Not long ago, I wrote a column outlining bits of specific advice I have shared with clients recently in both verbal and written form. Some of you seemed to like it, so I am adding some additions gleaned in the past few months. I am doing this because I believe many suppliers are unaware of the myriad paths travel consultants are led down every day. Our clients deserve straight answers:
"Everyone goes to St. Petersburg on a ship in the summer, but the Russian city is best seen in the snow when 18,000 to 25,000 cruise passengers are not standing in front of you to see the same painting at the Hermitage or waiting to use the restroom."
"My favorite of all the places in the world I've seen? Easy. That would have to be Rochester, Minn., where they have friendly people, good snowboarding and a more than decent hospital."
"Never sit down for a cappuccino in Italy, and never drink one after noon."
"Never go on a custom-planned trip that features a breakdown of all costs. It means you are not receiving confidential wholesale rates."
"If your hotel rate does not include a comp room upgrade, all taxes and fees, a comp full breakfast and notice from management, you booked it yourself."
"If you want an elegant midsize ship, great itineraries, really excellent food and no children's programs, along with the best overall value in the four-star market, Oceania is the line you should be looking at."
"Cruise insiders often go for SeaDream because they have some of the best itineraries, and with only 50 staterooms per ship, they can get access to ports that larger ships can only dream about."
"One of the latest trends is going to see 'they do it better' countries where crime and serious pollution are nonexistent and quality healthcare is taken for granted."
"A simple suggestion that never gets old: Read Peter Mayle's 'A Year in Provence' and then go and spend at least two weeks there."
"Summer heat in Europe and serious overtourism are really things that need to be discussed and analyzed. We have all this digital information, yet where and when to go is tougher to figure out than ever."
"Statistics show that the three most common uses of the internet are, in order, gambling, pornography and travel searches. That ought to tell you something."
"The most undertipped and most deserving employees you will encounter in your travels are hotel maids. Please leave them about $5 per night on the nightstand or the pillow at the end of your stay."
"Every traveler and future traveler should be aware of one solid fact: The most dangerous part of your journey will be your ride to the airport."
"The perfect two weeks? Seven days in the United Arab Emirates followed by downtime in an over-the-water bungalow in the Maldives. The Emirates flight from Dubai is about three hours."
"Going to Australia and New Zealand at some point in the future? Make sure that a minimum of 50% of your nights are booked in New Zealand, and try to avoid travel by ship. It is all too marvelous to waste days at sea."
"Suppose they moved some of the best parts of Paris, its food, language, colorful streets in artsy neighborhoods, along with justifiably arrogant locals to North America. It would be called Montreal or Quebec."
"The Galapagos are magical, provided you snorkel and [enjoy] watching turtles and oddly named birds through wide angle lenses while getting in and out of Zodiacs and walking over slippery rocks to get the best Instagram shot. If you are not into turtle mating habits or birding, reconsider this destination.
"Yes, the flight attendant knows if you actually paid for your ticket or if you used miles for a freebie."