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'I cried at the goodbye': How my aging parents changed my whole perspective on travel

When you hit middle age, there are some universal truths you begin to notice and accept, and that goes double when you’re traveling with your parents. Your knees and hips appreciate a recalibrated definition of “adventure” that favors excursions like water taxi rides and birdwatching. And, yes, your hunch is right: You really are turning into your mother (or father) … and maybe that’s not such a terrible thing.

I recently spent six days visiting my parents in their winter snowbird home just outside of Tampa, Florida. Mom and Dad reveled in the tour guide role here in this middle ground – not our Indiana hometown and not British Columbia, where I’ve been living with my kids for years. 

It felt strange at first, me being a “kid” again at age 50. It was a rare window when I wasn’t caring for my own kids and my parents, still healthy and mobile, didn’t yet need my care. I could relax. I could play. Without any responsibilities or distractions, I could savor just being a daughter.

FUN FOR ALL AGES: 50 family vacation ideas for the best trip ever

It feels good to slow down a little

Vacating with my parents, I got to experience life at a slower pace. My mom didn’t hesitate to say yes to the hour-long wait when we put in our name at the popular Rusty Bellies oceanfront restaurant in Tarpon Springs. I followed Mom to the Adirondack chairs outside, but soon got restless, feeling like I should be doing something. But she encouraged me to stay put and do nothing, reminding me that I’m always caring for someone in this busy season of life and that it’s OK to rest too. That moment of stillness made room for easy conversation that led to her telling me the story of how my parents first met. 

Another day, because we ambled long enough in a mangrove sanctuary, we saw the fins of black-tip sharks and cute noses of manatees break the surface of the water. And since we took our time at the Armature Works green space waiting for the water taxi on downtown Tampa’s Riverwalk, we spotted dolphins playing and got good at deciphering the locals (dogs, laptops, long pants) from the tourists.

Vacation ideas for older travelers:

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Being together still comes easily

Even though I’ve lived away from my parents for decades, I realized during our week together how well I still know their idiosyncrasies and they know mine. I know my dad will check the forecast before we head out for the day. He knows I’m going to sneeze when he gives me a piece of peppermint gum, and starts laughing when I do. I’m not surprised when my mom stops to hug me as we walk across a parking lot … just because we’re together. And the three of us still find the same things funny, including the mustache baby pacifier at The Dalí (the Salvador Dali Museum) gift shop. 

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Midwesterners tend to get stuck in routines, and some of that is what I wanted to break free of when I moved to the West Coast years ago. But on this trip, I found a strange comfort in doing many of the same things we used to do together – church on Sunday, a major league baseball game, and dinner with longtime family friends who still call me by my old nickname. 

Mom, Dad and I even visited some of the same places we first went to during a childhood vacation together in 1979. Our history of good memories together keeps hitting me—throughout the trip, I was reminded of who I am and where I came from. I let it sink in, this sense of knowing and being known, of deep connection. Somehow it satisfied a longing I didn’t even know I had. 

As an adult kid, I see myself in my parents

In downtown Tampa, we stepped off the trolley at the Ybor City stop into the city’s “Little Havana” neighborhood. Cuban music filled streets lined with restaurants and cigar bars. We popped into one cigar lounge, dark and smoky, and were mesmerized watching busy hands rolling cigars. Dad pointed out all the leaf scrap cuttings on the floor. Mom noted the unique purses made of cigar boxes. At that moment, I realized this is why I am curious and observant, and I felt strangely sentimental. It’s because of them.

RAIL VACATIONS: 12 best Amtrak rides and scenic train rides in North America

Over lunch at The Hangar Restaurant and Flight Lounge , a favorite spot overlooking the airstrip at St. Petersburg’s Albert Whitted Airport, we watched small planes and helicopters coming and going. Dad recalled memories of flying with his friend, who had a little Cessna. He laughed and, in his easy way, shared some near-miss flight stories we hadn’t heard before: a downdraft in the Smoky Mountains, losing altitude, and scanning the ground for a flat potential landing space before getting through it. Sitting there listening to him, I saw my own love for travel and adventure. 

