Travel Tips

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Hiring a travel agency to take care of all your travel planning needs can take all the headaches and time consuming work out of it for you, but how do you really know the travel agency you want to hire is a reputable one? Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a travel agency for your upcoming vacation

Make sure they’re associated with ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) organization. This means that the traveling agency has strict rules and regulations they have to adhere to. It makes it easier for you to file a complaint against an agency in case you need to.

Be sure they don’t over exaggerate their deals. Every travel agency would like to get your business, but some will try to get you the best deal and won’t tell you everything you need to hear.

Make sure you have their contact information. If you go through an online travel agency, be sure they have their contact information clearly visible. There should be a phone number, address and an email address.

If all you’re presented with is an email address, move on to another agency. A reputable agency will have no problem showing their contact information. It also doesn’t hurt to try calling their phone number to talk to a live person and see if the number is for real.

Watch for hidden fees.  Reputable agencies will lay out the deals exactly as they are. The ones that aren’t legit tend to promise low rates and then charge you for extra fees once they’ve reeled you into their trap.  Get every fee in writing.

Reputable agencies will go out of their way to make your trip as pleasant as possible. If you need handicap-accessible items, they’ll go out of their way to make sure you’re well taken care of. The ones that aren’t good are only interested in getting your money and not your return business.

Reputable agencies are there for you even when you’re on your trip and come across a problem. They work with you before, during and even after your trip to ensure everything goes smoothly. Bad ones tend to disappear after you’ve paid them for their services.

A reputable agency will offer some tips for your travel plans and let you know about a country’s culture so you can play it safe while on your vacation. They’re always on the lookout for any dangers that may occur in the country you want to visit and will alert you if there’s a problem.

Some sell you their package and disappear after that, leaving you on your own.  Travel agencies do all of the work for you so that all you have to worry about is having fun on your vacation.

Tips for Traveling With Kids

 Traveling can be a headache, especially when it’s done with kids. Long plane rides or car rides can make any child restless, thereby making your trip miserable. It doesn’t have to be.  Here are some tips to use to try to make traveling with tots a bit better:

Tip #1Plan ahead. Last minute, spontaneous car rides don’t work when there’s children involved. Plan your route and plan for frequent stops, too. Children need to get out and run around at least once an hour to stretch out their legs. If your child isn’t old enough to walk yet, get them out of the car seat for a little bit anyway.

Tip #2Prepare yourself. Children have smaller bladders than you do, so they need to go more often. They also tend to ask a lot of questions and noise is inevitable for them.

Don’t act surprised when you have to answer a lot of questions and make more stops than you anticipated. Keep your sanity by preparing yourself for these things before the trip.

Tip#3For long trips in a car or plane, bring along some new toys for them to play with. Handheld video games are good time killers for the older children and some travel games are good for the younger ones.

Avoid books and coloring books because they can cause car-sickness. Infants aren’t immune to boredom either, so make sure they have new squishy things to hold or a rattle to shake. Switch off every so often to maintain their interest.

Tip #4Don’t forget the snacks. Children get bored on long trips and tend to get hungry quite often. Have some good, healthy snacks handy to dole out at these times to save you from having to make yet another stop and spending a lot more money for snacks at a gas station.

Tip #5Recruit reinforcements if you can. Invite friends or other family members along on your trip. They may be able to keep your kids busy while you get a few moments here and there for yourself, so you can recuperate and refresh your mind.

Tip #6Space out your activities. If you’re traveling with young children, don’t try to jam a day’s worth of activities for them in only a few hours. This will only exhaust them and cause them to be irritable and grumpy. Give them time to do what they want as well, even if that means some time at a video arcade.

Tip #7Try to keep as much of their normal routine as possible. There’s nothing wrong with letting your kids stay up a little later while you’re on vacation, but don’t let them stay up for hours longer every night. This will only cause more trouble when you get back home.

Traveling with children can be a very exhausting task for your mind and body, but try to keep these tips in mind to help ease the process. Think of the trip through the eyes of your children and don’t expect them to act and react the same as you. It will only make your trip miserable.

Traveling Abroad – What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

 There’s nothing like seeing new things and experiencing different cultures, but sometimes this can come at a price. Traveling abroad can be serious business unless you know how to stay safe. Here are some things to keep in mind the next time you have to travel abroad.

Check out weather patternsCheck out the weather patterns for every place along your route. Plan for possible plane delays if the weather seems to be iffy in one or more areas.

If there’s a chance of severe weather, like a hurricane, for your destination then plan on going another time if possible. Play it safe and don’t risk getting caught in severe weather like that.

Check for security concernsFind out what’s going on within the country you plan to visit. Are there any political arguments that could lead to an all out war? Don’t get caught in the middle of a battle if you know ahead of time that a war could break out.

Research the culture of the country you’re planning to go to.  Different countries have different cultures. Don’t assume that the country you’re planning to go to will accommodate your cultural beliefs.

You may ultimately offend someone in another country by what you deem to be innocent behavior. This can cause them to retaliate against you. Know as much as you can before leaving for your trip.

Learn their language. Learn as much of their language as possible. Some people can take advantage of you if they think you don’t have any idea of what they’re saying. It can also help to eliminate any misunderstandings, which may cause violence.

