Space Trips Launching in 2014

The Dutch Aviation Company, Space Expedition Curacao (SXC) will begin suborbital space trips for private individuals, beginning January 1, 2014. The one-man flights taking off from Curacao will last about 35 minutes and cost US$ 95,000 dollars.

Pilot Rick Searfoss will pilot the flights to a height of around 100 kilometers. Searfoss, a threefold Space Shuttle astronaut and one-time Space Shuttle commander, currently works as a test pilot for XCOR, the US company which builds the Lynx2, the two-seater space ship figuring so prominently in SXC’s plans. The developers said Curaçao was selected because of the nice weather and because it is a relatively quiet area in the region’s air space.

The company plans to offer four one-passenger flights each day. Those who have made the flight can officially call themselves astronauts, according to the company. For more information, visit http://www.spaceexperiencecuracao.com/ or contact a professional travel agent today!

Civil War Theme Cruises

American Cruise Lines will offer Civil War theme cruises aboard its new sternwheeler, Queen of the Mississippi, which is currently under construction in Salisbury.

The ship will enter service next summer. Passengers will be invited to retrace the steps of the Civil War, discovering famous museums, such as Vicksburg’s National Military Park and New Orleans’ Civil War Museum, the oldest museum in Louisiana. Memorial monuments such as the 60 foot-tall statue of Robert E. Lee, also in New Orleans can be seen, and famous historic battle fields, including those of Vicksburg and Nashville.

On board, passengers will enjoy era-inspired cuisine, music and entertainment, while sharing war theories along the way with onboard Civil War historians. Dependent on the itinerary, each theme cruise will feature elements specific to each destination, making for a truly remarkable experience.

Details about these and other theme cruise will be available later this summer. Contact a Cruise Specialist today for more information, or to book your next cruise!

A Resort Fit for Royalty

The wedding of Prince William and Kate last month drew more viewers than any other wedding in history. Of course the public was also very curious about the royal honeymoon. It recently came out that the newlyweds spent two weeks in the island paradise of the Seychelles, a beautiful island country made up of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some 932 miles east of mainland Africa.

William and Kate stayed at the breathtaking North Island Resort while there, a luxurious lodge located on a secluded island, dotted with pristine white sand beaches and surrounded by clear turquoise waters.

The North Island has just 11 villas total, each approximately 4,890 square feet in size, offering ample privacy and space to relax and rejuvenate. Each villa has been individually hand crafted, and each features 2 bedrooms, a changing room, a large bathroom with marble bathtub, and indoor and outdoor shower, and fully retracting sliding doors which open to a view of the sea.

The amenities feature satellite TV, DVD/CD systems, internet access, kitchen, lounge, a huge private patio and private plunge pool. Each villa also has its own Island Buggy, to explore the island at leisure.

The resort also has a spa/wellness center, air-conditioned gym and swimming pool, and exceptional world class dining. Optional island activities include; diving, snorkeling, sea kayaking, fly fishing, private boat tours and more!

Prices at this amazing resort start at around $2,900 per person, per night. Contact a Professional Travel Agent today if money is not an issue & you want a vacation or honeymoon that is like heaven on Earth!

10 Best Places to Honeymoon

Planning your honeymoon, yet not sure where you should go? Below is a list of some of the most popular honeymoon destinations around the globe.

1. Traveling to Hawaii is only a five-hour flight from most U.S. West coast cities, but it feels very much like an exotic oasis far away. Some of the islands’ highlights include the year-round warm weather, beautiful beaches, and ample luxury resorts. Hawaii can be a great honeymoon spot for anyone who doesn’t have a passport and doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of getting one.

2. Jamaica is a couple’s paradise! Gorgeous beaches that go on for miles; clear, warm waters; quiet alcoves and beautiful waterfalls; lush vegetation; and many couples-only all-inclusive resorts make Jamaica a perfect honeymoon destination.

3. Tahiti is the quintessential exotic island paradise. Whether visiting the island of Tahiti, Bora Bora or Moorea, the beauty of these islands scream romance and relaxation. Over-water bungalows, tranquil white-sand beaches, clear blue waters, and excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities are yours when traveling to Tahiti.

4. Fiji is another tropical island paradise, and the natives are some of the friendliest people on earth. Although made up of 330 islands, many of its islands are still uninhabited, and most of the island resorts are on small, private, boat-in only islands. The beautiful white sand beaches of Fiji have warm turquoise waters, perfect for snorkeling or diving.

