Sun’s out, plane tickets out – that’s the saying, isn’t it? In other words, the kids are home from school and summer is finally here. Laying out by the pool is fantastic, but sometimes you just need to get away and try to let go of the real world for a few days.
This summer, I’m traveling down to bluer waters for sand between my toes, sun on my skin, and lasting memories. Ashley Glaze Russell, a travel agent for Small World Big Fun, has helped me book a luxurious trip to Cancun, Mexico. I told her I wanted to go on a trip to the beach, and she took care of the rest.
Having never used a travel agent before, I really had no idea what to expect, but I knew I could trust Ashley. I’ve known the Russell family my entire life – I grew up with Ashley’s husband, Brett Russell of Russell Chevrolet and I’ve always admired and trusted their family. With that being said, I had no doubt in my mind that Ashley would be incredible to work with.
I gave Ashley a general overview of what I wanted to do and a budget, and she went above and beyond to find me upgrades and fantastic amenities. Most importantly, she found everything under my budget! She helped me book plane tickets, found me the gorgeous all-inclusive resort Hyatt Zilara Cancun and set up extras such as a photographer and special decorations. To say I’m ecstatic would be a massive understatement.
Small World Big Fun was started by Cindy Minor over a decade ago with the sole purpose of helping families plan once-in-a-lifetime vacations. Small World Big Fun is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner specialized in custom Disney vacations, but the agency can send you and your family practically anywhere. Maybe not Mars, yet, but anywhere.
Ashley joined the Small World Big Fun team in 2017 and she’s been making dreams come true ever since.
“At Small World Big Fun, we can send people just about anywhere in the world. We do quite a bit of Disney and Universal theme parks, some domestic trips and all-inclusive beaches,” Ashley says. “Travel agencies have evolved from just booking flights for people – it’s so much more. Modern travel agents are largely independent contractors that are commissioned.”
Ashley and other agents spend large amounts of time researching, planning and checking travel policies daily.
“If there was ever a time to use a travel agent it would be now,” Ashley emphasizes. “Travel today is complicated. After two years, travel is in full swing, but each country and destination is different in how they are handling COVID-19. We frequently check updates on what airlines are changing rules, which countries require vaccinations or tests, where can clients go to get tested before returning to America – it’s constantly changing.”
Ashley has noticed that travel is not the same as it was before the pandemic, and I can attest to that. Last year I took a couple of vacations and the prices were significantly low on rooms and plane tickets. Not a lot of people were venturing out so resorts discounted rooms to bring people in. This year is the opposite.
“Waiting till the last minute in hopes of getting a good deal as some people would pre-pandemic is a thing of the past at the moment. Last-minute travel deals don’t really exist today,” Ashley says. “Resorts are maxed out, plane tickets are extremely high and even theme parks look different this year. If you show up at Disney tomorrow without a ticket, you likely won’t be let in; that’s just how it works now. Planning in advance is the best thing to do right now.”
Times are different, but everyone deserves to let loose and get away from this Arkansas weather.
Find more information and contact Small World Big Fun (with a special shout-out to Ashley Russell, of course) and plan your next trip!
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