Here are some points to keep in mind while you’re hunting down a ticket.
Draft an itinerary
First up, research carefully where you want to go and draft an itinerary that still allows you some flexibility. Obviously international flights come into the capital cities, but in many cases secondary international airports are available in other cities. For example, Phuket, Hat Yai and Chiang Mai in Thailand, Luang Prabang in Laos, Siem Reap in Cambodia and Da Nang and Saigon in Vietnam. So don’t make the mistake of assuming you have to fly into the capital city.
Fly into a hub
Research prices for your long-haul flight from home to one of Southeast Asia’s main hubs. Look online at the carrier’s sites, check sites such as Adioso.com or Skyscanner and also give a travel agent a buzz – you never know where you’re going to score the best deal. Consider flying with a legacy carrier into a hub such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. You can either kick off your trip in one of these cities, or look to then catch a budget carrier out to where you really want to go. Budget carries fan out from these hubs across the region.
Be warned though that a travel agent may not give you information about the budget carriers – that’s why you’ll want to research online yourself first, or use a tool like Adioso. Among others, check out Tiger Airways based in Singapore, AirAsia in Kuala Lumpur, Nok Air in Bangkok and Jetstar in Singapore and Vietnam. Routes and schedules are subject to change, with airfares changing almost daily, so research these sites well before settling on your final itinerary.
Air miles can add up quickly if you’re coming from a long way away and plan at least a second trip in the next year or so. Investigate and consider joining a programme. Some legacy carriers may also offer regional tickets once you’re in the region — be sure to ask.
Study regional passes and see how they might either fit into your itinerary, or rejig your itinerary based on where the flights can take you. The Discovery Airpass, for instance, is a good-value flight coupon deal offered by Bangkok Airways and Lao Airlines.
Read the fine print
Read the fine print. It can be worth paying extra for some flexibility to change your dates. Generally the cheaper the ticket, the less flexible it is.
Keep it simple
If you’re coming to Asia as a part of a round-the-world trip, don’t fuss over having too many stops factored into the ticket. Instead, have either a single arrival and departure point, or one in and another out (such as into Bangkok, out of Singapore). Do any flying in the region with a budget carrier, otherwise the extra stops will boost the cost of your RTW considerably.
All the LCCs issue paperless tickets. You generally just need your passport, a booking reference and perhaps the credit card you bought the ticket with in order to check in. So there are no more flimsy tickets to lose or put through the washing machine.
Taxes and surcharges
The reason small print is called small print is because it has to fit a myriad of terms and conditions in. Expect your $5 fare to be bolstered by airport taxes, slight taxes, insurance, fuel levies and more — taxes and surcharges can easily double the price of a ticket, so again, do your research.
Yes, it will only be a matter of time till you’re required to pay money for oxygen on the flight. Until then, many carriers are now charging for checking bags. So if you’re travelling light, look to save some money by booking a ticket that has no baggage surcharges.
Watch the clock
LCCs can be ruthless when it comes to check-in times, often closing the check-in counter 45 minutes before departure time. If you arrive 43 minutes before departure, too bad, so sad. Again, read the small print, get to the airport on time and you’ll be set.
However, many times and many passengers do get caught, frustrated or confused over some of their special conditions, flight postponement tactics or hidden surcharge applied. So, you need to understand how Air Asia works and let it works for you, not the other way round. Based on my previous experiences with them to our trip to Bali, Langkawi and Phuket, I’ve put down here the Top 5 tips to book an Air Asia flight in order to have the least hassle travel: –
- If possible, pre-check in your flight – Currently, Air Asia allows passengers to either web-check in within 48 hours or kiosk-check in within 3 hours from your flight time. This is to ensure that your seats are secured. Though you could still check in personally at the check in counter in the airport which is normally open 2-3 hours and close 45mins before the flight time, there is always a risk, if you are late to the airport, let say 10 minutes from when the counter close, that your flight is full!! It happened to me personally in my trip to Bali. As we all know, being a norm in the industry, airlines do over sell their tickets! Because IMHO, some people will not turn up by that time, especially when people book for free few months ago and they have the ‘Book first and see how’ mentallity. So some might decided not to fly. Moreover, you could know earlier your seat numbers if you check in earlier. Unfortunately, the earlier you check in, the worse seats you’re going to get! Nevermind, proceed to 2nd tips… ;
- Pre-Select your seats – Not many people doing this though. Unlike flights before this year, where passengers are rushing to queue up and rushing on board to fight for good seats, Air Asia currently pre-allocate your seats number. You couldn’t select where you prefer like other airlines. So, for RM5 per seat, you can now pre-select your seats online for window side seat if you love to. Extra Tips: For Airbus A320 with a seat configuration of 3+3, select anywhere at window side, either A or F and avoid row No. 11, 12 and 31 where there are emergency exit ways that those seats are permanently upright and couldn’t be leaned down for more comfort!;
- Also you need to buy for your check-in baggage now – Try purchasing it online for RM10.00 per 15kg per serson if you have a lot to carry. If not, hand carry your luggage for a maximum load of 7Kg so can save you 10 bucks. Buy at check-in counter will cost you RM20.00. Anything beyond 15 Kg will cost you a bomb for 20.00 per extra Kg! So, pack your luggage carefully and check the weight before check-in!;
- Bring along MP3,MP4, story books, read the on-board magazine or sleep during the flight. – There isn’t any entertainment, movies and not even information monitor on board. So be ready. Unless you try to pick up those average Air Asia stewardess or stewards on board. Extra Tips: As a rule of thumb, to minimise the jet-lag effect (due to different time zone in your country of destination), sleep as much as you can if you are flying west while stay awake on your flight to the east.
- Be prepare to pay addtional airport charges when you are to depart from other country. – For some countries, you need to pay their airport charges separately in their airport before entering the boarding gate. They are not inclusive in your air fares! We didn’t pay anything in Phuket, but have to pay RM50 in Bali and my friends told me they have to fork out additional USD25 per pax in Cambodia!! Check the price carefully and add it into your ticket price to compare if your air tickets are still the cheapest!
- People whose baggage containing their medication is lost or stolen can fill emergency prescriptions because of travel insurance.
Identification and Cash
- Travel insurance is important if people’s passports and wallets are lost or stolen. The insurance helps travelers replace lost identification and get emergency cash.
- Travel insurance covers medical emergencies, accidents and treatments that may occur on a trip to a foreign country.
Acts of Nature and Terrorism
- Travel insurance covers money people loss if they have to evacuate their vacation location due to severe weather like hurricanes, typhoons or tsunamis. If travelers wish to cancel their trip because a terrorist attach occurred at the travel destination, travel insurance gives them a refund.
- People with travel insurance will not lose money if cruise lines, airlines or tour operations file for bankruptcy. The insurance covers non-refundable expenses.
- If the airline cancels a traveler’s flight, travel insurance refunds the cost of the plane tickets.
- Travel insurance refunds trips that have been canceled because of personal circumstances, such as illness.
- Check with state laws and regulations to see if they require you to register as a travel seller. As of publication, only certain states have this requirement: Hawaii, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, California and Washington. The rest have no regulations governing the practice of travel consulting or sales.
- File your business as a limited liability corporation. It will then be recognized as a business by your local department of taxation, and you will be able to avoid tax and other liabilities that would otherwise be applied to your personal finances. Use an accountant or an online legal site to complete and file the paperwork. While the LLC will provide you with the protections of a corporation, you will still be taxed at the lower personal income rate unless you wish to roll your profits into building the business further, which will result in a 15 percent corporate rate.
- Contact hotel companies, tour operators, airlines and rental car companies to request travel agent rates in the destinations you plan to offer. Agent rates are often the same as published rates but have a 5 to 15 percent commission built in to the price. Each company has its own way of working with agents and making payment, but as a rule, you will not be paid until the reservation has been paid in full and the trip has concluded. Cancellations can muddle things, and this method of travel-then-pay avoids any issues.
- Sign up with the International Airlines Travel Agent Network and obtain your IATAN number. An IATAN card allows you to sell airline tickets and issue them as well. This is a key difference that gives you the authority to book, print and change tickets just like the ticket counter at the airport. IATAN requirements and membership are industry standards, and you will find that many suppliers will only work with an agent who holds a current IATAN card and number.
- Create a website through which you can sell and market your product. Have a dedicated telephone line installed to handle your business calls and get the word out through friends and family to start. Attend trade shows and travel events in the community and seek out low-cost local marketing opportunities such as billboards and newspaper articles to bring in the traffic.
- Europe’s travel industry is the world’s largest regional tourism industry. Its success is primarily attributed to the strong army of travel agencies, tour operations and national tourism agencies. Separate these professionals, however, from the online support provided by Internet travel companies geared toward net-savvy people. It is helpful to know how to benefit from the services of a travel agent in Europe to ensure getting around is a breeze.
- Due to Europe’s daunting size, travelers need help in making their trip as smooth and worry-free as possible. Travel agents in Europe assist tourists in their vacation plans in the whole continent–from visas to itinerary, from hotel bookings to transport arrangements. These travel agencies are part of organizations like the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations (ECTAA) or the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) and work closely with national tourism agencies in each country.
Online travel occupies a market of its own. There are Internet-based companies through which travelers can book hotels, transfers and tours. At the end of 2008, online bookings earned 29 percent of the total revenue of the European travel industry.
- Tourism accounts for a big chunk of Europe’s income. In 2005, almost £280 billion in revenue was reported to the EU. The top destinations in the world for the last few years can be found in Europe, namely France, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain and Austria.
- Using the services of travel agents brings a world of convenience to anyone wishing to take on Europe’s enormity. First-time visitors to the continent can benefit from a travel agent in order to prevent costly mishaps. Repeat tourists, on the other hand, look to travel agents for an even better experience over their last visit. Aside from their inherent travel expertise, agents can advise quick solutions should problems during during travel.
- Travel in Europe has become more accessible ever since the Schengen Agreement. Travel agents offering tour packages in Europe mainly rely on the Schengen Visa, which makes entering the 24 member countries easier using one travel document. This handy system has helped Europe tourism considerably. For one, there is a continued interest in other modes of public transport like train and bus.
A beautiful rainforest filled with healing herbs, mischievous chimpanzees, fluttering butterflies and exotic colourful birds awaits visitors to Nyungwe National Park. Covering more than 1,000 square kilometres, one of Africa’s oldest forests in the south-west corner of Rwanda is a beautiful natural paradise for chimpanzees and other primates, more than 300 species of birds and 75 different types of mammals.
It’s a magical experience for that once-in-a-lifetime trip which you will never forget. You can hike or bike through the beautiful scenery while marvelling at the wildlife and take a break at one of the rainforest’s incredible waterfalls. Throughout the trip, you will see lush green mountains and amazing flora and fauna.
