Thursday, March 31, 2016
In Answer to Some Questions About Traveling...
I've been getting a lot of questions lately about how to make a trip happen. In the world of online everything, it's not as easy as it used to be to go out to the travel agent and have them help you plan a trip. On the plus side of that argument, the internet gives you the chance to look around and see where you would like to plan your dream vacation before you figure out how to make it happen.
I've done a lot of running around over the years, and it's not easy to get into the swing of planning a really good trip. First, I watch television some. That's right, I look for travel shows on TV that showcase interesting locations. I read articles, I look at websites. Sometimes, I spin my globe and investigate the spot that my finger landed on. I'm not joking. Sometimes that's what it takes to start finding a path to the vacation that you really want. I also read blogs, just like mine to see what other people are doing for vacation.
Once I find a place that sounds interesting to me, I start to investigate the location and see what's really there to see and do. I also look to see if the destination is financially viable and safe. I consider what season it is in that location, what the political situation is, and in my case family and woman friendliness. But, the questions that I've been getting lately are about how to find out these things.
First, I check the official website for that destination. You can find them for most countries and states. There are some counties, provinces, regions, areas, national parks, and cities that have online guides as well. You may be able to look up a guide by just using a keyword like "TheHenryFord". It works, and what you will find is great information about the attractions and areas that you are looking to visit.
Other ways that you can find out information about a holiday that you are interested in is to put in a subject. It can be a sport, a hobby, a celebrity, a festival, or anything that might bring up a location to do something that interests you. Just add travel to you keywords. I literally put in where can I see a moose? I got Greenville, Maine. This spot has become one of my favorite little getaways over the years, and they were right. I always see moose when I'm there. But, I digress. You can put in cooking tours, religious activities, photography, waterfalls, and just about anything. You will get information on your topic.
So, you've found a destination that interests you based on your personal criteria. Next you have to find out if that place is viable. Look at the cost of airfare, hotels, rental cars, maybe even some local restaurants. You can check any booking site to find out these things. Expedia, Booking.com, Travelocity, Orbitz, Kayak, or any of a hundred other sites to see what it costs to visit the location that you've picked. Remember, after checking travel sites, try to look into what the same items would cost if you bought them direct from the source; the hotel, the airline, the car rental agency, etc. If you can afford to go to your location, you can move on.
Following the obvious, affordability, you must make sure that it's safe to go there. There's nothing more shocking and disturbing than to get to a location and find out that it's not safe to be there. This is where you need brass tacks information. The CIA Factbook is a great place to get information about countries. They have all the basic statistical information on pretty much everywhere. This will also tell you what season to travel to the location in for the best time, and what the most congested areas of the country are. It will tell you the country's religion which can be something that you need to know in some countries. It will tell you if the country does not allow alcohol, what the holy days are, what the national holidays are, which side of the road to drive on, and many other useful tidbits to get you around a country. One of the biggies that it will tell you is if that country speaks English or not. That can be a deal breaker if you're traveling without a guide.
Then you will want to find out if you should go there and how to do it. The United States Department of State is your website. You will find travel advisories there. They are there for your safety. I cancelled arrangements for a trip to Morocco once because they were having some problems at the time. The State Department is where I got a lot of my information on the situation. When I did pick a destination for that trip, I registered me and my family's itinerary on the website for our safety as well. I also found the locations of the embassies in the countries that we were visiting just in case. This site also tells you about passports, visas, immunizations and many other useful things that will help with your travel. There are some countries that Americans aren't even allowed in, so that is something that this site will help you with.
Once you have that spot picked out, and you have all the information that you need to make an informed decision of should you go there and can you afford it, it's time to start looking into booking that trip. Do you want to take a guided tour? Excellent question. Students and first timers should definitely take a tour. If you really want to go on a cruise, that's a tour. There are many tour companies that can help you out. Here's some:
Remember, traveling in a group means doing what is planned for you. If that's not for you, and it probably won't be after your first trip; then you have to do your homework. There are many places that you can find out all the information you need to know. It's really not that hard. If you do want to take a tour, the above list is the best place to go. You can also look up travel agencies within the country that you wish to travel to. Sometimes they can get you in to see things that foreign travel agencies cannot.
Cruising is a comfortable way to travel. River cruises appeal to me more than ocean cruises, but it's up to you. River cruises have smaller crowds on board, because they have smaller boats. There's always a view, because you're never out to sea, and there are more stops and more time in the places that you wanted to see. It's a personal preference, but if you are like me, it's an important one. Make sure that you find a cruise that is right for you if you decide to take a cruise. Don't just pick the cheap one.
What I'm trying to say is that if you want to do it right, do some homework. There is no five minute vacation plan if the vacation is worth a hoot. Look on the website for the location you wish to visit. Get the information from their website. Then look into travel options. I know that Kayak and some other sites tell you that they can save you time, but don't save the time. You want to make sure that you are going where you want and seeing what you want when you get there. You need to make sure that you are traveling within your budget instead of someone else's. You need to make sure that you go at the right time, and that it's safe and that it's really what you want. I am giving you some great sites to check into on this one, and I hope it helps answer some of the questions that you have asked me about travel.
There's a whole world out there, and if you never leave your house, you'll never see it. Take a chance, but do the work. Look into your desired locations. Look into the methods of travel. Look into the customs, the laws, the politics, the religion, and the activities. You may want to add a destination to your trip for a long flight layover. There are tons of different ways to see the world. Just because it's not a piece of cake to go somewhere besides Disney World, doesn't mean it isn't worth it. Do the work. You may just be amazed by what you find. Enjoy!