The Travel Factory Blog

Travel Tips, Stories, Deals and Info...

The Travel Factory employs 4 full time agents with 100 years total experience in the travel industry. Our agents specialize in cruise, tour and resort vacations as well as corporate incentive and school groups. Our mission is to provide the best, most courteous, most detailed, most informative service. Our slogan, "Building vacations to your specifications" says it all.

My initial working career was as a teacher, coach, and administrator at the high school and university levels for 13 years. Those responsibilities certainly prepared me for the travel business which I entered in May, 1976. I have been a partner in the business since 1981, primarily specializing in group business. My initial group efforts were with high school and college groups, especially athletic teams and senior trips. Then we escorted many groups doing mission efforts to France, Denmark, Norway, Australia, Korea, Brazil, Japan, Taiwan, and Great Britain and the Holy Land. Domestically we’ve planned and escorted groups to Las Vegas, Reno, Hawaii, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Idaho. Read more...

Fees, Fees, Fees.......Will They Ever Stop??

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The title, of course, is referring to the incessant airline fees. In my opinion, they will never stop and the airlines will continue to find ways to keep adding them in some form or fashion.

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Finding A Good Travel Agent

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A few months ago, the Travel Troubleshooter for the Dallas Morning News, Christopher Elliott, had a title exactly like mine today. He gave some really good direction on searching out someone you can trust with your valuable vacation time. Several hints focused on experience, professionalism, travel consortium memberships. But, according to him, and according to my experience, the best way to find a good travel agent is to ask someone. He included a great statement by a travel agent in North Carolina, she said “the best credential you can have is a referral from a friend”.

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Let's Talk Escorted Tours

Guided Tours with The Travel Factory

We do sell a good amount of cruise vacations as well as air and hotel or resort vacations to Mexico, Jamaica, other Caribbean locations as well as United States cities. But, we also sell what we refer to as escorted tours. This is a tour of a certain number of days and the entire time you would have a professional escort and driver who would be taking care of you the entire time of your trip.

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Visiting About Passports Again

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This is a good time to begin thinking about applying for a passport, especially if you are interested in taking a trip next summer that would involve the use of a passport for you to visit a country requiring it. So far, after applying, you can get the passport back usually at this time of the year within about 2-3 weeks. Waiting until March, it would increase to 5-6 weeks.

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Reasons Not To take A Cruise

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In selling vacation options, of course, we always suggest that a couple or family might want to consider a cruise vacation. There are lots of advantages such as consistent dining opportunities, quality entertainment programs, and lots of activity venues. But.....we hear many objections to taking a cruise, so I thought I would present some of those we hear, then make a studied comment.  

  • “What about a flu outbreak?” Do you go to school, church, or for goodness sake, the mall?
  • “We hear there is so much crime on a ship.” How about the daily local police blotter in the newspaper?
  • “Sometimes we read about collisions on the ship”. How about daily driving a car?
  • “I'm afraid of getting stuck out at sea without electricity or air conditioning”. That rarely happens, but when it does, there is immediate attention by the cruise line to correct the problems, and they always award discounted rates on future cruises for those inconvenienced.
  • “There is just too much sun”. How about going to ball games?....or lay around in the shade or go inside if it's too sunny.
  • “Someone has said there are lots of bed bugs on the ships”. My comeback is that I've been on about 80+ cruises and have never experienced bed bugs; too, I've sold many cruises over the years and have never had a client come back complaining about bed bugs on their ship.
  • “There are so many people on those ships”. There's a lot of people at the mall, at a ball game, at some restaurants, at church.
  • “How about sea sickness”. If one has a tendency to that malady, then there are plenty of excellent antidotes that are available, before you go or while on the ship.
  • “What about people getting food poisoning?” My comeback is, “do you ever eat out?”. Where ever you go there is that possibility, even at home!!
  • “But there is so much unhealthy food on a ship”. Just check your refrigerator and food pantry; I'll bet you'll find the same thing. The cruise line is aware there are dietary restrictions in lots of folks diets and they are extremely accommodating in making sure that you have the food best suited for your body, but only if you make them aware of your personal situation.
  • “What if I'm shopping or sightseeing at a port and they go off and leave without me?” Yes, they will do that if you are not disciplined enough to follow their explicit departure times, however, if you are on one of their sponsored tours, and that tour is late, they will wait until those passengers are all back on the boat.

These are just a few of the reasons we hear about why not to cruise, but after purchasing the product, they come back saying “that was the best vacation we've ever taken”!! So, allow the travel counselors at The Travel Factory help “manufacture the vacation of your dreams”. We are at 4150 Southwest Drive, or call at 698-1421 or toll-free 800-760-4040. Website: thetravelfactoryabilene.com.

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Is Flying Really Safe???

