2014 Travels

We are about 36 hours away from the New Year.  Each year is full of so much excitement and so many amazing opportunies.  At the end of each year it is always so meaningful to think back to the memories that were created.

While there is always so much to be excited about in the New Year, I always look forward to the travels that await.  I always have some travels that are planned out in advance, but then there are the trips that pop up out of nowhere (those are sometimes the best ones).  So as I look ahead to 2014 I am already anticipating my travels.

My big trip for the year 2014 will be my group trip to Alaska and the Yukon.  In August of 2014 I will be hosting/escorting a group on a 2 week cruise tour through some of the most beautiful lands you can imagine.  We start on the land (in Anchorage) and make our way through Alaska and into the Yukon territory in Canada.  The trip ends onboard a Holland America cruise ship where we spend 4 nights cruising our way south to Vancouver, BC.  I have been blessed to have been on this journey twice already and it is truly amazing.

Alaska 2014

Alaska 2014

I also know that I will be making a return trip to Jamaica at some point.  I am working on those plans right now.  If you have read my blog you know that I am in love with this destination.  Jamaica is very special to me and I am anxious to return soon.

Jamaica

Jamaica

Another trip that I am working on is a cruise on either Royal Caribbean for Disney Cruise Line.  For a while I was embarking on a cruise a couple of times a year.  This past year I did not step foot onboard a cruise ship.  That must change!  I will be taking a short cruise while on my Alaska journey, but I also want to plan a regular 7 day (or longer) cruise to the Caribbean.

Time to get my "Cruise On"

Time to get my “Cruise On”

A return trip to Cabo San Lucas is also in the works.  My wife and I spent an amazing few days there this past summer and fell in love with the area.  It was a trip where we truly just relaxed and recharged out batteries.  Life is so busy that everyone deserves a trip like this.  We love our children, but it was so nice to have adult time alone in paradise!  I am searching for some dates that work for us.

Relaxing in Cabo!

Relaxing in Cabo!

We live here in Missouri so we always travel to Branson, MO several times a year and stay in my parent’s lodge.  It is a short 4 hour drive and we enjoy going in the Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.  Each season has so much to offer.

Branson, MO

Branson, MO

My wife and I also hope to find a time to take a family road trip north to Omaha, NE and visit the famous Henry Doorly Zoo.  We love road trips and this is a good one!

Henry Doorly Zoo

Henry Doorly Zoo

It most likely will not happen in 2014, but hopefully in 2015……….I am so ready to take a trip to the Holy Land.  This is an area of the world that I would love to visit myself and then work on putting together groups so that they can experience this spiritual journey.  I just need to find the right opportunity to make this happen.

So what are your travel plans for the upcoming year?  Please share them in the comments.  I’d love to hear what destinations you are looking forward to experiencing in 2014.

Happy Travels-

Adam

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Why I Love Jamaica

Over the past couple of months I have been blessed to visit Jamaica twice.  Both times were for business purposes.  My first trip I spent in Ocho Rios touring resorts in that area.  A month ago I traveled to this beautiful country again for a Sandals Resorts conference for their annual Home-Based Agents Conference.  The conference was held at the Sandals Whitehouse which is located in Westmoreland, Jamaica (south coast).  They did transfer us up to Negril one of the days to tour resorts there.

I had been to Jamaica before, but only through cruising.  Jamaica was one of the ports of call so we were there for a day and then moved on.  I always said that I wanted to return and spend more time soaking it all in.

Jamaica Jamaica

While I have been to various Caribbean (and Mexico) destinations, Jamaica is quickly rising to the top as one of my favorites.  I often am asked why I am passionate about Jamaica.  I will start by saying that while working in the travel industry over the past few years I have learned that everyone out there is different.  Everyone has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to destinations.  What I like is different from the next person who comes along.  This is what fascinates me about the world of travel……..there are so many amazing destinations out there.  There is truly something for everyone. 

So why do I love Jamaica?

  • The lush landscape
  • The fascinating people
  • Rivers
  • Waterfalls
  • Colorful flowers
  • Interior mountains
  • The beaches
  • The beautiful colors of the ocean
  • History
  • Reggae Music
  • The climate
  • Jerk Chicken (and jerk sausage)
  • Blue Mountain Coffee
  • Overall character of the island

I could go on, but you get the point.  There is so much to love about this destination.  I am already trying to plan a time to return soon. 

Jamaica  Jamaica

When my customers contact me about a trip to a an all-inclusive beach resort, I always encourage them to look at Jamaica.  Perhaps they will fall in love like I did!

