Category Archives: Events

Travel Tips – Guided Tour Vacations

Carol’s Travel Tips – Guided Tour or Tour Alone? 

I know many of you have taken a guided tour vacation and probably loved it, but for those of you who never been on this type of holiday, let me give you a few facts and hopefully, you will take an escorted trip in the near future.

Many times we go to destinations that are unfamiliar to us and this can be scary. You don’t know where to stay, where or what to eat, don’t speak their language and the list is endless. By taking a guided tour, 90% of your concerns are gone. 

There are so many benefits related to these types of tours.  You will spend less time planning your trip and you will also know the entire cost of your vacation up front with the exception of souvenirs and tips.  All your transportation, transfers, hotel stays, and excursions will be planned for you and are included in your price – as well as 90% of your meals.  As a treat, many of your meals will feature local cuisine. 

Did you know that when you arrive at your first hotel there will be a professional Tour Manager to greet you?  This person knows a lot about your tour and the destinations you’re visiting. From the moment you meet this key player you’ll know you’re in good hands.  With their rich travel backgrounds, as well as their useful information about the language, currency and all things local, you can relax and enjoy the ride.

How do you get from one location to the next? 

Depending on where you are visiting will determine how you get to your destinations.  Many times a motor coach is used, but in some instance, you might travel by rail or boat.  The tour operators use only reliable and insured transportation companies.  Just think, you don’t need a GPS, maps or directions.

Do you hate standing in lines? 

This won’t happen when traveling with a group.  Your Tour Manager and the vendor have a scheduled time for your visit which makes everything easier for you the traveler.  Many times these types of tours are given by the locals who are very informed about their country and want to make sure you have a wonderful experience.

Visiting a destination also gives you a taste of the local culture.  But imagine actually becoming part of that culture.  Staying overnight in an Irish castle and being treated like royalty or feeling the cool waters of the Great Barrier Reef as you snorkel in its turquoise paradise.  How about rolling dough with an Italian chef to make that perfect pizza?  Just imagine the great photo opportunities you will see and get.   

Another nice feature, regarding a guided tour vacation, is meeting people from all over the world.  Many of my clients come back and tell me they met some wonderful folks and became really good friends.  In fact many of them start planning their next trip together.  

Will you have free time? 

Absolutely!  Everyone needs and likes a bit of free time so each itinerary offers you the just the right amount.  You could spend it exploring, eating, shopping or relaxing or maybe you just might want to take a short nap and be refresh prior to your evening festivities.  Whatever you decide to do with your free time is totally up to you.  Enjoy!

There are numerous escorted tour companies out there, but one needs to be careful who they pick.  Many companies may go to the same areas or countries, but each of their packages will be different.  This is one of many reasons you should use a travel agent.  A good travel agent will listen to you but will also ask you questions.  He or she needs to find out exactly where you want to go, what you want to see and do as well as your budget.  Then it time to start working on your dream vacation.

With all this being said, we in the travel industry try to do everything to ensure your escorted vacation is worry and hassle free, so you can relax and enjoy the cultures, sights, and people you meet during your travels.

As we say at Carol’s Trips, LLC – “It’s Time to Go!” To learn more about Day Trips and Cruises from The Villages and Leesburg, Florida area, visit


My Talk Radio Debut – All Your Travel Questions Asked & Answered!

Today was my debut on WOCA Talk Radio Station 96.3 FM or 1370 AM out of Ocala, what an exciting day & I wasn’t even nervous. If you have any travel, cruise, or day trip questions, he asks them ALL during this session!  The next time I will be on “air” will be on Monday, July 10th at 10:05 am. My guest will be Alan Darcy and we will be promoting Alan’s cruise which is in February, 2018. Thanks for watching! 

Day Bus Trips Earlier This Year

Day Bus Trips With Carol's Trips

Going on day bus trips is always a lot of fun, but even more so when it is somewhere you have never been.  Maybe the trip will take you to somewhere that you have read about or someone told you about.  Well, earlier this year that is exactly what happened to several folks from our area; one group went to the Orlando Museum of Art and another group went to a small town called Ono. 

