Tag Archives: travel planning

Get ready for your vacation

I know it’s winter outside, but it’s right time to start planning for summer activities. If you’ve been wondering about discovering new destinations in your continent or even overseas then now its last time to start preparations. What is the best vacation destination that comes on your mind? What are the things you want to do during vacation – explore new destinations, learn foreign  language or improve your cooking skills?

In creating a dream vacation you can rely on Internet for sure – check on ‘hot’ or popular destinations, book hotels, arrange transportation, make a ticket reservation for some special event, ect. At first we choose destination – a city, a country or even the region. Then we need to decide how much time we’d like to spend there. And of course, important question is finances – how much money‘ we’ would like to spend.

Finding an activity that is perfect for your vacation is just the beginning of the fun. Then comes actual travel planning process – transportation, hotels, attractions to visit, places to see. If going overseas – booking airline tickets 5-6 months ahead is the one of the steps to find best prices for the trip. I know many people rely on ‘last minute’ deals as an opportunity to get good price, but it is not always so. Sometimes you might be lucky to find great ‘last minute’ deal, but often that price is very close to booking price, if made good time in advance. What comes to hotels, many hotels offer special discount for advance bookings.

Dont forget about visas and vaccinations.  Check the terms and regulation for each country you want to go. What comes to the European countries ( or Schengen Area) as long as you are staying less that 3 month in particular country – no special visa is required. In some countries you can buy visa right before entering in some, you need to get it in advance. If your choice is some exotic destination, there might be visa application process by mail.

And then there is one more thing I’d like to mention – a language.  In Europe almost every country has a local language. In big cities there are a lot of people who speak English. In smaller towns it is more difficult to find someone who speaks any foreign language. Some basic words and sentences  from phrase book will be very useful. Invest in good guide-book – besides maps, description of the destination and best attraction, they often have a chapter with essential phrases.

If you wish visiting foreign country for longer period of time some basic local language skills are essential. In this case now it’s right time to take some language course. Spanish, French or German are most popular foreign languages people learn. But if you are interested in visiting eastern Europe – knowledge of Russian language will be more useful. Have you heard about language travel? Think about doing two things at same time – learn foreign language and spend two weeks or even whole summer in destination of your dreams. This is one of the best ways to have quality vacation – learn something new & exploring destination a little bit like locals do.

As I said before – winter soon will be over. Take a moment to think about summer. What are the best things you wanna do during the vacation? Go ahead & see the options!

Travel ‘Jet Lag’ – best ways to handle it.

Traveling long distances comes with some excitement and new experiences. But there is something else that you have to deal with. While sun is shining bright your body still thinks that at home where it’s middle of night or early morning. Experienced travelers use the term ‘jet lag’ for this feeling. Mostly people feel exhausted in first days after arriving at far-away destinations.

In times when people where traveling more by car, train or even a horse, going to far away places took at least few days or even weeks. Human bodies had time to adapt to new conditions. Now we use air carriers a lot from getting place to place. It takes around 4 hours to go across the Europe; 7-8 hours from central Europe to US east cost or around 15 hours to far East countries. We cross different time zones without paying much attention to it.

Our bodies normally live in a 24-hour rhythm. While we sleep, the heart and breathing rates slow, the blood pressure drops, muscles relax and the mental and psychomotoric efficiency declines significantly. A rapid change to another location in another time zone disturbs phases in the human daily rhythm. Mainly we feel it as an interruption of usual cycles of sleeping and being awake.

Tiredness and slowed reactions combined with memory and concentration problems are the most frequent results. People can also suffer from headaches and a sense of nausea due to the interruption of their normal sleeping time. Therefore don’t plan a lot of physical activities in first two days after arrival.

Jet lag is more marked after an Eastbound flight than a Westbound one. The reason for this is that the human “inner clock” tends towards a rhythm of more than 24 hours. So if you fly from East to West (such as from Germany to the USA), the day is longer – which tends to suit the biological rhythm. Though is is kind of hard to stay awake for more than 20 hours. The human body adjusts to the new time zone about 20 percent faster than after an Eastbound flight (such as from France to Thailand), because flying East means ‘loosing’ several hours.

But from my personal experience I would say that going from Northern Europe to USA cases me more effects that coming back to Europe. Mostly it happens that in first day I would wake up at 4am and the add 30min every next day. So all the 7am clases at the seminars are ‘mine’ (which I wouldn’t do at home). But after a week in States I’m fine 🙂 Few times I’ve had headaches next morning after arrival.

