September is a month for travelers | Business

It’s time for a break.

In my last two columns, I highlighted tax-free weekend and Labor Day sales promotions. With all that shopping out of the way, perhaps a vacation is needed.

According to travel experts, September is a good time to travel. But what are the best spots to visit?

 “September and October are off season for places like Europe and the Caribbean, and the islands away from the hurricane belt,” said Kathie Clairmont, the owner of Squaw Peak Travel in Lanesborough, a previous multi-year recipient of The Berkshire Eagle’s “Best Berkshire’s Travel Agent.”

Alex Medvedevski, owner of Family Travel Concierge in Farmington, Conn., said his clients are enjoying the beach in Aruba, exploring Morocco, visiting London and Paris, and taking a Danube River cruise and more over the next several weeks.

Thinking about traveling for the holidays? Clairmont said that ideally you “should book 10 months prior to the vacation weeks.”

Said Medvedevski,  “Eighty percent of the best travel deals are when you book far in advance.” 

Of course, this may create a conundrum: if September is such a good time to travel and you need to book far in advance, what should you do?

Perhaps there are a few deals still available. This is one reason why these agents recommend using a travel agency when you go on vacation rather than booking trips yourself.

As Clairmont pointed out, “our travel advisors have the knowledge and connections to know which hotels, resorts and tours would work best for you and your special interests that you won’t find on your own. We also know what tour companies have the best customer service if you have an issue while on vacation.”

“Our agency provides ‘concierge service’ to all our clients addressing any issues and answering all questions before, during and after the trip,” Medvedevski said. ” We have a customer service team based in the United States and Eastern Europe and all our travel agents are world travelers who have experienced traveling with and without kids.”

That brings us to the next question. Why book locally rather than with an online travel agent?

Medvedevski said prices offered by local travel agencies are competitive because they work with multiple wholesalers and tour operators and the consumer is working with a local family business.

Clairmont agreed.

“By using a local travel agency, you have someone to call that cares if you have an issue so you personally do not have to call a tour company, airlines or car company,” she said. “You just make one phone call. Plus you are keeping the business in the Berkshires.”

So, how do you compare travel agencies and find a reputable one?

Medvedevski recommends researching the agency’s reputation. You also want someone who can work with different types of clients “no matter who they are, what budget they have, and type of trips they take,” he said.

“We have 380 plus public reviews on Google, Facebook and Yelp with 5 out of 5 ratings,” said Medvedevski.

As Medvedevski pointed out, online research is important.

Personally, I would also ask around, as word of mouth is another good resource.

Clairmont suggested finding an agency with a long track record (Clairmont’s agency has been in business for over 50 years). Also, find out if the agency is approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Airline Reporting Corporation (ARC).

“Anyone can open an online travel business, so make sure they are bonded or are an ARC agency to protect yourself,” she added.

“Being accredited by ARC or IATA indicates that your travel agency has the authority to book tickets or make reservations on behalf of travelers,” said ARC spokesperson Randy Spoon. “ARC accredits travel agencies based in the United States, so they are able to book airlines worldwide on more than 200 airlines, while the IATA provides similar services to agencies based outside the United States.”

Now you can start your search!

Post Labor Day sales

Did you know that all the sales promotions are not over?

Here are some Post-Labor Day promotions.

“We have a Labor Day sale starting this weekend,” said Amy Goddard, Carr Hardware’s director of marketing. “You can pick up the flier at one of Carr’s locations or go online.” To find the flier, go to

At John’s Ace Hardware, cashier Mirical Robinson said the Pittsfield business will be running a “buy one, get 50% off paint sale” on Royal and Clark+Kensington products. Visit John’s store on 850 Crane Avenue or go to to obtain contact information and any unannounced sales promotions.

Caligari’s Hardware store manager Colleen Foisy said the store’s “Lenox location will be having Post-Labor Day sales until Sept. 30 on bird seed, Traeger grills, potting mix, and Yeti coolers, just to name a few of the select items being discounted.” Information:

At Griffin in Great Barrington, owner Connie Griffin is having a Post-Labor Day Sales promotion on select items such as art, clothing and keepsakes while the supplies last at the store on 4 Railroad St.

Whirlpool has announced select major in-store discounts on appliances like washing machines, dryers, microwaves, dishwashers, electric ranges with free installation and removal for purchases over $1,000, through Sept. 13. Information:

Visit Karen Allen Fiber Arts in Great Barrington or go to the store’s website at for any remaining summer sales items.

Allen will also be appearing with Reed Birney in the world premiere of “Lunar Eclipse”, Donald Margulies’ new play, at Shakespeare & Co.’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre in Lenox from Sept. 15-Oct. 22 (

RX tips for savings

Some travel agencies are paid through their tour companies or cruise lines, etc., while others charge rates based upon services provided. Remember to ask your travel agent and compare prices.

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