Category Archives: travel
Traveling isn’t just about seeing the sights of a new place, it’s also about enjoying yourself and getting a break from the stresses of your everyday life. Here’s a tip to get the most out of your vacation: get a massage along the way.
Not just for pampering, massages can help ease the pain of a wide variety of ailments. While it doesn’t work the same for everyone, many people who suffer from headaches, insomnia, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and a host of other ailments have found relief through massage. This is especially good news for travelers, as the stress of getting to your destination can often lead to needing a vacation from your vacation!
Without going into a lot of details, there are four basic types of massage: Swedish, which uses long strokes and kneading to relax you, Deep Massage which uses more forceful movements to reach the deep muscles and connective tissues, Sports Massage which is designed specifically to treat or prevent sports injuries, and Trigger Point Massage which is used to treat areas that have been injured or overused.
Besides reducing pain and muscle tension, massage also reduces stress. This is the key reason doctors are beginning to include massage in treatment plans as an alternative medicine, since we can all use a little less stress in our lives.
If you’re picturing a towel-draped form like you see on TV, be relieved to know you don’t need to strip down to the buff in order to get a massage. You can remove only the clothing you feel comfortable with, or wear loose clothing and not remove any. Whatever you’re comfortable with is the key, as your masseuse won’t want you tensing up just thinking about being touched!
Before you begin, don’t be afraid to ask for the credentials of your masseuse. Most states require licensing, and it’s your right to know the person about to treat you knows what they’re doing. As you begin the treatment don’t be afraid to speak up if something hurts or makes you uncomfortable. The whole idea of getting a massage is to make you feel better, not worse!
1. Check the latest travel advice and subscribe to receive free email notifications each time the advice for your destination is updated.
2. Take out comprehensive travel insurance and ensure it covers you for the places you plan to visit and the things you plan to do.
3. Before travelling overseas register your travel and contact details online so we can contact you in case of an emergency.
4. Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. Carry extra passport photos in case your passport is lost or stolen and you need to replace it while you’re away.
5. Check with health professionals for information on recommended vaccinations and other health precautions. Remember that vaccinations can be an entry requirement for some countries. Also find out about taking medication overseas – certain medicines aren’t allowed in some countries.
6. Make sure that you have the right visas for the countries you are visiting or transiting and check any other entry or exit requirements.
7. Check to see if you’re regarded as a national of the country you plan to visit, and whether dual nationality will have any implications for your travel plans.
8. Make copies of your passport details, insurance policy, travellers cheques, visas and credit card numbers. Carry one copy in a separate place to the originals and leave a copy with someone at home.
9. Obey the laws of the country you’re visiting even if these seem harsh or unfair by Australian standards. Don’t expect to be treated differently from the locals just because you’re Australian.
10. Keep in contact with friends and family back home and give them a copy of your itinerary so they know where you are.
- In the mid 1800s, Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell established that light is a form of electromagnetic energy that travels in waves. The question of how it manages to do so in the absence of a medium is explained by the nature of electromagnetic vibrations. When a charged particle vibrates, it produces an electrical vibration that automatically induces a magnetic one — physicists often visualize these vibrations occurring in perpendicular planes. The paired oscillations propagate outward from the source; no medium, except for the electromagnetic field that permeates the universe, is required to conduct them.
A Ray of Light
- When an electromagnetic source generates light, the light travels outward as a series of concentric spheres spaced in accordance with the vibration of the source. Light always takes the shortest path between a source and destination. A line drawn from the source to the destination, perpendicular to the wave-fronts, is called a ray. Far from the source, spherical wave fronts degenerate into a series of parallel lines moving in the direction of the ray. Their spacing defines the wavelength of the light, and the number of such lines that pass a given point in a given unit of time defines the frequency.
The Speed of Light
- The frequency with which a light source vibrates determines the frequency — and wavelength — of the resultant radiation. This directly affects the energy of the wave packet — or burst of waves moving as a unit — according to a relationship established by physicist Max Planck in the early 1900s. If the light is visible, the frequency of vibration determines color. The speed of light is unaffected by vibrational frequency, however. In a vacuum, it is always 299,792 kilometers per second (186, 282 miles per second), a value denoted by the letter “c.” According to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, nothing in the universe travels faster than this.
Refraction and Rainbows
- Light travels slower in a medium than it does in a vacuum, and the speed is proportional to the density of the medium. This speed variation causes light to bend at the interface of two media — a phenomenon called refraction. The angle at which it bends depends on the densities of the two media and the wavelength of the incident light. When light incident on a transparent medium is composed of wave fronts of different wavelengths, each wave front bends at a different angle, and the result is a rainbow.
Practice Personal Safety
- Consider learning basic self-defense. For instance, by striking the eyes, nose, throat, groin or knees, you can disable an assailant.
