Without a doubt, 2020 will go down in history as a time of unbelievable challenge for the world at large, and this year has been an especially difficult period for the entire travel industry. The spread of COVID-19 and the associated travel restrictions have led to an unprecedented landslide of trip cancellations. Through this period of extreme uncertainty, Ciao Bambino Travel Advisors have literally saved the day for their clients … and not just once, but on countless occasions. Our clients have expressed their gratitude and have stated that they’d never consider not using a Travel Advisor again! Whatever fees they paid to use our service were made up for in spades when our Advisors advocated for clients with suppliers across the globe and navigated the complexities of trip cancellations when rules were — and continue to be — ever-changing and fluid.
Our annual blog post showcasing love letters from traveling families has always highlighted the core elements of our service that our clients appreciate, like our invaluable insight into the destinations we sell and our deep industry connections. But this year the appreciation is taken to an entirely new level, as our Advisors have worked tirelessly to lead our clients through this crisis. The team is now navigating how best to re-plan those trips and find ways for our clients to still enjoy some escapes during the crisis. Although the past six months have been painful, we covet our industry and the life-changing memories that we create for our clients. We’ll get through this together, and we will appreciate one another and the opportunity to travel more than ever. Despite the pain, perhaps this gratitude is a silver lining. The kind words on this page give our entire team immense joy. A heartfelt thank you to our clients for taking the time to share so wonderfully how they feel about our efforts on their behalf!
Working with Laurel to plan our Greece/Paris trip was a dream. She worked hard to understand our family and recommended the most amazing itinerary. When we were faced with postponing our trip due to COVID, it was invaluable to have Laurel on our team to manage the process of unwinding our trip and ensuring we received the refunds and/or travel vouchers for everything we had pre-paid for. Without her intimate knowledge of the “right people” where we were booked, I highly doubt we would have gotten refunds or credits to rebook for next year. I will never book such an experience of a lifetime without Laurel and Ciao Bambino. I can’t wait until we can rebook this trip! — Hagens family trip to Europe, designed by Laurel Perry
The trip has been a huge, amazing adventure. It was so GREAT! I have told everyone they should go! The staff at the hotel in Buenos Aires was so nice that my daughter cried when we left — she loved the cupcake surprise you had prepared for her birthday. Patagonia feels like you are in the middle of nowhere but with all the modern comforts, and our guides were great throughout. We felt like they were only taking care of us. And the food was fantastic — we loved the backdoor chef experience … I love when you plan the trips because it’s a little bit like Christmas every day. I wake up and say “What are we going to do today?” because I don’t have to look at every detail — you have done it for me. — Tompkins family trip to Argentina, designed by Kristi Marcelle
Chelsea was amazing. She had everything planned to perfection. Always friendly and helpful, and set a wonderful experience up that was exactly what we were looking for. We really appreciate the attention to detail … Loved the Palace and Peninsula in Tokyo — excellent hotels. We already have referred her to a few friends that commented on our vacation posts! Hope to work with her again in the future. Overall it was a great experience. I have no idea how it could have been better. — Stewart family trip to Japan, designed by Chelsea Johnson
I would like to start at the end — thank you … thank you! My trip to Spain was unforgettable, in large part because of you and your exquisite planning on my behalf. My niece and her fiancé are still talking about it. They had the time of their lives and told me they felt like royalty with the private tours … Every detail was taken care of by you. From Paco holding up a sign when we arrived at the airport to our last wonderful day in Barcelona, I never once felt any stress. The travel tips and other info on our iPhones were so helpful, and detailed too. Believe me, we used them! I cannot say enough about each of our guides … They were engaging and knew their history. Their styles were wonderfully different, like the city we were visiting. The highlights for me were standing in the masterpiece La Sagrada Familia, and later listening to the boys’ choir at Montserrat. Melissa, my genuine thanks. — Magner family trip to Spain, designed by Melissa Smith
My husband and I decided to give the family a surprise trip for Christmas to London and Italy. I was born in England so I wanted my grandchildren to see why Grandma loves tea so much! I came across Ciao Bambino and Brendan answered my email. We connected right away — he knew just how to do this … Each time I talked to Brendan I got more and more excited about the trip. He gave us ideas I had not even heard of; he gave us options on hotels and what places I should stay, in nicer hotels with better locations. Brendan and Linda coordinated 13 of us on this memorable dream trip I had in my mind! We flew from three airports in the states to England; we all met at the airport and started our trip in London. Four days later we flew to Naples and went directly to Pompeii, took private transportation to Positano, then a train back up to Rome. After Rome we took the train to Florence, then up to Venice. We all flew home from Venice. My goal was to have one day of tours then the next one or two days of rest or on your own. We had a few special dinners and fun activities at night, all coordinated by Brendan and Linda. We are so thankful that your company has such caring people. Brendan and Linda just amazed us with their knowledge of all the places we went to. I still look at our pictures of all the children and grandchildren enjoying being together and know in my heart that this trip was a true family memory to cherish! — Saari family trip to Europe, designed by Linda & Brendan Considine
