Find Travel Bargains by Thinking Outside of the Travel Box

There are many bargains in travel for the person who knows where to look and how to take advantage of existing programs. Of course, I am not talking about taking a winter vacation to Galveston Texas and spending your weekend in a cardboard box on the beach. I am also not referring to a tree house on the shores of Lake Michigan in the dead of winter.

Where Do You Look For Travel Bargains?

Just a couple decades ago, travel shoppers would go to their local travel agency to find discount travel services and discount travel packages.

Many people have known for years that if you buy a plane ticket from the airline company, then chances are solid that you will always pay full price for that ticket. However, the average travel agency can acquire that same airplane fair at a discount – in essence so that the travel agency can profit from the difference, but many travel agencies will pass those savings to the consumer.

Travel agencies also offer another advantage to consumers in that they have the ability to look at airline fares from a number of different airlines. Often it can be much cheaper to fly to Chicago and change airplanes to catch another flight to New York City, than it would be to take the direct route to NYC. Travel agencies have the ability to see those discounts that others will not see.

Discount travel packages are often available by grouping a set of people into the same vacation plan. The elderly and retired most commonly take advantage of this option, but they are not the only ones. From Las Vegas, people will join together to fill a bus for the ride to Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon. All around the country, people will board a bus and ride it to a casino closer to home. Tour groups frequently catch a flight to Europe and share a bus trip tour around Europe.

By getting three-dozen distant strangers to share the costs of a particular tour schedule, travel costs can definitively be lowered. Costs are reduced because the tour can be priced according to the real costs of the journey, as opposed to the inflated costs designed into a package to pay for the empty seats. But, do you really want to build your next vacation around the strict schedule designed by the tour operator?

What If You Don’t Want To Share Your Vacation?

The truth is that there are plenty of travel savings out there for people who are a bit more independent than the people who fill tour buses.

To pose the question again as to where to get actual travel savings, many people in this day and age turn to the Internet travel companies for travel discounts.

The travel companies are in a grand advertising battle, fighting for your business. Expedia, Travelocity, Yahoo Travel, Travel.com, Orbitz, Priceline and others are fighting for your travel dollars. But, who really offers the best travel deals?

People have many opinions about who has the best travel deals available online. If you listen to William Shatner, you would look no further than Priceline for those travel deals. But, I am here to tell you that if you want the real travel deals, don’t stop at Priceline.

Big Dollar Advertising Requires Big Dollar Sales Markups

Consider this. In order for Expedia, Travelocity, Yahoo Travel, Travel.com, Orbitz, and Priceline to be household names, they have to spend millions on advertising to put their names into your subconscious mind.

How much of your travel package cost will be used to sell their services to the next person? In other words, how much are you overpaying for travel, in order to know who these companies are?

Cheaper Travel Can Be Found When You Escape The Beaten Path

If you know what to look for and where to look, you can find travel packages that are much less expensive than you can get with a tour operator or the top six travel companies shown above – and you will not have to share your trip with three dozen people you don’t even know and probably will not like.

To prove my point, let me give you a couple of examples.

On the Pacific side of Baja California Sur, in the town of Cabo San Lucas, Las Cabos, Mexico, there is a 5-Star Resort called Hacienda del Mar Vacation Club. At this resort, you can get a one-bedroom condo for 8 days and 7 nights, and you can spend your days and nights overlooking the Pacific Ocean. At Priceline, this package will cost $2088.38. At Travelocity, this same package will cost $1976.59. If you know where to shop, you can get the same one-bedroom condo for 8 days and 7 nights, for a mere $645.

Located on 600 acres in the greater San Diego, California area, Welk Resort San Diego offers unique accommodations in the form of vacation rentals with a variety of amenities and resort activities. You can get a one-bedroom villa suite in the most complete resort setting, which provides a golf course and a private theater. For an 8-day, 7-night package at Welk Resort, Expedia will charge $2064.43; Orbitz will charge you $2236.40, and Travelocity charges $2063. If you know where to shop, you can get this package for as little as $298.

