People are still Making their Travel Plans for Fall and Winter of 2020 in light of the Pandemic!
Here are just a couple Quotes from our Happy Clients in the wake of the Corona Virus Outbreak:
“We are still looking forward to all your Super Fall & Winter travel deals! We are ready for our next BIG Travel Adventure starting this Fall!"
“So miss seeing the last minute quick travel deals, but I will keep dreaming for a much needed amazing vacation in the future!”
“Thank you, Escape Destinations Travel! Your tireless efforts to rebook our priceless honeymoon plans with the Covid Virus happening right now are so very appreciated, & we can’t wait to see what is to come on our Honeymoon. We plan to work with you again & again!”
Even though we can't travel Right at This Moment, we will soon be able to travel again. So the Only Question is...Where Can We send YOU this Fall or Winter?
Did you Know?
As of October 1, 2020 (this year) the commencement of the REAL ID Act will go into full effect.
All U.S. Travelers will be required to show a REAL ID-certified Driver’s License (indicated by a star on the upper right corner of your license) in order to board even a Domestic Flight. Get it NOW at your local DMV office, before everyone rushes to do so before October 1st. It is right around the corner!
Travel & The Corona Virus-
The travel industry has been hit particularly hard during this virus. We are offering travel news & a few suggestions below that may help you in deciding when to travel, once it is safe again. Here are a few specific updates we felt might be important during these unprecedented times in the Travel Industry.
My own personal thoughts:
Once this tragic Corona Virus is eradicated, we will once again be able to travel and roam freely. Stay home and please be safe. It may not be next week or even next month...but it will be in the very distant future, I believe. Many are already taking advantage of some super low Fall and Winter Travel Deals, in light of the Corona Virus. Contact us for details.
When it is once again safe to do so...we will ALL be able to enjoy this Big Wonderful World we live in. So until then, stay safe my friend!
By Jen Campbell of Escape Destinations Travel
Why on earth would you want to get a workout in while on vacation?
I get it, I truly do. Working out IS a lot of work, takes time, consistency and the last thing you want to do is workout while you’re on "vacation". Sometimes it's necessary to keep up your consistent workout schedule. Or, when you’re in the "zone" and want to keep those workouts in while on your vacation, I say go...for it! My body needs the workouts in order to stay active, move my joints, I have much needed energy and also for the nice mood booster. To me, workouts can be fun, just find the one thing(s) you love to do and get to it!
One of my most favorite things to do, while cruising, is jogging around the outdoor track on the ship. Some of my most favorite memories are running as we entered the ports of both Jamaica and The Caymans. It was a gorgeous thing to see the ocean turn into beautiful islands! It was beautiful to see the sun come up over these amazing islands and I could take in the sights while I was working out. I would have missed this, and probably have been in bed, had I not forced myself to get up and get a warm up on, while the sun was coming up.
Another one of my favorite runs/walks involved running the streets and small hills in Landstuhl, Germany. Imagine running up the hillside and looking down onto the beautiful, quaint sites of Landstuhl. If you’ve not been here, it’s quite picturesque. Can you imagine the smells of the Schnitzel cooking in one of the local restaurants and the smell wafting out, the espresso shot just poured by the local barista, or the smells of the Germany Bakery with the scent of Brotchen cooking, with the smells escaping their small shop. Or, perhaps the ability to simply say good morning "Guten Morgen" to the locals as you’re walking/jogging by. Let us not forget the smell of the gluhwein during Christmas time, this mulled, spiced, warm wine is delicious and smells yummy. Talk about immersing yourself into the local culture.
This past Christmas I was blessed with a wonderful treadmill (Thank You Santa) that allows me the
option (should I choose) to run/walk in different, beautiful places all over the world...but remotely. Just this past week I've re-visited Germany (my favorite destination) all from the comforts of my own home. While it’s not “quite” like being there, it is pretty darn close. Imagine running up the side of the small mountain to gorgeous Neuschwanstein Castle up front, walking and running the Christmas Markets in Nurnberg and running through the quaint, romantic Rothenburg ob der Tauber is pretty spectacular. My favorite (of course) was my recent run across the old bridge in Heidelberg as I made my way up the side of the mountain to reach the castle! Exhilarating!!!
So go for it. Talk a journey on your next vacation, whether it’s running along the shoreline in Bora Bora, or hiking up an old volcano in Hawaii…just get out there and enjoy the beauty of the beautiful outdoors! Your body will thank you for it and then just think...you can then eat that yummy dessert- guilt free.
