Column: Top Tips for Celebration Travel

ruthanne terreroI recently saw more Easter day “selfies” on Facebook than ever before, of people at church, on egg hunts or chilling in one big family photo. Let’s face it—with this sharing economy there’s little we do anymore that’s not broadcast out to friends and strangers in real time.

The sharing trend has invaded the travel landscape as well, and in a good way. Taking off with a bunch of buddies or best friend couples is the new norm and the timing usually revolves around someone’s birthday, anniversary or other reason to celebrate.

Our team of editors has spoken to select top travel advisors who craft celebration travel itineraries to bring you their best practices. Here are some of the highlights they’ve gleaned from these experts:

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1. If children are included in the celebration trip, they’ll likely need passports for the first time. Be sure to ask and ask again if this issue has been taken care of and be sure the client knows the difference between a passport and a passport card, which is not valid for international travel by air. (Learn more at www.travel.state.gov). While you’re at it, ensure everyone in the group has the proper travel documentation; ask to see verification of it early on so you don’t get a tearful call from the airport because someone hasn’t been allowed on the plane.

2. Be sure everyone understands the budget. If you’ve got a disparate group comprised of people whose travel you always book and a bunch of folks you’ve never worked with before, I guarantee you there is at least one person who is only half listening or who prides themselves on not being a detail guy. This is the mystery character who never responds to your e-mails and who will protest the most as the trip gets closer because everything costs more than they thought it would. Be so bold as to ask your steady client if there’s any such person you need to keep a wary eye on. They’ll be happy to throw him or her under the bus, just watch.

3. Provide plenty of free time in the itinerary; even though the person who is celebrating wants their friends around them on this trip, 24/7 togetherness breeds too much familiarity. Plan one meal a day together; otherwise provide options for people to dine independently. Let the group work out its own dynamics by giving them room to breathe.

4. Include surprises and customized details that will wow the travelers. You’ll know what will please them if you take the time to fill out a profile on each of them with questions such as, what is their favorite food, which sports and sports teams are they fanatical about, and what would they do if they had one day alone in the destination they’re visiting.

5. Keep it simple. If the level of sophistication of those in your celebration group varies widely, keep the itinerary uncomplicated with a lot of options built in. A cruise to very interesting ports will work perfectly here. You’ll please those who already have traveled extensively while those who are just venturing out for the first time will find safety in the regular routine a cruise delivers.

For more insider insights on how to craft ideal celebration vacations for your clients, and where to send them, see our latest cover story

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