I've been doing high end travel experiences for over 25 years. I mostly sell luxury cruises, and have a lot of wealthy clients in NY (mostly)... I'm from CA. Most people spend $10k, but I've sold trips up to $500,000.

I'm a big fan of 5 star hotels, and always make sure I've seen the latest and greatest. I have been to all 7 continents, and over 70 countries, and just came back from a cruise with my son from Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.

I'm up for anything travel related, it's a changing and cool industry. I've seen some killer places to travel... and some not so high on the list of places to travel.

My Proof:




EDIT: Thank you all so much for getting me to the front page. I woke up really surprised, and so was my son, who does this reddit thing a lot more than me. I'll try and respond to as much as I can today!

EDIT #2: Hi guys. Duty calls! I have been gone for 17 days (Crystal Cruise to SE ASIA!) and now I need to get back to my clients. I will come back to this tonight and get to your faboulous questions. You guys can always follow me on twitter and ask me after this IAmA for anything! (https://twitter.com/cruisewhisperer)

Edit #3: WOW..a great story was written about me and my son today because of all of your wonderful posts..THANK YOU ALL!


Edit #4: It just keeps coming! Huffington Post got wind of this:


Comments: 1184 • Responses: 30  • Date: 

rhldy1120 karma

Why should I hire a travel agent instead of using the Internet and booking stuff myself?

Are your services only valuable for the high end market or can you also provide value for someone traveling on a budget?

sshulem1621 karma

Here is the good and the bad...We as travel agents get paid a small percentage from the vendors that we work with. Many travel agents also charge a small fee to put the trip together. If you are on a tight budget sometimes it's just not worth the travel consultants time to put a trip together. So the bad is that it just might be a lose/lose. Travel agent is doing a lot of work for pennies and the client is not happy with the travel agent because they might be pushing you to hotels that only work with agents or not wanting to help out with components of the trip that don't pay commission.

YET, as travel consultants we have some great resources that could possible save you money! And then it's a Win/Win. We have discounted air, we have over 800 hotels where we throw in breakfast and a $100 resort credit, we have cruises where we can get you upgrades and cruise credits and many times a better price.

So yes, my services COULD be valuable for travelers NOT with a big budget. The best way to assess that is to be upfront with your budget with the agent and give them a general idea of what you are looking for. The agent will then tell you if it would be worth their time to help you out on the trip.

UndesirableFarang15 karma

Would it be accurate to say that a travel agent could sometimes save money for people aiming at midrange/luxury travel services, but generally not worthwhile (for either party) at the lower end?

sshulem39 karma

There are travel agents out there that do a bang up job at the lower end! But the trend is to look to the travel agent to save you time and help you out should a mishap arise. A travel agent is not all about just saving money!

blueelephant27382 karma

How do you recommend someone young with not a lot of money but still a big desire to see the world should go about traveling and getting the most bang for their buck? which places are cheap to fly to and stay in but aren't too sketchy?

sshulem613 karma

There are some super cool trips from http://www.gadventures.com They are in all price budgets and we get nothing but rave reviews from them.

Make the trip something to look forward to and plan it a year out. So that should give you plenty of time to save some money. I just don't know about cheap flights. Sorry.

Luchune300 karma

What was the most extravagant trip that you've dealt with? What was the 500,000$ for example?

sshulem260 karma

Great questions! The half million dollar trip was a family of four going on a 108 day round the world cruise with Crystal Cruises. They were in the top suite and their kids were in penthouses. The top suite is called the Crystal Penthouse and it's over 1300 sq. feet!

Here is the diagram and some photos of it.


There are only 4 on the ship and they are the first to sell out!

jzwinck210 karma

What are some places you think a lot of people would like but not many go to? Let's rule out nightlife and gambling spots and focus on nature, people, culture, history, that kind of stuff.

sshulem396 karma

You would be surprised how two people can go to the same exact city and come back with two totally different reactions. WHY? Planning! It's hard to show up in a city and just walk around and understand that city. A city is more than just reading a blurb about it and doing it on your own.

So I am a big fan of finding a local person to show you their city. So my point to your question is that you can find almost ANYPLACE on this planet and if you can get a "local" tour of that area you are going to enjoy it so much more! How do you do that? First you can start with the concierge of the hotel and ask them for a private walking tour or a car and driver for the day. There is a another company (that I have not used, but my clients rave about them) http://www.toursbylocals.com

So knowing that...you can really pick ANY city and have a great experience. I like to start with the BIG cites first and check them off your list: London, Berlin, New York, Paris, Hong Kong, Beijing, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rome, Venice, Florence...you get the picture..and then once you have checked those off the list move on to the smaller, (possibly more interesting) cities like Lisbon, Madrid, Santa Barbara (my home town), Chicago, Reykjavik, Chang Mai, Melbourne, Tuscany, Dubai, Cairo, and Seattle. Hope that helps.

sirmile163 karma

Has business been affected due to the popularity of low-cost travel websites? How large is your company? What's been your favorite place to visit?

sshulem415 karma

I remember about 25 years ago hearing my cousin who was an doctor tell me how wonderful his job is now that there is 911! He no longer has to run back to the hospital to take care of his patients at some gaw-awful hour now that people call 911 and get taken to the ER and the ER doctors handle things.

