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Benefits of Travel Insurance

As a travel agent — I myself have often not bought travel insurance for my own trips thinking that the trip is not that expensive — so why spend additional money on insurance. If at the last minute I can’t make the trip it not that much of a financial loss. But recently I had a trip where one of the participants started on the trip but got very ill and needed hospitalization and medical transfer home.   It has somewhat changed my opinion on the need for travel insurance.  In this case the insurance helped with medical costs not covered by her personal insurance and it was well over $10,000. Not bad for an investment of $45. Of course, it as a personal decision as to whether to invest the additional money in insurance.  But when making the decision — don’t only think about cancellation prior to the trip — but such things as medical expenses while traveling, lost luggage and travel delays..My provider Travel guard also offers a car insurance add on for only $6 a day –  much less than you will pay at the car rental facilities.

Las Vegas Transportation

Las Vegas is a great city for walking and seeing all of the amazing hotels, casinos, and just plain unusual sites, but it can be deceiving how far it is from one hotel to another. Through our many visits, we have taken just about every type of transporation you can think of. We tend to always just pick up one of the hundreds of taxis waiting outside of the airport to get us to our hotel. Depending on where you stay on the strip this ride will probably cost you around $30 including tip. Once at your hotel, there are several options to get around the city. Walking is definitely the best way to get around but some days it can be a long walk! The Duece is the double decker buses that run 24 hours a day and offer a variety of pass options from 1 day to weekly at a very reasonable price. These buses are very reliable and there are stops all over the strip. We bought 1 day passes and used them to go to Freemont street during the day, down to the opposite end of the strip that night and then finally down to New York  New York  for my traditional NY bagel the next morning. Talk about getting your money’s worth! We spent $7 each on the bus tickets and easily spent at least $150 in cab fares in year’s past for the same round trip. Taxi’s definitely have their time and place, but take it from me…you don’t want to get stuck in strip traffic while the taxi meter is running.

Las Vegas Money Tips

Here a few helpful tips if you are planning a vacation to Las Vegas and you plan on spending some time in the casinos. Casino ATM machines are everywhere, but they charge you an extremely hefty fee. The best ways to get that gambling money you want without the casino fees, is to either hit your local bank branch inside the Las Vegas airport (check locations prior to your trip) or bring a check to the casino cashier desk upon your arrival. All casinos offer cashier desks and they are more than happy to cash that check for you without all the fees. The last money tip for Las Vegas has to do with tipping. Casinos are very generous with services, drinks, and just about anything else you can think that you need while visiting, but don’t forget to tip your waitresses and servers. They will remember you and make sure your cocktail is always full if you do!

Las Vegas in February

Although my husband and I enjoy visiting Las Vegas on an annual basis, our recent trip in February 2012 was one of the best ever! There are a couple of “must see” things we discovered on this most recent adventure. You may only think about Las Vegas as being incredibly hot, desert city…but we often travel to Vegas in February. Although most of the hotel pools are closed for maintenance, this time of year tends to offer better prices on hotel rooms, less busy casinos, more available “free” cocktails and comfortable weather to walk around the city. Once you stay at a property once or twice, get on their email list and they will send you offers for off-season deals; look for traditional shopping specials like “Black Friday” weekend prices. So, two things I would highly recommend if you are visiting Las Vegas in the next few months can be found at Caesar’s Palace. We had a fabulous dinner at P.J. Clark’s inside the Forum Shops as Caesars and I’ll say it was the best filet we have ever had….and my husband is the ultimate steak conousour. After dinner, we walked to a very small, circus looking tent just outside the front entrance of Ceasars. The show, Absinthe, was quite a change from the traditional Cirque du Soleil show. If it’s your first visit to Vegas, I’d stick with one of the Cirque shows, but if you have seen many these shows and looking for something different, this combination of burlesque, unusual acts, and very adults only comedy was great! Absinthe will probably only be around for a short time, but I do warn you that if you are easily offended…this is not the show for you!

Stay tuned: Las Vegas tips

My daughter Jennifer and husband Tom – recently went to Las Vegas for a little R and R from work. So in the next couple of days – she will be my guest writer and give you a few tips gained from their Vegas experience

Trip planning done right

A little bit more about what American Odyssey does – I specialize in group travel planning for schools, senior adults, sports teams and any other groups that may need a trip. The majority of my groups up until now have been school groups with lots of trips to Disney, DC, NYC, Savannah and local sights. Sometimes I just charter the bus for a group that already has plans, but other trips are complete packages with meals, activities, hotels and transportation. I do group airfare, motor coach and cruises. Now, I am increasing my marketing to corporate groups, senior adults, church groups and even some packages for individuals. I find that many of the tour operators like to specialize in one area such as middle school groups. I am happy to do these – but for me, I love the variety of all types of groups and lots of different locations. The one thing that remains the same no matter what type of group you have – everyone wants a well planned trip and good value for their dollar.

Love to travel…love to live

American Odyssey Tours, Inc. is a home based agency in Cumming, Georgia about 30 miles north of Atlanta. I am the owner and set up tours for groups with the assistance of my husband, Dave (Also my bookkeeper.) When my mind is doing creative thinking, he is the one who keeps the paperwork in order. My daughters often have a part in trip planning and escorting as well. Jennifer has often had to step in as my computer tech when things aren’t going well with the technology. I have 4 children and 6 grandchildren – these are my real true loves in life. But travel is also something that I love. I think the secret to having a successful business is to make sure it is something for which you have a passion. Of course, it is still work. Many people that I talk to who want to start in the travel business think about “travel and fun”. What you always have to remember is that you are there to make sure that your clients have the best experience possible. Having a good time yourself is a bonus.

What’s in a name?

“American Odyssey Tours” got its name from another one of my ventures with the foreign exchange students. In 1984 -my exchange student at the time, heard about a North Carolina company setting up a cross country camping tour. He thought for sure I could put this together for the Georgia students. It was winter – I was getting the urge to travel-so why not at least look into it. Summer of 1984 – 1 charter bus, 24 days and 45 foreign students (plus what seemed like a ton of gear). It was awesome! I ran the trip for 11 summers and it had to have a name -American Odyssey. Later, the company name as well. Someday I would love to do this trip again.

How it all began

Today, a little about how this all got started. When my kids were in school- we hosted foreign exchange students– One each year for 11 years. Prior to the Georgia students going home at the end of the year – the organization decided they should see Washington DC. I volunteered to set up a trip. No real experience in this, although I think I was always the one in my own family to organize trips and events. If you check out your own family or group of friends, you will probably find that person. The trip was ok -So of course, this became an annual event for the foreign students. Now, I had become someone to ask if the school group- band, team, etc needed a bus. So, I ended up doing 3-4 trips each year for one group or another. At that time, I told one of the bus drivers-” If I could do one good trip a month- I would be happy” .. How expectations change

Life is a Journey

I had a shirt that said “Life is a Journey – not a Guided Tour”. I will use that for the title of my blog, since I think it says a lot about travel. It is important to do planning and organizing to start. But as a trip progresses, each one becomes its own adventure. I have worked in travel for over 25 years – first as a volunteer and then as a home based company. Today I am starting on a journey of my own” Technology”- a new web page and a blog. I seem’s that everyone has a talk show or article telling you how things should be done. let me say from the start- I don’t claim to be an expert or have all the answers for travel planning or group trips. I will tell you about some of the things that happen to me and you can take from it anything that you want. Next time – a little history of American Odyssey Tours.