Lonely Planet Guides Vs Travel Blogs – Which Is Better?

If you find traveling the world to be a rejuvenating experience, you don’t have to strain your budget to stay young and kicking on the travel circuit.

I’m sure you’ll agree, It’s a lovely planet we live in, and Lonely Planet guides can show you the best treats, eats and retreats which some luxury tours choose to overlook as they sometimes only show you only the glossy, well worn parts of the country that you have chosen to visit, and leave you with the feeling of a somewhat ‘plastic’ holiday experience

If you are planning a backpacking trip of your own, then the correct use of Lonely Planet guides and various travel blogs are a great way to familiar yourself with your chosen travel destination before you ever leave home. They are a great option since they include some of the best kept travel secrets, helping you to travel further & longer with confidence.

Just because you want to travel doesn’t necessarily mean that you have burn a whole pile of cash to get an amazing traveling experience.

Backpacking from place to place can give you the chance to meet locals, as well as other travelers, and learn more about the planet we live in and the diversities of other cultures.

The famous Lonely Planet Guides have provided tourists with useful and practical information for many years.

Created after its founders splendid honeymoon during which they traveled across two continents and an ocean with borrowed money.

I always liked how the Lonely Planet guides are packed full of practical travel information and advice about the places I want to visit, however, I sometimes have found the guides to be outdated on more than one occasion.

The Guides are laid out beautifully with helpful maps & various photographs from local attractions.

Combine the photos with descriptions of cities & countries from around the globe and you have a great book that will inspire you to plan your next travel adventure.

What I enjoy most about the Lonely Planet Books is they can help to generate fresh ideas of new places to travel and things worth doing when I’m in need of some travel inspiration.

The books are full of lists. Top 10 Countries, Top 10 Regions, Top 10 Cities and so on.

I don’t know if I agree with the top 10 in each of these categories, and you might not either, but that is not the point.

Use the book to inspire you to travel to new places you haven’t yet been, and to generate ideas and travel inspiration.

Even if you don’t travel to the locations listed in the Lonely Planet Travel Guides, they will help you create awareness of what’s out there, and of the places that are available for you to explore.

If you enjoy traveling, you will enjoy looking through the Lonely Planet Travel Guides for fresh new backpacking ideas.

In 2007 approximately seventy five percent of the Lonely Planet was acquired by BBC Worldwide who resolved to continue creating travel guides as they have always been created in the past, providing trustworthy advice to independent travelers and backpackers.

Each year approximately 500 new Lonely Planet guides are published for travelers.

You can either purchase them from bookstores all over the world, or online directly from the company’s official website.

In addition, you can even download the guides now as an audio book.

Wandering from one distant place to another, allows you to experience the diversity of the world’s cultures, and the world-renowned Lonely Planet Guides have been helping tourists with their itineraries since it’s founders went on their own life-changing adventure, spending borrowed money and savings on an unforgettable travel experience across two continents.

Lonely Planet Publications is one of the world’s largest travel guidebook publishers, founded by Tony and Maureen Wheeler, who cashed in on their wanderlust.

Tony came up with the company name, having misheard the phrase ‘lovely planet’ in Joe Cocker and Leon Russell’s song, ‘Space Captain.’

Backpackers, travelers on the move, and jet setters who love to travel the world can find a bunch of relevant information on travel blogs especially information that may not be available in a standard printed travel book or guide.

First hand information about a possible travel location can come in very handy for the regular traveler, especially if it concerns local travel, hotel and food information, local weather information and travel maps etc.

Don’t depend on a single source for travel information. Flick through the Lonely Planet Guides, find a good Travel Blog with relevant & accurate information & even use Google to find helpful useful travel advice & tips.

Is There a Travel Consultant on Your Team?

OK, I have to admit… I book my own travel. I’ve been vacillating back and forth for months and months on whether to add a travel agent (aka travel consultant) to my team of experts that help make my life easier and I just haven’t done it yet. Now don’t get too impressed that I have a ‘team of experts’ – the list is short. It includes the lawn guy who’s also now the pest control guy, the maid, my hair stylist, my all-important driver to and from the airport, and that’s about it. But they’re all people who can save me time, save me money and can make recommendations based on their experience with me and my preferences. Hmmm… sounds like a travel consultant also.

