Celebrating 100 Years of the National Park Service, Part 1

As the National Park Service celebrates 100 years of preserving the natural wonders of our beautiful country, two of our employees tell their stories of recent visits to national parks. Jennifer planned for two years and traveled with her family spending 9-days exploring the Yellowstone area, while Kristin traveled to the Grand Canyon on a last minute trip with a friend. You can read Kristin’s story here. Below is Jennifer’s story…

Yellowstone 

The following post is written by Jennifer, a seasoned travel specialist from the Boscov’s Travel Camp Hill office.  Jennifer and her family traveled to Yellowstone in August 2016. 

Remember me?  I’m the one who wrote about the best age to take your kids to Disney. My answer in the end was ‘soon, very soon.”  And that’s because waiting for a certain age wasn’t always an advantage to the memories you can make.

I started planning this trip to Yellowstone 2-years ago, initially for a client, and then for my own family. I thought that this scientifically rich, geological park was only for big kids … oh, wait I’m getting ahead of myself!

We were planning a week in Yellowstone and vicinity. I know many see Yellowstone as a stop on the way between two points in a cross-country jaunt, but with three kids, days on end in the car sounded more like purgatory than a vacation. We decided to take it slow.  The “plan” involved four nights in Yellowstone National Park at some of their iconic lodges, thus the reason for the two year head start. These reservations can be made May 1 the year before so if you want to sleep under the roof of the Old Faithful Inn you are going to need to start early!

When it came time to buy airfare the “plan” took a left turn. Fortunately, I’m a professional. Air was just pricing out of range for our original plan of flying into Jackson and staying 3-nights there. So I searched, mapped and settled on flying in to Bozeman, Montana and staying 4-nights in Gardiner, Montana just outside the Northwest gate (because it was less expensive to stay an additional night than to fly back after 7-nights).

Our itinerary:
Day 1 – Fly into Bozeman Montana and drive to Gardiner. Accommodations: 4-nights at the Yellowstone Gateway Inn
Day 2 – No plans
Day 3 – Wildlife tour
Day 4 – No plans
Day 5 – Make our move to the Old Faithful Inn for 2-nights via a fishing trip on Lake Yellowstone
Day 6 – Twilight on the Firehole tour
Day 7 – Move to Mammoth Hotel (originally for 2-nights).
Day 8 – Horseback back ride to Old West dinner cookout
Day 9 – Depart for home

Day 1 – A delayed initial flight left us wondering if we would even make our connection (thankfully we did!). We went big with the car rental and took a brand new Suburban. From Bozeman with a 2-hour drive before us, we were in awe of the notorious “Big Sky”.  It was spectacular. We arrived in Gardiner and were greeted by Trevor at the Yellowstone Gateway Inn. He showed us to our room in this quaint motel and gave us great recommendations for dining. The motel itself was older, but with a lot up updates it was comfortable, clean and by comparison modern. Our first meal at The Raven was in modest surroundings but the food was great. My oldest ordered duck (he was creating his own adventure), my husband had the elk lasagna (because where do you ever see that on the menu?) and  I went with the local fish … you get the idea, we all ate well.

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Day 2 – We had breakfast at the hotel and then we were off to explore Yellowstone with no set plans. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center in Mammoth and I excitedly signed us up for the junior ranger program, which lasted for about 10 minutes in the car before the youngest found it to be unacceptable! I was the disappointed one. It’s a great program at many national parks and I encourage families to give it a go – it just didn’t suit my kids. The park roads are pretty straightforward; basically two intersecting loops. We ended up doing the upper loop in the car with a stop at Canyon for lunch and a hike. Then we drove up to Tower and across back to Mammoth. I cooked dinner this night and we just walked around town and enjoyed the sites.

Day 3 – This was our crack of dawn tour to wake-up to wildlife at the Mammoth Springs hotel not far from Gardiner. We met our driver at 6:15AM and headed to Roosevelt to pick up the rest of our group. Our guide was knowledgeable and showed us a wolf den, plenty of bison and pronghorns, osprey and a bear and her cub. He took us all the way across the Lamar Valley in the iconic Yellow buses that Yellowstone is known for and we spent the rest of the day seeking wildlife. We explored the Norris Geyser basin at my urging and were transfixed by this living, breathing display of the earth as a living being.

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This guy was right outside of our hotel room door.

Tonight we ate at one of Gardiner’s most recommended restaurants called the Lighthouse and it looked like a place from a small New England town. It had a great back-end story and even better food.  Who knew that Gardiner, Montana would turn out to be a foodie town?!

Day 4 – Today was a day without a previous plan and it turned out to be one of the faves!  We booked an afternoon whitewater rafting trip and then headed down to Yellowstone’s Boiling River for a swim. The Boiling River is really just an intersection where a thermal feature enters the Gardner River (yes, Gardner River outside of Gardiner, MT).  This was like playing Goldilocks and the three bears – trying to find the sweet spot that wasn’t too cold and wasn’t too hot!  We had a great time and met and talked to lots of people. It was one of those experiences that connects you to your destination and the people around you.  This was something the kids really wanted to do again, but we didn’t make it back this trip.10

The rafting was perfect for us.  It was our first time and we used Montana Whitewater. There are several rafting companies in town, but I’m happy that we used them. They took great pictures of us (for purchase) and were quite knowledgeable about the area. I’ve seen rougher white water rafting, and I am pleased it wasn’t. It was a great introduction especially for my youngest who can get nervous and our guide Kevin was a calm presence for her. She wanted to go zip-lining after rafting, but that will have to wait for another time.

