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Vacations… The Best Way to Enjoy Your Time Off

vacation | thl vacations

A vacation is getting time off to rest from work, school, or simply from our daily life activity. The best way to spend this time is with loved ones in a fun and or relaxing environment. It could be by traveling to the exotic Hawaii with its beautiful beaches and amazing tropical weather or to Orlando with its exciting attractions such as Seaworld, Islands of Adventure and Walt Disney World. Going on a vacation is a great way to explore other countries and to learn from different cultures. A vacation can be taking a flight to a far away destination or it can be a road trip to a different city within close proximity.

 

Going on a cruise is a great option for a vacation as well. Cruising gives one the opportunity to travel around the world while enjoying the magnificent views of the ocean throughout your trip. On a cruise you have the opportunity to enjoy the amenities at all times of the day such as: parties, drinks, exquisite food and around the clock service.

 

budget travel | thl vacations

 

The concept of vacationing has developed over the past two centuries. Before having a vacation, either flying or cruising was a luxury that only wealthy people were able to take advantage of but vacations are becoming more affordable every year. There are a few things that one should do when planning a vacation. First set a budget, that way you don’t spend more than you can afford. Second do research before hand, that way you will know where to go according to your budget so you don’t waste time looking for things to do when you get there. Last but not least make a schedule; creating a schedule will give you enough time to do everything you want to do.

 

All-inclusive vacations are a great way to vacation. All-inclusive vacations are when one pays upfront for their accommodations as well as food, drinks and amenities. There are several resorts and cruises that offer all-inclusive packages so you won’t have to worry about where to eat, drink, explore or party. All-inclusive packages are great for vacationers on a strict budget because they know how much they will be spending on everything upfront.

 

resale | thl vacations

 

Buying into a timeshare resale is another great way to vacation. Buying a timeshare resale is less expensive that buying a timeshare from the developer. Owning a timeshare week is great because you have a set place to go to every year and you still have the option to use it in other parts of the world if you want to have a new experience. Having a timeshare is a great way to vacation for families because they offer all of the comforts of home such as a fully furnished living room and kitchen. Owning a timeshare is almost like having your own condo in the destination of your choice at a fraction of the cost. Talk to one of our travel agents today to see if owning or renting a timeshare is right for you.

The Details on Travel Deals

amazing travel deals on the beach

amazing travel deals on the beach

Travel Deals offer package promotions for vacations that can make traveling easier, more convenient, save on budget and make luxury traveling more affordable.  Not all travel deals are about luxury travel but many are and they provide discounts that will save travelers money even with a higher end vacation. Many travel agencies also offer travel deals. The down side of some travel deals is that you don’t always get to choose the exact details- you may not get to choose which 5-seat car you rent or which hotel room you stay in.

Travel deal packages include discounts on a variety of traveling components such as airfare, car rental, hotel rooms for a certain number of nights, and sometimes dining, park and attraction tickets, cruises, entertainment and activities. Travel deals offer buying all of these at once at a discount. Some deals offer cheap car rental for booking a flight or flight and hotel.  Some deals offer free nights at a hotel for booking a certain number of nights.

family dining packages on vacation

Travel deals are packages that change with each offer and each company.   Some companies such as Hotwire.com, Orbitz.com, Expedia.com, Cheaptickets.com, Travelocity.com, Priceline.com and Tripadvisor.com have a variety ways of searching and buying travel package deals.  Most of these companies are online and the reservations are made online. Some companies can be done over the phone or in person. Check out travel deals for both your own local city and for extended vacations at AAA, ASTA Liberty Travel or if you are a student look at STA and Student Universe.  All inclusive hotels and resorts also offer their own package deals.  Other less known but extremely helpful deal search sites are Hipmunk.com, Pinnr.com, AutoSlash.com. Bing.com/travel

Easy popular travel deals are often found with the following companies including Disney, AAA and Club Med. Disneyworld and Disney World Resorts offer package vacations including hotels, parks, dining options and cruises. Certain Hilton hotels offer nights free when a certain number of nights are booked.  All-inclusive companies such as family oriented Club Med and romantic getaways Sandals have resort, dining and activity packages. Many hotels offer nights free after booking a certain number like The Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri offers a free third night.  AAA offers discounts on local activities for example in Atlanta, Georgia AAA sells Georgia Aquarium tickets at a great discount from their original price.

all inclusive | thl vacationsThe final best travel deal is not made in the discounts or reservations but from your actual traveling. Many airline, travel companies and major credit card companies offer travel reward cards and loyalty programs.  Delta Airlines and AirTran Airways offer frequent flyer mile systems; the more flights you take with these companies the more your mile points add up to earning you free airline tickets. These programs just require registering.  These two airline companies and others offer their own travel credit cards that give flyer mile points, and discounts at hotels, car rental companies and restaurants. These discounts can be used locally and during vacations to build up your rewards.   Use programs like Award Wallet to collect and keep count of all yours and your families points, travels, rewards, credits and expiration dates.  Most importantly have fun!

