CategoryTraveling

Travel Apps – A Route to Smart and Comfortable Journey

Today everybody is carrying technology (i.e. mobile phones and other portable digital gadgets) in their hands. They are the tools which can give you real-time information about anything, just in single click whether it’s about travelling or something else. And if you’re planning to go for a vacation or business trip, there are various travel apps to help you out. If one is installed onto your smart device, it can be helpful when you’re venturing or in the middle of the tour.

They favor you on everything, like you can book an online ticket, reserve the hotel room and dinner table, locate your presence, display your e-tickets, etc. Now most of the travel apps are offering travelers card also so that the visitor of one country can visit the other country without carrying much hard cash and enjoy the moments without exchanging the currency into the corresponding currency of the place one is planning to go. In what ways these apps can simplify your journey are explained here:-

Help to pick the best spot in specific seasons

Being a travel freak, the first thing that matters to you is the destination and the second is the place where you want to stay. Seasons play an important role about the place one wants to go. You can choose and go to your interest specific place. Travel apps are helpful to make your travel experience unique and memorable as they can suggest you the locations according to the weather conditions and your interest.

Pre-arrange your travel plans

With the help of these applications, travelling has become easy, quick and convenient. They are capable of avoiding the chances of unforeseeable complications which may come across while having the moments of fun and entertainment. You can prepare yourself mentally and otherwise to tackle the on the go challenges so that you can deal and come out of the problems comfortably. They are the means to improve transparency about route and price quotations because these are two major factors which affect travelling choice the most.

Connect the people of the world

Travelling gives a great way to connect you with the custom, culture and values of other territories of the world. They have a huge social community base where you can share your experience and connect with the other travel geeks. They bridge the gap of geographical boundaries and bring the people closer. They contain distinctive contents like videos, photos, traveler reviews, etc. to give a more clear view about the place. And it’s the reason developers are in competition to make their social presence strong on a variety of social sites.

Provide information in real-time

The Internet is an excellent source of supplying endless information to all. Since they are integrated with the World Wide Web, you can find the information in real-time from any corner of the world. You can use them to find best nearby restaurant, gather the information about the destination you’ve finalized to travel, which mode of transportation will be more convenient, etc. Besides, they also provide information about the local transportation means.

Track the location

Travel application has a full focus on the visitors’ comfort when they’re away from the home and most of them provide information provided by GIS (it’s a system which gives real-time details about specific locations). With the help of them you can track your location anywhere in the world. They can also give you details like weather conditions, distance, etc. They are smart assistance which won’t ditch you in the middle of something when you’re away from your home. This latest technology is able to track and take care of first and last mile of your tour.

Assure comfort away from home

With the help of travel apps, it is so comfortable to cross the boundary of your country as if you’re going few yards away from your home. Travel provides us a way to take a break from fast-paced life and enjoy the liberty. This is a good change which helps to regain the momentum and enthusiasm back in life and travel applications help to enjoy the joy of life.

All-in-one solution

Either you’re travelling for having fun, business work, exploring the heritage of the world, in the search of peace of mind or due to some other reasons, tourism is not only a way of spending the free time, it’s a habit and addiction to know and see the world. One travel app can consolidate all the steps like route planning, mode of travel, meal cuisines, location for accommodation under the hoop. And since there are lots of apps and sites so you can make a comparison to know which suits you better and adopt the best deal.

If a smart phone or any other smart device is in your hand, then why to visit the travel agent’s office when you can turn your device into an agent of travel information? Travel apps are having users in the millions and their usability and flexibility allow users to book the e-tickets at the last moment if they’ve made a sudden plan. There is no need to worry if you forgot your ticket because it’s there with you on your smart device. Using these smart utilities and their extended feature applications, you can take right decisions, plan your vacations before stepping forward to your trip, compare prices and services so that can get the best deal at a fair price, know the experience of the people who have visited the location where you are about to go, book the surprise vacation for your dear ones, etc.

Questions to Ask Your Travel Consultant

Travellers have access to many professional travel agencies. Each travel agency cannot be an expert at all things relating to travel. Choosing the right travel consultant is important as they will be arranging your holiday. You need to have confidence that the travel agent has your interests at heart. Here is a list of questions that will help you find the travel agent that will help you.

1. What is your main expertise? Do you specialise in my kind of travel? Do you have access to great deals in this area? Where d you get support?

2. Do you recommend any airline? Do you have any favourite airlines, tour providers or cruise companies? Do the airlines and travel companies send you information on monthly deals?

3. How long will it take for you to get back to me, after I give you the information that I have collected for my trip?

4. Do you provide access to your travellers during their travel? How? What plans do you have in place in exotic locations? Are you available “out of hours”?