So to help me make my decision, I thought I’d pretend that you’re asking me questions and I’m giving you the answers. It makes the writing so more interesting than just talking to myself.

Q: So why in these days on online booking of everything should I use the services of a travel consultant?

A: Online booking of travel may be the best way to go if you have a simple flight to book, have no long list of special needs, and know what you’re doing. I like to go to Travelocity or Expedia and search out my options and prices, but then I book my ticket on the airline’s direct site. I just trust that if I have any issue with my ticket that their airline will be more helpful to me.

I’ve only ever booked a ticket on one of these online sites when I needed a flight that had one airline on the outbound and another airline on the return.

Because I routinely fly to the same city, I just jump on that airline’s site and can have a ticket booked within seconds. But when my husband and I are both flying and we’re originating in different, then a travel consultant makes much more sense. I spend an excessive amount of time searching multiple airline sites trying to get us to arrive and depart at somewhat the same time.

If you have special needs (allergic to peanuts, pets, people, etc.), then a travel consultant can help ensure that your seats and/or flights are suitable for you. If you’re traveling internationally and are concerned with connecting flights, tight connections, passport or health requirements, go to the expert on your team.

Q: What can a travel consultant really do that I can’t do myself?

A: Besides what I just mentioned above, they can also:

Scout out lower prices than you may be able to find.

Help you with recommendations and prices on cruise bookings and most other forms of travel packages (guided tours, all-inclusive resorts, safaris, etc.) based on YOUR needs and desires.

Keep you in the know about luggage fees, luggage limits, TSA, travel rules in other countries, best times to travel based on weather and more.

Help resolve travel issues (cancelled flights, oversold hotels) and complex travel itineraries.

All with personal service and expert knowledge.

Q: What does a travel consultant charge to use their services?

A: The fee depends on the consultant. While some of the more luxury agencies have higher fees, the average fee is quite marginal. Some travel consultants will even drop the fee or offer a discount once you have finalized your trip with them. Plus, you can always ask an consultant upfront what their fees are and decide for yourself if it’s worth it. Your time is valuable also… so consider the value of the hours that you’re searching for your own travel and the fee for the travel consultant then looks very reasonable.

Q: So what are the requirements for a travel consultant to become part of your ‘team of experts’?

A: Just a few minor requirements to fulfill:

  • They recognize who I am when I call and say “Hi, it’s Carol.” I do not want an agency where I speak to someone different each time I call.
  • They know my preferences and my type of travel. When I say “Bruce and I both want to get to New York City around 6pm on a Thursday,” they’ll know to put me on Continental, him on Delta, and get us both aisle seats (exit row for me, any row with a power outlet for him).
  • They know our 1,000 places to see before we die, know where we’ve already been, and call us when they see a great deal to a place we’ve yet to go.
  • They book our cruises and our hotels and airfare. No more cruise-only people that leave the rest up to us.
  • They provide recommendations for places to see, things to do, restaurants, etc. because they’ve already been there!
  • If they’re not an expert in a certain area, such as finding us a house to rent in Santorini, they’ll find someone who is.
  • They offer reasonable fees and throw in a freebie now and then because we use them so much (is that too much to ask??).

Q: So are you still going to book all of your own travel?

A: Heck no! I’ll take resumes starting today from any travel consultant who can meet my requirements! — I’m interviewing!

Five Reasons You’ll Love Being a Traveling Nurse

In your wildest dreams, could you imagine a job where you get to practice your skills, travel the world, see exotic sites, explore distant cultures, and experience the thrill of adventure every single day? Maybe it sounds too good to be true, but this is the kind of lifestyle that a traveling nurse lives.

Obviously, the life of a travel nurse is not 24/7 tourism. There is work to be done, and difficult situations to face. Despite the challenges of the job, travel nurses experience a whole new level of intensity that a traditional nursing position could never offer. Here are the reasons you’ll love it.

