You Need GBFTravels in Your Life – Here’s the Why AND How!

Random Person: “You’re a what?”

Me: “Gurl, I’m a travel agent.”

They’re smiling because they used a travel agent. Pretty AND smart! Well done boys!

Random Person: “Are people using travel agents again?”

Me: “Yes, you shady queen! People use travel agents. Well, the smart ones certainly do!”

Miss lady momma guuuuuurl! How many times have I had THAT conversation?!

But it’s ok, and I’m not even surprised or phased by it anymore. With all the online options today for researching and booking travel, it’s a legit question. Admittedly, at its core, I’m doing what you would otherwise be doing: combing through options, checking availability, and generally pricing out a vacation.

But here’s where the beauty of using GBFTravels kicks it: I don’t start my research by typing a destination into Google and then sifting through the onslaught of ads and random links that pop up. Oh no no no momma gurl, GBFTravels is much classier than that! Instead, I sass-tastically saunter on over to my curated, premium travel suppliers and destination experts and put it all into a package for you. Et voila!

But I get it, you’re a savvy traveler and consumer, so you want specifics on the why and how you need a ‘lil GBFTravels in your life.

5 Reasons on the Why and How of GBFTravels

 

1. Use GBFTravels for as Much or as Little as You Want

My specialty is putting together the whole shebang: flights, accommodations, tours, etc. But if you need help with just one portion of that, I’m still here for you, momma!

Here are a couple examples of the gorgeousness that I will put together for you:

Click Here for Example 1: Southeast Asia trip for clients visiting a friend in Mumbai and then heading off on their own to Delhi, Siem Reap, and then a quick stopover in Amsterdam on their way back stateside.

Click Here for Example 2: Italy trip for clients attending a friend’s wedding in Tuscany but want to explore a little bit on their own before and after the wedding.

Click Here for Example 3: 10-year wedding anniversary celebration trip to an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Whether it’s a quick getaway, honeymoon, family trip, large group trip, or you just need a quick excursion or tour for a trip you’ve already booked . . . talk to me gurlina, I’m here for you!

2. Quality Control

Just because you found it on Google, doesn’t mean it’s reputable. I start from an already curated list of good quality travel suppliers who are experts in their trade and their destination. An international vacation is not something you should skimp on or take chances. Call me gurl, I know which ones are legit!

3. As Your GBF, I’m Covering Your Blind Spot

Yes momma. I agree. You’re typically very thorough. But a vacation to a new part of the world may include some aspects you didn’t consider. That’s why I’m here. I’ve got you, guuurl!

4. As Your GBF, I’m Also Your Advocate

Hell hath no fury like a homo whose travel clients have been scorned! If there’s a hiccup on your trip, you’ll know exactly who to call. I’m here for you before, during, and after your trip and I provide a single point of contact for all aspects of your vacation.

5. Whether Budget Conscious or Not, You Still Want Value

Value for your vacation investment is crucial!

“Value” is NOT the same as “cheap.” Momma I don’t do “cheap.” And I don’t do “race-to-the-bottom” pricing. If you want that, I’m not for you.

What I am for is taking your desired destination(s), your “must-haves,” your “nice-to-haves,” any “want-to-avoids,” and your budget, and work closely with you to get as much of that in as we can while making sure of the most important thing: that you have a gorgeous ‘lil time on your vacation miss lady momma guuuuuurl!

Whatcha waitin’ for sistah?!?!? Email me or fill out my inquiry form and let’s get you on your sassy vacay!

River Cruising: It’s Not Just for Old People with $$

Oh gurl look! An episode of Downton Abbey is about to start!

If you were a super-fan (like moi) of the show “Downton Abbey,” then inevitably you caught the advertisement just before the episode started, which showed lots of well-accessorized old people sipping white wine on a Viking River Cruise while sailing past the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest. For a time, river cruise lines’ focus on the old-folks demographic made sense, since retired people with money were the only ones with the time and the cash handy to afford a river cruise.

But hallelujah(!) the times are a-changing and river cruising is becoming more affordable and generally more attractive to a wider audience! Yaaaay!

