Winter Getaways—It’s Not Too Late!

You want to get away and shake out the winter blues but where to go and what to do? There are the adventure vacations where you get to scuba dive with the sharks before breakfast and climb a mountain before dinner; and then those healthy getaways where you get pampered with the latest spa treatments and come back ten pounds lighter to the envy of all of your friends; the cozy lover getaway where passions are reignited; the cultural/historical vacation –“if it’s Tuesday it must be Bora Bora”–and of course the “don’t bother me I’m not moving from this beach chair” vacation. The good news is that the travel industry knows that each traveler is different, and they are continually trying to give the client what they want. So with a bit of homework on your part, dear Hudson County traveler, you can experience everything you want on your next getaway, and not break the bank.

The Internet
Travel has never been the same since the traveling public discovered sites like Travelocity, Kayak.com, Trip Advisor, and Independent Travel.com; travel sites that have given the power of choice back to the traveler. www.travelocity.com offers some of the best deals out there on hotels, flights, and package getaways. The company has been around for two decades and traveler satisfaction is high. The Independent Traveler, www.independenttraveler.com is an independent traveler’s exchange. The Independent Traveler debuted on America Online in 1990 and quickly established its credentials as an authoritative internet resource for objective travel information. Over the past 16 years, The Independent Traveler has developed a loyal following and a devoted online community as it has expanded to include extensive worldwide travel bargains, travel advice, and recommendations for your next trip. With thousands of first person accounts of their trips as well as a staff of seasoned travel writers who actually tell the truth, this site has received rave reviews from travel experts and loyal fans. One can save a lot of money by using the internet for your next trip, but you must do your homework, and make sure that beachfront room you have just locked in, does not end up being a half a mile off the beach next to the outhouse.

Travel Insurance
Even the shortest trips can go array: injuring yourself on a trip, missing your flight, or getting sick far from home will not only ruin your vacation, but can also hit you with a large unexpected bill to deal with. There are a number of very affordable travel insurance plans that will give you peace of mind, and cover just about any situation you might run in to. QuoteWright, www.quotewright.com offers many types of travel insurance. As a nationally recognized broker, they represent only the premier companies and focus exclusively on travel insurance. Even though they have the ability to offer you over 60 plans, they will only show you those plans that fit your requirements. They offer insurance for trip, cruise and flight cancellation at the best cost.

Medjet Assist
According to the Centers for Disease Control, half of the 60 million Americans who travel abroad each year get sick or injured. Fortunately, now there’s MedjetAssist — an innovative travel insurance program that will give you peace of mind, and much more, in case of a medical emergency. www.MedjetAssist.com is a membership program for travelers at least 150 miles from home. If you are a member of MedjetAssist, no matter what your travel destination, should something happen to your health – whether it be a sprained ankle or an exotic disease – the company will communicate with the local medical professionals, make the necessary arrangements for transfer and medical care, and pick you up and fly you to the hospital of your choice in your home city – or to a specialty treatment center. The transport will take place in a state-of- the-art medically-equipped plane with trained physicians on staff. The company will also handle contacting a client’s family and personal physicians.

Hudson County Travel Agents
Some travelers just like dealing with a person face to face when it comes to booking their trips. In Hudson County there are a number of top travel agents to deal with. Four Seasons Travel, a company that’s been around since 1884, which started out as a steamship line, is located in Bayonne. It offers a full line of custom travel packages from cruises to adventure travel. Ginger Kemp, the owner, likes to tailor each trip depending on the traveler’s needs and wants. “There is a vacation for every price range,” Ms. Kemp said. “Though we don’t do local travel, we do offer national and international travel packages. If they want an all inclusive at a very reasonable price to an all inclusive at a very high price, we can find you the best deal. There are deals galore, but the deal is relative to each person and for those of you who are more adventurous, this is a great time to travel to Europe with inexpensive airfares and hotels.” Ms. Kemp believes that by using a travel agent one can save time and money and can count on the reliability of the package being put together and you know who you are giving your money to. And when it comes to travel insurance, which Four Seasons offers, Ms. Kemp believes it is a necessity. “In these volatile times one should consider travel insurance on every trip. There are things that can happen in today’s world and travel insurance is a necessity not a luxury.” They can be reached at 201-436-3434.

Liberty Travel, Founded in 1951 as the innovator of the vacation package concept is the largest privately held leisure travel company specializing in the Vacations That Matter. Working with more than 2,000 hotels in over 170 destinations, Liberty Travel does not charge a service fee. Cathy Pelaez, Chief Operating Officer of Liberty Travel believes that the one to one approach of a travel agent is the best way to get the trip you are looking for. “Agents are a fantastic, ‘a one stop shop,’ to find the best price, amenities and value for your vacation – like a personal shopper. They will shop around to find the lowest available airfares by checking various gateways and special fares in different cities. They can tell you about resort and hotel promotions that may be unpublished, but well known in the industry. Searching for deals on your own, on the internet, can be a long and cumbersome process. And if you are perusing airline or hotel websites…they will not offer you comparison shopping or show you lower prices that may exist through competitors. www.libertytravel.com Newport Mall location 201-610-9302.
I’ve included a few of their travel packages below.

CRUISES:
Holland America Line’s Noordam
10 day sailing from NYC to Grand Turks, Tortola, St. Maarten, St. Thomas & San Juan
Interior stateroom rates starting from $899/per person*

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Spirit
6 day sailing from NYC to Port Canaveral, Nassau and Norwegian’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay
Interior stateroom rates starting from $849/per person*

*Cruise pricing is based on double occupancy, taxes & port charges additional.

CARIBBEAN:
*Liberty Exclusive Offers*

Westin Rio Mar, Puerto Rico
5 day/4 night package with hotel accommodations, round-trip midweek airfare from NYC, hotel tax
Starting at $559/per person
Includes $300 air credit per room and 4th night free
Book by February 19th for travel February 8th through September 15th

St. Kitts Marriott Resort & the Royal Beach Casino
6 day/5 night package with hotel accommodations, round-trip midweek airfare from NYC, round-trip transfers, hotel tax
Starting at $1019/ per person.
Includes 40% off and $400 air credit per room
Book by February 28th for travel April 1st through December 20th

*Caribbean pricing based on double occupancy in lowest room category, air taxes and surcharges may apply. Liberty Travel Newport Mall can be reached at 201-610-9302

My Favorites
As a travel writer for national magazines for the past ten years, I’ve managed to experience some of the best places on earth. And along with that comes experiences from time to time that challenge one’s sense of safely, reality, and adventure. Like the time the country of Italy went on strike for two days and nothing was moving, (really) including my flight out, or the time I got lost on a golf course in South Africa during a torrential downpour and wild animals were eyeing me up for dinner, or getting caught in a cave 50- feet underwater, my oxygen tank slowly running out, as two sharks blocked my exit. Travel, by and large, brings growth. It expands one’s view of the world and let’s one see how the rest of the world lives. A few places that I highly recommend are: South Africa, an 18-hour flight but truly worth every mile. From sophisticated Cape Town, to the Wine Trail, to a safari at Kruger National Park, it’s a country of vast wealth and poverty, that never stops surprising. www.southafrica.net A cruise around the Mediterranean Sea where one can visit twelve countries in ten days, and soak in cultural, history, and eat like a king. www.hollandamericalines.com And if you want to feel like a million dollars, there is a wonderful, no frills thermal spa in Mexico right outside of Guadalajara called Rio Caliente, www.riocaliente.com that offers the best hiking, food, and spa treatments at a very affordable price. It’s a big world out there—get moving.

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