5. Mexico is a great honeymoon location for just about any couple who enjoys an easy lifestyle and plenty of sunshine. Head to the Yucatan (Cancun and Cozumel) for white-sand beaches and warm tropical waters ideal for snorkeling and swimming. The Mexican Riviera (Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan) features plentiful beaches, shopping, and accommodations for any budget. For an adventure rich in history, explore the Mayan Ruins, such as Chichen Itza and Tullum.

6. The lush, mountainous island of St. Lucia has tropical rainforests suitable for hiking, as well as abundant marine life for fantastic diving and deep-sea fishing. The soft, tropical air and tantalizing cuisine will make traveling to St. Lucia a vacation to remember.

7. The romantic islands of the Bahamas are suitable for just about any couple as it offers powder-soft sand beaches, crystal blue waters, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, five-star resorts, casinos and ample nightlife.

8. Italy is the top European honeymoon destination and is rich in history with myriad art galleries and museums. Head to Venice for a moonlit gondola ride, relax on the beaches of Positano, or cruise around the island of Capri. Italy is jam-packed with exciting activities for couples of all ages.

9. France, the romance capital of the world, offers travelers a new surprise around every corner. Between world-famous art museums, the French Riviera, and the sights of Paris, it’s a lovers’ paradise.

10. Antigua features powder-white beaches protected by beautiful coral reefs, which make for perfect conditions for snorkeling and scuba diving. Ample luxury resorts offer guests a variety of indulgences, perfect for newly weds.
Check Out Our Website for more honeymoon ideas, or contact a Professional Travel Agent today to get started planning your honeymoon.

Why You Should Use a Travel Agent

In this era of technology, many travelers have foregone the days of using of a Travel Agent, and instead have began booking all their travels online.

In some cases, such as a simple non-stop flight within the United States, this is often the quickest and easiest scenario. However, there are many cases where booking your trip with a huge online company may not be to your benefit.
For instance, if you are planning a vacation to a foreign country that you know very little about, it’s probably in your best interest to contact a Travel Agency that specializes in that country. Most Travel Agents specialize in a specific country or region of the world, and they can be an abundance of knowledge and information, and very helpful with planning all the details of your vacation, finding the best rates, assisting with travel visa’s, etc.
Also, think of all the time you will save if you use a Travel Agent. Once you have discussed your travel dates, interests and budget with a Travel Agent, you can relax and let them do all the work for you, and rest assured that they will have the knowledge of which hotels and tour companies are more reputable, will give you the best experience and provide the most value for you.
The most important reason to book with a Travel Agent, as many travelers have found out the hard way, is in case a problem or emergency should arise during your trip. Say you booked your trip with one of the huge online companies or directly with the airline. If an emergency, such as a natural disaster, inclement weather or even personal emergency should occur, good luck getting assistance. You are pretty much on your own. Most airlines have substantially cut back on their customer service staff in recent years, making wait times painfully long.
When your trip has been booked with a Travel Agency, you have the comfort of having a direct phone number and email address to contact your personal Travel Agent for quick and personal support and assistance. Travel Agents are typically able to get in contact with the airlines, hotels or travel insurance quickly, and also assist with rebooking flights much quicker than the average traveler can.

World’s Largest Airport is Now Larger than Ever

The world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, is now even bigger as it opens its new international terminal that’s being touted as the city’s “new front door” for the world. The $1.4 billion terminal adds an additional 12 gates to an airport that already has 195. But local officials say the new terminal, titled the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal, is necessary to keep Atlanta and its airport at the forefront of global aviation.

Southwest will be making good use of the new terminal as it expands in Atlanta and is looking to expand internationally. The new terminal features soaring glass windows that give passengers views of the airfield throughout the terminal. Even at the check-in counters, passengers can watch takeoffs and landings as counter agents process their reservations. It also has a separate entrance, which will be the airport’s second, symbolizing the “new front door.” Adding a second entrance is designed to help reduce airport lines by funneling international passengers through the terminal. Best of all the design eliminates the requirement for Atlanta-bound passengers to “re-check” their checked luggage after customs and pick it up at baggage claim. They will be able to keep their checked bags and exit the airport after clearing customs and immigration. The new gates will free up other gates for domestic traffic.

Halloween Around the World

Last weekend I took the annual trip out to the local pumpkin patch with my daughter, to pick some pumpkins that we carved into jack-o-lanterns. It got me thinking about Halloween. Of course here in the states that means trick-or-treating, lots of candy, costume parties, jack-o-lanterns and spooky movies. But I got curious about what people do in other parts of the world for this holiday, and what other countries even celebrate Halloween. Here’s what I found out.

Halloween is celebrated in North America, Canada and Ireland more than anywhere else in the world.

