Details About Working With an Online Travel Agency

When you are looking to book your next vacation or your next business trip, you may be considering using an online travel agency. Before you decide to do so, however, you should be aware of what to expect from an online travel agency so you can determine how best to match that to your own unique needs. There are several different levels of service in which to classify online travel agencies, the level you need depends on your trip requirements as well as your personal travel and leisure preferences or desires.

Quite simply, you should be able to find an online travel agency that can fulfill any expectation you may have. Whether you prefer self-service travel plans where you do all of your own searching and booking, or a full-service online agency that handles every detail on your behalf, there are many options available. Depending on the type of travel you will be undertaking, there are also various options that you can consider among online travel agencies. Some specialize only in travel packages, while others offer a la carte menus of travel services for you to pick and choose.

There are several expectations, however, that are universal to all online travel agencies. These have to do with the minimum level of service provided and the quality and competitiveness of the types of travel being sold. It is best to qualify the online travel agency on all of these expectations before you choose to enter into partnership with them for the travel you are seeking to plan.

The first universal expectation that you should have for your online travel agency is having a variety of destinations and packages available to choose from. It does not matter what specialty the agency might have, from full-service travel to niche travel such as cruises or unusual destinations. No matter what is being sold, you always want to partner with an agency that provides options. While the first option you see may very well end up being the best choice or the best value, you will have no means of determining that unless other options are available for comparison. Good self-service travel sites will readily offer you comparison information. Full-service online travel agencies should compile that same information and present it to you when you are in the process of making a decision.

The second universal expectation you should have when using an online travel agency is that they offer the same basic types of vacations from more than one carrier or provider. For example, you can choose between two major airlines for the same New York-to-Miami flight leg of your trip. If an online travel agency represents only one brand, they are not truly a travel agency; instead, they are a representative of that brand. If only one brand were offered, customers would have no means of evaluating whether the services and products offered were of value or were worthless. Having a number of providers to choose from when selecting hotel or airfare or cruise line shows that the travel agency is actively updating its site with the best prices and options currently available.

The third universal expectation that you should have for your online travel agency is price competitiveness. Although travel agencies sometimes charge fees to travelers in order to off-set their cost of doing business, those fees must be fair. The charges for the actual travel services you see published through online travel agencies should be no more than what you would pay if you went directly through the provider, and, in fact, less if bundled with other services.

The final universal expectation that you should have for your online travel agency is a service-level guarantee that ensures you get what you pay for and are treated in a courteous and appropriate manner. Online travel agencies should also offer some form of a guarantee for your purchases that no foreseeable action on their part or the part of the service provider will interrupt your travel. They cannot warrant against freak or random occurrences, but they can ensure that their own offerings are solid before offered.

Perhaps the best thing about using an online agency is the availability of customer reviews and feedback you can read before making a final purchase. Another nice convenience, for repeat customers, is the ability to create your own customer profile that allows you to save certain options in your preferences that will streamline future vacation planning. You can save time and hassle by storing any corporate or membership discount numbers, frequent flyer numbers and other pertinent information on your customer profile.

The expectations you hold for the online travel agency you select as a partner may be varied. If they can uphold these four basic standards of quality, you can be assured that you are getting sound representation and the best deals available.

Tips For A Smooth And Convenient Bus Charter Experience

A bus charter is a bus that has a professional driver to handle tours, trips, and other transportation needs. A bus charter can be one of the best choices you make when going for a group tour to a preferred destination. With transport from one attraction to another, you will have all the time to enjoy everything in your itinerary without worries. With a professional driver on board, you can relax and enjoy and even take better care of any children you may be taking with you for the trip. A bus charter also translates into no directions challenges because the drivers are conversant with their locations and all tour sites and routes.

Considering that bus charter are many in any given destination, you need to play your role in selecting one. You may need to start by choosing a company that you can trust with your traveling needs and then make a few considerations to select the perfect bus to hire for your tour.

Get details about the driver. A professional driver is definitely a plus for your tour but you should not assume that they know everything about the sites you intend to visit; they may only know how to get there and nothing more. If need be, consider getting a tour guide to handle your other needs in case the driver is not available for such. It helps to be sure beforehand to avoid disappointments.

Consider the size of the bus. A bus charter can be as large as to accommodate 60 passengers but there are definitely smaller sizes. The higher the passenger capacity the higher the rental rates may be. Look at the size options and select a bus that caters to your group for the tour. Everyone should be comfortable including children in the group so select a good size for everyone.

Check out the amenities included. When searching for the bus charter online, you will get very good photos of the buses. To ensure that you get what you see and need, confirm that the bus you have selected is represented perfectly. For instance, confirm that the leather reclining seats you see are the actual seats you get to enjoy. Apart from confirming the features, also consider the availability of amenities such as compact restroom, DVD player, air conditioning, TV monitors and any other that matters to you. If you want internet connectivity during the tour then inquire if that is available.

Ask about allowed driving length. Most bus charters will allow a specific length of time for the driver to be behind the wheel. The legal limit can range from area to area and you should be willing to be flexible in making adjustments to your tour itinerary so you do not end up with a fatigued driver before even getting back. You, however, want to choose company and driver with a considerable allowance so you enjoy the most from your tour in your selected destination.

By And Large, Business Travel Is Not A Pleasurable Experience

Business travel has become so common that a considerable proportion of the corporate world of America is spending more time in airplanes and hotels than on their couches or in their automobiles.

According to a recent estimate, about 40 million adults in the US travel on business at least once a year to a location about 50 miles from home. More than 20 percent of the trips made by African Americans, for instance, are related to their work.

Those who do not need to travel frequently on business consider business travel glamorous and exciting. However, in reality, business travel is often arduous.

