It always pays to be a well informed traveler. This “how to” will help you research your travel destination.
Our desire to travel to a destination is often accompanied by a visual image; snow- capped mountain lodges or the bright lights of Las Vegas. Images all tell a story and awaken a longing to experience this for ourselves. A glossy travel brochure or National Geographic Magazine both provide me with a “fix” I can only describe as Swiss chocolate to a chocoholic!
Travel is costly and we all want a good deal, so make sure you do some homework when it comes to researching your next travel destination.
THINK THREE IMPORTANT WORDS: SHARE, RESEARCH,COMPARE.
SHARE. Consult your family, friends and colleagues about their travel experiences and recommendations.
RESEARCH. Technology has advanced so much in recent years and now many of us use it as a ﬁrst step in researching vacation ideas.
There are great resources available, so make sure you include some of the following:
• Airline sites where the cheapest fares are often available
• All-purpose travel sites for ﬂights, accommodation and a car rental: TripAdvisor, Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity
• Travel aggregation sites – Bing Travel and Booking Buddy
• Discount air fare sites – AirGorilla and BestFares
• Rail information for itineraries and booking
• Online maps – Google Maps for street views and images of your accommodation.
• Ofﬁcial Government websites (both national and inter- national)
• Social Media – Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp
• Blogs, forums and review sites
• Travel brochures – available from both travel agents and online
• Magazines – world-newspapers.com/travel.html
• Newspapers – nytimes.com/pages/travel
• Guide books – Lonely Planet, Bradt and Rough Guides for foreign travel
• Television travel shows
• Travel agents – If you don’t have the time to research and get confused by the enormous amount of options available, give your business to a trusted travel agent. Yes, they are nearly extinct within the United States, but still account for one-third of the travel market!
Using a knowledgeable travel agent will save you time and the hassle of searching for the best deal and often this will not cost you any more. Travel agents are invaluable when it comes to complex overseas leisure travel and also to ﬁrst time travelers who are testing the waters. Make sure the travel agent is a member of ASTA.
I have an extensive “bucket list” and usually start my research 6 to 12 months in advance, as I am on the lookout for great deals. Travel agents email notifications are invaluable when it comes to early bird bookings and last minute deals, but also general information about travel destinations.
I do an enormous amount of research on the internet, but then use a travel agent to book my overseas ﬂights and expensive tours. I have seen enough situations in foreign countries where tourists have been left stranded when tour companies or air- lines go bust, or there is unsatisfactory internet connection to book ﬂights to get home in a hurry. A good travel agent has “manned” phones 24/7 and you are able to ring toll free.
COMPARE. Now more than ever, consumers expect more for their hard earned cash. I would always suggest you cross- check the information you have found, compare prices and quotes and read the ﬁne print. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Take the time to do your homework and check out the travel agents – a good travel agent is someone who had traveled extensively, knows their product and can get you home in a hurry, especially when the internet drops out!