5. What is the average response time to emails, phone calls and other methods of contact? Like Skype, Viber etc.

6. Can I meet you? Face-to-face? Chat room? Skype?

7. Can I read any testimonials from previous travellers?

8. How often did they communicate with you and did they have any problems on their travel?

9. How do you add value to travel plans? Can you give me an example?

10. Do I need travel insurance? Can you arrange it? What insurance companies do you access? Where else can I arrange travel insurance?

11. Do I need vaccinations if I travel to a particular country? Who can arrange them?

12. Have you travelled to any of these destinations? What is special about them? How do I stay out of trouble?

Of course there are many more questions that you can ask your travel consultant. You do not need to ask each one of them but the list to help you formulate your important questions. Write them down and have the conversation as soon as possible. Understand, that the travel consultant will also need to ask you a lot of questions to fully understand your travel needs. Good travel consultants research.

The successful journey to travelling starts with you. Then together with the travel consultant plans are made and you then get to experience the wonders that you have chosen to experience.

Secrets to Picking a Competent Travel Agent

Competent travel consultants know what you want, they speak your language, and they’re there for you when you run into trouble when you are planning a holiday. How do they know this? Firstly, they listen in a way to understand your travel needs and they help when something goes wrong. They should ask many questions to find the best option for you.

As self-booking options increase, the need for travel agents seems to be getting less. Some say that travel agents are obsolete. Yet there are more unhappy travellers than ever. Why is this so? It is not always possible to get as much information from an online booking site as from a travel consultant. Nor is it generally possible to get “human” assistance should something go wrong from a “portal”.

Buyers of travel products have expectations that cannot be met by all booking sites. It is difficult to have an informed 2-way conversation with a website, although there are more chat options coming available.

A competent travel consultant will fill in the gaps. Sometimes the traveler may not know what questions to ask. The competent travel consultant can simply explain.

So how does one find a competent travel consultant? Look for certain traits!

Competent travel consultants are:

Good listeners and seek to truly understand the needs of every individual traveller. They will ask about interests and tastes to better tailor your holiday.

Experts and have good product knowledge as well as a robust back-up plan for finding information

Honest and to not have favourites in the travel business

Good communicators and explain all the tour inclusions, exclusions and costs up front – no hidden fees

Available when you need them both during the planning process and the travel

How do I find these things out?

The best way to discover the competency of a travel agent is to talk with him/her. This can be arranged either face-to-face, online chat, telephone etc. During the discussion you will form an opinion about him or her. Most of all, look for someone who you can relate to and work with, particularly if things go wrong. The travel consultant has no control over the flights, accommodation or tours but a competent travel agent will actively help in all situations.

Competent travel consultants are here to stay. Only the incompetent travel agents are obsolete because of the online booking systems. It is up to you to discover a travel consultant who listens to your needs and meets them as well as keen enough to help you if needed.

7 Different Types of Travel

There are as many types of travel including combinations of the types listed here. We choose our travel destinations and types of travel based on many factors. There is no right or wrong way for everyone. Consider the options and just go for it and enjoy the sights, sounds, small and excitements of new places.

1. The Package Holiday

The most common type of leisure travel is the package holiday. How good is it when all the planning is already done? Simply pick up the brochure or search the internet and there it is. Call your travel agent, make the booking and pay the price. The most difficult part is the waiting!

There are many value options in package holidays with many options as to length of holiday and the activities during the holiday.

2. The Group Tour

There are many different types of group tours – from a bunch of seniors to a bunch of teenagers and everything in between doing almost anything that is available. Choose your group tour wisely as you will be spending many days with your fellow travellers. Group tours are usually organised like packages holidays and they have the advantage that usually the group leader adds value to the experiences in many ways. Another advantage of a group tours is that there is a good chance that you will meet like-minded people who many become lifelong friends.

3. The Weekend Getaway

Busy workers may only have short weekend opportunities to travel. Take a weekend getaway where the travel distance is not that great but the benefits of going someplace new is not diminished. Take the opportunity of last-minute bookings, if you like a mystery.

4. Family Reunion

Visiting family or friends can be so much fun (hopefully). Usually staying with family and friends requires only travel arrangements to and from the destination. Who better to show you around than someone who lives in the place that you are visiting – get the insider information.

Accommodation options may also include apartments rather than hotels.

5. Event Travel

Event travel refers to traveling to a particular event, like a sporting match, a concert, an exhibition, a festival etc. The time and place is set and most likely for popular events – book early and expect to pay a little more. Enjoy and event and meet people who have similar passions.

6. Long-Term Travel

The number of travellers who travel for long periods of time is increasing. The type and style of travel will depend on financial position. Backpackers to seniors are in this class. Many seniors opt for long-term cruising as a lifestyle. Long-term travellers have the opportunity to understand the culture, art, history and people of a place well

7. Business Travel

Finally the business traveller. The best thing about traveling for business is that usually someone else is paying the bills. Choice of travel is set by the payer of the bills but generally there are evenings and weekend s to enjoy.

