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Episode #14 of Intentional Wealth:
Travel Planning with Grace Cheng Braun

Intentional Wealth Podcast

Episode #14: Travel Planning with Grace Cheng Braun

March 22, 2024

In Episode #14 of Intentional Wealth, host Amy Braun-Bostich is joined by Grace Cheng Braun with Destinations with Grace to discuss the current trends with travel and what to consider when planning your next trip.

Listen as Grace details everything you need to know about travel planning, including budgeting, choosing a destination, types of trips, and more as travel season swings into full gear.

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Welcome to Intentional Wealth, a monthly podcast where, alongside notable financial professional guests, Private Wealth Advisor and Founder of Braun-Bostich & Associates, Amy Braun-Bostich, delivers useful insights and strategies that help YOU live your best financial life! Remember, when your goals are meaningful and your wealth has purpose, you can truly live with intention.

Now here's the host of Intentional Wealth, Amy Braun-Bostich.

Amy Braun-Bostich: Hello and welcome back to another podcast episode of Intentional Wealth. Today my guest is Grace Cheng Braun, and we're going to be talking about vacations or leisure travel, a favorite topic among many people. Grace heads up a boutique group travel company called Destinations with Grace, which focuses on providing active older adults with enjoyable, memorable, and safe group travel. She is committed to providing lifelong learning experiences that include visiting incredible sites around the world while exposing her guests to diverse cultures. Grace is a travel advisor who researches and organizes group tours, also known as a group leader, and/or, travel escort. She often goes on many of the tours, usually to voluntarily assist the tour directive with the group. Grace works directly with tour companies that specialize in group travel for active older adults to select tour offerings.

Today, Grace will be sharing what are the latest trends in the travel industry, as well as discussing with me some frequently asked questions she gets from clients and of course, some money saving tips to think about when planning your next vacation. Grace, welcome. So happy you can join us today.

Grace Cheng Braun: Well, thank you, Amy. A pleasure to be with you all. And all being the listeners that are here today, you can twist my pinky anytime to talk about travel which know, travel, travel. Like destination, destination or location, location. My favorite topic.

Amy Braun-Bostich: Great. Well, tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to start Destinations with Grace.

Grace Cheng Braun: This is kind of like my third act. And so, as I look back on my career, my first act was actually in healthcare marketing, strategic planning, business development. And I did that for some 20 years, and then I transitioned to what I call my second act, which is being the head of, president and CEO of a nonprofit, a community based social services organization that provides senior service. And so, it's in that company that I launched, oh, gosh, about 15 years ago, a group travel program. And many people have asked me, oh, well, how did you come to think of that? And my quick answer always is because I love to travel. And so, I started that, and we've built it up and it's still actually going strong.

And so, when I completed my gig at Wise and Healthy Aging about a year and a half ago, the incoming CEO who I had trained and such and said to me, gosh would you continue to work with us on our group travel? And I said, twist my pinky. I continued to do that. And then I sort of naturally came into this third act of Destinations with Grace. So, I now continue to work with my prior organization, and also, other senior services organization and primarily focusing on active older adults, which may then include their friends, families, grandchildren, extended groups and whatnot and such, looking at group travel.

Amy Braun-Bostich: Well, that's great. That's very interesting. So what trends are you seeing in travel and tourism in 2024?

Grace Cheng Braun: Yeah. So, folks are looking for more diverse destinations, right. Then you have the greater number of baby boomers that are getting back into traveling. And then there's that workplace flexibility that really just kind of came out of the whole pandemic with remote work and hybrid work arrangements and whatnot and such. So, what we've seen is there's been a lot of pent-up demand, right. Because everybody was at home. I think the online shopping sort of kind of went up and such because people were stuck at home. And now people are what we call sort of like they jokingly say revenge travel. It's kind of getting it all in. And so, they're kind of like five key trends that we're seeing that's shaping the travel industry. So, one is there's much more focus now on the travel experience. Why? Well, combination of a couple of different things. Airlines and the hospitality providers and such know that they actually have to do more to compete, and they have to do more because there are greater challenges. Some of it is out of their control, whether it's been the weather challenges that we have had and significant impact because of global climate and such.

