We live in unpredictable times; I don't think anyone will dispute this. Crime and danger can be all around us from the big urban cities to the small rural town in the middle of our heartland. There is no safe space anymore.
With the click of a mouse, a swipe of a finger or button on a remote we can see bad news anywhere in the world as if it just happened next door to us five minutes ago. There has never been a time when we've been as connected to far off countries and cultures as we are today.
Bad news has a way of spreading like the wildfires that are all too common recently here in the Texas Panhandle. Bombings, killings, natural disasters, crashes, riots.....on and on and on. Many times this news also includes inaccurate reporting or incomplete details that may not be apparent at first glance.
I'm not going to defend nor condemn Mexico, that's not what this article is about. I am only using Mexico as an example because of the frenzy surrounding it and the travel community lately. This article is about being informed and making your own decisions based on what you have learned.
There is currently a Level 2 security advisory for Mexico. There is also Level 2 security advisories for the following countries (Please note several top tourist destinations are on this list):
Papua New Guinea
Israel, The West Bank, and Gaza
Trinidad and Tobago
Turks and Caicos
I'd be willing to bet if the US ranked itself on the State Department website, we'd be at least a Level 2 advisory. Several other nations seem to think we are at high risk to their citizens while traveling here. Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, among others, have warnings or advisories for their citizens that are traveling to the United States. Those warnings include:
We all know about Chicago's high crime rate, yet we travel to Chicago. Why? Basically, we know that the majority of the violence is concentrated in specific areas and we know to stay away from those areas. Even in your own hometown, you know which areas to avoid to decrease your risk of being a victim of crime. You read the papers, see the statistics, and watch the news.
(650 homicides in Chicago in 2017 vs around 205 in Cancun in 2017)
When it comes to traveling to a different country, you don't always know this information. It is my job as a Travel Consultant to start you down the path of knowledge, and you give you the pros and cons of specific destinations. I work for YOU, not a particular destination, resort or cruise line.
I direct my clients to the US State Department website listed earlier in this post. This site has the most up to date travel warnings and advisories for travelers who may be concerned. In the case of Mexico. It is at a Level 2 overall advisory. Specific areas have an increased risk, and some regions travel is discouraged.
I cannot tell you where you should go and where you will be safest. Nobody can. Stuff happens EVERYWHERE. There are a few common-sense tips I do give to clients:
Your vacation shouldn't be stressful or leave you filled with worry and anxiety. If you come to me and voice your concerns for a certain destination, we will have an open discussion and I will try to help you understand the area to the best of my knowledge and direct you to the organizations or sites you can look at to learn more. It is my job to find you the best fit for what you are looking for.
Over the past four years, I have helped numerous clients have the time of their lives on trips to Mexico, Dominican Republic, numerous other islands within the Caribbean as well as Central and South America. I have not had one client ever complain to me about safety issues they felt during their trip.
Outta Here Travels is here for you and your travel needs. You will get my personalized service and knowledge that you can't get from online travel sites. You get me, not a computer chip on the other side of the screen. You are a person with feelings and needs, not data and a series of 0's and 1's, and you deserve to be treated as such.
If you are contemplating taking a trip, I'd love to speak to you. You can contact me using the form below and I will get back to you ASAP.
Michelle Osborn, cta
Michelle has been designing awe-inspiring journeys and creating treasured memories since July, 2014 for her clients located all over the United States.
I wanted to let you know about an exciting new way for you to book hotels online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
Using this online booking tool, you can now browse and book hotels at your convenience - and what’s more, you’ll still receive all the usual benefits you know and love - including exclusive amenities, preferred rates, and VIP treatment. Once you make a booking, the information comes directly to me so I can follow up with you about additional services, and follow up with the partner to ensure your stay will be perfect.
Of course, this does not change any of the services I already offer. I am still available in person to book hotels and take care of your other travel needs. Just know you also have access to this VIP online hotel booking option now as well...perfect for last minute getaways, weekend breaks, or other short trips!!
If you have any questions or if you cannot find what you are looking for, please contact me for assistance. Click below to access the tool, and you can also find it under the new “Browse & Book” tab on my website!
Planning your honeymoon, one of the most important trips of your life, can be an overwhelming experience if you try to tackle it by yourself.
Let Outta Here Travels to take some of the stress off of you, and allow you to focus on just enjoying the start of your new life together with an unforgettable honeymoon.
Wondering where to get started? This easy to follow honeymoon guide provides you with all of the steps necessary to plan your perfect honeymoon getaway!