Yeah Mon~

Adam McGinness aka Lifetime Travels

Jamaica

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Hit the Beach or See the Sights?

I am always intrigued by how different my customers are.  Some of my customers ask me to find them a resort where they can literally spend their days at the pool and/or beach and do nothing else.  Others want to plan a vacation where relaxation is the last thing on there mind……….they want to see and experience as much as possible.

Let’s call those who like to relax at the pool and beach “Relaxers” and we will call those who love to go, go, go all of the time “Busy Bodies”.

Relaxing in Cabo!

Relaxing in Cabo!

But there are some people that cannot stand laying around a pool or on a beach all day long (the Busy Bodies).  There are also a lot of people that think vacations are meant for recharging the batteries so they would never book a trip where they are constantly on the go (the Relaxers).

I realize that sometimes vacations are schedule just so you can “escape” the real world for a while and truly relax.  I also realized that if you are going to Italy, you probably do not want to spend your entire trip laying around the pool, you want to get out and see the sights and soak in the history.

I am a good mix between the two.  For instance, this past July my wife and I spent a week down in Cabo.  We live very busy lives.  Our jobs and kids keep us on the go pretty much 24/7.  We left home with the intent to truly spend that trip relaxing and doing nothing else.  That is exactly what we did.  We both read multiple books, took naps by the pool, and just soaked in the atmosphere.  The Busy Bodies of the world would not have done well hanging around us that week!  We would have bored them to death.  At the end of that trip we did feel like our batteries had been recharged.  It was one of the best weeks of our lives.

One of my favorite destinations in the world is Alaska and the Yukon.  The past 2 summers I have taken groups up there and we have spent 2 weeks exploring those vast and beautiful lands.  This type of trip is for my friends the Busy Bodies.  There is not a whole lot of relaxing on these trips.  The best time to relax is at night and perhaps on the bus or train while traveling from one destination to the next.  Those 2 weeks are spent seeing and doing as much as possible and I love every second of it.

One of the reasons I love my job so much is because everyone has such different travel tastes and everyone wants something different out of their vacation.  If I dealt with the same type of trip over and over I would become bored very quickly.  Instead I wake up each day to customers that each have a different idea as to what they want out of their next trip.

So what type of traveler are you?  Are you a true “Relaxer” or are you a “Busy Body”?  Or are you like me, a good mix between the two and it really just depends on the type of trip you plan?

Busy Bodies have to see it all.

Busy Bodies have to see it all.

Tell me more in the comment section below.

Happy Travels!

~Adam Mac 

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What to do before you leave on your Vacation

Your airfare, resort, and transfers are all booked and your departure date will be here before you know it.  So what all do you have to do prior to leaving for your vacation?  The answer to this is not an easy one as our lives are all so different.  I’d like to give you a few things to think about when it comes to leaving home for a trip.  I also want to encourage you to add to the list by commenting below.

  1. Do you have pets?  What are you going to do with them while you are gone?  Start making those plans ASAP.
  2. Once your travel is booked, you should look into placing “stop” orders on any regularly occurring deliveries or services. These may include postal mail, newspapers, housecleaners and the like.  Many service providers allow you to place stop orders online; this is particularly the case for mail delivery and most newspapers. As most stop orders require one or two business days’ advance notice, make sure you take care of this at least three days before you travel.
  3. Do you have a yard to take care of?  Flowers to water?  Start thinking about who can help you with this while you are enjoying your vacation.
  4. Do you utilize timers for your lights while you are gone?
  5. Set your thermostat to the proper settings before you depart.
  6. Talk to your neighbors and let them know you are leaving and give them your contact information.  You might also want to let them know who might be stopping by your place while you are gone (to water, mow, check the house, etc.).
  7. Take care of all of your bills that will be coming due while you are traveling.
  8. If traveling domestically you might want to get your spending cash before you leave.
  9. Call your bank and let them know where you will be using your debit card.  This goes for Credit Cards as well.
  10. Emergency contact information.  Make sure you give someone (friend, relative, neighbor) your contact information in case something happens while you are gone.  Give them your resort/hotel information, etc.

So what are some other things to think about prior to leaving town for a vacation?  I’d love to hear your thoughts below.  Happy Travels!

~Adam Mac

travel fears

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Travel……..What Are You Afraid Of?

Fear and Travel sometimes go hand in hand.

