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Introducing Priceless Gem Travel

The (Reader’s Digest) Backstory

In 2012, after giving birth to Lorelei, our second child, I was blessed with the opportunity to join a travel agency and decided to leave my teaching career of seven years to become self-employed. This allowed me to earn a little money (and I do mean little – I made $5,000 in the first 18 months) for our family while also sparing us the expense of having two children in day care at the same time. 

In the beginning, I focused on Disney World because it was what I knew. A love for Mickey combined with numerous trips to the parks allowed me to know the little things to tell people to help them have a magical time at the Most Magical Place on Earth. As such, I branded my business as “Kristin’s Magical Bookings.

Since those first years, I’ve branched out. I have had the opportunity to visit many tropical destinations, cruise with different cruise lines, attend several conferences, and network with other travel agents. I’ve transitioned from planning only Disney trips to planning almost any type of trip that has come my way. Expanding my business in this way has taught me a lot.

What I’ve Learned

I have learned the different parts of the travel process and what goes into booking travel. I have learned about various resort brands, cruise itineraries, and island destinations to best match clients to the perfect trip. I have learned to work with suppliers to create custom itineraries for locations I am unfamiliar with. I have learned to always recommend insurance (because I’ve learned that no matter how much you plan, sometimes a hurricane happens).

If you are familiar with the enneagram, I have also learned that I am an Enneagram 2: The Helper. This personality type means my tendency is to want to do anything that is asked of me and help anyone that comes my way. I quickly say “YES” to any inquiry because I WANT to help. I want to say yes to every unique travel inquiry – from Greece to Dubai to Japan – because someone has come to me seeking help. And I want to be the person to help them. I get great satisfaction from that. It give me meaning and adds richness to my life.

However, I am also learning that this isn’t always a good thing. For certain locations that I don’t know well, I don’t provide much extra value. Sure, my access to great suppliers allows me to put together a trip, but most of my benefit just comes in saving you the time of doing a lot of research. Instead, I’m learning to stay in my lane. 

My Focused Specialties

So what is that lane? Though I know it will continue to evolve and grow over time, right now my focuses will be Disney, the tropics (“fun-in-the-sun”,) small escorted trips, and Hawaii

Disney

Disney World- September 2019

Disney is my first travel love and a destination where I provide immense value to you. The majority of my clients say they can’t imagine having to plan all the details of a trip without me, and that’s my goal. 

I know Disney World with my eyes closed. I can answer almost any question you ask without looking anything up. I can tell you the best and quickest way to get between any two points on property (try me!). I can tell you the restaurants that will book solid at 180 days prior to check-in and the ones that you likely could get a walk-up reservation. I can tell you every character meal and which characters greet at each meal. I can tell you the best touring strategy for each park to work in all of your favorites in the time you have (well, mostly – I can’t work miracles).

Heading back to the Disney Wonder after our day in Cozumel- 2018

I also know Disney Cruise Line. I know the four ships, where they port throughout the year, their basic itineraries, what you need to pre-book, tips for embarkation day, what time of year you can expect your favorite itineraries, when the new itineraries will release, what musicals are currently on each ship, and more. 

There are also other less-known products under the Disney company umbrella that I want to start to introduce my clients to. Offerings like Aulani and Adventures by Disney are tailor made for people exactly like many of you reading this, and I feel I’ve done a disservice by not doing a better job of introducing these to those of you that would love those experiences. They are fabulous products with the incredible Disney attention to detail and storytelling, but that branch outside of just the Mouse. 

Tropical/Fun-in-the-Sun

Sandals Montego Bay- June 2018
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic- August 2019

My second focus will be on tropical, fun-in-the-sun trips for couples celebrating milestone occasions and families wanting to get away together and reconnect. I have been to several tropical islands and resorts over the past few years, and as a result, I have learned to help clients narrow down their search from thousands of overwhelming options to a resort and location that best fits your needs and desires. My value comes in helping you find the right place for your vacation.

Small group escorted trips

Dolomite Mountains, Italy- July 2018

I am working with some incredible companies that specialize in small group escorted trips. On these trips you are greeted by guides as soon as you arrive. They take care of every detail from start to finish. These trips include deep-dives into culture and active adventures in locations with incredible customized service. They are perfect for taking your family into areas you don’t feel comfortable being completely on your own. 

Hawaii

NEXT WEEK, I am headed to Hawaii to become an O’ahu Master Island specialist. This training will allow me to really focus on helping clients plan custom Hawaiian vacation packages, and our entire family is planning an extended trip to Hawaii in 2020, where I will learn even more to help you plan your Hawaiian vacation. 

This is an area I am SUPER excited about. I can’t wait to help my clients immerse themselves in the island culture, savor incredible food, relax on picturesque beaches, journey through most of Earth’s climate zones in a single trip, take exciting risks and see once-in-a-lifetime sights.

