Home » blog » Helpful Planning Tips

Facing a long airport layover? Ever wondered how to access the VIP lounges?

Interest in using an airport lounge?

 

Most of us have been there:  whiling away the hours in an airport while waiting for your flight to be called, sitting in those uncomfortable seats, watching endless news on the overhead TV screens……..while a few lucky ones are in one of the VIP  lounges that offer plush seating, coffee, wine, food….even showers in some cases.

Here’s a comment we received:  “A few years back, we decided to cash in some of our frequent flier miles for a couple of first class tickets from LAX to Paris.  One of the advantages that came with those tickets was access to the Air France lounge.  Leaving LAX we got to relax, have a glass of wine, some great snacks and then board at our leisure.  The morning we flew back, the lounge had fresh orange juice, delicious buttery croissants (this was France, after all) and fresh brewed coffee.  A great way to start the long flight home (quite a bit longer due to the prevailing westerly winds), and we did not have to pay for breakfast at our hotel.”

So how can you take advantage of that?  Well, obviously if you have a first class (and sometimes business class) ticket, it comes along with the extra cost.  For the rest of us, there are a couple of options.

 

1.  In many cases you can purchase a short time pass directly at the airline’s lounge.  It depends upon the airline, and its policy of course, and there is no guarantee that you can get it that particular day and time.

2.  Some airlines offer access for an annual fee. If you fly regularly, it may be worth looking into a membership with a particular airline.  Usually for a fixed annual fee, you will receive a certain amount of passes per year. After you’ve used the passes, you can purchase more, or often receive a discount on booking future visits. Some of the high-end VIP airport lounges may only be accessible to premium class passengers, some still are available for cash access.  And, you are usually limited to that airline’s club….not any others.

3.  Some credit cards have arranged for you to pay with miles to access their clubs…..but it is an expensive way to use those hard-earned miles.

4. You can try our newest advertiser, Lounge Buddy.  They have an app that is easy to use without an annual fee, the costs to access are often lower, and there’s usually a wider choice of lounges available to the ‘casual’ flyer.

Lounge Buddy works by providing details of every available lounge in an airport, and how to access them. Lounge Buddy offers genuine reviews by real customers, details of all facilities, and photographs. For example, if you need fast wi-fi, find which VIP airport lounge offers the best by browsing them on Lounge Buddy. Likewise, if you’re interested in a drink and some snacks, but don’t want to pay the high price of the airport concessions, use Lounge Buddy to discover which lounges offer complimentary drinks and snacks.

Find out more about Lounge Buddy here.  They also offer reviews of hundreds of lounges around the world…(not all of them are worth the money), where they are located in the airport, and what services are offered.

If you purchase via them, The Catholic travel guide may earn a commission – although the cost to you WILL NOT increase. But commissions like this help support our website.

Home » blog » Helpful Planning Tips

Reminder: The “Holy Stairs” in Rome are still closed for now

 

The entrance of the Holy Stairs before its' closure
The entrance of “The Holy Stairs” before its’ closure

You

The restoration work is not being done on the stairs themselves (which are protected by a wood covering) but of the frescoes on the walls surrounding the stairs.  Over the years they became darkened and could barely be seen. Restoration will restore them to their original beauty, but has necessitated closing of the stairs themselves.

But you can still visit:  Although a temporary image of the entrance has been placed over the actual entrance, an additional set of stairs has been installed next to the stairway, and pilgrims can climb those instead.

The stairs will reopen in late 2018, but we do not have a definite date at this point.

Here is a great video about the work being done from Catholic News Service.

 

 

 

 

Home » blog » Helpful Planning Tips

Best travel insurance for hurricanes

For 6 months out of the year, hurricanes pose a serious threat to travelers taking their long-awaited vacations. Many travelers look for travel insurance to offset that risk during hurricane season, however finding the best travel insurance for hurricanes is important to make sure you’re covered.

The Best Travel Insurance for Hurricanes is Comprehensive

Travelers who are worried about a hurricane or tropical storm ruining their trip should search for a policy with the Trip Cancellation benefit. Most cancellation policies automatically include Hurricane & Weather coverage.

Trip Cancellation can refund 100% of your prepaid and non-refundable trip expenses if you have to cancel your trip altogether before leaving your home. To search for travel insurance policies with this coverage, go to Squaremouth and select “Yes” when asked “Should this search include Trip Cancellation coverage?” By doing so, you will be prompted to enter the trip cost you would like to protect.

Getting a cancellation policy with comprehensive coverage also means you will have Trip Interruption coverage. This benefit covers the same events as Trip Cancellation, however coverage begins after you have left for your trip. If you need to cut your trip short, Trip Interruption can refund the cost of the unused portion of your trip, as well as the additional transportation expenses you incur to return home.