Get to Know Man’s Closest Wild Relative
There are about 400 groups of chimpanzees, including two wild communities where guests are welcomed – at Cyamdungo and around Uwinka. This makes chimpanzee tracking a popular pastime in Nyungwe. A great time to visit is when the trees are in full bloom in summer, according to Rwanda Tourism.
Going on a gorilla trekking holiday is an amazing way to get to know man’s closest wild relatives, but you’ll need to be ready for an early start, as dawn is the best time to see these glorious creatures. About a quarter of all Africa’s primates, including the grey-cheeked mangabey and Ruwenzori colobus monkeys, have made their home here, and you will discover why during your forest hiking trail in the Nyungwe Forest. You can book your tour through a reputable company such as http://www.steppestravel.co.uk/uganda.
It’s also a fabulous place for bird-watching, and you may come across great blue turacos, giant hornbills or red-breasted sparrowhawks as you make your way through the national park.
Enjoy the Views on the Igishigishigi Trail
Rwanda is known as the land of 1,000 hills, so where better to enjoy East Africa’s highest canopy walk? The Igishigishigi trail is 70 metres above the valley floor and is held together by aluminium poles and rope. Conquer this and you will be rewarded with incredible views of the rainforest, according to a CNN article.
You can also try some of the natural cures from the healing plants in the forest and support the local economy by buying honey. Whatever you do, a trip to the Nyungwe National Park will be filled with unique experiences.
Everyone has their own choice while planning for vacation. It may vary from individuals based on their budget. Some may prefer international trip while other prefer local places within the city. Vacation should yield lifelong memories otherwise it won’t be worthy. Especially, it should feast individuals of different age groups. Rather than usual places, we must prefer unique ones, so we will enjoy more. Moreover, it should provide unlimited fun for visitors. Numerous alternatives are available; we need to choose them based on our interest. We can prefer trip planner service for making our trip easier. Some places forces us to visit many times even after several visit, since it will give us new experience in every visit. Moreover, people prefer cruise vacation trips, since it will yield comfort for them. Almost everyone enjoy travelling, although sea traveling will be overwhelming with more thrill and adventurous. Rather than routine trip, prefer this kind of trip; you too will enjoy it more and it will yield long-lasting memories. So prefer cruise for making your trip more interesting. Some may hesitate, since they think it won’t yield any comfort and convenient. But all your myth is false, this we feel luxury in it, with all amenities. It fulfills your need beyond imagination. This is the best available alternative for spending occasion. Many countries are offering cruise service, since people prefer it more. Many visitors prefer cruise travel, because it will yield more fun. Some may travel a long way for availing this service, this shows the interest of people among it. While visiting once, you will make regular visit. More features are available within this ship for convenient of the people.
Prefer it for best experience
Some people think rich may only afford to it rather than poor. But all can avail this, since it won’t cost much. You can save your money while planning for your vacation. Moreover, enormous trip planners are offering this cruise trip, so we can make use of cheap cruise vacations deals. While visiting cruise for first time, then you will feel really amazed, since it provides luxury inside. Interior works are also too good with more innovative works for attracting visitors. Unlimited fun guaranteed due to availability of swimming pool and other facilities. Our mind gets relaxed, so we should plan our vacation there. People are more in need for cruise service, since it is the best place for spending vacation. We get stressed and tensed while performing routine works, so we need some relaxation; so we can plan our weekend in cruise for mind relaxation, so we will forget all our problems. They are offering discounts, so we no need to spend much. All income groups can afford to it, so make use of offers. Moreover, we can avail bars and hotels within it, so we can get delicious foods. While sailing in the sea, we can enjoy our vacation and it will remember life-long. Plan your vacation in cruise for unique experience, although it will yield better environment than other places. For detail information Visit here cruiseweb.com
Holidays are some of the best times of the year. If you’re not able to take a holiday every year, then they’re extra special. If you’re really trying to make sure that your trip is relaxing, exciting, and restorative, you should look into a cycling holiday. These are trips that involve cycling around different parts of the UK. Many full-service companies provide the bicycles, as well as a guided itinerary for the trip. You’ll be cycling to certain places to see the sights and staying in different hotels along the way. In addition to being incredibly relaxing and fun, these trips are good for you; you’ll be getting some exercise while you enjoy new experiences. Picking the right company for your cycling holiday is as simple as doing a little bit of research.
Pick an Experienced Company
Taking a trip to an unfamiliar location is not the best time to take a chance on an untested company. If you book with a cycling holiday from Hooked on Cycling, you know that you’re getting a trustworthy and time-tested experience. They’ve been creating thrilling holidays for people for almost two decades now. That’s the kind of expertise you’re looking for. When a company has years of experience, you know that they’ve provided many different trips for many different people. If they were not providing a quality service, negative reviews would start to roll in quickly. With enough negative reviews, a company’s business starts to suffer and they have a hard time staying afloat.
Pick a Company That Cares
Not everybody is going to be at the same fitness level. If you don’t feel comfortable cycling for hours or if you have some kind of difficulty cycling, you should still be able to enjoy a fun holiday. That’s why you should pick a company that offers e-cycles. These are bicycles with electric motors that can assist you in climbing hills, or actually do all of the work. You should be able to enjoy the fun no matter what your fitness level.
You should pick a company that takes your fitness into account. The very best companies design different guided holidays based on your needs. They’ll separate these holidays in terms of degrees of difficulty, so you can know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
Pick a Company with First Hand Experience
You should only pick a company that employs people who have actually gone on these tours themselves. It’s far too easy for just about anybody to pull up a map and draw lines connecting a series of roads. Until you actually cycle these roads, you won’t know if they’re safe or unsafe. You won’t know if they are smooth or if they have steep inclines. When you pick a company that’s actually ridden the roads, they’ll be able to provide a tour that follows the safest roads. Nothing can replace that first-hand experience.
Your cycling holiday should be one that’s fun, relaxing, and restorative. Picking the right company is the first step.
- Flight insurance is relatively inexpensive because few people end up making claims against the policies. The cost of flight insurance varies, depending on the value, originating cities and destinations of the flights. Flight insurance may not be a good investment for short, domestic flights. The cost for flight insurance for short, domestic flights can be between 10 and 15 percent of the cost of the flight. If you fly into areas that have frequent weather delays, however, flight insurance may provide a hotel if your flight is delayed. For longer international flights, travel insurance is cheaper as a percentage of the total flight cost. If your travel is delayed by various factors, your flight insurance would often cover the cost of hotel rooms and flights.
- If you fly in areas that are at risk for flight delays or cancellations, travel insurance can be an advantage. If you are flying into a location, for example, that has bad weather forecast for your departure date, flight insurance may help defray some of the costs of potential delays. However, cancellations because of war, nervous or psychological disorders or, in some cases, terrorist acts are not covered by many policies. If flying into a location with a possibility of flight delays because of these reasons, flight insurance may not be a good investment.
Injuries and Death
- Flight insurance often covers losses, injuries or death in the event of an accident or crash. Because these events are so unlikely, flight insurance to protect against accidents or crashes rarely pays benefits. However, if you are flying into a known storm or on an airline with a poor safety record, flight insurance has a higher statistical probability of being of benefit. Flight insurance benefits are in addition to any airline settlement because of accidents or crashes.
Health Plan Variance
- Networked group policies often have limited foreign travel benefits, if any. Network plans rely on a localized network of physicians. Foreign facilities and doctors do not participate. You either pay full costs, or you may have some minimal out-of-network benefits. Before traveling abroad, find out whether you have foreign health coverage and what communication your provider requires in an emergency.
Foreign Travel Insurance
- In lieu of or in addition to your standard health plan, travel health insurance is an option. Travel health coverage is a temporary policy you purchase to cover you for the duration of foreign travel. Benefits and premiums vary, but this type of protection may fill a void that exists in your regular health plan.
- Compare ratings between different companies to get an overall view of their reputation. Organizations such as A.M. Best provide ratings and analysis of insurance providers. These ratings are comprehensive and provide up to date information on each company’s track record including strengths and weaknesses, coverage options and claims handling. You can also visit Standards & Poor’s or Fitch ratings for more information. (See Resources, below.)
- Compare the reviews of customers and policy holders. J.D. Power and Associates is one of the oldest names in customer views and reviews. Search for the company from which you wish to buy your policy. Then, go through the reviews posted by policyholders and customers to determine whether or not they are satisfied overall with the insurance company and its services. Similarly, search for other providers you might consider and compare the reviews.
- Discuss insurance with your friends, family members, colleagues and business associates to get their opinion on various car insurance companies. They might have had a favorable or unpleasant experience dealing with a particular company and would be able to provide personal insights on companies.
- Compare customer service options for each insurance company you are considering. Those with a large network of offices, claim centers, agents and 24/7 support over telephone as well as email will ensure that you get treated properly as a customer.
- Ask the car insurance companies you are comparing for quotes with or without any claims bonus protection.
- Find out if it is cheaper to pay on a monthly basis to the insurance company through personal checks or to pay it off with a credit card. Numerous insurance companies have direct or indirect alliances with various financial institutions (banks or credit card companies) which may make your insurance significantly cheaper.
- Flight accident insurance covers your injury or death in the event of an airplane crash, but it typically does not cover medical expenses due to illness or other accidents. Trip cancellation insurance generally covers travel expenses when you must cancel your plans due to illness or accident; it may provide limited medical trip coverage. International medical insurance reimburses medical expenses incurred while traveling or living overseas; this type of insurance can be short- or long-term.
- You can customize your medical insurance for travel in the United States to fit your needs. A coverage policy can be single-trip, multitrip or renewable. Maximum policy coverage is generally enough to cover major medical expenses, such as emergency surgery, an extended hospital stay, medical evacuation or the return home of a deceased traveler’s body.
- Most medical travel insurance plans require deductibles and copays and have exclusions similar to standard health insurance policies. A 44-year-old traveler can acquire $50,000 of coverage, valid for three months of travel, for $99 to $372, depending on the policy type.
- There are plenty of good reasons for purchasing insurance while traveling abroad. Social Security Medicare benefits don’t apply when individuals are traveling outside the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs. Some consumers’ traditional insurance policies won’t cover all medical care types for those abroad; in many cases, the cost of medical evacuation to the United States (which can cost $50,000) won’t be covered. In some cases, uninsured travelers may be refused medical care when traveling abroad. Countries with socialized medical care may not cater to travelers, only residents. Additionally, when traveling abroad, you may encounter countries requiring proof of travel insurance before granting entry.
- Before purchasing additional travel insurance, contact your current insurance provider to learn what the coverage includes. Ask whether the policy will cover your return to the United States should you become ill, and if the insurance covers high-risk activities such as scuba diving or parasailing. If the policy requires pre-authorizations or second opinions before covering emergency services, this could result in a delay when seeking medical care abroad. Learn whether your insurance coverage will reimburse foreign doctors or health care providers directly, or if you will be expected to pay upfront and then receive a reimbursement.
