You must be the change you wish to see in the world

1869-1948, Preeminent leader of Indian nationalism

Trend #1 – The Internet

Everybody knows that the internet has changed virtually everything… especially the Travel Industry. Online giants like Hotels.com, Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz have revolutionized travel. Even Travel Agents & Agencies are booking online while the general public searches and buys their own vacations online. In fact, it’s estimated that 82% of all travel is now being booked online. Travel is one of the most researched topics on the internet… and also the most profitable.

The internet is simple, seamless and the perfect medium for the travel industry. We just point, click, and pack our bags. Before the internet, however, an agent’s bread & butter was commissions earned with business travelers… predominantly flights. American Airlines was the first to pull the plug on paying commissions on flight purchases as the internet started coming into its own and more business travelers were finding better deals online.

Since 1997 well over 200,000 agencies went out of business. Over 1 million travel agents lost their jobs to the internet. That number grew after 9/11. The days of brick & mortar very quickly got taken over by click & order, making for a far more efficient system. However, those very few agents & agencies that could foresee the positive impact the internet could have for them, jumped right into the explosive opportunity that the internet introduced, to maintain as much of their client base as possible. Very few, a decade ago, opted to go with the flow of change. Today, everyone understands that the internet is here to stay. When we are adaptable to change, we flourish… and profit.

Because of the internet, the online travel agent is also home-based. Because of the tremendous opportunity, continuous industry growth, and #1 industry training, today’s travel agent is your mother, cousin, aunt, neighbor, best friend, etc. and earning 60-100% of the vendors commission. It’s for everyone.

Trend #2 – Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing has been and always will be the best way to market anything. Statistics prove that 80% of all vacations (most anything really) are taken because of a recommendation from a friend, family member or co-worker. Think about the last time you came home from a vacation. Did you keep it a secret? No way! We talk about it for 2 months before leaving and talk about it for 2 months after we get back! And we show everyone pictures and videos! And we recommend the destination and hotel to everyone (or not) and tell them where we bought our terrific deal!

Familiarization trips (FAMs) play a huge part in word-of-mouth marketing. The only way for agents to really learn about what they sell is to experience it first hand. FAMs are put together by cruise lines, hotel chains and destinations worldwide. They usually include accommodation, tours, meals, shows, transportation, etc. Prices are slashed making it affordable for agents to travel multiple times a year… VIP!. The vendors roll out the proverbial red carpet for agents when they arrive. They’re given the most exclusive experience possible because vendors know that when agents return home… they’re going to talk about it!

The average person will purchase his vacation online at retail, once a year.

Agents will travel multiple times a year, all over the world as far and wide as they want to go, for pennies on the dollar. For this, FAMs continue to be one of the major perks today for agents in the industry.

Which takes us to…

Trend #3 – Home Based Business

Travel students, Baby Boomers and everyone in between are bringing travel home!

Leading agencies smart enough to follow the internet trend, have gone online and now offer just about anyone the opportunity to be professionally trained to operate and sell travel from home!! Woohoo!! That’s right! YOU can sell travel from the comfort of your own home and get paid!

Doesn’t it make sense that if you’re going to travel anyway (especially as much as the Boomers), that you buy it from yourself and get paid? Or get paid commissions on the trips your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers are taking already? Of course! Most people will do business with someone they know & trust. You may as well be that person, right?

Agencies quickly caught on to the franchise phenomena online and have opened up the opportunity to just about anyone with a valuable work ethic who is willing to learn. Coupled with word-of-mouth marketing… you’ve got a winning combination! The more knowledgeable you become, the more perks, FAMs, FREE trips, upgrades, etc, become available to you… cha-ching!

I’ve been selling travel for years. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a travel industry professional. For more than two decades I’ve been asked “How did you come by this work?”

But I also get asked, “What’s the best place to go for our honeymoon?” or “Can you recommend a Caribbean cruise itinerary?” or “What hotel should we stay at in the Mayan Riviera?”

Hey, it’s not rocket science!! If I have the answers and I can get paid for the sale… Hello??

The internet made it possible for me to have my own online agency and benefit even more from the extraordinary perks available to travel professionals! Being online means I don’t really even have to be home. Because my business is online, I am accessible to the world, 365 days of the year, 24/7! Friends and family can book all by themselves while I’m hiking with my dog! I can even book flights or all-inclusive vacations right from my BlackBerry!! WOW! So my home-based travel business is really my mobile travel services!! Super cool!!

We must not forget the amazing benefits that come with owning a business from home as well!

Aside from the obvious travel perks, just about every family vacation now becomes a FAM. As professionals, when we take a few minutes to inspect and ask questions about the accommodations, tours, restaurants that we ourselves are experiencing while on vacation, we’re really educating ourselves for our customers. So our personal vacation now becomes classified as a business trip… and an expense that we can write off! Super cool, again!

On a personal note, I’m only 45 seconds from my bedroom to my office!

It’s a beautiful thing to be able to work from home, anywhere in the world, to have your own business and to qualify for such incredible travel-insider perks. Retirees, at-home-moms, students on the run… it’s available to just about anyone with a can-do attitude, has a strong work ethic, loves to learn, and is highly self-motivated. A few hours a day can earn hundreds to thousands of dollars! No bosses, no limits!

The earliest known residents of what is now Miami were the “Tequesta” Indians. Little is known of the Tequesta Indians other than they resided along the banks of the Miami River over twelve hundred years ago. Believe it or not there was a small natural rapid a few miles upriver from where it emptied into Biscayne Bay. The Tequesta Indians hunted and fished along the banks of the River. In the 16th and again in the 18th century the Spanish established a few small missions along the banks of the Miami River. Spain originally possessed the area now called “Florida”, but ceded Florida and of course Miami to the British in later years. The first American Settlers began arriving in Miami Florida sometime in the early to mid 19th century and settled in and around the River. Agriculture in addition to fishing was one of the few economic mainstays of the area. The River’s water source was the Everglades and it was believed that the wetland could be drained by removing the rapids. Thereby providing additional cultivatable land for the new arrivals to settle and develop as farms. I am very sure that real estate sales and potential profits were a motivational factor as well. Real Estate in Miami has been a motivation from the beginning to present. Regardless of the reason(s) a decision to remove falls by dynamiting was made and implemented in mid to late 1800s. Other than during those years of the Seminole Indian wars the population steadily increased as did the real estate industry.

In the beginning Dade County was a huge track of land that extended from the southern tip of Lake Okeechobee (Fort Worth Florida) south to Key West Florida. Indian Key was the the seat of Dade County until sometime between the years 1860 and 1870. Prior to these years residents of the Florida Keys, other than those at Indian Key were counted as residents of Dade County.

MY RECOLLECTIONS AND REFLECTIONS

Once upon a time there was a little fishing village located in Dade County, towards the southeastern tip of Florida. The name of this village was Miami. Many people living in Miami at the time, pronounced the name “Miama”.

I offer these remembrances’ as one born in the Biltmore Hotel; a land mark hotel in Coral Gables Florida, a town located in Miami-Dade County and a veteran’s administration hospital during the years of WW II. If my stories and recollections seem somewhat disjointed to the reader I beg forgiveness. They are all or at least most inscribed from memories. My only reason for attempting to write this article at all is to impart a few of my impressions/reflections to an interested reader regarding the conception of, development of, metamorphosis of and transformation that has occurred to the area that is today Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys. My intention is to offer the reader a comparison of sorts to the areas mentioned, the inhabitants, their way of life compared to then and likewise now. I have no intention of smearing of chastising any particular group of people but too simply record the facts as I believe-remember them to be. I will leave it to the discretion of the reader which Miami, Florida Keys he/she prefers to relate. The then version 1945 to 1970 or the now version 2010, in order to provide a comparison between the two I will offer, in addition to my recollections, a few bygone happenings and circumstance conveyed to me by my predecessors on my mother’s side of the family, all residents of the Keys and Key West dating back 150 plus years ago, some still living there. To do this I am going to begin with my earliest recollections following WW II living first in Hamburg Germany, my father was an officer in the Air Force during the war and was at the time stationed there. Since he had not received his discharge my mother and I joined him, I think, sometime in the year 1946.

KEY WEST CONCHS

They Don’t Call Them Conchs For No Good Reason! (yes I know that’s double negative but I use it for emphasis)

Those that have eaten conch can relate to what I mean by this statement. Conk is a very tough marine mollusk. Rumor has it that in the early 1800s the doctors of Key West prescribed for new born babies, that they be set out on the porch to allow mosquito bites. The reason for this was to make the baby immune to the bite of a mosquito. What does this have to do with conch; man those people had to be tough to live in that environment during those very early years. Screens for windows did not happen until late in the 1800s so it is safe to say that these early Keys inhabitants did not have such luxuries. Don’t forget they had no present day amenity such as air conditioning either.

WALTER C MALONEY, JR.-KEY WEST FLORIDA

The Economies of Key West-1800s

It is a fact that at one time Key West was not only the most populated city in Florida but also had the highest per capita income in Florida and rivaled that of many other US cities. The economy was driven by numerous industries during this period of time.

AGRICULTURE

My relatives speak of one, Mr. Walter C. Maloney Jr. (Maloney was my grandmother’s maiden name). The story goes that at some point in time, during the year 1885, Walter left Key West to travel to what was then known as the Gainesville Land Office in Gainesville Florida. There under Grover Cleveland’s land act, I think for the price of fifty cents per acres, he purchased 67 acres of property in what is now known as Marco Island, Collier County Florida. In reality the land he purchased was located on “Horr’s Island”, AKA “Marco Key”, located a mile or two west of Marco Island, Florida. Mr. Maloney’s purpose was to plant, grow, harvest pineapples on this island and sell his produce to the Key West market. To me it’s amazing that a man in his late forty’s’ and then fifty’s would board a sailboat in Key West and navigate his way across one hundred miles of Florida Bay to sell pineapples in Key West. The reader should understand that the waters of Florida Bay are prone to sudden violent storms during much of the year. In addition there were no cell phones or GPSs.

My granddad once told me of a relative, I believe last name “Hart” that would travel from Key West to Chokoloskee Florida to hunt. Chokoloskee is an island located south of Everglades City. This was also a very long boat ride from Key West. Chokoloskee boasts an elevation of 20 feet above sea level. Rumor has it that the reason for its’ elevation was discarded shells of various types deposited by the Indians of the “Ten Thousand Islands”, living in the area many years ago.

Obviously these were a different breed of people during that time in our history.

The Keys and Key West produced other crops in addition to pineapples, tomatoes, I call charcoal another because of the process used to produce it. Hookie-Pokee Ice Cream, made in the shad and sold in the sun, if you aint gotta nickel you cain’t have none. Yes with the heat and humidy ice cream was big in Key West. Cigar factories were also big in Key West.

FISHING INDUSTRY

Like Miami, the fishing industry was and still is a driving economical force. Florida lobster (commonly called crawfish) is still a big ticket industry. In early times turtle and conk were plentiful; today these are for the most part protected throughout the state. I will offer additional experiences I had as youngster with the seemingly unlimited conk and spiny crawfish that could be easily taken from the waters surrounding Key West and Miami Florida.

THE NATURAL SPONGE INDUSTRY

Before the invention of synthetic sponges, sponges were harvested from the sponge beds located in the waters surrounding Key West.

SALVAGE

The waters surrounding Key West also had arguably the most treacherous reefs of any found elsewhere in the world. The history books are full of accounts of ships hitting these reefs and sinking, Spanish galleons loaded with gold taken by force from the natives of North and South America crashed on the reefs and sank with unbelievable regularity.

One of the better known salvage operations of recent times was that of Mel Fisher’s. He and his team of researchers and divers located the long lost “Atocha”. The Atocha crashed and sank on a reef west of Key West in the early 18th century and was loaded with over 400 million dollars worth of gold, silver, precious gems and other valuable artifacts. Most of which stolen by Spanish missionaries and Conquistadors (conquerors) from the Aztecs of Mexico and Incas of South America among many others.

During the 1800s, ships were still crashing on these same reefs. The series of light houses now erected on the reefs were not there during most of the 19th century. This resulted in a very lucrative salvage business during the 1800s. I have heard family members mention that years later, after the warning lights were built on the reefs some residents of the Keys would either allow them to burn out or manually extinguish them for the purpose of causing shipwrecks on the reefs to promote their salvage businesses. All productive salvage operators and operations were required by law to register their salvage ships and any salvaged items with the authorities in Key West which of course served to boost the local economy.

Prior to the erection of light houses on the reefs in an effort to reduce the number and severity of ship wrecks in these waters, the federal government commissioned “light house ships”. These ships and their captains were charged with the task of anchoring on the reefs, 24/7/365 to keep and maintain warning lights. One such ship was captained by another relative of mine Captain Whalton (my mother’s maiden name). Drinking water and other supplies were brought to land locations of these ships and deposited on shore. The crews would then leave the ship in a row boat, get the supplies and row back to their ship. The story goes that one night Captain Whalton and one sailor traveled to shore to transport the supplies back. For some inexplicable reason they traveled ashore unarmed, a war part of Seminole Indians waited, hidden in the bush. Both the captain and the sailor were killed.

FROM HAMBURG GERMANY TO KEY WEST and Back to Miami-THE YEAR 1947-1950 +/-

During my time in Germany but sometime after my Dad was discharged from the Air Force. My Grandfather Whalton called and suggested to Dad that together they should open a hardware store in Key West. At the time Key West did not have a hardware store. Purchasing a “Western Auto” Franchise they opened for business at 515 Duval Street directly across the street from the San Carlos Theater, now a land mark, in Key West Florida. The family remained in Key West for about 2-1/2 years, while Dad and Granddad operated the hardware store. The year was 19850 maybe 1951. The commercial passenger airline industry was stirring-ready to be born in earnest. National Airlines called my Dad and asked him to fly for the airline. Flying being my Dad’s first love, we moved from Key West to Miami, Florida. My parents rented a little house near the main hanger for National. The hanger was located on the east side of Lejune Road but Miami International Airport was located on the west side. We had one car; so when it was time for my Dad to fly, my mother and I would take him to the hanger. There he would board a two engine aircraft renamed for it new purposes a DC 3. The same plane, a C-47, Dad flew during the war with some seats bolted to the floor and some paint applied to the fuselage. A policeman would stop the automobile traffic on Lejune Road and my Dad would taxi his plane across the road and onto the end of the only runway that the airport possessed at the time, which was runway 9. For those of you that have passed through MIA recently I know this seems a bit bizarre, but as was Miami the airline industry was in its infancy. During this time 1950-1955, I would be surprised to learn that Miami Florida’s population exceeded 300 thousand.

After we moved to Miami, I for many years thereafter traveled from Miami to Key West. During summer vacations I worked in the store that my granddad still owned and operated. He had left the Western Auto Franchise and then operated the store as “Walton’s Auto Toys and Hardware.”

Each summer for about 5-6 years my mother would put me on a “Greyhound Bus”. Greyhound ran regularly between Miami and Key West. The bus station as I recall was in Downtown Miami, 8th street, AKA the Trail, AKA US-41. The driver would take a route west on 41 to US-27 or Krome Avenue, turning south on Krome proceeding through Homestead Florida and then left to US-1. Within a few minutes of entering US-1, we would be traveling at rate I believe to be over 80 miles per hour. I feel comfortable that this was so because the land distance from Miami to Key West is 160 miles and the trip never took more than 1 hour and 45 minutes. Folks on a trip today from Miami to Key West by car, you cannot do 35 miles per hour once entering the upper keys.

During the years that I worked in this store, the store would open for business 5-/12 days per week. On Thursdays the merchants of Key West would close at noon. My Granddad, my Grandmother and I would travel out “Overseas Highway”, US-1. With a “four pronged gig” and a bucket walking into the Mangroves that lined both sides of the highway, we could gig enough crawfish (Florida Lobster) for crawfish enchilada to be served at dinner that night, conch style with black beans, rice and fried plantain. During that time, Florida Lobster was plentiful in the Keys; there were no restrictions against harvesting them. Today, first you cannot use a four pronged gig without the risk of incarceration; second harvesting Florida Lobster is restricted to certain times of the year. This is also true of conk that could be taken a few yards off the beaches of Key West and sea turtle cannot be taken at all.

My point is, the quality of life in south Florida has been reduced by the influx of too many people from all over the US, south America and Cuba. I don’t believe that State and Federal authorities have done their jobs in protecting the things that were here when I was young and growing up. I believe that some measure of prudence could have and should have been applied a long time ago. The experiences that I had my children will be denied they will never have the opportunity to know the area the way I knew it.

As one that makes his living as a builder and General Contractor in the State of Florida but has known this area intimately for so many years, I have a number of questions in mind that I deal with on a daily basis, the questions are, 1. What could we have done previously to reduce the impact of uncontrolled influx here and thereby preserve more for future south Florida generations. 2. Is there a possibility of regaining some measure of the resources that were here in the earlier years?

I do believe that these are questions that some of the Florida agencies and law makers now deal with on a daily basis as well. But I’m not certain that the legal vehicle and money resource is available to accomplish the task if so be it possible.

But then with similarity to some higher mathematical problems, I think that the only constant is change and the only variable is time. Is this not also a statement of the development-over development and maybe the resurrection, restoration of south Florida?

As a general rule, travel expenses are deductible as a business expense as long as the expense is considered by the IRS to be an ordinary and necessary business expense under (IRC section 162). But when you incur a travel expense outside the United States, that is when the rules begin to change. Do not assume that 100% of your foreign travel expenses are tax deductible. And better yet, consult with your CPA during the planning phase of your foreign travel in order to maximize your opportunity for a tax deduction.

General Rules Regarding Travel Expenses:

Travel expenses traditionally includes the following categories of expenses associated with at least one overnight stay (i.e. where sleep is required while away from home):

1. Transportation Costs – Transportation includes airplane, train, bus, car, or ship between your home and business destination. It also includes commuter bus, taxi and limousine transportation.

2. Baggage and Shipping Costs- This category includes the cost of sending baggage, samples, display materials between regular and temporary work locations.

3. Lodging Costs – Such costs include overnight hotel stays and temporary housing costs.

4. Meals – Allowable meals expenses include food, beverage, tips and tax. If the meals qualify for a tax deduction they may be 50% or 100% deductible. Meals between employees/employers are generally not deductible unless a business purpose can be substantiated. In cases in which there is a business purpose, the meal is eligible for a 50% tax deduction. Meals also include customer-related meals in which business is discussed (50% deduction).

Also allowed are meals related to business-related travel that includes an overnight stay (50% deductible. If the overnight travel is related to an employer-sponsored social or recreational event the meals are 100% deductible. If the meal is related to promotional activities that are made available by the business to the public such costs are 100% deductible.

5. Cleaning – This category includes dry cleaning and laundry expenses incurred during your travel period.

6. Telephone – Business calls, fax costs or other communication costs associated with the business travel are deductible.

7. Tips paid for any travel expense category are allowed as a tax deduction

8. Other – Other costs related to the business travel might include internet fees, computer rental fees, equipment rental fees, supplies etc.

Travel expenses must be temporary in nature. What this means is that the travel period cannot last more than one year. If the travel lasts more than one year all of the travel expenses become non-deductible.

Special Rules:

1. Conventions – In order for travel costs associated with a convention to be tax deductible, such costs must be directly related to your company’s business and must benefit your company’s business. Conventions outside North America are allowed, however, there is reasonableness test that must be met. Reasonableness is based on the purpose of the meeting, activities taking place at the meeting, activities of any sponsors, homes of sponsors and other material facts and circumstances that the IRS will consider in determining eligibility for the tax deduction.

2. Cruise Ship Conventions – If the convention meets the ordinary and necessary business purpose test and the reasonableness test then the IRS will permit a tax deduction equal to $2,000 per person, per year for travel expenses incurred in connection with the cruise ship convention as long as the ship is a U.S. flagship and all ports of call are located within the United States or its possessions. In order to deduct cruise ship convention travel expenses the business must attach two written statements to their tax return. Statement #1 must be signed by the business owner. This statement specifies the number of hours each day that were devoted to business activities, total days of the trip and the program of business activities on the ship. Statement #2 must be signed by an officer of the cruise ship convention organization and provide detailed schedules of the meetings and the number of hours the taxpayer attended.

3. Travel Outside the United States – Only costs associated with the days in which business was conducted are allowed as a travel tax deduction. Business days include days spent traveling to and from the business destination. Days spent on non-business activities are not counted as business days. Weekends and holidays are considered business days if they fall between the business days. Where part of the foreign travel includes non-business days, travel costs must be prorated by dividing the number of business days by the number of total days. This
percentage is then applied to the total travel costs in arriving at the tax deductible travel expense deduction.

4. Non-Convention Cruise Ship Travel – The travel deduction allowed for this type of travel is determined by the IRS every year, so it changes every year. IRS publication 463 lists the daily deductible amounts allowed(called per diem rates). You multiply the per diem rate by the number of travel days in arriving at your tax deductible travel expense amount. If meals are a separate charge you are allowed to deduct 50% of the meal costs in addition to the per diem amount.

Vacation planning is fun and easy so you don’t need to get overwhelmed. The first thing I want you to do is to take a deep breath and don’t panic. If you’ve never done this before, relax. I am here to help you with some simple steps to plan a great vacation.

1. Determine Your Budget.

There are many ways to go about determining your budget, but I usually set a price of how much I want to spend (per person) and then go from there to determine how to find the best travel deals based on where I want to go on a cheap vacation. You need to be reasonable regarding what the budget will be for your vacation or getaway. A very realistic and reasonable budget for a cheap vacation is between $800-$1200 per person including airfare, hotel, car rental, food, tips, and airport parking. I’ve traveled all over the country on business and the average budget for a two-to-three day business trip is about the same amount so it’s a very reasonable for a cheap vacation for an entire week (especially when it involves air travel and a much longer stay).

2. Choose Your Destination.

Here’s a little insider travel secret. I’ve traveled to some amazing vacation destinations at amazing prices, but I don’t usually choose my destination. The destination chooses me. It can get a little frustrating but I can tell you that if destinations did not chose me, I would never have went to Jamaica and seen a live starfish swimming underwater when I was snorkeling off of a beach in Negril, climbed the Great Wall of China, traveled through the Panama Canal or met a baby sloth at a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica just for starters. I went to those vacation destinations not because I had a deep desire to travel to Montego Bay, Beijing, Panama City, or Puerto Limon, but because I was chasing a travel deal. Now, vacation planning via chasing a deal is a great way to get cheap vacations and save a lot of money. I have been on some incredible trips and gone to vacation destinations I never would have had at the top of my travel destinations “bucket list,” but I realize chasing the travel deal has prevented me so far from going to Tahiti’s island paradise of Bora, Bora (my life long travel dream) and I still want to do the “Sound of Music” tour in Salzburg, Austria. So you usually have a choice: chase the best travel deal or choose your travel dream.

3. Book Your Airfare, Hotel, and Car Rental.

When you’re vacation planning, the best way to save hundreds of dollars on your vacation is to book everything together as a complete travel package. I don’t have any technological reason as to why this saves you money, but it does. Feel free to experiment with your own online travel booking engine of choice with this concept by making queries separately and then as a package, but it’s been done before and proven to save you money. I do know that Rovia Travel has the best online price 68% of the time as compared to Travelocity and Expedia according to a recent independent survey by Topaz International so you may want to check them out.

4. Research Your Vacation Destination & Plan Your Travel Itinerary.

Researching my vacation destination and planning great itineraries is one of the things that I sort of excel at in vacation planning because I love researching the hot tourist attractions of the vacation destination I’m visiting. I know some people just like to “wing it,” but that lack of vacation planning can really add hundreds of dollars to your trip. There are two great ways to do your research. First, there are so many online tools at the local tourism offices of the areas your visiting that have all the main information at your fingertips, plus many have coupons or travel deals you may not have been able to find in other ways. The second thing I like to do is pick up a great guide book for the destination I’m going to. Frommer’s Travel Guide Books and Rick Steves’ Travel Guide Books for Europe are very well researched and written and these authors update their books almost yearly so you know you have up-to-date information.

5. Make Two Checklists.

Now you need to make two checklists for your vacation planning. One is a list of things to do before you go on vacation. This includes finding a pet sitter, getting a neighbor to pick up the mail, calling your mobile phone service to arrange for a text/email package while you’re away if you’re traveling internationally, secure a passport or visa (if you need them), get medical vaccinations if necessary, call your credit card companies to let them know you’ll be traveling and what cities or countries to expect charges to come up on, and things like that. The second list for your vacation planning is a list of things to pack.

Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? Now you see how simple vacation planning is even for an inexperienced traveler. These are the basics of vacation planning and now that you know how to plan your vacation, we have a lot of extra bonus travel tips my travel website (see below) to help you discover a world of ways to see the world. Bon Voyage and have a fabulous vacation.

Why should I use a travel agent to book my trip instead of booking it myself on the internet? This is a question I had to answer recently for a potential client with whom I was speaking to for the first time. As a travel professional, I get this type of question a lot.

In this article I will reveal to you how I answered this question and how you can benefit from using the services of a professional travel agent versus booking your own travel online using a travel search engine.

1. Save time.

Sure you can spend hours, days, even months researching destinations and going from website to website in order to plan your own travel itinerary, but why would you want to do that? Time is a precious commodity that we can never get back. While you are spending all this time doing research and going from website to website to see if you can get a better deal, you could have more easily picked up the phone to have a travel agent do this research for you.

Professional travel agents are trained to do this because it’s their job. A travel professional can do all the research, coordinate all the logistics, and put together a complete itinerary for your trip in a fraction of the time you can do it for yourself.

2. Use the agent’s knowledge and resources.

Travel agents are trained travel professionals. It’s their job to know the ins and outs of popular travel destinations. Although there is a ton of information on the internet readily available to the public, travel professionals have first-hand knowledge of many or most of the destinations you may choose to visit.

Secondly, travel professionals often have resources to inventory, special offers, and discounts available only to travel professionals to offer their clients. By using an agent, you’ll be able to take advantage of these resources.

3. The travel agent advocates for you should something go wrong on your trip.

Let’s say you have booked a flight and hotel online on one of the highly-advertised travel sites. Bingo! You’re all set. Or are you?

You check your confirmation and realize that you booked the wrong date. So you call customer service and you wait and wait; then finally you get a customer service representative who then tells you that there’s a fee to change your reservation. Okay so you pay the fee, after all you don’t have much of a choice.

The day comes for you to catch your flight. You get to your destination, but your luggage does not. The airline has lost one of your bags. So you’re stuck again with a problem, and call customer service again. You get to your hotel to rest from your long day, and find that your hotel room isn’t ready. Here you go again.

Now I’m not implying that a travel agent could have prevented all of this, but as a member of the travel industry, travel agents have special relationships with travel vendors. A complaint call or letter from a travel agent is more likely to get an expedited response than a letter from you, because of the agent’s relationship with the travel vendor.

I know what you’re thinking. You think that you’ll pay more to use a travel agent. It’s an incorrect assumption to think that using the services of a travel agent will be more expensive than booking your own travel online. Although some agents charge a service, the benefits of using a professional travel agent far outweigh the risks of not using an agent.

This is rightly named as the age of traveler centrality and with the evolution of the new era of personalized travel; it is leading to research and development of a host of new so-called intelligent services. The command-and-control perspectives of traveling have changed a lot from the past and the focus has shifted more on the traveler and the productivity of each trip. It has become essential to maintain that the travelers have the greatest return on investment on each trip. New generations of young employees and managers, who have been growing up and dwelling in a digital age, are moving up the ranks as travelers. It has become essential to recognize the need for greater flexibility acknowledging that the employees who travel on corporate trips also consider a percentage of their trip to be a leisure outlet. With increasing globalization and rise in companies sending their staff overseas to network and connect with their offshore prospects/customers/suppliers, corporate travel is a highly profitable tourism segment. Before we talk about how tourism companies can better cater to business travelers, let us first look at why they prefer to use specialized corporate agencies over traditional agents

Why do businesses use Corporate Travel Agencies?

This might be the most basic question for a travel agency as to why they need to use agencies specializing in corporate travel when there are plenty of regular travel agents in the market. Here is the importance of corporate travel agencies who have online systems which allow business travelers access to their complete itinerary.

The following information is at the fingertips of the CTAs:-

  • full business itinerary details
  • up-to-date tracking details of flights (including delays or rescheduling)
  • transparent details about additional costs such as baggage fees or in-flight fees
  • travel alerts, if any, in the destined area
  • complete and up-to-date details about the visa procurement policies and identification required
  • currency requirement and conversion rates

What do corporate clients expect from Corporate Travel Agencies?

Negotiated Fares

The Corporate Agencies tend to have tie-ups with hotels, car rentals, flights etc. giving them access to lower fares which can be used only by the frequent business travelers. Discounted prices are not the only advantage though as they also offer flight upgrades, room upgrades, and VIP check-in lines as required.

In-depth information about the travel industry

Corporate travel agents have access to many travel resources and most importantly, quickly, than any other leisure travel agent. Additional information helps to make the business trips convenient and comfortable.

Changes in Itinerary

When an airline ticket needs to get rescheduled or cancelled, chances are the airline or the online service provider will charge lofty fees. When booking with a corporate travel agent, most of the times schedule changes can be done at zero or minimal extra charges.

Viable emergency contacts

It is important for the business travelers to reach the correct person at the need of trouble. Corporate travel agents have the experience and professionalism to relieve stress for both the traveler and the company.

What you need to consider as corporate travel increases?

Business Travel Barometer reported that corporate travel is witnessing an accelerated growth. However, when poorly managed, it may be no longer an advantage to companies and may, in fact become a burden. There are some factors which the corporations and CTAs must consider to get the best out of the time spent traveling.

Adopting a travel policy

The corporate must define a travel policy which is applicable to and respected by travelers at all levels. This policy should be used to establish the standards which will help to track the improvement of business travel. It will eventually help to reduce the costs of the entire package.

Do not limit the traveler’s autonomy

The management is responsible for budgeting the travel policy which helps to improve cost management however, it is also essential to give a degree of autonomy to the traveler. The policy should be flexible enough to allow the employee to adapt the trip as per the situation.

Traveler’s security should be a major concern

Business travelers need to have security in place. The company needs to stick to its definition of standards to ensure the employee’s integrity. The CTAs should have reliable partners (travel insurance, airlines, hotel chains etc.).

Mobility and automation

To optimize time and ease the processes, the administration of management platforms should have automated processes. This means they should adopt mobile solutions where search options, travel alerts, ticket reservations etc. can be accessed quickly, easily and on the go.

Corporate Travel Trends in 2016

Corporate travel trends tend to change regularly. 2016 has also not been any different and the travel management companies (TMCs) and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) are quite focused to provide steady if not strong axis all over. A growing MICE sector, investments in mobile and big data and enhanced focus on duty of care are some of their areas of focus.

Rising prices

The consolidated buzzword among global suppliers, airfares, hotel rates etc. is the rising fares. It is sometimes the move of the suppliers to generate discounts which encourage travel if there is a strong decline in demand. A positive 2016 world economy has been bringing an increase in air fares of a few percentage points, hotels are expected to see 4%-6% rise in average global rates and the competition will remain moderate in the car rental services.

Duty of care

Risk management is one of the major points of emphasis for corporations. Corporate customers are allowing new policies and improved technologies to monitor employees’ location in case of an emergency, especially when they are traveling to foreign destinations. For instance, Concur Risk Messaging helps to identify the travelers moving around in the world and alerts them with alternate travel arrangement as and when needed.

Focusing on MICE

Meetings industry is a major growing sector and the corporate travel trend is developing on it. The corporate travel agencies should better start aligning the various meeting procurement methodologies with its transient travel sourcing. One of the ways could be to broaden the variety of meeting services by incorporating incentive trips within it.

Investing in technology

A sharper focus on increasing value and becoming more traveler centrist can be done by bringing in mobile friendly technologies. Mobile and big data are definitely the two most significant technological investments which any corporate travel agency must focus to make their platform more appealing.

Business travel analysis after Brexit

Following Brexit, ACTE and CAPA shared their speculations. According to them, the greatest short-term effects on the travel industry will come from the weakening of the pound against other world currencies. Greeley Koch, executive director for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said that the business travel industry will trend on currency fluctuations; with some companies taking advantage of the weaker pound and traveling more, while others may withhold business travel until world markets find their own level.

Impact of terrorism on corporate travelers

Travel policy makers and administrators need to be guided by rising terrorism scare. For executives and staff undertaking travel on behalf of businesses, the travel agents and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) should prove the reassurance for their safety through the travel policies. It is more than likely that the surveys conducted over corporate travelers reflect the general concern of the global business travelers about the spate of terrorism. However, there is no denying the fact that terrorist threat is changing the patterns of business travel. The key impact of this is to keep in mind that the companies providing travel services for business travelers need to enhance their focus on security and the associated risks in delivering the services to corporate clients. According to a recent finding, travel managers have higher estimation of their policy’s effectiveness in addressing risk compared to skeptical business travelers.

Concluding

Although the corporate travel sector has continued to progress, there are a plethora of challenges faced by the industry. A rapidly changing consumer market, the emergence of new business models, the impact of technology, man-made and natural crises are some of the fulcrum points that need to be considered before planning corporate trips.

Introduction

If you know that business travel is not without its risk and the potential for crisis, then you need to read this article. In this article we are going to talk about the management and containment of crisis as it relates to travelers and travel managers. The objective of this article is to share with you the collective knowledge on managing crisis and significantly improve your ability to identify and manage a crisis but also improve your business travel efficiency.

During this article I am going to discuss travel risk myths, crisis management, plans and options so you can immediately compare or improve your own travel risk management system for your travelers or travel management department.

Crisis by definition is something you didn’t have a plan for or something in which you are unprepared. Additionally, it can be a series of events that in concert create a crisis. Events or issues that occur, to which you have a plan and strategy, is merely an incident.

Crisis Management/Leadership

The first thing is to clarify what is the difference between crisis management and leadership. More importantly, which one is the more important?

Crisis management relates to the response to event/s that threaten your business, travelers or travel activity. The event leads and you follow with plans, decisions and actions.

Crisis leadership, on the other hand, is more about getting ahead of the events and issues to prevent, management and even contain the impact to your business or business travel activities. While management is a portion of the leadership demand, your actions and involvement lead the outcomes rather than a more passive wait and act approach with pure crisis management.

Crisis leadership is the less practiced of the two, but the most significant in terms of results and reduction in risk and impact. If you take nothing else away from this session, it should be that your focus should always be on Crisis Leadership, not crisis management.

Myths

There are many myths and half-truths about crisis, disruption and threats within the travel management sector. Much of this misinformation has originated from travelers themselves, media, travel managers, friends and family or so called “experts”.

For example, many travelers and planners are focused on terrorism. The reality is, you have a very, very small chance of being exposed or affected directly by a terrorist act. It doesn’t mean you should discount it as a threat altogether but it shouldn’t dominate your plans or processes if not a proportional threat to you and your travelers. Conversely, almost everyone overlooks motor vehicle accidents. Yet, they happen far more frequently, can have devastating affect on travelers and are the least common plan contained within company travel management departments.

Travelers and travel managers must be prepared, educated and have supporting plans for any event that has the potential to delay, disrupt or harm the traveler or the business.

The most common events include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Airline delays or cancellations
  • Airport closures or disruptions
  • Transport delays
  • Bad weather
  • Sickness and illness
  • Petty crimes
  • Hotel fires
  • Political disputes
  • Demonstrations and gatherings

Motor vehicle accidents within your own country can be stressful and dangerous but on an overseas business trip they can be 100 times more challenging and dangerous. Consider language, local authorities, first respond, standard of healthcare, families and support in your plans and initial response.

Airline delays and cancellations. They happen all the time but they are not just an administrative response. You may need to consider safety, transport, quarantines, security threats, government response and wide spread suspension of services to overcome the issue and maintain safety of your travelers.

Airport closures or disruptions. Failed systems, electrical problems, threats, weather, construction and so on can prevent you even getting to your flight. Consider the impact this has on your plans and how your traveler will need to possibly extend stay, move to alternate airport or find accommodation.

All other transport delays and disruptions can create crisis when everyone no longer has access to trains, buses, key roads or even water transport. Have a plan and add it to your immediate decision making process.

2010 and the commencement of 2011 has seen travel of all kind affected by natural disasters and weather. Weather and natural forces have and always will impact travelers. It does and will continue to occur. It is highly concerning how unprepared travelers and companies are for volcanic eruptions, typhoons, floods, earthquakes and general bad weather.

People get sick or feel unwell all the time. This is compounded significantly when traveling. Standard of care, language, access, cost, complications, choice and numerous other location based concerns will determine just how at risk your traveler will be. A single, “one-size-fits-all” plan or solution will fail and you need to be aware of these issues immediately with the onset of an affected traveler.

Crimes are a reality of any city in the world. However, travelers seldom know the risks and may be preyed upon by thieves and criminals. The loss of phones, money, and other items may seem less likely to constitute a crisis but when overseas, injured or not able to speak the local language, all these simple events can create a major concern for your business travelers. This can be amplified if you have a senior executive or a group of executives affected.

Hotel fires and emergencies are more common than most people think. The immediate threat to an individual is fairly obvious but the impact that the lack of accommodation choices can create from the temporary or permanent closure of a hotel is a much bigger concern. This was graphically displayed during the Mumbai terror attacks (as extra ordinary as the event was) when most of the best/preferred hotels were now unavailable in a key part of the city. This removed thousands of rooms for business travelers and forced many to cancel or significantly alter travel plans just because there were a lack of suitable accommodation options, whether affected by the events or not.

Any event that alters the political stability of a location or region or results in thousands of people out on the streets constitutes a risk to your business travel plans and travelers. They can happen spontaneously or take time to develop. The immediate dangers and the ongoing disruption can have a major impact on your business or traveler.

Again, plans, preparation and thought to these issues will greatly reduce the impact and improve your business too.

Now that we have removed the most common misconceptions, let’s focus on the management and containment of a crisis.

Crisis management

The key to successful crisis management is planning, training, plans, decision-making and adaptability.

Planning

Given the issues previously covered, you now have a better insight into how and why planning is important to remove the more emotive issues from the realities of real business threats and events.

Planning needs to include multiple departments and perspectives to be truly effective. One of the greatest weaknesses I see regularly is that departments continue to manage the risk of travel through multiple departments with multiple plans. The input and plan needs to be unified. Depending on the company, it may include travel managers, security, HR, finance, marketing, C-suite and operations.

All plans need to be continuously updated, location specific, aide in the decision-making process and modular enough have elements extracted quickly and effectively. Modern, effective plans embrace technology. Rapid, efficient access to information, along with running updates is the hallmarks of a modern sustainable plan, regardless of the size of the issue or the company.

Training

No plan is effective without training and rehearsal. Training, whether through simulations, drills or live, full-scale exercises are vital to the success of any crisis situation. Such sessions don’t need to be boring or overly complicated but must include travel managers and planners along with the more common crisis and emergency managers.

Increasingly, training is becoming a mandatory requirement for key positions and roles. It can be linked to internal HR processes but must support the business objectives and measurable on how it reduces the risk to people, business, brand and travel demands.

While the plan creates the framework for crisis decision-making, teams can learn a lot from training on how and when to adapt their plans. How the team interacts, strength, weakness, leaders, followers, limitations, tools and many more planned and surprise outcomes are possible with effective training.

Adaptations

No plan will completely script all the events, issues and options available for every plausible travel delay, disruption or crisis. You need to be able to adapt and evolve from the original plan and intention. This can only be achieved with planning, plans and training.

Solutions So what do I need in my plan?

Here is the best travel risk management content for your plan:

  • Objective(the single most important part of any travel policy)
  • References
  • Scope
  • Legal
  • Insurance
  • Finance
  • Reimbursements
  • Limits
  • Priority/precedence
  • Management Authority/ies
  • Situations

Procedure will likely cover:

  • Planning
  • Resources
  • Tools
  • Authority
  • Executive Decision making
  • Limits
  • Budgets
  • Training
  • Compliance
  • Pre-trip admin
  • Providers
  • Booking
  • Accommodation
  • Airlines
  • Ground Transport
  • Safety and Security
  • Health and wellness
  • Emergency
  • SOP/Actions on
  • Insurance
  • Travel Monitoring /tracking
  • Reporting
  • HR
  • Entitlements
  • Threat/risk levels
  • Shelter in Place
  • Relocations/evacuations
  • Management Authority
  • Review

Don’t forget your risk assessment will need to include the key elements:

  • Traveller
  • Location
  • Activity
  • Support/Resources
  • Response

Conclusion

There you have it. Now you know what is required, how do you rate your current plans and preparedness?

You now have the most relevant issues and areas to focus upon that will reduce or contain the majority of incidents you may face your travelers will be safer, your business more profitable and your costs will be contained by reducing your exposure to expensive crisis events.

We have debunked popular travel threat myths, identified the difference between crisis management and leadership, outlined plans and options so you can immediately compare or improve your own travel risk management system for your travelers or travel management department. Review your plans and make the immediate improvements.

You will know when you have an effective crisis management system for your travel risk management strategy when you have little to no crisis.

You may have numerous events or incidents but you have a plan, you’re prepared and your decision making is fast and consistent. If not, you have failed and you will run from crisis to crisis on a regular basis.

There are a lot of misconceptions related to travel insurance, and understandably most people aren’t as well versed in the fine details of this type of cover as I am – I can’t say that I blame them! However, many misconceptions put people at risk of spending unnecessary amounts of money on areas that could and should be covered by their policy.

So, I’ve compiled this mini travel insurance FAQ to assist those who have doubts, worries or questions about what they should look for.

Q: What should I do before going abroad?

A: Make sure you have checked the FCO Travel Advice for the countries you are visiting. Check you have sufficient money and that your passport is up-to-date. Take a photocopy of your passport details and keep in a safe place. Check what inoculations and visas are required. Note down the numbers and addresses of the UK embassy and consulate in the country you’re traveling to.

Q: Should I take out travel insurance before my holiday?

A: I may be a little biased on this one, but yes! It is extremely important that you take out adequate travel insurance even for short trips or visits to Europe, and absolutely imperative in countries outside the EU where different conditions make illness more likely and affordable medical cover that bit more difficult to get hold of. It also covers for cancellation as soon as you book your trip.

If you travel to a country, or part of a country, against FCO advice, it is unlikely that your insurer would meet any claim, however. Should the FCO advice change after you have booked a holiday, check the position with your tour operator and travel insurance company.

Q: Should I be looking at single trip or annual multi trip travel insurance?

A: Only you can answer that really – although single trip is (generally) cheaper, it does exactly what it says and covers you for just the one trip. By contrast, annual multi trip travel insurance will cover you for the whole year on various breaks, making it the choice if you think you’re likely to travel that much. You may find that just taking two trips a year would make annual multi trip travel insurance cheaper than the single trip variety!

Q: What sort of reason for cancellation is valid to ensure cover?

A: As long as your reason is within the scope of cover provided by your policy, then you should be entitled to claim in most cases. Legitimate reasons for cancelling your trip could include an illness or death in the family (as defined by your policy), freak weather conditions suspending travel for 24 hours, burglary or damage to your home, being a victim of criminal assault resulting in you being medically unable to travel, being called up for emergency military service or jury duty (subject to the specific terms and conditions of the policy). Likewise, if the hotel or resort (for independent travelers) you’re due to visit suffers from a terrorist attack in the days leading up to your travel, you will generally be able to claim.

Q: Who pays if I need to be hospitalized overseas or flown back to the UK?

A: If you have proper cover, the travel insurance company should pay such fees. If not, the cost will fall to you or your relatives and friends.

Q: Is a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) the same as health insurance?

A: No. The free European Health Insurance Card shows that the holder is entitled to reduced or free emergency care only within the EU. You will still need travel insurance to ensure you will be covered fully in the event of illness or injury. The EHIC card will help though, by reducing your initial outlay before you can be reimbursed by your insurance company.

Q: Is my pre existing medical condition a big issue?

A: Generally, yes. Check the wording of your policy to ensure it covers pre-existing medical conditions. Often they’re not covered unless you pay an extra premium, and if you fail to declare your condition when you buy your cover, you’ll be unable to claim on it. As always the key advice here is to check the policy wording with a fine tooth comb.

Q: How can I find out whether it is safe to travel to a particular country?

A: It is strongly advised that you check the FCO Travel Advice section of their website. This information is regularly updated and should give you solid advice on where is and is not safe to travel (remember, areas officially outlined as ‘unsafe’ will seldom be covered by travel insurance policies).

Q: Is it safe to travel after a terrorist attack overseas?

A: Unfortunately, there is no such thing as risk-free travel, and the absence of advice against travel to a particular country or area does not imply that the FCO guarantees safety in that country or area.

I hope this travel insurance FAQ has proved useful – it’s only really scratching the service and each policy is different, but with this advice you should be in a better position to shop around, next time you need to purchase travel insurance.

Many of you reading this article are thinking to yourselves ‘why travel solo… are you crazy’, while others are reading this in total agreement. Like for all travel needs, individual tastes, interests and goals will be the concern for any person traveling.

For me personally I prefer to travel solo myself but It all boils down to the type of trip you’re taking and what you plan on doing… obviously there are times where group or couple travel is inescapable and is of course still going to be a great experience… all travel is. These times could be team getaways, events such as weddings or corporate and clearly for a romantic getaway or honeymoon where I’ll assume that you would prefer not to travel solo.

Maybe you don’t have a partner or perhaps you didn’t know anyone else you wanted to travel with you… but you know with all your heart you want to go, have to go. Are the people who said no going to stop your travel? If so, why? Is it safety concerns, is It the unknown? Those questions might be on your mind, but think about it this way… doesn’t it make it more exciting? Wouldn’t you feel more accomplished if you did it by yourself?

Let me explain why I travel solo and the reasons why.

Avoid The Drama Of Others

Drama is often inescapable as all people including myself has some sort of drama in their lives. However in my experience below

A few years back I backpacked Europe and after about a week or so met up with a group of friends for roughly a month. In this time the couple traveling with us had a bad break up, which in turn almost severed another relationship. That night while this couple was fighting, bags were snatched, wallets stolen and because of the public outburst questioned by the police… and this was just the beginning of the drama, we still Christmas to get through after this. When the whole group of my friends had left I felt relief and like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

You may not want to travel solo but if you’re single then my recommendation is that you at least don’t travel with a couple, not without at least some other single people there.

Indifference Of Ideas

All travelers have their own ideas of what they want out of their travel and so they should. Compromise can be much easier in a couple and certainly traveling solo but in a group it can be a nightmare. You may want to go to a museum you’ve always wanted to see where as the others in your group want to just hit the pub.

Whoever has the numbers or the dominance will most likely win which puts you in an awkward situation. Yes, you could leave and go the museum by yourself but then what do you friends think of you and say about you later on. You may also not be contactable by phone, being in another country without a sim card which makes it much harder to meet up and find out when others will be back etc.

I remember road trip we took just 2 hours away from home with six guys and we had one of the worst weekends away possible. Some of us wanted to go prawning, others wanted to go somewhere else for fishing and some of us just wanted to hang out at the hotel by the beach and drink. The problem was we were all stubborn and because we only had the one car and two sets of keys it caused arguments left, right and centre.

Living In Close Quarters

When traveling with others, particularly for long periods of time you need to ensure that your travel buddy is someone you could live with in close quarters for however long it is you are traveling. We all have friends that we know that are good friends but you could never live with them, maybe they are messy, maybe they are snappy and the list goes on. If you can’t live with them… what makes you think you can travel with them?

Be Who You Want

A bonus to traveling solo as well is that others you meet along the way and you get to be the person you’ve always wanted to be or at least be able to interact differently with others. I truly believe you meet a lot more people when traveling solo as you have more reason to talk to others and you will meet more like-minded people to you as there are no indifference to ideas of what to do.

These are four of the main reasons why I travel solo but there are many more personal reasons like independence my goal when backpacking Europe was to get out there in the world and do it all myself. Escapism is another big reason for me sometimes with work and the same old routine you just need to escape the daily grind and get in some alone time.

Traveling solo isn’t for everyone and isn’t for all kinds of travel but if you’re after a fulfilling holiday and experiences then there really is nothing like traveling solo. You will not only meet more like-minded people, get to be who you want, gain independence and a sense of fulfillment as well avoid an indifference of ideas, living in close quarters and avoid anyone else drama while you enjoy what you want to do on your dream holiday. This is why I travel solo.

Travel Pre Internet:

I’ve been traveling for over 40 years – by thumb in my early days, by boots in the Scouts, a Lambretta came next and then my first old banger followed by newer old bangers to the beaches of the Costa Brava.

My thumb, boots, bikes and bangers took me all over Europe and the UK before finding that a charter flight to Spain on an old ‘Connie’ could get me to the beaches and bars a lot quicker and allow more time to enjoy the local travel opportunities by horse and cart and the occasional bus and train.

‘Go West and Prosper’ seemed to be a good idea so instead of taking an 8 hour flight I took an 8 day transatlantic crossing from Tilbury to Montreal on the Stephan Batory of Polish Ocean Lines ensuring that jet lag did not trouble my travel plans. Some years later I crossed the pond again on a ship but this time it was 5 times bigger and I traveled in style on the QE2 and dined in the Queen’s Grill somewhat removed from my earlier experience. I highly recommend ocean voyages but cannot see myself on one of the modern cruise ships going from port to port with constant line-ups to get on and off to buy t-shirts. However, I have done 10 Windjammers and a Star Clipper cruise in the Caribbean which were all memorable (let’s hope Windjammer Barefoot Cruises recover from their woes). But I digress.

