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.

Travel Hodge-Poge (with a little editorial comment!)

Travel-Hodge-Podge-with-The-Travel-Factory Travel Hodge Podge with The Travel Factory

#1 For years when one purchased an airline ticket that entitled them to a seat assignment; they could check a bag without cost, and you were allowed a carry-on bag as long as it fit in the overhead compartment or under your seat. Now, on most airlines, they have their lowest or “basic” rate at an attractive price but you are not allowed any upgrades or schedule changes, you are the last to board, and seats cannot be assigned until you check in. And, if you are willing to pay a higher rate, they have also been blocking off the aisle and window seats for an additional extra cost, so when one wants to make a reservation, and reserve a seat, all the seats are “blocked off”.....except, of course, the middle seats. Very confusing and frustrating. To get away from this mess, one can travel on Southwest, but the problem there is that Southwest doesn't fly everywhere, for sure out of Abilene!!! And we are not able to issue tickets on Southwest unless they are traveling with a hotel package.

#2. The U. S. Passport Office made an announcement last week that processing a passport application is now taking at least 8 weeks to get it back instead of the previous 6 weeks. The reason for the increase in time is that there has been an unusual amount of not only new passport applications but also increased renewals. Another cause of the delay is attributed to a reduction in staff. My editorial comment is, why don't they hire a few more folks? One way to get it back quicker is to pay for it to be expedited, which would reduce the time by 2-3 weeks.....but you'd have to pay an additional $60.

#3. Do you know which destination is the one most Americans are flying to this summer? It is Cancun.....for the fourth year in a row!!! The Airlines Reporting Corporation tracks the tickets issued for summer travel and Cancun won out again. I couldn't believe they beat out Las Vegas who came in fifth place. New York was second and Orlando was in the third place slot. A rundown of the top ten includes London at number 4 followed by Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, Seattle, Honolulu, Los Angeles, and Chicago captured 10th place. Because of the negative publicity around Punta Cana, I'll bet they'll lose a little stature in the next few months. And I'm guessing that Las Vegas was so low is because since they were measuring summer travel; it's too blooming hot to be in Las Vegas during the summer time!!

#4. Our president had a meeting with the Brazilian president a while back and they reached an agreement that saves a lot of hassle for Americans wanting to visit Brazil. Until their agreement, Americans not only had to have a passport, but they also had to secure a visa, which took a lot of time and effort and most of the time a little more money. A visa is a document issued by the country giving the traveler permission to visit their country. Now, all that is required for U. S. citizens to visit Brazil is a passport....all those interested in soccer are happy campers!!!

#5. Another one of those airline snafu's. Everyone wants an exit row seat, especially those 6'3” guys, plus some others that I can't judge since they are on the phone. Of course those seats carry with them an extra cost, so the persons are willing to pay extra, however when they get on the plane, there is no way they would be able to help in case of an emergency. They have to be able to lift a 45 pound door and perform other duties, and a 450 pound person or a 90 year old woman could not handle the assignment required of an exit row passenger. Here they've paid for the exit row privilege but can't handle the responsibility that goes with it, so then the flight attendant has to work it out. Good luck!!

The experienced travel advisors are experts in travel hodge-podge, we deal with it daily, so give us a call at 698-1421 or come by 4150 Southwest Drive and let us help you with your vacation plans....we manufacture your vacations to fit your specifications!!!

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Travel Advisors Work Is Never Done!!!

Travel-Advisors-Work-Is-Never-Done---The-Travel-Factory Travel Advisors Work is Never Done

Some of you have heard me say, quite often, that we are available to help with your travel needs. Our aim is good, honest, travel advice and planning, as......in other sign-off comments.....we exist to serve!!!

That thought was reinforced in an article I was reading the other day where the writer was praising her travel agent. She said “I pay someone to clean my house and walk my dog. I buy boxed meals that are delivered to my door with packaged ingredients. Why would I spend hours on the internet planning a vacation when a trained professional can take care of that for me---and maybe even get me an extra day pass to Typhoon Lagoon in Disney—for free? If something goes amiss I can call and they'll take care of it. Why would I spend hours acting like an expert just because I have access to the internet? Want to enjoy your next vacation? Call a travel agent, and when they say, “Hello, may I help you?” all you have to do is say, “Yes, please”.

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Travel To Cuba In The News

US-Government-Places-Travel-Restrictions-To-Cuba---The-Travel-Factory US Government Places Travel Restrictions-To Cuba

The Trump Administration announced yesterday that they were placing new restrictions on U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba. The restrictions will no longer allow the group educational and cultural trips known as “people to people” travel to the island. It will also impact the cruise lines traveling to that country.

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Secret Health Remedy......A Cruise Vacation!!!

Secret-Health-Remedy---A-Cruise-Vacation---The-Travel-Factory Secret Health Remedy......A Cruise Vacation!!!

It took several years in the travel business before I could convince my wife to go on a cruise with me, but finally, after the introduction of the “transderm patch”, she relented, and we took our first cruise out of New York to Bermuda for 7 days. That was back in 1985, and we have never looked back after discovering our favorite type of vacation.

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Consider Cruising On A Brand New Princess

Consider-Cruising-On-A-Brand-New-Princess---The-Travel-Factory Consider Cruising On A Brand New Princess

A couple of weeks ago I announced our intention for The Travel Factory Gang to take a river cruise on the Elbe River, an itinerary that starts in Prague and ends in Berlin. That ship's capacity is only 98 persons.

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Carnival Cruise Line Troubles

Carnival-Cruise-Line-Troubles---The-Travel-Factory Carnival Cruise Line Troubles

The past two Thursdays I've been visiting with you about the airlines and their problems. So as not to play favorites, I thought I'd visit with you this week about a cruise line...the largest in the world!!

