4 Benefits of Travel

4 Benefits of Travel

4 Reasons Why You Should Travel

There are many excuses why you may not travel. It could be work commitments, financial pressure, or a fear of new and different experiences. This, my friends, is what I call the excuse bug. Despite the fact that these very excuses were most likely used by the baby boomers themselves, it is now one of their biggest regrets. From a survey of 2,000 baby boomers, “one in five boomers [said] that one of their biggest regrets is not traveling enough….” Among other major regrets one might have at the end of his or her life, not traveling enough is a regret that can easily be remedied. Here are four reasons why you should travel and avoid the regret altogether:

1. A Boost of Happiness: We can all get caught up in crossing items off our checklist, and that may leave little room for fun and relaxation. Vacation is a time where you finally get the chance to relax, enjoy family time, and do what you WANT to do, not what you NEED to do.

2. Stress Reducer: While not all vacations are stress free, travel can be a source of liberation if it is well-planned. Having a travel agent work the schedule and details of your trip gives you a greater chance of a stress free vacation. Then, for at least a little while, you can forget all about the stresses and problems that are happening at home. Taking a break from the “have to do’s” will help us gain a better perspective of what we can accomplish. Not only will we be able to perform better, but we can handle future stress with greater capability.

3. Increase in Energy: Think of your body as a vehicle that needs fuel. Once it runs out, you need to fill it up. While your body needs food and water to keep it fueled, positive travel gives you the strength to tackle the tasks of adulthood.

4. Enhance Meaning in your life: Travel is educational. It is also life impacting and eye opening. We come to see purpose and meaning by immersing ourselves with other cultures, gaining gratitude for our own homes. New experiences give us new ideas, altering our perspective on not only how we see the world, but how we see ourselves and those around us. There is also ample opportunity to create new friendships and strengthen relationships already formed.

Life will always be busy, so get rid of the excuse bug and get out there! Give yourself the boost of happiness, the stress reducer, the increase in energy, and the enhanced meaning in your life that you deserve.

How has travel benefited you?

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The Shocking News About Travel Agents

An independent study conducted by TNS Global and funded by Carnival Corporation has revealed some amazingly shocking news about travel agents. It found that travel agents not only provide personal service- which is lacking with online bookings – but that trips booked through travel agents are less expensive than trips booked online. Here is a look at what the study found:

  • Avoid costly mistakes: More than likely, you don’t book a trip yourself just about every day of the week, but travel agents do. Travel agents are familiar with how the travel industry works and know what holes to avoid. Their personal experience allows them to be aware of scams and recognize where to find the good deals. You can’t believe everything you read or see on the internet, so trust a travel agent to be able to save you money and avoid making costly mistakes.
  • Save time and money: If you have ever tried to book an extensive trip online, be prepared to have a lot of tabs and windows open in your research process. It’s a pain! Travel agents are all about saving you time and money. From the study, “Consumers report that travel agents save them an average $452 per trip, and four hours in travel planning.” While you and travel agents have access to the same internet websites, travel agents can get access to exclusive pricing and package deals that you may not find or obtain on your own.
  • Reduced stress: Vacations should be stress free, right? Then why shouldn’t planning a trip be less stressful? Instead of worrying about transfers between the airport and your hotel or making sure the location of your hotel is close to your desired attractions, etc., you could be focusing on making memories. Travel agents take care of all the details for you so you can enjoy every bit of your holiday.
  • A better travel experience: “Consumers told TNS Global that if you want a better travel experience, use an agent, said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby.”
  • Travel agents are some of the first to know about a new tour or discount in vacation packages. They are skilled at finding and obtaining the best shore excursions, tours, and accommodations at the right price in order for you to have a relaxing vacation. Agents know what activities you won’t want to miss.
  • Travel security: Travel agents can provide resources you may not even think about. They can help you prepare for potential hazards or assist you in case of lost luggage or a medical emergency. Whether they make rearrangements themselves or put you in touch with the right people, agents will work hard to make you happy.

You will never regret booking with a travel agent, especially with the amount of money, time, and stress they will save you.

