Anderson Travel Academy – Why Open a Travel School?

Anderson Travel Academy – New Travel School in Gig Harbor 

With all of the options available on the Internet for booking travel, many people are surprised that travel agents still exist.  The truth is, people are coming back to using travel agents big time.  Many people have found that it takes hours of research to plan their trips and that it doesn’t cost extra to use a travel agent, or travel consultant/vacation planner as many of us call ourselves these days.  Just as you would hire an expert in other fields, such as real estate, attorneys, financial planners – hiring a good travel consultant can save you money, time and headaches.

But why would a travel agency owner want to start a travel school.  Wouldn’t the graduates of Anderson Travel Academy become competitors of the agents who work for Anderson Travel?  Marti Anderson, the owner of Anderson Travel, believes that there is plenty of business to go around and I agree.  Also, many traditional travel consultants have been in the business for years and either are retiring or cutting down their hours.  The industry needs new blood. 

Why Would You Attend A Travel School?

Why would someone need to attend a travel school?  There are many host agencies that will let anyone join, there are affiliate programs that have links to online travel agencies, and there are even MLM opportunities that let you buy your own travel website.  Well the truth is, there is a lot more to advising people on their travel and vacation choices then just sending them to a website. 

By attending Anderson Travel Academy, the only travel school in Washington State, you will learn how to work with clients.  You will learn how to access vendors and travel wholesalers and what value they can bring to your business (such as insider secrets, perks for your clients, and travel agency specials that aren’t available to the general public). 

There are so many facets to selling travel.  Many travel consultants specialize in a particular niche – such as a specific destination, cruises, Destination Weddings and Honeymoons, business travel, adventure travel, accessible travel, and more.  The world is a big place and there is no one agent or website that can truly give you the best advice, pricing and planning for every destination. 

So, by attending this new travel school, you can learn how to decide what area of travel you want to specialize in, as well as how to get the best training and contacts for that particular speciality.

Anderson Travel Academy – Article About the new Gig Harbor Travel School

Anderson Travel Academy is designed to teach you the basics of the travel industry, as well as give you some direction as to how to get started in the business.  I work with Anderson Travel as my host agency, but I am really a home based travel consultant with my own business, Perfect Paradise Vacations.  Marti Anderson has been a huge help to me in helping me reach my business goals and I have learned a lot from my association with Anderson Travel.

If you want to learn more about this new Washington State Travel School, check out their website



Unspoiled Tropical Vacation Paradise – Samana

Most popular tropical vacation destinations that people think of in the Dominican Republic are in Punta Cana or La Romana on the east coast of the island of Hispaniola.  These are beautiful areas with white sandy beaches and big beautiful resorts.

If you are looking for a more unspoiled, natural tropical vacation, you might want to think of the Samana Peninsula, on the north side of the country.  Here’s a short video that shows some of the beauty of this area.

If you like the large resort, all-inclusive atmosphere, you can find that here too, but you can also find small, intimate properties.

Perfect Paradise Vacations can help you get here or to any tropical vacation paradise you choose.

A Day in Gig Harbor?

Have you been to Gig Harbor lately?

It’s a fun place to spend a sunny day or two.  There really is a lot to see and do in this charming little town.  You can stroll along the waterfront exploring the interesting shops and art galleries.  They have their Art Walk on the first Saturday of every month with spotlighted artists in the galleries.  You can spend most of the day just poking around, from the antique mall, to Java & Clay. to looking at the boats in the marina. to checking out the Harbor History Museum and much more.

If you want to get out on the water you might want to take a tour with Destiny Harbor Tours.  Captain Tom Drohan is an expert on the history of the area, and makes it fun and entertaining.  You will go out of Gig Harbor, under the Narrows Bridge.  Narrows Bridge - Close UpYou’ll also cruise by the interesting community of Salmon Beach and past Point Defiance Park before turning around and heading back to Gig Harbor.  If you’re lucky you might see some eagles Bald Eagleor harbor seals.

Back on land, you’re probably getting hungry.  If you’ve brought the kids, Kelly’s Espresso and Café is a great place to eat.  It’s bright and friendly with a varied menu so there’s something for everyone.  If you like Mexican food, El Pueblito is right across from the water on Harborside Avenue.  If it’s just the grownups, you will definitely want to go to The Tides and sit out on the deck of this historic eatery.  You might also want to venture up the hill away from downtown and check out The Wine Studio – a charming, warm and inviting wine bar and shop.  They have tastings on Friday night and Saturday afternoons.  You might also check out Gig Harbor’s own 7 Seas Brewery.  Both of these are located next to The Inn at Gig Harbor, a good choice if you decide to stay the night (which after tasting wine and beer might be a good idea).  You can book this hotel as well as the Best Western Plus Wesley Inn and Suites on my website.

