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Welcome fellow travellers………

A very warm welcome, or as I like to say ”ay up me duck”, to my travel blog. I intend to give you all the hints and tips I can share, plus any insider info. My aim with the blog is to be honest and truthful about travel and destinations, whether you need advice after booking, before, or on return.

Now about me, well I live in north Nottinghamshire, UK,  with my hubby and son, and 2 very naughty cats! I work from home as a travel agent now, I spent 15 years working in high street agencies, but needed some flexiblity with childcare, so I jumped into the homeworking field, which has it’s perks as I can book what I want and what is right for the customer. I also write for a local magazine as a Travel editor.

As a person, well I’d describe me as somewhat a people pleaser, I’ve asked my family, friends, collegues and customers to describe me for the purposes of this post, and I can say it seems I am, in no particular order:
Funny
Quick mouthed
Good cook
Honest
Funky – now this comes from my not so original dress sense (think Bette Lynch vs a punk) – and me frequently changing my hair colour/style
Loving
A good dancer
Loyal
& good company.
I’ll take all of the above ;o)

My passion for travel started from around 18, when I left the insurance industry and started working in the field. My particular favourite parts are , UK, Greece, Italy, Europe in general really,  Cruising, Long Haul (especially Asia and the Indian Ocean) & activity escapes. My idea of heaven is a self catering villa in Kefalonia, Greece, stocking up at the local bakery and shop, then sunning, reading and swimming, a bit of a walk, then a nice evening meal with a caraft of local wine at sunset.

Anyway, enough about me, I look forward to hearing from you all, your feedback, and questions………. happy travelling  ❤

Travelling with anxiety, Kos you can!

”Are you free on the 15th September for 2 nights?”  Stacey asks

”why? (suspiciously) Me

”You’ve won a place on a 2 night Jet2holidays tour of Kos” 

” Wait what?? ”

 

This is the conversation I had (on my birthday of all days) with Stacey from head office, at the time I was stuffing my face with saag paneer and naan bread, having a birthday splurge. My brain couldn’t process the offer, I think because I wasn’t expecting it, so I asked if she could email me the flight information and I’d let her know later that day. 

 

Many of you would question why I had to ”think about it”. People who know me well would know why it wasn’t so easy to say yes, I have GAD (anxiety). I know I’m not alone in this, and many of my travellers suffer many different types of discomfort, from fear of flying, phobias of local bugs, open water or just being away from loved ones and home comforts. It can beg the question why we travel, it’d been 4 years since my last abroad work trip because I’d been suffering. The answer is simple, well when my little sister put it to me :  ‘’ do you want to get old and have lots of regrets of things you could of done?’’. She was right, I called Stacey back and said yes.

 

I only had 3 weeks to plan, so grabbed my suitcase out, dusted my swimsuits, and awaited my itinerary. I knew there were 10 ladies from all over the country going, but apart from 1 manager, I knew no one. Thankfully a lady 2 junctions up the motorway offered to drive and stay/park at Manchester airport the night before, so before I knew it I was rubbing my eyes open and setting off for a 4am check in. 

 

I would like to say it all ran smoothly, but some things can’t be helped, and today a severe traffic delay at terminal 1, a very long queue at passport control, plus several of us being stopped for searches, equated to a mad dash through the terminal to get to the gate in time. But we did, so all’s well that ends well. I also can’t help but think all the rush distracted me, which was a good thing, maybe we should start an olympic sport of airport sprinting for nervous travellers??

 

On board, I finally got a chance to meet my fellow travellers, a great mix of ladies, with all different types of travel backgrounds, as well as our guide Vicky from Jet2.  She had pre ordered us breakfast, and a drink of our choice, I was the boring one and had an OJ, my new friends took advantage, and had pink gins & prosecco with their meals. I had a vegetarian breakfast, and it was yummy. Having never flown Jet2 I found them as comfortable as their rivals, but the staff are amazing, friendly, helpful and even the captain was an absolute hoot, I have never heard one sing before , and the laughs he caused put everyone into a great mood. 