On this trip, I realized just how much I see myself in my parents. I was a little surprised to realize this fact didn’t make me roll my eyes and make an “I’m turning into my mother” joke. Instead, I found myself smiling and embracing turning into my mother and father, because that’s exactly who I’ve always been.

My parents have always enjoyed watching ocean sunsets. When I was growing up, it was one of those things that happened in the background on our family beach vacations while we were swimming, playing ball, or searching for sand dollars. This time around, though, the sunset was the main event. I noticed my parents and other locals about their age planning their evenings around it, bringing a chair, and even going to a special spot on Indian Rocks Beach where a retired guy brings his trumpet and plays “Taps” to celebrate the daily setting of the sun. 

BEST USE OF SPACE: These are my 9 favorite underseat carry-on bags

It was a surprising moment of joy, and Dad captured it. He has always loved photographing ocean sunsets on vacation, and now he gets to do it for six months every year as a snowbird. I used to be bored looking at sunsets, but now I find myself sending him my own sunset photos from home in Canada. My daughters do the same with me. I guess a sense of awe and wonder is hereditary, too. 

These moments are pure gold (and fleeting)

Traveling with my aging parents, I realized how lucky I am, but also knew this could be our last trip together, just the three of us. I couldn’t help but reflect on how fragile life is and how precious these moments together are. My parents are still together, in good health, and have mobility. I can’t think of anyone my age at 50 who is in the same situation with their parents. 

At a Clearwater Beach souvenir shop on my last day of the trip, Mom bought us matching blue sweatshirts we both liked. I think it was her way of marking this time together with a tangible reminder. As she handed me mine, I pushed away the thought that this might be the last time we get to vacation like this and replaced it with gratitude. 

CHIC AND COMFY: 10 most comfortable travel clothes brands for the whole family

On the drive to the airport, Dad launched into his usual sort of closing paragraph that he does at the end of every visit. He mentioned the highlights of the week and asked about everyone else’s favorite memories from our time together. Then he shifted to what we wanted to do next time. I smiled, realizing I do this closing paragraph, too, when I’m saying goodbye to my girls.

I cried at the goodbye like I always do with my parents, then boarded my flight and took my seat next to a young mom with a baby girl on her lap. I cooed and made silly faces the same way other women did when my girls were young and I traveled alone on trips home to see my parents and felt the sweet weight of this full circle moment.

How a vacation with my aging parents changed my whole perspective on travel originally appeared on FamilyVacationist.com . 

More from FamilyVacationist:

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The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY. FamilyVacationist.com and TourScoop.com are owned and operated by Vacationist Media LLC. Using the FamilyVacationist travel recommendation methodology , we review and select family vacation ideas , family vacation spots , all-inclusive family resorts , and classic family vacations for all ages. TourScoop covers guided group tours and tour operators , tour operator reviews , tour itinerary reviews and travel gear recommendations .

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Help! I Missed a Cruise and the Cruise Line’s Own Travel Insurance Won’t Pay.

A young woman booked her first big trip, a Mediterranean cruise on Norwegian, but missed the boat when her flight was delayed. Since she bought the cruise line’s own travel protection plan, why is she stuck with the bill?

An illustration of a large cruise ship on a blue background while a passenger jetliner flies diagonally in the foreground, its emissions a dark red slash.

By Seth Kugel

Dear Tripped Up,

After graduating from college in 2022 and working for a year, I used my bonus and some of my savings to book a nine-day Mediterranean cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line for my partner and me. Our $7,657 cruise package included airfare from Atlanta to Barcelona, Spain, via Newark, and Norwegian’s own BookSafe Travel Protection Plan , which included travel insurance and also allowed me to “cancel for any reason” for a 75 percent credit. Weather delayed our first flight, we missed the connection, and United Airlines could not get us to Barcelona in time to embark. I called Norwegian and agents suggested I buy last-minute tickets on a different airline, but I don’t have that kind of money. And even if I did, there were no direct flights to later ports, and I was unwilling to risk missing another connecting flight. So we spent the night in the Newark airport, paid for a return flight to Atlanta the next morning and canceled the cruise and remaining air legs. I got $1,184 back right away from Norwegian, and then an additional $232 back (for my return flight) from travel insurance when I filed a trip delay claim, but a trip cancellation claim for the cruise was denied outright. I feel I should at least get the 75 percent credit — otherwise what was the protection plan for? Can you help? Ivy, Atlanta

You’re not the first traveler to write Tripped Up after missing a cruise because of flight delays on the very itinerary the cruise company booked for them.

