Keep up with all our travel updates and adventures.
We all might know that in order to travel internationally, we need a passport--that blue little book granting access to discover the rest of the world! While the process to apply for a passport is fairly straightforward, the age of COVID has caused many delays in terms of processing and mailing times. We wanted to share some new information with you, coming straight from the US State Department.
What to Expect
Processing times (up to 12 weeks for routine; up to 6 weeks for expedite) do not include mailing times. Mail times vary and delays have been significant. Plan ahead.
WHAT THEY SUGGEST
More about Status Updates: It may take up to 6 weeks from the day you submit your application until your status is “In Process.” During these 6 weeks, your application is delivered to a mail facility, your payment is processed, and your application is entered into our system. Even if your passport status update says, “Not Available,” your application and supporting documents are safely on their way to us. Check online for your passport status.
Use Self-Service Tools Online: The call center is experiencing extremely high call volumes with longer-than-usual wait times. You can get your questions answered immediately by using one of the self-service tools available on their site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What you see online is the same information that call center representatives can share with you by phone.
Planning to Travel? Apply Early! Apply at least six months before planned travel. Due to limited availability for urgent travel appointments, they cannot guarantee you can receive in-person service at a passport agency or center. They are prioritizing customers with life-or-death emergencies. They do not charge a fee to make an appointment. Visit the Passport Agency and Center page to learn more.
Renew By Mail: Adults with 10-year passports can renew them by mail instead of appearing in person.
We hope this helps you in your future travel planning! When you are ready to get more stamps in your passport, let us know. We love the sound of clerks stamping passports, opening gateways to new destinations!
Ready to get more stamps in your passport?
When you think about Venice, you are sure to picture the waterways of this city, with men and women discovering its beauty by way of the gondola. You may know that the gondola used to be the main means of transport in Venice, but you may not know that the art of the gondola has evolved over the past 1000 years! The boats are made from 8 different types of wood and are constructed in boat yards called ‘squeri’ by gondola builders who have been in this line of work since the 11th century. Every gondola is 36 feet long, 4.5 feet wide and a little over 2 feet high. They are built in an asymmetrical fashion, with the gondolier's body type and weight in mind, so that as they row through the canals of Venice, the boat is completely stable.
It’s not easy to become a professional gondolier. Requirements include attending a special school, passing a public competition and being apprenticed to a professional gondolier for 6 to 12 months. Traditionally, only men were allowed to be gondoliers. The first female gondolier or gondoliera was licensed in 2010. Giorgia Boscolo, the daughter of a 40-year gondolier veteran, was the first to pass the requirements and obtain a license!
Whether you are interested in the craftsmanship of the gondola, seeing a city from a different point of view, or just looking for a romantic evening with your special someone, the gondolas of Venice are sure to suit your dreams.
ready to experience the gondolas of venice for yourself?
Ciao! Hola! Bonjour! Welcome back to Europe!
The unique history, culture, cuisine and heritage of countries across Europe has been a top attraction for American travelers. Now, as European borders are opening again, country by country, travelers are queuing up to visit this summer and beyond. And for good reason, as many travelers have had to put milestone trips to Europe on hold over the past 16 months. American travelers will be among the first to be welcomed back to Europe, giving an incredible opportunity to experience the major sites and small villages without the historic crowds, allowing for a real immersive and authentic experience.
Vaccinated American travelers are currently welcomed in much of Europe, including Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia and Iceland — although the entry requirements may differ between each country.
The European Union is expected to green-light American tourists across all member countries soon, outlining a EU wide standard protocol, and then it will be up to the 27 member countries to add any qualifiers or restrictions. Once these countries do announce their plans, it’s a safe bet that tickets will sell fast and prices will increase to match demand.
Our friends at Nexion have pieced together some fantastic information on some hidden gems of European travel as well as some of your favorites. So read on and dream on and then contact our agency once you’re ready to start planning your European escape and let our experts help you navigate the best options for your flights, accommodations and activities while helping you best understand each country’s unique travel requirements.
ICELAND WILL IMPRESS YOU
Travel advisor Sandy L. visited Iceland in May 2021, where she hiked every day, felt safe wherever she went, had one harrowing drive around a mountain and easily handled the country’s safety rules.
Are you ready to plan your european adventure?
Every trip to the South Seas should include a treasure hunt for the perfect pearl. The beautiful flexibility of the Tahitian black pearl is that it can be worn, strung on a rope of leather cord, or á la Cleopatra, with one baroque globe the size of a gumball, dangling from each ear. No matter how you wear them, the magic of pearls sets the skin aglow. It’s no wonder women have treasured them throughout the millennia. Our friends at Paul Gauguin Cruises have put together a helpful guide to choosing that perfect pearl.
