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Ask an Expert

  • What does a Travel Advisor do, and why should I work with Philip James Travel?"
    A luxury travel advisor helps people plan custom vacations beyond the ordinary. Travel advisors build relationships with their clients and ensure that satisfaction is their top priority. And why work with Philip James Travel? Among many other reasons, I’ve found that the 3 best are: time, expertise, and customer service. Time With the busy lives that we lead, there never seems to be enough hours in the day. I provide a solution to busy professionals who do not have the time, knowledge or desire to spend hours scouring the web and planning a vacation, only to end up more stressed, and the results end up being a mediocre trip. By hiring Philip James Travel hours are saved, headaches are avoided, and trips are meticulously planned with the advantage of our expert knowledge and vetted providers. Customer Service My personalized approach and friendly nature allow me to engage with you with precision focus. I actively listen to understand your needs and desires. I respond timely, collaborate fully, and then deliver significant value. Expertise Over the years I have cultivated relationships with travel providers that allow me to offer amenities and upgrades and delightful touches that most self-booking travelers might not have access to on their own. I know who and where to turn for each specific scenario, allowing personal needs and requests to be met to your complete satisfaction. My job doesn't stop when the trip is booked. I am here to answer questions before, during and after the vacation.
  • When should I not work with a travel advisor?
    Almost as important as the first question, this question is another one that we come across frequently. You can always ask us or any other travel advisor if you’re not sure, but generally speaking, the following reasons are why you’re probably better going online and booking yourself: Domestic air tickets (only) Booking domestic air travel without any need for additional travel services (hotels, tours, ground transportation, etc.) represents a risk without much reward for a travel advisor. Domestic routes typically do not make discounted fares available to travel advisors, nor do they pay commission. So, for domestic air tickets only, it’s generally more cost effective and time efficient for you to book this on your own with your preferred air carrier. If you’re only interested in the least expensive option for everything The best travel advisors bring value to your experience, not cheap prices. That’s not to say that you can’t get a very affordable trip by working with a travel advisor, but don’t expect a travel advisor to spend hours haggling with suppliers to get you the cheapest vacation possible. I want you to have the best vacation possible by seeking experiences that provide the best value. Usually the cheapest options are that way for a reason. You deserve better than that! If you can’t let go of control If you need to be in control of every minute of the planning and travel stages of your special trip, working with a travel advisor is probably isn’t for you. Working with Philip James Travel takes the stress of the planning and the traveling responsibilities off your hands, so you can just enjoy the experience. If you see no value in personalized touch and perks We love to personalize your trip with surprises here and there that match your needs and wants. Philip James Travel spends time making sure everything works seamlessly for you. We do our best to give every one of our clients the VIP treatment throughout their vacation, with added amenities, special recognition, and upgrades wherever possible. If you’re not into that, no problem!
  • What does working with Philip James Travel look like?
    Every trip is a little different, but here’s a pretty standard overview of how I work: It all begins with a consultation call, where we get to see if we’re a good fit for one another, and during which we will discuss my planning fee structure; and we’ll spend some time talking about the trip’s objectives and type of travel and destinations involved. Based on mutual agreement to move forward, I’ll start preparing recommended itineraries based on our conversations and your interests. We’ll refine the itinerary until it’s just right. At this point, you get to sit back and relax as I take care of all the behind-the-scenes booking details, deposit and final payment reminders. After the planning, but before your departure, I’ll remain in close contact to provide destination and other travel tips, as well as to provide you with all your travel documents and detailed itineraries. After you’ve returned, we’ll talk about your experience, and see where you’ll like to go next! If you have any more questions about how this works, I’d be more than happy to answer them during a consultation call. More details can be found on my Services Page.
  • Does working with a Travel Advisor cost more than booking a trip on my own?
    This is a yes and no answer. My agency is aligned with partners (see Virtuoso) that offer great pricing and amenities that you can't get on your own. My pricing is usually the same or better than you would find online yourself, but almost always with greater value. Plus, working with Philip James Travel, you have an expert to guide your way, as well as a resource to contact in times of need. And although I do charge a planning fee for my services, my clients find this a reasonable cost as I do all the research and work for you. All you do is pack your bags and enjoy the trip!
  • Do you charge planning fees?
    Yes, I charge a planning fee for custom itineraries and design services which require hours of research, planning and preparation. Please visit the services page for more information.
  • Is there a minimum budget requirement to work with Philip James Travel?
