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.

Where Would You Like To Go???

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A recent article in the January issue of the Travel Agent talks about the travel trends expected in 2018. A Dallas Morning News section of the January 14 issue gets real specific in describing “52 places to go in 2018”. Both issues indicate that this is going to be a good year to go somewhere!!

Now, that's the kind of prognostications we can live with!!!

Both the travel agent consortiums of Travel Leaders and Virtuoso report that from their research and surveys, Italy was the most desired location to visit in the coming year. Having been there several times, I couldn't agree more. Among the top travel trends were multigenerational travel, active or adventure trips, river cruising, and anniversary/birthday/wedding arrangements.

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Travel Warnings....Or Travel Alerts...Which Is It?!!!

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For several years now, the State Department has had a system of indicating which countries were unsafe, and for consumers, travel agents, and most airline personnel, it was a confusing and mostly unclear system. What was the difference between a “travel warning” and a “travel alert”? Is a travel warning mean you can go but be careful, and a travel alert means you can travel there? Or is there any difference at all?

Recently the State Department revealed a new, and according to them, a more understandable system. Under the new system, every country in the world has a travel advisory ranking from 1 (“exercise normal precautions”) to 4 (“do not travel”). On their website they also have an interactive map that color-codes each country by its ranking; red for 4, orange for 3, yellow for 2. Countries with a level 1 ranking such as Canada, Sweden and Mongolia are not color-coded.

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Antidote For Cabin Fever

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The kind of weather we have had for the past several days makes one want to consider getting away......hopefully to some better environment. Guess what....we have had a good many calls in recent days about arrangements for a “good getaway”, somewhere where it is a little warmer!!

Probably our most ready answer to that question is somewhere along the Mayan Riviera, south of Cancun. There are some all-inclusive resorts that specialize in family activities, then there are other properties that are for adults only.

The best feature about a trip down there is that it is only a 2 hour 15 minute flight from DFW. You can leave in the morning, and in early afternoon, you are already at the property, unpacked, had a lunch that was included on the price, and are lounging on the beach getting a tan, or under an umbrella with a new John Grisham book in your hand.

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Trends In Cruising

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If you paid attention to last weeks comments, you know that 2017 was a banner year for most entities in the travel industry. It is probably safe to say that the cruise lines experienced the largest percentage increase year over year in passengers and profit.

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Travel Prospects In 2018

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Yesterday at the Kiwanis Club of Abilene we had a speaker who visited with us regarding the economic prospects of this coming year. That got me to thinking about the prospects of travel in 2018.

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Smart Luggage

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I was reminded coming back the first of the month from the Rhine River cruise with The Travel Factory Gang, standing at the luggage carousel, of how many folks own black luggage. The reason I paid attention to that color is because my two bags were black. It seamed the every third bag was black!!

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How's Las Vegas Doing???

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As most people know, there was a mass shooting and killing on October 1 in Las Vegas, and the impact on the visitor count right after that event was dramatic.

So.....what are they doing to get folks to consider coming back to the “city that never sleeps”?

Like most marketers, they are reducing the cost of a room, virtually through out the Strip. Late last month, Caesars was discounting most of its Strip properties by as much as 40% for stays up until Dec. 14, and last week they were offering a sale discount of up to 25% on rooms booked for stays through next October.

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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???

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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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