Travel Schmooze. Travel for the Fun and Educational Experiences

By Jay Mandelker – Travel fun memory maker

TORONTO. March 14/23 –  2023 has been the busiest year in travel and has most agents working as never before. Agents? Do you mean as in ‘Travel Agents’? Do they still exist? Why would I use a travel agent when I can book myself, online?

 You can do your tax returns yourself; do you use an accountant or tax specialist? Yes? Why? Because one who makes it his / her profession will do the job better than one who’s not devoted to this specialty.

Last month I received a call from someone in Brazil, who had gone there for an extended winter break, following which she learned that she could carry on, remotely, so why return to snow-laden Toronto when she could work from the beach? Had she booked that ticket herself, as she had the year before, she’d have spent countless hours trying to get someone on the phone to change her return, be told, “You bought the cheapest fare; no changes are permitted.” Come home and freeze your tukhass like the rest of us. Her mother said, “I told you to book with Jay! I’ve been using him for years; you know he’s reliable and always helpful.” This year, she booked with me and at the last minute, changed her return ticket for only a $100 service fee. Was it worth it? You should see her smile (and comments about me, which were glowing like her suntanned body).

Friday, an old acquaintance phoned me; his daughter was to fly home following a lovely week at an all-inclusive in Cancun; the low-cost airline cancelled the flight and doesn’t have another scheduled for one week. She has to be at work Monday! You’d think, ‘no big deal. The insurance company will put her on the next available flight. This ‘millennial’ who booked herself online, couldn’t get anyone to answer the phone at ‘the computer’ with which she booked. I asked her dad whether she purchased travel insurance. “No, she didn’t.” A new one-way ticket home will cost her about a thousand dollars plus the additional night’s accommodation and meals because she didn’t think travel insurance is important. “After all, it’s only a week and I’m in good health.” Do you think she’ll skimp on insurance next time? I don’t. By the way, if you should travel a second time within a 12-month period, it’s almost always cheaper to buy the multi-trip annual plan, which will cover every absence from your home province, than a single trip policy, twice.

March break is here. Those who called in January were astounded at the lack of availability, despite the high prices. Those who booked when I suggested it last autumn are still smiling gratefully.

The most common questions are, “When should I book? When is the best time to go?” You should book as soon as you know your travel dates because as any plane, hotel, or cruise ship fills, fares increase (because there’s less supply). When is the best time to go? If you teach or have children in school, there’s no choice so that’s when rates are highest. Usually, fares are cheapest (to the southern destinations) from August till November. ‘But isn’t that hurricane season?’ “Yes, that’s why the rates are cheaper!” If that’s when you choose to go, I’d recommend a cruise rather than an all-inclusive one. Both are lovely ways to vacation, but if there’s a storm, the resort can’t move but the ship can. 

Alaska is one of the most popular cruise destinations in the world. My advice is to take one of the one-way, rather than a round trip (from Vancouver or Alaska) cruises. This way you see more and the best part is the land tour in Alaska. I’ve gone three times and despite my yearning to see new places each year, I’d gladly return. You can have a 7-night, cruise for as low as $500 (during May and September). June, July, and August are peak times.

A rapidly growing travel mode is river cruising. This gives you the advantage of touring, without having to pack and unpack every couple of days, to get on the motor coach. You unpack once, get to see all the fascinating sites, dine comfortably, and enjoy the company of like-minded folks from many different places.♦

Jay Mandelker is a respected Travel and Cruise Specialist in the USA and Canada.

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Do you have comments or questions about this article? Jay can be reached at or

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