Same thing with these low cost travel websites. it's been a god send! Why? Because I now don't have to handle all of the little cheapie trips and can focus on trips that need some TLC! I have trained my clients not to call me for the little weekend getaways. But that if you need some help deciding on a hotel or you are looking for a 4 or 5* property and want to be taken care of when you get there that they need to call me!

I have a staff of 3 plus me. So we are very small. My staff has also travel extensively so the clients love to talk to agents that have been there!

My favorite place is always the last trip! Just yesterday I came back from a Crystal Cruise that went to Singapore, Ankor Wat, Vietnam and Hong Kong. I went with my 19 year old son and we had a blast!!!

sirmile84 karma

Makes sense, filters out that clientele immediately.

I've traveled a fair bit and by far by favorite trip to date has been through Southeast Asia. Cambodia is an absolutely incredible country and I've been doing my best to convince people to give it a chance and visit. Vietnam and Thailand are amazing as well, but something about Siem Reap captured my heart. I hope your travelers go there!!

Last question.... any advice for someone wanting to get into the travel industry?

sshulem76 karma

The best travel agents out there are ones that have a niche. What is your passion? Do you like a certain part of the world? Do you love to cruise? Do you love adventure travel? See if you can find something that you love first..then do some research in that area on line. Then go interview a few of your local travel agencies and see if they are willing to do some training! See who has a lot of independent contractors working for them. Reach out to one of them and ask them how they like working for them and if they have a training program. Check this out: http://www.signaturetravelnetwork.com/join/curve.cfm

OwningTheWorld117 karma

How does one become a travel agent? Is it even worth it nowadays with the internet?

sshulem183 karma

The best travel agents out there are ones that have a niche. So yes, it's worth it! What is your passion? Do you like a certain part of the world? Do you love to cruise? Do you love adventure travel? See if you can find something that you love first..then do some research in that area on line. Then go interview a few of your local travel agencies and see if they are willing to do some training! See who has a lot of independent contractors working for them. Reach out to one of them and ask them how they like working for them and if they have a training program.

Check this out:


FPHOBIA77170 karma

Have you ever experienced those hotels who have billed themselves as 6 or 7 (ex. the Burj al Arab in Dubai)? What was it like? Are they any different from the usual 5 star hotels?

sshulem83 karma

Good morning! I am still a bit jet lagged from a Crystal Cruise to Asia I just finished...and a bit overwhelmed at the questions..so forgive me for taking so long to get back to you!

I stayed at the Burj when it first opened up. It truly is a jaw dropper! At the time, waiving a card in front of the door to open it up seems so cool! But when you opened the door and saw a two story over the top villa type accommodations with a private butler you knew you were in someplace special! I would tell my clients that yes it's expensive but it's only a dollar a sq. foot per night! (Most of the suites are well over 1000 sq. feet!) So i have to say it was worth every penny and once in your life you need to splurge!

Now I just came back from Vietnam and when I was in Ho Chi Minh city I checked out a brand new hotel that is opening up next month.

it's called The Reverie http://www.thereveriesaigon.com and the Burj now has some competition! It was very opulent! More marble than I have ever seen in an Italian hotel! The best part is that the room rates are about 300 bucks a night...The food in the restaurants was over the top...One of the best meals I have ever had. So if you want to try a 7 star experience and not have to spend over a grand and travel to Dubai check this new place out!

claireybobeary69 karma

This is so great! I may PM you with some questions. My friend and I are traveling to Isranbul, Greece, and Italy in a few months. What's a good way to meet fellow travelers?

sshulem165 karma

Check this out:


People will make dinner for you in their home...great way to meet local people.

Are you staying at youth hostels? You will meet a ton of people there. Also if you book small group tours you can meet people there...Check out http://www.toursales.com

Tumeric9867 karma

How do some operators make money?

I took a trip off Contiki and paid ~$2500 for a China trip plus $1200 extra for flights. I saw a deal off travelzoo for the same trip for $2000 including flights. How is that possible?

I sure they cheap it out on busses and hotels but internal and international flights are still expensive!

sshulem108 karma

It's a crazy world out there when it comes to deals. There are two ways this could be happening.

