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What Questions Should You Ask Your Travel Consultant?

When planning a vacation, you want to be as prepared as possible. Enlisting a travel specialist in North Carolina to book your holiday is a good idea to help you plan the vacation of your dreams. To get the most out of your consultant’s expertise, it helps to have an idea of what you want to ask and the topics you want to discuss. Here are examples of questions you should ask your travel consultant:

  • How many hours will I spend in transit?

    Depending on the location, you may need to spend a large chunk of your time in transit. While your flight time might be relatively short, it’s worth knowing how long your journey will be from the airport to your accommodation. A few hours’ difference can dictate which accommodation or activities you can squeeze in and enable your travel agency to make recommendations.

  • What activities do you suggest?

    Your travel consultant in Charlotte, North Carolina can recommend excursions or activities based on your preferences and interests while you are on holiday. This may entail activities like road biking or scuba diving or taking part in cultural activities or sightseeing. Knowing what activities are on offer will help you maximize your trip.

  • Do I need to update my vaccinations?

    Your travel agent can provide some insight on whether you need to update your routine vaccines, especially if you are traveling abroad. Routine vaccinations protect you from infectious diseases that may not be common in the United States but are common in other countries.

Thia’s Travel Services is your go-to source of exceptional travel services in North Carolina. For inquiries about our services, feel free to contact us today.

Unforgettable Sustainable Travel

Green Horizons: My Unforgettable Dive Into Sustainable Travel

Hey, travel tribe! It has been too long since we swapped stories, and boy, I have an adventure to share! Picture this: me, a backpack, and a whole lot of green goodness. Buckle up as I spill the beans on my journey into the magical world of sustainable travel. Get ready for vibrant landscapes, cozy eco-stays, and a dash of wanderlust like never before!

  • City Vibes With a Green Twist

    Imagine wandering through a city that’s not just concrete and chaos but a hub of sustainability. Yep, I found it! Streets lined with eco-friendly cafes, locals buzzing on bikes, and skyscrapers waving at wind turbines. As a travel consultant in Charlotte, North Carolina, discovering this sustainable haven ignited my passion for eco-conscious exploration.

  • Cozy Nooks in Nature’s Embrace

    Forget cookie-cutter hotels; my digs were more like nature’s hug. Solar-powered cabins, recycled art, and a bed so comfortable, it is a cloud. Engaging with these unique accommodations made possible by travel services in North Carolina.

  • Heart-To-Heart With Locals

    It is not just about places; it is about faces. I shared laughs, stories, and a meal (or three) with locals, immersing myself in their culture and leaving with a heart full of memories. Being a travel specialist in North Carolina allowed me to connect with locals on a deeper level, understanding the community’s commitment to sustainable living.

  • Two-Wheeling Through Scenic Wonders

    Green Transportation got a whole lot of coolers with a bike as my trusty steed. Wind in my hair, the pedals beneath my feet, and the world unfolding at my own pace.

  • Apps for the Eco-Explorer

    Tech made my eco-journey a breeze. Apps pointed me to eco-stays and sustainable hotspots and even let me track my carbon footprint.

  • More Than Sightseeing: A Hands-on Adventure

    Ever planted a tree in the morning and taught kids in the afternoon? Voluntourism took my journey from epic to downright heartwarming.

So, who’s up for a green adventure? Dive into the sustainable travel wave with Thia’s Travel Services, your gateway to eco-conscious exploration. As a wellness travel expert, I believe it’s not just a trend; it’s a lifestyle. Let us make memories that Mother Earth approves of and keep the wanderlust alive in the greenest way possible.

Wishing you green dreams and adventure beams,

Thia

Lifestyle

The Benefits of Solo Travel

So, you want to travel but you don’t have a travel companion. Or – you have plenty of travel companions but feel the need to go it alone this time. Whatever the case may be – solo travel is a pretty amazing experience – as long as you can get past the fact that you are going it alone.

It’s true that perhaps as a society in the past we were conditioned that we don’t venture to new places alone. Or in that case to the movies, out to dinner or drinks or a myriad of other activities that for some reason people shy away from doing solo. But this is 2021 people and that’s just not the case anymore.

As with dinner, drinks, movies, etc…traveling solo can be oh so liberating and one – if not the – most amazing experiences you will ever have.  And to prove it to you I am writing this blog to fill you in on why not only myself – but the millions of other solo travelers agree. So, grab a seat – preferably alone in a café – and listen up because I can pretty much guarantee that by the time you finish reading this, you’ll be calling me saying “Thia – I want to go somewhere, and I want to go it alone this time!”

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S Is For Surprise

Photo by Joshua Abner from Pexels

S is for surprise – as in I honestly think you are going to be pleasantly surprised at how liberating it is to travel solo. So surprised that your first go-it-alone vacation is probably not going to be your last. There is something to be said about visiting a new place and creating an agenda that is everything that you want to do. Now, I know that sounds selfish – but so what! Sometimes being selfish is just what is needed every once in a while, to maintain that caring, giving person you are the other 99% of the time. Think about it. You get to decide where to stay – hotel or bed and breakfast or Airbnb, ocean front or pool view, in the hustle and bustle of the city or on the outskirts – etcetera. You get to decide where to eat – you check out the menu and within seconds know if this is for you or not – without having to take into account your traveling companions distain for Italian fare or their shellfish allergies or their inability to find just one thing they are hungry for on said menu. You get to decide which {FILL IN THE BLANK} you want to visit – i.e. – museum, landmark, park, beach, show – whatever there is see in that particular part of the world. I’m sure you get the idea by now. Traveling solo means you have a completely open slate or blank page just waiting to be filled in with all that is important to YOU and that my friends is oh so freeing.

