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As you consider your travel plans for 2023 and beyond, we want to spend some time sharing new information on the visa requirements coming to European travel, specifically the Schengen Area.
If that term is new to you, don't worry, we've attached a photo to the right from the European Travel Information & Authorization System. The Schengen Area is comprised of 27 European countries that have signed an agreement to abolish internal border control so that working European families could travel seamlessly between the agreed upon countries. As you can see, there are some countries that are a part of the European Union that are NOT included in this area, as well as non-European Union countries that ARE included. The most recently added country to this Schengen Agreement was Croatia, which was added on January 1, 2023.
As many countries and areas of the world have been reevaluating their own border control and safety measures, the Schengen Area decided in November of 2016 that they would begin instituting a visa program for citizens of some 59 countries, set to launch around November of 2023.
Whale Watching is Back in Hawaii!
It's that time of year! Amidst all of the visiting family members and holiday travels, the other great and majestic visitors are returning to Hawai‘i’s Islands! Today, we're talking about the migration of the North Pacific humpback whale. Each year from December to May, scientists estimate that two-thirds of the entire North Pacific humpback whale population return to Hawai‘i to breed, calve and nurse their young. Humpback whales, or koholā in the Hawaiian language, can be seen from every island and there are a variety of ways to experience these awe-inspiring animals from both sea and shore. Our friends at the Hawai'i Tourist Board have shared some of their favorite spots on the islands to see these beautiful visitors. And if you are ready to book your own excursions, feel free to look through this list of possibilities through our partners at Project Expedition.
Island of Hawai'i
Over on the island of Hawai‘i, there is an unforgettable storytelling experience aboard the Kalama Kai, Mauna Lani’s 42-foot power boat. This experience is available exclusively to Mauna Lani guests until springtime, when you can survey the horizon for signs of a fluke or breach while learning long-lived legends passed from one generation to another. Another option is in the Waikoloa area out of the Honokohau Harbor. If boats aren’t your thing, you can still catch a glimpse of the humpbacks from the shore at Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site. In addition to whales, dolphins and black-tipped reef sharks are common sightings.
Now that we're in full holiday mode, you may already be thinking of all the different treats you will be baking (or buying!) and the holiday feast you will be preparing or enjoying with your loved ones come Christmas! There are so many great traditions within our own country, but today we wanted to share a few global food traditions, with one from our own, to help us gain a larger perspective of the ways different countries celebrate this holiday season around the world.
FRANCE - Bûche de Noël
Among some of the more elaborate and savory foods that France has to offer, Christmastime comes with a feast that includes oysters and foie gras--fattened goose or duck liver. Their main meat is usually capon, turkey, or pheasant and they top off the meal with a delicious dessert feast that includes their version of our Yule Log, the Bûche de Noël. This spongecake is often covered in chocolate buttercream and tiny meringue "mushrooms." What a delicious way to end a meal!
It's that time of year again!! Christmastime and the holidays seem to sneak up every year and we know that amidst busy schedules and shopping sprees, some of us would love nothing more than to soak up a new city with our loved ones, experiencing the charm of a beloved destination. What could be better than combining the beauty and wonder of Christmastime and traveling with loved ones!? We want to share with you five different European Christmas Markets and a beautiful way to see multiple destinations in one trip!
First mentioned in the year 1628, the Nuremberg Christmas Market is considered one of the oldest markets to visit. The market takes place in the main city square with over 180 stalls filled with beautiful toys, trinkets and traditional Christmastime decor. What makes this market even more beautiful is that it is called the "little town of wood and cloth" as nothing is made cheaply or of plastic here! If you would like to experience the fullness of the opening of the Nuremberg Christmas Market, we suggest visiting the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent as a local girl always performs the Christkind, a beautiful prologue that begins the festivity at this charming and historical market.
Recently, I have been fortunate enough to go on two group vacations which brought up the age-old question of who pays for what and how do we keep track of the expenses. Fortunately, someone else has thought of this too and developed an app for phones, iOS and Android. If you haven’t tried one of these apps before, I recommend you give one a try for your next trip.