And also, then supply and demand as it comes to workers. And so that hasn't impacted. And we've seen this with some airlines over the holidays. It seems like there's always issues and such. So, they are actually now having to focus more attention than on personalizing that traveler's experience in how they package the experience, how they look to provide upgrades or touching up, as they call it. Also, in corporate, kind of the second thing, looking at sort of corporate business travel, we're seeing this blending of business and leisure. They even got a word for it now: bleisure. Bleisure. Bleisure travel.

And so that is coming back with business travel and such. The costs are still always a significant concern. However, the corporate us, corporate travel spending is likely to finally pass the pre pandemic travel as we go through 2024, into 2025, and then the third thing I mentioned earlier is that the impact of remote and hybrid work arrangements, right? And so, folks, now, whether businesses or companies liked it or not, with the pandemic, we have a lot more people that are working remotely. So, with that comes the opportunity for shorter or longer trips, and kind of like a combination, and there's this thing that they call the laptop lugger. You're lugging your laptop with you on your travel and such, of taking one's work on vacation. And so, there's a lot more of that opportunity that comes up for folks.

And because force with this pent-up demand, there's a scramble and competition to meet the traveler's interests, as I indicated earlier, wanting to make sure that you're really meeting their interests. You're personalizing, customizing, and such, but along with that also is coming that automation in bookings and baggage handling and whatnot is like, how do you still come across personally, but at the same time, how do you become more efficient with technology and such? Which sort of brings us up to kind of the last trend that we're seeing is that whole impact of AI. So artificial intelligence. So, a lot more sort of behind the scenes, but more and more you're going to see front and center. So, AI is already influencing travel with the way call centers or online self-booking is made more efficient.

There's also the intelligence of gathering information about us so that they start to know what it is that we're researching online. What are we looking at even through your bookings? And they have various affinity programs with various airlines or booking platforms or whatnot. So, they start to know, like, what is it that you're interested in? Let's push this other one. Or we see that there's a history of where she has flown to or visited or gone to. What can we do to customize our target, our marketing in that regard? So, we can expect much more visible applications in the coming year. So, kind of new options for people when they are exploring or discovering travel opportunities, when they're shopping online or even shopping in what gets direct mail to people's homes.

You'd be surprised, like, gosh, all of a sudden, I'm on this mailing list and I'm getting these brochures for all these cruises and trips and whatnot, and so much more personalization. And the last thing I wanted to just kind of throw in there, too, is that we're seeing is this whole sustainable tourism, all right? There's much more interest in that. And just a few years ago, they were saying that over half of travelers are actually actively seeking travel opportunities. That is some aspect of sustainability. All right, what does that mean?

So, yes, there is that kind of that ecotourism of being able to kind of go out there, be among the people in the community and whatnot. And you see also the whole sustainability effort also in the providers. It is not uncommon at all nowadays to go into a hotel and they'll have their lovely little sign up in the bathroom that talks about or in the room about the changing of the sheets or the towels or such so that they're not having to wash so often and impact the environment.

Amy Braun-Bostich: I think that's self-serving, though, don't you?

Grace Cheng Braun: Well, one could. At the same time I look at it, there are folks that go, you know what? I'm on vacation and I wash clean sheets every day. I want a fresh towel every day. I want my bed made up for me and I want fresh linens. So, there is that. And that is still available.

And then I think for those that are a little more like, it's okay. How often do I change my sheets at home or use my towel and such? So, I think that it's a nice balance and I think it is worthwhile. When you take a look at the amount of energy and the impact on the environment, you're looking at all that detergent that needs to wash all those sheets, and linens, and all that stuff. So, there is something there. And so, people are looking for that in the providers. They're being conscious about it, and yes, there is some cost savings to them. So, it's a win/win.

