Makin’ Memories Monday

family_vacation_ideas.jpgWith the holidays right around the corner we often think nostalgically about our families and different traditions that we share. For most of us, we may not remember the gifts, but we remember the time spent together. Why not start a new tradition this year by spending time as a family on a yearly trip? Have you run out of things to buy the kids? The gift of travel is a great way to give everyone in the family exactly what they want. Whether you decide to take this trip over Christmas break, spring break or plan a summer getaway, giving the gift of memories is the greatest one of all.

family-suitcases.jpgAs the kids get older and the list for toys gets smaller consider the advantages that travel has to offer. First and foremost travel is exciting, especially when you use a travel consultant. We make planning your dream trip all about the fun, while we take over anything that would be stressful. Secondly travel is beneficial in so many ways. It will give you and your family ample time to be together, the health benefits are endless and there are many opportunities for learning. They say that travel is the best teacher, so why not take your kids to a place they’ve learned about in school. Spark their interest in history, archeology or marine biology this year. Make memories by bringing family back into the holiday season.

family-travel.jpgDon’t know where to start? No worries! That’s what we are here for. We would love to help you decide where to start off your new family tradition. For more information or to schedule an appointment please visit ambassadortravelltd.com or give us a call 920.236.7777

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To tip, or not to tip…

flight-attendants.jpgA great thing about working with other travel professionals is that they inspire my blog very often. Travel Consultant Connie just recently returned from a trip to California and posed the question, “should we be tipping flight attendants?” She went on to say she realizes that they do so much for us and was wondering what the standard protocol was when considering tipping our attendants in the sky. So I decided to do a little digging. I found several articles all of which had pretty much the same stance. It seems that tipping is not suggested by most airlines. They don’t have definite rules about it, but do not encourage their flight attendants to take tips lightly. Flight Attendant Abby Unger details her advice to Suzy Strutner at the Huffington Post saying,

“If you really want to tip your flight attendant, try asking three times.Unger says passengers often assume flight attendants make a lot of money, but “it’s not a very good wage at all.” Many airlines discourage tipping, she explains, and advise that the crew members turn down passenger’s first attempt at offering a tip. Try a second or third time, though, and your flight attendant will feel freer to accept. “Or just put it in an envelope and leave it on your seat.”’

According to nbcnews.com the average income for a flight attendant is around $38,000 with many starting out at $16,000. This to me is not very much for how much work they put in. But, if tipping is going to cause anyone to feel uncomfortable or like they will get in trouble better options are buying them a nice box or chocolates from duty free or going as far to reach out to customer service with their airline and let them know how fantastic of a job they are doing.

Have you ever tipped a flight attendant? If so we would love to hear about your experience. Let us know at amber@ambassadortravelltd.com

Reign in the New Year

New Years eve is my absolute favorite holiday. I love a day when people dress their best even if it is to just stay home. I love planning out my New Years celebrations and drinking champagne and being very excited for what the next year will bring. On my hunt to find you the best possible New Years Eve celebrations I realized that everyone has a different idea of fun on NYE. With that in mind I found an article on the Travel and Leisure website highlighting 25 different New Years experiences. I also love that NYC does not rank very high on this list, because there are so many other great places in the U.S. to reign in the New Year.

 

http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/americas-best-cities-for-new-years-eve

 

I will be spending my New Year on a Danube river cruise for my Honeymoon. We will be in Bratislava, Slovakia for NYE, so you know I will be detailing the fabulous night here on the blog afterward. Check out the article I provided, there is still time to book your getaway for New Years Eve! Ambassador Travel 920.236.7777 or ambassadortravelltd.com

Trivia Tuesday

national-vodka-day-line.jpgLast week I asked what percentage of the Russian Government’s income comes from the sale of Vodka. If you guessed 10% then you are right. Now, although 10% of an entire country’s revenue seems like a lot I am going to break it down so you get a better picture of just how big a role vodka really plays in the Russian government’s income. Russia is the number one vodka market in the world. With 1 billion liters or just under 265 million gallons consumed in 2014 alone, Russia accounts for 1/3 of the global consumption of vodka. That means that of all the vodka sold in every country in the world, 33% of all those sales are just in one country.  According to the World Health Organization, or the WHO, in 2011 each person in Russia consumed about 16 Liters throughout the year. That means that every single person in Russia is having at least one shot of Vodka every single day of the year.  Another interesting point is that the Russian government is currently going through a recession. What they name as the two largest components for the government’s issues are the drop in oil prices and the crackdown on drinking, which has drastically lowered the sale of vodka. You know your country drinks a lot when people cut back on drinking and it causes a countrywide recession!