You also went out of your way to solve this problem on your own, first, registering complaints with the Better Business Bureau, the Georgia attorney general, and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Florida (where Norwegian is based), all to no avail. Even when I offered to help, you didn’t stop and — before I could do anything — prodded Norwegian into giving you a slightly-more-than-75-percent credit, or $5,420, for a future cruise “as a gesture of good will.” Impressive.

I would have moved on to help another Tripped Up reader, but Norwegian’s use of the responsibility-shirking phrase “as a gesture of good will” bugged me. I wanted to know why BookSafe didn’t cover you, and what other cruise customers can do to protect themselves.

The BookSafe plan actually has two main parts: a travel insurance policy, administered by Aon Affinity and underwritten by Nationwide, and a “cancel for any reason credit feature,” provided by Norwegian itself.

I read through the fine print, and it turns out (and Aon confirms) the travel insurance portion does not provide reimbursement for a cruise if airline issues cause a traveler to miss it. But under the Cancel for Any Reason component, it looks to me as if Norwegian should have given you that credit with no hassle.

I tried to confirm that with Norwegian, but the company declined to answer most of my questions, instead responding with imprecise statements via email.

“Although Norwegian Cruise Line provides flight arrangements as part of its cruise offering,” the first email read, “we do not have control over the operations of the airlines and are not responsible for any flight modifications or cancellations.”

“It is because of the very nature of unexpected situations, such as this, that we strongly recommend all guests purchase travel insurance,” the statement continued.

But again, you purchased the travel protection plan and the insurance portion did not cover you. As for the Cancel for Any Reason credit component, Norwegian sent another email, which you forwarded, that read, “We are unable to issue credits for the penalties assessed to your reservation as this does not qualify under Cancel for Any Reason prior to departure.”

When you complained to the Better Business Bureau initially, Norwegian doubled down, giving it same wording.

I can’t understand why. For the credit to kick in, BookSafe clearly states you need only cancel “prior to the ship’s departure,” not prior to your flight’s departure. You forwarded me a cancellation document, dated the day you flew back to Atlanta — which was also the day the cruise set sail. That would seem to qualify, unless Norwegian determined the cancellation took place minutes or hours after the ship departed. That would be pretty disingenuous of them, considering you had been on the phone with them since the night before, asking about your options.

When I asked Norwegian about the original rejection, I got a statement saying you “had incorrectly filed a claim for a trip delay instead of a trip cancellation claim" and that the credit was “later added” to your account.

To me, that’s somewhere between muddled and false. What actually happened was that you filed a “trip delay” claim to Aon that turned out only to cover your flight back to Atlanta. (That’s what trip delay coverage does, cover unexpected expenses.) Then, you filed a “trip cancellation” claim, also to Aon, but that was never going to work: Trip cancellation coverage lapsed once you got on the plane and yet another kind of coverage, “trip interruption,” kicks in. But filing for that wouldn’t have done you any good: Norwegian’s trip interruption policy does not cover airline delays.

That’s why you ended up — after some blood, sweat and tears, that is — with the 75 percent credit from Norwegian.

It’s confusing, no doubt. You fell into a common trap about trip cancellation, delay and interruption policies — assuming that this coverage will pay for anything that is truly not your fault. But claims adjusters tend to be extremely literal in interpreting the fine-print list of “perils” or “hazards” your policy covers.

“If it’s there, you’re good, and if it’s not there, you’re not good,” said Stan Sandberg, a co-founder of TravelInsurance.com , a site that aggregates policies from different companies, providing convenient direct links to the state-specific policies.

I got curious and decided to compare the fine print of BookSafe with the default travel protection plans at cruise operators like Carnival, Disney, MSC, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Viking. I used the New York versions for consistency, and looked specifically at how well they covered issues caused by delays and cancellations of “common carriers” — airlines, trains and the like.