You get to see the world. Is there really a job that lets you travel world? Yes, but there aren’t many of them. Travel caretakers may work in third-world countries, remote regions, or isolated mission hospitals. While many travel caretaker agencies only utilize nurses within the U.S. you may select an agency that sends nurses worldwide. Either way, you’re going to travel somewhere.

You get to experience new cultures. Each area of the country and each region of the world boast its own unique culture. When you move from point A to point B, you will be immersed in a new culture. Cross-cultural experiences are enriching opportunities, allowing you to increase both your personal and professional skills.

You experience variety. Are you the type of person that doesn’t like to be tied down to one place, one job, and one role? Becoming a travel caretaker will put you in a situation where variety is the name of the game.

You receive higher pay. Generally speaking, travel caretaker receive higher pay rates than traditional stationary nurses. There are, of course, a lot of variables that affect the salary issue, including experience, licensing level, area of service, etc. Usually, a travel nursing contract provides for your housing including utilities. In situations where the agency does not provide nursing housing, they usually provide a generous housing stipend.

You develop a strong resume. Employers love to see travel or international experience. You may remain a travel assistant for the remainder of your career, or you may wish to settle down and look for a stationary position. Whatever your choice, you are adding invaluable experience to your resume by traveling. Being a travel assistant is a wise career move in more ways than one.

Travel nursing isn’t for everyone. It comes with adventure. This is precisely the appeal of the job for many nurses. If you have a sense of adventure, being a traveling nurse is probably the right calling for you.

Impact of Cloud Computing on Travel Industry

Introduction

The last decade has seen major changes in the travel distribution landscape. First, it was the Internet that started a revolution and forever changed how the travel industry operates. This online boom followed by subsequent economic slowdown has created new dynamics in travel distribution. The proliferation of smart phones and social media has resulted in further creating both chaos as well as new opportunities. While opening up new avenues for growth, these developments have also created new operational challenges.

Challenges faced by travel distribution industry

Dynamic Demand

One key nature of the travel industry is that the demand for travel is highly seasonal and cyclic. This creates a challenge for any operations manager in terms of capacity planning and right sizing of the IT support infrastructure. Planning for peak size can result in underutilization and lead to higher marginal cost. On the other hand, not planning for peak load runs the risk of lost transaction opportunities, unsatisfied customers and finally business losses. This is one of the primary reasons why most travel distribution players end up having higher IT infrastructure cost and lower operating margins.

Increased Search Volume

Increased number of travel portals along with a changing pattern of travel booking behavior of the travelers, has resulted in a huge surge in ‘look to book’ ratio. This increased number of availability request per booking now runs into thousands from a mere single digit number few years back, putting an enormous pressure on existing IT infrastructure. According to Pegasus Solutions, global processor of hotel transactions through the GDS and ADS channels, the look-to-book ratio soared to around +60% over 2009 levels and is expected to rise further. Today’s common look-to-book ratio is almost at a 2,500 -3,000 to 1, -primarily due to growth of online reservation and the changing consumer behavior who is now looking ‘value for money’ deals. For this, travel shoppers use multiple avenues such as search engines, referral sites, websites, mobile applications, and social media.

Business Disruptions

Just prior to the recession, online travel booking soared to all time highs attracting further investments in IT infrastructure in demand anticipation. However, discretionary travel was one of the first spends that was cut down during the slowdown. This caused a severe strain on financials and travel companies had to rethink their models yet again.

Increase in number of sales channels

Popularity of smart phones has persuaded travel players to embrace mobility as a medium to manage bookings and provide other experiences to increase customer stickiness. At the same time, social media sites have also become very popular and travel portals are trying to utilize this trend by integrating different social media components with their sites. Of course, more number of channels also increases complexities in product management.