1) Contiki might be giving travelzoo a better price. I HATE THAT! but it does happen. If travelzoo is one of their top producers and they need to "dump" some inventory they might offer them a better price so they can sell out that trip. If you were to come across a better price after you put the deposit down I would go to your travel agent (WHAT? You didn't use a travel agent? (another great reason to use one)) or to the tour operator and ask them to match the new lower price.

The other way you will see price variations is if the travel agent or agency wants to give back part of their commission. It's called rebating and I am not a big fan. We work so hard for our money it's a shame that many agents give back a good portion of that to get the business. But it is done!

EZ_does_it53 karma

Is there a place or natural or man made, that you regretted not seeing before it was destroyed? If not is there a place that will so disappear that we have to see before its too late?

sshulem92 karma

Probably one of the most "OMG' places I have been to is Egypt! Some of the sites up and down the Nile river are jaw dropping. So who knows what will go on in the Middle East. Who knows if some idiot will throw a bomb over there and destroy these AMAZING sites. I would get over there and do a Nile cruise...Just in case something should happen to them!

Aimless_Drifter30 karma

How do you feel about sites on Yangtze river which are now flooded and lost, perhaps forever?

sshulem64 karma

I did a Yangtze cruise right after the dam project. It's very sad what went on but depending on how you look at it there were a lot of benefits too. China would not make such a big change if there were not major benefits.


Any advice for someone who always gets sick on holiday? This time, I got the flu on the third day.

sshulem144 karma

Damn, I am so sorry..that sucks!! Maybe you are getting warn down GETTING to your destinations. So I would make sure you:

Don't take a flight first thing in the morning where you would have to get up early and not get a good nights sleep.

Give yourself plenty of time getting to the airport so you are not stressed out making sure you are on time.

Don't plan a lot the first day you get there so you can rest up and let your body catch up with the time change.

dgrsmith44 karma

Best bang for your buck with hotel, flights, and attractions for people on a budget who want to go abroad from the US?

sshulem55 karma

My son just came back over the past summer from 2.5 months in Europe. He went to 11 countries, under 5k. His username is ChronoGawd (reddit.com/user/ChronoGawd)... see if he can answer that for you.

BrokelynNYC37 karma

Just went on a cruise for the first time and loved it. What cruise company do you recommend for really good inclusive food?

sshulem82 karma

Are you a foodie? I don't know how they do it! They have a good price point, they have some brand new ships and they have 5 restaurants on the ships with no extra charge! When i went to the Chinese restaurant they came around and asked me what color chop sticks I wanted!!

The cruise line is called Oceania Cruises!


HamSol23 karma

Countries to avoid right now? there is some kind of black list or a "you will not be safe" country?

sshulem58 karma

Here is the list you are looking for:


that being said...unless they are shooting in the streets when a country is on that list..IT JUST MIGHT BE THE BEST TIME TO GO!!

Many hotels will be offering deals and tours are cheaper too. You have to FEEL safe. But that is a very conservative list and I have no problems going to places on that list.

AnyasCat18 karma

Should I study in north Germany or south Germany?

Edit: people seem to still be commenting on this, which I could not be more thankful for! For anyone else reading, I have the option to go to Bremen or Eichstätt for 4 weeks in the summer. And then after that, I would like to do a semester somewhere, which I think I will be more able to decide once I've gone myself.

sshulem25 karma

I don't know anything about studying there. Here is how I would do it if you want to sight see. To see the south...do a Rhine river cruise. I did that two summers ago and loved it! Check this out:


if you want to do North..you can do that by land...lot's of good stuff up there too. I LOVE BERLIN!

ajrohde16 karma

Why should people book a vacation through you instead of a site such as Expedia or Hotwire where they can book it all with lower fees?

sshulem62 karma

Lower fees? You must be talking about air? So let's say Expedia charges you 5 bucks and last minute you can't go...or there is a natural disaster in the destination city and you are on hold for 50 minutes to find out that they can't help you because the airline has not made an announcement yet.


Working with a travel agent who might charge you 25 bucks and maybe they can:

get you a one way upgrade to premium economy at no extra charge. get your seats on the airplane at no cost. help you out 24/7 if there was a natural disaster let you know when there is a schedule change and if it's something ridiculous get your money back and put you on a different carrier.

Booking a cruise? Well we don't charge a fee for that..and thru us we might: get you upgraded get you a nice ship board credit get you on a sold out sailing pre pay your tips offer you a car/driver in one or more ports make sure you picked the right cruise!

Does Expedia or Hotwire do all of that?

Spishak114 karma

You seem to be a top tier travel agent. Perks have to be easier for you to accommodate given how long you have been doing this. How well can a run of the mill travel agent provide great perks?

sshulem36 karma

I am a big fan of finding a travel agent that has a passion for where you love to travel. So if you go to Mexico and your "run of the mill" travel agent sends a lot of people to Mexico they SHOULD (if they are doing their job right) know the reps of the hotels and get you perks and amenities that maybe I would not be able to get for you because I don't send a lot of people to Mexico.

