Sherrie Allbritten is an event planner who also writes about her passion for luxurious getaways on her blog Travel By A Sherrie Affair. From how to save on flights to how to escape from a band of thieves, Sherrie was kind enough to share some of her insights with us in this exclusive interview.
TA: Tell us a little about yourself and your business.
Sherrie: I have been married to my husband Kevin for 36 years. We have three grown children (two boys and a girl). The boys are both married, so two daughter-in-laws too. We also have two Morkies, Reddington and Dolce Vita. Over the last few years I started a Wedding/Event Planner business, A Sherrie Affair. I always enjoyed writing and traveling, so soon a travel blog was born. We recently purchased a home in Italy's Lago d'Iseo, so excited!
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Sherrie: I was very fortunate to have parents who took us on family vacations. My father had his pilot's license and own plane, so I was very comfortable with flying at a young age. During those trips, I always loved staying in hotels. I thought it was exciting to get room service and lounge around a pool.
When I married, we were busy raising children, but still managed to have several Disney trips and a few vacations out of state.
I remember the day we decided to go out of our comfort zone. It was a Sunday morning, reading the travel section that featured vacations to Italy. Being Italian, I always wanted to go to Italy. Kevin and I booked the entire family that week for a 2 week holiday in Italy. We went, we loved it and we were hooked on International travel. That was 30 years ago.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Sherrie: Yes, I love luxury travel. I consider every part of a vacation counts, so from the start I like to fly first class, stay in beautiful hotels, and enjoy some pampering. However, we do like to add a little adventure here and there; hot air ballooning, zip-lining. It's a vacation after all, so whatever makes you enjoy your time more is a good thing.
Embrace the people when you are traveling to other countries, learn and respect their culture.
TA: What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
Sherrie: Oh, this is a difficult question. If I have to choose one, oh gosh, this is hard! Let's see, hmmm... I would have to say our trip a few years ago for 3 weeks: Venice, Dolomites, Athens, Santorini, Crete and Rome.
I had been to Venice a few times but always enjoy going back. The Dolomites were outstanding to see -- so beautiful! Greece has always been a bucket list item. I love history. I loved the people of Greece, they are fabulous! In Athens, our room at the Grand Hotel Bretagne was upgraded to a suite with two balconies overlooking the Acropolis. I didn't want to leave. Santorini was every photo and more that you have seen on Instagram. I fell in love with Crete, to my surprise, it has so much to offer you really feel like you can connect with the Greek people there. And then the last stop Rome, at the Waldorf Cavalieri Hotel. Being our anniversary my husband surprised me here with a suite with a huge balcony overlooking all of Rome and a trip to Valentino's for a new handbag.
All in all, I would say it was pretty much a perfect vacation!
TA: What's one place you've always wanted to visit?
Sherrie: I would love to go to Jordan, again history buff -- so high on my list.
TA: What's one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Sherrie: My father passed away 6 years ago. I always have to have my capsule necklace on me.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Sherrie: Embrace the people when you are traveling to other countries, learn and respect their culture. When you do this you tend to make friends, you develop more patience, you learn a lot, and enjoy yourself more.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Sherrie: I love to follow Murad Osmann and Pilot Madeleine on Instagram. Of course I am a Nomadic Matt fan -- who isn't?
TA: What is your best money-saving tip when dealing with airlines?
Sherrie: Oh, this is a good one. Check the prices from different IP addresses. We were just helping friends book first class tickets to Italy. They checked from their computer and I checked from my home computer, and we both got the same price quote. When my husband Kevin checked at his office, he was quoted half the price. Same airline, same flights, same website.
TA: How much do you read into online hotel reviews when you're planning a trip? How do you tell good advice from phony ones?
Sherrie: I do read reviews. I would say it's more about if someone is turning a small negative thing into a bigger problem then it really was. No one's perfect and no hotel is perfect at all times -- except the Amsterdam Waldorf Astoria!
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you've ever been given?
Sherrie: Take a few moments wherever you are, put your phone down, put your camera down, breathe, and take it all in.
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Sherrie: Not knowing the language. You will be fine -- especially with all the translators on phones now.
TA: What are some things you need to keep in mind when planning a vacation for a large group?
Sherrie: My husband and I are the planners with a group of friends we travel with at times. I think the most important thing is to make sure financially all plans are okay with everyone and that everyone is getting to do what they want to do or see.
TA: What's a travel scam travelers should be wary of? And if you've ever had someone try to pull a scam on you while traveling, please share the story!
Sherrie: Rome, Gypsies, enough said? The way it happened... there was a very old lady with a sign who kept pushing it into my husband, then a group of 7-8 teenage girls surrounded us, grabbing my husband's jacket. Before we knew what happened, they had taken some money from his front pocket. No worries. We knew to start screaming "POLICE" as we chased after them. They stopped and gave us the money back. It's probably true what you hear: if they are caught they are just thrown in a jail. These girls surely were scared!
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food?
Sherrie: Spain! I was not sure about it before going but I soon became a fan. Lobster paella -- yum!!!
TA: What was the most romantic place you ever visited with a partner?
Sherrie: Another hard question, since my husband is a romantic and showers me with romance on vacations. The most romantic thing he ever planned was dinner in Kauai in a tent on the beach with our own private butler. But the most romantic place I would say for us was Paris, France.
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you've ever visited?
Sherrie: Avignon, France. So peaceful and beautiful. I cannot wait to return here someday. There is just something about this area of France!
TA: Which is the friendliest country you've ever visited? The least friendly?
Sherrie: Greece was the friendliest, they made us feel like family. The least...Monaco
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous and why?
Sherrie: Baden Baden, Germany. The baths, easy to get to from Frankfurt, castle, Black Forest, shopping, spas, museums -- everything.