Cloud computing from a travel distribution perspective

The Cloud helps enterprises to have a dynamically scalable abstracted computing infrastructure that is available on-demand and on a pay-per-use basis. This model not only saves the IT teams from investing heavily on infrastructure, but also shields them from the intricacies involved in infrastructure setup and management. Presently, apart from providing the on-demand IT infrastructure, cloud service providers typically provide interfaces for other related IT management services. To understand the application of Cloud computing to the travel industry, availability searching or shopping is probably the best example; it is by and large the biggest resource consumer in a typical travel process. In today’s circumstances, travel enterprises who run their entire travel application on a single infrastructure platform put unnecessary stress on operational budgets. One of the probable solutions to this problem is to decouple the availability search functionality from the traditional CRS system transfer it on an infrastructure that can support flexible demand. At the onset, it seems to be a complex and upheaval task, as it creates operational challenges such as latency. However, these challenges can be handled through a cloud based solution which offers higher scalability by using modern architecture patterns. On the other hand, mobility is witnessing an unprecedented growth in demand – this is another area where a cloud strategy can bring in competitive advantages for travel organizations. The key challenges that travel enterprises are facing today regarding mobile and social media channels are manifold, viz.,

  • With the advancements of mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad, Android, Symbian, and Blackberry, travel enterprises need to invest in leveraging these to further their distribution and fulfillment channels.
  • Mobility, being a rapidly evolving technology, is difficult to predict in terms of short term as well as long term demand. Due to this, travel enterprises are facing a challenge in scoping the required infrastructure for supporting mobility channel.
  • Travel enterprises need to create a business model to measure increase in revenue and profit against the costs incurred on mobility & social media investments.

Cloud based flexible and on-demand infrastructure enables a travel enterprise to offer mobility and social media channels without incurring any fixed cost. Using a cloud infrastructure, a travel enterprise can start in a small way and grow into these evolving markets with a lower risk and financial strain.

Key concerns in adopting cloud based system

Availability of a Service

Organizations worry about whether utility computing services will have adequate availability, and this makes them wary of Cloud Computing. But in reality, cloud infrastructure providers such as Amazon and Google have much lower outage compared to any internal IT system.

Data lock-in

The primary way to access the cloud platforms is through proprietary APIs. Thus, enterprises feel that they cannot easily extract their data and programs from one site to run on another. But in reality, all major service providers have an obligation in their contract to return the data to the enterprise. These service providers also have data access APIs that can be used to extract data in standard formats.

Data Confidentiality and Statutory Requirements

Many enterprises believe that their data will not be secure in the cloud, since current cloud offerings are essentially public networks. However in reality most of these cloud service providers have better data protection and security mechanism than most IT organizations. They achieve this through the usage of audit trail, encrypted storage, and network middle-boxes. Service providers also comply with various statutory and audit requirements related to enterprise and personal data security and usage.

Integration with external systems

Since travel distribution systems interact with multiple external applications, travel enterprises always have a concern about integrating the cloud based system with other external systems. However, all major cloud service providers have web service interfaces that can be utilized to integrate the cloud based system with other external systems.

Solution for the ‘long tail’

As we know, the travel industry comprises of many small to mid-sized companies. A large majority of which are very entrepreneurial and niche in terms of the products and services they offer. Companies in this ‘long tail’ have little or limited IT knowledge or support and rely on numerous third parties for IT. Such companies always find it difficult to balance their IT spending between IT upgrades and innovating on their solutions, and this tends to become a barrier for business growth. Even today, many small time travel enterprises do not even have an IT system, because they cannot afford to setup an IT operation in-house. Economics of Cloud environment can change this basic premise and make it both affordable and beneficial for travel enterprises of any size who can use this service to derive a competitive advantage. Such an environment brings tremendous advantages to such companies because it also helps them to manage their cash flow better. At the other end of the horizon, start-ups are finding it easier to build and offer products like CRSs, tour operating systems, distribution systems or basic inventory systems on a SaaS model, which is a stronger value proposition and provides a competitive edge to their offerings.

Business outcomes of using cloud based systems

From the above discussion we can conclude that travel enterprise can achieve business growth by leveraging the power of cloud computing:

  • A cloud-based solution reduces the total cost of IT ownership for the travel enterprises and offers performance, reliability, security, and flexible scalability advantages
  • Travel enterprises are able to increase customer base due to higher availability, low congestion, and additional sales channels
  • Competitive advantage to the small and mid-sized enterprise in the form of lower fixed or upfront capital cost
  • Improved operational efficiency due to low marginal cost
  • Ability to manage risks better by reducing fixed investment on any new initiative

Feel Secure With Best Travel Insurance Coverage

Bajaj Allianz life insurance is a distinct corporate among the world giants such as Bajaj auto and Allianz group. Bajaj auto is the largest manufacturer of two-wheelers and three wheelers in the world and Allianz group is one of the top ranked insurance companies in the world. Bajaj Allianz insurance company has more than 800 offices around the whole world and about 4 million satisfied clients. Bajaj Allianz life insurance company provides an extensive variety of insurance plans and policies.