11 This night we ate at the Cowboy’s Lodge and Grill. It was a BBQ joint, very casual and tasty. The atmosphere was nice, but this is a tourist town and these eateries aren’t inexpensive so be prepared.

We wandered around Gardiner tonight, enjoyed ice cream and then saw this sunset that almost rendered us all speechless.

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Day 5 – Time to pack up and leave Gardiner and the Yellowstone Inn. We made our way to the marina on Lake Yellowstone where we went fishing. We picked up our fishing licenses, met our guide Dean and headed for a picnic lunch. We cast into Lake Yellowstone trolling for Lake Trout and Cutthroat Trout. The Lake Trout are non-native and are a must keep or kill whereas the Cutthroat must be released. We almost set Dean’s record catching 25 fish … we were only off by 2. We took a few trout to Lake Lodge Cafeteria on a bag of ice and let the chef cook them up for us. They were delicious!

We made it to the Old Faithful Inn while it was still light out and saw a little bit of Old Faithful from the second floor viewing area before heading in for the night. The Lodge is an icon of National Park accommodations. For a family of five, we chose a two-bedroom in the main lodge which meant dormitory style bathrooms … my spoiled family was unprepared!

Day 6 – Today we headed to Grand Teton National Park. The drive was a couple of hours and the kids caught up on some sleep. On the drive we were in awe of the beauty of Jackson Lake and the Teton mountains surrounding it. Photos don’t do it justice.

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We decided to do an easy hike and I checked in with a ranger at the Colter Bay Visitor center for easy hiking suggestions. He suggested Leigh Lake. The lake area was really crowded with kayakers, other hikers and just many enjoying the area … we felt a little unprepared for all that we would see to do when we only had a short time (mental note is to return someday to this place).  We took a wrong turn on our hike and ended up on the String Lake Loop which was a more challenging hike. We ran into hikers along the way that assured us we would come back around.  The trail was marked, I just made the mistake of following the children instead of leading them but it turned into a happy accident. I think we all discovered the meaning of “Rocky Mountain High” when the euphoria of the hike settled in. The view of the lake and the mountains was so close now. The wildflowers and the laughter of my own family just made this experience one of the best days of our trip. It was an unexpected memory created and one we won’t forget.

Off to find food … we just missed lunch time at the Jenny Lake Lodge and were advised to head down to Moose for a bite.  We thought we were going to eat at the grill but they too were about to close, which sent us to Dornan’s Pizza Pasta Company. First: let me say delicious, second: quiet because it was the first wi-fi we had seen in days. I found out very early in the trip that carbs are a necessity to help avoid altitude sickness so this is no place to be focused on a low-carb diet … maybe that added to the enjoyment.

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Time to return to Old Faithful for another yellow bus tour – Twilight on the Firehole. We had already walked the Norris Geyser Basin so we were delighted to have the tour only hit new locations and Fountain Paint Pots. We were also fortunate to have another spectacular guide, Paul, who was full of information about the geysers, hot springs and the history of the park. He peeled back the soft top roof of the yellow bus on the last part of our trip, gave us all blankets and we could watch as the stars emerged.

Each time we went on a tour or activity that guide became my daughter’s new favorite. She still talks about Paul.

We got back late, but just in time for dinner at Old Faithful in the dining room. Some of us had the buffet and some of us ordered from the menu. Remember that adventurous son I mentioned earlier? He order the grilled quail in a cherry glaze. He was continuing his culinary adventure!

Day 7 – Time to pack up and move.  This was a little hard on the group but with traffic and construction on the park roads, it was certainly easier to be in certain locations from a touring standpoint. We headed north to Mammoth Hot Springs and the Mammoth Hotel.  Originally the plan was to stay here 2-nights, but I dropped the last night to stay closer to the airport for our early flight back out of Bozeman. We walked the Upper Geyser Basin by the Lodge and watched Old Faithful again.

We attempted to have lunch at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, but no lunch was being served in the restaurant so we ate one last time at the Old Faithful dining room for lunch and headed to the car for our drive north. On Day 1 of exploration, we had driven down a small one-way side road called the Firehole Canyon loop and saw that there was a swimming hole there. This became a request by the two youngest so we ended up stopping and pulling bathing suits out for them and their dad to test out the water. The oldest and I opted to stay dry, but there was still plenty to enjoy.

We checked into the Mammoth Hot Springs and saw the finest accommodations that Yellowstone has to offer because if you want your whole family of five in one room you have to book the suite and there are only two. It came with snacks, drinks, robes and it’s the only room type that also has a TV – so we did take advantage of it while we cleaned up, napped a little and got ready for dinner.

Our last big dinner was at the Mammoth hotel dining room where three of us ordered the bison steaks. All in all, it was a very nice and comfortable dining experience. After, we turned in for a good nights rest in posh surroundings so that we could spend our last full day exploring the parks.

Day 8 – We were finally going to walk the terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs. This was our 7th day being inside the park, but it was still amazing.32

I had charted out some possible hikes, but we ended up going horseback riding followed by a cookout. Also, we drove to see the petrified tree as there just wasn’t enough time to hike to the petrified forest (yet another reason to return). We did a couple of hikes behind the Roosevelt Lodge before heading over to the stables to saddle up.

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This horseback riding was a really big deal because my youngest, Claire, is terrified of horses. She did it, the first leg with a lot of support from Kelsey – our friendly wrangler. She made it to the cookout and she was so proud. Now let me tell you about this cookout!  It was a steak dinner and it was also one of the best dinners we had all week!

With Claire in the wagon on the ride back, we were much more focused on the scenery of the ride, the buffalo on the fields around us, the vistas – it was breathtaking.  It took some of the sting out of the fact that riding a horse isn’t all that comfortable when you’re not used to it. We were on horse trails and this was the only way to see the park the way we were seeing it. That made it pretty special.