The 5 Main Reasons for Choosing a Travel Agent

It is now possible to almost arrange any travel itineraries independently online. There are pros and cons to all things. Here we look at 5 reasons to consult with a travel consultant for your plans.

1. The Complete Picture

Prudent travellers understand that it is not simply the original tour price that determines the total price of any package. The selection of dates, locations, airlines, quality of accommodation, booking policies, available amenities and other things make up the complete package. Not all the items are fully included in all packages. Every person or group has unique needs and the good consultants listen to the individual needs and tailor a package accordingly.

2. Best Price

Best prices means saving money, but it is more about value. The right flights, times, accommodation, cruised etc. are important to travellers. Good travel consultants create a package based on individual needs rather than what might be advertised as “the best price”. Sometimes “best price” and individual travel needs meet creating the best value travel option.

3. Save Time and Energy

Time is a valuable resource for all of us. Most people will say that there is not enough time for travelling. Good travel consultants aim to provide the right travel experience at the expected quality at the best price, saving time and energy for the traveller. It may be possible to save time by booking directly online, but the travel agent will find the right travel arrangements often at a better price.

4. Understand the Risks

We all have a good idea about the risks in our home country. However, every country has its own risks. Travel consultants know or have access to information that will increase the chance of safe and secure travel in countries that they work with. Understand how to choose food, how to travel safely, what the weather is like and how to enjoy the sights and your travel will be much more enjoyable.

Travel can be a risky business, getting the right package, getting there, touring in a strange land, meeting different people and trying new foods. Your travel agent is there to help you enjoy the best of what there is to offer and help to keep you safe.

10 Steps for Traveling Europe Cheap

Chances are you searched for plane tickets on at least one occasion and thought I guess it will still be there when I’m 65 and retired. Don’t be discouraged! I am going to explain how you can travel to your European dream country for less than you imagined possible.

Step 1. Forget about your exact travel plans

The quickest way to make your trip as expensive as possible is to narrow your search to something incredibly specific.

For example, just because you have a four day weekend on Easter doesn’t mean its a good time to travel. Open yourself to being flexible on the dates you travel, the locations you travel to and what kind of places you stay at. The more flexible you are, the cheaper the travel will be.

Step 2. Determine where it is that you really want to visit.

I know I just said to be flexible but that doesn’t mean you can’t choose where you want to visit, it means you have to be open to getting there ways you didn’t anticipate. If you want to visit Dublin more than anything, don’t search for flights from the US to Dublin only. Chances are you can find a plane ticket from the US to another European city for much much less. Then you can book another short flight to Dublin for less than $80 roundtrip. It’s a great way to see a bonus country as well!

Step 3. Determine which city you will fly out of

Flights to Europe vary tremendously in price depending on which airport you’re flying to, leaving from and the dates of travel. So a good first step may be to determine which airport you are going to fly out of. If you live in a big city such as New York, Boston or Los Angeles, lucky you! You’ll find the cheapest flights to Europe from these cities. If you don’t live in these cities, chances are you’ll end up flying through them to get to Europe. So if you can drive to one of those cities, that may be a cheap option. Otherwise, consider booking a flight to one of those cities from your hometown. Although it seems strange, you may get cheaper flights by booking each leg individually rather than booking a ticket from your home to your destination.

Step 4. Determine the cheapest European city to fly to

The easiest way to do this is to check websites that aggregate all of the cheapest airfares so you don’t have to search through hundreds of flights yourself. Some sites allow you to type United States or the city that you know you will be departing from in the “from” field. In the “to” field, try choosing “everywhere.” Then scroll down the resulting list looking for the first/cheapest country in Europe to fly to. If for example, Norway comes up at $340 and France comes up at $380, then it’s probably worth it to just choose France if that’s your desired destination; however, if the difference is more than $100 I would choose the cheapest airport first. The annoying thing about Skyscanner is that the deals are often no longer active and sometimes you also have to search through many dates looking for the cheapest to travel on. But, patience is key and it’s how you find the cheapest flights. Another word of advice is that sometimes the flights are through travel agencies and it is probably worth it to search for reviews on the agency before booking your ticket, keeping in mind that happy customers rarely write reviews. But if the agency has one out of five stars, that may be a clue to pass.

Step 5. Find an inter-European flight to get you to your European dream destination

One thing most people don’t realize is that to fly from one country in Europe to another is dirt cheap.

I have flown across Europe for $14 one way. No joke. I have never paid more than $60 for a flight within Europe. Use Kayak.com to find a flight to your actual destination from whatever country you ended up in booking the cheapest flight to Europe.