There is a lot more to do here.  There are parks and beaches, which are always fun for the family.  You can drive out to Key Peninsula to visit Blue Willow Lavendar Farm. There is the Maritime Gig Festival in June, the Gig Harbor Food and Wine Festival in July and more.  Outdoor music in the park on Tuesdays and Movies in the Park on Fridays and Saturdays during the summer.  A good place to find all the happenings is at

So get out and play tourist in your own Pacific Northwest.  I love to explore out area.  We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful place with so many exciting places to see and things to do.

Five Vacation Destination Treasures By Alexandra Jacobs

This is my first post by a guest blogger.  I want to welcome Alexandra Jacobs to my blog and I hope you enjoy her contributions.

The Hamptons

Photo by flickr user galif548

The Hamptons has long been considered one of the most romantic vacation destinations within the United States. While many couples come to the area looking for quiet, romantic walks on the beach and the occasional celebrity spotting in one of the fabulous restaurants, Hampton Rental Homes, resorts and hotels open their door to singles and families as well. Singles enjoy the live night life and high-class clubs, while families can take in the beauty of the Montauk Lighthouse or enjoy the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum. Elliman Vacation homes are the way to go when you are traveling with a big family.  The Windward Shores Ocean Resort is one of the most popular luxury accommodations in the area. When it comes to dining, one should not miss the delicious steaks and seafood offered at The Palm restaurant in East Hampton.  Another great choice is the Modern French Mediterranean cuisine at the Stone Creek Inn.

Oahu, Hawaii

Photo by flickr user puuikibeach

Oahu’s North Shore is particularly lovely and the perfect place to get away and enjoy nature. Young couples and singles find this area special because it is known to have some of the best surfing waves anywhere. Surfers come from all over to experience the legendary waves. Turtle Bay Resort is perfectly situated on almost five miles of gorgeous oceanfront. The resort is also not far from the city of Honolulu so families can certainly hop over for some culture and exploration. Couples will enjoy the romance that’s always in the air on this island paradise. Many even come here to get married or renew their vows. Make sure not to miss out on the grub at Duke’s Wakiki for a true taste of island cuisine. You also won’t want to miss Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu for some yummy breads and pastries.

Ravello Italy

Photo by flickr user TyB

The celebrities love to come to the resort at Ravello because it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Couples retreat to this secluded paradise to take in the breathtaking views whilst sipping a perfectly-aged glass of wine. Musicians are particularly drawn to the area for the famous Wagner tours and musical festivals that are held. The Villa Cimbrone Gardens are a delight for singles and families alike. There is no question that the Palazzo Sasso is the ideal place to stay. For a tasty homemade pizza or pastry visit La Cucina di Sofi or for some real authentic and flavorful Italian cuisine stop at Figli di Papa.

Captiva, Florida

Photo by flickr user

The warm weather, beautiful beaches and friendly atmosphere brings in thousands of people every year to enjoy Captiva, Florida. The South Seas Island Resort ( is the perfect place to take the family on vacation for fishing, sailing or even kayaking. Couples and singles also find plenty to do, exploring the natural beauty of the island, shopping, golfing or engaging in exciting water sports. Dining is a pleasure in Captiva. Enjoy the view and a tasty burger at The Pointe Restaurant or some delicious Mexican cuisine at Cantina Captiva.

Santorini, Greece

Photo by flickr user connermajik-e

Considered one of the most beautiful islands in Europe, Santorini is home of the fabulous Vedema Resort. The resort offers rest, relaxation and luxurious pampering. Guests feel like royalty. Families often visit to explore the rich history such as is found in the ancient Minoan city of Akrotiri not far from Santorini. Others enjoy day trips out to Thirasia to view the intense volcanic structures or enjoy the hot springs. Taste the best in traditional Greek food at Athermi Restaurant or some incredible seafood at the Selene Restaurant.

Alexandra is a travel enthusiast who loves to write about tourism, beaches, food, and the wonderful things in the world.  She provides her own insights on vacationing to the blogosphere.  If you would like to learn more about her, follow her @alexsjourneys or visit her blog

Beth’s Top 10 Travel Tips (plus a bonus)

Define the purpose of the trip.  Are you looking for pure relaxation, cultural activities, active pursuits like hiking and biking, shopping, nightlife, kids activities?  Choose your destination and hotel/resort/cruise based on these desires.

Involve everyone in the planning.  Each person should contribute one must do thing for them during the trip that everyone can share in. 

Plan your travel days to be part of the vacation.  Instead of finding the shortest connections for your flights and having to run through the airport to make the connection, give yourself enough time to get off the plane and have some lunch.  Wander around the airport and get some exercise.  A lot of airports have interesting art or exhibits you can look at.  Take family or group photos at the airport.  This way you won’t feel like you’ve “lost” part of your vacation to travel days.