 

Flying into Kos, I’m greeted with sights of lush green islands surrounded by turquoise sea.I feel instantly at home with the warm wind, and familiar scents of sea air and dry cobbled floors. After a really quick turnaround in baggage reclaim, we make our way outside to be greeted by a private minibus, but more importantly warm Greek sunshine ! Temperatures average out around 26-32’c during the day, not too bad for mid September. 

 

We are escorted to our hotel , The Aegean view aqua resort, a nice 4 star all inclusive in the Psalidi area of the island. Highlights are the amazing views over the sea to Turkey, spacious rooms, locally sourced breakfasts and ample pool areas. We are shown around some community areas by the manager, and left for free time in the remaining afternoon #bonus. I make a superman style quick change into my swimwear and roll down to the pool for a couple of hours.

 

In the early evening we are escorted by Stelios, from the Kos tourist board, to Kos Town, for a private guided tour courtesy of Costa of Kos Tour Guides. He is so passionate about the history and culture of this island, I couldn’t help but take in all the facts and sights like a sponge. The town has thriving squares, restaurants, local shops and markets, old castles, a harbour plus buckets of history, the island has had invasions  from the Persians, Ottomen and Italian empires, yet still is Greek through and through. The legacy of these invasions is a thriving spice and produce market, and although Kos is only a 4 hour flight from the U.K, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a middle easten bazaar. It’s worth noting you are only a 30/40 min ferry ride to Bodrum in Turkey too, if you feel adventurous, it’s approx euro 20 pp (make sure you have a e-visa too).
After the tour we are treated to a meze, a pick and mix of truly greek treats: breads, pastries, olives, meat, salads, fish, pasta and so much more. I am ashamed to say I misread the menu, and had 2 plates of food, the waiter then asked if I’d enjoyed the ‘’starter’’, before producing even more food – it was a good job I wore loose fitting dress!

After a hearty breakfast we make our way to tour some of Jet2 holidays apartments & hotels (this is a working holiday remember! lol) . A visit to the Ampavris apartments shows us an excellent self catering option close to Kos town, and then the Labranda Marine Aquapark shows us a great all inclusive family property, which we stay at for lunch. The evening is a tour of the newly opened Blue Lagoon Ocean, a 4* all inclusive in Psalidi. The rooms are exquisite and perfect for couples needing a break, especially the swim up rooms. We stay for our evening meal and are treated to a Asian themed night, more elastic waistbands needed!

The next day we tour more hotels, a stunning boutique B&B named the Aqua Blu Boutique in Lambi, then a more than reasonably priced 3* all inclusive the Sunshine hotel in Tingaki. Then we make our way to the islands winery, with stunning vineyards out to sea, plus lots of the produce, it’s all fantastic. Unfortunately it’s about now that my brain decides to have a good old panic attack, the first of the trip, I know the signs, feel the discomfort, call a friend (literally – thanks Kel) , and try to use my mindfulness to regather and remember I’m in control – after all, I’m here.

Thankfully the afternoon and evening is to be spent at the Ikos Aria in Kefalos, only one word is needed : wow! I mean a 5 star all inclusive that feels so homely is rare. I for one feel very out of place normally, but not here, and I can feel my panic starts to melt away. Families and couples alike are catered for, from amazing kids clubs, cycle hire, jetpack water experiences, a mass of pool and snack areas, plus several restaurants. It is pure Grecian bliss. The rooms are stylish and well thought out with little extra special touches, a top notch mini bar, playstations for the older kids, plus plunge pool rooms with sea views. The hotel is across from a tiny island you can swim too, with its own church where weddings are often performed. A nice touch is you can use restaurants in the town on the all inclusive, a great way for the Ikos chain to keep local businesses going and passengers can then experience the town rather than feel chained to the hotel. Our evening meal was truly delicious, from a pizza station, tacos, fresh lamb, fish, pasta and what feels like a million other options, it was all catered for and yummy. The red velvet cake in particular was amazing!

