What to Do When Planning a Charter Trip and Charter Bus Rental of a Motorcoach and/or School Bus

There are many things to consider when planning to rent a charter bus with a professional driver-whether it is a full-size motorcoach, a smaller coach bus, or a school bus. By the way, school bus charters are mostly rented out by the bus operators for strictly local charter trips. In any rate, I would like to outline a few important and essential things to consider and resolve before, during, and after renting a coach or a school bus from any bus rental company. These points to note come from the extensive experience working as a bus company operator and having made, as well as witness many clients make, many mistakes and blunders resulting in charter delays, bus/bus-driver scheduling errors, and other such inconveniences like having no-shows on the day of the charter trip. I realize along with our clients that any charter trip begins and ends with a functional and clean coach/school bus being driven by an enthused and punctual coach bus or school bus driver. There are, however, ways to ensure that all of the logistical fronts are covered for the clients to be satisfied with their chosen charter bus rental company and the bus operating company in turn to be happy with their clients. It all boils down to effective and efficient communication.

Firstly, the relationship between the client and the bus operator begins with the client requesting a charter trip quotation or a charter trip appraisal. There are many things that are taken into consideration before a bus rental company issues a quotation. For example, the season, month, day of the month, bus fleet availability, and the rates given by the 3 largest charter bus rental companies in the industry for a given date-just to name a few. At this stage, the client is strictly focused (like tunnel vision) on getting the best price for the best possible charter bus services. And they rightly should be; however, not at the cost of neglecting their focus on very simple but profound details. Such crucial, albeit simple, details include making sure to submit the exact and correct dates for the charter trip; provide the correct time of departure and arrival; and outline the itinerary details, like extra charter-trip destination stops. Once, these details are provided to the charter bus rental company, the bus operator issues a charter trip quotation with a trip-rate. The client is now at the stage of either accepting the charter bus rental company as their vendor or not. Once the charter bus company is chosen and the client confirms the booking of their respective charter bus (be it coach bus or school bus) a formal trip confirmation is issued by the charter bus rental company to the client.

At this stage, it is crucial to double-check all of the aforementioned “simple” charter trip details. Many times, clients get quoted for a different date than what the trip confirmation states. That is there is a discrepancy between the trip quotation and the trip confirmation. Any bus rental company ultimately goes by their trip confirmations when scheduling and finalizing their bus rentals and schedule. These trip confirmations are also signed by the client upon the finalization of their charter trip booking. In my personal experience, some clients end up not getting their charter bus arriving on the right date. This seems to be a ridiculous mishap and it is. But it all stems from neglecting to focus on the contracted details stated on the trip confirmation.

I plan to continue the series of articles focusing on such logistical details in order to help clients and operators to foresee and overcome such blunders and to ultimately provide a reliable and professional charter bus rental service to our community. Please stay tuned for future publications on how to rent a charter bus and, equally important, how to make sure that all the charter trip logistics are put in place.

Get the Most Out of Your Travel Agent

Booking air travel, making hotel reservations and arranging vacation travel in general has changed completely with the advent of the internet and many people try to be their own travel agents. While you can arrange seemingly most of your travel yourself, you can’t do as well as your travel agent in a long run!

Travel processionals, whether your local travel agent, tour operator or destination specialist still possess contacts that you as an industry outsider do not have. As in number of other professions, travel agents, whether in a shopping center near your home or an online agency, wherever they may be located, do know something you do not, have way to book and arrange travel for you in ways unavailable or unknown to you.

Traditionally you could contact a travel agent and ask for a quote, whether a price of an air ticket, hotel or a vacation package. For the most part travel agents still provide that kind of information, although there is a limit how much information they may disclose as not all information is readily available to them.

First of all, most travel agents indeed may have at their fingertips routine cost of air ticketing, hotel rates or certain vacation packages available and will be happy to provide the price information to you instantly when asked. But once your travel request will need to be somewhat customized, whether tailored to your dates of travel or your other travel preferences, to find a relevant answer will be time consuming. Because of this time element involved, do not automatically assume an agency is keen to spend the time to furnish the information you seek when there is no commitment you will travel at all.

Look at the situations from the following perspective. In the old days if you had a problem with your car, you’d drive it to your neighborhood car mechanic and asked him to see what was wrong with it. You would drop the car off at the garage, the mechanic would have a look and tell you what the problem was. He would also give you an estimate and it was up to you to decide if you wanted him to fix it right then and there, wait or seek another opinion and another quote. His services cost you nothing.

But not anymore. These days, no garage, no car repair mechanic is willing to spend time trying to find out what’s the problem with your vehicle without charging you at least one hour labor upfront. Pay and he will look and tell you. Up to you if you will decide to take your car to another shop or have him fix it, he has covered his time spent diagnosing what’s wrong with your car.