Ireland is believed to have been the birth place of Halloween. During the eighth century the Catholic Church designated the first day of November as ‘All Saints Day’, a day of commemoration for those Saints that did not have a specific day of remembrance. The night before became known as ‘All Hallows Eve’ which, over time, became known as Halloween.

Carving Pumpkins dates back to the eighteenth century and to an Irish blacksmith named Jack who colluded with the Devil and was denied entry to Heaven. He was condemned to wander the earth but asked the Devil for some light. He was given a burning coal ember which he placed inside a turnip that he had gouged out. The tradition of Jack O’Lanterns was born – the bearer being the wandering blacksmith – a damned soul. Villagers in Ireland hoped that the lantern in their window would keep the wanderer away. When the Irish emigrated in millions to America there was not a great supply of turnips so pumpkins were used instead.

Today the Irish celebrate Halloween very similarly to Americans, with trick-or-treating, parties, and many also have bonfires.

In Mexico, Latin America and Spain, they celebrate “El Dia de los Muertos”, meaning Day of the Dead. Family & friends gather to pray for and remember loved ones who have passed away, and build private altars honoring them. The altars are decorated with candy sculls, flowers, water and other food. This celebration occurs on Nov. 1st and 2nd.

In Belgium, many light candles on Halloween night in memory of deceased relatives.

In Austria some people leave out bread and water on a table at night, as it was once believed it would welcome dead souls back to earth.

Germans put away their knives on Halloween night, as they do not want to risk harm on the returning spirits.

In England, many of the children have recently started trick-or-treating. Although, since it is so new here, many adults, especially older generations, aren’t familiar with it and usually don’t have candy ready to hand out on Halloween.

In China the holiday is called “Teng Chieh”, the Chinese people place food & water in front of photographs of the deceased, and burn bonfires & lanterns as a way to guide the spirits as they travel back to earth on Halloween night.

In Hong Kong it is known as “Yue Lan”, the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts. They believe that spirits roam the world for 24 hours.

If you are interested in celebrating Halloween somewhere else this year, or just want to plan a Fall Vacation, contact a Travel Professional for some great Fall specials today!

Most Stessful Airports in the US

While travel shouldn’t have to be stressful, it often is, especially when dealing with airports. Whether it’s the massive crowds or waiting in the long security lines, all the crowded hustle and bustle often leads to travel stress. Recently the KRC Research group released a study on the most stressful airports in the United States based on interviews with over 1,500 business travelers. Here are the results for the top 10 most stressful U.S. Airports;

1. Chicago O’Hare International Airport, 2. Los Angeles International Airport, 3. John F. Kennedy International Airport, 4. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, 5. New York’s LaGuardia Airport, 6. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, 7. Newark Liberty International Airport, 8. George Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport, 9. San Francisco International Airport, 10. Miami International Airport.

Overhead Bins Getting Bigger

Packed planes and a high volume of carry-ons are forcing airlines to expand the space above passenger’s heads.

United and Delta are the latest airlines to replace or upgrade bins so they hold more luggage. Engineers are busy at Boeing designing jet interiors with larger luggage in mind. Because of fees on checked bags, more passengers are bringing carry-ons, which are growing in size. And with planes more crowded than ever, bins fill up before everyone has reached their seat.

The percentage of passengers bringing bags on board has hovered around 87% in recent years while the size of carry ons have increased. United is replacing its bin doors on 152 planes starting in April. The new doors curve out more than the old ones. That allows passengers to slide bags into the compartment wheels-first instead of sideways. American’s new 737s will hold 48 more bags than the planes they are replacing, although they have 24 more seats that means more people and luggage. American’s older 737s are also getting new baggage-bin doors that curve out more. The work is finished on about half of the 76 planes. Delta is adding new bins on their 767s that will hold 26 more bags than the bins they are replacing, an increase of 23%. US Airways had already enlarged bins on its 757s back in 2008. The change allowed fliers to slide bags in wheels-first instead of sideways.

Online Baggage Fee Calculator

Farelogix has unveiled iflybags.com, a new interactive, online baggage calculator.

This new baggage calculator provides travelers with instant access to up-to-date airline checked baggage allowances and fees based on the specific traveler, number and weight of planned checked bags/items, and airline-itinerary specific information.

Users simply enter a basic itinerary and bag details into the iflybags web site and it instantly calculates baggage allowances and fees for travelers. It will also evaluate, optimize and present the best combination of checked bags for multiple travelers on a single itinerary, taking into account traveler frequent flyer status.

The goal with iflybags is to ensure that no traveler arrives at an airport without knowing what their checked baggage allowance and fees will be. The new baggage calculator accesses baggage data from over 300 of the world’s airlines, with new carriers being added all the time. To ensure travelers have access to the most up-to-date baggage allowance and fee information, iflybags is updated every hour. Iflybags uses industry-standard data from the Airline Tariff Publishing Company to calculate baggage allowances and fees.