Step 6. Now that you’ve arrived, find a cheap or free place to stay

Everyone has their own idea of a dream vacation. If yours is staying in the Ritz, then I’m surprised you read this far through this article. For most of us, we just want to stay somewhere decent while enjoying everything Europe has to offer. I have never stayed in a dump in Europe. I don’t want to and I’m just not that desperate. Accommodations come down to four options: hotel, rental, hostel or Couchsurf.

  • Hotel. Staying in a hotel is a safe way to go and if it’s your first time to Europe or you’re not much of a risk-taker, then this is probably the route you want to take. Hotels depending on where you are visiting range from $20-$200 per night so you might want to keep that in mind when choosing a destination. I wouldn’t advise staying in Monaco unless your oil company is seeing record first quarter profits but staying in nearby Nice might be an option. In other words, keep your options open.
  • Rental. Booking a rental room, apartment, villa or house is also a safe bet but can be a little more complicated than just checking into a hotel. Sites like Homeaway and Airbnb offer some really unique locations and I have to say, some of my favorite places I have stayed in Europe were rentals. From a villa on a winery in Tuscany to a secluded mother-in-law in a quiet neighborhood outside of London, I really enjoyed staying in rentals and the price is often much less than staying at a hotel if there is a group of you that can share the cost.
  • Hostel. The word hostel brings up thoughts of scary movies but the reality is that the difference between a hostel and a hotel is sometimes indiscernible in Europe. Sure there are hostels where you get a bunk bed in a room with five other travelers and for some people this is exciting and interesting! But just because bunk beds aren’t your thing, doesn’t mean you should rule out everything that has the word hostel in the title. I have stayed at some “hostels” which were just as nice as a hotel.
  • Couchsurf. If you are really on a tight budget or if meeting local people is really important to you, there’s no better way than to Couchsurf. If you have no idea what I am talking about, visit the Couchsurfing website. Essentially, the site lets you request to stay with someone who is wiling to host travelers at their home for free and vice versa. People leave reviews on the travelers and the hosts so you can have some assurance they are reputable. This of course comes with risk and safety precautions should be taken. In addition, you should always have a backup plan in case the situation doesn’t work out.

Step 7. Eat cheap.

I’m focussing on the necessities of visiting Europe: travel, lodging and food. There are of course plenty of other ways to spend money but these are the things you have to spend money on, food being one.

Food is amazing. I love food and the first couple times I went to Europe I was disappointed because I randomly wandered into restaurants and most were subpar. This all changed when I started checking TripAdvisor for restaurant reviews, that’s all it took to make every meal out amazing. This wasn’t so much a saving money tip as a general word of advice. However, TripAdvisor does let you search by general price of restaurants so $ is cheap $$ is moderate $$$ is getting expensive etc.

Here’s a money saving tip: buying groceries in Europe is usually very inexpensive. So if you have booked an apartment with a kitchen, take advantage of it! Go shopping at a local market and buy some new strange foods to cook! If you’re on a road trip, get some sandwich stuff to save a few bucks.

Step 8. Realize there are still more expenses

Even though travel, lodging and food are your main expenses, there are of course going to be others. Things to think about include, transportation once you arrive, fees for attractions and souvenirs.

Options for transportation include taking public transit. Most European cities have fantastic and inexpensive public transportation that can be purchased using local currency or a debit card at a kiosk. Note that American credit cards often don’t work at these as you need a chip and pin number.

Renting a car is a great option if you plan on traveling outside of the cities, it’s usually quite affordable and gives you ultimate freedom in mobility. Trains, although charming, are not usually a cheap way to travel across Europe. Flights are much less expensive and quicker. But if you are in love with the idea of seeing the country side by train, then it’s worth giving a try. Tickets can be purchased in advance on the Eurorail website for a fee. Or if you’re more flexible and feeling like it’s worth the risk, you can purchase them in person at the rail station for usually quite a bit less.

Step 9. Travel light

Although you might not think that traveling light will save you money, believe me, it will. First of all, every airline is going to charge baggage fees. So each leg of your flight is going to cost you $25 to $100 for each bag. That adds up fast. Secondly, if you have two suitcases, you are going to fill up two suitcases full of stuff that you probably don’t need. Thirdly, taking cheap transportation like the metro becomes frustrating and impractical when you’re hauling around two unwieldy bags. Fourth of all, your bags have to be with you at all times or in a hotel, so if you plan on checking out in the morning and going to another city, you won’t be able to do anything until you get to your hotel and check your bags in. All in all, it’s just a huge pain to carry a bunch of stuff around Europe with you. My advice, and I can’t stress this enough, is to fit everything into one backpack. I have a 50L backpack and it had everything I needed for a month and a half in Europe. Yes, there are places to do laundry in Europe as well. If you’re saying, well you don’t understand because you’re a guy. I traveled with two young women and they both fit everything into a backpack. If you’re saying you don’t understand because you’re young, I traveled with my mother to Europe and she fit everything into a standard size school backpack! You can do it too!