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First of all, THANK YOU for arranging everything and working with me throughout this process. Everyone had a great time and was really impressed with every aspect of the trip … so I would say everything met or exceeded expectations! Accommodations were amazing. The Montage was the perfect family resort. From s’mores to tubing to petting Monty the dog, it was totally geared for people like us. Every time we turned around there was an example of how they aimed to delight and not just satisfy. — Lichtenfeld family trip to Deer Valley, Utah, designed by Barbara Weindling
Our trip to Rome and Tuscany was magical from start to finish simply because of Brendan and Linda’s attention to detail, the best recommendations for our family for tours, activities and hotel stays. Our trip was seamless and perfect; we’ll always book our future trips with them. They are professional and are very knowledgeable in every aspect of travel, plus they happen to be lovely to work with! — Greenblatt family trip to Italy, designed by Linda & Brendan Considine
I never had so much fun planning a trip that didn’t happen. I know if the world had not been in the middle of the pandemic, our trip would have been wonderful and this would be a different type of testimonial. I am a seasoned traveler and have been planning my own trips for years. However, when I started planning a special trip with my 14-year-old granddaughter to Greece, I became completely overwhelmed. My granddaughter’s knowledge and interest in Greek mythology seemed to know no bounds. Her goal for the trip was to explore all that she had read about the gods and goddesses. After flailing about for weeks trying to put something together, I decided for this trip I needed help. I contacted several travel organizations who specialized in Greek travel. Each sent me proposed itineraries which in no way reflected what I had told them I wanted. Then I contacted Ciao Bambino and met Helen. She listened, asked the right questions, helped me sort out what was important for us to see and offered much optimistic enthusiasm for the trip. Her responses to my many questions and concerns were usually within an hour and if she didn’t have an answer, she researched and got back to me promptly. I think Helen’s teaching background is most helpful in understanding what would appeal to children and her extensive traveling is helpful in understanding what adults would enjoy. Putting both these needs together in one trip is an important skill and one in which Helen excels. After working with Helen for less than a week, I wrote to her, “I am increasingly excited about our trip and decreasingly anxious about the trip planning!” Finally, Helen’s expertise and help were invaluable in the canceling of each aspect of our trip and in negotiating the return of my monies. While our trip didn’t work this summer, when we are able to travel again, I will trust Helen completely to put it all back together. — Baldwin family trip to Greece, designed by Helen Buckner
Chelsea was a joy and pleasure to work with. She listened to our needs and preferences and did an excellent job researching for us. She truly sought to find what we were looking for. She had the sweetest touches sent our way (literally) even before we left for our trip. It was so thoughtful and beautiful! Chelsea was organized and prompt. She had everything we needed each day laid out. Our Europe vacation was super smooth thanks to her! The very best memory of my trip was the uninterrupted time with family. — Young family trip to Europe, designed by Chelsea Johnson
Despite a lot of the hiccups that we faced with guides and lodging, we truly had a great trip and took home many positive memories with us. You were the key component in getting us out there on that trip! So thank you … I truly appreciate all of the services and support that you offer for my family to continue to get out and explore. — Culley family trip to Wyoming, designed by Anna Sizer
I really want you to know how fantastically phenomenal you are! [COVID] has not been easy for you and you have handled with such grace and we so truly appreciate it! We can’t wait to travel in Spain next year and have you book the rest of our trips for the rest of our lives. I know this has rocked your world, but know you are making a difference to your clients and that we are so grateful for your help and support. — Jacobs family trip to Spain, designed by Laurel Perry
Our catamaran trip was beyond incredible. The crew blew our minds with their hospitality and kindness. I look at the pictures and I’m sad because I want to be there. We were treated like royalty. My husband dove into the ocean every morning as we smelled bacon frying, and then he’d get out of water and be handed a coffee. The boat was incredible; the room was huge. We went on island tours and they cut down coconuts for the kids. By day 2, they knew what we preferred: martinis ready after we got off the dinghy every day with Frank Sinatra playing (husband’s favorite). We went snorkeling and saw lots of fish, and my daughter said “This is the life I want to live when I grow up.” They taught the girls to fish and they caught snapper and made sushi. The crew made a kids’ dinner and an adults’ dinner. They knew when to give us space. It was just unbelievable. — Cheary private catamaran charter in the British Virgin Islands, designed by Kristi Marcelle
