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.

7 Recommendations for Traveling with an Infant


When my wife and I first had our son Axel, we were a little concerned about how this would affect our traveling lifestyle.  After all, we have heard plenty of horror stories about traveling with infants, and of course, have been passengers on an airplane when there is a screaming child.  One thing I didn’t expect was that the logistics of getting on the plane would be more difficult than the plane ride itself.  Axel has now flown from the Bay Area to Seattle, SoCal (2x), Boston and we are currently headed to Maui.  From these trips we wanted to pass along tips to help new and expecting parents feel more assured when traveling with their infant.

1.       Make sure to bring your stroller and car seat all the way to the gate.

Many new parents are aware that airlines will check car seats and strollers free of charge, however did you also know that they will gate check them as well? I have seen many parents in the baggage claim line checking their car seat and stroller only to have to carry their child though the airport and on to the plane.  We have found it much easier to attach the car seat to the stroller and then use that to go through security and get to our gate.  Once you board and get to the end of the jetway, simply remove the car seat, fold the stroller and they will be waiting for you once you disembark.  The bonus is obviously that you get to use the stroller going through the arrival airport as well.

2.       Sit in First/Business Class

I know, I know, this isn’t always feasible. Before you rule it out, let me tell you why you should concider splurging for that first class ticket. First, the extra space is super helpful in making you and your infant more comfortable, which means better naps. Second, having a dedicated flight attendant makes it much easier to get hot water and other necessities to make a bottle or other needs your child may have. Third, after all the logistical hurdles of traveling with an infant, you are going to need that extra Bloody Mary!  Yes, you might get some dirty looks from people who think First Class should be kids free but don’t concern yourself with them. 

You will also notice I didn’t say BUY First Class tickets.  There are many other ways to confirm a seat up front like using miles or elite status upgrades. Nick Running Travel can help talk you through your options.

3.       Feed your baby during Takeoff and Descent

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Babies have a very tough time with changes in air pressure. That ear popping that you experience while flying is due to the lowing and raising of the air pressure in the airplane during climb and descent.  Unfortunately, babies don’t have the ability to pop their own ears like we do.  By giving them a bottle,  nursing or giving them a pacifier during these times you are encouraging them to reduce the ear pressure by doing the same jaw movements that you would do.

4.       Be aware of your carry-on requirements

Infants do not get their own baggage allowance.  This can sometimes come as a surprise to new parents.  That means your diaper bag will now be considered a personal item.  If you are use to traveling with a laptop bag or purse as your personal item, you will need to rethink your strategy. When traveling as a couple, I no longer carry my work bag and instead put my computer and other items in the top of my rollaboard.  Make sure you plan ahead so you aren’t forced to gate check something that you planned on using onboard.

5.       Make sure your hotel is aware of your needs

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No need to pack a crib or other baby products, most hotels have all that and will gladly have it waiting in your room on check in.  One of the perks of working with Nick Running Travel is that we do this for you.  We can confirm cribs and other infant items well in advance so you don’t have to stress on what to pack. We even work with the hotels to have some surprises waiting for both parents and children!

6.       Frozen milk can be brought through TSA security checkpoints

One difficulty of traveling is that no liquids over 3 oz are allowed through security, so as a nursing mother how are you supposed to feed your baby on a long flight?  TSA allows for frozen liquids to be taken through checkpoints.  Our trick is to not take the milk out of the freezer until right before leaving the house and ensure that its well-insulated.   Once you are on-board ask a flight attendant for hot water to defrost your milk and you are ready to feed.

7.       Be prepared for naps

If your baby is used to a certain outfit/blanket during naps make sure you bring that onboard.  When it’s time to go to sleep try to mimic the same process you would use back home. If your baby is wearing the same nap outfit as back home its likely they will fall asleep easier.  If your flight happens to fall during the same time as nap time its very helpful, if not don’t worry the sound of the plane engines should soothe your baby to sleep.

Overall, traveling with a baby can definitely be stressful, but by following these tips, travel can be a rewarding experience for you and your growing family.  If you are thinking of traveling with your newborn and are looking for assistance, contact Nick Running Travel, and we are happy to help with your next travel experience.

The best tip....... Have fun with it!!

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