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!

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

How to Digitally Detox on Your Vacation in 3 Easy Steps

If you’re reading this on your phone right now then stop, look up, and take note of the kink in your neck.  Yeah we need to work on that.  Our smartphones are indispensable parts of our lives but they’re also preventing us from living.  We experience less first hand in real time for ourselves in favor of second hand on a tiny screen.

Use a real camera rather than your phone to take pictures without social media distractions. Just be sure to look up from the camera as well and really enjoy your surroundings.

This will simply not do when on your vacation.  So let’s digitally detox you in preparation to live, experience, and enjoy your vacation (yes you can still Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram it later).

Step One: Use an actual camera to take pictures.  True this is substituting one digital device for another; however, the camera serves only one function – to take pictures/video – which greatly decreases its distraction value.  Focusing on capturing the moment, rather than snap – tag – upload, snap – tag – upload, will allow you to be in the moment and experience it with your travel companions in real time and make actual memories of seeing it first-hand rather than on a screen.  Just remember, in between taking pictures, to put the camera down and simply look at the scenery around you.  Take in the architecture, breath in the history that surrounds you, run your hands over the ancient façade and actually BE there.

Step Two: When heading out for the day, all but one of you leaves the smart phone in the hotel.  Smart phones and their connectivity are extremely helpful while traveling – the GPS alone is a life saver.  But not everyone needs to bring their phone.  Have a designated navigator who uses her phone for ONLY that reason – not social media!  You’re on vacation with your friends or family, so be with them and share the experience.

Each day have only one person bring their phone for any navigational issues or in case of emergency. NO social media time!

Step Three: Hair of the dog.  You’ve been away from social media all day long and your jonesin’ for it, I totally get it!  So do your social media posting in the evening.  Upload the camera pics to your laptop, ruminate on the perfect hashtag, and induce major jealousy back home.  You’re probably about 6 or 7 hours ahead of them which means all your posts will hit during social media prime time back home with plenty of opportunities for your peeps to share, retweet, like, and comment.

-Chad

Spring Break for Families – 2 Ideas That Benefit Parents and Kids

Spring break is coming up and you need to figure out what to do with the kids.  The typical choices are either A.) take time off from your job to babysit them yourself, or B.) pay someone else to babysit them for you.  As much as you like at-home family time, that’s either burning precious work leave or shelling out $$ for a babysitter.  Since either option has you taking leave time and spending money, I present to you option C.) take a family vacation where everyone gets to have fun!

The next issue is how to have a family vacation where the parentals actually get to have some fun AND find a little time to rest.  Fear not, I have the solutions!

A family all-inclusive beach vacation is the way to go to maximize fun and value.

Solution 1 – All-Inclusive Beach Vacation:  Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica have some amazing beaches, amenity-filled all-inclusive resorts, and value-for-your-money that can’t be beat!  Add to that regular charted flights from major U.S. gateways like Baltimore-Washington, Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Dallas, and the package savings and value are incredible.  There are a ton of family-friendly all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean that include activities for the kids so parents can spend time on their own to unwind and soak up some sun.  Everyone wins!

River cruises with Adventures By Disney take all the planning and guess work out of your overseas family vacation.

Solution 2 – Vacation Overseas with Adventures by Disney: Disney vacation options are so much more than Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or Disneyland in California.  And, let’s be honest, you don’t want to do the Disney parks scene during a major spring break when everyone and their cousin is there too.  Instead, take the family vacation overseas that you’ve always wanted but with none of the hassle.  Adventures by Disney include family-focused escorted tours all over the world and on the rivers of Europe.  Adventures by Disney takes care of all the details so the parentals can do their own thing and relax, the kids get some amazing culturally immersive activities, and the whole family will experience an international destination that will keep everyone smiling!

How are you going to spice up your family’s spring break?

-Chad

Top 3 Travel Safety Precautions to Save Your Life, Wallet, and Sanity

We seem to have our safety priorities turned around.  We choose a destination that seems “safe” these days – safe from terrorist attacks, natural disasters, etc.  Although the statistical likelihood of any of those happening on the trip we’re planning is SUPER low, we fixate on them and then ignore the safety precautions that will save us from all the things that are statically likely to happen.

To aid you in your travel savviness AND to keep you safe and traveling often, here are my top 3 super simple safety precautions that may just save your life, your wallet, and definitely your sanity:

  1. Learn the Local 911 Equivalent: We’ve all been taught to pick up the phone and dial 911 in an emergency – it’s one of the few numbers we’ve committed to memory. But you need to learn the emergency number for your destination AND keep in mind there may be different numbers based on whether you need police, fire, or ambulance.  Learn the numbers before you depart and store them in your phone.
  2. Don’t Always Have Your Phone Out – For one, you should be looking at the amazing destination you find yourself in rather than staring at your phone. But also, staring aimlessly at your phone tells pickpockets you are not paying attention to your surroundings and that you’re easy prey – you may have your phone snatched out of your hands or soon realize your wallet is no longer in your possession.
  3. Make a Copy of Your Passport – A U.S. passport is considered the highest form of identification in the land; overseas it’s your ONLY form of identification. If your passport is lost or stolen, proving your identity is not an easy task and you certainly won’t be allowed to board any planes home. Having a copy of your passport will help speed up the process for getting a new passport at a U.S. embassy or consulate.  Leave a copy at home and pack a copy to bring on your trip.  You can even scan your passport and email it to yourself.

