Solo Travel As a Business and Lifestyle Phenomenon

“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” – Henry David Thoreau

If the statistics are any indicator, many travelers agree with Thoreau. In increasing numbers, individuals are traveling alone rather than just waiting for others to join them.

Solo travelers in the recent past have totaled 21 million in just the US and UK combined. According to a New York Times article in Nov. 2012, Internet searches for “solo travel packages” were up 60% over the prior year. The US Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel & Tourism Industries (“OTTI”) reported that a staggering 42% of U.S. citizens/residents that went abroad in 2011 traveled alone. Of those individual travelers, 38% traveled for leisure or to visit friends & relatives (“VFR”) and 66% for business. Similarly, inbound solo travelers from abroad totaled 36.2%. Of those, 23.6% were on leisure trips and and 62.2% for work. This business and lifestyle phenomenon has been growing exponentially.

Who are solo travelers?

Solo travelers are a much broader group than just the single population. They may be:

• Two-career couples on business travel or “DINK’S” (Dual Income No Kids).

• Those with relatives or friends abroad.

• Family members pursuing separate sports/hobbies overseas.

Abercrombie & Kent’s Jill Fawcett has described their solo travelers as: “often… married or have partners, but the spouses don’t share the same interest… They want to travel with like-minded people and the small group gives them some interaction. Then they go back to the privacy of their own room… 25% of people who opt for our Extreme Adventure series are (also) solo travelers,” she said. “People feel a little more secure in a group if the destination is intimidating or there’s a language barrier.” Solo Travel Is Growing at a Rapid Rate | Phil Hoffman travel blog, 10/25/11.

According to Grand Circle Corp chairman Alan Lewis, “Women are a growing force in the solo travel market… where the solo market has grown from about 20% to 25% of [Grand Circle’s] overall bookings during the past five years.”

Single travelers do still continue to play an active role in solo travel. Their growth is clear in Europe and North America where people are marrying later and may be divorced, widowed or never married. According to a March 19, 2013 article entitled “The Growing Solo Travel Market”, http://tourismintelligence.ca, average single households total as follows:

• 35% of all households in developed countries

• 40% in Finland and Norway (2011)

• 37% in the Netherlands (2011)

• 27% in the US (2010), 29% in the UK (2011) and 28% in Canada (2011).

How do solos travel?

Solo travel may not necessarily mean traveling as a “group of one”. Individuals may choose

1. Escorted group tours

2. Independent tours

3. Travel alone and select their own hotels/tours

What Issues Confront Those Traveling Alone?

There are two main challenges for individual travelers.

• Attractive pricing: Lodging, tours and cruises are priced routinely on double occupancy. Most cruises and tours require a single supplement for those traveling alone. Although this is not necessarily 2X, the price differential can be substantial. This is most pronounced in tour packages, particularly cruises that have “2-for-the-price of 1” early booking promotionals. As a result, those traveling alone may pay 3-4X couples/pairs.

• Top quality access and service: In a busy holiday or tourist season, the unaccompanied traveler may be given less desirable accommodations or tables in restaurants. In fact, even 5 star hotels may be unwilling to take a dinner reservation for one even when the individual traveler is a guest of the hotel. This is particularly true on Saturday nights and holidays. The alternative may be sitting at the bar for dinner notwithstanding that the dining room has vacant tables. On cruises/river cruises or other tours with “open seating”, tables are typically set up for even numbers. The result? These travelers are faced with a “standup” buffet or engaging in sleuthing to find an available seat.

What is The Business Opportunity?

This travel phenomenon is growing exponentially and still represents an underserved niche. The opportunity for the industry is substantial, prioritized as follows:

Leisure travelers: They are the largest percentage of industry revenues. However, a smaller percentage go alone for leisure trips. The beneficiaries: airlines, hotels, tours, car and concierge services.

Business travelers: Although a small portion of revenues, a greater percentage are on business. Moreover, they may have a larger budget than an individual on vacation. The same industry segments would benefit with the exception of tours except as potential additions to an international trip.

VFR: Those visiting friends and relatives may be met at the airport and have access to local transportation. While staying in a private residence, meals may not be taken out as frequently as hotel guests. Accordingly, such travelers will continue to generate new revenue primarily for airlines but are unlikely to augment the existing market for other travel services.

This sector represents a largely untapped market. Given the sheer numbers of affluent professionals and business executives, with the right mix of well-priced, top quality offerings, both sides benefit. The travel industry will increase their existing revenues while those traveling alone will achieve more competitive pricing and access to higher quality. It is a market whose time has come.

Why Sound Business Travel Reporting Matters

For any company that has their employees engage in regular travel, it is important to have a good corporate travel strategy. Part of developing and improving on a corporate travel strategy is solid business travel reporting. Business travel reporting provides the company with details about the cost of travel and how the money is being used. This data not only helps to keep track of expenses but it also can be used to identify areas of waste and inefficiency. When this information is tracked and analyzed it can be used to improve upon your company’s business travel strategy. Using the service of a corporate travel agency is an effective means toward achieving all of these goals.

Due to their experience and their connections in the travel and finance industry, a corporate travel firm will be especially suited to provide these services with the highest degree of detail. A corporate travel agency uses a variety of methods to analyze and track a clients business travel expenses. They can use data from banking and credit card records along with the travel records to identify the most and least efficient travelers in your company. They can help to manage airline data to find which carrier is providing the most business friendly service for the most affordable price and they can help to identify waste and abuse of funds.

A corporate booking agency can also help employers to analyze information in a way that can determine how effectively the employees travel and how well they stick to the itinerary and how closely the individual employees stick to the travel strategy. This can be achieved by referencing the data accumulated from credit cards, expense accounts, airline data, hotel bills and rental information. Once all of the data is collected and analyzed, the corporate travel firm can prepare a complete report. The reports will cover a variety of different areas and will often be accompanied by a written summary of the overall information. Clients can also request specialized reporting from a corporate travel agency. These may be to address an area of concern or to see how a new aspect of the travel strategy is working.

Most business travel agencies recommend that their clients schedule regular meetings with their travel manger to go over the business travel reporting and to find ways to improve the corporate travel strategy. The management of a business should meet with their corporate travel manager at least once a year. In these meetings the travel manager can help the client go over the business travel reporting and understand what all of the data means. The manager will help to identify areas of waste and point out parts of the travel plan that are working well. At this time the client can address their concerns about the travel strategy and work to adjust the business travel strategy. A corporate travel agency can also help their client with a plan for implementing the new strategy and addressing the changes with their staff.

Having the services of a business travel agency is a necessity for any company that engages in regular travel. Having a well thought out strategy will not only save the company money, but it will also make sure that the staff is getting the most out of their trip.

Why You Should Travel Young

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

-Henry Miller

Traveling is simply a brutality of humanity, it is when we travel that we see things for what they truly are and not how we imagined them to be. Traveling also lets our imagination run wild without expectations, it lets us see things from a new perspective, without the alleged prejudice of the world. And while all of this seems to be an adequate reason to travel, many are still naïve to the idea of traveling.