All good things must come to an end, and unfortunately our time in Kos is up. We change into comfortable clothes and make our way through the airport and aboard our flight home. Onboard I have time to reflect and think about the trip, did I love Kos because I’d regained some confidence in travelling alone, or beating my anxiety, meeting fabulous new people?? No, they were bonuses, I love Kos because it was truly a unique island, with something for everyone, so much so that I am genuinely looking to take my family back next summer. Thank you to everyone who encouraged, helped and made the trip for me – it was truly an adventure of experience and knowledge and I will always love Kos for it.

Beauty at sea, come and see………

Cruise is one sector of travel that keeps on growing year on year, and I’m a converted cruiser myself. But with the notorious British weather , not all cruise liners have a base here in the UK. So when a cruise company decide to not only start sailing from here, but to launch their newest ship from Southampton on her maiden voyage, this lady needed a invite.

Luckily my company had a spare place for a hitchhiker, so last weekend I found myself on the launch party of MSC’s brand new ship : Bellissima

It’s no coincidence her name translates as beautiful, the ship from outside is stunning, and not too big for a 5000+ capacity liner. Some will moan that she’s too big, but MSC cruises, an Italian company, have used their countries known style and class to make this ship follow her namesake.


On entrance we are greeted by welcoming staff, who lead us to a cocktail bar. The style of the interior is entrancing, a really well thought out mix of Italian cosy luxury style hotel, with chic touches added, such as a Swarovski encrusted staircase in the atrium. Comparing it to British and American style liners, it has more of a warm feel, a mediterranean feel, less vast open spaces, and more thought out enclaves for you to get lost in.

I’m lucky enough to be good friends with a MSC representative, Lisa, who’s on duty this weekend, but finds me in the bar and offers me a escorted tour in her free time (she’s a good egg and one of the most passionate cruisers I know). This is a offer I cannot refuse. So we start on the ‘’Galleria Bellisima’’ – a indoor promenade with shops, cafes, and the most spectacular LSD ceiling. One minute lists of live information show up, the next it transforms into a stained glass roof , the next art pops up like you’re staring up in the Vatican or any Italian basilica, then a starry night sky, a real wow factor.

As we’re lucky enough to be on the trade visit of the ship, all the cafes, gelato stores, and speciality restaurants on decks 5 & 6 are offering samples of their dishes. It would be rude not to try these (that’s what I’m telling myself), so in no particular order I try, macaroons from the chocolate shop, sushi from the Japanese restaurant, teppanyaki from the live stations, Tapas from the Spanish themed ‘’Hola’’ restaurant, gazpacho from the Italian eatery, take a sneak peek in the British pub on board (it has over 40 ale choices alone), and look around the French bistro – bearing in mind these aren’t even the main restaurants, it’s safe to say my palate and belly are happy already. However, we take a look at the buffet restaurant on deck 15, and I’m drawn immediately to a glass fronted mozzarella station (it’s made fresh on board!)  and pizza oven (yes in the buffet !!) , I had a slice of bianca pizza, and well, no words can express, I have been lucky enough to go to Italy twice, and I can tell you, this is the real deal pizza experience, and it’s on the buffett! The ship has over 20 bars, and 10 restaurants to choose from, so hopefully you can forgive me for diving into it all.

 



Lisa takes me up to see the ‘’Yacht club’’, or a ‘’ship within a ship’’ as MSC say, only accessible to passengers who exclusively choose the experience. It’s pure luxury, lots of space, intimate dining, 24 hour butler service and exclusive offers such as complimentary drinks and gourmet finger food. The views from their restaurant are stunning, and the open air private pool area a oasis.

 

We then make our way outside to one of the several pool areas, unfortunately the British weather is on point, and Southampton is wet and windy, so I don’t get a dip. But I do get chance to take in the massive screen at sea, it’s a lovely open space, and I can just imagine sailing in the night sky, glass of vino in hand , watching a movie or show. We pass through the indoor pool and bar areas, and I wish I had put my bathing suit in my bag, guests are relaxing in whirlpools and I could definitely see myself bubbling away.