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Why Today We Are In the Golden Age of Flying

Many harken back to the period of about 1945 to 1975 as the “Golden Age of Flying.” I say, “au contraire” – today (right now) things are much better for fliers. Here are ten reasons why:

1. It’s way faster. In the 1940s, an average intercontinental flight had at least a 12 layovers in airpots that offered little more than a snack bar. Now, you can fly from Los Angeles all the way to Sydney, Australia non stop.

2. You won’t smell like an ashtray when you land. Airplane cabins used to be smokier than the air in a casino until lighting up on planes was finally banned in 1980.

3. Flying is actually cheaper. According to the Department of Transportation airfares are about as low as they’ve ever been (excluding 2009) when adjusted for inflation. Airlines for America reports the inflation-adjusted fares fell from about $442 in 1979 (which is when airlines deregulated) to about $275 in 2014 — a nearly 38% drop.

4. You can find airfares on your own. It takes less than a minute to check the costs of dozens of airlines for any given city pair and dates. You can go to kayak.com on your computer and check every airline but Southwest. So, by checking two websites (southwest.com and kayak.com) you’ll find the cost for every airline in the world. Imagine trying to book a flight even just 20 years ago when there was no internet — you had to call the airline or physically visit its office. And comparison shopping could only be done by a travel agent, who would have to look through each airline’s printed schedule. A travel agent is still your best bet for complicated international travel.

5. Today’s airports are far more enjoyable places to spend layovers. Many airports now have shopping malls. Or, with your computer you can visit facebook, play games or watch movies.

6. You can travel in comfortable clothes. Many people lament the loss of being required to dress up (like you were going to church) but I, for one, can’t imagine wearing a suit and tie on a transcontinental flight. If you aren’t old enough to remember, there was a time when you had to fly in formal attire, but you can now wear pretty much whatever you want on a plane.

7. You are far less likely to lose your luggage. Thanks to improved technology, the number of mishandled bags fell 61%, from 18.88 bags per thousand passengers in 2007 to 7.3 bags per thousand passengers in 2014 according to the International Air Transport Association. That’s less than a 1% chance you’ll lose your bag. But if you’re paranoid, there are now plenty of gadgets that will help you track your luggage in case the airline does screw up.

8. Luggage has gotten smarter. One of those gadgets helping protect your bag is, your bag itself. There’s been a rise in the production of smart luggage. You can now get a bag that weighs itself, tracks itself and will even charge your cell phone.

9. You don’t even need to check a bag. Lot’s of people now fly with only a carry-on. And, you can also just wear a jacket that is a bag. Travel jackets have in excess of 30 pockets. The only problem is finding the right pocket where you’ve put something. Or use an app, like DUFL, that will deliver your pressed clothes to your hotel before you even arrive.

10. There are lots of ways to entertain yourself on a plane. Fliers in the 1950s were stuck with almost no way to keep busy. Not long ago airlines showed only one movie. Now, if you’re flying international, you have dozens to choose from. And, yes, there’s Wi-Fi. Nearly all airlines now provide some form of in-flight internet. Some airlines are even starting to provide fliers with free Wi-Fi.

Added bonuses you can get: Boarding passes sent to your phone, luggage tags you can print at home and security lines bypasses by signing up for memberships with Global Entry and/or TSA PreCheck.

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No Risk Cruise Booking

A common facet of the travel industry involves reserving an airplane ticket, a hotel, a rental car without it costing you anything if you cancel. Here are some typical practices:

(a) For decades airline companies have had “refundable fares.” But those fares are commonly twice or three times as much as the lowest published airfares that are non-refundable.

(b) Hotels and resorts typically offer two prices for a room – a prepaid charge where you lose your money if you cancel, and a considerably higher cost where you can cancel up to one or two days before your booking date without paying anything.

(c) Car rentals require no money in advance. And if you don’t show up to get the car at the appointed time, it costs you nothing.

(d) Cruises are a bit tricky. Some lines allow you to reserve a stateroom with a deposit which is completely refundable if you cancel up to 75-days before the sailing date. Others require deposits which you forfeit if you cancel. And some will let you book with a refundable deposit except when they are having a special sale, in which case the deposit is not refundable.