Check with your health insurance company. Find out if your health insurance will cover medical costs abroad. Don’t just assume they will. If they do cover medical costs abroad, find out what they do and don’t cover.

 Reserve your stay at the more popular tourist attraction hotels. These are more likely to have better security than ones that are off away from the tourist spots. Don’t wander away from hot tourist areas because you can be an easy target for the locals. If you have a trustworthy guide, then it’s okay to explore – but only with them. Never go off alone.

Don’t advertise yourself as a tourist.  Try to wear clothes that will make you blend in with the locals. If you choose to rent a car while abroad, don’t go for anything too flashy. It will only scream out to the locals that you’re a tourist and you then become a target.

Traveling abroad to another country can be a safe experience if you take precautions before you leave on your trip and don’t let your guard down when you reach your destination. Respect the locals and their cultural beliefs and try not to offend anyone. They’re more likely to welcome you then and may even protect you if needed.

Luxury Travel on a Shoestring Budget

Love to travel but don’t have the thousands of dollars to do it? You can get luxury travel on a shoestring budget just by planning a little more carefully. Read these tips that will allow you to go on your well-deserved getaway without burning a hole in your pocket.

Always remember when planning your trip that timing is key.  School vacation weeks are the worst – always crowded with children and the airfare is sky high – no pun intended.

Sometimes a coach seat during a school vacation week could cost more than a first class ticket during the off-season.  So remember, unless you want a screaming child kicking the back of your seat throughout the entire flight, avoid winter and spring breaks at all costs.

Regardless of where you decide to book your luxury travel arrangements – with an agent or on the Internet – make sure that you know exactly who you are working with.  Make sure you choose the right specialist for what you’re looking for.

Consider all aspects of your deal – not just the price tag.  Quality wins over quantity in some cases.  This way, you’ll have the luxury you want on a shoestring budget. This also makes sure that you build a solid relationship with the company you’re dealing with.  If you are loyal to them, they will be loyal to you.  Always remember, they want your business.

Think about how frequent flyer programs work: if you choose their airline consistently, they’ll reward you by giving you a free flight.  When booking online or with an agent, make sure you always ask questions.  You will never get anywhere from being silent, so see if they could possibly upgrade an aspect of your trip.

Your coach tickets could turn into first class – or maybe your suite could turn into a deluxe version. Don’t be scared to ask for things – if they say no, then you’re no worse off than before.

If for some reason the company you’re working with makes an error, be sure to take advantage of it.  Most companies want to keep up a high level of customer satisfaction and rely on their guests to provide them with information on how to achieve that.

Your criticism will ensure that yourself (and other travelers) will have a satisfactory luxury vacation.  Be sure to find someone who is willing to work with unhappy customers.  Many times, people get aggravated with customers who complain, so check review sites ahead of time. Once you get the trip planned out, relax and have fun while you enjoy your luxury travel on a shoestring budget.

What’s a Good Cheap Travel Destination?

Feeling over-worked, over-tired and under-paid?  Need a cheap travel destination to get away from it all? Stop wondering and start packing! Being the workaholic that you are, you’re probably expecting to have to do a ton of research, but it’s easy once you know a few insider tips.

There are many cheap travel destinations out there, but these few are exceptionally cheap. Don’t be afraid, though – they have all the beauty of an expensive trip. Costa Rica is the second smallest country in Central America.  This makes it very easy to see most or all of the country in just under a few weeks.

There is no part of the country that has a greater travel time than 10 hours by car.  While in Costa Rica, visiting the beautiful capitol San Jose is super easy due to its great bus service.

Also while in Costa Rica, make it a point to see all of the breathtaking mountain views, sunsets over the beach, and sparkling rivers.  You can see Costa Rica in all of its beauty at absolutely no cost to you!

Another priceless tourist attraction is the Montverde cloud forest. Sleeping over is at no great cost, either.  You can find hostels as cheap as $8 per night and hotel rooms as inexpensive as $15 per night in San Jose.

Margarita Island, Venezuela is another cheap travel destination and yes, the name of it is foreshadowing what’s to come. If you’re looking for a great margarita at the price of a cola, then you’ve come to the right place.  Speaking of drinks, a beer in beautiful Margarita Island generally goes for about $1.

Nightlife on Margarita Island just may be your deciding factor.  They have great discos which feature authentic Latin/Western music.  A lot of local clubs feature live music that you can swing your hips to.

Hostels are modestly priced here as well. They’re not as cheap as Costa Rica, but they generally go as low at $13 a night. Meals here might as well be free.  A fresh seafood meal goes for around $7.00 and is delicious.

Another great thing about Margarita Island is its infamous 320 sunny days out of the year.  Being so beautiful, it’s suggested you take in a little scuba diving, fishing, tanning, or riding horseback as daytime fun.  Here, you can buy authentic souvenirs such as wicker items from the natives at local markets.

Cheap travel destinations like these make your quick getaway as enjoyable as possible.  It’s always great to be able to go away for a week or two and not have to worry about it burning a hole in your pocket.  Enjoy your well-earned vacation!