It is tough physically, tough on the family, and especially tough on the pockets of businesspersons who do not have the luxury of generous expense accounts to take care of their travel expenses.

In addition, those who travel on business regularly, quickly wise up to the fact that a stress-free and safe journey requires the smooth functioning of a number of interconnected factors, which includes the vagaries of the weather.

According to a study conducted recently, monitoring business travel trends:

– 58 percent of business travel is undertaken for association meetings and conferences,

– 43 percent comprising of business travel made by individuals,

– and 29 percent for corporate meetings.

The study also identified some of the most popular destinations within the US for business travel. They are:

– Washington, D.C.,

– New York,

– Los Angeles/Long Beach,

– Chicago,

– Atlanta,

– Boston,

– Houston,

– Minneapolis-St. Paul,

– Detroit,

– and Dallas.

Irrespective of what the destination is, business travel is seldom an enjoyable experience. Some companies will allow their business travelers the opportunity to enjoy their travel surroundings but this is usually short lived depending on the demands of the trip.

Business travelers, who have to make frequent trips, need special facilities to ease the hassles of traveling. Airlines and hotels are increasing the levels of services they provide in order to meet the growing demands of business travelers:

Usually, business travelers research fares on their own and make their reservations online. According to a survey, it was found that only 32 percent of corporate travelers used the services of travel agents for their reservation needs, while the rest, 68 percent, preferred using the internet or online services to plan at least some part of their business traveling arrangements.

Business travelers are usually technologically conversant; hence, choose to handle all their traveling arrangements through the Internet, limiting the necessity of having to interact with travel agents and professionals dealing with customer service.

Most tourism related sites offer one-stop travel facilities for reservations of flights, booking rooms in hotels, and providing transportation on the ground.

Major airlines like Delta and American have included travel-friendly features like locating cheap fares, finding economical hotel accommodation, and hiring cars on a rental basis inexpensively on their websites.

Travelers, thus, can make arrangements for an entire business trip, which includes seating preferences, confirming special food requests, and a text message or e-mail verifying their flight status and information about the departure timings with a few clicks of the mouse button.
Most of these sites provide boarding passes that can be printed out and online check-ins within 24 hours of the departure of the flight.

At the airport, those travelers in a hurry can take advantage of check-in kiosks in order not to have to wait in long lines, and get their boarding passes and their seating information.

Frequent Flyer Miles, Automatic Upgrades, and Comfortable Seating:

One of the biggest perks of traveling frequently on business is the facility of accumulating points, which can be exchanged for vacations. Travelers, therefore, are always on the look out for hotels offering generous points facilities.

Frequent air travelers also favor automatic upgrades and comfort inside the airplane, such as generous legroom and additional storage facilities overhead. Business traveler programs like Elite-access provided by Continental Airlines offer comforts like guarantees of no-middle-seat and upgrades to the first class if possible.

Getting Value for Money:

Companies are constantly curtailing overhead expenses by cutting down on the travel allowances they give their executives, while business travelers look for ways in which they can maximize their allowances to the fullest.

For example, several hotels offer free breakfasts, while others provide complimentary facilities such as a welcoming snack or allowing their guests to make free long distance and local calls. Many hotels also offer free newspapers, tea and coffee.

6 Things To Consider Before Choosing An Auto Transport Company

In my previous article of this series I discussed some things you should know before you decide to transport your car across the country. In this installment I am going to give you some additional advice to follow before actually deciding on a particular transporter or method of transport. And I will also give you a few general tips that you should follow to make your move as painless as possible.

Check for Adequate Insurance

Prior to entrusting your vehicle to an auto transporting company, be sure that the company is correctly accredited, and insured. Cars can occasionally get damaged in the course of a move; therefore you need to ensure that your service provider has adequate insurance to cover any damage your car may receive while in transport. Be sure you know what the transport company’s insurance policies cover and the amount of insurance deductible you would need to pay out in case there is an insurance claim. You should also check with your own insurance carrier to see what they will cover in the unlikely event that your car in damaged during transport.

Have your Vehicle Inspected

Before giving your vehicle to the transport company for inspection, take it in for a complete servicing. This is to make certain that it is in good working condition with no mechanical, electrical or other problems. Regarding the inspection of your motor vehicle, always keep in mind that it is for your benefit as well as for the benefit of the transport company to have your car or truck inspected prior to having it loaded onto the transport carrier.

To make the vehicle easier to inspect, you should ensure that the vehicle is thoroughly clean. The outside should have no dirt on it, and the inside should be neat and uncluttered, making it easy to inspect for any signs of damage or general wear and tear. Document any dents, dings, or any minute scratches on your vehicle together with the company so there will be absolutely no possibility of a later misunderstanding once your vehicle is returned to you. Another inspection will likely be administered at the drop off location.

Although damage is unusual, it can unfortunately occur. Therefore it is critical that you document any damages to your vehicle on the bill of lading, as soon as your car comes off the truck, and before you drive it away. The transport company will not take responsibility for any damage that you report to them after you have already taken possession of your vehicle.

Minimum Requirements for Non-Working Vehicles

If your vehicle is not working it can still be hauled. Although it is certainly possible to haul an inoperable vehicle, your car at the very minimum should be able to be rolled, steered, and braked. Otherwise a forklift will need to be used at both the pickup and delivery locations, which will add to the complexity and cost of your move. Keep in mind that your inoperable vehicle must be located in an adequate sized lot for the truck and forklift to have access to it if necessary.

Should You Use A Broker?