The hardest part of planning your honeymoon is deciding where to go! There are so many incredible destinations, and wherever you choose, it will be special. While I can work with you to find the best fit for the two of you, here is some information to get you started! I put together a reference guide for the best time to travel to popular honeymoon destinations, to help you narrow down your choices!
Looking for a romantic resort with a Caribbean vibe but don't want to worry about passports? No fear, the US Virgin Islands have you covered.
Check out this article from Bridal Guide for some of the most romantic resorts in the USVI.
Ready to book? Fill out the New Client Travel Preference Form and I can help you plan the destination wedding of your dreams.
We've all heard of wine-related travel. More and more companies and wineries are partnering up to offer travelers some fantastic travel packages. Wine regions are some of the most sought-after destinations in the travel market right now.
Heck, even cruise ships are getting in on the wine craze. Several ships, luxury and mass market, are offering wine pairing classes and bringing in wine experts for lectures and as guides in ports-of-call.
Wine travel has a new competitor though, and it's one that may surpass wine travel in the flash of an eye. It's Beer Travel.
You read right. Traveling for beer. (You know Al Bundy would be all over this in a heartbeat.) While there are those Al Bundy types that you might find touring your local Coors factory, I'm speaking of a more refined Beer Experience: The Craft Beer market.
While updating and revamping this website, I realized it has been a year since I last wrote anything? How is that even possible? I guess because most of my updates have been made via my Facebook Page.
My promise to you in 2017 is to update the blog at least once a week with a variety of travel topics.
2016 In Review
Well I will give you a brief rundown of what I've been up to. Not a lot of traveling right now, that's what I've NOT been up to. My husband's business has been a one job after another (I'm not complaining I promise), so that has put a slight damper on any major travel.
Last October (2016) we did visit Cancun for a few days and stayed at the Finest Resort in the Excellence Club 2 Story Plunge Pool Suite. It was totally amazing and worth every single penny paid. My introvert inner self was absolutely loving the fact I didn't have to go to the pool area to cool down in the water. Sun bathing on the 2nd story deck and then cool off in the plunge pool! The amenities were top-notch as well. Premium full-size liquor bottles in our room and we could request any kind or brand we wanted if we didn't like what was pre-stocked.
If you are worried about safety in Mexico, this resort is in the Playa Mujeres area located in a gated community. You can relax and enjoy the your Mexican vacation.
We had to cancel our Eastern Caribbean cruise this past January because of my husband's work. Thank goodness for travel insurance. (I don't offer it to you just for the heck of it. We've actually had to use it a few times.) Trust me, when you need to cancel last minute, you'll be so overjoyed that you spent that couple hundred dollars so you don't lose thousands of dollars.
What's Happening in 2017?
In August the husband and I will be going on a 12 day Alaskan Cruisetour. If he has to work, I will go without him. ;) This is a total bucket list trip for me. We will be touring by land for 5 days starting in Fairbanks and making our way down to Seward. In Seward we will board the Norwegian Sun and for 7 days sail south to Vancouver. We booked an Aft Mini Suite so I can take full advantage of some of the best views the ship has to offer. I can't wait to get up in the morning, wrap up in a blanket and go have my coffee on our balcony while taking in some of the most beautiful scenery on this planet. THAT right there is Heaven on Earth if you ask me.
As for family travel this summer, we now have a motorhome. You guessed it, we are going to Griswold it up and take off for 10-14 days. The travel agent in me wants to get everything preplanned and make reservations at certain RV parks I've researched. The adventurous part of me just wants to jump in and go even if we have to dry dock it or camp out in Walmart parking lot (not really.......I hope). Now the only big decision is, do we go South along the Gulf of Mexico? Or do we travel North through the Rockies?
Continuing The Quest For Travel Knowledge & To Serve My Clients
Other than the above, I have used this time to help numerous clients plan everything from Destination Weddings, Honeymoons, School Senior Class Trips, Disney Christmas Vacations, and too many Mexico and Caribbean trips to count. I've been trying to stay on top of the latest travel trends. I have also been working hard on getting certified in Honeymoon & Destination Wedding travel as well as certified in Luxury Travel. I already hold specialty certificates in these areas, but I want to go the extra mile and get certified so I can better serve my clients. I will also be taking some tours of top resorts for Romance Travel and Luxury Travel within Mexico and the Caribbean.
So now you are all caught up.