Shot-of-vodka.jpgDrinking aside, Russia is a beautiful country with a lot of options for travel. I did a group tour to St. Petersburg and Moscow in 2007.  Here I got to visit historical sites, do a night train through the Russian countryside, sample some vodka and try their interesting cuisine. I love the architecture and the juxtaposition of Communist era with traditional Russian culture.  I would definitely recommend it as a bucket list item. I know that many people visit Russia by riverboat and I think that would be an amazing way to see the Motherland.

For more information on Russia as a vacation destination, please call 920.236.7777 or visit our website ambassadortravelltd.com to schedule an appointment.

This week’s travel trivia: In which state was famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright born? 

Bright Lights, Big City

The Music city offers fun for the whole family. Whether you are taking the kids to see the Grand Ole Opry, or looking to throw on your cowboy boots for a fun girls weekend or bachelorette party, this is the city for you. Consultant Shauna loves Nashville and accounts a fun filled weekend that she spent there.

“Yee Haw! Ok you may not hear that anymore in Nashville, but after a few shots of Fireball you may want to! After recently visiting Nashville for the first time I can see why people call it such a friendly city!

I visited Nashville with 4 other women to celebrate my sister turning 40 NDT.jpgand I don’t think she could have picked a better place for all of us! The diversity, food, entertainment and southern hospitality was in full swing during our visit!

We started our adventure by staying outside of Nashville in a super cute rental house in Goodlettsville, TN. We made a point of driving to Nashville every day to take in as much as possible. We drove to what we thought was a parking garage and the attendant very nicely let us know we had to have a permit. We thought we were out of luck as the parking was extremely close to downtown when in his next breath he said, “Oh but you beautiful girls can take this spot right over here,” and literally we were the 3rd spot in from the street. Next we were beeped at by an extended version of a golf cart and another gentleman asked if we would like a ride. Your first ride is free with the local “uber like” transportation.

We went to the go-to local bars and what I found fascinating is even though the bars are right next to each other as you walk to the next that bar will drown out the previous bar’s music so you are never having to strain to hear the music. Music….oh my gosh, just when I thought I couldn’t love country music more, this city puts country music right into your heart. But, don’t let Nashville deceive you into thinking it’s all about honky tonk, the bands can party and rock like the best of them! We even had a band take requests and granted ours by playing “Uptown Funk”!

nashville-tn.jpgNow back to Fireball. It is a must in Nashville and every bar offers for you to take a shot. It may have been because we were all wearing birthday shirts, but we were offered the Fireball everywhere we went.

My absolute favorite bars downtown that I would highly recommend as “MUSTS”: Tootsies, Second Fiddle and the Stage. Although all the bars are so much fun, these were where we made the most memories. We had hoped to have a star come into one of the bars as this is very common, but no luck, we were told the night before that Eric Church had stopped by for a couple of songs. Darn!

On the rooftop of the Acme Feed & Seed having a cocktail, I looked out over the river and was excited to see the Tennessee Titans stadium!
We took a day to travel to a great quant town, Franklin, where we found local folks who wanted to share the history of the area and great shopping! We came across a home that sells antiques and crafts but, that is not what we found to be the best part of the stop. Two older ladies were sitting on the porch of the home in their chairs sipping on tea. Almost 2 hours later we found ourselves wrapped in conversation with the owner of the home who explained to us how the home is a former recording studio for many musicians such as Johnny Cash, Dixie Chicks, SheDaisy, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton and Waylon Jennings just to name a few. We were able to peak inside the recording studio but they do not allow you to actually go in and look around.

The second woman on the porch was a very successful Nashville realtorNashvilleNotNewYork.jpeg who spoke of my favorite musician, Keith Urban. She had just had dinner with him and his beautiful wife, Nicole Kidman,  the night before. Needless to say I was wrapped up in conversation with her! Thinking back to our conversation I think she leaked out to us that Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton were not doing well, low and behold a couple of months later we are hearing of their divorce. Hmmmm……

Our final stop in Franklin was at a local wine bar, this is a MUST stop! You serve yourself which is ingenious of them, we tasted some absolutely delicious wine and enjoyed the hospitality of the owner as well!”

Now if Shauna’s account of her trip doesn’t make you want to head to the country music capital, I don’t know what will. Get out of town for the weekend and spend it in Nashville. Looking to take a whole group? We can help you with that as well. One of the best parts about booking through a Travel agency is not only our expertise of cities like Nashville, but also planning. We can get you there, make arrangements for hotels and provide a full itinerary. Interested? Give us a call 920.236.7777 or visit our website ambassadortravelltd.com to schedule an appointment

Passports

Why do I need a passport? What is the difference between a passport book and a passport card? Well I am here to break it down for you.

