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!

Filtering by Category: island

Journey to Japan

There’s so much more to Japan than Tokyo and Kyoto. Take a journey with me to the Setouchi area of Japan. This is the largest inland sea in Japan and comprises of 3,000 islands spread amongst 7 prefectures- Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Okayama, Hyogo, Ehime, Kagawa, and Tokushima.

 Hiroshima

Hiroshima

Popular cities you’ll find in this area include Kobe, home of Kobe Beef located in Hyogo Prefecture and Hiroshima, located in Hiroshima Prefecture. On my first trip to Japan, I discovered that there is more to this area than these two cities.

In Hiroshima, you will be steeped in history learning about the infamous day the bomb was dropped on the city, through the documentaries, pictures and artifacts at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The museum is well curated and showcases a detailed timeline of the events leading to that infamous day so take time to go through it all.  

After Hiroshima be sure to visit the island of Miyajima. This was my favorite stop as it was magical for its beautiful temples, the iconic tori on the water, it’s lush forests and water trickling on the island and more. If you love hiking this is a great place to do it and you will see others on the path as well.

 The Iconic Tori Miyajima

The Iconic Tori Miyajima

 Steps to  Daisho- In .

Steps to Daisho- In.

While Itsukushima Shrine is the most popular shrine on the island, high up in the sky is the temple Daisho- In. The lush green foliage in and around the temple not to mention the water running around the area made it all the more spiritual. Don’t forget to pray for what your heart desires while there.

Do not leave the island without grabbing a Momiji Manju cake! I love desserts and this dessert hit the spot. It came in a variety of flavors such as chocolate and apple. Get the freshly made ones which taste much better than the prepackaged ones.

The countryside is probably not on your list of places to visit and I must admit there really is no reason why you would visit Onomichi. However, should you want to relax in the lap of luxury the place for this is at Bella Vista Marina and Spa. Put simply the views from this hotel are incredible and the rooms are top notch. Not to mention they have their own marina for boat lovers sailing around the sea. Needless to say, Bella Vista is the ultimate stay in luxury.

Eventually, I found myself meandering in Kurashiki, a small town located in Okayama Prefecture which reminded me of Venice, Italy with its canal. You can catch a boat ride down the canal dotted with historical buildings on its banks. The best part of this area is the access to parks for quiet meditation located in the area.

If you crave adventure visit the Iwa Valley. If the winding road where you can catch a glimpse of the rocks and river rushing below is not thrilling enough for you try crossing the Kazura Vine Bridge. This was by far the scariest thing I did in Japan. If you’re afraid of heights look forward and never look down at the rocks and crashing water below. I found solace in knowing that while the bridge is thousands of years old, it is refurbished from time to time. Catch this BBC Travel Show video on it.

Lastly, relaxation can also be found at the Dogo Onsens (public bath houses) of Matusyama in Ehime prefecture. There are 2 famous ancient onsens in the area not to mention the numerous hotels with their own onsens. Should you decide to go to an onsen, don’t forget to grab your robe from your hotel. In fact, you’ll notice everyone in town clad in a robe.

If You Go:

Stay at Sheraton Grand Hotel - A modern hotel in the center of everything! There is a shopping arcade in the area as well where you can find great coffee and chocolate.

Try for an authentic Japanese experience and stay at a ryokan like Oborozukiyo

Eat- Whatever you do eat okonomiyaki in Hiroshima. Quite possibly my favorite meal throughout my stay

Visit:

  • Himeji Castle- built with booby traps to protect itself from attacks. None ever occurred but we have this beautiful castle to visit.
  •  The Itsukushima Shrine- Get there early in the morning before the 11am crowds and experience the spirituality of the shrine in quiet. It, of course, helps to have a guide around to help you understand the different areas of the shrine.

Drink:

  • Miyajima Brewery- Great beer and they also have a restaurant as well  
  • Doppokan Brewery- The gin here is to die for! Take a tour and try out their different sakes and beer.

Ready to go to Japan after reading this? Email us your request at info@tripstravelagency.com and we can get started on an itinerary for you.

Happy Travels,

KJ

Destination: Hawai'i

Spring is almost here and that means it's the beginning of Wedding Season, Spring Break and before you know it's time for graduations and summer vacation. Now is the  time to plan that honeymoon, girls getaway, graduation gift, guys trip or family vacation.

If Hawai'i isn't on your list it should be and here's why!

