When Vacation Ends

If you're like many people you've just returned from vacation, but now the fun is over and you're dreading your first day back at work. How do you make that first day a little more bearable? Here are a few tips from AAA:

  • Bring back a meaningful souvenir to help you stay connected to your travel experience.

  • Take an adjustment day. Give yourself time at home ot complete chores, adujst to a different time zone, etc.

  • Return to work midweek. The weekend comes that much sooner.

  • Organize your photos and share highlights with friends.

  • Planning is part of the fun, so start thinking about your next adventure.

Don't waste a single vacation day - you have only so many school breaks before the kids leave home. Bring your school calendar to me and let's jump start your vacation planning.

Pam Smith
Travel Smart - Save Time

With its endless lines and tons of travelers lugging gigantic suitcases, making your way through the airport can feel like running the world most tedious obstacle course. But air travel doesn't have to be a hassle. Here are a couple of time-saving airport hacks to make your next trip a breeze.

Use the free Mobile Passport app to fill out the customs form on your phone next time you get back on U.S. soil. Upload a selfie and your passport info in advance, and you'll get to use a special line at 26 airports - sometimes faster than Global Entry!

Frequent flyers should consider a Clear subscription ($179 per year) to skip pre-security lines at 27 airports; you get your eyes and fingerprints scanned to confirm your identity, then can go directly to the metal detectors and bag scanners.

With these two tips you can save time at the airport. Now save time on planning your vacation by hiring me as your travel advisor.

Pam Smith
Damage Control - Lost Luggage

The experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute surveyed their readers and 35% had dealt with a suitcase going MIA. They found that to minimize the hassle all you need is to follow these steps:

1. Snap a photo of your bag before you leave. If any thing happens, you can show the picture to an agent instead of trying to describe it.

2. Split clothes 50-50. If you're traveling with a partner or a friend, pack half of your items in one bag and half in another. Chances are slim that an airline will lose both suitcases.

3. Describe items that stand out.  When you file a report with the service desk, list things in your bag that are easily recognizable (e.g. a bright yellow hat, gold sneakers). 

4. Give your local contact info. Include an address and number for where you're staying (hotel, Airbnb, a friend's house). Ask for a copy of the report and a phone number for follow-up.

5. Get short-term reimbursement. Unless you're arriving home from a trip, most airlines will cover the necessities (like toiletries and a change of clothes) while you wait for your luggage. Another option is purchasing travel insurance which will cover these types of incidences.

6. Loop in your hotel. If you're just landing at your destination, let the front desk staff know what's going on You may be able to help get your bag back faster if they call the airline - especially if you aren't fluent in the language.

Pam Smith
Happy Flag Day

Our flag honors those who have fought to protect it, and it is a reminder of the sacrifice of our nation's founders and heroes. As the ultimate icon of America's storied history, the Stars and Stripes represents the very best of this nation.

Pam Smith
Plane Etiqueete

Many of you are traveling by plane to different destinations around the globe this summer. One passenger’s comfort can be another’s pet peeve. While the following seem like minor offences, learning about a few common pain points (and how to compromise) can ease the journey for everyone on board. Jacqueline Whitmore, international etiquette expert and former flight attendant, clarifies the do’s and don’ts of plane rules.
Leaving Your Row
It’s never OK to climb over people, even if they’re asleep. Instead, get up and gently tap your seatmate, then say, “I’m sorry to bother you.” and wait for him or her to rise and let you out.
Reclining Your Seat
Going slowly is key, since you don’t know how long the legs of the person behind you are. Bumping his or her knees means you’ve gone too far. It’s a nice courtesy to put your seat back upright again at mealtime.
Claiming Armrests
The person in the middle seat gets both the armrests – yes, both. It’s only fair, as he or she is sandwiched between strangers. (This was a new one to me.)
Finding Overhead Space
If the bin above your seat is full, look in front of you, not behind you, for a spot. If all else fails, ask the flight attendant for help in locating a convenient area without disturbing others.
Summer is the busiest time of year for travelers across the world. Treat each other with kindness while you fly together, and your flight will be that much more enjoyable. Following these basic plane etiquette guidelines will ensure you aren’t the problem on your next flight.

Pam Smith
Pack Your Suitcase Like A Pro

Your trip will be easier and possibly even cheaper if you take less and pack efficiently. This fall American, Delta, JetBlue, and United raised their checked-bag fee from $25 to $30. Limiting your luggage to one carry-on bag can certainly save you money. Use this checklist the next time you travel and enjoy the freedom of paring down and unpacking more quickly.