Brokers act as intermediaries between you, the client, and the transporter or motor carrier, and are in fact the primary source of freight for the majority of motor carriers in the industry. The majority of brokerages are non-asset based, meaning that they do not actually own any trucks but rather work on behalf of their clients to get their car moved quickly and at a reasonable price using their large network of pre qualified motor carriers. Since brokers typically don’t own any trucks they do not have to burden of having idle trucks just sitting around that need to be on the road, but instead can focus on locating the best auto shipper to transport your vehicle.

Brokers frequently weed out the trucking companies with poor customer service or lots of complaints as they do not want to utilize a transportation company that doesn’t deliver top quality services. They utilize tools that you simply do not have access to that enables them to track the transport company’s safety record, driver history, insurance coverage, or fraudulent activity (if any). This is priceless information you simply cannot obtain just by searching the Internet, so using a broker to facilitate your vehicle move can save you a lot of time and headache. You basically make a single phone call to the broker and they’ll help you get a list of available, reputable companies to work with.

The best vehicle transport brokers will make sure that their customers be given a variety of transport options to enable them to make a suitable choice based on their budget as well as their particular transport requirements for his or her motor vehicle.

Vehicle transportation brokers provide transport services across the United States and in many cases internationally as well. Utilizing vast databases of carriers, they are able to easily locate a carrier which offers car or truck transport services within your general location and arrange pickup inside of 2 or 3 days. Brokers offer transport solutions for virtually any type of motor vehicle, and though they don’t ship the vehicle themselves with regards to motor vehicle transport, this is your best option.

How Much Will It Cost?

Your rate will likely be determined by the method of transportation you choose and will differ based upon the transport company and your pickup location relative to your desired drop off destination. In general, the more accessible the location and the destination the more affordable the transport conversely out of the way regions will be far more costly to transport your vehicle to.

Typically the most cost-effective way to transport a motor vehicle is on an open car carrier. This is the type of large, multilevel, truck that we so often see on the road. An open car carrier can hold as much as 15 automobiles simultaneously depending on the situation. Typically car manufacturers and dealerships use commercial transporters such as these for getting their cars and trucks from one location to another. Open car carriers are quite dependable, however they aren’t appropriate for every situation (I will discuss this further in the upcoming article).

The transport process may take roughly 2-10 days for the mover to pick up your motor vehicle. The timing is determined by a number of factors such as the region of the country that the automobile will be picked-up from, and the distance that it must travel to get to its final destination. Keep in mind that lengthier distance moves usually takes more time to coordinate., and that after your car or truck is picked up for transport, it may take as much as 21 days to deliver your vehicle to the specified drop off location. However the actual amount of time it takes will really depend upon your pickup and drop locations.

If you need your vehicle picked up and delivered ASAP most transporters will offer you an expedited service for an additional cost. In general the faster you want your vehicle delivered the more it’s going to cost you. You can get a wide range of prices from a number of transport companies simply by searching on the Internet, and this is a good place to start when you begin shopping around, however do not let price be your only criteria for choosing a company. Look for a company that provides quality service even if they are more expensive, you will be happy that you did.

Overall, if this is your first car moving experience it is probably best to go with an experienced auto transport broker who will save you a lot of time and headache. They have the knowledge, the connections, and the negotiating power to get you through this as painlessly as possible.

General Tips

If access to your home is limited because of a narrow street, trees with low hanging branches, speed bumps or very tight turns, the driver may ask you to meet the truck at a different destination or we will arrange a convenient location, like a shopping center or major street crossing, to pick up or deliver your vehicle for Car Move.

Remember when relocating to a cooler climate make certain you check all antifreeze and fluids in your car or truck prior to transport. This will guarantee that no part of the engine will be damaged during cold starts in frigid temperatures. The Automobile Transporter will not take responsibility for any problem with your car that they didn’t directly cause.

Also keep in mind that if your house is restricted by narrow roadways, low-hanging trees and shrubs, speed bumps or tight turns, the driver might request you to meet him at a different location like a shopping mall or major street crossing, to either pick up or deliver your motor vehicle to you.

Lastly, it’s never a good idea to store personal items in your vehicle during transport. Any personal items left in the car or truck is not going to be covered if it gets lost or stolen. Remove any valuable items before your car gets picked up.

Corporate Travel – Is It Time to Centralize Your Program Again?

Corporate travel has undergone a ton of changes in recent years, the most important being the advent of easy access to airfare via the internet. As more travelers found value in better control over their schedules by using the internet, many organizations loosened their travel policies to allow for travelers to book on their own online. This perceived benefit to travelers has actually cost businesses quite a bit in terms of lost productivity, lack of control over unused tickets, and lack of access to airline programs that can save the company significantly in all areas of travel.

Can we agree that online travel booking, while advantageous in some ways, has not been all we had hoped it would be from the outset? I hear stories from travelers every day about how difficult online booking can be, and how even when using the internet, travelers simply cannot be sure they are getting the best fare. This uncertainty gnaws at travelers and coordinators, and for good reason. It is difficult to be certain of what you are getting online because there is no track record of success, and no level of trust between the organization and the travel provider.

Collaboration between your organization and your chosen travel management provider is critical. This collaboration will reap benefits for your company in terms of a better working relationship and an anticipation of your current and future needs as they relate to the constantly changing corporate travel environment.

Centralized travel needs to make a comeback for the sake of the corporate travel program, and the sanity of travelers and travel coordinators. Because all distribution channels have access to the same fares and rates, there are fewer reasons today to continue with a decentralized travel policy. Executive level buy-in is critical, and it is easy to allow travelers to keep the level of control they like while still requiring travel booking through the preferred corporate channel. Most brick and mortar agencies now offer online booking solutions that can be customized to meet the needs of the unique corporate travel policy.

The benefits of centralizing travel again are many. Here is a comprehensive, but certainly not an exhaustive, list of reasons to regain control of this important but under-scrutinized budget. It will certainly have a positive impact on your company and its ability to serve your customers and improve traveler morale.