At the same time, they're also looking for destinations where it is more sort of, we hear about this glamping thing that's done now where people, like, they want the comforts of a hotel environment, but at the same time, they want to be out in the great outdoors. Personally, I haven't tried glamping, but it sounds pretty good to me. Besides, I think I've gotten too old now to be into the hiking, pitching the tent, sleeping bag. I don't know. I think I've worked too hard to actually pay to go on vacation to do so much of that hard work is the way I kind of look at it.

Amy Braun-Bostich: Yeah, I think glamping, too, involves an RV with your own.

Grace Cheng Braun: See? And, you know, I live out here in California, and so people will, you know, do you go Yosemite? You know the national park and whatnot? I said, yeah, I've been to Yosemite and said, oh, do you like to go hiking and all this. So, I said, I'll tell you, my idea of camping in Yosemite is the Awani hotel. That is like the high end where I don't mind going out mean. No, I do mind going out camping. I don't mind going out and hiking and really working up a sweat and whatever, as long as I can come back and then in time in the afternoon where they have freshly baked hot cookies awaiting me in the lounge, and such in a hot shower, and a soft, you know bed, that's my idea of going to a national park.

Amy Braun-Bostich: Yeah, me too. I've seen lately more of our clients going to Europe, going on river cruises, going on regular cruises. What kind of diverse travel are you seeing now that maybe wasn't as popular previously?

Grace Cheng Braun: Yeah, well, Europe is hot, hot, hot. And I don't mean temperature, though. Yeah, there are certain times of the year when the climate is hot, but it is like hot destination wise, and continues to be. And actually, what we're also seeing, like, for some folks that usually they'll like, oh, they'll go to Hawaii tropical and whatnot. And because it is within the US, most people feel it's safe. I don't have to deal with anybody in a different language or a different currency or whatnot. And what we're seeing with some of the property management companies and whatnot for Airbnb’s and such in Hawaii is that after the pandemic and such, with the pent up demand and whatnot, is they've seen a big shift to actually Europe.

And then one area which know a country, which is one of my favorites. And actually, I'm going on a culinary journey through Tuscany this September, that I'm really looking forward to, is Italy continues to be just very popular. Overtourism is another word that they called, and Italy actually had his hand raised for that one, is that there actually was an over amount of folks that were traveling there and such. But some areas that continue to attract folks and sort of the newer areas, a little different is the whole Baltic regions, Croatia, Slovenia, and that region. Very beautiful. Still not as many people have gone there. The water, the beaches, and the scapes, and such are all I've heard, very beautiful.

And the cost, one always kind of has to look at the cost a number of years ago, back in the day. There's always kind of like, oh, Greece. I want to make sure I get to Greece, or I want to make sure I get to know. And those other places and such still there. And certainly, with Paris. The thing to watch for is with the Olympics coming up and such, that there will be that increased demand of travelers and such. I always say better to kind of go afterwards. I remember we did a group tour of China after their Olympics. So, it's kind of actually nice to be in Beijing. And then you're touring the various Olympic structures where they held their events and such and seen the architecture and all that without all of the people there and whatnot.

Amy Braun-Bostich: Okay, good. Well, has the travel industry recovered from the pandemic and should travelers still take precautions?

Grace Cheng Braun: The short answer I have is yes. So, the travel and tourism industry is quite robust, and they say that the growth rate in the U.S. is about four and a half percent a year in growth and such, right? And I still will say, because I work mostly with older adults, and so health and safety are always concerns. And while we are not in pandemic conditions. All right, there is still COVID is still around. And in its various iterations. I think just the other day I was hearing on the news that they were about to recommend another booster. So I am of the belief that if one can arm themselves in that regard to do that, I am one of those that when I am traveling with a group, or by myself, or such, and I get on an airplane, I will still wear a face mask.