I know on my next vacation, I’ll be doing just this. So, off I go...Time for a Jog!
Travel Memories- By Jen Campbell
This morning started out as a brisk one. It's about a week before Christmas, and the temperatures here in NC have finally started to slowly resemble winter-like conditions. I pulled out a warm, cashmere, teal sweater from my closet and nearly instantly the wonderful memories flooded back to me.
This sweater, was a special one that I picked up, on an amazing vacation in Germany, with my parents. My dad had recently passed away (a few months prior) and it was an especially difficult time in my life. This trip had been a dream of mine since I'd last visited around 1996, so at the time it was close to 20 years that I had been back. So back to the memorable sweater!
Mom, my step-dad Kevin, and I were headed to Garmisch-Partenkirchen for a trip to the Alps and a couple days stay at this gorgeous location, the Edelweiss Lodge & Resort, which was located at the foot of the enormous, idyllic, mountainous location. I knew it would be colder there, and I didn't have an adequate sweater for the incredible journey to Garmisch. So we stopped along one of the pretty, cobble-stone streets in a village, that I have long remembered the name of. My point: I remember this re-sale shop in this small charming town, with wonderful prices and great clothes. Every time I pull out this sweater to put it on my body, I remember where I purchased it from, and where I wore it. It doesn't have to be some expensive item to have such great value, but that it holds a very special memory in your heart and you cherish it each and every time you take it out. For me, it's this cashmere teal sweater, purchased in Germany, at a small boutique that I treasure.
What travel memory items have you collected, that you have such fond memories of, each time you take them out?
Please share with us below!
By Jen Campbell
As I think of the upcoming New Year 2020, I can’t help but reflect on the past year, which was full of some ups and downs on a personal level, but on a travel level I was soooo very blessed.
Spring Break was a time for the ultimate relaxation on a 7 Night Cruise on board one of Royal Caribbean’s Top Ships: Allure of the Seas for both myself and my teenage son. We spent 7 glorious days visiting St. Maarten, Puerto Rico and Royal Caribbean’s private island in Haiti, Labadee. We enjoyed the warm balmy tropical breezes. As my son was off meeting new friends all over this glorious ship, I took in some much needed rest in the hot sun, on a raft, with a nice, fruity, tropical drink in my hand. Allure of the Seas was a phenomenal ship and one I won’t forget many of their Top Must-Do’s on this ship like: ice-skating, surfing at sea, the fun themed carnival ambiance (think carousel and yummy food), gorgeous gardens in the center of the ship (called Central Park), many of the wonderful on board pool's, the captivating cantilevered hot tubs, a 3-d theater, amphitheater complete with water acrobatics, the numerous live shows/entertainment and always the funny family friendly and slightly risqué late night adult comedy on board. It seems this ship's party never stops. For me, it was never a dull moment on board this simply incredible ship! I can't wait to get back on board one day.
This Fall came an Amazing trip to Italy for me and 16 other lucky, small group travelers! This trip had been in the making and planning stages for 2 long years, so you can imagine my own anticipation of this European Vacation finally arriving. We all began our trip in the middle of September beginning in the bustling, ever so busy fashion capital of Milan, wove slowly down near the oh so quaint seaside shores of Italy (Cinque Terre and Portovenere), on to ancient, historical Assisi, the small, idyllic village of Gubbio, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Venice and few other small villas. At the end of the journey, we finally ended up in incredible Rome. The town of Rome was where ancient civilization began and it was full of many crowds, bustling museums, ancient columnar ruins, old cathedrals, gorgeous gardens and finally the Coliseum. We enjoyed 10 Days spent in Italy…where wonderful memories were made by all. We started out as friends, but by the end of the tour, it felt more like a great big, fun, rowdy family!! The wine was delicious, the food was spectacular and the scenery was absolutely breath taking! I can't wait to go back again to Italy one day.
This year (2019) has been a great blessing for me: travel wise. I was able to see wondrous new places, meet awesome new friends and enjoy parts of this Great Big World that we live in. I'm not sure what 2020 may bring (and I'm in complete anticipation) but I've already planned part of the Summer of 2021, with an incredible 9 night small group trip to tour England and Scotland on the books.
Want to join us? MORE DETAILS CAN BE FOUND HERE! This trip is bound to fill up quickly, so sign up today! Call us today to Book this Private, Small Group Tour: 910-379-4033,
An Overnight Layover in London!
