Trips Travel Agency

Trips Travel Agency is a Luxury Travel Concierge company that specializes in international travel for the discerning client. Whatever you need we can make it happen!

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Exploring Medellin

For many years I stayed away from Medellin. I stayed away because I thought it was too touristy. I like to travel off the beaten path so while I made stops to less touristic places in Colombia, like Viterbo and Santa Marta, I never ventured to Medellin.

While I loved Bogota I couldn’t help but feel that the expat and entrepreneur groups were lacking in Bogota. They rarely held activities and rarely made a peep on the Facebook groups. I figured it was due to the cold and rainy weather which kept everyone inside and to themselves. Yet the Medellin groups were very active both online and in real life, so off I went to find out why so many expats, entrepreneurs and digital nomads chose this city their homebase.

Once I checked into my hotel I was able to see why this city was so attractive. Thankfully I did myself a favor and booked a room on the high floor and caught a glimpse of the spectacular views of the area. In fact, everywhere I went in Medellin, the views of the mountains and the city were beautiful.

Next is the superb weather.  Moving from Bogota, which is known as the wintry city (ciudad de nevera) to  Medellin better known as the city of  eternal spring was like night and day.   One expat told me, " I love New York, but you can’t buy good weather". Medellin was always about 70 to 80 degrees, warm and breezy but not too humid.

As an expat or entrepreneur finding long term accommodation is always an issue. If you’re a first time visitor most people tend to start off and stay in the Poblado area. There you’ll find many hotels, restaurants and cafes. If you plan to stay in Poblado be prepared to spend top dollar for any apartment you rent. Many of the high- end apartments are the best of the best and command those prices. After a while those who plan to stay longer move out to other less expensive neighborhoods of Medellin like Belen, Laureles and Estadio, or they move to the suburbs such as Envigado or Sabaneta. While Medellin had great weather, I found Envigado much colder than its neighbor, so that can be a downside.

Once you’ve settled in then the next step is to find your office space. There literally is no shortage of coworking spaces in this city. I tested out Global Express and liked it as it had the basic amenities that I needed, but there are so many others.

A good way to connect with other entrepreneurs or expats is to check out Facebook groups, such as Medellin Entrepreneurs Society and Expat Women of Medellin. These are also great ways to find apartments around the city.  Need to keep a pulse on the city?  Sign up for Catalyst Weekly’s newsletter; highlighting daily events happening around the city. Also a good source to find the city's yoga studios. 

 Ramen from Douraku

Ramen from Douraku

Lastly Medellin isn’t known for its gastronomy, for that you should go to Bogota. Still there are a few hidden gems.  First up is Douraku in Poblado. I stopped here because I was trying to get over a cold and needed something to warm my soul. I found that at the time, it was a newly opened Ramen shop. The ramen and noodles were cooked to perfection and weren’t bland, which is usually the case with most foreign cuisine in Colombia as they adjust the recipe for local tastes.

If you’re looking for traditional Colombian food you can’t go wrong with Mondongos. Mondongos is probably the best known place in Poblado; get there early as the line is pretty long on the weekends. They carry the famous tripe soup dish Mondongo, and Tipico Antiqueno which is more commonly known as Bandeja Paisa.

 Mercardo Del Rio

Mercardo Del Rio

Since you’ll also need some fun Mercado del Rio is a great place to visit on the weekends.  It’s easy to grab drinks with friends but there are some good spots to eat as well such as Al Alma Coffee Roasters. I loved this spot for the all day breakfast everyday. Sinko bar is good for drinks while Enoteca del Rio for good wine. Look out for their special events such as the outdoor summer park.

In the end Bogota may be my favorite place but Medellin holds a close second in my heart. 

Need more ideas on what to do and where to go? Reach out to us to plan your trip!

Happy Travels!!

KJ

 

Still curious about Colombia? Check out the other posts in the series : Bogota & Cartagena

What Exactly is Concierge?