- If desired, purchase insurance for traveling abroad from a travel agent, tour company or directly from a provider. It’s possible to bundle travel-related insurance to include medical care and travel insurance for events such as lost luggage, cancellations or trip interruptions. Some policies may cost 6 percent to 7 percent of your trip’s total cost, depending on desired benefits. Other policies charge per day; for example, you may pay $2 per day, according to “U.S. News and World Report.”
- When traveling abroad with a preexisting condition, bring a letter from your physician describing the condition, prescription drugs being taken and the names of comparable generic drugs. Not all medical evacuations will return you to the United States; for example, if you require medical evacuation while traveling in India, you may be transported to Singapore. And not all travelers may require special insurance while traveling abroad, although it’s recommended for those with pre-existing conditions or individuals traveling in locations where they’d rather not receive surgery. Consumers with homeowner’s insurance, traditional medical insurance or credit cards with generous benefits programs may already have adequate coverage; purchasing travel insurance for medical care or lost luggage would be redundant.
- Contact the insurance company holding the trip cancellation insurance policy and request a claim form. You can call and have a form mailed or, in most cases, you can download a claim form on the company’s website.
- Prepare receipts and itemized bills for all expenses you’ve already paid for the trip. Your insurance company requests these items along with your claim form so it can determine the amount that you receive back.
- Attach documentation showing the reason for the trip cancellation. If the cancellation is due to an illness or injury, include copies of hospital or doctor’s bills. If the trip is canceled due to the fault of an airline or hotel delay, enclose documentation showing this delay.
- Send any documentation showing refunds from an airline or hotel due to the trip cancellation. Also, show any penalties from airlines or hotels resulting from the cancellation.
- Obtain a letter from your travel agent, hotel or airline carrier explaining any non-refundable costs should you cancel your trip at the last minute.
- Check the coverage provided by the travel insurance policy.
- Decide the line of action based on the type of loss or mishap sustained.
- Inform the insurance company immediately after the event, as it will help speed up processing of the claim.
- Call the insurance agent to make sure you use the correct claim form. Claim forms differ according to the kind of coverage in your policy.
- Ask the insurance agent about the information and documents required for processing your claim. Usually several documents as well as pertinent information about your travel need to be submitted with your claim form. These typically include travel date(s), mode of transport, name of travel agency and reservation receipts.
- Collect and retain all the documents you believe are related to your claim for the kind of coverage in the policy. Your insurance agent can guide and help you in this effort.
- Cooperate with the adjuster from the insurance company to verify your claim.
- Assess the depreciation value, if possible.
- Monitor your claim status. It may be available online.
- Stay in touch with your agent to ensure prompt processing of claim.
Documents Needed for Specific Claims:
- Rental car claim: Provide the make of car, travel date, proof of travel, police complaint copy and the estimate of loss or damage.
- Air travel: Provide a copy of the airline tickets, proof of travel and estimated loss or damage.
- Baggage theft: Provide a list of items that are lost or stolen, a copy of the complaint to police and travel agency and estimated cost.
- Baggage delay: Provide a list along with receipts of urgent purchases until your baggage was returned.
- Medical expenses: Track the treatment offered and retain a list of prescriptions and receipts for reimbursement
- Cruise clothing, cameras, computers, sports equipment and electronics are expensive. If your luggage is misdirected or lost, travel insurance can replace your items and compensate for the financial loss. Common carriers, including airlines, cruise ships, buses, ferries and trains, include some coverage in the purchase of your ticket. This coverage is often quite limited and may not cover the value of your items. Travel insurance providers offer additional coverage to cover lost or stolen items. Compare insurance plans to make sure that you have adequate insurance to replace all high ticket items you transport.
Comprehensive Travel Insurance
- Online insurance providers offer dozens of different policies and add-on options to provide complete comprehensive insurance for persons planning a cruise vacation. Several providers offer up to $1 million in accidental death insurance, coverage for medical emergencies, medical evacuation, lost baggage, flight interruptions and cancellations, as well as for trip disruption for business. Use their interactive tools to find a policy that offers you emotional and financial assurance. Enter the date of departure and return, destinations and the number of people traveling in your group. Special group rates are offered for parties of 10 or more. Most companies offer free coverage for children under the age of 18 traveling with an insured guardian or parent.
- Compare policies by reading the fine print. Determine if there are rules or regulations that limit coverage based on previous conditions, age or gender. Travel insurance companies also offer coverage for high risk sports activities, such as rock climbing, scuba diving, skiing and white water rafting. If activities offered by your cruise line or activities on shore put you at risk, this type of coverage is a prudent purchase.
- An illness in the family, conflicting business obligations, inclement weather, airline strikes or political unrest can cause you to need to cancel or reschedule your cruise vacation plans. Cruise lines, both large and small, offer insurance packages that will offset the expense of events that can disrupt your travel itinerary. Be sure to read the fine print carefully and ask questions if you do not fully understand the extent and limitations of a policy.
What is Travel Insurance?
- Tourists purchase travel insurance to protect against unforeseen events such as inclement weather, sudden business closure, lost luggage and other nuisances. Insurance policies may even cover rare occurrences like terrorist evacuation and plane crashes. They’re a security blanket that could save time and money in the long run. However, some argue that travel insurance is superfluous and a waste of money, pointing out that many airline carriers cover lost baggage, while credit cards frequently cover losses from shuttered transportation concerns. There is also the danger of scams from unscrupulous, non-licensed dealers. Fine print problems exist; CNN notes that name ambiguity can shade regulation and contractual guarantees. Travel insurance may seem like a good idea, but it’s necessary to study the facts before buying.
Tricky Travel Insurance Contracts
- Be sure that what you’re purchasing is actually a state-regulated insurance plan. Steve Dasseos, chairman of Tripinsurancestore.com, states that buyers are often misled by policies called “trip protection plans.” These deals are anything but, since they’re not official insurance policies with any sort of government policing. Look for plans that are labeled by name as insurance products.
Read the fine print. Just like health insurance, pre-existing conditions are a way for an underwriter to deny coverage. This means that a flight-induced anxiety attack that results in a hospital visit in the middle of Paris won’t result in a refund of the hospital costs, especially if the sufferer is under treatment for mental health issues. Some companies issue pre-existing insurance waivers, but those require strict adherence to company regulations to apply.
What Type of Insurance is the Best to Get?
- Peter Greenberg, TODAY travel editor, states that “while a majority of those who don’t buy travel insurance are familiar with flight and trip cancellation insurance, many people are unaware of travel health insurance, baggage coverage and medical evacuation insurance. ” All types of insurance are not created equal, with some types a bad value for the money.
Flight insurance, sold at airports as a high-priced add-on item, is usually considered a poor investment. Trip cancellation and interruption insurance is dependent on the value of the trip being covered; the more expensive the cash outlay, the more necessary this policy is. Travel health insurance with medical evaluation coverage is great for those that travel internationally. Lastly, baggage insurance is great if you dress expensively. Otherwise, airline baggage coverage will probably do. Keep valuables like jewelry and computers on your person at all times to avoid trouble and minimize the chance of loss.
- Seek the definition of senior citizen by an insurance provider as you collect a quote. The traditional definition is 65 years old, but some travel insurers have moved the age up.
- Research senior citizen travel insurance that covers specific methods of transportation. You should review policies for air travel, cruises and rail travel to find the right coverage for your upcoming vacation.
- Modify travel insurance quotes based on the length of your trips. Many senior citizens get policies that provide coverage during summer or winter stays in a different region. If you plan on traveling extensively as a senior citizen, a permanent plan will save you money and provide steady coverage.
- Write out a travel budget to set spending limits for travel insurance. You should include flights, accommodations, dining and extra expenses as the staples of this budget. After calculating the total for these fixed expenses, add between five to 10 percent of the total as a fair estimate of insurance premiums.
- Visit a variety of travel insurance agents to find one with a combination of experience and a wide range of options. The ideal insurance agent will unveil a menu of basic and premium services that can be added to your policy for optimal coverage. You should also note any awards, certifications or positive reviews highlighted by an agent.
- Place the emergency medical coverage in your travel insurance with your health care plan. You can get a clear picture of the financial protections or burdens you will face if you experience health issues during your trip. Check out medical liability coverage if there is too big a gap between policies.
- Review your past and future travel itineraries and count the number of international trips that you expect to make on a yearly basis.
- Ask your personal or group health provider if they offer medevac coverage as an add-on to your health insurance.
- Read articles on the various coverage options for international travel medevac and terrorism policies at the Smarter Travel website. The articles often have links to companies that sell medevac policies.
- Compare the current rates and coverage for at least three providers. Request a written quote by mail or by fax. You will often get better coverage from companies that have offices and customer service representatives worldwide.
- Check the Better Business Bureau rating for the companies that you are considering. In addition to complaints or warnings, note how long the company has been operating as an emergency medical evacuation provider.
- Consult the Consumer World site for in-depth reviews of different travel insurance companies, links to government consumer agencies and information on avoiding travel scams.
- Choose a carrier whose coverage meets your needs. Purchase an annual coverage policy if you make several trips every year. Purchase per-trip coverage, if you only plan to make one or two international trips a year.
- Check your existing insurance policies and credit card coverage before you buy travel insurance. You may already be covered for medical expenses, canceled tickets or lost luggage.
- Decide which type of travel insurance is best suited for your destination (for example, terrorism insurance for your trip to Egypt, or emergency medical transportation insurance during your ocean cruise). Keep in mind that the cost varies widely, depending on your age, your health, and the cost and length of your trip.
- Determine whether the following is included in your policy: international medical insurance, emergency medical evacuation (including helicopter transport), accidental death and dismemberment, repatriation of remains and family travel benefits.
- Have your travel agent purchase an insurance plan for you or shop commission-free online. You’ll find a wide selection of reputable insurance companies on the Web, including Travel Guard and Access America, that can get you a policy within 24 hours (see Resources).
- Make sure your travel insurance provider offers 24-hour hotline service. Don’t buy trip-cancellation insurance from the tour operator that may be responsible for the cancellation, and don’t overbuy–you won’t be reimbursed for more than the cost of your trip.
Ways to Train
- Some companies will provide on-the-job training for travel agents, though typically you’ll be required to have a background in travel or hospitality and at least a high school diploma. The other route is to study travel and hospitality at a trade school or community college, where you’ll learn concepts of travel sales and marketing, using travel booking computer systems, and concepts of vacation planning. Look for programs through local community colleges, or consult the listings recommended by the American Society of Travel Agents. Certificate programs — in which you’ll receive a “certificate of achievement” — can take as little as one or two semesters. You can also earn an associate degree in travel and tourism in about two years.