When the trail ride was over, we climbed into the car and headed back for Bozeman.  The sun was setting as we made out last drive back to Mammoth, back to the northwestern gate and through Gardiner and then into the darkness to our destination.

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We would only be sleeping at the hotel for 4 hours before we had to be up. Not our best nights sleep, but our last in Montana.

So when I was asked to write about my trip (or I offered) I had all these ideas of things to “talk” about. Of course I wanted to tell you what we did, but I also wanted to let you know what we would do differently. I think we did this trip just right for our family.  Does that mean this was the best trip ever? For us it was. In fact, those were my husband’s exact words! But would I do it differently next time? Sure, because we already did this trip. I want to go back and spend more time hiking. There was a hike that was closed just above the Grand Prismatic spring called The Fairy Falls Trailhead. This is a must for next time. I want to hike and spend more time in Grand Teton and get all the way down to (or arrive in) Jackson Hole.  I want to spend more time at the visitor’s centers and do some Ranger talks! There are compromises when planning family trips. I would do two rooms next time since the kids would be older (or not with us) since it would save money and give us more accommodation choices inside the parks.

I also want folks to know that as a travel planner myself I understand that my ideal trip isn’t necessarily your ideal trip. I want to help folks plan what’s best for them. I think the best travel planners get that. The only “formula” to travel planning is to get to know your client and their needs, ask the right questions, talk about it.

I met a family (because I like to strike up random conversations with people and find out about their story) at lunch on our first day in the park. We were at the diner in the Gift Shop in the Canyon area. It was counter style so I was sitting next to the family. They had come in from all over. It was her husband’s family. I think she said he was one of 7, and his parents, and dozens upon dozens of little ones. They were camping. Did I mention it was 90 degrees the day we arrived and then snowed about 24 hours later (in the upper elevations)? This sounded terrible to me! But they were grabbing lunch indoors and they would be cooking over the campfire later – spaghetti for that group!  They were wet and muddy but they were together in a phenomenal place. They were making memories. I don’t know if the youngest in the group would remember Old Faithful or the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone but I know they will remember being with their cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents. I know they will remember, because I remember a trip very much like it myself from childhood. It’s bits and pieces and I know when I talk to my mom about it we remember very different things, but I remember.

I hope to help plan many more trips for myself and for my clients that are the things memories are made of.

 

 

If you’re ready to book your next vacation, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, DM Boscov’s Travel on Facebook, 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.

A Millennial’s Guide to Travel

The following post is written by Adam from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department.  Adam is well traveled and shares his insight and tips for the tech-savvy traveler. 

As a millennial that travels frequently, I wanted to share my tips and advice for traveling in your twenties and thirties. We live in a connected world. We pay bills, get rides, and stay connected to friends and family all because of smart phones. Chances are if you looking to purchase something, you probably do the research necessary to find the best deal.

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The first step in planning a trip is research. Now I know what you are thinking “I have a smart phone, I can find the best deal out there.” But that’s not necessarily the case. Do you know all the deals that a particular travel vendor is offering? Do you know that in some cases offers can be combined? Did you know that traveling to Mexico between January and April is the best time to avoid blistering heat and bad weather? If you cannot answer these questions, and if you are conscious about spending, then it is in your best interest to contact a travel agent. Everyone can benefit from checking with a travel agent when planning their next trip.

I know what you are thinking, “Travel agents cost money.” Actually a travel agent will cost you … nothing. Here’s how it works: you book your cruise with a travel agent on Titanic Cruises for the same rate OR LESS than listed online (or with additional perks), and the cruise line pays the agency for helping you to book. You book a vacation with your local travel agent and the resort pays the agency. A study came out this year reporting that travel agents save consumers an average of $452 per trip!  Booking with a travel agent is a win-win because not only can you save time and money, but you support a local business. Yay you!

But what it really comes down to is knowledge. Millennials want options and flexibility. A travel agent has knowledge across many facets of the travel industry. From the independent traveler who seeks adventure, to the couple who wants to immerse themselves in a new culture, and the young family who is traveling with children for the first time, a travel agent can serve as a guide to find the best vacation for you. Having a travel agent who is well traveled gives you options and flexibility when planning where they want to go and what they want to do. Think of them as an app on a smartphone, free to download and specific to what you need … travel.

Once you’ve booked your trip, the next step is what you should bring. The best rule of thumb is planning with your travel agent. Look at the weather forecast for where you are going to help when it comes to what clothing to pack. It’s best to plan what you will wear day by day. Taking the time to do this will help in avoiding fees if a checked bag is overweight, allow you bring home souvenirs, and allow space for any purchases made at a Duty-Free if traveling internationally.

Apps. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Even all-inclusive resorts have their own apps. When it comes to apps, there are a few that are definitely helpful when it comes to traveling. Most all-inclusive resorts offer free Wi-Fi during a stay. But like I mentioned before, some even have their own app. Secrets Resorts has their Unlimited Connectivity app which allows guests to access Wi-Fi, international calling, hotel information, and make spa reservations during their stay.