Be smart, stay safe, but most importantly, have fun!

-Chad

Show Me the $$: Navigating Foreign Currency Exchange

Let’s be honest: dealing with foreign currency is a hassle because math is hard (or at least it is when you’re on vacation . . . well at least for me it is). So what are the best ways to prep for spending money on your trip without getting fleeced?

Best Way: Use a Credit Card with No Foreign Transaction Fees
Currency exchange rates change daily and the best way to keep up without having to think too much is to use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Call your credit card company to see if they offer this on your current card. If they don’t, sign up for a new one immediately otherwise you’ll be hit with a percentage fee of each overseas transaction you make and that adds up quickly. I personally use Chase Sapphire Preferred and I LOVE it.

Bank
Order money from your bank prior to departing and be sure to see if they have partnerships with overseas banks to avoid ATM fees.

OK Way: Get Foreign Cash from your Bank Before You Depart
Most banks keep popular foreign currency on hand (such as Euros and British Pounds) or they’re available to order on their website and pick it up at your local branch. This is super convenient as the bank will debit the money from your account and then let you know when it’s ready for pickup. The big drawback is that the bank’s “exchange rate” typically doesn’t match the market rate because they use the rate from the market’s close the previous day and then add their own hidden fee “mark up.” Still, it’s a good way to have some cash on hand when you land so you don’t have to deal with . . .

The Most Expensive Way: Airport/Hotel Exchanges and ATMs
If you can avoid it, DO NOT exchange money at the airport or hotel – the rates are abysmal and you will lose money. You know how items at a corner store are more expensive than they would be at the grocery store? It’s the same idea with exchanging money at the airport or hotel: you’re paying extra for the convenience. Sure, they work in a pinch but you are getting less for your money. ATMs are a crap shoot as you will likely be charged a fee by the bank ATM and your bank. Some larger international banks have partnerships with overseas banks that will allow you to avoid fees so be sure to ask your bank prior to departure.

Sometimes There’s No Need to Bother
If you’re going to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico or the Caribbean, you really don’t need to bother exchanging money as resort staff will be happy to accept U.S. currency for tips. Bring a stack of one’s and tip a couple dollars with each drink and leave some on the table after eating in resort restaurants.

-Chad

Save Yourself: 4 Essential Travel Tips

You’re on vacation but your smart phone can’t save you now. You’ve arrived in Europe and you didn’t want to shell out the extra money for an international data plan for your phone. Why should you? Everywhere has WiFi! Except where you are right now . . . and you have no idea where to go or what to do . . .

We take our 24/7 access to the internet for granted. The moment we have a question, need directions, or have the nagging urge to watch cat videos, our laptops and smart phones provide without fail. But when you go overseas, international data plans can become expensive and coverage can run the gamut from robust to nonexistent in the span of a few miles.

You’re on an international vacation so you’re obviously looking to try something out of the ordinary. Here are 4 tips that will help you make the most of a new travel experience.

  1. Learn how to drive a stick shift: Yeah your smart phone wouldn’t have really helped you out either way on this one (except maybe to watch a YouTube video on driving stick – but it’s really not the same . . .).
    First gear can be tough but it’s smooth sailing from there!

    Ubiquitous automatic shift cars are mostly a North America thing. Pretty much everywhere else people drive stick shifts. Sure you can rent an automatic shift car while abroad, but it will cost you and the options are limited. Ask a friend to teach you and head to an empty parking lot. First gear is always the hardest. It’s a piece of cake from there!

  1. Be ok with approaching strangers: Trying to find the best place to eat by slogging through online reviews is a hassle. GPS’ing your location if you’re lost may not be an option without a signal. So talk to the locals! They know the best places to go and how to get there. Start with local business owners or hotel staff – they often speak multiple languages and service is their thing. Want an even better insight? Go to a local bar and chat up the regulars.
  1. Learn to estimate currency and measurement conversions: Most of the world deals in kilometers, liters, and Celsius rather than miles, gallons, and Fahrenheit.
    A quick bit of math in your head will save you the headache.

    And you don’t want a surprise on your credit card statement when you’ve just been handing over the plastic and not thinking about what you’re spending. Learn some basic conversions so you can do a little math on the fly. The calculator on your smart phone doesn’t need a signal to work, you just need to have an idea of the numbers to punch in. Not great on math? Whip yourself up a little cheat card to keep on you with currency and measurement conversions.

  2. Learn a language: And I don’t mean just learning “Do you speak English?” in a foreign tongue. Google Translate is clunky and of no use if you don’t have any service. Before you leave for vacation try out free apps like Duolingo to get you started on the basics. Though pricey, I can personally attest that Rosetta Stone courses are excellent for romance languages (such as French, Spanish, and Italian). Knowing some of the local language will catapult a scratch-the-surface-visit into a real immersive experience. The locals will appreciate it and it’s a huge confidence boost when navigating a new place.

-Chad