Packing.  It is really true that you should take half the clothes and twice the money than you originally planned.  Take clothes that coordinate with each other and that you can wear more than once.  Wrinkle proof fabrics.  Shoes are big space takers, I take my walking shoes, some flip flops (because I always go somewhere warm) and one pair of dressier shoes.  I also roll my clothes – they fit better in the suitcase, and if you flatten them out well first, then roll them they don’t wrinkle.  My hero is my Aunt Ann who can take a carry on for a 6 week Safari trip – when I grow up I want to pack like her.

Join Loyalty Programs.  Hotels, airlines and car rental companies all offer these and some even give you some perks on your first stay.  Even if you don’t travel often, it’s worth the couple of minutes it takes to join. 

Read the fine print!  If you are booking your own travel make sure you read all the fine print.  If you are using your travel agent, make sure they tell you about any exclusions, as well as inclusions.  Have them send you a copy of the terms & conditions for the supplier they are using.  Check for resort fees, parking fees, taxes that might not be included, airport transfers, that sort of thing.

Look for Value not price!  I can’t stress this enough.  This is your vacation that you have saved all year (or more) for, you’ve planned and researched for hours.  Choose a hotel or resort property that offers you the most value for your money.  If you are taking the kids it should have a great pool and activities that they enjoy (no one wants to hear “I’m bored” for a week!).  Look for free nights, breakfast included, etc.  (This is where your travel agent can be your best friend, I might have specials that you will never see.)  Don’t end up at the budget property with the broken floor tiles, refrigerator door hanging off the hinges, and the local’s dogs swimming in the pool.  Yes – that happened to one of my clients because she insisted on saving $100 for a week.  She always takes my advice now!

Pre-book any excursions that you really don’t want to miss out on!  But don’t over schedule.  Leave some time for relaxing, exploring with no time frame, and just seeing what the day brings.

Buy Travel Insurance!  I know what you’re thinking – we will go no matter what.  Then, on the way to the airport your taxi gets in a fender bender and you miss your flight.  What are you going to do?  Or, you get to your destination and your luggage went somewhere else?  Or…….well, there are a million things that can happen so why not protect your investment?

Use All of Your Vacation Days!  You’ve earned them and you need them.  You will be more productive if you take them (even if you just stay home).  American’s earn fewer vacation days per year than other industrialized countries AND THEN YOU WASTE THEM.  448,000,000 days were wasted last year.  (That is 448 MILLION days)  That is like giving $67 Billion (yes, I said BILLION) back to your employers.  Do you love them that much? 

Bonus Tip – Use a qualified Travel Agent.  Again, I know what you’re thinking.  She is a travel agent so, of course, she wants me to use her services.  And I do, if you’re planning a vacation to a tropical destination, taking a cruise, or going pretty much anywhere in theWestern Hemisphere.  If not me – find another qualified travel professional who specializes in the area you are planning to travel.  Most of the time it won’t cost you any more than booking it yourself, it will save you hours of research, and you have an advocate if you have a problem.  Even if you do have to pay a planning fee – isn’t it worth it to make sure that your precious vacation that you have saved & planned for comes off perfectly and stress free?

I’m going to Wine a little….

When you think of wine tasting in Washington state, what comes to mind? Walla Walla, theYakima Valley, Woodinville, or maybe even the Port Angeles/Port Townsend area of the Olympic Peninsula?  I have some other suggestions for you. 

I was fortunate a couple of weeks ago to be invited to do a barrel tasting at Mosquito Fleet Winery in Belfair, Washington.  I’m a member of the wine club at The Wine Studio, a charming little wine shop in Gig Harbor.  The new owners, Kirsten and Rich, had arranged this tasting as a special treat for the wine club members.  If you aren’t familiar with this shop, you should check them out.  On Friday evenings they have wineries or distributors come in for wine tastings from 5 – 7.  They have a ladies night on Wednesdays with special prices for the ladies.  And they have other events from time to time.  Even if there is no event going on, it’s a great place to stop in and pick up a bottle or enjoy a glass or two with friends.

You may not have heard of Mosquito Fleet yet, but you will.  They only released 2 varieties for 2009 – a Meritage and a Cabernet Sauvignon – a total of only 217 cases.  They will be bottling their 2010 wines in September and releasing them I believe in February 2013.  This time there will be more varieties and a larger number of cases so it won’t be quite as hard to come by. The 2 couples that own the winery welcomed us and, besides enjoying their fabulous wines and the nice spread of cheeses, fruits, and more, they educated us about their approach to wine making in an informative and entertaining way. 

If you find yourself heading that way, you may want to plan your day to continue on to Shelton to the Walter Dacon Winery.  This is another winery I learned about by going into The Wine Studio for a tasting.  They were tasting 5 different Syrahs – one of my favorite varietals.  I liked all of these wines, including the dessert wine which are usually too sweet for me.