But just as many are left in the dark to wonder and wander, some are out there exploring and enjoying what the world has to offer them, for it is in that brief moment of youth that we can truly experience life, as we know it.

Now the question of many remains, “Why Should I Travel Young”? Personally, I can give you a hundred, even a thousand reasons why you should travel when you’re young but if you’re desire to see the world begins and ends with your “Wish to See the World” then I’m afraid no amount of reasoning would suffice to convince you to go after what you want.

You see, traveling as much as it is a form of recreation is also a commitment, a vocation for some, but ultimately, it is a responsibility. A responsibility you should be willing to take onto yourself. Many people say that the young are lucky to have the health and the wealth to see the world but what they do not realize is that the young are often distracted, deceived and sometimes, deluded.

So if you’re one of the young’uns who wish to unearth the world’s greatest places and learn life’s most valuable lessons, but are afraid to make it happen, read along, maybe I can convince you to travel while you still have the gift of youth.

Traveling teaches you a sense of adventure- Don’t quote me on this one but based on my experience, traveling allows you to have as much as fun as you want without having to worry of what other people will say about you. You don’t have your peers or parents to warn you and judge you, so you can be young, wild and free. Life is an adventure and traveling lets you experience that.
Traveling teaches you to be compassionate- Other than the photos, the souvenir and the life-long memory that traveling gives you, it also edifies you of the real situation and teaches you to care for other people, sometimes not of your own kind.
Traveling allows you to be culturally diverse- If you think traveling is all about sight-seeing and marveling at the wonders each country has, then you’re right. But there’s also something more important that traveling teaches us, it allows us to be culturally diverse. Whenever we travel, it is important that we follow the local practices of the country/destination we are going to. As the old saying goes, “Respect begets Respect” If we learn to respect and even appreciate the culture of other nationalities then we become more aware of our own. That’s the mutual benefit we get from traveling.
Traveling makes you more attractive as a person- they say that the most attractive people in the world are those that have seen it. Do you agree? I do. It is because of the invaluable and immeasurable life experiences we have with our travels that make us a better person, and when you feel you’re better, you become more attractive.
When you travel young, you travel more- let’s face it, we’re all bound to grow old and lose our health. But while we’re young and at the peak of everything, it’s best to take advantage of it and start traveling, after all, you’re only allowed until your 30s to hike a mountain or ride the rapids of the river.
Traveling makes it easy to make friends- if back at your hometown you tend to cling to the same group of people bound by a circle of friendship, then maybe you should travel more often. Traveling has been proven as one of the best ways to gain friends and build bonds, after all, you are all strangers to one another at one point but because of your common interest to see the world, you are bound by it as well. And get this; wouldn’t it be nice to have friends in all parts of the world? That would be way cool, way cooler than your friends back home.
Traveling makes you a better storyteller- You might not get this now but when you have kids or grandchildren, you will. Those who travel young have more opportunities to experience everything there is to traveling. With the many countries that you’ve visited and you’ll be traveling to is a story waiting to be told. Traveling gives you things to share over breakfast, lunch or dinner. When you travel, you will never have a hard time thinking of a topic to talk about; not to mention you’ll keep everyone with your story.

Now if for some strange reason, after citing all these reasons why you should travel young and you’re still not convinced; it’s pretty obvious that you have a fear inside you that you’re just trying to hide so everyone won’t think you’re a coward who can’t face it. Is it fear of heights? Fear of the unknown? Fear of being independent? Whatever it is, know that traveling, especially alone, will help you address that fear. You just have to take the big leap of faith and make the first step to make your traveling dreams a reality. You only live once; and you’re only young for a short period of time, if you don’t travel now, when?

Julius Mariano (aka Jules Mariano) is a freelance web article writer and social media marketer. He also provides SEO services and reputation management work.

Traveling To America? New ESTA Registration Mandated January 2009

For years, visitors from certain foreign countries have been able to travel to America without first getting a formal Visa sticker placed in their passport. Implemented in 1998, the “Visa Waiver Program” (VWP) has allowed for visitors of several countries to come to America for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without getting a Visa put in their passport. During 2007, more than 15 million visitors from VWP countries arrived in the United States.

As of January 12, 2009 America’s new ESTA program requires Visa Waiver Program visitors coming to the U.S. for tourist or business purposes via a plane or ship to “register” online before entering the United States to see if they pose a law enforcement or security risk to the U.S. ESTA is not required for land crossings. Officials are asking that the ESTA registration be done at least 72 hours prior to leaving, but theoretically it is possible to register at the last minute. An ESTA Travel Authorization is free, valid for 2 years, and valid for multiple entries.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for ESTA Travel Authorization:

What Countries Are in the Visa Waiver Program?

Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Where Do I Apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization?

A website, operated by the American government, is where you register for ESTA: esta.cbp.dhs.gov. The ESTA information you submit via the computer is compared with certain American law enforcement databases and then either approved or denied. Foreign travelers will not be able to submit ESTA applications at American airports after arriving or at a U.S. Embassy in their country.

What if I Don’t Have Plans to Travel to the U.S. Yet?

VWP travelers are not required to have specific plans to travel to the United States before they apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization. As soon as VWP travelers begin to plan a trip to visit the U.S., they are encouraged to apply for travel authorization through the ESTA website. Applicants are not required to update their destination addresses or itineraries if they change after their ESTA Travel Authorization has been granted.

Does the ESTA Travel Authorization Guarantee Entry to the U.S.?

An ESTA Travel Authorization only authorizes a traveler to board an airline or ship for travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. After they arrive, travelers who obtained an ESTA Travel Authorization may still be denied entry (also called “admission”) at a U.S. port of entry, such as an American airport. An approved ESTA is not a guarantee of admissibility at an American airport. In all cases, the American airport officers make the final determination whether a foreign traveler can enter the U.S. or not. You still have to establish to the satisfaction of the inspecting officer that you are entitled to be admitted to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.

Can I Change My Travel Itinerary?

It is possible to change an itinerary on an existing ESTA Travel Authorization; ESTA is designed so that you can update parts of it at any time. Travelers who did not get an ESTA approval may be denied boarding by the airlines, experience delayed processing, or be denied admission to the U.S. at the American airport.

What If I Already Have a Valid B1/B2 Visitor Visa?

While the ESTA Travel Authorization is completed online with no interview, there are Visas that require a U.S. Embassy interview. The Visa process has separate procedures, which generally require an appointment, travel to a U.S. Embassy, an interview with a Consular Officer, processing time, and the payment of an application fee. If a foreign national already went to the U.S. Embassy and has a valid B1/B2 Visitor Visa pasted in their passport it is not necessary to get an ESTA Travel Authorization because the traveler will be entering with a B1/B2 Visitor Visa and not through the Visa Waiver Program. Keep in mind that an approved ESTA Travel Authorization is not a Visa.

Can I Re-Apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization if Denied?

