Category Archives: Our Travel Agents

The Best Travel Apps in 2018

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According to a report by Lonely Planet, around 137 million people in the USA alone use travel apps each month!

There are literally thousands of travel apps to choose from – figuring out which are the best can be a headache! So we asked around our agents and clients on their favorite apps to use overseas.

Have some you’d love to see on this list? Let us know in the comments!

Viking Voyager

Viking Cruises’ go-to app is all about enhancing your experience onboard. Guests can book dinner, shore excursions, and spa appointments—all on their phone! Access the daily program so you always know what’s going on in every corner of the ship. Read up on your ports of call, and be gently reminded when you should be back onboard. You can even watch the cruise TV on your phone.

Viking Art Guide

Did you think Viking Cruises had just one app? Think again. Perfect for art lovers, the Art Guide illuminates your cruise with details on the artwork, public spaces, and décor of the ship with a self-guided audio experience. Learn about the Bayeux Tapestry along the ship’s eight decks. Discover the unique photography that adorns the walls at Manfredi’s restaurant. Enjoy insightful commentary from artists, designers and curators, plus description of all 36 public spaces.


Mootvit is a subway/transit guide with live time updates. With schedules and maps of 80+ countries worldwide, this is the perfect app to survive the wild chaos of London, Edinburgh, Sydney, Athens and more.


Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of an overseas data plan. Or maybe you just want to get offline for the day. Citimaps2go offers offline maps to navigate those tricky streets, even when you don’t have a reliable connection.

XE Currency Converter

For years, XE has been a favorite resource for international travelers. It converts USD to every single currency in a second—necessary for those haggling markets or souvenir shops.

Aurora Forecast

Northbound? If your winter travels take you to the poles, don’t miss your chance at one of the greatest sights in the world—the aurora. This forecast app is a definitive resource in predicting aurora sightings.

WhatsApp or Skype

If you want to stay in touch with back home, either of these applications are a must. Skype is great for voice or audio connections, whereas WhatsApp delivers the message straight to your loved ones’ phones.

WIT Agent Tip!: WhatsApp can also make phone calls—just be sure to download the app on your phone while your USA SIM card is installed. The number you register the app in, stays with the app, regardless of what foreign SIM card you use later on. This is also the number the app will send a message to for verification. For example, if you want to associate whatsapp with your American number, it will send a verification message to your American number. (if you have a Malaysian sim card in your phone and you’re trying to set up whatsapp to associate with your American number, it won’t work because you won’t receive your verification code.)

Google Translate

Carry a virtual translator wherever you go. It has many added benefits, like a downloadable option so you have the language dictionary always at your fingertips, even offline. With some languages, you can even hold the camera over text in the real world, and the app translates it for you. It can even translate (with varying success) complex writing systems like Japanese Kanji.

Apple Wallet

Only available to iPhones, the Apple Wallet is a handle organizer for all sorts of tickets and cards, meaning coupons, boarding passes, event tickets, public transportation tickets, loyalty cards. I’ve found this huge as I don’t need to sift through my papers or my photos to find a boarding pass—I get it instantly, when I want it, where I want it.

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Filed under Europe, Our Travel Agents, Travel Gear, Travel Tips

Why More & More Millennials are Using Travel Agents

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Millennials are Turning to Travel Agents for that Personalized Touch

In the past few years, we’ve seen more and more millennials come into the office. Recent travel trends pave the way for customized, one-of-a-kind tours. Millennials are independent, they are internet-savvy, and they’re on the lookout for special travel experiences. That’s where travel agents come in.

Travel agents can be a great resource to tap into what’s new and unique in the travel market. We go out of our way to tailor each trip to the client.

A Better Travel Experience

A 2016 study from the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) found that 34% of millennial travelers have booked a trip through a travel agent. These days, travelers have tried it all—booked direct, booked online through a third party, consulted travel agents. There’s so much information online, it can be overwhelming to sort through what is genuine and what is merely a cookie-cutter package. Agents know the industry inside and out, and understand what might work according to particular travel styles. Those who have worked with travel agents report a better travel experience overall when tapping into an agency’s resources and know-how.