Here is a list of some other travel apps worthy of downloading:

  • GateGuru: Try as we might, sometimes you will experience a layover. If it turns out you experience a long layover, GateGuru can be your best friend. This app provides you with a map of the terminals as well as reviews of restaurants within the airport. However, the most helpful features might be the “tips” section and the average wait time at each terminal’s security checkpoint.
  • Free Wi-Fi Finder: Ah, free Wi-Fi. There is a certain level of satisfaction that I as a milennial experience when I connect to free Wi-Fi. As a modern traveler, you can feel stranded and helpless without Internet access. The Free Wi-Fi Finder by JiWire shows where you can find free wireless connections in urban areas. You can search with a directory or simply enable the Wi-Fi scanner to locate the nearest hot spots.
  • Uber: Allows people with smartphones to submit a trip request, and then drivers using their own vehicles come and taxi you to your destination if you’re taking a trip while on vacation. The service is offered in 66 countries and 449 cities worldwide, though restrictions make airport pick up near impossible. This app is perfect if you want to get around any urban area you are unfamiliar with and feel safer than one would in a taxi.

When it comes to flying, airlines are starting to get creative with onboard entertainment offerings. American Airlines is starting to offer on-demand services on their flights. Select flights have a personal screen on the back of the chair in front of you. They offer a selection of free movies and TV shows, and new releases of movies which can be rented during the flight. It’s always best to check the restrictions with a travel agent before you get on your flight. Not all airlines offer free Wi-Fi and if they do, it must meet certain restrictions. For example Southwest offers free Wi-Fi, but it only honors A-List members with the free Wi-Fi aboard any equipped aircraft. jetBlue has a goal to become the first U.S. carrier to provide free high speed Wi-Fi across its entire fleet. So hopefully it is only a matter of time before other airline carries follow suit. Our suggestion: load up the movies and music on your phone or tablet from home before go.

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Let’s explore traveling abroad. Like we mentioned earlier with planning a trip and what you should bring, research is key because of cultural, language and technology differences country to country to name a few. Another reason to use a travel agent! For the tech-savvy millennial, you need to know that the brick for your smartphone cord here in the states could be completely different than what is used in another country. Other countries provide electricity of different voltages through differently shaped electrical sockets. So if you’ll be traveling with electrical appliances or your phone, specific tech accessories are a must.

  • Virtually all travelers need an adapter plug. Adapters are necessary for both electrical devices (e.g., hair dryer) as well as electronics (e.g., laptop) for them to work in the various 220V outlet types found internationally. Adapter types vary by country, so get a multi-adapter or ask your travel agent which type is needed for your destination.
  • A voltage converter or transformer may also be needed if you’re traveling with any single-voltage devices where the voltage is different than the voltage provided by your destination. Read your device’s label to determine this.
  • Data plans with your phone carrier are also important. Getting hit with Roaming charges while using your phone abroad can hurt your wallet. Always check with your carrier in regards to what you can do and if any plans are available that you can use while you are traveling abroad. Or consider using an app like Facebook Messenger or Facetime when Wi-Fi’s available.

So there it is, your guide to travel in your twenties and thirties. Hopefully this will help guide you in the research and planning of your next travel adventure. And remember if you need help, it doesn’t cost you anything to work with a travel agent. Besides it’s easier to make a phone call or send an email to a travel agent, tell them what you want, and have them do the research for you!

 

If you’re ready to book your next vacation, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, DM Boscov’s Travel on Facebook, 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.

Which Cruise Line is Right for You?

If you are new to cruising or looking to explore a new destination on a cruise, it can become confusing to decide what’s the best cruise line for you. Whether you’re traveling on a budget with family or looking for a one-of-a-kind luxury cruise experience, we can help!

Our travel specialists brought together their top recommended cruise lines based on service, value and overall cruise experience and made a handy quiz to help you to see which cruise line is the best fit for you!

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Click here to view infographic in full screen.

Now that you’ve chosen your cruise line, take advantage of savings and perks during Boscov’s Travel July Customer Appreciation Month! All month long, enjoy discounts, perks and bonus offers on every cruise line featured here. Learn more about our July events here.

If you’re ready to book your cruise adventure, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or direct message us.

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.

 

America’s Last Great Frontier; Exploring Everything Alaska Has to Offer

The following post is written by Boscov’s Travel Specialist Jennifer from our Camp Hill branch. Jennifer recently traveled to Alaska along with Colonial Park Travel Specialist Amy, on an educational trip to experience tours and options that our clients can enjoy while experiencing America’s Last Great Frontier. 

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We experienced a whirlwind 6 nights in Alaska that felt like twice that. It never gets really dark even when the sun sets around 11pm and is back up at 4am. Nineteen hours of daylight feels like 2 days, especially when you are trying to see all that your clients may want to see in a fraction of the time. As travel specialists we tried to take in everything that the tours and hotels had to offer. Next time we will return as vacationers.

It’s hard for me to describe but Alaska is young in many ways. Not to discount the native cultures which are a big part of the history, peoples and culture but it’s statehood is less than 60 years old. Even the Russian influences are ‘new’ compared to the ancient cultures. The buildings are new, the corporations and governments are new, the ‘Alaskans’ are new. In a world of travel we often sell the ‘old’….go see ruins in Mexico, the cathedrals in Europe, historical colonial places from our US history, but how often do we seek out the new? We seek the modern in some places but Alaska is different…

According to the locals, to be ‘Alaskan’ is to live in Alaska for a winter. If you live through the season and stay, then you are an Alaskan and these transplants account for a significant part of the (750,000) population. When you realize that Alaska is more than twice the size of Texas that number seems, well, tiny. But I have digressed into my ‘factoid-ness’.

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The natural landscape of Alaska is clearly very very old. Sculpted by glaciers and home of the highest point in North America, its vistas are breathtaking. When we arrived at 11:30 pm in Anchorage my heart was delighted to see majestic mountains in the twilight. We stayed our first night at the Lakefront Anchorage, which is close to the airport and very convenient. We also woke to see planes taking off and landing right from the lake – a primary method of transportation for the locals in the deepest regions Alaska.

