A Message from Shellie
There are only two kinds of people in the world: the Irish and those who wish they were.
I am often asked about my favorite place I’ve visited. Each trip has been amazing and every destination has offered different qualities. I used to say Prague was my favorite spot, but last year Italy took the top. It was exactly like I had imagined: the landscape, the food. the wine. Then, in April, I was fortunate to take a trip to Ireland. I had never been and had heard so many good things about this magical land. My expectations were high, which isn’t always a good thing. But it didn’t disappoint. Ireland is now up there with Italy as one of my favorite destinations. If you have never been, please make an effort to go. Why did I like it so much? It is so green (and wet, although the rain stops as quickly as it starts), the towns are charming, there are redheads everywhere, but mostly it was the people. They are so friendly and seem so happy. It also helps that they speak English. Like the saying above says, although I have no Irish in me (which, because of my red hair, surprises everyone to learn) after visiting there I WANT to have Irish descendants. So I am going to check my ancestry again.
I guess it is the scenery, the food, and the people that make trips for me. That’s my list, but it may not be yours. When I choose trips each year I of course put the passengers first and think about where they want to go. What is the “hot spot?” What is a tried and true location? What place is safe? This has never gotten easier over the years. We put a lot of time into choosing just the right destinations for our travelers. Sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we don’t.
We must have done something right in 2017 because our traveler numbers have increased significantly. Either my selections were really bad last year or I did a really good job for 2017. I would be remiss if I didn’t give some credit to Heather Botine, my awesome assistant travel director who has done great things for the program since she began her new role last fall.
We are excited about the future of travel and we hope you are, too. If our 2018 trips aren’t going where you want to go, please let us know. We can maybe hook you up with one of our current travel operators to go on a separate departure — or maybe we will add it for 2019!
Have a great summer!
May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks. May your heart be as light as a song. May each day bring you bright, happy hours. That stay with you all the year long.” – old Irish blessing
When traveling there are always delays and things that inevitably go wrong. Patience is extremely important when traveling. This is something I have had to work on myself. Since I can’t control the weather or the flight crew, I might as well just get a coffee and relax.
Make a list
About a week before each trip, I make a list of items I don’t want to forget. I now use my phone for this, but grabbing a notepad and writing things down as you think of them will work just as well. I know I have to write it down when I think of it, or I will forget it!
Pre-plan your outfits
It’s easy to just throw your favorite clothes in, but unless you figure out what you are wearing with what, you may end up with all black outfits. Remember, you will be wearing these outfits in photos that you will be keeping forever.
Learn common phrases in the local language
A simple “please” or “thank you” and “I’m sorry” in the local language goes a long way.
Make photocopies of important documents
Keep an extra copy of your passport with you. I have pictures of mine on my phone as well. I know of people who have lost theirs while traveling, so always be prepared.
Bring portable chargers and extra batteries
Nothing is worse than being out and about to take pictures and your camera dies, which for many is now your phone or iPad. Batteries drain quickly while on trips, so be prepared and have an extra with you. And on that note, make sure you have enough memory on your phone for pictures. I have had those instances where you are ready to take the best breathtaking photo and you get that annoying message that you don’t have enough storage. There are solutions to that. Ask your kids – or grandkids. They will know how.
Carry on essentials
I learned the hard way last summer why it’s important to have a well-packed carry-on. My luggage was lost for almost a week, so I hosted a cruise with one pair of underwear (yes, I washed them every night) and the same outfits. Keep underwear, a comfy pair of shoes (if you aren’t wearing them already) an extra shirt (I always wear a cardigan when traveling so I have a few items to interchange with if my luggage is lost), toothbrush, medications, and my laptop. I also bring lotion and lip balm, as plane cabins are very dry.
Shellie’s Shopping Secrets
Last year my luggage was missing for almost a week when I was hosting a cruise. I had very little in my carry-on bag because I hated carrying a heavy bag. Since then I have purchased this bag off of ebags.com. It not only comes in ISU colors, but you can stick it under your seat or above your head so you won’t have to check it at the gate. And it has wheels! I think this is THE most valuable travel item I own. I was recently boarding a plane in Chicago when we were told all carry-ons had to be checked to our final destination. But not mine, because it goes under the seat. It was very tight and I had nowhere to put my feet, but it was a short flight and my luggage was with me.