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Travel Time

Local Travel Advisors Help Clients Make Smart Vacation Investments

Article by Jeannie Tabor

Photography by Sarah Bell, Sélavie Photography

Originally published in River City Lifestyle

Exploration for many has been limited to changing a Zoom background to an exotic island or binging a Netflix show about a foreign country. Let’s face it  travel has been difficult, if non-existent, these past two years. But local travel agents say that is all changing! 

According to Marion McDonald, an independent travel advisor with Brownell Travel, “After suffering from severe vacation deprivation, our clients have developed a huge case of wanderlust and are ready to bust out and explore the world. They are no longer content to just check boxes and prefer to dive more deeply into a destination for a more enriching experience.” She says that clients feel a sense of urgency to enjoy new experiences .“From fly fishing in Patagonia to kayaking the frigid waters of Greenland, my clients are challenging themselves like never before.”

After being cooped up in a home-office or on zoom calls, clients have a renewed appreciation of the outdoors. Marion says, “Many clients are trading overcrowded museums and shops for adventures on e-bikes and hiking excursions.” U.S. National Parks have been a top destination during this time.

Christy Brown, owner of Little Luxuries Travel agency, says, “Families are taking more bucket-list trips than ever before, after spending the past couple of years dreaming of trips rather than taking them.” Some of the recent trips she’s planned include European river cruises, Alaskan tours by land and sea, and luxury villa rentals in the Caribbean.

Some travelers do still feel overwhelmed and confused about Covid-related travel requirements, according to Wendi Mihalko, owner of Trifecta Travels. That is why working with a travel advisor has never been more important. The travel industry has worked hard to pivot and provide as much information as possible to travelers, and help them cut through the clutter and relax. Christy says that one of her travel associates recently organized a trip to Turks and Caicos for a group of 17, working with local authorities to speed up the travel authorization process, all while coordinating wonderful meals and activities with their butler.

There are many reasons to use a travel advisor, even when we are not in a pandemic. “Ultimately, travel advisors do what no computer can do  anticipate the needs of their clients before they even ask for them and care deeply about the vacation experience they have,” Christy says.

Marion adds, “Because of relationships with global partners, we are able to provide our clients with exclusive amenities, rare experiences, and privileged access.” Some of the “wow moments” she has been able to organize include an overnight stay in an active Japanese Buddhist monastery, a private moonlit camel ride and romantic picnic dinner in the Arabian desert, and a VIP tour with Pearl Harbor survivors.

Some travel advisors often plan the entire vacation, down to all dining reservations, activities, and flights. Wendi loves living vicariously through her clients, and her specialty is diving into all the details, including planning hikes, wine tastings, and private boat excursions as well as purchasing performance and sporting events tickets.

Whether you want someone to develop a comprehensive itinerary or supplement your travel plan, using an advisor can save you hours of research, provide you with tips and tricks, open access to special activities, and ensure that you receive the best value for your vacation investment. One of Wendi’s clients summed it up nicely, “I have regretted certain purchases in my life, but I have never regretted one penny I have spent on travel.”

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