Help! I’m Planning My First Trip to Disney. Where Do I Start?

You’ve saved for a trip of a lifetime. You’ve seen all the pics of friends and family at the happiest place on earth. You’ve promised your kids you would take them and now it’s time to plan for your first trip to Disney. There are so many facets to the vacation – from the hotel to the transportation, which parks to visit and which tickets to purchase, from the meal plan to the best time of year to go – a trip to Disney can be downright overwhelming. It’s probably one of the most research intense vacations on top of the fact that it’s not inexpensive. So how do you make your first trip to Disney the perfect vacation you’ve dreamed of? With a little pixie dust and the help of a qualified Travel Professional.

Choose a qualified Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.

To be an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, an agency needs to uphold Disney brand values and keep up-to-date on the latest happenings at the Disney parks. Even though your second cousin may claim to “be a Disney expert,” we recommend that you entrust the planning of your Disney vacation to a qualified Travel Agency and Travel Professional. Be sure to look for the logo and confirm the status is up to date by checking Disney’s planner site (yep, Boscov’s Travel is proud to be an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner). It’s like getting free Disney advice from an unbiased source.

Choose which time of year is right for you.

If you have school-aged kids, going in the middle of the school year may not be the best bet. Still, these times of year (independent of fall/spring break and holidays) typically give you better access to the parks and shorter wait times. If you do have to wait till the summer or one of the busier holiday times, there’s still so much that makes Disney spectacular during the busier season.

Here’s a sampling of annual festivals and events throughout the year:

  • Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival – Early March through late May or early June
  • Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend – Late October or early November
  • Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – Early or mid-January
  • Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – Mid to late February
  • Star Wars Half Marathon The Dark Side – Early to Mid-April
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – End of August through mid-November
  • Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party- Late August through early November
  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – Early November through late December
  • Holidays Around the World at Epcot – Late November through late December

Budget your time and money.

Some families make a one-day stop at a single Disney park, while others spend a week at an on-site resort and make multiple visits to the parks. Talk to a Travel Specialist about your budget, “must-sees” on your list and go from there. There are so many options and combinations to get within your price range. And this year they rolled out value days giving you less expensive tickets during the off-season.

Narrow down where you want to stay.

Based on your budget and dollars allocated towards a resort, there are so many choices resorts throughout Disney (and beyond). There are benefits to staying closer to the magic – themed hotel rooms based on your child’s favorite movie, fun features including sand bottom pools, up close encounters with exotic animals, longer park access, and more. Is proximity to the magic important to you, or is access to Orlando’s other theme parks more up your alley?

Value Disney Resorts $
Disney All-Star Movies
Disney All-Star Music
Disney All-Star Sports
Disney Art of Animation
Disney Pop Century Resort
Fort Wilderness Campground

Moderate Disney Resorts $$
Disney Caribbean Beach
Disney Coronado Springs
The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Disney Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter

Deluxe Disney Resorts $$$
Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney Beach Club Resort
Disney Board Walk Inn
Disney Contemporary Resort
Disney Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disney Polynesian Village
Disney Wilderness Lodge
Disney Yacht Club Resort
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel

Deluxe Disney Villas $$$$ 
Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney Beach Club Villas
Disney Board Walk Villas
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disney Old Key West Resort
Disney Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
Treehouse Villas
The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Sarasota Springs Resort & Spa

*Options are available through Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotels. These are off-site hotels close to the parks that Disney approves and they offer transportation to/from the park. Some even allow pets! These range from high-end to value hotels. Choosing a WDW Good Neighbor Hotel is another way to save on the hotel and allocate more towards the park experience. 

Park Tickets

Depending on the length of your stay at Disney, you may want to experience multiple parks in a day. There’s an option for that! Disney offers different tickets based on what you want for your stay. The most cost efficient option is the Magic Your Way Base Ticket allowing you to visit one park per day from 2 to 10 days. A more flexible option is the Park Hopper option allowing you to visit multiple theme parks in the same day. The Park Hopper Plus Option allows you to visit multiple parks, plus access to Disney’s water parks, golf courses and more. Of course, we can help you navigate which option is best for you.

Dining

Disney Dining Plans allow you to pay one price per person up front so you can focus on family-time during your stay. There can be real value in pre-purchasing a dining plan (maybe you’ve heard of the infamous Chocolate Dipped Chocolate Chip Meringue from Epcot’s Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie that counts as a snack credit), but if your family is picky or light eaters it may not be for you. Luckily, our experienced Travel Specialists who have collectively handled hundreds of Disney packages can help you decide what’s right for your family.

Everything but the kitchen sink… flights, the Magical Express, Fast-Passes, dining reservations, and more.

Work with your Authorized Disney Vacation Planner to coordinate your flights and the Magical Express. If you’d prefer to depart a little closer to home and avoid the hassles of large airports, we offer an Exclusive Charter to Walt Disney World departing from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport in Avoca, Reading Airport, Harrisburg Airport, and Lancaster Airport throughout the spring and fall. Flights depart on Sunday morning and return Saturday evening. Still if you’re closer to a larger airport or want to stay at Disney for less than 6-nights, we can help plan your trip.

The coveted Fast-Pass allows you to get VIP privileges for your favorite rides and attractions. If you are staying at a Disney resort, you can book your Fast-Pass up to 60 days prior to your trip. If you’re staying off-site, you can book your Fast-Pass 30 days prior. Ask your Travel Specialists how you can make your Magic Band your all-in-one tool for Fast-Passes and more.

