National Plan a Vacation Week

I will venture to bet that you didn’t know that this week is National Plan a Vacation Week. There’s a marketing angle for anything these days, but far be it from me, a travel blogger, to be cynical about this one. I’m in.

The National Plan a Vacation Week came about as a way for the industry to promote the work that travel agents do to help vacationers create wonderful, lasting memories. What started as a movement on Facebook titled “I Love My Travel Agent Because…” has blossomed into a website where travelers can share their travel success stories, as well as connect with new travel agents to plan new trip itineraries.

So how about you—do you rely on a travel professional to book your trips or would you rather surf the Internet travel sites and call on accommodations on your own to find the best deal? I don’t have anything against travel agents, but I probably haven’t used their services in more than a decade. When thinking about it, perhaps travel and tourism is an industry that has allowed consumers to harness the power of the Web more than many others. In fact, it’s hard to remember how we came to access so much travel information before the dot-com era began. What travel sites do you frequent most: Kayak, Travelocity, Trip Advisor, Priceline? Are there newer sites such as Hipmunk taking their place? Or perhaps nothing can replace the special one-on-one service that a travel agent can provide. We’d love to hear from you.

So warm up your Web browsers, contact your trusted travel planner, and request your visitor’s guides (The Bloomington/Mall of America Visitors Guide, Minneapolis & Saint Paul: Official Visitors Guide to the Twin Cities Area, and the 2012 Minnesota Travel Guide from Explore Minnesota should get you started.) With spring break season in full swing, it’s time you started to plan your warm-weather outings. Your Minnesota adventure awaits. To get you in the vacation spirit, I thought I might share a brief video I came across recently on YouTube. While it is produced by the Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau, in cooperation with Explore Minnesota, the video does a great job of highlighting attractions across Minneapolis and St. Paul.