By Jen Campbell of Escape Destinations Travel
It was the overnight layover of my dreams! I booked a super cheap round-trip flight to Italy and back, with a 19-hour layover in London at London's Heathrow Airport. The cost of my airplane ticket was around $450 and it was a Super Steal. Hey, being a travel consultant has its own personal perks at times! Was I a tad bit nervous traveling solo into a new city…Yes, but would I kick myself later if I changed my mind, ABSOLUTELY! So, I moved past the fear and proceeded with my plans!
With an hour’s plane delay from Rome to London Heathrow airport, I was now down to merely 18 hours. Let’s not forget that embarrassing scene of mine in the Rome airport. I was turning around to look at various souvenirs and contemplating something to bring back my co-workers from Italy, in the duty- free-gift shop, that my ever so slightly oversized backpack knocked over a bottle of red wine. Sweet, Italian Red Wine smashed to the floor into a million pieces, with the wine splashing all over my jacket, my pants and my sneakers. I was absolutely mortified. Not to mention I stunk like a drunk the entire rest of the way home, because this girl did NOT bring a change of clothes in her backpack!
So back to my London adventure story! I arrived well after midnight into London Heathrow airport and being the ever-cautious traveler that I am…I decided to roam the halls of the Heathrow airport for a couple hours, so that by the time I had rested up a bit, it would be daylight hours and I could then hop into the city to see the sights. No way was I going to see the city in the dark, alone. So, I searched high and low for a row of flat seats, so that I could stretch out and catch a couple hours of much needed shut-eye. I found one row of flat seats eventually…but with the nearly constant overhead speaker serenading travelers about arrivals and departures, even this seemingly dead airport (in the middle of the night) had a certain buzz about it still. I dropped onto the seats (with my purse under my body) and used my backpack as my pillow. Covered my head with my rain jacket (to shield my eyes from the piercing lights overhead) and attempted to get some sleep. I couldn’t mask the sounds all around me. I tossed and turned for hours, waking up and switching sides, trying to find an outlet to plug my drained i-phone into (without much luck) and then eventually giving up and just simply “resting.” Next trip around, I will be sure to pack a set of ear plugs and an eye-mask. Will I venture to sleep in the airport the next time around: that would be an emphatic NO WAY! I even perused the idea of a cheap airport hotel, so I could get SOME restful sleep, but the frugal side of me decided against this. I reasoned that I could always simply sleep on the plane ride home! About 5:30 a.m. it was already so loud in the terminal, so I eventually gathered all my things and headed to the coffee shop around the corner before waiting for the exchange counter to open at 6, so that I could exchange US dollars for Pounds. Quickly, I exchanged my money for UK funds (which was completely foreign to me) and then grabbed that cup of Joe. By the way, not the cheapest option (getting money exchanged inside the airport) but I had forgotten to do so prior, and had cash on hand, so I was somewhat forced to use this "service". So on to the coffee counter I went to order my cup of Joe. When they asked for the pounds for my coffee, I simply opened my hand and asked nicely, “please can you just take what you need, as I am unable to figure out this money yet?!” They had a "jolly laugh" about this (imagine that) and then I was on my way to the train station's terminal at the far end of the airport’s terminal.
I asked the kind service attendant which train would be best, He then suggested I purchase the daily pass card and take the express train into the city center of London. I knew once I arrived into the city, that I could get about with ease. I jumped on the next express train (I only had to wait about 10 minutes) and it took me directly into the city hub of London, after a quick 45 minute direct train ride. I think it was about $30 each way for the ticket fare, which in my opinion seemed to be a very good price. Of course this was after I had to figure out how to put my day pass into the gate to let me into the train station track (which was all automated) and I felt a bit lost and embarrassed to not know how to navigate this seemingly easy feat. Commuters were brushing past me quickly to be on their way…so I stepped aside and watched how they navigated before I took another chance at it. Once the train had arrived into the main, crowded train station in London (near the city center). I took a moment to look about, I eventually followed the crowds and located the nearest exit (which again took my daily pass card) in order to leave the building.
