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 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!!!

So, since then, our groups have been named “The Travel Factory Gang”. When you hear that, some folks imagine a group of cowboys riding up on a stagecoach with guns drawn and ready to cause havoc to the travelers. Some folks might think of wild and crazy ruffians riding their motorcycle on the prowl. But our “Gang” is reasonably pacific, just excited and interested in a pleasant and casual vacation with a group of friends and strangers for only a minute or two.

The Travel Factory Gang schedule for the rest of this year and so far, next year, is a very interesting mixture of some really desirable destinations. Over a year ago we scheduled a Viking Ocean cruise for May 8-23, cruising the Baltic. Some of the destinations we will be visiting are the Scandinavian capitals, St. Petersburg, Russia, Berlin, Gdansk Poland, and Tallinn Estonia. We'd love to have you go with us, but that voyage has been sold out since last November.

Another Gang trip this year, this time with a Viking River cruise titled “Paris And The Heart of Normandy. It is scheduled for Oct. 31-Nov. 7. And would you believe, that cruise is already sold out!!

Folks are not generally aware that the river cruises sell out very quickly because there are only 190 people on one of these ships. It doesn't take many phone calls to sell one of those trips out.

One of the Gang trips that surprisingly still has space on it is our 12-night Alaska experience. Typically in years past, by this date, most if not all, of the space has already been sold out. But we booked two rooms yesterday, and I was told by the agent that there were still some rooms available for sale. That exciting trip takes place from July 8-20. We fly to Fairbanks for two nights and enjoy two really memorable excursions, then bus down to Denali Princess Lodge and a 30+mile trip into the Park, the next day we are bused to McKinley Princess Lodge where we are 35-40 miles from the mountain, Denali. The next day we board the train in Talkeetna on our way to the largest town in Alaska, Anchorage, then the next morning we visit the Alaska Wildlife Preservation Center before we board the beautiful Royal Princess, our home for the next 7 days. We'll cruise Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, then stop in Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan and end up the next day in Vancouver, Canada where we will board a flight bound for DFW. Tremendous and memorable trip....but call quickly if you are interested because the difficult part is getting airfare at a decent rate.

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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.

The Luxury Travel Advisor magazine recently published a flyer with reasons why cruising is the “ultimate memory making adventure”. I have referred to some of these reasons over the years, but they bear repeating.

One of the reasons our family loves cruising is the variety of activities that appeal to all ages. Parents can enjoy the spa or dancing at the music venues while the children can enjoy the water parks with all kinds of slides, buckets, and pools or the variety of activities presented by the children and youth clubs. Then there's bingo, cooking classes, miniature golf, art auctions, sport activities like basketball, tennis, shuffleboard, table tennis, rock-climbing walls, laser tag, and dart throwing just to name a few.

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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!!

One of those things is remembering to make your reservations early. Airfares are always less expensive when purchased several months in advance. For example, for an Alaska trip this year we made reservations for a couple last September for a trip in July of this year. Their air cost was only a little over $700 at that time. That same reservation made in January increased to over $900.

Another action that produces a lot of stress is leaving too late for the airport. In this day and time, especially if one is leaving from a major airport, checking luggage, going through security, and getting to the gate can take considerable time. I always suggest getting to the airport at least two hours before the scheduled departure. It's always comforting to be waiting for them at the gate to call my boarding number than breathlessly arriving at the gate a minute or two before they close the boarding.

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Group Travel

Group Travel with The Travel Factory Group Travel with The Travel Factory

We get requests all the time regarding our interest and capability to handle groups---athletic teams, high school groups, musical groups, church groups, family travel, you name it. Generally speaking, we always answer with a big YES!!! In fact, that's where I cut my teeth in travel. 

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Surviving In The Travel Agent Profession

Surviving In The Travel Agent Profession Surviving In The Travel Agent Profession

Several professions are becoming extinct, and some have been predicting for many years that the travel agent is quickly becoming a relic. One group asked this question: with technology, online, mobile and user experience all firmly entrenched in travel, where does the store-front travel agent fit in to the buying cycle?

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Airport Tips

Airport tips with The Travel Factory Airport tips with The Travel Factory

Back in 2002, this program started out with the title of Thursday Morning Travel Tips with Russell Berry from The Travel Factory. Well, we will often offer some tips, but mostly it's an opinion or state of the travel business, or a trip that we are promoting. But today, I have some real tips!! I'm more or less copying them from a “Smarter Travel” website titled “Things You Should Never Buy At The Airport”. For example:

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World War II Places To Visit

World War II Places To Visit World War II Places To Visit

Two of the most treasured World War II sites to visit are Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and the Normandy beaches in France. In my opinion, the best way to see those sites are on cruise vacations. Why are those sites so important in our history?

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Holiday Traveling

Holiday Travel with The Travel Factory Holiday Travel with The Travel Factory

Folks have been coming in this week interested in seeing if there is any real good deals available for the Christmas or New Years weeks. You gotta be kidding!!!! If there were any space available at all, it wouldn't be a “good deal”!!