  • Access to airline and hotel discount programs through agency and provider contracts
  • Centralized booking allows travelers to be more organized and efficient
  • Unused tickets can be tracked and hotel cancellation policies can be managed
  • Centralized billing of hotels and car rentals
  • More efficient booking processes
  • Effective customer service for the inevitable changes and issues that come up with business travel
  • Customized and centralized financial and accounting reports

Many corporations find that the best solution is a combination of booking options, with most using an online booking portal provided by their agency partner, along with real live agent help when travelers are pressed for time or have more complex travel itineraries. The key in my opinion is to re-examine the travel program from every angle. There are more airline programs that are available to businesses than ever before. New opportunities to save money and streamline processes are out there for you. United Airlines recently began offering a discount off of every fare for corporate partners. That includes cheapest coach class seats, which even many Fortune 500 companies do not have access to. This is just one example of under-publicized opportunities for your company that can be had through the old-fashioned agency relationship.

It’s time we took another pass at the corporate travel program to see where efficiencies can be found and savings opportunities can be uncovered. Your travelers and coordinators may even be able to get back to what they’re actually paid to do. Take care of your customers and propel your business forward.

Time Travel: It’s Been Done Before!

Could we really travel through time? The short answer is yes! That’s right. We all have the ability to leap forward through time, even if we don’t realize it. If you wanted to jump to the future, you can simply go to sleep and wake up a few hours later right? Of course that’s cheating the question. We want to be able to go back and redo those silly mistakes we made many years ago. who doesn’t wish they could go back and talk to their 15-year-old self? Tell them not to make the mistakes you did (or they will). Or perhaps you’d rather travel 500 years into the future and see those flying cars we were promised by the year 2000. Fortunately, time travel is theoretically possible.

In fact there is no law in physics that prevents time travel. That’s right, according to all the laws of physics we know, it’s perfectly plausible to travel through time at will. But as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Time travel is an extremely dangerous endeavor with devastating consequences, and is also riddled with paradoxes.

For example, what if I traveled back in time and prevented World War II? Sounds like a brilliant idea right? Countless lives would be saved, I’d be hailed as a hero! Not necessarily. Although I’d be saving lives, I’d also be destroying others. What about all the technology that we rely on today that was developed during the war, such as jet engines and nuclear power. In fact the world map could be completely different. We could actually be worse off than simply leaving history as it was.

Another famous time travel paradox is the grandfather paradox, which basically states that if we were to say for instance, I travel back to a time before my parents were born and prevent my grandfather from meeting my grandmother. My parents couldn’t have met and thus, I would never have been born. So how could I have gone back in time to prevent my grandparents from meeting in the first place.

So we can see that time travel could be a bad idea, but let’s say we really want to go back in time, how would we do it? Well first we need to understand how time works.

Time is something we are all very familiar with, we all know what it is, but yet we can’t see it, touch it, we can’t seem to interact with it in any way, we can only observe it. Isaac Newton thought that time was constant and never deviated, which would of course make time travel impossible. Even Einstein believed it was impossible, yet it is his equations that make it possible. Einstein theorized that space and time are inexplicably linked in what he refers to as “space-time”. So in theory, if I was to warp space with something extremely powerful like a black hole, I would also be warping time. While this appears to be true and scientists continue to explore its possibilities, the real possibility for time travel, seems to be in his other theory; Relativity. In fact time travel using relativity isn’t just a theory, it’s actually been done, several times! Now you probably think I’m crazy but the secret seems to be in going extremely fast.

According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, no object with mass may travel faster than the speed of light, which is an astonishing 299,792,458 metres per second in a vacuum (that’s no air). That’s an incredible 1,080 million kilometres an hour! So according to General Relativity, we can only travel at 99.99% the speed of light. But lets say for instance that I’m sitting at the back of a plane traveling at the speed of light and I walk to the front of the plane from the back at a rate of 10 kilometres an hour. I’ll leave the equations out of this, but that would mean that my speed plus the speed of the plane would mean that I’m traveling at 1,080 million and ten kilometres an hour, which is 10km/h faster than light, right? Wrong. According the theory of relativity, time would actually slow down for me to prevent me from traveling faster than light. Sounds weird doesn’t it.

Of course this scenario would never happen in real life, as I have already said we can’t travel at or faster than the speed of light. In fact you would need more than an infinite supply of fuel to travel faster than light, which is obviously impossible.

So then what is relativity? Einsteins theory of relativity basically states that if I’m driving down the road at 50km/h and drive past someone standing on the side of the road, to them I would appear to be traveling at 50km/h, I’m sure you already know this. However to me in the car, they too would travel past me at 50km/h. But then if someone where to drive beside me in another car traveling at 50km/h, to them I would appear to be completely stationary. Hard to believe? It’s the same thing that makes it look the car driving beside you on the highway sometimes seems to be floating just outside your window. I’ll leave the complicated equations out of this for now, but you can use simple addition and subtraction to confirm this theory. If you’re traveling in the same direction as the object you’re observing, in this case the other car, you subtract your speed from theirs. So 50km/h minus 50km/h is equal to 0km/h. so they would appear to be stationary. If we’re traveling in the opposite direction we add our speed to theirs. So 50km/h plus another 50km/h is equal to 100km/h. So if we drove past the other car at the same speed in the opposite direction, they would appear to be traveling at 100km/h.

So how does all this work, and more importantly, how did they actually manage to travel through time? Well as it turns out, the faster we travel, the slower time will pass. This was proven when scientists placed an atomic clock, which is an extremely accurate clock down to one billionth of a second, on the space shuttle and observed it its behavior. Before launch the clock was perfectly synced with another atomic clock here on earth, and once the shuttle had returned to earth they put the two clocks together. They then discovered the clock from the shuttle was slightly behind the clock that remained on earth. meaning time had past slower for the clock on the shuttle than the clock that remained on Earth.

