Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hire Personal Help at the Airport

Something I saw today on Smart Brief written for the Business Traveler:

written by Barbara Cockburn
Would you use a personal assistant at the airport?
Sounds like a great idea at some of the airports without English directional signs!

New ‘Airport Butler’ provides concierge service throughout Vancouver International

airportbutlerIII 150x150 New Airport Butler provides concierge service throughout Vancouver InternationalMarch 12, 2013
Negotiating your way through an unfamiliar, huge and busy airport terminal can be a daunting prospect if you’re a child, a senior citizen, a large group of non-English speaking people or a celebrity. That’s where the Airport Butler comes in. A new concierge service available at Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Airport Butler provides real hands on customer service.
Airport Butler ‘s assistant manager, Christine Glen – who says business is going “gangbusters” - explains how the new service works.

Who uses the Airport Butler service?
This is something that is for absolutely everybody. We have lots of VIPS and celebrities who use the service because they just want the reassurance of seeing a face who will help them in and through the airport and know that there’s a porter there waiting for them, somebody who knows their way through the airport.
Elderly people need that bit of assistance, and with the golf cart, they won’t have to walk the whole way through the airport. Parents will want someone to be with their children under 12, when they’re minors, and up to the age of 17. We charge less than what the airlines charge for looking after minors, and we’re with them the entire time.
We had helped a passenger who is visually impaired. We were able to assist him from the time he got to the airport, right to his departure gate and then up to the aircraft doors.
We have also looked after a popular singer here in North America who travels with loads of luggage and her child, and all the stuff that goes with that. Knowing she has some assistance takes a load off her mind.
A woman, who lives in Ottawa, whose father was coming to see her from Victoria, on Vancouver Island, called us to make sure he was looked after, to make sure he got on his flight and assisted through the airport, so that she didn’t have to fly to collect him.
We have looked after a woman who had dementia. Her daughter was concerned that her mother would be left alone and that her mother would not catch her flight so we sat with her mother for as long as needed, even with a flight delay.

What will Airport Butler do to assist a traveler?
We offer three levels of service; gold (without a golf cart), platinum (with a golf cart), and VIP.
We will meet [a traveller] at the curb, or right outside the priority check-in line, help them through check-in, help them with their bags onto the carousel [to be sent to the aircraft] and proceed through security. We will then either take them to the lounge, or assist them through duty free shopping and then to the gate.
For an arrival we’d meet those passengers right off the aircraft at the gate. We won’t fast track them through customs unless a passenger is mobility challenged or if they’re a high profile celebrity and customs has approved it.
We can put them on a golf cart and whisk them down to customs, which is helpful especially as it’s a long terminal. From there, they’ll join the customs line. We’d meet them at the baggage carousel, help them with their luggage and get them out to the ground transportation or we’ll take them gate to gate.
It [provides] a bit of reassurance [to travellers], a nice comfortable back up when you come into the airport. These concierges know what they’re doing, know how long it takes to get from A to B and they’ll do everything they can to help with that.

How would passengers avail themselves of the Airport Butler service?
The Airport Butler concierges don’t have a high visibility profile in the airport. Usually it’s prebookd by a phone call ahead of time.
We don’t get a lot of walk ins, but that said, if someone comes into the airport there is an information desk and there is always someone available. But we like to have as much notice for obvious reasons.
If it’s last minute we need to have someone to meet them at whichever gate and then another person available to assist a passenger in the terminal. If we have a heads up we have time to get someone to assist them.

What do you charge for the service?
x 1 person, gold service starts at $95
x 2 people – $130
x 3 people – $165
x 4 people – $200
Platinum service, with the golf cart, is $160 per person.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

no Solo Supplement

Solo Travelers Club could be my next
 BEST FRIEND                                    
Solo Travelers Club by Online Vacation Center
Photo: The single supplement has been waived for select AMA Waterways sailings. Learn more: 

Award-winning river cruise line AmaWaterways has a fleet of 15 custom-designed vessels in Europe, Russia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Africa. AMA continues to lead the way in river cruising by providing innovative luxurious ship designs featuring step-out and French balconies, premium stateroom amenities and warm, personalized service.
The single supplement has been waived for select AMA Waterways sailings. Learn more:  

Award-winning river cruise line AmaWaterways has a fleet of 15 custom-designed vessels in Europe, Russia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Africa. AMA continues to lead the way in river cruising by providing innovative luxurious ship designs featuring step-out and French balconies, premium stateroom amenities and warm, personalized service.