All the plans have “trip delay,” “trip cancellation” and “trip interruption” coverage administered by insurance companies. Most include a separate “cancel for any reason” credit portion that the cruise lines administer themselves. (Only MSC does not.)

I focused on trip interruption, which typically provides a maximum benefit of 125 or 150 percent of the trip’s value. That means a traveler could in theory be reimbursed for the full cost of the cruise, plus additional expenses incurred because of the interruption.

Three of the seven plans I looked at — Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Princess — leave airline issues out of trip interruption benefits entirely, making it impossible, in a situation like yours, to claim the value of a missed cruise in its entirety. “That is shocking,” said Jason Schreier, chief executive of the travel division of Aegis General Insurance.

“Ninety-five percent of travel insurance plans you’ll find have common carrier issues in both trip cancellation and interruption benefits,” he said.

The other four cover delays to varying extents. Carnival mentions only weather issues. MSC and Viking cover mechanical problems, weather delays and strikes — pretty standard language, but not all encompassing. Only Disney’s plan allows trip interruption to kick in for “any delay of a common carrier,” as long as it causes you to miss at least half the trip.

Mr. Schreier of Aegis told me that the cruise lines themselves will often scratch common perils from custom plans to reduce liability. When I asked Norwegian about this, the company referred me to Aon Affinity. But Beth Godlin, the president of Aon Affinity Travel Practice, wrote that Aon “works with many different cruise lines” and customizes plans “to meet the needs of the cruise line.”

Finally, there’s that cancel-for-any-reason-for-partial-cruise-credit element. As we learned, Norwegian’s plan, as well as those of Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Princess and Disney, do include flight issues by allowing travelers to cancel right up to the ship’s departure. Only Viking’s is different — ending once you board your first flight. (Again, MSC does not offer this benefit at all.)

I’d warn against choosing a cruise line on the sole basis of whether its protection plan covers common carrier delays — you’d just be asking for something different to go wrong. But Ivy, as you use your credit, I’d consider putting in the time to look into buying a separate insurance plan, using comparison sites like TravelInsurance.com or Squaremouth , or going directly to companies like Aegis , which Mr. Schreier points out has a cruise-specific package and a “Stress Less” feature that might have paid on the spot for a flight on a different airline to get you to Barcelona on time.

Whatever you do, I hope you have a great cruise and can at least temporarily forgive Norwegian for what happened — as a gesture of good will.

If you need advice about a best-laid travel plan that went awry, send an email to [email protected] .

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

Seth Kugel is the columnist for “ Tripped Up ,” an advice column that helps readers navigate the often confusing world of travel. More about Seth Kugel

Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

Italy :  Spend 36 hours in Florence , seeking out its lesser-known pockets.

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Travel | Travel Troubleshooter: Dollar Car Rental…

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Travel | trump is not immune from prosecution in his 2020 election interference case, us appeals court says, things to do, travel | travel troubleshooter: dollar car rental didn’t have my car, but still charged me $82.

Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter ...

DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER:  I recently rented a car from Dollar at the Atlanta airport. When I arrived at the airport, there was a four-hour wait for a car. There were no computer or weather issues. If I had continued waiting, I would have missed my wedding rehearsal. I tried to resolve the problem by calling the 800 number, but I could not. So I left and rented from a different company. But since I had prepaid for the rental, Dollar charged me $82 for the car anyway.

Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter ...

I reached out to Dollar on Twitter, and a representative offered me a $50 coupon and a credit for the rental that would expire in just a few months. I’d rather get my $82 back. I paid for a rental car at a certain time, and Dollar could not deliver it. I should not have to pay for the car. Can you help me?

— Beth Bonness, Portland, Oregon

ANSWER: Dollar shouldn’t have charged you for a car that it couldn’t deliver. And when you pointed out the problem, the company should have promptly refunded the $82 instead of offering you an expiring credit.

What happened to your rental? It wasn’t there when you arrived at the airport, but there have been widespread reports of car rental shortages, especially on busy weekends and holidays. The reason behind this is that car rental companies routinely accept more reservations than they have cars, anticipating that some customers will be no-shows. Then when everyone shows up, they have a problem.