Why Should You Care?

My plan in specializing in fewer destinations is to really be able to excel in planning YOUR next vacation.

When you come to me to plan a Disney trip, I want to be your breath of fresh air as you surface from the overwhelming ocean of Disney facts, information, and tips that are out there. Ask FaceBook for Disney tips and watch what happens: you will get 543 answers and not one of them will actually be taking YOUR family into consideration. I want to truly get to know YOU and help you plan the vacation that you want and is the best fit for you. Not the trip your friend had or your neighbor thinks you should go on.

If you want to travel with grandparents and grandkids to a relaxing beach where there is something for everyone to be happy and relax, I want to help you find the place that really fits your personality and expectations.

If you want to travel to Europe with children but can’t imagine doing so with them so young, I want to share how an Adventures by Disney or Backroads trip will quiet every fear, take your hand and help you see the world with your children and create memories that you didn’t even know were possible. 

Whether you are visiting the world’s most popular theme park or a remote beach in the Caribbean, I want to come alongside you to help you experience a place more deeply, more fully than you could if you were planning this trip on your own. I want to take the stress away from you so that you can focus on the memories with your family. My job is to help you to be able to slow down and savor. 

Explain the New Name Already

You may have already noticed on my email and social media, so moving forward I will be operating under the name Priceless Gem Travel. Mostly based on the details above, I feel this name reflects who I am and what I love about travel, and what I want to help my clients experience. I want you to not just visit a place, but take a vacation where you discover a “priceless gem.” Whether that is a destination you fall in love with or a particular detail of a trip that I can help you discover, that is what I want my business to be about. 

Once again, I’m incredibly grateful for your support over the past seven years, and I hope to do an even better job helping you plan priceless vacations in the future.

Disney

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Howdy Partner!

Toy Story Land opened on June 30, 2018 in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Featuring two brand new rides – Slinky Dog Dash (a family friendly roller coaster) and Alien Swirling Saucers (a gentle spinning ride) – this new area of the park shrinks you down to the size of a toy plopped down in the middle of Andy’s room.

Toy Story Land is the newest addition to a Disney theme park, the first new “land” since the opening of the new Fantasyland/Storybook Circus in Magic Kingdom in December, 2012. It comprises 11 acres of colorful family fun! If you’re wondering, the next new land slated for opening is Star Wars Land, which will also be in Hollywood Studios.

Side note: Hollywood Studios is one of the four Walt Disney World theme parks. A common misconception is that Universal Studios Orlando is synonymous with Hollywood Studios. Disney and Universal are actually owned by two different companies and, as such, require different tickets for entry. Universal has two parks – Universal Studios, featuring “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Ally” and Islands of Adventure, featuring “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade. Disney has four parks – Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios (the subject of this post)… 

So, back to Hollywood Studios and Toy Story Land. The theme of Toy Story Land is that when you enter you are the size of a toy, and Andy has vacated the premises and left his toys scattered in the yard. You get to wander around and play among his K’Nex, blocks, tinker toys, flying saucer set, and more.

You can spend hours being surprised and delighted as you discover the Christmas lights draped across the land, the popsicle stick fence, the number 2 pencils, and drinking straw light fixtures. Get lost in the nostalgia of your childhood as you share these memories with your children or grandchildren. Laugh in joy as you board the back of Slinky Dog and soar into the air and dash across the backyard.

A few tips for visiting the new land:

Plan to stay on Disney property and have your room booked 60+ days before travel. When you stay at a resort on Disney’s property you can book Fast Passes 60 days prior to travel. It is important to be booked before this point so you can have immediate access to Fast Pass booking when the window opens. New rides, such as those in Toy Story Land, will see Fast Passes gobbled up immediately.

Plan two days (or two half-days) at Hollywood Studios. If you want to see all of the main attractions with the least waiting possible, your best bet is to spend two partial days at Toy Story Land (with at least one day being at park opening). Disney has a tiered Fast Pass system so you can only pre-book one Toy Story Land fast pass per day. If you plan on two days in the land you can book each of the two new attractions on a different day.

Plan your Hollywood Studios day towards the end of your trip. Because Disney allows you to book Fast Passes for your entire stay at 60 days before the day you check in, the Fast Pass availability for the end of your stay is better than the beginning. Slinky Dog Dash is a very popular ride and the Fast Passes run out quickly. It is important to book right at 7 a.m. 60 days before you travel and booking on your fourth or fifth day at Disney will yield better availability than booking on your first or second day.

Fast Passes (as well as Dining Reservations and touring plans) are included with my services when you book your Disney trip through me, so I’ll make sure to take care of all this for you as we plan your perfect vacation!