Like · ·

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Solo NOT Single NOT Sad had a good review of why and how   Solo Travel.

           Although I rarely think about NOT traveling because I prefer to go solo, others may be thinking of their first trip.    This is a good read from Independent Traveler.................. 
Single Travel: Tips for Going Solo
traveling alonePeople who have never traveled alone often describe their first solo trip as an almost religious experience. To take in new surroundings unfiltered by the prejudices, tastes or preferences of a traveling companion can be heady stuff. Traveling alone gives you the chance to indulge yourself fully.

Of course, single travel has its perils too -- such as safety concerns, loneliness and the dreaded single supplement. But a little preparation and common sense can save you money and get you through the rough spots.

Why Travel Alone?
Solo travel can be the ultimate in self-indulgence; you can rest when you want and pour it on when you're feeling ambitious. Another benefit is that your mistakes are your own, and your triumphs all the more exciting. There's no worrying that your insistence on trekking all the way across town to a museum that was closed ruined your partner's day; it's your own day to salvage or chalk up to a learning experience.

Also, you can do exactly what you want to do -- all the time. Always wanted to try surfing? Sign up for a class and go for it; there's no one sitting on the beach bored while you have the time of your life. Have no desire to see Niagara Falls? Just drive right by.

Safety First
Perhaps the foremost concern of the solo or single traveler is safety. Without a companion to watch your back, you are more vulnerable to criminals and scam artists, as well as simple health worries. But the saying "safety in numbers" isn't necessarily true -- a solo traveler can blend in more easily than a group, and not drawing attention to yourself as a tourist is one way to stay secure. Here are a few tips:

  • Know how long it takes and how much it costs to get from the airport to your hotel or to the city center. Solo travelers are more likely to be "taken for a ride," so ask the taxi driver how much it will cost before you leave. If it's considerably different from what you know to be true, take a different cab.
  • Find out if hotels at your destination are open late, so you don't end up sleeping in your car or worse.
  • Be your own best counsel; if it doesn't feel right, don't do it.
  • Carry good identification, in more than one place.
  • Keep to open and public places, especially at night.
  • Exude confidence and walk purposefully.
  • Avoid appearing like a tourist. Ditch the Disney T-shirt and don't walk around with your face in a guidebook. (See 10 Things You Should Never Wear Abroad for more thoughts on this one.)
  • Don't draw attention to yourself by wearing flashy clothes or jewelry.
  • Lie a little. Not only can you invent your own persona or history, but you can also make your life easier with little white lies. When asking directions, don't let on that you are alone: "Can you direct me to the museum? I have to meet a friend."
  • Check your maps and transportation schedules before leaving your hotel/train/rental car/tourist office. A solo traveler poring over maps can be a mark for unsavory types.
  • Leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or family member at home, and stay in touch regularly via phone or e-mail.
  • For U.S. citizens traveling internationally, consider signing up for the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which could help the State Department assist you in case of emergency. If you're from outside the States, see if your home country has a similar program.
    Trust Everyone and No One
    One of the best reasons to travel alone is to meet new people, but this also makes you more vulnerable. It's okay to hang out, travel and share with new friends, but you might not want to ask them to hold your money. Scam artists can often be the most charming companions you'll find; you want to be open-minded, but keep your guard up enough to ensure your safety.
    senior man cruise ship balconyAvoiding the Single Supplement
    Frequent solo travelers are all too familiar with the single supplement, which tour operators, cruise lines and hotels tack onto your bill to make up for the fact that they're not making money off a second occupant. The supplement can range anywhere from 25 to 100 percent of the trip cost, meaning that you could end up paying twice as much as someone traveling with a partner.
  • Solo Travelers Club is this the solution?

    Solo not Single not Sad

        Like other Solo Travelers, I look for affordable sea adventures that allow me to travel far and long term.

        Ship travel allows a quick visit to sample countries I might like to return to for a longer visit.

        Not all mature travelers are adventurous and so far, it has been a very safe way to explore on my own.     With the image of reruns of the Love Boat, I began sea travel with a 22 day trip, the longer the better!

    Searching for affordable sailings is a time consuming job checking solo pricing for ever y sailing that is of interest.         I hope the Solo Travelers Club from Online Vacation Center will offer multiple sailing a year to travel around the world.... from an email today*

    "Welcome to the Solo Travelers Club!
    We thought you might be interested in the Solo Travelers Club. We've created a new program dedicated to helping you find the best destinations for traveling independently, give you tips and tricks on safely making your way, and highlight any special solo rates we've been able to arrange with our partners.