Yes, but you must wait at least 10 days to reapply and your circumstances must have changed. Unless there is a change in a substantive fact, re-application will not change the result. Keep in mind that applying for an ESTA Travel Authorization with false information can cause a foreign national to be permanently barred from ever entering America. The ESTA system is designed to try to prevent individuals from changing and manipulating an ESTA entry until they receive an approval.

What If I am Denied an ESTA Travel Authorization and Have No Changed Circumstances?

There are three types of responses to an ESTA application; approved, pending or travel not authorized (denied). Applicants who receive a “pending” response are advised to check the website 72 hours later. Applicants who are denied will be required to go to a U.S. Embassy to apply for a formal nonimmigrant visa, such as a B1/B2 Visa, which may take months.

Can a Traveler Find Out the Reason Why an ESTA Application was Denied?

The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security has stated that travelers may contact the DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP at dhs.gov) but there are no guarantees that information about a denial will be divulged. U.S. Embassies and Consulates are not required to provide details about an ESTA denial nor resolve the issue that caused the ESTA denial.

What If I Have a Criminal Record?

Only those qualified to travel under the VWP are eligible to pre-register through ESTA. Persons who have been arrested and/or convicted are generally not eligible for VWP and probably require a formal Visa, such as a B1/B2 Visa, to travel to America. If a foreign national has received tickets for speeding (which don’t usually result in an arrest or conviction) they are probably still eligible for the VWP and ESTA. If a foreign traveler has been denied entry into or deported from the U.S., they require a formal Visa.

Do Any Other Countries Have a Similar Program?

Australia has a program called the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) that mandates travelers to submit an ETA application electronically through a website requesting permission to travel to Australia. Airlines may refuse to accept passengers who do not have either an approved ETA or Visa to enter Australia.

How Long Will the ESTA Application Data be Stored? Who Can Access It?

The ESTA Travel Authorization is valid for two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first. The American government will maintain the information for at least 15 years to allow retrieval of the information for law enforcement, national security, or investigatory purposes. Information submitted through ESTA can also be shared with any U.S. government organization.

What Information Does the Airlines Get?

Airlines will receive confirmation of a passenger’s ESTA status visa the “Advance Passenger Information System” (APIS) which shows whether the ESTA authorization has been granted for a Visa Waiver Program traveler. It is recommended that the traveler print out the ESTA application approval in order to maintain a record of their ESTA application number and to have confirmation of their ESTA status.

What About Children?

Accompanied and unaccompanied children, regardless of age, are required to obtain an independent ESTA Travel Authorization.

What if a Mistake was Made on the ESTA Application?

The ESTA website will ask applicants to review their application before submitting it. Also, there is an update function for certain information such as email address, telephone number, or flight information. If an applicant makes a mistake that cannot be “updated,” he will need to submit a new ESTA application.

What if I Only Have a Connecting Flight Through the U.S.?

Visa Waiver Program visitors who have a connecting flight in the U.S. are required to either have ESTA Travel Authorization or a Visa from a U.S. Embassy in their passport to travel through the U.S. even for a one hour stop. If a traveler is only planning to stop in the U.S. en route to another country, the traveler should enter the words “In Transit” and his final destination in the address lines under the heading “Address While In The United States” on the ESTA application.

What Are the Questions on the ESTA Travel Authorization Application?

The traveler must provide (in English) biographical data including name, birth date, country of citizenship, country of residence, email address, sex, telephone number, passport information, destination address in the U.S., travel information (round trip airline ticket, flight number and city where you are boarding) as well as questions regarding communicable diseases (chancroid, gonorrhea, granuloma inquinale, HIV, leprosy, lymphogranuloma venereum, syphilis [active], tuberculosis [active], and others), physical or mental disorders, drug addiction problems, arrests, convictions, past history of visa cancellation or denial, and prior deportations from the U.S. The traveler will also be asked whether they are seeking work in the U.S., have ever been deported or tried to get a visa by fraud or misrepresentation. The traveler will be asked if they have ever detained a child of a U.S. Citizen granted custody of the child, and whether they have ever asserted immunity from prosecution.

Do I Select “Business” or “Pleasure (Tourist) at the Airport Port of Entry?

After the ESTA Travel Authorization is granted, the foreign traveler will be interviewed by government officers at the first American airport they land. The officer will ask what the foreign traveler will be doing in America and the questioning can take up to four hours in a detained setting called “secondary inspection.” The officer may ask the traveler “what else are you doing in America?” repeatedly to try to get “the real” answer. If the traveler is only going to be a tourist, they are not allowed to do any business, including meeting with any attorneys, applying for a bank account, meeting with real estate agents, or other business consulting activities. Even though the traveler is going to conduct just one business meeting while in America, they are required to report it and enter as a business visitor. The business visitor is allowed to participate in tourist activities, but the tourist visitor is not allowed to participate in any business activities. Therefore, if any business might be conducted while in America, it is best to tell the government officers about it at the airport to avoid being accused of lying, put immediately on a plane back to your home country, and barred from America for life.

What Else Do Can the Airport Officers Make Me Prove After I Land?

The airport officers will ask the traveler proof of a foreign residence (address on foreign driver’s license), whether their intention is to depart at the end of the visit (round trip airline ticket), whether the traveler has a job (letter, paystub, business card) and family in their home country, (marriage certificate, childrens’ birth certificates), and whether the traveler has the money to travel around America (bank statement or credit cards with bank letter showing credit limit). The airport officers are also required to ask where the traveler will stay in America (hotel reservations or friends/relatives’ homes) and have been known to pick up the phone to verify all of the aforementioned information.

Can I Be Searched in the American Airport? Am I Entitled to Legal Representation?

While being interviewed at the American airport, all luggage (even locked bags) can be searched, as well as the traveler’s body and his/her cell phone (including text messages and phone numbers) and laptop (including hard drive). The officers may “google” a traveler’s name and check out their myspace, Facebook or hyves pages. The traveler is not allowed to be represented by an attorney or even call their attorney while in “secondary inspection.” Bathroom visits, water and food may be limited, so it is best to prepare for such an occasion while still on the plane before landing.

Do I Still Have to Go Through the “US-VISIT” Program at the American Airport?

Foreign travelers arriving at American airports and seaports must still be photographed and fingerprinted every time they enter the U.S.

Who Should I Ask For Help to Fill Out the ESTA Application?

The information a traveler provides on the ESTA application can remain in their file with U.S. authorities for a minimum of 15 years – probably longer. If a foreign traveler has some questions about how to answer the questions so as not to be permanently barred from America, it would be prudent to them to pay for a legal consultation with an American Immigration Attorney who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Beware of unauthorized private websites that offer ESTA application assistance for $49.99 – they are usually not authorized to practice immigration law and are asking travelers to pay for a copy of the application questions, which are free on the dhs.gov website.

Travel Pre And Post Internet

Travel Pre Internet:

I’ve been travelling for over 40 years – by thumb in my early days, by boots in the Scouts, a Lambretta came next and then my first old banger followed by newer old bangers to the beaches of the Costa Brava.