I had read that Canada is a spectacular country, from sea to shining sea, and my entrance into the St. Lawrence River to Montreal and then heading west in an old Econoline van from the Great Lakes, across the Prairies to the Rocky Mountains before ending up whale watching off of the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island was a trip of wonder to a bloke from London. Today the scenery is still spectacular and the best way to go is still by road so rent or buy a car, motorhome or motorbike, take the train or tour bus but remember the maps, a fly rod, good boots and take your time.

My favorite part of Canada / USA for adventure travel has to be Northern BC / Alaska, to hike the Chilkoot Trail in the steps of the goldseekers of 1898. The Northwest Territories to canoe the Nahannie River and the Yukon to drive from Dawson City to Chicken, Alaska. If you like the outdoors and can put up with a few bugs, cast a fly and scale a few hills or drive on endless dirt roads sharing the space with moose, caribou, elk, bears and eagles, then these are the places to put on your list. The pleasures and experiences in driving to Inuvik on the Dempster Highway or to Prudhoe Bay on the Dalton Highway or even the Canol Road can only be felt by doing them. I would have mentioned the Alaska Highway but now it is an easy drive unlike the aforementioned.

Today the costs of driving these distances may mean that sharing the journey with others is required, but RVing or simply vanning and camping is a great way to see beyond the horizon. Some enroute adventures now need to be booked in advance whereas when I hiked Denali and the Chilkoot Pass it was just a case of turning up, registering with the local ranger office and heading on out. A little more forward planning is needed for today’s traveller and cost considerations of lengthy flights or drives have to somehow be countered with more careful planning. In the days of reasonable gas prices I would not even consider the driving or flying costs and have driven to Key West from the northwest coast, down the west coast to the Baja and to the west coast from New York. I once even flew my 1946 Fleet taildragger from the Pacific to the Atlantic and back using around 5 gallons an hour of avgas. Before the oil and credit crisis I drove from Rio de Janeiro to Lima, down to Tierra del Fuego and back to Rio covering over 15,000 miles of spectacular scenery and with no consideration about the cost of gas. South America should be on your itinerary too! Some other memorable drives that may now require a mortgage with the gas companies include London to The Nordkapp, Norway, Skippers Canyon in New Zealand and the loneliness of the far north of Australia and the amazing coast of Western Australia stopping by at Monkey Mia and Wave Rock.

We tend to forget that the real cost of traveling is often less today than over the 40 years of my travels. In 1977 my round-trip airfare from Canada to Australia cost over $1700 in 1977 dollars so today it is far cheaper to fly, even with the airlines gouging for fuel, extra baggage, no service and no pleasure. The ‘Big Mac’ method of price comparison as developed by The Economist newspaper gives us a good gauge for most expenditures of today compared to yesterday but my $1500 cost to get a private pilots license in the 1970’s seems cheap by comparison to today, but obviously not when using this Big Mac principle. Other travel costs are also far cheaper today but this should not mean that travelers should disregard the many methods of saving costs that can then be put to extended or improved travel experiences

Travel Post-Internet:

In my 40 years of travel I have had to use travel agents to make even the simplest of reservations and buy tickets, not even thinking to ask them if they had “been there, done that?” It was just a case of there being no other options to buying travel. Now we have unlimited choices and can seek out better travel agents, better prices, better selections and information about anywhere in the world for our travels – without even leaving home.

The Internet now gives travelers ideas and options of Where to go, When to go, Why to go, What to do, Who to book with and How to save money and offset costs. We can search and find experts for every travel option. If we are comfortable with the Internet we no longer have to go to a travel agent to make reservations and buy tickets except to book with some of the larger travel companies that still produce glossy brochures and offer all inclusive packages or tours that only sell through the agency system. The Internet also allows those of us who are smart enough to know when to seek out a top travel agent with knowledge, experience and expertise (KEE skills) of destinations and activities about where to find them. There is no longer any need to only use our local agents when we can find one somewhere else in the world. When we do not need ‘the knowledge’ and can do it ourselves we simply surf the web so that we can book directly with tour and travel operators wherever we have decided to go.

Some travel agents operate their own tours, some are both wholesale and retail, some limit consumer selection by only selling their ‘preferred’ suppliers and some have professional consultants with years of experience invested in gaining knowledge, experience and expertise and are worth their weight in gold to the savvy traveler. Beware though, as some are also called destination specialists and some of these designations merely require the agent to take a rudimentary test offered by tourism offices, destination marketing groups or even tour operators and in my opinion can harm the reputation of the travel industry. A specialist is not necessarily an expert.

Travel is probably the most used commercial aspect of the Internet and if retail agents want to harness this exciting medium to offer ‘the knowledge’ and their ‘kee’ skills to a global audience, not just their local community, they must embrace the changes that are happening. Travelers now have the ability to seek answers to the 5 W’s of travel and the important ‘How to’ save money and offset costs by having information just a click away.

And then it occurred to me that even internet travel prices often include a commission element even when sold directly to the consumer. If we book directly with operators we should not have to pay full retail prices as we are doing for ourselves what a retail agent would normally do for us. A dilemma for the operator is that to show a both a retail and a cost price option could deter many agents from selling the services as travelers could use an agent for free advice and book directly with the operator to get a ‘net of commission’ price. Obviously this two tier pricing is not often available but travelers who do not need advice should also not be penalized by retail pricing. A new way had to be found and I think I have found it!

The need for fairer fare prices is why I developed the Top Travel Voucher program at The Top Travel Club and I even found a dot com for it. All travel selections on the site are at ‘net of commission’ prices for members who handle there own travel arrangements directly with the operators linked on the club website using our voucher program.

I am inviting travel operators from around the world to join this program, from B&B’s, Motels, Hotels, Luxury Lodges, Eco Resorts, Beach Resorts and Tour and Adventure Operators who want to promote their products and services to travelers who are comfortable with direct bookings and reservations.

I am also inviting Travel Agents with knowledge, experience and expertise of destinations and activities to showcase their skills to a global audience of travelers and to the members of this new travel club. I am leery of ‘specialist agents’ and only want experts to showcase their services.

This opportunity is available to the travel trade at no cost except for them to offer net, wholesale or outlet prices to club members and visitors to the website using top travel vouchers. I believe this program offers fairer fare prices to direct-booking travelers. The operator would normally be paying commission anyway but now travelers get the savings because they make their own arrangements.

The Top Travel Club opened in mid-April 2008 offering thousands of top travel vouchers for travel in over 70 countries with around 150 travel operators on-board. Every week we add more travel operators with more choices for members. Currently you can get savings on accommodations, adventure travel, boat charters, culinary tours, hike, bike and dive tours, auto and RV rentals fishing lodges and guides, safaris, vacation rentals, single travel, women only and dude ranches. Members get the vouchers free of charge by paying an annual membership fee and non-members can buy the vouchers on the internet at Top Travel Sites at deeply discounted prices to the face-value. The future growth will include restaurants, travel clothing, travel insurance and the opportunity to access air ticket consolidators who want to deal directly with consumers.

The way I have traveled and the way I see travel is that consumers should have unlimited access to every travel opportunity with the ability to do their own due diligence or to find a professional who can offer quality advice and services at fair prices, and to find all of this without needing endless hours of searching.

To find out more about the new way of cost offsets for travel please go to The Top Travel Club and my apologies for some of the spelling (traveler / traveler) but that is what I was taught. As long as we all understand the meaning, vive le difference!

The luxury travel industry has been the core of my business world for many years. In my role as marketing consultant have seen travel companies grow and fall as the trends for vacations and short breaks changed in line with needs for the industry’s most important component – the customer.

From just one holiday or vacation a year, the trend has grown to a pattern of two maybe even three vacations. For those with more disposable income, a sprinkling of short breaks throughout the year has become a typical indulgence… until now.

With the onset of the financial recession from 2008 onwards large families and travelers in their 40-50s were hardest hit in terms of the number and quality of holidays taken. Excited at the opportunities afforded by budget flights and exciting destinations many families looked forward to a few weeks in the sun with cheap food and drink plus the opportunity to pick up some duty free luxuries and a tan.

But the fall out from flight route closures on the cheaper airlines, the rising costs of hold baggage and the affects of currency fluctuations have made larger numbers of potential holiday makers taking the cheaper option and staying at home.

The younger singles market still managed the short luxury breaks to European cities such as Prague and Barcelona and the island retreats of Ibiza and Mallorca. But even this market is being eroded as salaries dip in line with recession. Currency fluctuation and exchange rates have hit the cost of bed and board rises dramatically in the once celebrated destinations. Add in the effect of ‘global warming’ on the conscience of the younger travelers and its easy to see why so many of the budget holiday companies are falling on difficult times.

And what about the luxury end of the market? Believe it or now but some of the top end companies are having a very profitable time. How? They have talked to each other, joined forces and shared resources to help bring their marketing costs down and in many cases their market coverage up.

I have seen groups of top Scottish Hotels who might have been fighting for a customers attention, become a collaborative marketing group whose aim is to sell the destination first and then divide up the spoils among their spa resorts, golf complexes, boutique hotel partners and city centre apartments.

I have also seen small specialist travel agents collaborate by forming a collaborative venture specializing in high end luxury travel destinations – each member having a unique destination or service. With one innovative marketing message they have a louder voice than they might have as individual travel operators.

On the customer side collaboration is also proving very beneficial. Instead of taking lots of individual holidays there is a growing trend for groups who might have booked separate hotels and a similar destination to team up and book a large villa or apartment. Combining their entrepreneurial skills, purchasing skills and cooking skills they are able to eat well, organize great activities while staying at some of the most exclusive holiday destinations.

New York City is one of the most popular key travel destinations for corporate travelers worldwide. The city is the center of much that’s great, dynamic and profitable in America. It is home of one of the world’s principal financial centers (i.e. anchored by Wall Street), and a popular business hub for the publishing and entertainment industry at the same time. So, it’s no surprise it features three airports, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and J. F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). As a frequent corporate traveler you probably may have flown to one of the three New York airports at some point or another. With JFK being a major international gateway to the US, this city guide aims to provide some helpful travel agents tips for corporate travelers flying to or from JFK Airport.

New York JFK Facts & Figures

Located about 25km away from Manhattan in Queens, JFK Airport is the largest airport in the state of New York and one of the busiest business travel hubs (over 50 million travelers/year) in the US and internationally. It has six operating terminals (numbered 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8; terminal 6 was demolished in 2011, Terminal 3 in 2013). Currently, the 4th runway is under redevelopment to comply with the needs of Group VI aircraft (until December 2015 as planned so far), which may cause delays, but measures are in place to minimize them, so you shouldn’t be too much affected. With more than 90 airlines arriving and departing from JFK, various business travel solutions for flights to New York can be arranged. Points of origin and destinations include places within the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Pacific, Australia/New Zealand, basically all over the world. The airport offers corporate travelers a choice of non-stop flights to about 100 international destinations which may prove convenient for your next business trip. However, JFK is very susceptible to weather-related delays due to its position. Corporate travelers are well advised to consider and prepare for possible thunderstorms in summer, causing delays across the US, as well as snow, icing and assorted slush throughout the winter season. For the months between June and November the risk of potential hurricanes is increased.

In general, our business travel agents team advise leisure and corporate travelers to allow plenty of time for getting to and from JFK. Serious traffic incidents on the way between the city and the airport left many wondering whether they’ would be able to make it in time or miss their flight. Furthermore, don’t forget that this is America. Therefore, bear in mind that the TSA rules supreme over security checkpoints. So, take a deep breath and take maybe a book with you or something else to keep you busy. Make sure you arrive early.

Useful JFK terminal facilities for corporate travelers

In most public areas within most terminals, corporate travelers will conveniently find that Wi-Fi is available for free for up to 30min. You can get online near the ticket counters, boarding gates, designated work stations and food courts. The Wi-Fi access is provided by Boingo Wireless Company. If you need to use the internet for longer than 30mins., consider the following options: 1) $4.95 (£3.01, €3.77) per hour (pay as you go), 2) $7.95 (£4.83,€6.05) for unlimited access throughout a 24-hour period (day pass), 3) $9.95 (£6.04,€7.58) per month (unlimited access via a monthly subscription, to be used worldwide), or 4) if you already have a user account, simply log in using your user name and password. ATMs, currency exchange options (Lenlyn or Travelex), a rental phone shop, and more than 100 shops alongside various dining options are available at the terminals.

Ground transportation services from JFK Airport to New York City

The most convenient, stress-free way for travel from and to JFK Airport is to take the AirTrain. It is a cost efficient and helps you make sure you arrive at the airport in time, whilst avoiding possible traffic jams. You can access AirTrain services via the New York City subway system, which is also connected to the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). The journey from/to the city takes just over an hour. AirTrain is operated 24 hours on 365 days a year. Within the airport area, it connects terminals and also enables you to easily access car rental services, hotel shuttle areas and parking lots. At peak times the trains depart every 7 minutes and at off-peak times they go every 15 minutes. However, be clever in choosing your business travel route, as various routes make different stops within the airport. Good news for corporate travelers is that travel within the airport is usually free of charge. However, travel outside the airport is subject to a fee. AirTrain prices generally start from $5 (£3.04, €3.81). For more details on ticket prices are provided on the JFK Airport website under costs and tickets. If you travel via New York’s public transport network, then it is a good idea to use MetroCard, which is widely accepted and is worth to purchase for travel via subway, local trains, or buses. You can find vending machines for buying a MetroCard at Howard Beach and Jamaica Station. A good alternative for corporate travelers would be to take a taxi (for up to 4 passengers). Simply wait in the cab line for a licensed and insured cab to take you to your destination (about $52, i.e. about £31.58, €39.59, flat rate between JFK and Manhattan, excluding tips and tolls). The time for this trip should be about an hour. However, it can take much longer during rush hour.

Shared-ride shuttle services are a cheaper option than taxis, but can involve a lot of waiting and being driven around New York City to drop other people off first. You can find a full list of providers on the airport authority’s website. But remember to tip appropriately, as tipping (around 20% of transfer cost) is quite common and keep in mind that bridge/tunnel tolls are not included in the shared-ride shuttle services fares. Another option is to ask your business travel company to arrange a shuttle service for your trip from and to John F. Kennedy International Airport as prices can vary greatly depending on location and number of passengers. In this way you can ensure that you are traveling with a reliable supplier.

An express bus service is also available for a nominal fee from Penn Station (reachable e.g. by AirTrain or taxi). The service operates from early morning to late night, with buses running at least every half hour.

The airport is also home to several car rental agencies. Leisure and corporate travelers can choose between a number of car major rental companies including Advantage, Thrifty, Dollar, Enterprise, Budget, Hertz, National and Avis.

So, which mode of transport should corporate travelers choose for a trip from JFK to Newark and LaGuardia airports? Usually the best way to get to Newark Airport from JFK Airport is to simply take the AirTrain. However, if you need to travel to LaGuardia during your business trip, it we recommend to take advantage of a convenient shuttle bus service, using the free Route A (running every 10-15 minutes from 4:00am to 11:30pm) or Route B (running every 10-15 minutes from 6:00am to 2:00am).

Hotels near JFK Airport

Hotel booking services for corporate travelers flying to New York JFK Airport-although there are no operating hotels at JFK Airport at the moment, New York provides corporate travelers a huge choice (from budget accommodation to luxury suites) of hotels and motels, which are conveniently located nearby the airport. Most hotel accommodations nearby offer shuttle services. Alternatively you can take the AirTrain to the Federal Circle station and follow the “Courtesy Hotel Shuttles” signs. There are telephone services for the hotel courtesy shuttles located at the AirTrain Federal Circle Station and in the arrival areas of the airport terminals ($5, i.e. about £3.04, €3.81, Service Charge for making reservations). The range of motels and hotels include the Hilton*, the Courtyard* by Marriott, Hampton Inn*, Sheraton*, Hilton Garden, Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Fairfield Inn* by Marriott, Days Inn, Best Western and Howards Johnson. The ones marked by an * are also offering conference and meeting rooms for corporate events.

© Copyright Flight-line Travel Management Ltd. All rights reserved. All prices correct at time of publication.

In part two of our New York City Airport guide we’ll provide you with some business travel agents insider tips on Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA).

Yes, of course it does, but as much as it should?

When you think of the number of travel directories and websites available to travelers you would think that this is a world free of the normal conventions of business but unfortunately it is often bound by restrictions that travelers would not appreciate. Pricing of travel is one of the conventions that are not yet totally free of restrictions and understandably so due to distribution considerations.

Travel businesses using the traditional distribution chains for the sale of their products need to allow for the payments of commission to various levels of middlemen, Inbound Tour Operators, Wholesalers and Retailers, all who need to take a percentage for their efforts in enabling travel services and products to reach the consumer.

Websites however, reach directly to consumers and enable them to make direct bookings with travel providers but they can still incur the costs attributed to these middlemen. But, to place a two-tier price for each product could deter the agents from representing products so a new way had to be found. This is where TopTravelSites stepped in with their newly developed service for the travel provider who wants to continue with the traditional supply chain but also wants to encourage travelers who are comfortable with making their own arrangements directly with providers and who do not need the services of travel agents, just the internet.

The service called TopTravelVouchers gives travelers a ‘fair fare price’ on direct bookings but the provider still incurs the cost of commission.

This new price format is achieved by the travel operator issuing a voucher in exchange for marketing, promotion and deliverance of travelers directly to their websites to make their bookings. The voucher is sold to travelers at deeply discounted prices to their redemption values enabling the traveler to be the beneficiary of a ‘nearly net’ price for the travel package or service. The operator of TopTravelVouchers does not have the normal costs that are attributable to retail and wholesale agents such as shops, reservation systems, brochures and high staffing and is thus able to encourage travelers to book directly with their clients and to get a price saving for their efforts. It is in effect a travel agent that does not sell travel, only travel vouchers, which are to be used towards travel purchased from the travel companies who are participating in the service.

Many travel businesses do not use middlemen, often due to the small size of their travel operation, but they would still be prepared to pay a commission or fee for a referral or a sale. They still need to make travelers aware of their products and services and to be able to offer encouragement and a reward gives them an opportunity to reach out to travelers who prefer to deal directly with operators.

There are thousands of smaller travel businesses around the world ranging from B&B’s, Family Boutique Hotels, Small Tour Operators, Adventure and Eco Tours that are rarely seen by the vast majority of travelers. These operators are not found in the glossy travel brochures or represented by travel agents but they often have excellent products and services which can be seen on their websites. Many of them are willing to pay a commission to a seller of their products but are not able to get travel agent representation. This new voucher system allows them to encourage and reward travelers who prefer to handle their own arrangements directly with the operators by offering a price that reflects discounted commission costs and thus savings for the do-it-yourself traveler.

TopTravelVouchers sell at three price levels according to the savings on each: $30, $50 or $100usd or equivalent currency if purchased outside of the USA. They may often be purchased in multiples, benefiting families or groups and at the time of this article there was a voucher costing $100usd with a value of 1,500euros (around $2,000usd) offered on a small ship cruise in Greece that is also a small travel operator not normally represented by the agency system.

Travelers are given 100% money-back guarantees if the vouchers are not used within 1 year of issue but maybe this should be for two years as the vouchers are normally valid for 2 years. Even after the completion of travel and travelers are unhappy with the quality, the voucher cost is reimbursed by TopTravelSites and the problem taken up with the travel operator.

It is obvious that this service will only work for TopTravelSites if supported by the world of travel providers who need to expand their representation as the retention of only a small percentage on each sale needs to be followed by high volumes of voucher sales but it is a unique service offering benefits to both travelers and the smaller travel businesses in the travel industry utilizing the logical use of the internet for direct bookings.

Before traveling to the Philippines one must be aware that this is a tropical country and therefore you need to have tropical gear and such. The Philippines is known history as the Pearl of the Orient and the Gateway to Asia. It is the only Christianized nation in Southeast Asia, most of its neighbors being Muslims or Buddhists.

Definitely before traveling to the Philippines you will need your travel documents in order. Should you be coming from another country which is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, then you will not need a travel visa and you can enter and stay in the Philippines from two to eight weeks without any visa. Tourists from Europe and from Australia and the United States may stay in the country for up to 2 months without a visa, but this is granted on a case to case basis.

Going back to the part where the Philippines is a tropical country, you can expect the country to be hot and humid, especially in the summer months of March to June. The monsoon months begin starting in July to December, but it usually rains strongest near August. Traveling to the Philippines around December to February is the coolest time when Siberian winds travel from Northern China and hit this island archipelago.

The medium of exchange in the Philippines is called the Philippine Peso. This is due to the country’s almost four hundred years of being a Spanish colony and strong ties to Mexico in the past. Thus expects a lot of Spanish type architecture, traditions like the siesta and fiestas when you travel throughout the country.

When traveling in the Philippines, travel light. Bring along light clothing made of cotton if available. It is not uncommon to see tourists in the capital city of Manila wearing beach shorts and flip flops. The weather is more than agreeable to this kind of clothing.

Plenty of hotels of international quality are found in the main cities of Manila in the north, with Cebu and Davao in the south. These three cities are the main hubs of tourism and commerce so they should always be included in one’s itinerary. There are adequate bus and air systems to ferry you back and forth within and through these cities.

Within the main cities the traditional jeepney is a popular mode of transportation, much like a small bus invented and adapted from the World War 2 soldier transport. However due to the heat, it may be more convenient for the new visitor to take a taxi around the cities. Taxi fares begin at roughly 50 cents for flag down rates and 25 cents for every kilometre.

The main cities of Manila, Cebu and Davao are centers of tourism where you can book your other travels to the 7,000 islands of the country whether you want to go to beaches, forests and the like. One is encouraged to visit the museums, shopping malls and nightspots to get a taste of a country that some have called the only Latin American country in Southeast Asia.

For any company that has their employees engage in regular travel, it is important to have a good corporate travel strategy. Part of developing and improving on a corporate travel strategy is solid business travel reporting. Business travel reporting provides the company with details about the cost of travel and how the money is being used. This data not only helps to keep track of expenses but it also can be used to identify areas of waste and inefficiency. When this information is tracked and analyzed it can be used to improve upon your company’s business travel strategy. Using the service of a corporate travel agency is an effective means toward achieving all of these goals.

Due to their experience and their connections in the travel and finance industry, a corporate travel firm will be especially suited to provide these services with the highest degree of detail. A corporate travel agency uses a variety of methods to analyze and track a clients business travel expenses. They can use data from banking and credit card records along with the travel records to identify the most and least efficient travelers in your company. They can help to manage airline data to find which carrier is providing the most business friendly service for the most affordable price and they can help to identify waste and abuse of funds.

A corporate booking agency can also help employers to analyze information in a way that can determine how effectively the employees travel and how well they stick to the itinerary and how closely the individual employees stick to the travel strategy. This can be achieved by referencing the data accumulated from credit cards, expense accounts, airline data, hotel bills and rental information. Once all of the data is collected and analyzed, the corporate travel firm can prepare a complete report. The reports will cover a variety of different areas and will often be accompanied by a written summary of the overall information. Clients can also request specialized reporting from a corporate travel agency. These may be to address an area of concern or to see how a new aspect of the travel strategy is working.

Most business travel agencies recommend that their clients schedule regular meetings with their travel manger to go over the business travel reporting and to find ways to improve the corporate travel strategy. The management of a business should meet with their corporate travel manager at least once a year. In these meetings the travel manager can help the client go over the business travel reporting and understand what all of the data means. The manager will help to identify areas of waste and point out parts of the travel plan that are working well. At this time the client can address their concerns about the travel strategy and work to adjust the business travel strategy. A corporate travel agency can also help their client with a plan for implementing the new strategy and addressing the changes with their staff.

Having the services of a business travel agency is a necessity for any company that engages in regular travel. Having a well thought out strategy will not only save the company money, but it will also make sure that the staff is getting the most out of their trip.

London. The vibrant, beating heart of the United Kingdom. It’s one of the world’s most popular destinations for tourists, and for business travelers too. The amount of commerce that goes through London is staggering, with a financial center second only to New York, and service industries that cater for both the UK, European and international markets. As the world’s most multicultural city – there are over 300 languages spoken by a population of over eight million people (twelve million if you include the metropolitan area) – the opportunities for business are clear.

With the UK strategically positioned for the business traveler on the western edge of Europe, London is a global hub for air travel, providing easy access to mainland Europe, and a stepping stone to the United States. Primarily served by five airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, City, Stansted and Luton – London is easily reached from anywhere in the world. But with the exception of London City Airport – smallest of the five and located in East London, close to the business district of Canary Wharf – the other four airports are satellites evenly dispersed around the city. The most popular, Heathrow, is located to the west of London; Gatwick is situated to the south; Stansted to the north east; and Luton to the North West. Knowing this before you make your travel plans can be useful. Since the greater metropolitan area of London covers over 1,000 square miles, your final business destination may not be right in the center. Researching which airport is closest to your destination can save you time, effort and money.

However, whether you’re a business traveler flying from within the UK or from overseas, your starting destination may often determine the airport you arrive at. Other factors, such as your chosen time of travel, budget and availability will also make a difference. For example, if you’re travelling with a major international carrier from a major city, such as New York, the chances are you’ll arrive at Heathrow or Gatwick (Stansted also receives flights from New York but is the smallest of the three). If you’re traveling locally from within the UK with a budget carrier you’re more likely to arrive at Stansted or Luton (though not exclusively). And if you’re traveling from a major European city, particularly a financial capital, such as Frankfurt, London City Airport is a likely arrival point (the airport was created specifically to cater for short haul business travelers, particularly between financial centers).

Each airport is served by comprehensive rail and road infrastructure, providing business travelers with a variety of options to enter London. All five airports offer direct rail travel into the heart of Central London, coach travel to the main Victoria terminus, and hire car, mini-bus, licensed black cab and taxi services by road. If you’re a VIP business traveler, chauffeur services are also available, and with the exception of London City Airport, each also offer direct helicopter transfer into the heart of the city.

London Heathrow Airport

The busiest of the five airports is London Heathrow. Located less than twenty miles from central London, Heathrow is situated to the west of the city within the M25 motorway metropolitan boundary. The fastest route into London is via the Heathrow Express train service, taking just 15 minutes from terminals 1, 2 and 3 to Paddington station (located on the western side of Central London). If your flight arrives at either terminal 4 or 5 it’s a further four and six minutes travel time respectively, and you’ll need to transfer on to the main London-bound service at terminals 1, 2 and 3.

The service is excellent, offering comfort and convenience, but does not always suite everyone’s travel budget. The standard ‘Express’ single journey ticket costs £21.00 (€25.00 / $35.00), but business travelers can get better value when purchasing a return ticket, priced at £34.00 (€40.00 / $56.00). The ‘Business First’ ticket is more expensive, with singles costing £29.00 (€35.00 / $48.00) and returns £52.00 (€62.00 / $86.00), but it does afford business travelers considerably more leg room, the privacy of a ‘single seating’ layout, and a fold out table. The experience is akin to that of air travel. All passengers across both pricing structures enjoy access to electrical sockets, USB ports and free Wi-Fi. The overall quality of service and passenger experience generates a ‘wow’ factor, and if your budget can afford it, is certainly the smoothest, quickest and most convenient way to travel into London from Heathrow. Trains run regularly every fifteen minutes in both directions, particularly useful for last minute dashes to the airport.

There are two further rail options available to business travelers, both considerably less expensive, though this is reflected in the quality of service. That’s not to say either is not a good solution for business travelers, just that there is a noticeable difference in convenience and comfort.

With a service typically running every thirty minutes, and a journey duration – depending on the time of day – of between 23 and 27 minutes from terminals 1, 2 and 3, Heathrow Connect is more than adequate for business travelers who are not in a hurry. Like the rival Express service, Connect also arrives at Paddington station, but unlike its faster rival stops at up to five other stations before reaching its terminus. The ‘inconvenience’ of this less direct journey is compensated for by a considerably less expensive ticket price. Single journey’s cost £9.90 (€12.00 / $16.00) while a return is £19.80 (€24.00 / $32.00). There is no saving to be made from purchasing a return ticket. While the convenience and comfort of the traveler experience cannot match the Express, the Connect business travel solution is an acceptable compromise that suits a greater number of travel budgets.

The third – and least expensive – rail option is the London Underground ‘tube’ network. Despite the network’s name the majority of the journey from Heath-row is overground, until the business traveler nears Central London. Starting on the Piccadilly Line, the service connects all five Heath-row terminals and provides frequent trains into London, stopping at a considerable amount of outlying stations before arriving in the capital’s center. This continually ‘interrupted’ journey – there are seventeen stops between Heath-row terminals 1, 2 and 3 and Paddington Tube station (the nearest equivalent tube terminus for a fair comparison) – and takes approximately fifty minutes journey time on average, considerably slower than its more direct rivals. This journey comparison also requires the inconvenience of a transfer between lines.

So why would the business traveler consider using the tube from Heath-row to Central London? Simple. The frequency of service, the array of destinations, and the cost. At a cash price of just £5.70 (€6.80 / $9.50) for a single journey in either direction during peak hours (06:30am to 09:30am), financially the Underground is an attractive option. At nearly half the price of the Heath-row Connect, and at just over a quarter of the price of the Heath-row Express, this service is comparably good value for money. Further value can be found if the business traveler purchases an ‘Oyster Card’, the ‘cashless’ electronic ticketing system beloved by so many Londoners. Available to purchase at Heath-row London Underground stations, this useful option allows you to get tickets cheaper than for cash – in this case a reduction to just £5.00 (€6.00 / $8.30). Off-peak travel with an Oyster Card offers even greater value, with Heath-row to Paddington in either direction costing just £3.00 (€3.60 / $5.00) per journey. The Oyster Card can also be used for unlimited travel on buses and trains throughout London, with a maximum daily spend capped at £17.00 (€20.00 / $28.00) peak time and just £8.90 (€10.60 / $15.00) off-peak for a six zone ticket (destinations across London are divided into six main zonal rings. Traveling from Heath-row to Central London crosses all six zones).

The Underground is primarily a city-wide mass transit system, rather than a ‘train’ service. As such the level of comfort and convenience is substantially less than that of both the Heath-row Express and Connect services, and at peak hours can be considerably uncomfortable. Having endured a recent flight, business travelers who choose this option run the risk of having to stand up the entire journey if traveling during peak hours. If the carriage is full to squeezing point (as is often the case at peak time) managing your luggage can be a challenge. It should also be noted that the tube network – which, as the world’s first urban mass-transit system is over 150 years old – is often prone to signal failures and delays. If the time between your arrival at Heath-row (don’t forget to factor in clearing immigration control, luggage collection and customs) and your business appointment is tight, particularly during peak hours, it is not unfair to say that you are taking a risk if you choose to use the Underground.

Compared to using rail, traveling by road into Central London is far less convenient. Like every major city around the world, traffic congestion plagues the streets of London. The M4 and A4 route from Heath-row into London is always busy and in parts can be slow moving at times. No matter what your method of road transport, the business traveler is vulnerable to the risk of delays and accidents.

Buses and coaches are plentiful. The dominant carrier is called National Express. They operate services between Heath-row Airport and London Victoria, the main coach terminus in London. From here travelers can travel to many other destinations around the UK. The coaches run from Heath-row Airport Central Bus Station, which is located between terminals 1, 2 and 3. Its well sign posted so easily found. If you’re arriving at terminals 4 or 5 you’ll need to first take the Heath-row Connect train to the central bus station. From Victoria Station you can get to any other part of London with ease, via the Underground, plentiful buses, local trains and licensed black cabs / minicab taxi services.

A single journey tickets start from £6.00 (€7.20 / $10.00), while returns cost £11.00 (€13.20 / $18.00). Although you can purchase your ticket at Heath-row, it is advisable to do so in advance, and online. This will ensure you have a guaranteed, reserved seat on your coach of choice, and also provide you with the opportunity to select a time of departure and/or return that best suits your needs. Typically this service runs three coaches per hour to and from London Victoria coach station. The journey time can vary, dependent on the route taken, the time of day and traffic conditions, but you can typically expect your journey to take between 40 and 90 minutes.

National Express also offers business travelers a Heath-row hotel transfer service to and from the airport, known as the Heath-row Hoppa. With hundreds of services each day running around the clock, it’s a clean, comfortable and affordable way to get about, costing £4.00 (€4.80 / $6.60) for single journey and £7.00 (€8.40/ $11.50) for a return journey. This service is particularly useful if your business appointment is located close to Heath-row and you have no need to travel into Central London.

An alternative to coach travel is taking a bus. This can be particularly useful if you arrive at Heath-row late at night. Depending on the day of the week, the N9 night bus runs approximately every 20 minutes to Trafalgar Square in Central London, from 11.30pm to 5am. The journey time is approximately 75 minutes, subject to traffic delays. It’s a very affordable service, and as part of the Transport for London infrastructure a single journey can be paid for with an Oyster Card (£1.40 (€1.70/ $2.30) or by cash (£2.40 (€2.90/ $4.00).

If your journey into London requires the freedom to choose to travel whenever you want, to wherever you want, or you simply require privacy, then private hire transport is readily available at Heath-row. If you’re just interested in getting from A to B and back again, without any other journeys in between, taking a licensed black cab or minicab taxi may suit your needs. Traveling in an iconic licensed black cab into Central London will take approximately 45-60 minutes, subject to traffic delays, and can typically cost between £50.00 (€60.00/ $83.00) and £80.00 (€96.00/ $132.00). If you do find yourself delayed in traffic the journey will cost more, since black cab meters also charge for waiting time when not moving. Black cabs are readily available at all hours, and good sign posting at Heath-row means they’re easy to find. At a squeeze up to five business travelers can be accommodated, though if you all have large luggage it will be a problem.

An alternative private hire to black cabs are licensed taxi services. This could be a better option for the business traveled, particularly if a number of people with luggage are travel ling together. An array of vehicle types are available, ranging from standard 4/5 seater saloon and 6/7 passenger people carrier cars, up to 15 or 17 seater minibuses and even coach taxis. An added advantage is you can book your vehicle of choice in advance and at a fixed price. With so many different companies offering these services, prices – and quality of service – can vary, but typically for a single journey the business traveler can expect to pay a fixed, advance price of £40.00 (€48.00/ $66.00) for a saloon car; £50.00 (€60.00/ $83.00) for an estate car; £55.00 (€66.00/ $90.00) for an executive car; £55.00 (€66.00/ $90.00) for a people carrier; £65.00 (€78.00/ $108.00) for an 8 seater minibus; £80.00 (€96.00/ $132.00) for an executive people carrier; and £165.00 (€198.00/ $272.00) for a 16 seater minibus. Savings can be made on all tariffs if a return journey is booked in advance.

Traveling by black cab or licensed taxi affords the business traveler the freedom to travel at his or her own pace, and can take the hassle out of a journey. It can be a very relaxing way to commute from the airport into London, particularly after a long flight, and offers the business traveler an opportunity to unwind prior to their business appointment.

If you need to arrange senior executive or VIP transportation, chauffeur driven services are readily available (booked in advance) between Heath-row and London. The vehicle type and the length of time you require it for will dictate the price you’ll pay. Chauffeur driven services are readily available to find online. The same is true of helicopter charter services which can transfer the executive business traveler from Heath-row into Central London (Battersea Heliport) in approximately 15 minutes. Flight-line Travel Management is experienced at providing our customers with both modes of transport, and we’re happy to take your inquiry.

© Copyright Flight-line Travel Management Ltd. All rights reserved.

All prices correct at time of publication.

So you are in the market for cheap airline tickets, but not sure where to start and how to find the best travel deals. The reality is that in order to find the cheapest flight fares and schedules you need to know when and where to look and how to search. Yes, it is that easy, and all you need to know is several tricks. First of all, do you need a domestic or an international travel ticket?

Domestic Air Travel

These can be US domestic flight or flights within Europe, or within any country or other continent. If you are looking great flight deals, you need to know WHERE to look for low airfares. If you are looking for flights within the US, you may contact local US airlines or travel agencies or look up flights on the online travel search engine.

Airlines compete among each other and they can give great flight deals (just know WHEN to look). Travel agencies might also find you great deals. Here is the truth… lately several airlines and several large and well known travel agencies started having some issues and several airline banned those huge agencies from selling their airline tickets. Therefore, small and specialized agencies still do have very good contracts with major airlines of the world. So, my advise is to look who has the best flight deal, not at the size of the agency or the popularity. At the end of the day, it matters how much you pay for the ticket and that you have a confirmed seat.

Most smaller travel agencies have online only booking so they can save YOU money by eliminating staff salaries. Most of the time travel agencies use the same fares as airlines offer (unless negotiated better rates), but usually with 0 commission. Since agencies need to survive, they are forced to add a small service fee on the top of the ticket price. If you do not mind that, call your travel agent or best of all go online and check flights yourself. If you are traveling within Europe, you might want to contact a travel agent or search online travel agents’ websites first. In Europe local travel agencies and agencies outside Europe that specialize in international travel will have low fares because they use very low so called consolidator fares. This is nothing else, but negotiated contracts with airlines to sell special very low priced airline tickets.

International Travel

Whether you live in the US or other country, you travel internationally if you leave your country of residence.

What concerns transatlantic, transpacific or other between countries international travel, your best bet is a travel agency. The consolidators will offer you the best fare deals and will find you the best schedules. Depending on personal preferences, some might prefer talking to a travel agent, while others would want to do their own fare search online at their own pace. There is no right or wrong choice here. As long as you find a flight and a fare that works for you, you succeed. HOW to find a travel agency or a good travel website Always work with the travel agent or travel website that specializes in your travel destination or region. For example, if you need to fly from the US to Europe, search for ‘flights to Europe’ or so. Usually online search will give you best results. Check several websites or call several travel agents and compare the deals.

NOTE, you might know lots of huge agencies like Travelocity, Orbitz, etc. They might seem attractive to you because they are big and well known. But they will not always give you the best flight, hotel or cruise deals. They might be good for US domestic travel, but not always for international travel.

HOW and WHEN to search for best fares

Where you need a flight, hotel or a cruise, you need to know how to find the best fares and when to look for those. Let’s say that you found a travel agent or travel website that specialized in your travel destination.

5 tips on How to Find your Best Travel Deal:

  1. Be Flexible. In order to find lowest price, you might need to be flexible on travel dates, arrival/departure times, airlines, and sometimes destinations. In short, there are different price levels for every flight and the only difference is the price and number of seats an airline assigns to that price level. Therefore, all depends on when you buy a ticket, how popular is the destination, travel season (peak or low), and how full the flight gets.
  2. Book domestic travel tickets as early as you can (this applied to some international travel as well). Most domestic airlines have best fares with 21, 14, and 7 day advance purchase. This means that you may find lower fares when booking (= purchasing) a flight this many days before the flight.
  3. ‘Play’ with the search. This means that you need to be creative when searching for flights. Check flights couple days or weeks (if possible) earlier and later, check various airlines, different connections (an airline might have several hubs or fly with 1 or several connections), search based on price and try searching based on schedule (you’ll see different results).
  4. Check travel package deals. If the purpose of your travel is vacation, instead of booking flights, hotel, and car rental separately, check on travel package rates. Sometimes your total package rate is lower that if you book everything separately.
  5. Use miles or points when possible. Apply for airline/ hotel/ car rental, etc. frequent traveler programs. They are FREE, and you can get lots of benefits. For example, I cannot remember the last time I paid for a hotel room when Hilton Hotel is in my destination. Check out hiltonhhonors. Go to the airline, car rental, or hotel websites and sign up. The only disadvantage of using miles and points is that you need to book your travel early as there is limited number of seats for miles or points on the plane and they go fast.

If you cannot decide whether to use an airline or a travel agent, here are some suggestions.

AIRLINE vs. TRAVEL AGENT/AGENCY WEBSITE

Advantages of booking a ticket with an airline:

  • you are talking directly to the carrier, the entity responsible for a flight
  • it may take much less time to deal with the airline directly (if an agent knows his/her job)
  • airline customers representatives are usually open 24/7

Advantages of using travel agents or travel websites:

  • lower negotiated (consolidator) fares
  • more flight options; travel agents/travel websites search all possible airlines, not just one
  • low fares available 24/7 given that an agency has a online booking system

Please send in your comments on how you find your best deals, and I shall be happy to share them with the rest of the world. Good luck!

‘Millionaires Mile’ has become the place for luxury hotels and villas on Phukets west coast and hosts some of the finest residences the island has to offer and so the name suggests is home to many millionaires.

The road starts on the very south end of Kamala beach and winds along the coast to the headland and the last development on the road, Jomchang, that overlooks Patong bay. The road was home to the very first $1m + villas many years ago and so the name ‘millionaires row’ was born. The road is a dead end at present and stops at the Jomchang development. In time the road may be extended the short distance through the forest which would allow a quicker route into Patong, but also increase tourist sightseeing traffic. The trip from Jomchang at the south end of the road down the windy road into Kamala takes 10 minutes by car with only half of the road newly resurfaced. Once the rest of the road is finished this should knock off a few minutes more.

There are a number of developments still under construction along the road, a few newly opened and of course many older properties, that still would be considered the height of luxury.

At the start of the road just out of Kamala town is Cape Sienna, a new luxury hotel with all you would expect from such a 5 star hotel. Andara is next door and again is a top of the line hotel with amazing facilities and views. Ayara resort is further up the hill and is built right into the rocks on the Andaman sea giving amazing views. Further still is Paresa hotel which sites high on the rocks overlooking the ocean and offers luxury seclusion. Paresa was opened late 2009 and has already had great feedback.

Nestled amongst these luxury hotels are a number of private luxury villas and villa developments with their own gated community. Jomchang, at the very end of millionaires row has a handful of luxury villas all above the US$7 mark. True luxury comes at a price and being on the very well healed millionaires row will of course attract a premium.

Haridwar is a massively popular spiritual destination which is flocked by travelers and salvation-seekers from all over the planet. Right from the devout Hindu pilgrims to the wise sages to foreigners, you can bump into all kinds of people here. The town known for its pious Ganga ghats and the religious temples is situated in the heart of Uttarakhand in northern India. The town appears to be crowded because of the surge of humanity from various pockets of the country. However, there are enough rooms in Haridwar hotels to accommodate this rabble of visitors.

Haridwar’s biggest attraction is the ghat of Har Ki Pauri. This place is sprinkled with holiness and will make you feel as if you are standing in the abode of God. The sunrise witnesses the morning bath taken by hundreds on the Ganga. It is believed that a dip in the holy waters of the Ganga can wash away all the sins committed in your lifetime. The sunset, on the other hand, witnesses the visually stimulating ritual of ‘Ganga aarti’ and floating of earthen lamps on the river.

Another must-visit place in the town is the Mansa Devi Temple. The temple is located atop a hill and one can also access it via ropeway. It is believed that this is a wish-granting temple. You can make a wish before the Goddess Mansa who will fulfill it in due course of time.

Haridwar hotels come in various forms (from deluxe ones to the budget ones) to help you settle down comfortably. Some recommended names include Hotel Classic Residency, Sagar Ganga Resort and Hotel Arjun.

Another great Indian destination is Udaipur, the land of lakes, palaces & forts in the state of Rajasthan. It was once ruled by the royal rulers of the north and now serves as one of the most regal, luxurious and romantic destinations on the globe. Udaipur hotels spell class and sophistication. This is the city which draws not just commoners but also celebs because of its historical legacy, nostalgic charms and haveli-turned-hotels.

Amongst the chief attractions of the town, Lake Pichola, City Palace, Monsoon Palace, Jag Mandir Palace and Saheliyon ki Bari are noteworthy. This is one city which will truly blur the gap between the past and the present, as you are flown into the old bygone world of Rajputs.

Udaipur can be visited anytime during the year though the autumn-spring season is preferable. The luxurious Udaipur hotels include names like Taj Lake Palace, Devigarh Resort and Udai Villas.

If you want to wade into a smaller town which is beautifully landscaped and has its unique culture, then head to the city of Coimbatore in the state of Tamil Nadu in south India. It has a number of sightseeing attractions including temples, hills, lakes and parks. Prominent ones include Black Thunder, Koniamman Temple, Maruthamalai Murugan Temple, Nilgiri Hills and Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary.

Coimbatore hotels come in a wide range to suit your budget. CAG Pride hotel (mid-range), Park Plaza (luxury) and Legends Inn (budget) are some notable Coimbatore hotels where you can drop in.

If you’re planning to spend the last days of the year under the shadow of palm trees by the coasts, hanging in a hammock and slowly swinging into sweet sleep, rather than attending an EDM night; then the resorts and hotels in Goa are the best bet. The southern part of the state consists of some of the most luxurious hotels and resorts for you to relax and rejuvenate. Before proceeding with booking a room or cottage for yourself, assure of few things like the discounts offered, facilities, off-season specials and even its proximity. You wouldn’t want staying at an isolated location after all, or would you? Keeping that in mind here are some really fantastic hotels/resorts in Goa, you need to check-in at.

1. Taj Exotica – This hotel with an appealing Mediterranean theme, is located on the laid-back beach of Varca. As the bellboy takes your luggage, you can quickly browse through the visitor’s diary, none of which says a negative thing about the hotel. The hotel offers an exemplary range of services including golf course, swimming pool, spa, gym and entertainment options for the guests. The best way to pamper yourself with the luxuries is to take the Garden Villas, which are small cottages at the far end of the property, with private pools. The hotel tariffs starts from Rs. 9,000 for a night and could rise to Rs. 20,000 per night during peak seasons.

2. The Leela – Situated in a secluded corner of Mobor beach in south Goa, this hotel has a massive property complete with a 12 hole golf course, spa, gym, swimming pools and a piece of ocean for water sports. The picturesque locales of the hotel with patches of lagoon at the borders, add to the refreshing ambience. Almost every room at the hotel offers mesmerizing view of the sea and hillocks. Average room rates ranges something from Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 11,000, which is very likely to shoot up to Rs. 25,000 per night during the months of December and January.

3. Park Hyatt Resort and Spa – Lying in close proximity with the airport (about 20 minutes), the Park Hyatt is one of the leading luxury resorts and spa in the country. Definitely a luxury treat to unwind and re-energize. The appealing ambience of the hotel and the creative Camp Hyatt is good for families with kids, but even if you going solo, you’ll have your share of calm. There’s a huge swimming pool to take a quick dip and start your day, or else you can also take a stroll of the long stretch of beach at the front. If into recreational activities, you can try some watersports or a rejuvenating session of yoga and meditation. The hotel tariffs ranges from Rs. 8,500 – Rs. 20,000 per night.

4. Alila Diwa – Considered as the new kid in the block, the Alila Diwa hotel and resorts has started its operations few years ago in 2009. This enthralling resort which is apparently not situated on a beach but surrounded by vast fields of rice paddy and bananas, is located about 20 mins from the airport. This unique position of the hotel amidst 12 acres of serene and lush green paddy fields is also its USP. The hotel features traditional Goan architecture with perfect blend of modern facilities. With just over 150 rooms and suites, the hotel is quite spacious to spend some tranquil time. The hotel provides four fantastic restaurants with bars, spa, open air jacuzzi, swimming pools and a library too. Room tariffs ranges from Rs. 13,000 during peak season.

If you’re heading to Goa this holiday season and haven’t thought much about your itinerary, spending a few days in these fine hotels could be the most refreshing treat for you.

If you are planning a flight to Miami, you can score a cheap Miami flight by purchasing a Miami vacation package. More and more travelers are learning to save by taking care of the costs of their airfare, hotel accommodations and more when purchasing a flight and hotel bundle from any of the number of reputable travel companies that offer these types of deals. You can find your choice of flights and type of flight, whether you prefer to ride in economy or first class, along with five star lodgings once you hit the ground in Miami. What’s more, many of these package deals also include a rental car for your time in Miami, provided by the best rental car companies on the market – and many will include tickets to your favorite Miami attractions and meal vouchers to dine at your hotel or other Miami eateries. Let’s look at some of the best Miami hotels that you might want to consider when booking a flight and hotel bundle.

The Angler’s Boutique Resort is growing in popularity and is consistently named as a top hotel in Miami. Although there’s not the quantity of rooms at this popular resort as you will see with some of the more famous ones in the area (there’s just 49), you will find that no amenity is spared at the Angler’s Boutique Resort, and the service is second-to-none. Big, warm rooms or three story villas with spiral staircases and showers on the roof – the choice is yours. An onsite restaurant offers tastes of the Mediterranean (aptly named, 660 Mediterranean Kitchen) for guests who also have the option of eating their dinner poolside in a cabana.

Another little known luxury hotel in Miami that you might consider for a flight and hotel bundle package is the Betsy South Beach, which is formerly known as the Betsy Ross. Located on Ocean Drive in Miami, the Betsy is a colonial styled hotel with a tropical feel that is home to a by-invitation-only lounge. Sixty-three elegantly appointed rooms keep the Betsy intimate in both size and vibe. Sleep in luxury in a huge four poster bed or watch the game on a huge LCD television or grab an unobstructed view of the mighty Atlantic from your hotel window. The Betsy also boasts a rooftop solarium, spa and pool, and the beach at the Betsy is attended by beach butlers who are ready to serve you breakfast in the sand.

The legendary Eden Rock Resort is a Miami staple, and has just undergone a multi-million dollar renovation that included the addition of two new restaurants, a twenty-one story tower that houses two hundred and eighty two rooms, and fourteen two level bungalow suites that are maxed out with amenities. Look for the new spa and fitness center at the Eden Rock to become a favorite among guests. The Eden Rock Resort is a bit pricier than many accommodations in Miami, but if you can swing it – the cost is well worth it for the top notch service and impeccable beauty that will surround you during your stay.

These are just a few of the choices that you might run across when booking a cheap Miami flight and hotel bundled deal; there are many more. In fact, Miami has hotels for every budget – from airport hotels and discount hotels to $1,000 a night establishments that cater to your every whim.