Every major city has a museum of art but the museum in Orlando is very unique.  Why?  Because every year their main exhibit during the Holiday Season is their “Festival of Trees” and what an event this is.

Pamela Webb, the President of Council of 101 was very excited because they were celebrating 30 years of the Festival of Trees, The Art of the Holidays.  A group of nearly 300 volunteers share their time, talents and gifts to bring Central Florida the season’s opening holiday event. 

This Was Such a Fun Day Bus Trip!

This was such a fun day bus trip! As we walked into the main entrance of the museum, each of us was given a raffle ticket and then entered a small theatre where over 100 gift bags were given out.  Several of ladies from the group actually won one of these special door prizes.

One could hear Christmas Music being played on a Baby Grand Piano as they were admiring the exhibits.  Every room, every nook and cranny had displays of Christmas Decorations; large and small Christmas Trees, Wreaths, Gingerbread House and so much more.  Every object was decorated beautifully, some more distinctive than others, but still breathtaking.  There was even a gift shop where you could purchase items that you saw on display.   

The only downside of this trip was that I didn’t allow enough time to really enjoy the displays.  When Irene Tuchscherer (The Village of Liberty Park) and I were putting this trip together, we didn’t realize how large the exhibit was and that you really needed a full day to take it all in.  But on a positive side, after we left the museum, John our bus driver, took us to the Christmas Tree Shop in Altamonte Springs and the ladies did some serious spending.  The bus was full of packages.

Later that same week, another group of people took a day bust trip down to Solomon’s Castle.  Again, this is another place that you really have to spend the entire day at, because there is so much to see. 

Solomon’s Castle is a hidden gem hidden among Florida’s rural landscape but is also the home, gallery, workshop and museum to artist and sculptor Howard Solomon.  Mr. Solomon designed and built his Castle out of aluminum printing sheets and other forms of materials.  Stain glass windows were everywhere.  There is a Yellow Brick Road that is not made of bricks, but a unique use of a sponge mop and yellow paint.  He also built a six (6) sided room to fit a chandelier and a one person elevator which goes to the second floor to the “Master Boudoir”.

Everyone on the trip concluded that Howard Solomon never slept because his mind and hands were always creating.  The castle and his art are a true testament of his genius as an artist.

The “Boat in the Moat” which doesn’t float, again was built by Howard.  His daughter and son-in-law run the restaurant and the portions are large, delicious and very filling.

In the past, when a guest would come to visit, your tour guide would have been Mr. Solomon himself. Unfortunately, Howard passed away in August of 2016.  Janet, my associate, had the privilege of speaking with him only weeks before, while planning this bus excursion and they were both really excited about our visit. Rest in Peace Mr. Howard Solomon.  You have made many, many people happy.

At Carol’s Trips, we’re always planning and looking for fun day trips to take on our bus excursions. We hope you’ll join us for a trip soon, because like we say at Carol’s Trips ~ It’s Time To Go!


Fun Trips For Visiting Grandchildren

Carols Trips

Time to get planning those fun trips for visiting grandchildren! Almost everyone who is reading this article is probably a “grandparent” and maybe even a great-grandparent.  Congratulations!  The road to get to this part of your life has been a tough and challenging one, I know because I am also a grandparent.

This is the time of the year when our grandchildren start to come down for a visit.  Winter and Spring breaks are real popular but the majority of kids come down during the summer months, which makes perfect sense.  They can come down for several weeks and you are very excited to see them.  BUT now you are thinking about what you can do to entertain them.

You can go to the usual places like Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World or even Tampa Gardens, but it starts to get expensive – plus it might be a little too much for you.  So what do you do?  Where can you take them?  How much money do you need?  So we have a few suggestions that won’t “break your bank” and yet you can have some great quality time with your grandbabies.