 

Back outside on the top deck there is a oasis for families, or big kids alike, with a mini aqua park, complete with flumes, splash areas and climbing activities, perfect for days at sea or on board.  Inside the family part of the ship is just amazing, virtual reality games , gran prix style racing car stations,ten pin bowling, a full sports hall, and lots of arcade style games. What I really like is MSC haven’t ‘’hidden’’ the kids away on this ship, they do have kids clubs from 0 to 17 years old (it’s worth noting here that MSC charge kids prices up to 17 , instead of 12, which is refreshing) . But you can join in on the fun, rather than the kids deck being a zone you drop off and pick up,  you can bowl, play games and spend real family time together. MSC have also added two ‘’Cirque du soleil’’ shows on this ship, a real treat for fans, and worth a watch. There’s also a casino on board to take your chances. As well as lots of spaces to just relax and just catch up with friends and family.


I leave Lisa be, and after a brief trade presentation by the MSC team in the London show theatre, I make my way to my cabin. I’m in a inside cabin, It’s very spacious, with a nice size bathroom, and I finally get to meet ‘’Zoe’’ , MSC’s onboard, in cabin, virtual assistant. An easy to use device – guests just say, “OK ZOE”, and she’s ready to help with any number of queries or requests, she’s very cool. A few travel friends have been placed in outside and balcony cabins, so I have a look around them, again very well presented. There’s also family suites to suit larger parties. The bedding in all the cabins is very comfortable, and there’s air conditioning is in each cabin.

 

After getting ready, I head out to dine in one of the ships speciality restaurants for dinner with some friends, amazing food, great service and a lots of drinks flowing, it’s a fun experience, and even though it’s a luxury ship, I still feel at ease and relaxed. After enjoying catching up with friends, and a free bar, MSC pull out all the stops, and we’re treated to a live performance from Craig David from a balcony on the Galleria Bellissima, just before midnight. I don’t know what he expected from 2000+ travel agents and staff, especially with a free bar, but we nearly raised the LSD roof off!

 

Feet sore, and eyes heavy, I make my way back to my cabin. As you can guess I like my food, so when a old colleague mentions room service on the way back, well I had to try it obviously! Que 10 minutes later, and I’m sat watching the tv in my cabin, with a fresh margarita pizza on my knee, how the other half live hey.

Waking up, I know I need breakfast for the journey ahead, I head to the buffet again. Full of everything from full english, fresh fruit, cereals, omelettes, waffles and pancakes, I fill my plate for the last time. The food really is lush, I had been told by some other travel agent, that these ships had average food and drink, I can assure you this wasn’t my experience – nor any of my friends. I head off of Bellisima to my awaiting transfer coach, waving her off I send a message to Lisa, not only to thank her, but to ask when I get get back on with my family. Maybe it was the facilities, or the food, but I definitely want to see this ship again.

 

Rhiann x

For more information on MSC cruises please contact me on 07930662292, or email : Rhiann.hill@thepersonaltravelagents.co.uk

Star gazing at Star Fen, Lincolnshire

A little fact: me, us as a family, we adore Christmas (my son was due at christmas, we got engaged and married in December, and we brought our first home a week before xmas). Yeah sure, gimmie a beach and a cocktail in the summer, but in the winter I love to go for brisk walks and have a snuggle with a hot chocolates or a cheeky mulled wine, copious amounts of what I call ”dirty” food, and (as my friend Sarah will chuckle when she reads this) a cheeseboard, and yes I’m talking a ”dirty” Stilton and the whole lot!

 

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With this in mind (and some money burning a hole in my travel pockets) I had been looking to get us a weekend break near our wedding anniversary (10th Dec’) , now I will confess to not being armoured by passengers that take week, nay months, looking for a holiday, but I had been looking since August and it was now November (hypocrite I know) . Using my trusted partners at Hoseasons, I had been looking at their lodges & parks range, our normal go to , but then I was struck with an idea to look at their cottages range, I was not disappointed :
Rural location , check
Hot tub, check
Local amenities, check
Less than 2 hours from home, check
Bargain winter weekender, check & check

It’s name : The Den at Star Fen, Nr Heckington, Lincolnshire.670171

So 3 weeks prior , I booked it, packed it and even braved the drive there (I’m still learning).