I do that because I would rather be safe than sorry. And they now make these really great masks. I mean, they really like designer ones and such. And I think because many years ago, before any of this face mask thing was even remotely on our radar, whenever I travel in Asia, it actually is very common for Asians in Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, all the other countries, and such, for you to be seeing people out and about in the streets with face masks. And a lot of it is they look at it as far as also in helping with air pollution or whatnot and such. And so, we still always advise our travelers to just be safe. And also, you never know who you're going to be sitting next to or whatnot and such. Best to always check on that as well. Also, in checking with your physician and for international travel, what are those things that one needs to be safe in that regard?

Amy Braun-Bostich: So different types of vaccinations and things?

Grace Cheng Braun: Like, you know, it should always be kind of up on your tetanus shots. And I'm one of those, though not everybody believes in the zodiac and whatnot, but I'm a Virgo. All right, so Virgos born in September are known for being very conscientious about their health and more specifically the bowel region, which my husband has said, yes, I have a little bit too much focus on that area. But okay, when I travel, I've got like this little mini pharmacy bag with me, which I highly recommend because especially when it's international travel, right. Because you just don't know what kind of medications or drugs they have or whatnot and such. And we pretty much know, like this works for me. It's like, okay, Tylenol is it, or Alive is it, or Motrin is it, whatever that is.

I always recommend stock up on those things, cough lozenges, whatever that is that you're going to need and such that's going to make you comfortable, because should something occur, you're stocked and ready. I've been known to be like my little mini pharmacy that I move along with me, and I always talk with my doctor and sometimes they will even, depending on the region that you're going to or whatnot and such, they may also help stock you up with a few things in know of some antibiotics or something in case something goes awry.

Amy Braun-Bostich: Or if you're in a high altitude, like Tibet.

Grace Cheng Braun: Yes, high altitude in Tibet, which was very interesting in that the hotels, they all have little clinics, and they all have the little oxygen tanks ready for you. But then again, on that trip, my doctor prescribed some high altitude medication that I started taking like the day before our arrival and that really helped.

Amy Braun-Bostich: Yeah, that's great. So, what are your thoughts on the different types of tours that are out there, like cruises, or group, versus do it yourself?

Grace Cheng Braun: Well, I always say know thyself. All right, so you kind of know, like, are you the kind that likes being around people or not?

If you're not, then probably group travel is not for you. Now, I'm a big fan of group travel for a couple of reasons. One is I kind of like everything sort of already laid out for me, right. It's been tried, it's been tested. I know it's going to work.

And I don't really have to think much about it. And I have on occasion in the past where I've been so busy working that I really didn't have time to really look and explore and read all about where I was going and what to do and whatnot. And this is a nice way, I always say, of being introduced to a new country or a new area that you've never been at. And I look at as it's a way for me to get introduced in a safe way and I check it out, and then I know what I would like to come back and do. Now, in the traveling world, there are cruisers and those who don't cruise. And when I say cruising, I mean more ocean cruising.

And what I've learned is for cruising, you either love it and you like, you gush about it and you can't wait to go on your next cruise or it doesn't float your boat, all right? And those who are avid cruisers love it. They like the whole idea of, I'm only unpacking once I have everything taken care of me within sort of a short walking distance and such, and I'm out there with the fresh ocean air and such, and then we stop at these ports and whatnot and such. I actually am a big fan of river cruises, actually, because me, I get seasick pretty quickly, so I tend to then be Dramamine up if I'm on an ocean cruise. And then I kind of don't think I'm really sharp and looking at things. I also like the idea of being on a smaller ship.

So in a river cruise, at most, you're going to have maybe 150 or less. Some boats will only take 75. I shouldn't say boat ships. They like to call themselves still ships. And I like the whole notion of on a river cruise. I personally love being able to see land, all right, which I cannot do on an ocean, all right? So, there's something about the safety of land that I can see it, and I'm not a real great swimmer, but should something happen, or I get jostled and get tossed over, I can still kind of make it to land and such. I also love the idea of that. On a river cruise, you have, again, the benefit of cruising is you're unpacking.