O Is For Opportunities

Photo by veerasak Piyawatanakul from Pexels

O is for opportunities – as in when you choose to go it solo, it more often than not leads to opportunities you may not have had if you were traveling with others. Only one ticket left for that Broadway show you want to catch on your last night? You got it! Last seat on the trolley tour that not only gives you a great overview of your destination but allows you to get off your feet for a bit? It’s all yours. Hotel only has one king bed available? You’ll take it! Then there is the whole planning process. And the waiting for others to commit. And the back and forth about dates. And the budget constraints or non-constraints that vary from person to person. And by the time everyone agrees on the place and date – that amazing airfare or train fare or resort deal is long gone and now you are paying more for the place you knew you wanted to go from the very start – or worse – a place you really don’t want to go to but everyone else does and you got overruled. When it’s just you, yourself and, well, you – the opportunity to grab that fare that’s on sale or the discounted room rate for early bookings won’t be a missed one.

L Is For Life-Changing

Image by lucillemarnelli from Pixabay 

L if for life-changing – as in when talking with those who have gone out to see the world on their own – whether it be domestic travel or international – the common sentiment is that the first time they took that leap – it was life-changing. And any trip that you can say was life-changing – as long as it was in a good way mind you – is a trip well-taken. So, life-changing, how you may be wondering. Well, it’s certainly empowering. It gives you a sense of hey – if I can go halfway around the world or to this big city or on a huge cruise ship or on an RV excursion by myself and figure out all the logistics of not only putting the trip together but navigating my way around while there – then heck – there’s not much I can’t do if I put my mind to it! Think of what a self-confidence builder it is to know that if it came down to it and you had only yourself to rely on – no matter in what situation you may find yourself – that you could handle it. It can also teach you things about yourself that you didn’t know. Going it solo means, you are going to be in your own company for a good part of the journey, so you better get comfortable with who you are as not only a traveler but as a person. It’s a fabulous opportunity to go within, to do some soul searching, to figure out things that so very often get lost in the noise when you are in the company of friends and family. In other words – it can help you evolve as a person.

O Is Also For Outgoing

Photo by Nina Uhlíková from Pexels

O is for outgoing – as in another plus side to solo travel is that it often pushes us to step out of our comfort zones and take on a little bit more of an outgoing personality. And this is true whether you are an introvert by nature or are typically the bell of the ball. No matter how confident we are you gotta admit that being in a place where you don’t know a soul can be a tad bit intimidating. But if you want to get the most out of your adventure this is no time to be shy. Traveling alone pretty much forces you to talk to strangers – in a good way of course. You will get to know the locals and getting to know the locals means you’re also going to get a lot of inside information on the destination that you wouldn’t get from a book or website. You’ll find out where the locals eat, where the off the beaten path adventures lie and so much more. In other words – you’ll have a truly authentic trip filled with cultural immersion. And let’s face it – when we travel that’s really what it’s all about. Seeing how other people live – broadening our horizons and our minds. Finding common ground with cultures that were once a mystery to us. Realizing that we are all human beings trying to make our way in the world. That we are all created equal and that when you get right down to it, have more in common than you could ever imagine.

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Traveling solo isn’t for everyone – even if I think everyone should try it at least once. Sure, it can get lonely – but you can also feel lonely surrounded by a group of travel companions if you aren’t on the same page. It may get frustrating because you do have to depend entirely pretty much on yourself and have no one to blame if you have a bad dining experience, get lost, aren’t happy with your hotel and on and on. And some may argue it can be dangerous – but I feel that if you travel smart – i.e. – don’t put yourself in positions where you will be vulnerable and take all the safety precautions that you would in your own country or even city – than that should not be a deterrent. Not to mention the fact that safety precautions should always be taken whether you are traveling solo – or with others – to a destination you have never been before – which is a whole other blog topic for another day.

So, what do you say? You up for it? Tell you what – you give Thia a call and let’s have that solo travel adventure conversation today!

Yours in travel,

Thia

Lifestyle

Summer Vacation Ideas For The Whole Family To Enjoy

Well folks. We made it. It’s officially #Summer2021! And even better – more and more destinations are opening up for us across the world which of course makes this gal’s heart smile – and I mean a really big ear to ear grin! Now – being so limited the past year – and last summer in particular – with where we could actually vacation, means that this year it may be a tad more difficult to actually settle on a destination. And that’s natural because with more options come more questions on where to go, what to do, accommodations to consider, how long should you go for, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Now, since I am well aware that summer is traditionally the time you all pack the family up and head somewhere – I have decided to help you out by giving you a list of some of the best types of trips to take the entire family on. Not necessarily the destinations – we can conquer that another time. This is more of a – pick a theme and go with it type of list. But of course – you can mix and match. The choice is entirely up to you. The list is just my, shall we say, PSA to you parents who are scratching your heads saying – ok – now that it’s all opening up – where shall we take this brood of ours.

Read on and check out some of my suggestions below – then meet me at the end of the list and let’s chat!

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The Great Outdoors

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

How about keeping last summer’s trend going strong with a visit to a national park? And no – you don’t have to go all wilderness and pitch a tent – or even rent an RV – although both are fun options for some family bonding. This year you’re going to find more hotels, lodges and resorts either open, or if they were open last year, now operating at almost full capacity. The goal here is to choose a property that is either within the park – when possible – or as close to the park entrance as you can get. This way you are still surrounded by the scenery that made that particular location a place suitable to be designated as a national park but with all the comforts of home – and some that you don’t even get at home. Think housekeeping, meals prepared for you, spa services – you get the idea. Also, this year you don’t have to stick to domestic national parks as you now have the option of visiting those in one of the many international destinations that have opened to US citizens – making the possibilities of exploring natural wonders as diverse as this planet itself.