As a travel professional I have had various customers share their travel fears with me.  Personally, my two biggest fears when traveling is when the plane lands (I always have my eyes shut and white knuckles) and I always have a fear my luggage is not going to make it.  Other than that, I’m good.  Put it this way, as long as I am properly prepared, I am good.

fly away

I used to worry (it was not a fear) about some other things as well.  I always worried about landing in a foreign country and having to find transportation and exchanging currency.  After a few trips were under my belt those worries went away.

So what are some of the fears that I have come across while working with my customers?  Here is a nice “Travel Fear List”:

  • Flying (air safety)
  • Losing Luggage
  • Traveling Solo
  • Navigating/Transportation in a foreign country
  • Communicating in a foreign country
  • Illness/Disease
  • Overall Safety regarding the destination
  • The food
  • The currency
  • Fear of being away from children/kids

Typically I will sit down with a customer and we talk about their fears (if they have any).  Some fears are totally legit, others are often-times totally off base because of something they “heard” from a friend or on TV.  I always tell my customers that I would never send them to a destination where I wouldn’t visit myself.

In my eyes traveling is a chance to see and experience this amazing world we live in.  While I am all for exploring an area, you do have to be careful when traveling.  You never want to put yourself in a bad situation.

One of my main jobs when planning a trip is to prepare you for your trip.  I don’t want you to have any surprises while traveling.  Preparation is the best way to overcome a lot of the fears listed above.

Let me ask you this………what are some of your travel fears?  Are there fears to add to the list above?  I want to know.  Please comment below.

Travel should be exciting, meaningful and full of memories.  Let’s work on those fears so you can fully enjoy your next trip!

Happy Travels-

Adam Mac 

Do you worry about transportation when you travel?

Do you worry about transportation when you travel?

 

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Your Flight Has Been Cancelled………Why You Should Call Me

I typically stay away from promoting my services here on this blog.  The goal of this blog is not to “sell” you anything, but to inform you about destinations, give you travel tips, and is a great place to share my thoughts about the world of travel every once in a while.  I will also dive into Social Media every once in a while since it is a tool that I use daily for my business.

So consider this post me just sharing my thoughts on why everyone can benefit from using a travel professional like myself.

My parents and another couple (their best friends) were all set to depart this morning on a 2 week journey through Italy.  I assisted them in the planning of this trip and took care of every little detail that I could.  Their flights, transfers, hotels, in-country transportation, tours, etc. were all taken care of ahead of time.  I used one of my favorite vendors for this trip; Globus.

venice 2

Since we live so close to the Kansas City International airport I always pick up my parents and take them to the airport when they travel.  I had about 50 minutes to go until I left to pick them up for their 2pm flight.  The other couple had made their own arrangements.

As I am working away on another trip, an e-mail pops up from Globus telling me that there has been a flight schedule change for these 4 that are traveling to Italy……..and that were within about 2 1/2 hours from departing.  There were no details included on the e-mail so I picked up the phone and called Globus.     departures

Come to find out the airline had cancelled their flight from Kansas City to Chicago.  Naturally that threw off everything else.  The Globus air department hammered it out with the airline and found a schedule that would still get my customers to Rome, albeit about 5 hours later than originally scheduled.

I quickly gathered all of the details, asked all of the needed questions about transfers, etc. and then promptly called my parents and the other couple.  They had not heard anything from Globus yet (again, this was about 2 1/2 hours from their scheduled departure).  Their new flights had them leaving 20 minutes earlier from Kansas City than originally scheduled and instead of a straight shot from Chicago to Rome, they were now schedule to fly from KC to Dallas, Dallas to London, and then London to Rome.  Their total flight time was increased by almost 5 1/2 hours.  Originally they were to land in Rome at 9:25am on October 2nd……….now it is 2:45pm on October 2nd.

Their tour actually begins on October 3rd, but I had advised them to fly in a day ahead of time just to have a day to relax, walk around, and this gave them the extra time in case of something like this happening.  Who knew.

Once my headache went away and I quit sweating, and once both couples understood what was going on, everything was fine.  By the way, Globus did try to call both couples but my father did not catch the call and neither did the other couple.  So it was up to me to supply them with this information and to make sure they understood everything involved with the change.

Long story short, my customers both said that they would have been somewhat lost if not for me receiving that e-mail from Globus, calling Globus, and then contacting my customers to explain what was going on and to make sure they made it to the airport in time to get checked in, etc.

That one flight being cancelled from KC to Chicago disrupted their entire trip over to Rome.  Unfortunately these type of things do happen.  I see it all of the time.  Sometimes it can truly ruin an entire trip.  Other times it is just a thorn in everyone’s side.  Regardless, my customers all felt so much better about things having me and my company on their side.