We stayed a second night at the Marriott in downtown Anchorage and proceeded to explore the city. We checked out the “Saturday Market”… on Sunday. It was full of delicious locally made foods, crafts and even entertainment. I had a lemongrass halibut taco that just had me fearing the trip had peaked at that point. Yes, it was that good. We walked some more and found ourselves eating at Snow City Café for a delicious second lunch (or first lunch for my colleague).

We walked a bit of Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and came back through residential areas and Delaney Park. We met up with some of the folks we would be with on the tour and our dedicated tour guide, Jared, that we would be traveling with for the next 6 days. With Royal Caribbean Cruise Tours you will always have a dedicated tour guide for the land tour. We headed for dinner at Sacks. This was a tasty, fancy little establishment. This was just a fraction of the delicious food that Anchorage has to offer. If you happen to find yourself with some free time in Anchorage I highly recommend doing a food tour.

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We were off to Seward! A quick stop at the Chugach State Park Bird Point Trailhead for a short break and a photo opportunity and then another at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. These are great ways to break up the drive and briefly see what Royal Caribbean can offer to our clients. On to the Kenai Fjords Cruise we saw orcas, humpback whales, sea lions, otters, puffins, eagles, porpoises, cormorants, and even at a great distance a goat. We had lunch at Fox Island (delicious) and again just breathtaking views. I feel like we had a day like no other. Alaska is a raw place and sometimes the weather isn’t the sunny clear day we had, but it is a place where the unexpected can surprise and amaze you. We ended the day at the Alaska Sea Life center… I could have spent much longer here learning and observing and even interacting with the animals and caretakers.

Lots of options for food are available in Seward as well. We had a delicious dinner at Ray’s. Let me tell you how important food and beverage is to me – VERY! We watched otters out the window into the marina while we dined. The Alaskan brews are so good too. I love to eat and drink local and Alaska is just sumptuous!

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The next day we were back to Anchorage and the Native Heritage Center with a brief stop in Alyeska, an adorable place just above the quaint town of Girdwood. Alyeska is only seen on the tours that focus on the mountains and the longer tours but from this vantage point you can see some spectacular mountain views. Again, we just didn’t have enough time because we were getting the abbreviated version.

It’s hard to believe that very shortly we would be in Talkeetna. This was the town I was most excited to see… if you are old enough to remember the show “Northern Exposure” about a doctor from NYC that finds himself practicing medicine in a quirky small Alaskan town, well, this is where the idea was born. It’s been about 20 years since this show first aired so I assumed it would be large and commercial now. It’s NOT and I loved this place. It’s a gathering place for climbers before and after their treks to ascend Denali (Mt. McKinley) and while we were there, there were many an unhappy climber because ascent hadn’t been possible in the last few weeks due to weather. Locals singing karaoke, climbers drowning their lament and a dog walking around town (in and out of places of business) made this town charming.

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Talkeetna was also special because we signed up to do a glacier landing on a small plane. Are there any people out there who aren’t afraid of small aircraft? This was no exception. But we had been told, by numerous accounts, that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and it was not to be missed, so we signed up, butterflies and all. I know I’m not a gifted enough writer to describe this but I will use a few words to try – powerful, spiritual, humbling. When that plane set down on the glacier we were so close to something so large and grand, something that from the distance was awesome and powerful and up close was even more so. We were so small and it was so grand. It brought tears for many of us. It was spiritual.

We would eventually re-board taking off from the glacier to see a little more and have an up close view of Denali. It was amazing to see a huge avalanche (even the pilot was impressed and circled back around), and the base camp for climbers. That base camp was the first perspective I had at the size of everything. Tents on the snow at the base of mountain were like ants….I just couldn’t fathom the massiveness of this. No regrets on this excursion. I will do this again and hopefully share it with my children and husband.

Our time in Talkeetna was all too short. The next day we were to board the Wilderness Express glass domed train for Denali National Park. This was quite a luxurious experience and really enables you to see so much including a view of those living off the grid. I know there are a lot of TV shows out there to teach us about Alaska but they don’t do the ‘real’ Alaska justice, they just scrape the surface.

Denali was our smallest snapshot of what’s included on these tours. Every land tour with Royal Caribbean includes Denali and we only saw a hint in the hour that we had. This just means every last one of us who was on this trip will come back.

That evening it was back to options and my colleague Amy and I did different things. She took to the river and did Whitewater rafting in the Nenana. Quite a few did this tour and everyone loved it. It was cold and a little wet but they supplied equipment to keep you dry! I went to the Husky Homestead to hear four time Iditarod champion Jeff King talk about his life and adventures, and I got to snuggle puppies and see some gleefully mush, even without snow. Aside from enjoying each of our very different adventures, we also once again were captivated by the Alaskan people that we would meet.

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Again our time was too short and morning came too soon as we ventured off to Fairbanks. I had the least expectation of this city, which is probably why it surprised me so much. It has a quirky untouched feel but is still modern and artsy. We headed up to Gold Dredge #8 where we panned for gold (and all got some), learned about the mining industry and how it established Fairbanks, about the pipeline and some musical entertainment with a train ride because – why not! We did the Alaska Salmon Bake (they make food taste so good served in large quantities!) and Palace Theater Show (a fun way to learn the modern history of this place).

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Our last day we enjoyed the Riverboat Discovery before heading to the airport. This was on the Chena river and we had the chance to see the Chena Indian Village, Susan Butcher’s huskies (another 4 time winner), a float plane land and take off right beside the river boat, and plenty of stories too! I think when I go back I’d like to start in Fairbanks.