So basically astronauts are in fact also time travelers. Sergei Krikalev, the current record holder for the longest time spent in space (about 804 days or 2.2 years) is actually half a second behind the rest of the world. furthermore, scientists have actually calculated that if we could orbit the Earth at 99.99% the speed of light for 7 whole years, we would actually land back on earth 500 years in the future. This effect is known as Time Dilation. What a spectacular realization! Time travel may actually be within our reach after all. The only problem is inventing a machine or vehicle capable of traveling that fast. Unfortunately it looks like that might be just out of our reach for now. We would actually need the power of a whole star to get to that speed.

But what about traveling back in time? So far neither general or special relativity allow for traveling backwards in time and it appears as though no other laws of physics will allow travel to the past. Such travel to the past, as stated above would lead to paradoxes that could result in the collapse of an entire universe, or a completely new one to be formed. This is part of the Many World Interpretation of Quantum Theory. There are other theories to travel both forward and backwards in time such as black holes and wormholes, but I’ll discuss those in the future.

So for now it looks like we could theoretically travel to the future, but unfortunately we can’t go back and tell our younger self not to buy that car from that dodgy looking salesman, or to buy stocks in Apple and Microsoft when they first start out. So we’ll just have to settle for traveling forwards in time at the same rate we always have, and just to wait to see what the future holds.

Top 7 Tips to Achieve Success With a Travel Blog

For travelers, starting a travel blog is not a bad idea at all. By sharing your ideas and travel experiences, you do not only derive pleasure but you also get an opportunity to make money online. Passionate travelers such as Kate (of Adventurous Kate), Matt (of Nomadic Matt), Earl (of Wandering Earl) & Stephanie (of Twenty Something Travel) have been successful in turning their travel blogs into full-time businesses, which earns them good amount of money. There are hundreds of such bloggers who have achieved success with their travel blogs.

If you have a strong passion for traveling too, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity of setting up your own travel blog. While starting a blog about travel takes only a couple of minutes, managing it successfully may take months or years.

With some expert tips at hand, however, you can also popularize your travel blog and make money from it without wasting too much time.

Given below are seven tips that you can use –

#1. Share Unique Experiences

If you want to make your travel blog really unique, avoid talking about destinations, cities or towns superficially. There are plenty of travel websites that offer general information on popular travel destinations around the world. What you need to do on your blog is share unique experiences or things or activities that very few people will rarely get a chance (or even think) to do or enjoy.

#2. Learn to Write Well

When it comes to sharing your travel experiences, you should also be able to do it in an expressive manner. You can go to any place or city of the world and indulge in as many interesting activities as you may find. But if you can’t share your story in your own unique style, it will only dilute the impact that you want to make.

Therefore, it’s important that you learn to write well. In any case, avoid copying anyone else style. Instead develop your own (if you don’t want to bore readers).

#3. Become an Avid Reader

If you want to become a successful blogger, you don’t just need to travel. You also need to read travel literature extensively. Find out about the most popular travel authors, books that they have written and read them to broaden your knowledge base. Subscribing to popular online travel magazines is also a good idea. If you focus on a specific niche, as a travel blogger, reading relevant travel writings can help you a great deal. To write well, you need to read really well.

#4. Take Attention-Grabbing Pictures

What’s a travel blog without pictures? A travel blog without good pictures looks dead. Like you learn to write well, you also need to photograph attractively. A well-crafted travel blog post coupled with great pictures has the potential to go viral in minutes. And you can never tell a good story without using great pictures.

#5. Be Consistent

Success doesn’t come overnight. Once you start a travel blog, you need to share your experiences, stories and other relevant pieces of information on a regular basis. If you make your readers wait for an entire week or month to read the next post on your blog, you’ll simply lose them forever. So, plan out the content strategy in advance.

#6. Stay Genuine

While sharing your travel stories with readers, you should always stay genuine. By being genuine and honest, you’ll soon be able to develop a personal attachment with readers, an essential ingredient to help you achieve success.

#7. Pay Attention to SEO

What’s your purpose of writing travel stories? Well, you do it so that more and more people can read them. Though content is always the king, you can never neglect the importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Most of the travel bloggers think that writing great travel content and doing SEO are two different things, which isn’t true. In fact, great writing always remains at the heart of great SEO.

Therefore, don’t let your travel blog fall deeper and deeper into an ocean of obscurity by neglecting SEO.

[It’s a good idea to seek the help of a SEO professional.]

Do you have a travel blog? Feel free to share your views or opinions.

Homestay In Goa – What To Expect

Goa is indeed one of the best places I have chosen to be my holiday destination. There is just so much to enjoy and see here, from the rich history of the culture and fun activities. The beaches like Querim Beach, Arambol Beach, Mandrem Beach, Morjim Beach, Chapora Beach in North Goa are definitely a must visit while here because I am a big fan of sun and sand. This is one destination that has never let me down as far as having a time of my life during the holidays goes.

Accommodation in Goa is not a problem; the options are numerous. Homestays are some of my favorites because of the many benefits they come with and with so many fairy spread across the region, I always have an easy time finding my ideal homestay in the area to make my holiday as memorable and convenient as I wish for it to be. But what exactly makes homestay in Goa so attractive? If you are thinking of homestay for the first time, here is what you can expect from the properties here.