The fantastic island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands is still very popular with people looking for villas and apartments in Spain for rental. In particular, there has been an increase in the numbers of people taking golfing holidays here and wanting to book a holiday in Spain villa. This is partly due to the fabulous mild weather that the Canary Islands enjoy even in the winter months and partly because of the investment which has been made by the local authority adding upmarket resorts and marinas. The local authorities realised that visitors looking for holiday rentals in Spain on the Canary Islands could not always find the type of holiday in Spain villa they wanted and they have spent a lot of money to rectify this.

Many towns have undergone a dramatic transformation from cheap package holiday resorts to a desirable location for the discerning traveller who is looking for upmarket villas and apartments in Spain for rental. For the last three decades the Canaries have been popular with British tourists seeking cheap winter sun. Unfortunately with mass popularity came mass construction of hotels, which were often built quickly and cheaply and started to give many resorts a bad name as well as the feel of a concrete jungle. Of course back then renting a holiday in Spain villa in the Canary Islands from the owners direct was not widely available.

Holidaymakers who stayed in Tenerife in the seventies and eighties would see a real change if they visited the island now. Gone are the concrete monstrosities built to cope with the influx of package holiday tourists, and in their place are buildings more in keeping with the surrounding countryside and exclusive villas and apartments in Spain for rental which can be booked direct from the owners. There is a definite increase in the number of visitors who want to plan and organise their own holiday and who are looking to book luxury villas and apartments in Spain for rental direct.

Could it be that cheap package holidays to places like Tenerife are finally on the decline? It is certainly true that, as more people have home computers and internet access, it is very easy to book your own holiday rentals in Spain direct with the property owners. Many people bought holiday homes in Spain in the last twenty years and consequently there is a fantastic choice of villas and apartments in Spain for rental direct from the owners. Most people find that the self-catering accommodation available to rent is often better quality than the similarly priced hotel accommodation.

Tenerife is only one of the Canary Islands which have undergone some updating. Another significant revamp has taken place on the popular island of Lanzarote in the resort of Puerto del Carmen. Holiday rentals in Spain are bound to benefit from the expensive facelift which has been completed in the harbour area. A modern marina with moorings for luxury yachts and a first class golf course have been built for the benefit of discerning visitors who are booking villas and apartments in Spain for rental or are considering a golf holiday in Spain. Even the shops, restaurants and bars on the beachfront are having a makeover to complete the transformation!

A luxury villa is the perfect choice of accommodation for a holiday and for business travelers seeking a private stay in a lovely place. A villa can provide comfort and privacy and can be considered to be a less expensive option compared to a hotel.

Staying in a holiday villa rental provides a similar level of comfort to a hotel but with a peaceful environment and relaxed surroundings because of the fewer people around. In a hotel this would not be the case during the peak seasons.

While hotels provide large function rooms, luxury villas have a homier feel for business meetings which means that the attendees will be relaxed and more at ease. A private villa provides a very large spacious living area, which can be utilized as a conference room.

Here are some of the reasons to choose luxury villas over hotels for business travelers, especially if you intend to hold an outdoor conference or meeting:

Price

The word villa sounds quite grand, so we often tend to think that holiday villas are an expensive option, but for business requirements or for family or friends villas can be more cost effective than booking multiple hotel rooms.

Comfort

This is one of the top reasons for renting a luxury villa for business purposes. For any business meeting or conference in which the agendas will be demanding, every attendee needs to be fully relaxed and feel comfortable so that they can involve themselves in the meeting or conference both mentally and physically and this, of course, means greater creative and innovative thinking. This can be achieved only when these meetings are held in places where there is peace and comfort, away from crowded places. A villa, therefore, is the ideal place to hold a conference or meeting.

Security
Villas provide a full control option for you at all times. You will be provided with security guards and you will know when anyone is coming in to the villa or leaving it. It also means that the business of a conference or meeting can remain confidential.

Privacy
Privacy is important for business meetings and conferences, and the biggest advantage of renting a villa is the privacy it affords you. This means that you will not be bothered by other people when you and your fellow attendees are focusing on your agenda. You have your own personal space in a villa and you will not be disturbed by other people or their children. In a villa you may well be the only souls around for several miles which means that you will have complete privacy and have no worries about disruption to your conference or meeting. This will be conducive to complete concentration on business matters and on making important decisions. It is important to be able to give your full attention to the matters at hand, so having a quiet, peaceful place where people can feel at ease is crucial, and this requirement can more easily be fulfilled in a luxury villa.

In ancient Roman civilization, a villa referred to a luxury residence in the country side that provided all the amenities required for a comfortable living. But in the modern context, a villa has almost become a substitute for accommodation in places of tourist attraction all over the world. Villas can be separate, independent bungalows, or they can be in the form of apartments. But in either type, they present themselves as spacious and cozy alternatives for a stay in a hotel. The favored locations for villas today are near sea beaches so that tourists can soak in a lot of sun and also enjoy all the water for relaxing vacations. One of the prominent reasons why villas as a concept have caught the imagination of tourists world over is the space and privacy that people can enjoy as the owner of the property for the duration of their vacations. This is a very relaxing and comfortable feeling which one cannot hope to get even in the finest of hotels where the rooms are not so spacious and one never is as free as he wants to be when he is vacating.

Today, sensing the requirements of the tourists and the increasing craze of villas, property owners in tourist places are converting their dilapidated structures into comfortable vacation homes. This does not require a lot of investment, and even if it does, is totally safe as villa rentals provide much better returns on investment. In some cases, investors themselves have some interesting proposals for property owners in such places whereby all the renovation is handled by the investor and the property owner gets a decent share from villa rentals and the property remains in his name as well. This works wonderfully well for the property owner as he starts to earn extra without having to make any investment.

There are countries that have become famous for luxury villas and attract a lot more tourists who are desirous of a stay in these villas apart from indulging in sightseeing in the country. Some of these countries are Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Ireland, Bali etc. In fact, Tuscany in Italy is one place where even celebrities plan their vacations just because of the presence of some of the most luxurious villas. Spanish villas are world famous for their grandeur and imposing structures. They have spacious rooms and their bathrooms and kitchens are fitted with the most modern and expensive gadgets. Some of the villas even have swimming pools which the tourists like very much as they can relax by the poolside having their favorite drink in the summers.

Two categories of tourists are today making a beeline for a stay in villas. One is the honeymooners who have a whale of a time in total privacy in these villas which is just perfect for them to have the most romantic days after their marriage. The other is families with kids who relax a lot with their kids roaming inside the property without any fear and also getting parked up in separate bedrooms.

Thinking about the right holiday accommodation for you ? We will discuss ideal holiday villas, good reasons to choose a villa and some of the drawbacks. When choosing a villa what are some of the important but less obvious considerations.

Choosing the right accommodation is the first key to a great holiday.This is not as straightforward as you might think and is worth putting in some thought. At the moment choosing a villa appears to be a very popular choice, there are some pros and cons that you should consider before going this route.

Fundamentally a villa is self catering accommodation. Yes, self evident you might think. Why do you want self catering accommodation?

  • Choice: I can cook what I want, when I want and still eat out too. Useful for say breakfast, especially perhaps with a large or young family (it gives you extra flexibility).
  • The kids can have separate rooms from the adults.
  • There are more living areas – the adults can spend evenings here – while keeping an ear open for the children. Often there will be T.V.s and DVD machines to help keep the kids amused.
  • Private pool? You can have a pool but without lots of other families (hell is other people or hell is other people’s kids – quite likely).
  • More flexibility and cost effective for large groups.
  • Villa can be more picturesque: you can choose locations that are less heavily populated or touristy.
  • Personal privacy.

Some good reasons to choose a villa. Now here are some reason to think again.

  • Self-catering also means all the effort that goes with it: buying the food, preparing the food, cooking the food and cleaning up afterwards. The Last time we did this one of the things we really noticed was the number of times we had to go shopping, we were always running out of something or needing stores for the next meal.
  • There are no chambermaids so you have to tidy up after yourselves.
  • Private pool: will it be up to scratch; how big is it ? What about keeping an eye on the children – there are no lifeguards. A surprising number of people drown every year in private swimming pools.
  • The kitchen is unlikely to be as well equipped as your kitchen at home.

With this in mind we have put together some points to think about if you are choosing a villa.

  • If one of the main reasons to go on holidays is to get away from the daily chores in life -then a hotel does this more effectively.
  • Location – if you are going to be self catering check the location of nearby shops
  • Check information on nearby resorts and beaches. this will give you a feel for the area. The last villa we stayed in was excellent but good local restaurants were thin on the ground as it was next to the German version of Magaluf.
  • Pool – try and check on size and quality. This gives rise to more complaints about villas than any other factor.
  • Be aware if you make a private booking through the internet: you will probably have pay by cash. Therefore you will have very little recourse in the event of complaints.
  • If you are planning to eat out a lot it could be more cost effective to go half or full board at a hotel even with 2 or 3 rooms.
  • Inspections of all villas and cottages is only as reliable as the local laws and the strength of any inspections provided by the company you book through. There could be unforeseen hazards and dangers in the property you book (ranging from faulty boilers, dangerous electrics to cracked and broken paving).

For further discussion about the ideal holiday accommodation for you visit Findholidays4u.com.

If we haven’t put you off booking a villa, then to ensure that you have maximum comeback and the best chance of getting the quality of villa or cottage you require then book through operators with a reputation to lose. In my next article I will discuss the pros and cons of staying in hotels and some of the main considerations when searching for your ideal holiday hotel.

There are so many things that one has to take care of when planning a holiday; choosing the destination, finding the best airfares, making a list of to-do things, finding suitable accommodation, packing your bags, etc. Of all these, finding the right accommodation is crucial as it can make or break your holiday experience. Depending on one’s needs and budget, there are several options to choose from – like hotels, holiday apartments, luxurious private villas, or, if the budget is tight, some people opt for hostels. Many people who have a decent holiday budget are often in a dilemma about whether they should go for a private villa or a holiday apartment. Both are great options and by the look of it it may seem that there is not much difference, but in reality the subtle differences between these two accommodation types can make a great difference to your holiday experience.

To start with, let us first understand exactly what villas and holiday apartments are comprised of.

Holiday apartments basically range from studios to, at most, three bedroom units and are generally within small complexes. Like hotels, they offer a shared pool facility. Such an accommodation option comes with a functional kitchen or kitchenette that can come in handy if you would like to do some of your own cooking. Cleaning services by maids are offered by most while some apartments also offer an additional cook service. All in all, a holiday apartment is much like a hotel except they have a kitchen for guests to use.

On the other hand, a villa is usually a free-standing private residence which is often rented to holiday makers for certain periods of time. The sizes of villas and their features and amenities may vary considerably depending on the location. For example, villas can range from one to eight bedrooms, and they often come equipped with a private pool, fully equipped kitchen, large terraces, spacious living rooms, dining areas, patios and lawns. Some also have a kids’ playing area or recreational rooms. Most villas often provide full staff for housekeeping, cooking, etc.

A villa holiday makes for the ultimate luxurious and opulent holiday experience. It offers you the comfort and amenities that only few accommodations can match. Imagine not having to put up with the constant noise from other guests staying in the same holiday apartment complex. Imagine having a swimming pool all to yourself, and not having to follow any pool timings. A villa is essentially a home away from home. The best part is that a villa need not cost you significantly more than a holiday apartment. Whatever little extra you might have to pay is justified by the amenities and facilities you can take advantage of in a villa. In fact, if you are holidaying with a large group, the difference in cost can be nullified easily by splitting the cost.

There are times when the holiday experience matters most and if you can get it by paying a little extra, it makes total sense. For a memorable holiday experience choose a villa holiday over a holiday apartment any day.

The beautiful beaches of Goa have always attracted thousands of tourists from different parts of the world. Hence the hotels in Goa have been upgraded to meet the new international standards of hospitality, in this respect special mention needs to be made of the recently opened Taj Vivanta Hotel by the famous Taj Group of hotels. This newly opened hotel is the fourth Taj hotel in the city of Panaji. The owners of this hotel believes that Vivanta Taj is well designed for business travelers.

Just like the other India hotels, resorts in Goa offer the visitors an ideal place to be. During the festive seasons of Christmas the Goa hotels remain a choc-a-bloc hence before you plan to visit the place its advisable that you book in advance. The exotic natural beauty of the state has made it an ideal wedding destination since it has many exotic sandy beaches well designed resorts, wedding planners and great dining arrangements to suit the needs of would be bride and grooms.

Top Luxury Beach Resorts in Goa:

If you’re looking forward to spend your Christmas vacation in Goa you need to be a little more cautious as the Goa government has banned late night open air beach parties in view of terrorist attacks. And majority of the Goa hotels which are situated beside the coastal areas of the state have publicly banned smoking which to great extent has helped the region to create a healthy environment. Among the popular 5 star hotels in Goa Cidade de Goa deserves a special mention.

This hotel bagged two prestigious awards the “Marque of Excellence 2007-08” by Thomas Cook for maintaining excellent customer service and the “R.I.B.A.” Award for its unique architectural beauty. This particular resort is just 40 min drive from the Dabolim Goa Airport. It houses elegantly appointed rooms which are further classified into Standard Rooms, Superior Rooms,Classic Rooms, Deluxe Rooms, Junior Suites and Suites to suit the needs of the discerning clientèle. Dining is a great pleasure in this hotel and you will be offered a delectable spread in its specially designed coffee shops namely Alfama, The Chef’s Speciality Restaurant, Café Azul, Laranja, Docaria and Beachside Café.

Other top 5 star hotel in Goa is the famous Taj Exotica which recently featured on the list of “India’s Most Romantic Places”. Also the specialized Taamra Spa of the Taj Exotica which has been voted among the top10 spas of South Asia. With numerous international awards in its kitty this hotel promises to offer you great comfort and unique dining facilities. Taj Exotica houses rooms which are no less than villas and are named as garden villas, garden pool villas and sunset villas offering you world class comfort.

Popular Budget Hotels in Goa:

If you looking for budget accommodation in Goa then you have different hotels to suit according to your needs. These hotel offer quality hotel service and the room rates usually range from Rs.400 to Rs.1000/ per day. Some of the famous budget hotels in Goa are Sandy Beach House, Baga Vila, D Souza Guest House, Silken Sand to name a few. You can also go for the attractive honeymoon travel packages of Goa.

It may be common for families to look for savings when booking their holiday. They may want to save money on the flight and hotel stay. Some people will wait until the last week to find the right holiday for them. They may look in the newspaper ads or browse the internet online for deals.

It is important for travelers to book quickly when they find a great deal. When someone is going to take the time to look for savings, they will need to have their credit card ready and available to book it. If they wait just a few minutes or longer it could be taken by someone else. Sometimes people will see a hotel or a villa in a place that they always wanted to go. When they realize that it is very cheap, they may be able to visit and book the stay.

Travel deals are offered by resorts, travel agencies and hotels. These places all want to have their tickets sold and places booked. As the time gets closer to departure for a vacation, they will reduce their fees.

Grabbing a good deal could give someone two different kinds of packages. Travelers can get into a basic holiday package for a really good deal. Or they may be able to book a very exclusive holiday package for a lower price.

Booking a villa at the last month or few weeks, can allow a couple or family to save money on their booking. They may not be able to pick and choose where they go on their holiday, but they can choose between a few sunny spots. Some people enjoy booking in a place that may even be a surprise for them. Saving money on a villa can allow a traveler to enjoy the villa’s amenities without the steep price.

Many people find that booking a cheap holiday will leave money for extra activities. Some people like to stay on resorts but take part in some of the activities outside of the resort. These extra activities, could cost a fortune especially if it is a whole family taking part. Often taking a trip at a reduced cost, could leave someone with extra savings for fun ways to sight see around the resort.

Last minute villas and last minute holidays are available for people to pick and choose from. These savings may be found a few weeks before or a few days before the departure date. Anyone can locate a deal by contacting a travel firm, or checking out various travel agencies. When travelers book their cheap deal, they will need to do it quickly in order to get the holiday they want.

Ko Samui, or Koh Samui in Thailand is one place that makes an attractive retirement area due to its pure beauty, serenity and peace of mind. The attractions and every aspect of the villa immediately attract the visitor. The island has some magnificent luxury villas, which are available for hire and sale. You can either purchase them or hire them during your stay on the island.

Ko Samui is situated in the Gulf of Thailand, around 35 kms away from the town of Surat Thani. It is encircled by numerous other islands with plenty of tourist attractions. Nathon, the capital of Koh Samui is situated on the southwest coast of the island and is the main centre for fishing and transportation. The main region of the island is unpopulated even today. The island is famous for its beaches, that are beautiful and fresh and attract holiday-goers. It is a little town ideal as a hideaway from chaos of urban life and life’s problems.

The rising tourism has led to establishment of business hotels, restaurants, Samui spa resorts and lavish villas during the past few years. A soothing Thai massage in a Samui spa resort will recharge and help you overcome all types of stress. The villas, spa resorts, and hotels are situated near famous beaches such as Choeng Mon beach, Mae Nam beach, Bophut beach, Bang Rak beach, and Chaweng beach. They offer lovely view of white sand and blue sea water.

Lately, luxury villas have become very popular among foreigners from around the world. Tourists desire to spend good time with their families in these villas in Samui. Ko Samui, the busy international island and its lovely villas, has become a home for both short and long-term settlers. So it makes sense to invest in these villas in Ko Samui. It is a good value for money and you can use it as holiday home if you don’t want to settle their permanently.

Since the rich and famous often visit St. Barts for a tropical vacation, you’ll find that many luxurious St. Barts Resorts can be found on this beautiful island. For those taking St. Barthelemy vacations, it’s easy to find hotels with every luxury available. Often these hotels and resorts combine together private villas with their incredible hotel amenities, providing the best of both worlds. You’ll even find that some of the St. Barts luxury resorts are well known for the incredible restaurants they provide as well.

If you’re planning a vacation, you may be wondering what options you have when it comes to choosing St. Barts hotels and resorts. Here is a closer look at several of the top options available for St. Bart vacations.

Le Toiny Hotel
As you’re looking for St Barthelemy resorts, the Le Toiny Hotel is one that you’ll want to consider. Not only does this hotel provide you with all the five star amenities you’d expect, but it is well known for the luxury villas that it provides as well. It is located on the most private part of the island, which makes it a great choice for those who are looking for privacy on their vacation.

The Eden Rock Hotel
Another of your hotel options to consider is the Eden Rock Hotel. This hotel is located on a rocky area that juts out into the sea. It faces a coral reef and is braced by beautiful sandy beaches. Originally, this was a private home, but it has been expanded to be an exclusive and intimate hotel.

Carl Gustaf Hotel
If you’re looking for Saint Barthelemy luxury resorts and hotels, you may want to consider the unique Carl Gustaf Hotel. This hotel offers you fast beach access as well as access to the capital of St. Barths – Gustavia. You can enjoy all the museums, bars, restaurants, and boutiques that the capital city has to offer. Victoria’s, a gourmet French restaurant, is part of the hotel and it is settled on a hillside to overlook the harbor.

Hotel Guanahani
The Hotel Guanahani is one of the upscale options that is very French. It is located between the Caribbean and a small lagoon. This is one of the St. Barths resorts that offers personalized service. Attractive cottages are provided for guests to stay in and you can enjoy tennis, a great spa, and more with this luxurious hotel.

Le Village St. Jean Hotel and Resort
For those who want to enjoy St. Barts all inclusive resorts, Le Village St. Jean Hotel and Resort is a wonderful place to stay while on a St. Barts vacation. The property is a full service resort that offers both hotel rooms and small cottage villas that are very private. The hotel is only a quick walk from St. Jean beach, and it has many amenities to offer, including pools, Jacuzzis, free internet, fitness rooms, massage, and more.

Many different St. Barts resorts are available for those who want a vacation in the lap of luxury. Consider the options available to you and choose the accommodations that will best fit your needs while you are on vacation.

Let’s admit it. We all have the dream getaway. And when imagine said dream getaway we think of blue skies, white sand, and clear waters. But not only that, some of us would also like to learn from our getaway. So we add a little culture and a little history into the ingredient list and viola! We get Bali, in Indonesia which is the country’s largest tourist’s destination, patronized for its beautiful beaches and cultural and historical significance. And in Bali, to make the dream truly come true, you got to find the right place to stay in. When you think about it, you can really get close to paradise in Bali. All you have to do is stay in one of the Jimbaran Bali villas and you’re almost there.

And if you’re worrying that there are not enough choices of places to stay in Jimbaran, especially if you’re looking for a villa, then my friend worry no more. This is because there are a lot of villas in Jimbaran and with different special offers and promos; those on a tight budget won’t have to worry about overspending. Some of the villas found in Jimbaran are: Mango Tree Villas, The Ahimsa Beach, Frangipani Villa, Villa Uma Nina, and the Dreamland Villa.

Of course, if you want to branch out from Jimbaran, there are also establishments for the dream getaway to be found in Nusa Dua. Those found in this area are of the four stars, international kind. Some of them are: Aston Bali Resort & Spa, Bali Cliff Resort, Bali Hilton International, and Keraton Bali.

And for those who not only dream of sea, sand and surf but also of green fields and swaying trees, Bali has an offering taman resorts. Taman is the Balinese word for garden. An example of this would be the Damai, which is a resort in Ubud and is done villa style.

Lastly, for those who have their dream getaway in a hotel setting, the best place to visit would have to be the Bali Rani Hotel in Kuta.So go on. Indulge in the dream getaway. The Jimbaran Bali villas have what you need. Bali waits.

Dubai is one of the most dynamic and terrific city when it comes to tourism. For few years now, Dubai has been developing rapidly with some of good real estate projects. The face of the city has been changed with these types of developments and more and more people want to visit and spend their vacation in the great views of Dubai beaches. The city offers some great types of sports activities such as golf, horse riding etc. There are many traditional shopping malls and modern markets around the city for specific goods.

The best short stay accommodations for the tourists are fully serviced, luxuries and furnished apartments, especially which are located in the best locations such as Dubai marina, Palm Islands, Jumeirah beach etc. These furnished and fully serviced apartments are cheaper than the hotel rooms and villas.

You can also book hotel rooms in 3 star, 4 star or 5 star hotels according to your budgets. There are many well-known international and local hotels, located at best locations like in beach areas etc. Now it’s totally depends on you whether you like to book a hotel room or apartment/villa, you have these options to choose from according to your needs.

If you wish to visit Dubai, the first thing you will need to have an accommodation for living. This is quite difficult to find an apartment, villa or hotel room on affordable rent and in the great location. You will need to decide whether you need a single or 2/3 bedroom apartment, according to your need you will have to reserve them before you start your journey to Dubai.

We hope the article above helps you in booking the best short term rental accommodation in Dubai.

A part of making a wedding special is the venue of the event. Lots of people search high and low seeking for the perfect place to hold the most glorious day if their loves where that bride can walk down a bride can walk down a beautifully carpeted aisle with the groom at the altar as melodious music fills the air-other than the conventional church of course. Some rent function halls, or gardens while some opt for hotels especially for the wedding reception.

Another option couples can consider is renting a villa for their special day. Contrary to popular belief, villas don’t just serve as residences for tourists; they can also serve as a very whimsical place to tie the knot. What could be better than getting married with the tropics as your backdrop? Most villas are placed near scenic places and can give you an amazing setting to say “I do.”

One of the most convenient things about having your wedding at a villa is their catering service. Most villas have an extensive menu offering that you can use for your wedding lunch or dinner. There are also packages available which follow a specific theme for the menu. You have the freedom to choose which package you would want your guests to dig in at the table.

Depending on the location, villas have specific modes of entertainment. If you’re in the Caribbean, you can treat your guests to tropical paradise music; if you’re in parts of Asia, you can have oriental music as your background. You can sink your teeth on traditional music offered by local people e be enchanted by the sheer beauty this type of music can create. Additionally, you can opt for a tiny orchestra to play for your wedding if the villa holds such a service.

The villa can also set the mood of your wedding for you according to your choice or to the available packages they offer. This guarantees that you don’t have to worry about micro managing everything about your wedding and you can just enjoy the villa and all the great things it can offer.

Most villas also have spa services. If you want to relax before or after your wedding, you can avail of this service and treat yourself and your new spouse to a pampering session courtesy of the villa. Aside from massage therapies, some villas also offer bridal packages inclusive of hair-styling, makeup, and even manicure and pedicure. Truly a remarkable experience for your special day can be more relaxing than you think.

Villas are a symbol for luxury and comfort. Your holiday is incomplete if you do not stay in these villas and they provide you with the “home essence”. There are so many advantages attached with these villas as compared to hotels and below are mentioned some of their highlights. Italy, France, Switzerland, Greece and many other European countries are a perfect destination to spend your much cherished vacation and will give you a rich experience of beauty and grandeur. Reading the below description on villas and chalets will guide you better about these lavish rentals.

1. Amalfi
It is one of the most popular locations in Italy to spend your holiday. Luxury private villas in Amalfi coast are spacious and light filled. The outer area is full of colourful flowers and well maintained gardens. Some villas have a fine teak floor, a spacious lounge area and an outdoor Jacuzzi add to the beauty of the serene environment. Sunbathing deck is located on the rooftop of these villas and gives a panoramic view of the surroundings. These villas cannot be directly availed from the property owners but you need to contact the local renting agencies.

2. Tuscany
It is one of the most natural and charming regions of Italy. From your luxury private villas in Tuscany you can witness the lush green surroundings and you can take different suites or packages. The roomy dining halls and piano salons both leading to frescoed terrace are the major highlights of the villas in Tuscany. A large number of Vineyards and olive greens are present. You can taste the Italy’s cultural tradition, countryside and have hilltop view from this region.

3. Sardinia
This region is famous for its spectacular Beaches and secluded Bays. It is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean and boosts for its local cuisine. From your luxury villa in Sardinia you can relax and soak up the stunning sights. The villas will surely provide you the best services in the region.

4. Courchevel

This is situated in the French Alps region of the France and is famous for its ski activity. Chalets in courchevel have traditional exteriors and have accommodation facilities of up to 5-6 rooms. Fireplaces, lifts, balconies are some other prominent features provided in these chalets. Finest marble is used in these bathrooms and each room has its distinctive character and warmth.

5. Verbier
This region is the part of Swiss Alps which are situated in the Switzerland. Chalets in Verbier have large spacious rooms filled with colours and styles. The Chalets spa and central fireplace add to the elegance of the place and gives you an excellent know-how of the Switzerland. The chalets in this region are also famous for its spa facilities.

Conclusion
Europe has been just the right thing for your holiday. Luxurious Villas make an integral part of your stay and make your holiday time exciting and enjoyable. They are full of excellent services and facilities. “Pocket” and “Style” both are served by these villas.

Location

Being a part of the French West Indies, St. Barts is located in the north of the Lesser Antilles near St. Kitts/Nevis and St. Martin/Maarten. Being located at 17.55 North and 62.50 West, this island is basking along the water on the way from Paris to New York.

It is a small island with a size of only 8 square miles. The name of its capital city is Gustavia. The main language is French along with some English spoken people.

Being a volcanic island, its rocky surface is inappropriate for agriculture. However, its craggy coastline fringed with radiant sand makes it one of the hottest tourist destinations. It has a parched tropical maritime weather with hurricane threats from July to November.

Culture and History

St. Barts has a history of being ruled by Carib Indians and then by European colonial powers. The history has a touch of Swedish heritage too, as this island was a Swedish outpost during the 18th century. However, apart from the name of the capital city Gustavia, only a few Swedish remainders can be found today. In reality, the island is heavily influenced by French style. Here, the humble locals and the monied tourists are amalgamated in a chic but discreet setting.

Attractions

St. Barts does not offer superficially attractive visual images. In fact, you have to taste it in order to explore the true attractions of this place. However, it is not totally devoid of sightseeing. You can visit historic sites in Gustavia including the Fort Gustav and the Wall House Museum. In order to have a glimpse of the traditional Norman culture, you can take a visit to the fishing village of Corossol. The Inter Oceans Museum, which has a huge collection of seashell, is also worth seeing. Apart from that, St. Barts offers a number of water activities that you can enjoy at any time of the year.

Beaches

It will not be an exaggeration if you call St. Barts an island of beaches. More than 20 beaches are lying in this small area. Each beach has its own attractions. So, you can choose to visit one or a few according to your mood and purpose. Here, you will have bustling beaches like Grand Cul de Sac and St. Jean; private beaches like Gouvernier, Grand Saline, and Flamands; truly secluded beaches like Anse Colombier; nudity-allowed beaches like Grand Saline and Anse du Gouverneur; and family friendly beaches like Marechal and Shell Beach.

Nudity-allowed, topless, and clothing-optional beaches are favorite tourist spots. Topless sunbathing is allowed even in family friendly beaches. However, public nudity is not allowed on the island.

Events and Festivals

In St. Barts, a few Swedish holidays along with a number of French ones are observed locally. The locals have an inclination for music, films, and sports. The annual music festivals are held in January and August and the Caribbean Film Festival is celebrated in April. The St. Barts Volleyball Cup Tournament in July also draws huge crowds. Apart from these events, Mardi Gras or costume parade in February, Book Festival in March, Voiles de St. Barts or yacht racing in April, West Indies Regatta or the Caribbean sailing festival in May, Feast of the Community in July, Sainte Barbe or grand parade in December, etc. are a few among other important festivals and events.

Sports

St. Barts offers a range of sports activities for both the tourists and the locals. You can enjoy hiking, tennis, volleyball, etc. along with participating in training of archery and martial arts. It is also a fertile ground for enjoying water activities. In fact, a St. Barts trip cannot be imagined without enjoying a range of water sports like snorkeling, jet ski, diving, sailing, bottom boat, kite surfing, and surfing. It is also a good place for big game fishing lovers.

Hotels and Resorts

The hotels in St Barts are mainly independently owned that are built on small properties with dozen rooms or more. In fact, the largest hotel of this island has not more than 76 rooms. However, St. Barts offers a special opportunity that none other Caribbean Island does. You can rent a private villa here apart from booking a hotel room. However, keep in mind that there is no bargain on the rates, which can be ranged from modest to stratospheric.

Some resorts offer a range of finest spa services of the world. Professional beauticians lead these spa parlors. So, you can expect nothing but exclusive spas from them.

Restaurants

As a true bridgehead of French cuisine in the tropic, St. Barts offers an array of upscale French and Creole restaurants to its residents and visitors. Apart from seductive French style and casual Caribbean, simple culinary traditions are also prevalent here. St. Barts is actually a destination for good food lovers where they can go anywhere from small family restaurants to great gourmet ones. You can taste a number of different foods ranging from traditional cuisine made of vegetables and fish to fusion cuisine prepared by blend of different cooking styles around the world. The regular dish of local people is roasted or fried pancake that is taken with fruits, vegetables, and fish found on the island.

It has some reservations-only restaurants too mainly for the celebrities who want to avoid cameras. Local markets and shops are also popular, as a number of people prefer living in rented villas and either cook themselves or employ cooking staff.

Nightlife

St. Barts is not popular for holding party events. However, some hotspots are there where young and rich people can spend fun time. The capital Gustavia has the famous Le Select bar in which Jimmy Buffet got the inspiration of his song ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’. Gustavia has a number of discos too including Le Petit Club, Le Feeling, Yacht Club, and Casa Nicky. However, to most people, a St. Barts nightlife means taking a late night dinner before returning to their private villa.

St. Barts is ideal for an excursion, an island trip, or a cruise at sunset. It has its own charm and personality with pure arcs of white sand fringed by turquoise warm water and rich marine life sheltered by coral beaches and seagrass beds.

A vacation is the time to treat yourself to a little luxury and pampering. On the magical Indonesian island of Bali you can indulge in plenty of special treatment by staying in Bali luxury villas and attending a spa retreat during your stay. Bali is becoming known as the spa capital of Asia, with spa retreats popping up in beach-side areas, mountainous regions or in locations with idyllic river and stream vistas. Many major hotels and resorts feature spas and the smaller boutique resorts often offer massages, with access to spa retreats of various kinds nearby.

Body massage is part of the culture in Bali and most Balinese men have regular massages. The true Balinese massage, known as kerok, is quite a bruising event and quite unlike the massages experienced in western culture. Spas in Bali now use a modified version of their traditional massage which involves deep and penetrating movements using the heels of the hands, the fingers and elbows. These massages are also offered by Balinese women on beaches all over Bali.

A spa retreat offers a restful environment focusing on more than massage. The specialist treatment offered in some Bali luxury villas is akin to the treatment offered in a dedicated spa retreat. The experience of staying at a luxury villa in Bali is relaxing, peaceful and serene, giving you a chance to unwind from the day to day stresses of life in the western culture.

If your luxury villa doesn’t have a spa retreat on site, they will certainly be able to arrange for you to have a massage in your villa. If you require more spa treatments, they can be easily arranged by your hosts at a nearby retreat.

Spa retreats can rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit. Some retreats are designed to focus on the needs of women, some are fitness oriented and others offer a wide range of options depending on the need. It’s a great opportunity to energize your body, arouse your senses and calm your mind – just what you need on a holiday before returning to the stressful world of work.

Spending your holiday at Bali luxury villas is another great way to give your body, mind and spirit the break you deserve. The elegant and well appointed surroundings will help you to feel calm and relaxed. You’ll have private chefs and housekeeping staff to meet your needs and your spacious surroundings indoors and out will give you plenty of breathing space when you return from sightseeing trips to places like the Bali Bird Parkor surfing at Brawa Beach.

You’ll be surprised at how refreshed you can feel after only a week spent living in luxury and you’ll soon be planning another visit.

Chianti is a famous wine-producing region in central Tuscany. Villas to rent are popular and plentiful in the area, thanks to its picturesque landscape and languid lifestyle – complete with rolling hills and greenery as far as the eye can see.

But Chianti is a region that has so much more to offer – especially if you know where to go. Here are some top attractions and places to breathe in the area’s extensive natural and cultural beauty.

Castello di Verrazzano

There is a reason this particular site is one of the most popular attractions in Chianti, if not Tuscany. Villas in the area are surrounded with verdant vineyards, cellars are full of aging wine, and guestrooms are awash with medieval art, offering a holistic package for visitors to appreciate the best the region has to offer. A tour of the Castello is just 16 Euros – great value considering what you get from the package. You can top off your visit with a scrumptious sampler of three of the Castello’s most popular wines. An interesting snippet of information: a descendent of the Verrazzanos – Giovanni de Verazzano – discovered the New York Bay.

Monte San Michele Nature Park

Are you looking forward to taking in the natural beauty of Tuscany? Villas and hotels around this area will put you within easy access of the Monte San Michele Nature Park, where you can hike around and fully appreciate the flora and fauna of Chianti. Poplars, wild cherries, chestnuts, fallow deer, wild boar, porcupines, foxes, hares – there is just so much for the nature lover to enjoy while casually strolling through this lovely nature park.

Antica Macelleria Cecchini

While you might not think a visit to a butcher shop is an attraction, the avid foodies will revel in this particular one – the Cecchini Butcher Shop, located in Panzano. Dario Cecchini is an eighth-generation butcher who seeks to create the “Renaissance of meat.” He thus not only dedicates himself to perfecting the art of preparing good meat, but also in presenting it in a way that makes people look at food with much more reverence than they are used to. Dario has opened two restaurants as well. One, located above the shop is named Mac Dario, where you can eat a homemade hamburger and the full meal with a 1/4 lt of wine, a coffee and his homemade cake for just €13; then there’s his top restaurant L’Officina della Bistecca (the steak workshop) where he presents and cuts three different types of steak, cooks it in front of you on a big log fire and then serves it with his own special ritual. But one thing that really sets him apart from any other butcher in the world is that as soon as you walk into his shop you are offered a glass of Chianti and a taste of several of his product and it’s all free of charge. This is a true gastronomic experience not to be missed.

Church of San Leolino

Catholicism is prevalent in Tuscany. Villas and hotels may abound in the area, but so too do churches – in every shape and size. What makes the Church of San Leolino stand out is the history behind its simple Roman architecture. Built around 1,000 AD, this particular church eschews the glitz and glamour of its many peers for a serene, contemplative and humbling atmosphere. Still, the simplicity of the church is an elegant one and can stir the passions of those who enter within its walls.

Sun, sand, and sea-these are the three things travellers think of when they hear of Phuket. Situated south of Thailand, Phuket is one of Asia’s most popular tourist destinations because of its natural beauty. Its pristine white sand beaches, well-preserved forests, and rich mix of Asian and European architecture place it among the best vacation spots in the world. In recent times, Phuket holiday villas and hotel accommodations continue to be in high demand, and tourists continue to flock this Southeast Asian paradise.

The province boasts of many tourist attractions. The Two Heroines Monument in Amphoe Thalang greets tourists along the highway from the international airport. Culture lovers will find Thalang National Museum a treat. There you will find pieces of old Phuket, revealing its French, Dutch, English, Portuguese, and Chinese origins. You will also love touring the city where you can find colonial Portuguese and Thai architectures. Environmental trekkers will take pleasure in visiting the Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Conservation Development and Extension Centre. Take a hike at the national park and marvel in its well-preserved virgin forest. Discover a number of wild animals that are nearly extinct thriving in this park as well.

Head to the south or to the southwest until you reach the scenic beaches of the province. If you live an active lifestyle, head to Phuket’s most developed beach. Patong Beach offers water sports activities to quench your thirst for adventure. This beach is also popular for its nightlife, and party goers will find this place a haven.

Shoppers will find bargain clothes and accessories in town. Those of you who only want to relax in one of the beautiful Phuket pool villas can go to the second largest beach in the island. Karon Beach is less developed, and more families and couples prefer to stay here for privacy. The waters in this area hold some of the most wonderful coral reefs in Southeast Asia. The View Point and Phromthep Cape both provide wonderful views of the ocean and the islands nearby. These are just some of the places you can visit when you go on your trip to this southern province of Thailand. You can always spend your down time with friends or loved ones while soaking in the golden rays of the sun on the beach.

Going to this popular tourist spot is easy and affordable even on a tight budget. You can find many resorts offering Phuket holiday villas and Phuket pool villas with competitive prices online. Do a search on the Internet and check with your local tourist centre for a list of accredited travel agencies. Ask your friends about places they can recommend, and check reviews online as well. Make sure to take into account the activities you want to do while in Thailand, and find a bundle which offers as many activities. You can choose to arrange your other activities later if you wish to make reservations at once, as rates in Thailand are very budget-friendly.

If you haven’t been to Thailand before, going to the province of Phuket is a good start. Explore its historic city and its marvellous beaches. After all, there’s no such thing as getting too much of sun, sand, and sea.

Spanish holidays are all about sun, sand, restaurants, shops and the nightlife. Whilst abroad, the modern holiday maker as a choice of either paying for hotel accommodation or renting (or even buying) a villa or apartment.

Self catering can be fantastic because it gives you so much more freedom and choice. It can also be less expensive than paying for service in hotels. Enjoying your holiday is always enhanced when you have more choice.

If you end up enjoying your villa or apartment the first time around then you can always book the same one again next time. Subject to availability of course. In peak times competition for vacancies can be high.

With high competition for space, prices are usually comparatively lower which means that you can still find a bargain even in the peak session (as long as you look hard enough!).

Many holiday makers like to have their own private pool so they can take a dip before breakfast. Seaviews are also fantastic. There’s nothing quite like sharing a coffee on the balcony overlooking the ocean or having a nice glass of Spanish wine at night as the sun sets.

Finding Villas and Apartments to rent is always great if you have young children. Looking after them in this type of accommodation is much better than when you’re in a hotel.

So whatever your budget you will find a fantastic place to stay in Spain. Check out the link below or the other holiday resource online and book your place today.

When you book villas and apartments in Spain for rental on the fabulous island of Tenerife with the holiday-home owners direct, you will benefit from not having to go through an agent. A directly-booked luxury Spanish villa in Tenerife can be fantastic value, especially if you are holidaying with a large family group. By speaking to the owners directly you can often get a good deal on the price of holiday rentals in Spain if you want to rent a property for a fortnight or longer.

A further reason for deciding to book holiday villas and apartments in Spain for rental direct from the owners is the selection of properties that are available in popular destinations like Tenerife. Whether you want a luxury Spanish villa in Tenerife for twenty people or a small, central apartment for two, or something in between, most people can find something suitable. The property you ultimately select will depend on your budget, the size of your party and the location you want, but you will probably be surprised at the choices that are available.

If you choose villas and apartments in Spain for rental for your holiday in Tenerife you will benefit from the freedom that self-catering brings. For visitors who want a holiday which is tailor-made for them, privately booked accommodation is ideal as you can find the perfect property in terms of situation and facilities. Some people want a beach holiday in popular resorts like Los Cristianos whereas others are looking for more secluded rural locations like Orotava village. Whatever you are looking for there are holiday rentals Spain to suit most visitors.

One of the most appealing benefits of choosing villas and apartments in Spain for rental direct from the private owners is that the holiday-home generally has many more amenities than hotel accommodation provides. With villas and apartments you will have a kitchen with basic amenities like a fridge and cooker which is useful even if you plan to eat out most of the time. Many properties, especially if you choose a luxury Spanish villa in Tenerife, have extremely well-equipped kitchens with a freezer, microwave, dishwasher etc. to make your stay more comfortable. If you are holidaying with small children they can have their own rooms which means that they can stick to their bedtime routines and you can stay up and have some ‘grown-up’ time without disturbing them.

Unlike a hotel package deal, self-catering villas and apartments in Spain for rental allow you the flexibility to come and go as you like. With holiday rentals Spain booked direct there are no restrictive check-in times or restaurant opening times or organized sightseeing tours – you choose your schedule to suit you and your fellow holidaymakers. You can choose the places you want to visit, where to eat out and the experiences you want to have – you are free to come and go as the mood takes you!

Holidaymakers who book villas and apartments in Spain for rental from the private owners may find that the extras that are often provided can make your holiday a memorable one. As property owners use their villa or self catering holiday apartment in Spain for their own holidays there are often many extras provided such as high chairs, cots and car seats for babies and toddlers or beach towels and sun loungers or even sports equipment such as golf clubs and tennis racquets. This can make a good holiday into one you will remember for a long time!

Albany is known to be the capital of New York State. This city has been dependent to the government of the state. But despite their dependency, they have been the leader of the nanotechnology. As technology grows, Albany has been the center of entrepreneurs, technologies and researches. Many businesses have been established in this city. As the growing establishments or entrepreneurs increases, people, especially the businessmen, find Albany the perfect venue for business meetings and conventions.

Albany ignites new and refreshing ideas to businessmen, inspired by vigorous business activities in the city. It has very dynamic economic interactions.

Albany certainly has a lot of wonderful places where businesses or gatherings may be held. One of the best places in Albany considered a convention center is the Crowne Plaza.

Crowne Plaza is located at the center of the city, which is why it is called the Crowne Plaza Albany – City Center. This is a place for big or small gatherings. They offer the newest level of excellence to all the business events. All expansive facilities are available for corporate conferences. There are also rooms called breakout rooms for all those who want some closed doors, private discussion.

The major conference facilities are very spacious, with a total square feet of 24,000 and are also well equipped. There are 15 flexible rooms for both small and large gatherings. Crowne has the largest ballroom with a space of 10,080 sq ft and can cater up to 1,300 guests. These function rooms are all equipped with state of the art audiovisual equipment. And the seats are ergonomic.

There is internet connection throughout the property. They could lend out gadgets like online tools for customizing your website. Or you could also ask for technical support.

Crowne also offers catering services. Within two hours they guarantee to give you a response and attend to your needs soonest. You could hold daily debriefing meetings here. If you frequently hold your events at Crowne, you will be given priority club meeting rewards.

The largest room of Crowne Plaza Albany – City Center has the most expensive meeting facilities. This offers an experience of first class meeting. This is the only premier downtown setting found in the downtown of Albany. The Crowne Plaza has the exceptional venue and services just within the reach of businesses, government and area attractions.

Lodging is also outstanding for it offers deluxe accommodations. Aside from the great business facilities, the hotel has a health club with all standard equipment, indoor pool and their numerous onsite restaurants.

Some featured amenities include beds with plush duvets, pillow-top mattresses, and luxurious sheets. All rooms are deluxe. There is also a whirlpool, concierge services, valet parking, and free shuttle services.

Dining inside Crowne Hotel is also a good experience. They boast of three restaurants inside. First is Webster’s Corner Restaurant. The breakfast they serve is buffet with varied delectable choices. They also has variety of a la carte options

Kelsey’s Restaurant offers snacks like salads and burgers. They also have dinner menu and a variety of wines and beers. And the third dining option, the Cadence Café, offers a good selection of coffee which includes cappuccinos. They also have morning treats.

In Room Dining offers perfect meals for private settings such as your occupied rooms.

Let’s face it, getting travel insurance can be a very overwhelming and tedious process, making it easy to put off and even forget entirely. But before you head off on your international adventure, you might want to consider getting coverage through some travel insurance, just to be on the safe side.

With some luck, you’ll be glad it’s something you have and won’t need to use. But we all know that in life things happen, so it’s a good idea to find a travel insurance policy that fits your individual needs, travel agenda, and budget. Many travel agents and private companies offer travel insurance, and they have a wide variety of types and options to choice from.

What does Travel Insurance cover?

Basic coverage of travel insurance includes some financial losses while traveling, as well as limited medical expenses, including medical evacuation. The most common type of travel insurance is trip cancellation or trip delay insurance. This type of policy covers you and your travel companions in case you need to cancel, interrupt or delay your trip. However, the acceptable reasons for canceling or interrupting your trip will depend on the insurance policy, but most likely you’ll be covered for the following reasons:

  • Sudden business conflicts
  • Change of mind
  • Delay in processing your visa or passport
  • Illness or injury
  • Weather related issues

In case your flight is canceled or delayed, travel insurance companies may provide additional coverage such as expenses that the airlines won’t cover, like taxi fares to the hotel or meals during your wait at the airport.

It’s also a good idea to have a plan with medical coverage of up to $1,000,000 in the case you become ill, need medical assistance, or have a flight accident occur. It’s also good to review the amount deductible by your insurance plan (this is the amount you’ll need to come up with before the insurance company picks of the rest). Make sure it covers repatriation (evacuation to your home country, rather than the nearest regional medical facility); make sure that does not mean you will be sent to the country where you purchased your travel insurance plan either, but your home country. If you’re planning a visit to multiple countries, make sure all the countries are included in the region covered by your insurance policy.

To learn more about these types of coverage and more specialized coverage, read The Basics of Travel Insurance.

To invest or not? How to make travel insurance work for me.

Purchasing travel insurance is great for insuring your money, should any unforeseen events pop-up, especially if you invest large sums of money on extravagant travel packages. To determine whether you want to invest in travel insurance your not, ask yourself these questions:

  • Did you invest a lot of money into your travel plans?
  • Are you traveling overseas?
  • Which regions or countries are you visiting and for how long?
  • Are you planning on participating in any extreme sports?
  • Can you afford the cost of your trip back home if any emergency arises?
  • Will you be able to afford medical care if you or someone you are with gets sick and needs immediate medical attention?
  • How old are you and how is your overall health?
  • Do you have any pre-existing conditions that need regular, special attention?

You can purchase your travel insurance for a single trip, multi-trip, or with an annual policy, all depending on how frequently you travel and the length of your trip. Comprehensive travel insurance can cost anywhere from 4% to 8% of the cost of your trip, depending on type of coverage, the length of the trip, the destination, and the age of the travelers. It is best to purchase your travel insurance between 7 to 21 days of purchasing your travel itinerary. Usually the maximum coverage period for insurance providers is for one year abroad.

Go through the fine print on your policy and check whether you will have to pay on the spot and redeem the money later for any medical expenses, or will the insurance company pay providers directly. If you have to claim it later on, you will want to hang on to all documents.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, get an insurance policy that will specifically cover it. Also examine which adventure sports and activities the plan does and does not cover (rarely does it include scuba diving and hang gliding). Lastly, for your benefit, a policy that is flexible and can be extended while you’re already away is recommended. You never know whom you’ll meet, and you just might want to extend your trip.

Another good tip would be to get in touch with your credit card issuer before investing in travel insurance. A credit card information site, suggests calling your credit card issuer to see if you have any free travel benefits that you may not be aware of, for example, insurance on lost or damaged luggage. However, according to USTIA, canceling a trip at the last minute and being reimbursed by your credit card company is the most common misconceptions among travelers. And sometimes credit card companies have limitations on only cover up to 3 months of travel. It’s worth investigating.

Lastly, if you have existing health coverage, it would be wise to get in touch with them before hand, especially if you will need vaccinations and other medicine for your trip. Depending on your health insurance plan, ask for a ‘travel packet’ and they will send you important information regarding your coverage, if any, while abroad. It might turn out you might already be covered for somethings, but not for others.

Where can I purchase Travel Insurance?

There are many sites and companies offering travel insurance online. Among them are leading companies such as World Nomads, Travel Guard, and Insure My Trip, just to name a few. A new online resource called Squaremouth, helps travelers easily and instantly compare all the major travel insurance plans at one site. You’ll be able to get immediate quotes from several major, reputable travel insurance providers and compare policies and their prices. It’s a good starting point and one that you can trust.