Once you have your room, it's set up and such, but you're docking quite often so that you have the ability to get out, go for a walk, go for a run, explore the city or such, and then be back in time. You can decide whether you want to eat on the ship and all the meals are included in that regard, or that night you're going to skip it. You're going to go into town and through your trip advisor app, you're going to find some hot place to eat and experiment with that. And so, with the older adult market, cruising has become more and more popular. Now the challenge here is also seasonality and climate change. All right, so, for example, the Danube River is a very popular cruise because you go to five different countries, you see these wonderful ports and whatnot and such.

Well, depending on the time of the year that you are traveling, they are having some issues sometimes of having the water be high enough in the river to be able to actually dock at some of the locations that they would normally dock at. So that is an impact of climate change that is occurring in the different areas. But we are seeing a real up spike. And if you are interested in cruising or especially a river cruise because there's a smaller number of cabins or staterooms, as they call them, sign up early. Those things, I amazed at how quickly they fill up. And because there are different levels of rooms, because you're paying for, do you want a suite, or do you want a lower-level cabin or whatnot and such? And there are only so many, those tend to fill up very quickly.

So, I always tell folks, if you're interested or if you think you might be interested, go ahead and just put the deposit in. Even if it's over a year, all right. Because you will also have a certain time in which you'll have to sort of really decide whether you're going to go or not. If you decide no, at that point you get your money back, but at least you haven't lost your space. And some people do that as a strategy. In that regard, the land cruises group versus do it yourself, I would say again, there are folks that are, it's their thing. They like to research. They like to look for all the little nook and crannies, as I call them, of different places that they read up on lonely planet. They read up on all the farmers this. They watch all the, you know, shows on PBS about places and such. So, they enjoy really researching, taking their time.

And also, they're not morning people in group travel. There is a certain structure to it. And so generally some people go, I'm on vacation. I don't want to have to get up at 08:00 or 730 and have my breakfast and be ready to be in the coach by 830 when it rolls and such or like I'm on my own time. And so, it really just depends on, you need to know yourself. And we also do a little bit of a combination. We do have folks that they have a smaller group of friends that they like to hang out with or family members or such.

So, it is a group, but it's a much smaller group. We work with them to customize something that is more at their pace and not quite as structured as what we call a traditional group travel.

Amy Braun-Bostich: The other thing with group travel, I think especially for older individuals, is that I think it's safer, right?

Grace Cheng Braun: Definitely. And a lot choose that. And we have as people age and such, the ratio of men to women also shift. I don't know what it is. Women, we, just last longer.

And so, with that, then there are also more single travelers and they like the safety of group travel because it's an opportunity to make friends. And also, you still have your own hotel room, so you can kind of have your own space. And at the same time, it is safe, it is structured, and you know that you're not going to be getting into anything that is dangerous or whatnot and such. And what we always do is on our group tours, there's usually about a quarter to a third are single travelers. And we always make a point. It's very inclusive. Everybody meets up at breakfast and it's a nice way to travel if you are on your own.

Amy Braun-Bostich: Great. So earlier you had mentioned about AI and technology. So, what do you think about those bundled packages from the Internet?

Grace Cheng Braun: Read the fine line is what I would say. All right, so when one is, and it’s never quite apples to apples or maybe in the apple family, but it'll be like a Pippin against Gala apple or something like that and such. But usually, it's more like apples to oranges when you're comparing. So even to some destinations, a strategy that I've seen tour operators do now is they'll promote this price, and it looks really good, and then you'll look into the detail. And a lot of them now do not include the air piece. It used to be that they just like this whole price, air included, hotel, transportation, sightseeing, blah, blah, blah, everything. Right now, the strategy more is, okay, let's take the air piece out of it, even though we offer it, but let's just promote it as the land piece only.