Be our guest and book your table service dining experiences before you go! Whether you want to experience the enchantment of the Beast’s castle or you want to treat yourself to the culinary magic of a James Beard nominee at Victoria & Albert, you can book your dining experiences up to 180 days ahead of your arrival.

Before you go, download the My Disney Experience app and talk to your Travel Specialist about how you can make the most of your vacation. We can help you choose PhotoPass packages, tell you where to get an inexpensive stroller for your little one, give you insider-recommendations (like downloading the Disney Parks Mobile App!), tell you what’s opening and if any attractions are under construction, give you a customized packing list, and tell you how to make the most of your dining plan (hello, Dole Whip).

So why can you trust us?

Because Walt Disney World does! We have the great pleasure of earning the distinction of Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. There are so many reasons to choose Boscov’s Travel as your Authorized Disney Vacation Planner to handle your first (and fiftieth!) trip to the most magical place on earth. We don’t charge you to plan your complete Disney vacation package. Plus our Travel Specialists have first-hand experience as well as years in the business making your Disney planning easy and successful. In fact, 94% of our Travel Specialists have been to Walt Disney World with nearly 70% visiting since 2010. Basically we love Disney as much as you do. 

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

As to Disney artwork/properties: ©Disney

 

Top 5 Places to Visit for 2019

The following post is written by Amanda from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department. 

It’s already March…. where has this year gone? We are about to be a quarter through the year and I do not know about you but I have no trips planned for the year…. DEPRESSING. If you are like me, we need to get one planned. Let me help you pick a destination for your next vacation. Here are the 5 places to consider visiting in 2019. These are a mix of different trips; some long ones, some short, some inexpensive, and some where you’ll literally need an AMEX black card so you’ll have plenty to choose from!

Pick 1
Canada/National Parks

This pick is for the history junkies and Instagram lovers all in one. Canada and their National Parks are absolutely gorgeous! I have always thought of Canada to be such a scenic country and if you look at any pictures of Canada’s wilderness and parks you will see what I mean. I spoke with a few of our Travel Specialists who have been there and let me tell you – they agree.

For starters, when you have a minute google Canadian National Parks and let me know what you think (you’ll probably want to make it your screensaver). Another feature that makes the country so scenic is its unending natural beauty. In nearly every town you visit, there will be mountain right in the center of it making a gorgeous picture for your Instagram story.

If this trip sounds like a plan to you, don’t worry we’ve got you covered. We have a scheduled tour this year visiting the country’s National Parks and different Canadian towns making it the perfect trip to cross off the bucket list. Learn more.

Pick 2
Alaska

Next up is Alaska. Alaska is another place for scenic views so do not forget the camera! Denali National Park, home to Mt. Denali (formally Mt. McKinley) and the highest mountain peak in North America, should be a mandatory stop on your excursions.  While you’re in Alaska, you’ll want to take a whale watching tour as the water, glaciers and mountains make for a scenic backdrop.

Alaska peak season is actually Mid-June to Mid-August, so if you want to snag a good deal, try to schedule your trip after August when its the “shoulder season”. Don’t worry guys, the weather is about 40 to 50 degrees in September making it an ideal time to visit. One of the best ways to see Alaska is by cruise ship. It allows you to have an upfront idea of costs, saves you time with sailing at night so you don’t have to spend your days traveling, and you can see as much as you’d like with optional excursions! Some cruise lines even have special perks like open bar, or friends and family sail free. Learn more.

Pick 3
Hawaii

This is probably the one I will most likely choose. Hawaii has been a bucket list trip since I can remember. Hawaii is known for being an expensive destination due to airfare, but you can often find good deals on air. Southwest Airlines recently announced plans to add Hawaii as a new destination, subsequently forcing competitors to lower prices on Hawaiian air. So if you plan out in advance and talk to a Travel Specialist, you maybe able to get a decent rate on airfare. Again, once you make it to the land of Hawaii, take tons and tons of pictures as looking out to crystal blue water is a picture perfect moment. Whether you stay at a resort and take day-trips, or you choose to cruise the islands, the 50th state is a must-see for Americans.

Pick 4

Cruise to the Caribbean

Well if this isn’t a steal of a deal… a cruise kills two birds with one stone. You are able to relax or do as much as you’d like while cruising on your floating resort. Then you get to experience the best of a destination!

Within the past few years, we’ve seen cruise lines offer richer and richer deals year after year. At Boscov’s Travel, we typically have an exclusive with a select cruise line even if the cruise line itself doesn’t have a national deal.

A Travel Specialist will work within your budget and match you with the cruise line that meets your wants.  You get two trips into one and I think that is a steal for anyone.

Pick 5
Italy

Of course we have to pick an international destination that’s truly a bucket list destination. I feel that if you took a survey, everyone would want to go to Italy at some point in their lives. Though this trip can be more expensive than some of the trips listed above, at Boscov’s Travel, we are here to save the day and navigate the choices and prices associated with traveling over seas. With partners like Globus, Mongorams, and Cosmos we will be sure to get you to Italy in no time while not breaking the bank!

If you’re ready to start planning your next vacation, email travelrequest@boscovs.com or call 800-755-8020. Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

TV Junkie Paradise: Trips Better than Binging your Favorite Show

The following post is written by Amanda from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department. 

What’s better than sitting by your TV and binge watching your favorite show? ACTUALLY visiting the locations! We are so consumed by digital media that I think we forget how beautiful our world actually is. Yes, you heard me… there are multiple locations that you can visit in real life which are way better than watching the TV show!

First up

Game of Thrones

 

 

Taste of Iceland – on this tour enjoy a visit to Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park, featured throughout Game of Thrones season 4. The massive rocky bluffs will inspire you as the entrance to the Eeyrie, as well as the fight between Brienne and The Hound.