Registered Seller of Travel
- If you’re planning to open your own travel agency, you must sign up as a Registered Seller of Travel with the state of California. Provide the business’ contact information and information about your business’ relationship with the airlines, and then put money for a surety bond into a trust account — covering the cost of potential disputes or cancelled reservations that were due to no fault of the traveler. The fee is $100 per year as of 2015. Once registered, you’ll be required to put your registration number on any business advertisements. Start your registration process at the California attorney general’s website. If you’re an employee of a travel agency, you won’t need to be registered as a seller of travel.
Home-based travel agency jobs have been around for years. Working at home allows you to make money from the comfort of your home and comes with great benefits such as a having a flexible schedule, working as much or as little as you choose, being your own boss and not having to fight rush-hour traffic. Being a home-based travel agent can be a rewarding, exciting career to explore, especially if you have a love for travel, are great with people and can market and promote your business.
- Find a home-based travel company that is right for you. Most of these at-home travel agencies are turn-key systems, which are basic and easy to use. For example, check out KHM Travel Group and America’s Vacation Center. These organizations offer support, guidance and an array of tips to succeed in your new business. You are usually working as an independent contractor, so you will have your own business name, letterhead and website address. You will also be taxed as an independent contractor.
- Invest in an at-home office. Set aside a space in your home that will be used as your office. Even if it it just a desk and laptop in the corner of your bedroom, keep the space organized and all your materials close by. You will need a computer, Internet access, telephone, fax machine and credit card.A good headset may be required for long conversations and hands-free access to your computer. You can purchase basic desk supplies, such as pens, pencils, notepads, paper clips, rubber bands and more, inexpensively from an office supply store.
- Use different aspects to market your website and services. Make business cards and flyers to advertise and network. Design a company logo, and make sure it is branded on all of your promotional materials such as magnets, pens and bookmarks. Pass out materials to anyone that may one day need to book a trip.Media can be a good way to advertise, with inexpensive ads on the Internet and in classified ads. Your local paper and CraigsList are good places to start your marketing ventures.
Find a niche that works well for you. If you are an avid cyclist, specialize in worldwide cycling tours. If you are a beach bunny and spend all of your vacations looking for the perfect tan, exotic beach destinations could be your specialty.
Also, market to your friends and family. Word of mouth referrals are very important and can be extremely easy.
- Keep your website is up to date and well maintained. Nothing says unprofessional like misspelled words and bad grammar. Keep your information current, and delete anything that is irrelevant.
- Take a Canadian Institute of Travel Counsellors (CITC) training course. Such courses are frequently offered in British Columbia, including day and distance courses at Canadian Tourism College, CDI College and Westminster College. A day course lasts about 23 weeks, and includes instruction in the two main computer systems used in the travel industry, as well as customer service and marketing courses.
- Enroll for Travel Counsellor Certification through CITC. The certification involves a written examination that you can take before you are hired. When you get a job, you will undergo a performance evaluation that will further qualify you as a Certified Travel Counsellor. Since working in British Columbia, especially in the Vancouver area can be competitive, obtaining this certification gives you an added edge to get a job and find clients. Going through the training will test your skills and help you determine your strengths and weaknesses, so you know what type of travel bookings — such as cruises, local travel or adventure travel — which could be your expertise.
- Apply for a travel insurance license through the Insurance Council of British Columbia. You will need this license if you plan to run your own travel agency. If you plan to work for someone else, you don’t need your own travel insurance license. (see reference 2) This license allows a travel agency to issue travel insurance to clients.
- Research the travel industry in Ontario. Ontario has strict rules and regulations in place to prevent travel agents form operating without the appropriate licenses and education. The province also carries hefty penalties for travel agents operating without the required certification. You must understand the rules and regulations as well as the requirements to become a travel agent before applying to a post-secondary institution.
- Enroll in a travel agent or hospitality program at a college or career college. Most colleges and career colleges in Ontario offer programs in hospitality and travel and tourism. To become a travel agent you must enroll in one of these courses to learn more about the industry and common practices and procedures.
- Register as a travel counsellor with Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO). Once you have received your diploma or degree in hospitality or travel and tourism, you must apply for your TICO membership. This requires that you pay an application fee and write a TICO administered exam at one of the TICO proctored schools in Ontario. A list of the proctored schools can be found on the TICO website.
- Search and apply for a position as a travel agent in a retail travel business or start you own business. Most new travel agents in Ontario first work for a retail travel agency. Apply for a position by visiting the website of the travel agency you wish to work for and complete an application and submit your resume. If you chose to start your own business, you must register it with TICO, pay the registration fees, and give a membership deposit. You must also join the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) by applying on the ACTA website and paying an application fee.
- Earn your Certified Travel Counsellor (CTC) designation. To earn this top designation for travel agents in Ontario, you must complete a knowledge exam, obtain 1,000 hours of occupational experience, complete a performance checklist, and receive a passing grade on a performance evaluation. Once accepted as a Certified Travel Counsellor, you will be required to pay a membership fee before receiving full member status.
Start-up Costs to Consider
- You can either start a travel agency as a home-based business or choose to establish an office in a building or shopping center. Where you choose to open your travel agency office will have an effect on how much money you need to start the business. In order to keep costs to a minimum, a home-based travel agency only requires you to have a phone and a computer in order to start booking travel and making money. If you choose to establish an office, you’ll have additional costs such as rent, furniture and electricity.
For example, if you choose to rent a small retail spot, it can cost you a couple thousand dollars in rent, and then there are the added costs of furnishing the office–hundreds if not thousands of additional dollars. With a home office, you can use what you have as far as furniture and a computer is concerned, so your cost for a phone line and Internet access will run you far less than renting an office.
- Travel agency owners do more than book airline tickets, hotel rooms and cruises. Additional services that travel agencies provide include helping travelers obtain travel visas and passports, arranging transportation from the airport to the hotel, conducting research for group and company retreats, business meetings, conferences and trade shows. Some travel agencies even partake in event planning services for special events such as weddings and corporate events and provide total travel budget management for companies to keep their costs to a minimum.
- There are two main target markets for a travel agency. One market is consumers that travel, which can be virtually any individual. Since travel agents can work with anyone in the world to book travel, it’s not necessary to limit your sights on your local market. With access to the Internet, your services can be helpful across the globe.
The second main market that travel agencies provide services to is the business or corporate market. Larger companies can be lucrative because they tend to have more travel needs. This, however, does not eliminate the need for your services in small companies that may not have the staff necessary to handle booking business travel and accommodations.
- Other travel agents start out with an already established agency to learn the ropes and build a book of clients. Once they get the hang of the business and have a decent amount of repeat customers, they can then branch out on their own and open their own travel agency.
- Travel agent commissions are derived from two sources. One source is from the fees charged to clients that are booking travel. The larger the volume of business, the better your commission, and by focusing on higher-end products, you can also increase your income potential. Most travel agents earn anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the net cost of the services sold. Cruise businesses pay anywhere from 18 to 20 percent to travel agents for bookings.
The average earnings for a travel agent really runs the full spectrum. Since it is a job based on performance, you really have control over the amount of money you can earn, but agents report earnings anywhere from $17,180 to more than $44,090 per year. This doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t agents earning six figures. “Travel Weekly” magazine reported that home-based travel agents earn more than $100,000 a year.
Popularity of Online Travel Agencies Growing
- Travel and tourism are among the biggest industries worldwide, and more than 80 percent of the travel sold in the United States is now purchased online. With more consumers using the Internet to plan their vacation getaways, online travel agencies have been growing in popularity, helping to increase business in the travel industry overall. Aside from booking travel packages, many travelers go online in search of travel reviews before making a final decision about their choices. Reports show that more travelers who have traditionally booked trips offline are checking out vacation destinations, as well as travel and hotel rates, online.
Working With a Known Travel Agency
- The travel industry is a busy industry; therefore, many online travel agencies are working with established host agencies, which can provide marketing materials, along with experience in knowing what travelers are looking for. Being part of an affiliate program can help to increase an agency’s bookings and sales. Like other businesses putting up websites, going online allows travel agencies to reach a wider market of travel consumers.
Advantages to Consumers and Travel Agencies Both
- Online travel agencies use automated processes to reduce costs and increase profitability, in addition to improving efficiency. While there are a variety of software tools available to assist businesses in saving time and selling more travel, online travel agencies offer several advantages to consumers. Would-be travelers have access to airlines, cruise lines, railways, hotels, tours and car rental companies all from a single source, allowing them to check out current travel discounts from the comfort of their own homes. Consumers can also benefit from special offers and promotions often offered online.
Consumers Need to Know What They Are Buying
- Booking travel online can save consumers money, but you need to do your homework first. Before purchasing a travel package online, a consumer should be sure to read all the fine print. A dream vacation might not turn out to be what you are expecting. That’s why you need to know exactly what expenses are included in a package before buying. Frequently, hotel stays and some attractions are the only items included. Even so, the package may still be a good deal, but travelers need to know up front what other expenses will be involved. Consumers should always read reviews about any online travel agencies, from which they are considering purchasing. In many cases, comments made by other people who have purchased travel packages from the company can be read online. Consumers can also find out how a certain company has been rated by others.
It’s a new travel industry – more independent, less competitive and accessible to newcomers. Job opportunities exist. That is, if you can find your niche and work hard from home.
Their Trip Is Your Job
Change is under way in the travel industry. Brick-and-mortar storefronts are becoming relics as independent consultants replace traditional travel agencies. You can thrive in this new home-based world. Knowledge, expertise and research are key. But ultimately, it’s about service – at both ends of the travel dollar.
eHow spoke with Dan Smith, the Pacific Northwest Chapter director of the National Association of Career Travel Agents, about selling travel packages, getting credentialed, finding customers and working from home.
Maybe someone has a great circle of relationships and people are always coming to them and they say, “Why shouldn’t I get paid for doing all this research? I like doing it, but I could be making money.” A lot of people get into their 50s and say, “You know maybe I’ll just start this as a part-time thing.” Some are very successful at it. They can balance more than one life simultaneously. … If you have a family reunion and you have an affinity with travel, you will start talking to hotels, you will talk to airlines, resorts, maybe transportation systems.
The School Route
There are some travel schools out there. I don’t think that’s a good place to get training necessarily. That’s how a lot of people have started, but then they were able to go into a brick-and-mortar and file brochures, write tickets. There are few places to do that these days because so many brick-and-mortars are no longer available. “When I left the airline, I thought I knew travel. I knew nothing about travel,” Smith said. “I knew how to get people on and off airplanes. It’s a totally different world.”