December 31, 2015 we boarded the Norwegian Pearl for an 11 night cruise that took us to Columbia, halfway through the Panama Canal, Costa Rica, Roatan, Belize and Costa Maya, Mexico. It was a bucket list trip and we were blessed to enjoy it with family and friends.
In June my husband and I took a quick 5 day trip to Cancun while the kids were at church camp. I surprised him with a limo pickup which helped ease the joys of sitting in the plane for almost an hour after landing due to a tropical storm. Gotta love this time of year...lol Thankfully that was the final push of the storm and it was off to Texas while we were not in Texas. :)
The Sun Palace did not disappoint from the moment we arrived. We were taken upstairs for a private check in and then we went back downstairs where they explained the $1500 resort credit and how we had access to the other Palace resorts in the area.
We had an ocean front concierge suite with amazing views of the pool and the ocean. Our suite also had an extra large balcony with a couple of chairs and a table plus two lounging chairs.
The food was amazing at every place we ate within the resort. The breakfast crew at El Alamo was outstanding. They referred to me as "Yoga Girl" because of a t-shirt I wore my first morning there. When I asked a chef if they had arroz con leche, he said no but took down my room number and said he would the next morning. Sure enough, he came out the next morning with my very own bowl of arroz con leche and even brought me sugar and cinnamon to top it off with. AMAZING attention to details and customer service!!!
The spa services were great as well. We had our 25 min back massages that came with our concierge package and then also added the fish spa to this. Every one of the spa professionals were great at their job and very friendly. We also took advantage of the romantic dinner on the beach and it was fantastic. Our waiter was amazing and very attentive. (The massage and dinner was included in our concierge pack)
The wait staff during the day on the beach was also great. We never ran out of anything to drink as they were always right there asking if you'd like another. We hung out at the beach most of the time while at the resort since both pool areas are a little of the small side and can get cramped.
The only part that I felt the resort may be lacking on just a little is at night. The beach and pool areas clear out quickly towards evening. There is really only one main nighttime area which is at the Lobby Bar. They have a dance floor and there are also different events scheduled during the week. They also use the ballroom for some of these nightly events.
You just have to remember that this resort is more for the traveler that isn't looking for a constant party scene or late nights at the club. If you want that kind of experience with the quiet atmosphere, you can take advantage of the resort sharing program and visit the nightclub at the Moon Palace which open way later.
My husband made friends with all of the bell boys and valets. They all had a great time learning from each other and laughing at some of the differences in our cultures. Every one of these men greeted us as Mr & Mrs Osborn no matter where we were within the resort during our entire stay.
We took an tour to Cozumel that we booked using some of our $1500 resort credit. Our tour guide was Pablo and he was excellent. He was very informative about the island and it's history. The first stop was snorkeling. Pablo showed everyone how the equipment worked and how to properly put it on. He gave hand signals to the participants to show if they were in danger or doing OK. The group was in the water about 30 minutes. My husband said there were some cool fish, but no colorful reefs, just sand. When we asked Pablo about this, he admitted that the best area for this was on the other side of the island and it was best viewed while scuba diving since it was a little further down under water. We appreciated his honesty.
Next we got on the open-air bus towards the beach. It was very windy on the bus, but yet a cultural experience as well. Pablo pointed out it was the start of turtle season and had the driver stop to show us some new turtle nests which was an unexpected treat. We stopped on the bridge and saw two crocodiles for a few minutes. When we arrived at the beach, I thought it was a great location and good facilities. There were restrooms, showers, vendors, massage table, and of course the buffet and bar. The buffet consisted of fruit, salad fixings, chicken or beef for fajitas, and some great fish which we made fish tacos from. Soft drinks or beer were included in the excursion, but they offered mixed drinks for an additional cost. May I suggest the Coco Loco......excellent and served in a coconut they cut open right in front of you.
After about 1 1/2 hrs at the beach off we went to the lighthouse. This was OK and had some great views. Not too much time to tour the museum on site, but I did take tons of pictures in it to go through. Had a couple of good vendors on site as well, one of which had some really cool black coral items. On the way out of the park we stopped at a small Mayan ruin on the side of the road. He explained this was the top of a ruin that actually had 2 additional levels under the ground. It was some type of lighthouse for the Mayans during their time.
Our last stop was a tequila shop near the ferry pier in town. I was under the impression, it was at a larger place outside of town, but I think it was closed. The guys at the shop had several varieties of tequila set up for tastings and explaining the difference in quality and taste. Overall, they did a good job explaining. My husband was able to negotiate a lower price on the best tequila at a substantial savings. (Remember, always bargain with the vendors and store owners. Very few of them will stick to the listed price) About 30 minutes for shopping near the ferry and then back to Playa del Carmen and the ride back to Cancun.
Overall, I was impressed with the knowledge of our guide and thought this was a great excursion for someone like myself that has never been to Cozumel. This is also good for those with limited time but that want to experience what Cozumel has to offer. I think there are definite areas that could be improved upon. Maybe cutting out the tequila tasting to give more time snorkeling or the beach would be great. You can basically go to tequila tastings all over Mexico, so this is nothing that is really special to just Cozumel. For the money paid, I felt we did get a good value. You get the most out of this tour by interacting with the guide though. Pablo sat down by our little group and we asked him tons of questions and he answered every one of them. Just go in knowing it's going to be fast and furious and you need to take advantage of any down time if you have questions to ask.
We booked an EARLY morning tour of Chichen Itza on our own instead of the resort. I am aware of the heat and the "cattle drives" of the afternoon tours and boy I am soooo glad we booked this tour instead of the ones that are in the afternoon when Chichen Itza is so crowded and hot.
Frank was our tour guide and he was awesome and made the 5:20am pickup time much more agreeable. We were provided with a small box lunch which consisted of a sandwich, banana, cookies and apple juice. Not the greatest, but decent for the money paid.
During our 2 1/2 drive there and back, they did stop each way for a bathroom break. After the bathroom break there, Frank begins to explain the Mayan culture, both the history and the myths. He explains the meaning of Chichen Itza and some of the other ruins.
While on site, you have 1 1/2 hrs with the guide and then the same amount of time on your own. We spent an additional 30 minutes with Frank as he explained a few others parts of the site. Then we explored for about an hour. We didn't see near what we wanted to, but we were very glad to have beaten the crowds and the heat. We will go back again one day and explore some more on our own.
Be sure to call the number listed on your reservation to confirm your pickup time for that morning. There were a few in our pickup van that missed the pickup either because they overslept or they didn't call to see what time the pickup is. It clearly states on the receipt to call to confirm your pickup time from your resort. I think this is the best way to view Chichen Itza before it gets so crowded. We had some awesome pictures with nobody in the background. It was great!
We tried to balance fun, relaxing and touring in 5 days. Didn't do too badly, but we sure didn't see near enough of the area on this trip. We are planning on taking all the kids to the Riviera Maya next summer for a week in a villa. Hopefully, we'll get to experience more of this area during that trip. And who knows about us.......there may be another quick trip before then if my husband and I can sneak away. ;)
Talk about an elegant ship....WOW!!! From the moment you step foot on this ship, you know you will be pampered!
There is marble and mirrors everywhere , but tastefully done. The décor, including Swarovski crystal-covered glass staircases, glass elevators and dramatic lighting, is simply amazing. Highlights include the breathtaking atrium, glitzy Pantheon Theatre and sophisticated Black & White Lounge.
Another big hit is the Yacht Club. Once travel in this category, you won't be able to imagine traveling anyway else! It includes larger cabins, butler & concierge services, a private restaurant, lounge & pool area. Spaces within the yacht club are both elegant and relaxed. Butler service there is excellent; somehow, butlers seem to anticipate your every need without being overbearing. Perks include complimentary beverages and access to an ultra-private pool area.
The gym and spa are very big for a ship, with first-rate equipment and services. There is also a well-stocked sporting goods store in case you forgot something vital for your trip. With five pools, the ship has more than enough space for taking a dip and plenty of loungers for sunning. Divina also has the closest thing to a true infinity pool that I've seen at sea. In my opinion, it's one of the best spots on the ship.
In November 2013, Divina began sailing full-time Caribbean itineraries from its new Miami homeport. To get the ship and its crew ready for the change, MSC made some modifications to appeal more to the tastes of its North American market: enhanced entertainment, a movie screen poolside, a sports bar, a more restrictive smoking policy. The crew also went through some massive training as well. There are major differences in the way North Americans and Europeans view vacation and what is expected of the staff and facilities. While the ship and crew maintain a Mediterranean feel, the new touches are certainly noticeable.
Passengers onboard MSC Divina are generally North American. All announcements are made in English, which is the primary language spoken onboard. (This differs from MSC's other ships, which usually offer all announcements in five languages to cater to a variety of European passengers.)
Our travel adventures and missteps. Sometimes on our own, sometimes with our kids, but always having fun!