New Jack City: 10 Tips For Carefree Travel In 2013


As many of you may know next to my hobby of covering the movie scene and reviewing films, I’ve spent the past two decades as an independent travel agent…

First with Abbey Road Travel in Overland Park and for the past decade at Shelton Travel Service on the Country Club Plaza.

So as you can imagine, I field a lot of questions related to travel—especially LEISURE travel. What follows are my answers to what are probably the 10 most frequently asked questions. Hence 10 tips for better travel in 2013.

Q: Why are vacation ‘PACKAGES’ usually a better deal than booking individual vacation elements?

A: By using wholesale suppliers and combining air with hotels and other elements (i.e. rental cars) we are able to take advantage of negotiated contract rates which often include unpublished, lower “bulk” fares with airlines.

Q: Should I purchase cancellation insurance and how much does it cost?

A: The price of cancellation insurance is based on the total cost of the vacation, package or cruise. My suggestion is that the greater the cost of the vacation, the more you stand to lose WITHOUT insurance. In other words, it’s one thing to eat the cost of a $600.- Vegas vacation. It’s another story when it’s a $3,000 Caribbean package.

Q: Should I buy my airline ticmad-as-hellkets for a cruise separate and save a few bucks?

A: Purchasing your air tickets through the cruise line may be a bit higher, but if you buy the plane tickets separately and anything happens—like flight cancellations, missed connections, weather delays or being bumped from an oversold flight—the cruise line will usually take a “That’s your problem” attitude. But if you purchase the tickets through the cruise line and any of the above mentioned problems arise, it’s THEIR problem to make it good!

Q: I’d love to go on a cruise but am afraid of getting sea sick.

A: Slim chance of that these days because today’s mega ships have great stabilization systems. If you’re really worried, make sure your cabin is located in the middle of the ship where you experience the least amount of motion.

Q: When’s the best time to get the lowest prices on a cruise or vacation package?

A: When no one else is going. It’s all supply and demand. Like right now in January and February. Other slow periods are AFTER summer vacations during the fall. And the period after Thanksgiving and before Christmas travel.

arrived-at-the-airport-forgot-to-bring-my-passportQ6: How about airfares to Europe?

A: Same principal applies. But there are basically three seasons. Low season is January through March. Shoulder season is April through May and late-September through mid-December—excluding Thanksgiving travel. High season is Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day Weekend.

Q: Is a EuroRail pass worth it?

A: That depends how much traveling by train you’re planning in Europe. Train travel on the continent is great, but expensive. If you’re just going to take two or three trips while over there then purchasing actual point-to-point tickets is my recommendation. But for four or more days by rail in the various Euro countries, a EuroPass might be your best bet. But remember, a one or various country EuroPass must be purchased in the U.S. PRIOR to your trip. It cannot be purchased once you arrive in Europe!

Q: Do I need a passport for Canada?

A: Definitely! They won’t even let you on the plane at KCI without one. The same now goes for Mexico and the Caribbean. (Note: Passports should be applied for through your post office and take about four to six weeks for processing depending on the time of the year. Faster turnaround can be had for additional charges.)

Q: What are the best international deals these days for the buck?

A: The all-inclusives in Cancun, Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos win hands down.

Q-: Why use a travel agent?

A: You can buy plane tickets on line, but when it comes to packages, cruises and tours you tap into your travel agent’s knowledge. resources, wholesale suppliers and tour packagers. And should anything go wrong, your travel agent (and agency) is your advocate with the various entities involved with your vacation. Good luck trying that with the online guys. In the words of the American Society Of Travel Agents (A.S.T.A.): “Without a travel agent, you’re on your own.”
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25 Responses to New Jack City: 10 Tips For Carefree Travel In 2013

  1. chuck says:

    Chcek this out Jack. It sounds like just what you need, especially if you travel frequently.

  2. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    I’ve been booking my vacations abroad via or It seems to me that they can negotiate a better deal with the resorts, but not so much with the airlines.

    • jack p says:

      FunJet is one of the major suppliers we deal with. But they do have ‘blocked’ seats allocated to them to various destinations—like on Frontier’s non-stops to Cancun, etc.
      Same goes for Southwest Airlines Vacations with ‘bulk’ fares.
      We also use GoGoVacations heavily for worldwide packages…including Mexico and Caribbean destinations.

    • kid rock says:

      be careful with FUNNYJET…..their planes are the worst…maintenance
      is poor.
      had problems with them twice from cancun…..they got engine problem
      halfway to new orleans from cancun and decided to fly back to cancun…
      expect delays…problems…and of course expect the hard sell by their
      trip advisors…
      i thought they stopped leaving out of kc….is that true jack.

      • Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

        WTF? All the flights I’ve booked on Funjet have been commercial airlines. American, Continental, etc…..never had a problem. Were you talking about a charter?

  3. jack p says:

    It depends. They can be. Every situation is different. But even if they’re not the overall package of hotel, air and transfers often can be a better deal. Plus if you go through a local agency you’ve got their backing vs. just dealing with the computer.