Knowing What You Sell
It’s learning about a place and being effective in communicating about the place. … I have a wholesale business, which means a customer and/or another travel agent will call me and say, “What do you know about Costa Rica?” I have a guy I work with in Costa Rica. I send him a profile and budget. Here’s the time frames, what the clients are thinking of doing. He will come back with an itinerary. Then I go back to the client and say, “Here is what we can do.” … Part of the reason it works is because I am doing the boutique smaller properties, as opposed to the mega-properties. And when you are going to destinations, people aren’t looking for the brass and glass. They want to experience a place. So I’m on both sides of the street. I am a seller and I am also a resource to the other travel agents. Then I turn around and say to somebody else, “I need information on how to get a ground operator in Naples that’s not going to take advantage of people.” … That’s part of how we interact and support each other.
Getting it Right
Find the honest, reputable organizations that will support you. Because if you don’t put those pieces together and it falls apart you better be prepared to make it a positive. Until you’ve had to do that it’s overwhelming. I had a guy this last week where the hotel dates got messed up. That shouldn’t be his problem. Even though it cost me money to fix it, I still retained the guy as a client. That’s part of developing clientele. If it’s a new experience, even if it doesn’t result in a sale, it’s still a good learning experience.
The Value of Credentials
Travel professionals can earn a slew of credentials to enhance their reputation, such as certification from the Cruise Lines International Association, which is important if you want to specialize in cruise packages.
But there are also “card mills,” where you can plop down “$50, $100 or $500, and mysteriously you are a travel agent. It becomes like a Ponzi pyramid thing. These card mills open up and they give people cards that supposedly have value. But those people aren’t selling anything.
The most important credential is an ID card from the International Airlines Travel Agent Network. IATAN is universally known as the independent organization that says you’ve met particular criteria.
That’s the question every business is trying to answer. There’s no silver bullet, and everybody has their own style. “I do mailers, I do emails, I do trade shows, I do consumer shows,” Smith says. “It takes a lot of energy to garner people around. It’s about relationships and referrals.”
A Competitive Landscape
The philosophy among the majority is there’s enough business out there. In the brick-and-mortar days it was far more competitive. In today’s world we are all in the same place. Some of us have a different niche. Some years are better than others. The point being it’s a support system. How do we help everybody be successful? How do we help everybody improve their bottom line without losing the relationships? Any kind of healthy business is a relationship. “In travel, if you don’t approach it as a relationship, you have one-time sales and that’s it. It needs to be referrals, it needs to be repetitive,” Smith says. Those are the things that sustain you through the ebb and flow of the economy. If your mentality is only bottom-line, then all that stuff is a waste of time. You can’t be in travel today as an independent and expect it to be only about the dollars.
In the ’90s there were 34,000 travel agents primarily in brick-and-mortars across the U.S. Now there are 14,000, and probably 80 percent are independent contractors. … And that’s part of the reason NACTA has become successful — because most of the vendors, the wholesalers, the cruise lines, they can’t find these people without brick and mortar. It becomes very isolating when you come out of an office environment.
Coexisting with Orbitz and Expedia
There’s a place for Orbitz and Expedia for the bottom-line-focused customer. But the cheapest price is not always the best price. If you’re going to London, you can get the cheapest price online for, say, $600, but you will make three stops and it will take one-and-a-half days to get there. “I’m talking about the value of your time,” Smith says.
- Make a commitment to becoming an agent. Register as a travel agent with a travel authority. This can be done by contacting The Travel Institute, ASTA, ARC and CLIA, all of whom offer professional travel designations.
- Set up an office at home. This should be a quiet area where you can do your research for trips, make phone calls and meet with clients.
- Register through a host agency. Host agencies are not necessary but can help you find clients, charities and other groups. They also give you a forum to book your airline and hotel tickets for relatively low, flat fees. Registering for an agency relieves much of the pressure on individual agents by offering them support.
- Practice by booking trips for your friends and family. Treat these individuals as real customers, thereby working on your customer service skills. If a good job is done, ask them to refer you to their friends.
- Market yourself. The best marketing can be done in your local community through posters, flyers and word of mouth. Hang signs are your local gym and supermarket. Tell your friends about your new business as well as make business cards to distribute.
Prepare for Train Travel
- Make things easy. Train traveling can be confusing because of delays, unscheduled stops and random connection times. Hire a travel agent to book your trip from Orlando to Miami and give yourself a break.
- Upgrade your train ticket. Bump your ticket up from coach to first class to enjoy your trip from Orlando to Miami in superior comfort and style.
- Get a room. Viewliner bedrooms are available on the trip from Orlando to Miami. Viewliner rooms are true to their name: they all have windows so you can take in the scenery as you travel.
- Take what you can get if you don’t reserve a seat in advance. The train that travels from Orlando to Miami is on its final leg of journey that began in New York. Don’t expect to get the best seat in the house.
- Know where you want to go to make a smooth transition from the train station to your final destination. Be aware that the Miami train station is not located in South Beach. You won’t find the same Miami that you see in the movies and in the magazines at the train station.
Book Your Ticket in Advance to Sacramento
- Book your ticket at least several days before you plan to travel. The route to Sacramento is heavily traveled, so the earlier you reserve your ticket, the better.
- Take the BART to Oakland or Emeryville. There are no Amtrak train stations in San Francisco, so if you can, using BART will save time and money.
- Take advantage of the California Rail Pass. If you plan to travel to multiple destinations within the state, you can purchase a California Rail Pass, which gives you unlimited travel on all California Amtrak trains and motor coaches.
- Call Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL or visit Amtrak’s web site in the “Resources” section below. On the web site, you can book your train reservations via Amtrak’s Fare Finder. You can also navigate the site if you have a PDA, Blackberry or other handheld device.
- Select the departing train station. The train station in Emeryville is the closest Amtrak station to San Francisco; you can easily catch connecting buses to San Francisco.
- Select a station to get to the train station. The Bay Area Rapid Transit, better known as BART, offers 43 stops in the San Francisco bay area. You can easily catch a BART train to the Amtrak station.
- If you ordered your tickets online or by phone, pick them up at a ticket agent or at one of the Quik-Trak kiosks that can be found at many Amtrak locations (you’ll need to enter your reservation number). If you’ve booked your trip far in advance, you can also request that your tickets be mailed to you.
Book Your Train Travel From England to France
- Visit the official Eurostar Web site for timetables, optional services, special deals and discounts.
- Consider the “Standard” Eurostar service if you’re on a budget. Amenities such as 30-minute check-in and a basic buffet and beverage service are still available.
- Upgrade to the “Leisure Select” or “Business Premier” services, which offer such amenities as spacious seating, a full meal, drink service and AC outlets at every seating location. These higher-end seating options even include an optional chauffeur service on both ends of the journey.
- Contact Eurostar by phone at 011 (+44) 1233 617 575 to make reservations with a customer service representative. You may want to double-check the contact informations sheet on the Web site before placing your call, as phone numbers are subject to change. You can also book train travel from England to France by calling Rail Europe at (888) 382-RAIL or by visiting the link below.
- Enlist the services of a travel agent to help you with alternatives to the Eurostar, such as ferries, high-speed catamarans or even small planes to cross the English Channel.
Enjoy Your Visit to France
- Arrive at the Gare du Nord Terminal in France.
- Use Eurostar to book additional travel within France, or to help you with hotel reservations and car rentals.
- Consider staying on the Eurostar for another leg of travel. You can travel to Brussels or use the Eurostar services to connect with railways all over Europe and Asia.
- Go to the IRCTC Online Passenger Reservation System and register a new account. There are no registration fees. Use your newly created ID and password to log in.
- Enter your starting point and destination in the ‘Plan My Travel’ box. City names and corresponding station codes appear in the drop-down box. Choose your desired locations. Indicate the date of travel. Choose i-ticket in the ‘Ticket Type’ field and choose your quota. The quota is the the fare that you are going to pay for your ticket from lowest to highest in price.
- Click ‘Find Trains’ to check the list of trains in your desired route. Click reset to enter information again. Click the question mark icon to have options explained.
- Click the train name on the results page of ‘Find Trains.’ This section displays a list of trains for the specified route and details such as train type and schedule. To find the fare, click the train class that is listed as available. The result indicates the fare for the selected class for one adult, excluding the IRCTC service charges and the credit/debit card charges levied by the bank.
- Select the train you want by clicking on the available class. Click ‘Book’ to book the ticket. Click Reset to re-enter information.
- Check if the details displayed match the information you entered. The ticket reservation page is displayed. Enter passenger details and the berth preferred. Check the senior citizen option, or enter details of child passengers under age 5, if applicable.
- Select ‘Make Payment’ to proceed. Ticket details along with the fare (including service charges) appear. Select your payment method from the options provided and make the payment. A confirmation page indicates successful ticket booking.
Plan Your Train Travel From Berlin to Amsterdam
- Plan your train travel to Amsterdam for the summer to make the most of the views along the way.
- Amsterdam’s Centraal Station is in the center of the old city. The modern city is divided by its surrounding 5 canals, each creating a concentric circle around the historic center of the city.
- Expect to spend between 6 1/2 and 9 hours on the train between Berlin and Amsterdam.
- Plan to depart from Berlin’s central station for most trains to Amsterdam. You may also find that a departure from Berlin’s Ostbahnhoff or Charlottenburg stations is more convenient. Inspect the schedule to confirm that you may board your train at these stations as service may be intermittent.
Book Your Train Travel From Berlin to Amsterdam
- Download a timetable of trains from Berlin to Amsterdam from Deutsche Bahn’s Web site before you book your ticket (see Resources). The schedule will indicate connecting stations along the route, the frequency of the departure and what amenities are available onboard the train when you travel.
- Notice that there is only one direct InterCity train from Berlin to Amsterdam. It operates daily, except when noted in the schedule annotations, and it takes around 6 1/2 hours to arrive in Amsterdam.
- Understand that reservations are not requisite on all trains from Berlin to Amsterdam. However, on longer trains like those servicing Amsterdam, it is highly recommended that you get one. There is a small additional fee associated with making reservations, but most travelers would agree that it is one well worth paying.
- Note that on some connecting trains between Berlin and Amsterdam there are only second class seats available. If you wish to book first class accommodations for your entire journey, confirm that it is possible for your chosen route.
Buy a Pass
- Depending on your country of residence, two main options are available. Non-European residents can purchase the Eurail Pass, which covers 24 countries. For a sweeping itinerary, the Global Pass allows travel across all participating countries, while travelers with a narrower focus would be better off taking a Select Pass, which allows travel through four bordering countries, or the Regional Pass, for two-country combinations. European residents, however, can buy the InterRail Pass, whose Global Pass covers 30 countries, while the One Country Pass allows unlimited travel within 27 countries. For the Global Passes, passengers can either choose continuous travel for a defined period, or take a Flexi Pass which allows a certain number of travel days, making it the better option for those who want to spend a longer period of time in just a few destinations.
