FLASH BACK FRIDAY
Travel Tips 101
Learn From The Pros
Welcome to Flashback Friday – Where we share previously published articles which were reader favorites. Hope you enjoy this Friday’s article, originally published in 2011.
Travel Tips 101 – Learn From The Pros
Many people really enjoy traveling independently. I count myself as one. I love the benefits and advantages of traveling on my own, avoiding the hassles and difficulties associated with group tour travel. But there is one thing for sure – independent travel means that you, not the tour operator and not the guide, are responsible for all the planning, logistics, and details. Now for me, the planning is a big part of the fun. But I admit, only up to a point. Planning becomes especially challenging when you are going to an unfamiliar location for the first time. How do you know what to see, where to stay, how long it takes to get from point A to point B? The list of such questions seems endless. You can get lots of information from the Internet of course, including travel sites like this one! Travel books are a great resource as well. But that type of information is not quite the same as “boots on the ground.” Fortunately, there is a way that the independent traveler can get some more local and practical information in advance of a trip to an alluring but unfamiliar locale. The answer? Make use of information made available by tour operators. Did I say look at tour information? Yes indeed. By examining the details of various tours to your chosen destination you can gain tons of basic, but very useful information. Information on tour websites will provide you with possible itineraries, the names of hotels, and points of interest. It’s all spelled out for you and additionally, with careful study, you can get a sense of the time needed to see various areas and to travel from one area to another. No need to “reinvent the wheel” – instead, use information provided by knowledgeable tour operators. Now I know there may be some who say, “whoa, hold on a minute there. That’s not fair to take advantage of the tour companies like that.” All I can say is, read on. I think by the end of the article you will see that this idea works for everyone. And besides, if you think about it for a minute, you can buy a travel guide book or you can look at and use information from the same guide book in the library. This is simply making use of information that is readily provided to the public by the tour operators. Yes, they would like you to take their tour. And sometimes you might. In fact, as you research information on a tour provider’s website you might actually decide to take their tour! (After all, that’s why they put all that alluring information out there.) I love to travel independently, but sometimes I go the tour route. Sort of reminds me of one of those old candy bar advertisements: “Sometimes you feel like a nut….sometimes you don’t.” Sometimes you might take the tour, sometimes you might just use some information. But please let me say, and I would like to be clear about one issue. I am not suggesting that you misuse a tour aoperator’s or travel agent’s time. I am not suggesting that you call and talk to tour operators at length to get additional information, taking up their time when you don’t plan to take a tour. Neither am I suggesting that you talk with a travel agent and pick their brains about ideas if you have no intention of using their services. I do think that would be unfair and inappropriate. I am saying – it’s helpful to use information that is already out there, available to the public as one way to research your own travel plans. Tour itineraries, plans, and logistical information can serve as a very nice starting point to get you up and running on your next trip. This approach can give you ideas about where to stay and about local sites. Using this type of publically available information you can discover ways to maximize the efficiency of your own trip. They can give you an idea about times required to move between cities or locations and various means of transportation that work effectively. I did this myself not so long ago on my first trip to Japan (which was GREAT by the way – the photo header on this site is from one of my favorite spots in Kyoto). For articles related to Japan you might enjoy JAPAN’S BULLET TRAIN – THE TRAVELER’S FRIEND and REASONS TO VISIT JAPAN – THE PEOPLE .
My original plan was to only travel to Tokyo and and then do some simple day trips from there. But after reading about various tours which used the high speed train system to get to all parts of Japan I began to expand my options. I ended up adding Kyoto and Hiroshima to my travel plans and it worked out wonderfully – using the bullet train system to speed around the country.
MONITOR YOUR HOME VIA THE INTERNET WHILE YOU TRAVEL!
Seeing detailed information about what is “doable” and how to do it can add to your own self confidence for your independent travel. It will help you to realize that you can actually do this trip independently and give you some neat and perhaps new ideas about how to do it. This tour tip heps you get started with you independent travel plans. You will still have to do some of the work yourself. I can’t really imagine an independent traveler actually following a tour’s plan in a lock step fashion. Heck, if you did that you’d loose many of the advantages of being an independent traveler. In some ways the independent traveler might use this information in a “reverse” manner. If you know what time tour buses show up at points of interest you can plan accordingly to be there when the tour buses are gone – thus perhaps avoiding all those large groups of people? But mostly, the way I see it, the tour itinerary is a basic framework that you can use. From there you can modify it according to your own schedule, finances, interests, etc. My point here is not that you would independently do the tour exactly as outlined by the tour company. My point is that tour information can give you a big jumpstart on your planning for your own independent travel adventure. It helps you lay the foundation of your plan – then you can focus on planning the more fun stuff – the enjoyable details. So, there you have it. A simple way to get started in planning and organizing your next outing to a new travel destination. Review the tours offered by various travel organizers. Who knows, if their materials do a great job of presenting their tour you just might decide to join them and sign up for the tour. If not, you will have some great basic information which will allow you to more quickly and confidently put your own individualized travel plans together. Either way is good. I’d love to hear from you on this. Have you ever used this approach? How did it work for you.
Use Travel Tips …… And Enjoy The Adventure!
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