Rules Changing for Mobile Devices on Flights

An FAA advisory panel is expected to recommend relaxing restrictions on electronic devices during flights. The rules on when to turn off electronic devices on airplanes has long been a contentious point for travelers. But faced with a surge of electronics on airplanes and under pressure from a growing number of tech-savvy, and increasingly tech-dependent, passengers, the Federal Aviation Administration recognized that change was inevitable.

This week, an FAA advisory panel will meet to complete its recommendations to relax most of the restrictions. The guidelines are expected to allow reading e-books or other publications, listening to podcasts, and watching videos. The ban on sending and receiving emails and text messages or using Wi-Fi during takeoff or landing is expected to remain in place, as is the prohibition on making phone calls throughout the flight.

Airline Policies for Passengers Who Don’t Fit in One Seat

Many airlines are now implementing policies for passengers that don’t fit in a “normal-width” seat, which is typically 17 inches wide. Some are requiring the purchase an additional seat, while other airlines are dealing with each passenger on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, passengers have been refused boarding. These are some of the current airline policies:

Air Canada
After a Supreme Court ruling, the airline must offer larger passengers a free seat, but only after receiving an approved doctors note. Those without medical approval may expect to be required to purchase a second seat at a cost to be determined by the airline.

Airtran
If a customer cannot lower the armrest, they will be required to purchase an extra seat. The airline will sell you the second seat at the lowest available cost. If none are available, the passenger may not be able to fly.

Alaska
Passengers must fit within the 17 inches between armrests or purchase a seat in advance. Those who do not cannot be guaranteed boarding unless a second seat is purchased in advance. The second seat can be purchased at the airport only if there is still space available on the flight, and the lowest available fare at the time will be offered.

American
Customers who are unable to fit into a single seat, unable to properly buckle their seat belt with an extender or unable to lower both armrests without encroaching must purchase an additional seat when booking the original reservation. Two adjacent seats will be offered at the same rate in advance; if you have not handled this when you arrive at the airport, see an agent before proceeding to the gate if empty seats are available, you may be able to snag one for free.

Delta
Passengers are not required to purchase additional seats based on size, but you may be asked to move or wait for the next flight with additional seating space. The airline does recommend that you purchase an additional seat in advance if you think that you might need one and cannot afford to wait around for a flight with empty seats.

Frontier
If airline staff determines that you will not fit into one seat, they can require you to purchase another one. The seat will be offered at the lowest possible fare at the time of purchase.

JetBlue
The airline does not officially require the purchase of a second seat; armrests are 17.8 apart, which good news for many larger customers. Passengers do have the option to purchase a second seat, regardless of size, at the current fare offered.

Southwest
Customers who encroach on any part of a neighboring seat should book the needed number of seats prior to travel. The armrest is considered to be the definitive boundary and measures 17 in width. The seat will be offered at the same price as the first one at time of booking it is not recommended to wait until you arrive at the airport; Southwest is known for being particularly inflexible on this issue.

United
Armrests must be able to go down and stay down regardless if you are seated next to a friend or family member you must purchase a second seat. Those who decline to do so or upgrade to larger seats risk being refused at the gate. A second seat may be purchased for the same fare as the original seat provided it is purchased at the same time those who do not risk being charged walk-up fares later on.

US Airways
Handles it case-by-case, offering extra space when available, or may require waiting for a later flight. If the passenger will not change flights, they will be required to purchase a second seat at the gate.

Virgin America
Larger guests are asked to purchase two seats in advance upon initial booking; no specific policy regarding those who choose not to.

Some airlines will give refunds for the second seat purchased if the airplane does not fly full. That is something you would want to check directly with the airline about.

Scariest Places in the World

During Halloween season, many are looking to get their scare on. If scary haunted places are your thing, you might want to check out these, most haunted places in the world:

Catacombs in Paris, France. Long ago, as the city of Paris grew, it became necessary to provide more space for the living. To do so, city engineers and planners decided to move the dead. Millions of dead Parisians were quietly disinterred in one of the largest engineering feats in history and their remains were deposited along the walls of the chilly, dank passageways lying beneath the City of Light. They lie there to this day. A million visitors a year are said to visit the infamous Paris Catacombs.

New Orleans, Louisiana is considered by locals, visitors and paranormal investigators world wide as by far the most haunted city in the United States. With 200 years of ghostly legends involving Voodoo curses, Spanish moss draped oak encircled duels, cold-blooded murders, stories of Revolutionary War Pirates and Civil War soldiers, and Jazz, New Orleans has earned a serious reputation as Haunted New Orleans.