Pros: Fresh air, exercise, national monuments, wildlife sightings, stunning landscapes, getting everyone to unplug and actually talk to one another.

Cons: Hmmm…the only one that I think would put a damper on this type of getaway would be rainy weather. But what are the chances it’s going to rain every day of your vacation? And even on rainy days there are things to do – especially if you go the route of a resort – but even in a tent or RV – provided you remembered to pack the board games!

Keep Them Amused Or Wet Or Both

Image by Aline Henda from Pixabay 

Amusement parks, theme parks, water parks – they have all been around forever and while there are some that are more popular – and thus pricier than others – there are still plenty out there that you can plan your vacation around and not break the bank. Doing the theme park circuit is a great domestic trip as you’d be hard pressed to find a state that doesn’t have at least one, if not two or more, usually within driving distance. And it’s a great way to get say three or four small trips in throughout the summer as opposed to one longer one. Or you can choose a theme park in a destination where there are other tourist attractions that you would like the family to frequent and make it a weeklong getaway. However you decide to do it, as long as no one in the family is prone to motion sickness and aren’t afraid of getting wet – theme parks and aqua parks are always a guaranteed fun way to spend a few days – or longer – with the family.

Pros: Fresh air, exercise, chills and thrills, a great way to cool down on hot summer days.

Cons: That pesky rain again. And too much cotton candy, candy apples, turkey legs and other amusement park fare. But really – is that a con? 😉

Play Ball

Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels

Here is another one – also the domestic route – that a friend of a friend did with their family one summer. And it’s another one that you can break up so you get a few small getaways throughout the season, or you can opt to do it all in one shot. The first caveat however is that you should be a baseball fan. Oh, and your family should all be baseball fans too. The idea is to visit as many different major league baseball stadiums as you can – catching a game at each one of course – checking them off as you go along. The ultimate goal would be to see them all which of course would probably take years, but we know this isn’t limited to summer as there’s baseball in spring and fall too! Or you could modify this idea and simply visit the parks of every family member’s favorite team. And of course – while you are there you get to experience the city you’re in as well – including its gastronomy, historical sites – you name it. PS – This is also great to do with football and soccer stadiums, hockey arenas, NASCAR tracks, basketball venues – pretty much any sport that the whole family is into.

Pros: A great excuse to see cities across the USA that you may not have visited otherwise, ballpark hotdogs!!

Cons: Depending on the level of competitiveness within your family it could make for some rough nights at the ballpark!

Life’s A Beach

Photo by Bayu jefri from Pexels

A summer vacation to the beach is as American as baseball. And apple pie. But let’s consider taking the family to a different kind of beach. Perhaps a unique black sand beach? Or maybe a pretty pink sand beach? One where the water is so clear you can see to the bottom? Or one where the sand is so soft and white it’s like walking on powder? Chances are you and your family have seen the Atlantic Ocean and / or the Pacific Ocean. This summer why not head to a body of water that is new to all of you – and while you are there explore the culture of the island, country, peninsula – or whatever form of land you find yourself on. There are some pretty amazing seas and oceans and even lakes out in this great big world that are begging to be walked on by new feet and seen by new eyes so don’t limit your beach vacation to just the US shores.

Pros: Sunshine, relaxation, sunrise and or sunsets over the sparkling waters, fresh ocean air.

Cons: Not everyone is beach bum material – and that’s not a bad thing – but make sure it’s not someone in your family or they won’t get as much out of it as the rest of you that think basking in the sun is heaven on earth.

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And that my friends are just a handful of ideas on how to spend your family vacation this summer. There are plenty more ideas where those came from, as well as suggestions on the destinations to head for each – so give me a call and let’s chat about what type of adventure is best suited for your gang and get it booked before those lazy, hazy days of the summer of 2021 are gone!

Yours in travel,

Thia

Lifestyle

Traveling With Kids

There are all kinds of trips and vacations that you can take. Couples’ vacations. Singles vacations. Girl’s trips. Guys trips. Destination weddings. Honeymoons. Family reunions. Business trips. And on and on and on. But perhaps one of the most special experiences you can have is a family vacation.

Family vacations may have gotten a bit of a bad – or silly rap – thanks to one famous comedian and the (mis)adventures he took his family on over a series of three or so movies. But in reality – traveling with your children is really an amazing opportunity to bond with them. To create memories that will stay with them long after your gone. To get to know each other away from the day-to-day routine. And – since we have been pretty much “grounded” the past year – what a great way to celebrate the fact that they made it through the home schooling or virtual classes, lack of friend time, sports and other activities – to let them know that you realize how tough it was on them and reward them with some fun in the sun or playtime at a theme park or carefree days on a cruise.

That being said – traveling with kids can be just as rewarding for you as it is for them. And to help, shall I say, prepare you for this journey – I have come up with a few tips – whether this is first foray into family travel or you’re an old pro. Hopefully they’ll be helpful either way and you’ll take away something new that you hadn’t thought about regarding family trips before.

And away we go!