Because most policies are comprehensive, a cancellation-style policy will also have coverage for medical emergencies, travel delays, and luggage.

When You’re Covered if There is a Storm

Most comprehensive travel insurance policies can refund your trip costs if a storm significantly impacts your trip or prevents you from traveling. Each policy has specific situations that can trigger coverage. In order for coverage to begin, typically one of the following must occur:

  • Your flight or cruise is delayed by at least 6-48 hours, or canceled outright
  • Your hotel at your destination is severely damaged and deemed uninhabitable
  • A mandatory evacuation order or a hurricane warning is issued at your destination
  • Your home is rendered uninhabitable by the storm

Cancel For Any Reason: an Option for Added Flexibility

For additional flexibility, you may be able to upgrade a policy to include Cancel For Any Reason, which refunds you if you have to cancel for a reason not covered by Trip Cancellation. This can include simply changing your mind and not wanting to travel, fear of traveling, or loss of enjoyment at your destination, such as the beaches being less appealing than you were hoping.

There are, however, some stipulations regarding Cancel For Any Reason coverage:

  • Cancel For Any Reason is only available for 14-30 days after making your first trip payment
  • Your premium will typically increase by about 40%, and you must insure 100% of your prepaid and non-refundable trip costs
  • You can be reimbursed up to 75% of those trip costs
  • You must cancel at least 2-3 before you are scheduled to depart.

See this video on  “Cancel for any Reason” here.

Home » blog » Helpful Planning Tips

Tips to make Italy train travel a breeze

Italy is one of the world’s most beautiful places. Since the time of the Romans and before, travelers have long sought out this part of Europe. From the snow capped mountains of the Italian Alps to the joys of the pretty beaches at the foot of Italy, Italy is a traveler’s delight. Despite offering culture, art and wonderful views at every turn, the nation of Italy is a relatively compact place. This makes it easy to get around. There are many ways for people to travel around Italy. People can flit from village to village by boat or head out one of the country’s famous highways. One of the most popular forms of all transport is by train. Italy’s trains are famously run on time and crisscross the entire country.

While travel by train is a great way to see both urban Italy and the Italian countryside, Italian trains can also be stressful. It helps to keep a few tips in mind when buying tickets, boarding, sitting on the train and heading out from the train platform. It also helps to keep a few tips in mind when navigating from one Italian line to the next.

 

Different Types of Trains

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that most Italian trains have two classes. There’s first class and second class. There are few differences between the two. Many local city trains, such as those found in Rome, do not have classes at all. Another important thing to keep in mind are the many different types of Italian train lines. There are both public train lines and privately run train lines.

In general, the Italian lines are divided into three types.

The Le Frecce trains provide high speed rail transit between major Italian cities.

Other important lines are the EuroCity, the InterCity, and the international train lines. These trains are part of a much larger network of trains typically spanning not only Italy but the surrounding nations as well. These are often covered by a rail pass.

There also regional trains. Regional trains are the local workhorse of the area, serving both travelers as well as commuters on their way to work.

 

Advance Reservations

It’s highly important to keep in mind that some lines require travelers to make advanced reservations. The Le Frecce lines require such reservations. It’s a good idea to make them as soon as your travel. Travelers can purchase specific passholder seat reservations that are reserved for their use. These are sold at both train stations and from many travel agencies in the United States and other places. If you have your agenda already, you’re in luck. You can easily reserve more than one of your planned trains during a single visit to the platform. You are not required to meet deadlines so this can be shortly before boarding. It’s a good idea to do this well in advance before you travel. Look up each route that you want to take before you go so. Make sure you know when the train departs and when it arrives.

 

Specific Trains

Many Italian trains travel a route that includes several major cities in a single city. For example, a train may go from Florence to Rome and then to Naples. However, some trains stick to specific route. Be aware of these routes before you leave. For example, the Circumvesuviana brings travelers from Naples and then to Pompei and to further south to Amalfi. This is the only train that covers these routes. Likewise, the Malpensa Express train is the train that will get you from the center of Milan to the airport. These train lines should be reserved in advance whenever possible. If you have not done so, you should make sure to allow enough time to get the station. During the busier and more popular tourist times, seats fill up fast. Getting there early will help you make sure you don’t miss your connections and you do get a seat.

 

Where to Buy Tickets

It is possible to buy a rail pass. However, the rail pass is not accepted on all lines. In that case, you may need to buy your tickets at the station. There are ticket machines found in all railways. At the same time, many people avoid these machines as they can be complicated and confusing. Buying ticket at the ticket window gives you more options and a person to speak with. Make sure you are standing in the right line or you’ll have to start all over again. Buying tickets at travel agencies may cost a little more but it can help avoid crowds and work with people who understand the local trains intimately. They frequently have discounts not available to the general public. Keep in mind there are discounts available for certain groups. For example, if you are sixty or over, you can save money on your train fare. The same is true for those under twenty-five and under. They can also be eligible for discount train tickets. Sensible measures will make your Italian train travel far easier and far less stressful.