City to City
- While passes are ideal for those who plan to travel on three or more consecutive days, for example, or do not have a clear itinerary in mind, train companies increasingly follow the airlines’ model in offering cut-price tickets booked in advance online. Travelers who have a clear itinerary are best served by booking city-to-city tickets at discounted rates, typically three months in advance. This applies above all in Eastern Europe where rail fares are much cheaper. As Jane E Fraser wrote in “The Sydney Morning Herald,” 80 percent of high-speed journeys in Europe require reservations in advance, so confirmed tickets are already a tacit prerequisite. The only drawback to the point-to-point ticket booked online is that it will almost certainly be nonchangeable and nonrefundable.
- Non-Europeans cannot buy Eurail passes in Europe, while European residents cannot use an InterRail pass for travel within their own country. Both passes must first be activated by obtaining a stamp on the first day of travel from a station official or ticket office, and pass-holders will still need to reserve seats for travel in many Western European countries. “Lonely Planet” warns that there will frequently be extra charges on long-distance trains, particularly in France, Italy and Spain, where a reservation fee is applied, but many travelers will find the charges nominal. Switzerland, Germany and Austria do not usually require compulsory reservation. For overnight journeys, passengers have the option of reclining seat, couchette — shared compartment — or a private sleeper cabin. Travelers under 26 or over 60 should also look out for some very attractive discounts.
Where to Go
- Passengers with a Global Pass could theoretically travel from Ireland in the West to Turkey in the East, although travel on the EuroTunnel beneath the English Channel is not included. National Geographic recommends a handful of iconic journeys that are possible using a pass, among which are The Chocolate Train, which runs through the Swiss mountains from Montreux to Broc, and the Balkan Flexipass, which whistles through the former Yugoslavia, Romania, Greece and Turkey. Rick Steves, however, recommends against investing in a rail pass for southern Spain, Ireland, Croatia and Greece because the rail network is so limited. Also, be warned that high-speed services in Italy and the Thalys service, which serves Paris and Amsterdam, both charge hefty supplements.
Discover San Diego’s Attractions before Booking Tickets from Los Angeles
- Visit San Diego’s famous animal-themed amusement parks. San Diego has one of the world’s best zoos, as well as a wild animal park and Sea World aquarium.
- See downtown San Diego. The area known as the Gas Lamp quarter has been renovated and now offers restaurants, bars, and shopping as well as nearby PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres baseball team.
- Go to a different country. The city of San Diego borders Tijuana, Mexico and crossing the border is extremely easy. Take the Tijuana trolley from San Diego and walk across the border via a pedestrian bridge.
Use Your Travel Itinerary to Help Book Tickets to San Diego
- Consider your desired activities before booking train tickets. Since the trip from Los Angeles to San Diego is short, you can plan your trip around your excursions. Amtrak trains leave as early as 6:05 a.m. on weekdays and 7:20 a.m. on weekends.
- Take advantage of Amtrak’s bus services. Amtrak offers bus service from the San Diego station to terminals at both Sea World and the San Diego Zoo. Leaving Los Angeles on the earliest train and using the bus service could get you to either location by 11:00 a.m.
Use Discounts When Traveling between Los Angeles and San Diego
- Know about available discounts when traveling with children. Children under the age of 2 ride for free, and children ages 2 to 15 travel for half price with an adult. There is an AAA discount for children as well.
- Know about other Amtrak discounts. Active military personnel as well as veterans are eligible for discounts, as are seniors and members of the National Association of Rail Passengers.
- Apply discounts when you book your tickets. Use the Amtrak Web site to purchase discounted tickets or use a Quik-Trak ticket kiosk, available at most stations.
Plan Your Trip from Zurich to Geneva
- Decide on the route you’d like to take on the way to Geneva. While the fastest route will take you along a more northerly route through Biel, a more scenic route will take you right through the heart of the Alps and Interlaken. Direct travel through Biel will take a little less than 3 hours. The more scenic route will be closer to 6 hours.
- Look at the train options available and determine which is best suited for your style of travel. At close to 3 hours on the quickest route, the trip is just long enough to warrant a first-class upgrade if you have the means. On this trip, first class will run about $50 more than second-class.
Book Your Trip from Zurich to Geneva
- Visit the English-language version of the Swiss Railways Web site (click on the link in Resources below). Enter your departure and destination city in the appropriate boxes.
- Enter “Interlaken Ost” in the “via” field below the destination box if you’d like to take the long route through the mountains. Leave this field blank if you want to travel directly to Geneva.
- Book a trip with restaurant car if the trip will fall around lunch or dinner time. A growling stomach may put a damper on your otherwise enjoyable trip. The Web site will give you information on the services offered on each train, including whether or not the train has food service.
- Grab a seat in a “quiet” car if you want to catch a few zzz’s on the way to Geneva. The quiet car prohibits the use of cell phones, radios or any other distraction. Make sure you follow the rules. Conversation is still allowed–just keep it down!
- Call Rail Europe at 877-257-2887 to book train tickets from Zurich to Geneva by phone.
Find the Right Train From Buffalo to New York City
- Take the Amtrak eastbound to New York City from either the Buffalo Exchange Street station downtown or the Depew station near the airport. Once in New York City, there are a number of train travel choices to make.
- Book your final reservations based on which borough of New York City you wish to arrive in. Go to Penn Station for the west side of NYC and Grand Central Station for the east side.
- Continue from Penn Station to Queens, Brooklyn and other Long Island communities by taking the Long Island Railroad (LIRR).
Book Your Train Travel From Buffalo to New York City
- Book train reservations by either calling the Amtrak toll free number or online by going to their Web site (see Resources).
- Reserve train travel on the LIRR through the online MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) Web site (see Resources).
- Purchase a ticket at the Buffalo Exchange Street station from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Buffalo Depew station is open 24 hours a day.
Arrive at the Station
- Arrive in New York City at either Penn Station or Grand Central Station, collect your baggage and keep moving. Do not linger in the train stations of the Big Apple, especially if you have never been there before or are by yourself.
- Grab a map before you continue on the Long Island Railroad to make sure you are getting on the right train. The fee for an LIRR trip depends on the length of your ride.
- Accept transportation from the New York City train stations only from legitimate taxi services. Do not accept rides from people who offer to call you a cab; it’s a common NYC swindle.
Book Your Trip
- Consider your options. On most days, Amtrak offers three lines that will leave Miami in the morning. You can either switch trains in Richmond or travel direct to Washington, DC in about 24 hours.
- Use Amtrak’s Web site (see below) to choose your routes and schedules. Its interactive and user-friendly design allows you to peruse your opportunities for travel, read hints and advice on train travel and book your ticket.
- Search for the best fare using the Web site’s ‘Fare Finder,’ and book your ticket when you find the itinerary that best matches your schedule and budget.
- Consider reserving a sleeper car since you’ll be traveling overnight. It may be worth the added fee to sleep in privacy, and the package includes a complimentary breakfast and newspaper.
Plan Your Escape
- Call Amtrak’s toll-free number or check the departures online before you leave for Miami Amtrak Station to confirm that your train is on time, your ticket is reserved and the schedule has not changed.
- Bring a coat on board if you are traveling in the winter, as you may get cold waiting to claim your baggage during Washington, DC’s frostier months.
- Pack less than 150 lb of luggage to avoid added transportation costs.
Travel From Miami to Washington, DC
- Enjoy the scenery. Watching the landscape change as you climb the rails to DC is something you won’t want to miss, particularly in the fall.
- Plan to spend some time in Washington’s Union Station upon arrival. Newly renovated and filled with diverse eating and shopping opportunities, Union Station is a very popular tourist site in the city.
- Catch a ride on the Metro to your hotel. The Metro station is located downstairs in the train station, and it offers cheap travel to most places in the city.
- Take a cruise on Carnival. Cruise vacations are wonderful for children. They have water slides, a pool and miniature golf courses right on the ship. These vacations are offered for less than $70 per day. You can get huge discounts by booking early. They even offer Club Carnival with great activities for the kids to do on their own. Children have a lot of fun, and you get a bit of time to relax without them. When you port, there is a ton of stuff to do on shore excursions that children will enjoy as well. Spend a day at the beach or take them snorkeling.
Sunset Beach Resort and Spa
- Check out the Sunset Beach Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, Jamaica. This location has a Pirates Paradise Water Park that is great for the kids. They have a kids’ club and activities for teenagers. They offer great specials to make it affordable for most people. This vacation package even includes your alcoholic drinks in the price. You can go a bit away from the resort and take the kids to climb Dunn River Falls. This is free if you do not take a tour guide and inexpensive with one.
Beaches Negril Resort
- Beaches Negril Resort in Jamaica is one of the best resorts for vacationing with children. They have supervised kids’ activities, nanny services and even Xbox 360 games for the kids to play while having some down time. They offer great rates. You will find a lot of kid-friendly activities and things to do here.
- Check out a cruise on the Disney Cruise Lines. They offer great discounts if you book in advance. You can choose where you want to go on the cruise. These ships are full of stuff for the kids to do while on vacation. They have 3-D movies and special games just for families out on the deck. They offer kid-friendly pools and meals. They do not have as many ports available as other cruise lines, but you can drive to Florida to save money on airplane tickets.
- Beaches Boscobel in Jamaica is the only all-inclusive Beaches resort that offers golf for kids. It also has a Pirate Island water park which will keep your kids busy for hours. They have a supervised camp for kids. You can sit right on the beach at this one.
Roller Coaster Heaven
- It’s just a 45-minute drive north of Chicago to Six Flags Great America theme park, where thrills and chills await families. Six Flags is home to Goliath, the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster, 13 other roller coasters, more than 30 children’s rides and a 20-acre water park with a million-gallon pool, lazy rivers, plunge rides and a kiddie zone. Even the family’s picky eater is satisfied at meal time thanks to the nearly 30 park restaurants serving pizza, vegetarian dishes, American fare and more. National chain hotels sit within walking distance of the park or a short drive. Some offer shuttle service to the park for convenience. Learn about discounts and get park tickets online or at the gate.