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Cruise Booster

Cruise Booster with The Travel Factory Cruise Booster with The Travel Factory

Back in 1981, five years after I had been in the travel business, I finally was able to get on a cruise....with my wife. I had always wanted to, and had the opportunity to sell many in those previous years, but of course, I really didn't know what I was selling. Finally, I convinced my wife to go with me on a cruise I had earned, and we sailed out of New York on a Holland America ship to Bermuda. One of the clinches in getting her to go,(because she was afraid of getting motion sickness), we got one of the first prescriptions for what is now known as the “Transderm Patch”. That was the “ticket”....we've been on about 85 cruises since, and she has never had motion sickness. So..that's my solution to one objection we hear of going on a cruise vacation.

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The "City Of Lights"

The City Of Lights - Las Vegas The City Of LIghts - Las Vegas

Can you believe that Las Vegas, in 2017, registered a visitors count at 42.2 million people, and that was considered a “down year”. They based the fallen numbers on the shooting that occurred in Oct. that killed 58 persons and injured 851.

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The Last Frontier

Denali National Park in Alaska Denali National Park in Alaska

We've been fortunate over the past 24 years to enjoy introducing groups to one of the most exciting destinations in the United States......our 49th state....ALASKA!!! If you've listened to our radio show every Thursday on KWKC Talk Radio at 8:07AM with David Bacon, you'll know a little about our excitement when we talk Alaska. We also put the show on our website: www.thetravelfactoryabilene.com under our weekly blog. In fact, you can go to our July 19 show and see a report of this years Alaska trip.

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Do You Speak "Airline"?

Do You Speak Airline? Do You Speak Airline?

I'll occasionally tell folks, when they are talking about taking a cruise, if you didn't have to get there and get back, cruising would be wonderful. It's getting to the ports and returning that makes a lot of folks reluctant to take that great, relaxing vacation.

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Where Do YOU Want To Go???

Where Do You Want To Go - The Travel Factory Where Do You Want To Go?

As you can imagine, we have some real interesting encounters with potential clients. One recently came in and when asked if we could be of service, he said he would like to go somewhere. Well, for sure, he came to the right place for an answer!!!

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Travel Advisors Do More Than Sell Travel....They Help Keep You From Being Depressed!!

Travel Advisors Sell Happiness! Travel Advisors Sell Happiness!

We could have probably had a shorter title, but I wanted to get your attention. According to the 10th annual Allianz Global Assistance Vacation Confidence Index, Americans who don't feel like they can take a vacation, despite wanting to, are nearly two times as likely to show signs of moderately severe to severe depression. So, the first thing to do is to realize that you do need to relax, then secondly, reach out to your travel advisor who will take the stress out of planning a vacation that will make you a more productive employee or owner. Taking time off is not a frivolous thing, it has real benefits to your mental well-being.

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Airline Germophobia

Airline-Germophobia-with-The-Travel-Factory Airline Germophobia

One of the travel websites that I visit quite often is posted by one of my favorite travel agent owners and writers, Richard Turen. The site is titled “Traveltruth.com”. He and his staff are very intentional in “telling it like it is”. They answer various and sundry questions sent to them by travelers, and one that I thought was interesting and wanted to share was the question about how to avoid getting sick while traveling on an airplane.

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Cruising The Caribbean In September

Cruising The Carribean in September Cruising The Carribean in September

We just returned last Sunday from a great cruise experience, cruising the Western Caribbean out of the Texas port of Galveston. It was our 13th September cruise, and a good time was had by all!!!

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Norwegian Cruise Line's Bliss

Norwegian Cruise Line's Bliss Norwegian Cruise Line's Bliss

NCL aptly named their newest ship in the fleet, Bliss. The dictionary defines this word as “great happiness”, and if you go on her and don't find bliss, I don't think it will be the ships fault.

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Flying With Medical Concerns

Flying-with-Medical-Concerns---The-Travel-Factory Flying with Medical Concerns

One of my favorite websites to visit regarding regulations in flying on airlines today is the Transportation Security Administration website: www.tsa.gov. There is a world of information on there especially regarding what you can and cannot bring, along with some valuable tips.

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Hey Siri, What Do You Call Those People Who Do Travel??

Hey-Siri-What-Do-You-Call-Those-People-Who-Do-Travel---The-Travel-Factory Hey Sir What Do You Call Those People Who Travel??

Over the past 42 years since I've been in the travel business, travel sellers have had a variety of titles. Probably the most favored over the years is 'travel agent'. But there have been other handles like travel counselor, travel consultant, travel adviser, travel advisor, or as one in our office mentioned, travel slave based on the amount of money I pay her. Interestingly enough, the American Society of Travel Agents, after going by that name for 75 years, made the decision last week to rename themselves. That organization that represents those of us who work in the travel business have decided to name themselves, American Society of Travel Advisors....that's AdvisOrs. Obviously, they didn't have to change the initials.....still ASTA.

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