Helpful Tips for once you’ve purchased your Travel Insurance:

  • Scan your insurance policy electronically and save it somewhere securely online
  • Make one copy for yourself to bring on your trip
  • Make another copy for a trusted family member to keep at home
  • Have the emergency hotline number accessible during your trip, but make sure you try it out before leaving home to ensure its operating and correct
  • List out any medications you are taking (including vaccinations for your trip), and a list of allergies you have; keep this with your insurance emergency number
  • Keep all receipts at home
  • Review all the fine print in your insurance policy and determine which adventures you will be taking and which risks might not be worth it

Finally, get ready for a trip of a lifetime! Hopefully you’ll avoid ever using your insurance plan, but it will give you and your loved ones more security knowing you’re protected.

It does not matter the size of the conference or where it is, travel agents can be a major help in their planning. Travel agents can be especially helpful if it is an international conference. Travel agents can have knowledge of the area as well as such things as transportation, accommodations, and hospitality issues. One of the main hassles when planning a conference is taking care of the needs of the people attending.

It doesn’t matter if it is a press release, convention, training seminar, or product launch, travel agents can take care of many of the needs of the attendees so that the people attending or the people running the conferences do not have to worry about those details. The larger the conference the more travel agents can be of service.

One of the main ways that travel agents can help with conferences is with transportation and travel needs. Many times if the conference is international the people attending the conference will need a way to get there. Travel agents can help with flight, train or bus information as well as procuring tickets. The larger the group traveling to a conference the more travel agents can be used and many times they can also get better deals. Travel agents are in direct contact with airlines, train lines, and bus services so they can find out if there is space available as well as the best price for the ticket. They can also contact charter services, as it may be cheaper to travel this way for larger groups. Another advantage of using travel agents is that they can be available to coordinate travel times so that it can be easier, once the people arrive, that they do so around the same time making it easier to either get to accommodations or to the conference itself.

Another beneficial aspect when using travel agents when dealing with conferences are accommodation issues. Much like travel issues the travel agent can have direct contact with hotels and inns as they can find accommodations for people that are traveling to the conference. Also much like travel they may be able to find better rates than if the people traveling to the conference booked accommodations themselves. One thing that travel agents have as well are information about package deals, which can save people, or a company, a lot of money as travel, accommodation, and transportation services can all be packaged in one deal.

When people travel out of town to go to a conference they will also have transportation needs so they can get to and from the conference itself. They can also help with such things as arranging for car rentals and taxi services to and from the conference. Travel agents can also find accommodations that are closest to the conference site. If a travel agent is working with one group of people there is also a better chance that they will be staying in one location, or, at least, close to each other. This is a crucial aspect of a conference if many people from one organization or company are in attendance.

While travel agents can be used for many types of conferences one of the most important ways in which they can be used is for companies that need to have many employees in attendance. For example, if the company is having a training seminar for hundreds of employees their main goal is to make sure that the seminar runs smoothly. The company needs to find a conference site and deal with the information that will be presented at a seminar. If the company uses travel agents there is a huge amount of time and resources that can be saved that can be used in areas of more importance. Any time that the company needs to take care of the travel needs of the people in attendance travel agents should be used.

Travel agents can also be of service when dealing with hospitality issues as well. If the conference runs more than one day they can find out information such as where to eat and what there is to do in the area that people are traveling to. If the people that attend the conference do everything for themselves they will not be as informed, as if a travel agents took care of them. Travel agents can find restaurants, make reservations, book lunches, and rent out halls, just to name a few things they can do.

The hassles that can arise when traveling to conventions can be great for the people traveling to them and the people running them. By using travel agents many of those hassles are taken care of. When dealing with conferences, especially international ones and ones where many people will be in attendance, the things that travel agents can take care can be invaluable to both the company and/or the traveler.

Who likes taking vacations? Of course, that would include approximately 99 percent of the population. The 1 percent would more than likely be workaholics that just do not like taking work along with them on vacation. And, no matter who you are, you probably like getting that travel deal.

Travel deals can come from the actual airplane flight, a hotel discount, car rental savings, cruise packages, and you can obtain travel deals from travel guides.

What are the most popular travel deals? The most popular travel deals include

1) last minute labor day deals or otherwise last minute getaway for the holiday weekend savings. You can save up to 70 percent on these last minute getaways for the holiday weekends. Usually, these featured deals include both air fare and hotel packaged-savings. A lot of times the travel package deals come with flexible departure dates from Thursday to Saturday. Of course, the travel packaged-deals expire within a limited time offer period, usually a weekend only packaged-deal.

2) Compare and save on air fare. Now you can see if you are getting a good travel deal. A lot of sites offer this option of compare and save on air fare and other flight services. Example, you can compare and save for Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year air fare flight rates. Often, you can get last minute travel deals with last minute packages from $199, United States dollars.

Other popular travel deals. Looking for a travel deal to London, Paris, Venice, Barcelona to New York, Arizona, or other popular hot vacation spots? Frequently, Norwegian Cruise Line, Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, and Continental Airlines offer hot deals on travel packages. You will find offers for travel credits, one way, round trip, pre-purchase, and other fantastic travel deals. Some popular travel deal destinations can include Atlantic City, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Orlando, San Francisco. Some popular international travel deals include travel locations such as Aruba, Bahamas, Cabo San Lucas, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Paris, and Puerto Vallarta.

Popular travel deal sites. You can search and find travel deals with carrentals, Orbiz, Delta Air Lines, Travelocity, Expedia, travel yahoo, travel channel, travel nytimes, cnn, and County Visitors Bureaus. For US citizen traveling abroad, try travel.state.gov. For car rentals, you can search and find deals from $10 and up for a weekend car rental deal. For hotels on sale nationwide, you can search and find deals from 30% off. For last minute fares, you can search and find weekend air fare deals. For county visiting bureaus, you can search and find hotel discounts and gift card options. Travel guides, travel magazines, travel zoo, train travel, last minute travel, cruises, and airlines offer many appealing travel deals.

Take advantage of all the travel deal options. To do this, you may want to explore package deals, not just a particular travel deal for flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and vacations. There are many available travel deals for many popular travel destinations in the United States and Internationally. Search all travel destinations if you are not set on one particular vacation hot spot. You will find different travel deals for various hot spots, vacation location destinations, throughout the travel holidays and seasonal travel deals as well.

With the current financial climate forcing all of us to cut back on spend for the non-essentials this year, many Brits are considering a holiday here in the UK instead of travelling abroad. As a result, prospective holidaymakers are becoming fully aware that if they choose to stay in England it is unlikely that they will be the only souls with that idea – so choosing a destination that is less known, sooner, and booking early is a great idea. Dorset is the perfect destination, especially for those seeking camping or cottage holidays. It is a less obvious choice than Devon and Cornwall, but is equally as unique and enchanting a place.

Lyme Regis is perhaps one of the best known tourist destinations in the county. The town lies on the Jurassic Coast (a World Heritage Site) to the east of the county and equidistant between Exeter and Dorchester (25 miles from each). The town’s rich history is related closely to the progression and growth of shipping and exploration in the 13th Century, and was once home to George Somers (who founded Bermuda). Today, one of the major pastimes in the town is fossil hunting. The Blue Lias rock of the cliffs is host to many intact fossils that are revealed by coastal erosion, and easy to find by visitors.

The county’s unique geography is also exemplified by Chesil Beach. This barrier beach connects the Isle of Portland to the mainland, and stretches 18 miles north-west up to the village of Burton Bradstock. The intriguing beach bar structure offers a natural barrier to Weymouth and Chiswell against the harsh channel and sea. Behind the beach in-between the Isle and the mainland lies Portland harbor, the second biggest manmade harbor in the world after Sydney. The harbor is a popular destination for sailors, wind surfers, and divers.

Bournemouth is the largest town in Dorset and is situated on the coast at the east of the county. The town is considered the regional centre for leisure and recreation, and consequently offers many things for tourists to do. The Russell Coates Museum contains collections of 19th Century paintings from countries as diverse as Japan and Russia. Bournemouth is also home to the well-renowned Royal Bath Hotel which has been the temporary residence to such celebrities as Oscar Wilde, H. G. Wells and Shirley Bassey.

There are numerous other sights to see in the county to satisfy all tastes and interests: from castles to tank museums. Monkey World is certainly worth a visit. The primate sanctuary is continually growing and progressing its environmental efforts, with a range including Gibbons, Marmosets, and Lemurs. However the icon that is no doubt most known around the world is that of the Cerne Abbas giant – an 180 ft tall chalk drawing to the north of Dorchester.

Booking air travel, making hotel reservations and arranging vacation travel in general has changed completely with the advent of the internet and many people try to be their own travel agents. While you can arrange seemingly most of your travel yourself, you can’t do as well as your travel agent in a long run!

Travel processionals, whether your local travel agent, tour operator or destination specialist still possess contacts that you as an industry outsider do not have. As in number of other professions, travel agents, whether in a shopping center near your home or an online agency, wherever they may be located, do know something you do not, have way to book and arrange travel for you in ways unavailable or unknown to you.

Traditionally you could contact a travel agent and ask for a quote, whether a price of an air ticket, hotel or a vacation package. For the most part travel agents still provide that kind of information, although there is a limit how much information they may disclose as not all information is readily available to them.

First of all, most travel agents indeed may have at their fingertips routine cost of air ticketing, hotel rates or certain vacation packages available and will be happy to provide the price information to you instantly when asked. But once your travel request will need to be somewhat customized, whether tailored to your dates of travel or your other travel preferences, to find a relevant answer will be time consuming. Because of this time element involved, do not automatically assume an agency is keen to spend the time to furnish the information you seek when there is no commitment you will travel at all.

Look at the situations from the following perspective. In the old days if you had a problem with your car, you’d drive it to your neighborhood car mechanic and asked him to see what was wrong with it. You would drop the car off at the garage, the mechanic would have a look and tell you what the problem was. He would also give you an estimate and it was up to you to decide if you wanted him to fix it right then and there, wait or seek another opinion and another quote. His services cost you nothing.

But not anymore. These days, no garage, no car repair mechanic is willing to spend time trying to find out what’s the problem with your vehicle without charging you at least one hour labor upfront. Pay and he will look and tell you. Up to you if you will decide to take your car to another shop or have him fix it, he has covered his time spent diagnosing what’s wrong with your car.

Similarly, many travel agencies and professional travel planners and tour operators will charge you an upfront travel planning fee if you are requesting travel arrangements that first of all are time consuming, or there is no guarantee you will book anything. All you are after are essentially private tailor-made travel arrangement s and there are no simple answers or options to give you, and the only way to find out will be for the agent to dig and consult all sorts of different sources he has at this disposal and then present the travel alternatives to you for you to decide upon.

When working with a travel agent, travel planner or any other travel professional such as a knowledgeable destination specialist, keep in mind that a certain protocol will assure you will get not only the kind of travel arrangements you want in general but also you’ll gain a true partner that will always work in your best interest whether you’ll travel away from home on business or for pleasure.

1. First of all, when contacting a travel agent, whether in person or online, don’t hesitate to give them your name – don’t worry, most agents won’t spam you back. Without your name when you’re asking for a valuable travel advice most agents won’t take your request too seriously. Call if you wish but most agents prefer not to take notes, email is a way to go and for an agent to look up a fare often a time means he has to plug in a name, so might as well that name will be your real name. If you decide not to accept the booking the reservation will expire and no harm done. If you decide later to purchase the reservation the agent does not have to rekey it into the system all over again.

2. If you’re trying to be you own travel agent, even in part, say you plan to book your own hotels online, disclose it to the agent your are contacting for assistance, he/she may still be interested to help you with the rest of your travel arrangements. Don’t hide your intentions from the agent as agents don’t like to be used for information gathering purposes only.

3. If at all possible, always contact your travel agent or destination specialist as soon as you know when and where you wish to travel, not last minute before your intended departure. That is even more important when you’re planning a trip to a lesser frequented destination.

4. Don’t book your flights and hotels online and ask a travel agent to do the rest, namely the difficult parts, such as complex transportation connections, travel arrangements in remote locations or to book segments that you just feel are not safe for you to book online yourself. Give your agent to design and book your entire trip for you. The worst you can do is design your own vacation package, then copy and email the same request to dozen different agents to see who may be the lowest bidder. Yes, the internet is perfect for that kind of information gathering but look at this from a perspective of a travel agent. If he/she knows you are sending the same request to dozen agents many of them will not be too interested in dealing with you. Then again, telling them the truth they will appreciate knowing what you are doing and approach the whole thing quite differently and in the end they just might offer you a deal.

5. If you’re after booking shoe-string cost of travel, for example wishing to book the lowest type of accommodations, best be your own travel agent. Do realize that agents can’t book services that are simply too cheap to begin with, not to mention that that kind of suppliers do not pay agent s any kind of commission. The agent may still help you but keep in mind he will be doing you a favor and will be working for you at no charge. If so, appreciate it, email your thank you.

Do realize that to ask an agent million questions, get all the answers, including time consuming quotes, only for you to never replay again is definitely rude and turns agents off completely. If you are polite and respectful many will often work without any commitment on your part, providing you with information you need, working for free. But because of those that just siphon info out of agents so they could possibly book travel on their own leaves not only a sour taste in agent’s mouth but certainly induces the decision to charge au upfront planning fees when a next inquiry comes.

6. On another hand, when it comes to upper end accommodations keep in mind these hotels routinely offer discounts to agents that agents can markup and still offer you room costs below hotel rack rates. Genuine agent is not interested in selling you a higher end hotel in order to make a higher commission but to tailor in a better trip experience for you where he deems it desirable.

7. Keep in mind that there is a difference between a travel agent and a so called Destination Specialist. Most travel agents use online reservation systems to book transportation, hotel and vacation packages. They essentially book or resell ready-to-sell travel offers from a variety of suppliers that do not require more than filling in your name and dates of travel. When it comes to you needing customized arrangements, they will need to contact tour operators and destination specialists that are either part of their consortium or a network they belong to. Depending on the connections they have they will or will not be able to help you.

8. Destination Specialists pride themselves in really knowing their destinations. Many of them have indeed not only traveled extensively but know a particular destination inside-out so they can arrange travel logistics for you based on knowing, rather than looking it up in a brochure or some kind of data base. Many Destination Specialists specialize in difficult, custom designed itineraries and do not sell travel packages. Often a time though not always that kind of service reflects higher markup.

9. Last, please note that many destination specialists as well as travel agents work 110 or more hours per week because especially custom-design travel is indeed very time consuming. Being good at travel logistics does take experience and while with the internet it seems second nature to be able to arrange travel on your own, many travel professional are indeed very good at what they do! They do know more about travel than you, give them a chance, they can save you not only money but also many headaches and above all, they can assure not only that you’ll travel worry-free but that you may have a trip of your life! Keep in mind, a good agent is not after selling you a single ticket or a package tour, they want you to become a repeat client, their go-to-travel processional for rest of your life.

Of the concerns people have when the topic of world travel rears its exciting head, few feel as serious as the concern of getting sick or hurt in a foreign country without any form of health insurance to take care of the problem. Compared with the fear of running into serious health problems abroad, the concern of not knowing where to travel, or the worry about getting scammed, or insecurities surrounding your ability to make the money necessary to travel all seem trivial. None of those fears can kill you- getting sick or hurt abroad without any form of health insurance can.

Most forms of health insurance are nationally based, they are domestic, which means the insurance you use at home isn’t going to do much of anything for you abroad. Thankfully, getting health insurance while you’re traveling, or getting insurance that will cover you as you travel, is a lot easier than you think and it doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg.

An Important Question

Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to acquire health insurance that will keep you secure and feeling good during your travels you need to ask yourself a single important question- do you plan on traveling to one country or multiple destinations?

The answer to this question will determine what sort of insurance you will need. If you’re traveling all over the place than you need a more comprehensive, far-reaching insurance. If you’re traveling to a single city or country and setting down roots for a few weeks or a couple months then you only need to get health insurance valid within that country.

Even though you should avoid overly-detailed travel planning to figure out the answer to this question before you leave home, it is a good idea to plan your health insurance needs.

Single-Country Insurance Strategies

As far as insurance goes, if you’re traveling to a single city or country you have it easy– though it’s important you act fast for peace of mind and safety’s sake. You should purchase local insurance the first day you arrive.

Doing this not only makes sure you’re protected no matter what happens, resolving to buy insurance your first day in a new country is also the best way to be sure you actually get it done. It’s easy to put off chores and busy work, the less sexy elements of travel, when you’re excited to be in a new country and itching to start exploring. Getting all the boring stuff out-of-the-way as soon as possible protects you against the dangers of procrastination- dangers that are potentially lethal when it comes to medical coverage.

But how, exactly, can you find local insurance?

Well, you have two options.

  • You can spend hours trying to research local medical coverage plans online, often browsing through poorly translated websites in an attempt to compare one plan with all the others. Or,
  • You can take the easy route and just ask an employee at your hostel or your hotel what local health insurance they have and what insurance they think you should sign up for. Then find out if their insurance coverage is available to visitors. Hospitality workers are there to help you out, and the more personally owned and operated your lodgings the better the chances of receiving some good advice from them.

Multi-Country Insurance Strategies

Owning local insurance in addition to global insurance is almost always a good idea. After all, it’s a safe bet local hospitals will accept your local insurance card but there’s no guarantee local hospitals will accept your international coverage. That being said, if you’re traveling to a large number of different locations, you don’t really have much of a choice. You need to get the most comprehensive global health insurance you can afford.

When it comes to global health insurance you have a couple options at your disposal.

1) First, you can take a look at your existing domestic health insurance and determine whether it provides any sort of worldwide coverage at all. The bigger the insurance carrier the more likely it will provide something for you when you’re out crisscrossing the globe. If you don’t know where to look and you’re unsure about your current coverage you should get on the phone with a representative and start asking questions.

If your current coverage won’t help you overseas you need to ask whether there’s any plan provided by your carrier that will help you out as you travel. If there’s an upgrade to your insurance available and if the upgrade will cover you abroad you’d be wise to pay a little extra to make sure you’re secure. Acquiring traveler’s insurance isn’t really difficult but ultimately it’s a lot easier to stick with the carrier you already have than to unnecessarily jump ship.

2) If your current carrier does not provide travel coverage while you’re traveling and if they do not offer any sort of upgrade, add-on or package that will cover you abroad, then you need to locate a new carrier.

You can either switch over to a large carrier who provides a wide range of insurance options, or you can just sign on with a carrier who specializes in traveler’s insurance.

3) Travel Health Insurance is a LOT more common and a LOT cheaper than you’d think. Don’t be surprised if you find travel health insurance that is considerably less expensive than what you’re paying for your existing domestic coverage. Not only that, but travel health insurance tends to be extremely flexible. You can purchase insurance for a single trip, you can purchase insurance for trips of varying lengths (such as 30, 60 or 90 days) and you can purchase insurance for those times you’re going to travel indefinitely.

So how cheap can travel health insurance be? How does less than $1,000 dollars a year sound to you? Compared with the normal $300-$500/month you’d pay for your own health insurance, if it’s not covered by your employer’s travel insurance, this represents a really, really good deal.

What Types of Travel Insurance Do You Need?

When you start researching travel insurance you’ll soon realize there are many types of travel insurance out there, all covering a different corner of the traveler’s experience.

  • The average traveler simply needs to purchase the most comprehensive Travel Health Insurance they can find. But if you’re traveling to snowboard the alps or something else that may be considered risky, then Hazardous Sports Insurance might also be worthwhile.
  • Evacuation Insurance might make sense to help get out of countries if political or environmental situations turn ugly, but only if you are in a country where you could reasonably assume you could be evacuated by helicopter.
  • You can purchase Identity Theft Protection in case someone swipes your passport and credit cards.
  • You can purchase Cancellation Insurance to make sure you end up at your destination even if your airline starts messing with your reservations or some other unforeseen problem arises.

Whether you purchase these different forms of insurance or not depends a lot on where you’re going and what you plan on doing there.

But after you settle the issue of travel insurance, what’s keeping you from finally taking that trip you’ve always dreamed of?

Who else wants to save on travel today? I realize that may sound like a silly question and the fact is, economic times are rough right now. Most people (including myself…) are looking to save big money on their travel prices. If you want to save a lot of money on your travel expenses, the solution to doing just that is actually a lot easier than you think. If you want to go to a nice luxurious hotel, resort, or cruise, the reality is you really can and at affordable prices that everyone can afford…let me explain…

The answer to saving on your travel has nothing to do with travel sites that have been known to save you up to 30%. I am talking about are travel memberships wherein you pay a one-time fee and gain immediate lifetime access. You can literally begin saving up to 80% off your travel needs for the rest of your life. No restrictions of when you travel, either! I am speaking highly of something known as a travel discount club that many are now discovering for the first time.

If you have never heard of a travel membership, basically what this mean to you is this…..it eliminates the high prices when it comes to travel prices. Have you ever gone to a hotel thinking that you paid way too much? Me too! These overpriced prices have gone on for far too long in my opinion. So in essence what these memberships do for you, is save you a log of money.

When you are a paid member, you then have access to over thousands of highly sought after travel locations from around the world. This will save you up to 80% off of your travel expenses around the world. You do not have to worry about when you travel because you get to decide that.

You can literally go anywhere and save a lot of money. You will save limitless amounts of money if you are member. If you are a member, you will have the luxury of being able to stay at some of the very most luxurious relaxing condos. You can also take advantage of scenic cruises, villas and cottages and best of all, when you want!

Savings are available at many of the finest of resorts, too. You can stay at 4 and 5-star hotels and be treated like a king or queen! For many, this is a dream come true because of the fact that you will have the ability to stay at some of the very best resorts from all over the world. This is not a timeshare, mind you.

These memberships do not require you to pay any additional fees, at least the ones that I have checked out. No maintenance fees or annual fees is a huge plus to many, who have been burned by timeshares. That is something that no timeshare can even come close to when comparing the two. If you compare the amount of money that you would have to pay on a retail vacation, a membership blows the retail price right out of the water. You will easily save over 50% or more.

Do your own research and see for yourself. Having a membership to for access to thousands of luxury hotel locations at rock-bottom wholesale prices is what makes this an easy decision for many. When you compare the savings to the retail price that you would have to pay, it just makes good sense..

Take for example the fact that you can get:

a 2-bedroom condo at multiple worldwide locations for less than $200 for a seven-day vacation stay. The only question is why would would you want to spend several hundred more than what you need to? The retail price for this vacation retailed for $998 on a site that offered the exact same amenities.

When I first learned of these savings, I jumped on the opportunity because I hate having to spend more money than I really have to. When you join, you will gain immediate private access and be a part of the vacation club that allows you to profit from these vacation deals. When I first took a look at it, I could not believe the savings. In fact, I thought there had to be a catch….I was pleasantly surprised when I realized there was no catch on having access to unbelievable discounts on these luxurious vacations. It was a dream come true for me.

Another big advantage is that you will also have access to travel advisors. These are advisors who will assist you with various travel needs on other travel related expenses. When you are getting ready to go on a trip, the less that you have to worry about is priceless.

These memberships are the answer to saving money when it comes to traveling throughout the entire United States, but all across the globe. While memberships are not free, you could easily make your money back on one vacation alone. So basically, you get your money back after your first vacation. Keep in mind that there are pretty high priced memberships compared to other clubs.

If you want to save some serious cash, consider a membership because it will certainly save you more than just a few bucks when you consider the fact that you can save several hundreds of dollars on your first trip. I cannot say enough about these memberships. They really are the way to travel when it comes to saving money at worldwide luxurious hotels, resorts and cruises.

No matter if you are casual traveler or a business traveler, saving up to 80% on travel related expenses is the perfect solution for literally anyone who travels I do not know about you but most everyone I talk to travels at least once in a while. So even if you just travel once in a while, you still save a lot of money.

If you want to save money on your travel, having a membership that will save you several hundreds of dollars on resorts, cruises, fine hotels and many other vacation expenses, is the best deal. The reason is that having one of these memberships pays you back every time you access your membership privileges. It allow you to take immediate advantage of for the unlimited savings.

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and re-engineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticket-less” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference.

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and re-engineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

Yes: travel agents DO travel for free

There are several scenarios that could allow travel professionals to travel for free. In a previous article, I discussed 4 ways that travel agents do come out of their pocket to pay for their trips. This time around I will explain how they also save and even travel for free.

Booking Groups Could Get You a Free Pass

There are incentives for booking groups (the fact that group travel is the most lucrative bookings in the travel industry should be incentive enough). If an agent books so many rooms (hotel) or cabins (on a cruise), they cold get a free room or cabin or money (not counting the commission) that they could use toward their room or cabin. Of course this all depends on the vendor’s group policy, quantity needed and who is assigned as group leader.

Actually you do not have to be a travel agent to get this benefit I am described above. If you are not a travel agent and you decide to book a group, if you are the group leader, you could very well get these benefits (ask your travel agent they should tell you that up front). This is the only way (outside of a frequent guest program) that a non-travel agent could get perks extended to them… so if you want to get some perks out of your trip…think in groups!

Travel Contests

Another way an agent could go free could be based on sales volume for a specific property or destination in a particular niche. Some travel vendors and agencies may offer free trips to top agents as incentive or awards for sales performance. These kinds of awards are offered as contents too! I’ve seen some really exotic destinations, life a fully expense paid trip to Costa Rica (wow!) offered to contest winners in my agency, which makes it really worth trying to get your sales

Travel Perks can be Good

Agents can sometimes take advantage of extended ‘courtesies’ or perks, which is an added benefit of being in the travel industry. We call them courtesies because no vendor is obligated to extend perks just because a travel professional identifies themselves as such. If an option for a room upgrade or car rental upgrade is available, agents will ask first if of course, and it’s up to the vendor to extend free services, amenities or perks to agents up presentation of valid credentials. These perks may also include shows, attraction tickets, tours and much more.

Agents Travel Free in the Long Run

This is the part I love about being a home-based travel professional! It really is all free in the long run! How is that? Travel professionals are allowed to legitimately write off their travel 100%. Yes, they can, so regardless if you are an agent who paid for their trip, you are in the business of travel, which makes all your travel 100% tax deductable. So if you are a travel agent, the key is to document your trip and save your receipts so you can legally write off your trips at the end of the tax year!

Just to recap, there are 4 main ways travel agents can travel for free:

1. Booking groups and getting room, cabin, or monetary credit
2. Agency and Vendor Contests
3. Perks & upgrades
4. Write-off your travel 100%

Attention All Agents: save those receipts and document, document, document!

Travelers or Travelers today, whether experienced or not, have unlimited choices, so why use a travel agent?

Savvy travelers or travelers, when in need of information relating to specific destinations or activities, seek out travel agents with knowledge, experience and expertise of those destinations and activities.

It is not always easy choosing a travel agent. Many agents are called specialists, but sometimes the qualification to be a specialist is a simple test run by a tourism office or tour operator. Sometimes, these tests do not require the agent to have ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt.’ Some of these tests are too simple and could harm the reputation of the travel industry if allowed to continue unchecked. A ‘specialist’ can mean, ‘I know the brochure product’ or ‘I have seen a training video’ or ‘I have taken a test given by a Tourism Office.’

If you find a specialist, ask about their expertise. Ask them if they or their colleagues have any direct knowledge, experience and expertise of where you want to go and what you want to do, after all, it is your hard-earned money.

Experts are out there. Find them locally or use the internet and then do your bookings with them. You may have to use different experts for different destinations and activities, just as you would select any other professional for accounting, legal, medical or mechanical matters, except in your lifetime you will probably (or hopefully) spend more on travel than all of the others put together.
Reality Check: “I once tried a major chain of travel centers to get 2 tickets to Mexico from Canada. I was only offered 2 airlines. I then used an internet search and came up with 5 airlines and made my bookings online. Perhaps the travel center did not earn commission or was not able to charge a fee for the booking or did not want an ‘air only’ booking or did they only offer their ‘preferred products’ which limits client choices?”

The Nomad

If you do not need an expert agent you can use the internet to find all kinds of global travel choices and then you can make your booking directly with an online agent or travel operator. If you decide to make your own bookings directly with the travel operator you should not have to pay the full retail price which has a built-in amount for commissions to be paid to sellers of their travel products. Retail agencies that have their own in-house tour products which are sold through other agencies should also be prepared to sell at a net price for a direct booking from a consumer.

It is only fair that agents and agencies earn commissions and fees from travel providers such as hotels, lodges, tours, cruises or mark up their own tour products to allow for a third-party sale. They all have overheads which have to be covered to give local consumers the convenience of local shopping and it is important to support your local businesses as long as they offer excellent pricing and service. At the same time, it is only fair that consumers who make their own bookings directly with travel operators should not have to incur this extra cost. Fair fare prices should be available for consumers who want to handle their own direct bookings.

If you are comfortable with dealing over the internet directly with the travel providers and you want to get fair fare prices you can check out a travel website that was launched in April 2008 that, for members only, offers free travel vouchers that saves them the commission or fee elements in retail travel prices. The site offers thousands of travel vouchers for travel in over 70 countries ranging from simple B&B accommodations to complex adventure travel, all at net of commission prices. This travel site is operated by an online travel club that does not sell travel or make reservations and all monies therefore, are handled directly between the members and the travel operators.

The internet has just about everything a traveler or even a traveler could want, whereas agents and agencies can only offer limited selections of brochures from travel providers and operators. There are thousands of travel businesses that never get to see the inside of a travel agency or brochure, but they would still be prepared to pay commissions to sellers of their products. This online travel club allows travel businesses to promote their products and services at no cost except the requirement to issue travel vouchers that represent the normal commissions and fees in the retail price. 100% of these savings are then passed on to members who do their own direct bookings. As a member, all travel vouchers are free but if you do not want to join there is an associated website that sells the same travel vouchers without requiring a membership fee.

A tip from the website. When you make your own direct bookings, do make sure that the time in the time-zone that you are calling is appropriate as “it is embarrassing to wake up a Greek Sea Captain at one in the morning somewhere in the Greek Islands to discuss their listing.” The Nomad at The Top Travel Club.

This site is continually adding new travel selections and as long as you are comfortable and prepared to be a D.I.Y. Traveler or D.I.Y. Traveler over the web, you might find some interesting trips and adventures, some of which are not readily available elsewhere.

In closing, I hope you find the little bits of attempted English language humor humorous and as I consider myself 1 L of a Traveler, I say 2 L with travelers but at last I am happy to have found a web travel centre centered around saving me money. Apologies to both Websters and Oxford dictionaries.

This is what I consider to be essential items for any traveler/backpacker. These are items which I have used in my past travels, and have served me well.

Backpack

The first most obvious thing for any traveler to decide on is whether to use a backpack or a suitcase. During my first solo travel experience to Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan, I traveled with a backpack. For under 50 I bought a Eurohike 55 litre backpack with a rain cover, which came in handy during the monsoon season! The pack was top-opening, and didn’t really offer much by way of security. I therefore bought a special backpack transit case which I put my backpack into and made it secure from theft, but also made it secure from airport conveyor belts. I had heard that the conveyors in airports sometimes broke clips from backpacks if they were not properly secured, and that some airlines didn’t even want to have backpacks on their airplanes because they were a safety threat. I actually lost the backpack case during the course of my travels, and had to resort to wrapping my backpack in black bin bags and tape in order to prevent the clips from catching airport conveyors. The backpack was comfortable, with some very nice cushioned padding. However, I realized as my trip went on that the pack was a little too large. I had read on many different websites that the smaller and lighter your pack, the more comfortable your trip will be. This is so true. It is not just about how light the pack is for you to carry, but also practical reasons like traveling on packed trains and subways with a giant wardrobe on your back. The backpack was incredibly annoying whilst traveling on busy subways, as I didn’t know if, and how badly, I was bumping into people – but I am sure that I definitely was! However, it was great to have my hands free when I needed to pay for tickets and also carry bags and water bottles.

Suitcase

On my second trip to Japan, I decided to ditch the backpack and travel with a medium sized suitcase. I was traveling for 3 weeks, and had planned to move around the country quite a bit. I was worried about the condition of the suitcase’s wheels by the end of the trip, but altogether I preferred the comfort of a nice suitcase. The suitcase takes up the use of your arms, but it does relieve your back. I found time and again that my backpack was becoming too heavy and cumbersome for longer walks; a suitcase, meanwhile, makes walking a pleasure. Trying to find your hotel in the humid and busy conditions of Bangkok with your gigantic backpack is not a pleasant experience. Though, going up stairs is a pain with a suitcase, but with a backpack it is a breeze. This may be important to you as it is best to travel around a Japanese city (and many other Asian cities) via the subway system, and sometimes they have enormous staircases leading to the platforms. The final clincher is that a suitcase makes you look more businesslike and professional; a backpack makes you easily identifiable as a traveler or tourist, and makes you stand out far more. If I entered a nice hotel with my backpack, I wouldn’t be given the same service as if I travelled with a suitcase. I believe that backpackers have a bit of a bad name in some countries, as backpackers tend to be younger people who are more prone to loutish behavior due to letting of some steam after finishing university.

Daypack

You don’t want to take your suitcase or backpack with you on your daily walks or excursions, so you need a nice convenient daypack. I actually took a shoulder bag, as it looked more stylish than a small backpack. But be warned, a shoulder bag can give you some irritating neck and shoulder pains if you over pack it with large water bottles or souvenirs. In this instance, a nice mini backpack is better as it transfers the weight evenly on your back and shoulders.

Travel Insurance

I always take out travel insurance as you never know what could happen during your trip. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Medical help abroad could cost you thousands if you do not have the correct insurance, so always read the insurance policy properly. When I search for insurance I always turn to comparison sites, such as moneysupermarket. This way you can compare all the different companies offering insurance and their relative policies.

Skype

Skype is a free service which allows you to call anyone in the world (who also has a Skype account) for free. The service is completely free when using the Skype-to-Skype service, and the prices are competitive if you want to call mobile phones or landlines. You can use Skype on your iPod Touch, an actual Skype phone or on your laptop. If you are taking a laptop abroad, you can even use your webcam to make video calls, but if you are not taking a laptop, I found that many internet cafes in Asia had Skype already installed on their computers. Skype also allows you to send instant messages, play games and even transfer files. All in all, Skype is a great device which you should be make use of whilst traveling.

First Aid Box

I like to take a mini first aid box when I travel. The boxes come in some very nice convenient sizes with everything you could need for your trip. Items can include: plasters, antiseptic cream, insect repellent, and various tablets for common travel sicknesses.

Clothing

I will not speak at great lengths on clothing, as I believe this is a personal choice and dependent on different people’s needs. However, I will say that you should always pack light, and think about whether you will ACTUALLY need an item of clothing. Sometimes, I have fallen into the trap of packing far too much clothing ‘just in case’. Whilst traveling in Asia you can always pick up cheap clothing, so there is no need to over pack. The minimum I would take for a month traveling is: 3-4 t-shirts, 2 shirts, trousers, two shorts, swimming shorts, 2 pairs of socks, trainers/sneakers (I would buy some that look formal but are as comfortable as trainers).

Travel Washing Line

I take a small washing line on my trips in case there is not enough places to dry my clothes. If you are packing light, you can just wash your clothes more often, and you will sometimes need a washing line for extra space.

Travel Sink Plug

I used this occasionally when I stayed in hostels. In some budget accommodation you will not have a sink plug, which makes shaving difficult. The travel plug is therefore recommended if you are considering staying in budget accommodation. Also, even some higher grade hotels have faulty plugs in their bathrooms, so it is generally a good item to take.

Toiletries

As a dandy backpacker I have a vast array of toiletries. My toiletry bag consists of: shavers, moisturizers, sun cream, nail clippers, eyebrow tweezers, aftershaves (which I tend to buy from airport duty free), lip balm, deodorant and more!

Rain Mac

If you are traveling anywhere that has a monsoon season then a rain mac is a great idea. Monsoon rain is awesome, and can just take you by surprise and leave you drenched. A little rain mac can be scrunched up into a very small size and can easily be carried in your daypack.

Swiss Army Knife

I sometimes take this on my travels as it has various useful devices: a bottle opener, scissors, toothpick, tweezers, screwdriver heads and numerous knives of varying shape and sizes.

Travel Towels

I recommend taking a large travel towel. These can be folded into an incredibly small size and take very little space in your luggage. They also dry quicker than ordinary towels.

Camera

I really don’t know much about cameras but I definitely know that you will need one on your journey. It’s a way of recording experiences that are not possible in any other way. I just bought an 8 megapixel camera in Bangkok – it has served me well.

Batteries

You will need these for your camera, so make sure you take enough spares from your own country, which tend to be cheaper than whilst abroad.

Mobile Phone

A mobile phone is now a necessary gadget in all parts of life, and is very important during your travels. It is a great device to keep in touch with other travelers, but is also a safety device if you become lost or in danger. Remember to take you charger though, or it will become useless after a few days.

Backup Sim Card

Just in case you lose the first Sim card you can just take another Sim, which are usually free.

Backup Debit/Credit Card

I would take a backup card just in case I lost my main card. If I lost my main card I could just cancel it and then transfer the money from my main account into my backup account via internet banking.

Pens and Paper

You will occasionally need to write things down, such as directions or contacts, and a pen and paper would be very helpful. I would always travel with a mini pen and small notepad in my daypack so that it was easy to get to. You can always use your mobile phone or iPod Touch for this as well.

Travel Adaptors

Travel adapters are necessary if you want to charge your iPod or mobile phone. Once you know where you are going, you can find out what converter plug you will need. It will save you having to search around in your destination country. Some plugs are all-rounders and cover everywhere.

iPod Touch

My iPod Touch has been irreplaceable during my travels. Not only is it great for watching movies, listening to music and playing games whilst waiting for your flight or on long train journeys, it also has practical uses. By downloading free applications via its Wi-Fi capabilities you can turn your iPod Touch into a hotel or hostel finder, a currency exchange service, a travel guide and much more. I also bought a special, and inexpensive, earphone and microphone set for my Touch, which allowed me to use Skype wherever I had free Wi-Fi. Actually you can find free Wi-Fi everywhere in Southeast Asia: McDonald’s, Starbucks, shopping malls, hotels and even airports. However, I surprisingly found that Wi-Fi access is not so easily found in Korea or Japan, and tends not to be free if it is offered.

iPad

I don’t actually own one of these but they just seem to be a large iPod Touch. All the convenience of the iPod Touch being a nice pocket device which is easy to take everywhere is lost on this device. But maybe I am missing something about it.

Travel Guides

I love to read travel guides and always take them on my trips. My favorite guides have always been DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. I regularly use DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: Thailand, Japan and Rome to name a few. I found them incredibly helpful, but most importantly I loved the focus on culture and historical sites. The guides are wonderfully illustrated, easy to navigate, and the pictures and captions are beautifully presented. In addition, the historical sections are informative, well illustrated and a joy to read. I would also recommend Rough Guides and Lonely Planet, which I have also used in the past.

Money Belt

I originally bought one in order to hide my valuables, but then just used it to hold my bus/train tickets or small change so that it was easily at hand and I didn’t have to rummage though bags or my pockets. The money belt can be used as just a regular bum bag (fanny pack if you’re American) without valuable items and just left on display rather than inside your clothing. I just used it as an extra convenient pocket.

Each major mountain range of the world is known for its scenic splendor and the Canadian Rockies are no exception. The Canadian Rockies are a must-see location for travelers who enjoy the majesty of mountain ranges or for anyone who desires to be counted among the well-traveled world explorers. For over 125 years, savvy travelers have taken advantage of the superior opportunities to view the panoramic scenery of the Canadian Rockies through luxury train excursions.

The historic trains of Royal Canadian Pacific (RCP) offer a luxury travel experience like no other. At the 2006 World Travel Awards ceremony RCP won the “World’s Leading Luxury Train” award, winning over such notable train experiences such as the famed European Orient Express and The Blue Train of South Africa. RCP guests can be assured of five-star luxury service in an intimate atmosphere as only 32 guests are on board each rail excursion. Chartered individual tours can be arranged for the ultimate in privacy and service.

The fully restored railcars hail from the 1920’s, the era of luxury travel of such notable society names as Rockefeller, Carnegie, Churchill and the British Royal Family. Wealthy individuals traveled to the famed lodge on Lake Louise to spend the summer season in the cool natural beauty of the Canadian Rockies. Travelers seeking the best in luxury travel can relive the elegant lifestyle of the pre-war American and British elite, admiring the unchanged scenery of this majestic part of the world.

The Royal Canadian Pacific train originates in Calgary in the province of Alberta. The tour package includes limousine service between the airport, hotel and train locations as well as gourmet dining experiences in Calgary before and after the tour. RCP provides first-class amenities and service from beginning to end.

Another well-known train service to the highlights of the Canadian Rockies, the Rocky Mountaineer, travels between Vancouver, British Columbia on the west coast, to Calgary with stops at the popular tourist destinations of Whistler, British Columbia, and Jasper or Banff in Alberta. Travelers originating or terminating at Vancouver can easily extend their scenic experience with an Alaskan cruise which includes whale watching and spectacular views of Alaska’s famed glaciers.

The Rocky Mountaineer takes a 2-day journey to the national parks at Jasper and Banff and features glass domed bi-level rail cars. Travelers enjoy the panoramic views from the second storey. Gold Leaf Service provides seated first-class dining en-route. Overnight accommodations and dinner are provided at a moderate hotel. While not the award-winning luxury trip of RCP, the Rocky Mountaineer provides an alternate means of reaching the famed tourist spots of the Canadian Rockies from the west coast of Canada.

A knowledgeable travel consultant can combine the train trip with a stay at a luxury resort nestled in the pristine forests of the Canadian Rockies. There are any number of modern first-class premier resorts that provide tourists with upscale accommodations and service nestled in the stunning forests near the numerous clear lakes of the area. Anyone seeking an Eco-friendly luxury travel experience in a peaceful and private spot in the world need look no further than a Canadian Rockies adventure.

For the benefit and convenience of the traveler and adventure lover travel dictionary is compiled. This dictionary provided a complete guide to all the aspects of traveling. You might be a regular business traveler looking for some discount on travel cost or the wanderlust looking out for a vacation that many travelers do not take. For every kind of traveler with whatever their requirements, website dictionary is the solution.

There are a number of things that go into planning a vacation and without a good travel dictionary this is impossible on your own. The road map has to be conceptualized and the itinerary must be sorted out. While you can get a customized itinerary for you self you can also select one suitable to your travel destination from an array of great tours travel website dictionaries boast of.

Only a travel website dictionary will be able to get you the latest updates on prices of tours, discount packages and the umpteen frills all travelers look out for. You can get them right in your inbox by signing up with them. The latest fares and the festivals are all listed on travel website dictionaries.

Before spending your hard earned money on a lavished tour it’s always a good idea to sample its preview. And what better way to do that than through the eyes of experienced travelers and their travelogues. On a travel website dictionary you get the opportunity to communicate with there travelers who have been to the sites where you plan to go. Get the best tips and cultural information on the food habits, dress code and religious customs before you arrive.

A travel website directory is one that gives you the chance to sit back in your easy chair and book a travel guide over the net. Isn’t it a better proposition to have your travel guide waiting for you on arrival than to scout the alien city seeking one out. Travel agents who register on travel website dictionaries have a name for themselves, and can give you the right information which many guide books are unable off.

A travel website dictionary is also regularly updated and you will get all the latest information about new sites to visit, the recent change in hotel room tariffs and what is new in town. You can source contact numbers and get more information from their websites and agencies that have been listed. A Travel dictionary has a huge list of hotels, taxi services, insurance companies, travel guides and travel tips that you cannot expect to find any where else.

When you are looking to book your next vacation or your next business trip, you may be considering using an online travel agency. Before you decide to do so, however, you should be aware of what to expect from an online travel agency so you can determine how best to match that to your own unique needs. There are several different levels of service in which to classify online travel agencies, the level you need depends on your trip requirements as well as your personal travel and leisure preferences or desires.

Quite simply, you should be able to find an online travel agency that can fulfill any expectation you may have. Whether you prefer self-service travel plans where you do all of your own searching and booking, or a full-service online agency that handles every detail on your behalf, there are many options available. Depending on the type of travel you will be undertaking, there are also various options that you can consider among online travel agencies. Some specialize only in travel packages, while others offer a la carte menus of travel services for you to pick and choose.

There are several expectations, however, that are universal to all online travel agencies. These have to do with the minimum level of service provided and the quality and competitiveness of the types of travel being sold. It is best to qualify the online travel agency on all of these expectations before you choose to enter into partnership with them for the travel you are seeking to plan.

The first universal expectation that you should have for your online travel agency is having a variety of destinations and packages available to choose from. It does not matter what specialty the agency might have, from full-service travel to niche travel such as cruises or unusual destinations. No matter what is being sold, you always want to partner with an agency that provides options. While the first option you see may very well end up being the best choice or the best value, you will have no means of determining that unless other options are available for comparison. Good self-service travel sites will readily offer you comparison information. Full-service online travel agencies should compile that same information and present it to you when you are in the process of making a decision.

The second universal expectation you should have when using an online travel agency is that they offer the same basic types of vacations from more than one carrier or provider. For example, you can choose between two major airlines for the same New York-to-Miami flight leg of your trip. If an online travel agency represents only one brand, they are not truly a travel agency; instead, they are a representative of that brand. If only one brand were offered, customers would have no means of evaluating whether the services and products offered were of value or were worthless. Having a number of providers to choose from when selecting hotel or airfare or cruise line shows that the travel agency is actively updating its site with the best prices and options currently available.

The third universal expectation that you should have for your online travel agency is price competitiveness. Although travel agencies sometimes charge fees to travelers in order to off-set their cost of doing business, those fees must be fair. The charges for the actual travel services you see published through online travel agencies should be no more than what you would pay if you went directly through the provider, and, in fact, less if bundled with other services.

The final universal expectation that you should have for your online travel agency is a service-level guarantee that ensures you get what you pay for and are treated in a courteous and appropriate manner. Online travel agencies should also offer some form of a guarantee for your purchases that no foreseeable action on their part or the part of the service provider will interrupt your travel. They cannot warrant against freak or random occurrences, but they can ensure that their own offerings are solid before offered.

Perhaps the best thing about using an online agency is the availability of customer reviews and feedback you can read before making a final purchase. Another nice convenience, for repeat customers, is the ability to create your own customer profile that allows you to save certain options in your preferences that will streamline future vacation planning. You can save time and hassle by storing any corporate or membership discount numbers, frequent flyer numbers and other pertinent information on your customer profile.

The expectations you hold for the online travel agency you select as a partner may be varied. If they can uphold these four basic standards of quality, you can be assured that you are getting sound representation and the best deals available.

Business travel has become so common that a considerable proportion of the corporate world of America is spending more time in airplanes and hotels than on their couches or in their automobiles.

According to a recent estimate, about 40 million adults in the US travel on business at least once a year to a location about 50 miles from home. More than 20 percent of the trips made by African Americans, for instance, are related to their work.

Those who do not need to travel frequently on business consider business travel glamorous and exciting. However, in reality, business travel is often arduous.

It is tough physically, tough on the family, and especially tough on the pockets of businesspersons who do not have the luxury of generous expense accounts to take care of their travel expenses.

In addition, those who travel on business regularly, quickly wise up to the fact that a stress-free and safe journey requires the smooth functioning of a number of interconnected factors, which includes the vagaries of the weather.

According to a study conducted recently, monitoring business travel trends:

– 58 percent of business travel is undertaken for association meetings and conferences,

– 43 percent comprising of business travel made by individuals,

– and 29 percent for corporate meetings.

The study also identified some of the most popular destinations within the US for business travel. They are:

– Washington, D.C.,

– New York,

– Los Angeles/Long Beach,

– Chicago,

– Atlanta,

– Boston,

– Houston,

– Minneapolis-St. Paul,

– Detroit,

– and Dallas.

Irrespective of what the destination is, business travel is seldom an enjoyable experience. Some companies will allow their business travelers the opportunity to enjoy their travel surroundings but this is usually short lived depending on the demands of the trip.

Business travelers, who have to make frequent trips, need special facilities to ease the hassles of traveling. Airlines and hotels are increasing the levels of services they provide in order to meet the growing demands of business travelers:

Usually, business travelers research fares on their own and make their reservations online. According to a survey, it was found that only 32 percent of corporate travelers used the services of travel agents for their reservation needs, while the rest, 68 percent, preferred using the internet or online services to plan at least some part of their business traveling arrangements.

Business travelers are usually technologically conversant; hence, choose to handle all their traveling arrangements through the Internet, limiting the necessity of having to interact with travel agents and professionals dealing with customer service.

Most tourism related sites offer one-stop travel facilities for reservations of flights, booking rooms in hotels, and providing transportation on the ground.

Major airlines like Delta and American have included travel-friendly features like locating cheap fares, finding economical hotel accommodation, and hiring cars on a rental basis inexpensively on their websites.

Travelers, thus, can make arrangements for an entire business trip, which includes seating preferences, confirming special food requests, and a text message or e-mail verifying their flight status and information about the departure timings with a few clicks of the mouse button.
Most of these sites provide boarding passes that can be printed out and online check-ins within 24 hours of the departure of the flight.

At the airport, those travelers in a hurry can take advantage of check-in kiosks in order not to have to wait in long lines, and get their boarding passes and their seating information.

Frequent Flyer Miles, Automatic Upgrades, and Comfortable Seating:

One of the biggest perks of traveling frequently on business is the facility of accumulating points, which can be exchanged for vacations. Travelers, therefore, are always on the look out for hotels offering generous points facilities.

Frequent air travelers also favor automatic upgrades and comfort inside the airplane, such as generous legroom and additional storage facilities overhead. Business traveler programs like Elite-access provided by Continental Airlines offer comforts like guarantees of no-middle-seat and upgrades to the first class if possible.

Getting Value for Money:

Companies are constantly curtailing overhead expenses by cutting down on the travel allowances they give their executives, while business travelers look for ways in which they can maximize their allowances to the fullest.