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Take Them Somewhere Age Appropriate

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I know this sounds obvious. But I cannot tell you how many people I saw at Disney World with kids! Just kidding. But seriously there are destinations that scream kid friendly – such as Disney – and then there are others that really don’t offer much to do for those not of legal drinking age. So, before you decide to hit Las Vegas with your 12-year-old – you may want to re-think it if you are going there to gamble – because they aren’t even allowed on the casino floor. Not that there are child friendly attractions in Sin City – but with a nickname like that don’t you think Vegas would be so much more fun as an adult only trip anyway? And hey if you’re not sure which destinations are better suited for family getaways, that’s ok too. That’s what travel advisors are here for. We can help you narrow down your choices based on your kids ages, interests and often – attention spans! And this goes not only for the destination itself – but also for the accommodations. Especially in the Caribbean and Mexico where you are going to find a lot of Adult Only properties – as well as family friendly properties. And even if it isn’t an Adult Only property – that doesn’t mean it’s the best place for your kids – but Thia’s Travel Services can help you discern all that. And finally – it also pertains to the type of getaway you are considering as well. For instance, some cruise ships are known for having super fun activities for the kiddos to partake in or some dude ranches may cater to children of a certain age, or some ski resorts may offer options for teenagers to learn new skills while others don’t, etc.…you get the idea. 😉

Family Travel As A Living Classroom

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

No, it’s not a way to trick your kids. But it is a great way to combine – as they say – business with pleasure! I like to think of it as travel with an ulterior motive – and I certainly don’t mean that as a bad thing! Just the opposite. What is more fun than learning while doing, experiencing, being surrounded by, enveloped in the subject matter. Whether it’s a museum, a rainforest, an aquarium, a zoo, a national park, the site of a historic tragedy or joyous milestone – pretty much anywhere you travel with your children is an opportunity for them to learn something new. And when they are experiencing it firsthand – not reading it from the pages of a book or off the screen of a computer – not listening to it being recited by a lecturer or watching it on TV (or their phone or tablet and anywhere else kids watch shows today) – it means so much more – and it’s far more likely to stay with them longer. A lot longer. Like the rest of their lives longer. They are walking in the footsteps of where history was made or seeing how other life forms exist and thrive in natural habitats or tasting fruit that can only be found in one area of the world or getting up close and personal to an ancient artifact. And all that is exciting in its own right – but that’s not all. Because you are there with them – watching them learn and stretch and grow. And perhaps even learning yourself. And that’s something pretty darn special to share together as a family – don’t you agree?

Get Their Input

 August de Richelieu from Pexels

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And that my dear readers is your friend Thia’s advice for traveling with the kids. There is so much more good advice out there – like how to keep them occupied while actually traveling to a destination, what to pack to eat – you know the drill. But this is more like life advice as opposed to how to keep sane when you’re in the car for 12 hours with them or on the fifth hour of a delayed flight. So, now that you know the basics about getting it right from the beginning – give me a call and let’s figure out the perfect vacation destination for you and your children!

Yours in travel,

Thia

Lifestyle

Road Trip Travel Done Right – Part 1

So, you want to travel but you aren’t 100% comfortable taking to the friendly skies just yet. Or perhaps you just prefer to be ground level when you venture out to new places so that you can completely take in your surroundings. Or maybe your family of six wants to bond on an RV adventure.

Whatever your personal reasons for deciding to take a road trip – it’s a grand old slice of Americana that will never go out of style. The excitement of traveling through undiscovered areas of the United States, the folks you meet along the way, the road trip games you play for hours on end, the never ending “Are we there yets” from the back seat … ok maybe not that last one – but you get the idea – road trips are a fabulous vacation option!

Today I am here to tell you that in addition to all of that – road trips are actually good for you in many other ways – and for many other reasons. In fact, they are full of benefits that you may not have even considered before. Well – fear not – because Ms. Thia is here to let you in on just a few of those bonus benefits that you can expect from your road trip and to help you discover why road trip travel is so incredibly good for the soul!

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Mobile Mental Health Medicine

Photo by Jed Villejo on Unsplash

Driving along in the comfort of your own vehicle – whether solo, as a couple or with friends and family by your side is a fabulous way to decompress – no matter what that looks like for you. It could be blasting the radio and singing at the top of your lungs (which may go over better if you’re a solo traveler 😉), engaging in deep, meaningful conversations, telling jokes and anecdotes, playing games to increase your brain power or perhaps just being silent and in the moment. Whatever the elixir is for your mental health – take that “medicine” seriously and enjoy the ride! And please – leave the road rage at home. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your final destination so you won’t feel rushed and go at a calm, unhurried pace. And should you encounter someone who hasn’t got the no road rage allowed memo – simply bless them and wish them well – you never know what someone is going through – spread love not hate throughout your journey.

Wellness Behind The Wheel

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Following closely in the footsteps of mental health is wellness – or well-being. How can you practice wellness on a road trip? Well – you can do so while in the process of getting to your destination – or destinations – in addition to through your pre-planned or spontaneous stops along the way. For instance, while you are actually in the vehicle you can perhaps choose to listen to inspirational podcasts, or you can roll down those windows and take in the fresh {insert type or air here – ocean, forest, rural, etc.}, or even bring along your diffuser to pump out some relaxing scents as you drive along. As for outside of the vehicle – you can make certain your stops along the way are ones that bring you happiness, peace and joy. And again – this is all about your preferences. If you like nature, add a botanical garden to your itinerary. If you like adventure – stop at a theme park. If you like quiet – visit a temple or cathedral. Wellness encompasses the mind, body and spirit. Your mind, body and spirit. What makes you feel whole and alive. In other words – you do you.

Steering Through Scenery and Landscapes

Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

One of the perks of driving vs. flying is that you are not seeing the country’s amazing geography from thousands of feet above and at speeds of hundreds of miles per hour. Not that this is not a cool way to see it – but you certainly can bask more in the details when you have your feet – or your wheels – on the ground. Getting out on the open road as a means to get to your destination means you get to take in all the amazing landscapes that this glorious country has to offer somewhat up close and personal. You have coastlines, mountain ranges, canyons, lakes, rivers, vineyards, farmlands – my goodness the list can go on and on. So many of us are focused on checking off other countries on our bucket lists when we travel – which is not a bad thing! – but sometimes we forget to check out our own country. Once you start driving through and exploring different cities, towns, counties and states you’ll most certainly gain a whole new appreciation of our beloved country. Sometimes we are not aware of our surroundings until we are actually deep within them.

