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.

Traveling with Luggage

We are already past the first month of summer vacation, so my suggestions about packing today might be too late for some. However, I do know of several folks who still have vacations coming in July and August, and on into the fall, so I thought I would pass on some packing tips we’ve discovered over the years.  

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Tooting Your Own Horn!

Politicians do it all the time.  Often we hear of some individual in some sport who says that they are the best.  Advertisers are always saying that their product will beat another competitors.  Travel vendors like the hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and tour operators are not unlike them.. . . . everyone likes to think they are vital and important.  

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Great family beach-plus vacation in our front doo - Galveston

Great family beach-plus vacation in our front doo - Galveston

We’re often asked where to go for a good beach vacation for a family of (whatever), and our response is, “do you want to fly or drive?  Most of those requests come from folks who are on a limited budget, so they say “drive”. 

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Great Reasons For River Cruising...

Great Reasons For River Cruising...

A while back I was reading an article suggesting some reasons for having a river cruise on your bucket list. . . if not at the top, real close to the top of that list.

Now that I have been on one, I can certainly endorse some of the reasons they mentioned and have some of my own reasons.  One of the main differences between an ocean-going cruise and a river cruise is the pace.  The river cruises move at a slower, more relaxed pace, and you have the ability to disembark and return at your leisure throughout the trip.  Dress is casual with open seating in the dining areas resulting in a friendlier, open opportunity to meet other travelers.  Instead of the entertainment venues of the ocean-going ships, the river cruises do have locations on the ships that provide local entertainment as well as lecturers imparting information about the locales to be visited as well as music that reflect the local culture and traditions. 

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Speaking of good cruise deals!!!

Speaking of good cruise deals!!!

Several weeks ago my Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines sales representative suggested that I try another group promotion with them, other than the Rudy Cruise we have scheduled in September out of Galveston.  I told him I would be interested if we could get a good one with a good rate that would draw some attention.  We looked around and found what I think is a good one at a really good price.  You tell me!!! 

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How is travel to Mexico Going???

How is travel to Mexico Going???

Naturally we get questions about the all-inclusive vacation packages to our neighbor to the South. . .. Mexico.  Most of those questions regard security and safety of travel to that destination.

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You've Just Won A Free Trip!!!

You've Just Won A Free Trip!!!

Those are words coveted by just about everyone I know.  I’m always being asked if I have any free trips to give away.  I smile, knowingly, and let them know that there is nothing in travel free. . .somebody, somewhere, had to purchase those travel products.  A lot of folks get telephone calls telling them that they have won a “free” trip, but to be able to claim it, it will cost them $99.98.  Then they will tell them they need their credit card to hold the “free” ticket.  Then if you fall for this ruse, you’ll find that there will be certain restrictions and conditions which will make the trip more expensive, or even impossible to take your “free” trip.  The best thing to do when you receive one of these calls is just to hang up. . .they are invading YOUR “free” space!!!

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Travel with the "The Travel Factory Gang"

Travel with the "The Travel Factory Gang"

We started about 20 years ago planning and escorting groups to some great vacation locations every year, and we continue to do that this year.  Already this year we’ve been to London and Ireland, we’ve planned our 20th group to Alaska in July, and we’ll enjoy the Rudy Cruise group in the Western Caribbean in September.

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Nothing Like Planning Ahead For Travelers!!!

Nothing Like Planning Ahead For Travelers!!!

In the last year or two, we have been seeing a change in the booking windows.  Back in 2010 and 2011, space to just about any vacation destination was available a month to 6 weeks out.  But now, for most destinations and cruises, we are seeing at least 5-7 months out, and for some cruises, even 12 months is not out of the question.

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What’s Happening In Vegas???

I hate to beat a good horse to death, but if you haven’t been to Las Vegas in a couple of years. . .she’s changing again!!!  They re-invent or re-invest themselves about every 2-3 years with new hotels, rehabbed hotels, new restaurants, new feature attractions, bigger and better casinos, and almost 24-hour shopping.  