Picture of Cruise Ship

NO REFUND: It’s interesting that Cruise Critic, an online travel site, recently gave the award for “Best Value-for-Money” for the second year in a row to Carnival Cruise Line. If you are booking one of Carnival’s lower priced staterooms, they won’t let you reserve your cruise with a refundable deposit. However, they offer higher rates in all types of cabins that will have a refundable deposit. In other words, a refundable deposit will cost you! Hmmmm. Shouldn’t that be part of a “value-for-money” equation?

Other lines will refund your deposit up to 75-days before your sailing unless your reservation was made in conjunction with a special promotion involving highly discounted fares.

DEPOSITS VARY: Most of the cruise lines ask for a $250 per passenger deposit in order to reserve a stateroom. Princess Cruises requires a 20-percent deposit. Usually, the full cost of the cruise is due at the same time the deposit becomes non-refundable. Also, sometimes cruise lines have a sale offering a half price deposit – some are refundable, some not. Of course, a good travel agent knows all of the variables – amount of deposit, is it refundable, etc. – and will call you before full payment must be paid.

USE A TRAVEL AGENT: A real, live, experienced travel agent you can talk to will know all of the details involving required deposits. Emphasis here is on “real” and “live” and “experienced” as oposed to websites or big-box stores selling cruises. Travel quite often involves the unexpected, and you need to have an actual person you can reach in case of problems. And it goes without saying, that person should know the ins and outs of travel and be experienced in resolving travel problems. Besides, it won’t cost you anything – the cruise line will pay the agent’s commission.

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Your Travel Professional!

I refuse to give an online website the designation of “travel agency.” A real agency with real live agents not only finds things for you, he/she gives advice, makes comparisons, and can be called for backup when a problem occurs. Nothing on the Internet can do all those things. Don’t get me wrong. I use travel websites a lot. In fact, I usually find what I want on the Internet and then call my real, live, breathing, talking travel agent to discuss what I’ve found. And no, he doesn’t cost me a cent, unless I am asking to simply purchase an airfare. He gets his commissions from the hotels, resorts, cruise lines, car companies – the venders – who provide the travel commodities I am looking for. In most cases of airfare only purchases, I do get them on the internet; but, if it’s a complicated international ticket I’m looking for, I have my travel agent do the work.

GETTING TRAVEL PROBLEMS SOLVED
First and foremost, I want someone with know-how and clout when I have a problem. I’ve arrived at hotels that have told me they didn’t have a record of my reservation. I even tried to check in for a return trip home just a year ago and was told there was “no one by your name with a reservation today on any airplane in our entire system.” In both cases I pulled out my cell phone, called my travel agent, handed the phone to the offending representative of the hotel and airline, who was then aided in finding my hotel booking, and last year, my plane reservation.

If you face a snafu with a cruise booking, it sure would be handy to call your travel agent, who made the booking, and let him deal with the friendly cruise line representative who is trying to check you in.

COMPARISON SHOPPING
Another thing my travel agent does is compare what I have found with what he can find. Comparison-shopping is very important when booking travel. In the case of a cruise, larger travel agencies, like Columbus Travel, do a lot of bookings with a particular cruise line, and are often given reduced prices (even lower than going to the cruise company direct), upgrades, on board credits, and other perks.

Hotels are notorious for having varied prices. I once found a hotel in Prague with four different prices for the same room on as many websites. My travel agent found several more different prices from his sources, then advised me to book through one of the sites I had gone to on my own. The price of the room per night varied by $125.

WATCH OUT WHEN LOOKING AT REVIEWS
With the matter of hotel and resort reviews, I no longer use or recommend Trip Advisor. I personally think the guest reviews are not reliable. They also have been accused of “rigging” the reviews to favor resorts and hotels with whom they have a business arrangement.

I think all reviews based on guests who are alleged to have stayed at the place you are considering are sometimes rigged. Yes, I know you are shocked, but guest reviews are totally untrustworthy. People who are marketing the resort or hotel write many of the reviews. What’s more, guest reviews, even if written by real guests, are colored by the expectations and experiences those individuals have had. Actually, professional reviews are far superior. A better option would be to find someone who can give you a professional judgment about a particular place you are considering, someone who has a basis for his ratings, who has gone through hundreds of onsite inspections of hotels and resorts.