Aokigahara Forest, Japan. Also known as the Sea of Trees, Aokigahara is a forest that lies at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. It has been claimed by locals and visitors that these woods are host to a great amount of paranormal phenomena. It is an old ancient forest reportedly haunted by many urban historical legends of strange beasts, monsters, ghosts, and goblins, which add to its serious and sinister reputation.

The Underground Vaults in Edinburgh, Scotland were discovered in the mid-80’s, after being abandoned for nearly 200 years. Lying beneath the South Bridge, a major Edinburgh passage, the vaults were used as cellars, workshops and even as residences by the business owners that plied their trade on the busy bridge above. They were abandoned soon after they were built due to excessive water and moisture. The vaults still remain unaltered, never illuminated by the light of day. In recent years, many visitors have been attacked by the unseen and left with bruises, cuts, and scratches. Others have been knocked unconscious and overcome by debilitating nausea and vomiting. Recently visited by the crew from England’s “Most Haunted,” the vaults maintained their reputation as the spookiest place in Edinburgh – no member of the team would voluntarily return there.

The Coliseum, Rome, Italy. In the pits beneath the Coliseum, gladiators waited to fight, prisoners waited to die, and average Romans placed bets on the outcomes of myriad competitions. Such a fabric of life can’t help but wrap itself around the pillars and posts that make up the foundation of this ancient charnel house. It is no surprise that many reports of ghostly activity have been associated with the Coliseum over the years. Visitors and tour guides alike have reported cold spots, being touched or pushed, and hearing indiscernible words whispered into their ears. Security guards with the unenviable task of securing the ancient Coliseum have reported hearing the sounds of swords clashing, and, oddly enough, the sound of ghostly animal noises such as the roars of lions and elephants.

To get started booking your next haunted vacation, contact a Professional Travel Agent today!

TSA Testing Behavior Detection Program

The TSA is testing a new behavior detection program where officers use on-the-spot observations and conversations with passengers to select some for the quicker pass through the checkpoint. The program is called Managed Inclusion and is currently being tested at Indianapolis and Tampa airports. If the tests are successful, the agency plans to expand the program to more airports this year. The idea is to selectively identify certain passengers who appear to pose no threat and invite them to use lanes dedicated to the Pre Check program that the agency began in October 2011.

One reason for the program is to see that the TSA Pre Check lanes are being fully utilized during the day. The system works like this: As you are in the queue, behavior detection officers will be observing you, and if they feel that there is nothing about you that alarms them, you might be asked to come out of the queue, and invited to go through the Pre Check lane,” Because this is done randomly, there is no guarantee that you will be asked to go through the Pre Check lane. Then you would be able to keep your shoes on and leave your laptop in its case. You still have to go through metal detectors or body-imaging machines at the checkpoints. Your carry-on will still be put through magnetometers. Behavior detection officers use techniques familiar in some overseas airports, engaging passengers in casual conversation to look for suspicious behavioral clues.

China’s Plans for Mega Airport

Beijing recently revealed plans to build a mega-airport that is set to the best and the biggest in the country. When it opens in late 2017, the Beijing Daxing International Airport will have space for 130 million passengers a year, that is 23 million more than London’s Heathrow and New York’s JFK airports combined!

It is planned to be 55 square kilometers, which is slightly larger than the island of Bermuda. The airport will feature eight commercial runways and the design aims to limit the distance and time it takes the planes to taxi to and from the gates. Passengers will be able to take a high-speed train that will take them from the airport to Beijing in less than 30 minutes.

Virtual Staff at Paris Airport

Orly Airport in Paris is experimenting with virtual boarding staff to make things look more high tech. The virtual boarding staff member is always smiling, never takes a break and will not strike.

The project is being tested at Orly and over the past month the virtual staff have received a mixed reception from travelers. The images materialise seemingly out of thin air when a boarding agent – a real live human – presses a button to signal the start of boarding.

They are actually being rear-projected onto a human shaped silhouette made of plexiglass. Three real-life airport boarding agents were filmed in a studio to create the illusion, which the airport hopes will be more eye-catching and easier for passengers to understand than traditional electronic display terminals.

As you walk to your boarding gate, the virtual person says “Bonjour! I invite you to go to your boarding gate. Paris Airport wishes you a bon voyage.”

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to book your next trip to Paris!

Travel Team Agent Just Returned from Tahiti

One of Travel Team’s South Pacific Specialists, Camille at (1-800-788-0829 x 228)  just returned from a trip to Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea! While she was there, she toured many of the top hotels on these islands and experienced many of the fabulous activities.  This is a short recount of the three islands and little bit about her trip.  Be sure and call her with any questions before you book!

