Ask an expert - SHARON HAND, TRAVEL AGENT
Last updated 2/23/2022 at 2:53pm | View PDF
Is it too late to plan a spring break trip?
The mention of spring break often conjures images of rowdy, hard-partying college students. But the annual weeklong hiatus from school also serves as a way for families to get away.
Prior to COVID-19, spring break destinations required bookings several months ahead of time.
"Now, there are spots available here and there. It isn't as important to book early," said Sharon Hand, of Hinsdale Travel Service.
But it is important to know the ever-changing rules and requirements of the destination. Some countries require forms to be filled out prior to travel. Others require COVID-19 testing. Many countries won't honor a passport that is within six months of expiring.
Hand said knowledge and attention to these and other vital details are among the many reasons to consider using a travel agency when booking a trip. She keeps abreast of the rules and restrictions so her clients don't have to.
Mexico, South Florida, Arizona, Costa Rica and the Bahamas are all great places to escape the cold, but climate isn't the only thing to consider when booking a vacation, Hand said. She encourages clients to consider what each person in a family or travel group will enjoy.
Multigenerational trips can be difficult, Hand said, but there are options to keep everyone happy. An all-inclusive resort, for example, will have activities for the children as well as adults. And although cruises have lost some popularity recently, Hand said they're a great option for groups with different interests.
Panama's beautiful beaches are making it a popular destination, Hand said. And she's seeing the all-inclusive resorts of Jamaica making a comeback.
Not everyone chooses to escape the cold and snow. Ski getaways also are popular - and a great way for families to spend time together.
No matter the destination, Hand said a travel advisor can help you budget not only money, but time, offering suggestions on how to fit as much in as possible while still making the trip relaxing and enjoyable.
"You can't try to see or do everything in one trip," Hand said.
Hand advises all of her clients to purchase travel insurance. In these uncertain times, it's more important than ever, she said.
After five decades years in the travel business, Hand said she still enjoys helping others plan their dream vacations.
"I enjoy working with people. I enjoy the research that goes into it," she said.
Rather than charge travelers, travel agents typically collect commission fees from the airlines, hotels and other businesses on their customers' itineraries.
"A travel agent is the best bargain around," Hand said.
Just as she still enjoys helping others to plan their dream vacations, Hand also enjoys traveling herself. Trips to China, Israel and a cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong stand out as highlights of her many adventures. South Africa remains on her list of destinations she would like to explore.
Hand listed visiting museums, seeing original artwork and "living history outside the framework of a book" among the many things she loves about travel, and the things she hopes to help others enjoy by sharing her experience and expertise.
- by Sandy Illian Bosch