More of travel cased fatigue you will feel if there are no direct flights and you need to take an additional segment before trans-continental flight. Therefore check the times, how long stop-overs are how much time you have. In European Airports 40min – 1hour is  good connection with no rush if you stay in transit area.

When planning a trip, pay attention to departure – arrival times. After several trips overseas now I prefer to pick the flights with arrival times at US destinations around 7pm. Well, since I live in a city with no direct overseas flights, I need to take an additional segment to Scandinavia or Germany in the morning. Total travel time is around 9 hours with some short stop-over. Few days before the trip I go to bed later than usual to get closer to new daily rhythm. No sleep during the flight (two meals, some moving around & in-flight movies help a lot to stay awake) but can go to sleep short after arrival.

When traveling from USA to Europe my suggestion would be to pick evening departures for transcontinental flights because your ‘inner clock’ will make you sleep during the flight and you’ll arrive at new destination in the morning. It’s easy to stay awake while daylight & if you move around more or less then there is no problem to ‘survive’ till evening. For this reason I never had any problems with sleep after eastbound flights. Of course airplane is not the best place for sleeping but it’s still better than stay up for 20 hours and arrive at European destination at 3am.

Hot Travel Destinations in 2011

Have you been wondering how one or other place suddenly become ‘hot destination’? I was but never got more or less reasonable answer. What comes to the nature – there are so many nice & beautiful places in the world. Almost every big city in Europe has some  great architecture and historical sites…

What are the reasons besides the regular travel destinations like New York, Paris or Rome suddenly Prague or Stockholm became popular? It is kind of funny but many people discovered Prague after ‘Mission Impossible’ with Tom Cruise was released or seeing ‘Lords of the Rings’ made many people wonder about New Zealand. The power of images is great and often films are the ones that makes us want to pack and head out to world.

But if  we look at the most popular destinations during last few years, Las Vegas, Cancun and Hawaii remained constants on the ten most popular domestic and international destination. Whether planning for Spring Break or looking ahead to finding the perfect location for your summer vacation, think of Las Vegas as a popular destination filled with great hotel and nightclub experience; Cancun – a place with pristine beaches and varied entertainment; Hawaii has been great vacation destination already but with Aulani Disney Resort opening in August 29 will make it magical destination for all ages.

Last year Stockholm got a lot of attention because of royal wedding. But  this year much more visitors will head to London at the end of April. Prince William and Kate Middleton are to marry at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011. In Britain it will be 4 days of public holidays and big celebrations. Guess how many people from around the world already have booked the tickets to London?

Another hot destination of year 2011 is going to be Australia. Why Australia?  Because Oprah did announce, “We’re going to Australia!” on seasons premiere in September, 2010. Since then this destination has been on the radar of media and travelers for sure. With all the media attention and a $5 million marketing campaign launched by Tourism Australia more and more people will think about going ‘down under’.

P.S. Travelers – get ready for Russia in 2014! Russia is working hard to make winter Olympic Games in Sochi event of the year.

Busiest Times for Traveling

According the Orbitz, one of the biggest online travel company, there are 5 weeks in a year with a lot of traveling going on:

  1. Christmas Week  (Dec. 19 –  25)
  2. First Week of August (Aug. 1 –  7)
  3. Forth Week of June, (June 20 – 26)
  4. Third Week of June, (June 13 – 19)
  5. Third Week of March, (Mar. 14 – 20)

Interesting, while Thanksgiving Week (Nov. 21 – 27) did not make the top 5 list at Orbitz.com bookings, November 24 (Wednesday before Thanksgiving) was the single-busiest travel day of the year. Here comes the advice you can read in any travel planning resource – try to book you travel any other day but this…

What comes to other  busy travel days to watch out are Friday before Labor Day, September 3 and Friday before Fourth of July, July 2.

Busiest travel weeks and individual days were determined by total air bookings (domestic and international) made on Orbitz.com from Jan 1 till Dec 31, 2010.  Though Orbitz.com is big US travel booking resource, the tendencies this are similar everywhere – time around public holidays & school holidays and breaks are busy travel time.

There is no big surprise that honour of busiest air travel week goes to Christmas Week – many people are going home to visit family &relatives or using time between Christmas and New Year as a short vacation. But there is one more reason that increases the number of travelers. Many hotels & ski resorts have lower rates in November – mid December and now people who been using ‘low season’ offers are returning home as well.

In conclusion I’d say like that – if above mentioned weeks are the only option for you to travel, make all the bookings good time in advance. If  you are more flexible in travel times, book your trip any other time to get better price and travel less crowded airports.