This trip was an educational opportunity but it lit a passion for Alaska in me. Knowledge is a key to explaining but feeling unlocks something else and I know anyone I send to Alaska won’t be able to come home without having these feelings. There is so much of the history and narration that we were given by our dedicated tour guide that made everything not only informative, but interesting and fun.

If you’re ready to book your Alaskan adventure, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or direct message us.

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.

 

River Cruising on Avalon Waterways

From bus trips, to guided tours, city excursions or DIY travel, there are many options for touring Europe. One of the most scenic options for European touring is the river cruise. For a few days to more than three weeks, river cruises give cruisers a unique experience along the European countryside while sailing from town to town along the most famous rivers in Europe.

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One of the most awarded river cruise lines is Avalon Waterways, part of the Globus family of brands. Founded in 2003, Avalon Waterways prides themselves on giving their guests a unique point of view. Avalon rooms feature beds that face the window and their Panoramic Suites offer the Open-Air Balcony, a first of its kind wall-to-wall 11 foot panoramic window that’s 50% wider than the industry standard. This gives cruisers a more spacious, open-feeling cabin with wider views of Europe. 80% of staterooms on Avalon suite ships feature this panoramic view. View the video below to experience the difference this makes.

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R80GgIJi8fg]

In addition to the differences in room suites, Avalon Waterways attention to detail set them apart. When clients receive their cruise documents, they receive the cruise director’s (senior management on board the ship) personal cell phone number for any issues that may arise before departure or during the journey allowing for peace of mind throughout travel.

Avalon Waterways’s fleet consists of 16 ships with the oldest being only 7 years in age. Built on a tradition of the Swiss mentality, precision and functionality is forefront when it comes to building the ships. Avalon Waterways does not refurbish ships, and builds each ship 37 feet in width to navigate through the 37.5 foot locks throughout Europe. Each ship is built to accommodate up to 166 guests.

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The fare on the ship accommodates to almost any type of dietary need imaginable (with the exception of kosher) with new vegetarian menus coming soon. There is no assigned seating at meals, and beer and 4 varieties of European wine are served with dinner, and will be served with lunch in 2017. Meals change daily as chefs shop at the local markets to get the freshest regional fare available to guests.

During the day, the ship docks at destinations along the river and local guides give inside access to the historical significance and everyday modern life within the town. Stops range from well-known tourist cities to small villages to give cruisers a one-of-a-kind experience. Bikes are available for guests to journey throughout the towns.

European tour options include a varying lengths of time along the great rivers of Europe, and Avalon Waterways offers special interest cruises catering to a variety of passions and interests. Select cruises focus on wine appreciation, beer tasting, culinary adventures, jazz, art, WWII History, and Jewish Heritage to name a few.

Going on now through June 21, 2016, receive free or reduced air from select cities when sailing on 2017 Europe River Cruises. Or save up to $3,000 per couple on select 2016 Europe River Cruises for a limited time. With the strong US dollar, there’s no better time to book your European adventure. If you’re ready to book your Avalon Waterways experience, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or direct message us.

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.

 

Travel Agents Save Consumers Time & Money

There are a variety of reasons to book your vacation with an agency. From having experienced travelers who can recommend resorts, to special deals accessible only to agents, to no cost consultations, there are a myriad of reasons why you should book your next trip with a travel agent.

Now, there’s even more data to suggest that you should book with an agent. The American Society of Travel Agents recently conducted a study that shows travel agents save consumers an average of $452 per trip plus four hours in travel planning. Considering nearly half of consumers book their trip online, there are billions of dollars that could be back in consumers’ pockets if they would have chosen to book with a travel agent. You can view the report here.

If you’re ready to book your next adventure and possibly save upwards of $900 per couple, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or direct message us.

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.

Adventure Tourism & Travel: What’s the Right Tour for You?

Travel isn’t always about relaxation. More and more, our clients are asking about adventure tourism options. A 2013 report showed that the demand for adventure travel services were exploding at a rate of 65% growth year over year. Adventure tourists want to see the US and the world, and experience it through exploration of the culture and natural beauty inherent of the locale.

There are many options for adventure tourism and navigating the different tours can become overwhelming. From different locations to activities, to the single young traveler or the family that want to explore, there’s an adventure to fit your preferences. Below, we give you a snapshot of options available in this emerging trend.

Adventures by Disney:


Good for: Families
Destinations: Asia, Africa, Australia, Central America, South America, North America, Europe
Pricing: From $1309 to $8809 as starting price point (not including airfare)
Format: Experienced Disney guides give you insider access to the local scene. Experience activities to take you closer to the culture of the location. From a scavenger hunt in the Louvre to horseback riding in the Rockies, activities are family friendly and enhanced by the magic of Disney.
Learn more here.

G Adventures


Good for: Young couples, 21-35 year olds, young independent travelers
Destinations: All regions of the world; from New Zealand to the Polar regions
Pricing: From $229 to $11,999 as starting price point (typically not including airfare)
Format: Experienced experts guide you around regions and countries in small groups. Choose your adventure based on physical activity from light to demanding. Sail in Havana, explore Mayan temples, camp in the desert, take the polar plunge in the Arctic, dance in Brazil, traverse the Great Wall, or take game walks in Africa.
Learn more here.

Boscov’s Travel Guided Tours of Africa and Exotic Locales


Good for: Adults
Destinations: Africa, India, Vietnam, Cambodia
Pricing: Email sblum@boscovs.com or call Sue at 610-779-8272
Format: Take a jeep ride through the African Safari or barge ride with the locals along a river in Vietnam. See beautiful wildlife and unspoiled terrain in some of the most beautiful parts of the world. With seasoned Boscov’s Travel guide Sue Blum, you’ll visit cultures that will broaden your understanding of the world.
Learn more here.

