Interview: Are Travel Agents Still Useful?

There’s been a bit of blogger buzz these past few weeks about whether or not, in this age of being able to book travel from a device in our pockets, travel agents are still useful. You might say, “Travel agents are so 80’s”, but I think you’d be selling yourself short. Because I have cousins who are longtime travel agents, and do a ton of travel as well, I decided to pose some questions to one of them. Some of the questions are similar to what other bloggers have been asking of travel agents, but some are different. And even if you’ve made up your mind about the usefulness of travel agents, do go to the end of this post where I’ll tell you about how my travel agent cousin saved me both money and time in New Zealand! So, are travel agents still useful? Let’s find out!

General Travel Trends

Shelli: Which destinations are people most asking about these days?

Corkie: Iceland & Japan are way up in requests.

It’s not a bird. It’s not a plane. It’s Grant in Iceland on an iceberg!

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US Bank FlexPerks Rewards Website Gets a Facelift (But No New Features)

Good morning everyone.  A few days ago, I was on the US Bank FlexPerks Rewards website and noticed that the layout was new and refreshed.  I wanted to see if US Bank added any new features to this website, but as far as I can tell, the facelift looks nice, but there are no new features added.  One new change is immediately apparent on the homepage.  You can sign in with your last name, first initial, zipcode, and last 4 digits your US Bank FlexPerks Rewards Credit Card.

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Statement Credits from Visa Savings Edge “Activate Offers” Post Quickly

Good afternoon everyone.  A few weeks ago, Visa Savings Edge updated their website and added a new feature called “Activate Offers” which are similar to AMEX Offers without any spending threshold.  As of today, the only 2 “Activate Offers” are Office Depot and Vistaprint.

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9 Delicious Reasons Why You Should Visit Portugal

You know how it is when you return from a trip and you’ve had the most wonderful time. I keep asking people, “Have you visited Portugal, yet?” The answer I receive most often is “no.” I’m on a roll giving people delicious reasons to make their next vacation spot Portugal. You’d think I worked for the Portuguese Tourist Agency :) I found it EASY to appreciate Portuguese food and wine. And of course pastries, too! So let me see if my delicious reasons sway you.

1. Mom and Pop. If I only had two words to describe the food I enjoyed, I’d say SIMPLE and FRESH. Some people might call it comfort food. I was so surprised and delighted that I could get a delicious, home-cooked meal from any one of the “mom and pop” eateries throughout Lisbon. They were everywhere. Simple and inexpensive I believe as a result of their locally sourced seasonal meat, fish and produce.

2. Licor Beirão. Portugal is known for its wine, and I’d agree; trying some is a must. I flew to Portugal on TAP in business class and my experience with Portuguese liquor started on my flight. The flight attendant asked me if I wanted to try Licor Beirão, the “Liquor of Portugal”, from the central Beiras region. It is made from a secret 100-year old recipe that gives it a delicious sweet, herbal flavor. I always sample digestives when I travel, so why not? The crew gathered and we talked some about Licor Beirao, how to drink it, and that if they ever feel like they are coming down with a cold or flu, they take some Beirao. I decided to have mine over ice, and a little bit goes a long way. I rather enjoyed it! The one drink I didn’t get to try, which I heard will “knock your socks off” was aguardente bagaceira, or Bagaço as it’s commonly called. It’s Portugal’s version of grappa, made from leftover pomace. Pomace is the pulpy residue leftover after crushing fruit. The best Bagaço is said to come from the pomace of Vinho Verde grapes in the northern Minho region and is distilled on an open flame from small wine producers. This method is illegal, so the only way to find it is if you’re in a small, local restaurant where the owner generously pours you a shot from his “unmarked” bottle. Unfortunately, this treat didn’t come my way, but I’ll figure out a way to sample some next time I’m in Portugal! I did find out that you can try Macieira Centenário, which is a legal and respected brand of Bagaco! The other liquor that was popular is ginja. It’s a traditional cherry liquor from the town of Obídos served in a small cup. I like fruity liquors so this one is on the list for next time, as well.

Licor Beirão. Image source:

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Great Customer Service from The Jolt All-In-One Portable Charger & 2 Unit Giveaway [Winners Announced]

Updated at 7am PT on 2/21: Here are the 2 winners of The Jolt.  If you did not win, you can still use the promo code TRAVELWITHGRANT to save 25% off The Jolt.  Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway.  Have a great day everyone and stay charged!

  • Marc: Cross country road trip by myself and there were no radio stations available when my phone died. So I enjoyed several dead quiet hours at night with nothing but the desert roads in front of me and a heroic dose of caffeine in my cup holder.
  • Christina: Driving in Ireland with my sister, no GPS (WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME THEY DON’T USE SIGNS OR NUMBERS), lost for over an hour, ending up on a gravel road in the middle of farmland, and then blew a tire when I hit a hole, with a dead phone battery. The absolute worst travel experience ever. The upside: a nice farmer drove by about 20 minutes later, put his coat on the ground so I wouldn’t get dirty kneeling on the ground, and showed us how to put the donut tire on (and actually did most of the work), then drew me a detailed map how to make it to the main road. He wouldn’t take a monetary gift, just a smile and a handshake. And this is why I travel…life experiences and memories. PS: I want to go back to Ireland.

Good morning everyone. A few days ago, I reached out to GetTheJolt, the maker of my favorite all in one portable charger.  I bought 2 of these chargers on Amazon in November and have taken them with me everywhere.  My girlfriend uses 1 of The Jolt chargers almost everyday because she is always on her iPhone.  Long story short, one of The Jolt chargers would no longer charge, so I contacted The Jolt through their Contact Us page.  On their website, they state, “We have 3 customer service representatives that serve you from 7am – 7pm PST Monday through Friday. We promise to respond to all inquiries within an hour.”  Oh really, let’s see if that is really true…

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