On arrival our hosts Sharon & Tim, were away for the night themselves, but had left clear instructions on how to enter the cottage , along with a lovely welcome note, information pack, the heating on (#bonus), and even put some milk in the fridge for us.

The cottage is built on their farm, but they do not impose on  you,  their animals however see no boundaries, and the farm cats were regular visitors to the cottage (my son adored this and would encourage them to be fair) . The building is not a typical cottage, it has dining space, the kitchen and bathroom downstairs, and the main living area is upstairs, along with a plush queen bed, double sofa, tv, games and a twin bedroom.

We made ourselves at home on the first night, then at around 8pm, we decided to visit the hot tub. We were just going to relax, but when we got in we were actually gobsmacked, like even I couldn’t talk gobsmacked, with the view of the stars. When I say stars, I mean the whole swirls of the galaxy, planets, constellations, and the first night my son saw a comet – the 2nd night I did too!!! (My husband is still smarting he missed them) . My son exclaimed ” this is the most beautiful place I have ever stayed” – praise indeed from a 8 year old!

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The next day, after a very comfortable sleep and lazy breakfast, we headed to Tattershall Castle (we have national trust memberships), unfortunately the site was closed, the church on site was open, so we had a sneaky look about, then decided to head into Heckington near the cottage.

Heckington is famous for it’s 8 sail windmill, so we thought that would be our first stop. We headed in and paid for a tour of the whole mill, our guide John was great, really engaging the kids and adults. Making your way up and outside the windmill, really makes you appreciate how hard the workers worked those days, for so little too. It really was an informative look into the mill industry. I purchased some of their milled flour (made awesome bread at home) , and we had afternoon tea in their cafe.

After another night star-gazing in the tub, and another peaceful sleep, we headed to the coast, we did some beach combing, had fish and chips, a waffles and ice cream and played in the arcades, proper british seaside stuff.

Our last night was spent, you guessed it, star-gazing in the tub. We packed up and the next morning decided to go to Lincoln for lunch. It’s a beautiful city with lots to offer tourists. The castle is worth the trek up the steep hill.

So in summary I now know why the farm is called Star Fen, I would happily pay to return and sit there stewing, watching the galaxy swirl . Our winter break was a success and we were fully charged heading to christmas itself, thank you Sharron and Tim!

Explanations………

Well it’s been a year since my last blog, since I was starting to feel better, what I didn’t know is I needed a bit longer. A bit more of a break to get on track, maybe a full detour. When I feel guilty about this , I have to remind myself that I have worked since being 15, I have given so much of myself, that I had nothing left for me. Then the one thing I have to remember most, and what anyone reading this should too: it’s ok to not be ok, and it’s ok to have compassion for yourself, aswell as others – give yourself the advice you would give a friend in a pickle.

The problem with taking time out, is you can get lost in the fog, you can lose all sense of direction. I did this with work, lost my confidence and therefore withdrew from all new enquiries, save a few close friends. From the outside I probably seemed selfish, rude even, but how can you explain something you don’t really know the answer to, plus we were going through the motions of buying & selling a house (stress city). I am sorry, deeply. One thing you should know is I hate letting anyone down, or not being able to help in any way. Helping people has always been something I’ve thrived on, and I hope all my existing clients know this.

Anyway, questioning my abilities has been a downfall, something I really shouldn’t be doing. In this vein I started doing the odd enquiry for old passengers , to see if I still had the knack (like riding a bike I suppose). It was this weekend , whilst booking a great Orlando holiday for my passengers S & M.B, that I felt something nice, familiar: excitement!!!

It made me realise I didn’t want my travel journey to end, I have spent 20 years in the field, I love talking shop – I love meeting passengers – hearing their holiday stories – making new friends – seeing new places – learning new things – the world really is your oyster! & I travel it daily along with you 🙂

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If you would like my help, assistance or knowledge – email me @ Rhiann.hill@thepersonaltravelagents.co.uk
or Call 07930 66 22 92 and leave a message.

Just a few tips, so we get the best out of each other :

1) Have a budget in mind , I will get you the best deal possible – but everyone has a limit – me included 😉

2) Know your dates of travel (even a day can make a massive price difference), including duration & airports you can fly from if applicable

3) Don’t be afraid to show me what you’ve found on line, or the high street- we all compare these days – I’m not offended.