The island of Tahiti is very pretty! Yes there is the ‘city’ of Papeete or Fa’aa, but that’s just one part of the island. If you are interested in the culture & history of French Polynesia, this is the place to be. There are a couple of excellent museums and the big Le Marche or shopping bazaar, if you’re into shopping. I visited 4 different properties on Tahiti and personally, I loved the Radisson. But it’s on a black sand beach, and that’s not for everyone. The sand is so fine and beautiful and is used in a lot of spa treatments. My skin came back SO soft!! And that was just from BEING there! Not even any spa treatments. All of their rooms are ocean view and are very beautiful. You don’t have the option of bungalows here, though. If you prefer a white sand beach, then I would say the Le Meridien. The Intercontinental is beautiful, but their sand bottom pools gets the sand redone during the month of February, so you wouldn’t have that option. And then there is Manava Suites and they have all suite rooms. It’s also a beautiful property, but smaller than the others. You can always take day tours over to Moorea from Tahiti, too!

The island of Moorea is also amazing, but very different! Not as busy as Tahiti, but by the ferry it’s a little more built up. There is more of a variety of both land & sea activities on Moorea, I found. We did this great 4WD tour into the mountains where at the peak of the road we could see over both bays of Moorea. It’s shaped a bit like a heart, the island is, with two bays. I found the best snorkeling right off the beach at the Hilton Moorea. Now they have the option of garden bungalows with your own private plunge pool, as well as partial overwater and full overwater. Their overwater bungalows are really beautiful, but so are the garden! The private plunge pool is such a nice touch. And the snorkeling off the beach? Better than Bora Bora, I thought! There are lots of other properties in Moorea depending on how much more you want to spend. If you’d like to be more secluded, there is Legends, but it is more up a hillside and all the villas have private Jacuzzis. It’s a much smaller property but very romantic & secluded. Not on the beach, though. They offer boat transfers out to a private motu for the day! There is an Intercontinental as well and they have a turtle clinic and dolphin center, both of which are for rehabilitating injured turtles & dolphins. This is a huge property, but very environmentally conscious. They have standard hotel rooms but also garden & overwater bungalows. Or rather, partial overwater, but you can still jump right off your balcony into the water and snorkel over rich coral! The Sofitel Moorea is on the east side of the island and is the only property with views of Tahiti so it’s quite dramatic. I think this was my favorite. They have garden bungalows where if you request the first row, you’ll have an unobstructed view of the ocean because they are staggered behind the beach bungalows. They are also on the longest stretch of white sand beach in Moorea. There are also beach and overwater that are equally as stunning, but if your budget doesn’t afford the overwater, I think the gardens are beautiful. No plunge pool though, you have the entire protected lagoon! The also have an extensive spa with outdoor treatment rooms unlike any I’d seen before!

The island of Bora Bora – Yes, save the best for last. And actually, I wouldn’t say best, I would just say different. It really is just like all the pictures. But one of the major differences between Bora Bora and the other islands, is that the majority of the resorts are all on the fringing atoll encircling the island. Most people never even stay on the main island! You can do tours, I believe, and there is a town there, but the reason most people come to Bora Bora is the stunning lagoon and beaches. Here it really is the most expensive, too! But I also found my other favorite garden bungalows, at the Bora Bora Pearl. These private little residences have their own private plunge pool, and garden and outdoor shower. The whole setting is lush & tropical, but cool & soothing at the same time. And OH so romantic! They do have beautiful over the water bungalows, yes, and their beach bungalows are also amazing, but my favorite truly is the garden. You’re still just steps from the beach, but it’s just so much more private. And they have the biggest spa I saw with the most variety of treatments. Bora Bora is all about luxury and relaxation. Lounging on your deck or by the beach, eating fresh fish (food is VERY expensive in Bora Bora & Moorea! French Polynesia in general.) and maybe having a couples massage or private dinner on a secluded motu. Where Moorea has the 4WD tour, in Bora Bora, you swim with & feed sting rays. My second favorite property is the Le Meridien Bora Bora because they have a turtle sanctuary and are very environmentally conscious and they have the largest glass floor over water bungalows. Just stunning! We stayed at the Four Seasons and I would say the overwater bungalows at the Four Seasons are the largest I saw! The glass panes in the floor are smaller, but there were about 4 in our room, and the room plan is open & spacious. They start their check in process at the airport and finish it with a private tour of your room! Top notch service.