Plus you’ll see the black sand beaches in Reynisfarja or Vik beach, filming location for Eastwatch by the Sea and apparently (spoiler) shores of the Targaryen homeland in season 8.

Outlander
Next up, Scotland. If you happen to visit, you’ll probably stumble across one of the landscapes featured in the show Outlander. We recommend an independent tour with expert help by Monograms – you will be able to head to multiple locations from the show. With a stay in Edinburgh, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will be right by Wentworth Prison where Jamie is imprisoned.
If you want more, you could get a driver for a day because within an hour of the city, you can visit even more locations. While staying in Edinburgh, stroll through Edinburgh’s Royal Mile where you’ll find many Outlander locations. With Monograms Tours you will be able to travel to London for 3-nights and then Edinburgh, Scotland for 3-nights giving you the perfect amount of time to visit locations from Outlander as well as the best movies/book of all time, Harry Potter #Gamechanger!

Harry Potter

Last but DEFINITELY not least – Harry Potter. I always wished Harry Potter was real so I could live the magical life (instead of this muggle one). The next best thing to being part of the magical world is visiting the locations from it….am I right? Here’s another Monograms Tour featuring 2-nights in London (of course, you can extend this trip with any number of other destinations, or just spend additional free time in the city!). While in London visit the Duke Humfrey’s Library at Oxford University to see scenes where Harry looks for clues in The Sorcerer’s Stone. A must see is the infamous Platform 9 ¾ at the Kings Cross Station (yes, it does exist!). I would say a true Harry Potter fan would HAVE to visit King’s Cross Station if they want to feel like they were a part of the movie.  Also, right in the heart of London is The Leadenhall Market and check Diagon Alley off your bucket list. Again, this is a must for a Harry Potter guru!

Now I know all of these sound ACTUALLY amazing on their own, but what if I told you could do all three together! Yes, you heard me! CIE Tours offers tours to all these movie landmarks. Are they the exact places listed above? No… but with this tour , you will be able to check off visiting the spot the Hogwarts Expressed was filmed, or the Doune Castle that Outlander fans known as the Castle of Leoch of Colum. The castle has even played a role in Game of Thrones. This trip really is a true bucket list experience.

These are just some places you can visit that is way way better than binging your favorite TV show… visit us when you’re ready to start packing your trunk (we promise we’ll make it less painful than apparating there).

 

If you’re ready to start planning your next vacation, email travelrequest@boscovs.com or call 800-755-8020.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

 

Millennial Trips You Must Take by 2020…on a Budget

The following post is written by Amanda from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department. She is new to Boscov’s Travel and wants share her traveling experiences thus far.

Somewhere along my college career I came up with the crazy idea to convince my friends that they would go on a trip with me in the summer of 2018 after we graduate college. Surprisingly enough, three of them were along for the ride. I then reached out to another group of friends (high school) and asked if they wanted to go a trip. They all said yes as well. I found it funny everyone was so willing to travel with me of course, on a budget. With a few “meetings” and the help of a trusted travel professional, we were off!

DISNEY WORLD

Our first trip was Disney World, which I suggest every millennial do with a group of friends. Disney World on a budget….yes you heard me! I had the best time in Disney with my best friends. We are all the same age, want to do the same thing. We spent a whole day in each park and then went to Universal for a day to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I can honestly say eating and drinking around the world in Epcot with my friends will be a memory I will forever cherish and remember.

How to do this on a budget? Talk with a Boscov’s Travel Specialist about meal options and see your choices for a meal plan. The meal plan saved us so much! After much consideration, we spent the couple extra dollars a day to get the dining meal plan. This gives you the choice to sit at Disney Restaurants and relax in air conditioning when we got tired instead of a quick service! Totally optional, but if you are someone who wants to make the whole day count at a park, that extra sitting hour does help you get through the day.

Another way to save money is to plan plan plan. After talking to an agent about how to maximize our budget, we came up with this idea to visit every park but to do it in only three days, not four. By purchasing three day park hopper tickets, we were able to visit Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studio in one day, saving us over $100 since we only needed a three day park option!

Should you stay at a Disney Resort? You should. The amenities you get is worth it. The minute we got off the plane, Disney took it from there. They transport you to any park or Disney Springs, and back to the airport for departure aboard the Magical Express. We were able to save so much over taking an Uber or a rental car.

MEMPHIS/NASHVILLE

The next trip would come as a surprise to some, but again if you and your friends love history and culture, this one is for you!

My high school friends and I decided to take a ten day vacation to Nashville and Memphis. We wanted inexpensive and the most inexpensive flights just happened to be ten days apart. When I told people I was going to Memphis I got so many question about why there. We picked Memphis because we were on a budget and my friend’s family lived in Memphis and graciously offered their home to us for a full five days. I did not know how to feel about it but I can say I am honestly so glad we picked Memphis.

We saw Beale Street, The National Civil Rights Museum and see where Martin Luther King took his last breath. We saw the famous studio where Elvis

Martin Luther King’s Hotel Room

Presley and  others recorded – Sun Studio. We went to the Memphis Pyramid which has the largest Bass Pro Shop in the world. This is just naming a few of the things we did while in Memphis with all activities being under $14 a person at most. Also, in Memphis they have student discounts at every museum. This place was such a great town for learning about history and culture and I would suggest this to any millennial friend group looking for a fun night life while also wanting to experience the past. The Mississippi border is close so we rented a car for a day, giving us plenty of time to go to Ole Miss, tour the campus and town and be back to Memphis in no time to return the car! It was an inexpensive day as well – we could cross off another state we had visited!