  • Lots of homestay options. If there is one thing I love about Goa is that it does not limit me to a few options when it comes to homestay. There are just so many you can choose from with some of the most popular properties being Riviera Hermitage, Royal Land Scape, Castelinhos and Parth Holiday home among many others. I advise that you check out what each has to offer so you can select a property you are bound to enjoy to the fullest throughout your stay in Goa. It has always been easy for me to select based on property type, themes I am interested in, locality and the landmarks. This way, I have always landed a property that is convenient for me in every sense.
  • Tranquil atmosphere. One of the things I have noticed about the majority of the Homestays here is that they all have beautiful relaxing surroundings. I just love how serene the atmosphere is in the properties, making it possible for me to forget all my worries and stresses. If you are looking for pure relaxation and rejuvenation like I am always seeking, then the homestays are the way to go. I enjoy coming home to my homestay after a crazy crowded day full of activities and sitting on a calm beach like Anjuna Beach, Baga Beach, Calangute Beach and Candolim Beach.
  • Comfortable rooms. Every item in the homestays here seems carefully selected to give you nothing but comfort. I also love how well equipped these rooms are and the modern to ensure I miss nothing at all during my stay. The properties all come with modern facilities to make the perfect home away from home!
  • Perfect locations. Apart from the amazing tranquil atmosphere, Goa Homestays are located strategically to make it possible for travelers to easily stumble on what they find most attractive during the holidays here. You can visit the local tourist places like Reis Magos Fort, Museum of Goa, Shantadurga Temple, Mangeshi Temple, Deltin Royale Casino etc. Whether it is the history I am interested in or the local culture and cuisine, or the beaches, there is always a perfect choice of property to keep me closer to what I love the most.

Why Traveling Makes Us More Creative

Traveling is a wonderful hobby for millions of people across the globe. This also provides various advantages to people. Here’s why traveling is important. The ability to move around from one place to the other place is the main virtue one can ever have. All humans and animals have been secured with this ability, but humans are always a step forward. We humans being, have an extraordinary virtue of seeing, experiencing and learning from it, and this is exactly what makes our traveling more satisfying and enriching.

A person who went on a long-distance journey returned home after some years. Till then, his family had either no or very little information regarding his situation and well-being. In some thrilling cases, a person would never return. In despite of all these barriers and difficulties, people traveled; not always because they needed to, but many times, also because they loved to. And why not? Traveling not only takes us to distant lands and explains us with various people, but this also removes the dullness of our lives.

This is certainly very unlucky that some people feel traveling is a sheer waste of time, energy and money. Some also discovery traveling a very boring activity. However, a good majority of people across the world wish traveling, rather than staying inside the partial spaces of their homes. They love to travel to new places, meet new people, as well as see things that they would not find in their homelands. This is a very common attitude that has made tourism, one of the most money-making, commercial sectors in the world.

People travel for different reasons. Some travel for work, others for fun, and some for finding mental peace. Though every person may have his/her own reason to go on a traveling, this is significant to note that traveling, in itself, has some inherent rewards. For one, for some days getting away from everyday routine is a pleasant change. This not only refreshes one’s body, but also mind and soul. Traveling to a distant place and doing fantastic things that are not thought of otherwise, can refresh a person, who then returns home, ready to take on new and more problematic challenges in life and work. This makes a person forget his worries, problems, prevention, and fears, albeit for some time. This offer him a chance to think wisely and usefully. Traveling also helps to heal; this can mend a broken heart.

For many people, traveling is a way to achieve knowledge, and perhaps, a quest to find answers to their questions. For this, different people prefer to go to faraway and lonely places. For believers, this is a search for God and to gain higher knowledge; for others, this is a search for inner peace. They might or might not find what they are looking for, but such an experience certainly augments their lives.

With people, with their culture, opinions and ideas also travel. When they go from one place to the other place, they are bound to meet people and share their thoughts and experiences with them. This is where the exchange of ideas takes place, and it definitely broadens a person’s outlook. This makes him/her think in a different way, from a different viewpoint. When we speak of cultural influences and exchange, food is one of the important factors. The food habits of people say a lot of things about them. It is very interesting to discover new and unknown ways and values; they really add spice to life.

Traveling also makes lifelong memories. Whether a person travels solo or along with family and friends, the experience certainly gives him/her nice and thrilling stories, which he/she can share with people back home. A good long holiday with loved ones allows him/her to spend some quality time with them, which in turn, benefits to renew and restore relationships and makes very strong one-to-one and family bonds. In fact, traveling away from home and spending time with near and dear one(s) can bring the relationship an entirely new perspective and possibly, people may begin understanding each other in a good way.

Addition to the above, traveling and getting away from our homes allows us to spend some time with our own selves. This makes us subtler and more tolerant towards others. This also makes it easier for us to meet and mingle with various kinds of people, and also explains us to live life to the fullest. Some of them travel from richer countries to poorer ones in pursuit of cheaper medication; some others travel from inferior countries to more developed ones to get the right medication. Medical tourism is today, one of the most essential parts of the travel and tourism sector and more than 50 countries have recognized it as a national industry.

Personal health is what makes travel very important. People here, travel because they don’t have an option in most cases. One might wonder that if a person becomes medical aid only after he reaches his/her destination, what importance does traveling hold in this case? Well, traveling stimulates hope in a person. As a person travels and gets more and more faster to the destination, the hope of getting preserved and living a healthy as well as smooth life ahead goes on increasing. Thus, traveling makes a person more confident towards life. Traveling can therefore be a very enchanting and inspiring experience that may help recover the quality of your life. So, let the travel bug bite you so that you experience the excitement and the serenity of life at the same time, and arise a different person altogether.

Traveling To America? New ESTA Registration Mandated January 2009

For years, visitors from certain foreign countries have been able to travel to America without first getting a formal Visa sticker placed in their passport. Implemented in 1998, the “Visa Waiver Program” (VWP) has allowed for visitors of several countries to come to America for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without getting a Visa put in their passport. During 2007, more than 15 million visitors from VWP countries arrived in the United States.