1. Add clothes first. Lay down (or roll) pants and tops, then fit in other oddly shaped items like hair tools or accessories.

2. Place heavy items at the base. Keep things like shoes and books by the wheeled end to help you bag stay stable when upright and stop other items from getting smooshed.

3. End with what you'll wear first. That way the outfit will be easier to get to and less likely to wrinkle.

4. Don't under-pack. Extra room means items can shift and crumple or break. Fill any empty space with dry cleaner bags that you can toss if needed.

Having less luggage means being smart about what you take and how you pack. The goal is to pack a suitcase that is not bursting at the seams and that has room for souvenirs or other items that may come home with you. Follow the steps above and you'll be packing like a pro in no time. 

Pam Smith
It's All In The Timing - Europe
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Wrapping up our series on travel timing brings us to Europe. I agree with Rick Steves' statement, "The key to a successful European family vacation is to slow down and to temper expectations. Don't overdo it. Tackle one or two key sights each day, mix in a healthy dose of pure fun, and take extended breaks when needed. If done right, you'll take home happy memories to share for a lifetime." 

Choosing the best time to go and planning in advance can help determine whether you get the European vacation you want.   


Best Weather:  For maximum sunshine, go in summer. However, heat-sensitive travelers may find temps uncomfortable in southern areas such as Italy and Croatia in the summer.

For fewer crowds/lower prices:  Go April through May or September through October, when everything is cheaper, and there are warmer days and cooler nights!

Book your trip:  Plan a year in advance if you want to join a cruise or tour.

One more thing:  For a river cruise, travel in November or December to enjoy holiday markets.

If you've ever considered traveling to Alaska, the Caribbean or Europe, now is a great time to start planning. And now that you know when to go and when to book your trip you are one step ahead of the process.

I'm here to serve you and answer any questions you have. Request a FREE 30 minute planning session to learn more about how I can help you design your very own personalized vacation.

Pam Smith
It's All In The Timing - Caribbean
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As we continue with the second part of our travel timing series, it is helpful to understand the seasons of travel.

  • Peak season - When a place experiences the most demand and great weather, leading to higher prices.

  • Shoulder season - The period between a low and high season of tourism, when prices are lower and crowds are smaller.

  • Off-season - The time of year when a place receives the fewest visitors, leading to low prices.

The Caribbean is a top destination for family vacations. Knowing the best times to visit is so very important for you to experience the trip you desire. Following are answers to questions to help you get the best value for your Caribbean escape.


Best Weather:  From December to April, there's little rainfall, it's less humid and high temperatures are in the 70s and 80s.

For fewer crowds/lower prices:  Go in May to June or late November to mid-December. Expect discounted prices, warm weather and minimal rain. But skip Easter week and spring break when family travel and prices pick up.

Book your trip:  A year or more in advance. Book as soon as the cruise line's inventory opens to grab a suite.

One more thing:  Southern islands - such as Aruba, Boniare, Curacao and Barbados - lie well below the Caribbean's "hurricane belt" and are rarely affected by storms in hurricane season.

Are you looking to vacation in the Caribbean in the near future?  I'm here to help you perfect your plan and create a custom itinerary. Call on me for your next great getaway.

Pam Smith
It's All In The Timing - Alaska
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Over the next three weeks I'm sharing a AAA Living magazine article providing you with help to plan and get the vacation of your dreams. Focusing on three distinct parts of the world - Alaska, the Caribbean and Europe - you will find the answers to when to go and book your next trip. Have you thought about your next great getaway to any of these areas? If so, stick around and find out how to get a great vacation value.

The key is in the timing. Certainly, timing affects price - but it affects other factors as well. When you go, and when you book your trip, can determine whether you get the vacation you want.


Best Weather:  From June through August, you'll find surprisingly pleasant temps - highs from 60 to 80 degrees. May is quite dry, while, by August, the chance of rainfall averages 50 percent daily.

For fewer crowds/lower prices:  Go from mid-May to mid-June when you can spot wildlife newborns in Denali Park. Or go mid-August to mid-September, when you'll have fewer fellow travelers and prices can be 10 to 25 percent lower.

Book your trip:  A year in advance. For land vacations, book at least six months out to ensure the best availability and best rates.

One more thing:  To see the northern lights, go in January and February - and bundle up!

Remember, I'm a knowledgeable resource and would be happy to help you plan your own personalized itinerary to Alaska. Contact me to get started.

Pam Smith