Christine’s Corner – Top Summer Activities and Where To Do Them

Summer is approaching and I know so many of us are looking forward to spending more time outdoors, enjoying longer daylight hours and soaking up the sun. Reports show that travel for Memorial Day weekend and summer is on the rise. According to surveyed travelers 30% said they are planning to travel this Memorial Day weekend and an astonishing 86%  said they are planning a leisure trip this summer. In fact I’m taking a trip to NYC in mid June and I can’t wait! If anyone else is planning to be there around the same time please leave a comment! I would love to help you plan or even meet up to grab a bite in the city. I’ve done some research on what the most popular summer activities and vacation destinations will be this year. These are my picks for popular summer activities and where to do them.

Shopping in NYC

Surveys show that the most popular activity this summer is shopping and what better place to shop than NYC, which happens to be the most popular U.S. destination for summer travel according to respondents. Shopping in Soho is how I plan to start my trip in NYC. Soho is the city’s poshest outdoor mall with cobblestone streets and loft like spaces. You can find designer pieces such as Chanel, Docle and Gabbana and Marc Jacobs. Madison Ave will be the next stop on my list followed by Herald Square on 34th street where the largest Macy’s in the world is located. Shopping in NYC wouldn’t be complete without a trip to famous China Town where thousands of tourists go every year to get knock offs that look like their favorite designer pieces. I will be writing another blog about my NYC trip when I get back so stay tuned!

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Catch a Red Sox game in Boston

Boston is projected to be another popular U.S. destination this summer. With tons of parks and green spaces Boston has a lot of outdoor activities to offer. Boston is also home to the major league baseball team the Boston Red Sox. Fenway Park, home to the Red Sox, sits conveniently in the middle of the city making it easy for fans to catch a game. Arriving a few hours early gives fans the opportunity to have drinks and watch batting practice before the game starts. If you can’t get tickets to the game or the Red Sox are on the road you can always take a tour of the stadium and grab a beer at one of the many surrounding bars in the area.

fenway_park

Visit a Museum in D.C.

With D.C. being so rich in history it’s no surprise that it will be a popular travel destination this summer. If you love local Museums like I do then you’ll absolutely love D.C. because there’s a ton of really great Museums! Travel Tip: Talking to locals is a great way to explore a new city or even visit a destination that you’ve been to before because they can tell you about their city better than anyone else can. A dear friend of mine recommend that we go to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum which was the most memorable part of my trip. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Newseum are also great museums in the area. Visiting the nation’s capitol wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Nation Mall to see historic monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial, the War Memorial and the National Monument.

Go to the beach in Miami

Trips to the beach are usually popular during the summer, especially after a long harsh winter and a chilly spring. Now that summer is almost here we are all dying to gather a group of friends to pile up in the car for a beach trip. South Beach is one of the hottest beaches in Miami and I mean that both literally and figuratively. South Beach has beautiful clear blue water and a lot of eye candy. Near by  Ocean Drive offers a variety of activates and events as well as several restaurants. There is always something going on at South Beach. Other beaches in Miami include Haulover Beach, Sunny Isles and Virginia Key Beach.

Destination Spotlight: Orlando

Orlando, FL – The City Beautiful

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Located in the heart of the Sunshine State, the City Beautiful, as called by many, offers a variety of attractions. Orlando has something for everyone. To start, it is home to world-class renowned theme parks that include Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, Sea World Parks, as well as water parks and other themed attractions. It’s no wonder Orlando has been recognized as the most-visited city in the nation for several years.

Located roughly 21 miles southwest of downtown Orlando, Walt Disney World covers an area of over 30,000 acres, including four theme parks, two water parks, 23 on-site themed resort hotels, a campground, two spas and physical fitness centers, five golf courses, and other entertainment spots such as Downtown Disney, which offers shops, restaurants, a Cirque De Soleil show, a multiplex movie theater, and live music and dancing at the House of Blues, a restaurant and nightclub venue. It is the world’s most-visited theme park and resort, attracting a variety of national and international tourists.

One of Orlando’s newer theme parks, Universal Orlando Resort originally opened as Universal Studios Florida in 1990. The resort now consists of two theme parks: Universal Studios Florida, where visitors can ride the movies, as the park’s slogan goes, and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, which features premier roller coasters, the award-winning Spiderman experience, and the whimsical world of Harry Potter. Universal Orlando Resort also includes CityWalk, an entertainment venue offering shops, restaurants, and nightclubs, in addition to concerts at the Hard Rock Live, and three first-class Loews hotels, as well as a Loews movie theater. It is the second-largest theme park in Central Florida.

For those who love animals, especially those creatures that call the ocean home, Sea World will delight and entertain, with its fish, shark, penguin, and sea turtle exhibits that are paralleled by none. The park also features captive orca, sea lion, and dolphin shows, and is home to Shamu, the most famous killer whale to ever grace the East Coast.