My thumb, boots, bikes and bangers took me all over Europe and the UK before finding that a charter flight to Spain on an old ‘Connie’ could get me to the beaches and bars a lot quicker and allow more time to enjoy the local travel opportunities by horse and cart and the occasional bus and train.

‘Go West and Prosper’ seemed to be a good idea so instead of taking an 8 hour flight I took an 8 day transatlantic crossing from Tilbury to Montreal on the Stephan Batory of Polish Ocean Lines ensuring that jet lag did not trouble my travel plans. Some years later I crossed the pond again on a ship but this time it was 5 times bigger and I travelled in style on the QE2 and dined in the Queen’s Grill somewhat removed from my earlier experience. I highly recommend ocean voyages but cannot see myself on one of the modern cruise ships going from port to port with constant line-ups to get on and off to buy t-shirts. However, I have done 10 Windjammers and a Star Clipper cruise in the Caribbean which were all memorable (let’s hope Windjammer Barefoot Cruises recover from their woes). But I digress.

I had read that Canada is a spectacular country, from sea to shining sea, and my entrance into the St. Lawrence River to Montreal and then heading west in an old Econoline van from the Great Lakes, across the Prairies to the Rocky Mountains before ending up whale watching off of the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island was a trip of wonder to a bloke from London. Today the scenery is still spectacular and the best way to go is still by road so rent or buy a car, motorhome or motorbike, take the train or tour bus but remember the maps, a fly rod, good boots and take your time.

My favorite part of Canada / USA for adventure travel has to be Northern BC / Alaska, to hike the Chilkoot Trail in the steps of the goldseekers of 1898. The Northwest Territories to canoe the Nahannie River and the Yukon to drive from Dawson City to Chicken, Alaska. If you like the outdoors and can put up with a few bugs, cast a fly and scale a few hills or drive on endless dirt roads sharing the space with moose, caribou, elk, bears and eagles, then these are the places to put on your list. The pleasures and experiences in driving to Inuvik on the Dempster Highway or to Prudhoe Bay on the Dalton Highway or even the Canol Road can only be felt by doing them. I would have mentioned the Alaska Highway but now it is an easy drive unlike the aforementioned.

Today the costs of driving these distances may mean that sharing the journey with others is required, but RVing or simply vanning and camping is a great way to see beyond the horizon. Some enroute adventures now need to be booked in advance whereas when I hiked Denali and the Chilkoot Pass it was just a case of turning up, registering with the local ranger office and heading on out. A little more forward planning is needed for today’s traveller and cost considerations of lengthy flights or drives have to somehow be countered with more careful planning. In the days of reasonable gas prices I would not even consider the driving or flying costs and have driven to Key West from the northwest coast, down the west coast to the Baja and to the west coast from New York. I once even flew my 1946 Fleet taildragger from the Pacific to the Atlantic and back using around 5 gallons an hour of avgas. Before the oil and credit crisis I drove from Rio de Janeiro to Lima, down to Tierra del Fuego and back to Rio covering over 15,000 miles of spectacular scenery and with no consideration about the cost of gas. South America should be on your itinerary too! Some other memorable drives that may now require a mortgage with the gas companies include London to The Nordkapp, Norway, Skippers Canyon in New Zealand and the loneliness of the far north of Australia and the amazing coast of Western Australia stopping by at Monkey Mia and Wave Rock.

We tend to forget that the real cost of travelling is often less today than over the 40 years of my travels. In 1977 my round-trip airfare from Canada to Australia cost over $1700 in 1977 dollars so today it is far cheaper to fly, even with the airlines gouging for fuel, extra baggage, no service and no pleasure. The ‘Big Mac’ method of price comparison as developed by The Economist newspaper gives us a good gauge for most expenditures of today compared to yesterday but my $1500 cost to get a private pilots licence in the 1970’s seems cheap by comparison to today, but obviously not when using this Big Mac principle. Other travel costs are also far cheaper today but this should not mean that travellers should disregard the many methods of saving costs that can then be put to extended or improved travel experiences

Travel Post-Internet:

In my 40 years of travel I have had to use travel agents to make even the simplest of reservations and buy tickets, not even thinking to ask them if they had “been there, done that?” It was just a case of there being no other options to buying travel. Now we have unlimited choices and can seek out better travel agents, better prices, better selections and information about anywhere in the world for our travels – without even leaving home.

The Internet now gives travellers ideas and options of Where to go, When to go, Why to go, What to do, Who to book with and How to save money and offset costs. We can search and find experts for every travel option. If we are comfortable with the Internet we no longer have to go to a travel agent to make reservations and buy tickets except to book with some of the larger travel companies that still produce glossy brochures and offer all inclusive packages or tours that only sell through the agency system. The Internet also allows those of us who are smart enough to know when to seek out a top travel agent with knowledge, experience and expertise (KEE skills) of destinations and activities about where to find them. There is no longer any need to only use our local agents when we can find one somewhere else in the world. When we do not need ‘the knowledge’ and can do it ourselves we simply surf the web so that we can book directly with tour and travel operators wherever we have decided to go.

Some travel agents operate their own tours, some are both wholesale and retail, some limit consumer selection by only selling their ‘preferred’ suppliers and some have professional consultants with years of experience invested in gaining knowledge, experience and expertise and are worth their weight in gold to the savvy traveller. Beware though, as some are also called destination specialists and some of these designations merely require the agent to take a rudimentary test offered by tourism offices, destination marketing groups or even tour operators and in my opinion can harm the reputation of the travel industry. A specialist is not necessarily an expert.

Travel is probably the most used commercial aspect of the Internet and if retail agents want to harness this exciting medium to offer ‘the knowledge’ and their ‘kee’ skills to a global audience, not just their local community, they must embrace the changes that are happening. Travellers now have the ability to seek answers to the 5 W’s of travel and the important ‘How to’ save money and offset costs by having information just a click away.

And then it occurred to me that even internet travel prices often include a commission element even when sold directly to the consumer. If we book directly with operators we should not have to pay full retail prices as we are doing for ourselves what a retail agent would normally do for us. A dilemma for the operator is that to show a both a retail and a cost price option could deter many agents from selling the services as travellers could use an agent for free advice and book directly with the operator to get a ‘net of commission’ price. Obviously this two tier pricing is not often available but travellers who do not need advice should also not be penalized by retail pricing. A new way had to be found and I think I have found it!

The need for fairer fare prices is why I developed the Top Travel Voucher program at The Top Travel Club and I even found a dot com for it. All travel selections on the site are at ‘net of commission’ prices for members who handle there own travel arrangements directly with the operators linked on the club website using our voucher program.

I am inviting travel operators from around the world to join this program, from B&B’s, Motels, Hotels, Luxury Lodges, Eco Resorts, Beach Resorts and Tour and Adventure Operators who want to promote their products and services to travellers who are comfortable with direct bookings and reservations.

I am also inviting Travel Agents with knowledge, experience and expertise of destinations and activities to showcase their skills to a global audience of travellers and to the members of this new travel club. I am leery of ‘specialist agents’ and only want experts to showcase their services.