    At this time, I am accepting new clients with a minimum budget of $5,000 (per couple). There are times when I may make an exception, however, these might be subject to additional Planning Fees.
  • What is a trip protection plan (travel insurance), and why do I need it?"
    A trip protection plan is for unexpected occurrences during a trip, so that you can relax knowing you and your travel investment are covered for a wide range of incidents. Life happens, right? What I can control is meticulosity planning your trip. What I can’t control is mother nature’s weather delays, lost luggage and unexpected cancellations due to medical reasons. Did you know your primary medical insurance policy probably only covers medical emergencies in the contiguous 48 states? The value of a trip protection plan and the support it gives when you need it most cannot be overstated, and it really is a must. I strongly believe that it is best to prepare for the unexpected by purchasing travel insurance. Protect yourself and your investment.
  • Do I need a Passport and Visa to travel?
    To travel outside the United States, you need a passport valid for 6 months after your ticketed return date. (Avoid waiting to the last minute to apply or renew for your passport as processing times can vary.) To be in compliance with the Real ID act, residents of some states may need to use their passport to also board domestic flights, so we'll check on this to see if this applies to you. I recommend always having a passport ready so you can fly anywhere on a moment’s notice! As for a Visa, some countries require American travelers to have a tourist visa. I’ll advise if you’re traveling somewhere a tourist visa is needed and can assist you in obtaining one.
  • How far in advance should I start planning my trip?
    Almost always, my answer is going to be, “the sooner, the better”. Planning 12-18 months in advance for your epic adventure is not too soon; it’ll give you the best options for accommodations and excursions in your budget. If your timeline is shorter than that, never fear! That’s what I’m here for. Reach out and let’s talk about how we can make your budget, your preferred departure, and—most importantly, your big travel dreams work.
  • Can I use rewards miles and/or points when booking my trip with Philip James Travel?
    Due to data privacy laws I’m unable to use your points for rewards booking. I’m happy to help advise you, but If you want to use miles or points, you will need to manage those bookings directly with the travel provider.
  • What is Luxury travel?
    Luxury means different things to different people. In fact, luxury is not always synonymous with more expensive. Luxury is about expectations and delivery of the travel experience that form part of a lifelong commitment to living for the moments that matter, the ones that form bonds and create unforgettable memories. It’s receiving impeccable service, unique experiences, customized itineraries. It’s treatment from every part of the journey, and after, that puts you at ease, anticipates your every need and looks to wow you at every corner you turn. As part of Virtuoso, a network of luxury travel providers, I have access to exclusive brands, top hotels, cruise lines, tour operators and so much more! You also gain insider access to many upgrades and perks, and move away from the crowd to gain extraordinary access to places you never thought possible and could not find on your own. You benefit directly from the relationships I have. Luxury travels means experiencing the essence of the places you go so that you not only have been to a place, but also have experienced it in a way that is unforgettable. The key is that luxury travel is not so much picking from a list of places, as it is collaborating with a travel expert to create, to challenge and to experience the best the world has to offer.
  • What is Virtuoso?
    Virtuoso is the travel industry’s leading luxury network, spanning over 26 countries and 9,000 travel advisors. Virtuoso advisors specialize in creating unique experiences you can’t find online or plan yourself. Their connections to properties and itineraries around the world are unparalleled. What's the Value for Travelers? Virtuoso advisors can maximize the value of any trip through their connections, relationships, knowledge, advice, creativity, and advocacy. They can often save you money. The Core Benefits of An Advisor Some travelers we work with (before they end up booking) think advisors are an outdated concept. After all, can't you research and find travel options online? You can, but using an advisor drives up the value of your trip: through their knowledge of properties, connections, personalized planning, and collaboration with your family. Hotels, Cruises, Tours, And More Virtuoso partners with hotels, cruise lines, and tour operators; advisors have long-standing working relationships with each group, and that pays dividends back to you as a traveler. (Oftentimes, your advisor is working to plan your trip by speaking to a close friend of theirs at a hotel or with a cruise ship.) The relationships in our network drive everything. Expected Benefits Benefits can vary by property and experience, but generally Virtuoso travelers receive preferred rates at hotels, upgrades upon arrival (if available), Virtuoso-only amenities (spa credits, shopping credits, etc.), daily breakfast for two, and early check-in/late checkout. Travel Inspiration Virtuoso clients can receive award-winning publications all year, including Virtuoso Life (six times a year), Virtuoso Traveler (six times a year), and the Best of the Best hotels catalog (annually). Inspiring travel deals via e-mail are also available.
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