In Conclusion

There is a little known secret that can literally save thousands o

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Find Travel Bargains by Thinking Outside of the Travel Box

Traveling Well – 10 Commandments of Wise Travel

In this age of high tech communication, the world has become a smaller place, and overseas travel, once the privilege of a few, is now enjoyed by many. However, traveling frequently is not necessarily synonymous with traveling well. I still note with dismay at the numbers of travelers that unknowingly jeopardize their own travel experience, and those of others, by failing to address the two cardinal sins of traveling: lack of planning and lack of sensitivity. I have dissected these 2 points further into the 10 Commandments of Wise Travel.

The 1st Commandment of Wise Travel is to check and organize all relevant travel documentation at least 1 week prior to departure date. This means passports, tickets, visas and travel insurance. Purchasing a passport/ document holder in order to keep all documentation together is a good investment, particularly when you are a frequent traveler. Otherwise, tour companies and travel agencies give less expensive versions away for free if you book flights with them. You may also want to alert your credit card company of the countries that you will be visiting. Due to credit card fraud and an increase in safety precautions, credit card companies are now putting a halt to cards when they notice a change of spending pattern. Although I may sound as if I am stating the obvious, checking all relevant documentation prior to departure means that you are stating your trip off on the right foot. Any mishap in this area could be enough to color not just the journey, but the rest of your trip.

The 2nd Commandment of Travel is to arrive at the airport with adequate time to check-in, and clear customs and security prior to the flight. This means airport arrival 3 hours prior to any international flight anywhere from the United States and 2 hours prior from Australia and New Zealand. Since 9/11, security procedures have tightened the world over, and one simply does not breeze through customs and security anywhere anymore. If booking a taxi to transport you to the airport, then ensure that the taxi booking is made the day/night before the flight. Similarly, if a friend/ family member is taking you, then confirm a pick-up time the day prior. I shamefully admit that my husband and I broke this rule on our last trip to Hawaii, to our detriment. We had forgotten to book our taxi for the airport the night before. Initially, we were not that worried as we don’t live too far from Kingsford-Smith International Airport. However, when the time came for us to book our taxi, even though we thought we were allowing plenty of time, our call coincided with the taxi driver changeover, and we could not get an available taxi for a very long time. This mistake caused us a great deal of stress, and it nearly caused us our flight.

The 3rd Commandment is to pack your luggage sensibly, coordinating your wardrobe carefully. This seems to be a common mistake for women. Rule of thumb is if an item of clothing cannot be worn and coordinated 3-4 ways, leave it at home. Keep the main items in a monochromatic colour tone, adding your splash of colour with a scarf or jewellery. Knits are ideal to travel with as they wrinkle far less than wovens and are easier to wash and dry. Always travel with a good quality,lightweight pashmina that fits into your handbag when folded. This can be pulled out and used during the flight or when the temperature drops during your travels. Keep shoes down to a minimum, as this only adds weight to your luggage. Have one pair of everyday shoes, one pair of good walking shoes, and another pair for dressier occasions. Leave your “skyscraper” heels at home, as they will only interfere with your mobility, not to mention the damage it will do to your spine.

The 4th Commandment is to make sure that you nurture yourself on long flights. Drink plenty of water, even if it means more frequent trips to the lavatory, and limit your alcohol intake. The pressurized environment of an aircraft is extremely dehydrating. Keep your skin clean and well moisturized on the flight, and for ladies, if you can manage it, leave your face make-up free. Any foundations or powders will merely clog up your pores. If you have an ipod, I cannot recommend listening to guided meditations on the ipod highly enough. From personal experience, it helps reduce jetlag. Wear clothing that has a stretch in it and does not cut into your arms, chest, waist, crotch etc. get up frequently for a stretch and a walk up and down the aisles whenever possible. The more that you can nurture yourself on a long flight, the more energy you will have and the less jetlag you will experience when you reach your destination.

The 5th Commandment is to keep a travel diary or journal in order to record all your experiences for posterity, and to share with friends on your return. Take note of all the interesting sites visited and the names and addresses of any fabulous eateries and restaurants. Take lots of photos and collate into an album or CD. This will ensure that the memories of your trip will live on in your mind long after the trip is over. And should you want to revisit a particular site, shop or restaurant, or even recommend a particular place to friends, you won’t have to struggle to remember it.