But, where can you find such a person? Well, an experienced travel agent would be a good start. She or he has been on hundreds of “familiarization tours” with lots of other agents in lots of places in the world where all they did was go on site inspections of hotels and/or resorts. And if your agent is from a larger agency with ten or more agents, he or she has lots of other people who are professionals who can offer more information. Also, if you are dealing with someone who has you as a client, they do not want you to have a bad experience.

RECOMMENDED WEBSITES
I have four sites I use and I think you can trust.

  • FOR GENERAL INFO AND REVIEWS

You can’t beat columbusvacations.com, not only for unbiased professional reviews and lots of trustworthy general travel information, but the best cruise search-engine on the planet. And all of this stuff comes free of charge!

  • FOR HOTELS AND RESORTS

A great site for making comparisons of the best deals available can be found at trivago.com.  Even if I find what appears to be a super deal at hotels.com, I check for comparisons at Trivago.

  • FOR AIRFARES

If you want to compare the cost of flying on every airline going to your destination, kayak.com is the place to go.  Just remember, Southwest Airlines doesn’t participate in any other online travel website, so you have to go to southwest.com to see what they have in comparison with what you’ve found at Kayak.  Also, remember that Southwest doesn’t charge for your first bag checked.  And a final reminder:  If you are booking a complicated international flight, you should call a travel agent.  An experienced agent might find you an air routing that Kayak has not been programmed to check.

  • FOR INFO ABOUT THE PLACE YOU ARE GOING

First, ask your travel agent if he/she has been there or has clients who have reported what they found to be “must see” sites.  Then, just “google” or “bing” the convention and/or visitors bureau at the destination.

 

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Discounted Vacations – London on a Budget

Everyone has their dream vacation that they have thought about their whole lives. For some it may be the tropical beaches of the Bahamas, for others it may be a cruise along the Mediterranean, and for many it is the city of Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral. That’s right, London is a desired vacation of many people. This beautiful city has a reputation for being pricey; however, it is possible to take a discounted vacation in London. Here are some ways to experience this magical city on a budget.

Use the public transportation
Renting a car is an expense that is definitely unnecessary in the capital of England. There is an underground transit that runs all throughout the city called the tube. Not only is the tube much more convenient but it is also a lot cheaper. A discounted vacation in London is possible as long as the tube is the main source of public transportation.

Use student or senior discounts
For students in college or senior citizens, there are cards to buy that get discounts in international places. College students can get an International Student Identity Card which can get them discounts to different sights, food and public transportation. Senior citizens who are members of the AARP can also get discounts but on things like airfare and hotels. These cards help with a discounted vacation because it can save a lot of money in the long run.

Search out the free sights
London is full of sights to see and not all of them are over-the-top expensive. There are many that are actually free. For example, the gardens and parks in the city are free to enjoy for no cost, like Hyde Park or Queen Mary’s Rose Garden. Many museums in London are also free of charge which helps with a discounted vacation. We at Columbus Travel can help book the perfect discounted vacation for whoever wants to go.

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A discounted family vacation

When summer hits, many families can not wait to take a vacation. Now that the season is almost over and school is starting soon, it seems like time to take a vacation is running out. However, you still have a couple more weeks to take your family trip. With the help of a writer from Away.com, we give you the top three discounted family vacation options.

3) Las Vegas, Nevada
When people think of Las Vegas they usually think of it as “the city of sin.” So when it comes to planning family vacations, parents usually push it aside. However, according to Away.com many of the hotels on the strip have pumped millions of dollars into kid friendly activities. For example, Mandalay Bay has the Shark Reef. Here kids can see and learn about ocean life. In addition to the kid activities, here at Columbus travel we can find you great deals on flights into Vegas and help you find the best hotels.

2) Riviera Maya, Mexico
If you want to head out of the country for you family vacation, it can still be discounted- especially if you use us to help you plan. On Away.com it states that flights into the Cancun International Airport are cheaper June through Aug. You can also save money by choosing to stay at all inclusive resort. This helps save on food and entertainment. Activity options in the Riviera include hiking, snorkeling, playing at the beach, exploring ancient ruins and more.

1) Washington D.C
Our nations capitol took the No. 1 spot for discounted family vacations on Away.com, here many of the activities are free – including the 19 Smithsonian museums. Besides the museums your family can see monuments, George Washington’s house and memorials. As far as hotels go, it is usually less expensive to stay outside of the city and use the Metro as transportation. Give us a call and we can find you the best deals.