For example, several hotels offer free breakfasts, while others provide complimentary facilities such as a welcoming snack or allowing their guests to make free long distance and local calls. Many hotels also offer free newspapers, tea and coffee.

Corporate travel has undergone a ton of changes in recent years, the most important being the advent of easy access to airfare via the internet. As more travelers found value in better control over their schedules by using the internet, many organizations loosened their travel policies to allow for travelers to book on their own online. This perceived benefit to travelers has actually cost businesses quite a bit in terms of lost productivity, lack of control over unused tickets, and lack of access to airline programs that can save the company significantly in all areas of travel.

Can we agree that online travel booking, while advantageous in some ways, has not been all we had hoped it would be from the outset? I hear stories from travelers every day about how difficult online booking can be, and how even when using the internet, travelers simply cannot be sure they are getting the best fare. This uncertainty gnaws at travelers and coordinators, and for good reason. It is difficult to be certain of what you are getting online because there is no track record of success, and no level of trust between the organization and the travel provider.

Collaboration between your organization and your chosen travel management provider is critical. This collaboration will reap benefits for your company in terms of a better working relationship and an anticipation of your current and future needs as they relate to the constantly changing corporate travel environment.

Centralized travel needs to make a comeback for the sake of the corporate travel program, and the sanity of travelers and travel coordinators. Because all distribution channels have access to the same fares and rates, there are fewer reasons today to continue with a decentralized travel policy. Executive level buy-in is critical, and it is easy to allow travelers to keep the level of control they like while still requiring travel booking through the preferred corporate channel. Most brick and mortar agencies now offer online booking solutions that can be customized to meet the needs of the unique corporate travel policy.

The benefits of centralizing travel again are many. Here is a comprehensive, but certainly not an exhaustive, list of reasons to regain control of this important but under-scrutinized budget. It will certainly have a positive impact on your company and its ability to serve your customers and improve traveler morale.

  • Access to airline and hotel discount programs through agency and provider contracts
  • Centralized booking allows travelers to be more organized and efficient
  • Unused tickets can be tracked and hotel cancellation policies can be managed
  • Centralized billing of hotels and car rentals
  • More efficient booking processes
  • Effective customer service for the inevitable changes and issues that come up with business travel
  • Customized and centralized financial and accounting reports

Many corporations find that the best solution is a combination of booking options, with most using an online booking portal provided by their agency partner, along with real live agent help when travelers are pressed for time or have more complex travel itineraries. The key in my opinion is to re-examine the travel program from every angle. There are more airline programs that are available to businesses than ever before. New opportunities to save money and streamline processes are out there for you. United Airlines recently began offering a discount off of every fare for corporate partners. That includes cheapest coach class seats, which even many Fortune 500 companies do not have access to. This is just one example of under-publicized opportunities for your company that can be had through the old-fashioned agency relationship.

It’s time we took another pass at the corporate travel program to see where efficiencies can be found and savings opportunities can be uncovered. Your travelers and coordinators may even be able to get back to what they’re actually paid to do. Take care of your customers and propel your business forward.

For years, visitors from certain foreign countries have been able to travel to America without first getting a formal Visa sticker placed in their passport. Implemented in 1998, the “Visa Waiver Program” (VWP) has allowed for visitors of several countries to come to America for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without getting a Visa put in their passport. During 2007, more than 15 million visitors from VWP countries arrived in the United States.

As of January 12, 2009 America’s new ESTA program requires Visa Waiver Program visitors coming to the U.S. for tourist or business purposes via a plane or ship to “register” online before entering the United States to see if they pose a law enforcement or security risk to the U.S. ESTA is not required for land crossings. Officials are asking that the ESTA registration be done at least 72 hours prior to leaving, but theoretically it is possible to register at the last minute. An ESTA Travel Authorization is free, valid for 2 years, and valid for multiple entries.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for ESTA Travel Authorization:

What Countries Are in the Visa Waiver Program?

Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Where Do I Apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization?

A website, operated by the American government, is where you register for ESTA: esta.cbp.dhs.gov. The ESTA information you submit via the computer is compared with certain American law enforcement databases and then either approved or denied. Foreign travelers will not be able to submit ESTA applications at American airports after arriving or at a U.S. Embassy in their country.

What if I Don’t Have Plans to Travel to the U.S. Yet?

VWP travelers are not required to have specific plans to travel to the United States before they apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization. As soon as VWP travelers begin to plan a trip to visit the U.S., they are encouraged to apply for travel authorization through the ESTA website. Applicants are not required to update their destination addresses or itineraries if they change after their ESTA Travel Authorization has been granted.

Does the ESTA Travel Authorization Guarantee Entry to the U.S.?

An ESTA Travel Authorization only authorizes a traveler to board an airline or ship for travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. After they arrive, travelers who obtained an ESTA Travel Authorization may still be denied entry (also called “admission”) at a U.S. port of entry, such as an American airport. An approved ESTA is not a guarantee of admissibility at an American airport. In all cases, the American airport officers make the final determination whether a foreign traveler can enter the U.S. or not. You still have to establish to the satisfaction of the inspecting officer that you are entitled to be admitted to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.

Can I Change My Travel Itinerary?

It is possible to change an itinerary on an existing ESTA Travel Authorization; ESTA is designed so that you can update parts of it at any time. Travelers who did not get an ESTA approval may be denied boarding by the airlines, experience delayed processing, or be denied admission to the U.S. at the American airport.

What If I Already Have a Valid B1/B2 Visitor Visa?

While the ESTA Travel Authorization is completed online with no interview, there are Visas that require a U.S. Embassy interview. The Visa process has separate procedures, which generally require an appointment, travel to a U.S. Embassy, an interview with a Consular Officer, processing time, and the payment of an application fee. If a foreign national already went to the U.S. Embassy and has a valid B1/B2 Visitor Visa pasted in their passport it is not necessary to get an ESTA Travel Authorization because the traveler will be entering with a B1/B2 Visitor Visa and not through the Visa Waiver Program. Keep in mind that an approved ESTA Travel Authorization is not a Visa.

Can I Re-Apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization if Denied?

Yes, but you must wait at least 10 days to reapply and your circumstances must have changed. Unless there is a change in a substantive fact, re-application will not change the result. Keep in mind that applying for an ESTA Travel Authorization with false information can cause a foreign national to be permanently barred from ever entering America. The ESTA system is designed to try to prevent individuals from changing and manipulating an ESTA entry until they receive an approval.

What If I am Denied an ESTA Travel Authorization and Have No Changed Circumstances?

There are three types of responses to an ESTA application; approved, pending or travel not authorized (denied). Applicants who receive a “pending” response are advised to check the website 72 hours later. Applicants who are denied will be required to go to a U.S. Embassy to apply for a formal non-immigrant visa, such as a B1/B2 Visa, which may take months.

Can a Traveler Find Out the Reason Why an ESTA Application was Denied?

The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security has stated that travelers may contact the DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP at dhs.gov) but there are no guarantees that information about a denial will be divulged. U.S. Embassies and Consulates are not required to provide details about an ESTA denial nor resolve the issue that caused the ESTA denial.

What If I Have a Criminal Record?

Only those qualified to travel under the VWP are eligible to pre-register through ESTA. Persons who have been arrested and/or convicted are generally not eligible for VWP and probably require a formal Visa, such as a B1/B2 Visa, to travel to America. If a foreign national has received tickets for speeding (which don’t usually result in an arrest or conviction) they are probably still eligible for the VWP and ESTA. If a foreign traveler has been denied entry into or deported from the U.S., they require a formal Visa.

Do Any Other Countries Have a Similar Program?

Australia has a program called the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) that mandates travelers to submit an ETA application electronically through a website requesting permission to travel to Australia. Airlines may refuse to accept passengers who do not have either an approved ETA or Visa to enter Australia.

How Long Will the ESTA Application Data be Stored? Who Can Access It?

The ESTA Travel Authorization is valid for two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first. The American government will maintain the information for at least 15 years to allow retrieval of the information for law enforcement, national security, or investigatory purposes. Information submitted through ESTA can also be shared with any U.S. government organization.

What Information Does the Airlines Get?

Airlines will receive confirmation of a passenger’s ESTA status visa the “Advance Passenger Information System” (APIS) which shows whether the ESTA authorization has been granted for a Visa Waiver Program traveler. It is recommended that the traveler print out the ESTA application approval in order to maintain a record of their ESTA application number and to have confirmation of their ESTA status.

What About Children?

Accompanied and unaccompanied children, regardless of age, are required to obtain an independent ESTA Travel Authorization.

What if a Mistake was Made on the ESTA Application?

The ESTA website will ask applicants to review their application before submitting it. Also, there is an update function for certain information such as email address, telephone number, or flight information. If an applicant makes a mistake that cannot be “updated,” he will need to submit a new ESTA application.

What if I Only Have a Connecting Flight Through the U.S.?

Visa Waiver Program visitors who have a connecting flight in the U.S. are required to either have ESTA Travel Authorization or a Visa from a U.S. Embassy in their passport to travel through the U.S. even for a one hour stop. If a traveler is only planning to stop in the U.S. en route to another country, the traveler should enter the words “In Transit” and his final destination in the address lines under the heading “Address While In The United States” on the ESTA application.

What Are the Questions on the ESTA Travel Authorization Application?

The traveler must provide (in English) biographical data including name, birth date, country of citizenship, country of residence, email address, sex, telephone number, passport information, destination address in the U.S., travel information (round trip airline ticket, flight number and city where you are boarding) as well as questions regarding communicable diseases (chancroid, gonorrhea, granuloma inquinale, HIV, leprosy, lymphogranuloma venereum, syphilis [active], tuberculosis [active], and others), physical or mental disorders, drug addiction problems, arrests, convictions, past history of visa cancellation or denial, and prior deportations from the U.S. The traveler will also be asked whether they are seeking work in the U.S., have ever been deported or tried to get a visa by fraud or misrepresentation. The traveler will be asked if they have ever detained a child of a U.S. Citizen granted custody of the child, and whether they have ever asserted immunity from prosecution.

Do I Select “Business” or “Pleasure (Tourist) at the Airport Port of Entry?

After the ESTA Travel Authorization is granted, the foreign traveler will be interviewed by government officers at the first American airport they land. The officer will ask what the foreign traveler will be doing in America and the questioning can take up to four hours in a detained setting called “secondary inspection.” The officer may ask the traveler “what else are you doing in America?” repeatedly to try to get “the real” answer. If the traveler is only going to be a tourist, they are not allowed to do any business, including meeting with any attorneys, applying for a bank account, meeting with real estate agents, or other business consulting activities. Even though the traveler is going to conduct just one business meeting while in America, they are required to report it and enter as a business visitor. The business visitor is allowed to participate in tourist activities, but the tourist visitor is not allowed to participate in any business activities. Therefore, if any business might be conducted while in America, it is best to tell the government officers about it at the airport to avoid being accused of lying, put immediately on a plane back to your home country, and barred from America for life.

What Else Do Can the Airport Officers Make Me Prove After I Land?

The airport officers will ask the traveler proof of a foreign residence (address on foreign driver’s license), whether their intention is to depart at the end of the visit (round trip airline ticket), whether the traveler has a job (letter, paystub, business card) and family in their home country, (marriage certificate, children’ birth certificates), and whether the traveler has the money to travel around America (bank statement or credit cards with bank letter showing credit limit). The airport officers are also required to ask where the traveler will stay in America (hotel reservations or friends/relatives’ homes) and have been known to pick up the phone to verify all of the aforementioned information.

Can I Be Searched in the American Airport? Am I Entitled to Legal Representation?

While being interviewed at the American airport, all luggage (even locked bags) can be searched, as well as the traveler’s body and his/her cell phone (including text messages and phone numbers) and laptop (including hard drive). The officers may “google” a traveler’s name and check out their myspace, Facebook or hyves pages. The traveler is not allowed to be represented by an attorney or even call their attorney while in “secondary inspection.” Bathroom visits, water and food may be limited, so it is best to prepare for such an occasion while still on the plane before landing.

Do I Still Have to Go Through the “US-VISIT” Program at the American Airport?

Foreign travelers arriving at American airports and seaports must still be photographed and fingerprinted every time they enter the U.S.

Who Should I Ask For Help to Fill Out the ESTA Application?

The information a traveler provides on the ESTA application can remain in their file with U.S. authorities for a minimum of 15 years – probably longer. If a foreign traveler has some questions about how to answer the questions so as not to be permanently barred from America, it would be prudent to them to pay for a legal consultation with an American Immigration Attorney who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Beware of unauthorized private websites that offer ESTA application assistance for $49.99 – they are usually not authorized to practice immigration law and are asking travelers to pay for a copy of the application questions, which are free on the dhs website.

If I Am Denied the ESTA Travel Authorization Will it Effect My Ability to Obtain a Visa at the U.S. Embassy?

When the ESTA Travel Authorization is denied, the foreign traveler must make an appointment at a U.S. Embassy in their country to apply for a formal Visa. The U.S. Embassy is operated by the U.S. Department of State and there are no expedited procedures for those who have been denied ESTA Travel Authorization. Because the ESTA program is so new, it is impossible to predict how badly a denial of the ESTA Travel Authorization will impact a traveler’s application for a Visa at a U.S. Embassy or impact their future travel to America in general. American Immigration Attorneys are in close contact with their foreign clients and will share the denial information with each other starting in January 2009. Currently there are no government policies regulating this area of the law, or opportunities to appeal a denial.

When Is the a “New” ESTA Travel Authorization Required?

A new ESTA Travel Authorization is required during the two years if (1) the traveler is issued a new passport (2) the traveler changes his name (3) the traveler changes his or her gender (4) the traveler’s country of citizenship changes or (5) the circumstances underlying the traveler’s previous responses to any of the ESTA application questions requiring a “yes” or “no” response have changed (such as a new arrest).

Can an American Immigration Attorney, Travel Agent or Employer Fill Out the ESTA Application?

A third party, such as a relative, travel agent or American Immigration Attorney, is permitted to submit an ESTA application on behalf of a VWP traveler. Be aware that the traveler is still responsible under the law for the answers submitted on his or her behalf by a third party.

Over 68,000 travelers have already voluntarily registered by using the ESTA online system in the last few months. Applicants are reminded to obtain a new “e-passport” which has an integrated computer chip capable of storing biographic information from the data page, as well as other biometric information, when registering with ESTA.

Today, India has the potential to become the Global Super Power. Now, India is the 2nd fastest growing economy in the world after China with the growth rate 8.5%, and by 2013 we will beat China and will be on the 1st Position. India is territorially a large country, geographically a peninsula with a strategically dominating view of three major seas which could potentially provide a basis to control ship traffic from the Indian Ocean to Pacific Ocean by putting toll gates at the Malacca Straits, a long continuing civilization (over ten thousand years), a large and young population(average age of 29 years as compared to of China of 38 years, and Japan of 47 years)- which is termed as Demographic Dividend, and as proven inventors of cutting edge scientific discoveries in mathematics, astronomy, surgery and recently in high quality IT software. At present India has demonstrated innovative capacity in Chip design, Thorium reactors, Biotech, and pharmaceuticals.

Travel & Tour is also the fastest growing industry in India. India tourism is gradually increasing every ending year. Nowadays, Indian people are traveling all around the world. The way of traveling by Indians is slightly different, preferring the luxury travel & tour.

Organizers of the recent Travel and Tourism Fair (TTF) in Ahmedabad conducted a survey among Gujarat attendees, and results showed a significant number of Indian tourists prefer luxury travel and accommodations.

TTF found that one-third of those surveyed had an average travel budget of Rs 80,000 as reported by the Times of India. Foreign tourism departments in attendance have taken notice of this trend and are offering more options for Indian travelers seeking upscale opportunities.

“Switzerland provides tourists an option of staying together in fully furnished homes or chalet with a kitchen where one can cook one’s own meals,” Swiss travel agent Puneet Sehgal told the news source. Sehgal also noted that at least 400 Indians choose Switzerland for group vacations each year.

Japan has been focusing promotions towards Indian tourists, specifically for theme parks. One Japanese travel agent at the fair told the Times of India that Osaka’s Universal Studios is a major attraction for Gujarati.

More than 15,000 people attended this year’s fair, including exhibitors from Egypt, China, Dubai, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and many other nations.

Celebrations times for Travel Industry…

Travel Magazine has been informed there has been an increase in Package Holiday bookings this year compared to last year even though we are still in a trick economic climate. High Street Travel agents such as First Choice and Thomas Cook are celebrating after people looking for Holiday Deals in September helped increase bookings this year by 75% compared to booking for holidays last September.

Some of the leading travel agents like Lets Travel India have been offering value deal holidays to help increase trade after the industry predicted early this year that the travel industry could suffer due to the unstable economic growth in the UK.

Some of the top selling destinations which have helped increase trade for travel agents have been Canary Islands, India Tour and Spain with people looking for cheap package holidays as a large number of families could not afford holidays last year.

Wise holiday makers have been keeping an eye on travel agents such as Lets Travel India to search for cheap package holidays after the company announced they were slashing prices on a large number of their holidays, while other holiday makers have been booking their own cheap flights and booking hotels abroad via the internet reducing the cost of their holidays.

It was feared that a large number of travel agents would see themselves left with thousands of unsold holidays but with holiday makers looking for cheap deals after leading travel agents were forced to reduce their package holiday prices, this fear has now been reduced and travel agents are now claiming most of their unwanted holidays for September have been sold.

The Indian travel industry is doing well with Indian flights. After having suffered from a somewhat slow season in 2008-2009, once again India is leading travel industry to the front, taken lime light and is seeing a growth in its travel industry of what is expected to be between 5-6% & 1-1.5% higher than the global average.

There are two reasons behind this boom: one is the upcoming Commonwealth Games being hosted in Delhi in October & 2nd one is the Indian government efforts to boost the travel industry through improvements to international travel services and accommodation. This includes the completion of Terminal 3 of Delhi’s International Airport. The terminal is now the sixth largest in the world with a capacity for 37 million passengers per year. For the tourist and business travelers, this means shorter queues, more comfortable lounge areas, plenty of shops and increased flight offerings from UK airports including Birmingham, Belfast International and direct from London Heathrow as airlines bolster the number of Delhi-bound flights.

In anticipation for the Commonwealth Games, the Indian government has also been giving the city of Delhi itself a major facelift; to such a point that professionals within the travel industry are anticipating that Delhi is quickly becoming a top contender as a one of the major travel destinations for world tourists.

Of course, with all of this attention focused on India, destination-bound airlines and hotels are offering tempting fares and fabulous budget accommodation prices for Delhi bound tourists and business travelers – both in October during the Commonwealth Games 2010 in Delhi and beyond.

People travel for different reasons. Most people travel for reasons of relaxation and recreation. The idea of travel appeals greatly to those who want to take the time off from their daily routines and off from dreadful workloads and stressful deadlines. Thus, people in the travel industry have designed their services to provide the best possible convenience and comfort for clients. In fact, countless travel agencies around the world designed travel deals and vacation packages in the most customer-friendly features as possible.

Yet, despite myriad of choices and long preparations; some dream travel vacations turn into nightmares. In some cases, well-drafted travel itineraries unexpectedly come across problems in airports, hotels and resorts. Unfortunately for some, a minor delay in one of the travel stops lead to a series of related and similarly exasperating troubles. In minutes, all that was carefully arranged for weeks or months turn into a chaotic chain of events. When the situation becomes this worst, most travelers prefer to cut-off the escapade and return home with great disappointment and enormous regrets.

While there are uncontrollable circumstances, a traveler can take some precautionary measures to make sure that the trip would go smoothly. By observing these measures, the traveler can reduce the possibility of the trip going wrong. These practices can also help when things start to go out of hand while on travel.

First and foremost, people should check on the reliability of their travel service provider. Some discount travel offered by irresponsible travel agencies also discounts the fun in the travel. Such companies’ partnership with airlines and hotels could not be trusted. Entrusting your travel concerns to these companies may only lead to delayed flights, reservation problems, booking issues and others. Choose a travel agency that has a respected name in the travel industry. Companies like Expedia Travel have reliable backgrounds and dependable experience in the industry for many years. Their partnerships to other travel service providers are proven strong and efficient. And their deals on travel ensure greater travel fun and experience.

Even after all the arrangements are made, travel planners should not be excessively laid back of the travel details. With the help of a trusted travel agency, travelers must continually check on the status of their travel reservations. One can never know the tendency of reservations to changes especially those that can easily be affected natural forces. For example, schedule of flights can change if there are problems in the weather.

Travelers must also make sure that they are knowledgeable enough on the basic details of their destinations. It is best for people to know the culture of the place to avoid offense on local practices. A tourist must also be aware of the different activities that can be done in the place. This could be helpful, especially when there are cancellations of activities in the middle of the trip.

Finally, one must see to it that they have everything taken cared of before traveling. Chores and tasks that were left done could cause major disruptions on the travel. Having something to worry about the travel reduces the fun factor of the trip. Make sure important matters like financial related chores, home and properties security, work requirements, necessary notifications and others are already settled before setting out.

When problems occur during your travel and you feel the need to be assisted by the right company, turn on to Expedia. The company has coupons that you can purchase online. Expedia also has the reliable connections to air carriers and hotel across the globe.

Make your travel experience a pleasantly memorable one. Don’t let problems ruin your dream travel.

Why this is such an excellent choice for a home based business, and How To Get Started

Are you seeking information on a Home Business, or possibly you’ve read a whole lot and now you are trying to sort out what might be the BEST home based business? This is a long article, but stick with it all the way and we’re very confident you’ll have your answer(s).
Are you looking for the Best Home Based Business ? Recent polls show that over 70% of people who search the Internet are looking for such an opportunity. But does something like this really exist?

Here’s the problem: if you asked ten different people what the “best” home business was, you would probably get ten different answers. The truth of the matter is it really comes down to finding the best one for YOU.

We are all coming from a unique background. Each of us first has different wants and needs, and a want or need will determine what is best. Then we all have different abilities, and yes.. your abilities DO match up to what might be the best for YOU. What’s best for a friend or neighbor and might work for them might be a total mismatch for you. This article will give you a good instigate and provide a direction on what is one of the most universally agreed upon as a “Best” business.

We all have different interests and personalities, interests , abilities, and personalities. We have different strengths and weaknesses. We also come from all sorts of different circumstances. So it makes sense that not all of us are going to be interested in the same home based business model.

If there was truly ONE business that was for everyone, can you imagine how competitive that field would be? It would be VERY difficult for anyone to make any money!

You have probably seen advertisements all over the internet about THE #1 income making opportunity. Don’t get fooled by all the hype and so-called ways to make easy money. There is no such thing.

That’s where this article comes in. This article is NOT a comprehensive list of reviews of the thousands of home based business ideas out there. It’s an article that tells you some parameters of a good home based business, then discusses the travel industry. We give you the pros and cons both of a job and being in business; we tell you the history of our industry, and then why it’s so good and the place to be right now as it rides two major trends: Travel and the Internet.

I have researched and tried (sometimes failing miserably) many home based businesses, both online and in the real world, BUT, I have found and chosen something that is a legitimate way to make a great income from home. That’s what this is about. It’s a great fit for me, but because you are NOT me and probably have a different personality (thank heaven!), it may not be for you.. and that’s ok. But if you see things as I do, and as is presented here…

The best home based business for ME is a HOME BASED TRAVEL BUSINESS. I know it will also be for many of you.

But other than the fact that I’m just a normal, ordinary guy with no special talents.. and in fact, I’m probably older than most readers at 69 and I started this just last year, this article is not about me. It only points out that about anyone can easily get involved in the home based travel business. This is about YOU and what YOU want from life and your “working hours”, whether you are a stay-at-home-mom, a retiree, or any other category.

So the question becomes, out of all the various choices: Why start a online travel business?

We are going to discuss first the “Why”, then a little about the various types, and then the “how”. This will take some time, so grab a beverage of your choice and read on. In fact, I suggest you print this out while the coffee is brewing so you can really digest it. Mark it up. Pencil in questions.. and let’s get going!

First and foremost, when choosing a home based business, it’s really important to ask yourself “Why” are you doing this, and are you prepared to take it seriously and treat it like a business? That means regular hours of commitment of time and a commitment of money as any and all businesses you own are going to require some degree of investment.

This is probably as good of a time as any to differentiate between a JOB and a Business. ..

A job, including a home based “job” is one where you are going to essentially be trading time for money, and the assumption is that you have an employer of some sort who is going to pay you either on a dollar value per hour spent, or some dollar value for certain production. That production could be sales production as it often is; it could be manufacturing production, or it could be service production.. so many envelopes stuffed; so many calls made, so many of about anything done. That person is going to pay you for that, but you know that person or company is only doing this because they are going to make a certain amount of money on you. You are essentially paid what the job is worth; what the employer could get a replacement for you for. Regardless of your skills, you are not being paid what YOU are worth, but what the job is worth. For accepting this, you get some degree of security knowing that if you do “the assignment” or “the job” you are going to receive a certain, predictable amount of money. You may even receive some benefits. But the “security” is a joke because everyone knows that there is very little security. First the employer must remain in business. He must have a market for whatever it is you are doing, and markets change.

Next, your value is relative! Maybe that employer has a cousin who would like to do your job, or maybe someone comes along willing to do your job for less money. How secure are you? People tell me every day, “I don’t want the risks of a business.” Guess again everyone! You certainly have RISK as an employee as well!. And as to investment… well, many businesses have employee borne expenses, and even the IRS recognizes this. It’s just that there are SOME “out there” that don’t require any CASH investment, but don’t kid yourself.. you ARE making an investment, only it’s hidden in the fact you’re paying it in work and in the sense that you’re not being paid as much as you might if you absorbed certain expenses yourself.

In contrast, a BUSINESS, including a home based business, is one where you choose and control what ever it is your business makes or does. It could be virtually anything, and probably the best business is one where you control the product or service. Here on the internet, Information products are tops; these are followed by service products. Then comes those things you manufacture or make, and finally, there’s the category of items someone else controls but makes available to you for resale. Affiliate programs fall into this category. But you really need to be aware that if you are going to have a BUSINESS you are going to have business expenses, even a home-based business. These are the expenses of the office first, and then you may need to have some product or have been a user of some of the service so you truly KNOW what you have and can do business from a credible point. The product or service should be one of value that if you were the buyer, you’d consume it yourself at retail. Watch the line though… you don’t want to is get into a business where you are required to purchase X dollars amount of product every month, whether you can use this or not. That’s not a legitimate business.

Depending on your philosophy, you’ll probably agree that it is very important to choose a business that interests you. Pick one that you will enjoy doing, ideally something you are passionate about. Think about it, if you are going to start a business from home, it makes sense to choose something that you will enjoy. And if you enjoy it, then you’ll probably learn more quickly and have your heart more into it when the going is tough.

But we’d put just a couple things ahead of this and put “enjoyment” as a luxury. Those things are market size and market growth. Where is your business product or service in terms of life cycle? Is your market expanding and you can ride a wave, or is it declining. And what is the market size and potential. Will there be a business available for you in 5 years? Ten?

Then lastly, we’d probably mention that the business should be ethical and compatible with what you believe. Many people who research businesses, particularly Internet businesses, know that the porn and gambling industry meets the criteria of growth and market size. You may be tempted to look in those areas, and if you are, kindly close this report or article and tear up you paper copy. This is not a part of the business world we want anything to do with. Money and income is just not that important to us.

After evaluating many, many, many businesses and participating in several since 1969, including an early successful involvement with Amway, then Free Life, and a couple others, including a few that just didn’t “go” for us, we became aware of the opportunities in the online travel business. This is a business model that has just evolved over the past few years, and is now in full momentum.

It is also important to be a part of trends. Fortunes are made by riding trends. Currently, travel is a trend to the tune of 6 trillion dollars a year! By 2010, that number is estimated to be 14 trillion dollars!

Think of all the baby boomers that will be retiring in the coming years. And what do people like to
do when they retire? What would you like to do when you retire? If you’re like me, travel is probably very near the top of that list.

That is why the travel industry provides the perfect business for opportunity seekers. It is simply taking advantage of a trend that is just starting to gain momentum. When looked at as a home based business, it rides the second trend: the growth of the Internet as a business medium.

Let’s look at how and why this has evolved into a viable Internet Based Travel Business.

People “booking travel” for others has evolved possibly in three stages. We also should consider the two major market segments: Business travel and personal or leisure travel, and in the later category, we’d include as a very close association, travel and leisure and recreational activities and lodging. We are going to focus on personal leisure travel and recreational travel market.

STAGE 1: Probably dates back about 75-80 years when the primary mode was train and ocean liner. There were no condos, few motels, and little air travel. But there were many lodges and luxury hotels. We’ve all heard of the Baltimore and others. And there was some degree of business travel, but not to the extent we had a few years ago before travel (particularly sales meetings) became so expensive. Other than those vacations to places like Atlantic City, travel was really more in the hands of the more wealthy part of the population, and most of THOSE people just did not want to be bothered making their own arrangements, or even checking places out. A small cadre of “travel agents” was born, although they probably had many more duties along the line of concierge, personal assistant, etc. In large companies, specialists were brought on board to do those arrangements… and seek out bargains and discounts for their companies.

STAGE 2: Now we have more cars, the DC-3 and early airlines are starting to emerge. We have reliable telephones; we have some early forms of fax but the telegram was the primary means of communication on short notice as mail took longer, and people are becoming aware that they can earn money booking travel for others. Providing essentially two services: Knowledge of destinations and Administrative tasks such as actually buying the travel arrangements on behalf of a third party. That third party could be a business or an individual.

Natural business evolution follows and at first small partnerships were formed because now two people might have the knowledge and experience of two different travel destinations, but as a single entity (the travel agency) be able to offer clients more options. Then this single agency could bring more volume to a travel provider such as an airline, hotel, etc than a single person, and hence negotiate better discounts, or as more often was the case, better commissions as not all discounts got passed on. Everyone benefited.

Airline traffic was particularly challenging to book, and in the late parts of Stage 2, computers began to come more and more into play, although they were both expensive and highly specialized. The affordable home computer had not yet really evolved and there were limited travel networks. Travel agencies could afford these computer systems and gain access to the various vendors, which at that time were mainly airlines, and book travel conveniently and easily. This was about to change!

STAGE 3: Change took place almost over night. The airlines deregulated as one part, and competition evolved to a point where commissions were almost non existent to the agencies. The Internet and access to travel databases within the airlines and hospitality industry literally exploded into being, and now EVERYONE had at least almost nearly equal administrative access to the services and could bypass the agencies which started going out of business at an alarming rate. The one thing certain agencies DID retain was a cadre of people who HAD traveled and did have personal experience with various providers… resorts, cruise lines, etc. But as profits to the providers themselves started to decline, so did the availability of FAM trips, and there were fewer agencies.

But along with this evolved another trend! The population is growing and there’s more travelers available, particularly in the leisure market than ever. And many of these travelers just don’t have the time to really do the research, or even to truly shop for the best and lowest costs.

But individuals devoted to and loving to travel such as stay at home moms in travel find that they can provide the same services that the old large agencies did!

All they needed was a vendor willing to work with them, and at this time, new vendors started to emerge.

The emergence is primarily in the area of recreation and resorts as unlike the airlines which have cut back and in many cases have a SHORTAGE of seats and product, resorts (and cruise lines) have continued to build and expand where today, they have an excess or surplus of inventory except for very limited times of the year.

The question becomes: How do we fill these empty rooms? These empty staterooms? These empty golf courses? These unused campsites?

The answer is: Through You!

But you don’t know where they are, or how to negotiate the pricing.. but a newly evolved list of consolidators do! Currently there are three major consolidator groups doing business in the USA, and one stands out above the other two as it has more contacts, more experience, more inventory, and essentially a better pay plan offering the customer more options. What YOU have is a list of contacts or the knowledge and time to introduce the traveling public to these options. Because you are working with the suppliers of SURPLUS inventory who is willing to fill these vacancies at deeply discounted rates, you can pass these rates on, if only you knew how to get your hands on them.

Actually, about anyone can get their hands on any one location at any time at a discount, and many people have been doing that using services such as Orbitz, Travelocity, and others But these are very sharply targeted and focused, and deal much more with just hotels, car rentals, and to some extent, airline travel. One can pick up a major magazine or metro newspaper and find condos for rent from owners, at discounts. But again, this is very limited.

How Do You Get Started?

First, you learn about the 3 major consolidator firms offering travel, and if you just let the word out that you are looking for a homebasd travel agency or company, you’ll find that these people find you very quickly. Or you can do an Internet search using terms like that and find them. Most of the firms have a fairly similar makeup in that they are offering an entire travel package or membership for a fee. This entitles the purchaser to the inside track on deeply discounted travel services.

If they are essentially all the same, what do you look for? We focus in a legitimate business first on product, so we look for product value. We look for a company with flexibility and a product mix. Not all people want to travel internationally, so is there just a domestic package? What is offered that you or your customer can do when they get to a destination? Are there name resort and theme parks? Golfing? How about great meal discounts, as we all “eat out” when we travel? We know cruising is “big” but we know the cruise lines vary from very family oriented to “swinging singles”. Is there a good mix? How about time limitations on the travel package?

As a business, what kind of support tools are available? Training is a must, and is it real, and in real time, with real live people you can talk to and ask questions of? A solid, reliable web site is a must. Does the firm you are looking to join provide one? None will do a good site free, but is this a fair and reasonable cost?

Will you have access to a personal mentor? Can you become a certified, card carrying travel agent as well if you want?

These are but a few of the questions.

The “How Do You Get Started” in the home based travel industry is best summarized by 3 words: “Do Your Homework”

Well, now that you know some of the history, let’s look at a couple more things, starting with some of the advantages of this, particularly in comparison to other options you may have selling nutritional products, informational products, skin care, diet products, or many others.

Aside from the money making potential in our industry, there are many other advantages.

It is easy to start. This facet never ceases to blow me away With the invention of the internet, businesses that have traditionally always been brick and mortar establishments are now available to all of us. The internet makes it easy for everyday people like you and me to start a small business online. We can reach people all over the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the comfort of our own home. People can be checking out your business while you are sleeping, on vacation, or whatever. Phone services like Skype let us actually talk to people all over the world (one of us might be sacrificing some sleep due to time zone differences, but technically, it’s possible!)

Your business is relatively inexpensive to start, particularly compare to a more standard travel agency business. Because you no longer need a regular office, insurance, and employees, businesses. In fact, if you set up a legitimate IRS qualifying home office, many of the costs you have at your current home now become tax deductible (see your accountant, and if you don’t have one.. get one. Maybe you can even barter some travel services for HIS services).

Your potential clients include almost everyone. Who doesn’t like to travel or need a vacation? And if the economy slows, your business grows! Previous travelers who thought nothing of paying full price now start to look for discounts.

You can save a lot of money on your own travel.

What’s the point of owning a business if you don’t get some fringe benefits? With a home based travel business, you become eligible for some incredible discounts. And because you are your own boss, you will have more free time to go on vacation and take advantage of these discounts.

Is there a downside to a home based travel business? Sure, there is in any business.

Travel is a very competitive industry.
In order to have an edge, you have to differentiate yourself from the rest by branding yourself with a superior product. Those who read this article and find a specific interest and contact us as the author will be given some very specific knowledge on how to do this and succeed.

Other than that, I have not come across any other disadvantages to a home based travel business.

We hope you have found this article to be greatly helpful and look forward to seeing a few of you join us in this exciting industry soon.

There is so much information available on the internet right now regarding travel. There are online travel sites for cruises, hotels, air, trains and any other type of travel. But what is the correct product for you? Is the location of the hotel where you want to be? Is the type of room or cabin the right fit for you? Is that cruise line the one you should be booking? Not all products are created equal nor are the products right for everyone. How do you tell? Contact a travel professional.

Do travel agents exist?

There have been multiple articles, and even the President of the United States, has said travel agents don’t exist or are going away. In a way they are right. Travel agents in the past were just someone who booked a trip for someone who called or came in to the storefront office of a travel agency. Storefront travel agencies are few and far between now a days as most of the “travel agents” have gone home to work. Even the term “travel agent” is going away because what they do now is different than what they did before.

Travel Professionals/Travel Counselors

Travel Agents are now more a counselor and an adviser so they are now called Travel Professionals or Travel Counselor. Even the travel industry is trying to get away from using the term “travel agent”. They no longer just book a trip for someone, they know more than what is available to the traveling client. The travel professionals now are constantly learning, constantly traveling, receiving input from other travel professionals about where they have traveled and are a resource for what is required to travel now a days.

When you use an online travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity, etc. you aren’t able to have someone protect your back. They book the travel for you and then you are pretty much on your own. Say your flight gets cancelled, who is going to book a replacement flight? You are, not them. If you use a travel professional that travel professional will do it. If something goes wrong on your trip, if the room you booked is not like what you thought it would be, who is going to make it right? A travel professional will also check constantly for price drops before final payment and whether a new promotion offered would be more beneficial than what was booked with a deposit. All these things can be addressed before final payment.

A travel professional works with you from the time you first talk to them until you are home safe and sound and any and all problems have been solved or addressed.

It Costs More to Use a Travel Professional

This is not always true. True, some travel professionals charge fees but not all of them do. This is because some vendors, like airlines and some hotels, don’t pay commission or some of the vendors have decreased the amount of commissions paid to the travel professional. In order to make ends meet, some travel professionals charge fees. I charge $50 per person for airline reservations domestically and $100 for airline reservations internationally. I will also charge a fee sometimes for hotels for the same reason or if I am putting the various sections of the trip together myself. If I book a cruise or a tour, I don’t charge a fee as the vendor pays me a commission. Remember, whether you use a travel professional or not the commission is still being paid as it is automatically included in the price from the vendor. So, why not use a travel professional and avoid the hassle and save your time?

The rules for traveling are constantly changing and it is the travel professional who is able to keep their clients on track with them.

Examples: Passports

For instance, did you know that come January, 2016 you may need a passport to travel by air domestically? This is due to a law called the REAL ID Act. This requires all travelers to have a REAL ID compliant identification that includes all of these fields: full legal name, signature, date of birth, gender, unique identifying number, a principal residence address and a front-facing photograph of the applicant. Unfortunately there are still a handful of states that are non-compliant. Do you know which states are compliant and which aren’t? Your travel professional does. By the way, outright non-compliant states/territories are American Samoa, Louisiana and New Hampshire. The states of Minnesota and New York offer an optional Enhanced ID at a cost, so because it is optional, a large percentage of residents don’t have one. Some states have applied for additional extensions, but it is unclear if those will be granted. Currently, only four states (Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire and New York) and American Samoa are technically non-compliant.

Also, we still don’t know if January 1, 2016 will be the date of the requirement or will it be later? Because of this law, the passport processing time for all will be affected. All the passports issued in 2006 to meet the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative that went into effect in 2007 are now expiring, causing a slew of renewals. So, because of those renewals coupled with the possible REAL ID enforcement, passport waits are expected to further increase. As of October 11, the current wait has already increased a week to four to six weeks for standard passports and three weeks for expedited. Expedited in person could be up to eight days based on travel need.

Ultimately the REAL ID Act will require all state-issued drivers’ licenses to include “machine-readable technology” or chips to help keep us safe and secure while traveling.

Also, passports are recommended for cruises just like they are required to fly outside of the United States. The reason being is if you do need to fly back to the United States from a foreign port you have a passport to do so. Just because you are on a cruise leaving a United States port, technically you are traveling internationally just as soon as you step on the ship as most ships are registered outside of the United States!

Example: Visas

A travel professional would be able to help you determine if visas are required to travel to where you want to go. If they don’t know for sure, they know where to send you for that information and get confirmation that you do or don’t need one for the type of travel you are taking. For instance, for most cruises if you leave an U.S. port and return to the same U.S. port you probably don’t need a visa to visit the ports. This is called a “closed loop” trip. But, again, most of the cruises. Always double check to see if one is needed.

Example: Travel Insurance

Again, not all travel insurance is created equal. Should you purchase travel insurance? Absolutely!!! I recommend to my clients not to purchase travel insurance, for the most part, from the supplier of the cruise or product. The reason being the coverage is not as comprehensive as third party policies. Travel insurance is not only purchased for travel delays, luggage lost/damage or cancellation protection. Some health insurance companies do not cover you when traveling outside of the United States. Medicare does not. Travel insurance will act as your primary health insurance during your travel, from the time you leave to the time you return to your home. Also, it provides emergency evacuation for health reasons and protects you for other items. Always read the policy and information provided by the issuer of the travel insurance to see what is covered. Your travel professional will know which is a good travel insurance issuer.

A few weeks ago a secretary telephoned me in absolute desperation. She was desperately searching for accommodation in central London for some VIPs from abroad. She stumbled onto my website, not really understanding what the service was about. I think the words ‘free service’, ‘apartments’ just helped her to figure out that Quality London Apartments had something to do with accommodation. Apologies for my long opening, but it is a prime example of how little travelers in the UK and Europe know about the serviced apartment industry. After explaining the concept of serviced apartments and helping her find an apartment, I realized that I needed to share this knowledge further afield. Thus, this article is my contribution to open up this elusive industry and offer tips to travelers.

What is a serviced apartment?

A serviced apartment is a flat in a block, which has a separate bedroom, sitting room/lounge, fully equipped kitchen, your own private keys to own door. Serviced apartments can be in the form of a studio flat (all in one room with a kitchenette), one, two or three bedrooms.
All apartments enjoy maid service, utilities and a management team to help….just like a hotel. Guests only pay for a nightly rate and can live in a flat with everything they would have in their own home.

Pros: Serviced London Apartment vs Hotels

  • More value for money and cheaper. In a hotel, no matter which star rating, you pay per night for one room which will have a TV, bathroom, sofa and a bed. This is similar to a studio apartment! In an apartment there is a separate bedroom, kitchen, sitting room, bathroom and dining table (exception is studio)
  • Pay per apartment and not per person. An example would be paying £250 per night for a two bedroom apartment, which could accommodate up to 4 people, that works out at £62.50 per person.
  • Freedom and privacy. An apartment is like being in your own home and there is plenty of space. You have your own keys to your own door.
  • Booking is easy, just like hotels. The majority of apartments require a credit card to guarantee, pre-payment before you arrive and that’s it. No deposits, no tenants’ contracts.

Cons: Serviced London Apartment vs Hotels

  • Apartments lacks the buzz and services of a hotel such as restaurants and Room Service. Albeit some apartments are owned by hotels and offer you the use of their restaurants and other services.
  • No 24-hour service around the clock. The apartments are ran by a small team who work Monday to Friday 9:00am – 6:00pm, so you are on your own during the weekend. There are emergency numbers to call should you suffer an electric cut, but no 24-hours hotel Duty Manager to run to your room.
  • No pool, massages, saunas like hotels

What to look out for when booking a serviced London apartment?

1. Quality of the apartment – make sure you find out if they are clean, well furnished and well maintained. How? Check the photos, and ask if you can book an appointment to view the apartment. This is very important if you are staying over a long period of time.

2. Do they have a friendly and efficient management team? If you need the comfort of a welcoming face to greet you on arrival, then ask for an apartment with a reception. Some apartments provide key boxes, so you can arrive any time, but there is no-one to meet you. A friendly and small team will be able to give you a very personal touch.

3. Opening time of the apartments office – doesn’t sound important? Well it is because the majority of apartments’ operations team open Monday to Friday 9:00am to 6:00pm. If you arrive at your apartment during office open hours, then fine, but any other time and weekends will mean that you will need to pick up the keys from a different location.

4. Key delivery by car at the airport? – If you are flying from abroad to London, and do not fancy traipsing throughout London at night to pick up keys, the majority of apartments will hire a taxi to deliver your keys to the airport upon your arrival. Convenient for a small charge.

5. Payment procedure and cancellation policy – every apartment vary in their guest terms and conditions. All will accept a credit card as a guarantee of reservation, some will ask for 100% pre-payment at least 7 days prior to arrival and cancellation can range from 12:00pm on the day of arrival to 28 days. So, before you confirm the reservation, be very clear about the terms and conditions. Ask your apartment agents to explain the procedure to you and read the terms and conditions on your confirmation emails. It will save you a great deal of trouble and headache later.

6. Apartments are always allocated on arrival. This policy is the same as any hotel, so unless you are a regular guest to a specific apartment, apartments are on allocations. In the same breath, some apartments only have a small number of flats, so if you are reserving the only 3 bedrooms penthouse in their collection, then you are guaranteed that specific apartment.

7. Rates become more competitive the longer you stay. In this, we mean you have more bargaining power if you are staying for one month or longer. This is when your apartment agent can really help you by negotiating with a variety of apartments to get you the best deal.

8. Using an apartment agent will also save you time searching, but most importantly they will work with your budget and negotiate a great deal for you. Of course, you also need to be realistic about what you can book, don’t expect to spend £80 per night for a luxury apartment. For example, one of our clients had £300 budget per night for a two bedroom apartment and he wanted something luxury. For those readers who know London well, also understands that this budget is actually very small. Despite that, we booked him and 3 friends into the Victoria Park Plaza luxury apartment (£150 per night less than the usual price) for £300 per night with free breakfast, gym and access to the executive lounge. Any apartment agent worth their salt can and will move mountains to help you.

What if I don’t like the apartment when I get there?

If you really feel that you have been hard done by, tell the apartment management team and ask to be moved to another apartment. All of the apartments that we work with are very customer focused and try to help guests enjoy their stay. If this does not work, talk to your apartment agent, if that is how you booked. Best advice though, is to ask all the right questions before you book an apartment.

Your appetite for apartments is now whetted – how do you find London apartments?

1. As already explained, you can choose a free search and book service of an apartment agent or go direct to a specific apartment that you know. Both methods are absolutely fine, dependent of your knowledge of London apartments. Using an agent will mean that they will search far across their portfolio and present you with a variety of choices…all within 10-15 minutes. Agents are impartial and will only (good agents anyway) recommend the quality apartments for your needs.

2. You can use search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN to find apartments. Type in keywords like ‘London serviced apartments’ or ‘quality London apartments’ and so on.

3. Stating the obvious but, ask for a recommendation from friends and acquaintances.

4. Check on Tripadvisor and other customer review websites.

Summary

If you have read this far, then thank you for your time. I have tried to make this article clear and as helpful as possible, but I welcome your comments and any further information that you feel is very important.

Building a new construction home in a master planned community in the Phoenix Arizona area provides many advantages. From the superior resort-style amenities such as aquatic centers, fitness complexes, tennis, water parks, lakes and lush green parks, to having day to day conveniences within easy access, a master planned community offers a connected neighborhood feel. If this is what you are looking for in an Arizona lifestyle, a new build in a master planned community is a must. Some of these communities are family friendly while others specialize in attracting the active adult 55 years and over.

Most of these communities are conveniently located near major freeways and often minutes from one of several airports.

Because of their sheer size, often exceeding 100 acres, a master planned community can offer elegantly manicured 18-hole golf courses, schools, hotels, retail and a variety of commercial shopping centers, typically featuring anchor grocery chains. Many of the newest master planned communities offer extensive recreational amenities often incorporate lakes and parks, tennis courts, unique and engaging child play areas, and extensive biking and walking paths. Elaborate community centers feature athletic and aquatic centers, spas, education classes and numerous activities for all ages. The developer’s goal is to create an all inclusive attractive environment in which residents can live, work, learn and play all within the walls of a city within a city.

Master planned communities are well planned out residential developments that typically include several builders who join together to offer a wide variety of living concepts and building styles. Often five to ten builders will offer different neighborhood themes and living options from modest condos priced in the $100,000-200,000 range to sprawling luxury estates priced well over $1,000,000. Within each neighborhood one can choose from a wide variety of architectural styles, floor plans, lot sizes, landscaping designs and more. With so many green minded consumers entering the home building market, today’s home builders also feature Energy Star-rated homes and exceptional energy-efficient features that result in major saving on yearly energy bills.

Phoenix Arizona is home to growing list of outstanding master planned communities to choose from when considering building a new construction home. Some of the most active family friendly communities include the unique lake themed Ocotillo in Chandler, Vistancia in Peroia, Verrado in Buckeye, Mountain Bridge in Mesa, The Bridges in Gilbert, Eastmark in Mesa, Estrella Mountain Ranch in Goodyear and Johnson Ranch in San Tan Valley.

There are many benefits to having a travel club membership, especially for those people who are keen travelers (or wish to be keen travelers). But up until recently, for most travelers, owning a travel club membership has not been an affordable option.

In the past, getting your hands on a quality travel club membership would easily run you $3,000-$10,000…and although these travel memberships were well worth the price, the average family or traveler could never afford it.

But now, with the internet causing raging competition within the travel industry and companies eager to get their hands on their share of the $7 Trillion travel industry pie, travel memberships have become much more affordable and readily accessible.

There are several option to choose from when picking a travel club membership, but with this article I will only be focusing on the many benefits.

(*Note* I am NOT an expert on ALL travel memberships…as all memberships are created differently. I will be generalizing from my own experience, but you will find that most of the benefits I present ring true across the board.)

1. The first major benefit to having a travel club membership is obviously the discounts. Depending on the membership you get, you can expect to receive 50%, all the way up to 80% off of regular room prices.

2. Second, is that you are never tied down or committed to just ONE property. Unlike owning a timeshare, where you pay BIG money to be permitted to stay at one location, a travel club membership allows you to stay at ANY of the properties that your travel membership company if affiliated with. Depending on the travel membership you choose this can be in the hundreds, to tens of thousands of properties from all around the world.

3. Speaking of timeshare, the price for one of these properties can run anywhere from $10,000 all the way up to $90,000 or more. And that doesn’t even include ANNUAL maintenance fees. Travel memberships are often a fraction of the price of a timeshare property, with NO recurring fees.