It is great to plan a trip on your own when everything goes perfectly, but what happens when things go awry?  Who do you turn to?  Who is there to help you?  The airlines don’t care that you are going to be late to Rome.

colossiumYes, if planning a trip to Vegas, you can plan it on your own and probably be just fine.  Heading across the state and needing a hotel for a few nights, sure, you can book that on your own without too much worry.  But planning on a family vacation to Disney World, planning that trip to Italy, planning that honeymoon, planning that Mediterranean Cruise………..call me.  I do not charge any fees so I don’t cost a penny more than if you were to book on your own.  I will be there to make the entire process simple for you.  I will be there to “have your back” in case something does go wrong.  It is a nice feeling knowing that you have me in your corner.

Happy Travels!

Adam Mac

 

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Destination Weddings

While I plan all sorts of amazing vacations, one of my favorite types of trips to plan are Destination Weddings.’  When a bride (or groom) calls me up and tells me that they’re considering a Destination Wedding my adrenaline begins to flow.

When most people think of Destination Weddings it seems that they envision being married on a beach.  Nowadays you can hold your wedding almost anywhere.  Mountain settings are becoming very popular, cruise ships are offering Destination Weddings now, Paris, Italy, Greece……….the list could go on and on.

There are so many advantages to these types of weddings.  Not only do you have the opportunity to say “I Do” in paradise, but you will normally save a lot of money, you have the services of on-site wedding planners to take care of all details (less stress), you can invite those who are most important to you (more intimate), and it is a wedding and honeymoon all rolled into one.  No need to pack your bags and hop on a plane; you are already there!

236340

When it comes to planning this important event, you want to make sure that you work with a resort, hotel, cruise line, etc. that fits your needs and desires.  Everyone is a bit different in what they offer, what they charge for, what they include, etc.  I have developed some wonderful relationships over the years with several travel vendors.

One of my favorite companies to work with is Sandals Resorts.  They are a marketing machine so most everyone has heard of this company.  I have worked with both their Sandals properties (adults only) and their Beaches properties (family resorts).  Sandals just has that “It” factor.  Whatever “it” is, they have “it”!  They know how to take care of their customers and especially know how to take care of their brides and grooms.  They specialize in romance.

When it comes to planning a wedding, their wedding planners are top notch.  You can have a simple ceremony or you can go all out.  They also offer all sorts of “tools” when it comes to helping the bride and groom make their decision.

I always feel so confident when working with them.  My job is to take care of my customers and aligning my customers with the right company is one of the most important parts of my job.

Here is a short video from Sandals regarding the Top Destination Wedding Tips for Getting Married Abroad:

Happy Travels!

~Adam Mac

css-logos-color

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“I Need Some New Luggage”

Is the above statement something you find yourself saying quite a bit?  I usually find myself saying that twice………before a trip when I am packing and after a trip after I have seen everyone else’s sweet looking luggage at the airport, hotel, etc.

So let’s talk about making that important decision to purchase some new luggage:

Vacation accessories are an expensive investment, so we all need to educate ourselves about how to buy new luggage before committing to a purchase.  After considering our various travel patterns and how we pack, we’ll all be better prepared to make a practical, cost-effective decision.  luggage

In today’s market, there are a lot of quality luggage companies offering a vast range of styles, sizes, weights and costs.  It is very beneficial to determine travel patterns (how often do you travel and what type of travel are you doing), how you pack (light or heavy) and which characteristics are most important before beginning a search for new luggage.  As with most apparel; style, design, and type of material used will greatly impact the bottom line cost of purchase.

Weight is now becoming more and more of concern for travelers.  How many of you have invested in your own luggage scale?  I received one for my birthday and it has been a wonderful tool!  Most of us will try to pack every inch of our suitcase and a piece of luggage that is heavy to begin with can make an already grueling trip all that much more difficult.  In addition to ease of travel, airlines have added to the concern over weight by applying a surcharge for bags of a certain weight.  There is a tradeoff, however.  While luggage makers are always trying to improve the balance between weight and durability, generally speaking, the more durable a piece the heavier the material used.  This does have an exception, though. Hard-sided, polycarbonate luggage (see pic below) could be considered the most durable and some of the lightest offered (not cheap!).