4) Be honest, I have thick skin, tell me your likes, tell me where you don’t want to go, what you love to do – it all helps get you the best for your hard earned money 😉

5) Remember I do all types of holidays, Jet2, Thomas cook, Kuoni etc plus UK breaks, city escapes, cruise and long haul – hit me up for ideas.

That’s me done rambling for today, thanks for reading, being a part of my journey, your support and love – all sent back at you ❤

❤ Rani – aka Rhiann – aka a travel agent 🙂

The Bermuda triangle……..

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Well I couldn’t have called myself the ”Truthfultravelagent” and not be honest………..

I’ve recently (since October 2017) taken time away from my business to concentrate on my mental health. For anyone wondering I suffer from GAD (genral anxiety disorder) – this means I can worry about anything, from even as simple as how many tins of beans we have! It’s exhausting, but it’s also like being tired & having enough energy to bounce off of the walls at the same time – trippy!

I am a big beliver on talking about my struggles, as mental health is still a taboo, and massively underfunded compared to other illness’ – it can be a silent and invisable thing to spot, but this makes it nontheless painful. I am currently taking medication, and having talking therapy (CBT/DBT/EDMR), which helps so much. After 5 months of feeling pretty crappy, I am now wading out of the Bermuda triangle of fog that is anxiety – and just wanted to let people know where I’ve been. When you are trapped in the fog, the simple things, like the school run, can seem like mountains – obviously I have had to prioritise these things over taking new bookings (I’ve still been looking after existing passengers) This has been so tough, as being a travel agent is one of the things I actually feel good at and enjoy.

I would like to thank my head office staff for their support during this time, my loyal and amazing customers – who have reached out and made me feel better on dark days – this has meant the world. My fantastic sister, and close friends, not only for being there for me, but trying to understand my illness and be there to try and make me, me again (the leopard printed, multicoloured haired & cheeky monkey one). But mostly my beautiful boys, who have been the little rays of sunshine I have depseratly needed, when I thought I would never find my way out of the fog……………..

All my love to you all , always , Rani x

A day in the life of a home working travel agent……….

So I know what most of you think, because you ask me all the time : ‘’Oh my days, looking for holidays all day, that would be my dream job, it must be so easy, sat at home all day? ‘’

Ok let’s get one thing straight, working in travel is an absolute pleasure, most of the time, so I am not here to say otherwise. I am just going to show you, that like you in your job, we have to work extremely hard, and above and beyond what a normal customer service role entails. Here is my average day (last Friday to be precise) ………

Let’s start at the beginning, I wake up, and grab my phone for a quick check, this includes the usual facebook stalk etc, but also a thorough check of my emails and business social media accounts, in case something urgent has happened in my sleep. Hopefully this is not the case, and today is incident free. I then get up & get myself a 7 year old , and my husband, ready for school/work. Me personally, I like to do all my household jobs before I sit at my desk, which is usually around 8:45am.

Once at my desk, I start to work through my enquiries, from new customers and existing, a written list of tasks is an agent’s best tool, distractions pop up often and out of the blue. Today I have: 3 new holiday enquiries, 2 enquiries to change existing holidays, 3 emails from my administration team to chase documents, and a hours training session from a new tour operator. I need to try and fit this in before the school run.
Firing the laptop up, I start tapping away at my keypad for the first enquiry, I’m also now on hold to one of the tour operators for documents on an existing booking. This first enquiry really needs a free child place to fit in budget, so I’m going through several search engines at once, being an agent you become submersed in holidays and airport codes, I feel like to us, it’s like the code of the Matrix. Just in the midst of finding a good deal, the phone is answered, so I have to leave the details, and move back to the administration page of my booking system, right that’s that sorted, paperwork en route, now back to that free child place search…….