This opportunity is available to the travel trade at no cost except for them to offer net, wholesale or outlet prices to club members and visitors to the website using top travel vouchers. I believe this program offers fairer fare prices to direct-booking travellers. The operator would normally be paying commission anyway but now travellers get the savings because they make their own arrangements.

The Top Travel Club opened in mid-April 2008 offering thousands of top travel vouchers for travel in over 70 countries with around 150 travel operators onboard. Every week we add more travel operators with more choices for members. Currently you can get savings on accommodations, adventure travel, boat charters, culinary tours, hike, bike and dive tours, auto and RV rentals fishing lodges and guides, safaris, vacation rentals, single travel, women only and dude ranches. Members get the vouchers free of charge by paying an annual membership fee and non-members can buy the vouchers on the internet at Top Travel Sites at deeply discounted prices to the face-value. The future growth will include restaurants, travel clothing, travel insurance and the opportunity to access air ticket consolidators who want to deal directly with consumers.

The way I have travelled and the way I see travel is that consumers should have unlimited access to every travel opportunity with the ability to do their own due diligence or to find a professional who can offer quality advice and services at fair prices, and to find all of this without needing endless hours of searching.

To find out more about the new way of cost offsets for travel please go to The Top Travel Club and my apologies for some of the spelling (traveller / traveler) but that is what I was taught. As long as we all understand the meaning, vive le difference!

Travelling Tips for the Disabled

Unlike in the past, today people with disabilities have been recognized, and are less discriminated against. In many countries there are legislations that protect them and make their life a little easier. Also many public buildings have been designed or renovated in order to accommodate people with disabilities.

With all these improvements, people with disabilities are now able to travel for vacation or a business trip to places far away from their home. However, with all these improvements we have made, travelling for people with disabilities is still a challenge for them, especially when they are travelling alone or, they are travelling to an unknown destination. Below is a guide to help people with all forms of disabilities to travel safely.

1. Plan well in advance
Planning is key to any form of success. This is very important because it reduces chances of getting stranded and being inconvenienced. Booking flights and hotel rooms are the top priorities, however if you are going to stay at a friend’s or a relative’s house; notifying them in advance is very important. Then they can be prepared and even pick you up from the airport.

2. Book hotels that are disabled friendly
Hotels with disabled friendly structures are very convenient as they allow disabled individuals to move freely with minimal effort. Most of these hotels also have special emergency protocols that ensure disabled individuals are not left behind in case of an emergency, unlike some hotels where these issues are over looked.

3. Use a travel agent that offers travel packages for disabled travelers
Booking flights and hotel rooms with travel agents that offer travel solutions to disabled people is advantageous in a number of ways. They ensure they book for their disabled clients airlines and hotels that are disabled friendly. They strive to offer services and suggestions that will ensure their clients travel comfortably.

4. Understand and know your rights when at the airport
Travelling, for people with disabilities, is very hectic, especially when they arrive at the airport. They face the challenge of getting proper information and directions. This is further aggravated by the huge number of people traveling and long queues. In airports, there are attendants that are supposed to attend to the needs of those travelling with disabilities.

Disabled travelers should not, and are not, treated differently when they go through security measures. They are also protected from any form of discrimination from any airline. Disabled travelers are advised to be very conversant with their rights to avoid and report any form of discrimination when travelling.

5. Bring extra medication
There is no harm in carrying an extra dose of medication when travelling. People do lose their luggage as they travel so, having an extra dose will act as a backup when one dose gets lost. This also ensures that when travelling, a disabled person does not run out of their medicine forcing them to start looking for a drug store when travelling. These medications should be stored properly to ensure their safety.

6. Take a doctor’s note and contact information when travelling
A doctor’s note contains important information about a condition that a disabled person is facing and this will help doctors save a lot of time on tests in case of an emergency. Contact information for your doctor allows other doctors to get important information from your doctor should the need arise. This small, but vital, information can save lives.

7. Use direct flights
It is very hectic and tiresome for a disabled traveler to use connecting flights. Using connecting flights exposes them to loss of their luggage and even injury as they get in and out of a plane. Using a direct flight cuts all these risks down and saves a lot time and energy when travelling. Direct flights also ensure that those travelling with disabilities are not stranded in an airport as they wait for a connecting flight.

8. Disabled travelers are advised to have some knowledge about where they are travelling to
There is nothing more difficult than looking for directions to a place you do not know about. This is even harder for disabled travelers so, it is advisable to have at least some knowledge and understanding about their destination. This will give them an upper hand when moving around and the knowledge to know where to go and where not to go. This will be very helpful when they are stranded or experience an emergency situation and need urgent assistance.

9. Carry the appropriate luggage
Disabled travelers are advised to carry luggage that they can manage when they are travelling. Unless they have company, travelling with a huge amount of luggage is not easy. Traveling lightly enables disabled travelers to be more flexible to situations that arise besides, a large amount of luggage can also easily get lost.

10. Enjoy travelling
Many disabled people do not travel often because of a lot of limitations which discourages them. However modern technology ensures safe travel for all regardless of their condition. Travelling should be enjoyed by all since it is a chance to experience new things that are different than what they are used to.

What to Pack for Travelling

This is what I consider to be essential items for any traveler/backpacker. These are items which I have used in my past travels, and have served me well.

Backpack

The first most obvious thing for any traveler to decide on is whether to use a backpack or a suitcase. During my first solo travel experience to Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan, I travelled with a backpack. For under 50 I bought a Eurohike 55 litre backpack with a rain cover, which came in handy during the monsoon season! The pack was top-opening, and didn’t really offer much by way of security. I therefore bought a special backpack transit case which I put my backpack into and made it secure from theft, but also made it secure from airport conveyor belts. I had heard that the conveyors in airports sometimes broke clips from backpacks if they were not properly secured, and that some airlines didn’t even want to have backpacks on their airplanes because they were a safety threat. I actually lost the backpack case during the course of my travels, and had to resort to wrapping my backpack in black bin bags and tape in order to prevent the clips from catching airport conveyors. The backpack was comfortable, with some very nice cushioned padding. However, I realized as my trip went on that the pack was a little too large. I had read on many different websites that the smaller and lighter your pack, the more comfortable your trip will be. This is so true. It is not just about how light the pack is for you to carry, but also practical reasons like travelling on packed trains and subways with a giant wardrobe on your back. The backpack was incredibly annoying whilst travelling on busy subways, as I didn’t know if, and how badly, I was bumping into people – but I am sure that I definitely was! However, it was great to have my hands free when I needed to pay for tickets and also carry bags and water bottles.