But theme parks aren’t all Orlando is known for. The city is also a hub for conferences and conventions, thanks to its state-of-the-art convention center that attracts businesses near and far. There’s also downtown Orlando, a metropolitan mix of hip bars and nightclubs, cool, kitschy shops, and restaurants with cuisine to fit any appetite. For sports fans, Orlando is home to the Amway Center, one of the most technologically advanced arenas in the world, with 18 high-resolution displays inside and a large exterior display of over 5,000 LED sticks, making it hard to miss on your drive down Interstate 4, the city’s main highway. The Amway Center is also home to the Orlando Magic basketball team and the Orlando Predators arena football team. In 2012, it hosted the NBA All-Star Game, and starting in fall 2012, the Amway Center will also be home to the reincarnated Orlando Solar Bears hockey team.

And for those who like art and culture, Orlando has a variety of museums, a thriving arts district downtown featuring an eclectic mix of galleries, and several professional and semiprofessional theater houses.

Christine’s Corner – Finding the right cruise deal

Ever wish you knew the inside scoop on how to find the best cruise deal? Now you can! THL Vacations travel advocate Christine has reached out to her favorite travel agents for tips on how to get the most bang for your buck when searching for cruise offers. She will let you in on a few secrets that every traveler should know about.

Ready to learn?

One of the first tips on finding a great cruise deal is search during the time travel agents term as “Wave Season”. Wave season is promoted during the first quarter of the year. This is when all the cruise lines promote their best deals to potential customers to entice them to book right away.

During wave season you’ll find different cruise lines promoting travel deals such as: up to $400 in onboard credit, 2-for-1 sailings, free drink packages, free shore excursions or kids sail free on select sailings. How do you know which offer will save you the most money overall? Ask yourself these questions before you begin your cruise shopping.

  1. Who is going on vacation with you?
  2. Where do you want to go?
  3. What are your top 5 priorities while on vacationing?
  4. How much do you want to spend?
  5. How much vacation time do you have?

Asking yourself these important questions and listing them in order of priority will guide you to the perfect deal for your vacation! Don’t make impulsive decisions and let a number like $100 OFF your deposit sway you at first glance. Always read the fine print. Many times there are better deals out there that are not attached to a monetary figure.

For example: “Book before May 3rd and receive $100 OFF your deposit” may not be a better deal than “Book before Feb 28th and receive a free shore excursion” because many shore excursions are well over $100 per person. Here is another example: if you’re taking the entire family on a vacation and you have three kids a deal promoting a “Free Shore Excursion” wont save you as much as a deal promoting “Kids Sail Free”.

With so many cruise specials out there, how do you know which one is right for you? My advice is to call a travel agent.  A great travel agent will guide you to the best deal for your vacation at no additional cost to you.

Here is a great example of a cruise deal that offers a lot of bang for your buck!

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5 Most Visited Cities for NYE

5. Orlando, FL

Orlando is a great way to spend the New Year’s with your family. Disney World is a great choice to ring in the New Year. The Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center and Hollywood Studios are open late (Animal Kingdom closes at 8 p.m.). But the party is at Pleasure Island! The streets are filled with music, food and entertainment. There is also a fireworks display at midnight to bring in the New Year.

4. Los Angeles, CA

Even though LA is a hotspot year round, the city bursts with energy on December 31st. There are tons of clubs and restaurants to choose from with a spectacular fireworks display at midnight. There is also the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade on January 1st. The parade has floats made out of roses, marching bands and a celebrity Grand Marshal that leads the parade. After the parade, the College Football Rose Bowl starts. Millions of spectators enjoying watching their favorite college teams battle it out on New Year’s Day.

3. New Orleans, LA

The party doesn’t start until midnight in New Orleans! The biggest celebration is at Jackson Square where packed partygoers ring in the new year with Baby Bacchus falling from his perch atop the Jax Brewery. After that, a huge fireworks display is shown over the Mississippi River. Once the fireworks are over, the partygoers migrate down to Bourbon Street where the party continues until morning.

2. Las Vegas, NV

Sin City knows how to through a party and New Year’s is no exception! The Las Vegas Strip is closed down to traffic and transformed into a huge street party. With tons of food, drinks and entertainment there are plenty of activities to keep you busy until midnight. Plus, there is a huge fireworks display at midnight to ring in the New Year. If you want to rub elbows with A-list Celebrities like Diddy and Kim Kardashian, expect to pay $150 to $250 to get into the upscale Las Vegas nightclubs.

1. New York City, NY

The most famous New Year’s Eve celebration in the world is at Time Square in New York City. This event should be on your “must do once in your life” list! Not only is the ball drop seen by millions, but the vibe in the city is reason enough to go to New York for New Year’s Eve. If you are planning on going to Time Square for the annual ball drop, make sure to get there super early if you want to see all of the entertainment festivities happening.

THL Vacations expands partnerships with key travel suppliers

 

In an effort to provide our valued members with some of the best offers and discounts in travel. The team from our marketing and travel departments attended a major travel tradeshow called Cruise World.

This yearly event features the best in travel providers such as cruise, vacation packages, car rentals, hotels and much more. The best deals possible along with upgrades, free nights, free meals and kids travel free are just some of the benefits of being a member.  Want to book a pre or post cruise when enjoying your property? THL Vacations has you covered.

Look for THL Vacations to attend many other travel shows this year in our search to find the best partners and stretch your vacation value.