Nashville can get very pricey! To save money, we decided to go to purchase groceries for lunches to make in our rental. We then decided to find places to eat with the best Happy Hour deals. This ultimately was the best decision as eating out can get very pricey.

Nashville is known for its country music, right?! Well anyone who wants to experience the museums like The Grand Ole Opry or the Hall of Fame Museum Nashville will love this insider scoop – the Music City Total Access Pass. You save over 50% if you were to go to these places on your own. You get to pick four different places to visit as well as two bonuses, all for $75 (2018 price). It may sound like a lot, but when you price out The Hall of Fame Museum, the Belmont Mansion, Grand Opry, and the Escape the Room it was well over $150. So, yes it looks like a large expense, but these things all take hours on end, so for four fun filled days our total cost was $75 for activities. That is a steal. I promise you.

LANCASTER, PA

We went to Lancaster in September which proved to be a great time to go. Lancaster is coming off their busy season (June – August), so we were able to get a hotel for a fairly inexpensive price. The best thing about Lancaster is all the activities for an inexpensive price. My friends and I are known to shop and purchase nothing. In this case, it worked out because we spent a whole afternoon shopping at the AMAZING outlets and spent very little!

We also decided we wanted to change things up a little by doing something we have never done before. The Stroudsburg wine and cheese train ride is something we all heard about and it sounded so interesting. It is a relaxing and a fun way to change things up for a group of friends! Also, it’s great spot for posting cute pictures!

Another great part about Lancaster is just driving around to see the Amish way of life. On Sunday, there were many Amish families venturing out in their horse and buggies.  This area is considered the largest Amish community in the nation.

HERSHEY

This is another great vacation for an inexpensive price if you live in PA or are close enough to make it an easy drive to/from. My friends and I decided to stay at the Hershey Lodge because there so much to do and it’s less than the Hotel Hershey. A majority of us were Hershey All Annual Pass members so we have books full of discounts as well as get free parking and entrance into the park. If you’re not a member, in winter months (considered off season), you can get a Hershey Park pass for under $30 dollars a day (2018 price). After you’ve gone through the park, hang with Santa’s reindeer, and you’ve ridden a couple roller coasters (yes, most of them are still open), you can head over to Chocolate World (free entrance) and end the day with some delicious ice cream.

After the day at the park we headed to the Lodge to grab a bite in to eat and spend the night in the lobby. Yes, seven young adults spent the whole night in a lobby. In December, the Hershey Lodge lobby is packed till 2:00AM. I am not kidding – we were there playing games and just hanging by the fire laughing. When we left there were still tons of families hanging out! It was a nice Christmas tradition my friends and I will continue in the future.

NEXT UP……A CRUISE

My friends have been begging me for years to go on a cruise at some point. I hesitated because I fear sea sickness. In the month I have been at Boscov’s I have learned so much about cruises so I finally decided that I am ready to take a cruise! A Travel Specialist already told me that I can reduce the chances of becoming nauseated by staying in an inside cabin, more towards the bottom inside of the ship where there’s less movement. My friends and I are starting to plan out dates and we will be using Boscov’s Travel to help us!

 

If you’re ready to start planning your next vacation, email travelrequest@boscovs.com or call 800-755-8020.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

 

Fun Travel Facts You Didn’t Know You Needed in Your Life

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Impress your relatives during the forced family fun with these travel facts.

Travel Facts

  • The top reasons US citizens travel domestically are to visit relatives, shop, visit friends, take a foodie vacation and sight see.

  • 43% of Pennsylvanians had unused vacation days in 2017. That’s more than 24 MILLION unused days! New Jersey was slightly better with just 35% of people having unused days.
  • And the most anxiety-inducing travel fact… 

 

 

Cruising Facts

Disney Facts

  • Disney World and Disneyland are favorite final resting places (but they strictly prohibit this).
  • It’s estimated nearly 4,000 proposals take place each year in Magic Kingdom theme park in Florida. Disney even has it’s own Proposal Department to help make the moment magical.
  • And sometimes people break-up at Disney. Yep, The Beatles sealed their fate at the themepark in Florida.
  • Walt Disney World is the size of two Manhattans.
  • You know Disney literally sparkles. It’s not just pixie dust… the parks are designed so you can find a trashcan within 30 steps of wherever you are.

Around the World Facts

  • When the temperature drops, the Eiffel Tower shrinks by about six inches.
  • Mussolini tried to fix the Leaning Tower of Pisa but only made it lean further.
  • Each of the stones used to construct the Great Pyramid weighed approximately the weight of an elephant. And inside the structure could be the world’s first air conditioning system – it stays a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit (average temperature in July is 94 degrees outside!).
  • The Great Wall of China features mortar made from rice flour.
  • The Grand Canyon park is larger than Rhode Island. The temperature from the top of the canyon to the bottom of the canyon can vary by almost 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • There are more caribou than people in Alaska. And more men than women – the state has the highest ratio of men to women of any state.
  • Sin City shines bright! The Vegas strip is the brightest place on earth when viewed from space.

What You Need to Know Before You Go to Peru (and Why You’ll Want to See More than Machu Picchu)

The following post is written by Kristin from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department. She traveled to Peru in August 2018 on a G Adventures tour booked through Boscov’s Travel and shares her experiences.