The Car As A Classroom

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Oh my gosh, the things you can learn on a road trip! And I am not just talking about your stops at historical sites, monuments, museums and landmarks. Although those definitely count – and are fabulous opportunities to expose your children – and perhaps yourself to a different kind of learning. Not one from a textbook or a computer screen. One where you actually walk in the footsteps of where the actual events took place – a living history if you will. But with all that time in the car – you may be surprised at what you learn about those you are traveling with – and quite possible about yourself. With road trips comes togetherness and bonding time with others or solitude and quality time alone – just you and your thoughts. And since that togetherness is in close quarters with others or completely solo – you can’t help but learn more about yourself and those you are with – both good and possibly some annoying – but hey we can all be annoying! And besides, that just presents a great opportunity to practice understanding and acceptance.

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And there you have it my friends – my thoughts on what makes road trip travel so special. Of course there are many, many more benefits that I have not touched upon – so please feel free to share some of the things you have taken away from your road trips in the comments below. And don’t forget to contact me to start the conversation and get to planning the road trip of your dreams!

Yours in Travel,

Thia

PS – You may have noticed this blog as being marked Part 1. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we talk road tripping in a one-on-one video interview!

Lifestyle

Blend In With The Locals

One of the things I stress to anyone I talk to about travel – client, potential client, friend or family – is how important it is to blend in with the locals when you travel.

Travel should not be about standing out in a new city, town, state, country or continent. It should be about immersing yourself within that destination. Leaving behind any preconceived notions and prejudices and just being there with your whole heart and soul. Standing, walking, dancing, eating – all side by side with the people who call the destination you are in, home.

You may be thinking “I love this way of approaching travel Thia – but how does one blend in with the locals? What do you suggest?” Well, my friends – you’re in luck, as I have plenty of thoughts on how to do this. And you can check them all out below, where I have listed for you just a few of the many ways that blending in with the locals can be accomplished. Let’s take a look.

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Learn The Language

Image by Oli Lynch from Pixabay

You’re going to a foreign country that you have never visited before. They do not speak English – or whatever your native tongue happens to be. If you want to blend in with the locals, you don’t have to do anything drastic like feign an accent – but you should take the time to learn their language. And no – I don’t mean a full on three- or four-week Rosetta Stone course. Just the basics will do. Hello. Good-bye. Please. Thank you. You’re welcome. Start with common pleasantries and manners. You will want to add more of course – based on what you are going to be doing while you are there. For instance – if you will be taking public transportation you may want to learn how to say different phrases than you would if you were renting a car and driving on your own the whole time. Or if you are planning on taking a class or learning a new skill while there, as opposed to just say – touring museums and monuments – there will be different words and questions you’ll want to familiarize yourself with. Do them that courtesy and they will be more likely to embrace you and receive you warmly.

Know The Customs and Etiquettes

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One thing you want to avoid at all costs while visiting a new destination is insulting the locals. And one sure fire way to do that is to disrespect their customs and / or rules of etiquette. Therefore – be sure and read up on such things prior to travel so that you have a good grasp of what goes and what are no-noes. For instance – in some cultures it may be disrespectful to tip – no matter how great the service is or how much you feel that it is not right to not leave a gratuity. This is something you are definitely going to want to know beforehand to avoid insulting your waiter, taxi driver, bellman, etc. Each foreign land we visit will undoubtedly have a set of written rules – regarding customs – and unwritten rules when it comes to etiquette. Take the time to learn what they are prior to traveling.

Follow Suit When It Comes To Clothing        

Photo by Ruben Hutabarat on Unsplash

Now don’t take that literally – I am not advising you to wear a suit – I am advising you to dress like the locals. Do the research. Check out the current styles. For instance – find out if most restaurants are laid back and casual dress is no problem or if you need to pack something more formal when dining out. Is it a country known for its modest approach to dress? If so – then tone down your wardrobe. One sure fire way to stick out like a sore thumb when you are in a foreign land is how you do – or don’t – dress. And if there is a customary piece of clothing that one or both genders wear that you do not have access to at home – take extra money and purchase it while there. Trust me – it could make a big difference in how you will be received.

Don’t Be The Tacky Tourist

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We all know who I am talking about. They have a camera and a video recorder hanging around their neck, a backpack with maps sticking out of it and a book of foreign languages in hand. Yes – I said you need to learn the basics of the native tongue – but you don’t have to waive the book around while you are out in public as if to loudly proclaim “I didn’t do my homework.” And – electronics have come a long way – you can downsize to an all-in-one camera / video apparatus that is not the size of a professional photographers – i.e. – that’s more discreet. Or – just use your phone. Most of them these days have cameras and video recording features with high enough quality to capture your memories just fine. And yes – a backpack is a great place to stash the maps and the language guide – but they can be neatly stowed inside. No need to broadcast them.

Change Your Currency

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Again – you are in their country. Do not expect them to take your currency or worse don’t put up a fuss if they don’t. There’s a reason why there are currency exchange booths before you even leave the airport (although I don’t recommend doing it there – but that is another blog). And that brings up another point – carry cash. It doesn’t have to be huge amounts – take what you need for the day and leave the rest in the safe at the hotel. But don’t depend on your credit card – especially in more remote destinations. And for heaven’s sake – once again – do not act like it’s the end of the world if they don’t take credit cards.

