Custom Travel FAQs !
FAQs for Rare Finds Custom Design
Yes, it works! Our clients report that they get a trip of a lifetime in a mere 12 days! They say that we found them activities that they wouldn’t have thought of, figured out routes and timing that they wouldn’t have known, and given them great value.
Our clients tell us that they are having great fun and are amazed and impressed with the unique ideas that we keep coming up with.
One guest said that, in all her travels, she had never met anyone who would go so far, to leave no stone unturned, to make sure her vacation was perfect.
They say Melanie’s attention to detail is impressive! One person even said that she must’ve worked for NASA in a previous career because she is so careful with details.
To hear more from our raving fans, read their testimonials.
- We focus exclusively on off-the-beaten-path lodging and activities.
- We offer 100% customized trip plans.
You can choose whichever of the three Rare Finds travel design processes that best fits your lifestyle and needs:
OPTION 1: Rare Finds’ Signature Custom Travel Design Service:
This full-service, highly personalized planning process creates an itinerary that is 100% customized, just for you. We do all the work for you. All you do is “pack and go play!” It is described in our 7-Step Rare Finds Travel Design System, above. You have full access to Melanie as your personal travel designer, and you will receive a fully-concierge-d trip of your dreams.
Cost: planning fees start at $1800 for US trips and $2200 for international trips.
OPTION 2: DIY Reports:
Plan your own trip using Rare Finds Travel Design owner Melanie Tucker’s book of well-vetted guides, innkeepers, and excursions.
Our concise, yet comprehensive 22-page DIY Itineraries include everything you need to plan your own trip, including:
- reliable and easy-to-use contact information
- a suggested day-to-day itinerary
- ideas ranging from favorite restaurants to special excursions and cultural tips
Our itineraries have been tested by Melanie Tucker and her team, and have been proven to give you a thrilling trip that you won’t find in any other travel guide. If you’re a more budget-minded traveler who’s yearning for a novel experience and would appreciate the research done for you, this is your plan.
We’ve got DIY Itineraries for:
- US National Parks of the West
- The Italian Riviera (Cinque Terre)
- Italy’s Rome and Amalfi
- Scottish Castle Crawl
- … and more!
Allow 3-4 days business days for delivery.
OPTION 3: Join our Escape the Ordinary
You don’t need 10 days or 10K to go on vacation.
You can escape the ordinary THIS weekend with a 3-day getaway, and we make it easy at the Rare Finds Escape Club.
To get your next adventure off the ground, you may
- Call Melanie at 609-923-0304
- Email her at Melanie@rarefindstravel.com
- Schedule a call at a time that’s convenient for you, by clicking here: www.MeetingWithMelanie.com
Absolutely! Let’s talk! Email us at Melanie@rarefindstravel.com or call 609-923- 0304.
Here is our 7-step Rare Finds Travel Design System that we will use to create a very nuanced, 100% customized, specialty travel plan just for you:
- Listen carefully to want you want: We want to learn more about you, so your adventure caters directly to your dreams and interests.
- Add my expertise and research your possibilities: We research your requests but we always add our own secret recommendations too, which you may have not even realized were possible!
- Review all the options with you and allow you to “cherry pick” your favorites.
- Design an incredibly detailed, door-to-door itinerary: Into your Trip Plan, we incorporate your selections, pace, lifestyle, budget, special needs, and personalized requests.
- Secure all the reservations and deliver to you a comprehensive Trip Packet: Your Trip Packet includes your At-A-Glance (your daily schedule of guides, activities, and specialty lodging), as well as a Voucher Packet (all your confirmations and receipts, in chronological order for your trip, as well as maps, dinner reservations, historical write-ups, info on customs and tipping, and more).
- Psych you up for your adventure and get you ready: We recommend books to read and movies to watch to get you excited to go, and we answer every last question and confirm all your reservations before you depart.
- Support you 24/7 while you’re on the road.
Once in a while, people do request a destination I have not yet been to, like Australia.
If this happens to you, you can count on me to be fully transparent, to discuss your options.
My “calling card” at Rare Finds is on-the-ground experience, so without that, I often encourage people to seek a local specialist for their trip and to remember me for their next adventure.
However, many people value my creative research and meticulous planning so much that they want to hire me anyway. In these cases, I research your trip as though it were one of my own reconnaissance trips. I connect with locals whom I’ve befriended at the destination and I confer with various guides or innkeepers with whom I’m friendly.
In the case of Australia, for example, I’m old friends with the captain of the Aussie Olympic Rowing Team. I know innkeepers at a few island lodges near at the GBR as well as have excellent relationships with the Australia Board of Tourism in NYC.
I massage the trip until I feel 100% confident that you are experiencing a rare and wonderful side of the country, on an itinerary that is as reliable as it is fascinating.
We provide a Welcome Letter which spells out exactly what you and I can both expect from each other over the 2-3 months of our trip planning process.
You will need to provide passport details for each traveler (if traveling internationally) as well as credit card details, since each lodge or guide or flight that you choose will be charged directly to your own credit card.
