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Worry-Free Wanderlust

Modern Travel Agents Make a Comeback



A camel safari is among the exotic adventures that Judith White, president of Wilton Center Travel Ltd., and Weston's Elisa Brown of Passported, offer as travel agents.

Have you ever been burned booking a vacation online? I have. Years ago, my husband and I booked a trip to South Beach in Miami through an online travel website. The whole process took about ten minutes and cost almost an entire paycheck.

We quickly discovered our supposedly quiet hotel was situated above a loud bar that stayed open until four AM. Our room had stained pillowcases and a bathroom rife with mold. Looking back, it’s crazy to think how casually we planned something that was so important to us.

Since then, online travel resources have certainly improved, but the reality is, there’s still tons of misinformation on the Internet. From Photoshopped images, to subjective user reviews, it’s difficult to know who is telling the truth.

That’s why people are turning to experts like Judith White, president of Wilton Center Travel Ltd. (wiltontravel.com) to get the inside scoop before booking their next trip. Her travel company celebrates 40 years in business this year and remains the go-to place for domestic and international travel consulting services in town.

White, a past president of the CT Chapter of the American Society of Travel Agents, knows our town well. She was the first female member of the Wilton Rotary Club and the founding president of the Wilton Chamber of Commerce.

A Registered Nurse and a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) White never planned a career in travel. Working in France and later as a nurse at an athletic camp in the Alps, she became fluent in French and passionate about travel. After returning to the U.S., White serendipitously met and married a man who shared her love for adventure. He landed a job with the now-defunct Pan American World Airways, and together they lived in Lisbon, Berlin, Sydney, and The Bahamas, before settling in Wilton.

Her favorite destinations? Africa and the Galapagos Islands. “You come home a changed person,” she explains. “Almost every aspect will affect you—their geographical beauty, the special people who live there, and the incredible wildlife.”

The most important thing to know when planning a trip is that in nine out of ten cases you will benefit from consulting a travel agent at absolutely no cost to you. These days, travel agents are paid by hotels, cruise lines, and tour operators. Rather than charge a flat fee, most agents bill clients for certain concierge levels of service: booking airline tickets, an itinerary of daily activities, or restaurant reservations. “The major exception is airline tickets,” notes White. With the rise of Internet booking services, in large part imposed by airlines, travel agencies were forced to implement service charges. 

“Anyone can book a hotel online,” explains Elisa Brown, a Weston mother of three and a luxury travel expert for Passported, a female-run boutique agency based in Tribeca. “Where we add value is through ‘destination insight,’ and our access to insider perks such as food, beverage, and spa credits.”

“You might not be able to get a reservation at the hottest new hotel or restaurant, but there’s a good chance I can make it happen,” says Brown. “I don’t give up easily.”

But before you get to the fun stuff, expect your agent to ask a series of questions about time frame, hotels you’ve enjoyed, destinations that were a win-win for the entire family, vacations you loved (or didn’t —and why), and most importantly, your budget. If you’re planning on traveling to Disney World, that’s a whole different beast, but one that you should definitely leave to a travel agent—trust me.

While you might have a specific month or week in mind for your vacation, an agent can advise you on the best time to travel to a certain destination. If you can be flexible, you might save money and avoid crowds.

Agents like Brown are constantly traveling to educate themselves and gather new information for their clients. Her Instagram feed (@ElisaBrownTravel) would make anyone envious. Already in 2018, she’s “glamped” in the Moroccan Desert, island hopped via helicopter in Greece, Vespa’d through Rome, and enjoyed a food and wine road trip through Tuscany. It’s easy to see why outsiders might think it’s all fun and games, but it’s definitely a full-time job.

“I’m passionate about my work and wouldn’t trade it for anything,” declares Brown.

So next time the urge hits to get away for a weekend in Montreal, a week in Gstaad, or a month in the Maldives, consider utilizing the services of a local travel expert.

 

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December 2018

Sunday, December 9th at 3:00 PM. Open to all ages. Come to watch several short silent comedies at this fun event hosted by renowned silent film accompanist and historian Ben Model. Ben Model...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

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On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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On December 9 from 12 – 3 p.m. bring your knitting projects or spinning wheels and enjoy a relaxing afternoon with seasoned knitters and spinners. They will coach you on your knitting challenges...

Cost: Free, but donations in support of New Pond Farm's fleecy flock will be welcomed!

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
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Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Website »

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  The Wilton Conservation Commission will host a walk at Cherry Lane Park this Sunday beginning at 1 pm. to be led by Commissioner Colleen O'Brian.  All are welcome, including dogs on leash. ...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cherry Lane Park
41 Cherry Lane
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Wilton Conservation Commission
Telephone: 203 210-5240
Contact Name: Jackie Algon
Website »

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Music on the Hill bell ringers add festive music to holiday shopping at the Westport store. Bells will ring at intervals throughout the afternoon. Kids may join in with sleigh bells. Stop by...

Cost: free

Where:
Westport Barnes and Noble Booksellers
1076 Post Road East
Westport, CT  06880
View map »


Sponsor: Music on the Hill
Telephone: 203-529-3133
Contact Name: Music on the Hill
Website »

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James Lancel McElhinney, journal-artist, author, Yale alumnus and  Pollock-Krasner Grant recipient will unfold the epic story of painted books, from the Age of Exploration to the digital era. He...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Ridgefield Library
472 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Library
Telephone: 203-438-2282
Contact Name: Laurie McGavin Bachmann
Website »

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Join celebrated artist Duncan Hannah as he discusses his memoir, 20th Century Boy: Notebooks of the Seventies, a rollicking and vividly immediate memoir of his life in 1970s New York — a lost...

Cost: free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
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The much anticipated Great Trains Holiday Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society opens the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23, with Santa visiting on December 8! Decorated for the...

Cost: Members free, Non-member adults $10/ kids $5.

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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Show More...
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The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

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Wednesday, Dec. 12. The Bedford Chamber Concert Series continues its 2018-19 season, featuring an all-Vivaldi holiday program. Anthony Newman and the Bedford Chamber Ensemble will perform “The...

Cost: $45 per person

Where:
St. Matthew's Church Fellowship Hall
382 Cantitoe Street
Bedford, NY  10506
View map »


Sponsor: St. Matthew's Music Committee
Telephone: 914-522-5150
Contact Name: Anthony Newman
Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

The much anticipated Great Trains Holiday Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society opens the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23, with Santa visiting on December 8! Decorated for the...

Cost: Members free, Non-member adults $10/ kids $5.

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

The much anticipated Great Trains Holiday Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society opens the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23, with Santa visiting on December 8! Decorated for the...

Cost: Members free, Non-member adults $10/ kids $5.

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

The much anticipated Great Trains Holiday Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society opens the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23, with Santa visiting on December 8! Decorated for the...

Cost: Members free, Non-member adults $10/ kids $5.

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »

More information

Music on the Hill presents a festive concert of the Jubilate Ringers handbell choir and Festival Chorus performing classic carols and songs. Featured: the premiere of "Stars over Snow:...

Cost: Free, with donations welcome: $20 suggested.

Where:
St. Matthew's Episcopal Church
36 New Canaan Road (Rte. #106)
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Music on the Hill
Telephone: 203-529-3133
Contact Name: Music on the Hill
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

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Show Less...

Come and meet award-winning columnist, author, and founder of Jackson, Grant Investment Advisers, Inc, Julie Jason. She'll be signing her most recent books, The Retirement Survival Guide, Managing...

Cost: 0

Where:
Barnes & Noble at the Stamford Town Center
100 Greyrock Place
Stamford, CT  06901
View map »


Sponsor: Julie Jason
Telephone: 203-322-1198
Contact Name: Theresa Robbins
Website »

More information

The much anticipated Great Trains Holiday Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society opens the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23, with Santa visiting on December 8! Decorated for the...

Cost: Members free, Non-member adults $10/ kids $5.

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

On Saturday, December 15th, at 6:30 PM, New Pond Farm Education Center will be hosting a public astronomy program where we hope to see Comet Wirtanen and some meteors from the Geminid meteor...

Cost: $4 per New Pond Farm member (max. $16 per family) and $6 per non-member (max. $2

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
View map »


Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Contact Name: New Pond Farm
Website »

More information

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