Similarly, many travel agencies and professional travel planners and tour operators will charge you an upfront travel planning fee if you are requesting travel arrangements that first of all are time consuming, or there is no guarantee you will book anything. All you are after are essentially private tailor-made travel arrangement s and there are no simple answers or options to give you, and the only way to find out will be for the agent to dig and consult all sorts of different sources he has at this disposal and then present the travel alternatives to you for you to decide upon.

When working with a travel agent, travel planner or any other travel professional such as a knowledgeable destination specialist, keep in mind that a certain protocol will assure you will get not only the kind of travel arrangements you want in general but also you’ll gain a true partner that will always work in your best interest whether you’ll travel away from home on business or for pleasure.

1. First of all, when contacting a travel agent, whether in person or online, don’t hesitate to give them your name – don’t worry, most agents won’t spam you back. Without your name when you’re asking for a valuable travel advice most agents won’t take your request too seriously. Call if you wish but most agents prefer not to take notes, email is a way to go and for an agent to look up a fare often a time means he has to plug in a name, so might as well that name will be your real name. If you decide not to accept the booking the reservation will expire and no harm done. If you decide later to purchase the reservation the agent does not have to rekey it into the system all over again.

2. If you’re trying to be you own travel agent, even in part, say you plan to book your own hotels online, disclose it to the agent your are contacting for assistance, he/she may still be interested to help you with the rest of your travel arrangements. Don’t hide your intentions from the agent as agents don’t like to be used for information gathering purposes only.

3. If at all possible, always contact your travel agent or destination specialist as soon as you know when and where you wish to travel, not last minute before your intended departure. That is even more important when you’re planning a trip to a lesser frequented destination.

4. Don’t book your flights and hotels online and ask a travel agent to do the rest, namely the difficult parts, such as complex transportation connections, travel arrangements in remote locations or to book segments that you just feel are not safe for you to book online yourself. Give your agent to design and book your entire trip for you. The worst you can do is design your own vacation package, then copy and email the same request to dozen different agents to see who may be the lowest bidder. Yes, the internet is perfect for that kind of information gathering but look at this from a perspective of a travel agent. If he/she knows you are sending the same request to dozen agents many of them will not be too interested in dealing with you. Then again, telling them the truth they will appreciate knowing what you are doing and approach the whole thing quite differently and in the end they just might offer you a deal.

5. If you’re after booking shoe-string cost of travel, for example wishing to book the lowest type of accommodations, best be your own travel agent. Do realize that agents can’t book services that are simply too cheap to begin with, not to mention that that kind of suppliers do not pay agent s any kind of commission. The agent may still help you but keep in mind he will be doing you a favor and will be working for you at no charge. If so, appreciate it, email your thank you.

Do realize that to ask an agent million questions, get all the answers, including time consuming quotes, only for you to never replay again is definitely rude and turns agents off completely. If you are polite and respectful many will often work without any commitment on your part, providing you with information you need, working for free. But because of those that just siphon info out of agents so they could possibly book travel on their own leaves not only a sour taste in agent’s mouth but certainly induces the decision to charge au upfront planning fees when a next inquiry comes.

6. On another hand, when it comes to upper end accommodations keep in mind these hotels routinely offer discounts to agents that agents can markup and still offer you room costs below hotel rack rates. Genuine agent is not interested in selling you a higher end hotel in order to make a higher commission but to tailor in a better trip experience for you where he deems it desirable.

7. Keep in mind that there is a difference between a travel agent and a so called Destination Specialist. Most travel agents use online reservation systems to book transportation, hotel and vacation packages. They essentially book or resell ready-to-sell travel offers from a variety of suppliers that do not require more than filling in your name and dates of travel. When it comes to you needing customized arrangements, they will need to contact tour operators and destination specialists that are either part of their consortium or a network they belong to. Depending on the connections they have they will or will not be able to help you.

8. Destination Specialists pride themselves in really knowing their destinations. Many of them have indeed not only traveled extensively but know a particular destination inside-out so they can arrange travel logistics for you based on knowing, rather than looking it up in a brochure or some kind of data base. Many Destination Specialists specialize in difficult, custom designed itineraries and do not sell travel packages. Often a time though not always that kind of service reflects higher markup.

9. Last, please note that many destination specialists as well as travel agents work 110 or more hours per week because especially custom-design travel is indeed very time consuming. Being good at travel logistics does take experience and while with the internet it seems second nature to be able to arrange travel on your own, many travel professional are indeed very good at what they do! They do know more about travel than you, give them a chance, they can save you not only money but also many headaches and above all, they can assure not only that you’ll travel worry-free but that you may have a trip of your life! Keep in mind, a good agent is not after selling you a single ticket or a package tour, they want you to become a repeat client, their go-to-travel processional for rest of your life.

