen, and Soarin’ are in tier one in Epcot.  Toy Story and Rockin’ Roller Coaster are in Tier one at Hollywood Studios.  
  •  Once you have used all 3 of your initial FastPasses, you can select another fast pass for another attraction – one at a time and based on availability. 
  • Additional Fast Pass selections can be made within the app on your smartphone or you can visit a My Magic kiosk.   Please note: before you can select additional Fast Passes, your 3 pre-selected FastPasses for the day must all be used or expired.  
  • Remember that if you get to the park at opening the lines for many rides will be much shorter.  Choose to Fast Pass attractions later in the day or to maximize the number of attractions you can get to and still avoid lengthy wait times.

Although Disney has made it easier than ever to get your magical vacation in place, not everyone has the time for all the details.  Your Mouse Expert can help you plan the perfect vacation.  Services are free and can save you both time and money.  Click here to get more information or request a quote.