Suitcase

On my second trip to Japan, I decided to ditch the backpack and travel with a medium sized suitcase. I was travelling for 3 weeks, and had planned to move around the country quite a bit. I was worried about the condition of the suitcase’s wheels by the end of the trip, but altogether I preferred the comfort of a nice suitcase. The suitcase takes up the use of your arms, but it does relieve your back. I found time and again that my backpack was becoming too heavy and cumbersome for longer walks; a suitcase, meanwhile, makes walking a pleasure. Trying to find your hotel in the humid and busy conditions of Bangkok with your gigantic backpack is not a pleasant experience. Though, going up stairs is a pain with a suitcase, but with a backpack it is a breeze. This may be important to you as it is best to travel around a Japanese city (and many other Asian cities) via the subway system, and sometimes they have enormous staircases leading to the platforms. The final clincher is that a suitcase makes you look more businesslike and professional; a backpack makes you easily identifiable as a traveler or tourist, and makes you stand out far more. If I entered a nice hotel with my backpack, I wouldn’t be given the same service as if I travelled with a suitcase. I believe that backpackers have a bit of a bad name in some countries, as backpackers tend to be younger people who are more prone to loutish behavior due to letting of some steam after finishing university.

Daypack

You don’t want to take your suitcase or backpack with you on your daily walks or excursions, so you need a nice convenient daypack. I actually took a shoulder bag, as it looked more stylish than a small backpack. But be warned, a shoulder bag can give you some irritating neck and shoulder pains if you over pack it with large water bottles or souvenirs. In this instance, a nice mini backpack is better as it transfers the weight evenly on your back and shoulders.

Travel Insurance

I always take out travel insurance as you never know what could happen during your trip. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Medical help abroad could cost you thousands if you do not have the correct insurance, so always read the insurance policy properly. When I search for insurance I always turn to comparison sites, such as moneysupermarket.com. This way you can compare all the different companies offering insurance and their relative policies.

Skype

Skype is a free service which allows you to call anyone in the world (who also has a Skype account) for free. The service is completely free when using the Skype-to-Skype service, and the prices are competitive if you want to call mobile phones or landlines. You can use Skype on your iPod Touch, an actual Skype phone or on your laptop. If you are taking a laptop abroad, you can even use your webcam to make video calls, but if you are not taking a laptop, I found that many internet cafes in Asia had Skype already installed on their computers. Skype also allows you to send instant messages, play games and even transfer files. All in all, Skype is a great device which you should be make use of whilst travelling.

First Aid Box

I like to take a mini first aid box when I travel. The boxes come in some very nice convenient sizes with everything you could need for your trip. Items can include: plasters, antiseptic cream, insect repellent, and various tablets for common travel sicknesses.

Clothing

I will not speak at great lengths on clothing, as I believe this is a personal choice and dependent on different people’s needs. However, I will say that you should always pack light, and think about whether you will ACTUALLY need an item of clothing. Sometimes, I have fallen into the trap of packing far too much clothing ‘just in case’. Whilst travelling in Asia you can always pick up cheap clothing, so there is no need to over pack. The minimum I would take for a month travelling is: 3-4 t-shirts, 2 shirts, trousers, two shorts, swimming shorts, 2 pairs of socks, trainers/sneakers (I would buy some that look formal but are as comfortable as trainers).

Travel Washing Line

I take a small washing line on my trips in case there is not enough places to dry my clothes. If you are packing light, you can just wash your clothes more often, and you will sometimes need a washing line for extra space.

Travel Sink Plug

I used this occasionally when I stayed in hostels. In some budget accommodation you will not have a sink plug, which makes shaving difficult. The travel plug is therefore recommended if you are considering staying in budget accommodation. Also, even some higher grade hotels have faulty plugs in their bathrooms, so it is generally a good item to take.

Toiletries

As a dandy backpacker I have a vast array of toiletries. My toiletry bag consists of: shavers, moisturizers, sun cream, nail clippers, eyebrow tweezers, aftershaves (which I tend to buy from airport duty free), lip balm, deodorant and more!

Rain Mac

If you are travelling anywhere that has a monsoon season then a rain mac is a great idea. Monsoon rain is awesome, and can just take you by surprise and leave you drenched. A little rain mac can be scrunched up into a very small size and can easily be carried in your daypack.

Swiss Army Knife

I sometimes take this on my travels as it has various useful devices: a bottle opener, scissors, toothpick, tweezers, screwdriver heads and numerous knives of varying shape and sizes.

Travel Towels

I recommend taking a large travel towel. These can be folded into an incredibly small size and take very little space in your luggage. They also dry quicker than ordinary towels.

Camera

I really don’t know much about cameras but I definitely know that you will need one on your journey. It’s a way of recording experiences that are not possible in any other way. I just bought an 8 megapixel camera in Bangkok – it has served me well.

Batteries

You will need these for your camera, so make sure you take enough spares from your own country, which tend to be cheaper than whilst abroad.

Mobile Phone

A mobile phone is now a necessary gadget in all parts of life, and is very important during your travels. It is a great device to keep in touch with other travelers, but is also a safety device if you become lost or in danger. Remember to take you charger though, or it will become useless after a few days.

Backup Sim Card

Just in case you lose the first Sim card you can just take another Sim, which are usually free.

Backup Debit/Credit Card

I would take a backup card just in case I lost my main card. If I lost my main card I could just cancel it and then transfer the money from my main account into my backup account via internet banking.

Pens and Paper

You will occasionally need to write things down, such as directions or contacts, and a pen and paper would be very helpful. I would always travel with a mini pen and small notepad in my daypack so that it was easy to get to. You can always use your mobile phone or iPod Touch for this as well.

Travel Adaptors

Travel adaptors are necessary if you want to charge your iPod or mobile phone. Once you know where you are going, you can find out what converter plug you will need. It will save you having to search around in your destination country. Some plugs are all-rounders and cover everywhere.

iPod Touch

My iPod Touch has been irreplaceable during my travels. Not only is it great for watching movies, listening to music and playing games whilst waiting for your flight or on long train journeys, it also has practical uses. By downloading free applications via its Wi-Fi capabilities you can turn your iPod Touch into a hotel or hostel finder, a currency exchange service, a travel guide and much more. I also bought a special, and inexpensive, earphone and microphone set for my Touch, which allowed me to use Skype wherever I had free Wi-Fi. Actually you can find free Wi-Fi everywhere in Southeast Asia: McDonald’s, Starbucks, shopping malls, hotels and even airports. However, I surprisingly found that Wi-Fi access is not so easily found in Korea or Japan, and tends not to be free if it is offered.

iPad

I don’t actually own one of these but they just seem to be a large iPod Touch. All the convenience of the iPod Touch being a nice pocket device which is easy to take everywhere is lost on this device. But maybe I am missing something about it.

Travel Guides

I love to read travel guides and always take them on my trips. My favorite guides have always been DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. I regularly use DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: Thailand, Japan and Rome to name a few. I found them incredibly helpful, but most importantly I loved the focus on culture and historical sites. The guides are wonderfully illustrated, easy to navigate, and the pictures and captions are beautifully presented. In addition, the historical sections are informative, well illustrated and a joy to read. I would also recommend Rough Guides and Lonely Planet, which I have also used in the past.

Money Belt

I originally bought one in order to hide my valuables, but then just used it to hold my bus/train tickets or small change so that it was easily at hand and I didn’t have to rummage though bags or my pockets. The money belt can be used as just a regular bum bag (fanny pack if you’re American) without valuable items and just left on display rather than inside your clothing. I just used it as an extra convenient pocket.