Top Destination
Hawai'i is THE destination for honeymooners and vacationers who want to get away from it all and relax. In fact those who vacation in Hawai'i keep coming back to Hawai'i. They may not do the same island and opt to explore different island but they keep coming back.  

Low Season vs High Season:
Fortunately for the vacationer, Hawai'i has great weather throughout the year. The downside is that there really isn't a low and high season. Vacationers all over the world visit Hawai'i throughout the year which means hotels are pretty full so no need to reduce prices or close during certain months. 

Don't fret though focus on finding the special deals such as daily breakfast, kids stay free or a free night stay. That's where it really counts.

Flights: 
Hawai'i has 8 islands 7 of which are open to visitors. Honolulu (HNL) is the island most well serviced by flights from the mainland. Your other well serviced islands include Maui (OGG) or Kona (KOA).

The more flights that are available into any given airport the more options you have for flight time and competition in price; so the better for you. Looking to island hop though? You can still do so with the inter-island airliner Island AirFor all you United Mileage members you can still earn points and redeem them on Island Air. 

Where to Go!:

O'ahu
Waikiki Beach is usually the place for first time visitors. Located on the island of O'ahu this is where you'll find the capital of Honolulu and where you will find most of your hotels. 

Don't limit your travel to only the hotel area. Rent a car and venture off to the different parts of the island. Go hiking on Diamond Head. Visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Iolani Palace, the Polynesian Cultural Center, the Bishop Museum. Don't forget to stop by Dole Pineapple with the children and have them ride the trolley.

Our client, an avid nature lover said Diamond Head takes less than an hour, but get there early as it can get crowded.

What else did they like about O'ahu?: Their favorite part was walking around town and happening to find gelato at Via Gelato. They loved the Yam (I think they meant Taro) flavor gelato which was surprisingly good. 

 Sent in by a client after hiking Diamond Head

Sent in by a client after hiking Diamond Head

Maui
I recommend Maui for the couple that wants to relax and see much of nature. This is definately the island where you need a car, preferably a 4X4 to get around.

Take your time and drive th Hana Road and hike Mount Haleakala. If you go to Mount Haleakala get there early to see the sunrise. If you're not too keen on walking back down, get a tour that allows you to bike it.  If hiking is not your thing take a helicopter up 

Additionally this is the place the place for foodies. Try Lahaina Grill for a special night out. Traveling with the family then try Pacific'o Restaurant

Big Island aka Hawai'i
Want to get up close an personal with a volcano? This is the island! The Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is your first stop. Here you can view Mount Kilauea erupt and it's lava flow in all directions. If the video below is thrilling wait until you're up close, that's the real fun. 

This island is actually the youngest of all the Hawai'ian islands. Here you can enjoy black sand beaches, horse back riding and hiking through Waimea. Don't forget to do a Kona Cofee tour.

Courtesy of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Kauai
Another island that is great for those that want to kayak on the Wailu River, hike Waimea Canyon and see the beautiful Naapali Coast. Visiting the coast is best done via boat. 

Where to Stay: 
Your major brands such as the Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott and Starwood are all over each of the islands, it's all about picking out what's right for you. 

Want to be on the beach?
No problem, but it will cost you. Beachfront properties are usually your first to go and they are the priciest. Try to stay a block or two away from the beach and walk there. 

 Sent by a client who stayed at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki

Sent by a client who stayed at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki

Waikiki:

We sent our client to the Hyatt Centric Waikiki. They were a bit weary about this place but ended up loving it. This property was recently opened in December and looked beatiful as well as being close to the beach. 

Need somewhere with suites style?

Try the Westin Ka'anapali in Maui- This is a favorite amongst large families and vacationers looking for more spacious accommodations and villa living. A word to the wise though, book this place early, it's usually fully booked !! 

Another client favorite in Maui was the Fairmont Kea Lani- This luxurious property is right on the beach and had a great spa not to mention activities for the children. They have rooms for a young family of 5 ( 2 adults 3 children (1 being an infant) in a room with a king, sofabed and a rollaway. 

 Paddleboard across from your room Photo courtesy of UnCruise

Paddleboard across from your room
Photo courtesy of UnCruise

Want a Floating Home instead?
Try a Norwegian Cruise or an UnCruise cruise. Norweigian will sail to all 7 islands in a big ship atmosphere. While UnCruise will allow you to have the small ship experience on 4 islands. The ship is also small enough to dock in areas that are too small for larger ships, not to mention the adventure packed excursions that await you on this ship. 