Taxi ‘Recap’ – The Short Version; Part 1

For the record, here is a précis of the brief I received:

…what it really entails and why taxi operators are up in arms about it, probably for the March 2007 issue, although it’s quite topical now. By then, some progress will hopefully have been made. “It should discuss why and when the program was introduced, implementation date, cost to government and taxi operators, operators’ response during this time (last week of Nov ’06) and the chaos and violence caused on the roads, etc; where progress with the program will stand by January/February and the road forward. Negative comments by experts infer that the program treats the symptoms and not the causes: lack of driver training, non-roadworthy vehicles, overloading, ineffective policing, etc.”

N B: All the quotations in boxes come from an address by the Minster of Transport to Top Six Management Ltd, August ’05.

Forgive me my levity, but herein lies an entire research project and a history that dates back to the early ’50s. I don’t have all the answers to hand and won’t be taking six months to assimilate them. Taxi violence, though, has been with us for two decades plus and the taxi industry has also taken considerable blame for the train violence experienced during the ’80s.

“Deregulation of the transport sector in the late 1980s brought its own problems. This has seen destructive competition among taxi operators, as well as self-regulation by the taxi industry.”

My collection of 66 news clippings from 2005 (and a filed copy of the Minister’s speech) exists because I proposed a research survey on what taxi drivers and operators actually understood and thought about the process. At the time, research funding for Transport/Traffic/Road Safety was completely discontinued. Taxi operators are still striking a year later, which, I believe, says something about government’s understanding and perception of feelings on the street.

“Taxi associations and their members have become…protective of their turf…impeding access to lucrative routes and ranking facilities to…operators from rival associations…this has resulted in conflict within the taxi industry.”

At its inception, during the mid-’90s, ‘taxi recap’ was considered a ‘done deal’. It still is. The only real problem with that appears to be the refusal of the industry to do, without question, exactly as it’s told to do. ‘Done deal’ or not, doing takes a lot longer than planned!

Space allows only a rough explanation of some of the factors leading to the present, but there can be very few South Africans who have managed to play ‘ostrich’ efficiently enough to have ‘taxi recap’ pass overhead, unnoticed. By virtue of their profession, the traffic fraternity should already have, at least, a vague understanding of the processes involved.

Potted history

By the late ’50s, the black taxi industry was already a reality in Alexandria and Soweto. The vehicles generally used to transport paying passengers were large sedans of the Cadillac/Valiant variety. The industry may initially have begun when one Mr Big Shot, extremely-proud-second-hand-vehicle-owner, realised that running a car costs far more than polishing it and watching it stand idle.

In a world where few families owned a second car, and most people relied on public transport to get to and from work (bus and train services were not much better then, than now), most jobs required daily trips to a common destination. Suburbs and townships were residential facilities only. Industry and business knew its place – in the heart of city centres – and presented the practical possibility of car ‘pooling’ to share commuter costs.

The original minibus taxis were second- or third-hand VW ‘Combis’ that had risen to fame in the flower power era, when students could live, love and lubricate from interior foam mattresses. They were then discovered by those mums whose sole, practical, out-of-home function was to negotiate the daily school taxi rounds. Once they moved on, by the late ’70s/early ’80s, a pay-per-person ‘khaya’ taxi industry became a reality.

“There is no doubt that the aging and unreliable taxi fleet poses serious problems and challenges, not only to the commuters, but to the operators as well.”

Entrenched industry

Initially, trips were over short distances, but later, long-distance passengers began converting from train for their bi-annual trips back to rural villages and different provinces. Taxis would be stacked high with cases, bags, mattresses, furniture and animals (for slaughter); luggage that would have been rejected by rail authorities – and voila! South Africa had found its very own, unique, distinctive, mode of transport.

“The taxi industry was able to take advantage of the gaps in the formal public transport system, and positioned itself as the public transport mode of choice.”

While it is true that Apartheid showed far too much concern about what was actually carried in minibus taxis (regular, road-block army searches uncovered an endless supply of weapons during the ‘struggle’ years) it virtually ignored the industry’s core function: transporting people.

“The apartheid government did not view the taxi industry as part of the formal public transport system, and denied it access to the subsidy and other forms of support.”

Train and bus services were invidiously replaced by taxi services, especially as industrial and business areas mushroomed across the landscape, suburbs and rural areas. It became too much trouble for the authorities to run several different public transport routes, and the more easily maneuvered taxis serviced a desperate market. Long-distance rail services became obsolete, although a vicious war between short-distance rail, bus and taxi commuter services was declared.