Janet Callahan, my associate at Carol’s Trips, put on her thinking cap and came up with some really great excursions that she thought all ages would enjoy.  Museums are a neat place to visit and they are also air conditioned, which makes your day go smoothly.  How about visiting the Explorations V Children’s Museum in Lakeland or the Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa?  There is also the Hands on Museum in Jacksonville.  Most museums are open 7 days a week with the exception of a few holidays.  Hours of operation vary but we are safe to say from 10 am to 5 pm they are open.

Now if animals are something the children are interested in, then there are many places you can visit that won’t cost you an “arm and a leg”.  Many of these places are nearby plus usually, parking is FREE.  That is always a bonus.  Some have a café or small restaurant on their property that you could stop and get a bit to eat.  So let’s check out what Janet found.

Over on the east side of the state you could visit the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford or how about the Green Meadows Petting Zoo in Kissimmee.  Both of these zoos are open from 9:30 am to 4 or 5 pm, depending on which location you visit.

On the Gulf side, we have Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Homosassa and the Tampa Lowry Park Zoo.  The Wildlife State Park is a must see for anyone living outside of Florida.  Getting a glimpse of manatees is always a great experience.  Also, if you have the time, stop over to Dade City and visit the Dade City’s Wild Things which is open from 8:30 am to 5 pm.  This is truly a great adventure and one the grandkids will love.

The next two places kids of all ages would love to visit.  So our first stop would be to the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet which their summer hours are from 10 am to 5 pm.   Our second stop would be to see Winter at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater.  Their hours of operation are from 10 am to 6 pm. Did you know that the movie Dolphin Tales was also filmed at the aquarium?

So now we have hopefully solved some of your summer issues with the grandkids.  Fun, inexpensive places to take them that won’t break your bank account.  Some of our suggestions are for the younger children but many of these places are great for the older child in your life.  At Carol’s Trips we always like to think outside the box, and that is why we suggested these alternative venues for you to experience.

For more information on any of these trips or maybe you would like to talk to Janet about a trip for yourself, please feel free to call her directly at 352-750-6543.  She would love to talk to you.

Like we say at Carol’s Trips ~ It’s Time To Go!

Another Fun Villages Day Trip!

Villages Day Trip with Carol's Trips

Are you looking for a fun day trip from The Villages? Do you like to cook? Then you have to read on!

Recently I took a small Villages Day Trip to Ocala for a cooking class.  OMG, talk about a great day, plus we all learned some new techniques.  As many of you know, I am always thinking outside the box and looking for new excursions to take you on.  So when one of my dear friends from Ocala told me about a new company called “Let’s Eat Fresh”, I had to try it! The company is owned by a mother and daughter team who love to cook.   Maria, who is originally from Italy and her daughter Rosaria put together a great menu and then it was my job to promote the class.  Oh, I forgot to mention, our class was in a “commissary kitchen” setting and not in a restaurant.

Both men and women were part of our first cooking class which consisted of 16 people.  Everyone was asked to bring their aprons and if they wanted, and they could also bring a bottle of wine and their wine glass.  Our menu was chicken parmesan, fettuccine with vodka sauce, knotted garlic rolls and cream puffs.  Talk about yummy! 

How Does a Villages Day Trip Work? 

Around 10 am everyone got on the bus in Brownwood. Our day began as we headed up to Ocala to learn some new tips & tricks in the kitchen.  There was excitement in the air and the conversations were all about food.  I wonder why?   

One of the first things the gang had to do was put a hair net on, including the guys, wash our hands and put on rubber gloves.  Then it was time to get serious and learn how to prepare this delicious lunch.  Rosaria and Maria had everything ready for us; items were measured out in small containers while Maria showed us how to prepare the pudding for the cream puffs.  Do you know how to prevent that “crust” on your pudding?  Do you know how to make fettuccine without using a pasta maker?  Did you know that cooking fresh pasta takes half the time to cook then the package pasta?  Plus it tastes so much better!  Ummmmm – these were a few of the secrets we were taught. 