- Research your destination so you’ll know what to expect in terms of attitudes toward foreigners and, if you’re female, women.
- Request a room that isn’t on the ground floor, which can offer easy access through a window.
- Avoid opening your door to people who are unknown to you or who do not identify themselves.
- Become familiar with the people at your hotel’s reception desk, and inform them of your comings and goings. Give them emergency numbers of family or friends.
- Get to know the area where you’ll be staying, and trust your intuition; avoid places that look risky.
- Dress like a local resident, or at least try to look inconspicuous in your dress and behavior.
- Walk with confidence. If you’re feeling nervous, seek out a fellow traveler as a temporary companion or stay close to another pedestrian so that you don’t appear to be alone.
- Stay sober, or at least know your limits when drinking.
Get Comfortable on Your Own
- Follow some of the routines you have at home: Drink a cup of coffee in the morning, take an afternoon jog, visit the market in the evening.
- Create a temporary home, if you are staying more than a couple of days, by decorating your room with familiar objects, such as pictures, candles and flowers.
- Go to a restaurant and bring a book, journal or materials for writing letters. You might also bring a guidebook or map to help plan the next part of your trip.
- Become a regular: Visit one shop consistently or have breakfast at the same café each morning, and get to know the people who work there. They can give you helpful advice about the area and, when you need it, provide assistance, which can be especially important in an emergency.
- Meet other travelers through classes or tour groups. They can share travel tips with you and even become temporary travel companions.
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.
- Purchase a travel trailer that will be big enough to live in. Ideally, you would want a trailer that’s at least 21 feet long, especially if there will be two or more people in the trailer. The trailer can be new or used, but be sure to have it thoroughly inspected.
- Search for land to purchase and park the trailer on if you plan to keep the trailer stationary. If you intend to travel with your trailer check out campgrounds where you can park for a night or up to a week or more.
- Cook meals on a propane stove as this is the cheapest, easiest and most portable way of cooking in a travel trailer. A propane stove can have up to four burners and doesn’t take up much room. A two-burner is probably all you will need.
- Store perishable foods in a propane refrigerator. This will keep your food from spoiling and can provide cold drinks and ice as well. Nonperishable foods can be stored in cupboards or plastic storage bins. An added benefit of keeping foods like flour, rice, beans, and pasta in storage bins is that it will stay fresher longer and bugs won’t get into it.
- Using the restroom will be easier if you have a toilet with holding tank in the trailer. Alternately, you can build an outhouse, though this isn’t nearly as comfortable, especially during the winter and in the middle of the night. Campgrounds usually have public restrooms.
- Taking a shower in the trailer is most comfortable, so try to get a trailer that has one installed. Campgrounds usually provide public showers if your trailer doesn’t have one, though if you plan to live in your trailer full time, especially on your own property, you’ll want a trailer with a shower.
- Wash dishes and hand wash clothes in the sink of your trailer if it has a water system with storage tank. If your trailer is lacking in water, you may want to buy disposable plates, cups and silverware, and wash clothes at a laundromat.
- Store items not in use to avoid clutter and keep the trailer as neat as possible. It’s easy to feel claustrophobic if items are left out or you accumulate too many things. Out-of-season clothes can be stored in plastic storage bins and placed in a closet or up on a shelf. The storage bin will keep clothes from getting dirty or mildewed.
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.
- DELETE THE PRESENT. When traveling back in time, it’s very important to eliminate any evidence of the present. The place you choose must be historically pristine. No modern technology. No current fashions or hairstyles. Nothing out of place chronologically. The more a place looks like it did when it was, the better you’ll be able to time travel to it.
- VISIT ETERNAL PLACES. You can easily travel back millions of years if you do it in geological time. Visit such epic sites as the Grand Canyon, where you can actually see the eons layer by layer. Count the rings on the trees in the great redwood stands of the Pacific northwest. Venture into a cool cave in Luray Caverns in Virginia or Kartchner Caverns in Arizona. Visit a retreating glacier or see the effects of one when you visit the Great Lakes.
- “THE PAST IS A PLACE” — GO THERE. Some places where people lived centuries ago remain virtually unchanged. So strong is the historical pull of these places that you can be instantly transported back in time just by being there.
One of these places I really love is Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill in Kentucky. This former Shaker community is preserved the way it was in the early nineteenth century without any hokey tourist touches. One of the best things about this place is that every night they close the gates to the outside world. No one is left inside except those who’ve arranged ahead of time to stay. You sleep in one of the Shaker dormitories (men and women were celibate and slept separately), eat in the communal dining hall and roam the green commons to your heart’s content. If you manage to avoid other visitors — and that’s easy to do, since only a few stay over — you can easily travel back in time and visualize the community the way it was more than 100 years ago.