I really enjoyed planning our trip to Italy with Susan. She was so knowledgeable about the area and helped me decide on tours, hotels and transportation. My family and I were so excited. Then COVID hit. Susan was the calm in the storm. Our trip was originally for the end of March. In the beginning there was so little information. Susan helped us rebook everything for the end of June. It was super smooth. Then as time moved on and we learned that the pandemic was more widespread than anyone originally considered, Susan helped us again by cancelling our trip and getting us refunds and credits. We are so hopeful that we can take this trip in 2021. I will continue to work with Susan on this trip and will definitely reach out to her for future trips! — Loudermilk/McGuire family trip to Italy, designed by Susan Robinson
We have been blessed to use Brendan and Linda for multiple trips now. They have always been carefully thought out, from the smallest of details to larger logistical ones. They have always made sure our kids’ needs are met as well as ours, which is not always easy to do! They are always available to answer questions and alleviate any concerns that arise. Our latest trip to Morocco was the most amazing experience, from visiting multiple ancient cities to camping in the desert, and we had the most amazing guide (who we still keep in contact with). But the most important part of this trip was when we were in Marrakech and the Moroccan government decided to close its borders because of rising COVID fears. We were very nervous until we spoke to Brendan and he assured us he would take care of it and get us home safely, and told us not to stress. Not only did they get us out on the LAST flight leaving the country before they went into lockdown, they got us out with four first class tickets. I still don’t understand how they work their magic, but I do know my family and I are incredibly grateful to both of them. We have already begun planning our next adventures with them and honestly can’t imagine traveling without them and their expertise. — Stranahan family trip to Morocco, designed by Linda & Brendan Considine
Our experience working with Chelsea was outstanding… such a charming and delightful person to work with and always on top of everything! We would most definitely refer her to our family and friends! — Minor family trip to Hawaii, designed by Chelsea Johnson
First off — I cannot tell you enough how wonderful the trip was. New Zealand is even better than described and our gorgeous photos don’t do the scenery proper justice. Just WOW! Secondly, as with our trips before, I prefer to put the planning in your hands and not do too much (or any) research on my own. It removes any expectations and honestly the stress of traveling. The way you planned it worked quite well for traversing the islands from the south to the north. Thank you! — Warmath family trip to New Zealand, designed by Kristi Marcelle
The trip was AMAZING!! The hotels were all so different and unique, but absolutely perfect choices as far as location, style, room layout, etc. When I asked my kids which hotel was their favorite, they unanimously said they couldn’t choose, they loved all three so much. All three guides were amazing! I can’t even tell you how much fun we had shopping with Gloria. We could have shopped with her all day … Honestly, this was an effortless vacation. I can’t thank you enough! I wasn’t sure what to expect since I’m so used to planning everything on my own, but I couldn’t have asked for an easier trip. Thanks so much again, Natalie! Already dreaming about our next trip! — Sacco family trip to Spain, designed by Natalie Ethridge
You did a wonderful job planning a vacation we will remember for a long, long time to come. The boat trip was spectacular — what a unique treat. We saw amazing marine wildlife from the deck of the boat as well as during the incredible snorkeling; we had a most delicious dinner in the most romantic setting; we witnessed a beautiful sunset. The transfers were all smooth and went off without a hitch. Everyone we met was warm and friendly, knowledgeable and competent. — Himeles family trip to Costa Rica, designed by Barbara Weindling
In short, we LOVE Linda! We have used her for two trips now and cannot say enough great things about her. She listens and asks great questions to understand interests as well as financial and physical capabilities of the parties involved. Our trip to Italy and Barcelona last year was wonderful. We were all impressed at how smoothly everything went and how Linda thought of every little detail. Our tours were impressive and we always felt like she had our back during our trip. My father-in-law is not an easy man to please and he still raves about that trip … We planned to use her again for a trip this summer, but of course that trip is now on hold. However, we will definitely use Linda again for any future travel. — Dalton family trip to Europe, designed by Linda Considine
I just wanted to let you know what an amazing job Susan has done in helping us rearrange our travels. She has gone beyond the call of duty to help us make all the necessary changes. She even reached out to our travel insurance to make sure they moved our insured dates. You are very lucky to have her on your team. — Klein/Robin family trip to Tahiti, designed by Susan Robinson
Editor’s Note: Photos courtesy of the individual families pictured.
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