MagikalGoat15 karma

What is your opinion on Skiplagged and the platform's legal troubles?

sshulem7 karma


I have never heard of Skiplagged until now! So sorry, I really don't use it! I am a big fan of using a travel agent to book your flights...and yea, maybe you can save a few bucks with that site..but when things go wrong...who are you going to call?

Does anyone have any comments about how a travel agent helped you with flights? Something that you could not have done if you had booked it on a travel website?

nsyris212 karma

Best places to travel in Chile and Argentina? And what are the best things to do/see in Santiago and Buenos Aires?

sshulem23 karma

You got to get out to Patagonia!

check out: http://www.thesingular.com/patagonia/puertonatales/default-en.html

or for something over the top check out:


I am not a big fan of Santiago. Probably because out in Patagonia or Buenos Ares are so amazing that Santiago just seems OK!

Then you might want a 3 or 4 day cruise around the horn..you can check out the penguins.


IN BA you MUST go out to Iguazu falls..Stay out at the Belmond property and stay for 2 nights.

I love the Park Hyatt in BA! There is so much to do in that city. They call it the Paris of South America.

Asfunkledorf7 karma

My parents had me get a passport when I was 12. I now have no idea where it is. I've been thinking about traveling to Iceland but I know I would need a passport. Is there a way I could get another? I know this isn't strictly dealing with travel or travel agencies but it's a question I've had for a couple years now. I'm 22 btw.

sshulem32 karma


So that passport was only good for 5 years....you will need to start over with a brand new passport!

Check this out!


Don't wait to the last minute! Get it when you don't need it!!!

good luck with your travels!

Acaelia7 karma

If I am booking Disney World for the family, is it better to use an agent or their website?

sshulem9 karma

If you can afford it..check out this guy. He takes care of all of our VIPS and will blow your mind as to what he can do for you!


You can call or email Isabel on my staff and she can help you plan a great trip. Many of our clients just don't want to hassle with all of the details!

[email protected]

TomGraphy6 karma

I'm booking an Alaska cruise soon, any tips? I will be using a travel agent

sshulem13 karma

Good for you! I love Alaska and great you are using a travel agent. My one bit of advise is to get in the air at least once on the trip. Those shore excursions are expensive but I know you will come back saying it was the highlight of the trip. One of my favorites is the flight seeing plane to Taku Lodge in Juneau!

ShannonOh4 karma

What a coincidence! I am currently planning a three-generation cruise in Asia. Our target cruise is Bali to Singapore with Crystal March 2016 with a post-cruise trip to Siem Reap.

1) What's the best wait to wait for a discount or great price on the "ultra luxury" cruises?

2) How often do you sell luxury trips to families with small children. We seem to be outliers. Our Seabourn cruise in the Baltic was amazing and wonderful despite having the only toddler on board.

sshulem4 karma

WOW...it's going to be a trip of a lifetime! We have a computer program that checks the prices of the cruises daily. So the best thing to do is to book the cruise now. Then you get pick of the litter for your cabin, and supposedly the best price. BUT, should the price come down latter and you or your travel agent pay attention...you will get the lower price. Last year i saved my clients thousands of dollars with lower prices after they were booked!

We do a lot of family travel and many of them have small children. I have two adult kids and when they were small I traveled with them. There passports filled up fast! So i get it!

Planning a trip with kids is a whole different experience that if was just the two of you...I aways say...if the youngest is happy then everyone is happy!

I was just in Siem Reap last week! I loved the Belmond property if you like more of a traditional place or the Park Hyatt if you want to do something cool. Both hotels would be very family friendly. I also worked with a tour operator that set me and my son up with a great bike trip. We also went zip lining!!! PM me if you have any questions about it.

ManaSyn4 karma

Everytime Americans say they went to Europe, they mean the cliche places like Paris, Rome, London, Berlin, etc.

But what do you feel and recommend about other counties like Portugal (my own), Norway, Czech Republic, Croatia, Greece, the Balkans, etc?

sshulem5 karma

Portugal - I got to Lisbon for the first time this summer and LOVED IT!!! Norway- Beautiful country!!! Czech Republic- don't miss it! Croatia- very popular with cruises now! I loved Dubrovnik! Greece- go in May or September. check out some of those tiny islands that you can't pronounce! the Balkans, You got me there..have not been yet!!

Greece, the Balkans, etc?

throwmeawanus-8 karma

What was the last bowel movement you took classified as based on the bristol stool chart?


sshulem4 karma

Sorry, wasn't paying attention!