Travel Pre And Post Internet

Travel Pre Internet:

I’ve been travelling 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 travelled 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 travelling 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 licence 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 travellers 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 travellers 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 traveller. 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. Travellers 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 travellers 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 travellers 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 travellers 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 travellers 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 travellers. The operator would normally be paying commission anyway but now travellers 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 onboard. 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 travelled 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.

4 Hidden Travel Pitfalls the World Needs to Know

Even if you have travelled a lot in the past, you are still susceptible to blunders while traveling, even if you are not aware that you are making them. Some travellers have already fallen into a trap, a not easily recognized difficulty – a pitfall. Unfortunately, when you have already fallen into a travel pitfall, it is often a challenge to get out of it. Just before you board that plane, avoid these four common travel pitfalls so that you make the most out of your trip, along with some smart planning ideas.

Travel Pitfall 1: Going Beyond Your Budget

Budget is very important while traveling. It is always a good idea to plan out how much you’re spending versus the number of days that you will be staying in a country. You should be able to allocate a per-day budget and stick with it. Of course there will always be that unprecedented expense. Smart travellers usually get travel insurance during the duration of their travel to cover for unexpected costs incurred while travel such as lost baggage, medical expenses, etc.

Before leaving, it is also crucial to make sure you know how much money you have and what you can afford to spend. As much as possible, you should always pay in cash while you are travelling, as there may be places that only accept cash. You should be able to keep cash on reserve in an accessible international account like a savings account just in case of emergencies. There are also several travel apps available that will help you keep track of your expenses.

Travel Pitfall 2: Getting Sick While Travelling

The most common travel illness is diarrhoea. Eating contaminated food and water contributes to diarrhoea. You should always remember that when you are in a strange place, stick to bottled or purified water and freshly prepared food. If you are not sure how food is prepared, do not ingest it. However, travellers can also get ill with respiratory tract infections and influenza. Standing on airports or sitting on planes can get you infected with these common illnesses. When you get ill while travelling, it may get expensive. In some countries, expert medical care in most facilities cost a fortune. One thing you can do is to choose travel insurance that covers medical expenses while travelling.

Travel Pitfall 3: Not adhering to safety precautions

There are always safety risks while travelling. In fact, even our own government gives a travel warning whenever we go to certain countries. While we can’t avoid accidents and mishaps on the round, safety is a priority, especially when we are travelling with our family.

When you’re traveling you need to be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you are a tourist in a remote region. There are some ways to stay safe while travelling like keeping your passport, travel documents, cash, and credit cards in a secure place, and spreading them around in various bags just in case one is stolen. You should also not call too much attention to yourself and avoid wearing touristy clothes. While this is not possible in many Asian countries, just try to blend in as much as possible. While travelling, women should always be with a group and not walk in darkened streets alone. While it is perfectly acceptable to enjoy and have a drink or two at a bar, keep track of your alcohol consumption. You shouldn’t get too drunk that you cannot find your way to your hotel.

Travel Pitfall 4: Not Anticipating your Mobile Situation

One of the most unexpected expenses that await us when we get back from our trip is the very costly mobile phone bill. This is due to roaming charges while we are using our phone abroad. In order to avoid this, you should research ahead of time and see if you can purchase an inexpensive local prepaid SIM card to get very affordable data and minutes. You can always make VOIP calls or send text messages through Facebook Messenger or Skype. There are also other ways of communicating over the internet such as Viber, WhatsApp, Line, and many others.

These are just four of the most common hidden travel pitfalls that you might encounter during your mini-break, or while you are on a business trip or family holiday. Avoiding these and being prepared will result in a headache-free travel experience.

The Main Reasons Why People Travel

There are two levels of answers to the question of why people travel. The first is the obvious one, and probably the reason we give ourselves and quote to others. We travel so that we can see sights, experience other cultures, attend events and learn more about the world.

These are exciting reasons. But there are deeper reasons for traveling that have less to do with what we do when we travel, and more to do with what traveling does to us. These five sets of changes to ourselves are at the heart of what makes travel so compelling.

Travel Enriches You, Before, During & After

The anticipation of a trip is almost as stimulating as the trip itself and the memories afterwards. Knowing what you have ahead, and imagining it in detail, lends excitement to life, and relieves the tendency to fall into a workaday rut. The more detailed the image of the trip, the more a future trip will excite you in advance.

During the trip itself, daily life can be intense. Living in these moments fully, and noting everything around you, makes for heightened living. Clearly, this kind of intensified experience is a quality of a style of travel that takes you beyond the bus and out into the streets and squares, landscapes and waterways, of the places you are visiting. Independent travel is a world apart from “contained” travel.

Travel Broadens Your View of the World

Through travel you gain a framework for the history and significant touchstones that brought you to your current life and point in time. Now you are standing in the evil Borgia pope’s office, surrounded by the very walls that contained the man with sufficient power to write a Papal Bull-a mandate-that claimed all the wealth of the Western Hemisphere for Spain and Portugal, and secured it for the next 200 years. As you pause in the spot where that happened, the events and significance come alive with new meaning.

Now you are looking down at the stairs that lead to a tunnel connecting the home of Leonardo da Vinci with the royal palace across street. It was through this tunnel that King Françoise traveled to sit and talk with his genius friend. And now you are in Bayeux, where the French William the Conqueror built his naval vessels to cross the English Channel and claim the throne of England.

Each of these experiences broadens your view of the world and your firsthand sense of time and place.

Travel Makes You More Vibrant and Interesting

Travel gives you something to look forward to… to prepare for… to study for… and later to share. You will bring home stories. Life can get somewhat monotonous if you let it, particularly after you retire and your work life ends. Anticipation is worth at least as much as the trip itself and the memories that follow the trip.

How much better to have travel stories and observations to share then to have your conversation limited to your latest doctor visits and your frustrations with the weeds in your lawn.

Travel Re-Energizes You

Travel, and the anticipation of travel, recaptures your enthusiasm. You look ahead with excitement instead of experiencing the dulled-over feeling that comes from repetition and routine.

Travel challenges you to be at your most effective and focused level. Comfort zones may be comfortable. But it is good for you to be taken out of your comfort zones regularly. Otherwise, your social skills can begin to atrophy, and your ability to think on your feet and solve problems may decrease due to disuse.

Travel Improves Your Health and Well-Being

Travel gives you a reason to stay healthy. And it keeps you sharp longer! The challenges of travel test your acuity on a daily basis. Travel can be demanding, especially if you are not being “led around by the nose” on a group trip. You know you will need to be on your toes – to be situationally aware – to pay close attention. You will need to walk extensively, including up and down hills and stairs.

Generally by the time you return home from a trip, you will be in better shape than you have been for months, or even years. And if you begin immediately to anticipate another trip ahead, you will have a genuine incentive to keep up these improvements and be ready for the next time.

Changes and Benefits

These changes and benefits to you from travel can become permanent ones. Your life will become punctuated with enrichment, you will think more broadly. You will find yourself incorporating deliberate lifestyle changes learned during travel. You will be more vibrant and interesting as you are periodically re-energized. And you will experience enhanced health and well-being.