All properties provide all sorts of complimentary non motorized activities and most include breakfast. I’d say taking out a breakfast & dinner plan when in Bora Bora is the most economical way to dine. The breakfast buffets are HUGE! Everywhere. You really could just fill up with breakfast and then be ready for dinner and not have to spend anything additional while you are there! Well, we all end up buying drinks sometimes, but know it can be between $15 – $25 for ONE cocktail depending on the bar. It’s best to buy a bottle of something at duty free, grab some juice at the local shop and enjoy sunset from your deck with your sweetie!

Contact Camille at 1-800-788-0829 x228 or another Travel Team Tahiti Specialist today to begin planning your Tahiti vacation!

All About Australia’s “Sunshine State”

Queensland is Australia’s second largest state. Commonly called the “Sunshine State”, it boasts a warm climate, tropical beaches, World Heritage rainforests, a portion of the outback, the Great Barrier Reef, cozy beach communities and Brisbane, the third largest city in Australia.

Most visitors to Queensland arrive in Brisbane, as it is the main gateway to this region. Brisbane is a city for every traveler, offering an abundance of outdoor activities, art galleries and museums, shopping, beaches, fine dining and nightlife.

Here are some of the most popular attractions in Brisbane:

South Bank is a community vibrant in arts and culture, situated on 16 hectares of waterfront property. It is full of outdoor markets, cafes, restaurants, walk ways and bike paths. And for those warm Aussie days, cool off at Streets Beach by taking a dip in the swimming lagoon. Home of the Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Museum, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art and the Performing Arts Center it’s a great destination with those who have art in their hearts.

Story Bridge. Bridge tours are available on this famous bridge. A guide will take you on a 2 ½ hour climb, almost a kilometer up the bridge, providing stunning 360 degree views of the city, the Bunya Mountains and the Brisbane River.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary. The Sanctuary offers opportunities to get close to many different types of Australian wildlife, including kangaroos, wombats, dingos, and of course koalas! You can even experience holding a koala. The soft marsupial will cling to you like a young child; it is not your average animal!
Riverlife Adventure Center is a perfect way for any outdoor adventurer to spend the day. Located on the edge of the Brisbane River, they offer rock climbing, abseiling, kayaking, cycling and rollerblading.
Moreton Bay Islands are just a short drive and ferry ride from Brisbane. Offering dozens of sandy islands in the sheltered blue waters, Moreton Bay is a favorite getaway for Brisbane locals and visitors alike. Here you can feed the wild dolphins or make the rewarding hike up to the summit of Mount Tempest.
The Gold Coast is a very popular destination. In fact, it is where many Aussies go for holiday. With 70 kilometers of sandy beaches, theme parks, restaurants and shopping, you can’t go wrong.

Here are some highlights of the Gold Coast:

There are 35 beautiful beaches on the Gold Coast boasting activities like sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, speed boating, deep sea fishing, and simply enjoying the beach. Some of the more popular ones are Surfers Paradise, Coolangatta, Broadbeach and Currumbin.
The major theme parks in this region include Dreamworld, Sea World, Warner Bros Movie World, Wet N Wild Water World and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. These parks are a wonderful way to bring out the kid in you!
The Gold Coast is home to some of Australia’s best National Parks and Rainforests. Lamington National Park is where you will find Australia’s largest preserved subtropical rainforest. If you visit Lamington, make sure to try the Tree Top Walk. It is an elevated track, 15 meters above the rainforest floor made up of 9 suspension bridges. This park also has many walking and hiking trails, and picnic areas complete with bbq’s.
Also in this area are Springbrook National Park and Tamborine Mountain. Both have a plethora of gorges cascading water, interesting native flora and fauna and scenic walking trails.

The Sunshine Coast is located just 1 hour north of Brisbane. It is known for its 100 kilometers of gorgeous beaches and quaint villages. It is also home to the internationally renowned Australia Zoo.

Here are some highlights of the Sunshine Coast:
Glass House Mountains
Underwater World (largest oceanarium in Southern Hemisphere)
Noosa

Fraser Island is just about 180 miles north of Brisbane. At 120 km long and 15 km wide, it is one of the largest sand islands in the world. It is well known for it’s beautiful white sand beaches, dense rainforests and over 100 fresh water lakes. Unfortunately the beaches on Fraser Island are not safe for swimming due to strong undertows and tiger sharks in the area. There are many great swimming spots at most of the lakes, however.

Just north of Fraser Island is Great Keppel Island. It’s tropical climate and 17 km of fine, white sand beaches have been attracting visitors for years. Since about 90 percent of the island is covered in natural bushland, there are many hiking options. Some other popular activities here include snorkeling, diving, swimming, water skiing, and parasailing.