Violence on trains and buses forced passengers to patronize the taxi industry and wherever sufficient custom could not be found to fill the cabs, it seemed that shots were sure to follow…drivers and associations apparently poached each others’ territory and were merciless to the paying public. Probably as many people fell off trains, as fell into SAP/army hands.

“Transport deregulation was the root cause of the so-called taxi wars that ripped through the industry and our society during the 1990s.”

Come 1994, with stability and optimism top-of-mind, our new political minders showed a worthy determination to regulate all those areas of concern that had been previously neglected. And what better group could there be to effect change?

The ANC had overthrown an entire nationalized dynastic policy; its populace was wildly delighted with the party’s overwhelming success and bubbled with approval. Who better to invoke new rules of law? During the initial post-1994 honeymoon period, all appeared quite quiet on the taxi front. Had the governing party moved quickly, they may have found transformation really easy. But they delayed.

I guess they just didn’t realize that their ‘freedom’ would be compromised by regulation. And once they realized, they didn’t particularly like it. (My personal theory is that our revolution is still alive and well: military rule so often crushes resistance; benevolence allows distension to carry on thriving.) Concerned citizens, although somewhat slow to digest the enormity of the possible consequences that the original taxi recap plan conveyed, now continually voice their objections, in a manner that gets results.

“It is important for the industry to appreciate that self-regulation breeds conflict and will never assist anyone to achieve the goals that we have set ourselves as a collective.”

Initial plans

While the initial taxi recap plan doubtless intended to improve travel for the average citizen, certain features of the plan were so astounding, it is amazing that it managed to find its way onto paper without serious, public contention and outcry. How any free-market country could seriously believe itself entitled to dictate which brand people are entitled to buy and which bank they are entitled to borrow from, is ludicrous, but that’s how it all began.

Many people still believe that proposed kickbacks were at the core of the initial thinking. The Sheik/Zuma arms-deal affair confirms these suspicions and many people still question other ‘deals’ made by Transport during that era.

“The main objective…is to assist taxi operators to replace their ageing fleet with new taxi vehicles that meet certain Safety Requirements, as published by the Government.”

DoT, having set specifications to improve safety conditions (overloaded, top-heavy taxis were inclined to roll easily and had no seat-belts, for instance) proposed putting the replacement vehicles out to a limited number of manufacturers for development, via a tender process. The war was on and at least one manufacturer went insolvent competing with the ‘big guys’ for the pleasure of government’s business.

“I am confident that working with the industry, the banks and manufacturers, we will be able to ensure that the new vehicles are affordable to the average operator.”

Thankfully, it was later decided to adapt and allow all interested manufacturers the opportunity to develop vehicles that met the specifications, and to allow taxi operators to decide for themselves which brand to buy and which bank package to contract to. Since manufacturers could no longer be sure of the numbers involved, prices, also always at the mercy of the economy, rose accordingly.

Specification changes occurred at intervals along the way: only diesel-powered vehicles are now acceptable, for instance, to help contain the high volume of crude-oil imports. The motor industry is committed to the success of the programme, but then, why wouldn’t they be? There are high profits to be made…

Originally excluded by virtue of specification drawbacks, Toyota again entered the field with a model by the name of ‘Quantum’. Since this will probably keep Toyota’s hi-jack figures sky high, the challenge to find a suitable nickname is on: ‘Quantum’ could refer to ‘How much?’ (free, if hijacked) or ‘How many? (can be squeezed inside).

“Government will endorse initiatives aimed at ensuring that the taxi industry develop business interests in sectors such as petroleum, financial sector, vehicle manufacturing, and wheel and tyre sectors and [others] where suppliers benefit from the taxi industry.”

The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco), doubtless ANC aficionados with struggle affiliations, put their money and faith into the Russian 16-seater GAZelles. These were initially sold for R179 900 VAT inclusive, but appear to have cost their 3 000 to 5 000 new owners dearly.

Labelled ‘death traps’, there are concerns as to how they passed SABS specification checks and are said to spend more time off the road than on. Who’s biting the bullet now, Santaco? Or must Gorky, GAZ SA and McCarthy face the firing squad on account of the vehicle’s fourth recall (deadlined for March 2007)?

Tata and Mahindra also joined the race and access to Indian spares will hopefully be better than to Russian ones. Whatever the make, model or specifications of new vehicles, if they are regularly overloaded, not suitably regulated/enforced, are not driven competently or maintained well, their ability to keep death off our roads will be nil and we can expect to experience déjà vu once their warranties expire.

Safety first

“Our interactions with commuter organizations indicate that commuters are as much concerned about their own safety and the unroadworthy nature of most of the taxi vehicles.”

When results of a survey into household transport usage were tabled in Parliament (September 2005) distressing levels of dissatisfaction with all three major public transport modes, were revealed, with the minibus taxi industry labelled the worst offender. Of the nearly 2.5-million people who regularly commute to work, by taxi, 30% appear to regard their personal safety (due to crime, bad driver behavior, or motor accidents) to be at serious risk.