As of January 12, 2009 America’s new ESTA program requires Visa Waiver Program visitors coming to the U.S. for tourist or business purposes via a plane or ship to “register” online before entering the United States to see if they pose a law enforcement or security risk to the U.S. ESTA is not required for land crossings. Officials are asking that the ESTA registration be done at least 72 hours prior to leaving, but theoretically it is possible to register at the last minute. An ESTA Travel Authorization is free, valid for 2 years, and valid for multiple entries.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for ESTA Travel Authorization:

What Countries Are in the Visa Waiver Program?

Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Where Do I Apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization?

A website, operated by the American government, is where you register for ESTA: esta.cbp.dhs.gov. The ESTA information you submit via the computer is compared with certain American law enforcement databases and then either approved or denied. Foreign travelers will not be able to submit ESTA applications at American airports after arriving or at a U.S. Embassy in their country.

What if I Don’t Have Plans to Travel to the U.S. Yet?

VWP travelers are not required to have specific plans to travel to the United States before they apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization. As soon as VWP travelers begin to plan a trip to visit the U.S., they are encouraged to apply for travel authorization through the ESTA website. Applicants are not required to update their destination addresses or itineraries if they change after their ESTA Travel Authorization has been granted.

Does the ESTA Travel Authorization Guarantee Entry to the U.S.?

An ESTA Travel Authorization only authorizes a traveler to board an airline or ship for travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. After they arrive, travelers who obtained an ESTA Travel Authorization may still be denied entry (also called “admission”) at a U.S. port of entry, such as an American airport. An approved ESTA is not a guarantee of admissibility at an American airport. In all cases, the American airport officers make the final determination whether a foreign traveler can enter the U.S. or not. You still have to establish to the satisfaction of the inspecting officer that you are entitled to be admitted to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.

Can I Change My Travel Itinerary?

It is possible to change an itinerary on an existing ESTA Travel Authorization; ESTA is designed so that you can update parts of it at any time. Travelers who did not get an ESTA approval may be denied boarding by the airlines, experience delayed processing, or be denied admission to the U.S. at the American airport.

What If I Already Have a Valid B1/B2 Visitor Visa?

While the ESTA Travel Authorization is completed online with no interview, there are Visas that require a U.S. Embassy interview. The Visa process has separate procedures, which generally require an appointment, travel to a U.S. Embassy, an interview with a Consular Officer, processing time, and the payment of an application fee. If a foreign national already went to the U.S. Embassy and has a valid B1/B2 Visitor Visa pasted in their passport it is not necessary to get an ESTA Travel Authorization because the traveler will be entering with a B1/B2 Visitor Visa and not through the Visa Waiver Program. Keep in mind that an approved ESTA Travel Authorization is not a Visa.

Can I Re-Apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization if Denied?

Yes, but you must wait at least 10 days to reapply and your circumstances must have changed. Unless there is a change in a substantive fact, re-application will not change the result. Keep in mind that applying for an ESTA Travel Authorization with false information can cause a foreign national to be permanently barred from ever entering America. The ESTA system is designed to try to prevent individuals from changing and manipulating an ESTA entry until they receive an approval.

What If I am Denied an ESTA Travel Authorization and Have No Changed Circumstances?

There are three types of responses to an ESTA application; approved, pending or travel not authorized (denied). Applicants who receive a “pending” response are advised to check the website 72 hours later. Applicants who are denied will be required to go to a U.S. Embassy to apply for a formal non-immigrant visa, such as a B1/B2 Visa, which may take months.

Can a Traveler Find Out the Reason Why an ESTA Application was Denied?

The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security has stated that travelers may contact the DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP at dhs.gov) but there are no guarantees that information about a denial will be divulged. U.S. Embassies and Consulates are not required to provide details about an ESTA denial nor resolve the issue that caused the ESTA denial.

What If I Have a Criminal Record?

Only those qualified to travel under the VWP are eligible to pre-register through ESTA. Persons who have been arrested and/or convicted are generally not eligible for VWP and probably require a formal Visa, such as a B1/B2 Visa, to travel to America. If a foreign national has received tickets for speeding (which don’t usually result in an arrest or conviction) they are probably still eligible for the VWP and ESTA. If a foreign traveler has been denied entry into or deported from the U.S., they require a formal Visa.

Do Any Other Countries Have a Similar Program?

Australia has a program called the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) that mandates travelers to submit an ETA application electronically through a website requesting permission to travel to Australia. Airlines may refuse to accept passengers who do not have either an approved ETA or Visa to enter Australia.

How Long Will the ESTA Application Data be Stored? Who Can Access It?

The ESTA Travel Authorization is valid for two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first. The American government will maintain the information for at least 15 years to allow retrieval of the information for law enforcement, national security, or investigatory purposes. Information submitted through ESTA can also be shared with any U.S. government organization.

What Information Does the Airlines Get?

Airlines will receive confirmation of a passenger’s ESTA status visa the “Advance Passenger Information System” (APIS) which shows whether the ESTA authorization has been granted for a Visa Waiver Program traveler. It is recommended that the traveler print out the ESTA application approval in order to maintain a record of their ESTA application number and to have confirmation of their ESTA status.

What About Children?

Accompanied and unaccompanied children, regardless of age, are required to obtain an independent ESTA Travel Authorization.

What if a Mistake was Made on the ESTA Application?

The ESTA website will ask applicants to review their application before submitting it. Also, there is an update function for certain information such as email address, telephone number, or flight information. If an applicant makes a mistake that cannot be “updated,” he will need to submit a new ESTA application.

What if I Only Have a Connecting Flight Through the U.S.?