So, the first thing you're looking at is what does it actually include and such so that you're really understanding that. And then when you're looking at the land piece, always looking at the accommodations, where are they and have you heard of them? And the beauty of the Internet is now we have folks that are able to just check out that particular hotel or accommodation and get a sense of like, oh, so that's what that resort looks like, or, oh, that's where that's located. And they will even read reviews about it. We've had this also happen with some of our travelers that have gone on some of the cruises. They will read about that particular ship and see what kind of comments or how old is the ship or this and that and such.

So, there's a lot of intelligence that is out there that's available for the traveler when he or she is exploring or researching or looking at these things. Now, definitely the platforms, see the value of it. Used to be you go on the airline website and you are just booking the air. Now they go, oh, would you like a hotel, or would you like a car? So, they have now gotten very smart and as they should, and package or bundle these pieces together so that they now work across a network of other providers for the transportation piece, for the accommodation piece. And now they even will do some of the dining experiences that are part of it. A lot of it is it what you would like? Because if it is, there are some good packages out there to be seen, but just be aware.

The other thing about, just a quick one about group travel, sometimes you see this great price, right? And let's say it includes air. You're like, wow. And you compare it with another very similar destination or same country or place, and you're going, wow, there's like a $2,000 difference and it's like the same amount of days.

So, I always ask folks to also look at the itinerary and make sure that you are really looking at is, what is included. So, the very inexpensive ones, generally, they just get you there and they get you in your hotel and they may include a city tour. That's kind of it. And then they'll get you to the next place and whatnot and such.

If you want to have any of the other experiences or such that are on another itinerary, for example, that would be more expensive. Then they are what they call these optional tours that they will sell.

I hate the aspect of being what I call nickeled and dimed to death on some of these to where you get there. And then they go, oh, if you want to do that, well, that's going to cost you $75 and if you want to have that experience, that is going to be $110 and such. So always look for sort of a balance between enough leisure time and downtime with enough scheduled time. And then also letting people know that even though it's scheduled, it doesn't mean that you have to do it. Because if it's scheduled, great. And you say, yeah, I don't feel like it, or you know what? I've already seen this place that they're going to or whatnot.

Just let the tour director know that I'm going to sit this one out, just be in communications, and then explore the city or do something else that you want to do. So, there is actually more flexibility than some people think that is available in group tours and such. I will say that when I have tried to price out a group tour as it's presented with, then going, and actually handling the reservations myself and staying at the places that they've noted and whatnot significantly more. For some people, that's not an issue. We have higher-income guests and clients of Braun-Bostich, that for them that isn't an issue. And so, what?

The beauty of it is there are many tour operators and suppliers out there that can meet all the, I would call the income range of individuals from the high end luxury level of cruising or land tours or whatnot, or customization or such for two people, down to twelve people or more or whatnot, to something very economical and such. We tend to, given the age group that we work with at Destinations with Grace, we're working with people with a certain amount of wealth that they've accumulated over the years, and they've saved. And I always encourage them to spend it. You can't take it with you, so spend it. And, yeah, okay. If you have children and grandchildren, all right, you want to make sure that, well, take them on a trip. I always say, right.

Don't be like, wait until the end and give them the money. No, plan something and do something with them so that you have the memories and the experience. And this is what we are seeing. There is more of a prioritization among folks now to where they're more interested in the experience. And especially, I think, having gone through the pandemic, that whole notion of living one's life and having a quality to one's life, less interest in sort of that purchasing of materials or high luxury items or whatnot, they tend to be more focused on spending money for the experience.

Amy Braun-Bostich: Are you seeing more children then? Are you seeing people taking more children on your tours?