“The most critical and immediate challenge facing the taxi industry is safety. Government has a major role to play in this regard.”

As a virtually immediate (for government) result, the taxi industry sped into 2005 at a reduced speed limit of 100km/h. This aimed to reduce the high percentage of people-carrying vehicles that are involved in fatal crashes. By August of the same year, the ‘big possibility’ of advanced driver training for taxi drivers was revealed by Santaco.

Of which, not one word more has appeared in the media, since! Also dropped from the wish list, was a national electronic management system: declared ‘too advanced’ for the still-developing world. This single omission appears incredibly relevant to the original objective of regulating the taxi industry.

Without efficient regulation, it has become notorious for anarchy, instability, corruption and mafia-type operations around lucrative routes. Curbing the free-for-all is essential. If the process compromises our national devotion to ‘African’ time, disregard for pre-arranged obligations, total onus for regulation and enforcement immediately reverts to the traffic officer on the ‘beat’.

“…it is the duty and responsibility of Government to ensure that all public transport operators, not only taxis, observe the rules of the road at all times and show respect to other road users.”

It is this lack of effective regulation that causes violence to punctuate the industry’s effectiveness. The job functions of traffic authorities make it impossible for them to curb taxi violence. Officers do not go out in large numbers, as a fighting force, with protective shields and in military formation. They are easier to pick off, one by one, than stray mosquitoes in the midday heat.

And they know it! It’s not what they signed up for. Expecting an isolated traffic officer to deal with organized crime is a bit like sending a girl guide into a war zone to effect peace. (Sorry, Guys; no offense meant). The military structure, through which they deliver, does not make them an effective hit squad!

The scrap metal deal

“I wish to also address concerns of many taxi operators that the R50 000 scrapping allowance will be inadequate for them to be able to purchase new vehicles.”

Transport has seen a turnover of three Ministers: Maharaj, with the vision, Omar, who appeared to delay and Radebe, who has determined to play out the scenario. Much of the delay was caused by the high budget needed to accomplish the deed and the ‘recap’ budget, together with additional resources of R885-million, to improve traffic law enforcement, was finally granted, in Parliament in February 2005.

Since the original figure of R100 000 per scrapped vehicle was touted, it has been halved. Either the taxi ‘park’ has grown (doubtless) or the number of taxis had been miscalculated. Ten years on, vehicle prices have risen more than most of us imagined. The delay in delivery has caused the media to wonder whether Transport had “bitten off more than it could chew” (when R7.7-billion was approved by cabinet in August 2005).

“…at the same time enabling other taxi operators whose vehicles could be impoundment due to unroadworthiness to remove their vehicles from our roads…”

A R250-million allocation was to be used to establish ‘scrapping’ systems in 2005, deputy director-general of public transport at National DoT confirmed in March of that year. He later (it was whispered) succumbed to death threats from within the taxi industry and moved on, but not before the minister and Santaco had confirmed their readiness to begin the process by April, after the tender had been allocated.

We were also assured that most of the aging taxi fleet would be “history” before the 2010 World Cup. One April, I am told, is very much like another, in the world of politics. It was November 2006 before the first token taxi was symbolically, and very publicly, crushed beyond repair (a very difficult thing to do to a taxi, notorious for remaining on the road minus several, generally considered essential, moving parts).

“These operators will be expected to register…their intention to exit and voluntarily surrender unroadworthy vehicles in exchange for the R50 000 scrapping allowance.”

The intention has always been to reduce the taxi fleet to less than 100 000, thus preventing ‘overtrading’ on lucrative routes. The scrapping allowance, although promoted as an incentive to drivers to renew their vehicles, was not necessarily intended to allow those with limited means to trade up.

There was also the possibility that large operators would consolidate their scrapping allowances and either invest the hard cash or use it to enter other industries. There has been continual unrest from drivers who believe their futures to be insecure and if and facts, figures or statistics have been presented to reassure them that they will still have jobs, after the fact, they have completely passed me by.

10 Tips to Buy the Smartest Travel Insurance Policy

Why invest in travel insurance?

Travel insurance is the backbone of your travel plan as you can not only be at peace but also can ask for compensation in case of any uncertain event occurring during your vacation. There are many benefits of investing in a suitable travel coverage plan. The frequency of uncertainties has increased these days. Terrorist attacks, thefts and robbery are some of the commonly happening events. You never know how bad you will be affected by such uncertain events while you are out in an unknown destination for a vacation. Insurance is a tool that helps you stay protected throughout your trip and offers you good amount of compensation in case of any emergency or an uncertain event. Nowadays, buying suitable travel coverage tops the list of any travel plan. The tourism industry in India is doing a great job by offering attractive travel packages to the residents. Buying a suitable travel insurance plan to match your vacation package has never been so easy before.