Bajaj Allianz insurance offers convenient payment schemes like debit cards, credit cards, cheques, or directly from their customers bank accounts. The friendly and patient agents of Bajaj Allianz life insurance helps in the specifications of insurance policies, quotes and terms that best suits each individuals needs.

Bajaj Allianz offers a wide variety of insurance in India. Travel companion, travel elite and student travel are the most important insurance plans under Bajaj Allianz. They are also providing other travel plans like corporate insurance, travel Asia and travel swadesh yatra. Let’s go in to some details of these plans.

Travel companion is a travel insurance policy which is a comprehensive package which provides complete medical and health cover to the international traveler. You can choose a suitable plan according to your requirements from the travel companion insurance plan which offers customized plans for individual, family and senior citizen of age, 61-70. This policy covers personal accident, medical expenses and repatriation, loss and delay of checked baggage, personal liability, loss of passport, cashless service, hospitalization expenses, hijack cover, emergency cash advance, trip delay, golfers hole-in-one etc.

Travel elite is a customized online travel insurance that provides the discerning traveler a good range of policies to choose from, where each policy will be customized to meet your specific requirements. One can choose the policy depending on whether they are a student, a businessman, senior citizen, corporate executive or one traveling with the family. There are plans for individual, family, and senior citizen of age, 61-70 and senior citizen of age, 71-75 in the travel elite insurance plan offered by Bajaj Allianz.

Student travel insurance plan is specially designed for students to make their travel risk free. This plan offers protection for a student’s as well as coverage for other essential needs like medical and hospitalization help. There are three plans which come under student travel. They are study companion plan, student elite plan and scholars guide and brilliant minds.

Corporate international travel is a comprehensive plan which provides complete medical and health cover to the international business traveler. This plan covers your business trips abroad. Bajaj Allianz offers customized plans for virtually every requirement of corporate employees traveling abroad. Companion, elite and age 61-70 plans come under the corporate insurance plan.

Travel Asia policy is a comprehensive plan which offers complete medical and health cover to the international traveler. You can choose from the travel companion and travel elite plan which come under the travel Asia policy.

Don’t worry. Bajaj Allianz also provides travel for the domestic traveler. Travel swadeshi yatra is an insurance plan that takes care of all your needs during domestic travel. This policy comes under 4 different plans which are customized to suit the various needs of a domestic traveler.

Over 65s Travel Insurance – 4 Reasons Why It Is So Important

Is you are wondering if holiday insurance is really worth it, It is far more important than you think! If you are thinking about not taking out insurance to save a few dollars, think twice. You could financially ruin your retirement. It can be obscenely expensive to access health care overseas. There are a few companies out there that specialize in over 65s travel insurance. You just need to do a Google search to hunt them down. Here are 4 of the top reasons why getting travel insurance is absolutely necessary, especially when you’re looking forward to enjoying your retirement.

In travel, there’s a wise saying that goes: “If you can’t afford to get travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel at all.” Getting insurance has always been important, but it’s even MORE important today, with the state of world travel. Here’s reason #1:

Reason #1 – To Cover Health Emergencies.

It’s a hard fact to swallow, but most of us simply aren’t as healthy and strong as a senior citizen as we were in our 20’s and 30’s. That’s why it’s always a good idea to get travel insurance to cover health emergencies. Adequate travel insurance will even cover the costs if you have to be flown home, even if you’re on a stretcher and have to take up the space of six to nine seats! However, don’t expect to be covered for pre-existing illnesses, you are considered a high risk. This fact should save you hours of search time.

Reason #2 – To Cover Travel Delay Costs.