After the chicken cooked, the rolls baked and everything else was ready, it was time to sit down and eat.  Yes everything we prepared we ate and there was so much food that we could have seconds.  Now you know why the class brought along a bottle of wine. 

Once everyone was done eating, then the group was able to purchase items to take home.  My husband and I took home some stuffed cabbage and stuffed peppers along with a bag of special pasta flour.  Have we made our own pasta yet?  Not yet but very soon!

Let’s Eat Fresh is a commissary setting that rents out their kitchen to other small caterers for their upcoming events.  Another part of their business is to make fresh food to sell at Ocala’s farmer market every Wednesday.  Everything this mother and daughter team makes uses 100% fresh ingredients, hence the name Let’s Eat Fresh. 

If you group would like to take a day trip and live in the Villages or Leesburg area, please give me a call.  The maximum class size would be 20 and the minimum would be 16.  Trust me, you will have a great time learning, cooking and eating. Check out our gallery at

Like we say at Carol’s Trips ~ It’s Time To Go!

The Villages & Leesburg Day Bus Trips & Cruise Deals

Day Bus Trips with Carol's Trips

The Villages and Leesburg Day Bus Trips & Cruise Deals

I love planning Leesburg Day Bus Trips and finding cruise deals for my neighbors in The Villages & Leesburg areas. One of the reasons I am in the travel business is to help people find a really good deal and for the client to have the best time they can have at a price that fits their budget. Sometimes the plans fall right into place, while other times…well let’s just say it is a little more difficult.  Not because of the location but the problem might be with availability or pricing. 

Bus trips have similar issues; pricing, availability, location and not enough excitement.  That is why we at Carol’s Trips are always looking for something different to do.  We, as human beings, get bored doing the same thing all the time, year after year. For a current list of our Day Trips click here:

How Do We Decide Our Leesburg Day Bus Trips? 

So you might be wondering where we come up with the ideas for our day bus trips!  Many of you will call or e-mail me and suggest a certain museum, venue or show, which is absolutely wonderful.  Many times it is something or somewhere I have never heard of.  Of course, I have to do some research on the web and many times I actually check the suggestion out in person.  In fact, the past few weeks we have been scoping the area out to see where or what can we do next.

Recently one lady sent me a request to look into the Orlando Eye.  Now I have lived in Florida for over 10 years and had no idea what she was talking about.  So I got on my computer to check it out and to my amazement, the Orlando Eye is that huge Ferris Wheel on International Drive in Orlando.  Did you know that?  I did a little detective work and found out that there are plenty of restaurants in the area but not a lot of shopping.  But still…this sounds really neat.  So probably in the very near future we will put a bus trip together, so stay tuned.

As many of you know my Consignment Shopping Sprees are a real hit with the ladies, but how many times can we keep going to the same shops.  As I’m writing this article, my associate and I are checking out new shops east of The Villages; Mt. Dora, Altamonte Springs, etc.  But the real challenge will be to find a really good/neat restaurant to have lunch at.  Any suggestions?

Finding Cruise Deals 

Cruises are another issue because again, how many times do you want to do the Caribbean!  Not that we don’t like the Caribbean but…So in October, 2017 we put together a 7 night California Coastal Cruise, round trip from San Francisco; in 2018 we are looking into a British Isles Cruise and both cruises will be on Princess Cruise Lines.  Bonus: if you were in the military, you will receive an On Board Ship credit from Princess Cruise Lines.  How cool is that!

Thinking “outside the box”, we have started to add some “specialty” cruises.  A great entertainer by the name of Alan Darcy (you may have heard of him) is going to perform on Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas in February, 2018.  Alan is going to be performing two private shows and only his fans will be able to attend.  Of course we will be having many more “goodies” on this cruise.

Keeping with tradition, if you want to take that “bucket list” vacation and have no idea where to start, I can certainly help you out.  Just give me a buzz!

Like we say at Carol’s Trips ~ It’s Time To Go!