Grace Cheng Braun: We are. I'm always very pleasantly pleased when we have some of our travelers that will bring their grandchildren, who sometimes are adults or teenagers or family members. I will see a lot of family members now that are traveling where it's sisters. One lives in Florida, one's in LA. And, for example, they're going on our Tuscany tour with us. So, we are seeing this and we're able to. The beauty of it is it doesn't matter where the person lives. So even though Destinations with Grace is based out of the LA area. And when we are pricing things, we look at flying out of LAX and whatnot and such, we actually can work with guests to look at flying out of whichever gateway that is closest to them.

We have done where we have friends from high school that remained or college friends that want to see each other, and so they plan to go on a trip together or family members or such. They're from all over the country.

Amy Braun-Bostich: Well, that's great. So, do you recommend people buy travel insurance? Is it worth it?

Grace Cheng Braun: I actually do. And I will say that especially since what happened with the pandemic and whatnot and such. And I would say there's just things going around, and things may come around and whatnot also, especially with older travelers, it's just peace of mind.

And even for my adult travelers that are younger, I will say, all right, do you have older parents that are still living? All right. Relatives or such? Or if something happens, you want to be able to move on a dime and just be able to make some things happen. A lot of the tour companies now, which is very smart, and as we know, insurance, those insurance are out to make money, right? And they are making lots of money. So, they have also figured out that the times that somebody actually is going to tap the insurance is not quite often. So, a lot of the tour companies now, the larger, bigger ones, they will offer insurance and they've worked with some broker or some company or Whatnot, and they have enough volume and such, right.

And you cancel for any reason, type of a policy, which can be great. So, you can have peace of mind that on this particular trip, and the pricing is different depending on the length of the trip and where it's to and how much it costs and everything, is that there are now these options where you can buy the insurance and then you cancel for any reason you decide the day before. I don't feel like going anymore.

You let them know and you get everything that you've paid, of course, minus the insurance. Then there are the more traditional insurances where it's like if there's an illness that comes up where you are just unable to travel, something's happened to you, and that will then require some medical documentation or whatnot, or someone in the immediate family unfortunately passes and such. So, there are those kinds of insurance. The beauty of it all is now is on some of the very high end credit cards that their programs is, they offer travel coverage, insurance. So, if you purchase your tour or your flight or whatever travel accommodations or whatnot with that credit card and something happens, then they also will provide some coverage. And then, of course, there are the traditional third party ones that are the big travel insurance companies out there.

And what you do is you just contact them and they're online also, and they ask you a few questions and then they'll tell you what is the price and whatnot. I do recommend that because I have had now more than not, travelers where they're traveling and while they're on the trip. So, it's not about like you change your mind, you decide you don't want to go, but it's while on the trip and especially an international trip, something happens. They tested positive for COVID and now they have to quarantine. They can't continue with the group or traveling. They tripped and they broke their ankle. They now have to be hospitalized and whatnot and such. It's those kinds of things that I think is always worthwhile to have in mind. And so, I always do. And I figure it's worth that peace of mind.

Amy Braun-Bostich: Got you. Makes sense. So, for people that really haven't done a lot of this type of traveling, what type of a budget do you think they should plan for?

Grace Cheng Braun: Well, I think the first thing to take a look at is just to get educated on what are these trips cost. And so, start to kind of just look out there. And a good way is actually just searching on the Internet. If there's a place that you like to go to, just type in tour packages or trips in Italy or a particular area, if you're interested in a particular area or whatnot, and just get a sense of how much it costs.

It's also always good to just check on Expedia or any of the other platforms or whatnot to see what does it cost from a transportation standpoint. So, you gauge yourself. What I would say is that, and certainly among our older travelers, and it's a generation that is used to things that are cheaper than more expensive.

So, there's always this kind of like, what does it cost that much? Why is it that much? And I always have the pleasure of saying, well, gas has gone up and the airplanes and staffing and hotels. And so that is continuing to go up. So, there are travel opportunities that are more budget friendly, if you will. You then will accordingly have the less than luxury levels of amenities that one may be used to. And some people are good with that. Again, know thyself. And if you're somebody that's like going, you know what if I'm going to take the time off and I'm going to do this, it's worth it to me to have this level of accommodation or level of planning that's already done for me or whatnot and such.

