How to become a DIY travel agent
How do you normally go about booking a holiday? Do you have your travel agent on speed dial, or do you spend hours yourself online researching the best deals?
With so many options and so many price comparison sites on the internet, booking your holiday can soon go from being one click away to information overload.
And while doing it yourself may save you a few bob here and there, do you run the risk of missing out on the overall experience?
Singing superstar Jamelia and family travel expert Emily Kaufman have travelled the world and as mums know how time consuming it can be to try and plan a family holiday.
In the following Web TV show, Jamelia and Emily discuss their own holiday experiences and answer your questions live online, as well as offering tips on finding the perfect holiday for the right price, without hours of research.
Jamelia and Emily Kaufman, the U.S. Travel Mom join us live online to discuss travel planning.
For more information visit www.visitorlando.com/uk
H: Vicky Letch, host
A: Emily Kaufman, U.S. Travel Mom
H: Coming up on the show today we’re going to be discussing how you can get the most out of your family holiday
H: Hello and welcome to Travel Talk, I’m Vicky Letch. Now then, ever since your little ones have been old enough to enjoy Disney cartoons no doubt you’ve had in your mind that perhaps you may visit Orlando at some point. Or could it be that in fact you’re just as keen to meet Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck as your kids? Well wherever you’re off to on holiday this year, you’ve come to the right place because we’ve got some top tips on how you can get the most out of your family trip. Joining me today is family travel expert Emily Kaufman, welcome Emily
A: Hi it’s good to be with you
H: It’s lovely to have your company, I’m looking forward to hearing all about your tips and advice, so here’s what’s coming up on the show today: Top tips and essential planning to get the most out of your holiday from our Orlando travel expert, Emily – again. Celebrity mum Jamelia popped in a little bit earlier on and talked about her family holiday planning, and then of course we’ll be tackling all of your questions live a little bit later on. A good reminder for you at home that we are indeed live so do get your questions in and your comments of course, and if you are using Twitter then you can use the # tag Visit Orlando. We’d love to hear from you, certainly if you’ve visited and any advice that you might have for people watching that would be great. So Emily, let’s get straight down to business. Lots of people now are talking about DIY holidays so they seem to be leaning towards organising things themselves and actually moving away from those traditional package deals – is that good news for the family holiday?
A: It’s good news and not good news. As we know many, many family holidays are planned by the mum in the family
A: And that means that the internet is a fabulous resource to use, and it works really well because you can get on it while the kids are napping or after the kids have gone to sleep or if you’re at work and you have a little bit of a break. It’s a wonderful up-to-the-minute resource to turn to get all kinds of information, arm yourself with information, so you can make certain that the vacation and holiday experience that you’re taking matches the flavour and the personality of the people that are actually participating in it
H: Because it really puts you in the driving seat then doesn’t it
A: It does
H: You can be in charge of the type of experience you have
A: It does. And I also like the concept of working with a travel agent because they can execute all of those details, they can book your flights and your accommodations and that type of thing. What I suggest to people is use the internet as a resource to plan out things that you would like to do. Find the types of experiences that you’re interested in and then you walk into a travel agent armed with information about what type of holiday you’d like to have
H: Do you know what I think that is absolutely brilliant advice because with anything in life, if we walked into any shop and we were having that exchange of money for something, we would have a strong idea of what we want in return so I think that’s really good advice. Orlando. Now the minute I think of Orlando, I’ve been two times in my life and I absolutely loved both of the experiences I had. Very different both times, but I have to be honest it fills me with a bit of panic in that I think there are so many things to do, how on earth do you squeeze down your list of to-dos? Because there is just so much to do there
A: Well as we’ve learned that are 67 days worth of activities to do
A: And I’m so excited because I’ve come all the way over from the United States to help people to simplify and understand this Orlando planning experience. What you need to realise is the theme parks are amazing
H: They are
A: There’s so much fun to be had at theme parks. However there is so much more – there’s fine dining, there’s entertainment, there’s nightlife, there’s adrenalin-pumping activities, there’s outdoor fun, health and wellness, golf, education – so many different things
H: Shopping! Shopping!