Eat What They Eat

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Skip the chains and head for the locally owned restaurants and diners. Better yet – check out the food truck scene if they have one because it’s hard to get any more authentic than food truck fare! And so you are not totally surprised when you look at your first menu – do some leg work and check out what the most popular dishes are. That way if you are presented with something you cannot fathom eating – instead of making gagging noises or otherwise voicing your disdain – and thus insulting your server and the locals dining around your – you can quietly opt out of ordering it.

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You see my friends – it’s not hard to blend in with the locals. Perhaps you have already been taking a few – or all – of these simple steps to prepare for your journey into unknown territories. And remember, when you book with Thia I will make sure to assist you in finding out all you need to know prior to travel so that you can blend in with the locals beautifully and get the full cultural immersion you desire. Have a place in mind? Contact me today and let’s start curating an amazing adventure for you!

Yours in travel,

Thia

Lifestyle

Travel The World While You Can

For those of us that live to travel, losing pretty much an entire year of being able to do so hit us hard. I think that even if you don’t have that intense passion for travel as I do – most of us enjoy getting away – at the very least once a year – for say, an annual summer vacation. And even that was taken away from a large percentage of us. What I discovered the past few months for not only myself but for the many of you that I have talked with as we start planning your return to travel is that the end result is that now that we realize how unexpectedly the freedom to travel can be stripped away from us – we vow never take it for granted again. And so, my friends – my message today is really quite simple – and based on the events of the past years upheaval in the travel industry. Travel the world while you can.

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Time Is of The Essence

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You know it. I know it. Life is short. One day you are awaiting the birth of your first child and the next you are sending your youngest off to college. With all that we have going on in our busy lives it seems that travel takes a back burner for many of us. We all have that list of cities, countries and even continents that are on our “list” of places we want to see. And along with that list we have excuses why we aren’t booking those trips. Things like – I’ll go when I’m more settled in my career or when I have extra money or when the kids are older or when I retire – this list could go on and on. And yes – there’s an extremely high likelihood that the destination you are dreaming of will still be there – but why wait? Why is it that so many of us deny ourselves the one thing we often need the most – a vacation, an adventure, a break from our routines? That answer is going to be different for each of you, but my feeling is that when you have within your soul a destination you feel you must see before you leave this earth, don’t put it off. Go. Enjoy. And then plan your next destination when you return. And the next one after that. There are so many amazing places to see across the globe – if you want to see the world – make it a priority – not an afterthought.

There Are No Age Requirements

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I started traveling at a young age, continued traveling as I grew up, through my young adult years right on up until this very moment. And I will continue traveling through middle age, as a senior citizen – right up until the day I leave this earth. My point? Travel the world no matter what age you are. You are never too young or too old to start exploring the world around you. And I think – actually I know – that at each stage in your life – travel will affect you differently. The experiences you have in a strange new land when you are a teenager – take on a different meaning when you are older and grayer. (Which when you think about it – pretty much goes for everything in life – not just travel.) From the people you meet, the cultures you are introduced to, the foods you sample, the activities you take part in – all will affect you in some form or another. They may change the way you have perceived other cultures history and traditions. They may give you an appreciation for a food you never thought you would try – let alone enjoy. They may open your eyes to a new way of doing things. They may – hopefully- release you of long held prejudices against those that are different from you. Let’s be honest – there are hundreds of different ways travel can positively change and shape you. But it will.  And you are never too young or too old to gain new perspectives and make affirmative and often life altering changes.

Be Intentional In Your Travel

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Are you in good health today? Have a steady income? Have vacation or personal time accrued? Then what are you waiting for? You already know things can change in the blink of an eye. If you are able to travel – do it now. Make it your intention to travel and then do it. And when you are traveling be intentional in that as well. How? Don’t be thinking about your job or the weather back home or whatever else is going on where you are not.  Clear your mind, open your eyes and ears and take in every single minute of every single day when you are visiting somewhere you have never been before. Trust me – worrying about things back home is not going to stop them from happening – plus 99% of the things we worry about never do happen. So just let it all go and immerse yourself in where you are, what you are learning, who you are meeting, what you are tasting – all of it – be intentional and the wonders of the experience as well as the memories you create – will stay with you a lifetime.

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My friends there are so many reasons to travel the world while you can. No one knows what tomorrow is going to bring – the pandemic was a pretty rude awakening to that fact. You know that old saying “don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today?” It applies to travel too. Trust me – and then contact me to start planning your next adventure and travel the world while you can!

Yours in Travel,

Thia

Lifestyle

Why To Travel The World Using A Travel Advisor

So, you want to see the world. More so now than ever I would venture to guess. You’re not alone. Pretty much every survey I have seen regarding the public and traveling again has the same result – they are over quarantine and ready to hit the road again – with safety measures in place of course. Many are waiting until they get vaccinated, and some are waiting until their children are eligible to get vaccinated – but the resounding chorus is let’s start planning!

Now – you can go book your vacations, getaways, adventures, journeys – or whatever you like to label your trips – on your own. We all know that there are endless online travel sites and resources available at your fingertips. But and this is a big but – we also know what happened just about a year ago when travel was brought to a screeching halt – without any regard for those who were in the middle of their trips. From this unprecedented series of events emerged two vastly different tales.

On one hand there were the unfortunate accounts of not being able to get back home in any kind of reasonable time frame or without many detours and stressors at each turn, of numerous phone calls with ridiculously long wait times, of waiting months for refunds for lost days or entire trips that had to be cancelled or not getting refunds at all – and so on. The majority of these were from travelers that booked the trip on their own without the assistance of a travel advisor.

On the other hand, there were the feel-good stories of getting home with little to no delays and making just one phone call to do so with virtually no wait time, not having to fight for refunds or getting cancel penalties waived, not having to wait on hold – and so on. Know who booked those traveler’s trips? Bingo! Travel advisors.