Great Lakes Dune Experiences
- Spanning 15 miles of the Lake Michigan coast about 50 miles east of Chicago, the towering Indiana dunes attract nature-loving families. No car? No problem. Chicago and South Shore Train makes four stops at the park. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, with its towering dune structure, encompasses six beaches for water play and sunning. Families with small children may prefer West Beach, the only park beach offering lifeguards. Explore 11 easy to moderate level trails winding through coastal ecosystems. Stop at the Visitor Center at Porter for maps and family programming information. Dunewood Campground sits a little more than one mile south of the shoreline for lodging beneath the stars. Its 66 sites are without electricity, but the campground offers restrooms, showers, a dump station and a convenience store. Camping runs from the end of April through October. A host of family restaurants and stores for supplies are in surrounding communities accessed off Interstate 94.Beaches provide summer recreation at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Playtime at Lake Geneva
- Action-oriented families enjoy a treasure house of recreation options at the resort town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Situated 80 miles northwest of Chicago, paintball, canopy zipline tours and laser tag facilities keep teens engaged. Youngsters of all ages enjoy the interactive baby animal petting zoo at Animal Gardens and The Dancing Horse Theatre, a showcase for performing horses. Kids 6 and younger swim and play free at the city’s Riviera Beach and older kids get a discount. A sandy beach, bath house and lifeguards make Riviera a family-friendly experience. Tennis, golf, bowling, boating, and fishing round out summer options, while sledding, sleigh rides and ice skating offer winter recreation. The entire family eats and learns with casual dining at the 1897 vintage Clausing Barn Cafe within Old World Wisconsin museum village in nearby Eagle. For overnights and play, Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark is the ticket, with structured recreation including arts and crafts, movies and other activities.
Capital City Adventures
- It’s no surprise that in the Land of Lincoln, a historic vacation experience appeals to families. A three-hour drive from Chicago, the Illinois state capital of Springfield celebrates the 16th president who called the city home. Overnighting at the President Abraham Lincoln DoubleTree Hilton hotel places visitors within walking distance of the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and Presidential Museum. Other Lincoln sites include the Old State Capitol building where Abe got his start in politics, and the reconstructed New Salem Village where he once lived and worked. For a 1950s retro dining experience, take the family to Cozy Dog Drive-In along Route 66. Try the dog on a stick, and shop for souvenirs commemorating the famed roadway.Spend family time with an Illinois road trip on Route 66.
- There are countless things to do for the whole family in Orlando, including visiting Disney World. The four main parks, the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, have rides and attractions for all ages. Each park has a different theme to it, and there is bound to be something everyone in the family will enjoy. There are also two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, that offer water slides for thrill seekers and water play areas for small children.
Also in Orlando is Universal Studios. It has two theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. Both parks have thrill rides and attractions. While there are also areas of both parks geared towards young children, checking the ride requirements before a trip to Universal is wise. Small children who scare easily might enjoy a more mild atmosphere such as the Magic Kingdom at Disney World.
In addition to large theme parks, there are many other things to do around Orlando. Old Town is a shopping area that boasts classic car cruise-ins, a classic Ferris wheel and various free events throughout the year. Gatorland has exhibits that will take visitors back to “old” Florida. They showcase alligators and crocodiles in their natural habitat. A trip to Gatorland wouldn’t be complete without seeing a gator wrestling show.
- With the cherry trees in bloom around the Tidal Basin, spring is one of the best times to visit Washington, D.C. The famous trees were a gift from Japan in 1912, and each year visitors across the nation visit in hopes the trees are in full bloom during their stay. In addition to admiring the beauty of the cherry blossoms, there is plenty to see and do in Washington, D.C.
Families can make an educational vacation a lot of fun by climbing aboard Capital River Cruises for an hour-long sightseeing cruise on the Potomac River. There are also various hop-on, hop-off narrated sightseeing tours, including the Tourmobile, Old Town Trolley and Open Top Sightseeing Tours. A trip to Washington, D.C., isn’t complete without stopping by some national monuments. The Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the White House are among some of the various must-see places in the city.
San Diego, California
- San Deigo has a lot to offer a family during spring break. In addition to beautiful beaches, it has a world-famous zoo. The San Diego Zoo boasts one of the largest collections of animal species in the world for visitors to enjoy, as well as guided bus tours, the Skyfari aerial tram and the Balboa Park miniature train ride.
There are numerous museums in Balboa Park. Sea World in San Diego is part amusement park, part aquarium and part outdoor marine zoo. Visitors can feed dolphins, see penguins at close range and have fun riding roller coasters.
Old Town San Diego State Park is surrounded by historic buildings that resemble California before 1848. Visitors can also enjoy shopping at Seaport Village with more than 50 unique shops. Families, especially children, will enjoy Legoland California theme park. The 128-acre theme park is constructed to look like it’s built with Lego blocks and offers live shows, a sea life aquarium and rides.
- Referred to as the “undiscovered gem of Tennessee” by The New York Times, Chattanooga, Tennessee, has a wide variety of budget-friendly activities. Spend a Sunday afternoon wandering through the Chattanooga Market, where vendors sell everything from farm-grown produce to handmade jewelry and paper goods. Visit the Tennessee Aquarium, located right along the bank of the Tennessee River, in downtown Chattanooga. The aquarium houses animals such as penguins, sharks, and coral reef fish. Visitors to Chattanooga also enjoy riding up the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway and spending some time at the beautiful Ruby Falls. In addition, Chattanooga is home to the well-known Chattanooga Choo Choo, a historic southern icon. Guests of the Choo Choo can spend their vacation in train cars that have been converted into hotel rooms.
- Savannah, Georgia, provides visitors with a taste of old southern history. Numerous historic homes and churches are in Savannah, including the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the first Catholic church established in Savannah by French immigrants in the 1800s. Visitors can also enjoy spending some time at the Tybee Island Lighthouse. The original lighthouse was built in 1736 at the mouth of the Savannah River, and was the tallest navigational structure in America at the time. Today, the lighthouse is kept as a museum in which guests an learn all about Tybee Island and the lighthouse’s history. Walking around downtown Savannah provides visitors with the opportunity to explore the many local boutiques and restaurants.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
- For those searching for an inexpensive beach getaway, the Gulf Shores area in Alabama is a perfect budget-friendly beach destination. Visitors can spend time lounging on the beach or participating in many fun, local activities. Affordable rental houses, condos, hotels and motels are available year-round within walking distance of the several miles of beach. Approximately 250 types of animals reside in the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, including tigers, alligators and exotic birds. Walk along the Gulf State Pier, the longest pier on the Gulf of Mexico, or spend an afternoon fishing off the pier. Other Gulf Shores activities and attractions include parasailing, golf and local amusement parks.
While draining her bank account into the gas tank of the family wagon, a mother of three hears the Clash on her car radio and ponders the question of the summer family vacation: Should we stay or should we go?
The answer, if she plans well and seeks bargains, is “Yes.”
Staycation Is All I Ever Wanted
A staycation involves resting and playing like it’s vacation without leaving town. Rising gas prices have made that a popular option.
Janin and Marc Spoor, worn out from the stress of work, realized they needed a break. But limited in both time and money, they started a tradition – staying at a nearby luxury resort for an overnighter.
“The best part of a staycation is you are already saving money on travel, so you can splurge on a really nice hotel,” said Janin Spoor, who found a reduced hotel rate. “We stayed at the Four Seasons. You spend on a luxury stay, which comes with its own perks, like yoga classes, indoor pool, kids club, free parking, free meals for kids, etc. It all depends on the hotel.”
She said the only thing missing from taking a “real” vacation was the travel hassle and long hours, but with two young daughters, that was a plus.
“We had a great time. We didn’t have to spend a long time in the car, so we weren’t tired when we got to the hotel. We headed straight to the indoor pool and started having fun right away,” Spoor said.
Once they were done splashing in the pool they took in the sights around the hotel. Although it was close to home, they had not explored the area before.
“It really felt like we were somewhere else,” she said, but with a new baby, being 20 minutes from home was a distinct advantage.
As it turned out, the hotel was more than prepared.
“It was great. The hotel brought up a crib, baby shampoo, diapers, wipes and a diaper pail,” Spoor said.
If a night at a luxury hotel is out of the budget, family moments can also be created in the back yard.
“My kids love to pitch a tent and sleep out there. It is a full-family project. We put up tiki torches and barbecue. We play Monopoly and then the kids tell spooky stories,” said Iris Duran, mother of three and an instructional technician at AdvancePath Academy. “We love it.”
It seems that parents often equate the cost of a vacation with the entertainment and educational value. But, as the Spoors and Durans have found, the kids just want to have fun.
“Since you won’t be spending money on airfare and hotel, splurge on fun,” said Jamie Pearson, publisher of the family travel website Travel Savvy Mom. “Rent an inflatable water slide, go to the theater or buy really good seats to a Major League Baseball game.”
Pay Attention, Not Dollars
Listening to what family members really want out of their vacations can yield better — and less expensive — results.
“One of our readers told us she felt like they needed to take their family on a cruise,” said Nancy Schretter, managing editor for the Family Travel Network. “When they sat down and talked as a family, they found out what the girls really wanted was going to the beach, collecting shells, seeing wildlife and having fun together. They ended up driving to nearby Chincoteague [Virginia] where they could stay at an inexpensive motel, collect shells on the beaches and see the wild ponies there. The kids loved it and it was one of their most memorable family vacations.”
If you plan to venture away from home this summer, a little research can help you stretch your budget.
“It’s no secret hotels offering kitchenettes or free breakfasts are great for families and can help save a bundle,” said Beth Blair, co-founder of the family travel website TheVacationGals.com. “They are like a travel goldmine for families.”
A destination’s convention and visitor’s bureau is also a good resource for bargains while a vacation rental home is another avenue to savings.
“Our family stayed in a three-bedroom rental home in a popular vacation area for $100 per night,” Schretter said. “The average resort rental rate in the area was $275 per night for one room.”
Money Can’t Buy Me Fun
Planning the family vacation is largely about extending the dollar, so look for promotional deals. Duran scours everything from soda cans to the Internet for interesting getaways.
“Sometimes the best family vacations are the least expensive,” said Duran, adding she’d rather relax than worry about money. “We go to free museums and pack picnic lunches, go rock hunting on mountain trails, go to the beach or go camping by the river.”
The Durans also look to save money on out-of-town trips by staying with family who live in interesting cities or have a swimming pool.
“Just staying somewhere different and getting to go swimming is fun for our kids,” Duran said.
Whether your family vacation involves the ocean, a luxury hotel or a blow-up pool in the back yard, the best way to keep your children smiling and your wallet fat is to plan ahead and be flexible.
In town or out, you will still make fun memories with your family this summer.
- The Appalachian Trail snakes through mountains, across vistas and along creeks, rivers and country roads from northern Georgia to central Maine. There are numerous roadside trailheads for accessing various points and short sections along the way, allowing you to hike and camp from a few days to several months. In the Northeastern U.S. sections of the trail in Massachusetts and Connecticut, the hiking difficulty is rated easy to moderate, while further north in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, it is somewhat more difficult. There are camping spots and shelters (lean-tos) along the trail for use free of charge, but are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
799 Washington St.
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425
Acadia National Park
- Acadia National Park, the first national park to be dedicated east of the Mississippi River, lies on the coast of Maine. In addition to spectacular scenery, visitors will find historic roads with stonework bridges crossing rivers and waterfalls, open for hiking and biking. Acadia offers two museums, open during the summer; ranger-led interpretive programs; children’s activities; and boat cruises. Acadia National Park, and two campgrounds for tents and RVs, are open year-round. As of 2010, there is a $20 per night fee for camping. There is a small fee charged to enter the park from May through October.