Splid and Splitwise are apps both designed to split up group expenses and track who paid and for what. Both have their advantages and are easy to set up for a group and use. Knowing who you are traveling with and how you want to split your expenses is an important decision to make before deciding which of the two apps we tried. Both can split expenses equally and by share, only one can do it by dollar amount.
My first experience using an app was tracking a 3-week trip in Italy with three travelers. Each of us downloaded the app, joined the group, and set up our account in the Splid app. Here is a image of the app with the group defines and a running total of balances.
We decided to share all our expenses equally. Meaning if we all ate a meal, or a taxi we shared it by the number of people eating or riding, and only one person paid. We added each expense to the app and indicated who paid and for how many and the app kept track each expense. We may have even been a little competitive about paying for it to see who could get ahead. See the image to the left after we’ve entered a few expenses.
Splid, makes it easy to see each expense, who paid and what your share of the expense was. It works offline, when you have no cellphone/Wi-Fi service and when you connect it updates the group account. Each person in the defined group can add and review expenses as you go. Lastly, at the end of your trip it even suggests who everyone can pay to settle.
If you're like us, you may be seeing a lot more of your friends traveling this summer or fall--or maybe you are taking that much anticipated trip that was put off or delayed due to the pandemic. You may have also heard, or experienced, some of the unfortunate interruptions or delays in the travel industry like lost baggage, flight delays or even cancellations. We know the moment a flight goes from 'on time' to 'delayed' to 'canceled' is one we never want to experience, however, like most things in life and travel, we can't always foresee these changes. At Shared Travel, we strive to help our clients feel as prepared and resourced as possible before your upcoming travel plans and we wanted to share a few of our favorite tips as it pertains to flight interruptions or cancellations.
WORKING WITH AIRLINES
There are a lot of reasons flights can become delayed or canceled and it is important to know what your options are. For flights using American companies, the Department of Transportation has just launched an interactive dashboard to help aid in understanding what airlines are responsible for and what to do when compensation has not been provided in a circumstance where it is deserved.
CONTROLLABLE DELAYS OR CANCELLATIONS
When airlines are experiencing strikes or understaffing, you may find that your flights are becoming delayed simply due to a limited amount of workers, pilots and attendants. If this causes you significant delay or a cancellation to your flight, you may be entitled to vouchers, compensation or refunds.
According to the Department of Transportation,
"A controllable flight cancellation or delay is essentially a delay or cancellation caused by the airline. Examples include: maintenance or crew problems; cabin cleaning; baggage loading; and fueling.Airlines are required to adhere to the promises that they make in their customer service plan, including commitments to care for customers in the event of controllable delays or cancellations. The Department will hold airlines accountable if they fail to do so."
UNCONTROLLABLE DELAYS OR CANCELLATIONS
We all know that weather is the most common reason for delays are cancellation and that while flights hope to be scheduled around major weather events, it can still be unpredictable and unavoidable.
Regardless of the cause of delay or cancellation, it can be a good practice to simultaneously get in line with Customer Service as well as get online or on the phone with an airline representative to help aid in the flight changes. Take into consideration that if your flight is significantly delayed or canceled and you are trying to obtain vouchers for meals and/or hotels, these services can only be provided by the airport customer service representative.
Additionally, the Department of Transportation has created a helpful page for Refunds and whether you are entitled to one. Whether or not the cancellation of your flight is weather induced or controllable, airlines are required to issue you a refund if a cancellation or significant delay occurs and you wish to no longer travel. One important thing to note is that each airline has a different definition around 'significant delay' and the Department of Transportation has not issued a definition for airlines to adhere. Check with your airline to know for sure!
WHEN WILL AIRLINE PRICES DROP?
If you've been waiting for those cheaper airfare prices, you may soon be rewarded with the fall prices of travel. Our friends at Centrav and Wall Street Journal are tracking prices and finding that gap between summer travel and fall travel will be wider than usual.