Once on the streets of London, it was a hustle and bustle of activity all about. Commuters were busy going about their business and destination, while I was leisurely meandering about. I spent about 10 minutes walking around until I spotted the nearest Hop-On-Hop-Off bus station attendant. I asked about the
general packages they offered and he explained that the “main route” would be the best option as far as seeing the main sites in one setting. I was instructed where the next bus stop pickup location would be. I was able to find this bus pick up location, and after waiting about 45 minutes for the first bus to arrive, I jumped on and got a bird’s eye view from the upper deck. I spent the next 3+ hours, amazed and in awe of London. I was enjoying the sites and sounds around me, all with a narrative, guided tour of the city. We went through the old town areas, drove past Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, Over the London Bridge, next to Parliament, numerous beautiful city parks, shopping districts, the financial districts and many other neat places (far too many to mention). The Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus tour was worth every pound spent on it (Roughly $40) and even included a two-hour cruise on the Thames River…but I was anxious to get back to the airport for my flight and didn’t want to miss it. I took so many wonderful pictures and enjoyed the tour immensely.
Once the tour was back to where I had begun, I hopped off the bus and then headed back to the train station to London Heathrow Airport. I took the quick train back to the airport and departed for the US about 4 hours later, on my way home. This was by far, my most enjoyable layover experience thus far. I couldn’t get enough of the beauty of the UK. The people were quite friendly, their accents are amazing, the culture is embracing, the history is incredible. A overnight layover in London was not enough time. I -Must -Go -Back!
I had such an amazing, whirlwind time on this London layover, that I plan to return with a small group, in the summer of 2021. If this small group tour sounds like fun, and you’d like to also enjoy the UK, then won’t you consider joining us?
Incredible Italy Small Group Tour!
By Jen Campbell of Escape Destinations Travel
As you soak up the Italian scenery, the always delicious cuisine, amazing wines, the rich history and priceless art, you can see why Italy is considered one of the Top Destinations in Europe!
There was zero hassle and stress of having to plan each day, as our 2 Tour Guides had it ALL laid out for us in advance. We were able to relax, unwind, have fun and enjoy our guided tour through this majestic land.
We spent 9 days there and it didn’t seem quite enough to experience all the wonders that this country has to offer. La dolce vita (the sweet life) was surely had exploring the small towns and big cities of Italy. Our tour was a focus on simply amazing cuisine, local wines and authentic cultural experiences.
We began our amazing adventure in Milan, where we spent half a day seeing this bustling mecca with its impeccable fashion and financial powerhouses all over this great city. Milan is considered by many Italians as it’s most ‘continental’ city. We were all a bit enthralled with our first taste of Italy and mesmerized with the hustle of Italian culture with it's people, scenery, scooters, bikes and cars galore.
After a bit of a rest that evening (of course we had a wine and cheese welcome reception at a local park) and a huge breakfast buffet (which we enjoyed daily) we then headed on to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Many of us decided to climb all 294 of the ancient spiraling stair case (around the leaning historic building) to the top to admire the beautiful panoramic view of the area. That lovely afternoon we took a leisurely stroll through Lucca, a typical rustic Tuscan Village, surrounded by an old, medieval looking town wall. The smells of the local food were delectable.
We took a beautiful ride through La Spezia along the way to the beautiful, coastal town of Portovenere, whereby we caught a beautiful, relaxing boat ride along the coast and a few local islands, which helped us see the colorful villages up close and personal. We went by the seas to see Cinque Terre. We drove past and stopped at villages in the Classic Italian countryside of Tuscany.
If you were to imagine a quaint Italian village, it would be another Tuscan village, sensational Siena. What a beauty this town was to stroll leisurely through the souvenir and clothing shops, drink espresso outside a lovely sidewalk café, or stop for a local glass of the local wine.
One entire day was spent exploring the town of Florence. Known as the home of the Renaissance and birthplace of our modern world today, Florence has the best Renaissance art in Europe. In a single day, you can look Michelangelo's David in the eyes, fall under the sway of Botticelli's Birth of Venus, and walk the entire amazing Uffizi Gallery.
Gubbio (in the far Northeastern Part of the Italian Providence of Perugia) was a charming little area where we were able to stop for lunch and explore the quaint little village. I think this was one of my favorite little villages. The historical center of Gubbio is a great medieval town with its dark grey stone, very narrow streets, and incredible Gothic architecture.
Assisi was yet another amazing stop on our tour through Italy. We were able to go to the large church where St. Francis of Assisi was laid to rest. There was always time for a nice class of wine and cheese plate, along one of the many quaint restaurants on the streets of Assisi.
