5 Simple Things You Can Do to Take Your Vacation to the Next Level

Making the most of your vacation is the goal of every traveler that I work with.  As a professional travel advisor, I see countless itineraries for travel all over the globe and I often see the same mistakes made over and over again.  Sometimes it’s the little things that, if done right, can have a huge impact on the overall experience.  

Private cooking class in Florence with a local chef

Private cooking class in Florence with a local chef

Private Experiences

Private guides and local experiences are usually expensive and therefore many people prefer group activities or exploring an area on your own.  I’m here to tell you that even for the budget traveler, spending money on the RIGHT experiences is a worthwhile addition to your trip.  Think private sunset cruises along the Amalfi Coast, cooking classes with a Tuscan chief, wine tasting in the private cellars of the French countryside.  These are the things you and your traveling partners will remember fondly for years to come.

Pre-arranged Airport Transfers

The first thing crossed off any itinerary proposal by clients is the “costly” airport transfers.  These can make the difference between a relaxing arrival and a trip from hell.  For most people arriving in a foreign country means walking out of the airport to throngs of people, all trying to get your money.  Even if you do make it to the correct cab line are you sure the driver is taking you the most direct way? Are you sure they know where you are going?? Compare that to the smart traveler who, for a few dollars more, pre-reserved a driver and car who is waiting for them upon arrival and who already knows where they are going. 

Don’t over-schedule

Not over-scheduling means more time relaxing

Not over-scheduling means more time relaxing

I often hear from clients who want to try and see everything in a major city like Paris, Rome or Tokyo in 3 nights, or hop from city to city with huge wish lists.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of over-scheduling, but traveling on these itineraries feels more like checking things off a list and living through your camera lens. By slowing down, spending more time in each location, and accepting that you will not see everything you actually get the chance to relax and truly experience the destination.   

Book Direct Flights

As a travel advisor one of the most surprising things is watching how easily travelers disregard the value of their time when booking air travel.  When looking at air options it's important to recognize the many downsides and risks associated with connecting flights.  First, it usually adds at least 3 to 4 hours onto a trip.  Second, it greatly increases your chances of missing a flight due to delays.  Last but not least, it may subject you to additional screening / customs depending on your itinerary.  If direct flight options exist for your itinerary, think long and hard about the hassle-free experiences and time savings that spending a little more money can offer.

Use a Professional Travel Advisor

No matter where you are in your travel planning, consulting an expert to review and offer suggestions will get the most out of every trip.  Even if you don’t have the destination in mind, Travel Advisors can use your budget and preferences to select the perfect spot. It’s never too late to make sure you get the most of your well-earned time off.  Nick Running Travel is here to help you accomplish your travel goals. Reach out to us today to get started on your next adventure!.

Client Success Story – $11,000+ Saved on Business Class Airfare

I often talk about all the perks of using a travel adviser with hotels, tours, and insider knowledge, but knowledgeable air experts like us will ensure you have the best flights and connections for your itinerary. Additionally, from time to time, we will save you money by booking private fares only accessible to travel agents.

I had a client last week looking for Business Class airfare for him and his wife to a major European city.  Direct flights on the airlines website were $9,860 per person!  In order to meet his preferred budget for the trip he needed a cheaper air option.  Using our private air contracts, and preferred relationships I was able to get him the same flights for $4,325 per person!  An amazing savings of over $11,000 for two tickets.  Make sure you reach out to Nick Running Travel before your next trip to see all the benefits that can be added to your next vacation.

Note: Savings on published airfare rates is not guaranteed for every itinerary.

Best Business and First Class Flights to Europe

It seems that booking flights is always an afterthought to most vacations, you just do a search for the cheapest flight or use your favorite airline.  Sometimes you want something more. For a special occasion or important work trip, traveling First or Business Class can be an important way to beat jet lag, or have a better traveling experience (see my previous blog post for more reasons why).  Products differ greatly though so Nick Running Travel wants you to know from our personal experience the best and worst ways to travel to Europe from the west coast.  This information isn’t just valuable for Europe though so in the coming weeks we will also publish our recommendations for Asia / Australia, NZ / South America / US East Coast

Best Business Class:

Air France 777 (SFO/LAX – Paris)

Air france 777 business class

Air france 777 business class

Air France has recently refurbished their 777’s to include new reverse herringbone seats which are currently the top of the line in privacy and comfort.  Food and drinks on Air France are always top notch in keeping with their French heritage.  Depending on final location this would be my preferred way to travel to Europe in business class.