4. Unlike most timeshare properties where the ‘owner’ is only permitted to stay ONE week out of the year, travel club members are often allowed to vacation multiple weeks per year. Some companies even have a ‘NO Black Out Dates’ service, which means members can vacations 52 weeks out of the year if they so please. If you haven’t got a calendar handy, that is EVERY SINGLE WEEK of the year.

5. Unlike the usual method for booking a hotel room where you pay per person, per night…with a travel club membership, you pay PER ROOM, PER WEEK. Obviously when you’re booking a vacation at 80% off for the room, with some rooms sleeping up to 4, 6 or even 8 people, there are HUGE savings to be had.

6. Your travel club membership is not subject to just hotel rooms either. Many travel membership clubs have all sorts of different vacation packages ranging from luxury resorts, hotels, condos, cruises, and much, much more. Some companies even provide the option to book discounted airplane tickets, rental cars and family activities as well.

7. Most travel club membership companies pre-book their rooms, so there is little-to-no chance that members will ever miss out on the vacations they desire.

8. Members of a travel club can book their holidays at the drop of a hat, even during busy peak seasons like Christmas and New Years, all without having to pay ridiculous prices or worry that they won’t get a booking.

9. Travel memberships allow you to show your family and friend the world, for pennies on the dollar.

10. Having a travel club membership allows the average person or family to enjoy the lap of luxury and the kind of lifestyle that is usually only reserved for the rich and famous.

Obviously, there are many benefits to having a travel club membership, but remember, not all travel memberships are created equal. While some are OVER PRICED for the service they provide, others are just not up to scratch at all…So make sure you do your homework before spending your money on a travel membership.

Traveling… ahh yes, doesn’t EVERYONE LOVE TO TRAVEL? Well, I know, I know… the pains of connecting flights, delays, cancellations, dragging luggage a mile across terminals… the hassle of renting cars, fighting traffic in a foreign country (and figuring out which side of the road to drive) and trying to figure out what the guy is telling you when all’s you asked was “where is the bathroom?”… Aside from all of that, is it not the greatest feeling when you can step away from the normal routine, take a few deep breaths and realize you have nothing to do but sit on the beach… your hardest decision is if you’re going to have steak or lobster that night… and your biggest worry is if you have enough sun screen? That’s what traveling is all about… when it transposes us from our everyday lives and places us in a completely new culture… seeing, breathing, eating and dancing to what people 10,000 miles away from you are doing and thinking to yourself “this is the kind of stuff you see on TV”. That’s when it’s all worth it… that’s why traveling is so amazing.

But, one of – if not “THE” – biggest obstacles in traveling is that little green piece (or many pieces) of paper called MONEY. Whether you’re trying to visit a friend in Dallas or take your wife to Bora-Bora, it all costs Money-and a lot of it. The days of those Southwest “$49.00” fares are long gone and even the little weekend getaways whack a dent in your pocket book. There are definitely ways to shave off a few dollars here and there, but no matter how you slice it, traveling is expensive. Not everyone has a cush, 6 or 7 figure salary that allows them to take off 6 day weekends or weeks at a time to party in Ibiza. So, is there really a way to travel-and I mean really travel-and either get paid or travel for “free”??

The travel industry is an $8 TRILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY. Yes, you read that right… that’s Trillion with a capital “T”. So, other than the hotels, airlines and luggage manufacturers, how can you get involved?

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can earn a living, traveling across the world:

Flight Attendant: This is actually a great way to visit a LOT of places-FAST. The average flight attendant makes $37,000.00 a year, with the higher level salaries hovering in the $75,000.00-$90,000.00 range. It’s definitely an advantage if you know more than one (1) language. Flight attendants receive a daily per Diem for meals, along with flexible work schedules, discounts on flights, hotels and travel expenses for vacation. The downside is that when you are working, the flight schedule can be grueling-traveling to multiple cities in a 12, 18 or 24 hour time frame. When you finally stop to rest, the urge to go sight-seeing or check out the city, is traded out with the simple need to sleep in a bed. Oh yea, I forgot to mention… have you ever NOT seen a few angry, annoyed or upset people on your plane? Yep, be prepared to deal with those rude customers during your 12-24 hour shift!

Commercial Airline Pilot: Same deal with flight attendants, in terms of work schedule, but the pay is much better-depending on the size of the jet and company, you can be making $121,000.00 a year. If you want to go to flight school, pass your minimum 250 hours of flight experience, go for it! Just make sure you have perfect vision and hearing. Again, if you want to make this a career, you will visit cities all over the country (and the world), but be prepared to deal with thousands of customers, weather and equipment problems, grueling schedules and the stress that comes along with the responsibility of flying so many people to different places.

Travel Agent: As you may already know, travel agents know all about the best places to visit. They are the middle men between the hotels, airlines, tourism bureaus and the travelers. More than likely, they have an opportunity to visit some of these places so they can see everything for themselves-that’s a pretty sweet perk, eh? Typical salaries are anywhere from $25,000.00 to $35,000.00 and most likely be required to enroll in some sort of training, typically with the Travel Institute.

Freelance Writer or Photographer: What a cool job this would be… traveling all over the world… spending your time with various cultures, observing how the people communicate, eat, sleep and worship. You truly are “free”, relaying what you see and experience to the people sitting on their couch, thousands of miles away. Only catch… well, it’s that one thing we talked about a little earlier: MONEY. Obviously, you are not going to get paid before you get to these places, so be sure to plan this out a little bit, stock up some green in your checking account and pick up some pointers on how to express yourself with the pen & paper or with the camera. Try to develop some sort of “following” so you have a good base of people reading and viewing your content. Do not try to fly to India with a thousand bucks and an iPad, expecting to start a travel blog that generates cash, allowing you to wander the world for the next few years. You might as well go to your nearest casino and play blackjack. If you can pull of this occupation (and to those that currently do this), I tip my hat to you-great work!

Okay, now that we have gone over a few of the travel “jobs”, you may be saying, “well, I like my job right now and don’t really feel like dealing with all of those people and flying across the country 6 times, only to sleep in Des Moines for the night.” If you’re in between jobs, just out of school or simply want to take a “sabbatical”, why don’t you consider these routes in traveling the world:

You Speak English?: Speaking English can provide access to countries in all places across the globe. Some companies offer free room & board in exchange for you to help their employees enhance their English speaking skills and knowledge. There are also programs you can find on the web that well set you up with a certain country and company in order to train their people English. Now that you have your room & board covered, now we just need to figure out how we can pay for food and drink…

Start Giving Back: Feeling charitable or want to help others? Why not look to jump on a church mission trip, Habitat for Humanity-International, or if you can take off more time, join the Peace Corps? Obviously, this is not going to be as glamorous as sailing the Mediterranean, island hoping the Greek Isles, but if you want to feel good about helping out people less fortunate-and work hard-pack your bags and sign up for a volunteer opportunity. You will definitely see some places without paved roads, running water and people simply looking for a roof over their head. Giving the less fortunate the simple things we take for granted: food, clothing and shelter, will give you new sense of gratitude, after completing one of these tours.

All of these ways to travel are great and all, but how many people have the opportunity to take off extended amounts of time or have the nerve to just walk away from their job and become a commercial pilot or join the Peace Corps? Everyone has a job because it pays the bills and gives us financial security. I don’t know about you, but I am responsible for my wife and three(3) children, thus taking the plunge on the “unknown” is absolutely NOT realistic.

So, back to the original question above… How can you realistically travel for free? And when I say, “travel”, I mean, really travel… That means taking a care-free vacation… not having to worry about if you can afford to leave the resort for dinner that night, or buy those extra pair of sunglasses… Care-free travel means doing what you want, when you want and not worrying about the bill when you get back home. Let’s break down a few ways in which we really can travel for free (or as close to it as we can get)… or even better: GET PAID TO TRAVEL!

Use Those Points!: You know, I always knew I was going to be thankful for all that money I spent on my credit card. Now that I racked up all that debt, I also racked up all those points! Points I can use towards booking a new flight or maybe pay for my stay at the Bellagio in Vegas… where I can blow even more money!… I’m kidding!… kind of. Whenever you are looking to obtain a new credit card, choose the card that offers the most, when used. Compare the interest rate for charges and cash advances, the annual fees and also the credit card that provides the best rewards. If you fly a certain airline, be sure to input your frequent flyer number to gather those miles. Use travel sites that allow you to accrue points when you purchase flights, hotels, cruises and rental cars. You’re paying for this stuff anyways, so why not try and earn a little more for the next time you want to take a trip?

Vacation Packages through a Resort or Company: Very similar to a travel agent, only you are selling pre-packaged vacations at a discount to consumers. Instead of creating a customized travel package based on what and where the customer likes, you are selling a pre-packaged stay at a specific resort or hotel/resort/meal itinerary. They come in all shapes and sizes… and they can be dirt cheap (think: hotel next to Senor Frogs-Cancun during Spring Break), or the Rolls Royce type of trip. Depending on the type of company or resort, there are many perks with the access to all of their locations, with commission schedules pretty generous. There are limitations on the demographic of the clientele and if you are representative a company or resort with mediocre selections-and reviews-then it may put you in a rock in a hard place.

Direct Selling with a Travel Company: With this, you really do have the opportunity for the best of both worlds-traveling the world on the cheap (or in some cases, for FREE!) and making money. Typically, people that get involved in this industry already have a full time job and are looking for a better, cheaper way to travel and an additional source of income. It can be extremely lucrative, in terms of creating wealth and a residual income, but a lot of the members simply take advantage of the fact they can generate a few extra dollars every month and access to the premium resorts at wholesale pricing. The direct-sell companies in the travel industry offer 5 star packaged vacations at 2 Star pricing, as well as access to their trip planning website that works like an Expedia or Travelocity. Also, confirm there are ways you can accrue points, when you buy flights, vacations, or even their travel mall, so you can use those points for a free trip. Bottom line: do your research… choose a company that has a great reputation and make sure you have a good support system… thousands of people are catching on to these companies and are really capitalizing on the residual income and extremely low cost of travel.

As you can see, traveling for “free” is really only for professional poker players and the kids with enormous trust funds. You are going to have to work one way or another-whether it’s building up a stockpile of cash and funding an overseas trip or jumping into a new occupation on a plane or abroad. There are multiple ways you can get paid to travel, as well as minimizing your travel costs through various companies and resources… it’s all a matter of preference on what you want to do and how much time you have. Traveling can be a life changing experience or simply a much needed time-out from our crazy lives. Whatever you choose, just make sure to not take it too seriously and enjoy yourself!

Preparing For Long Term Travel

Traveling abroad is an art. It requires intellect to plan, courage to enact, and perseverance to endure. When planning your dream trip, you must walk a fine line between over- analysis and not-so-blissful ignorance (summer in Sudan, anyone?).

There are several things you should consider before booking your travel, and the most important will be deciding where and when to go.

Where to Go

After working in a cubical and day dreaming about traveling around the world, most people already have a pretty good idea where they want to go. It’s a personal choice and there are amazing places to see and experience all over the globe. If you intend for your systems to pay for your travels, the main factor in deciding where to go is your budget.

How Much the World Costs
These numbers assume a few things. Firstly, you travel slowly (no more than one out of every four days). Second, you stay in clean, basic accommodations. While it’s certainly possible to rent a $3 room in Cambodia, most people mature enough to run a business want a little more comfort. We’re talking rooms with a bathroom, hot water, shower, towels, a bed, and a TV… but not much else.

The prices below are for two people and include food, room, laundry, toiletries, visas and overland (usually local) travel:
o Southeast Asia: $50
o UK and Ireland: $100
o Australia and New Zealand: $80
o South America:$55
o Africa: $60
o Western Europe: $90
o Eastern Europe:$65
o Indian subcontinent:$40
o Japan: $90
As you can see, expenses can be very reasonable, far more reasonable than what you may be currently paying back home. However, you will want to travel somewhere that your systems can afford.

You can escape home faster and live better if you visit third world areas such as Southeast Asia and India. Though we’ve visited the UK several times, my wife and I are still a long ways away from living it up in London! There’s another more powerful reason for going third world initially: a new perspective. Chances are, if you’re reading this you are probably raised in the Western world. When you board that plane, you will no doubt be ready for a change, and the transition from first to third world will be as eye opening as the transition from worker to entrepreneur.
All in all, their calculations have been fairly close to my personal experiences.

Money Saving Tips

These are some tips I’ve learned from both working as a travel agent and personal experience. There are many, many ways to stretch your budget:

o Purchase tickets ahead of time, or last minute. So many people lament over rising flight costs, when they should have bought the damn thing months ago and saved a bundle. Here is my rule of budget travel: purchase tickets ahead of time if you know where you want to go, purchase last minute if you don’t. For example, there is currently a special discount flight to Hungary from San Francisco for three hundred dollars, last minute. Did you plan on going to Hungary? No, but when the opportunity arises, you should take it.
o Slum it, then go all out. My wife and I cycled across Ireland without breaking the bank, and yet we stayed in quality bed and breakfasts (including an old Irish castle). How did we do this? Simple: for every one night in a great location, we camped two nights. Once we arrived at our room for the night, we cleaned up and had a good time. The next morning we showered and hit the road. Following this approach you only miss a shower for one day at a time…
o Change your drinking habits. One of my largest grievances with budget travel writers is their silly notion that you should sacrifice a cold beer in the name of saving money. There are far better ways to save a dollar while you’re traveling. What you should avoid are bars. You can drink cold beer or local spirits for cheap from bottle shops (or oddly enough, 7-11’s). I found myself contemplating buying a can of Guinness in Thailand for more than it cost back home! True, it was an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day, but come on…

Health: Avoiding Problems

Vaccinations

You need to start getting some of your vaccinations at least two months before departing on a trip. Several inoculations require three or four visits, spaced two to three weeks apart. Here’s a short list of the most common vaccinations required (or highly recommended) for global travel:
o Hepatitis A and B. (if possible, get the combined vaccine)
o Japanese encephalitis
o Polio, diphtheria and tuberculosis
o Rabies
o Tetanus
o Typhoid
o Yellow fever

Malaria

While there is no vaccination for malaria, there are a number of anti-malarial tablets you can take to help combat the disease (though none of them is 100% effective). Check with your doctor to see which prescription is right for you.

To get these vaccinations, visit your local travel clinic or speak with your physician. If you’re currently employed, check if your benefits will cover vaccinations. I was able to save over $700 on vaccinations thanks to the health insurance provided by my previous employer. Talk about a severance package!

Food
When it comes to food, I follow a few simple rules:

1. Eat at restaurants with a lot of people and high turn over. It probably means the food is fresher.
2. Eat cooked food. Try to avoid any raw vegetables and raw fish. Fruits and vegetables that you can peel are a safer option. Consider bringing vitamin tablets if you’re not getting enough fruits and vegetables.
3. Don’t over eat. If you stuff your face with contaminated food, you’ll feel a hell of a lot worse than if you ate a smaller portion. The only two times I’ve been sick abroad were shortly after a three or four course meal at a high end steakhouse.

Water

Depending on where you travel, you might need to bring a water purification system. I use The Steripen Adventurer UV purifier. The same size as a screwdriver, this wonder tool can purify one liter of water in one minute using an ultra violet light bulb and lithium batteries. Though it isn’t cheap- retail is about $130- the Steripen is both lightweight and effective. Keep in mind it doesn’t work with ice, a common cause for getting sick among travelers.

If you’re planning on buying bottled water over seas, keep in mind that many merchants refill used water bottles with local water and resell them. If the plastic seal is broken- and it often is – you probably don’t want to drink it.

Traveler’s Diarrhea

Traveler’s diarrhea claims 30-50% of tourists abroad within the first two weeks, and is often accompanied by vomiting. In other words, don’t be surprised if you’re leaking out both ends… it’s natural. The best thing to do? Take over the counter anti-diarrheal medicine or antibiotics (rather than something that just plugs you up), drink lots of water, lay low and let the good- or bad- times flow. Symptoms should clear up within a few days. Any more than that, contact a doctor.

Tying Up Loose Ends
Before you hit the road you’ll need to close up shop. While most of these steps aren’t necessary for short term travel, they are imperative for long term wandering.

o Three – Six Months Out:
o Get a passport (if you don’t have one).
o Book your airplane flights.
o Visit your doctor or travel clinic to get vaccinations. Check if your employer’s health insurance covers them before you quit!
o Determine how to handle your living situation. Consider renting out your residence furnished. This saves you the hassle of storing your belongings, and moves you one step closer to paying off your mortgage. Most people interested in furnished accommodations are working abroad for a year or more: perfect for your intentions.
o Book a dentist, doctor, and optometry appointment for one month before you go to make sure you have a clean bill of health. This gives you time to handle any cavities before you leave.

o One Month Out:
o Set cancellation dates for all insurance policies, credit cards, and other miscellaneous items.
o Close any unnecessary accounts (e.g. banking accounts and department store accounts).
o Sign up for Online Banking (if you don’t already have it).
o Set up a forwarding address with the post office to a friend or a P.O. Box in your name.
o Find someone to rent your car while you’re gone. Make sure they get insurance and to draft an automobile leasing contract.
o Go to your dentist, doctor, and optometry appointments.
o Get travelers insurance.

o Two weeks out:
o Give your two weeks notice to your employer.
o Email yourself copies of your passport, driver’s license, insurance policy, credit card, and any other important information you might need while you’re away.
o Get travelers checks and email the security numbers from those to yourself.
o Notify your bank that you’ll be making purchases in a foreign country with your credit card.
o Have a garage sale. If you don’t manage to sell the majority of your belongings, have another garage sale following week. My wife and I made over $1,500 of two days work selling our stuff- worth over a month of travel in Southeast Asia. If you can’t sell your stuff, look into a storage unit.
o Get a visa if applicable for your first country.

Remember, you don’t need half of what you may think you do, a truism that applies to a crucial step in preparing: packing for long term travel.

What (Not) To Pack
Prior to departure: create a checklist of items you need to take. At a maximum you should include:
Passport
Drivers license (international if possible)
Airline/train tickets
Credit cards, travelers checks and US dollars
Photocopies of important documents
Youth hostel card
Scuba diving certification (if applicable)
Passport photos (1 or 2 per country)
Money Belt
One small day pack
Sunglasses
A good book
Pen and notepad
Laptop and headset for Skype
Two pairs of light weight pants
One pair of shorts
Three shirts (one for going out)
1 Pair Sandals
1 Pair Shoes or Boots
Underwear
Swim suit (if applicable)
Toiletries
Silk sleep sack (not a sleeping bag)
Sewing kit
Nail clippers
Ear plugs
First aid kit
Swiss army knife

Possessions will only tie you down. For example, let’s say you purchase a brand new digital camera before your trip (chances are you will). Sure, it’s a great way to document your experiences, but it weighs you down a lot more than you think.

You have to think twice about swimming in the ocean for fear someone will steal it. Crossing a river could potentially destroy it. Strangers become potential threats.

And these are just the tangibles. The worst, and most common, is that it prevents you from truly experiencing a place before reaching for your camera. This effectively removes you from your surroundings, preventing you from ever really gaining anything at all.

Why Einstein Was Wrong – How to Travel
The theory of relativity states that time slows down when as speed increases. For example, imagine a friend whizzing across or solar system in a spacecraft while you remain here on the Earth. Einstein proved that your friend’s clock would seem to tick more slowly than your own.

Sadly, the opposite is true when traveling. People who travel near the speed of light- or at least sound- arrive home seemingly unaware of where they had just visited. Locations become nothing more than a check box on their itinerary, an experience not to be savored, but shown off to others. They develop the classic “If it’s Tuesday, this must be Rome” syndrome. Speed is not better, which is why you shouldn’t try to travel at the speed of light.
My advice is to travel at the speed of smell.

As I write this, there is a large Vietnamese market going on less than five meters away. The smell of pho boiling over and the sounds of locals conversing is something I wouldn’t have noticed on a five day whirlwind tour of Vietnam.
In order to really experience your surroundings, you must slow down. While guidebooks may offer walking tours that allow you to “do” a city in a day, it takes much longer to “feel” it out.

Somewhere along the line, we lost the point of travel. People visit pagodas, temples, churches, museums, and art galleries not out of personal interest, but out of some misplaced obligation. If you aren’t interested in art, skip the Museum of Modern Art. If you don’t like sports, forget the Superdome. Can’t stand witnessing first hand poverty? Don’t go to India.

It’s not about seeing the most acclaimed sights. It’s about experiencing those that affect you the most.

Your First Night Abroad: Make It a Soft Landing

Your first two days in any new region should be seen as a transition period. Don’t throw yourself into the mix right away; book your hotel prior to departure and stay there for at least two nights. This will help you acclimate to your new surroundings, and sleep comfortably for the first few days. Your first few nights shouldn’t be concerned with travel plans, budget, or any other logistics… just unplug and rest while your body adapts to the new sights, smells and time zone.

Lunch at 4AM? How to Deal With Jet Lag
There are several ways to combat jet lag, a common problem among travelers. It certainly hits some people harder than others; it takes me over a week to adjust, while my wife takes it in stride. Here are some ways to battle jet lag:
o Don’t eat. Studies have shown that your liver takes longer to adapt to a new time zone than any other part of your body. By not eating for 12 hours or more, your body will adjust much more quickly. If this seems like too much, try eating on your intended destination’s clock a few days before departure (dinner at 10 AM, anyone?).
o Sunshine. The sun helps you set your circadian clock, so the more the better. Exercise also helps.
o Pop some pills. There are additional over-the-counter pills that claim to help with jet lag. Though I have no personal experience with them, several people I’ve spoken to swear by No Jet Lag.

Staying Connected
Now that you’ve freed up your time and location, you’ll need to monitor your systems and stay in touch with loved ones. Here are several crucial tools to maintain your systems abroad.

Poste Restante
A great way to pick up care packages from home. Get the address of the main post office in whatever town you’re in (or will be shortly) and have people address your mail to the following:

LAST NAME, First Name
Poste Restante, General Post Office
Town, Country

When you arrive at the post office, simply present your passport as identification and you’ll be able to claim your mail. Generally post offices around the world will hold mail up to two years.

Blog
A great way to keep in touch is to start a travel blog. You can do so with free services such as Blogger.com or WordPress.com; both are free and can be set up in a matter of minutes. By creating a travel blog, you are able to avoid sending out group e-mails, which always come across as forced and rather generic. This way, people who were really interested in your trip can check up on you whenever they like, leave comments, and engage other people visiting your blog.

Also, blogs allow you much more creative freedom than sending emails. You can include pictures, video, polls, international clocks, maps and a whole host of other customization, all of which provide a great scrapbook after your travels.

Word of the Year: Wifi
Wireless is the name of the game. As time progresses, connecting to the Internet will only become increasingly important, so you might as well get used to ranking “free internet” higher than amenities such as free breakfast, swimming pool, and massages. Let’s face it: you’re now able to create systems that pay for your lifestyle, completely free of employees. Free of fax machines, cubicles, commutes, and water coolers… so logging into your accounts to make sure the money’s coming in doesn’t seem like too much of a hindrance, does it?

Expect internet cafes to run around $1-2 USD an hour. Seeing that your business is Internet based, you may want to consider traveling with a laptop depending upon your goals.

Laptop: Luxury or Necessity?
If you intend to develop more systems while traveling, a laptop is necessary. You will need to upload web-pages to your sites, conduct phone interviews with prospective freelancers, and keep tabs on your expenses and revenue streams. If you intend to just monitor or expand your existing systems, you can use internet cafes, though working amidst Chinese computer gamer ain’t what it’s cracked up to be.

Laptops also provide more security. You don’t know what kind of spyware (programs that remember your keystrokes for future use) might be on some random computer. To paraphrase sex ed teachers, a trusting, monogamous relationship is one of the best ways to avoid viruses.

Cell Phone
Though I personally don’t use one, cell service is getting better all the time, and can save you a lot of time if you need to call people who don’t use Skype. For example, I spent thirty minutes in search of an international phone to call my bank for a phone call that lasted two minutes.

Skype
You can’t go wrong with free international phone calls, and Skype provides just that. Get your friends and family back home to sign up and you can chat through your laptop for free. More and more businesses are jumping on the bandwagon, though banks and credit card companies are still behind the curve.

An additional feature that may be of some use is the ability to forward calls from a US based phone number to your cell phone abroad. If you handle customer service questions, it pays to list a domestic number. After all, would you buy a product from a company that requires you to call East Timor with questions?

Dragon Naturally Speaking
If it wasn’t for this software, this book would never have been written. For less than thirty bucks you get a microphone, headset, and the ability to dictate to your laptop. I’m able to “write” at about 120 words per minute. An added bonus is that you can use the microphone and headset with Skype.

USB Card
An absolutely essential tool. There will be times when you won’t be able to access the Internet with your laptop, and a handy USB allows you to backup your work.

Other Technological Marvels for Working Abroad
o GoToMyPC : This software allows you to access your home computer from any other computer in the world. If you are abject to traveling with a laptop, this is the way to go. Just remember, you’ll have to pay for internet connection along the way, making this a better solution for short term travel.
o World Electronics USA: Get information on global phones. Good explanation of which GSM frequencies and “bands” function in which countries, which will determine the phone you purchase for travel (and perhaps home).
o Universal Plug Adapter: I’ve purchased adapters in several countries in order to power our digital camera and laptop, though it can be a hassle if you’re exploring several different regions. This universal adapter works wonders around the world.
o World Electric Guide: This site is a life-saver when it comes to handling electronics abroad. It breaks down voltage, wattage and a slew of other technical requirements by country.
Use what you’ve learned and hit the road!

Luxury is defined as something extravagant that does not need to be somewhat basic or of fundamental use. The luxury has the crucial factor of extravagance in it. Many people are obsessed to meet their desires. It is not said that the desires need no to be attained but there are some limits for everything. Some people develop the mania and obsession to achieve whatever they want. The main impression of luxury is opulence. The richness and wealth are the only things which can deal luxury dreams.

Since there are many rich and affluent people who have wealth to enjoy every kind of luxury in this world. Many rich people take pleasure in luxury homes, vacations, hotels, cars, sports, antiques, clothing, jewelry and accessories. Many women are enormously pleased buying luxurious jewelry and accessories. These luxurious accessories include different types of jewelry items, shoes, watches, bags and purses. Here some luxurious brands of bags and purses are mentioned.

The Hermes Birkin bag is one of the most luxurious bags in the world. It is amazingly spectacular. It is embedded with two thousands diamonds with platinum body. The strap of the bag is brilliant and dazzling. It can be taken off the bag and can be used as necklace or a bracelet. Bag is embellished with a diamond pendant which can also be used separately as an accessory.

Another luxury brand has made an expensive handbag whose design is available in 13 same pieces in the world. The Chanel Diamond Forever Classic Hand bag is a classy bag with versatile design. The price of this bag is $261,000. The bag is made with white gold and the sparkling shoulder strap is also made of white gold. The glitters and sparkling skin of the bag is ever stunning.

Lana Marks is a luxury brand which is famous for expensive and posh handbags and purses. This brand produces special Cleopatra clutches. Only one Cleopatra clutch is produced every year. This bag is manufactured by crocodile skin and embellished with black and white diamonds and white gold.

Since the fashion of naming a brand with some celebrity name is in vogue. There is a brand which has named a purse on the name of famous actress Jane Birkin. Jane Birkin Bag is made of crocodile skin and embellished with white diamonds. The price of the bag is $120,000.

As a travel guru for many years now, I have seen the travel industry wire adapt in so many ways. As you already know, we now live in a world with instant and infinite amounts of information, right at our fingertips. Like everything else, the travel industry has adapted, grown and cultivated a new identity with our present day world of information. Until beaches start disappearing and people can be teleported across continents, there will ALWAYS be the want and need to visit our regular and new destinations.

The travel industry plays a substantial role in the global economy. During 2015, the travel industry wire forecasts global GDP to grow by 3.7% and employment by 2.6%. This demonstrates the sector’s enduring ability to generate economic growth and create jobs at a faster rate than the global economy, which is due to grow by 2.9% in 2015. By the end of 2015, the Travel & Tourism sector will contribute US$7,860 billion, 10% of global GDP, once all direct, indirect and induced impacts are taken into account. The sector will account for 284 million jobs, 9.5% of total employment, or one in eleven of all jobs on the planet. By 2025, the global travel & tourism sector is projected to contribute 357 million jobs and generate $11.4 Trillion dollars. Ask your favorite travel guru and he will show you the various components all contributing to these massive amounts. Let’s check out what the travel industry wire says:

Hotel Industry

Among all the sub sectors of the travel & tourism industry, Hotels is one of the biggest fragments. The travel industry wire explains that hotels generated a global of $457 billion dollars in 2014. Your travel guru has most likely coordinated a recent trip within the Intercontinental Hotels Group. The company contributed the highest revenues, earning $22.8 billion dollars. In the United States alone, the total revenue within the hotel industry climbed to $163 billion dollars. The majority of tourists visiting the United States of America (65.1%) choose to stay in a hotel, where the average daily is a healthy $121.30.

Aviation industry

Although the major corporations, leading sector, seem to always changing names and planes, the industry cultivated a whopping $783 billion US dollars in 2014. Your travel guru may have whispered about some of the airlines not performing, but the industry continues to grow at rate of 7.4% every year. The travel industry wire indicates that Europeans, Americans, Chinese & Brazilians combine for the highest market contributors.

Cruise Industry

Cruises have steadily become a popular choice of travel the past few years. These are an easy sell for your local travel guru… The luxurious ocean liners, offering food, fun & music for the entire family have created a loyal gathering that continues to grow. Due to the growth rate of 6.55% every year, Cruise lines have postured their company growth strategies, by building larger capacity ships, ship diversification, more local ports and more destinations. The travel industry wire indicates that the average cruise traveler spends approximately $1728.00 every year, with over 22 million people jumping on the floating palace. The cruise industry contributes about $39.6 billion dollars in 2014, and is poised for a solid 6-7% increase.

Online Travel Market

Any travel guru, coupled with the travel industry wire statistics, will tell you that the online travel industry has EXPLODED over the past 5 years and will only continue to skyrocket. As more and more people use smartphones and as these smartphones continue to develop into personal super computers, the more information we have, the more we want. Online travel revenue reached $340 billion dollars back in 2011, worldwide and 39% consisted of American bookings. Obviously, the deluge of data & information has contributed to the online travel industry, but hotels and hotel broker websites have been the main proponents to this boom. As everything turns to online information, bookings, etc… the travel agencies, travel gurus and everyone associated with the industry has jumped in. Rarely do you see a corporation dependent on the travel & tourism industry, that hasn’t adapted to the online market.

The Future of the Travel Industry

The travel & tourism industry is an enormous portion of the global economy and will only continue absorb market share. The travel industry wire explains that the sectors and their respective technologies are developing at a rapid rate, procuring the consumer process into a much easier-and faster encounter. Just ask your favorite travel guru.

It seems like you cannot enjoy television for more than one hour without seeing a commercial with William Shatner referring to Travelocity or perhaps that silly gnome discussing Orbitz. When you have browsed a few of these travel sites, you might have noticed that they’re amazing in the diversity of travel choices that they make accessible. And it is difficult to deny that lots of thousands of individuals have taken advantage of these services. As a business traveler, however, your requirements are usually relatively distinct from the typical airline traveler.

There are several very specific services a living and breathing local travel agent can only provide, that just cannot be replicated by an automatic site such as Travelocity or Orbitz. Some of those services that the seasoned business traveler could be hard pressed to live without contain…

1. Focus. You being a business traveler are not arranging this journey for enjoyment. An individual possess specific business objectives as the primary goal. So should you need to take time from preparing for your business task to bother with travel itineraries, hotel and rental car bookings and the like, that’s time that you are not being productive for the business. In the event that it is possible to contact a gifted local travel agent who knows the travel profile effectively and delegate those arrangements to that particular representative, they do their work to locate the ideal accommodations to suit your needs and you are liberated to complete what you do best, focus on your company and the upcoming business travel.

2. Economy. It is hard to find which balance between finding the lodging that match the demanding schedule of a business person on the road which is well-intention of the companies travel budget too. If you use an automatic online travel support, you might have to compromise convenience, schedule or place for economy. A great local travel agent will continue to work hard to get the correct schedule while getting as near the organization travel cost restrictions as it can be. And they are going to do it without taking up plenty of your time.

3. Back up. You don’t need help if the trip goes flawlessly as designed. But if you experience issues traveling, you can find yourself in need of assistance or rescheduling flights and finding new hotels to work around terminated flights, weather issues or some other unforeseen disruptions to your plans. These traveling unfortunate occurrences are not aware of your tight deadlines to satisfy your company objectives. But if you have a travel agent who is focused on offering you support, they can see those other ways and resources to accomplish all they can to get you to your desired destination to help you conduct your business promptly.

4. That personal touch. A person might have travel preferences that you want to accomplish with every trip you take. A travel agent has your profile as well as your travel history so they can do the things they can to accommodate your preferences. But moreover, if you have certain special requirements like a diet plan limitation or perhaps a need for accommodation as a result of disability, it will likely be the travel agent which sees to it that your needs are given for and you’re simply properly cared for on the road.

5. Issues. When your travel itinerary requires making connections with business partners who’re journeying through varied workplaces, intricate travel agendas and itinerary challenges that simply cannot be described to the generic monitors of an online travel service, you can explain these types of complications to your travel agent and they can work along with other travel agents working to organize the meeting to see to it that the schedule fulfills the needs you have.

As the online travel services do give a valuable and inexpensive substitute for the overall traveling public, it is easy to notice their limitations if you’re attempting to arrange an outing that’s tricky or if you have specific needs that the monitors don’t anticipate. Which is why dealing with a human travel agent guarantees this travel professional will devote on their own to the task of making certain your journey works to your own specifications and you get to your destination prepared to conduct business and be successful in your reaching ones ambitions.

Whether you’re making a first impression on a prospective client or entertaining a client you’ve had for years, your business will benefit with the corporate limousine service of Platinum Ride Limo. Their luxury vehicles and private chauffeurs will help you close deals and strengthen partnerships in comfort, class and style. From Phoenix airport transfer for clients visiting from out of town, to Scottsdale hummer limousine service for hosting a corporate party, this Phoenix-based limo service is available all over the Valley.

For a client flying in from out of town, you want his travel plans to be as easy as possible. The last thing you want is him waiting around at the airport for a ride, or him renting a car himself and trying to navigate the roads in a foreign town. His head needs to be in the same place yours does – on the purpose of your meeting, not the logistics of getting there. That’s something you can arrange for him beforehand with reliable, on-time Phoenix airport transportation that’s like your client’s own personal taxi limousine shuttle. The chauffeur will bring the client to you or pick you up first so you can greet your client at the airport for an extra touch that’s both personal and professional.

Of course, corporate limo service for visiting clients need not be limited to Phoenix airport transfer. Pamper your client throughout his visit for ultimate impact. That means scheduling your client’s taxi limo shuttle for trips to and from his hotel, your office, restaurants and anywhere else your client might need to go. You can join him as often as you like, ideally taking the time to entertain your client with all the must-see sights in the Valley, from the Superstition Mountains to historic Heritage Square downtown. Just think of all the progress you can make with your client – personally and professionally -tooling around town with ease while having fun.

And it’s not just out-of-town clients you can impress with Platinum Ride Limo. Host a party for your local clients with corporate limo service. Your clients are free to relax and have fun knowing their own private chauffeur is designated to drive. Whether you host the event in one venue, or it’s scattered across the Valley’s hottest night spots, there’s a stretch limo for you – from the Limobus, to the Scottsdale Hummer Limo, to the Chrysler 300M with Lamborghini angel-wing doors.

“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” – Moorish proverb

If you had more time and more money, what would you do more of?

The overwhelming response is:

“Travel!”

Almost everyone wants to travel more. But there are two things most people need more of that are essential to travel:

1) Money
2) Time

Let me explain that money really is not the issue for many people, although most tend to think that it is the #1 thing they need more of to travel.

This simply is not true. Travel agencies have programed us into thinking that travel is expensive. They try to make us think that it costs $4,000 plus round-trip airfare for a short 10 to 14 day vacation.

Travel agencies try to sell us travel. The fact of the matter is – trying to sell travel is like trying to sell air – it’s completely unnecessary.

But they certainly try to charge you for it.

World travel can be done for only $1,000 a month – or less. No, this does not mean that you’ll be sleeping on the streets and eating out of dumpsters.

Instead, you’ll be doing everything you want to do, and travel very comfortably as well.

When you cut-out those ridiculously over-priced packaged tours, you pay what the locals pay. In some countries you can have a full-blown buffet at a nice restaurant for a measly $0.50, or book a 3-star hotel for $10.

When you know how to do it, the cost of world travel averages to only $1,000 a month (there are others who travel without spending anything – do a Google search on Peter Jenkins for an example).

As you can see, when you know how to travel independently, money isn’t the problem.

The #1 thing people need to travel is – TIME.

Earning $1,000 a month is easy. What you need is the time to travel. We’re not talking about a once a year two-week vacation. I’m talking about traveling as much as you like, when you like.

The biggest problem most people have with getting the time to travel is their job.

You could earn more than enough money to travel the world at your job, but you don’t have the time. If you quit your job to have the time to travel, you don’t have the money.

If I was making $10,000 a month at a job I hated that wouldn’t let me travel, or if I could make just $2,000 a month and have the time to do anything I please, I’d choose the latter.

What you need is a way to make money while traveling. Let’s say you earn only $2,000 a month – but you do so from anywhere on the planet. It only costs about $1,000 a month to travel the world. So this way you’ll have the time and the money (with $1,000 left over each month) to travel anywhere you want to, at any time, for as long as you desire.

Most of us are simply clueless when it comes to making money while traveling. However, there are scores of ways to do. Do a Google search for “travel jobs” and “adventure jobs” to find several opportunities that allow you to travel while earning money. Pick one or two potential jobs and study them.

Some jobs that earn you money while you travel are: internet marketing, travel writing, internet stock photography, online auctions and work as a group travel organizer.

When you make money while traveling you will have an abundance of the two essentials to travel – time and money, and you’ll be able to travel where you want, when you want.

There are FIVE very important things you need to know before taking your next travel assignment:

1. SALARY, SALARY, SALARY.

Chances are INCREDIBLY HIGH you are NOT getting paid top dollar for your assignment if you accept the Standard Benefit Package travel companies offer.

Most travelers (both new and seasoned) do not realize that the Standard Benefit Package offered by a travel company is only a STARTING place for negotiation. Because the initial salary offered is higher than what they receive for a stationary job position, often travelers quickly take the standard salary, not realizing that negotiating for MORE is relatively easy.

I know for a fact that I have worked along side other medical travelers doing the same job I was hired to do at the same time in the same hospital and they were making less per hour than me…And some of these people were not new to the travel game! Why? They might either be unaware of the pay range for their job title and competency and/or they simply thought that their current assignment “just paid that particular amount.”

But the real NUMBER ONE reason they aren’t getting top dollar is they don’t know what to ask and how to ask for it!

Just knowing what to ask can signal to a recruiter that you are a savvy business person and immediately increase your changes of getting the best deal.

Don’t take years to “catch on”, losing money all the while, when you can start smart right out of the gate. And if you’ve already hit the road and are suspecting you’re not getting the best deals, you can change that today!

2. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!!

You can end up in some very undesirable locations if you don’t know how to access the best travel assignments.

When I first began medical travel I had no idea of the broad scope of places I could visit. I merely took the only job I was offered and set out to drive across the country in my own car. I arrived to spend a very desolate 13 weeks in a little out of the way town that offered nothing of interest. In addition it was a very dull working environment. So much for the glamour of travel!!

The type of job I just described is obviously harder to fill with a more knowledgeable traveler and therefore many companies merely take advantage of the traveling novice and send them packing to the outer parts of nowhere. After all, the travel company gets paid for you to work…where you work is your problem!

However, even those who have been traveling for awhile often do not know how to land the most desirable job locations. It took me several years to figure out the “nuts and bolts” of ending up where I really wanted to work and visit. (After all, one of the main reasons besides salary to hit the road is to enjoy the view!!) Looking back, accessing the BEST job locations was really just a matter of know-how and not complicated at all.

3. TRAVEL NIGHTMARES!

You can get booked on some flights from “you know where” if you are unaware of the options the travel company can provide.

Some years ago I took a job in Oregon that necessitated me flying across the country from my Florida address. I was still in my medical travel learning curve and thus ended up changing flights three different times complete with hideous layovers plus I arrived at 1 am in the morning at an airport that was two hours away from the town where I would be working! I took the rental car awaiting me and drove to the hotel where I was to spend my first night (if crawling into bed at around 4 am could be called going to bed for the night!) On top of that the motel ended up being a colossal dump with a stuck heater system that turned my room into a steam bath, finally driving me out into the early morning air exhausted and angry.

Since travel companies normally cover your travel expenses, they can save money by re-routing you all over the place and by having you arrive at weird hours and in towns or cities within “driving distance” of your destination. Trust me, it happens often! If you don’t know your “rights” you’ll have the experience fairly quickly once you begin to travel.

So just know that because you’re told your “travel plans are all taken care of” it doesn’t mean you’re going to like the arrangements one bit!!

4. HOUSING…LOUSY, JUST AVERAGE, OR GRAND!

There are many ways to either enjoy or rue the day you took an assignment and one of those factors is the type of housing accommodations the travel company provides for you.

Most assignment last 13 weeks and 13 weeks is a long time to live somewhere you don’t like and enjoy. I’ve had just about every experience possible since I began traveling, from fairly lousy, to just average, to absolutely grand. And as any traveler will tell you, GRAND is always better!

To tell you the truth I could just kick myself when I think back to some of the housing conditions I accepted. It wasn’t that they were terrible (well, one was pretty bad!), many were just “ho-hum.” (Certainly not directly overlooking the ocean, which I have now experienced on two assignments…all due to the negotiating techniques I’ve learned along the way.)

But now I go first class on each of my assignments and I do that on a regular basis. And believe it or not, it’s very easy to get those upscale housing considerations. Very easy! Among the many considerations I ask for and receive besides an upscale apartment complex or condo community ( a good start in and of itself!), are a BIG television (I like sports and I don’t want to squint to see the action!), a washer and dryer inside my personal apartment or condo (no trips to the local wash-dry-and-fold for me!), availability of a pool and work out room, a really well stocked kitchen (not just a few barely adequate necessities) and even a hide-a-bed sofa at my current assignment just in case I want to have guests. These are just a few examples of the things I ask for and receive…My list goes on and on!

5. THE RIGHT JOB!

There are some very simple but critical things you need to ask to determine if you’re walking into a job straight from the pit or into smooth sailing complete with a great environment and friendly co-workers and physicians.

You will be interviewed by a recruiter from the travel company to see where you are best suited to work and you will also be interviewed by a representative of the hospital where you are being considered for a travel position. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, you’ll be able to interview them too.

I am still appalled when I hear even seasoned travelers tell me they ask very few questions, other than the basics, when they are considering a position. As a result, horror stories constantly make the rounds about travelers arriving at jobs that turned out to be anything but what they expected. And now they are bound by a legal contract to complete the assignment!

To me, not asking the right questions is not only totally foolish, it’s completely unnecessary. Almost without exception I can spot “red flags” about a job just by asking some critical questions of the travel company recruiter and the hospital representative. In fact, you’ll be awed at the information people will volunteer if you just ask the right way!!

Case in point…not long ago I was interviewing for a position in my home state of Florida. It had all the criteria on the surface that made it seem the perfect set up. However, after asking the questions I’ve learned over time to ask, I knew I would be walking straight into one those situations I wanted to avoid at all costs. For example, just one of the red flags that presented was this…three people had left all at once from this particular department, indicating there were some major problems there. I would not have known that if I hadn’t asked the right question. The exit of those three employees leads me to ask a few more questions. As a result, I quickly moved on to another assignment.

The interesting follow up to this story is that some months later I returned and took this exact assignment. Why? The whole stage had changed…new people, new environment…things had settled down and the unworkable situation had been corrected. And the job was great this time around. One of the other travelers that had lasted out the initial nightmare and had renewed his assignment told me I had certainly avoided the worst. Hear, hear!

Now, I’ve given you just five things from the many chapters of my book, Insider Secrets to Medical Travel that you must know before taking your next travel assignment, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned traveler who has become dissatisfied with the deals you’re being offered.

Implementing any ONE of these five things in an informed manner can bring you tremendous benefits while saving you untold grief and a lengthy, painful learning curve.

Medical travel can be a lucrative, fun, exciting, and fulfilling career…IF you know how to navigate the system and access the highest salary, most desirable locations, comfortable travel plans, nicest housing accommodations, and the best job scenarios.

Many of us wish to travel the world whether it be to places near and familiar or places way from home and much more exotic. The thought of plane tickets, hotel accommodations and food is daunting but rest assure that there are many ways to travel this beautiful world of ours on a budget and even ways to travel while making money. Wherever your destination (or destinations) may be there are many tricks of the trade that make being a world wanderer a feasible and budget friendly a reality.

While you can still travel on a budget, (we will discuss that in the next section) some travelers prefer to travel while still making an income. Many hopeful travelers rule out the idea of working to travel and working abroad because of a potential language barrier but in most cases that is not the correct scenario. There are plenty of work opportunities where speaking English will actually benefit you and will give you the extra income necessary to explore the world.

  1. Au Pair: We have all seen the job of an Au Pair in a movie or television show. In literal translation, the French word Au Pair means an extra set of hands. Ambitious world travelers can work as Au Pairs for families looking for extra help with their children and light work around the home. An Au Pair is typically a college and above aged person who seeks traveling the world and in exchange is paired up with a host family who provides food and board and a wage as well. There are several programs that can be found online that will pair an aspiring Au Pair with families around the world. Many Au Pair programs offer the option of attending school/university while working with the possibility of traveling even after the contract is expired. Working as an Au Pair is a great opportunity for English speakers because the majority of host families are looking for a Native English speaker to teach their children English. If the idea of an Au Pair sounds thrilling but also intimidating at the same time, make sure to check many resources available online that can help you in your search.
  2. Teach English abroad: As mentioned above, being a Native English speaker can raise your likelihood of finding a job abroad. Teaching English abroad is a great way to be able to travel and make an income. If you have decided that this is the route you want to take in your endeavors to travel and get paid, the first thing you must do is decide your desired country and research the rules of the country for teaching English. Some countries have differing rules, regulations and requirements before you can teach English there. Some countries in Europe even require you to join the European Union. Before embarking on your journey, it is imperative to get a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate in the USA. The TEFL program can also be taken in your desired country after you obtain your certificate. It is important to take a TEFL class in the desired country so that you can meet fellow peers, learn the country’s customs and potentially be placed in a job after the class. The most important thing to remember before embarking on such an important journey is to research, research and then research some more. It is important to know when the peak hiring season is, rules and laws and of course about the culture.
  3. Cruise Ship: The idea of working on a cruise ship and traveling may sound glamorous and alluring but it is a lot of hard work and long hours. Working on a cruise ship also means you must live and coexist with your fellow crew members which may or may not be a problem. There are several job options if you decide that working on a cruise is the route you want to take. Job options range anywhere from child care, restaurant work, bar work, maintenance, customer service and much more. The variety of jobs makes it a great hub for those who want to work and travel because there is literally something for everybody. Working on a cruise has many great perks and can be a great way to travel the world and meet new people so remember that there will be a lot of competition so do your research and make sure your resume stands out.

While there is the option of traveling and working there is also the option of traveling on a budget. Believe it or not, you can travel the world on a very limited budget, granted you may have to give up many luxuries that can come with traveling.

  1. Hostels: Hostels are a great way to travel on a budget and meet new people. Wherever you go in your travel expedition there is sure to be a hostel for you to stay at. Sure some hostels are much nicer than others and some are for the brave but there are options. Here is where research comes in handy again. Before you travel seek to learn information about the hostels where you will be staying, you can also find several reviews online from former guests. When you do your research, you can see the prices of the room, if you will have a private room or communal room and how far the hostel is from all the landmarks you wish to see.
  2. CouchSurfing: The new craze in budget traveling is. What is CouchSurfing you might ask? CouchSurfing is a social media platform that allows users to literally surf from couch to couch at host’s homes. CouchSurfing is available in more than 10,000 cities world-wide and is free to users. CouchSurfing offers the traveler a place to stay with a host family, it also offers the “couch surfer” a different way to meet new people and new places. CouchSurfing is attractive to many people because they feel as if they are getting an authentic travel experience from a local of the destination and saving money.
  3. Food: Many ambitious budget travelers worry about food costs when traveling. The reality is that if it is done correctly, obtaining food can be extremely cheap and in many instances even free. Many restaurants/cafes all over Europe practice throwing away food at the end of the day. A great way to get free food is by visiting family owned food establishments before close and asking if you may have the food they are planning on throwing away. In many instances they will give you more food than you planned hence you will have food for days while traveling. Another option for obtaining low-cost meals is to shop at small farmer’s markets. Many farmer’s markets in Europe and other parts of the world offer fresh fruits and vegetables at a ridiculously low price. Keep an eye out for fruit stands on the side of the road as well. If you are staying in a hostel this is another great way to save on food as chances are there will either be a communal kitchen you can use to prepare the food you bought at a low price or many hostels provide at least one meal a day withe their nightly price for stay.

It may seem intimidating but traveling on a budget can be done and attainable. You must first concoct a plan and develop your research from there. Seeing the world is a possibility and it can also be your possibility with some drive, determination and hard work. It may take some time to device your final plan but in the end it will be worth all the work when you are looking back at the people you met, the places you discovered and the memories you made.