As a travel advisor for the past decade, I have always known my worth in the trip planning process. And thanks to some amazing reviews from my clients, I can confidently say the part I play is met with much gratitude. And my friends I cannot tell you how happy that makes me. If you know Thia, you know my passion for travel. Getting to share that with others makes my heart happy. That being said, if you haven’t used a travel advisor in the past – and you were lucky enough not to be in one of the unfortunate accounts above – you may still be thinking you will do simply fine on your own. And I am not saying that you won’t by any means. But I would love to take this time to tell you why I don’t think you should travel the world without one.

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We Are A Wealth of Knowledge

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As travel advisors we have all studied our craft in one form or another. Some went to college to become a part of the hospitality industry. Some may have learned about travel from years of, well, traveling. However we became experts in our field – the point here is – we did indeed become experts in our field. And as with most professionals, we love to share our knowledge. And that knowledge can take you to places you never dreamed of – literally. Personally, my expertise comes from a lifetime of travels that started when I was a child and had the fabulous opportunity to accompany my parents on business trips. So much of what I know, I experienced firsthand. The rest is thanks to an insatiable hunger to devour everything I can about destinations across the globe through continuous education and training, supplier and partner webinars and affiliations with well-known and respected travel industry leaders.

We Know People

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Travel advisors have access to discounts, sales, upgrades, perks, private tours and experiences and a host of other things to save you money or add value to your trip without adding to the cost. How? A few reasons really. This one has a lot of different moving parts to it. For me there is my status with certain hotel brands that allows me to access all of the above. Then there are my trusted contacts in each destination that range from tour operators to transfer companies to restaurateurs. They are literally my eyes and ears on the ground that I trust to check things out that perhaps I have not seen in a while or have yet to see, along with passing on great insider secrets that I can then pass on to you.

We Are Your Person

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Another benefit to using a travel advisor is that you have one contact person for every aspect of your trip. Need to change your seats on one of your flights? Your travel advisor can get them changed. Need to request feather free pillows in your room? Your travel advisor can request that. Need to change your morning spa treatment to an afternoon one? Your travel advisor can switch it. Want to book an extra excursion? Your travel advisor can book it. Need to … ok I’m pretty certain you get the idea. Traveling with Thia means you pretty much only have to have one number in your favorites – mine. I am your middleman, your go between, your personal concierge. I wait on hold, so you don’t have to. I get things done for you to ensure that you have nothing less than a fabulous vacation.

We Are There From Start To Finish

Know another great reason to travel the world via a travel advisor? They travel with you – from afar of course. Now, I cannot speak for all travel advisors but when you book with Thia you get Thia from the very beginning planning stages right through the entire trip until you return home. When you are travelling you can contact me 24/7 should the need arise. And when you call me – you get the same agent every time – me! – as opposed to a random agent in a call center. So, no need to stress or worry about explaining anything to me regarding your itinerary. I created it. I know it. I know who to contact. I know how to answer it, fix it, cancel or confirm it. I am here to make sure things go smoothly and take care of any unforeseen circumstances. Basically, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride! So to speak.

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In the interest of time and space – and quite possibly attention spans – I am going to stop at these four reasons – which are pretty much the top four that encompass the main value behind using a travel advisor to travel the world. Although there are many, many more and I am sure my brothers and sisters in the industry can each come up with additional reasons simply based on personal experiences of how they have assisted their customers.

With that being said, whether you need more convincing or you’re ready to let me take the reins, contact me today and let’s get to planning, and thus resuming, your travels around this marvelous world of ours!

Yours in travel,

Thia

Lifestyle

An Interview With Thia

Note: This week’s blog is written by Carole Peck as Carole Peck. I approached Thia with a blog topic idea where I would interview her so that she could introduce herself to new clients and get reacquainted with existing clients. The video that I wrote this from can do more justice to Thia’s passion, charm, soulfulness and warm, inviting personality than my words could ever hope to achieve – although I did my best to try to convey the beauty that is Thia in the blog entry below. Enjoy!

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This week I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Cynthia “Thia” Brounno to discuss a variety of topics including her decision to enter the travel industry, her favorite type of trip to plan, why she should be your go-to travel advisor and much more. As she was speaking, I found myself mesmerized by not only her words – but her tone, her gestures and most importantly her passion. And yes – I do mean passion for travel of course – but also her passion for people in general – from those she plans the trips of a lifetime for to the those who reside in the destinations her clients visit. For Thia it’s obviously not just about providing her clients with an amazing vacation – which that she certainly does – it’s also about making sure they come away from that vacation with a new appreciation for the destination, its culture and most importantly, its people.

Whether you have used Thia to curate your travel experience in the past or you are discovering her for the first time – I guarantee you are going to so enjoy her! And you’re definitely going to want her to put your next adventure together. That being said – here is a synopsis of – as well as my take aways from – what was for me, a super fun and inspiring interview.

Question #1 – Let’s get right to it – how long have you been in travel and what led to your decision to take on the role of travel advisor?

Image by Pam Patterson from Pixabay 

Listening to Thia discuss how she got into travel leaves one with no doubt that it was a path she was meant to follow. One of the youngest of six – the second to the youngest to be exact – she got the opportunity to travel and see much of the world due to the line of work her parents were in. She explained that they pretty much divided up the trips so that everyone got the chance to go – so perhaps the three oldest would go on one, then the three youngest on the next one and so on. Although she did jokingly admit she got to go on a lot of them when maybe it wasn’t her turn, because being the second to the youngest baby in the family, all she had to do was cry. Which you know was probably a foreshadowing of what her future career path would take. The fact she always wanted to be included in those journeys speaks volumes. Her life from an early age was consumed by travel and for the past decade she has been installing her love for it in others. For Thia, travel is a lifestyle – not a career – and it has always been that way – long before Thia’s Travel Services opened its doors ten years ago.