A: And lots and lots of shopping
H: I love the shopping there. I think people do tend to lean towards the theme parks because that’s what everyone comes back and talks about, but it’s all those hidden gems that are there waiting to be unearthed. I really think, for me, it’s a destination that really has something for everyone
A: It truly does have something for everyone, and you want to go over for the theme parks and enjoy those theme parks, and while you’re there, try some of these other things also
A: Something I do want to share is that now more than ever it’s easy to travel there and to have a celebrity-type experience where you get early access into those theme parks, extra hours in the theme parks, front-of-queue access. By staying on property for the various theme parks whether it’s Disney or Universal or Sea World, they’ve paired up with so many different accommodations and you can learn about the entire destination at visitorlando.com. It’s the most comprehensive look you get at the entire destination. It talks about family-friendly activities and dining offers and a whole smattering of different types of activities that are available
H: Fantastic. Now what about people watching right now thinking well this all sounds fine and dandy and I definitely want to go, I’ve chosen that as my destination, but I’ve got one child that likes x, y and z and then I’ve got a younger child that wants to do this, and then there’s the middle child. How can we approach it and perhaps plan it so that we’re pleasing everyone?
A: Well that’s the challenge for mum isn’t it,that you want to plan the vacation so that it works for everybody in the family. You’re sticking to your budget and you’re getting a bit of a holiday yourself, and there are ways to help and there’s a new planning tool online that will help you to sort of streamline that experience so you can meet the needs of everybody and just like there’s beauty makeovers and home makeovers that enhance your experiences there are now holiday makeovers that are available through that Orlando website
H: And also I mean again from a personal point of view I just don’t want adults to be put off because I would say going to Disney World, I defy anyone, even a grown man not to be wowed by the parades and the fireworks, I mean it’s awe-inspiring. I do really want everyone to try and experience that at least once in their life, so even the things that we think are just for children, actually us older types can get a great experience from it.
A: Absolutely you’re 100% right and whether it’s the theme parks or continuing to learn something new every time you take a holiday – just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean that the learning and education stop. You can do these immersive hands-on experiences go to Kennedy Space Centre and have lunch with a real live astronaut
A: Every day of the year. Go to Discovery Cove and get in the water and swim with a dolphin. There’s immersive, hands-on experience. Maybe there’s a wine-tasting seminar, a health and wellness workshop – really something for everyone
H: Yes. It’s almost like, actually if you went for two weeks walking around in a fantasy land for two weeks because there’s everything there are your fingertips, it’s just choosing the right activities for you. And you were saying even if you’re a bit of an adrenalin junkie there’s some wild and crazy things you can do?
A: There’s so much fun and so many different ways to experience things, maybe you love the fireworks shows, there’s a helicopter tour at night that goes through the different theme parks and shows you the –
A: And shows you the helicopters. There’s war birds that a replica aircraft from the war that you can go up and have the experience in, there’s indoor sky diving and outdoor hot air ballooning, zip lining and canoeing, you name it and it’s there. So important when you are planning a holiday whether it’s to Orlando or anywhere else that you’re matching the flavour and personality of that holiday experience to the people taking it
H: Absolutely and something that probably would excite most people all ages and both sexes would be the Harry Potter attraction. People are going crazy for that aren’t they?
A: People are going absolutely crazy for Harry Potter, it brings something to life, it’s an emotional experience. You walk in there and it can be a 90 degree day in Orlando and the way they’ve got it themed, you feel like you are actually at Hogwarts
H: Yes definitely. Now we are going to continue our chat about all things wonderful and Orlando-like but earlier on Jamelia popped in and we had a little conversation with her and I understand you’re helping her out somewhat, planning a rather fabulous trip. Can you tell us about that?
A: I am, Jamelia is just like every other mum who’s struggling with the pressures of putting together a holiday. She’s got two children who are very polar opposites
A: One of her daughters is real rough and tumble and the other one is a princess girly girl, so I am working with her to customise her holiday experience in Orlando, just as I will be – we can talk more about this later –
A: For somebody who wants to go and win a holiday to Orlando
H: Which is so exciting, you can give us all the details about that and I must admit, you’ll hear it for yourself; she’s very complimentary of your services young lady. Let’s have a look
H: Jamelia thank you very much for stopping by, we all know you’re a very busy lady
H: Slightly. So busy, so you do lots of travelling
H: But when it comes to your family holidays what is it that you’re looking for? What do you enjoy the most?
B: I feel that we don’t take family holidays often because of mummy and – yes it’s all my fault – and so when we go on holiday I feel like we have to do everything, whatever there is to do, you know I think the main rule is no sleeping, we don’t need to sleep, it’s fine we can sleep on the plane, we’re going to get out there and we’re going to do everything that the place has to offer
H: So you look for lots of activities and things like that?