For active, sophisticated people, stepping over the age of 50 means more opportunities to travel! But planning a holiday can get confusing, especially in a highly-competitive, dynamic tourism industry like ours. Here are some tips to plan your over 50 travel adventures with as little stress as possible!

Tip 1 – Try The Internet.

The Internet is an invaluable tool in planning your next holiday. It’s easy to get information on any destination, and the rates that online travel agents (OTA’s) have online are updated almost every day. That means it’s easy to compare different OTA’s and their offerings.

It’s also easy to pay for your flights, accommodations, and tour packages over the Internet. Just be careful with your credit card information, and feel free to ask any questions you may have. Some OTA’s may even offer discounts for travelers for over 50 travel and seniors travel!

Tip 2 – Watch Out For Shady Online Travel Agent’s (OTA’s).

Here’s one thing you have to remember about online travel agents — competition is VERY high. More and more online travel agents are popping up every single year, so rates and offerings can change frequently throughout the year.

The best way to keep yourself safe is to look for the better-known, more reputable OTA’s. The best ones out there are licensed, and don’t give any “too good to be true” travel packages — which, by the way, are a sure mark of a scam artist travel agency!

Also, the best OTA’s out there encourage their customers to take out adequate travel insurance. It’s a definite must for anyone who wants to travel. If you can’t afford insurance, then don’t travel at all — and that’s a piece of advice that any good OTA will give you.

Tip 3 – Visit Travel Review Websites.

Travel review websites are great places to check reviews of hotels, restaurants, and other points of interest in your chosen destination. The reviews are written by real people who have actually been in those places, making these websites very reliable.

But do be careful — some unscrupulous people have been exploiting travel review websites lately. For instance, some unscrupulous hotel owners write bad reviews of competing hotels, while writing good reviews of their own. These are fake reviews, and should always be disregarded.

Here’s how to tell whether a review is trustworthy — check if the reviewer has written several reviews already. Most fake reviews are the only one in a user’s record, and well-traveled individuals tend to write more reviews. The more professional and well-written the review is, the more trustworthy it is!

Tip 4 – Visit Real Travel Agencies.

Finally, it’s also a good idea to compare the deals offered by real travel agencies (at the mall, or two blocks down the road, etc.). Some travel agencies specialize in certain destinations, and offer travel packages that include visits to exotic spots not included in others’.

It’s a good idea not to hold back when you have any questions about your destination. Ask the agent if he’s been there himself, and if he has any advice for you. You may also want to know if there are any perks for over 50 travel!

And, as always, ask your agent if they offer travel insurance. The protection you get will be invaluable in case your flight gets canceled or if you lose your luggage or wallet. And, since you’re over 50, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount!

The city that never sleeps and the place where prostitution is actually legal. Those are only two of the many things you need to know about Las Vegas before you plan a trip there. Here are a few bits of Las Vegas travel info that will help you plan a vacation that will be filled with memories.

When it comes to Las Vegas travel info the first thing you need to know is that there is really something for just about everybody. From casino gambling to dinner shows and more. Some of the finest restaurants, golf courses, hotels, arcades, shops, and casinos are in Las Vegas. Plus there is an incredible night club atmosphere if that is something you love as well.

The next thing you should know is that around every single corner there is something different. Even though Vegas is known for its nightlife and is the perfect place for a bachelor party, there is more to it than that. There are plenty of family shows and activities that you can enjoy along with plenty of adult type of activities as well.

The last piece of Las Vegas travel info you need will save you some serious money while you are there. Before you go to Las Vegas you need to shop around online for the best package deal for your hotel and airfare. You also need to spend a little bit of cash and get a coupon book for Vegas. These two tips can take your $1,000 trip to Vegas and make it about a $400 trip.

While most of us enjoy holidays and traveling, many find the associated travel anxiety tough to bear. Travel anxiety isn’t a disease but it is rather the fear of the unknown. Fear of travel is usually caused by several factors. Some people may worry about their house and pets when they are away while others might have had unpleasant traveling experiences during their previous trips. Others are afraid of flying. Some fret that the trip will turn out to be a disaster and worry about all of the details. All of these are examples of worries related to travel that can lead to varying degrees of uneasiness. Regardless of the causes or intensity of your anxiety, it can really compromise the pleasure and excitement of your trip.

Although, travel anxiety is common in both experienced and novice travelers, most travelers have positive traveling stories to tell. Probably, they learned how to manage their anxieties and have regained the joy of travel. It is not too late; you can also overcome travel anxiety by following a little advice. The following 5 tips to stop travel anxiety could prove invaluable to you in planning your next holiday.

5 Tips to Stop Travel Anxiety

1. Spend time making Preparations Prior To Your Trip

From past experiences, to think of the details and annoyances that bothers you about traveling. For example, you think that your house will be in a mess once you step out of the door hire a house cleaner to clean your home prior to your return. If flight travels frightens you, you can equip yourself with your iPod or your favorite book to keep you busy while you’re traveling. Simply make a list of those things you think you’ll require in your trip and those things you won’t want to be left running while you are away. The time spent organizing, planning and taking care of all the details well in advance will help to stop travel anxiety.

2. Don’t Procrastinate

Some people are well aware of their travel anxieties and they’ll often avoid taking care of the details; eg. booking a ticket, packing, etc. They will make excuses, avoid and procrastinate due to previous poor experiences with traveling. Just because you have travel anxiety doesn’t mean that avoidance will eradicate your fears. If you really want to take control over travel anxiety, get yourself involved in the action by preparing early and taking care of all necessary details. Keep in mind, travel fears are just made up fears and they are never real.

3. Learn How to Cope Up With Flight Phobia

For those people who worry about flying, you may wan to dig a little deeper to find the root of this fear. Get to know exactly what frightens you. Are you are acrophobic or claustrophobic? Perhaps the mechanical sounds bother you or air turbulence puts the fright into you. All of these fears are irrational meaning you can counter them with rationality. Airlines have strict safety measures on board. Once you are aboard, try to listen to attendant instructions to calm your nerves. Also, use anything that you like such as music to disrupt your thoughts while you are traveling.

4. Meditate

To effectively manage their travel anxiety, many individuals use meditation to gain control. Meditation makes use of a kind of self-hypnosis, so you can calm your nerves and mind down. Various self-hypnosis scripts designed specifically to ease travel anxiety can be found online. Meditate on these scripts and your mind will be at ease during your time of travel. The scripts are great tools of converting people’s subconscious minds into a friend rather than a foe. Instead of having a subconscious mind that is deep-seated in travel anxiety, you’ll have a subconscious mind that is confident and not frightened of flights.

5. Get rid of the Unknowns

Illuminate your travel shadows by doing a research prior to your trip of things you’ll expect to encounter once you’re at your destination. Apart from visiting various travel blogs, you can also use travel guides to become well-informed with your destination point. Go online and checkout your accommodation so you will know what to expect. Have your looked into travel from the airport to the hotel? What about meals and special dietary requirements? The little unknowns add up and will add to your travel anxiety.

Besides the 5 tips to strop travel anxiety strategies listed above also ensure that you maintain proper communication using Facebook, MySpace, etc. Keeping the communication channels open with loved ones back home will keep you connected.

Observing the 5 tips listed above is a great way to start you on the path of happy travels. Best of luck!

Online booking of travel is one of the earliest business applications to come out of the internet explosion and is clearly one of the most successful. There are so many options when it comes to booking travel online, it is a wonder how anyone can keep them all straight. There are new booking tools coming online all the time. What makes one different from another, and when should I use one versus another? There are two different kinds of travel, and two different kinds of sites to consider. Leisure travel bookings have certainly done very well on the internet, but this article will focus on the many options for corporate booking online and what you should look for if given the task of finding the right solution for your company.

First of all, you certainly have the option of going directly to an airline website to complete your reservation. This is a great way to do it in certain circumstances. You may be familiar with the flight you need and know exactly what the fare should be from previous experience. Also, the airline websites sometimes offer mileage bonuses for booking online, and there is no fee in most cases for booking directly on the airline site. Sounds great, right? But actually there are many shortcomings by going directly with the airline websites. You are likely getting the lowest fare available for that airline, but you will usually have better options if you look at many airlines simultaneously. By going with a solution that looks at all airlines at once, you’ll guard against a traveler using their preferred airline for the mileage benefits without regard for price. What you will pay in booking fees with one of these solutions will likely be more than made up for by the lower fares you will find on multiple airline searches. Booking sites like Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia are examples of this kind of travel search engine.

Most people are familiar with these websites for leisure travel, but there are also business travel divisions of these companies with excellent alternate websites specifically designed for business travel use. What can you expect from a business travel site that differs from the leisure sites? You will get multiple traveler profile information stored on the site, as well as corporate reporting capability. You will see the ability for a travel coordinator to book travel for someone else, using a variety of credit cards. There will be some additional business friendly options, including options to book a car and/or hotel along with the air reservation. One of the best reasons to utilize an online system like this is that you can take care of the entire business trip in one shot instead of visiting multiple sites or making additional phone calls. So what exactly should you be looking for in a corporate travel online system? Let me give you my thoughts on the biggest issues.

Can it be customized?  This is a must for any company that really wants to get a handle on the travel program. There should be the ability to input corporate contracts for negotiated airfare (with detail down to the market or fare class level). This is also crucial for car contracts and individual and chain-wide hotel contracts. The reason this is so important is two-fold. First, your travelers need access to the absolute lowest fares and rates possible. Equally important but often overlooked, is the fact that in order to keep your current contracts, you need to perform to certain standards. If you need to drive 35% of your business to American Airlines, for example, you need to ensure that your online booking tool will help drive volume in the appropriate direction. This also holds true for the number of room nights you have agreed to with your hotel partners. Some of the newest online tools will automatically drive the volume to the right places based upon your input. While many are not this sophisticated, there are still ways to remind travelers of their corporate obligations as they are booking through pop-up reminders, banner headlines, etc.

Can it be integrated and branded?  For many companies this is an important way to drive adoption of the tool.  If you can brand the site with your logo and other design options, your travelers will be more likely to use the product.  Brand identity is important both inside and outside your organization.  Also, if you have a corporate intranet that travelers are used to using on a daily basis, you should be able to integrate the system using a Single Sign On application so users can access travel booking internally without having to remember another password for another system.

What kind of reporting can be generated?  If the whole idea of an online system is to better track traveler activity and spending, you need to be sure the available reporting meets your needs.  Many corporate systems may offer some baseline reporting, but it probably won’t be anything close to what you are used to, especially if you’re working with a Travel Management Company that customizes their reports to your specifications.  Make sure you have access to the information you need as it’s being generated.

What kind of backup support it offered?  This is perhaps the most critical issue you’ll come up against.  The larger online systems like Travelocity and Expedia have call centers to back you up in emergencies.  But do you need a better level of service in these situations?  There are many reasons to utilize a Travel Management Company’s online system instead of going with a larger, better marketed company.  If you partner with a TMC that offers an online system, you can get the support you need not only for complex reservations and emergency situations, but you’ll also get better support in programming your system.  Which brings us to another area of importance.

Who is responsible for programming the site?  Travel program changes happen all the time.  You’ll have travelers coming in to the company and leaving.  Your contracts, if you have them, will be renewed and canceled.  Your company policy will change, and it’s different for different level of employee.  In all these changes, your online booking system will also change.  When these changes happen, who is responsible for updating your system?  If it’s left up to you, do you have anyone that is trained in how to make the changes you need?  If it is the TMC’s responsibility, how quickly can they implement the changes?  And remember, an online booking site is only as good as it is programmed, no matter which way you go.  So who takes responsibility for programming errors?

Who takes care of training users?  Just as a system is only as good as it’s programmed, travelers can only benefit from the system insofar as they’re properly trained.  Most of your travelers are likely familiar with online booking either for personal travel or in previous business travel, so it shouldn’t be difficult to train them on a basic level.  However, each site that you investigate will have different strengths and weaknesses that travelers need to know about.  Online training can be effective, but personal training is even better.  Is your representation at the company local or willing to send a trainer to your location(s) for more in-depth training?  This goes for both end user travelers, travel coordinators booking for others, and anyone that needs to know programming of your site.

Want to get paid to travel? There are dozens of careers in travel that are not only rewarding, but also pay well.

Some of these opportunities involve finding a salaried or hourly wage-paying job, like becoming a traveling nurse, an airline hostess or pilot, a traveling chef, a cruise ship worker, yacht crew member, a massage therapist or hospitality worker at a resort.

There are several other travel careers that are easy to enter, let you go wherever you please, make money as you go, and even earn royalties for years from the work you do today.

Not only that, but you have the choice whether you want to make this your full-time occupation, or only a part-time travel job, when you have the time and desire to see the world, and make money doing it.

Get Paid to Travel Career #1: Lead Tours for Fun and Profit

Do you have an interest like yoga, wine tasting, cooking (or simply eating), writing poetry, painting, coffee, art history, or snorkeling? If you have a hobby, an academic interest, or particular expertise, you can find people with similar interests to pay you to take them on vacations with you.

Know something about wine? Lead a tour of wine country in Argentina, Italy, South Africa, even Morocco or China.

Get paid to lead tours to your favorite places in the world, or to the places you have always wanted to go.

Though you do not need to become a travel agent to lead tours for profit, you can make more money if you do have the ability to book the airfares, cruises, and accommodations of your clients yourself.

Get Paid to Travel Career #2: Make Travel Videos

Video sharing sites like YouTube are very popular, and resorts will pay you to create videos for them in the hopes of getting more business.

There is very little barrier to entry in this field, and not much competition. In fact, you can get started with a Flip recorder, or even the video camera on your phone. If you have $400 or $500 to invest in a quality digital video camera, you can make even more profit by creating travel videos to sell on Amazon.

You will need a laptop and some video editing software – and the desire to have complimentary stays at some of the world’s best resorts while they pay you to work!

Get Paid to Travel Career #3: Write Travel Articles

If you can write a postcard, then travel writing may be the career for you. Many publications look for short reviews of restaurants and hotels from new writers. Then, as you become more established, you can get paid more for longer articles.

Better yet, often resorts, hotels, restaurants, and other travel-related businesses will offer you their services at no charge in return for a review.

In most cases, you can republish the same article a number of times, drawing a check each time the article is printed in a different publication.

You might at some point want to write a travel guidebook, for which you could earn royalties. You can also publish your articles on web travel directories that share advertising revenues with writers.

Get Paid to Travel Career #4: Sell Your Travel Photos

There are several ways to make money with a career in travel photography.

You can combine travel writing and photography to earn more by submitting photos with your articles.

Also, you can upload your photos to online stock photography sites, and every time someone buys your photo from the agency, you earn a commission.

Even if you don’t have your own website, you can sell your travel photos online in a number of ways. You can sell prints of all sizes, posters, postcards, calendars, screen savers, even t-shirts and coffee mugs with your images on them.

You can also sell your work as fine art from the walls of coffee shops, restaurants, and galleries.

Get Paid to Travel Career #5: Start a Travel Publication

With your own website and newsletter, you can combine as many of the above methods as you want. You can publish only the content you create – articles, photos, and videos – or you can invite others to submit their work to your site, too.

Having a quality website gives you instant credibility and immediately establishes you as an expert in your field, whether it’s luxury travel, cruises, coffee, yoga, wine, or any other interest.

You can make money through advertising, promoting your tour business, selling your photos, and by referrals to hotels and other travel businesses.

These five careers in travel can not only help you get complimentary stays in resorts all over the world, but they also allow you to actually get paid to travel.

THERE’S ALWAYS TWO SIDES TO THE STORY!

I’ve been a medical traveler for many years now and have had numerous occasions to review a large number of Travel Company web sites. Most of them contain some type of Q & A section that explains how they work and what they offer. I’ve found that the information given, while accurate, is very incomplete.

Most of what I’ve learned about the medical travel industry has been learned through the proverbial School of Hard Knocks. It occurred to me recently to write an article that expanded on the usual information given on medical travel websites, an article that presented (as Paul Harvey used to say) the “Rest of the Story.”

And so…here we go!

SALARY

Travel Company: On their web sites Travel Companies usually state a salary range that they offer depending on the type of position, your area of expertise and your experience.

Rest of the Story: What you are initially offered for a travel assignment is usually not the top dollar that is available for that assignment. Most travelers merely accept what they are offered believing the “deal is the deal” for that particular assignment. I used to do that too… but not any more!

You especially limit your chances of getting the best salary for your assignments if you choose to register with only one travel agency. When you do that, you give away all leverage to negotiate for better pay. I am always registered with multiple travel companies so I can compare several potential assignments at once and negotiate for the best over all packages.

There are numerous other “pitfalls” when it comes to getting the most compensation for your travel job. For example, it behooves you to clarify the stipulations for receiving certain types of bonuses and whether you must work solely for one company to earn those bonuses. Again, if you work for only one company, you may unknowingly forfeit higher compensation in other areas of your benefit package in order for the company to offer you those bonuses, in which case they can hardly be called a bonus.

Remember, you can always, “work your best deal,” (negotiate) with several companies while still remaining highly professional. In addition, knowing how to ask for more will telegraph to a recruiter that you know your business and will position you to receive the best offers.

HOUSING

Travel Company: Travel companies always state they will provide you with fully furnished housing while you are on your assignment.

Rest of the Story: You may be asked to share a two bedroom apartment with another traveler, even a stranger, who is working at your same location unless you know you can request a one bedroom separate apartment.

Some travelers have been “required” (because they merely accepted this arrangement) to live in an extended stay facility for the entire 13 weeks of an assignment. This is very cramped quarters and becomes extremely wearying after just a couple of weeks.

I have seen travelers deal with other conditions that were very undesirable such as having their housing located too far from the hospital. I had this experience on one assignment (before I learned to clear all that up in advance!). Each morning I had to make my way through 10 miles of early morning rush hour traffic to reach the hospital.

In addition, fully furnished means different things to different people. If you don’t know what to ask for in advance you can be stuck with things like a poorly furnished kitchen (only a few sad looking pots and pans for cooking) as well as sparse and unattractive furniture (an ugly green sofa and purple chair spring to mind).

Knowing what your options really are and how to ask for them is paramount to having a comfortable, safe, convenient and enjoyable living arrangement. Multiple considerations are there for the asking, but you definitely have to ask. By clarifying in advance what I need and expect, and by applying simple to learn negotiating techniques I’ve perfected over time, I now receive the very best housing accommodations on all my assignments.

GENERAL BENEFIT PACKAGES

Travel Company: All travel companies offer a variety of benefits besides housing and salary which can include per diem pay, travel expenses, bonuses, clothing and equipment reimbursement, insurance, continuing education, 401 K’s, etc.

Rest of the Story: Travel benefit packages are definitely not all equal! For instance, one travel company’s insurance coverage may not start until 30 days after you have begun your assignment versus a policy offered by another company that becomes effective the first day on the job. These and numerous other “small print” concerns can come back to bite you if you’re unprepared!

I’ve also talked to nurses who were never offered per diem pay (the average is $30.00 a day or $210.00 a week) but others were receiving it simply because they asked for it! Some were told they could elect to have per diem pay but would receive fewer benefits in other areas if they chose that option. However, that was not the case for other travelers who refused that trade off. I know I continually receive per diem pay on ALL my assignments without sacrificing any reduction in other areas of compensation.

To make your travel experience the most lucrative and enjoyable, it pays (literally!) to know what is available as well as how to access those top of the line benefit packages.

TRAVEL PROVISIONS

Travel Company: Travel companies offer a variety of ways to cover your travel expenses. If you are required to fly to your assignment, your flight costs will be paid in advance and your travel itinerary arranged for you plus a rental car will be provided once you arrive at your destination. If you are desirous of driving your own car to your job site, you will receive mileage compensation and/or a flat fee amount for travel expenses.

Rest of the Story: Travel companies can save a lot of money by booking you on flights that leave or arrive at undesirable times of the day or night or that re-route you all over the place, necessitating you change planes frequently.

I had that experience early on in my travel career (oh what a novice I was then!), when after 3 stops, and long layovers, I finally landed at an airport at 1 am in the morning that was a full two hour drive away from my job site! Just to add to the misery, after that two hour drive in the middle of the night I arrived to find the hotel booked for me was the ultimate rat’s nest with a stuck heater system that turned my room into an unbearable steam bath.

I also have some rather interesting stories about the type of cars that were rented on my behalf (tin can anyone?). Fortunately I’ve learned how to avoid all those nightmares and now travel comfortably and at reasonable hours.

The point is that if you don’t know your way around the available travel options, plus know how to negotiate for the best travel considerations, you can have some pretty nasty travel experiences.

JOB LOCATIONS

Travel Company: Travel companies paint a somewhat glamorous picture of the places you can travel and the wonderful experiences you can have.

Rest of the Story: If you’re a traveling novice there is a very good chance you will end up in some out of the way place or hospital that is anything but glamorous. Travel companies are anxious to fill whatever positions that present (after all, that’s how they make their money!) and so they can offer less than desirable job locations to those who don’t know how to navigate the system. That certainly happened to me the first time I took a travel position. I landed in a miserable little town with a very boring job assignment. It made for a very long 13 weeks!

Just knowing you might get dealt the “low end of the deck” if you’re new to the game can help you avoid something really dower. However, even seasoned travelers are often not getting the best assignments that are available. Thankfully, over time I’ve learned what to ask for and what to avoid, and more importantly, how to spot a bad job location no matter how many bows are on the package.

THE BEST JOBS

Travel Company: Travel companies accurately state that a recruiter will contact you about a job opportunity and will give you a general overview of the job, its requirements, and what salary and other benefits are being offered. You will also have an opportunity to ask whatever questions you wish concerning the position.

Rest of the Story: Recruiters are going to provide the basics of the potential job assignment to you but they are not going to go into any great detail unless it is in direct response to your questions. You should also be prepared to ask pertinent questions of the hospital representative if you should decide to interview for a position presented to you by the recruiter.

I remain astounded at the number of even experienced travelers that either do not ask many questions concerning a potential job assignment or don’t know what to ask to find out the “nitty gritty” of what the job really entails. As a result, there are many travelers who are quite “surprised” (and not in a good way!) about the real facts once they reach their job destination. And of course, like it or not, they are bound by a legal contract to fulfill their assignment.

Just by asking the number of staff that will be working on your floor or in your department, the number of patients or tests you will be expected to oversee or perform, and the ratio of permanent and travel staff, you can begin to get a definite feel for what you will encounter. Recently while considering a position, I was able to ask those questions plus several others that revealed there had been a recent “uproar” in the department with people leaving in mass, leading me to decide not to jump into the fray.

I am always being treated to the latest horror story concerning jobs that were anything but what they were thought to be. That doesn’t have to be your story if you learn the right questions to ask in order to get the real picture.

IN CONCLUSION

As you can see, knowledge is power! Without it, you’re in for a very bumpy ride in the medical travel world. I’ve explained just a few Q & A areas where travel companies are only giving you the basics of the process. Unfortunately, relying on “just the basics” will have you collecting a few horror stories of your own!

Are Travel Clubs worth the investment?

My traveling days have slowed down since I’ve become a new mom, my priorities have changed, but my husband and I still try and take a vacation at least once or twice a year. My boss travels several times a year and was telling me about the opportunities that come along with them and suggested that I check things out. Well, my curiosity got the best of me and I started searching different sites for information on the pros and cons. I hope my findings help you with your decision on whether or not to purchase a membership.

Wondering what a travel club is? Members a charged a membership fee in return for providing travel at cost or an extremely discounted rate. There are several different types of clubs, ranging from luxury leisure travel to affordable adventure travel and a whole slew of others.

My boss chose to go with “Travel RCI”, which guaranteed the lowest prices for flights, hotels and other forms of travel. He has been very happy with the services and said he wished he would have joined earlier. The savings have truly added up for him, and they might for you as well.

Benefits

Becoming a member can be extremely beneficial if you travel more than just once a year. Most memberships come with several free trip offers each year. Travel club memberships offer cheap trip options that are not available to the general public. Investing in a membership can range anywhere from unlimited flexibility in travel options, trip packages in thousands of destinations. You can save on all the extras that go hand in hand with planning a trip, like car rental, hotel reservations, airline tickets and discounts on food and drinks. Travel club membership also works like airline mile rewards programs, giving you additional benefits for traveling more.

Types

There are a handful of different types, ranging from women’s only clubs, sport-specific like ski or golf travel to clubs for traveling singles. Most memberships require a one-time nominal fee, while other may require annual or monthly membership fees. There are also several companies that coordinate for the professionals, like teachers and dentists, with professional services related travel opportunities.

With the vast array of options and types, just about every traveler can find a club that is unique to their individual tastes. An important factor is convenience. A travel club allows members to maintain up-to-date profiles based on their travel interests that help the club to weed out potential offers and trip options for them. With a vast array of traveling tools, a travel club can simplify your travel planning process for you by keeping everything you need on an easily accessible site.

Advisory

Like any other special offers and discounts you may find on the Internet today, travel club options should be thoroughly researched for legitimacy. There are many travel-related Internet scams on the Internet and they prey off vulnerable trusting individuals. Be sure to check out the company’s reputation by conducting a basic Internet search. Like contacting the Better Business Bureau, or simply calling the company in question to ask for more information.

Also, remember that the benefit of a travel clubs really ramps up once you travel twice in a given year. If you do not travel at least twice a year you will likely not save enough money to justify the cost of your membership. If you travel more than twice a year your travel club should be a great investment.

Conclusion
Travel clubs can be a great investment for the avid traveler. If you plan on traveling several times a year I would highly recommend that you research the different travel clubs and see which one will best suite you and your family and/or business needs. Please take the time so you too can get the best out of your future travels.

There is no one “right” way to travel, especially when it comes to the number of partners you choose to travel with as you explore the world. Yes, if you travel with others, you should only travel with those whose presence you enjoy. And yes, I’d argue you’ll have a lot more fun by traveling with some close and adventurous friends rather than traveling through a foreign destination with a group of tourists who barely want to leave the hotel. But, assuming you make a few wise choices regarding the company you keep, there are unique benefits hidden within traveling with one person, with three people, or with a dozen people.

Not that you actually need to travel with anyone else. In fact, the intensity of traveling alone often outclasses anything you’ll experience traveling with others- intense in its highs and its lows. Intense in its connections and its loneliness. Intense in its opportunities for building confidence, and intense in its opportunities for dealing with doubt and fear. And it’s this intensity of often-conflicting experience that makes traveling alone for an extended period of time an absolute necessity for each and every one of us.

Travel is About Growth

A quick aside.

Some people may be put off by the ideal of intensity I’ve used to drum up travelling alone. I understand this. An intense experience can be uncomfortable to think about. But in reality, an intense experience is often more uncomfortable to think about than it is to actually live through. But our discomfort surrounding intensity lies at the heart of every growth opportunity we ever encounter. We grow the most when we feel most alive and when we push through vague anxieties to expand our sphere of comfortable action.

In other words you shouldn’t avoid the intense experiences and the discomfort they temporarily produce- you should run towards them. Sometimes traveling is about just enjoying yourself, but at its heart traveling the world is about running towards intensity, embracing discomfort, and expanding the world you inhabit.

So yes, the thought of traveling alone can sometimes feel scary. That’s sort of the point. Don’t use this fear as an excuse to live in a smaller world than you need to.

Others

When you travel alone your experiences will swing wildly back and forth between being deeply social and deeply lonesome. Often the tone of your experiences changes overnight. One night you meet some new friends you spend hours and hours with as you talk, as you explore, as you bare your souls- as you get drunk together and dance together and as you wander foreign streets late at night together, invincible in the moment. The next day they leave and so does the last person you know in your current location and you’re alone again. In that moment you can be active and reach out and meet others, but you’ll feel shocked how often, in that moment, you’d rather spend your time totally alone.

Through expat bars and hostels and alternative tours, traveling provides you with a never-ending opportunity to meet new people. When you travel by yourself you’ll only ever be as alone as you want to be. You’ll be able to meet others without preconceptions, without strings attached, without checking in to see if everything’s cool with your friends and without worry what others will think about the relationships you build and leave behind. When it comes down to it traveling by yourself provides you with social freedom you could never experience back home or traveling with others.

And that includes the freedom to truly be by yourself. The relief of occasionally spending a day on your own when you’re back home does not, and cannot, compare with the depth of the solitude you will experience when you are alone for hours, days, or weeks at a time in cities, countries and cultures far from your everyday experience. These silent, lonely moments will make you feel so many things, they will give you the time to process and to question and to answer, it’s in those moments of total separation from everything and everyone related to home that you can gain the most perspective on your life and make the hard decisions about who you are, what you want, and how you’re going to get there- decisions you just can’t make when you’re grasping on to even the slightest thread of connection to the life you used to know.

Yourself

I hope I don’t sound like I’m bearing down negatively on others. So many of your opportunities for some semblance of enlightenment will come to you in the company of others. We are intensely, and intrinsically, social creatures. As E.E. Cummings said, “We are for each other,” and every nugget of insight you learn as you travel by yourself exists for the sole purpose of helping you better serve the world and the others who live in it. I’m merely suggesting there are benefits and insights out there in the wild you can only gain when you disconnect completely in the way you only can when you vacate normal life and search for something else on your own.

If you need any greater indication that humans are truly social in nature consider the powerful feelings of doubt and fear you’ll feel when you cut yourself off from others. Even thinking about traveling alone you’re probably thinking that it isn’t something you could ever do. When you leave home on your own you will feel incredibly scared of what you’ll find way out there and whether you’ll be able to handle it. Traveling alone you will repeatedly question pretty much everything about yourself and whether you can even survive, in a basic mental and emotional sense, without continuous close contact with others.

And moving through these cycles of fear and doubt you will learn something- that you can handle it. You cannot only survive but you can thrive. You learn how tough you really are, how little you really need, and with that knowledge of your own inherent indestructibility and with that understanding that life can be great even if you lose everything, you will gain the confidence and courage to actually act on the dangerous insights you accumulate while you travel. Traveling alone not only lets you see what difficult choices you need to make when you return back home, traveling alone lets you know you’re strong enough to risk it all and act on them. Traveling alone makes you both a wiser and a stronger person in a way traveling with others never, ever could.

Believe it or not, our life revolves around travel everyday! When we think of the word “travel,” we would normally think about exotic vacations, airplanes, road trips, our dream travel destinations, all inclusive hotels on a tropical island, you name it! Traveling is simply moving from point A to point B. This includes but not limited to traveling to work, traveling to school or even traveling to a destinations a few blocks away from our home.

Humans and animals travel for various reasons. During the winter time, some birds such as the Canadian geese, travel south to far as Mexico to escape the cold (humans do that too!), we as humans travel to work in order to make ends meet and the list can go on forever. Not to mention, we travel to other places on this planet to temporarily escape our chaotic environments, then we come back to it rejuvenated. Sometimes we even travel permanently to other destinations for various reasons such as seeking a “better life,” reuniting with family and taking up a new job offer.

Just about everyone has their own dream travel destination. Many people in developing countries dream about traveling to the USA to taste the American dream; many people from developed cold countries dream about traveling to tropical countries such as Jamaica to taste at least two weeks of sunshine and many others from various regions around the globe dream about exploring other countries that are known to have extraordinary scenery.

Now unfortunately, many of us don’t get a chance to fulfill our travel dreams in our life time for various reasons such as lack of finances, can’t get the time off from work or just simply having to fulfill other commitments. These common excuses mentioned here are all understandable; however, the truth is you can still fulfill your travel dreams if you work hard at it. The question I have for you is, “How important are these travel dreams to you?” If your dream travel destination doesn’t have any form of priority in your life, don’t expect to be going anywhere soon! Yes, I would certainly encourage you to be realistic with your finances and resources at the same time. If you really want to go on that trip that dreamed about all your life, make it happen!

Start planning ahead with your family about the family travel plans. If you plan at least 1-2 years in advance, you can make it happen (depending on where you’re traveling). For example, if you’re planning an all inclusive trip to the Caribbean for a family of four, and save at least $200 US or more a month, you’ll be amaze to see how much you’ll end up by the end of the year!

You may say “I can’t afford this” but think about all the unnecessary things that you’re purchasing and add up how much you can be saving and who knows, you and your family can be able to fulfill that travel dream in less than a year! By saving up from now, you can pay for that vacation with cash without going in to debt if you start saving now. Yes, it’s going to take some sacrifice but at the end of the day, it’s all worth it. It’s good to also plan ahead with your boss when you want to take time off from work. If you own your own business, plan ahead of time to set aside some days off from work.

Did you know that there are some benefits about traveling? Education may be the first benefit. Yes, traveling can also be a learning experience. A person from a developed country who travels to a developing country may learn how to complain less and appreciate life more in his own developed country. A person from a developing country who travels to a developed country will learn that he can have a “better life” in another environment though this may not be true all the time.

Traveling to other nations may give you the opportunity to discover developmental and business opportunities. If you’re an entrepreneur or investor who is on a vacation in another country, you may learn about some investment opportunities that may come with great rewards.

Traveling may be good times to get know your friends and family much better. Not to mention again, it’s one of the best opportunities to relax and escape the stressful world for a while. I enjoy traveling myself and I also enjoy encourage people to travel other places, and even locally. My traveling experience has taught me that there is much more to life than I thought before. In other words, my view about life has changed for the better.

Happy New Year to you! I hope that you, your family or friends, would be able to fulfill the travel dreams that you have in mind during this year. Remember, your traveling journey starts now by implementing the plans. All the best!

Become a travel agent and capitalize on reaping the benefits of 7 trillion dollar and counting industry. The travel industry is probably the largest in the world and America is in the top 3. The internet continues to literally explode with opportunities and home based businesses really rocket into the limelight.

Air travel has come a long way since its humble beginnings and today it is possible to fly to the farthest corners of the earth without any difficulty whatsoever. More people are being attracted to flying overseas for annual vacations and business travel. If you have landed on this page don’t go away – you can read all about the benefits you will enjoy when you become a travel agent.

Once you take a look at the grand benefits you can avail of when you become a travel agent my guess is there will be no turning back.

A travel agent gets to save as much as 80 percent on travel to several of the world’s finest resorts and travel destinations. General discounts include but are in no way limited to:

• Complimentary upgrades on airlines
• Hotel room discounts
• Hotel room upgrades
• Car rental discounts and upgrades
• Discounted or even complimentary cruises
• Vacation package discounts and benefits
• Earn visits and discounts to theme parks, shows and attractions
• Luxury cruise discounts of up to 70 percent
• Comprehensive training

You could become a travel agent and enjoy familiarization (FAM) trips; supplier offer these trips to travel Professionals to familiarize them with the facilities and gain first hand knowledge about an airline, hotel, travel destination, etc. A travel Professional cannot be an effective sales person if they have never actually experienced the joy of visiting a particular place; flying a particular airline or staying at a particular hotel. This first hand knowledge will help convince clients that the agent is knowledgeable and knows what he or she is talking about.

When you travel a distinct benefit is the fact that suppliers roll out the red carpet for you. They tend to go overboard in convincing you that their hotel or package is the best on the market.

Independent travel agents can avail of tax benefits and you need to check this with a CPA or professional tax authority to get the right information.

Travel Professionals earn travel agent commissions on travel undertaken by clients and self.

You will need to do your research to find a good company to tie up with depending on whether you want to be an independent travel Professional or work with a big travel agency. You will also need a license to become a Certified Travel Professional need to do research on companies who offer independent travel agent.

If you plan to travel to South East Asia you should definitely consider taking a trip to Thailand. Thailand is one of the most beautiful countries in Asia and there are millions of tourists visiting Thailand each year. This article will provide Thailand travel info to anyone who interests in this charming country.

First is the time for your visit. The most popular time to visit Thailand is between November and March. This is not only the pleasant temperature the country has, but also this period is the main season for festivals in Thailand. You will be having lots of fun participating in the Loi Krathong and New Year festivals.

However, if you come at the end of this period and stay longer until 13-15 April, you will be able to experience some extra fun with the extraordinary water festival, called Songkran in every part of the countries. A little tip is that if you expect to enjoy this Songkran festival in Pattaya, you will have to stay a little longer as Songkran in only pattaya is held during 17-19 April each year.

This period is also Thailand’s peak tourist season. As a result, if you want to avoid crowds and expensive room rates, you should choose the least crowded months like from April to June or September to October.

Although the rainy season is not a very pleasant time to visit the country, you should not dismiss this season entirely. The temperature is much cooler and tourists are fewer and the landscape is green and lush. The most important thing, there are great deals of accommodation and other services during this time.

Once arriving Thailand, most people are like to visit Bangkok as the first start as this is the main transit, Suvanabhumi International Airport, where people step in this country. Bangkok is a city you should not miss in your trip. You will be amazed at the unrestrained glory of the city. There are countless shopping centers to satisfy your shopping need.

Moreover, Bangkok is the place where tradition and modernity intermingling with each other. You will be able to visit a typical Siamese village when you step outside of your affordable world-class hotel. You will be able to buy famous brand-names from sky-high shopping centers as well as participating in an open-air market. You can choose to eat the popular Thai food either in a luxurious restaurant or street-side market.

The excitement of the city will keep you alive. There are many shopping centers that open all night long, enabling you to wander around if you cannot sleep. You will never feel bored when you are in Bangkok. Hope this Thailand travel info will help you for planning your first step in this country and wish you a happy trip in Thailand.

The concept of Dynamic Packaging is to bundle all the components chosen by the aspiring traveler and create one reservation. Regardless of where the inventory originates, the package that is created is handled seamlessly as one transaction, and requires only one payment from the consumer.

To a traveler, there is nothing better than a one stop shop for his traveling needs. The Dynamic Packaging Engine uses a travel component inventory and prices. Regardless of where the inventory originates, the package that is created is handled seamlessly as one transaction, and requires only one payment from the consumer. It automatically applies rules defined by the suppliers and the travel marketer to build and price travel packages. This package configuration process determines which components are used, what combinations of components are allowed or required, and handles inclusions such as taxes, fees or additional package features. Rules also determine how the final retail price is computed.

CAPABILITIES

A typical dynamic packaging application will need the following capabilities:

1. Search and Availability

2. Memberships

3. Shopping Cart

4. Booking and Reservations

5. Payments

6. Cancellations

SEARCH AND AVAILABILITY

A traveler always seeks a destination. Even though he may well be aware of where he needs to go to, he will search for the most appropriate place to stay and enjoy his visit. The search starts with a Transportation and Travel components, Hotel Property, Leisure Components. The search therefore has to be divided geographically to include destinations and neighboring destinations that meet the search criteria. An example search could be travel to New York City, stay at Stamford, Connecticut, Golf at upstate New York. Clearly the Dynamic Packaging engine needs to know the dates of travel, from and to destinations, closest airport to hotel, rental car or other desired ground transportation from selected airport to hotel and access to tee times at the neighboring golf courses. Like the traveler, businesses also seek travel related information.

Travel Agents, Call Centers, and Meeting Planners need packaged information on behalf of their clients. Such a search is riddled with rules and complexity. Besides, the customer needs to have choices that can vary from comfort to price and everything else in between.

1. Proximity: The search uses parameters that can narrow down possibilities yet offer extended possibilities. In our search example, Westchester Airport would have been the best choice. La Guardia airport would be an ideal choice. JFK and Newark and Teterboro are the next choices from a distance to Hotel point of view.

2. Fare and Rates: The traveler will look for the best fare. In our example though Westchester is close to the hotel, offers limited Airlines and perhaps not the best fares. Some fares maybe very attractive, however when it comes to flexibility and cancellation they are not the best. Flexibility of change, penalties associated with change and cancellation are important factors to include in the search results.

3. Travel Times: That’s another important factor for the business traveler. How many flights are there to the airport and at what intervals. Check in times and total time to travel also helps in determining his choice. Therefore non-connecting and connecting flights with layover times need to figure in the search.

4. Accessibility: Another key factor often not paid attention to is accessibility. Physically impaired travelers, people who need meals on a flight, wheelchair access, and quick access to rental cars or trains or ground transportation play a very important role in travel. Do the hotel(s) have wheelchair access? Is it possible to get ground transportation to destined hotel that has wheelchair access?

5. Amenities: Does the hotel offer standard amenities like restaurants, swimming pool, health parlors, spa, fax and printing, broadband Internet access etc? Similarly does the rental car come with GPS, insurance, inter state travel? Does the Golf Course allow only cart access? Are ski rentals available near the resort? The inclusion of amenities in a search result ensures the traveler is not in for surprises at the first lap of travel.

6. Prepackaged: You want to travel, stay in a semi luxury hotel, play golf, why search for each individually. A prepackaged deal would also be more attractive than customizing the travel. Perhaps cheaper.

Travel should be far from being hostile. It is after all a home away from home. A home is a pivotal source for living and entertainment. One uses the home and its peripheral surroundings to make the best of living. The travel destinations and the mode of travel should be as non hostile and as hospitable as is possible. A dynamic packaging should offer a wealth of choices to the traveler yet not inundate the traveler with so much information that he/she is nervous wreck at the end of an itinerary creation.

ACTORS

From the above description one can determine who the obvious actors are in this case.

1. The Traveler

2. GDS (Airlines and Hotels Rate Distribution)

3. Airlines

4. Car Rental Companies

5. Hotel Central Reservation

6. Tour Operators (Buses, Ground Transportation)

7. Proprietary Aggregators (like Golf, Ski etc.)

MORE ACTORS

The Dynamic Packaging should be capable of extending the services for business-to business operations. Which would imply that our actors now are?

8. Travel Agents and Meeting Planners

9. Call Center Agents.

SHOPPING CART

The key item in dynamic packaging is the Shopping Cart. The results of search can be selected and added as line items in the shopping cart. It bundles all the components chosen by the traveler to create one reservation. This shopping cart based vacation builder allows comparison shopping of packages that can include plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, insurance, attraction tickets and other features. Regardless of where the inventory originates, the package that is created is handled seamlessly as one transaction, and requires only one payment from the consumer. It automatically applies rules defined by the suppliers and the travel marketer to build and price travel packages. This package configuration process determines which components are used, what combinations of components are allowed or required, and handles inclusions such as taxes, fees or additional package features.

Travel insurance is just one of things that are necessary when traveling abroad. Travel insurance can be a very practical solution to providing protection for unexpected emergencies while traveling. This type of insurance protects your investment and allows individuals to travel with peace of mind. There are several options available for going abroad depending on the length and type of trip. Travelers can easily compare plans from leading providers, receive quotes and purchase a plan instantly. Travel insurance can insure against unexpected illness, injury, employment loss, luggage loss and more.

It can provide coverage for Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption. This insurance provides coverage due to unforeseen illnesses or death. Pre-departure trip cancellation insurance provides protection in the event of the traveler having to cancel flight or hotel reservations due to an immediate member of the family’s death or illness or other covered events. Trip interruption insurance provides benefits if the traveler is unable to continue the covered trip after departure due to covered events. As an option, there are companies that also provide policies that cover cancellation for any reason.

Another option available for travelers insurance is for medical emergencies. This type is beneficial particularly when visiting abroad. Insurance for medical emergencies will provide coverage for doctor visits, medication and even evacuation for medical emergencies. This is particularly important for individuals with chronic conditions or those traveling to underdeveloped countries. Travelers may also have the option of insurance that will provide coverage for tickets that are not refundable and the trip has to be cancelled. Some insurance will even cover missed flights, which can be, a life saver due to delays and overcrowding.

Baggage protection is another type of insurance available. This type of insurance covers direct loss, theft, and damage of your luggage during the covered trip. Travel Accident Protection is another insurance choice that is available. This type of insurance provides coverage for accidental death and dismemberment. This type of insurance provides protection if the traveler is injured in an accident and suffer a loss while covered under this type of plan. A comprehensive travel insurance plan is a great option and a very popular choice for vacationing abroad. This option can provide a wide range of insurance coverage and may even allow travelers to choose what options to incorporate which is why it such a popular choice.

There are several types of companies that offer insurance for travelers. Most travelers prefer to purchase this insurance directly from travel insurance agencies or companies. It is also offered by most companies that offer tours as they generally offer insurance to their clients. Major cruise lines as well offer the option to purchase travel insurance. Cruise line operators usually offer a host of plans to travelers when they schedule a cruise. Travelers can purchase insurance from a travel agent which is very convenient to purchase travel and insurance in one place.

Once you think about the high price of travel and the low price of insurance, this type of insurance is a very reasonable investment. There are plenty of things to worry about when traveling but by protecting your vacation plans with affordable traveling insurance, unforeseen events do not have to be one of them. Since it is not possible to foresee what may happen during travel, a insurance plan is a great value. Travel insurance can slash your losses in numerous situations.

You have seen them, they all look alike, the regular ‘road warrior’ with their determined expression, wrinkle proof suit and pulling a beaten up carry on bag…whether you travel a little or a lot with your company there are many ways you can boost your personal productivity when you travel. These before, during and after strategies will help you maximize your time, limit your stress and overall increase your travel productivity.

Before You Travel

Buy the tools – you wouldn’t build a house without the right tools, travel is no different. To be a productive traveler you want to ensure you have a variety of tools to assist the comfort and productivity of your trip. Tools to consider purchasing are quality luggage, Ipod, noise cancelling earphones, soft briefcase and GPS system.

20-22 inch Carry On expandable luggage – I like Briggs and Riley, it is durable, light weight, expandable, self healing and well made. These are allowed in the US and other countries as carry on baggage. When you are buying luggage look for features such as pull along, strong wheels, stability foot on the bottom (in case it gets too heavy), external zippers (to hold travel documentation and the Ziploc toiletry bag) and also make sure the pop up handle is a ‘one pull’ action.

IPOD or MP3 – this is not a luxury, this is a requirement for any travel. I have a created a selection of play lists, including one with very relaxing music so that when it is time to sleep I can turn to this group and fall asleep.

Noise canceling earphones – these are a little bit of a luxury, but I wouldn’t travel anywhere without them. My husband previously flew many long international flights and he turned me onto this great invention.

Briefcase – I like a soft tote briefcase that allows me to include personal and work related items. My favorite is from Coakley Business Class (sorry guys these are just for women) and they are the best travel briefcase I have ever found (and you can use it everyday!). For the gentleman, try the soft Samsonite one, it has great suspension in the shoulder strap. When looking for a brief case also make sure it has the feature to be able to slide it over your carry on luggage (many have a soft strap or a zippered section to allow you to do this).

GPS (Global Positioning System) – this was the best gift I ever got! They are now getting smaller and smaller and are perfect to plug into your rental car when you arrive in another city. Also when we were in Italy last year we downloaded the European maps and it was great fun to get around tiny little towns. I have named mine ‘Bella’ – she keeps me company when I am driving late at night or in a city where I don’t know my way.

Consider clothing – When you are regularly on the road I suggest a few strategies to help make your life easier for both packing and arriving looking together.

Travel Outfit – Create your own travel outfit, yes it can be the same every time. Mine is a pair of black pants, black top (I have a short sleeve one for summer and a long sleeve one for cooler months), pantyhose and a pair of black patent leather flat slip on shoes. I wear the same silver jewellery with it all and I know when I arrive at the security line I don’t have to remove anything (except my shoes) – that is why pantyhose (or socks) are good when you have to take off your shoes. The fabric of this outfit doesn’t crease and is comfortable (which makes a huge different on those long flights).

Airport shoes – think about the quality and make of the shoes you wear to the airport. I suggest slip ons of some description so you are not awkwardly trying to tie up laces or straps. Also ensure they are comfortable and well made as you often have to walk long distances between gates or to the parking area.

Carry a pashmina – for the ladies, I recommend you invest in a dark colored pashmina that has many uses. On the plane it is a great blanket (and so many airlines in the US don’t supply pillows and blankets). When I rent a car it becomes a booster seat for me (he he). When I have to sit on an airport floor (yes I have done that living here in the US) it is great to place on the floor … oh and yes I can wear it if I need to keep warm.

Jewellery – wearing the same silver jewellery when I travel I know I can wear it the next day and I can walk through the screening area without having to remove it. It simplifies the process and speeds up the line.

Belts – if possible, don’t wear an outfit that requires a belt as it is only one more item of clothing you have to remove at the airport line.

Productive Packing – there are many opinions on what to pack and I find the most productive way for me is having a series of pre-packed bags. This includes luggage, carry on plane survival kit, brief case, make up and toiletry bags.

Pre-packed luggage contents includes:

  • Ziploc toiletry bag
  • Underwear
  • First aid items (band aids, safety pins and head ache tablets)
  • Make up bag
  • Gym gear
  • Clothes brush (I have a long haired cat and her fur seems to make its way across the world with me)
  • Book of interest
  • Cell Phone charger
  • Laptop power pack
  • Stamped stationery (note cards and envelopes)

Carry on plane survival kit contents include:

  • Ipod
  • Noise cancelling earphones
  • Spare battery for noise cancelling earphones
  • Lip balm
  • Eye mask (for those long flights)
  • Pen
  • Eye drops
  • Travel size toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Breath mints

Make up kit – ladies if you travel a lot I suggest you buy a full set of make up and make up brushes and tools and keep them in a separate make up bag so you never have to go looking for something and you never forget something on your trips.

Ziploc Toiletry Bag contents include travel sized:

  • Decanted shower gel
  • Skin care
  • Hair care products
  • Travel sized perfume or aftershave (most brands now supply a smaller size compliant with airline safety standards)
  • Toothpaste
  • Spare contact lenses

Many department stores and pharmacies carry a range of travel sized products. I was fascinated when I was in Sephoria in Times Square recently that the merchandising near the payment counter had changed significantly and provided 50+ choices of regular band products in travel sized convenient containers.

Plastic helps – My friend Camille was an airline goddess for many years and gave me this great tip, using the plastic you receive from your dry cleaners around your clothes helps avoid creases.