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How About A New Destination??

How About A New Destination??

I was reading about a destination I had never heard of, described in the April 7 issue of the magazine for travel agents, “Travel Agent”.  They were talking about an island near St. Thomas named Water Island.  I had never heard of it, but the description sounded really interesting, so I thought I would share some facts about it.

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Traveling In The USA!!!

Traveling In The USA!!!

Quite often we get the question of “where can our family go here in the United States instead of DisneyWorld and DisneyLand?”.  So our mind goes whirring and we suggest maybe a beach vacation in Destin, Florida, or a visit to the nation’s capital, or maybe a visit to some of the National Parks in the western United States.  One place though that I had never even thought about until around 3-4 years ago was Nashville, Tennessee.  

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The Fee Happy Travel Industry

The Fee Happy Travel Industry

If you’ve done much traveling in the past couple of years, you no doubt have noticed that just about every aspect of the travel industry has a base rate, but oftentimes by the time you total up the final bill, you’ve paid almost as much in fees and taxes as the base rate.  I’m thinking this started with the airlines, but then the car rental companies joined in the fee business, and now, the hotel and resort industry is quickly falling into the same pattern.

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Bringing The Wow To Passengers

Bringing The Wow To Passengers

There was some interesting dialog going on recently at the Cruise Line’s International Association’s Cruise360 show.  The general consensus among the CEOs was that “to keep up with ship growth and attract new passengers, the cruise industry had to focus on destinations and innovation.”

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Vegas Is Going Country This Weekend!!!

Vegas Is Going Country This Weekend!!!

Just today I heard another announcement about the Academy of Country Music Awards show taking place today through Monday. . . talk about a rocking place getting more rocking. . .that’ll be this weekend in Vegas!!!  There will be performances all over the Strip and more, as well as the live broadcast of the awards show on CBS from the MGM Grand on Sunday.

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Who's The Best In Travel. . .(You Name It!!)

Who's The Best In Travel. . .(You Name It!!)

Travel Weekly, a magazine devoted to the travel industry, came out last month with the winners of their annual “Readers Choice Awards”.

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You Can't Go Wrong On A Trip To Ireland

You Can't Go Wrong On A Trip To Ireland

Oh my goodness, we have just returned from escorting a small group of Abilene travelers to Ireland, and it was a fantastic experience!!  It was an escorted tour, presented by Collette Vacations, and they certainly showed us a great time.  

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Southwest Airlines Announces 15 new non-stop flights from Dallas Love Field

Southwest Airlines Announces 15 new non-stop flights from Dallas Love Field

Beginning next fall, Southwest has announced that they will have 15 new non-stop flights from Dallas Love Field.  Among those favored cities is Las Vegas, Denver, Nashville, Orange County California, Tampa, San Diego, and Washington Reagan.  This is great news for travelers because on many of these locations, they will be competing with American, Delta, United, Spirit, and Frontier.  American offers many non-stops to these locations, even though they are out of DFW.

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The Navigator Of The Seas. . Year-Round!!!

The Navigator Of The Seas. . Year-Round!!!

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has made the decision to put a ship in the Galveston market on a year-round basis.  In years past, they have had a presence, but only on a seasonal basis from December to April.  But NOW. . . . the Navigator of the Seas has been designated to be the ship based out of Texas, and she is quite a show!!!  “WOW”!!!

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Get A River Cruise Off Your Bucket List!!!

Since we returned from our Viking River cruise last November, we have had the opportunity to sell several folks on a river cruise of their own. . .all with great success.

One effort that has not been successful is bookings on our group tour on the elegant Elbe River this coming November.  It was a 10-night cruise, and I think that might be one of the negatives of folks signing up as well having to cruise on an older ship.  If those were the objections, then we have re-imagined and have booked some group space on one of the new longships for only 7 nights. Also, we’ve changed rivers.  This one will be on the Danube River, cruising from Budapest to Passau.

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