    Our new newsletter will regularly alert you to these offers so you don't ever have to miss out on a trip!
    River Cruising with Uniworld
    Uniworld cruises are great choices because they offer an intimate, small-ship experience along with a very high level of luxury. And best of all, they are truly all-inclusive. All river cruises include:
    • All Gratuities (onboard and onshore)
    • Onboard Meals
    • Unlimited Beverages (fine wine, beer & spirits included)
    • Airport Transfers
    • Shore Excursions
    • Internet & Wi-Fi Access Onboard
    Even better for solo travellers, Uniworld is offering waived single supplements on select European cruises. Solo rates start from just $2399!
    Check out our "Deals for Solo Travelers" section to learn more about these rates, and feel free to give us a call if you have any questions at: 800-787-1871. "*

    PLANTATION, FL 33313-4571

    *See the full story here.

    Sunday, March 10, 2013

    Solo Supplements: article by S. Rosenbloom

    Thank you Stephnie Rosenbloom for this great article on NO SOLO SUPPLEMENTS!
    Of course I have added some of my opinions!
    How many trips would you take without a Solo Supplement?

    Singled out for the single supplement

    By Stephanie Rosenbloom / New York Times News Service
    Published: March 10. 2013 4:00AM PST
    Single supplement.
    These two words strike dread — not to mention resentment — in the heart of a solo traveler. Consider for a moment the cost of a superior ocean-view room on a Royal Caribbean International seven-night Alaska cruise. For two adults, it’s $1,539 each. For a single traveler, the cost is $2,843 — an additional $1,304.

    Single supplement? Or single penalty?
    Royal Caribbean is by no means alone. Supplements are a widespread industry practice in both the cruise and packaged tour industries. Travel companies say that these surcharges (which are generally anywhere from 10 to 100 percent or more of the standard rate) are justified because most accommodations, whether in a hotel or on a ship, are priced for double occupancy.
    “To sell that stateroom to only one person," said H.J. Harrison Liu, a spokesman for Royal Caribbean, “that wouldn’t necessarily make business sense for us."

    Solo travelers, as one might imagine, tend to have a different view of supplements.
    “It’s the bane of the single person’s travel existence," said Bella DePaulo, a visiting professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who studies what she calls “singlism," or the ways in which single people are stereotyped and discriminated against (it’s also the name of her most recent book).

    One experienced solo traveler from New York, Arlene Rosenberg, decried single supplements and in an email asked me how to skirt them.  “I’m really missing out on a lot of travel opportunities because of this," she said.       so VERY true!
    Supplements have been around for decades, but with each year they become more out of sync with the nation’s demographics as the United States grows increasingly single. According to figures released last year by the Census Bureau, there were 102 million unmarried people 18 and older in America in 2011 — more than 44 percent of adult residents. That’s up from 92 million in 2006, which was 42 percent of residents 18 and older. It won’t be long before half of the country is unmarried.  3 or 4 trips instead of 1 a year, IF YOU STOPPED THIS SOLO POLICY

    Of course, many unmarried people live with a partner, so not all of them are traveling solo; yet married people aren’t all traveling in pairs either. About 12 percent of U.S. adults, married or unmarried, plan to travel solo this year, up significantly from 7 percent last year, according to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. And if companies make it more affordable for people to travel on their own — by dropping supplements and offering deals to solo travelers the way they offer deals to couples and families — that number might climb even higher.

    A number of tour companies — including Rick Steves’ Europe, Backroads and G Adventures — attempt to take the sting out of supplements by offering a halfway measure: They will waive the supplement if solo travelers agree to be matched with a roommate. In some cases, if the travel company cannot find you a roommate, you get the room to yourself. Singles travel companies like offer roommate matching with that guarantee. No matter what, be sure to read the fine print. For instance, notes that it “accepts no responsibility for roommate matching incompatibility such as sleep patterns, snoring, noise or age differences."     Those who want to select their own cruise buddy can try sites like, which has a message board where users can post roommate requests.   Why would I pay thousands of dollars to sleep with a stranger?

    It’s nice to have these options, but for many solo travelers, roommates are something they left behind in college — and they want to keep it that way. The reasons for that range from the obvious inconvenience of rooming with a stranger to a more profound idea that DePaulo refers to as “single at heart." It’s the notion that some people are single not because they can’t find a partner but because, as she puts it, “single is who they are" and “how they live their most authentic life."
    These are people who want “to regulate their own space and time" — all of which is at odds with having a roommate when on vacation, let alone one they don’t know.