If you want to travel back to the days when buffalo roamed free in the Wild West, you can’t do better than to visit Custer State Park in South Dakota. You’ll see bison herds on the open range. With no references to the present to distract you, it’s easy to travel back to the time before the railroad came and the bison were virtually exterminated.
One of the most evocative places I’ve ever time traveled to is Bodie, California. Situated just east of the Sierra Nevadas, Bodie was a booming mining town in the late 1800’s. Now it’s a ghost town that’s been left in a state of “arrested decay.” One of the things that makes Bodie such a special place is the fact that so much is still there. Dishes remain on kitchen tables, coffins are on display at the mortuary, and mail still waits to be picked up in post office boxes. The town appears to have been frozen in time, just waiting for its residents to return. Bodie is in a very remote area — don’t even think about visiting it in the winter — but it’s a must-see for the serious time traveler.
See “Resources” below for more ideas.
- STAY IN HISTORIC HOMES. I get chills just thinking about the Stephen Daniels House in Salem, Massachusetts. Built in 1667, the Daniels house is actually older than The House of the Seven Gables, which is in the same town. The big difference is that you can stay overnight in the Stephen Daniels House, which we did. The age of the house, its authenticity in every detail, and the fact that it’s in the town famous for the witch trials of 1692, made it an especially evocative trip to the past.
Try the Monroe Method of Astro Travel
- Find a quiet place for your astro travel, preferably a place in which you will not be disturbed. You may need something to keep your body warm, like a comforter.
- Be sure that your clothing is comfortable. You may want to take off your glasses, if you wear them, and shoes.
- Sit in a comfortable chair or lie down.
- Relax. Mentally check your body for tense areas and consciously release the tension. Inhale and exhale slowly to help your body relax.
- Try to reach a sleepy state, also called the hypnogogic state. One way to do this is to focus on an image, like a flickering candle flame. If other images begin to appear in your mind then you are in a hypnogogic state.
- Take this state to a deeper level called “condition B.” Observe the space in front of your closed eyelids. You may suddenly see light patterns. When they disappear you are in condition B.
- Deepen condition B to “condition C.” In condition C, you lose awareness of your body and any sensory stimulation.
- Experience a state of vibrations. With a deeper experience of condition C, you will get to “condition D” in which your body begins to tingle then vibrate. This is a sign that you are ready to astro travel.
- Practice releasing a part of your etheric body, like your hand. While focusing on leaving your body, lift your etheric hand towards a close object and push it through. Return your etheric hand to your physical hand.
- Separate your etheric body from your physical body. You can try to “lift out” of your body by imagining yourself getting lighter, or you can “roll out,” as if rolling out of bed. When you find yourself out of your physical body, you can move around by just thinking about where you want to go.
- Learn more about astro travel by reading “Mastering Astral Projection: 90-day Guide to Out-Of-Body Experience” by Robert Bruce (see Resources below).
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.
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.
- Create your travel itinerary. Determine the dates and time you’d like to leave London by train for France. Also, decide what your final destination city will be to determine whether or not you need to catch a connecting train. Once you have your itinerary planned you can move on to booking your trip.
- Decide what seat is right for you. Eurostar has three classes, ranked highest to lowest in cost: Business First Class, Leisure First Class, and Standard Class. All seats on Eurostar must be booked in advance to secure a reservation. Both types of first class seats are identical and offer meals and beverages with the main difference being ticket flexibility. Standard Class is more affordable, but does not provide meals or beverages. You can request your exact seat, based on availability, by viewing the seating plan on the Eurostar website.
- Book your trip on the Eurostar from London to Lille or Paris, France. The easiest and cheapest way to buy tickets is online at the Eurostar website. Your tickets can be printed off of your PC or you can pick them up at the station before your departure. Tickets can only be mailed to a United Kingdom, French or Belgian address. You can also book by calling Eurostar directly where you can speak to a travel representative. The Eurostar telephone number can be found on its website. Tickets can booked up to four months prior to departure.
- Book your trip from Lille or Paris to your next location, if needed. If you are going beyond Paris or Lille, it is easiest to buy your tickets in advance from Rail Europe. Type in your departure and arrival location with your requested dates and a list of options will appear. Tickets will be mailed to you or you can print them in the form of an E-ticket. You can also have a Rail Europe agent help you by calling the toll free number provided on its website. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can also purchase tickets the day of your travel. However, seating availability is not guaranteed. If it’s imperative that you catch a specific train, it is always recommended to book a reservation in advance.
Working from home is becoming more popular in the Internet age. One business that can be run from a home office is a travel agency. Only relatively simple pieces of equipment such as a computer and a telephone are needed. While travel agents are no longer licensed, many states do require travel agents to be registered and some also require them to pay bonds or satisfy other conditions. Even in states that do not require registration, airlines, hotels and other vendors may refuse to do business with unregistered agents.
- 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.