Buying travel insurance online

It takes just a few clicks online to search for available travel plans and compare them with their features and coverage details. Comparing available travel coverage plans through online quotes is the smartest way to search for the most suitable ones. As premium is the primary factor to consider, you can calculate the premiums associated with different plans by using the online calculators and invest in the smartest one.

Tips to buy online travel insurance

Here are some effective tips to buy travel insurance policy that suits your requirements:

• Before searching for the travel coverage policy, firstly decide about the place where you would like to spend your vacation at. After you finalize the travel destination, search for reputed travel companies online and ask for the variety of plans that they offer.

• For aged people, it is a must to opt for a plan that covers emergency charges and medical expenses along with ambulance and hospitalization fees.

• If you are a regular traveler, you can easily locate a discounted travel coverage policy.

• Your coverage elements would differ as per the place where you are planning to visit. For an adventure trip that includes activities like sea diving, mountain climbing and rafting, make sure that the policy covers compensation for loss of luggage and personal injury.

• There are different insurance policies for business travelers that usually cover compensation for loss of business related accessories and uncertain expenses.

• Students travel policies would cover uncertain events during their abroad visits for education.

• Family travel policies would offer compensation to your entire family against events like delay in flights, loss of checked baggage and interruptions due to hijack.

• Avail assurance from the insurance company that they would refund the tourism amount in case of cancellation of trip due to uncertain events.

• Be ready with your coverage checklist before applying for any travel coverage plan.

• Some insurance companies also offer pet insurance policies to travelers who want to take along their pets for the trip.

For a safe and peaceful journey, buying a suitable travel insurance policy is a must.

Why You Should Travel Young

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

-Henry Miller

Traveling is simply a brutality of humanity, it is when we travel that we see things for what they truly are and not how we imagined them to be. Traveling also lets our imagination run wild without expectations, it lets us see things from a new perspective, without the alleged prejudice of the world. And while all of this seems to be an adequate reason to travel, many are still naïve to the idea of traveling.

But just as many are left in the dark to wonder and wander, some are out there exploring and enjoying what the world has to offer them, for it is in that brief moment of youth that we can truly experience life, as we know it.

Now the question of many remains, “Why Should I Travel Young”? Personally, I can give you a hundred, even a thousand reasons why you should travel when you’re young but if you’re desire to see the world begins and ends with your “Wish to See the World” then I’m afraid no amount of reasoning would suffice to convince you to go after what you want.

You see, traveling as much as it is a form of recreation is also a commitment, a vocation for some, but ultimately, it is a responsibility. A responsibility you should be willing to take onto yourself. Many people say that the young are lucky to have the health and the wealth to see the world but what they do not realize is that the young are often distracted, deceived and sometimes, deluded.

So if you’re one of the young who wish to unearth the world’s greatest places and learn life’s most valuable lessons, but are afraid to make it happen, read along, maybe I can convince you to travel while you still have the gift of youth.

  • Traveling teaches you a sense of adventure- Don’t quote me on this one but based on my experience, traveling allows you to have as much as fun as you want without having to worry of what other people will say about you. You don’t have your peers or parents to warn you and judge you, so you can be young, wild and free. Life is an adventure and traveling lets you experience that.
  • Traveling teaches you to be compassionate- Other than the photos, the souvenir and the life-long memory that traveling gives you, it also edifies you of the real situation and teaches you to care for other people, sometimes not of your own kind.
  • Traveling allows you to be culturally diverse- If you think traveling is all about sight-seeing and marveling at the wonders each country has, then you’re right. But there’s also something more important that traveling teaches us, it allows us to be culturally diverse. Whenever we travel, it is important that we follow the local practices of the country/destination we are going to. As the old saying goes, “Respect begets Respect” If we learn to respect and even appreciate the culture of other nationalities then we become more aware of our own. That’s the mutual benefit we get from traveling.
  • Traveling makes you more attractive as a person- they say that the most attractive people in the world are those that have seen it. Do you agree? I do. It is because of the invaluable and immeasurable life experiences we have with our travels that make us a better person, and when you feel you’re better, you become more attractive.
  • When you travel young, you travel more- let’s face it, we’re all bound to grow old and lose our health. But while we’re young and at the peak of everything, it’s best to take advantage of it and start traveling, after all, you’re only allowed until your 30s to hike a mountain or ride the rapids of the river.
  • Traveling makes it easy to make friends- if back at your hometown you tend to cling to the same group of people bound by a circle of friendship, then maybe you should travel more often. Traveling has been proven as one of the best ways to gain friends and build bonds, after all, you are all strangers to one another at one point but because of your common interest to see the world, you are bound by it as well. And get this; wouldn’t it be nice to have friends in all parts of the world? That would be way cool, way cooler than your friends back home.
  • Traveling makes you a better storyteller- You might not get this now but when you have kids or grandchildren, you will. Those who travel young have more opportunities to experience everything there is to traveling. With the many countries that you’ve visited and you’ll be traveling to is a story waiting to be told. Traveling gives you things to share over breakfast, lunch or dinner. When you travel, you will never have a hard time thinking of a topic to talk about; not to mention you’ll keep everyone with your story.
  • Now if for some strange reason, after citing all these reasons why you should travel young and you’re still not convinced; it’s pretty obvious that you have a fear inside you that you’re just trying to hide so everyone won’t think you’re a coward who can’t face it. Is it fear of heights? Fear of the unknown? Fear of being independent? Whatever it is, know that traveling, especially alone, will help you address that fear. You just have to take the big leap of faith and make the first step to make your traveling dreams a reality. You only live once; and you’re only young for a short period of time, if you don’t travel now, when?