American Airlines 777 (LAX – London)

American airlines 777 business class

American airlines 777 business class

American may not always have the best service, food or drinks, however the seats more than make up for it on this flight.  Flying overnight to Europe means that you lose a whole evening, luckily with Americans new refurbished seats on their 777, that means you get a full flat bed with lots of storage space that lets you relax and wake up rested.

Delta A330 (SEA – Amsterdam)

delta a330 business class

delta a330 business class

Delta is the Americas best airline in terms of service (vs American or United), but unfortunately they currently don’t have the best seats for sleeping besides the newly released A350 (which currently only flies to Asia).  The best seats Delta currently flies to Europe is on their A330 which as of now they only fly to Amsterdam from Seattle on the West Coast. 

Best First Class:

Air France 777 (LAX – Paris)

Air France first class

Air France first class

Air France didn’t just recently refurbish their business class but also first class. The seats are super luxurious with a curtain that you can close for complete privacy.  Air France’s first class lounge in Paris also has a restaurant by 3 Michelin star chief Alain Ducasse.  Guests are taken to their airplane by private car and escorted on-board from plane-side.

Lufthansa A380 (SFO/LAX – Frankfurt)

Lufthansa first class terminal bar area

Lufthansa first class terminal bar area

lufthansa first class terminal resturant 

lufthansa first class terminal resturant 

Lufthansa has a great on-board first class experience but what really separates its product from other airlines is its own terminal for passengers in Frankfurt.  That’s right first class passengers have a completely separate terminal, with security and immigration all done there.  In fact for a small fee they will even send over the authority to process your VAT refunds prior to departure.  While waiting passengers can access a full restaurant and cigar room, all included.  Hard to beat that!

These recommendations are of course subjective, and while I would feel comfortable recommending these flights to anyone, personal preferences vary.  Nick Running Travel would be happy to recommend flights for your itinerary that are customized to your preferences and needs.  Don’t hesitate to contact us.

Never flown International First/Business Class? Here are 4 of the best reasons to give it a try


For many people airfare is a means to an end, something you deal with to get to your final destination.  Regardless of whether you are traveling for work or for pleasure there are many reasons to pay the premium on an upgraded air experience.  Below are our top reasons to book, and be sure to reach out to Nick Running Travel before your next business or personal trip.  We have access to non-public rates (prices you can’t find online), and every trip comes with a personal consultation to ensure we pick the flights right for you.

1.       Lie Flat Seats
Why spend your hard earned money on a vacation only to sleepwalk through the first few days.  Don’t walk into an important business meeting still trying to recover from your time zone change.  Almost all flights these days have lie flat seats that allow you to properly adjust to your time zone change.  Many First Class seats even have expensive mattress pads that mimic a bed in a hotel room.  There is nothing better than waking up fully rested to hit the ground running.


2.       Upgraded Airport Experience
Customers receive expedited security, lounge access and other perks to help make the airport experience more luxurious. Lounges often offer free food and alcohol and are usually a much better place to spend time at the airport.  Some airlines offer completely separate terminals for first class passengers and Michelin star restaurants.

3.       Enhanced onboard food and beverage
No more choosing between unknown red or white wines and microwave dinners.  Business cabins usually offer 4-5 wine options that can retail for as high as $50 a bottle. Food is also served restaurant style, plated and normally in courses.  Some airlines even go as far to have chiefs onboard cooking meals.  Many first class offering included rare and high end wines retailing over $400 a bottle.



4.       Higher Service Standard
Premium cabins offer much higher service levels than economy.  There are many more crew members per passenger and they often go out of their way to make sure you have a good experience.  From someone to hang your jacket upon boarding, to personal delivery of pre-departure champagne, anyone who prefers a personal level of service would see value in being attended to for a long flight.