Now we most certainly did not cover all of the islands or possible activities in  Hawai'i but feel free to start exploring all about Hawai'i on Hawai'i's tourism board, this is quite possibly the most indepth website on Hawai'i. 

Have you been to Hawai;i, what did you like or didn't like? Anything we're missing? Comment below and let us know your experience

As always happy traveling!

The Case for Travel Insurance

You've booked the flight, hotel, tours and restaurants. But have you protected your vacation investment? Investment what investment you say.  Well consider the scenarios below.

Scenario 1: Traveler A doesn't by travel insurance and travels to an island and falls ill with food poising. Client A sees a doctor and receives a bill for $1000

Scenario 2: Traveler B books cruise and gets hurt on the island and needs to be evacuated by helicopter to the nearest hospital. Client B bought travel insurance. 

Using these easy scenarios it's easy to see that Traveler B gets covered for their medical evacuation because they bought travel insurance. 

Travel insurance is one of those items that no one thinks of purchasing until something happens. But did you know that travel insurance protects you in case you miss a connecting flight, lose luggage or get sick? Some, not many will cover you should you decide to not go at all on your trip! Let's delve into why you need it and should buy it.

  1.  It's required:
    • Many tour companies especially the adventurous tours require travel insurance and will require proof of it. Some may even require it to cover altitude sickness 
  2. You have a known pre-existing medical condition:
    • Knowing you have a pre-existing medical condition, it probably is a good idea to get travel insurance. Who knows what kind of medical attention you will need on your trip. If you need to see a doctor overseas medical insurance comes in handy. Just submit the receipts (in English) to get reimbursed. 
  3.  Your work schedule is unpredictable:
    • Have a schedule that is constantly changing but booked that family trip? This is the time to buy travel insurance especially if many of the components of the trip are non refundable. Some companies have options for those who need to cancel a trip because of work. 
  4. It's extra protection:
    • Usually if insurance doesn't cover it all, check to see what the policy says. This rings true for lost luggage. Most airlines already have an amount they will reimburse you should they never find your luggage, but they have a maximum amount. Travel insurance can be used to cover any overages. In this case it may be a good time to say take a picture of the contents in your luggage just in case you have you have some expensive items.  

Keep in mind every travel insurance product is different. You should thoroughly read each policy to make sure it covers what you're looking for it to cover. Policies have time restrictions on when you should purchase insurance to cover different components like pre-existing medical conditions, be sure to ask what those rules are.  Looking to cover a particular reason call the insurance company and ask so you can get a general idea.

Happy travels and stay safe!

 

3 Easy Steps to Planning the Perfect Wedding in Paradise

Planning a wedding in paradise while you're located far away from the location can be very hard but it doesn't have to be. 

Here's a few quick tips to help you plan the perfect wedding.

1) Choose the right location. Does this location hold any special meaning to you? Have you been here before? Are you looking for a beach? Do you want something simple? All of these things are important to know beforehand.

Our last client wanted a tropical wedding and the choices were Hawaii or Puerto Rico. We did the research, presented different options for each of the islands and told her the pros and the cons of each option. It is at this stage that you start to measure your wedding coordinator. If they don't answer your email or respond to your phone calls you probably should take them off your list.  

2) Ask for the experience. No two weddings are the same so it helps to know that your venue has experience pulling it off. Whether the wedding will take place at a hotel, hall or cruise ship  make sure they have the experience producing your type of wedding.

A great wedding coordinator will tell you specifically who they usually cater to and how they can help you with YOUR wedding.

  • Examples:
    • We cater to small weddings of about 2-30 people at international locales.
    • We are a full service wedding coordinator and provide photographers, DJ's, caterers, florists from weddings as small as 50 to 1000 people. 

 

3) Getting the most bang for you buck Know your budget constraints.When I started working with my last couple on their wedding we specifically looked at what their budget was and provided them with the best options. We created an upper limit and a minimum and worked from there, each time checking to make sure we were within budget. If anything deviated from the budget we called the client and provided options to choose from.

Following these 3 easy steps will help start you on the right path to planning the perfect wedding in paradise

bridal dinner table.jpg

Our couple celebrated their nuptial at Copa Marina Beach Resort in Guanica, Puerto Rico. They loved every moment there. 

Ask us how we can help you plan the perfect wedding by sending us an email at Katiana@tripstravelagency.com