Machu Picchu, Is it Really Worth Going to Peru for This?
Yep, it’s everything you’ve seen and more. Photos don’t do this majestic place justice. Built by the Incans in the 1400’s, this citadel boasts 200 structures created without the use of mortar – just expertly cut stone which has stood the test of time (think Legos). Lovers of nature and astrology, the Incans constructed the city between two mountain ranges and venerated the gods with temples, compasses, sundials, and more astrological marvels.

You need to see Machu Picchu NOW. The government continues to increase restrictions on and around the Seventh Wonder of the World (in fact, only 500 permits are permitted per day on the Inca trail making the trek to Machu Picchu). There are 2500 visitors per day allowed at the site and you need a bus ticket and ticket to enter before you go (G Adventures  handled this and we had no problem). As the popularity of adventure travel flourishes and Machu Picchu is appreciated by more and more tourists, our guide predicted that it will eventually be closed to the public.

But There’s More than Machu Picchu
The Incans didn’t Netflix and chill. It seemed that every few miles we would see evidence of Incan architecture. We toured the ruins of Moray, the agricultural center where the Incans deployed terraces to conduct agricultural tests and relay the results to their civilization. While in Moray, don’t miss the salt mines where the Incans devised a system to capture mountain springs and extract the salt through a pooled system. The ruins of Pisac and Ollantaytambo are architectural wonders considering the Incans had no use of a writing system and managed to construct structures that have stood for more than five centuries.

You Need A Tour Operator/Guide (Trust Me)
Without a guide, you’ll miss out on the local culture and cuisine. You’ll experience a communications barrier (most of the country does not speak English), wait in lines for hours, pay too much for souvenirs, and be confined to the touristy areas without really experiencing this spectacular country.
I highly, highly recommend G Adventures for your Peru trip. They take care of the details, tours, permits, tickets accommodations, and your own Peruvian CEO – Chief Experience Officer – who will be with you every step of the way. Our guide was Yuri.

A Foodie’s Delight
You’ll be a-maized by the food and flavors of Peru (sorry, hanging out with my dad too much). Being a pescaterian (no meat, yes to fish and dairy), I was concerned that my diet may consist of potatoes and corn but I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of vegetables, fruits, fish dishes, cheeses, breads, and dishes that offered something for everyone. This is due to the country’s 84 ecosystems (there are 104 known in the entire world) that allow diverse crops to grow. Don’t leave Peru without trying an empanada and the ceviche.

 

  Altitude Sickness Is Real
Coming from a part of PA where our highest peaks are shy of 1700 feet, it’s a shock to the system to reach altitudes north of 11,000 feet. The first night, our tour guide Yuri advised our group to get a specific type of altitude pills. Even with the medication, my hands and feet felt tingly and my head heavy for the first two days. By day 4, I didn’t need the medication as my body adjusted.
G Adventures takes this into account for their travelers. Their itineraries gradually work you to high altitudes to minimize the negative effects and they always have water available.

Weather
Their weather is opposite of ours in North America. In August, prime tourist season, they experience their winter. We encountered highs of 68F and lows of 35F at night. Bring layers and research the weather when you’re hoping to go.

Be Prepared to Check an Additional Bag on Your Flight Home
Peru has the best souvenirs! You won’t be able to leave this country without some llama swag, Machu Picchu t-shirts, scarves, textiles, Peruvian salt, Alpaca dolls, and more. Your money goes further in Peru. When I traveled in August 2018, the exchange rate was approximately $1USD to 3 Soles. A t-shirt was 10 Soles or approximately $3 and change… I bought ALL. OF. THE. STUFF. In fact, one of my fellow travelers said her airline allowed 2 checked bags free of charge when flying to Peru… and 7 free when departing Peru.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate! Many things are unlabeled and the price verbally quoted is not necessarily the lowest price.

And the Best Thing You Will Experience In Peru…
The people. These people are hardworking, strong, tough, and prideful. They have very little compared to Americans but these people could not have been more joyful. They are very proud of their Incan heritage and many women still wear traditional dress. Everyone works – whether it is selling souvenirs, guiding tourists, weaving, farming, or caring for the alpaca, from kids to adults these people hustle. And they could not have been more kind or gracious.

 

Other quick facts:
– Don’t drink the tap water. Purchase bottled water as soon as you get to your hotel from the local market. On a G Adventures tour, your guide will collect a few dollars (for us it was approximately 10 soles each or less than $4) and will purchase boxed water for you to refill continuously throughout the trip.

– Get your passport stamped at Machu Picchu (after the exit before the bus line).

– You need to throw toilet paper in the waste can. Don’t flush it down the toilet or you’ll learn the hard way (like I did…).

– Don’t think you can rent your own car and figure out how to navigate this country. The drivers are aggressive! A fellow traveler compared the hectic driving to India.

– If you’re an avid hiker and love the outdoors, hike the Inca trail! As stated, you will need to obtain permits months in advance. G Adventures can assist you with this – whether you want to do the four-day hike or an efficient one-day hike. Just note – the Inca Trail is closed in February for maintenance due to the rainy season (Jan – March).

– You should be in fairly good shape if you plan to go to Peru. Not only will the amount of walking and steps of the ruins affect you, the altitude makes the air thinner and tourists can lose their breath fast. It’s not just for 18 to 30-somethings… in fact, the average age of people who do the tour are in their 40’s and 50’s.

– Most places do not take Mastercard, but they will take Visa.

– Safety is key… but I never felt unsafe in this country. Our guide Yuri gave advice where/when to go when we had free time to explore. As long as you are smart about protecting your valuables and passport, you shouldn’t have a problem.