Duplicate copies – to be more productive (and for a few extra dollars) consider investing in duplicates of everything you travel with. If you are a regular traveler, having a pre-packed bag will allow you to leave with minimum notice and save time and stress before any trip. On your list of items to buy you could include:

  • Toiletries available in travel size
  • Brushes – make up brushes, hair brushes or combs
  • Cell phone charger
  • Laptop power pack
  • Make up
  • Stamps and stationery
  • Spare items i.e. pantyhose, clothing brush.

Choose your seat – I like to sit in an aisle seat so I can get in and out and I don’t feel cramped by others. For longer flights (especially the red eye), my friend Shawn books the window seat so you can lean against the window to sleep, choose your seat wisely. If you have an option of an exit row choose this seat as it gives you more leg room. You may like to check out – it is a great website to see exactly what your seat will be on most major airlines.

Pre-print your boarding pass – whenever possible go online 24 hours before you fly and select your seat and print your boarding pass. This will save you time in the long lines at the airport check in and also help you find the seat you want.

Join airline clubs – if you fly frequently to same cities join the airline programs of those major airlines so you can also gather frequent flyer miles for all your travels. You may be able to use them for a fun trip with those you care for later on.

Join airline lounges – if you fly with the same carrier regularly to invest in a membership for that lounge so you have a quiet place to snack, get changed or to catch up on reading. I noticed in Australia this was a great use of money and well worth it however in the US the gates and lounges are so spread out and there are so many options to travel with different airlines this hasn’t been a worthwhile investment for me here, however if you fly the same airline every time it might be worth it for you.

Create a one page itinerary – create a one page template that includes your confirmation codes of all flight details, hotel and rental car information. Include on this template all your frequent flyer clubs and associations also so that if you arrive and they haven’t included this in your booking you can quickly get credit for your travel.

During Your Travel

Allow extra 30 minutes – add at least 30 minutes onto any amount of time you think it will take you to get to the airport or park. This additional time will save you stress if you are stuck in traffic, can’t find a car space or the security line is longer than you expected. If you have pre-packed a book or magazine you can use that 30 minutes to read or to connect with a friend or client.

Know the Parking Garage – if you regularly travel on the same airline, know the shuttle system or design of the car park so you can get in and out quickly.

Take your ticket – when you receive a parking receipt/ticket on your arrival place it in the same compartment of your bag or briefcase so you know where to find it upon your return.

Write the parking space on your ticket – in the US the parking garages are so big that I always write the color and space on my parking receipt so that when I arrive back after a few days away (often late at night), I can quickly find my car and not waste time wandering around the parking garage.

Ground transport notice – when you enter an airport, notice where the taxis, rental car shuttles or parking garages are. This will save you time when you return and allow you to quickly make your way to the next place.

Regular rental – Use the same rental company each time you travel will also boost your productivity because you will expect a certain standard each time you fly. You might also consider joining their frequent customer program too. I like using Enterprise because they are affordable and also each time you arrive they look so happy to see you and they pay attention to small details including water bottles in the car and also pre-printed local lists of radio stations and areas of interest.

Play music – by creating different play lists on your IPOD you will enjoy your travel more if you can listen to music and block out the noise around you. This is effective in the airport lounge, at the gate and on the plane. You might also like to include a CD in your packing checklist for the rental car.

Getting through security – there are several tips to help you get through the line faster:

  • Wear an outfit that doesn’t require any removal of items or have any metal.
  • Place your cell phone and keys into your briefcase or purse before entering the security line.
  • Keep your Ziploc bag of toiletries in an outside zippered compartment for quick access.
  • Get your laptop out of your briefcase before you reach your place in line.
  • Place your laptop, shoes and toiletries in one container on the security screen belt.
  • Keep your boarding pass and photo identification in your hands.

Check in or carry on – I always carry on luggage (up to a five day business trip), I have learn to pack well and have invested in a minimum number of outfits. I think there is so much time wasted waiting for luggage (not to mention the concern it may not arrive with you!) wherever possible try and carry on luggage for your business travel.

Laptop … or not – if your trip doesn’t require you to take your laptop, leave it at home. It is one less thing to juggle through security and some laptops add significant weight to your briefcase. Leave it behind if you can. If you have to take it with you consider buying a smaller, light weight model one that is easy to use and you can balance in small places. You do pay more for smaller, lighter models but it is money well spent.

Keep a reading file – as you collect articles, newspapers or journals you want to read, take them with you when you travel. Each week I receive the Philadelphia Business Journal and I take it with me on the plane to read and enjoy. It is a paper that keeps my interest and small enough it doesn’t crowd the person beside me.

Buy bottled water – part of my routine as soon as I get through the security line is to head to the nearest store to buy 2 bottles of water. During the flight it is essential to drink water to keep you hydrated, two bottles allows me to drink before the plane arrives (has been helpful when there are large delays) and during the flight.

Eat healthy – many airlines don’t supply quality food on board so try to find healthy solutions within the airport to satisfy your hunger. You may also like to buy something to eat on board for longer flights so you are snacking on healthy items. I like to travel with a bag of almonds and pecans so that I always have a yummy (and healthy) snack available. AS you are flying from the same airport each week, become familiar with the food offerings inside the terminal so you can quickly find something you enjoy eating.

Hotel routine – no matter what time I arrive at a new hotel I have the same routine. I open my suitcase, remove my suit and hang it on a hanger. If it has gathered small creases in the travel I take it into the bathroom, hang it up and turn on the hot shower to create a ‘steam room effect’ and this removes any creases. Now for my Australian readers who are experiencing a drought right now that seems very wasteful so you may want to hang these clothes while you are showering the next day to avoid water waste. You might like to take this opportunity to iron your clothes instead. I then plug in my laptop, set up my cell phone charger, set my alarm and pull out the documents or reading for the next day. By having the same routine each time you will be productive and not forget important details (and you save time in the morning also).

Exercise – if you don’t have a gym in the hotel consider either taking a walk outside at the beginning of your day or exercising in your room. I often place a towel on the floor and then do a series of stretches, yoga, sit ups and push ups. You can establish a routine especially for travel that doesn’t require any equipment i.e. push ups, sit ups, squats and any yoga.

Call a client – you often have down time in the airport so it is a great time to reconnect with a client or colleague. I use this time to touch base with important people in my life and it becomes part of my business development time.

Be strategic – time in hotel rooms can be lonely or unproductive so I use this time to design new products, review my business plan, catch up on reading and design new models or programs for my business. Some of my best ideas have come while sitting in my hotel room – use this time for strategy and thought space instead of turning on the TV to keep your company.

Stay connected – when you arrive at your location notify someone important to you. I like to call my husband when I have arrived in my hotel so he knows I am safe and sound and I get to hear his voice. Calling your family or friend is a great way for you to keep connected on the road.

Write thank you notes – because I carry stamped stationery with me when I travel, I use the flight home to write notes to people I met during my trip. When I arrive my next destination I post them. It is a great way to reconnect with people after you have met them and is a productive use of flight time.

After Your Travel

Know the quickest route home – understand the quickest and least traffic congested way to get out of the airport so you can be home with those you care for in the smallest amount of time. Where I live there are 2 major ways home and if you take the wrong one at some particular times during the day it can add up to an hour to your ride home (not so much fun after a long flight) so know which ways are best at different times during the day.

Unpack quickly – if you arrive home early enough, unpack your bag, refill any necessary toiletry items and allocate clothes for washing or dry cleaning.

Refill and replace – update any items in your ‘pre-packed’ toiletries or luggage that need attention to save you time for future trips. Note any additional items you may have forgotten on this trip and place them in your luggage so you don’t forget them next time.

Debrief your trip – recall any items you missed, notice things that you enjoyed or frustrated you and make the changes that are within your control. Each time you travel you may learn something new that will help you save time or save you frustration for your next travel experience.

Thank your team – if you have an assistant, let them know what went well about the trip and any enhancements you would like to make for your next trip. Thank your travel agent for the trip planning and also let them know if something didn’t go well and discuss how to fix it for the next trip. Thank your client for the opportunity to work with them. If you experienced great service at some point in the trip take the time to email or write a thank you note to that organization. The simple art of thanking people is often overlooked but is one of the most powerful things you can do to boost your productivity and make someone else day!

Gather your receipts – there is so much paperwork collected on trips including boarding passes, rental agreements, and food and hotel receipts. Keep this in a central place when you travel (I take a clear plastic folder for this very purpose each time I travel). When you arrive home quickly sort through the paper, action business cards and file any receipts or keep them aside for your clients. Process all your paper within 24 hours.

Action business cards – if you have met new people during your productive trip take the time to now action those cards. You might like to write a ‘nice to meet you’ note, scan them and add them to your database and write a note for any follow up action required. Following this process diligently each time you travel will avoid piles of business cards gathering on your desk (reminding you of action you haven’t taken!)

Be grateful – if you are traveling for business it means you have a successful job that is supporting you and your family. Stop hating it and start enjoying it. Giving thanks for the opportunity to see new places, meet new people and share your experience is a privilege.

Change your language around travel, enjoy it, embrace it and you will be more productive! Next time you see another road warrior smile at them and let them know you understand. You can be more productive every time you travel by applying these before, during and after you travel strategies… now where am I off to tomorrow?

None of us should be surprised at these quotes from a travel article in the TimesOnline (Oct 2008) by Stephen Bleach:

“Massive discounts on cruises were exposed as a con last week after leading line Fred Olsen admitted it had not sold a single cruise at full price for a year.”

A further quote from the managing director of the line, Mike Rodwell:

“the big American operators started it and the rest had to follow.”

Another surprise. On the same laptop page as this excellent article were three Google ads offering:

“Cruise Deals. Search The Top Online Cruise Deals. Read Reviews & Book Online Today.” Followed by:

“Cruise Discounts 75% Off, All cruise lines, all destinations.” And another:

“Huge Alaska Cruise Sale, Free Upgrades, Exclusive Deals & More with Guaranteed Lowest Prices!”

The travel operators behind these advertisements must think the traveling public is naive or even stupid but they would probably not use them if they did not work.

Also, these Google ads were run against a very negative, but truthful article about misleading advertising for cruises.

The traveling public continues to be treated with disdain by travel operators and advertising companies, not only by cruise lines and airlines but by all types of travel suppliers. What could be more misleading and false advertising than an airline advertising their fares in headlines that shout out:

“$49. one-way to Smithville” IN LARGE PRINT, and then:
‘based on return purchase, plus all taxes, surcharges for fuel, surcharges for security, checked baggage is extra, seat selection fees, and on and on and on.” And by the way, have fuel surcharges been reduced enough?

Not only cruise prices and airfares but also consider hotel pricing that often requires much investigation as regards the offered discounts:

“75% off! But off of what? A rack-rate that is rarely charged?

And, why can you often get cheaper rooms at an online reservation office than at the hotel front desk even when you are in their lobby and ready to book?

Next in line for pricing questions could be the packaged holiday market. How many of these are sold at the brochure price? Or, as with the above cruise line, are packaged tour operators simply following the lead of others?

Not only is the public being mislead by questionable advertising and pricing practices but once captured by a cruise line, airline or packaged resort operator they can be open to additional gouging whilst on-board the ship, aircraft or resort.

Apart from the on-board costs of alcoholic drinks which should be at duty-free prices (i.e. cheaper than onshore). Extras, such as shore excursions can also be more expensive when purchased on-board rather than ashore or even pre-departure using the internet. Similarly with resorts that have onsite booking agencies for off-resort activities. The prices are often cheaper when purchased directly from the operators or again at pre-departure directly over the internet. Airlines however, who are charging for all sorts of basic amenities from blankets, pillows, soft drinks and soon even water may not be free, have a more captive audience (the movie, ConAir comes to mind) and will continue to be the most reviled part of the travel experience.

There is hope for the future but so far only in Europe. In 2009 new rules for advertising standards will come into effect offering more protection for travelers. We must hope that these new rules will eventually spread to the rest of the world with further improvements to protect consumers worldwide.

In the travel industry. Where has the originality and creativity gone? Where are the leaders? Where has “lead, follow or get out of my way” gone? Only the followers know.

Another aspect of travel pricing is when consumers want to handle their own travel arrangements directly with the operators of hotels, lodges, tours and transportation. The pricing should reflect the fact that the products are being purchased directly from the source and not at the retail level. In other words, reduce the price by the commission that would have been paid to an agent, broker or retailer and give the traveler a direct booking discount. This action could encourage more travelers to make their own direct bookings, leading to more business and a competitive edge for the operator.

Of course, the traditional distribution channels have to be protected as many consumers require help and assistance and as yet not everyone has or wants the internet.

Travel providers do not normally show different prices on their websites as this could lead to potential clients seeking advice at the retail level and then booking directly with the operator to get a discounted price. It is unfair for retailers to lose their commissions when they have performed services for their travel-trade clients.

Consumers on the other hand, if they do not need expert advice or booking services, should have the opportunity to go directly to the source and get a direct booking discount.

Originality and creativity has returned to the travel industry. Travel providers are now able to offer travelers a direct booking discount service by using a new travel voucher system that has been introduced. With a website and the internet they can now reach out to the global travel community, not just travel agency or local traffic.

Any travel operator, from the smallest b&b to the grandest lodge or luxury tour, can offer this service. The voucher values represent the normal commissions that would have been paid out to sellers of travel but now will be given back to the buyers of travel. And, the discounted price does not have to show on their websites.

The service is leading with this new initiative and now wants to promote the thousands of small travel providers and other businesses around the world that do not use selling agents and therefore do not have sales commissions built into their pricing. The operators of the voucher service suggest that lower yields with higher volumes of direct booking discount travelers may achieve better overall returns.

Members of a new online travel club can get these vouchers free with membership and non-members can purchase them at deep discounts to their face values at another similar website. At present there are vouchers covering travel in over seventy countries from b&b’s to adventure and luxury tours.

The Club operators say that they do not charge businesses for listing their services as long as they participate in issuing vouchers enabling members to get direct booking discounts.

There are many directories linking the world of travel to the world of travelers but this new concept offers a directory with discounts on every travel selection if you are willing and able to handle your own travel bookings and arrangements directly with the listed operators.

The club operators are aware that many travel operators will continue to adhere to the business style of Mike Rod-well of Fred Olsen Lines and will continue to follow rather than lead and it is unlikely that they will ever be represented by this travel club. They are also aware that there are enough independent travel businesses that will find that their new business style of expanded selections and direct booking discounts is a better way of offering travel directly to consumers around the world.

Roughly 175 miles from San Francisco, San Jose or Sacramento and about 300 miles from Los Angeles, Yosemite National Park affords a California vacation experience you’ll never forget. If you’re traveling here from out of state, the closest airport to the park can be found in Fresno, which is about 55 miles from the park’s southernmost entrance (near Oakhurst).

While you’ll find unparalleled opportunities for outdoor activities like camping, hiking and fishing here, you won’t be disappointed even if your tastes tend more along the lines of “civilized” activities like photography, learning about the valley’s cultural history and enjoying gourmet meals at the magnificent Ahwahnee Hotel.

If at all possible, plan your trip during April or May. In addition to missing the summer visitor onslaught, these months typically offer incredible wildflower and waterfall displays. Fall is also a good time to visit, especially if you enjoy trout fishing (September through December is peak season). Most of the park’s trees are of the evergreen variety, however, so you shouldn’t necessarily expect a terrifically colorful autumnal show.

In the winter months, you may enjoy skiing at Badger Pass, California’s oldest downhill skiing area. Be sure to keep apprised of driving conditions, however, as chains may be required. Highway 140 through Mariposa offers the lowest-elevation route into Yosemite Valley, and it is the least likely to be affected by snow and ice.

If you visit in June, July or August, be sure to pack some extra patience, as it is typically extremely crowded during the summer months, especially on weekends. Actually, plenty of patience and keeping apprised of conditions are good ideas for any Yosemite visit, no matter the season.

A free shuttle bus system operates year-round in the valley, and visitors are encouraged to use this system since parking at several park destinations during the peak season is often nearly impossible to find. The shuttle system is free (included in the park entrance fee of $10/person or $20/car at the time of this writing; see the National Parks System site for more details). It is also pleasantly open air and easy to hop on and off.

Even if you’re just visiting the park for a day, some other things you may want to add to your “to pack” list:

  • An extra memory card for your digital camera or extra film
  • Plenty of battery power for your camera
  • Sunscreen (frequently apply SPF 30 or higher throughout the day)
  • Plenty of water for everyone in your party
  • change of clothes (shorts/slacks, t-shirt/sweater, socks) for variable conditions

A “don’t miss” feature of Yosemite National Park is its Giant Sequoia groves. There are three separate groves: the Mariposa, Tuolumne and Merced. The Mariposa Grove is the most popular and is the largest, too, containing about 500 mature trees. (Giant Sequoias are also known as Sierra Redwoods, but should not to be confused with the Coastal Redwood found in a separate range along the state’s coast.) There is limited parking at the Mariposa Grove, and you should plan your visit for either early morning or mid-to-late afternoon. During summer months and spring and fall weekends, the Grove parking lot is usually full by 10:00am, and parking often doesn’t open up again until after 3:00pm. A free shuttle bus runs from the Wawona Store to the Grove during the peak summer season.

There are a number of reasons that Scottsdale, Arizona homes, land and real estate are so highly sought after by families. Here’s one: there’s so much to do, whether your lifestyle leans towards indoor luxuries or outdoor amenities.

For example, internationally renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright came to Scottsdale in 1937 and purchased what was then barren real estate. Designed as his personal winter home, studio and architectural campus, he built Taliesin West in the lush high Sonoran desert directly in the shadows of the McDowell Mountains in northeast Scottsdale.

Wright created a new form of architecture and established a legacy that still draws visitors from all over the world to Taliesin West, which is a living laboratory of Wright’s ideas. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has made many renovations to Taliesin West over the years, giving guests the opportunity to view Wright’s private home which has been restored inside and out to its original appearance.

Ranging from one to three hours, tours of Taliesin West are offered on a regular basis, allowing visitors to experience firsthand Wright’s heralded ability to integrate indoor and outdoor living spaces. Depending on the tour you select, you can visit the Cabaret Theater, Music Pavilion, Kiva and Frank Lloyd Wright’s office, all of which are linked by dramatic terraces, gardens and walkways overlooking the rugged desert and the valley below. Knowledgeable guides explain how the site relates to the surrounding desert real estate and provide a general overview of Wright’s philosophies and theories of design. Twilight tours are offered during select months, providing sightseers with the extraordinary opportunity to view Wright’s one-time home in a nighttime setting when the desert masonry structures, lighted from within, appear as sculptures.

According to the Scottsdale Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Wright’s vision and influence are seen throughout Scottsdale, including at one of Scottsdale’s premier resort properties, Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa. This luxurious resort enjoys a history filled with Hollywood celebrities as well as an architectural past linked to the Wright legacy. Representing the cosmopolitan side of Scottsdale with its clean lines and minimalist approach, the property was originally designed by architect Hiram Hudson Benedict, a protégée of Wright. What makes it even more unique is the fact that several stunning private homes are snuggled just steps away from the resort’s front doors.

Vernon Swaback, a former student of Wright’s, also has left an indelible mark on Scottsdale’s real estate landscape. He spent more than two decades studying and working at Taliesin West and over the years has been involved in the design of award-winning hotels, office buildings, recreational facilities and custom homes throughout the Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Phoenix metropolitan area.

There are a plethora of full service travel agents who prepare the itinerary of the traveler from researching, planning to purchasing an entire trip to ‘Discover India’. The tour packages are at a discounted or subsidized rate due to channel partners that comprises of economic luxurious hotels, airlines, railways, transporters so on and so forth. Almost all of the travel agents cater to the needs of one and all – from single men & women, to families and clubs going on vacation or a weekend getaway at short notice, whatever the need the travel agents are ever ready to ensure that their clients are satisfied.

Most of the travel agents in Kolkata have expert tour operators on board who are capable of understanding the subtle nuances of the travel industry and therefore personal attention is given and most of them can speak English fluently. Intending travelers are able to access directly an assortment of travel packages which are affordable for middle class families who might be planning a trip to India.

By virtue of researching continually on travel destinations in India that are safe and secure, travel agents have been offering travel packages that are economical so as to ensure that sufficient funds are available for travelers to perhaps buy gifts for their loved ones as well. Almost all travel agents offer value added services, bus and car rental for example, train and air tickets, hotel booking and other ancillary tour and travel services at competitive rates.

Travel agencies in India are professionally managed and particularly so for foreign tourists be it groups or individuals. Travel packages are priced in a way so as to fit any budget that any traveler would be able to avail. Travel agency as a business grows exponentially because of the dedication of the team of tour and travel agents. All travel agencies have channel partners throughout India and the IT infrastructure of the agencies have been upgraded to offer further benefits in the days ahead. The reason behind the enhancement of the infrastructure is to make sure that the service that they are offering is one-of-a-kind. It’s no wonder that hordes of foreign tourists revisit India as they are delighted by the services provided by the travel agencies which by their own admission is absolutely phenomenal.

India is a land where the dichotomy of rags and riches is omnipresent and often can be seen alongside each other. It is a testament of the social and economic inequalities and divisions. Nonetheless it is a land that is worth exploring as it offers variety of breath-taking and idyllic scenic beauty in every nook and cranny. From the snow-capped mountain ranges of the Himalayas with their peaks so high up in the sky that it would appear they have gone beyond scraping the sky and are reaching for the heavens. To Rishikesh on the river Ganges in northern India is an ideal locale for white water rafting.

Goa is a much sought after destination as well for those looking to bask under the sun and have a suntan or are enthusiastic about all night long beach party under the moonlight and the starlit sky along with entertainment by the best music bands. Kerala is also a suitable locale for river cruises on the natural backwaters in the midst of coconut palms that seem to whisper, the beaches full of white sand, herds of elephants, and lush greenery everywhere that seem to seduce as they pass by on lazy sunny afternoons.

A ride of a lifetime on the Palace on Wheels perhaps would indeed prove to be a dream come true as the scenery of Rajasthan would enthrall anyone. After being mesmerized by the breath-taking and amazing natural beauty of Rajasthan one would have to head back to Delhi to visit Agra and the Taj Mahal in particular which must be seen if one is in Agra besides the Agra Fort. One could relish the idyllic beauty of the “queen of hills” Ooty, or have soul-searching and spiritual experience at Haridwar and Rishikesh. Last but not the least, the Royal Bengal Tiger, the pride and joy of West Bengal can be seen in the wild at the world’s largest Tiger Reserve.

For travel without any worries it is advisable therefore that all travel requirements be fulfilled by reputed travel agents. The travel agents are ever so eager and willing to cater to the myriad needs of travelers who find it extremely convenient to be able to have an agent take care of everything that is necessary to ensure that a traveler does not have to worry about anything whatsoever.

You’re thinking about divorce – maybe you need to give some thought to where you live. Divorce laws differ widely from state to state. Here are 8 examples that will show you just how different divorce laws can be.

  1. Want To Get Out Of Paying Alimony? Well, if your spouse has been unfaithful, you want to be living in Georgia. Georgia law allows adultery as a bar to paying alimony. Make your case and alimony will not be awarded.
  2. Want To Get Even? Let’s get back to that unfaithful scenario. In 7 states you can still sue a homewrecker for “alienation of affection” if another person has stolen your spouse from you. New Mexico, Illinois, Hawaii, North Carolina, Mississippi, Utah and South Dakota are where you want to be if you want to sue. In some of those states, the name is “criminal conversation”.
  3. Want A Fast Divorce? You may think that Nevada is the state for a quickie divorce. Think again. In New Hampshire you can be divorced in a single day. You both just cross the border and stay in New Hampshire – that’s taking up residence. There’s no minimum processing time or minimum residency requirement. You can “move” to New Hampshire on Wednesday and file on Thursday and be divorced.
  4. Not So Fast? Then try Vermont. In Vermont, you have to have been residents for at least a year. You must undergo a six-month separation, living apart during that time. Meet those requirements and the judge will grant the divorce. But, wait! It’s not final for another three-months!
  5. Find Fault In Idaho. If your spouse is a boozer and you’ve had enough. You can file for a fault divorce on the grounds of habitual intemperance.
  6. Murder She Wrote – Or He Wrote. If you want grounds for a fault divorce in Tennessee, you just have to show that your spouse has tried to murder you “by poison or any other means showing malice.” Yikes!
  7. She Has A Headache Or He’s Not In The Mood. And, that can be ground for a fault divorce in North Dakota where “persistent refusal to have reasonable matrimonial intercourse” lets you file for a fault divorce.
  8. Still Seeing Each Other? In Delaware, a divorcing couple can continue to live together, but they must be in separate bedrooms. However, sex is allowed if it I an effort “to achieve reconciliation”.

You can see how different divorce laws can be – and that’s one reason why you want an experienced divorce lawyer on your side. You want an expert divorce attorney who understand the laws in your state and can help you make the right decisions within those boundaries.

We all use furniture in our house, but only few of us know how to arrange the furniture for perfect appearance. Here, I am going to discuss some tips on how to arrange home furniture.

Tips:

Measurement: Before going to arrange the furniture, first you need to measure the room and hallways, stairs, etc. Measurement tapes can be used for it, but if you do not have it, you can measure by your foot. This thing must be taken in consideration even before the purchase of the furniture.

Variety: Though many people do not agree it, but I would say that adding different variety furniture in single space gives it a more pleasant look. It actually adds a visual interest to the space. You can try variety in colors, shapes of furniture, etc.

Use of Scaled Pieces: Scaled pieces are good to create balance. When used together, they not only add serenity in the room, but also help in creating a harmonious atmosphere in the room.

Furniture Balance: Balance within furniture items are generally of two types: symmetric and asymmetric. Symmetric arrangement means the use of similar kind of furniture together while asymmetric arrangement is the use of two different kinds of furniture next to each other.

Think like an Artist: Use an artistic approach to design the room. Think like a painter, make a rough sketch of the room as you want to see it, and process to design. For help, you can visit the internet for some good interior design pictures that will help you in creating an imagination.

Analyze the Depth in Artwork: This is also an important factor that can be used to choose the proper interior of the room. Take your room as an artwork and analyze its depth. To do that, you can stand at the room entrance and then look into the room near-to-far. This will give you an analysis of the depth of the room.

Divide and Arrange: if your room is much bigger, you can take it as smaller parts and then design each part separately. You can arrange furniture in each part according to need, but you should make sure the completeness of the room when different parts are viewed together.

Completeness: While making furniture arrangement, you must also make sure the completeness of the arrangement. Your furniture must perfectly comply with the interior of the room and they must form a completeness altogether.

It is undoubted that a fantastic purse can help to set a woman apart from the others in the crowd in a great way. Usually, the most suitable purse for us is not necessarily the most fabulous one, but the one that agrees with our own styles and personality. With an ideal purse, we can be inspired to create various fashion styles, exploring as many possibilities in the purse as possible. Thus, it is vital to select the right purse.

Considering the relationship between the purse and your body figure, you should pay attention to the shape and size of a purse to see whether it can flatter your body figure well or not. Generally speaking, a wide purse with a long strap can be an ideal choice for women who have big breasts and hope to draw attention away from the chest. For petite women, small sized round purse can be great. On the other hand, the way you carry the purse can also affect how your body shape look like. For example, if you want to look taller, then you should choose a bag that hangs lower than your waist.

The color is also a key factor that you should think about when choosing a right purse. If you are good at color matching, you must have paid great attention to the choice of accessories’ colors, which play an important role in creating a wonderful fashion style. When you pair the same clothes with purses in different colors, as a result, you can get all kinds of interesting and exciting styles.

You can get a lot of fun by exploring the many possibilities of the purse in creating various great fashion styles. However, not every purse can display the potential to match all kinds of ensemble, but only the one that suits you most can provide such a potential.

Assessing the values of delicate home furniture

Sometimes the home owner might make the decision to purchase some modern home furniture such as the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet. This piece of furniture will make meals the occasions that they need to be. That means that if you are entertaining there is no need to worry about the kinds of things that you are going to use. The efforts can be saved for the other items such as cutlery and cooking utensils. The use of the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet is therefore a great achievement for the home owner.

This type of furniture will cost somewhat more than the standard items that you use in the home. It is an investment in the kind of lifestyle that you wish to create for your family. It is reasonable to expect that you will get the best quality when you decide to go for the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet. In the true style of the age, this is a system that tends to work very well with modern settings. You simply configure your home in the way that you want it and then wait for the results. You are almost guaranteed satisfaction when you purchase the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet.

The homes that decide to buy the item will be please by their purchase of the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet. It is a delicate balance that includes looking at the item and then trying to fit it within the home settings. If it appears that the furniture is not going to make the grade then the clients can try to find alternative solutions. The end result is that the furniture is merely one of the choices that they can make. Using this sort of set will ensure that you are well served by the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet.

Some people might be concerned about using the item because they believe that purchasing the item will cost them too much. For it is not worth it to buy the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet. They would rather spend the money on alternative projects from which they can expect some sort of compensation in the long run. This might be the wrong way to go about things because the purchase of the item is not about money. Cost are not too important when buying the supremely elegant black dining room dinette set that is available in home furnishing shops and on the internet.

Get ready for the newest hip hop releases. Summer 2013 has officially arrived and we’re gearing up to give you the business of the new music artists’ releases!

Now before we continue, let me just make clear that a lot of rumors have surfaced as to exactly what is about to go down during this hot, sticky, and sexy season.

For starters, Lil Wayne’s songs and other new hip hop music releases will be served handsomely on a platter via your local favorite Summertime radio station, that is. Besides, who would’ve really doubted Lil Wayne songs as yet another regulatory bypassing of judgmental fodder for submissive temporary airplay? Not us.

Besides, the boy has been among the top hip hop artists since he killed audiences with those none other than dare I say who? If you guessed TT Boi a.k.a. Sir 2 Chainz, then you guessed right my friends. Remember back in the Spring of ’07 when we all couldn’t wait for the newest hip hop releases? Ever since that historic mind-blowing period for Playaz Circle, 2 Chainz has gone on to become seemingly out of nowhere literally one of top music artists to date.

But that’s not all, because my sources inside tell me that this summer’s newest hip hop music will be an ever so eventful one considering the likes of the classic duo even once more collaborating.

Just in time. Right on the money, huh? Pssst… we hear this one’s aiming to be a classic.

In other rumors of new hip hop music, Rocko’s not at all in any type of a hurry to take a break thus far in getting off of his wave. After all, so is everyone else riding it out along with him. Definitely be on the heavy lookout for one of his brand new music releases around midway through this hot Summer season.

Oh yeah, and for all you doubters and forgetful types out there, guess which hip hop music artist is making a steady and long-awaited comeback? Younger shorties prepare to pinch yourselves accordingly, for you may not know who this is.

Just not too long ago, the former Cash Money record label signee, known to other artists as Young Turk, was released from prison on what had foully appeared to be trumped up felony-related charges upon him and other music artists as of late.

We hear that Turk is currently back in the lab perfecting and fine-tuning his “oh so” Lil Wayne-ish like craft effortlessly for a sharp and secondarily memorable return.

We wish him well.

*On a sidenote, we also heard unconfirmed rumors of Young Turk once again collaborating with his former group mates Weezy and Juvenile for an official Hot Boy’s reunion.

Hip Hop music artists Hot Boys Young Turk and B.G. were both incarcerated due to what apparently led to the former groups fallout, among other unsolved issues. The new hip hop music releases that are slated for this year’s Summer should be on smash to say the least.

Without giving away all of the goods, I must say that fellow west coast artists will become very active once again this Summer in the newest hip hop music scene. Big up to all of the new music releases coming from up out of the new west. As fans, we need a breath of fresh air, for sure and most certainly.

Well, that about wraps up the lowdown on this year’s Summer 2013 annual music artists and upcoming new music releases. Definitely keep an eye out for the west coast as mentioned for the west will certainly provide this Summer’s classic club bangers and newest hip hop music. Turn up!

What we do about our body hair changes with the trends and fashion just like the length of our skirts. The seventies, it was way cool to just leave your hair natural. If you had a lot of pubic hair, so be it. It was considered sexy. Now, though, it is becoming more fashionable to have less hair – less on your bikini area, especially. And not only is it more common to get rid of hair, there are now several acceptable bikini waxing styles – waxing trends and fashions – from which to choose.

You can choose to keep most of your pubic hair and simply wax the hair that grows beyond the part of your body that is covered with your bikini bottom. This is, of course, the easiest, quickest, and least painful bikini waxing style.

You can also choose to keep just a small strip of hair running right up the middle of your triangular private area. This simply involves waxing more of the area. Because you are getting into a more sensitive area, this can be a bit more uncomfortable than just waxing the bikini line.

You can also choose a Brazilian wax. The Brazilian waxing trend and fashion is becoming more and more common; it’s always been common in Brazil – hence the name – but lots of American women are opting for this, too. A Brazilian wax is the bikini waxing style that removes all the pubic hair. You can get it done at a salon or do it yourself with a kit you can buy at the drugstore.

Probably the most interesting bikini waxing trend and fashion, though, is creating designs in the pubic hair area. You can get a template of a simple design such as a heart and either wax only the heart shape or wax every bit of hair except the heart shape. If you wax the hart itself, you will have a heart in the middle of your hair. If you wax the rest of the hair, you will have a little heart hair and no other hair in the bikini area.

Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity suggests that time travel to the past is possible via rotating wormholes and/or black holes. The actual technical practicality of actually carrying out such journeys need not concern us since this essay is in the realm of the thought experiment. Now Stephen Hawking says time travel to the past is not possible because he proposes that there is such a thing as a yet undiscovered Chronology Protection Conjecture that prevents this and thus makes the world safe for historians. I’ve come up with a unified theory of time travel into the past that incorporates Einstein’s general theory of relativity; Hawking’s Chronology Protection Conjecture, along with other assorted bits like parallel universes that are thrown into the mix.

Time travel is a staple in sci-fi stories, novels, films and TV series. And, time travel is possible – in theory. We all know about journeying to the future which we do at the rate of one second per second whether we like it or not. Apart from that, if one travels at close to light speeds relative to your place of origin then you can travel to the distant future (with respect to that place of origin) without aging an equivalent number of years (the twin paradox). Travel to the past is apparently allowed too, via the weird physics inherent in rotating worm holes and maybe Black Holes which is where Einstein’s general theory of relativity comes into play. The problem there is that relativity theory predicts worm holes, if they exist at all, will exist for nanoseconds and be very tiny to boot, and thus not very useful in the foreseeable future for the purposes of time travel. Because we don’t know exactly what the inside of a Black Hole is, and where it leads, if anywhere, current thinking suggests that jumping into Black Holes are a more useful means for committing suicide than for traveling to the past, but the jury is still out on that one.

Anyway, the fun bit about time travel is the various paradoxes that arise, the most famous one being the grandfather paradox. That is, what if you travel back in time and kill your grandfather before he sired your father (or mother). If you did that it means that you could never have been born, but if you were never born you couldn’t go back in time to kill your ancestor. This is the sort of stuff sci-fi authors (and philosophers) love – ditto physicists! My favorite time travel paradox however is the one where you get something for nothing. Say you have this edition of “Hamlet”, and you want Shakespeare to autograph it. So back you go in time to Shakespeare’s era. You knock on his door, but the housekeeper says he’s out for the day but if you leave the book he’ll autograph it and you can come by and collect it next morning. When Shakespeare comes home, he sees the book, reads it, and is so impressed he spends the night making a copy. You come back the next morning, collect your now autographed edition of “Hamlet”, and return to the present day with your now very valuable book. The question now becomes, where did the original “Hamlet” come from? You didn’t write it; but Shakespeare didn’t either as he plagiarized your copy which he then passed it off as his own work.

Another favorite is you meeting yourself. Say you’re 50 and not all that well off. You get the brilliant idea to travel back in time and convince your younger self to invest in some stocks you know will pay off big time later on down the track. And so it comes to pass that your younger self so invests, and becomes filthy rich, only, in leading such a high life, dies of a heart attack at the age of 45! Or you always regretted not proposing to the love of your life when you were young, and thus go back and convince your younger self to muster up the courage and do so. He does, but as they fly off on their honeymoon, the plane crashes with no survivors. Sometimes you don’t know when you’re well off.

Or if you can travel back in time, then of course others can to. Naturally there’s going to be lots of people interested in particular events, maybe even at the time, seemingly trivial events (yet which turn out in the long run to have had major impact(s)). And so you might have any number of people going back to particular historical focal points, each with their own particular agenda (most of which will be mutually exclusive), and ultimately causing havoc. I mean if person one goes back and influences an event producing a new outcome, then person two might go back and has a go at that result and things get altered again, which will then prompt person three to go back and influence things more to his liking, etc. In other words, history would never be fixed, rather always be fluid. The world is not safe for historians. Since we believe that history (or the past) is fixed, then that what’s written on your history book page today will not alter overnight. Thus, you have probably concluded that time travel cannot happen, will not happen, and has not happened, however much you yourself might wish to go back in time yourself and change something. (Don’t we all really wish some past something, personal and trivial, or perhaps something of major significance could be changed and you’d be that instrument of change?)

Its paradoxes and situations such as the above that prompted Stephen Hawking to postulate that there is as yet an undiscovered law or principle of physics which prohibits time travel to the past – he calls it his ‘Chronology Projection Conjecture’. Since we have never seen, according to Hawking, to the best of our knowledge at least, any time travelers – tourists or historians – from our future, he’s probably right.

So, putting it all together, here’s my theory of time travel: my unified theory of time travel, at least to the past.

Relativity theory has passed every experimental test thrown at it, so the theory isn’t in much doubt and one can have a high degree of confidence in what it predicts, even if that prediction is currently beyond any experimental test. Relativity theory allows for time travel into the past, but, IMHO, only to parallel universes (otherwise known as alternative or mirror or shadow universes) where no paradoxes can happen.

Why only parallel universes? The ways and means by which you can use relativity theory to time travel backwards involves rotating Black Holes or wormholes. There are serious reasons behind the speculation that what’s on the other side of a Black Hole and/or wormhole is another universe. So, therefore it’s relativity’s time travel allowance, but probably to another universe. The Black Hole or wormhole ‘exit’ isn’t within our Universe.

Whatever you do in that parallel universe is predetermined. It’s fate. It’s destiny – all because causality rules. Therefore, there are no unexpected ripple effects other than what was destined to happen. You were meant to be there and do what you do. Therefore, there will be no paradoxes arising.

Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has proposed his Chronology Protection Conjecture that prohibits time travel to the past within your own universe because of the possible paradoxes that could arise. Why can’t you go back in time in your own universe? That would mean that at a specific time and place you both were not (originally) and were (as a result of going back) present. That’s a paradox. And if you were to travel back in time to a set of time and space coordinates you were actually originally at, then there would be two copies of you occupying the same space at the same time – also a paradox.

But take the grandfather paradox. If you go back in time and kill your grandfather, but your grandfather in a parallel universe, then you don’t prevent your existence, just the eventual existence of yourself, your other self, in that parallel universe. In the case of Shakespeare and “Hamlet”, you gave your copy to a parallel universe Shakespeare. In your original (our) Universe, Shakespeare is still the legitimate author.

Once you time travel from your universe A, to parallel universe B, you can’t return again to universe A because of Hawking’s Chronology Protection Conjecture – paradoxes could arise. However, you could go from parallel universe B to parallel universe C, but, hence never return to either universe A or B – Hawking’s Chronology Protection Conjecture again.

Perhaps some people you’ve seen or known or heard about might be time travelers from a parallel universe’s future. If they then time travel to another parallel universe, then that might account for some missing persons’ cases!

In short, we can time travel to other parallel universes but not to our own; entities from other parallel universes can visit our Universe. No paradoxes need arise. Both Einstein (relativity) and Hawking (Chronology Protection Conjecture) are satisfied and happy campers.

Is that right? No, it’s wrong!

There’s still one very nasty loose end here. What’s to prevent those from a parallel universe meddling and altering our time stream? It’s not enough for them to have a Prime Directive against that – we all know Prime Directives are meant to be broken! So, it looks like Hawking’s Chronology Protection Conjecture must apply to those visitors from parallel universes to our Universe as well. I mean what difference does it make to your existence whether you travel back in time within your own universe and kill your mother before you were conceived, or some serial killer escaping from a parallel universe to our Universe who kills your mother before you were conceived – even though in the latter case there’s no paradox, you still wouldn’t have been conceived of here in anyone’s philosophy!

OK, so relativity allows time travel back in time, but only to parallel universes. The Hawking Chronology Protection Conjecture not only prevents time travel paradoxes in general, but it also prevents parallel universe time travelers meddling and altering our timeline; ditto we humans time traveling to someone else’s parallel universe. But how would the Hawking Chronology Protection Conjecture actually accomplish this? My best guess is that parallel universes aren’t in phase – they aren’t polarized or synchronized in-phase like a laser beam, or the light that passes through your polarized sunglasses – otherwise we’d have some rather hard evidence of them; certainly way more than we do now.

So, if we go to parallel universe B or those from parallel universe B visits us, we’ll, or they’d be respectively out of phase with respect to the universe they are now in. Translated, they, or we, could look, but not touch for all practical purposes. I say for all practical purposes as now and again what’s out of phase (high probability – the usual state of affairs) will sync into phase (that’s rare). But the in-phase times are so few and far between, and last for such a brief duration that it’s unlikely to result in any inadvertent or deliberate timeline alterations. That’s my rendering of the Hawking Chronology Protection Conjecture – he could well have other ways and means in mind.

So another way of putting this is that time travelers would be spectral or ghost-like in their host universe, and maybe that’s where our traditions of ghosts and other things that go bump in the night come from! This is much like the parallel universe ghost or shadow photons that are conjectured to explain some highly mysterious aspects or phenomena contained within the famous quantum double slit* experiment. Now an obvious question is how do all the parallel universe ghost photons get into our physics labs where double slit experiments are carried out? I mean there are no local macro Black Hole or wormhole exits present – are there? Yes in fact there are! Not a macro wormhole, but a micro wormhole – actually wormholes. Theoretically, micro wormholes should exist all around you. It’s just that they are at quantum levels – incredible tiny; way subatomic in size. And they exist for just nanoseconds before collapsing. They are just part of the quantum foam** reality at super microscopic levels, a reality at the level where all things exhibit the quantum jitters or quantum fluctuations. Thus, every second of every day, everywhere, there are little quantum gateways – quantum sized wormholes connections between universes which quantum sized particles – like photons – can traverse! From the standpoint of the double slit experiment, it doesn’t matter whether the parallel universe’s ghost photons came from the past, future or present – just as long as they are, indeed, present!

Now you may think it would be easy to detect these ghostly photons. Just put a photon detector in a totally dark and sealed room. Well, not quite so easy. Some photons can pass through ‘solid’ matter. X-Ray photons anyone? Radio wave photons pass through the walls of your home. If you look at a bright light, you’ll still see light even if you close your eyes. So, your photon detector in your dark and sealed room could easily detect our local variety.

The ghostly bits aside, parallel universe time travelers (or even ordinary time travelers from within our Universe assuming Hawking is wrong)) might explain the sometimes uncanny, often incredible look-a-likes that we all seem to have. A long shot to be sure, but something interesting to ponder.

There’s still one more problem on the horizon. Just because a macro Black Hole or wormhole plunks you into a parallel universe (and of course you’ve got to be able to survive the trip itself which might be problematical), doesn’t mean you’re going to be with spitting distance of your ultimate destination(s) – say a parallel Earth(s). So, time travelers might also need more conventional transport – like Flying Saucers (okay, forget the saucers – like spaceships with fins and rocket motors). But then what’s really there to distinguish a visiting time traveler from a parallel universe from say a run-of-the-mill extraterrestrial from within our own Universe? Maybe you could just put out the welcome mat for both options!

One final thought. Could there be a Clayton’s time travel? – Time travel without traveling in time? At the risk of making Einstein turn over in his grave; I’m going to propose a universal NOW across all universes. Now I know that NOW, when it comes to observers, is a relative thing. An observer in Martian orbit sees Mars’ NOW somewhat before you on Planet Earth sees the same Mars’ NOW because the speed of light is finite. And relative motions and velocities complicate what is NOW. But, I propose (a thought experiment remember) to instantaneously freeze-frame the entire collection of universes’ NOW. Everyone and everything everywhere comes to an instant standstill. Right! We now have a universal NOW that we can study at our leisure (the freeze doesn’t apply to you and me – we’re outside the space-time continuum).

Let’s focus on that subset of all parallel universes – all parallel Earths and time travel between them. Now there’s no reason to assume that all parallel Earths are identical in all aspects. Indeed, some parallel universes may not even contain a parallel Earth! There maybe some parallel Earths identical or so close to identical to our Planet Earth as makes no odds – abodes you’d feel right at home in. Other Earths would differ in various ways, some minor, some major. Still others might be really weird and alien, as in having evolved a dinosaur society, civilization and technology. There was no parallel asteroid impact 65 million years ago; thus no human beings around the traps 65 millions later.

Your subset of parallel Earths would show near infinite diversity in infinite combinations. I say ‘near’ because you can only stretch the term ‘Earth’ or ‘Earth-like’ so far and no farther, before it’s not Earth or Earth-like. A 100% oceanic world is not Earth. If a parallel ‘Earth’ has Venus-like temperatures, it is not Earth-like. If it has a density approaching that of a neutron star, it is not Earth-like. If it has no life on it, even though in all other respects it is a near carbon copy of our Earth, it is not Earth-like.

Now it’s back to the NOW subset of parallel Earths and Earth-like abodes. There’s no reason to assume that evolutionary development; that evolutionary development rates would proceed in each and every case in an identical fashion. Some parallel Earths would still be in the dinosaur era (if they had dinosaurs of course). In some parallel Earths, cavemen and saber tooth tigers rule. In others, it’s Biblical times, or Medieval times or the era when Britannia ruled the waves. Others in our absolute NOW, on yet other parallel Earths, or parallel earthlings, might have just invented the wireless or landed on their Moon (if they have one). On some parallel Earths it may already be what to us will be the 23rd or 24th Century with interstellar warp drive capabilities at hand – and even way beyond that. So, you could seemingly travel to the past and future while actually remaining in our NOW. You’ve traveled in time without really traveling in time, or, time travel without the paradoxes – but maybe that spoils all the intellectual fun of contemplating time travel in the first place!

*The problem solved here is how can you get a classic wave interference pattern behind two slits you fire photons through; even when you fire the photons at say a rate of one per hour? Who you gonna call – ghost photons of course to the rescue.

**Quantum foam – the world may look pretty smooth from a distance, but as you keep magnifying the finer details, the micro world gets ever so slightly bumpier. Close in some more and things get rougher still, until at quantum level everything is a seething cauldron of tumultuous activity. It’s like the sea that looks perfectly smooth and tranquil from Earth orbit, but at rowboat level, you’re terrified as that 50 foot wave comes crashing down on you.

Being a traveling nurse has many attractive benefits over regular nursing Firstly, nurses are in demand constantly not only in the US but worldwide. For a nurse that has the desire to travel and earn money, becoming a traveling nurse would be ideal. Of the hospitals and medical facilities rely on traveling nurses to fill roles when staffing levels are lower than normal, but further than that to bring a new level of expertise that may be lacking in the nursing in the respective hospital. So now for the advantages and benefits of becoming a traveling nurse.

Money, like most things in life, would be one of the main reasons someone would choose to become a traveling nurse. Traveling nurses, make considerably more money than their full-time counterparts. For a start the basic wage will be higher for a traveling nurse, when this is combined with overtime or penalty rates such as night shifts- the earnings can become quite substantial. The pay and calculations are performed by the traveling nurse agency and are therefore much more effectively managed. Becoming a traveling nurse is a great way to save money.

Traveling can be a major part of being a traveling nurse. If a nurse wants to see the world- there is no better way than becoming a traveling nurse and seeking work in the areas they want to see. If the traveling nurse is a native English speaker, there will always be a high demand in the US, UK, Canada and Australia (Specifically as they are experiencing a shortage of nurses). Traveling nurse agencies will actively seek nurses, and will assist in organizing visas, accommodation and appropriate work.

Harmony in the work environment for a traveling nurse is not as important as it would be for a full time nurse. The traveling nurse may only be working in the respective environment for a month before moving on to the next assignment. For this reason workplace politics will play a lesser role than in other professions.

The social benefits for a traveling nurse are massive as well. They will get to meet new people regularly and benefit from constant social interaction and communication- which is a large part of being a nurse.

In most cases a traveling nurse will also receive generous health benefits. In most situations agencies that specialize in traveling nurses offer these medical and dental benefits to entice new traveling nurses to them. Some nursing agencies also have 401K plans, which is obviously fantastic.

Working as a traveling nurse, is a fantastic way to quickly build an impressive resume. The experience a traveling nurse receives could be argues that in a shorter period of time the experiences will amount to much more than would be learn via all time position in the one hospital. It will prove to prospective employers that you have life experience, and are mature to deal with all scenarios and situations.

Certain traveling nurse agencies will also offer incentive bonuses for referrals’ to their agencies- recommend a friend and receive a payment. As a traveling nurse is constantly working at new locations with equally new nurses, the opportunities for referrals are high. Further to this, some agencies also offer a completion bonus simply for completing the assignment or placement.

Traveling nurses often travel in pairs or groups. It is a great way to travel obviously, and will also provide a support network for less confident individuals.

Traveling nurses also have the opportunity to assist in the case of natural disaster’s and missionaries where medical attention is urgently required. This may not be for everyone, but the opportunity to be involved tin the rehabilitation of such an event could be considered an honor by some.