Polycarbonate-3-Piece

Most of you are familiar with the standard, wheeled piece of luggage, but there are some alternatives to consider.  Garment bags work well for short business trips or weekend escapes.  They are perfect for all types of clothing.  Designed to keep clothing from wrinkling, garment bags can be wheeled, or slung over the shoulder for easy transport.  Users must remind themselves to pack light, however, because this luggage style can be awkward to carry when overloaded.  Duffel bags also work well for small trips, but can be troublesome if they are overstuffed.  Travelers should buy duffel bags designed with a handle and wheels for increased ease of use.  Often times these smaller bags with no internal structure/support allow for a more fashionable design, such as leather.

travel-duffel-bag

What do you look for when purchasing a new piece of luggage?  What is important to you?  Comment below.

Happy Travels!

~Adam Mac

 

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Measuring and Tracking My Social Media Efforts

Here we are on Day 10 of the 10 Day Social Media Challenge. Another challenge has come to an end.  The past 10 days we have learned all about the various forms of social media that exist and how we can use these tools to increase our brand awareness and become more successful no matter what our business is.

Day 10: How to Build a Social Media Strategy That Delivers and Measure and Track Your success

What good does it do to use social media if we have no idea of what is working and what is not working?  We can all spend a lot of time on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.  But what if we are totally missing the mark with these tools?  Everyone has a different message that they want to convey.  My message is all about the world of travel.  My goal is to reel followers in so that they are anxious to see what I post next.  By doing this I become their go-to expert and therefore will gain new customers.  What message are you trying to convey on social media?  Do all of those social media sites help you convey your message or should you only focus in on the ones that are truly making a difference?    

Today’s challenge is to write a blog post response to this question:

How are you measuring and tracking your social media efforts online? 

I have not given Google Analytics a shot yet.  Over the past month and a half I have heard so much about the benefit of using this tool.  Natalie Sisson mentions it again today in her Day 10 post.  A tool that I am using is Hootsuite.  I absolutely love using this tool and I use it every day.  There is so much you can do with this amazing dashboard. 

I also measure and track my social media efforts by the number of new customers I gain through these various tools.  I always ask my new customers where they heard about me and most of them say Facebook.  I have gained some new customers through LinkedIn and Twitter as well.  I record these leads in my booking system and can see where all of my customers are coming from.

So it is time to quit talking about Google Analytics and actually use it!  I look forward to trying this tool out for myself. 

lift the world

Thank you Natalie for another beneficial challenge.  I look forward to seeing what you come up with next!

Happy Travels!

~Adam Mac   

 

Relaxing in Cabo!

Relaxing in Cabo!

   

     

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Building a Blog With Purpose

Welcome to Day 9 of the 10 Day Social Media Challenge

 

Day 9’s topic is How to Build a Blog With Purpose and Profit From it

Just over a month ago I was pretty much a blog virgin.  I had a blog but I had done all of one post in nearly 4 months.  Honestly I really did not know what the heck I was doing.  But then along came Natalie Sisson aka The Suitcase Entrepreneur to the rescue!  Natalie held a 30 Day Blog Challenge that pushed me to post each and every day for 30 days straight.  Not only did I learn so much about blogging, but I learned quite a bit about myself as well.

Today’s challenge is to write a blog post response to this question:

How will you build a blog with purpose that you can also profit from?

After completing the 30 Day Blog Challenge, I have a much better idea of how to build my blog with purpose and how I can make money off of it.

I am going to write about my passion……..travel. 

I will not try to be anyone else, just me.  My followers will know my personality and will come to expect entertaining and quality posts on a regular basis.

The more personable I am the better.  Interacting with my followers is key.  Following other blogs and commenting on posts is something that I am already doing.

Build relationships.  This is what it’s all about.  The stronger relationships I build the more people I will reach.  I have built relationships through Twitter, Facebook, and now through my blog. 

Visuals.  Travel is a very visual industry.  The more visuals I post the better.  People love to see pictures of amazing destinations.  Colorful and entertaining photos will be a staple on this blog. 

IMG_0930  Paris France

Provide Value.  The more value I provide the more customers I will gain.  I live and breathe travel daily.  I can offer all sorts of value when it comes to the world of travel. 

Sponsors.  As my blog grows I do plan on seeking high quality sponsors.  I am very good at building relationships and creating bonds with other companies and individuals.  The sponsors will come in time.

I also look to promote other company’s products periodically.  If I can promote their services or items on my blog then that will be an additional source of income for me. 

Using my other social media tools will also be key to creating a blog with purpose.  I will promote my blog through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. 

Continuing to educate myself on blogging will be very important. 

So there you have it.  I look forward to watching this blog evolve over time.  I hope you join me on this journey.

Happy Travels!

~Adam Mac

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