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...

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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Preparing For A Busy Travel Summer

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I read in a recent article that the number of passengers expected to travel through airports this summer are at a record high, with peak periods during June and July......just when I want to travel!!!

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is expected to screen more than 2.5 million passengers A DAY during the upcoming busy travel season. Of course over the past few months they have been anticipating this surge and have added more officers and canine teams at many of the major airports, but it is still incumbent on the traveler to take a little responsibility in helping things to run smoothly.

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Alaska Or Bust!!!!

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We are now about a month away from enjoying taking our 23rd group to experience the fantastic state that Alaska has evolved to be. I guess it has always been an exciting vacation opportunity, even back in the 40's and 50's, but it has become here in the 21st century, a positive bucket-list vacation item for a lot of folks.

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Travel Tips From "The Wayfarer's Handbook"

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Looking through some websites the other day, I came across an interesting blog on the “Independenttraveler.com” website. The author of the blog, Elissa Poma, had referenced some tips from a little handbook titled “The Wayfarer's Handbook” written by Evan Rice.

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Cruising Looking Good!!!!

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The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has just released its 2017 Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook, and the report indicates that cruise popularity is on the rise....and that's good....for both the cruise lines and their travel agent partners.

CLIA engaged J. D. Power with the job of checking on consumer travel behaviors and opinions regarding the cruise industry, and the first report found that 64% of the responders said their awareness of a cruise vacation had improved over the last two years.

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Revisiting Passport Information

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NOW is a good time to apply and obtain a passport, particularly if one is considering traveling outside of the United States in the near future. If you already have a passport, it is a good time to check it and make sure there is adequate months before expiration. This topic was brought to mind when I was reading an article from The Travel Institute. They had some very good information that I thought might interest our friends who are considering a vacation outside of the United States.

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Airlines.....Remember When???....But Now!!!

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I remember almost 41 years ago when I began my journey in the travel service business, it was a real pleasure and quite an adventure to fly in an airplane. Men were dressed in business attire; women were fashionably dressed; stewardess were polite and accommodating, seemingly glad you were flying with them, the captain greeted you as you disembarked and thanked you for flying with him. Even checking in then was so seamless, and of course, luggage did not have to be paid for.

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Panama Canal Revisited

Panama Canal Revisited

We just returned last week from a wonderful trip that included the entire transit of the Panama Canal from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea. In my opinion, that is the only way to adequately view the magnificent engineering marvel that the Canal is.

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Visit Panama Now.....In 2017

Visit Panama Now.....In 2017

We've just returned from a wonderful cruise on Princess Cruise Line....the Love Boat line that has two ships (Island Princess and Coral Princess), specifically built to transverse the Panama Canal. We were on the Island Princess, and this was our third time through; the other two times we were on the Coral Princess.

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Know Before You Go (Travelling)

Know Before You Go (Travelling)

One of the best travel web sites that all travelers should visit before they travel belongs to all of us. It is a site managed by the U. S. Customs and Border Protection. The site is at this address:

www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/know-before-you-go.

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Who's The Best In Travel??!!

Who's The Best In Travel??!!

Well, we've recently had the Oscar's, naming he best actors, actresses, and movies, and now we are winding down the collegiate basketball season to find out who is the best men's and women's basketball teams in the land.

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Picking The Right Cruise

Picking The Right Cruise

We have several folks going with us on our Alaska cruise this year who have never cruised before, and understandably, they are initially a little uncertain about what to do, how it all works. That's understandable, and an interesting statistic from the Cruise Lines International Association is that only 5-10% of the U. S. population has ever cruised before, so there is a lot of uncertainty about, what I think, is the best vacation one can take.

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How 'Bout Those Cheap Airline Seats???

How 'Bout Those Cheap Airline Seats???

The news is out now that the 3 major airlines, American, Delta, and United, are in the airfare race to see how many more customers they can entice over to their airplanes. Of course, they are offering the lesser expensive coach fares to compete with the low ball carriers who have shown some impressive growth, especially in several key markets like Dallas, Denver, and Chicago...enough to get the attention of the majors.

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Escape The Daily Humdrum.....At A Bargain!!!

Escape The Daily Humdrum.....At A Bargain!!!

For 11 years we have had the pleasant opportunity to take a great break as fall begins by sailing the Caribbean on beautiful and efficient cruise ships, catering to our every need and want. The first 8 years we were on a Carnival ship, the next four have been on a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line product.

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Why Not Holy Land????

Why Not Holy Land????

On three different occasions I have had the wonderful opportunity to take groups to visit the Holy Land. We have that opportunity to go again in March of next year, and the invitation is open to everyone to experience the walks where Jesus walked.

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