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Great, Greater, Greatest!

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After 25 years of owning a brick-and-mortar travel company, Great Getaways Travel has decided to work remotely and become a “virtual” travel company, joining the 21st century finally! We are still a thriving company and are here to help you with your travels. Our phone number remains 913-338-2244 and we look forward to talking to you.

One of our favorite sayings is “Don’t let the good get in the way of the better and don’t let better get in the way of best.” We practice that philosophy in everything we do personally and professionally.

Because our objective is to create the most memorable vacations possible for you, we’ve decided to affiliate with Largay Travel, in Waterbury, Connecticut. It’s great, greater, and greatest news!

GREAT: We now have even more support and resources.

GREATER: Largay will handle all the pesky back office details freeing us to devote 100% of our time to planning your travel.

GREATEST: By affiliating with Largay Travel we are able to give you increased benefits when you travel, as we now have preferred status with several hotels, cruise lines, and tour companies.

PRICELESS: We are still very active and proud to be part of Virtuoso — you’ve experienced the benefits of that association.

So, where do you want to go in 2017? Give us a call, 913-338-2244, and start packing!

 

No words … heartfelt prayers

#Pray for Nice

Boundaries divide – Travel unites

When I meet someone, whether from another city or another country, I have the opportunity to be a citizen ambassador. Interacting with another human being, looking into each other’s eyes has a lasting effect and perhaps it will counter anything negative that they might have heard about me, about my country. Traveling is a privilege to share who I am and to gain more insight into others. I believe with all my heart this helps foster peace.

We pray for Nice and for the world. Spread love. Help others. Live in peace.

St. Patrick’s Day – A World of Parades

By Alison Luengo

branded dublin parade

Aitormmfoto / Shutterstock.com

St. Patrick’s Day – We’re All Irish

It is officially time to break out that green apparel, sip that Guinness, and line the streets for those monstrous parades. Not Irish? Not a problem for, well…anyone come March 17 every year. St. Patrick’s Day is the one day a year where anyone can be Irish if they like, and all that is required is a jolly attitude and maybe a green shirt declaring yourself Irish for the day. (Did you know it’s only an American tradition to pinch someone if they fail to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day?) While the holiday is celebrated around the world, many celebrations are larger outside of Dublin than in. So, sit back, relax and read on as we explore some of the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the world.

Dublin, Ireland

We will start in Dublin, which just seems fitting. The St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin was officially recognized by the government in 1995, as a way for the Irish to celebrate their heritage. Their celebration runs for four days and includes many cultural activities along with fun and games. They start with “Greening The City” (which is a fancy way to say lighting all their buildings in green). Of course they have a large parade, and walking tours highlighting different aspects of the city. There is an Irish Craft Beer & Whiskey Village, and a lunchtime talk series featuring notable Irishmen or important topics related to Irish culture. While St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday here, it is not the largest celebration in the world.

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gary718 / Shutterstock.com

New York City

Without a doubt, the largest celebration for St. Patrick’s Day is the New York City Parade. First started all the way back in 1762 by some very lonely Irish soldiers, it is now the largest and oldest parade in the world. With nearly 2 million spectators, and another 150,000 participants yearly, it’s easy to see why this is a huge tradition in New York City come March 17.
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Montserrat Island

Another country with a huge celebration for St. Patrick’s Day is Montserrat, West Indies. Celebrating for a full week, this party highlights the African & Irish heritage that most share while also commemorating a failed slave uprising on the same day in 1768. Montserrat has it all for St. Patrick’s Day with a traditional parade, a freedom run, a formal ball, traditional games, and African & Irish music festivals.

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Auckland, New Zealand

Let’s not forget our friends Down Under during this massive celebration.  You can also celebrate  St. Patrick’s Day like a pro in Auckland, New Zealand. “The Greening” is when they light up their Sky Tower bright green for the holiday, and it’s accompanied by a parade and dance/music festivals.
Needless to say, you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day just about anywhere. From the West Indies to New Zealand to New York City, there are parades abound and traditions galore. What are St. Patrick’s Day traditions in your city or country? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

The Truth about Zika Virus

Zika virus Shutterstock

We answer a lot of questions.  From favorite restaurants to best surfing spots to best places to spot Africa’s Big Five, it seems as though the list is endless.  Questions that has been awfully prevalent as of late are those about the Zika virus.

What is Zika virus?

The Zika virus has been all over the news and it is a serious worry for travelers.  In case you don’t know what this rapidly spreading virus is, it is a mosquito-borne illness that can cause flu-like symptoms and, allegedly, it may cause birth defects.  [ As of the writing of this blog post, the CDC is in Brazil to ascertain if there is a link between Zika virus and birth defects.] Although we are just starting to hear about this virus in the Americas, it isn’t new by any means.

Found first in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands dating to the 1950s, the virus has never been as widespread as it is reported to be now. It wasn’t until May 2015 that the first case was reported in Brazil, where the virus has hit hardest by all accounts.  Although health officials are calling this a widespread epidemic, in reality only 1 in 5 infected will actually show mild, physical symptoms.

Zika Warning for Pregnant Women

Those who should really try hardest to avoid the virus are pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant.  If you do contract the virus and show symptoms, you’re likely to have mild flu-like symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Since the Zika virus can spread from a woman to her baby, it is recommended by the CDC that women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to anywhere the Zika virus has spread.