The Whitsunday Islands is described by many as pure island paradise. They are made up of 74 islands, however only 8 are inhabited. These beautiful islands are bordered by the Great Barrier Reef. They are most popular for sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, golf and tennis.

Cairns is a tropical relaxed city bordered by rainforest mountain rages on one side, and the Coral Sea on the other. It is the primary gateway to this area and the Great Barrier Reef. Some of the main highlights of Cairns are;

The Cairns Esplanade, an oceanfront promenade full of restaurants, outside cafes, shops, waterfront hotels and even a saltwater swimming lagoon.

Cairns also features an abundance of adventure activities, such as sky divining, bungee jumping, white water rafting, and tours to the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef is a must-see for anyone visiting Australia. It the largest reef system in the world, at more than 2,000 kilometers long. It is home to more than 400 types of coral reef, fish and sea life. It can be viewed by boat, plane, helicopter, or underwater observatories.

There are hundreds of snorkel and dive tour options for the Great Barrier Reef, as it offers some of the best diving in the world.

Approximately one hour north of Cairns is the sophisticated yet laid-back town of Port Douglas. Here one can find the pristine 4 Mile Beach, many fine dining options, upscale boutique shops, and a variety of oceanfront resorts and hotels.

Kuranda is a vibrant little village hidden high in the rainforest. It is very famous for the Kuranda Markets. Making your way to Kuranda can be even more fun than the actual visit.
The two main options are;

Scenic Railway departs from Cairns, going through 15 tunnels and over more than 30 bridges.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is a cableway, that runs between Caravonica to Kuranda, above the Barron Gorge National Park.

Cape Tribulation is the most northern settlement in Queensland. It is a beautiful, small village in the rainforest, where the rainforest literally meets the reef!

Daintree Rainforest is the largest rainforest in Australia, and is over 135 million years old. It also has the largest and most diverse range of plants and animals on earth. For visitors, it features hiking trails, camp sites, picnic tables, swimming holes and beaches. Guided tours are available, including river tours on the Daintree River.

If you’ve been thinking about traveling to Australia, contact a Professional Travel Agent today to get started booking your dream vacation!

Airline Scanning Boarding Passes from iPhones

Virgin Atlantic Airlines is now allowing passengers to scan boarding passes on their iPhone before a flight. The airline claims to be the first UK based airline to use Passbook for its boarding cards. Passbook is an application that allows users to store coupons, tickets, store cards and other forms of mobile payment. Customers can choose to have their boarding pass sent directly to their phone when they check-in online and it is then ready to be scanned at the departure gate before boarding the flight.

A spokesperson for the airline said “Passbook integration works seamlessly with our website, and will enable a speedy check-in and ensure your boarding card is stored safely and securely in the Passbook app on your iPhone or iPod touch.” Passbook stores the boarding card data in an industry standard barcode which can be scanned and read at departure gates at all Virgin Atlantic UK departure airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester.

Possibly the World’s Messiest Festival

The Spanish town of Buñol, located in the Valencia region will host its annual celebration of the tomato on August 31.

The festival takes place on the last Wednesday in August. Some 40,000 people come from round the world to take part in the festival. More than 100 tons of tomatoes are used in the battle. The festival lasts a week but the major day is the Tomato Fight day.

At 11 am a water rocket is shot off and trucks release tons of tomatoes onto the street. The hurling of tomatoes begins. Participants are instructed to crush the tomatoes in their hands before launching them through the air to reduce the impact of a successful hit. Everyone and everything is stained red as participants wade through a tide of tomato pulp.

An hour later, another water rocket is shot off signaling the end of the tomato throwing. The tomato mush is hosed off the streets, leaving the cobblestones bleached and disinfected thanks to the acids of the tomatoes. Participants also get a rinse.

The festival dates back to 1944 when a street fight broke out during one of the parades celebrating the town’s patron saints. During the street fight, tomatoes from a nearby vegetable stall were used as ammunition and the tradition began.

The Tiny Little Island of Wilson, Australia

Wilson Island, located just above The Tropic of Capricorn, approximately 72 kilometers off the Queensland Coast in Australia is indeed a little piece of paradise!

Just a tiny coral cay in the Great Barrier Reef, the island can only be accessed by complimentary boat transfer from nearby Heron Island. Those who visit can enjoy the natural beauty and its seclusion and the freedom from modern-day living.

Wilson Island is also a national park, with nesting green turtles and logger head turtles as well as much birdlife playing a key role in the island’s natural calendar. At night time the shearwater birds dominate with their mating calls.

The island features six permanent, luxury tents, for a maximum of 12 guests at one time. Every tent is located about 50 feet from the water, with ocean and reef views.

Contact an Australia Specialist today to book your amazing Wilson Island!