They were talking about Americans wallets and that even in hard times, Americans will still use a good amount of their money for leisure and for vacation, which is wonderful because we are a nation compared to other countries. We've been said to be like a bit workaholic in our approach and not really taking vacations and such.

So, I think that there's opportunities to take a vacation, whether it is locally, go visit a friend, go on a road trip and go visit a friend and such. Just get out there, right, to, of course, saving up for like, oh, I've always wanted to go to Paris, or I've always wanted to do this and just plan for it and look out to see what is out there and just keep an eye and know that's something that I want to work toward. I always encourage people to speak it out to the universe if you will. All right, so if you're somebody who, you know, I've always wanted to go to Paris. That's on my bucket list, right. Let people know, let your friends know, let your family know and such.

And there's nothing I say. Okay, so if you were thinking of something to give me for Christmas, anything you like to put toward my little Paris fund, be greatly appreciated. So, there's that way. And there are now, of course, all these different tour operators that will do travel gift certificates that you can give, which then can help towards somebody.

Know, especially like banks and the credit unions, they have the little account that you can put away for your Christmas shopping account or whatnot, they also have travel accounts that you can just sock away a little money. So, be thinking about, do I really want that Grande Starbucks latte today? Or if I actually just cut out two a week and added that up, that's like $10 a week. And at 52 weeks, that could be this much money I could sock away. That's going to go toward my trip that I have and such. But I do find that when one becomes focused and there's an intentionality of like, you know what? I want to travel. I want to go to this place that then you start to shape your spending and your saving along those lines.

Amy Braun-Bostich: Now, do you plan personalized trips for groups? Like if a group came to you and said, hey, can you plan this trip to blah, blah, the Baltic, you would do that. How many in the group would there have to be for you to do that?

Grace Cheng Braun: It depends on what? Well, yeah, I'm not trying to evade the question, but it does depend on where they want to go and what they want to do.

So it can be, I think generally for a group you're looking at anywhere between six to when it's a smaller kind of group, kind of like maybe six to, I'd say a dozen or so kind of be looking at because one always thinks about the transport also and moving from location to location. Is that how would you move within the city and the use of smaller vans versus the luxury motor coaches and whatnot and such.

We've had to wear, I've had some friends, we want to do an all-women’s kind of a thing and go to this place and such. And what I enjoy very much is the research end of it. I love looking at these things. And as I've gotten more and more into this, it is amazing what is available out there. For example, the other day I was just kind of looking around and there's a provider that all they do is they arrange tours and trips for groups to places around the world. So, it's not just within the U.S. for people that are into quilting, go figure.

So, yeah, so there's all of know or it's know. Of course there is the whole eco kind of friendly things. It's like, okay, we want a bicycle across France or this and that. Those are certainly available. I'm personally like, if I'm looking at that thing, I'm like going, gosh, I think I'm working too hard. So, I love now, because they understand you've got the boomer market and whatnot. So now there are these motorized bicycles. I'm here like going, okay, I think I can do that part where you're kind of half huffing it and half motorizing it, and then you go from village to village, town to town. I can do that. I can do that.

So, there is this interest in looking at also catering to the older adult market of what is it from a mobility standpoint, from a safety standpoint, and accommodation standpoint, can they work out?

Amy Braun-Bostich: That sounds great. Well, Grace, this has really been wonderful, and you've given some great advice to our listeners. For those that want to check out tours that Grace has put together, go to her website at DestinationsWithGrace.com. Thank you so much. We really appreciate you taking the time to share your insights with us today.

Grace Cheng Braun: My pleasure.

Amy Braun-Bostich: And thank you to our listeners. This podcast and our others are available on our website at Braun-Bostich.com.

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