1336500120730.pngFirst whether you plan to travel internationally or not, passports are necessary for everyone. They can be used as a back up I.D. if you happen to lose your drivers license and often time when asked to bring 2 forms of I.D. all you need is your passport because you had to show multiple forms of I.D. to get it. In this day and age international travel has become more than common. Whether it is for work, vacation, or weddings, we are a very linked world. I went to college in Michigan and going to Canada was a quick drive from Detroit. I never thought anything of it until I found out one of my friends doesn’t have a passport. So I am here to break it down for you, explain why you need one and provide a few quotes from travel professionals.

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Lets talk about the difference between a passport book and a passport card. According to the U.S. Passport and International Travel website, a passport book is valid for any type of international travel whether that is by land, sea or air. A passport card on the other hand is valid for entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda by land or at sea ports. So what does all of this mean? Basically a passport card can be used when driving between the U.S. and Canada or the U.S. and Mexico and it can also be used when you are travelling on say a cruise ship that ports in any of these areas as well. If you are interested in getting a passport card, I would urge you to get the book as well. Although you may not think you need the book, if for some reason you had a problem while in any of those countries and the quickest way home would be flying, without the passport book you would not be able to.

parallax_1.jpgAnother argument I have been making as of late is in regard to the vast amounts of destination weddings that are happening. I am in my mid 20s and it seems like someone I know is getting engaged every weekend. What this means is that I will be attending a lot of weddings starting now, probably for the rest of my life. And I can guarantee that some of those will be to international destinations. I had a outrageously large bridal party and I need to assume that our of all the bridesmaids, groomsmen and ushers that some of them may have destination weddings, and I sure as heck wont be missing out because I don’t have a passport.

Travel professional Mike says, “It’s always a good idea to have a valid passport, because you never know what sort of travel opportunities may arise!” Which is definitely true, I have had opportunities to travel spontaneously, even just to Canada that I would not have been able to participate in if I had to wait 6 weeks for a passport.

Travel consultant Brittany says, “So you can take last minute spontaneous trips to Paris to experience the City of Love firsthand” Again, I couldn’t agree more. How is prince or princess charming supposed to sweep you off your feet if you don’t have a passport? No one wants to be in the situation where they have been offered a spontaneous trip to Paris and they have to turn it down because of their lack of official travel documents.

Overall the world we live in is getting smaller and smaller because of technology, ever growing relationships worldwide and because of the ease of travel today. Passports, whether you are planning a trip right now or not, are always always always a good idea. If you have any questions about passports please give us a call 920.236.7777

Brandy Alexander

brandy-alexander.jpgAlthough my theme as of late has been warm wintertime drinks, I decided to switch things up and go with a cold beverage, but I kept the Christmassy theme. Brandy Alexanders are a common beverage here in Wisconsin, but do you know where they came from? Well, according to history and the internet, no one really does. There are several accounts, most linking its creation to someone in Britain.  The Brandy Alexander actually comes from another drink that uses gin as its main component called the Alexander. The Brandy Alexander uses cognac and crème de cacao.

Some accounts claim that the drink was created in the early 20th century for the wedding of Princess Mary and the Viscount Lascelles. Others say it was named for Russian Tsar Alexander II.  Bringing it back to England, the drama critic Alexander Woollcott claimed it was named after him. There of course would never be a real argument unless someone in our own country claimed to have made it. Historian Barry Popik gives credit to Troy Alexander, a bartender in NYC, for creating a white drink for actress Phoebe Snow to serve for an acting campaign.

images.jpegNo matter where the drink was created there is no argument that it is delicious. My family makes them at our Christmas parties as well as our annual cookie decorating on Christmas Eve. We make them as a frozen drink though. The frozen recipe calls for 1-ounce brandy, 1-ounce crème de cacao and 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream.  And in my opinion this is definitely the best way to drink it. Top with nutmeg or chocolate syrup and festive sprinkles.

Looking to try this drink in Britain? Give us a call at Ambassador Travel 920.236.7777 or visit our website ambassadortravelltd.com

 

 

Where in the World: Spain

Calla-Romantica-beach-Mallorca.jpgYesterday, the staff and myself had the pleasure of attending our annual conference in Chicago. The featured speaker for the day was the tourism board of Spain. Because of their presentation we thought we could use our newfound information to talk about what a great and diverse trip Spain can be. When most of us think about travelling to Spain common thoughts that come to mind are wine tours, history, culture, possibly running with the bulls, and the flamenco. But what we don’t necessarily think about is beach vacations. Spain and many other countries in Europe have world-renowned beaches and offer relaxing getaways much like the Caribbean and Mexico.

140296451_5-660x420.jpgI thought it would be fun to share some fun facts about Spain so here it goes. Spain’s official name is the Kingdom of Spain. Spain is a Constitutional Monarchy, with current King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia holding the head of state. Another interesting fact about Spain’s Monarchy is that the heir to the current throne is their daughter Princess Leonor. Which shows the progression of the Monarchy.