Question #2 – What is the most important piece of information you need to get from your clients before you start researching their vacations?

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Thia’s answer to this was spot on and that answer was:  What is the reasoning for you going on this trip? Why are you travelling? The need for this knowledge prior to starting the actual planning process is due to the fact that people travel for so much more than just that yearly vacation to get away from the real world for some rest and relaxation. Although that is one of the reasons and a very popular, and dare I say, much needed one for most of us. But they also travel for a myriad of other reasons. Some travel for medical purposes. Some travel for business and then turn those trips into what is referred to as bleisure trips – mixing in some personal travel before, during or after the business part. Some travel for family reunions, destination weddings or vow renewal ceremonies. Yes, I could go on and on as the reasons one plans a trip are endless and individualized to each and every client that reaches out to her. For Thia – knowing the ultimate reason behind the journey for that person – or the end result they are hoping to get out of the journey – is the key to making it a success.

Question #3 – What is your favorite type of trip to plan?

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So, confession time here. In the interview I actually misread my notes and asked her what her all-time favorite trip or itinerary was that she had put together for a client. However, my intention was to ask the subtitle of this section – what is your favorite type of trip to plan. But almost as if she were reading my mind, she redirected the question and asked if she could generalize that answer – which is what I was going for anyway. (Clearly, we make a great team.) Her response was that she loves, loves, loves planning family trips. And you know, the way that she explained how she goes about it is a great indication of the kind of deep, personal thought she is going to put into your trip. She explained first that she thinks about the children and what excited her at that age and what she wanted to do. She literally puts herself into the equation – drawing on how she learned to travel and how to appreciate people, land and culture. She also always requests to speak with the children one on one and loves taking that time to talk with them to see exactly what their interests are to help her plan an itinerary that is going to be as wonderful for them as it is for their parents and / or grandparents. With a thought process like that its no wonder that Thia has so many satisfied clients of all ages.

Question #4 – Where is one place that you think everyone should have the opportunity to visit at least once in their lifetime?

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Thia was quick to ask if she could have two answers for this particular question – which of course I agreed to. Her first choice was so passionately expressed that it gave me chills and cemented the fact that Africa should be on my bucket list. And not just one place in Africa – as she enthusiastically explained – the entire continent is phenomenal – north, east, south and west and everywhere in-between.  Her excitement about the culture and the warmth of the people came across oh so powerfully as she gushed that this is one continent that is not to be missed by anyone who has the opportunity to travel.

The second destination which definitely surprised me is the good old USA.  And she noted – which I totally and completely agree with – that we tend to take the United States for granted because we live here. To further her point, she went on to say that just because we live in the same country – what I see and experience here in the northeast from landscape to traditions to weather, for instance, is completely different from say someone who lives in California. Which are just two of 50 amazing and unique states at our disposal. Not to mention the different cities and towns in each. And Thia noted that one of the positives that came out of the pandemic was the fact that she was forced to stop traveling internationally and that gave her the chance to start exploring her own back yard – for which she is oh so grateful.

Question #5 – What do you want people to know about Thia? Why should people come to Thia to get their adventures curated.

Ok, full disclosure here.  How she started out answering this one floored me. I have been working with Thia for about four months now and had no idea, but this woman speaks eight different languages! Yup – eight – including English, of course, along with four Nigerian languages, German, French and she’s currently in the process of learning Spanish. So, as she ever so eloquently stated – “Thia understands you when no one else does.” I just love that!

Her second reason was a quite powerful and once again personal one. Thia explained that she understands the need to get away, to experience the world around us, to refresh and rejuvenate – even if you are working to make that happen on a limited budget. She has firsthand experience with budgeting getaways into your finances, as she has been a single mother for quite some time. And she is more than willing to help you work towards the perfect vacation with what you can afford. And you can tell she not only sincerely means that, but that she will do everything in her power to make it happen for you.

Her third point was that she does not just plan a vacation – she goes on vacation with you.

Meaning that she doesn’t just book your vacation and run so to speak. She charges a retainer – which most advisors do now – and may I say rightly so. Part of that fee is that she is with you before, during and after your trip. She will be accessible to you the entire time she is planning it, while you are there and when you are on your way back. When you call Thia’s Travel Services – the person who booked your flights, hotel, transfers, tours, etc. – that is the same person who is answering the phone. Which means she knows how to answer your questions or where to get the answers quickly if she doesn’t have them. Personalized service in this day and age is so incredibly important. And when you use a small, local business you get that personalized service. Just ask those who were traveling or about to travel when the lock down occurred last March. I guarantee you will get two completely different stories of how those trips ended up from those who booked on their own as opposed to those who used a travel advisor. Travel advisors like Thia are worth every penny. I promise.

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While that concluded my questions – Thia took the opportunity to end our interview with one oh so touching and inspirational thought (or perhaps mantra is a better term) – “the journey itself is my home.”  She passionately implored that whenever you go on a trip to make that journey your home. In other words – don’t compare where you are from with where you are. Enjoy that journey – make it a place where you can embrace, appreciate and admire the people and the land for just what they are and in the simplest form. Oh, my heart.

See what I mean? What a joy it was to speak to this woman. If you haven’t watched the interview yet please do, as I know if you have not fallen in love with her from this overview, you will after seeing her speak so eloquently about travel and her passion for all it has to offer us. In her words – she is not just a travel expert – she is a travel enthusiast. Do yourself a favor and contact Thia when you are ready to book your next travel adventure. You won’t regret it.

Blessings,

Carole

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