Ok, so I have 2 perfect options including everything the client needs and a free child place on each holiday, typing them up to send to the client, the phone rings : ‘’Hi Rhiann, I have booked with ‘’xyz holidays’’ to fly with Ryanair and I’ve heard they have cancelled several flights, can you help me , I can’t get through to them now and I’m panicking’’ This is hard, I have to explain that I can’t speak for the company she has used, and for her to keep trying and I’m sure it’ll be ok. I hate this part, there is literally nothing I can do. I have also heard the news about Ryanair, and been through all my bookings to make sure I have contacted all of my passengers that were affected, and changed their details if required. I just can’t do anything if you book with someone else, but I try where I can.

So the email quotes with free kids offers are out, and I’ve managed to get the other enquiries done and sent out too (a city break to Budapest and a Lapland day trip). I’ve also managed to work out what is needed to change the other holidays, so reply to the passengers their options via text (they’re both at work so it’s better for them this way). My facebook page pings with another message not long after, another passenger is travelling next month: ‘’ Hey Rhiann, we’re off soon, I’m a bit stressed about the paperwork, someone at work says I have to check in for the flights, is that what you said you’d do for us, sorry to bother you’’. I reply ‘’ Hi, yes I’m doing all your paperwork, 2 weeks prior to travel, you just sit back and relax, I’ve got this, you just make sure you buy some suncream lol ‘’ Part of booking with any reputable agent is that they should hold your hand through all the little things, like boarding cards, advance passenger information (API), visas etc. I would rather someone message me, than sit and worry, that’s what I’m here for, and unlike shops I don’t ‘’close’’ so it makes it easy for passengers to contact me this way, as well as apps like Whatsapp too.

Looking at the clock and it’s 1:17pm, whoops I’m overunning, being a great multi tasker I manage to shove a cheese sandwich in my mouth, whilst pegging a ‘’white wash’’ out (yes I’m a bad mum and forgot to do the school shirts yesterday) I grab a bag of crisps and a drink, and log in for todays training: A lovely new operator that does attraction passes and tickets, some of which I fancy – Universal Studios new Volcano Bay water park – & some of which make me itch – A Great white shark cage dive!!. Making lots of notes, I try to absorb as much information as possible, I love learning about new travel products, luckily the world is a big place, so it’s very hard to get bored at this job, as it’s constantly moving and I like to keep my finger on the pulse.

Checking my emails after the training, I see I have one from a previous passenger, thanking me for a lovely holiday, and asking me to look for the next one, I  manage to get a quick phone call in with them, pre school run, and make sure I take full notes of what they are after: A multicenter in Sri lanka, wildlife focussed, then a chill week in the Maldives – my cup of tea! I know exactly where to look for this one, saw some great offers with a reputable supplier last week. Anyway I’ve got to dash & put my earphones in for the trek up to school to get the boy – this is my exercise for the day!

After doing the spellings, homework, and reading on our return, I let the boy have some down time on the games console (he still insists on telling me every little detail of his Minecraft building though – that game!! ) . This is the time I use to make some dinner, and have a cuppa and usually just read some daily news. Today however, I’ve decided to call the Sri Lanka operator, and they’re putting me together a fabulous itinerary for what my passengers are after, they are emailing it over too, so I can show them all the tour details to look over fully. I can admit here that I do get jealous when I see some of the places my passengers are going, I’m only human, & I have a bucket list longer than my arm. On saying this though,  I am always genuinely happy to see people off on new adventures, to see their photos, and hear feedback on their return.

My husband is back now. So we grab dinner, talk over the day’s events, and as he goes off to get the boy ready for bed, I log on to my laptop again. It’s now gone 7pm, but this is my busiest time, as many parents put their kiddies down, and jump onto their own emails and facebook etc for the first time that day. The free child quotes I sent have been looked  through, and the passengers have messaged me to book one of them on a low deposit. They just have a few more questions, which I answer, then I call them to get all the names and get the holiday booked. The question they first asked – and many do – is how do I get paid. This is how it works :

.When I make a booking, the cost is always what you see and agree, no hidden costs/fee’s.

.The tour operator pays a set commission to head office (Midcounties Co-op) & I get a percentage of this roughly a month before you travel.

.The rest is used to provide full ABTA/ATOL protection, and a administration team at head office.