Budget Travel Resolutions for 2011

Time before New Year is the one when people are thinking about the good things they intend to do next year. If you like traveling, then there are few resolutions you should consider. If you are already doing some of this then take it as a reminder of  things for budget friendly traveling in 20011.

1.- Plan your trip and book transportation, hotel in advance.

This will save you a lot of money, if you’ll make flight reservation 5-6 months in advance. Think about possible travel options  and do a little online reasearch.  You’ll see that there are many great deals right now to choose for next summer traveling. Same applies for hotels.  Few days ago I was checking hotel prices in Paris for June and actually few budget friendly  accommodations with good location were already fully booked.

I know many people will say that last-minute deals are better. Well yes – they are better if to compare with prices 2-3 month in advance because airlines/hotels try to sell out last empty places. But if to compare those prices with the ones that are booked 5-7 month in advance, then they don’t seem so great any more.

2.- Sign up for Twitter and Facebook!

Are you familiar with these social media networks? Many travel related companies – airlines, hotels, attractions are often posting special offers and rates to their fans and followers. Sign up for an account and follow the brands you might be interested.

3.- Avoid unnecessary hotel add-on fees!

When booking a hotel read all the small print what comes with the great deals – resort fee, breakfast bill, parking fee. Besides – before using ‘room service‘ or ‘local phone calls’ check the price for these services.  Be aware of the prices of in-room mini-bars. many of them are with sensors for removed items and $5 mini-candy bar will be added to your bill.

4. – Practice light traveling.

10 day vacation doesn’t require 4 bags per person. Lately many airlines practice baggage fee for checked-in items.  Actually there are charges for over-weight luggage as well.  They are not dramatic but count how many times you will need to pay for transportation/ storage per piece and count.

It is allowed to take on board 2 pieces of carry-on luggage – a bag and a purse or laptop case. If traveling doesn’t take more that a week then with this amount of luggage you should be fine. Just think of the items that are really necessary and which ones you maybe will need ‘what if… happens’. Read more at travel packing advice.

5. – Look for hotels with complimentary breakfast and free wireless Internet included.

Dont expect that every hotel will provide these services. even if the room price seems great, count how much it will cost if you will have to pay additional $10 up t $20 per breakfast every day and $3 to $5 per hour for internet access.

Travel planning for 2011

Time around Christmas and New Year’s Eve is the time when people think about their plans. Very popular subject is New Year’s resolutions. Well, I would say – it’s kind of setting a plan for the things we wish. Sometimes people just think  – it would be nice if I … but if you really mean it, then you need a plan to reach a goal.

But to make new plans we need to be clear about things that we have already implemented from previous ones. Do you remember what were your resolution for 2010?

What are the things you have already achieved? …hmm… feels good to say – I did it!

What are the things you decided to skip? Why? It turned out to be unrealistic or you changed your mind?

What are the things you havent done? Why? –Will you take it to the next years resolutions or leave behind?

From there we can go to next years resolutions. First of all – they have to be REALISTIC. If I dream to go to Australia I will not put it in next years plans because this trip is time-consuming (in my understanding at least 2 weeks) and is kind of expensive.  But what I can do right now is set aside certain amount of money each month for this trip.

The best way is to put everything on paper. When you’ll see ‘the picture’ and actual numbers it will be easier to make a decision. In order to prepare for the possible trip, there are few basic questions to ask for planning a vacation/ trip:

WHAT you would like to do? ->  Trip to Europe

WHEN ? -> actually right now is the perfect time to decide when you need vacation weeks off.

WHAT TO DO ?-> sightseeing <-> relax <-> adventure <->event

BUDGET needed ? -> flight, hotel,  meals,  sightseeing, car rental fees.

If you will set all that on paper, then you can easily see can you afford that or no.  Any resolutions set on paper become a goal. Any goal with ‘road map’ is already a plan. And plans are achievable. If not in short-term (next 3 month) than in long-term (in 2-3 years) definitely it is possible to do.

Lately economic downtime is effecting almost everyone. Just because there are less money you don’t need to give up with your dreams. Look for opportunities that come in your way. And do more planning for your trips.

Actually you could take an advantage of economic downtime. Prices are down – hotels are cheaper, there are more special event prices, “sales”. Two simple things that might lower your travel expenses – choose less perfect flight time or instead of  hotel accommodation rent a cottage together with friends.

If you are willing to  travel Europe on budget there are many money saving  ideas you can apply. But before you start your trip check out basic cost of all travel expences to/at particular destination.