An interesting combination, right? Well, you can't get to one without the other - and I've got some news about both!
NEW PASSPORT FEES
The State Department just concluded their public comment period for a new schedule of fees to obtain or renew your United States passport. My initial thoughts on these new fees? YIKES!
Let's get to the numbers - currently, a first-time applicant for a passport pays $70.00, plus a $25.00 execution fee, for a total of $95.00. When these new charges are implemented - and no dates have been announced - you'll be paying a total of $135.00 for your passport. That's a significant jump!
Passport renewals are going up too, from $75.00 to $110.00. Again - yikes! And the rates for a "minors" passport (under age 16) is jumping from $85.00 to $105.00.
And while these rate increases are substantial - and I won't try to tell you they aren't - the State Department is bending over backwards to explain the price hikes and what they do with your passport fees.
It's not a secret that the latest chip-embedded passports are a bit more expensive to produce, but what I didn't know is that my passport fees also cover the costs of providing emergency services for Americans traveling abroad who find themselves in crisis situations, like the recent earthquake disasters in Haiti and Chili. If I'm a victim of a crime while traveling overseas, some of those costs are covered by the fees as well.
The fees are also used to prevent fraud and update the technology in our airports.
Bottom line - you have to have a passport to fly anywhere outside the United States, even Canada and Mexico, so if you've been gathering the things you need to apply for a passport - or even thinking about beginning the process - do it now to avoid the higher rates!
Remember - you'll need your birth certificate (original or certified copy - something with a raised seal), two passport-sized photos (available at most drug stores in their photo department) and your completed passport application (download it at the State Department Web site, www.state.gov).
Passports are valid for 10 years and are a great form of identification. Even with the new rates, they're a worthwhile investment - and are key to your enjoying a great vacation!
I'm very jealous of some lucky clients who are traveling to Ireland this weekend. It's not an attractive quality, but there it is.
Over the past few years, I've been fortunate to spend St. Patrick's Day in Ireland several times. Every effort was made to gather a group of us to go again this year, but with the economy being what it was when I announced the tour last Fall, it wasn't to be.
And while I'm sorry I'm not part of the smaller gang of travelers headed to Ireland today, I'm glad they'll get to experience one of my favorite places in the world.
Some folks wonder why I love to go there this time of year. Let's be honest - it's chilly, sometimes very rainy (but not all the time!), and the legendary "40 shades of green" are down to maybe…30? 32? But Ireland is more than just beautiful scenery - and even this time of year, it is indeed beautiful scenery.
What makes Ireland so special to me is the people. Warm and friendly - especially to Americans - the Irish do their very best to make you feel at home. They love to share their beautiful country - from cosmopolitan Dublin to the smallest villages and every charming town in between.
They also love to talk about their fascinating and sometimes tragic history, ranging from Viking raids and English invasions, through the devastation of the Famine and on into the fight for Irish independence. Ireland has undergone a true renaissance and continues to look to their future.
And while a trip to this magical place was not to be for this month, I am in the process of putting together a completely different trip for late August/early September. Keep checking here at www.azfamily.com/travel and at my agency site, www.travelationonline.com, for the latest information.
The weather is beautiful that time of year - lots of sun, lots of flowers, lots of green! I hope you'll join us.
And now, the specials!
MAGICAL MEDITERRANEAN: ITALY, FRENCH RIVIERA, PROVENCE & MORE!
October 9 - October 18
From $1999.00 per person, double occupancy!
Thanks to those who have already held space on this wonderful trip, I have only one Inside Stateroom and four Balcony Staterooms left in my group!
The rate includes round trip air from Phoenix, all airport/pier/hotel transfers and a post-cruise stay in beautiful Barcelona.
We depart Phoenix on October 9 for Barcelona, where we'll sail October 10 on Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas - ice-skating at sea, anyone? Our fantastic itinerary includes stops in some of the most beautiful ports in the Mediterranean. Check out the itinerary:
Oct. 10 -- Barcelona, Spain -- Depart: 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 -- Cruising
Oct. 12 -- Naples, Capri, Italy -- Arrive: 7 a.m.; Depart: 7 p.m. (Docked)
Oct. 13 -- Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy -- Arrive: 7 a.m.; Depart: 7 p.m. (Docked)
Oct. 14 -- Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Italy -- Arrive: 7 a.m.; Depart: 7 p.m. (Docked)
Oct. 15 -- Villefranche (Nice), France -- Arrive: 7 a.m.; Depart: 7 p.m. (Tendered)
Oct. 16 -- Provence (Toulon), France -- Arrive: 7 a.m.; Depart: 5 p.m. (Docked)
Oct. 17 -- Barcelona, Spain -- Arrive: 6 a.m
This cruise vacation offers incredible value - all your meals are included! - and you'll unpack one time to see parts of three beautiful countries! For more information on this trip, you can also visit my agency site: www.travelationonline.com.
I hope you come with us!
HULA IN HAWAII
Kauai and Maui on Sale!
Wow! Great rates for these two beautiful islands are still available for travel in April and May!
The packages below include round trip air from Phoenix, six nights accommodations as noted and a rental car for the length of your trip! Midweek travel offers the best rates, but you can travel on the weekends for an additional cost.
Check it out:
Kauai Beach Resort
Garden/Mountain View Room
From $849.00 per person, double occupancy!
This is a beautiful property, right on the beach, and very centrally located!
Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation
1-bedroom Garden View Condo
From $989.00 per person, double occupancy!
Fantastic condo complex, right on world-famous Poipu Beach! The units are beautiful and there's a great restaurant on the property, too!
Aston Paki Maui
1-bedroom Ocean Front Condo
From $1019.00 per person, double occupancy!
Comfortable property, right on the water! Just a few minutes drive from the shops and restaurants of Lahaina, too!
Outrigger Royal Kahana
1-bedroom Ocean View Condo
From $1099.00 per person, double occupancy!
This beachfront property offers terrific views! You're also handy to grocery stores, restaurants and shopping!
Air taxes are additional - right around $45.00 a person. The rates jump by several hundred dollars a person for travel after Memorial Day, so give me a call to reserve your Hawaiian vacation!
As I mentioned earlier, I'm finalizing air rates and tour availability for a late August/early September departure. I'm debating between a tour that uses hotels and Bed & Breakfasts or a custom itinerary I'm working on.
I'll keep you posted!
Across town or around the world, we're planning your next vacation at TravelationOnline! Give us a call at 602-252-1140, or if you're outside the metro Phoenix area codes of 602, 480 or 623 you can call toll-free at 888-751-2032. You can also reach me directly via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I pretty much live on my computer and look forward to hearing from you!