QANTAS Airlines - The Safest Airline In The World - The Travel Factory

Borrowing a line from one of my favorite travel writers, “don't worry about safety in the air. In fact, sitting on a long-distance flights is one of the safest things you can do on this planet. If you want to worry, think about a strategy to get safely from the house to the airport. Statistically, that is, by a wide margin, the most dangerous part of your journey”.

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Trust Me, Something Every American Needs Is A Vacation!!!

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And, right now is a good time to begin planning your 2018 vacation. Any travel partner or travel agent will tell you that the best prices are found soon after the plane or boat has opened up for sell the next years airline seats and cruise staterooms.

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October Is "Plan A Cruise Month"

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I realize I painted a pretty bleak picture of cruising last week describing the devastation in parts of the Caribbean because of Harvey, Irma, and Maria, but by the time most of you want to go, most of those ports will be up and running. They know how valuable that tourist dollar is to their economy, so you can be sure it's 24-7 to get recovered . And, October is the month to plan to go!!!

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Will We Ever Get To Cruise In The Caribbean Again???

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The past three weeks have been wild and crazy, especially in the cruise industry, thanks to several hurricanes that visited the Atlantic and Caribbean. Some cruise lines had ships rescuing stranded visitors as well as doing their best to make lemonade out of real sour lemons. Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line received particular notice for their humanitarian efforts in helping guests escape the island dangers from the hurricanes.

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Tips For Shopping At The Airport

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This report today was inspired after reading an article in Airfarewatchdog, entitled “Things You Should Never Buy at the Airport”. I could probably write an article on “things you never see at the airport anymore”!!

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Disney Tips for First Timers!

Disney Tips by The Travel Factory

Going to Disney World in Orlando or Disney Land in Anaheim or going on a Disney cruise at any time of the year is going to be busy. If there are less busy times it would be after the second week in January through the first week of February, and the third week of August through the first week of October. As you can tell, those are when school semesters begin. Of course, if you can't go at those times, the best thing to do is to plan a long way in advance....how long? A good suggestion would be at least 10 months out. That way you could get the best airfare too.

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GROUP TRAVEL

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The other day I came across an article that got my attention regarding group travel. It got my attention because we sell a good bit of group travel, both in land packages as well as group cruises.

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Is It Safe To Travel To Mexico???

Mexico Museum of Fine Arts

That's a good question, especially considering all the recent negative reports that have been in the news. Let me see if I can answer that question with intelligent (well, reasonably) rational.

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Just Relax......Take A Cruise!!!!

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Did you know that a week ago, Tuesday, was National Relaxation Day in the United States.....and I guess the world!!! I didn't even know there was such a designation, but I do know the antidote for the stress of work and everyday life.......take a cruise!!!

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Good News On The Cruising Front

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It's that time of the year when the second quarter financial reports, and the cruise lines and tour operators start scratching their heads as to different strategies to increase sales or devise new promotions to make more bookings, thereby making more money.

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Traveling Safely

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One person I interviewed about safety in travel said, “my best advice is to just stay home”!! Of course I disagree!! What about those falls at home, or breaking a glass and cutting your hand, or someone running into you on your way to the grocery, or when coming out of the mall, someone runs by you and grabs your purse, jumps in a car and before you can think to move or react, they are gone. And those incidents happen right here in Abilene!!

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Hidden Travel Gems

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Occasionally we get requests from folks to suggest some place to go for a weekend or a short stay that is different, not a lot of people, not real busy but with some character to it.....and they'll say, “you know what I mean”.

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OH MY GOODNESS......ALASKA 2017!!!!

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You should have been with us!!! We just returned from another fantastic experience to “The Last Frontier”, Alaska, and those who traveled with The Travel Factory Gang enjoyed the chance to see Alaska in all her glory.

Of course, we can't predict what the weather is going to be with any vacation trip, but we can always hope, and picking the right time to visit Alaska gives one the best opportunity to have good weather and good animal sightings. This was our 23rd time to escort/host a group, and we've learned over the years that the last of June and through July gives the vacationer the best chance, weather-wise, to visit our 49th state of the Union. We left on July 3, returned on July 15, and the temperature ranged from 54-65F the entire time. It sprinkled on us one day for a short period of time, and that was it.....so no complaints from the participants on this trip because of the weather.

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Visiting Cuba

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We have had quite a few questions and requests to visit Cuba last year and this year, and even though during the latter part of President Obama's administration, he made it a whole lot easier, there have been a good bit of questions still to be answered, especially since President Trump arrived on the scene.

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How 'Bout Mexico???

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We often have folks walk into the office having no idea about where to go or what to do about a vacation.....they want some ideas. So..after a few questions about their intent and expectations, most of the time we start with a suggestion about the all-inclusive vacations offered in most of the Mexico resorts.

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