The 6th Commandment is not to be rude and obnoxious to cabin crew, waiters, waitresses, tour group staff and hotel staff during your travels. I cannot stress this point enough. Although it may be instantly gratifying to vent your spleen when you are tired, irritated and frustrated during your travels, please remember that these people hold your comfort, not to mention your food, in their hands. If a complaint needs to be made, by all means do so with assertiveness, but always accompany it with respect and courtesy for the individual that you are addressing. Never resort to sarcasm or humiliation. If necessary, take the problem further to a superior. If a problem is communicated by you in an aggressive manner, then you can expect at the very least defensiveness and resentment in return. If there seems to be no solution to the problem, question whether the issue at hand is worth fighting for. If it isn’t, then save yourself the aggravation and have the wisdom to mentally let go of it and walk away.

The 7th Commandment is to have as authentic an experience as possible when visiting other countries. The whole point of travel is to broaden your horizons, discover unfamiliar lands and open ourselves to new experiences. Research the country’s festivals prior to your trip and partake in the experience when you get there. Find out where the locals eat and frequent. Try the cuisine that is typical of the area, listen to different music and attempt some phrases in the local language. Educate yourself on the country’s history. The results can be quite liberating. You will develop a deeper respect and appreciation for the country and the people that you are visiting, and enrich your travel experience tenfold. If more people did this, our world would not be so divisive.

The 8th Commandment is to perform random acts of kindness whilst on your journey. When confronted with a fellow traveler who may be in a spot of trouble, take the time out to help without expectation of a reward. If you have the resources to help someone else, then the experience is its own reward. if the situation is a small one, than a small gesture on your part can revitalize a potentially negative situation for the other person. If the situation is serious, then try to get some help. Remember that the laws of karma are alive and well.

The 9th Commandment is to be sensitive towards the ecology and culture of the lands that you visit. Imagine for a moment that foreign visitors to your home town littered the grounds, destroyed the vegetation, insulted your neighbours and exhibited a gross disregard for your customs and culture. The scenario is not a pleasant one, and yet we as travelers do this when we visit foreign lands. So be extra mindful of this on your next trip, particularly when traveling as a group.

The 10th and final Commandment of wise travel is to savor and enjoy every moment of your travels. Remember that the world is a wonder and a blessing, and the opportunity to explore it is something to be grateful for. Learn to be in the moment as wise traveling is just as much about the journey as it is about the destination.

In conclusion, if you do your homework, and take care of all the necessary planning and organization for your trip prior to your departure, you are in a much better position to make the most of your trip. Utilise a checklist, as it saves plenty of headaches later on.

My website, Postcards From Millie, has an excellent Travel Checklist on the Home Page that you can print out each time you need to prepare for a trip. I have designed it after decades of travel, and I use it extensively myself. You’ll find it on [http://www.postcardsfrommillie.com]

Victoria Ugarte was born in Manila, Philippines to parents of Spanish heritage and received a unique Spanish-Filipino upbringing. She was bitten by the travel bug at just eight years of age when she travelled to Madrid with her parents, and where she lived for a short time. Much later in her life, fashion and travel became synonymous with Victoria’s career. A member of the Australian “ragtrade” for over 20 years, she flew all over Australia and the world, dipping into wonderful and exotic places, as well as more traditional destinations. Her flair for seeking out special places to add color to her travel itinerary, plus her skills in pulling together a suitable travel wardrobe within a limited timeframe, developed rapidly. With much work-related travel in the areas of fashion buying, merchandising, marketing and trend research, Victoria was in a wonderful position of being able to learn from local business contacts where to eat, where to shop, what to see, opening many avenues for great experiences. Inspired by her hero and muse, Amelia “Millie” Earhart, Victoria continues to channel her passion for style, travel and writing into the launch of her website, “Postcards from Millie”.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Traveling Well – 10 Commandments of Wise Travel