    The Health Benefits of Humor When Traveling

    Traveling makes people excited to arrive at their destinations. But sometimes the destination is not the only thing that travelers should take into account. The journey can be as enjoyable as the destination. The only thing that people need to remember is to always have fun. If you know how to have fun while traveling, then you know that traveling is more than just an activity. It is an enjoyable activity. A funny travel attitude can make any journey less strenuous. Your problems will actually be lighter to carry. Humor can aid in the promotion of a traveler’s physical health. These benefits can be achieved through the laughter that people have in a funny travel experience. Laughter as proven by studies can make the body adapt to many situations. A good laugh can make problems easier to solve, relieving the traveler of the stresses that problems bring in the trip. It also aids in the development and support of the physical health of the person.

    Some things may go wrong while traveling. The possibility that a humorous travel experience will occur increases when wrong things start happening in the journey. If you have the right attitude, having fun is easy and free. Travelers do not have to pay more just to have fun in the trip. The spontaneous events that in any moment can happen while traveling make the activity more exciting. Expressing and sharing humor while traveling will let travelers be more spontaneous, less defensive, release inhibitions and be able to express true feelings. Being spontaneous, travelers get along well and easy. Travelers will have less doubt and forget prejudgments of their traveling buddies if they let go of defensiveness. Less defensiveness will in turn release inhibitions that will make the travelers relaxed with each other. And the last of these funny travel tips, is that travelers need to let go of their feelings; this transparency can make traveling relationships fun.

    If people are all having funny travel stories, traveling will never be seen as a boring and strenuous activity that people do. A good laughter has many healthy effects on the physical body of the traveler. Laughter relaxes the whole body, boosts the immune system, releases endorphins and protects the heart. A good laugh can make the body’s muscle relax up to 45 minutes after the laugh. It also decreases stress in hormones and thus creating better functioning immune systems for the traveler. A good laugh can make any traveler at the worst situations feel better because fun triggers the release of endorphins. Laughing also exercises blood vessels and arteries; this protects the heart form cardio vascular diseases and heart attacks.

    There is no harm in funny travel. Fun can never be gone in any situation; all that it takes is to recognize it. Travel jokes can go far for any traveler. It does not only assure a good laugh but it also puts the traveler in a higher state of well being and health. Traveling and humor are perfect buddies as they spread happiness all around.

    Why Travel Medical Insurance Is So Important

    Travel medical insurance is an insurance package that offers certain medical coverage while traveling. These plans are similar to that of normal health insurance policies, but are associated with traveling. Travel medical plans consist mainly of one of two types of policies, namely temporary travel medical plan and permanent travel insurance program.

    To acquire travel insurance, an individual needs to pay a monthly premium to the insurance company through a travel agent. The company then pays for all medical care required by the customer while traveling.

    International travelers, who travel frequently, mainly require this type of insurance. There are various choices to be made among travel health insurers, which offer help to numerous traveling people. If travelers develop some medical troubles outside their country, these travel programs provide them with all the necessary medical assistance and protection.

    These travel health insurance scheme provides hospital security benefit of $100 or more per night, for travelers going outside the US. They also provide $15,000 and more to cover suitable medical expenses for previous health conditions. These are the most attractive feature of these travel plans.

    Reasons To Get Travel Insurance:

    Is travel medical insurance necessary or waste of money? This is a common question arising in the minds of many people, when they think of a travel insurance program. There are certain reasons that show how important travel health coverage can be to a traveler.

    While seeking an affordable travel package, people need to pay attention to its price structure. Most of the available travel medical plans are of low cost. The traveler is ready to spend the vacation money for fun, but chances of medical complications can add extra money. To avoid this, it is very necessary to buy a cheap travel health insurance package.