Great for Groups and Niches 

Millennials also tend to travel in groups more these days than ever. They fly home or abroad for bachelorette parties, reunions, weddings, etc. Agents listen to what clients need and manage accommodation, transportation, fun activities and group discounts.

Agents are also helpful especially for niche travel and exotic locales. Travelers looking to ride a riverboat down the Amazon jungle, take a gastro-tour of Vietnam, swim with the sharks, or enjoy a Namibian safari, would certainly benefit from agents who can offer decades of knowledge, exclusive discounts and a personalized, human touch.

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 or email to speak to one of our travel agents today!

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Filed under Europe, Our Travel Agents

Star Clippers — Kids Sail Free

Calling all families, all aboard with Star Clippers!

Contact Willamette Intl Travel about these fabulous family-friendly trips!

503-224-0180 or email

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Terms & Conditions. Kids Sail Free offer is available on select sailings only & prices listed include the $250 family flight credit reduction for category 6 cabin when a child is the 2nd person in the same cabin with an adult . The program applies for children between the ages of 2-17 at time of sailing. Two adults traveling with 1 child: Both adults pay the Family rate & the child goes free in one cabin. Two adults traveling with two children: Both adults pay the Family rate & both children go free in two cabins; booked as 1 adult and 1 child in each cabin. The promotion restricts the category booked to the same category or lower. A maximum of $500 applies on the Family Flight Credit. All rates are in US Dollar and valid only for US, Canada, and Latin American residents. Port charges are additional for adults and kids & range from $255pp -$385pp. Single occupancy is not applicable. Space is limited & capacity controlled; rates are subject to change and other restrictions may apply.

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Filed under Cruises, Europe, Our Travel Agents, Star Clipper, Travel by Ship, Vendors

Agent Trip to Thailand/Laos: Part Five — Luang Prabang, Pt 2

Last month, WIT Agent Wailana traveled with our preferred vendor Vexplore Tours through Thailand and Laos. This month we are posting sections from her journal–read on for her insider tips!

In case you missed Part Four on the Mekong Cruise, click here to read it.

After the 3-night Mekong cruise, we disembarked at Luang Prabang for one final night in this charming town. Our hotel was the the Angsana Maison, a lovely, historic hotel just 20 minutes’ walk from the night market. This property had a soothing atmosphere. Its white walls and intimate spa contributes to a simple boutique charm.

That day we drove in a passenger van out to the Kuang Si waterfalls, about 45 minutes to 1 hour from the city. As it had stormed violently the night before, the waterfalls had erupted into an impressive flood. During drier months (early Spring), people can usually swim or wade in the small pools at the base of the falls.


One of the highlights from the Lao trip I haven’t mentioned yet is the monk walk. Every morning, monks from the local temple line up and collect rice from villagers. They walk around a few blocks with their baskets, stopping for just a second for kneeling townsfolk to scoop out their morning rice. I bought a little sitting map and a large wooden tub of rice and waited for each monk—the older ones to the front, the younglings at the back. The line advances pretty speedily, so you have to move fast to scoop your rice into their tubs!



If you visit Luang Prabang, don’t forget to hop on a tuk tuk. These are different than Thai tuk tuk cars—in Lao they are quite colorful, blue trucks slathered in strips of bright yellow and red and green. We drove out on one of these to the food market—a delicious collection of Lao goodies you won’t find anywhere else in the world: juicy bacon, marinated meat, lemongrass, buffalo jerky, strong coffee—even wasp eggs!


That evening after a delicious dinner by the river (steamed fish in banana leaf!), we drove out to a house in the residential district to attend a Baci ceremony. The Baci is a traditional ritual used to celebrate important events. Most Lao people are animists who believe in indigenous gods (phi) and thirty-two khwan, or spirits who inhabit the body. The Khwan bestow health and prosperity onto a person, and their absence directly correlates to illness or harm. The main purpose of the Baci is to call back your spirits, and it is often performed to welcome guests and travelers.


A band of fifteen elders and a priest greeted us with a tower of bright orange flowers, strings, bananas and sweets. The ritual was brief but beautiful, and involved several dances from five 13- to 16-year-old girls in costume. We each had our wrists bound in simple ropes, which we could keep on for 3 days for full spiritual potency.

WIT Agents have all traveled extensively throughout SE Asia and regularly book clients around the region. Call 503-224-0180 to speak with one of our agents about a trip that’s right for you.

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Filed under Asia, Laos, Our Travel Agents, Vendors, Vexplore, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

Wailana’s Trip to Thailand/Laos: Part One — Mekhala Cruise on the Chao Praya

This past September, WIT Agent Wailana traveled with one of our preferred vendors in SE Asia, Vexplore Tours. With their escort, she ventured through Bangkok, Ayutthaya and Chiang Mai in Thailand, and Luang Prabang and the Mekong River in Laos!

She came back with a lot of useful firsthand knowledge of her destinations, plus some insider tips. Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting sections of her feedback. Read on for details!

We arrived into Bangkok at around 11pm, well after rush hour, and transferred via air-conditioned car and driver to our hotel. Vexplore had booked us at the lovely Banyan Tree, a modern property around 10 minutes’ walk of the Chao Praya River on the east bank. The décor is dark and contemporary, with linear lines and traditional flavor that gave it a professional and cozy atmosphere. One of my favorite details in most of the hotels were the use of granite or marble sink bowls in the bathroom, instead of the embedded sinks more common worldwide.


Wat Pho

The next morning (after a quick detour to Wat Pho to see its impressive reclining Buddha statue) we hopped on the riverboat Mekhala, for an overnight cruise on the Chao Praya up to Ayutthaya. This is a pleasant and relaxing option on the first day away from the fun hustle and bustle of Bangkok; I was able to experience and admire the surroundings while still recovering from jet lag. We took the boat north to the old temples and stupas and the next day drove south via the bus.


The Mekhala

The Mekhala riverboat is an elegantly restored rice barge constructed mostly of teak, and like most boats is of course economical with its space. Each cabin had two sleeping areas: a very narrow single on the low side and a large double on the other end, which may be quite snug for a party of two and requires some climbing up onto shelves to reach. Bring your sea legs and sense of adventure! The service was impeccable, though the crew of 5 was rather shy and didn’t mingle much. Dinner was traditional Bangkok fare but breakfast was Western.


View of Bangkok Riverbank

The boat ride up the Chao Phraya is very calm and steady, the scenery always changing. The river is full of large water plants and the water is very brown and murky. Interesting diversity of houses along the way, from wealthy teak houses to shacks that are falling apart. There’s also a gigantic gold Buddha and copper priest on the way. In the early morning, a longboat sped up and down selling fresh crabs to the houses lining the river.


Dawn on the River

We stopped at the Mon minority village, and enjoyed a refreshing walk through the village while admiring the exquisite yet humble architecture. The Mon emigrated here from Burma a century or so ago. We also stopped briefly at the night food market of Pathum Thani to pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables for dinner. Overnight the boat docked at the harbor beside Wat Kai Tia, a simple temple overlooking the river.


Wat Kai Tia

Next Up: Ayutthaya and its Temples

For more photos from Wailana’s trip to Thailand, check out the gallery.

WIT Agents have all traveled extensively throughout Thailand and we continue booking clients regularly to this country’s top destinations, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Koh Samui, Krabi and Phuket! Whether you’re traveling on your honeymoon or with a bigger family, Thailand is a great choice for first time and experienced travelers alike. Call 503-224-0180 to speak with one of our agents about a trip that’s right for you.

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Filed under Accommodation, Asia, Our Travel Agents, Thailand, Travel by Ship, Vendors, Vexplore, VOTM, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

Where in the World is the WIT Agent? – Viking Cruises, Russia

WIT Agent Nancy Fowler is currently escorting a group of 70+ passengers on a Viking River Cruise through Russia! From August 24 to Sept 5, Viking’s ship Helgi sails from Moscow to St. Petersburg on the Volga-Baltic Waterway.