Cancellations and delays are a fact of travel. Just in case your first flight gets delayed and you miss your connecting flight, adequate travel insurance will cover the costs of re-booking, hotel, and food. It’ll soften the blow of the delay, and perhaps even give you a chance to explore the town of your stopover a bit!

Reason #3 – To Cover Trip Cancellation.

Remember that weekend trip that got canceled because you got sick on Friday? Unfortunately, that can also happen now, even if you’re already free from the stresses of work! So as a precaution, get some travel insurance to cover the costs in case the trip does get canceled.

Getting adequate travel insurance will also make sure you’re covered in case your travel agency suddenly goes bankrupt. Unfortunately, it happens, particularly online travel agencies. There are so many small travel agencies popping up these days, some unfortunately not as deep-pocketed than others.

Reason #4 – In Case Of Insurrection.

Switch on the news these days, and you’ll see a revolution here and there, an earthquake, cyclone or tsunami. Unfortunately, things aren’t doing so well in many parts of the world. These things tend to happen without any warning! What will you do if a situation changes at your destination?

Ask the travel agency (or the travel insurance provider) if they cover the costs incurred by such events. If you’re not sure, read the fine print. If you’re not 100% about the peace-and-order situation in your intended destination, then you’d better get covered. Travel insurance should not only cover trip cancellation in case your government releases a travel warning to a particular destination, but if something should happen when you are in a country, they can help with evacuation.

So the next time you plan your vacation, factor in the costs of travel insurance. After all, you can’t totally enjoy your vacation if you don’t have the peace of mind that only travel insurance can give you! There are plenty of options available for seniors and over 65s travel insurance.

Planning Vacations With Free California Travel Guides

Pick up some free California travel guides today to start planning your vacation to the land of sun and fun. No matter what time of year it is, you will find something in California to entertain you. In the winter, California still boasts warm temperatures and year round theme parks for your entire family. In higher elevations, you can find great places for skiing, so plan to hit the slopes for your next holiday vacation.

In the summer, California is particularly dynamic, as you will see when you visit the multiple beaches and enjoy the perfect temperature. When you look at free California travel guides, one thing they might not mention is that you should plan ahead.

Especially during the summer, you might find many hotels are booked, especially those hotels that are around public attractions. Expect longer lines during these summer months, and know that you might have to go exploring to find a spot of beach to keep to yourself.

If you want to avoid the crowds, fall is a great time to do that, and you can explore the many wine regions. Many free California travel guides can point you to the best ones in the area you plan on visiting.

Look through your free California guides to find the places worth visiting. Of course, you have the main, well-known tourist attractions, like Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. You have most likely heard of the Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, where you can be amazed at the immensity of the redwood trees. Take a trip to SeaWorld and Mission Bay, which are perfect locations for the entire family.

If you are looking for great family vacation spots, find free California travel guides that highlight these attractions. For example, there is the National Yo-Yo Museum, which is always a favorite with kids. There is Universal Studios, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom or Birch Aquarium, all of which are great locations to bring those with short attention spans. Free California travel guides should help you find places that interest you.

Alternatively, if you are traveling to California for a romantic getaway, one free of children, then choose free California travel guides that capitalize on that fact. Have a fun day out parasailing and walking around the heart of San Francisco before cozying up in one of the many romantic dining options available in California.

No matter which city you visit, you will find relaxation in the surrounding spas, culture in multiple museums and fun with all the different recreation places and parks. Using the various free California travel guides, you can set up the perfect vacation in no time, so get started and put it off no longer!

Why Travel Agents & Tour Operators Need To Focus On Authentic Local Experiences To Stay Competitive

The major elements comprising the generic destination competitiveness model helps to identify the key success factors of destination marketing. Among the many approximate set of indicators used to determine destination competitiveness, local experiences is one of the key points. Elaborate empirical as well as conceptual research points out the relative strengths and weaknesses of different tourism destinations, which can then be used to study the impact of local experiences on the travelers and vice versa.

The discerning travelers of today’s world love exploring unique experiences each destination has to offer and go much beyond staying in the top suite of hotels. Choosing the best dining options and spas has otherwise become passe. No online portal can take you to the hidden nuggets of the destination except the native folks. So, to match up with the millennials’ definition of travel, you need to indulge with the locals which is way beyond any packaged holiday or cookie-cutter options.