 

 

 

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A Word of Caution on DIY Vacations

Everyone wants a discounted vacation these days. People who are “well-off” in this economy are few and far between. But what are some ways to get a discounted vacation? Scouring sites day and night is tiresome and sucks up more time than a lot of people are willing to give. ‘Doing It Yourself’ is a huge trend these days. Pinterest projects and crafts are at a peak. But is that the smartest thing for a vacation?

For a trip home
This is probably the only time a vacation should be or could be done by yourself. It’s easy to travel to a place where you know people and where you can trust the people you’re counting on. Flights are easy to find, borrowing cars are easy when you’re with close friends or family. A perfect discount to a good vacation visit. You’re with locals, or staying at someone’s house so you don’t have to worry about figuring out all the cool little spots in town. And you can have meals at home – Mom’s home cooking, or at the least a friends kitchen to cook meals in. Definitely a factor that makes for a nice, cheap, discounted vacation. Doing it yourself? Cake.

 

For an international, or otherwise, adventure
If you’re not traveling with a guide, or a friend who’s done it a handful of times before, these are best planned through a travel agency. It’s not smart to go your own way and do it yourself for a “discounted” vacation. Usually, self planned vacations seem like they’re at a discount, but end up causing more harm than good in expenses. The little hole in the wall cheap places are hard to guess, especially in a foreign land. There are tourist traps and vendors waiting to haggle you into oblivion. Best to plan an international adventure with a professional like us. In the end, it will save you money on wasted money on “guesses” of what is good. Not to mention, if you get in a pickle across the pond, it’s not exactly cheap.

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Our Utah Travel Agency and adventure

For your summer vacation this year consider taking a trip that is more on the adventurous side. Columbus Travel, a Utah travel agency, has picked some top destinations full of adventure that are sure to make this years summer trip anything but boring.

Making your way to the top
Head south this summer to the Queenstown, New Zealand. Here you will find beautiful scenery, activities and adventures. And the adventurous activity Queenstown is most known for is hiking. Take to the mountain and walk the Queenstown Hill Hike. Its a three hour hike that is full of adventure and will allow you to take in Queenstown’s beautiful landscape.

If hiking isn’t you thing, there is another adventure that awaits you in Queenstown, or should we say, Middle Earth? Walk the same path Frodo and Sam did in the Lord of the Rings movie. Its a twelve day tour full of magical adventure. Visit the website for more information.

Our Utah Travel Agency can help you dive on in
When most people think of a vacation in a tropical paradise they think of coconut drinks and lounging by the pool. And although those things can be found in paradise, there are more things to do than stare at the pool boy and sleep in the sun. With the help of this Utah travel agency, you can enjoy the Great Blue hole in Lighthouse Reef, located in Belize. Here you can go cave diving, which is a mix between cave and scuba diving. Enjoy the beautiful waters and the stunning coral reefs as you dive. If you are lucky, you will see a shark. If you consider that lucky.

 

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Tips for a discounted vacation

Vacations can be full of relaxation and fun. However, they can also cost a pretty penny. According to a MSN Smart Spending article, there are a couple of tips to follow if you want a discounted vacation.

Packing light and right
Depending what airline you fly on, you might have to pay to check your luggage. To avoid these luggage fees, try to pack light. If you can fit everything you need into a carry-on bag, you can save money. Baggage fees can cost upwards of an extra $100 per trip. Also, you won’t have to worry about lost luggage. No one likes going on vacation sans their clothes.

Another way to ensure a discounted vacation is to make sure you don’t forget anything. Cameras, cell phone chargers and even simple things like contact solution and tooth paste can be very expensive if you have to buy them at your destination. To avoid this problem, create a packing list and double check it so you know you are not forgetting anything.

Dining out can dish out high prices
If you are staying in a hotel room with a kitchen, stock the fridge up. By cooking your own meals you can save on dining costs. If you just can’t bare to even think about turning on the stove while you’re on your vacation you can download restaurant finder apps. These applications can help you find cheaper restaurants and sometimes offer check in deals depending on how metropolitan the area your traveling to is. If you don’t have a smart phone, our agents at Columbus Travel can give you advice on budget-friendly restaurants at your destination.

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