Step 10. Always plan for the worst and hope for the best

Whenever I travel to Europe I plan out my expected expenses and round everything up. I also plan for at least $200 of unexpected expenses. In the end, my expenses are always well below this number but I don’t want to ever end up in the situation where I’m overwhelmed by the cost.

Conclusion

In 2,000 words I have given you the condensed Europe-on-a-budget-guide. There are of course lots of other things to think about when booking your Europe trip but the most important thing is to just do it! Find those cheap airline tickets to Europe and book them. You can fill in all the blanks later, don’t try to plan everything out before getting your tickets and don’t try and plan every second of everyday. Leave time to be spontaneous and immerse yourself in the European life.

International Escape brings the very best international travel deals online to one place. Finding cheap flights from a specific airport to a specific airport isn’t always possible but by broadening your destination choices, you can find flight and hotel deals that you never dreamed possible. InternationalEscape.com does the dirty work of sorting through hundreds of thousands of daily flights to find those unbelievable deals. Fly from Los Angeles, California to Oslo, Norway for only $340 round-trip, yes these deals do exist! You’ll find them featured on the “Deals” page.

Dealing With a Travel Agency for Your Trip

When you are going on a trip to attend conferences or to have fun like going to a safari, it starts with searching for travel packages online or getting help from a travel agency. However, before deciding, you must know what you can expect from an online agency to find out the best way to match your needs. The level of service you need would depend on your personal preferences as well as the requirements of your trip.

There are lots of options available whether you choose self-service wherein you can do the searching and booking by yourself, or full-service travel agency that would take care of everything on your behalf – accommodation, meal plans, sites to visit, etc. Depending on the type of trip you will have, there are also different choices you may consider. Some travel agencies only offer packages and others offer a la carte travel services, where you can pick items and pay for each separately.

Expectations on Online Travel Agencies

There are also expectations that are common to every online travel agency. It has something to do with the affordability and quality of the services as well as the level of service offered. When going on tours, the travel expert must meet these expectations before choosing them as your travel plan partner.

Variety of Packages and Destinations

It is not important what specialty the agency have – from niche travel, such as unusual destinations or cruises, to full-service travel. Regardless of what they sell, you need a travel agency that offers options. If you think that the first option you find has the best value, you have no way of verifying that unless there are other options available for you to compare. A reliable self-service or full-service online travel agency provides comparison information to help you decide.

Offers Same Types of Travel from Different Providers

An example of this is when you choose among available flights between two airlines for the same flight leg. An online travel agency cannot be considered as such if they represent only one brand, and if so, customers have no way of determining whether the products or services they offer are valuable or useless. If you can choose among several providers, it means the travel company updates their website with the best options and prices available.

Price Competitiveness

When going on a tour, such as the safaris, some travel companies charge fees to their customers in order to offset their expenses, but those fees should be fair. The rates for the travel services indicated online must be simply what you need to pay if you decide to directly deal with the provider. You should actually pay less for a package plan with other services.

Make You an Instant VIP

Sometimes, it is just hard to get a reservation in some restaurants, and a good travel agency can get that for you. They can even provide you private guides, access to exclusive exhibits, and cheaper premium airfares.

Service-Level Guarantee

This will ensure that you will be treated in a polite manner and you will get what you pay for. They can also take care of little details such as a car hire to make sure that you will not be ripped off. They should also provide you with an assurance that no probable action on their end or the service provider will disrupt your travel.

Possibly the best thing about going online when looking for a travel agency is that you can see customer reviews. You can read their comments about their experiences on the tour, even things such as their transportation from the airport to the hotel and other destinations. You can expect a lot of things from an online travel agency, but if they have these qualities, it guarantees that you will have the best deals.

Inexpensive Methods to Travel the World

Many people dream about being able to someday retire and travel the world. There are also a growing number of people who are considering career breaks and time after school to travel extensively. A top concern and deterrent of these individuals is the cost of travel. This article will outline the several ways to save on transportation costs to allow discounted travel around the world.

Know your top destinations, but be flexible. Making a list of top destinations is an excellent outline for a travel plan, but keeping flexibility on how and when you arrive there is a key to budget travel.

• Airlines use specific airport hubs to connect flights to other destinations. Searching for direct flights both in and out of these locations can save significant amounts of money on tickets. It also often allows for time to explore the area around these hubs between flights.

• Start at an end destination and work your way back. Look at a top destination’s airport website and look at all inbound and outbound flights. This will give you information on which hubs service these locations most often, and other possible destinations of interest you can use as a connection.

Time is your friend. Long-term travel requires considerable planning with as much notice as possible.

• Taking time to research destinations is key to affordable pricing. Traveling to destinations during popular events will cost more than during non-peak times. Researching all forms of transportation are key: South America, and Asia offer luxury buses that are often cheaper and more comfortable than flights, while crossing the Atlantic Ocean can be cheaper on a cruise than by a flight once lodging and meals are factored in.