What’s especially problematic is when you prepay for your rental. That means you pay Dollar for the car when you reserve it, and in exchange for a lower rate, your reservation becomes nonrefundable. (The discount is usually 15% to 20%.) You should reasonably expect Dollar to hold a car for you, since it has already received your money. But this time, with a four-hour wait, it simply ran out of vehicles.

How do you avoid a situation like this? First, consider booking a non-prepaid reservation. You might be able to get the same savings by shopping around for a better rate. You can also find discounts through AAA or your favorite club warehouse. To ensure that a car is available, consider renting one at a less busy time. (Friday afternoons tend to get crowded, for example, while Wednesday mornings are quieter.)

But for you, letting a representative know that you couldn’t wait four hours — and getting that representative’s name — would have probably saved you a world of trouble. Dollar marked you as a no-show and kept your money, which it is allowed to do. If you had spoken with an employee at the Atlanta location, they might have authorized a refund. (If you booked through an online travel agency or travel advisor, you could also contact them to handle the refund.) I wouldn’t have just walked away from the rental location knowing that Dollar had $82 of my hard-earned money.

It looks like you appealed this to an executive at Hertz, the parent company of Dollar. (I list the Hertz executive contacts on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org .) But the company would not issue a refund. Sometimes even a meticulous paper trail and a polite request isn’t enough. And while my methods for resolving a customer service dispute are highly effective, they don’t work every time.

You reached out to my consumer advocacy organization, and I contacted Hertz on your behalf. The company apologized to you, issued a full refund for the $82 and let you keep the $50 credit as a “gesture of goodwill.”

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy , a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him at elliottadvocacy.org/help/ . (c) 2024 Christopher Elliott Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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Burger king offering $1 million prize to fan who can devise the best new whopper.

Thanks for contacting us. We've received your submission.

Burger King is offering one lucky – and creative – fan a $1 million prize for devising a new Whopper sandwich .

The chain said that the contest is the first time Burger King has “put the sandwich in the hands (and creativity) of its guests.”

The sandwich debuted in 1957.

“Calling all flame-grilled fanatics, culinary creators, and A.I. aficionados – Burger King, the home of the flame-grilled Whopper sandwich, has a million-dollar question for you: how would you top your Whopper?” the Florida-based fast food chain said in a Monday press release.

“The flame-grilled Whopper currently offers more than 200,000 possible customized combinations, but if you’ve ever wanted to top the flavorful burger with savory sensations or sweet and sour showstoppers, then your moment to shine has officially arrived.”

Intrigued customers can visit Burger King’s website to enter the contest.

There, they can follow prompts to customize their own ideal Whopper, which can have up to eight toppings.

Contestants must have a Royal Perks account to apply.

The competition is open from Monday to March 17.

Three finalists will be selected and invited to Burger King’s headquarters in Miami, where the group will “have the opportunity to refine their concepts before they appear on menus nationwide for a limited time later this year,” the chain says.

A Burger King restaurant logo is pictured on a building in North Miami, Florida.

“Guests will then have a chance to try out the three final Whopper creations and vote on their favorite Million Dollar Whopper, with the finalist who receives the most votes taking home the $1 million prize.”

Burger King says that its contest also utilizes artificial intelligence.

“After submitting their Million Dollar Whopper idea contest entry, with the power of artificial intelligence (A.I.), they will receive a preview A.I. version of their flame-grilled creation, to which they can then add a personalized A.I. generated jingle and a thematic background,” the company explained.

Burger King adding two new Whoppers to its menu.

“The final image or video can then be shared across their social media platforms.”

In a statement, Burger King said that most fans customize their Whoppers already .

“Burger King is all about Having It Your Way, and this contest is a true embodiment of that. More than 50% of Guests customize their Whopper sandwich, and now, the possibilities of what those customizations include are endless,” Burger King Chief Marketing Officer Pat O’Toole wrote in a statement. “And, whether or not your Whopper ends up in restaurants nationwide, we’re giving Guests the opportunity to experience and share their creation using the power of A.I. technology.”  

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A Burger King restaurant logo is pictured on a building in North Miami, Florida.

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Better Together

Welcome to MyGovTrip!