Why Does River Cruising Tend to Cost More??

Unlike the standard ocean cruise, most river cruises are truly all-inclusive with your cruise fare covering room, meals, drinks (including booze!), and daily excursions (although a few super luxe ocean cruises are truly all-inclusive, the more generally recognized brands tend to nickel-and-dime the crap out of you, which is one of the many reasons why I can’t stand them).

River cruises are also MUCH smaller with one hundred guests or less—barge cruises are even smaller with 20–30 people or less. That means a much more hands-on customer service experience and more personal attention.

So, yes, they cost more, but you’re getting WAY more value and bang for the buck! As I always like to say when I’ve dropped a ton of cash on a gorgeous sale—it’s not what I spent but what I saved!

River Cruising IS for Families!

For families looking for a slower paced vacation that focuses on culture and history, then a river cruise is gorgeous option! You just need to know which ones to take.

Several of the major European river cruise lines have family-focused cruise itineraries that add in more kid-friendly activities while also providing an upscale and experiential time for moms, dads, and grandparents. A multi-generational river cruise is also fabulous way to treat the whole family during a school break or over the summer.

To make it more budget friendly, the family-focused itineraries typically discount the children’s cruise fare down to as much as 50% of the adult fare. Importantly, because river cruises are so completely all-inclusive, you pay for almost everything in advance with U.S. dollars, which allows you to take the guess work out of foreign exchange rates.

One thing to note: the typical river cruise cabin is made for only two people, so a family of 4 will be split into two cabins, which is why children are often so heavily discounted on family-focused cruises.

River Cruising IS for Younger Folks!

The average river cruising adult is 45+. But, not only is that average coming down as river cruises gain in popularity and there is more competition, river cruises are starting to specifically target the age 21-40ish crowd.

This year, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises launched U by Uniworld, which caters to this younger demographic. The price point is lower and the schedule is more forgiving by starting excursions later in the day and with more evening events/excursions. There are fewer overall inclusions (for example, booze are pay-as-you-go), but there’s still a lot on offer, including a daily excursion or tour, which make it worthwhile and still a better value and experience than an ocean cruise.

Now, I’m going to be painfully honest with you, while I adore and applaud U by Uniworld’s concept, there are some aspects to “U” that seem as though they were never focus-grouped by actual younger people; instead, they feel more like some board room persona just Googled “what do millennials like to do?” That being said, “U” is a concept with great potential and the upsides vastly outweigh any hokeyness.

Whatcha waiting for gurlina? It’s time for a river cruise!

Your Derriere’s Dilemma of Where to Park on a Plane

(Yeah that’s just a fancy way of saying that your flight’s seat assignments can be tricky, especially when traveling as a family or a group.)

You are always better off when you have a sassy travel agent like moi plan your travel and in your corner when things go awry. But guuuurl we are not magical and airline seating policies are just as frustrating for us as they are for you.

So, if I can’t always get the airlines to see things our way, I can at the very least give you a little bit of insight as to why you perhaps can’t get your seat assignments until you check in or arrive at the airport.

Seat selection can be a little bit stressy-pants.

Airlines are Running Their Own Little Fiefdoms

Whether you buy an airline ticket on your own or through me as part of a vacation package, you are subject to the airline’s “Contract of Carriage” or “Conditions of Carriage,” which spells out what the airline will and won’t do for you. In particular, most airlines’ contract of carriage regarding seats are pretty similar and say something to the effect of, “we cannot guarantee that you will be able to sit in any particular seat,” and/or “we can change your seat at any time, even after you have boarded the aircraft, as we may need to do this for operational, safety or security reasons.” (Those examples are pulled directly from a certain international carrier’s actual Conditions of Carriage.)

Those general provisions give airlines wide latitude for them to fill in the gaps with the following types of policies (which they often do):

  • Charge for selecting seats at any time between reservation and check-in.
  • Charge extra for selecting “premium” seats in your cabin, like exit-row or bulkhead seats.
  • Holding back seats for preferred customers (e.g. customers with elite status in the airline’s loyalty program).
  • Oversell flights (this is a WHOLE other can of worms that we’ll reserve for another day).