Home » blog » Helpful Planning Tips

Five Tips for Train Travel in Europe

5 tips for traveling by train in Europe

See and experience so much more by embarking on a European train adventure. Traveling by train in Europe is the quintessential method for touring Europe and it is no mystery why. The rail network is extremely developed so travelers can conquer multiple countries and cultures in one epic trip. As with any form of travel, it is good to prepare yourself to ensure that you have the easiest and most enjoyable journey possible. Here are our 5 tips for traveling by train in Europe.

Research the different rail passes available

If you are planning to see numerous countries it may be wise to consider investing in an Interrail Pass, or what non-EU citizens call the Eurail Pass. An Interrail Pass will make your train voyage easier. However, if you are on a tighter budget, individual tickets may work out cheaper (especially if you’re mainly traveling east of Germany). Consider your budget and do some research before you book your rail pass. The website saveatrain.com is the perfect place to start to help plan your trip across Europe.

Try to reserve your seats

Train tickets and seat reservations are two different things. A ticket allows you to board a train, and a reservation guarantees you a seat on a specific train. Before your trip make sure you understand whether your train requires, recommends, or doesn’t accept seat reservations.

If possible, try to reserve your seat, especially if you are traveling in uber-popular countries such as France, Italy or Spain. For most trains, you are not required to reserve your seat, however, boarding the train and hoping for the best is not a good idea. You could be told to get out of your seat mid-journey if someone else has booked it. By reserving your place, you can choose whether you would like an aisle or window seat. You can sit back and enjoy the ride knowing you won’t be interrupted to move.


Keep your belongings safe

European train travel is known as one of the safest ways to travel. However, it is important to keep an eye out for pickpocketers, particularly with trains that stop in major cities. Don’t leave your luggage unguarded on the train or in the station. On night trains, if you intend to sleep, make sure to secure baggage to the rack with a small bicycle lock. To have peace of mind, wear a waist pack under your clothes to keep your passport, phone and any important documents protected from any potential thieves.

Less is more –  tips for traveling by train in Europe

Going from country to country or city to city is a fun and exciting journey. However, the trip can become tiring if you are carrying a heavy load. Pack the essentials and leave any items or products that are not needed behind.

Depending on the train you are traveling on, there can be limited storage space in over-seat racks and shelves at the ends of carriages. Instead of carrying a big and heavy suitcase, a quality lightweight backpack is another way to lighten your load.

Pack the right supplies for the journey

Traveling through Europe provides sensational views; however, it is a good idea to bring a few key items to help you pass the time especially if you are embarking on a journey of more than 2 hours. Read a book, watch a movie on your tablet, write in your travel journal or strike up a conversation with another passenger and before you know it you will be at your next destination.

Most trains have either a restaurant, café carriages or snack carts that come by selling sandwiches, soft drinks and more. But if you are on a tight traveling budget or you have specific dietary requirements, it is wise to bring some snacks with you on your journey.

Thinking of traveling by train in Europe? Go online to check out all the exclusive fares at Save A Train and start planning your next adventure!

Home » blog » Helpful Planning Tips

Save Money & Time with Nightjet overnight trains

We have always advocated train travel over air within Europe:  it is spacious, more relaxed, you get to see things at ground level….and you may even meet some Europeans!  There is much more to discover down here rather than at 30,000 feet above the earth.

Another recommendation we also have….if it fits your itinerary, consider an overnight train.  No long waits at the airport check-in counter…..and, you can cover a pretty good distance while at the same time saving the cost of a hotel room.  Not to mention you arrive in the city center….no costly taxi from the airport into town.

One of the best of these services is Nightjet……offered by Austrian Rail, and has service in Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Germany.  They offer a variety of options from couchettes to sleepers.  And they even offer wheelchair compartments.

Even the couchettes are comfortable, although we recommend compartments if you can afford to spend a little extra.

If you are using a Eurail Pass, you will need to pay an additional reservation fee, much as you do with many high-speed trains.  Still the costs are quite reasonable, and you don’t have a hotel bill to worry about!  And, if you have ever slept on a train, you know there is nothing like it.  Could be one of the best nights’ sleep you ever get!

Compartments come with complimentary breakfast.

Click here for the official website of Nightjet.

Here is an in-depth review of Nightjet from “The Man in Seat 61”, an expert on European train travel.

Photos courtesy Nightjet

Home » blog » Helpful Planning Tips

Sailing from Galveston on weekend of December 1st?…Enjoy Dickens on the Strand

 
Galveston, Texas is a popular cruise ship port for many.  If you will be sailing from the port of Galveston the weekend of December 1, 2, 3, then you will have the opportunity to participate in the Dickens on the Strand celebration that takes place that weekend.

