Get your travel planning questions ready! Answering your queries in our new ASK A TRAVEL AGENT column is, Susan Kelly, a 25-year veteran travel agent, who has spent the better part of her life helping travelers plan memorable journeys and discover the world.
She has her finger on the pulse of worldwide travel, has access to exclusive deals for our readers, and we are thrilled that Susan is bringing her expertise and passion to our YourLifeIsATrip family.
I retired last year and I’ve got my bucket list ready, but I feel so guilty traveling when many of my friends and extended family members are suffering in this sour U.S. economy. Should I stay or should I go?
Yes! Go! I can’t think of a better way to spend your hard-earned retirement dollars. But, if you’re looking for a way to assuage your guilt AND help the economy, have you considered traveling locally?
Recently, a couple of random events inspired me to think about the benefits of U.S. based travel. First, a pre-holiday news segment with Diane Sawyer challenged a Dallas family to cut expenses and boost the economy by restricting their Christmas purchases to one American-made present. The premise was that if enough people did this, we could create 200,000 jobs for Americans. I don’t know how the statisticians arrived at those figures, but it got me thinking about how I spend my travel dollars.
Next, a neighbor contacted me for the first time to buy airline tickets for his family to attend a family reunion in February. He’s a tech-savvy guy who runs his own computer repair business. He could have done it himself on-line. He was pleased with the low airfare ($320) and routing I found for him: flying from Seattle to Ft. Lauderdale via the southern route and not the northern route where winter storms might delay their flights. At the end of the transaction, he explained that he and his wife took great pains to buy locally grown food and that he considered buying his airline tickets from me part of their commitment to support local businesses. I admire his sentiments and am grateful to every client who purchases their travel with me.
Which brings me back to the main question: How much travel can you buy locally in 2012? I’m not saying you shouldn’t take those international trips off your bucket list. The financial crisis has shown us that no country is isolated and buying locally wherever you travel can help the folks who are struggling in the local economy. And if one or more of your trips are in the U.S. this year, think how much you’ll be helping our economy.
Many grandparents are discovering the joy of having their children and grand children join them on a cruise where there are activities for all ages and lifetime memoires are created. I’ll forever cherish the time my parents, sister, niece, nephew and I spent on a Hawaii cruise to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday. We laughed and bonded as we never had before. Even though my parents have passed, the memory of all of us wearing identical Hilo Hattie’s Hawaiian shirts will remain with me forever.
There are many American-owned cruise lines with small ships that sail in Alaska, Hawaii, the Great Lakes, the rivers of America and the southern states. American Safari Cruises, Inner Sea Discoveries, Alaskan Dream Cruises, Blount Cruises, American Cruise Lines and the Great American Steamboat Company are just a few of them. There are even some sailings that have special children’s programs.
And if you’re single? So what. Believe me, cruise lines and adventure tour operators are getting it: Not every baby boomer is married. The single supplements have been lowered on many dates. I keep an eye on the Solo Friendly companies and have a running list of options for you.
There are lovely hotels and resorts all over the U.S. that would welcome your business. How about a visit to one of the cities that has been hardest hit by the economy? Or a vacation to one of our National Parks might be the perfect cure for anyone with Nature Deficit Disorder.
I recently returned from the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu and was wowed by the size and variety of the resort. There were hiking trails along the beach to an old World War II bunker, a beautiful beach to snorkel with the turtles, two golf courses, tennis courts, horse stables and 7 different restaurants. My favorite was Ola’s where you could sit dine beachside and enjoy delicious local specialties. The movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” was filmed there, so now I’m waiting for a dark and stormy night to have the DVD take me back to Paradise. I’ll even make myself a Mai Tai and crank up the heat.
I’m sure many of you have discovered great hotels, resorts, cruises tours and destinations in America. I’d love it if you would share some of those memories with me. Buying travel in America will definitely create more jobs. I’m in. Are you?
Do you have a travel planning question for ASK A TRAVEL AGENT columnist, Susan Kelly? Submit your question and look for answers in a future column.
Daughter of an Army officer whose duties took the family across the U.S. with extended tours in Germany and Japan, the now Seattle-based travel agent, Susan Kelly, was born to a life of travel. A 25-year career professional, and Virtuoso Travel Advisor, Susan is passionate about travel and helping people plan their dream vacation getaway. For personal travel planning services, travelers can contact Susan directly* at 866.318.5396.
*For access to exclusive deals available only to YourLifeIsATrip.com readers, be sure to tell Susan we sent you.