– Brush up on your grade school Spanish before you go!
Donde esta el bano – Where is the bathroom?
Si por favor – Yes, please.
Lo siento – I’m sorry.
Habla usted Inglés – Do you speak English?
Cuánto cuesta – How much is it?
Dos cervezas, por favor – Two beers please.

Peru will leave your mouth watering, your feet tired, camera full, suitcase bursting, your heart fulfilled, and your bucket list shattered.

Why book your G Adventures Peru trip with Boscov’s Travel?
– We are one of G Adventures recommended agencies.

– Book your bucket list trip… and receive special financing offers.

– When you’re on your trip, we’re available 24/7 with our emergency service line.

– You’ll pay the exact same price you see on GAdventures.com

If you’re ready to start planning your Peru vacation, email travelrequest@boscovs.com or call 800-755-8020.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

Tour information: G Adventures Explore Machu Picchu

 

The Passion Play at Oberammergau: An Event a Decade in the Making

Once every decade, the world has the opportunity to experience the Passion Play as it’s been performed for almost four centuries. The origins of the tradition stem from the early 17th Century when the plague was brought to the small town of Oberammergau in Germany. A promise was made by the residents of the town to perform the story of Christ’s final days if God spared them from the deadly disease. Within a season, the disease vanished from the town. Believing in a miraculous intervention, the town kept its promise and more than 2,000 residents take part in the production every 10 years.

The Passion Play is performed every decade ending in a zero, at an outdoor theater. Guests are treated to a 7-8 hour experience including the five hour play, intermissions and a three-course dinner. The play takes place from May through October, which is considered to be the most picturesque time of year in Germany. Although there are more than 100 performances, the play typically sells out well before the year of the play.

For those who want to experience the 2020 Passion Play, reservations are available now to reserve your seat. We recommend our preferred vendors Globus tours and Avalon Waterways river cruises for guided sightseeing of Europe and a guaranteed ticket to the performance.

To learn more about the once-in-a-decade Passion Play or to get a free quote on an upcoming trip, please contact a Boscov’s Travel Specialist at 800-755-8020 or email us at travelrequest@boscovs.com.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

 

A Glimpse into the Norwegian Bliss

Norwegian Cruise Line – known for their ongoing Free at Sea offer where cruisers choose their offer of open bar, kids sail free, specialty dining, and more – just launched their newest ship, the Norwegian Bliss. “She isn’t a new class of ship, but feels like one.”  Our team recently had the opportunity to experience three days on the ship custom-built for the Alaskan market, and we agree, the Norwegian Bliss lives up to her name. See our experience aboard Norwegian’s largest ship ever built.

We found fun around every corner. The Bliss’ innovative design gives cruisers endless opportunities to experience excitement aboard this nearly 168,000 ton ship. Challenge your kids to a go-cart race (the first ever electric track at sea in the North American market), a contest down the slides in the water park, or a lively game of laser tag under the stars.

Everywhere you look there is a new activity! A sprawling water park, a restaurant-lined boardwalk, Broadway-style production shows including Jersey Boys, and a state-of-the-art spa make the Bliss one of our favorite new ships.

If you’ve sailed on Norwegian ships, you know that Norwegian knows food. Fan favorite dining venues like The Waterfront, Los Lobos, Cagney’s and more. But by far, our favorite was the new modern Texas BBQ joint – Q. With live pop country music, this place rocks and is the ultimate southern comfort dining. Enjoy tex-mex delights or get your fill with the Master Platter including four types of meat and four sides.

The largest cruise ship to ever sail in Alaska, the Bliss will spend her summer sailing the coast of America’s last frontier. Over the next two years, she will sail from LA, Miami and NY during the fall, winter and spring.

To learn more about the Bliss or to get a free quote on your next cruise, please contact a Boscov’s Travel Specialist at 800-755-8020 or email us at travelrequest@boscovs.com.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

 

10 Tips When Traveling with Kids

The following post is written by Jen from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department. Jen’s an avid traveler with her husband and her three kids. 

At the conclusion of our third vacation with three kids, I threw my hands up in the air and proclaimed to my husband that I was beyond done traveling with kids. Puzzled–and knowing just how passionate I was about traveling and how much I looked forward to our trips–he questioned me as to why I wanted to stop, and I simply replied: “It’s just not a vacation anymore.”

At that point in our parenting journey, our travels had taken us with our 7-week-old first-born on a should’ve-been-8-hours-but-turned-into-12 car journey to the Carolina beaches; three times up to the Maine coastline (similar car drive, natch); several trips to the Jersey shore; countless local day trips and overnight trips to relatives’ homes; and once to Walt Disney World. Along those journeys, I had figured out how to breastfeed babies while strapped in their carseats, how to reduce the number of potty stops, how incredibly late my eldest could stay up well beyond her usual bedtime ignoring the lull of a moving vehicle, where we could get the healthiest “fast” food, and what was absolutely necessary to pack (and what could stay at home). And even though travel had become easier as our kids moved out of the infant stage, there was just something during that third year of managing three kids out of the familiarity and routine of home that made me say, “Enough!”

But despite my unusual outburst, on our way home, my husband and I talked and made plans for the following year of vacation, promising ourselves that we’d get better at planning and preparing to travel with our young brood, determined more than ever to share experiences that we loved with them while breaking them away from the monotony of home. With our kids now well into their teens, here’s what we’ve learned along the way:

1. You’ll only have as much fun as the person having the least amount of fun. Hats off to whomever told me this while we were in Walt Disney World as they observed my youngest beg for some frivolous souvenir–the 145th request that day–and then pout for a good hour afterwards when we wouldn’t succumb to his demands, thereby making it difficult for anyone else in our family to have a good time. While we still won’t cave to his persistent demands for overpriced mementos, we have learned how to vacation trying to meet the needs of each of our children to ensure they stay happy–or at least content–during our travels. Oftentimes, it means bargaining with our brood and trading our well-crafted itinerary for more time at the pool or going to the mini-golf course in exchange for happier kids for a happier vacation for everyone.