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Airline Troubles

Airline Toubles - The Travel Factory Airline Toubles - The Travel Factory

Staying on the theme started on last week's blog, we'll visit today about the serious situation some of the airlines are experiencing......all because of the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX. One writer said because of that situation, especially considering the upcoming busiest time of the year, that the airlines are looking at “scarce planes and booming demand”.

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Traveling By Air

Airline Travel with The Travel Factory Airline Travel with The Travel Factory

I have the hardest time defending the airlines........of course my main reason is that for the past twenty-plus years, they have not paid the travel agents who sell their product one red cent!!! We still provide that service, and for the longest time, we continued to provide that service without charge. Currently when we do sell an airline ticket, depending on whether it is a domestic or international ticket, we charge a very minimum service charge. But...most of the airlines do the same thing, charge a service charge to sell their own product.

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When Booking Travel, It's Never Too Early

When its Booking Travel, It's Never Too Early When its Booking Travel, It's Never Too Early

I use that headline to make the point that when planning a vacation, wanting it to be the best for the least amount of money, the best tip I can give is to start making those plans early for the best rates.

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A Precious Travel Document - Your Passport

A-Precious-Travel-Document---Your-Passport---The-Travel-Factory A Precious Travel Document - Your Passport

The very best government-issued ID is a passport. You should have one, in case someone asked you to go with them at the last minute to Mexico, or London, or Finland (the happiest place on earth), or just about any other country.

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Vacations Make One Happy

Vacations Make One Happy - With The Travel Factory Vacations Make One Happy - With The Travel Factory

The World Happiness Report just made their announcement recently and for the second year in a row, Finland stayed at the top as the happiest country in the world. Data came from the Gallup World Poll survey.

The explanation was that this country has a strong social safety net, including a progressive, successful approach to ending homelessness. It also has a high-quality education system and the only country in the developed world where fathers spend more time with school-aged children than mothers.

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Changing Travel Business

Booking-Travel-On-Mobile-The-Travel-Factory Booking Travel on Mobile Devices

My goodness, what a crowd yesterday at Business Expo at the Convention Center downtown. In fact, they had all the booths sold out, over 220 of them, so there were a lot of folks trying to get your attention. It's a great event where there are a lot of connecting and re-connecting with folks and getting to know some new ones too. And, of course, getting to talk travel.....that is the object!!! 

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Travel Insurance Revisited

Travel Insurance Revisted Travel Insurance Revisted

We have visited before about the value of having travel insurance especially when one has a significant investment in the trip. Most travel companies, if not all, refer to this as “travel protection”, with cruise companies especially using this title for coverage. Most folks take the travel protection to provide protection if they have to cancel the reservations. There are other coverages too including accident, sickness, lost baggage, and delays.

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Travel To Israel ---- The Holy Land

Travel to Israel - The Holy Land Travel to Israel - The Holy Land

The above stated topic is one of my favorite places to travel....and for it to be so small, it gets in inordinate amount of world attention. Some say it was established in 1948, but in reality, it was established a long, long time before that. It has land borders on the north with Lebanon, Syria on the northeast, Jordan on the east, and Egypt to the southwest. Also the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip borders the east and west. There is so much written about that little country; it even takes up over 80 pages on Wikipedia!! They ranked 11th in the UN's World Happiness Report....whatever that is!! I looked into it and would still be reading it of all the information found.

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Relax.....You're On A Cruise!!!!!

Relax - You're On A Cruise - The Travel Factory Relax - You're On A Cruise

For the past nine years, Princess Cruises has had a research company surveying folks about the benefits of cruising. Most of the other years they have limited their research to North American travelers, but this year they expanded the survey to include a global audience from United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and where our president has just been, Vietnam. 

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Are You Dressed Properly To Fly????

Are-You-Dressed-For-Flying---The-Travel-Factory Are Your Dressed For Flying?

I remember when I first started in the travel business, and even before that when I was flying all over the U.S.with basketball teams, the dress for the day was coat and tie. We looked really good with a team of 6'10” and 6'8” guys and a few 6'3”- 6' guys.

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Where Can We Travel From Here?

Baltic Sea With The Travel Factory Baltic Sea With The Travel Factory

Back in the late 90's, we started, really by chance, group cruises and tours. Every time we started to book a group the tour operator or cruise line always asked “what do you want to call the group?” So, not being the overly imaginative guy in the room, I usually just said “ just call it The Travel Factory Gang”. That sounded easy to remember and if you imagined, kinda exciting!!!

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The Ultimate Family "Memory Making" Adventure

cruise-1236642_1920 Memory Making - Family Cruise

Many of the cruise lines as well as travel agents throughout the United States are “crowing” about cruise sales so far this year. Some say it is the best ever this early into “Wave Season”. Wave season has been traditionally between early January to the end of March. That's when the cruise lines really hammer out inviting promotions, like Royal Caribbean's 60% off the second person in the room, and some have even promoted third and fourth children in the room as free or deeply discounted.

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Come 'On, Let's Go Somewhere!!

Come On - Lets Go Somewhere! Come On - Lets Go Somewhere!

Well....I was reading in one of our trade magazines that according to them, (supposedly they're in the know), that this year for the travel business is shaping up to be banner year!!! They are basing that on the clients increased wealth because of the tax help as well as the booming economy, and hopefully that will inspire them to book more vacations.

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Common Sense Travel Tips

travel-778339 Common Sense Travel Tips

There are several things travelers can do when anticipating taking a business trip or a vacation that seem fairly easy but often overlooked in the planning. Most of the time we just get too busy to remember!!

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