Purchasing pearls like a pro is easy if you remember the five measurements of shine, surface, shape, size, and shade.
HOW TO BUY PEARLS
Start with the luminous outer coating of the pearl. It’s called nacre and is what gives the gem its shine. The thicker the coating, the more lustrous the pearl. Next, it’s important to have a smooth surface. The fewer the surface flaws, the more valuable the pearl. Tahitian black pearls come in a variety of shapes: round, circle, button, oval, and baroque. Choose what suits you. Large pearls are not very common so the larger the size of the pearl, the more valuable it is. The last measure is color. Tahitian pearls are most commonly found in the hues of charcoal, silver, and dark green. For a more exotic and valuable gem, choose one in peacock, rose, or rainbow.
Whatever style you are drawn to, we hope that you enjoy the treasure hunt that is finding that perfect pearl. May the adventure to find it be a treasured memory.
Are you a website designer? Trying to launch your own business in the midst of quarantine life?
We wanted to take a few moments and share a new program that we've been enjoying!
Take a look at Baamboo Studio!
Baamboo Studio is full of great Weebly apps and themes to make building your business website a breeze. There are free and paid for options that will set your business apart while being so easy to use, every level of designer will be able to make the appropriate modifications with ease.
We know you don't want to be spending hours upon hours creating that perfect aesthetic. So, if you haven't found a platform that works for you, give Weebly a try and add Baamboo Studio elements for that extra design upgrade.
Happy website building!
Yes, it’s a bit of a silly word, a close-to-clever portmanteau invented by some inspired blogger. But still, at the heart of “vaxication” — vacation experiences that vaccinated travelers can enjoy right now — is more than just a popular internet idea.
Inside that word is hope, excitement, relief and relaxation. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel, a tunnel that you step out from to find yourself basking in the sun on a palm-fringed beach. It’s the much-needed respite you need after the long, challenging year we’ve had. It’s the dream you’ve been having to be free and to explore and to dive into new cultures — finally realized.
If you’re fully vaccinated, this might be your opportunity to travel with confidence again. Currently, more than 117 million Americans are fully vaccinated, with numbers rising higher every day. As a result of this dedication to safety, countries around the world have opened their borders to vaccinated travelers, including the Bahamas, Barbados, Croatia, Iceland and Tahiti with more adding to that list each week. Read about these vaccinated friendly destinations in our Visit Now article below.
The European Commission announced plans to end a year-long travel ban and open its doors to vaccinated American travelers as soon as this summer. Also beginning this summer, cruise lines are launching engaging itineraries to bucket-list destinations, but only for vaccinated guests. If getting your vaccination scheduled is still on your to do list, maybe the idea of traveling again is the incentive you need.
Whenever you do decide to travel again, please contact our agency for assistance. We can provide up-to-date information so you can make informed choices, and also help you understand all COVID-19 travel requirements, cancellation policies, and refund options. Plus, we know a thousand ways to make your vacation simply amazing.
For now, read on and dream on! Then let’s go … on a Vaxication!
DESTINATIONS VACCINATED TRAVELERS CAN VISIT
Have you been fully vaccinated and are ready to conquer the world? Great news: more than a dozen international destinations are now allowing vaccinated U.S. travelers to visit, including close to home tropical locales, fan-favorite countries across the sea and exotic island paradises. Of those, these five destinations are definitely our faves.
READY FOR YOUR VAXICATION??
We know so many of our favorite destinations and adventures we were looking forward to last year needed to be put on pause. Many countries--especially our smaller, and more vulnerable ones needed to close their doors to many travelers over the past year to keep their inhabitants safe during the pandemic. It was a costly decision, but a healthy one.
BUT TODAY WE HAVE GOOD NEWS!
As the pandemic is winding down in many parts of the world, some of our harder to reach locations are opening back up! One that we are particularly excited about is Tahiti and French Polynesia--and they are so excited to be welcoming you back to their beautiful islands. We wanted to share some of their fantastic travel specials as well as a few key tips on booking a trip to Tahiti and her islands.
AIR TAHITI NUI
Return to Paradise – Departing LAX From $775*!
Departing SFO From $789*!
Only 8 hours non-stop from Los Angeles, The Islands of Tahiti are welcoming international travelers starting May 1st, 2021!*
To make travel as simple as possible during these new “normal” times, along with this very special, limited time offer airfare, go with confidence knowing that you have:
Don't miss this opportunity—limited availability!
Hurry, sale EXTENDED until May 18th, 2021!
LOOKING TO BUNDLE?? Check out these vacation packages!*
Bora Bora Escape - Daily Breakfast! STarting at $1808
Bora Bora is a fairy-tale creation of jagged volcanic peaks and aqua lagoons. Welcome to the incomparable hospitality and beauty Bora Bora is famed for, and where romantic possibilities are endless.