.This ensures I always have your best interests at heart, you go and enjoy, you book again or refer people to me, I get more bookings, and the cycle keeps going.
So there you go, it’s a winner winner chicken dinner deal, you can also earn Midcounties Co-op points through booking through me, which my customers love, and although I would never say I am the cheapest (sometimes I am though) the nature of travel is to get what you pay for. Because I deal directly with you, I gain as much information as I can to match your needs with my wealth of industry knowledge and experience (nearly 20 years now!) . I also am available at this time of night, on a local or mobile number, which is another perk of my services.

So back to today, that’s another family all sorted now, more happy customers with something to look forward too. I reply to a few other questions that have collated in my emails, then I settle down for some box set binge time with the husband. Two episodes in……. ‘’Bada-ping’’….
Husband ‘’Is that your email’’
Me ‘’yup’’ – heaves off of sofa
Husband ‘’ off you go then, to the laptop – saving the planet one holiday at a time’’

….. we laugh, the boxsets got to wait a few min, there’s no working 9 till 5 here, now what’s the time difference in Sri Lanka again………………. travel-1.jpg

York cottage break

I found a gem of a deal, whilst looking for clients (perks/hazard of the job), for a Yorkshire Cottage, during the school holidays at the end of May. It was only £460.00 for the whole week, and slept 7 of us – my family and my friends also – so we halfed the cost – nothing else came near it budget wise, and we’d never done a cottage in the UK.

The cottages were at a place called Claxton Grange, there are several cottages on site, and you also can take advantage of the shared games room, tennis court and indoor swimming pool. The setting is beautiful, miles of golden fields spread out around it, and  it is a mere 6 miles from York. Our cottage was no.1 Fawkes (named after ”Guy” – but we all thought it was the phoenix from Harry Potter!) Downstairs we had a lovely open plan lounge and kitchen, and one of the bedrooms, upstairs 2 roomy bedrooms, and a nice large bathroom.

We made use of the on site facilities, and had a couple of trips out, our first was to the coast, Bridlington. The last memory I have of Bridlington was of lots of silt on the beach and me and my sister (we were around 8/9 years old) sliding about and getting filthy! I wasn’t expecting much, but it was like a new place! We parked at the park and ride – and was straight onto golden sand, a freshly cleaned beach, lots of trendy beach huts, and more importantly lifeguards on duty. We pitched up and I took the boys beach combing, returning with a bucket of disguarded shells and stones, perfect for adding detail to a few sandcastles. Around 1pm we decided to go into the town, the front has some lovely little lido’s for the kids to play in, found a resturant, and greedily tucked into fish, chips and of course mushy peas. We were all pooped on the ride home, but had to laugh when we went through the villages named things such as ”Buttercram” & ”Wetwang” lol.

Another of the days we all ventured into York, me and my friend to have a girly shopping day, the boys were all off to visit the National Railway museum (more of that below). We split up, me and my friend decided it would be rude to not have a cake and tea at ”Betty’s”, a famous tea shop. Then we hit full gear, going around all the shops, markets and old cobbled tudor streets. We then stumbled across a huge queue to get into somewhere, intrigued we went around the queue and found the entrance to ”The shop that must not be named”, an amazing Harry Potter themed shop, gutted we had missed our chance to enter, we promised to return. We then sat al fresco, at Carluccios and had a lovely Italian meal.

The boys had a completly different adventure, thinking it would be just a couple of trains and rails, they were blown over at the amount of things to do at the centre, they did a murder mystery trail, rode a mini train, and even managed to hold a baby Owl! Baring in mind it was free entrance (a donation is suggested), it was a amazing day for them, and they felt like they hadn’t managed to get around it all.

To pay for our ”day off” from childcare, the men decided it was only fair they had a what I will call ”bromance” day lol. They opted to hire pedal bikes from central york, and did the trail over to a neighbouring Selby, they were at it all day (I think a sneaky pub lunch happened), but for just £20.00 each, again a great day.

So there you are, our little cottage adventure was amazing, great value, and to top it all we even got great weather, someone, somewhere must like us!

Have a great day, be safe, share love.