The New Face of Modern India in Travel & Tour

Today, India has the potential to become the Global Super Power. Now, India is the 2nd fastest growing economy in the world after China with the growth rate 8.5%, and by 2013 we will beat China and will be on the 1st Position. India is territorially a large country, geographically a peninsula with a strategically dominating view of three major seas which could potentially provide a basis to control ship traffic from the Indian Ocean to Pacific Ocean by putting toll gates at the Malacca Straits, a long continuing civilization (over ten thousand years), a large and young population(average age of 29 years as compared to of China of 38 years, and Japan of 47 years)- which is termed as Demographic Dividend, and as proven inventors of cutting edge scientific discoveries in mathematics, astronomy, surgery and recently in high quality IT software. At present India has demonstrated innovative capacity in Chip design, Thorium reactors, Biotech, and pharmaceuticals.

Travel & Tour is also the fastest growing industry in India. India tourism is gradually increasing every ending year. Nowadays, Indian people are traveling all around the world. The way of traveling by Indians is slightly different, preferring the luxury travel & tour.

Organizers of the recent Travel and Tourism Fair (TTF) in Ahmedabad conducted a survey among Gujarat attendees, and results showed a significant number of Indian tourists prefer luxury travel and accommodations.

TTF found that one-third of those surveyed had an average travel budget of Rs 80,000 as reported by the Times of India. Foreign tourism departments in attendance have taken notice of this trend and are offering more options for Indian travelers seeking upscale opportunities.

“Switzerland provides tourists an option of staying together in fully furnished homes or chalet with a kitchen where one can cook one’s own meals,” Swiss travel agent Puneet Sehgal told the news source. Sehgal also noted that at least 400 Indians choose Switzerland for group vacations each year.

Japan has been focusing promotions towards Indian tourists, specifically for theme parks. One Japanese travel agent at the fair told the Times of India that Osaka’s Universal Studios is a major attraction for Gujarati.

More than 15,000 people attended this year’s fair, including exhibitors from Egypt, China, Dubai, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and many other nations.

Celebrations times for Travel Industry…

Travel Magazine has been informed there has been an increase in Package Holiday bookings this year compared to last year even though we are still in a trick economic climate. High Street Travel agents such as First Choice and Thomas Cook are celebrating after people looking for Holiday Deals in September helped increase bookings this year by 75% compared to booking for holidays last September.

Some of the leading travel agents like Lets Travel India have been offering value deal holidays to help increase trade after the industry predicted early this year that the travel industry could suffer due to the unstable economic growth in the UK.

Some of the top selling destinations which have helped increase trade for travel agents have been Canary Islands, India Tour and Spain with people looking for cheap package holidays as a large number of families could not afford holidays last year.

Wise holiday makers have been keeping an eye on travel agents such as Lets Travel India to search for cheap package holidays after the company announced they were slashing prices on a large number of their holidays, while other holiday makers have been booking their own cheap flights and booking hotels abroad via the internet reducing the cost of their holidays.

It was feared that a large number of travel agents would see themselves left with thousands of unsold holidays but with holiday makers looking for cheap deals after leading travel agents were forced to reduce their package holiday prices, this fear has now been reduced and travel agents are now claiming most of their unwanted holidays for September have been sold.

The Indian travel industry is doing well with Indian flights. After having suffered from a somewhat slow season in 2008-2009, once again India is leading travel industry to the front, taken lime light and is seeing a growth in its travel industry of what is expected to be between 5-6% & 1-1.5% higher than the global average.

There are two reasons behind this boom: one is the upcoming Commonwealth Games being hosted in Delhi in October & 2nd one is the Indian government efforts to boost the travel industry through improvements to international travel services and accommodation. This includes the completion of Terminal 3 of Delhi’s International Airport. The terminal is now the sixth largest in the world with a capacity for 37 million passengers per year. For the tourist and business travelers, this means shorter queues, more comfortable lounge areas, plenty of shops and increased flight offerings from UK airports including Birmingham, Belfast International and direct from London Heathrow as airlines bolster the number of Delhi-bound flights.

In anticipation for the Commonwealth Games, the Indian government has also been giving the city of Delhi itself a major facelift; to such a point that professionals within the travel industry are anticipating that Delhi is quickly becoming a top contender as a one of the major travel destinations for world tourists.

Of course, with all of this attention focused on India, destination-bound airlines and hotels are offering tempting fares and fabulous budget accommodation prices for Delhi bound tourists and business travelers – both in October during the Commonwealth Games 2010 in Delhi and beyond.

So, travelers pack up your luggage and ready as soon as possible for travel to India for India tour & Commonwealth Games 2010 in Delhi with Lets Travel India. Lets Travel India is offering services for Travel India Tour Hotel Bookings cover Hotels at almost all the important tourist destinations including Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Kullu-Manali, Shimla, Varanasi, Bikaner, Pushkar, Ajmer, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Khajuraho, Mount Abu etc.

The Indian travel industry is doing well with Indian flights. After having suffered from a somewhat slow season in 2008-2009, once again India is leading travel industry to the front, is seeing a growth in its travel industry between 5-6% & 1-1.5% higher than the global average. Travel has become the major part of our life today. When we talk about the travel India tour, we think about places full of adventure, rich in heritage and dotted with great beaches. Go to India tour with Lets Travel India. Lets Travel India is presenting vast range of travel India package for travel India tour and a huge number of hotels in India, more then 2500 hotels in India at the very budget price!

How to Become a Group Leader and Travel Free

If travel is your passion, and you can’t visualize yourself sitting at a desk all day, answering question about travel destinations which you would rather be visiting, becoming a Group Leader, may be your best solution.

The cruise line industry caters to the group sales methodology to fill up cruise cabins. Most of the major cruise companies will provide a free cruise for a Group Leader who sells 8 cabins or 15 full paying passengers. Some cruise companies require the group leader to pay for taxes, fees and upgrades. Smart group leaders, usually will book themselves, into an Interior cruise cabin. That way no one in the group has a less expensive cabin.

The Group Leader can sell his/her cruise or, cruise for free. This option is what makes the group leader’s opportunity so popular.

Experienced Tour Conductors, usually generate multiple methods to market their cruises or group travel events. The most common way is to locate established groups, who want to save money by traveling together. Other successful groups include special interest travel.

Because the majority of Group Leaders are not, travel agents, they may have regular jobs, and belong to social organizations and church groups which puts them in touch with hundreds of potential travelers.

There are a number of ways to get started as a Travel, Group Leader. If you are a junkie traveler, you can use your own experiences to build your confidence and your sales.

If you have a limited travel background, yet travel is a passion, you can take a home study course, or enroll in a couple of classes at your local junior college. There are also courses online, which are extremely affordable. Travel is a billion dollar industry and there are many options for learning different phases of the travel industry.