According to the flight and travel tracker app Hopper, the average price for a round-trip domestic flight is around $298, compared the summer highs of over $400. How does this compare? Normally, the difference between summer and fall prices sits between 10%-15%, however this fall we could see price drops of up to 26%. Before we start thinking everything is going back to 'normal,' we also need to remember that these fall prices are still roughly 19% higher than they were back in Fall of 2019, before the COVID19 pandemic began.
If you're looking at International Travel this fall, you'll be please to hear that prices are also dropping at some major hubs like London and Amsterdam. Travel in September and October can be up to 25% price difference than it was earlier this summer, according to flight tracking websites like CheapAir.
GREAT TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND
Track your prices: While summer prices and price tracking were outliers, the fall should bring back some of our usual trends. This means that prices should drop steadily up until 20 days before travel, when prices will start to climb quickly. While waiting can save you money, make sure that you are tracking the prices so you know when to act quickly.
Keep flexibility in mind: If you are able to be flexible with your travel dates, you may be rewarded. Weekdays tend to be at lower cost that weekends, even during the fall. Also, booking flight times earlier in the day may provide a great buffer in the even of those pesky delays and flight cancellations.
WHETHER OR NOT YOU'VE BEEN PATIENTLY WAITING FOR FALL TRAVEL, NOW IS THE TIME TO CONTACT US AND ALLOW US TO BOOK YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE!
Are you preparing for an upcoming trip? Are you a notorious over or under packer? We know that traveling by airplane can be both exciting and a means to an end to get to that idyllic destination. We've done our fair share of accumulating sky miles and wanted to share some of our must-haves for our carry-on luggage. We hope they save you some headaches, and if you think we should add anything, share with us your best tips and essentials in the comments below.
1. Travel documents, passports and copies
While you’ll obviously need boarding passes and passports to make it through security for those international destinations, we suggest copies of your passports and travel documents as well. This is helpful not only as you travel to your destination, but can be very useful when you arrive. We suggest leaving your physical copies behind in the hotel safe (unless you'll need a legal copy for your outing) and taking your copies with you.
2. noise cancelling headphones
Noise cancelling headphones are a must have on flights as you have so many other noises competing for your ears--babies, a snoring neighbor, or even the jet engines. If they are wireless, we suggest making sure they are fully charged before take-off.
We know that preparing for a trip abroad contains many questions about foreign currency and credit card usage. We have gathered some information from top financial companies like NerdWallet as well as some of our own thoughts to help give you five tips for using your credit card abroad . While we may have some favorites that work for us, none of these tips are promotions for companies that we have partnerships with.
1. BRING Cards that are widely accepted
One thing you'll want to keep in mind is the type of credit card you bring abroad. While it may seem that all credit card companies are the same, you're going to have much more luck carrying your Visa or MasterCard abroad than you will a Discover or American Express card. Discover and American Express are working on amending this dilemma, but we advise taking a more widely accepted card and making sure you bring multiples. No one wants to be stranded at a shop with a card that gets declined and this can happen for a multitude of reasons. To put your mind at ease, diversify the types of cards you bring and embrace the unexpected.
We often get asked what to pack or take when going on a first-time trip to Hawaii. Though you may have taken tropical trips before, there may be a few things added to your list you had not thought of before. (All of the links are simply for your benefit and we do not receive any commission from these products)
Kauai combines the beauty of rolling green landscapes and tropical foliage on the Nāpali Coast with the majestic red rock and secluded waterfalls in the Waimea Canyon. Wherever you travel in Kauai, we know that the Garden Island of Hawaii will welcome you with rich and beautiful landscapes.
It's probably pretty obvious that you will definitely want your sunglasses on a tropical trip like Kauai, but one thing we would add to your packing list are sunglass keepers like these so that you don't lose your sunglasses on boat trips or hikes around the many beautiful waterfalls Kauai has to offer--believe us, we've done it! Like many tropical places, the weather in Kauai can shift from day to day and is prone to having intermittent rainstorms. Because of this, we suggest packing a lightweight rain jacket that is breathable and waterproof for those afternoon showers.
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