For the planning process, you can be as involved, or as hands-off, as you like, and you can select whatever method of communication is easiest for you. Many people prefer email, but some like to skype or text, and we can even meet in person if you’re local to the NJ/NY/PA area.
We will hope for you to be as open with us as possible, about both your travel history and your current lifestyle, so that we can most perfectly tailor your experience to your liking.
We will send you to our most treasured spots, and entrust you to folks whom we trust and respect. We will confirm each of your reservations before you depart and we will remain “on call” for you when you’re “on the road”.
Still, part of travel is the magic – both fantastic and challenging—that happens along the way, and you will be expected to embrace these unscripted occurrences as valuable opportunities along your journey
- You will be presented with options that you didn’t even know existed, and you’ll be thrilled with the results.
- You can rely on Melanie’s 20+ years of experience to guide your decisions.
- You will enjoy delegating all the work to me.
- You will have me as your personal resource, to ask all your questions and even to make special requests.
- You will receive your comprehensive Trip Packet about 2 weeks prior to departure.
- You will be in the trusted hands of my personally-vetted guides to provide everything from airport meet-and-greets to intensive days of guiding.
- You will have your eyes opened, your imagination fired, and you will come home, hopefully loving your world more than before you left.
Rare Finds travelers can best be described by ABOUT:
A Avid Adventurers (we’re not talking cave diving – we’re talking culture)
B Busy folks, running careers and families, who need to delegate this planning
O People who want something other than the ordinary. Remember my phrase: sometimes rustic, often luxurious, but always unique!
U Uh-oh! People have a child’s upcoming graduation, a big anniversary, their wife’s 50th birthday… and they need a plan that’ll be a WOW!
T Top-notch! These folks are exacting in their regular lives so, when it comes to travel, they want Top Notch: exquisite (even when quirky) lodging, well-vetted guides, smooth transitions.
If you like to travel independently, with only the company of your family or friends (or yourself!)…
If you yearn for a unique experience, doing things that most people only dream of doing…
If you aim to meet and interact with locals, sampling local food and participating in local customs…
If you want a vacation doing things precisely when and as you want, and you’d like all the arrangements made for you…
…Then we would love to design your next adventure!
You don’t have to be intrepid, exactly… only enthusiastic and inquisitive!
Melanie Tucker is a professional speaker, teaching travel classes in NJ and PA, and offering 40-minute slideshows, full of her original photography and narrated with tales from “the road”. These shows are perfect for clubs and organizations. They make a unique agenda for office meetings or lunch hour, and even entertainment in private homes. Some of her favorite slideshows include:
- Luxury with an Edge!
- Travel Where the Wild Things are (wildlife travel)
- Trips to Savour (trips for foodies)
- Only 18 Summers (special family trips)
- Sleepin’ on Boats around the World
- Alaska, like you’ve never imagined
- Don’t get Bushwacked: 7 questions people don’t even know to ask!
- Destination shows for Morocco, Turkey, Italy, South Africa, and Hawaii
She is a regular guest on Around The World radio out of Santa Barbara, and she sits on panels at the NYT Travel Show.
Visit our booth when we exhibit at National Geographic Adventure Travel Shows around the country.
In Winter 2014, Rare Finds’ (previously known as Tough Love Travel) trip to Belize was on CBS’ The Price Is Right!
We specialize in unique trips for adventurous travelers. And our sweet spot is families.
And “families” come in all shapes and sizes…
Traditional families, a Mom with her 2 millennial daughters, a grown daughter with her elderly Mom…
A brothers-only adventure trip, an aunt with her nieces, and my favorite – 3 generation trips!
You don’t have to sleep on the ground or bungie jump. But you do have to genuinely desire a more authentic, less touristy, travel experience, because we’re going to set you up in cool lodging – cave hotels and castles, treehouses and lighthouses, UNESCO properties and historic guesthouses — plus introduce you to our well-vetted guides to escort novel activities like truffle hunting, dinner in the home of a local, or a day out in grizzly country.
Trips designed by Rare Finds are “Sometimes rustic, often luxurious, always unique!”
Your trip will be 100% customized, according to your wishes, so it will be whatever you wish it to be.
People often tell us that the value of their precious travel time is far greater than the actual money spent on their trip. They are greatly reassured to know that their journey is in the hands of a deeply-committed expert.
Although we charge a fee for our travel planning, you’ll likely end up saving money because you’ll have access to our special places that’ll cost you much less than those you could find on your own. For example, we know of locally-owned flats on the Spit in Homer Alaska, where you have your private deck as a front row seat to watch the bald eagles hunt for $145/night. We have National Park lodging in South Africa for $72/night–just 100 yards from the breaking surf of the Indian Ocean. We have a Sacred House in Fez for 646 dirham, or $80/night, where you can lodge right in the heart of the ancient medina. We have locally-owned guesthouses from Key West to Quito, and lighthouses from NY’s Hudson River to the San Francisco Bay, and even in the UK and Croatia. And that’s only a small glimpse into what is possible!