  4. b12 says:

    Yup. It’s hard to yell at the internet and get anything done when something goes wrong and you’re in a different country.

    • Guy Who Says What Others Think says: has their own travel agency right in your resort. For instance, in Playa Del Carmen/Cancun, it’s Lomas Travel. If you have any problems, you just go find their rep in the lobby or call their local office at their 24 hour number.

  5. Tom Little says:

    I’m totally insincere when I say Im not buying a word of this until Harley comes by to give us the real, straight story. Harley’s family has been in the travel industry since the early 1900’s. Heck, his cousin coined the term “travel”! Prior to that people simply said they were out “wandering around”, but thanks to his family, we now know this fun filled pass time as, travel.
    Harley has traveled all over the world to consult with Kings, Queens and titans of business. Thanks for your “opinions”, Jack, but readers, followers and disciples, when it comes to travel, you don’t know Jack, you have to know Harley, the only true source for all the facts, all the time on all the topics.
    I can Harley wait to get the real best deals, the real hook ups and his soon to be released 2013 report on The State of Travel (trademark), Best Fares, Best Deals Report.

    • harley says:

      little man…funny you should bring that up…because my family has
      been in the travel biz for over 30 years…seriously.
      I could not make this up little man…so if you need an upgrade on any
      cruise…airline…hotel etc. contact me at
      Its so funny that you brought this up…I’m laughing about your
      comment…but we’ve got family who’ve been involved in the travel
      bizsince 1980….no b.s….
      and thanks for the mention and i should put out a paper on travel.I would definitley not recommend costa cruises for you or your family
      and here’s another fact…online vacation centers out of houston (a huge
      travel discounter) was
      started with the help of my family….they’re in houston…great people…
      check them out online……best prices going!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      we’ve partied with them in

    • harley says:

      although i’ve traveled almost everywhere…its been tough
      to get out of kc with all the biz i’ve got going.
      Did go to vegas in october….stayedat the palms where my friends
      the maloufs own the joint…..great great pool.
      Got a chance to see some shows…her’es how i would rate all the
      vegas shows i’ve seen in my life…

      1. elton john/: red piano at ceasars….wow~
      2. elton john/billy joel…..ceasars…wow…great show…
      3. new years eve…2000…..robert shummel/bobby slayton ….
      riviera hotel….all the top comedians in vegas came tothe
      show……..we had frfont row seats..
      4. Elvis…hilton…i was very very young…elvis was great….don
      t remember much but he was strong.
      5. don rickles….maitre d gave us great seats….don did 20 minutes
      of his show from our booth in audience. My parents loved him.
      6. mystere….incredible show….saw it in 2011.
      7. wayne newton…was a friend of family…spent 4 new years eves
      with this incredible entertainer when i was growing up.
      8. rat pack…sammy/frank/deano/…..
      9. terry fator: kind of strange show but he’s the best ventriloquist ever…
      10. the magician blake….guy did some incredible magic on stage and
      in the audience….
      too many to mention…great memories….but the talent in vegas these
      days is nothing near what it once was…
      freinds and family ran that town… now like rosenthal said in casino…
      now its run by the corporations….and henry in goodfellows said
      “you get spagetti that tastes like ketchup”…but thats vegas…
      and the rappers own that town now..
      but theres nothing like rehab at the hard rock….even glaze would
      love that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
      and forvx those needing a little “extra” be sure and hit me u0check out

  6. Tom Little says:

    One pariah gone from KCC; one left to go.

  7. Rainbow Man says:

    I agree with Jack’s advice on the travel agent. Anything domestic…. I do myself… but the minute you go foreign… And definitely I am including Mexico in this… Have an agent. As much as we Americans love to self-loathe…. these other beautiful countries make a hell of a lot more mistakes than we do… and believe me… you need that agent back-up on almost every trip.

  8. balbonis moleskine says:

    When you shop for flights online at a site like Orbitz, clear your cookies in your browser before you go back on the site to check for fares.

    The cookie identifies to the website that you have been there before searching those rates, and it ups your price accordingly. Erase the cookie and you save money.

    You’re welcome, old people.

    • harley says:

      good advice balboni. Travel agents have been phased out by the airlines..
      but i’ve gotten some better fares thru AAA travel. Also…if you travel
      internationally it is better to use someone who knows the area..someone
      who’sbee there….who can help you. With the internet
      you get many travel agents who haven’t done the fam tours so fewer know
      the areas you mightwant to visit. People like jack who’ve travel externisvely
      are great to get inside information.
      Did a group trip to austra ia thru passport travel…the owner
      had been there and was friends with family. He suggested anarea
      we needed to visit so we went there and had the most incredible time.
      The net hurt the travel agent industry…but still good to work with one.

  9. Glenn says:

    Balbonis, my cookies get cleared everytime on the flight back from Mexico.

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