2. Less is more. I’ll never forget the first time we packed for a week vacation with our 7 week old. Even though her clothes were small, we filled our entire car as if we were moving the entire contents of our house out of the country. We had portable swings, and bouncy chairs, and beds, and sand tents, and bassinets–all of which were never used once since she had so many eager arms willing to take her at a moment’s notice of discontent. Be realistic about what you’ll use and pare down to what’s absolutely necessary. To make things easier on yourself while you travel, consider shipping big and bulky essentials to your destination, or take advantage of rental services: Many resorts or businesses in bustling tourist destinations offer everything from strollers to cribs at reasonable prices–and usually deliver and pick up directly to you for extra convenience.

3. And sometimes more is more when you’re traveling. Parents, don’t expect your 18-month-old-SO-overtired-from-being-off-his-routine toddler to magically fall asleep the moment you buckle him into the seat of the airplane. As often as we’ve flown, I’ve noticed a direct correlation between the inconsolable and content kids based upon the attentiveness of their parents and the novelty or lack of the items they brought with them to keep their children occupied. On most airlines, your toddler (if you paid for a seat for him) is afforded a personal item: Fill it with new and never-seen-before books, stickers, play-doh and crayons. Download new movies and apps to your tablet or phone before you take off. Bring dry snacks like pretzels and crackers, as well as drinks (which you can legally bring through TSA Security–see guidelines here), or purchase them after you’ve arrived at your gate. If you bought a seat for your toddler, use an FAA-approved airplane travel harness or travel with your own carseat so your child knows he must stay in his seat and can’t just walk around the plane whenever he feels like it. As much of a pain it is to lug a carseat through the airport, I’m forever grateful we did it with our hard-to-contain toddler’s first flight since it provided him somewhere to sit securely, as well as familiarity and a comfortable and safe place in which he was used to sleeping.

4. Stick to your child’s sleep schedule. While sleeping in and staying up late is one of the joys of adult travel, babies and young children are not nearly as adaptable to sudden changes in their schedule and routines. As much as it might pain you to leave sightseeing for a few hours every afternoon while you head back to the hotel for your child to rest, you might find it will save your sanity overall having a well-rested and happy child.

5. Let them plan parts of your trip. Just like involving your children in preparing dinner makes them more prone to eat it, giving your children some control over the planning of your vacation makes them more likely to enjoy it. For us, we’ve found that when our kids were little, they garnered the most amount of happiness with simple and easy choices, such as giving them a list of what we plan to do for the day and letting them plan the order in which we sightsee, or picking which restaurant to go to. As our kids have gotten older, we’ve given them more decision-making power in choosing destinations and activities–which allows their budding leadership and research skills to emerge!

6. Prepare yourself and your children for any physical demands of your vacation. For about a year or two after our children had graduated out of regular stroller use, we continued to bring one along on vacations where we knew we’d be walking a lot or pushing the limits of bedtime. If we still had a child who used a stroller regularly, we brought a double stroller so our walking kids could hop in and out of it as necessary for breaks or quick naps. Once we had decided that our brood had outgrown the use of a stroller, we’d start building their stamina several months prior to our travel date by taking them on long walks and slowly increasing our mileage until we felt confident we’d be able to travel successfully without the aid of one. This not only made the trip more enjoyable for them, but also for us as we weren’t trying to carry a 35-pound child for hours on end as we tried to accomplish our to-do list with a too-tired-to walk preschooler.

7. And on that note, don’t forget to take breaks. See tip #1. Once you have an overtired child, you’re likely to have an unhappy and bringing-down-the-rest-of-the-family child. Sometimes all your child needs is 5 minutes to sit and stop, enjoy a drink or a treat, and that’s enough to ensure his/her happiness for another few hours.

8. Bring cleaning supplies. True story: The last three times my kids have thrown up, it’s been while we’re on vacation. At home, they rarely catch GI bugs, but it seems the moment we travel during tummy bug season, someone comes down with it while we’re away from home. While it could simply be coincidence, I’ve decided to take no chances and have become fanatical about making sure our hard-earned money isn’t (literally) flushed down the toilet. We carry wipes to clean our room paying attention to remotes, toilets, doorknobs, handles and phones; we carry hand sanitizer and use it when sinks aren’t available; and we pay close attention to making sure everyone in the family washes their hands well before they eat and following bathroom breaks in hopes of avoiding illnesses. In the very least, while we haven’t been able to stop someone in our family from getting sick in the first place, our cleanliness measures seem to have worked to keep it contained to the one ill person in our family, only derailing our vacation plans for a day or two while he/she recovered.

9. Be present. For as long as I live, I will forever be grateful for every night that we’ve spent in a hotel room. Living in one forces me to recognize how little I need, and how close the quarters bring my family. One-by-one, freshly bathed kids make their way into my bed, to snuggle and to relive the favorite parts of their day. Exhausted, they fall asleep, and I find peace with the money we’ve scrimped and saved so that we can travel often. It’s the one time where our lives aren’t encumbered with deadlines, alarms, work, sports, activities, chores, homework or stress–and we soak in every second, grateful we’re able to afford the time together and to be present with one another.