 

Handbell concert at Saint Joseph's Church
Handbell concert at Saint Joseph’s Church

One of the most interesting activities is the handbell concert held in Saint Joseph’s Church.  No longer a Catholic church, it was was de-consecrated in 1968 and many of the interior items auctioned off; however, the Galveston Historical Foundation bought the building and many of the statues and other features so that it now closely resembles the Church that it was before.

For more information about Dickens on the Strand click here

 

Home » blog » Helpful Planning Tips

Valuable Resources for Traveling with a Special Needs Child

Guest post by Rebecca Moore

5 Valuable Resources to Make Traveling with a Special Needs Child Less Stressful

kids-playing-863613_960_720Traveling is stressful regardless of circumstances, but traveling with children can be even more so. When your child has special needs, you may feel that traveling is overwhelming. Fortunately, programs and resources are available to make traveling with your child easier and more enjoyable for the whole family.

1. Kids Fly Safe: Reassure Yourself of Your Child’s Safety

Worrying about whether or not air travel is safe for your child is a concern many parents share, particularly with very young children. CARES is a company that produces a special aviation harness, not unlike the buckles found on a child’s car seat.

With children between 22 and 44 pounds, typical airplane seatbelts do not offer the range of protection they offer adults. This can be nerve wracking and may add to your stress. With CARES’s line of products, flight can feel much more secure for both you and your child.

2. SpecialGlobe: A Travel Site with Your Needs in Mind

SpecialGlobe is a site that allows you to book custom tickets and hotel rooms with special needs children in mind. Their custom itineraries include such things as nearby hospitals, suitable activities, where to find trained aides, or even what destinations provide special equipment you may need. Furthermore, the site allows parents to share experiences and tips so you can get a firsthand account of a destination from a parent like yourself.

3. Special Needs Travel Mom: Bloggers with Experience to Share

The most reassuring type of resource is one written by someone in your position. A vast number of parents write blogs about life with special needs children and, often, there will be a section on travel. One such blog is Special Needs Travel Mom, which offers tips, experiences, and links to further resources. Reading someone else’s successful experience can often be the best way to reduce the anxiety and stress of an upcoming trip.

4. Family Vacation Critic: Find the Best Vacation

Websites like Family Vacation Critic can provide lists of ideal travel destinations for children with special needs. With the research already done for you, the only stressful thing left is to pick a place. These lists often include places that host specific organizations. Splore, for example, is an organization in Moab, Utah that aims to provide outdoor fun for people of all ages and abilities. It is not the only one of its kind. Groups like this are cropping up everywhere with a goal to make the world a more fun and accessible place.

5. Basic Planning Sites: Don’t Forget the Basics

When caring for a special needs child, those needs are likely your top priority. While those are extremely important to consider when traveling, the basics shouldn’t be overlooked. Find the website of your airline; learn what useful features it has for you to ease your journey. Look at a seat map and be sure you are seated with your child, as some flights may not book seats together. Find a site withpacking tips so you can feel confident that you haven’t forgotten anything. And lastly, research your destination. Knowing all there is to know about where you are going will resolve much of your travel anxiety. Arriving in a location armed with a mental map of the nearest hospital or ASL travel guide is guaranteed to diminish your anxiety.

 

Traveling is both stressful and exciting. With the rapidly advancing world of special needs accommodations, travel with your child can be fun and rewarding rather than nerve-wracking.  With the right resources and preparation, you can focus more on the excitement.

 

Rebecca Moore fractured her ankle in a bike accident in March 2015. Temporarily disabled, she soon felt isolated from her peers and was crushed to realize this is a common problem for people with disabilities. She went on to create AbleRise.net with a friend in an effort to provide more disability resources and make the world a more caring place.

 

Image via Pixabay by marianaviolante950

 

 

Home » blog » Helpful Planning Tips

Looking for a Catholic Guide in Rome?

We are often asked for recommendations, especially for tour guides. One of the problems when you arrange for a tour guide in a city like Rome, is just how Catholic are they? Do they practice the faith, or are they just Catholic in name only?

Here is a response we had from one tour operator.  We pass this along for your discernment.

“Hello from Rome!  Thank you,  thank you very much for your e-mail.

Yes, most of our tour guides who cooperate with us are practising Catholic.  I am running this company since years and the one who takes care of most of the Tours.

My family and I are strict Roman Catholics and we are well known for this too. It does not mean only going to Church every Sunday but a way of living 
which is according to what our Faith recommend.

I wish you all my best and God Bless you. Buona Domenica ( Happy Sunday!)”

Cristiano Pellegrini
Rome Travels Srl
IT Mobile: +39-328-474-1982

 

 

 

 

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial