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TRAVEL AGE WEST
October/ November 2020
By Adele Diego
A look back at a pre-pandemic snowy adventure in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Travel Market Report
September 19, 2023
By Briana Bonfiglio


Latest Press

10 Graduation Trip Ideas for Every Budget and Travel Style

Travel + Leisure
April 4, 2024
By Lydia Mansel

When it comes to graduation trips, there are no hard-and-fast rules about how or where you should travel; they can run the gamut from quick beach weekends to week-long, multi-country adventures. It all depends on your preference, budget, and availability. To help narrow down your choices, we spoke with two of Travel + Leisure’s trusted A-List advisors, Maria Diego of Diego Travel and Jean Sanz of JSB Journeys, to curate a list of the best graduation trip ideas.

St. Barts

While Diego notes that she wouldn’t recommend St. Barts for a high school graduation trip, it is a special, celebratory destination that could be a good option for those graduating from college. In Diego’s words, it’s an “island that outshines them all,” and if you visit in the late summer (as opposed to the popular winter season), you’ll often see lower prices and fewer crowds. “Eden Rock is always a popular choice if you want to see and be seen, or if you’re looking for more of a hideaway with an ultra-chic clientele and [a] lower-key beach club, I recommend Le Toiny,” she says.

National Park Road Trip

“A road trip is always a great way to celebrate a milestone. We have some of the most beautiful parks and animals on the planet in our own backyard,” says Diego. If you’re planning an extended graduation trip, spread out over several weeks, you could try to plot out some of our nation’s biggest national parks out West— from the Great Sand Dunes to Zion — and check them all off on an epic road trip. But if you’re only planning on traveling for about a week, and you still want to see some impressive wildlife and scenery, head to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, which are about an hour’s drive from one another. Most travelers fly into Jackson Hole Airport, the only commercial airport within a U.S. national park, and use Jackson Hole as their base camp for exploring Grand Teton National Park over a period of two to three days. Yellowstone takes a bit more time; plan on spending three to four days traversing the park and checking off your top highlights and points of interest.

Rwanda

“I think Africa is the perfect option for a graduation trip, particularly gorilla trekking in Rwanda,” says Diego. “In order to do the chimpanzee and gorilla treks, the minimum age requirement is 18, which would be a fantastic age to have this experience.” She also suggests starting your trip at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in the capital of Rwanda: “While extremely sad, it is very educational and sets a context for the entirety of the trip.  Once you see the history of what this small country has gone through, and overcome, it changes you in a very impactful way.  I can’t think of a better gift to share with a young adult than the entire experience that is Rwanda.”

Read the Travel + Leisure Article


Tips for Booking Your Clients’ Pet Vacations

Travel Market Report
September 19, 2023
By Briana Bonfiglio

Pet owners love their furry friends and hate to leave them behind when they travel. But while bringing a cat, dog, or other animal along on vacation may sound enticing, some pains come along with it. This can be where travel advisors come in to work out practical solutions and manage clients’ expectations for traveling with a pet. 

This part is first and foremost, and it means to know your stuff. Every single airline, hotel, and destination (if traveling to another country) has different policies regarding pets. Airlines have limits on the size and breed of the animal, as well as whether they can be in the cabin or need to be in a crate. Hotels, if they allow pets at all, also have restrictions for pets and may or may not allow guests to leave the animal unattended in the room. 

“Call around to the properties and ask those questions,” Maria Diego, a travel advisor at Departure Lounge, told TMR, in terms of what advisors can do when booking travelers with pets. “It’s important to know what their particular policies are.” 

Although traveling with a pet has its challenges, certain destinations are particularly pet-friendly and great for dogs. Diego said more of her clients began bringing their pets on domestic road trips during the pandemic. 

In one case, a client brought their bird along for the ride to Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico – and had very particular requests. 

“I had a client who traveled with her 26-year-old love bird who had certain temperature and human dietary requirements,” Diego said. “[The bird] could only eat filet mignon and carne asada – those were her two meals. I had to call the hotel and see if the room could be climate-controlled and if the chef could cook those things. She also had to have a balcony room for the bird to get fresh air.” 

Diego recommends standalone accommodations near nature preserves or beaches that allow dogs and other pets. Her personal favorites are San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, California, and the Montage Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina. 

Read the Travel Market Report Article


MULTI-GENERATIONAL GETAWAYS: FAMILY-FRIENDLY TRAVEL DESTINATIONS

THE SCOUT GUIDE
September 14, 2023

In search of an award-winning spa for your aunt, a lovely shaded cabana for Grandpa, and an epic horseback riding experience for the kiddos, all in one place? If that seems like a daunting task, you’re not alone. We asked five Scouted travel experts for their top picks for luxury vacation destinations, both domestic and abroad, that prove multigenerational travel can be a memorable—and dare we say—a bonding experience for all parties involved. It’s time to pack those bags.

“One of my favorite places for multigenerational families who may have some non-skiers in the group is St. Moritz, Switzerland. Due to its elevation, it has the longest ski season in the Swiss Alps, yet because it’s a wide valley, it also gets more sunshine than any other ski destination in Switzerland. While there are many great five-star resorts to choose from, we love Badrutt’s Palace for large families, especially over holidays. For New Year’s Eve festivities, a whopping quarter million dollars is spent on the decor alone. Arriving at St. Moritz is an experience in and of itself. Whether you make your way via the Glacier Express train or by private plane, Badrutt’s Palace will pick you up in a car from their complimentary Rolls Royce fleet to transport you like royalty to your accommodations. For a unique experience, don’t miss St. Moritz’ White Turf races. Nowhere else in the world has horse polo and racing on a frozen lake. Night skiing is another unique experience you won’t want to miss. Kids and grandparents can ice skate, go tobogganing, or take horse-drawn carriage rides through the quaint town. Our kids love pizza at Chesa Veglia, an old farmhouse built in 1650 and a St. Moritz staple. For an apres ski experience like no other, visit Paradiso, where they often have designer pop-ups with Gucci or Louis Vuitton. There is no shortage of Michelin experiences in St. Moritz either, and you’ll find premiere shopping for those looking for something to do while the rest are skiing their hearts out down the Swiss Alps.” 

– Maria Diego, founder of Diego Travel in San Diego, California

Read the Scout Guide


The 12 Most Romantic Fall Getaways in the U.S

Best Life
August 21, 2023

by Megan Dubois & Courtney Shapiro

Travel Experts Weigh In On Where To Go and What To Do For A Little Fall Romance

Tucked away in the seaside town is San Ysidro Ranch, a small resort with just 38 accommodations, each of which has its own private entrance. The beautiful resort is known for its award-winning dining including the Stonehouse, which is “located in the historic 19th-century citrus packing house, with creek views, and a dining experience that feels as if you’ve stepped into the vineyards of Italy,” says Maria Diego, owner and luxury travel advisor at Diego Travel.

Read the BEST LIFE article


Pro Tips For Finding All Your Lost Airline Luggage

Forbes 
July 16, 2022
By Christopher Elliot

If an airline loses your checked luggage, how do you find it?

Don’t rely on the airlines’ unreliable luggage handling systems. That’s the advice of travel professionals like Maria Diego, owner of Diego Travel. She’s been advising her clients to buy a tracker like an AirTag and tuck them into a side pocket.

Diego speaks from experience. Her airline lost her husband’s surfboard on a recent trip to Melbourne, Australia.

“After we waited an hour and a half, the baggage desk person had no idea where his surfboard was,” she remembers. But thanks to an AirTag attached to the surfboard, Diego showed the agent the location of the board.

“They got a hold of the right person to have it put on the plane the next day. Had we not had the AirTag, there’s a huge chance the entire trip would have been ruined for him,” she adds.

She sticks to three insurance companies: Allianz, Travel Guard and Travelex. “They’re my three main go-tos for travel insurance,” she says, “but each company offers different levels of coverage.” 

Now comes the hard part: matching your insurance needs to one of the policies you’re considering.

“There is no one size fits all,” she says.

She’s right. Even if you work with a travel agent — and this is worth repeating — you need to take the time to pore over the boring fine print on each policy.

Read the Forbes Article


Balancing Motherhood and a Career in Travel Isn’t Easy, But These Advisors Make It Work

Travel Age West
March 21, 2022
By Mindy Poder

Being a travel advisor is the best career for a working mother. Or, is it actually the worst?

According to the IRS, independent contractors (ICs) decide “what will be done and how it will be done.” For many moms, this kind of flexibility is a necessity.

“Prior to working as a travel advisor, I worked remotely on a company that I started with my husband in 2008, which was a Mexico-based tour operation,” said Maria Diego of Diego Travel, an independent affiliate of Departure Lounge. “I needed a career that would allow me the flexibility to always put my kids first, especially because at that time, my husband was still traveling to Mexico every week.” 

Ultimately, travel advising is a job that lets moms be in the driver’s seat.

“You can put as little or as much into this career as you want,” Diego said. “You are in control of your schedule, and how you allocate your time for both work and family life.” 

Diego admits that setting boundaries so that work did not negatively impact her time with her family was difficult for her, but concedes that this is the plight of most working mothers.

Read the Travel Age West Article


Travel planners share 9 places in the US everyone will want to visit this year

INSIDER
March 4, 2022
By Alyssa Towns Swantkoski

Insider asked travel planners to share which US destinations they believe will be popular in 2022

Sea Island offers 5 miles of private beach, luxury resorts and accommodations, and several outdoor activities, including golf, with PGA tournaments having been held on the island.

Maria Diego of Diego Travel agency has seen this location grow in popularity and expects to see more of the same.

“One of my best-selling destinations throughout the pandemic has been Sea Island, Georgia. Located between Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia, it’s an easy drive from Miami/South Florida and the East Coast,” she said.

Sea Island has hotel accommodations and cottage rentals, plus it’s dog-friendly. 

“Since people are looking for extended vacations, this is a great option that offers so many activities for families,” Diego said. There are plenty of golf courses and tennis courts, too. 

Read the INSIDER Article


Local Business Buzz: Diego Travel

305 HIVE
November 11, 2021

Presenting our November local business Buzz winner!

Our Local Business Buzz winner for November is Maria Diego of Diego Travel. After thirteen years in the travel industry, Maria and her husband Miguel started their own travel firm in 2019. They are luxury travel advisors who work with clients and families across our community and from many different schools. Maria loves getting to know people and understanding their stories to better curate travel that speaks to their souls. Her passion is creating unforgettable experiences that turn into life-long memories. Maria also works closely with the C4 Foundation, a non-profit that is near and dear to her heart. The foundation supports Navy SEALS and their families, and Maria assists with their travel needs. Visit Diego Travel’s website to learn more about their services. Maria is eager to save you time while helping you to have the best vacation of your life!

Read the 305 HIVE Article


Here’s what to expect when the US opens its borders

CNN
September 23, 2021
By Blane Bachelor

The announcement that vaccinated foreign nationals will be allowed back into the US in November after an 18-month ban was welcome news for families struggling with cross-border separations, airlines itching to relaunch long-haul routes, and eager tourists and industry insiders. … But as excited as US-bound travelers may be to reunite with loved ones, attend an IRL business conference or snap selfies in front of landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, they should be equally prepared for a travel experience that’s vastly different these days — and still constantly changing.

In federally regulated spaces like airports and on airplanes, masks are mandatory, as well as on regional and local transport like trains and subways. But the actual enforcement at places like hotels is tricky to assess from afar — which is where a travel advisor or agent can be invaluable.
“As a travel advisor, my job is to be able to gauge the comfort level of my client and to know not only the destination, but the properties themselves,” said Maria Diego, co-founder of Miami-based luxury travel agency Diego Travel.
“Who has taken this down time to renovate and innovate versus who has let things deteriorate? I’m able to stay up to date with what the hotels are truly enforcing, because I have access to agencies that are constantly doing site inspections. It’s one thing to put on your website your policies, and it’s another thing to practice it.”

Read the CNN Article


What’s the best travel insurance for your fall trip? It depends.

THE WASHINGTON POST
September 8, 2021
By Christopher Elliot

Finding the best travel insurance has never been easy, but if you’re planning a trip for this year, it’s never been this confusing.

But which one is right for you? I put that question to Maria Diego, owner of Diego Travel, a Florida-based travel agency. She had just finished sending four travel insurance policy options to a client. Diego says you can find travel insurance online, either through a travel insurance site or directly through a travel insurance company. If you don’t hire a travel agency, make sure you read every policy carefully.

She sticks to three insurance companies: Allianz, Travel Guard and Travelex. “They’re my three main go-tos for travel insurance,” she says, “but each company offers different levels of coverage.” 

Now comes the hard part: matching your insurance needs to one of the policies you’re considering.

“There is no one size fits all,” she says.

She’s right. Even if you work with a travel agent — and this is worth repeating — you need to take the time to pore over the boring fine print on each policy.

Read the Washington Post Article


USA TODAY 
June 2, 2021
By Christopher Elliot

What will it take for you to take a summer vacation? Fewer COVID-19 cases? Cheap accommodations? A vaccination? It all depends.

Ask a professional

A competent travel adviser can help you sort through all questions about taking a summer vacation. Travel agents have had to become therapists during the pandemic, and this summer those skills will be even more in demand.

The first thing I always ask someone during our initial consultation is if the thought of travel will cause them to feel overwhelmed or give them anxiety,” says Maria Diego, owner of Diego Travel. “If their answer is yes, then I suggest they hold off on travel until they feel completely comfortable again. No one will enjoy a vacation with an overwhelming sense of anxiety.”

A travel adviser can help guide you to a destination where you will feel less anxious.

Read the USA Today Article


TRAVEL AGE WEST
October/ November 2020
By Adele Diego

A look back at a pre-pandemic snowy adventure in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Then, after our long journey, we arrived at the most spectacular hotel I had ever seen: Carlton Hotel St. Moritz. Because my mom owns Diego Travela Virtuoso affiliated travel agency, we were upgraded to a Grand Suite, and I was treated like a princess.

Read the Travel Age West Article


TRAVEL AGE WEST
May 3, 2020
By Mindy Poder

In some corners of the world wide web, travel advisors are drawing a line in the sand.

They may not be able to meet in person, but advisors are sharing their stories where they can, from Zoom calls to Facebook groups. In an Instagram direct message, advisor Maria Diego, founder of Diego Travel Agency, admitted as much.

“I’ve talked to fellow advisors who have said ‘never again,’ regarding working with certain suppliers,” she said. 

Read the Travel Age West Article


LUXURY TRAVEL ADVISOR
March 2, 2020
By Matt Turner

Damian McCabe, CEO of McCabe World Travel in McLean, VA, might be the most under-the-radar rock star agency owner in the travel industry. If you know McCabe World Travel, you might best associate the agency with its president, Anne Morgan Scully but, behind the scenes, it was McCabe herself who was turning the agency into a dynamic workplace that’s bringing in plenty of young and new-to-industry advisors and fostering them into all-stars in their own right.

Maria Diego of Diego Travel, one of McCabe World Travel’s newest independent affiliates, tells us it was a video shared at Virtuoso Travel Week of McCabe, Scully and Jenkins Washington that sold her on the agency. 

“My husband and I attended Virtuoso Difference last year with the intention of finding a host agency that would adequately fit our needs to grow our business,” Diego says. “Of the attending host agencies, none of them felt like quite the right fit, but we still felt very strongly that Virtuoso was a vital part of the equation for our clients.”

When she saw the video on the mentorship between the women, she says, “I knew immediately that this was the type of guidance that I wanted, and I admired the fact that all three are strong, leading women in the industry.”

The following week, Diego reached out to McCabe and knew on the spot that she needed to be a part of McCabe World Travel. “Within a few days I was part of their team and on my way to reaching my goals,” Diego says. “The mentorship that she has provided has been invaluable, and her style of working and vision aligns very much with my own.”

Read the Luxury Travel Advisor Article