• Having flexibility in time of travel is a significant source of savings. Searching tickets over a month time-frame will allow for the cheapest options. Additional flexibility in travel time, and not being rushed to your destination will also allow for multiple connections and long layovers, the cheapest tickets usually available.

• Many cruise lines and some airlines offer a best price guarantee but do not advertise it. Booking well in advance and routinely checking back for drops in ticket prices gives you the opportunity to contact the company and request they match their current price. If they will not match the price often companies will provide you with a credit of the difference in price to use on future travel.

Use technology to your advantage. The Internet is the best tool for planning, searching, and booking cheap travel.

• Many search engines allow for you to search multiple airlines over multiple dates to find the lowest prices.

• Checking directly with the airline, cruise line, or bus company and not through a travel agent will give a comparison for all other prices. Signing up for the travel company’s newsletters and loyalty groups will often provide you with first access to special pricing.

• Following travel companies and travel groups on social media provides direct access to immediate news and specials. Travel groups often post glitches in booking software and most travel companies repair these in minutes. Followers that are able to book during the window of glitches are usually allowed to keep their prices. Travel companies occasionally offer followers discounts and travel credits for public feedback on social media.

• Use the booking company’s currency conversion. Changing the booking to multiple currencies can provide significant savings. Often changing currency in software assumes you are in a poorer region and provides discounted pricing. A quick search engine lookup will provide you with an accurate conversion, and a global credit card with no international fees is best for purchase.

Strategy 2 for Extraordinary Travel: Have a Well-Designed Plan, Adapted To Your Liking

When you travel in the great trip style, your trip will be independent but well planned. You will be traveling to places that are so remarkable, and seeing things that are so interesting, you will immediately begin to reap the benefits of traveling independently. Before you leave on your trip, you will adapt your trip to your own preferences, interests, style and pace. And you will have the flexibility of altering your timing according to your interests… to pause and fully experience what strikes you.

Traveling anywhere you please using the great trip travel style, either by using a pre-planned trip book of your choice, or by carrying out your own investigation and planning, you will have a complete trip blueprint, based on in-depth research. You will have a good idea of what your options are before you arrive. So you will be able to avoid the frustration of missing out on rich opportunities you really would have liked to experience “if only you had known in time.”

Lack of preparation can add to stress levels on any trip, especially a trip to a foreign country like France or Italy, where people speak a different language, and you may have limited access to the internet while you are traveling. Doing some preliminary groundwork before you leave home will make a tremendous difference in how smoothly your trip goes, and how much fun you have along the way.

With a little pre-planning, and by observing a few simple keys to being a more balanced traveler, you will have better experiences and more fun, and be assured of a great trip every time you travel. These keys include:

1. Balance your trip with a range of activities.

2. Maintain a comfortable pace.

3. Avoid traveling with the crowds.

4. Keep your trip relaxed and fun.

5. Adapt your trip to your liking.

Balance Your Trip with a Range of Activities

You will have the best experience if you maintain variety in what you do. Too much of anything can get tiring. More does not necessarily mean “better,” even for activities that are immensely interesting to you.

As an example, two castles a day, for three days in a row, is definitely out of balance. If you attempt this pace, the charm and the magic, the history and the amazement, will be lost. Stop at four per trip! By the time you reach your fifth castle, you will be on “château overload,” dragging yourself through the motions, and thus “wasting” a castle. It will be much better to save some castles for another year, and intersperse other types of activities into your castle days to break things up a bit.

Maintain a Comfortable Pace

Often travelers try to pack in as much as they possibly can, thinking that by doing so they will get more value for their money and have a more enriching experience. While this may seem to make sense intellectually, it can be a recipe for disaster. It’s easy to get so caught up in the excitement of trying to do everything that you end up feeling rushed and exhausted by the overly-aggressive pace you have imposed on yourself. Ultimately, such errors in pacing can make the enjoyment go out of the trip, or even cause you to get sick. And this you do not want, for numerous and obvious reasons.

While you are on your great trip, traveling independently with your trip-in-a-book guide or your own detailed plan, you will be in control of the pace of your trip. When you need more time, take it. When you spot something marvelous, stop and enjoy it. Lounge on the steps outside d’Orsay, listening to the marvelous pianist playing his full-sized piano on the sidewalk. Hang out watching the sidewalk artist beside the Pompidou Center as he completes his chalk drawing masterpiece. If you discover an organ concert in progress in Notre Dame, take the time to listen to it for as long as you like.

When you are out and about, there’s no need to push yourself too hard. Give yourself permission to slow down, to take “power pauses” to recharge your batteries, and to experience things that pop up along the way. Sometimes “less is more.”