For those of you looking for a little adventure and a lot of fun, there is an La-Tomatina-Festival_bangalore.jpgannual festival known as La Tomatina where people throw thousands of tomatoes at each other. And speaking of food, Spain produces 43% of the world’s supply of olive oil.

Now back to those beaches, Spain has almost 5000 miles of them. And National Geographic considers Barcelona the best beach city in the world. Interestingly enough though Barcelona’s beaches weren’t even used until after 1922 when they were redone for the Olympics that year. Aside from the title of “Best Beach City,” the Discovery Channel also awarded Barcelona’s beaches as the best urban beaches in the world.

Overall Spain boasts a wide variety of activities for every type of traveller. From culture and adventure to relaxation and leisure you truly can’t go wrong. To learn more about any aspect of Spain please give us a call 920.236.7777 or visit our website to set up an appointment ambassadortravelltd.com

The Adventures of Brittany

Looking for the perfect Mexican getaway? Look no further; Brittany’s most recent trip to Mexico was a dream. See her review of the resorts she toured below. And then make sure to check out our Pinterest page to see pictures from all of her favorite resorts. Haven’t been to our Pinterest page? It’s definitely time to check it out. That is where we upload all the images from our favorite hotels and destinations throughout the world.

“My recent trip back to Cancun/Riviera Maya was to the beautiful Sandos Resorts.  We started at the Sandos Playacar which is a large resort with a very casual atmosphere.  The main lobby is large, with a preferred club lounge right near the entrance for convenient check-ins and drinks/snack. The resort grounds are fairly large, however the paths are all well paved and landscaped. I found it relaxing to wander the grounds.  My room was on the third floor, it was a large room, with a nice balcony that over looked the pool, large bathroom with separate shower/toilet, and a large Jacuzzi bath tub! The food was wonderful, we ate at the Seaside restaurant in the evening and had a beautiful warm breeze coming off the ocean. The beach was large and was perfect for a stroll because it is located at the end of the strip. The Sandos resorts are all conscious of our environment, and with that its inhabitants, they have a cat sanctuary, and a donkey sanctuary with two rescued donkeys that thouroughly enjoy taking selfies!

Next we went to the Sandos Caracol, which is their eco-friendly resort that is built in the jungle.  This resort is also large, and has a lot of walking to get from place to place, however it is all jungle and breathtaking. This resort has over 80 jungle activities that will entice all ages of clients.  We personally got to enjoy the Sensory Experience – I cannot explain this well enough to give it justice, except to say that it is a very personal, moving experience and I would highly recommend it. The rooms at this hotel were nice, similar bathrooms with a separate shower, toilet, and vanity area with a Jacuzzi bath tub.  This resort also has cats that live there and are seen wandering around, as well as monkey and coatis. There are a few different pools, as well as a cenote in the middle of the grounds which was extremely beautiful.  The beach at this resort is smaller, and there is quite a bit of coral and rock formations.  There are walkways that are sandy that you can get into deeper water, but you have to be mindful of where you step.  While I was there they were celebrating the Day of the Dead! Most of the staff had their faces painted, there were lots of people dressed up, especially at night for the festivities. They have a large walkway and circular area in the middle that is the center point connecting some of the rooms to the beach, there is a store there, the theatre, spa, restaurants ect.  During the Day of the Dead celebration they were lined with local people selling their goods- beautiful hand made jewelry, bags, dresses, toys, paintings ect.  They also have a large rope hanging bridge over the water that was such a thrill to walk over, you feel like you’re in the middle of a jungle walking thousands of feet in the air over a treacherous fall – when really you’re about 15 feet above soft water- but half of an adventure is in your mind right!?

The last place we stayed at was the Sandos Luxury Cancun. After two large resorts this was definitely a change of pace, in a good way! This small, boutique hotel was very relaxing. Although it is not adults-only, it is adults oriented in a way that there are not kids activities offered at the resort. The rooms were nice, I had a beautiful view of their three large pools, as well as the beach and the ocean. They had a great piano bar and opera show the night we were there. Now, before you say ‘ugh opera’ and plug your ears.. these guys were AMAZING!  They sang specially to us at dinner, and then had a show again later in the evening.  They sang local Mexican music, Italian music, and finished with the classic My Way by Frank Sinatra.  We had the luxury of being able to experience their spa, with a wonderful massage and then a hydrotherapy session. The last day we got to enjoy the beach all day, with our waitress coming right out on the beach to our Oceanside cabanas to bring us whatever drinks we wanted, and also brought out lunch – homemade pizza in their brick oven- right to us on the beach! They really know how to pamper you!”

Ready to book your winter getaway to Mexico? Give us a call at 920.236.7777 or visit our website ambassadortravelltd.com