Blurring the borders of traditional definition of travel
It’s important for Travel Agents to realize that selling travel is actually selling happiness. Imbuing travel goals based on interaction with local people makes travel more meaningful than ever. Authenticity, simplicity, and culture are the new watchwords driving the growth of the travel tourism sector internationally. The evolution of the whole new travel genre is based entirely on indulging in local experiences. It is not about the best luxury experience but the intrinsic local touch will definitely add magic to the holiday memory. Remember that the most valued luxury is experience.

Present-day culture travelers have moved beyond the familiar environs and revel in the experience in itself. Clearly enough, tourists that like to break the mold are more interactive with local residents. This paradigm shift has not however, completely caught up with everyone yet. The focus of investments still remains on the traditional tourism-related components.

To create a layered travel experience, the hospitality industry is gradually promoting themselves as the portals for the local community. Although that might not be a necessity but local experience will definitely give a competitive advantage.

Blending national culture and heritage into luxury travel tours need careful planning and is bound to enhance tourist’s experience. Getting certified from the government tourism policies which include inter-cultural education policy helps to makes the travel agents’ outset more impressive.

Counter homogenization of the travel experience is the new clause of the tourism authorities. Embracing local cultural tourism will have an impressive lasting impact on travelers with like-minded outlook. Traditional vertical distribution chains among the travel providers has given way to complex value chains and thus in this increasingly competitive marketplace, providers need to seize every opportunity for competitive advantage. Collaborative advantage through local and government partnership is thus a new norm. Local culture and society has become an essential part of tourism value chain. The integrated inter-relationships between travel and other socioeconomic sectors are now conceived as a ‘value network’.

Promoting Local Cuisine
Sustainable tourism, which is tantamount to responsible tourism, has been a major concern in the travel industry for the past couple of years. Experiencing the local culture largely contours around the traditional gourmet industry. Trying traditional food completes the cultural experience of the place. Talking of the economic aspect, if you are eating at McDonald’s, instead of benefiting the local community, a major chunk of it leaves the local socioeconomic circle. The international traveler’s gang consist majorly the Western tourists and without much doubt, the need for Western food is always higher than the local recipes.

While traveling for a single night’s stay, people might think it not important enough to connect to the local traditions. However, pennies in the pocket of the local cuisine industry help to uplift the local tourism industry on a larger picture. Walking into a McDonald’s or a KFC might fill your tummy but will neither add to the local tourism sector nor enhance your experience. For instance, Vietnamese pho is now a big pull for travelers in Vietnam and when in Costa Rica, do not miss gallo pinto. Building connections with the local folks is not always the only token you get in return but you actually help to build a perception about your nationality as a whole. A country’s heritage is strongly rooted within the memories of the local people and as the old folks say, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!

Experiential travel – creating a deeper connect
The demand for ‘experiential travel’ is arguably the most significant as well as systematic trend in worldwide tourism. The term typically defines immersive, authentic, local, and more active travel trend. While some travel enthusiasts would like to argue that travel is inherently ‘experiential’ by nature and that the term is overused, the idea is to make it more mainstream. Travel consumer attitude has varied wildly when it comes to local tourism and it is its degree of definition varies widely how the overall trend is approached.

On a deeper emotional and more personal level, people want to travel better at the end of the day. Growing numbers of travelers shying away from the traditional packaged travel brochure is definitely a valid evidence of how local experiences matter for the new age travelers.

Going Social
Relying on technology and global networks of small and individual travel providers, travel brands are offering more connected experiences. Almost infinite online matrix of social media networks keep us connected no matter where we travel. But ironically enough these social networks are gradually isolating people in real life than helping them make closer to human connections. The online sharing portal pair travelers with the local citizen network and offer experience to travel like local.

With packaged tourism losing its appeal among modern day travelers digs the question of what exactly is authentic travel. Consumer data might reveal a section of these answers but tracking social media will give an organic result. For travel brands targeting specific niches, evaluating and adapting to the changing travel behavior is much important.