Our final days were visited in Rome within it’s ancient town center, where we spent a relaxing yet very full day in Rome’s historic town center. A few (on our tour) had walked until they could walk no more, so they jumped on the hop-on-hop-off bus tour throughout the enchanting city of Rome, visiting all the major attractions (by a rooftop bus). A few of the lucky travelers (including myself) were able to visit the amazing Trevi Fountain and marvel at the amazing Coliseum with an intimate walking tour of the inside. And who could forget the scenery unfolding behind us, as the majestic sun was beginning to set behind the Coliseum on our last full day in this incredible country.
Experience a delightful journey off the beaten path…discover why our intimate Small Group Tours are like no other!
Discover our next Small Group Tour Adventure HERE
The Cheapest Times to Book Your Next Cruise-
By Jen Campbell of Escape Destinations Travel
The downside to booking last minute: you’re more than likely at the cruise line’s discretion about where your stateroom will be. If you’re like our family, we don’t spend much time in the room anyways, so this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker for us. If your staterooms location is super important to you and your family- then a last-minute booking may not be for you. Sure enough, if you can wait for the last-minute deals sometimes available, you could possibly stretch your vacation dollars further by booking these last minute specials. So much so that instead of one luxurious vacation a year, you may be able to get another one into your budget!
So, if you need to book say 6 months out or more (like Most Americans) the best times would be the first 2 weeks in December (in between Major Holidays), or during Hurricane Season (but this is taking a large gamble on the weather)!
All the experts agree though, it pays to be patient and flexible. You can download cruise apps that will show you when the prices go down (as a very good travel consultant is already doing for you)! And this will help you track the prices. But beware, once your payment has been made in full, many times the cruise lines will NOT honor that lower price for you. Some may give onboard credits, but this is tending to be more seldom these days.
HOW Did You Miss Your Flight, Again?
By Jen Campbell of Escape Destinations Travel
You got to the airport in time (At least 90 minutes prior) – Check
You worked out how to do the self-check in (after peeking at the guy ahead of you complete the process first) – Check
You printed out your own baggage tags and actually put them on properly (Wow-this is incredible) – Check
You took out all the coins from your pockets, took off your belt, took out your computer, your kindle, put your liquids in little plastic bags, took off your shoes (why did I wear sandals…and no socks…Gross!) and eventually got through the TSA security – Check
You put your belt back on, your shoes back on, packed your computer and kindle away, whew, put your boarding pass in your purse so you wouldn’t lose it – Check
Found the Starbucks ….. Sayyyy Whaaat!!!!
Oh…My…Stars…THE LONG LINE! It’s longer than the one you JUST got through with TSA security. In fact…this line doesn’t seem to ever end. Sheesh!
It’s ok, I have about 45 minutes 'til my flight and they never leave on time (right?). Can I possibly make it through the line so I can get my Venti Flat White, with a double shot of expresso? Or…do I board the plane and drink their crappy coffee? (ok, ok…it’s true, I have been called a "coffee snob" and this time is no different). No crappy coffee on the plane for me…I will WAIT for My Starbucks!
So I guess you can say I like to gamble (hey…I once got married in Vegas-Baby)! So I waited, and waited and waited. Would I miss my flight for a Starbucks latte? You- Betcha!! I can’t imagine the plane would leave without announcing my name once…or twice “Jenifer Campbell…report to Gate B-6 immediately. Your flight is about to depart for Raleigh-Durham International!”
Would they leave without me? Nah…or, would they?
Finally, I reach the front of the line, quickly spout out my coffee order to the cashier, then begin to pace back and forth at the pick-up stand…waiting for My Venti (Extra Shots) Flat White from the coffee barista…looking at my watch, and hoping time might slow down temporarily…After all- who actually would pay ($5+) for their Starbucks and then leave without grabbing it? Also, I don’t want to be that last person boarding the plane with my “5-Bucks” (as I dearly nickname it) with Everyone on the Plane knowing the Real Reason I was late boarding (yup...Me and my COFFEE from Starbucks)! Finally my name is called from the barista (Thank God), I grab My Venti (Extra Shots) Flat White Coffee, a stir stick and shove one organic sugar in the raw, quickly into my Flat White (hey the sugar should melt a little as I book it to my terminal and can always stir it later)…and then I RUN LIKE HELL to get to my awaiting plane.
After all, I really don’t want to be “THAT GIRL” with the Starbucks, who kept the entire plane waiting! And guess what…I had plenty of time…even if I boarded nearly last in line.
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