What color is your vacation?

Colorful vacation ideas!

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I had an opportunity to volunteer at an event called “Color Vibe”. It’s a 5K run/walk. Show up dressed in all white and get blasted with powdered, colored dye along the route as well as pre/post run parties! I was in a behind the scenes role with registering participants and closed out the event with garbage hauling. I met many ‘colorful’ people who all seemed to have a blast. It led me to think about my next vacation and how I would want to spend it. I’ve decided it will be a blue vacation. Blue water, blue hotel, and maybe the blues! Red could be an active trip with hiking, ziplining, etc. White might be a destination wedding or snow! Green? Maybe an eco-friendly trip to the Galapagos! They all sound good. Now to start planning!

What the U.S. State Department travel warning should mean to you

What can you do to swing the balance of safety in your favor?

International travel for some U.S. citizens, especially first-timers, can be a bit intimidating which could lead to letting one’s guard down in a stressful situation. Preparation is key to successful travel in any new location. It’s much like getting on a plane and just giving a quick glance around the cabin to get a sense of how far the exits are… just in case.

Here is an excerpt for the U.S. State Department travel warning to give you context and following that, some tips for your next trip.

Statement regarding U.S. Department of State Worldwide Travel Alert

November 25, 2015 — U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation, be aware of their immediate surroundings, and avoid large crowds or crowded places. State Department representatives indicated that there was no specific threat against U.S. citizens, the alert is guidance for U.S. citizens to be more cognizant of their surroundings due to recent events.

What can you do to swing the balance of safety in your favor? Some simple things to consider:

1) Don’t wear clothing that identifies you as American. Big U.S. flag shirts, etc., will simply make you more of a target. Find out what the locals wear and mirror that as best you can.
2) Make the investment in trip insurance. Best to protect yourself and those travelling with you. Past successful travels is no guarantee of future safety.
3) Enroll in STEP. State Department issued safety and emergency information will be sent to you via email or text.
4) Let your credit card companies know you’ll be traveling. Bring a list of their phone numbers and leave it in your hotel safe.
5) Wear a money belt and only access it in a private space such as a bathroom stall.
6) Know local cultural do’s and dont’s. Did you know you shouldn’t point at someone in Japan with chopsticks!?!
7) And more… Let common sense and situational awareness rule the day for a successful and safe vacation abroad!

Why should anyone use a travel agent?

Nowadays the average person who books a vacation is more informed and empowered to make decisions on their travels than even 3 years ago. That trend should continue due to the wealth of information a keystroke away. Even with the oodles of data, the choices and information can seem overwhelming. How can a seemingly simple task, booking a vacation, be so cumbersome? Who has the time to weed through all of the information available and drill down to the core of the details? Travel agents have the time!

Quite often a travel agent is connected to travel suppliers such as cruise lines and resorts, and can use that connection to get the best possible value for you. In addition, travel suppliers have perks and upgrades that may not be available with the usual web search methods. It’s that connection that suppliers love. Suppliers truly value relationships with agents. Travel agents are the ones that can help fill space for the supplier and at the same time give their clients more than what they would have found for themselves.

If you ask the average person why they have a go-to doctor, or a go-to insurance agency, or a go-to dentist, they’ll give you very good reasons why that’s important to them. Trust, valuable advice, integrity, and more. It’s the ease at which a travel agent can make your life so much easier, that you should flag that person as a ‘favorite’ in your phone, e-mail, Facebook, and all the other ways you save contact information. A click away. A phone call away. A trusted travel agent is standing by to put the time into planning your dream vacation so you can spend that time doing something else that you need to do like play with your kids, take your wife to dinner, plant flowers, watch the game, and more. Happy travels!