FedTravel has permanently moved to MyGovTrip.Com .

Please be sure to update your bookmark.

GOVERNMENT TRAVEL PLANNING SIMPLIFIED!!

Welcome to mygovtrip, the premier travel-planning website for government and military travelers, welcome to mygovtrip, the premier travel-planning website for government and military travelers.

MyGovTrip offers travelers the most accurate and up-to-date information for both official and leisure travel. Find commercial flight schedules as well as all Government contract schedules and fares with the 8 airlines in the program, Per Diems, hotels, car rentals and more.

Easy access - no passwords or registrations required!

Trips and More Travel

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We are a full service travel agency located in Rolla, MO. We have been providing travel consultant services to mid-Missouri and beyond for over 25 years. We are a small business with local employees which enables us to provide personalized service for every client. We also have in-destination training that gives us expert knowledge that you won't find with an online travel site. 

We can assist with planning your vacation to almost any destination you can dream of ,     african safari    greek isles cruise    romantic honeymoon      girl's trip             beach wedding       multi-country europe, no vacation is too big, or too small. , we look forward to helping you plan your next vacation , - kim, maegan, and maddie -, contact us: , 1-573-341-3300, *call or text*, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected].

Image by Rana Sawalha

IMAGES

  1. Travel Itinerary Builder

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  2. Me and my trips

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  3. How to Make Long Drives and Road Trips More Fun

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  4. Best family road trips in the USA

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  5. My Trips Guide

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  6. How To Create A Legendary Road Trip

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COMMENTS

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    ViewTrip is your single source online authority for traveller itinerary and electronic ticketing needs. Travellers can access personalized itineraries and electronic tickets anytime, from any Internet-enabled location, free of charge. ViewTrip offers 24/7 online access to detailed, personal itineraries to travellers who hold a Worldspan booking ...

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  13. Trip.com Official Site‎‎

    Choose from over 1.2 million hotels in more than 200 countries, 30 million real guest reviews. Book flights to over 5,000 destinations worldwide. 24/7 Customer Service. ... Trip.com is here to help you plan the perfect trip. Whether you're going on holiday, taking a business trip, or looking to set up a corporate travel account, Trip.com is ...

  14. Vacations

    Booking a trip is exciting, but it can also be a bit overwhelming. We understand. That's why we have experienced travel consultants to take care of your every need, making your trip stress-free & amazing! Call or Text Us Today 1-573-341-3300

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  17. How a vacation with my aging parents changed my perspective on travel

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    The best group itinerary planner. Use Wanderlog to share your itinerary with tripmates, friends, and families and collaborate in real time, so everyone stays in the loop. Verify. Plan your vacation or road trip with the best travel planner for marking routes, plans, and maps with your friends, on web or in a mobile app (Android and iOS).

  21. Help! I Missed a Cruise and the Cruise Line's Own Travel Insurance Won

    Our $7,657 cruise package included airfare from Atlanta to Barcelona, Spain, via Newark, and Norwegian's own BookSafe Travel Protection Plan, which included travel insurance and also allowed me ...

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  25. Travel + Leisure: Travel Reviews, News, Guides & Tips

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  26. Documentary 'Will & Harper" Chronicles Will Ferrell's Road Trip With

    Their professional and creative partnership evolved into a decades-long friendship, and when Ferrell found out his dear friend was coming out as a trans woman, the two embarked on a cross-country road trip to process this new stage in their relationship. And thus, the story of Will & Harper. Directed by Josh Greenbaum, the new documentary film ...

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  28. MyGovTrip: Fast and Effective Tools For Simplified Government Travel

    MyGovTrip offers travelers the most accurate and up-to-date information for both official and leisure travel. Find commercial flight schedules as well as all Government contract schedules and fares with the 8 airlines in the program, Per Diems, hotels, car rentals and more. Easy access - no passwords or registrations required! MyGovTrip ...

  29. Contact Us

    We are a full service travel agency located in Rolla, MO. We have been providing travel consultant services to mid-Missouri and beyond for over 25 years. We are a small business with local employees which enables us to provide personalized service for every client. We also have in-destination training that gives us expert knowledge that you won ...