Follow me on Instagram

Happy Sunday!

As a Travel Agent, I’m also a Travel Lover! I have two Instagram accounts filed with travel photos. If you are a fan of Instagram, I invite you to follow both accounts. 🐼🐼

@Melissa_MyTravelingPanda has photos I’ve taken on personal trips around the globe.

@mytravelingpanda is for photos of my mascot, my little stuffed panda Staffield, and his world travels.

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Mediterranean Cruises: A Taste of Each Destination

Taking a Mediterranean Cruise is a fantastic way to see multiple destinations in a short time and to get a taste for each place so you can determine where you’d like to return one day. ⚓️🚢

Plus, you only have to unpack once! 🧳

I recently returned from a Mediterranean cruise & will post from each port.

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How to Apply for a US Passport

Are you thinking of traveling internationally but don’t have a passport or your passport is expired? The thought of applying for a passport can’t be daunting, but it’s a relatively simple process and once you have your passport in hand, it frees you up to visit virtually any place in the world!

I recommend starting the application or renewal process several months before your planned a trip. This will give you time without worrying if your passport will arrive before your trip.

Bear in mind that most destinations require you have at least three more months of validity on your passport to travel. This means if you travel in July and your passport expires in September you need to renew it before you travel.

I also get the question about name changes. If you are a newlywed or you recently changed your name, it is important that you book your international trip and flight in the name that matches your passport. This is even the case if you have already legally changed your name on other documents such as your drivers license, but your passports to reflect your maiden name. If your passport is valid and has not expired or is not going to expire, you can still travel internationally with that passport. You just need to book your international flight and trip with the name shown on your passport. I’ve personally done this and newlyweds on a delayed honeymoon do this frequently.

So that you have the most accurate and up-to-date passport application information it is best to visit the US state department site.

Here you will have information about the documents needed for either a first time application or renewal, as well as the specifics about the photographs that you need and where to send your information. It will also tell you how long you can expect the application process to take and the costs involved with the standard application and expediting services.

Once you receive your passport be sure to keep it stored in a safe location. This is also important when you’re traveling. Keep it either with you or locked in the hotel safe.

Additionally, you also need to keep your passport in good condition, as the border officials may deny entry if there are any rips, tears or damage to the passport. It is a good idea to invest in a passport cover like the one below for example.

Now you are set to start exploring our planet!

Bon voyage! And Happy Travels!

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Teeny Tiny Euro Suitcases

I successfully packed for a four night, five day trip in a teeny tiny carry on. 

This may seem silly to some, but for me it is an achievement. 
Weight limit and size limits for suitcases may cause nightmares for some…including ne.  I am the girl who notoriously over packs. Once I packed over 50lbs in a suitcase for a cruise (including produce for snacks…what was I thinking?). I have dramatically improved over the years. 

I am also the lucky one whose suitcases always go missing. This has happened to me three times in as many years. So, not checking luggage has become a goal of mine. 

Traveling in Europe has many benefits, namely the destinations are in close proximity and well connected. It’s not uncommon to fly somewhere for $100 roundtrip! 

Those amazing ticket prices come with a caveat…there are strict luggage limitations. They take the size and weight of your bags very seriously. Often you have to prove your bag fits in the metal frame and have it weighed, even at the boarding gate before you are granted access to the flight. And many airlines limit you to one bag. Not a bag plus a smaller personal bag, ONE bag. No personal item, no laptop case, no purse. YIKES!

My recent flight has a size limit that’s even smaller than most. 15″ x 22″ x 8″ (this is just 45 linear inches and 10 kilograms (about 22 lbs). Most US carriers rarely have a weight limitation for carry-on bags (I can’t even tell you the times someone needed help with their bag because the weighed it down with bricks and could get it in the overhead). 

Twenty-two pounds may seem like like a lot until you figure the lightest of suitcases weigh at least four pounds. Then, you have essentials like clothes, shoes, toiletries, a jacket, umbrella, and electronics, chargers, you wallet…it all has to fit within the parameters of this one bag. 

Thanks to my new economy airline approved ultra light weight trolley from Roncato, a well organized hanging toiletry bag from Tumi and a collection of packing cubes, I had the right equipment. With careful and strategic planning, I packed it full for my five day trip. And viole, it zipped shut! Then the real test, the scale. 9.74 kg (21.4 lbs), I have room to spare…for souvenirs!

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KEEP CALM, You Have a Travel Agent 

Reason #14 to have a Travel Agent 
If something goes wrong, even before your trip, I can help. 

I often get asked if people still use travel agents. My simple answer is YES! My services are free and I offer you a tremendous value by saving you time and money. Here it’s just one example of why a travel agent can benefit you. 