My own path through this maze was to enroll in a UC Berkeley Extension (Berkeley, Ca) course, on Group Travel. My instructor was one of the most successful group travel professionals in the country, at that time. My next step was to volunteer as a group leader for a social club who was attending an annual ski summit in Vale.

It is not necessary to spend lots of money on schooling be become an effective Group Leader. However, it is mandatory that you learn everything you can about your destination and the travel involved.

Once you have secured a basic knowledge of the type of group travel you want to offer, you can then seek out a host agency. A Host Agency is a licensed, bonded travel agency which allows travel agents or outside travel agents to book travel using their company name. There is a split in the commission, as the host agency is the legal business which allows you to book travel for your clients. Most host agencies charge a fee, and an annual fee, but not all. Fees for joining a Hosting Agency can range from zero dollars, up to $500.

Another option is to contact your local travel agency and let them know you want to work as an outside agent. Be prepared to explain what types of travel you want to offer and to what type of groups you want to specialize in. The agency owner, or manager, will provide you with the commission structure, if any, policies and procedures. Some travel agencies only offer free travel to group leaders, while others offer, free travel, and commissions.

When first starting out, it is almost always better to join a group in process, or, create a fun, 2 day trip, to get experience. My own experience included learning the procedure for a particular cruise ship. For about 5 years, every time a Princess Cruise ship docked in San Francisco, I thought I should further my travel education and be aboard ship when it cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge and out to sea. My efforts landed me in the Captain’s Circle and qualified me as a Platinum Cruise Member.

It is easy to find clients. Below is a list of ways to market your travel events.

1. Informing your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, church members, club members, organizations, friends of friends, twitter pals, and your personal email buddies, is a great way to find new clients.

2. The second best way is to invite friends, neighbors over for a travel party or a cruise party. Ask the cruise line or the resort, for a video tape and free promotional material to share with the guest. Provide guest with snacks and (cheap) wine. Keep the wine coming! No need to be aggressive. Travel sells itself, especially, if the destination and price is of interest. You can provide your clients with a bottle of fine wine aboard ship.

Remember to ask for a deposit. Stay focused, your job is to provide information and collect checks. Ask friends to sponsor a travel party. The more parties you have, the more people you sign up. It’s that simple!

3. Make announcements at your church and your organization. Include the information in the church bulletin or your organization’s newsletter, as many times as possible.

4. Have flyers made up, but not before you have business cards printed, with your name, contact numbers, email address, name of travel event, dates and starting cost.

5. Distribute flyers, at public places or public events.

6. Use classified ads, online and offline to promote your travel event.

7. Pass out your cards, everywhere you go. Doctor’s office, cleaners, grocery store, beauty shop, stores where you shop, your children’s school, your favorite neighborhood bar, and eating establishments.

Paper work is extremely important and without it, nothing happens. Paper work must be completed correctly and forwarded to the host agency or travel agency in a timely manner. Failure to do so could result in an ugly situation, which could escalate into a legal battle.

Checks should be made out to the host agency or the travel agency. Even if the travel agency says its OK for your clients to make the check out to you, don’t do it. Get you commissions from the host agency, unless you have a Seller of Travel license. One you turn in your deposits and payments, the host agency or travel agency, will provide you with your commissions, based on your agreement.

Outside travel agents usually work under an Independent Contractor Agreement and are issued a 1099-MISC at the end of the year.

Travel and Its Benefits

Why do we need to travel? Why it is getting increasingly important that we, once in a while, change our environment and travel outside our country? Why it is sometimes a necessity for our emotional health to travel?

Travel’s importance is underestimated by many people. Travel is not only fun, entertaining and enjoyable. With our current lifestyles and work conditions, travel has become more than an option. It is more than just having fun. As Augustine of Hippo said ” The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
 During travel you are able to do things you usually don’t do. When travelling, you go outdoor and be away from computers, and TVs and you are likely to be mixing with different people and cultures. People travel for different reasons. Some travel for fun and to have a good time. Others travel as a hobby. Travel can be an escape away from the hectic pace of life in big cities. Some travel just to change and move, as Robert Louis Stevenson said “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake”. Some people like to learn from different cultures, as Mark Twain said ” Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Travel gives the person the opportunity to discover, to explore and to feel the sense of adventure.

Many people around the world are discovering the benefits of travel to the extent that the tourism industry is growing worldwide and has become one of the major profitable sectors in world economies. No wonder that travel is growing year by year. According to figures published by the World Travel & Tourism Council WTTC, world tourism industry grew by 3% in 2012, and contributed $6.6 trillion to world GDP by direct and indirect impact. In 2012, for the first time in history, international tourist arrivals reached 1.035 billion.

Here are the main benefits of travel:

1-Stress Relief: As you travel miles away from your environment, you are able to be free from your responsibilities and then begin to relax and rest. Not only you rest your body, but also your mind. Knowing that you can wake up anytime without an alarm clock, without the need to be physically available at work, will take off a lot of mental stress. Here, you can sense freedom. Stress relief is a major reason for travel. The moment you think you are heading for Hawaii or Bali, you get immediate sensation of excitement and stress-free feelings. It is this mental peace that makes travel a very good stress-relief. Sometimes travel can be stressful if your trip has a lot of sightseeing, or meeting a lot of people. But travel stress is different from home stress because it is positive stress. Travel stress does not associate with it anxiety or worry.

Travel is a great way to connect with nature which is very helpful for your relaxation, mentally or physically. Nature is a stimulus for activating your right brain. Right brain domination is one major cause for stress-relief. Also, during travel there is no sense of urgency which is usually associated with home behavior. Change of scenery is by itself helpful for relieving stress.

2-Physical Benefits: You move more when travelling. You walk more frequently whether riding the subway or exploring the streets of a historic city or even visiting a museum. By swimming or laying on the beach, you get a high dosage of vitamin D from the sun, something that is very useful for your bones and also for your positive emotions. Outdoor activities associated with travel can lower risk of diabetes, lead to weight loss and reduce cholesterol level. Some medical experts recommend traveling once every six months for cardiovascular health and for the heart. Some studies show that travel even improves better sleep.

3-Cultural Benefits: Sometimes we need to be anonymous. Sometimes we want to be free from any responsibility. Travel allows you to exercise both while meeting new people and experience new cultures. You will know how different people accomplish their goals with different ways. You will learn new ideas that you have never thought of before.

4-Relationship Benefits: Traveling with a companion and sharing same experiences and situations together will enhance your mutual bond. 93% of youth ages 8-18 consider travel as “a quality time” spent with their parents. 3 in 4 parents say that family vacations are very helpful for the family. Meeting new persons in new locations can result in long term relationship for many.

5-Happiness: Many persons associate happiness with travel. More than 50% of adults buy souvenirs just to remember their vacations. Most travelers store photos of their destinations as a way of remembering those trips that are about tasting new food, beautiful sights, historic monuments, and new music. This is one reason that travel can be addictive, especially if have enough time & money. It has become a hobby for thousands of people around the world.

Remember, you can travel and have fun with a limited budget. Plan carefully and spend wisely. Read and learn saving tips.