10. Plan adult time. One of the greatest joys when we traveled with our young family and our parents was that my husband and I had built-in and willing babysitters to head out for a few hours for an adult dinner. As our children have gotten older and as we’ve traveled without grandparents, our kids have loved spending time in organized kids clubs. If your vacation plans don’t include trusted relatives or organized kids activities, we found it was always nice to give one parent a break for an hour or two as needed and allow them to seek some quiet with a book, or head to the spa or gym. Trips with kids aren’t always vacations for parents–particularly when your children are young–but allowing your spouse or significant other to have some down time (and get it in return) often allows you both to come home from your travels happy, refreshed and excited about the quality time you spent as a family–and without needing another vacation!

To learn more about family-friendly travel destinations, please contact a Boscov’s Travel Specialist at 800-755-8020 or email us at travelrequest@boscovs.com.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

Jumping Ship: How the Rhine Reeled in an Avid Ocean Cruiser to River Cruising

The following post is written by Jen from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department. Jen recently interviewed Lisa Rohrbach, Boscov’s Travel’s Director of Training and Professional Development, about her first experience taking a river cruise.

Whether you’re a seasoned or first-time cruiser, it’s impossible to ignore the popularity and rapid growth of river cruising as an alternative to ocean cruising. With smaller and more intimate ships; destinations that only smaller ships can access; and a more inclusive experience with included shore excursions, alcohol and smaller expenses that add up during your vacation, like Wi-Fi, specialty drinks, room service, etc., it’s no wonder that many seasoned ocean cruisers are jumping ship to river cruising.

Lisa Rohrbach, Boscov’s Travel’s Director of Training and Professional Development, is one of those cruise enthusiasts who jumped ship from ocean to river cruising. After experiencing more than 25 ocean cruises, she recently sailed on her first river cruise with AMA Waterways on a 7-night cruise along the Rhine that included stops in France, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. She shares her experience here, along with her thoughts on the differences between taking a river cruise and an ocean cruise.

Hi Lisa! We learned you recently sailed on your first river cruise with AMA Waterways. Since you’re an avid ocean cruiser, can you tell us how the two experiences are different?

River cruise ships are much smaller than most ocean cruise ships with a quieter, relaxed atmosphere—our ship only had 82 staterooms, as opposed to the hundreds that are on an ocean liner. I would compare a river cruise to an intimate family dinner versus an ocean cruise is more like an extravagant wedding celebration—obviously, they both have their positive attributes, it just depends on what type of environment and travel style you’re looking for.

What did you find you preferred about river cruising?

All of the inclusions onboard! Our price included all of our daily excursions, unlimited wine and beer with our meals, no additional charge for specialty coffees, plus all the little extra complimentary touches. Also, the food and wine onboard were excellent–we had fresh local selections daily.

What do you prefer about ocean cruising?

The evening entertainment and onboard casino. River cruises are wonderful during the day and they did offer some evening entertainment but it’s not on the same scale as an ocean cruise–it’s definitely more low-key.

Was this your first trip to Europe?

No, I have traveled to Europe many times before and have previously visited three of the four countries on this itinerary, including Switzerland, France and Germany. This was my first trip to Amsterdam, however, and even though I have visited the above countries before, many of the stops on the cruise’s itinerary were new to me. There were several quaint little towns along the Rhine which were very picturesque.

Why would you recommend a river cruise over a bus tour or independent travel?

Since you use your river cruise ship as a floating hotel, you only have to unpack once! Also, since it’s a very warm and friendly atmosphere, you develop a relationship with the staff and they quickly learn your preferences compared to staying at different hotels on a bus or independent tour.

Which excursion was your favorite or the highlight of your trip? Why?

My favorite excursion was a lovely walking tour of the old, historic center of Strasbourg, France. This area of the city looks like something out of a fairy tale with beautiful half-timbered houses with colorful flower boxes. It was so quaint and since I love history, this tour transported me back to another time!

Who do you think would be a good fit for a river cruise?

Travelers who love a stress-free atmosphere with good food and wine and enjoy walking, biking and exploring history and culture. Those who are also prone to motion sickness would prefer it over ocean cruising since we didn’t feel the movement of the ship at all.

Do you think there’s any sort of traveler who might not like one?

If you like a lot of evening entertainment, it may be too quiet at night for you. I also don’t think it’s a great fit for families with young children.

What were some highlights of the ship?

We loved our cabin, which was a twin balcony stateroom on the Violin Deck and featured both a regular and a French balcony. The lounge is a great meeting spot to relax and watch the scenery go by. We also enjoyed the regular dining and The Chef’s Table, which is an intimate restaurant that serves a five-course tasting menu.

Did anything surprise you?

Initially when you reserve a river cruise, the cost may seem higher than an ocean cruise but I was surprised that we had very few extra expenses while onboard. We only paid extra for a couple of cocktails that weren’t included in our fare, as well as gratuities to the cruise staff.

Do you have any tips for a first-time river cruiser that you’d be willing to share?

Don’t shy away from a river cruise based on the initial cost. It’s unlike an ocean cruise where the initial cost may be lower but once onboard you end up spending more money for drinks, shore excursions and specialty items.

Any other tips to share?

Yes! A great perk to booking with a Boscov’s Travel Specialist besides knowledgeable and friendly service is that you can use your Boscov’s credit card to pay for the trip in advance, receive 12 months to pay for it with no interest, and earn reward points!

A great tip! Thanks for your time, Lisa!

To learn more about the exciting destinations you can experience while taking a river cruise, please contact a Boscov’s Travel Specialist at 800-755-8020 or email us at travelrequest@boscovs.com.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.