Acadia National Park
Route 233 McFarland Hill
Bar Harbor, ME 04609
- Unlike the larger, higher priced resorts, Sugarbush is an intimate resort with affordable lift tickets. The ski area boasts an average of over 250 inches of snowfall on 111 groomed trails, covering more than 50 miles, that are serviced by 16 lifts. As of 2010, Sugarbush offers a free week’s pass to children under 12 with the purchase of an adult seven-day pass. While Sugarbush Resort has its own full-service inn with restaurants, lodging can be somewhat expensive during the ski season, and especially over the holidays. Budget rooms (and reasonably priced meals) can be found in the surrounding cites and towns–if you book early and avoid peak times.
1840 Sugarbush Access Road
Warren, VT 05674
- Driving destinations are cost savers for a family vacation. South Dakota offers educational fun for a family on a budget. Hike in the Badlands and take in the striking views of the red and yellow buttes, pinnacles and spires.
Head west on I94 to see the man-made wonder of Mount Rushmore carved in the mountains of the Black Hills. Drive through Custer Park to see buffalo, and on the winding Needles Highway where tunnels cut through the rock are so narrow you have to honk your horn in warning before entering. Take a trip into the old West by visiting nearby Deadwood and the famous Wall Drug Store in Wall, S.D.
When choosing accommodations, skip Rapid City and stay in smaller towns closer to Mount Rushmore. Keystone and Hill City offer a variety of smaller hotels and motels with clean rooms at budget prices. Temperatures average 34 to 45 degrees in March and April.
- If sun and warm temperatures is what you seek during spring break, head south of the border to Riviera Maya, Mexico. Snorkel at the world’s second-largest barrier coral reef. Explore nearby Mayan ruins. See jaguars and toucans, or swim with dolphins at two different eco-parks.
Riviera Maya is about 18 miles south of the Cancun airport. Fly into Cancun and take a taxi or shuttle south. You will find a host of all-inclusive resorts that can accommodate a family budget.
- Spring break often overlaps cherry blossom time in Washington D.C. See the trees in bloom and the U.S. capitol building along with the White House and surrounding parks.
Many of the museums and attractions, including the National Zooand its famous giant pandas, have free admission, which can help keep vacation expenses in check. Consider the transportation system to and from Washington D.C. when making plans. Commuter trains reach out to Maryland and Virginia, where you can find hotelsat cheaper prices than those in the capital.
- Instead of spending your family vacation in a pricey, and often not particularly kid-friendly, hotel, explore the great outdoors. Camping trips are a highly economical vacation option, as you don’t have to pay a premium for lodging, and you can cook most of your meals on an open flame instead of buying them from an expensive restaurant. As you plan your next family vacation, explore the parks in your immediate area, looking for one that offers camping sites. Reserve one of these sites, outfit your family with some tents, pack up some cookware and food, and test your outdoor skills.
- Don’t allow yourself to get nickeled and dimed your entire vacation. Instead, select an all-inclusive option. Many resorts or cruise ships offer all-inclusive vacations. On an all-inclusive getaway, all of your needs, from accommodations to food costs and sometimes even activities, are rolled into the cost of your trip package. By selecting an all-inclusive getaway, you can know upfront exactly how much the trip is going to cost you, and budget accordingly.
- While some families feel that they can’t afford much more than a weekend getaway, week-long rentals often prove more affordable than you would think. Often, if you rent a cabin or condo for a week you receive a discounted rate on the lodging. Also, many of the places available for week-long rental have in-house cooking facilities, allowing you to craft your own family meals instead of buying food out. Select a week-long rental in an area that offers an assortment of cheap or free activities, such as the beach where children can frolic in the surf or a remote wilderness area where the family can explore the woods.
Tours of History
- Hitting the historical sites on your vacation is an easy, and low-cost, way to get your kids interested in history. To plan your history-themed trip, gather information on historical sites in your area or in neighboring states. Create a plan for hitting these major historical landmarks.
- Your choice of lodging affects the overall cost of your vacation no matter where you go. While some destinations are typically more expensive for hotel rooms, you can still get deals on your stay with a little planning. Travel during the off-season in the destination. For example, travelers are more likely to book a stay on a tropical island during the winter months to escape the cold. Visiting during the summer likely means lower rates.
Another option is to look beyond the typical hotel rooms for lodging. Try camping or renting a cabin near the destination. Check into vacation home rentals and split the cost with another family. Swapping homes is another option. HomeExchange.com and GoSwap.org are examples of sites that help you connect with other families who want to swap homes. You stay in the other family’s home in another destination for free while they stay in yours.
- The typical family destinations like Orlando typically cost more for everything from accommodations to entertainment and food. Instead of hitting major tourist destinations, try a less commercial area. A trip to a national park or other nature area gives the family a chance to get dirty while exploring the natural setting.
A farm stay is another affordable option that strays from the typical family vacation. Visitors stay on actual working farms while participating in farm life. The vacation accommodations and entertainment are wrapped into one cost for overall savings.
A local road trip allows you to explore your region without the costs of plane tickets. You can also make the trip shorter since you aren’t going as far from home. Pull out a map and look for cities or destinations that are within a day’s drive.
Board a train for a different approach to a family vacation. An Amtrak ticket is generally less expensive than a plane ticket, and the kids get the experience of crossing the countryside on a train. The trains offer sleeping cars if you plan a long trip.
- Take advantage of free activities in your destination. Check with the hotel, resort or campground where you’re staying to see if they offer free activities or tours. Look for tour companies in the area to explore their tour stops. Instead of paying for the tour, walk or drive around the city to see the spots on your own. Many cities offer discount tickets for attractions in the area. Look for racks of brochures and coupons in restaurants or shopping centers. You may also be able to buy discount cards or combination tickets for two or three local attractions at a reduced rate. If you vacation with other families, check out group discounts for various attractions.
- Plan your family trip in advance for the best savings options. You have longer to look for deals and plan your itinerary for greater savings. Packing your own snacks saves money no matter how you get to your destination. If possible, stay in a hotel room with a refrigerator so you can buy groceries for some of your meals. Carrying your own drinks also saves money since tourist destinations often inflate the cost of beverages.
- Research vacation options that offer plenty of teen-friendly options. Your teenager may act less resistant to the family vacation if she knows there are activities that will appeal or even cater specifically to her interests. Large family resort destinations often offer attractions and activities specifically for teens. For example, many of the Club Med Resorts, located all over the world, have a teen club space where teens can hang out on their own, dance or engage in games and other activities. Most major cruise lines also offer state-of-the-art areas for teens only that include a party or nightclub space, video game lounges, private sun decks and teen-friendly sport activities, such as wave simulators and rock climbing walls.
- Ask your teen for input on where to go. Taking your teen’s desires into consideration can make all the difference in his attitude toward the family vacation. You don’t have to do exactly what he wants, but if he really hates the cold and loves the beach, announcing a ski vacation isn’t likely to earn you any cool points. Once you have agreed upon a destination, encourage your teen to do some research on activities and restaurants in the area that might appeal to him so you can make time for it.
- Negotiate family time with your teen. Family time likely is not as important to your teen as it is to you, so compromise is the name of the game. Offer incentives for your teen to suck it up and at least try to have fun with her siblings. If your teen is willing to take the younger kids to the kiddie pool for a couple of hours, tell her she can stay up late at the resort’s teen club until it closes. If she agrees to go with the family on the “boring” sky tram cable car up a mountain, offer to go ziplining with her afterwards. Don’t be surprised if your teen actually starts to have fun engaging in family activities, however — even if she won’t admit it.
- Allow a friend to come along, if possible. Yes, it’s a family vacation, but if your teen is an only child, or your other kids are much younger, it can be tough for him to have fun without someone close to his age with similar interests. Have your teen choose a close friend whose parents you have a relationship with, and ask them well in advance so you can address logistics and any concerns they may have. You also want to factor the friend into the decision on where to vacation, as the additional person will add significantly to your budget. It may be best to invite friends along only for budget-friendly trips that are just a few hours away, unless the friend’s parents are willing to pay for their teen’s expenses.
- Despite security and schedule delays, flying by jet at over 500 miles per hour is the fastest way to get anywhere. Transoceanic journeys take hours instead of days and weeks.
- According to the Smithsonian Institute, air travel remains the safest form of travel. More people in the United States die from auto accidents in three months than have died in the entire history of commercial aviation.
- While seated in an airplane, you can use travel time to continue work: write letters, handle figures and process business information on a laptop.
- With the rising cost of fuel, passenger tickets have become increasingly expensive. Expect to pay from a couple of hundred to a few thousand dollars for a ticket. The price often depends on where you’re going and what class you fly.
- Getting on board the airplane requires waiting for the plane to arrive and for your baggage to appear. It also requires standing in lines to go through security, to check in and to board. This forces you to add hours to the beginning and end of your flight just to perform all the needed tasks.
- Crammed three-to-five in a section, economy class passengers endure several hours of immobility with seats that are too close and too narrow. They then need to cope with the constant droning of jet noise and the lack of consumables for a hungry belly.
Book Tickets on Air Asia
- Use Air Asia’s Web site to book your flight (see Resources below). The site is available in English and is very easy to use.
- Call 011 (+60) 3 86 60 43 43 to speak with an agent regarding a booking.
- Print your itinerary with the confirmation number. Have it handy for your flight. Air Asia is a ticketless airline.
- Go to an Air Asia’s walk-in sales station or office to purchase a ticket in person.
- Book flights on Air Asia when planning your Southeast Asian travel itinerary. Among its destinations are Bali, Hanoi, Bangkok, Phuket and Siem Reap. There are many flights departing from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. However, Phuket, can only be reached from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok and Singapore can only be reached from Bangkok.
Choose a Departure City Served by Air Asia
- Fly out of Malaysia to explore other parts of Southeast Asia. Other countries serviced by Air Asia include Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.
- Familiarize yourself with the destinations of departure cities. Although Air Asia services over 40 cities in 10 countries, only a few flights depart from most non-Malaysian cities.
Be Aware of Air Asia Policies
- Make any changes to your flight 48 hours before you’re scheduled to leave. You will pay a flight change fee and the fare difference.
- Forget about changing the destination of your flight; it can’t be done. You will have to book a separate flight without a refund.
- Check in at the counter 45 minutes to 2 hours before departure. You will not be compensated if you’re late.
- Make sure your baggage weighs no more than 33 lbs. to avoid a surcharge.