Nancy will return next week with some firsthand feedback, but in the meantime here are some of the highlights they will experience on their journey (excerpts from VRC’s At a Glance):

Creative Commons (c) Adam Jones

Creative Commons (c) Adam Jones

The World’s Largest Art Museum

Over the span of 250 years, the collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russi has grown to over 3 million items including works from noted artists such as da Vinci, Michelangelo, Matisse, Rubens, Cezanne, van Gogh and Picasso. These treasures are housed along the embankment of the Neva River, in the heart of St. Petersburg. The highlight in this architectural ensemble is the Winter Palace, former residence of Russian Tsars including Catherine the Great.

Creative Commons (c) ninara

Kizhi, Creative Commons (c) ninara

An Architectural Feat

On the island village of Kizhi, walk through the Open Air Museum of Architecture. Kizhi contains ancient wooden houses, windmills and churches, the most stunning of which is the three-tiered Preobranzhenskaya (Transfiguration) Church. This fairytale structure was built in 1714 without the use of a single nail.

Creative Commons (c) flowcomm

Kremlin, Creative Commons (c) flowcomm

The Heart of Moscow

In Russian, the word kremlin refers to any major fortified complex. But in Moscow there is one very special Kremlin, adjacent to the Red Square. Inside its crenellated red brick walls are four palaces and an array of churches and monasteries—as well as one enormous bell. The Kremlin also serves as the official residence of Russia’s President.

Creative Commons (c) Dennis Jarvis

Amber Room, Creative Commons (c) Dennis Jarvis

A Legend Restored

Constructed of amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors, the Amber Room was given to Peter the Great by a Prussian King in 1716. Installed at Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin, it was later exnteded to cover nearly 600 square feet with over six tons of amber. During WWII, German soldiers disassembled the room and it was never seen again. In 2003, a painstaking reconstruction was completed, enabling visitors to once again enjoy its brilliance.


Pirozhki, Creative Commons (c) malan10

Russian Specialties

A large country, Russia has quite a varied cuisine—but some things everyone loves. A staple of the Russian diet is pirozhki, small pastries stuffed with fish, meat, eggs, potatoes, cabbage or mushrooms and either baked or quick-fried. Another traditional dish is blini, thin crepe-like pancakes served with butter, sour cream, fruit preserves and/or caviar. Vikings’ guests will taste these local delicacies on board.

Willamette Intl Travel has years of expertise with river cruises in Europe and Asia. Our agents are well versed with Viking and many other cruise lines. Please call us for more information.

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Filed under Cruises, Europe, Our Travel Agents, Russia, Travel by Ship, Viking Cruises, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

Hurtigruten Voyage to Antarctica!


Hop onboard with Hurtigruten this winter for a once-in-a-lifetime voyage to Antarctica!

The small-ship cruise line is having an incredible 5-Day SALE up to 35% off standard prices. For 5 days only from July 28 to August 1, Antarctica Voyages departing between Nov 2014 and Feb 2015 are on SALE.

Book Exclusively with your Willamette Intl Travel Agent!

Because the ship is an intimate experience, availability is VERY limited and are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. As a Hurtigruten partner, our agents have access to pre-booking you on the cruise before it is available to the general public. Contact us at 503-224-0180 or email

Choose from one of three itineraries:

13-Day The Land of the Penguins, departures on Nov 19, Jan 4, Jan 16

15-Day Polar Circle Expedition, departures on Jan 28, Feb 11

17-Day Christmas Expedition, departures on Dec 19

Check out the Video:

Inside cabins start at $7,187 per person for a 13-day itinerary. Outside cabins start at $8,177 per person for a 13-day itinerary. Based on double occupancy, restrictions apply, call for further details.

Hurtigruten offers only a few fantastic sailings a year on their beautiful medium-sized ships. Their focus is on expedition travel, combining luxury and adventure. Sail in the wake of historical explorers in the cutting-edge technology of MS Fram. Explore dramatic landscapes, stunning icebergs, and spot the millions of penguins, thousands of seals, and pods of whales that inhabit the waters and shores during the austral summer.

Plus! Extensions with Argentina are possible. Call us to discuss your options on an Antarctica cruise before July 28!


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Filed under Antarctica, Hurtigruten, Our Travel Agents, Travel by Ship