Boscov’s Travel Exclusive Journey West Tours


Good for: Young adults through mature travelers
Destinations: Alaska, Western US, Southern US
Pricing: From $2187 (not including airfare)
Format: Take in the breathtaking scenery, rich cultural history and wide-open spaces that have made tours of the west some of the most talked-about tours that we offer. Typically 9 and 10 day tours, discover the US with an experienced Journey West Tour Director. Tours include the colorful Colorado and New Mexico in autumn with a hot air balloon festival, a tour through the wilderness of Alaska experiencing the wildlife of land and sea, tours of the National Park System, and a music tour from Nashville to New Orleans. Experience America like never before.
Learn more here.

If you’re ready to take on your next adventure, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or direct message us.

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.

Is Wedding Planning Stressing You Out?

Destination Wedding and Honeymoon ImageIf you recently got engaged, you’ll love booking your Honeymoon & Destination Wedding with Boscov’s Travel!

Boscov’s Travel is your first stop to anywhere in the world.  Trust Boscov’s Travel for exceptional honeymoon and destination wedding services to fit within your budget. We are with you from the beginning of the planning process to the end (and everything in between).

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Budget Friendly, All-Inclusive Options

Honeymoon Registry

No Interest Financing Options

Your honeymoon or destination wedding may not be as expensive as you think! Let us know where you want to go, when you want to travel, and your budget! We’ll give you options and a complimentary quote.

Boscov’s Travel offers a Honeymoon Registry! We offer registry cards so your friends and family can gift you with payment towards your honeymoon! Learn more here.

The monthly payment of your honeymoon can be less than your cable bill. Use a Boscov’s credit card and receive 12 months interest free financing. Learn more here.

Need more reasons to book with Boscov’s Travel?

 

If you’re ready for your complimentary consultation with one of Boscov’s Travel Honeymoon and Destination Wedding Specialists, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or direct message us.

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 Mom’s Perspective on Universal Studios & Walt Disney World

Stephanie, one of our customers from the Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania area, recently booked a 12 day trip with her family to Florida. Stephanie, her husband and three children took in all the sites and experienced both Universal Studios and Disney theme parks.

Below is Stephanie’s recap of her trip, as well as her tips for any families traveling to Florida amusement parks.

Universal Studios:

I am really glad we took four days to experience Universal Studios as we were able to re-ride our favorites and have some down time to swim in the pool. The hotel was beautiful. In the evening at the hotel, they had movies by the pool and a Hawaiian dancer and flame-thrower as entertainment. It was fascinating to watch and we were surrounded by the beautiful, tropical atmosphere. At the pool, a staff member frequently came around with fresh, warm towels and cucumbers for loungers to place on their eyes (thank goodness my kids were in the pool, they probably would have eaten them!). We were treated very well. The parks were within walking distance of our resort, and each morning and evening we had the opportunity to walk through the tropical gardens to go from hotel to the park.

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Scenic Hotel View at Universal Studios

The rides at Universal Studios and Island of Adventure were definitely more intense thrill-rides than what Walt Disney World generally offers. This was certainly better for the older kiddos. A great tip is to have lanyards to hold the tickets and my husband kept all the tickets in one lanyard making it so much easier in Universal Studios. This way, there was no waiting to find everyone’s tickets to show for the express lines and to take a train between the parks (Walt Disney World has the Magic Band wrist bands making it much easier). In terms of meals, we did stop by Mythos at Universal’s Islands of Adventure to eat, and though the online menu did not catch my eye, I am glad we stopped as they had more choices than listed online and the food was to die for!

 

Disney:

Then it was onto Disney. It was our third time there and we stayed at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. The hotel will certainly be our choice next time as well. It was everything that I was hoping for… everything Disney! The family suites were perfect for us. The little kitchenette was even stocked with paper plates (with Mickey Mouse printed on the border of course), paper bowls, plastic-wrapped utensils, a can opener, tea, coffee, paper towels, and cups. It is amazing how they think of everything when designing the resorts. The pool area is next to the laundry area which is adjacent to the “Drop Off Bar.” I have never seen so many people happily do laundry (of course, while enjoying the drinks)!

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Disney’s The Art of Animation Resort

I highly recommend making reservation at Beauty & the Beast’s Be Our Guest. It is magnificent! When you look out the windows, it appears as if it is snowing and the food was amazing.

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The Beast’s Dining Room at “Be Our Guest” Restaurant in Magic Kingdom

We went on our trip in late November, the week before Thanksgiving. The crowds were not bad during our vacation until the Monday before the holiday when you could tell that the Thanksgiving vacationers had arrived.

Walt Disney’s transport to the airport from the hotel was wonderful. We did not have to worry about transporting our luggage and the bus ride was nice.

It could not have been a better vacation and I’m happy our family got to experience both Universal Studios and the Disney parks. I certainly think Disney is more entertainment, Universal much more thrill ride, Magic Kingdom remains our favorite park. We did see the start of Avatar area being built at Animal Kingdom and the Disney Star Wars expansion in Disney – we look forward to experiencing it once it is completed. After our 12 days in Florida, I was wondering how soon we can get back! Thank you to Boscov’s Travel and Kerri from the Selinsgrove location at Susquehanna Valley Mall for all of her work… everything went absolutely flawless.

 

Tips:

Ordering the photo pass online ahead of time seemed expensive but was worth it! They made video clips, including story lines from various rides showing our family as we navigated around the park. The number of pictures we received was really great and I did not have to always worry about stopping the kids to get the perfect picture.