Last night they had Madsen Family Cellars from Olympia come in for a tasting.  I wasn’t able to go, but decided to include them in this post because after visiting Shelton you could continue your tour on to Olympia.  I checked out Madsen’s website and they mention that there are a couple of other wineries in the area so you could make a real day of wine tasting.  One of them is Stottle Winery in Lacey.  Their tasting room is open 5 days a week and your tasting fee is applied to any purchase – I love that!

Northwest Mountain Wines, also located in Olympia, will be having their tasting at The Wine Studio on May 25th.  I’ll be at that one as I’ve got a 5 day weekend off from my “day job”.  They have some interesting sounding wines, including some fruit wines and for the holidays a spiced mead. 

Another winery I visited a couple of months ago is Trillium Creek Winery in LakeBay.  Claude and Claudia were great hosts, with lots of fun stories (I tend to find that most winemakers are fun to be around, hmmmm, I think I’m on to something here.)   They have a charming little tasting room, and Claude will offer you some cheeses to go with the wines as he tells you his philosophy of wine making.  Their wines are sulfite free, and they also have some fruit wines including an interesting Ginger wine.  Their property is beautiful and you can arrange for a tour.  Although their wines are not as full flavored as I like, a visit here is a very enjoyable way to spend an hour or two.

Another local winery I have not visited, but have put on my list as I’m typing this and realizing that I need to do more wine tastings close to home, is Olalla Valley Vineyard and Winery in Olalla, Washington.  They also have several varietals as well as some fruit wines.

So, if you enjoy wine, are looking for something to do one day, why not visit one or more of these local wineries.  Just make sure you have a designated driver or taste and spit which seems like such a waste of good wine to me.

Scandinavia and Africa – this vendor has a split personality!

Wow, this is a truly unique vendor.  Not only do they offer vacation packages to 2 very different destinations, but they truly measure up to their tag line of “Where Dreams and Reality Meet”. 

If you look at their website you will see vacation/tour packages similar to those you can find on hundreds of other websites.  The big difference here is that these are starting points.  Let’s say you want to go to Denmark and see the small town that your ancestors came from.  This town is too small to be included on a packaged tour, but you know that with the too short time that you have for vacation that you will need some guidance to get to the places you want to see.  This vendor will help me customize a package just for you and coordinate all of the components to get you to all of those places you want to see in the time you have (if physically possible, of course).  And they can add even more extras – such as arranging for you to dine with a local family in your ancestral home – maybe even a long lost relative.

All of their Scandanavian Specialists have a unique connection to the region – using their heritage, education, travel experience and personal interests to help me to help you to have the personalized experience that you desire. 

Whether you want to go to Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway; a self drive tour, a guided tour, an active and cultural tour (biking, kayaking, hiking); a cruise – a half day ferry trip, an overnight cruise, or a full week (or more) on the water – whatever you can imagine, we can design your Perfect Vacation in your Scandinavian Paradise.

In fact, if you want to stop over in Iceland on your way to Europe for a couple of days (with no extra airfare charges) that can be arranged as well.  You could see the Northern Lights, go Puffin watching (bet most of your friends haven’t done that), and you won’t want to miss the Blue Lagoon. 

Like their Scandanivian division, their Africa Specialists all have specialized knowledge in the parts of Africa that they represent.  When many people think of visiting Africa they think of going on Safari and seeing all the wild animals – elephants, lions, zebra, wildebeest, etc. and that is certainly part of the adventure.  What I can do for you when working with Borton Overseas is design personalized components so that you can also learn the deep traditions and cultures of the African people.  Visit a village and meet the local people, go to a local market or visit a school.  Arrange for you to ride an Ostrich, soar in a hot air balloon over the Serangheti, go white water rafting, even climb Mt. Kilimanjaro – whatever you desire to see or experience, we can make come true. 

We can help you decide on the best time to go depending on what you want to see and do.  Maybe you want to see the migration of the zebra and wildebeest; visit South Africa at grape harvesting time; experience the Sardine Run in Kwa Zulu Natal; do some whale watching; view the flowers of Overland northwest of Cape Town; and maybe end your trip basking on the beaches in Mauritius, Mozambique, Zanzibar or the Seychelles. 

The safari’s and guided tours are all small groups or you can have an itinerary customized just for you.  There are many types of accommodations available as well.  Rustic camps, tented camps with real beds and en-suite bathrooms, as well as more permanent style lodges – some are quite luxurious. 

An African safari is definitely the type of adventure that you will want expert help to plan.  With my contacts with various suppliers with experts on the ground in Africa, I can help you plan the exact adventure that you’ve been dreaming of.