I have a client (she is traveling with a group of eight passengers to celebrate a big birthday) whose reservation was canceled unexpectedly just weeks before their departure due to a fire at the resort. If my client had made this reservation on her own, she may have panicked or spent precious time dealing with the situation. But, since she used My Traveling Panda, my client did not have to stress about their new travel plans. I took care of everything for her and her group, from brainstorming alternative solutions to best meet their needs, to finding a new resort, to negotiating a better compensation package than was originally offered and taking care of expediting refunds and extending dates for new deposits. 

This is just one example of how a Travel Agent can save you time and money. 

It’s easy to KEEP CALM if you have a TRAVEL AGENT!

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Getting Organized with Simply Organized

One of my dear friends, Heather Rogers, is a small business owner. She is a personal organizer meaning she can help you organize your home, office, garage, etc. She can help you eliminate clutter, downsize, and free up time and space in your life. 

Not only is Heather a successful small business owner, but  she is also a cherished friend. She help me when I was downsizing for a big move. Thanks to her expertise and skills I was able to “lose a lot of weight” and not have as much “stuff” weighing me down during my relocation. 

Heather recently published a book outlining many of her organization technique, “A Simplified Life”. 

Recently, I was lucky enough to have Heather and her husband travel with me. We went on a little book tour around Tuscany (see below). 

For more information on where to purchase the book or how to get organized, visit the Simply Organized website.

From what information on how to plan a trip anywhere, including Italy, contact me 🙂 


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Do I Need Travel Insurance?

Travel Insurance…? My clients often ponder the question about whether or not to purchase travel insurance. I ALWAYS recommend it (and NOT just during hurricane season).

You may be familiar with insurance protecting your travel investment against things like cancellation or if a hurricane disrupts your trip. But did you know the travel insurance can also protect you against trip delay such as a late flight preventing you from making your connecting flight or if Mother Nature prevents you from getting home and you have additional out-of-pocket expenses), lost or delayed baggage, as well as medical assistance needed while traveling. 

These are all things that I’ve needed while traveling. And trust me, visiting a hospital outside of your home country is not the type of excursion you’d like to experience during your vacation. 

I’ve had clients use insurance for various reasons including emergency surgery days before their departure, death of a family member, accidents that prevented them from traveling, changes in employment that didn’t grant them ample vacation days, developing hurricanes that prevented them from traveling back home because of airport closures, engagements that ended before the honeymoon…And these are just to name a few. 

The fact of the matter is you never know what life has in store and traveling is a big investment in time and money, so it’s best to spend a little bit more and protect your investment and have a piece of mind.  


Categories: Best travel agent, caribbean, cruise, disney, Exumas, Family vacation, honeymoon, Insurance, Jamaica, Mexico, Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho rios, travel, Trip insurance, vacation, Vacation protection | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Sandals Royal Bahamian 

I work hard educating myself about Sandals Resorts. One of the perks of my job is having the good fortune to visit the results as well. My hard work pays off when I am able to enjoy a resort for personal travel; today we arrived to Sandals Royal Bahamian.  So far, so good! I’d love for you to ask me about the resort!       


Categories: Bahamas, Best travel agent, caribbean, honeymoon, romantic, travel, vacation, WeddingWire | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Honeymooning in Mexican Paradise

I can’t believe I have not published this yet- I guess I’m a bit of a blog slacker…!

This article is from the Fall/Winter issue of Beautiful Bride; it features one of the most popular destinations for my honeymooners, destination weddings and family vacations- MEXICO!

Over the summer I had the good fortune of spending nearly two weeks in the Riviera Maya region (I know, tough job, but someone has to do it!). I truly love this region of Mexico.  The resorts are top notch, the food is to die for and the people are so friendly.

I am based in the ATL, so many of my clients are based in the Southeast.  Traveling to Mexico is not only a short and easy flight, it is also an affordable getaway. This article features some of my favorite resorts and activities in this region of Mexico.

Thank you for reading and HAPPY TRAVELS!

Bride Fall pages 74-75


Categories: Beaches, Best travel agent, caribbean, Family vacation, honeymoon, Mexico, romantic, travel, Uncategorized, vacation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reason #1 to Use a Travel Agent Save Time & Stress!

Reason #1 to use a Travel Agent Save Time & Stress!

Sometimes I get questions from people I meet expressing curiosity about why people use a travel agent. Well, I have a perfect example of something that just happened to explain one reason. 

I have honeymoon clients getting married on Friday. Yesterday we received notification that the flights changed dramatically- as in multiple connections and  they would arrive to their destination a day late!

Since we are so close to their departure date the number of available flights from their departure city to their destination were slim to none. I was on the phone literally the entire day with the airline, the tour operator, and my resort contacts to figure out the best options to get them to their destination as planned. 

Imagine if your wedding or your big departure date was only days away and you had to spend one whole day stressing about a change in your itinerary and how to resolve it. This is where my role as Travel Agent comes into play. I use my experience and contacts within the industry to find the best solution for my clients so they don’t waste time, don’t have additional stress and can enjoy their celebration.
Keep Calm and use a Travel Agent! #callatravelagent


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