Whenever I mention our concierge program I get a lot of questions. 

Many know concierge as the hotel concierge that provides recommendations on things to do in the city. Many also think that it's not for them and that they can't afford it. I'm here to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about our concierge program and more. 

What exactly is a concierge and what can you do for me?
I like to say that we really do anything you request (as long as it's legal of course) but each person is different and each request is different. Most use us to organize experiences that require lots of planning and research that they don't have time to complete.  Hence we free up your time to do what you do best. 

I'm not a millionaire there's no way I can afford a concierge?
You most certainly do not have to be a millionaire to have a private concierge. Our program is $2,000.00 for the year where you can have access to your own concierge to plan experiences, trips, weddings and more- just ask.

Concierge is one of the amenities at my building I'm sure I don't need you.
While you may have a concierge in your apartment building we will go beyond their scope of service as well. Normally they are there to accept packages, hail a cab and help you with the local area. However, they normally don't book your flights, keep track of your schedule and hold cruise ships when you're running late to your ship for that birthday trip. 

I can book my own travel why would I need you?
Have you ever experienced frustration while on hold for 30 minutes waiting for someone to answer your call in an emergency? If so then you need us. Your emergency is our emergency! Your concierge is the only person you have to call, text, WhatsApp etc to get the ball rolling on the problem at hand. Additionally, due to our partnership with hotels, we get our client's additional amenities for the same price that they wouldn't be able to get if they had booked it on their own. 

Besides travel is there anything else you do?
Yes! We've done weddings, lots of wine & brewery tours, birthday parties, plan dinner dates, red carpet events, corporate events and more.

Wow! You do a lot than I expected; is there anything you won't do? 
Yes! We won't walk your dog or pick up laundry. Still, if you need a birthday cake on the fly in the center of London , we can do that. 

Now that I know I can afford it who do you work with?
We work with everyone- single, married, divorced, young, old, long time residents, new residents -everything. Most clients are looking to save time because let's face it as a busy professional you already have a lot on your plate. Many connect us to their executive assistants to free up their workload and provide new ideas. Others connect with us via email with their initial request. 

Great! How do I join?
Get the ball rolling with our online application

Did we miss a question? Leave it in the comments below and we'll answer it

Travel Like A Boss

Just last week I told someone that it's always best to arrive to the airport early. In fact I arrive 2 hours early anyways so I never have a problem! The only way I'm missing a flight is if the flight is canceled.

Well, the universe heard me bragging and decided to test my skills. Let's just say I handled it like a Boss!!! As I was running like a madwoman to catch my return flight from Detroit after a weekend training seminar I was counting my lucky stars for my skills.

Here are a few of my tips for traveling like a Boss!

Step 1: Travel Lightly- This was a weekend trip! 3 days in which I knew I wouldn't hit the beach or pool nor walk miles visiting the city, so I kept it light. I grabbed my Ciao bag and packed it with the essentials, i.e. 2-3 outfits which were mix and match, PJs, my laptop, pens and toiletries. 

I avoided paying Jetblue's $25 baggage fee as this carryon fits nice and neat either under my seat or in the overhead bin. I chose the overhead bins so I could give myself some extra legroom, short people need legroom too people!

This carryon helped me cut down on time that I didn't have on my return to check a bag in. 

 My SHERO Ciao Bag!! It was $20 bucks at Costco or BJ's ( I can't remember)

My SHERO Ciao Bag!! It was $20 bucks at Costco or BJ's ( I can't remember)

Step 2: Get Rewarded- It was my first time going to Detroit. The destination wasn't on my bucket list but I knew I didn't want to pay a premium price for my hotel as this was more of a business trip and less of a splurge trip. It didn't help that there was a convention in town causing a near sold out situation at the closest hotels. If the hotel wasn't sold out it was selling at a premium.

Thankfully I'm a rewards point hoarder and tend to not use my Hilton Honor reward points; I usually collect them because they roll up to my JetBlue True Blue points. I used the cash and points option and booked a room coming in at $77 a night plus tax and still earn points for future stays. 