Zika virus test

Zika and the General Public

If you’re not pregnant, there are some very easy ways to prevent the virus and continue your travel as planned.  Make sure to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.  Stay in locations with air conditioning or screens on doors and windows.  Always use an EPA-registered insect repellant.  Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin, and make sure to sleep under a mosquito bed net.  If you do think you contracted the Zika virus, make sure to consult a doctor immediately.  You can treat symptoms easily though with some rest, fluids, and acetaminophen.

Zika Brazil Olympics

Summer Olympics in Brazil – to attend or not?

One travel event that you could be very interested in is the Summer Olympics located in Brazil- smack dab in one of the hardest hit areas by the Zika virus.   The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that Brazil is doing a good job making Brazil safe, and Brazil’s government is doing all it can to make visitors and athletes as safe as possible.  However, that doesn’t ease the minds of everyone.  Star soccer player Hope Solo, who could possibly be playing in the games, said that as of now she wouldn’t go to the games over concerns of Zika virus.  What about you?  Would you head down to Brazil for the summer games even when the Zika virus is so prevalent?  Sound off in the comments below.

Learn more here:

We are not experts in zika virus nor do we recommend a particular insect repellent. Some repellents are better for mosquitos and others may be better for ticks. Please talk to a physician, pharmacist, or knowledgeable expert for their suggestions.

 

Don’t Wait To Plan Your Holiday Travel

By Damien Martin

Well, the holidays are over, and we are smack dab in 2016. There are pros and cons to this, of course. As fun as it is to put up decorations, it’s just as sad taking them down. We can’t count on sugary treats to help us power through the afternoons. But on the bright side, we aren’t still shame-eating whole plates of cookies and getting jealous of bears because they can shed pounds while sleeping all winter. What, I’m the only one who does that? Never mind then.

While the short winter days have many of us dreaming of the beach — yes, you should start planning spring break now — it’s also a good idea to start planning this year’s holiday travel. Even though we have an extra day this year, Feb. 29 is a Monday, so I don’t think it counts.

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Did you know studies have shown that looking forward to a trip is one of the things people enjoy most about travel? So on these cold winter days, picture your future self, sitting by the fire at a ski chalet, or close to the fire-breathers at a luau. That will put you right back in the holiday spirit.
Keeping with the theme of a new year, here are some friendly reminders.

Apply For or Renew Your Passport ASAP

If your passport is set to expire, don’t wait until the last minute to renew it. As of Jan. 1, people who are out of empty passport pages can no longer request more. Instead, they have to renew their passports as well, which will delay processing. Plus, there are many people who got passports in 2007 — when the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative made them necessary for travel to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean — and therefore have passports expiring in 2017. So if yours is up for renewal soon, make sure to get your application in before wait times increase.

You’d also better make sure the IRS isn’t after you. The State Department can now revoke, deny or limit passports for people who owe $50,000 or more in back taxes.

Changes In The Air

OK, so you’ve taken all the necessary steps to make sure they let you on the plane. Things will also be different onboard.

Are you looking to book your holiday travel? Here are some great tips and reminders for you!

On Delta, passengers who want the little extras on their summer getaways need to say so in advance. For flights within the U.S. and Canada departing on or after May 16, Delta Comfort+ has to be booked as its own class of service. Up until now, fliers could purchase upgraded seats with more legroom, better snacks and free drinks for those flights after booking regular economy tickets.

What’s that, you value my advice so much that you already booked your flights and bought upgraded seats? Not to worry, Delta will honor all Comfort+ purchases made before Nov. 14, 2015. Not to be outdone, United is now offering Economy Plus packages for a smoother flying experience. The Economy Plus Essentials package gets you a better seat and an extra checked bag at 20 percent less cost than booking those two perks separately. The Enhanced package includes the seat and extra bag, plus Premier Access — priority check-in, security lanes, boarding and baggage handling — at 25 percent less.

Travel Tip

Not sure if it’s the right time to buy? Check out the Hopper app, which lists average fares for specific itineraries, tells you which travel dates have higher or lower prices, and estimates when fares will go up or down.

Mobile Passport

At last, you’re back in the U.S. after a wonderful vacation made all the better by planning ahead and having a comfortable seat. If you happen to be flying into Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Chicago O’Hare, Seattle or San Francisco, even getting through the customs line can be a breeze.

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Mobile Passport is a free app accepted at those six airports (San Jose and Dallas-Fort Worth will be added soon) that allows users to go to a shorter line, much like global entry users. It’s open to holders of U.S. and Canadian passports. It’s also simple and easy — at least in theory: Before you go, download the app, enter your passport information and snap a selfie. Then when you land at a participating airport, log in and start a new trip. Just tell the app who’s travelling, where you landed and on which airline, then answer four quick customs questions.

The app will send your information to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and send you a receipt granting you access to the Mobile Passport line. I tested Mobile Passport out when my wife and I flew into Atlanta from Europe in December. The app let us fill out a family customs form, but I never did get a receipt. The customs agents still let us go into the special line, though, so it sort of worked.

So now we have so much planning to do there’s no time to hibernate. Which is good, because we have to wait until March for the Hypnos Hoodie — billed as “the world’s best sleep hoodie” — with an inflatable hood that doubles as a pillow. If you want to pre-order, it’s on Kickstarter until Jan. 11. My resolution for 2016? Using all my vacation days. To make sure I do that, I’m mapping my year of travel out as early as I can. The lesson, as always, is plan ahead. Your future self will thank you for it.

If you’re ready to map out your travel and you need help creating the best experience, contact us at 913-338-2244.