This vacation package includes:
9 Days, 7 Nights Limited Sale - STARTING AT $3000
Take a non stop 8 hour flight from Los Angeles to Tahiti on the award winning Air Tahiti Nui. Spend one night in Tahiti (it can be at the begining or end of the trip depending on flight schedule and availability) at the Intercontinental Tahiti. Visit the heart shaped island of Moorea and breathtaking Bora Bora staying at small intimate hotels.
MAGNIFICENT ISLANDS - STARTING AT $3399
Discover these intimate resorts in romantic islands of Tahiti, Moorea and Taha'a . First spend one night in Tahiti to unwind and get used to time difference. Take an island tour or go downtown to the market or taste the local fresh fish by the pier in the evening.
Next take a ferry to magical Moorea and spend three nights at the charming and intimate Sofitel, a true jewel of the South Pacific, with long beaches and great snorkeling.
Lastly spend three nights overwater at the luxurious Le Taha'a Island Resort and Spa. This is a 5 star Relais and Chateaux property located on its own motu. The restaurants herer offer French-Polynesian fusion food, from beachside snacks to gourmet dining. The Tāvai Spa will introduce you to Polynesian well-being rituals and restore your mind-body balance.
*All packages are limited availability and prices are subject to change until booked.
WHAT EXACTLY IS "OFF PEAK SEASON" TRAVEL?
In the travel industry, we will often speak of the year being divided into three seasons: peak season (~mid June through August), shoulder season (April through mid-June and September through October), and off-season (November through March). Of course, depending on your specific destination, these seasons may shift a bit due to when the wet and dry seasons are, or when a country's winter is.
One of the ways that you can save money on travel is by choosing to visit that idyllic location in the off peak season. There are a lot of perks to doing this: there are often shorter lines at those famous landmarks, museums are less crowded and you feel like you can take a slower pace discovering a new location. One of our travel partners, Globus, develops entire tours with this in mind that includes all hotel stays, tours, and airfare specials! We wanted to share a few of those with you today!
Contact us today to start planning your next adventure!
Do you remember what it feels like to have something awesome to look forward to? It's been a year since we could see a bright light at the end of a what's felt like a very long tunnel. And in that year, you might have forgotten how to get ready for a great getaway. The good news? Your next, best vacation is just around the corner (later this year or in 2022). In celebration, here are some out-of-practice reminders and tips to help you get on your way. Happy planning!
Open your heart, your mind and your calendar to travel. We look forward to welcoming you back to the world – and the joy of embarking on a perfectly planned vacation – soon!
There are only two things in this world which speak a language everyone can understand: Food and drink. It doesn’t matter which part of the world you come from. Tasty food is tasty food, and sweet drinks are sweet drinks.
You don’t have to be able to speak Japanese or Italian to know whether Indian food tastes great or not. Good food is good food, right? Perhaps nothing exemplifies this as much as cocktails do.
Even though each country concocts its own type of cocktail-some with rather questionable names, there are still a particular few that stand out more than the rest. It’s those few we’re going to talk about today.
We’re going to tell you about where they originated from and why you need to try them when you travel to those countries. Just know that by the end of this, you’re going to be incredibly thirsty. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
This drink hails from none other than Buenos Aires in Argentina. It’s made of egg whites mixed with soda, effectively making it one of the favorites of locals and vacationers alike. This whiskey has few equals in Argentina, and it’s a safe bet to say you can’t enter a bar and not have a sip or two of it. One easy way to identify it is the foamy character it has.
Yes, that’s what this cocktail is called. We laughed when we heard it too. Who even names these drinks? Anyway, the Porthole is a staple and much-loved cocktail of the people of Chicago, where it was first made.
The Porthole’s most unique feature is the way it gives the cocktail all kinds of flavors. It takes extracts from vegetables, fruits, spices and even herbs to give itself that hard-to-identify but great taste. We like to say this cocktail ‘dares to be different’ from the rest.
Even the name speaks for itself. This cocktail may not be new but it’s considered legendary by those who have tasted it before. It’s a creation of the people of Ireland, but it has already seen so much success with tourists and foreigners. Cherry juice is what primarily sweetens this whiskey and gives it its enticing, ochre color.
If you ever find yourself in Ireland, be sure to order a glass of this and spoil yourself. You’ll be glad you did.
Now that’s what we call a great name! When you hold a glass of something called ‘Gin Basil Smash’, be prepared for whatever comes next, even if it means you find yourself knocked out on the floor.
Seriously though, it’s actually a very simple cocktail made by combing lemon, gin, basil and syrup. The end result is one fabulous tipple that quenches thirst as well as brings smiles.
Do you feel like you want to try it now? It’s a German drink, so if you decide to head to Germany, you already know the first drink to try. You’re welcome.