Did I mention that my flight to Detroit was $5? Thanks to the JetBlue True Blue rewards points I got there for just the tax. 

Step 3: Be Consistent- This step pertains to you constant business travelers! If you travel to the same town often stay at the same hotel. Why you ask? 

Well consider this; if you're traveling all the time don't you want some of your planning automated? Automation makes things easier for you! When I checked into my hotel Hilton already knew I liked to be on a high floor and near the elevator.  Additionally, since I want my rewards points I knew that I only had three hotel brands from which to choose from, cutting down my research time. 

Besides, automation; the more you stay at the hotel the more likely the staff will know your likes and dislikes.

Imagine having to wake up early for a meeting and wanting a good night's sleep but you're next to the room with a crying baby. Had you visited the same hotel over and over again they would know your routine and not place you near that room. This of course only applies to those who are nice to the hotel staff. If you're a curmudgeon the odds are not in your favor. 

Step 4-Get The Apps!

  • Jetblue- My total life safer was the JetBlue App. I downloaded it as I was in the car to the airport, checked in and opted for the mobile pass. In the past I had read that you need to get a mobile pass an hour before take off. Well, I had 15 minutes before that cut off time. Thankfully I got it and screenshotted the boarding pass just in case it was hard to pull it up in the security line. To my surprise, it was easy to pull it up on the app and did not need to screenshot it at all.
  • Award Wallet- Yes I use this nifty app to keep track of my points. I had used others in the past they were ok but this one works best until you tell me otherwise. I am able to see all my rewards for hotels, car rentals, restaurants and more. They even offer occasional articles on the best loyalty programs. This makes it easy to see all my reward points in one area and make a decision on what I will use.  

Step 5-Get TSA Precheck or Global EntryThis is probably my biggest downfall. 

Don't be like me waiting in a long security line, wondering if you're going to make it to the gate on time, watching the TSA precheck line moving full speed ahead.  I'm now a believer! Pay the fee and get one of these options for all the times you are running late for your flight. 

Thankfully my line moved and I was able to make that 6am flight and catch the morning sun

 Heading East to Boston

Heading East to Boston

There are of course caveats to all of the tips above.

Hotel Networks:  Get rewards for a couple of hotel networks. You want networks that are large, have several different brands and provide you with the best bang for your buck.

I have SPG (before it became Marriott), Marriott and Hilton. I probably use my SPG more, Hilton second and have never used my Marriott. On the ultra-luxury boutique front, I use GHA Discovery. Each program works differently and if they roll up to your airline and usual car rental location Great!

Airline Networks:  I travel mostly on the East Coast and Colombia so Jet Blue is my preferred network, followed by United Mileage Plus and American Airlines last.

I chose Jet Blue because you have a good chance of being able to redeem your points especially on Wednesdays when they have sales on flights. Honestly, what's the point of a program that doesn't allow you to reward yourself frequently?  Secondly, they have partnerships with other airlines that you can't find on other networks, such as Emirates. I once flew Emirates to Ethiopia, came back to the states and flew out to Boston on Jetblue using those same points in the same day.

United is great because of its extensive network with Star Alliance, so while I don't fly United much I usually earn reward miles because I fly with a network partnerp. 

Credit Cards: Most reward networks offer credit cards to earn points. I say if you know that you will only travel to that hotel or on that airline it's best to grab it and stick to it!

Shoes:  Last but not least I need to thank my flexible flats for doing their job! You can't run across an entire airport garage, airport terminal and security in heels ladies. You can but that floor is slippery, it will be a pain and you have to lug some luggage around. My flats were flexible and had the rubber soles and made it easy to jet across the airport. 

And if all else fails grab a drink and hopefully there's another flight for you to catch!

Do you have some boss travel tips of your own? Share your tips in the comments section!

Until then Happy Travels!!