B: Absolutely, absolutely activities, educational places, fun places – just I mean nature and beaches, shopping, eating – I feel that when we go on holiday it’s supposed to be an experience, I love the fact that my children go home and we can talk about it and we can say oh do you remember this, creating memories and you know experiences
H: What a fabulous mum you are, can I come on holiday with you? So because your time must be so precious then in that case, when you are- you’ve got two girls haven’t you?
B: Yes I have, two daughters
H: Because you are busy, when you are with them on those holidays you want to get the most out of your time,
H: Do you find it hard to choose activities for everyone because you need to enjoy it as well
B: I need to enjoy it but my girls are so different, my eldest Taja, she is a real tomboy, she’s into adventure, she’s into adrenalin rushes and animals and then my youngest all she wants to do really is be a princess, anything that involves anything pink, sparkly – that’s her. Lipgloss, you know and they’re so totally different and so to have a holiday that caters to the both of them and to mummy can be quite a challenge
H: Yes because lots of people would say that with family holidays it’s so important that the kids get a lot out of it
H: They have to be number one
H: But you also don’t want to come back feeling like you need another holiday
H: So are you quite good then at looking after yourself when you’re on holiday?
B: Not really no. I mean I definitely feel that I concentrate on the children and their enjoyment and I must say I do, we do kind of enjoy the same things. I mean I can get a bit bored with the princess-ey stuff but you know that’s what she wants so –
H: Give the children what they want! Now lots of people watching now probably thinking look at you glamorous, gorgeous, successful woman – have you got a busy team around you doing everything for you or are you quite a hands-on mum?
B: I’m absolutely hands-on, I think, I think being a mum – as a mum I definitely feel like I’ve got a lot to prove and so I do it all myself, I don’t have a nanny, I don’t have a cleaner, I don’t have any help
B: I home school my daughters as well
B: Most people think I’m crazy but I genuinely love being a mum, I love you know being – I’m influencing the next generation, I’m creating two humans who are going to be a part of society in the future and I think it’s just so much fun and I think it’s a great responsibility to have and I love it, it’s another job of mine, I love my job
H: I love that, and I like the way you look at it in the sense that you eek that out into the holiday time so as much as you’re having fun it’s a life experience for the girls as well
B: Oh absolutely, absolutely
H: What about for busy mums and dads watching now and thinking this is all well and good in theory but actually sometimes it’s difficult to get everything ready in time. What top tips do you have for people planning a family holiday?
B: I mean my top tips number one, just relax, don’t take anything too seriously definitely don’t take anything too seriously. If something doesn’t go to plan, it’s fine. I would definitely say really think about the personalities of who you’ve got going, think about what they like and what they’re doing and also do not forget time for yourself, it is really very important that you – even if you – it’s an activity, you know an activity for one child and an activity for another child and an activity for mummy
H: Yes, don’t forget mummy
B: You know
H: And we’re not forgetting mummy in May – a little birdie, Emily our travel expert tells me that you’re off to Orlando. How exciting
B: Yes it’s fantastic and I mean you know the tool that they’re using on the website as well, I mean Emily is fantastic, the fact that we have this tool to tailor-make a holiday for mums like me who feel like we can do it all and kind of could do with the help, it’s fantastic, absolutely fantastic, I can’t wait to go. There are so many things I can’t wait to do, can’t wait to see. I’ve heard so much about Orlando now; I just cannot wait to get there
H: Well listen have a wonderful time, by then I would say you definitely deserve a break so make sure you enjoy it and thanks for popping in
B: Thanks so much for having me, thank you
H: Lovely Jamelia I have to say we continued talking after that and she is so excited about this trip, she was all like this in her seat! So tell us a little bit more about how other people perhaps can have the experience.
A: Well Jamelia’s not the only one who gets a holiday makeover because I’ve teamed up with Visit Orlando and we are offering my help in planning the perfect holiday to Orlando for some winners. Now all they have to do is go to their website visitorlando.com/uk, it’s a very simple questionnaire to fill out, you can – it’s only up to 500 words an explanation of why you need a holiday makeover, put a photograph in, submit it and whether you’re a family or a girlfriends getaway or you’re looking for some romance, we are going to send people on an all-expenses paid trip to Orlando
H: What a prize I mean that is just incredible. Fingers crossed if you’re joining in with that. Let’s get underway then with your questions, because we are live today if you have any questions at all, send them in, we’ll see if we can answer them for you. Before we tackle straightaway all of them, just to let you know we’ve had quite a few questions, this one in particular from Yasmine Goodchild regarding travel agents, so if we have a little talk about that. Yasmine says in particular “what is your overall view on travel agents? Are they quicker than booking online yourself?”