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Ordering Garden Grocer, a grocery delivery service, was fantastic! I got a text when the groceries were delivered to our Walt Disney World Resort. Yogurt and milk were kept in a fridge at front desk.  The website even offers a breakdown of resorts what will likely fit in the fridge, since each resort has different refrigerator sizes. Garden Grocer does offer a discount if you order 30, 60 or90 days ahead of time.  It really was worth it.

We regretted not bringing our stroller for this trip since we have a four year old, and the cost to rent for more than a day is crazy. When we were about to rent the stroller for an additional day, we saw umbrella strollers for sale for just $40. They had a cup holder, mesh bag for items, and a small canopy. We bought one and saved a lot of money instead of renting for an additional few days. It served its purpose and because of its relatively small size, we did not have trouble getting around people. It provided enough room for a four year old to rest and for us to place a few items in it as well.

 

A Traveler’s Perspective: One of the Best Resorts in Punta Cana

Zoetry Agua in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic is an all-inclusive luxury resort boasting a 6+ Global Apple rating from Apple Vacations (basically, the place is ranked at the very top of the chart). Two of our clients recently visited the resort and provided insider-access into one of the most beautiful Punta Cana hotels we’ve ever seen!

Stacy and Tyler, avid travelers and repeat Boscov’s Travel customers, were looking for an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica. Having booked several trips for them in the past, Boscov’s Travel Camp Hill Travel Specialist Amy Bressler knew the amenities that Stacy and Tyler preferred, what type of atmosphere they gravitated to and what resort would provide the best vacation experience for them. They ended up on a different island all-together and settled on Zoetry Agua resort in Punta Cana.

Below, Stacy gives us her perspective on the resort (they had their own private butler!), why she recommends using a travel agency and why travel continues to be one of her favorite hobbies.

Why did you choose the particular resort?

Amy, our Travel Specialist, most definitely steered us in the right direction. She found an awesome deal at the Zoetry Agua Resort and once she showed us the resort, we were sold!

What did you like about the accommodations at the resort? (It looks like your room had its own private pool, too!)

I loved everything about this resort and our accommodations. The resort was a smaller resort with fewer rooms than most of the other resorts we have been to (96 to be exact). This made for a nice, quiet, and relaxing vacation. We had our own butler that took care of everything. He made our reservations for our spa appointments, set up transportation and tee times for two golf trips, and found us on the beach and by the pool just to make sure we had fresh drinks and beach towels.

Our room at the resort was amazing; it was bigger than some apartments. There was a “yard” with a small private pool to cool off along with lounge chairs. There was a separate sitting room with a couch and a dining table to enjoy room service. We had an open air bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub and rain shower.

Our backyard

The beach and pool areas had plenty of available lounge chairs, umbrellas and natural palm trees for shade. The wait staff at the resort was top notch. They took very good care of us, our drinks were never empty, they paid great attention to detail, and they knew our names. The staff really made us feel that we were a priority and the only ones at the resort!

How were the food and drinks?

The food was excellent and the drinks were always well made. The variety of menu options was great, I don’t eat seafood and there were more than enough choices from which to choose. The steaks were probably the best tasting and well prepared steaks I have ever had on a vacation like this!

Do you have any stories from the trip that stand out?

I honestly loved everything about this trip. It was by far the nicest resort we have been to. Two things that stood were the service and the staff. From the beach and poolside staff, to the wait staff at breakfast, lunch and dinner, to our butler and even the staff at the spa, everyone was just fantastic. The resort was gorgeous, clean, and quiet – it just had such a relaxed atmosphere. I would definitely recommend this resort to anyone who wants to be taken care of and truly relax on their vacation!

So how did you learn about Boscov’s Travel?

I had been familiar with Boscov’s Travel for quite some time, my mother worked for Boscov’s department store for several years so I was aware Boscov’s had a travel division. At the time I booked my first trip through Boscov’s Travel, I did so because I was traveling with a group and Boscov’s Travel was the travel agency the group was working with. I met my travel agent Amy when booking that first trip and we have been planning vacations with her for four years now!

What makes you continue to choose Boscov’s Travel when you want to plan a vacation?

There are many reasons Boscov’s Travel is our go-to travel agency to book a vacation. We love our travel agent, Amy! She is the best and I recommend her to anyone and everyone who is looking to plan a trip. She is quick to return my calls and emails, she answers any and all questions, and makes us feel confident we are getting a great price at a perfect location with all the amenities. We also love Boscov’s Travel because of the prices they are able to offer. I have researched booking a vacation at the rate Amy has quoted us and it is definitely impossible.

Since you have been on a few trips with us and seem well-traveled, why do you choose to continue to travel?

Travel and adventure is a passion of mine. I grew up going on family vacations to Florida, cruising up and down the east coast, to the Caribbean and Canada and taking weekend trips to cities like Baltimore, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia. I even took a school trip to Europe. I absolutely love to travel, visit new places, explore new cultures, or just relax on the beach or poolside with a fruity umbrella drink. That is what I love about traveling – the possibilities are endless. In one trip you can be RV-ing through the jungle in the Dominican one day and the next laying by the beach and eating a traditional Dominican dinner.

Any advice to other travelers?

My advice for other travelers: if you want a worry free vacation beginning to end, book your vacation through a travel agent. We have never had to worry about how we are getting from the airport to our resort or back to the airport from the resort, we have never had any surprise fees or other unexpected expenditures. We have never had to spend hours paging through resorts, comparing prices, and trying to find flights. Our vacations are truly vacations because we let our travel agent do all the work for us so all we have to do is show up, order a drink, and relax!  Aside from that, don’t over pack and relax – you are on vacation.

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Beautiful beaches

 

Thanks to Stacy for sharing her vacation experiences! If you’re ready to book a vacation, 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 or call us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com