Often you will be walking… at your own pace, pausing where you wish. On your strolls through the elegant Tuileries Gardens, with its vibrant colors and striking sculptures, you will reach a large pond surrounded by inviting chairs, where Parisians gather to sit and bask in the sun. And you will have the freedom to find yourself a chair and join them before you climb the hill to stand in awe surrounded by the misty loveliness of Monet’s waterlily murals in l’Orangerie.

If you have a yen to linger over a coffee, or a glass of wine in a café… If you feel that you’re at the end of your rope and need to sit awhile on a park bench to regain your energies, while watching the parade of people passing by… Even if you’ve just had enough for the day… Set your own pace. When it suits you, especially on the day after a strenuous travel day, allow yourself the luxury of a slow morning, with a relaxing breakfast. Ease into your day as you would on a Saturday at home, after a hard week at work.

Remember, this is your vacation, to be spent as you like. There is no need to set new records of how many museums and attractions you can see in one day. Traveling is not about doing everything you possibly can. It’s about relaxing, unwinding and having great experiences.

Avoid Traveling with the Crowds

When you travel with a group, every place you go will be crowded because you are a crowd. By definition, traveling in the company of 30 others produces a constant reality of “hurry up and wait.” You will suffer through long lines for hotel check-in, to purchase tickets, and to use the restroom. At restaurants, you will be one of 30 people placing your dinner orders at the same time, then awaiting the arrival of your drinks and food, and later your check.

On your great trip travelling independently, you will be in crowd-avoidance mode, moving against the crowds, not with them. Wherever you encounter swarms of people, and see that the lines are building up, you will have the flexibility to go somewhere else instead, then come back later when the crowds disband. So you will be able to admire Monet’s pond lilies, or Van Gogh’s self-portrait, or the model of da Vinci’s rotating bridge, without throngs of people blocking your view. And you will be first in line for ice cream in da Vinci’s park. In Paris you will have in your pocket the “magic” Museum Pass that will allow you to skip the lines at museums. And you will have advance tickets to avoid the lines at the Eiffel Tower.

While you visit the châteaux of the Loire Valley, you will have the time freedom to fully explore these phenomenal and historical palaces, inside and out. If there are crowds blocking the door to Chenonceau, you will be able to shift the order of your visit to take in the gardens first and delay your entry to the palace itself until after the masses have dispersed. You will have time to wander the gardens, as well as to visit the ballroom and royal chambers. And, if you so choose, you will be free to pause for lunch right there, sitting at an outdoor table, with a view of the castle.

When you visit Mont Saint-Michel, again you will enjoy the considerable benefits of traveling against the crowd, moving about in a pattern that separates you from the throngs. Since you will be staying overnight on the Mont, by the time the masses arrive and flow like a torrent through the gates, you already will have climbed up to the Abbey at the top. When the hordes complete their climb to reach the entrance to the Abbey, you will be making your way back down by way of the ramparts.

As the throngs flood the restaurants on the Mont for lunch at noon, racing to bolt down a meal in time to get back to their buses, you will be at liberty to snack on the cheese and crackers you gathered earlier, and wait to dine later, after the streets have emptied and you have the Mont more to yourself. So you will dine at a window table as you watch the spectacle of the tides advancing across the sands at the speed of galloping horses, until the sea surrounds the Mont and renders it an island again.

Keep Your Trip Relaxed and Fun

Have you ever been on a vacation that turned out to be more stressful than your normal work and life at home? Let’s face it, traveling anywhere can be remarkably challenging, whether it be visiting relatives nearby, making your way to a national park you’ve always wanted to see, or embarking on a grand adventure overseas. You find yourself plucked out of your comfort zone and in unfamiliar territory. But travel doesn’t need to add to your stress level, raise your blood pressure, or make you run for antacid tablets.

Go easy on yourself. Anytime you travel and step out of your comfort zone, the number of things that can “challenge” you dramatically increases. Cut yourself some slack when traveling. There’s no reason to get upset when things that are normally simple, and a matter of routine, trip you up and get in your way.

For example, when traveling in a foreign country like France where you don’t speak the language, even finding a restroom can be a challenge. The food is not what you’re used to, and asking simple questions with unfamiliar phrases from a book can feel daunting and embarrassing. Even going to the pharmacy to buy basic essentials can be an ordeal, with unfamiliar brands, not to mention that everything is in French.

Allow yourself some extra time to “flounder” a bit. Quickly get over any initial shyness you have about asking for help whenever you need it. These “permissions” can make a huge difference in how smoothly your travel days will go. And you will be surprised at how quickly the French people will make every effort to assist you once you overcome your hesitations about asking for help.

If you let the intriguing uniqueness of the French culture and lifestyle be part of the adventure of your trip, you’ll find yourself eliminating stressors, having a lot more fun, and making friends along the way.

