Planning your next adventure can be both very fun and very time consuming. There seems to be an infinite number of resources on the Internet that you can utilize to get background information on destinations -including out of the ordinary places to visit and recommended sightseeing expeditions. There are also dedicated hotel review sites, including several that cater to the ‘backpacker”, budget type of traveler. Two of my favorite sites for hotel reviews are Trip Advisor , where readers contribute their reviews on hotels around the world and TravelFish, a travel site which deals exclusively with travel to Southeast Asia - Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos- and has some excellent recommendations for the young, backpacker type of traveler (travelers on the cheap). Travelfish in particular is a very easy and straightforward site to use and I highly recommend it if you are planning a trip to SE Asia. Another interesting site is Virtual Tourist, a community of mostly intrepid travelers who share their travel experiences with recommendations on hotels, things to do and see, places to eat in addition to posting some of their travel photos. Good Stuff! A couple of sites worthy of mention, especially if you’re trying to garner some info and get some tips from fellow travelers on Thailand or Bali, is the Travel Forum.
If you’d really try to learn about other people’s travel experiences in depth, you’ll definitely want to check out a variety of travel blogs on your favorite destinations for an insightful and sometimes very personalized perspective. One of my favorite travel blogs is Calypso Island Chronicles by yours truly . This blog features such tropical destinations as Thailand, Costa Rica and the Caribbean and a variety of topics are covered including hotel reviews, travel commentary, some very humorous travel anecdotes and stories as well as a very unique plant of the week feature. The blog is loaded with wonderful pictures and a decidedly natural history bent - ecotourism and sustainable tourism topics are explored. A little bit nepotism goes a long way. In fact, you are reading this blog right now, LOL!
In addition to the wealth of information on the Internet, you may want to go to your favorite bookstore and pick up one of the many useful travel guidebooks available. Lonely Planet, Moon Travel Handbooks, Rough Guide, Let’s Go Travel, Frommers and Fodors publish some of the more popular travel books. There are also specialized guides for the adventure and the high end, luxury, elitist traveler (boo). Insight Guides and National Geographic Traveler publish the travel books with the most beautiful and glossy photographs.
Once you have figured out where you want to go and what you want to do, you can search for online travel agencies or tour operators who offer an itinerary or travel package that matches your particular needs and budget. If you need to obtain your own air arrangements, you can go to an airline website and look for special web fares or go to established air resellers like Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz or Cheap Tickets to see if you can get ’ a sweet deal ’ on airline tickets. Other alternatives are Priceline, where you can submit a bid for airline seats and hotel rooms; the deal here is that you can’t select a specific carrier that you’d like to fly on nor a specific departure time. A special search engine selects the flights/hotel rooms based on your bid; if your bid is accepted you’ll be charged on your credit card for the air tickets or hotel rooms and your monies of course are nonrefundable. I have never purchased anything on Priceline, so I don’t really know what to say. Another alternative is to look for travel agencies/travel consolidators that specialize in discounted air tickets. Buyer beware - there are a lot of crooked companies selling discounted airline tickets on the web!
Now if you don’t want to spend hours (and hours) doing research on where to go, what to see and which hotels will be best for you, I would recommend contacting a travel agent who has expertise in the destination or type of activity (i.e. birdwatching, tropical garden tour, watercolor workshop tour etc ) that you have chosen. The travel agent in question probably has extensive in depth travel experience as well as pretty good familiarity with a wide variety of hotels in your preferred destination, The travel agent will save you a lot of time and aggravation - imagine the countless hours that you could spend researching your long awaited adventure/vacation to your dream destination on the internet. You may even burn yourself out doing too much research and lose interest in going anyplace! Of course, by hiring a travel agent to handle all the logistics and RSVNS will cost you more monies than booking everything by yourself on the Internet. I’m ‘guestimating” that it will cost you about 10-20% or more on the average. Please understand, that if you have hire a professional travel agent who has specialized expertise or is a destination specialist, he (she) is worth his weight in gold and the agent must be compensated properly for his services and expertise. Going through a travel agent for the arrangements will save you a lot of time and aggravation, that’s for sure!
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Calypso Island Tours has considerable travel expertise for Costa Rica, Thailand and the Caribbean and we offer both group and customizable independent tours for travelers on any budget. In particular, we specialize in botanical adventures and nature tours. Check out our diverse tour offerings today!