    DePaulo thinks charging single supplements is ultimately a silly business decision. If travel companies drop the surcharges, they might lose money in the short term, but in the long run they would gain the loyalty of millions of solo travelers.

    As it turns out, there are a handful of companies that in the past few years have been willing to do just that by waiving some supplement fees (not just lowering them) and by dedicating a portion of their websites to solo travel. In a perfect world, these companies would do away with supplements entirely. But for now, consider this the first of what I hope will be a growing list of solo-friendly cruise lines and tour companies. Intrepid solo travelers, this one’s for you.

    • Avalon Waterways: One way to avoid single supplements on cruises is to book far in advance, a month or so before New Year’s Day or shortly after. For travelers who book their 2013 cruises early, this river and small-ship cruise line dropped the single supplement on a number of departures in Europe, including Magnificent Europe from Budapest to Amsterdam (15 days starting at $4,499 for a single during a recent search) and Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches (eight days starting at $2,849). Information:

    • Grand Circle Cruise Line: Over the past few years this company, which caters to baby boomers, has had an increase in the number of solo travelers (particularly women), prompting it to address their needs. That meant training guides on how to make solo travelers feel included in all activities, as well as doing away with single supplements on its new small-ship cruises to Myanmar, the French and Italian Rivieras, Turkey and Greece. (One of those new tours, the 15-day Rivieras: France, Italy & the Isles, begins at $3,895.) There are no single supplements for add-on trips to nearby cities before or after any 2013 cruise either. Why, there is even a “solo traveler challenge" guaranteeing that “you cannot find a lower price for a solo traveler on any comparable international trip for Americans." If you do, Grand Circle will match that price and deduct $500 from the cost of your vacation. Information:

    • International Expeditions: In response to the growing number of solo travelers interested in its eco-travel trips, this nature company has waived supplement fees on select cabins on all of its 2013 Amazon (from $3,898 until July and $4,398 after) and Galapagos (from $5,098) small-ship cruises. Information:

    • Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian was voted best cruise line for solo travelers last year by readers of Porthole Cruise Magazine. Its Epic has 128 studio staterooms designed specifically for solo travelers. The studios (about 100 square feet) also include entry to the Studio Lounge, a shared key-card-access-only area with a bar and television screens. And thanks to increased demand, there is more to come: Two new ships, the Breakaway and the Getaway, will also have solo-friendly cabins and lounges. The cabins will be added to the line’s Pride of America ship too. Information:

    • Vacations to Go: This travel agency offers discounted single supplements for an array of cruise lines like Silversea, Crystal and Paul Gauguin. To find solo travel deals, visit (albeit not the easiest site to navigate) and select “singles discounts" from the column on the left side of the page. That will bring up a list of cruises from various lines along with their single supplements (some have no supplements). A division of Vacations to Go, Amariver might also be worth checking out from time to time. For example, the single supplement on some Mekong River itineraries has been waived for travelers who book by March 31. Another division of Vacations to Go,, is one of the oldest river cruise lines, and it has waived single supplements on several itineraries, which on a recent search included Paris and Normandy (10 days starting at $3,499) and Venice and the Po River (eight days starting at $3,199). Information:

    • Abercrombie & Kent: “Solo savings," a nascent category of departures to popular destinations such as Egypt, Kenya and Tanzania with this luxury tour company either have no single supplement or are reduced by up to 75 percent. For instance, a recent search turned up 25 percent off the single supplement for a 10-day Egypt and the Nile tour in March, making the starting price $1,575, down from $2,100. Information:

    • Overseas Adventure Travel: Owned by Grand Circle Corporation (the parent company of Grand Circle Cruise Line), this company has no single supplements for any land or small-ship adventures, including the land tour Ultimate Africa: Botswana, Zambia & Zimbabwe Safari (from $5,820) and Ancient Kingdoms: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam & Cambodia (from $3,995). Plus, it has the same “solo traveler challenge" guarantee as Grand Circle Cruise Line (see above). Information:

    • Tauck: Founded in 1925, this tour company has dropped the single supplement from Category 1 cabins on all of its 2013 European river cruises, like the 12-day Blue Danube tour, from $4,490. And on certain land tours in Asia, Latin America and Europe, the company offers “solo traveler savings," such as $600 off the regular rates of its popular India tour — but the trip still costs solo travelers a few thousand dollars more. Tauck does get points for its website, which has a solo traveler forum where you can get answers to questions like “Would I feel comfortable by myself?" Information:

    A last bit of advice: Think globally. To avoid supplements and roommates, consider traveling with a company based overseas, like Mercury Direct in London, which has no single supplements for tours of spots as varied as Sri Lanka, Cyprus and Egypt. And the Majestic Line, a U.K.-based cruise company, reserves two cabins for solo travelers on each of its small ships at no additional cost. Information: and

    Tuesday, March 5, 2013

    NO SOLO SUPPLEMENT: see Ports and Bows post

    Thanks to a post by Ports and Bows today, they posted an article by
    Published: March 4, 2013, 3:00 am
    Updated: 4 days ago

    There is another NO SOLO SUPPLEMENT announcement....... Perhaps this industry has finally recognized there is an entire market they are overcharging?
    Thanks to Mr Reimer and Ports and Bows for sharing this.

    While all cruise lines, especially the river ones, have been reporting bookings above normal for the year, there are still some sales to be had.
    Avalon Waterways announced it’s lifting the single supplement on 12 sailings in Europe between April and October. The number would indicate Avalon has a limited cabins to offer on all 12 cruises.
    “The sale represents a saving of up to $4,304,” says Avalon’s Stéphanie Bishop. “Perfect for solo travelers, or two friends who love the space and privacy of their own cabins.”
    Plus, with a maximum of just 170 passengers, Avalon ships are a wonderful way to make new friends.
    The river way to get to Paris
    The river way to get to Paris
    The sailings comprise a choice of itineraries from the 8-day Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches to the 15-day Magnificent Europe from Budapest to Amsterdam. Prices for the cruises start at $3,089.
    Booking must be made by April 23.
    Still with Avalon…
    To go along with the launch of two new all-suite ships this year, three more new ships are due to arrive next year. Hitting the rivers of Europe in 2014 will be the Avalon Poetry II, the Illumination, and the Impression.
    This spring, Avalon will launch the Artistry II in April and the Expression in May.
    The view from a Suite Ships stateroom
    The view from a Suite Ships stateroom
    Each room on all eight Suite Ships features a French balcony providing travellers with a combination of the largest windows available and a sliding glass door that opens a full seven feet. In addition, I found a spacious seating area at the window delivers that balcony feel.
    The design allows for the bed to face the window. That’s very cool when it’s warm (no, that’s not a contradiction!). Open the window and enjoy breakfast in bed. The main suites on the all suite ships are the Panorama Suites at 200 square feet. The Royal Suite is the largest at 300 square feet.
    By next spring, eight ships in Avalon’s fleet will be all-suite.

    Saturday, March 2, 2013

    NO SOLO SUPPLEMENT Italy: Classic Car Tour

                       NO SOLO SUPPLEMENT

    Yle with Yltour in Puglia offers another wonderful event for independent travelers who want
    a unique experience!


    May 1 - 6, 2013            
    YLTOUR opens its 2013 season with an exclusive road experience from May 1 – 6 , 2013
    in the beautiful Salento area, Italy.
    This is your chance to explore the area on board  on of these magnificent cars along with luxury catering and accommodation. The car will have a driver.

    YLTOUR offers you, your friends and customers the finest classic car experience in Puglia: a taste of luxury, wine tasting and gourmet dining, a culinary experience, a city tour, visits to local vineyards and five star hotels.
     We will accompany you on selected dream routes, with the wind in your hair while living
    la dolce vita lifestyle in the lovely Salento area. 
    Cost: € 1.600,00 per person no single supplement and include the following: 
    Promotional price until March 10, 2013  E 1.500.00

    - accommodation in 4 and 5 stars stylish hotels
    - breakfast, lunch and dinner
    - a gala dinner
    - rally plates and souvenir plaque
    - comprehensive road book with daily detailed route notes and timed itineraries
    - 1 cooking class
    - 1 city tour
    - 1 wine tasting + meal in a winery    
    - services of a Tour director throughout the tour
    - transportation from/to Bari and Brindisi airport
    - all ground transportation

    All photos courtesy of Yltour and may NOT be the actual cars used for the tour 
    Not included are the following:
    Airfare and travel insurance
    YLTOUR (  can make your plane and train reservations as well.
    Find more on: (Yle) or (Lee)