What You Can Do

1. Don’t Panic

The fact that airlines have monetized seat selection is indeed rage-inducing. But just because you don’t see a lot of available seats on the seat maps, don’t immediately panic and think you’ll have to spring the extra cash for a “premium” seat since that looks like all that’s left.

Don’t panic! You’ll get a seat! Overhead bin space is another story . . .

First off, airlines often hold back certain seats for certain tiers of customers in the airline’s loyalty program; if they’re not snatched up, then the airline will often release the seats around check-in time. Second, although an airline doesn’t have to guarantee you “any particular seat,” it does have to guarantee you a seat. So, if by the time check in comes around and all that is left in your cabin are the “premium” seats, then the airline needs to seat you in one without charging you extra.

2. Traveling as a Family

This can be trickier. Back in 2016, Congress included in the FAA Reauthorization Bill a provision that tasked the FAA with creating rules that required U.S. airlines to ensure that families were seated together without being charged a fee. However, the FAA has yet to finalize the rule. Thankfully, some airlines (including some international carriers who wouldn’t necessarily be subject to the rule) have their own policies in place that require some form of this, which is something to look for or discuss with me when we’re working on planning your family’s trip.

3. Join ALL the Airline’s Loyalty/Rewards Programs

Yas gurl, I’m mostly serious on this one. ALL. THE. PRO. GRAMS. Well, within reason.

Sign up for airlines’ loyalty programs and you may be able to save money on seat selection.

It costs you exactly $0.00 to join an airline’s loyalty program and you just need to put up with their constant emails (which might clue you in to a gorgeous sale, at which point you contact me and we build a vacation around it! Werq!).

Airlines don’t want you to shop around for the best deals, they want you to fly with them and them only. That’s why they reserve so many perks—like holding back seats from the general flying public or allowing early seat selection at no cost—for their most loyal customers.

You don’t need to sign up all at once. But if your next vacation has you using a new airline, then sign up for their loyalty program, link your flight reservation to the program, and accrue those miles momma! A few long haul flights just might get you into a new tier status that could be enough to garner some perks and/or mitigate some costs on your next flight.

Now go forth my darlings, fly, and avoid paying extra for selecting seats!

Announcing Gay Best Friend Travels!

Oh haaaaaaay sassy travel buddies! I am SUPER DUPER HOLY MOLY EXCITED to announce that I am taking my travel agency in a new direction!

As of today, Four Spheres Travel is going buh-bye and I’m officially launching Gay Best Friend Travels!

The most rewarding part of my business is the fun and rapport I have with my sass-tastic clients. When I was just starting out with my travel agency, like any new business, I needed clients and could not be terribly picky. As I’ve gotten into my travel biz groove over the past several years, I’ve found that the clients I have the most fun with are the ones I can completely be my most fabulous-big-gay-homosexual-sassy-self. In that mode, I can push through the feigned professionalism that other businesses put up as a façade, and really speak to my clients on an honest and personal level.

International travel is one of life’s most rewarding experiences, and you can’t do that well if you don’t have a travel professional like me giving you the down-to-earth honest advice you need to make the best travel choices for the best value. The most effective way for me to give that to my clients is through an interpersonal partnership of complete honesty where I can tell them “yaaaaaaaas momma, this trip is gonna be gorgeous!” or “guuuuurl no, you don’t wanna do that!”

The creation of Gay Best Friend Travels (or “GBFTravels” for short) will do just that. I also understand that with this new travel business ethos GBFTravels may not be for everyone. So, who is the ideal GBFTravels client? The answer is women, LGBT folks, and their families. And yes, straight guys are of course welcome. Just be ok with me calling you “darling,” “honey,” “sweety,” “guuuuurl,” or any number of other pet names!

I am so excited about this new brand and I can’t wait to work with you!  Poke around the website, and then email me or submit an information request through the website and let me know where GBFTravels can take you!

Thanks sassy travel family!

-Chad