Tech tools
Undoubtedly, the most influential and dependable tech tool for millennials is the smartphone. Mobile phone location technology has made connection right. On niche apps, review-stuffed maps by Google etc. have made planning for set-piece events easier than ever before. The transparency of peer-to-peer accommodation and transportation services like Airbnb and BlaBlaCar add to the authenticity of the travel experiences and their reviews. The underbelly of a place can only be offered by the natives of the place and thus creates difference in the authenticity of the travel experience.

Large industry players have also chosen to go down to local level. The Instagrammable ideas and images of the less explored destinations is fun in itself. With a series of themed guides and commissioned travel advice by savvy locals has found intense popularity among the new age travelers. The aim is for travelers to get a genuine local experience of the destination. Travel Companies can do well to follow the adage – Think global, act local!

Transportation Services and Modes of Transport

In human evolution, the earliest means of transport were walking, running and swimming. Before the Industrial Revolution and modernization, water transport was the most efficient method of transporting large quantities of goods over long distances though it was very slow and expensive. The importance of water transport led to the growth of cities along rivers and sea-shores where boats, canoes and ships could dock.

The domestication of animals and the invention of the sled gave way to early animal transport services. Horses and oxen were used from as early as 3000 BC to transport goods and humans and traveled over dirt tracks. Later civilizations such as the Mesopotamian and the Indus Valley built paved roads for easier transport.

The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century turned transportation on its head. It was the age of many inventions that fundamentally changed the concept of transport. Communication, telegraphy, the steam engine and the steam ship sped global transport in all directions. Land transport became possible over large distances without the application of animal or human muscles. The Wright brothers’ successful experiments with aircraft paved the way for airplanes and air transport became a faster way to transport goods and people in shorter time-frames to further destinations.

Modes of transport

A ‘mode of transport’ is a method or solution that uses a particular type of infrastructure, operation and vehicle to transport people and cargo. A mode can be used by itself or in conjunction with several other modes; in this case it is referred to ‘intermodal’ or ‘multimodal’ transport. Each is distinct from the other and is used based on choice of factors like cost of transport, route taken, capability and so on.

1. Human-powered – this is the most common in developing and under-developed countries because of several factors like savings on cost, accessibility of location, physical exercise and environmental reasons. Human-powered transport is a sustainable form of transport and has recently been enhanced by the use of machinery and modern technology – e.g. cycling, skating, rowing, skiing which are extremely useful in difficult environments.

2. Animal-powered – whether ridden by humans or used as pack animals for movement of people and commodities, animals can work alone or in teams – e.g. mules, horse-carts, dog-sleds etc.

3. Air – airplanes and aircraft have reduced travel times considerably and is the fastest mode of passenger and goods transport. High costs and high energy use are the downsides of air transport; however, it is estimated that over 500,000 people travel in aero-planes at any given time.

4. Rail – Railroads and rail tracks run the length and breadth of every country in the world ferrying people and goods from place to place. Although they involve the use of large amounts of surface land, rail networks provide easy connectivity options within cities, within countries and between different countries as a mode of public transport- e.g. New York City Subway, London Metro, Eurotunnel or the Chunnel between England and France and the Euro Rail.

5. Road – road networks pass through cities, towns and villages and provide better connectivity options in addition to city rail networks and are ideal for public transport also. Road transport is entirely different from other modes as it allows a vehicle user to have complete freedom over speed, direction, timings of travel and change of location that other transport methods cannot provide. They require large surface areas, use high energy and are quite expensive.

6. Water – water transport includes barges, boats, sailboats and ships through canals, rivers and seas. The earliest boats and ships were routed through inland canals for transporting people and spices. Today large passenger and cargo ships provide an organized and efficient transportation method. Although the time involved is long, water transportation is significantly less expensive than air or road.

Other less used modes include cable and pipeline transports which are specifically purpose oriented – e.g. liquids and gases, water, sewage etc. for pipeline transport and conveyor belts, aerial tramways, cable cars etc. for cable transport.

All transport services involve three common elements – infrastructure such as terminals and facilities, operations that include government and private agencies and vehicles which are specifically made for the purpose.

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 color tone, adding your splash of color 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 neighbors 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. Utilize a checklist, as it saves plenty of headaches later on.