Adapt Your Trip to Your Liking

Make adaptations to your trip based on your own particular interests, adding more of the types of activities that you will particularly enjoy. And don’t forget to keep your travel partner’s interests in mind when you do. One way to ensure that neither of you tires of a single type of activity, is to take turns deciding what comes next for the day.

The Day Pages in each pre-planned trip book, or that you will set up for yourself, will provide you with a full schedule, and lots of specifics. But what if you discover that tomorrow is Market Day? Or you hear enchanting pan flute music drifting down the shopping street and emerge onto the square to find live performers playing in the sun beside a café that faces a lovely old church?

What if you spot a shop that sells Santons-those remarkably detailed artisan-created figurines, popular for collecting, that portray all the chief characters in the village including the baker, the “goose girl,” the old couple, the crazy man, and the ladies of Provence, as well as Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the shepherds and the Wise men? Or when you encounter a wine-tasting tour in the candle-lit catacombs of a former abbey?

When these and other golden opportunities present themselves, you are free, even encouraged, to deviate from the plan, alter your path, and otherwise seize the moment, then rearrange as needed. Take advantage of happy coincidences that occur. Experience Market Day. Listen while the pan flute music soothes your soul. Pause in the Santon shop to pick out a few figures that strike your fancy-maybe the woman carrying a basket of lavender or the little drummer boy.

When you happen upon the old abbey that offers wine tasting in its crypt, pay the few Euros for your tasting cup, and pick up a form to record your descriptions and scores of the wines you taste, placing asterisks beside your favorites. Then walk through the catacombs, pausing in front of the wine barrels to pour yourself samples by the light of the candle.

As you shift your plans for the day to get the most from unforeseen opportunities, you may need to do some rearranging of what you had planned, according to what is most important to you. But you will always have your original Day Pages as a guide to help you avoid missing out on any of the “must see” items at the top of your list.

As you make choices, and reprioritize how you spend your time on this trip, remember that you likely will return here again in years to come. So you will have other chances to do what you miss doing this time.

Top 7 Tips to Achieve Success With a Travel Blog

For travelers, starting a travel blog is not a bad idea at all. By sharing your ideas and travel experiences, you do not only derive pleasure but you also get an opportunity to make money online. Passionate travelers such as Kate (of Adventurous Kate), Matt (of Nomadic Matt), Earl (of Wandering Earl) & Stephanie (of Twenty Something Travel) have been successful in turning their travel blogs into full-time businesses, which earns them good amount of money. There are hundreds of such bloggers who have achieved success with their travel blogs.

If you have a strong passion for travelling too, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity of setting up your own travel blog. While starting a blog about travel takes only a couple of minutes, managing it successfully may take months or years.

With some expert tips at hand, however, you can also popularize your travel blog and make money from it without wasting too much time.

Given below are seven tips that you can use –

#1. Share Unique Experiences

If you want to make your travel blog really unique, avoid talking about destinations, cities or towns superficially. There are plenty of travel websites that offer general information on popular travel destinations around the world. What you need to do on your blog is share unique experiences or things or activities that very few people will rarely get a chance (or even think) to do or enjoy.

#2. Learn to Write Well

When it comes to sharing your travel experiences, you should also be able to do it in an expressive manner. You can go to any place or city of the world and indulge in as many interesting activities as you may find. But if you can’t share your story in your own unique style, it will only dilute the impact that you want to make.

Therefore, it’s important that you learn to write well. In any case, avoid copying anyone else’s style. Instead develop your own (if you don’t want to bore readers).

#3. Become an Avid Reader

If you want to become a successful blogger, you don’t just need to travel. You also need to read travel literature extensively. Find out about the most popular travel authors, books that they have written and read them to broaden your knowledge base. Subscribing to popular online travel magazines is also a good idea. If you focus on a specific niche, as a travel blogger, reading relevant travel writings can help you a great deal. To write well, you need to read really well.

#4. Take Attention-Grabbing Pictures

What’s a travel blog without pictures? A travel blog without good pictures looks dead. Like you learn to write well, you also need to photograph attractively. A well-crafted travel blog post coupled with great pictures has the potential to go viral in minutes. And you can never tell a good story without using great pictures.

#5. Be Consistent

Success doesn’t come overnight. Once you start a travel blog, you need to share your experiences, stories and other relevant pieces of information on a regular basis. If you make your readers wait for an entire week or month to read the next post on your blog, you’ll simply lose them forever. So, plan out the content strategy in advance.

#6. Stay Genuine

While sharing your travel stories with readers, you should always stay genuine. By being genuine and honest, you’ll soon be able to develop a personal attachment with readers, an essential ingredient to help you achieve success.

#7. Pay Attention to SEO

What’s your purpose of writing travel stories? Well, you do it so that more and more people can read them. Though content is always the king, you can never neglect the importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Most of the travel bloggers think that writing great travel content and doing SEO are two different things, which isn’t true. In fact, great writing always remains at the heart of great SEO.

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