Visa Waiver Program visitors who have a connecting flight in the U.S. are required to either have ESTA Travel Authorization or a Visa from a U.S. Embassy in their passport to travel through the U.S. even for a one hour stop. If a traveler is only planning to stop in the U.S. en route to another country, the traveler should enter the words “In Transit” and his final destination in the address lines under the heading “Address While In The United States” on the ESTA application.

What Are the Questions on the ESTA Travel Authorization Application?

The traveler must provide (in English) biographical data including name, birth date, country of citizenship, country of residence, email address, sex, telephone number, passport information, destination address in the U.S., travel information (round trip airline ticket, flight number and city where you are boarding) as well as questions regarding communicable diseases (chancroid, gonorrhea, granuloma inquinale, HIV, leprosy, lymphogranuloma venereum, syphilis [active], tuberculosis [active], and others), physical or mental disorders, drug addiction problems, arrests, convictions, past history of visa cancellation or denial, and prior deportations from the U.S. The traveler will also be asked whether they are seeking work in the U.S., have ever been deported or tried to get a visa by fraud or misrepresentation. The traveler will be asked if they have ever detained a child of a U.S. Citizen granted custody of the child, and whether they have ever asserted immunity from prosecution.

Do I Select “Business” or “Pleasure (Tourist) at the Airport Port of Entry?

After the ESTA Travel Authorization is granted, the foreign traveler will be interviewed by government officers at the first American airport they land. The officer will ask what the foreign traveler will be doing in America and the questioning can take up to four hours in a detained setting called “secondary inspection.” The officer may ask the traveler “what else are you doing in America?” repeatedly to try to get “the real” answer. If the traveler is only going to be a tourist, they are not allowed to do any business, including meeting with any attorneys, applying for a bank account, meeting with real estate agents, or other business consulting activities. Even though the traveler is going to conduct just one business meeting while in America, they are required to report it and enter as a business visitor. The business visitor is allowed to participate in tourist activities, but the tourist visitor is not allowed to participate in any business activities. Therefore, if any business might be conducted while in America, it is best to tell the government officers about it at the airport to avoid being accused of lying, put immediately on a plane back to your home country, and barred from America for life.

What Else Do Can the Airport Officers Make Me Prove After I Land?

The airport officers will ask the traveler proof of a foreign residence (address on foreign driver’s license), whether their intention is to depart at the end of the visit (round trip airline ticket), whether the traveler has a job (letter, paystub, business card) and family in their home country, (marriage certificate, children’ birth certificates), and whether the traveler has the money to travel around America (bank statement or credit cards with bank letter showing credit limit). The airport officers are also required to ask where the traveler will stay in America (hotel reservations or friends/relatives’ homes) and have been known to pick up the phone to verify all of the aforementioned information.

Can I Be Searched in the American Airport? Am I Entitled to Legal Representation?

While being interviewed at the American airport, all luggage (even locked bags) can be searched, as well as the traveler’s body and his/her cell phone (including text messages and phone numbers) and laptop (including hard drive). The officers may “google” a traveler’s name and check out their myspace, Facebook or hyves pages. The traveler is not allowed to be represented by an attorney or even call their attorney while in “secondary inspection.” Bathroom visits, water and food may be limited, so it is best to prepare for such an occasion while still on the plane before landing.

Do I Still Have to Go Through the “US-VISIT” Program at the American Airport?

Foreign travelers arriving at American airports and seaports must still be photographed and fingerprinted every time they enter the U.S.

Who Should I Ask For Help to Fill Out the ESTA Application?

The information a traveler provides on the ESTA application can remain in their file with U.S. authorities for a minimum of 15 years – probably longer. If a foreign traveler has some questions about how to answer the questions so as not to be permanently barred from America, it would be prudent to them to pay for a legal consultation with an American Immigration Attorney who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Beware of unauthorized private websites that offer ESTA application assistance for $49.99 – they are usually not authorized to practice immigration law and are asking travelers to pay for a copy of the application questions, which are free on the dhs website.

If I Am Denied the ESTA Travel Authorization Will it Effect My Ability to Obtain a Visa at the U.S. Embassy?

When the ESTA Travel Authorization is denied, the foreign traveler must make an appointment at a U.S. Embassy in their country to apply for a formal Visa. The U.S. Embassy is operated by the U.S. Department of State and there are no expedited procedures for those who have been denied ESTA Travel Authorization. Because the ESTA program is so new, it is impossible to predict how badly a denial of the ESTA Travel Authorization will impact a traveler’s application for a Visa at a U.S. Embassy or impact their future travel to America in general. American Immigration Attorneys are in close contact with their foreign clients and will share the denial information with each other starting in January 2009. Currently there are no government policies regulating this area of the law, or opportunities to appeal a denial.

When Is the a “New” ESTA Travel Authorization Required?

A new ESTA Travel Authorization is required during the two years if (1) the traveler is issued a new passport (2) the traveler changes his name (3) the traveler changes his or her gender (4) the traveler’s country of citizenship changes or (5) the circumstances underlying the traveler’s previous responses to any of the ESTA application questions requiring a “yes” or “no” response have changed (such as a new arrest).

Can an American Immigration Attorney, Travel Agent or Employer Fill Out the ESTA Application?

A third party, such as a relative, travel agent or American Immigration Attorney, is permitted to submit an ESTA application on behalf of a VWP traveler. Be aware that the traveler is still responsible under the law for the answers submitted on his or her behalf by a third party.

Over 68,000 travelers have already voluntarily registered by using the ESTA online system in the last few months. Applicants are reminded to obtain a new “e-passport” which has an integrated computer chip capable of storing biographic information from the data page, as well as other biometric information, when registering with ESTA.