A: Well I’m a big fan of travel agents and it’s not necessarily because they’re quicker, it’s because of their attention to detail and their expertise. Remember, travel agents are passionate about travel
A: And particularly when it comes to Orlando, there are people that are certified holiday planners that are experts in Orlando. They know what type of accommodations, they know what time the different events take place at night, they know how to help you to create the holiday that you’re dreaming of. I believe you walk in the door with information about what you’d like to experience and then you turn that over for them
H: And I think there is a lot of value in having that face-to-face experience, because we can lack that somewhat in the way that we live our lives today
A: Yes just as you turn to experts for guidance and direction in so many other areas in your life, I really don’t’ know why people would not turn to a travel professional for a little assistance
H: Exactly and just a reminder of the comment you made earlier at the top of the show – go in there prepared to do your research, know what you want and then you’re going to get exactly the type of holiday you want
A: Well you never go in and surrender completely, you wouldn’t walk into a clothing store and say “dress me” – you know what you like and what you don’t like, so you go into a travel agent and you say “I’m looking for shopping” or “I’m looking for outdoor fun” or “I’m looking for nightlife” and that way you know how to create the holiday experience
H: Exactly. Perfect. Right, moving on then, this is a message or a question from travelbite.co.uk and it says “do you find that having children influences your destination choice? Are you less likely to go for a long haul holiday or flight?”
A: Absolutely having children influences everything that you do in your life, in fact children do influence more and more purchases that are made by families including where you go on holiday, so it’s so important that you pick a holiday destination that really, truly offers something for every age family member. You don’t want to take your children somewhere where it’s going to be all nightlife and partying, you want to make smart choices. You can still go have those adults-only holidays, but makes sure when you’re travelling with your kids that you arm yourself with information, and remember when you’re taking a long haul air flight it is up to you to bring everything on board that you anticipate needing to help your child – changes of clothing, proper snacks – kids are creatures of habit that follow sequence, order and routine. They don’t look at the clock to know what’s coming next. If they have a special blanky you bring that with them, if you have a bath time and bed time ritual you follow that when you’re on the road as well. So remember mum and dad, you set the tone for how your kids are going to behave
H: Very, very good advice. This one from Sean in Wembley, thank you very much Sean. He says “I’m a huge fan of the Toy Story franchise. Can I go see Buzz?”
A: Absolutely, there’s so much fun stuff going on with Buzz and Buzz Lightyear. Right now they’ve got this great Buzz Lightyear attraction within Walt Disney World, and you can go and play games and shoot and interact with Buzz
A: And there’s so much more than just Buzz Lightyear – there’s all those characters come to life throughout all the theme parks, and that makes it so much more meaningful. For me, I’m a softie, I watch kids watch these characters and it melts my heart. As soon as that stops happening I will stop being the Travel Mum because it still makes my heart full
H: Yes I have to say the same experience, in particular last time I went I was with my very little niece and just watching her wide eyed was just – well - quite literally the cutest thing I think I’ve ever seen
H: It was adorable. This one then from Sally, thank you very much Sally and she says “I’ve been to Orlando in the past, is there any point in going again?”
A: Yes there’s so much going on, every time you go there will be something new and exciting, whether it’s a new attraction that’s opening at one of the theme parks or a new restaurant opening or a new adventure going on, that’s when that vacation planning tool comes in
A: There’s so much up-to-the-minute information on the internet that I really encourage people to take the time to do their research, to see what’s hip, what’s new. Of course you’ve mentioned Harry Potter,
A: There’s another Harry Potter film coming out this summer so there’ll be all kind of renewed buzz and renewed interest with that
H: Yes and we’ve already said there is no way that you could possibly squeeze it all in to one visit anyway so
A: Also what I want to make mention to everyone – Legoland is a new thing that will be opening very soon in the Fall and it’s for the littlest of travellers, it’s something that’s targeted and created for the little ones in mind, making it a really great thing if you haven’t done that one or you’ve been to Orlando, look for Legoland
H: Put it on the list!
H: Emily thank you so much,
A: My pleasure
H: Brilliant advice, you transported us there then, momentarily but I still didn’t go on the roller coasters. I’m too scared
A: We’ll figure out a way to get you on those
H: I’ll breathe through it. Thank you so much. And of course our thanks to Jamelia who popped in a little bit earlier on, you saw the footage just a moment ago. And thank you to you too, thank you for your comments, thank you for your questions, that’s it for today but if you want more information have a look on the website visitorlando.com/uk and I’ll see you next time. Bye bye