    Most medical policies provide health care assurance all around the world. However, they do not offer full amount as per the coverage. For instance, if a person is traveling on a cruise ship, the basic health insurance plan will cover only 50 percent of the doctor’s visits on the ship.

    However, the medical travel package covers the full amount and sometimes more. Therefore, travel insurance programs are the best choice for international travelers to protect themselves while relaxing.

    Many travel medical insurers offer policies, without a medical or health examination. The package takes care of all the medical expenses associated with any medical crisis, while traveling.

    Final Advice:

    Travel medical insurance provides peace of mind, during your entire trip. To make the vacation more enjoyable without any hassles, it is very important to have travel medical insurance. For those travelers, who have previous medical history this is even more important.

    Travelers with previous history have a high risk of medical complications during traveling and there is no chance of extra expense, if they already have travel coverage. You really don’t want to take the risk of not having it.

    A travel agent generally offers the travel health insurance when making bookings, and a large number of travel agents, who provides these policies, are available online. To conclude, travel health coverage provides an extra level of comfort and deals with all the medical complications get a quote below.

    Business Travel Insurance

    Anyone that travels a lot should consider travel insurance, but those that travel for business often overlook the importance of this protection. Business travel insurance is simply a good idea because it can provide you with the protection that you need whether you are traveling just a short or long distance away from home. You never know when you are going to need the protection that insurance can provide, so you should look into business travel insurance before you go on your next trip.

    The great thing about business travel insurance is that the individual can purchase it or a company can purchase it. Many companies are choosing to purchase the insurance for all of their employees that travel. This is a very economical way to buy the coverage as many companies can offer bulk buy discounts. This can be a particularly good idea for companies that host a lot of conferences, meetings, team building events, training courses, product launches, and the like. Many businesses offer corporate hospitality outings and the like, and even on these fun getaways employees should be protected and business travel insurance is a great way to get that protection.

    If you happen to be an employee that travels to a lot of business oriented annual general meetings, exhibitions, seminars, or conventions and you aren’t provided with business travel insurance you can buy it yourself. The coverage is not at all expensive, and you may even be able to purchase the coverage at the same time that you plan an event or plan your travel, which will make it convenient to purchase. When you purchase this protection you can go on your business travels and not worry about what would happen if you were robbed, if your luggage was lost, or if you needed medical attention in an area where your usual medical or dental insurance was not valid.

    Many of us think about travel insurance when we are going on vacation or visiting exotic vacations, but this is not the only time when you need the protection that this type of insurance can provide. Business travel insurance is just as important as the insurance that you would buy when flying across the world for an exotic vacation or honeymoon because there is just as much opportunity for you to encounter health problems or circumstances that you just did not plan for. Why should you be any less equipped to handle these problems on a business trip than you would be when you are on vacation? When you leave home you should feel safe, secure, and confident in your abilities to handle any situation and with business travel insurance you can do this.

    If you don’t travel often or you only travel once a year you can opt to purchase your business travel insurance for just one trip. All you have to do is disclose when you will be traveling, where you will be going, and when you will be returning. This is generally very affordable and will offer you the protection that you should have on your one trip. If you travel all the time for work you can choose to buy your business travel insurance for the whole year. While this is more expensive in the beginning, it is cheaper over the course of the year than it would be to purchase the coverage every time you go away on travel. Many times there are also different levels of coverage to choose from, so you can choose from very basic coverage to very extensive coverage, based on your needs. When you purchase the travel business insurance you may want to consider the areas that you travel to as well as what sort of coverage your other insurance coverage may provide as this information will help you determine what sort of coverage you need.

    It used to be more difficult to buy travel insurance, and that is why many people simply opted not to do it. In many cases you had to go right to an insurance agent and you had to fill out a ton of paperwork, or you could go to a travel agent and do the same thing. Now, you can purchase your business travel insurance right along with your other travel needs such as but not limited to your event planning services, your car rental services, lodging, transportation, and airfare. This is very convenient and allows for those that didn’t want to bother with the coverage before because of the hassle to purchase the benefits of travel insurance. Next time you receive notice that you have to travel for your job, why not look into travel business insurance and see what protection it can offer you? It’s better to have the protection and not need it than need it and not have it!

    India Travel Forums – The Traveler’s Delight

    We have all heard the word “forum” and the present world, fast transcending into an “e-world” has umpteen umber of such forums. A web forum can be simply defined as an online message board or a bulletin board for endless and detailed discussions on various issues. One of the most upcoming forums in India is the “India Travel Forum”.

    As the word suggests, India travel forums provide a hands-on experience on travel within India. Such discussion forums also guide travelers visiting India to make their travel a pleasurable one.

    Indian travel forums have certainly become a useful tool for all the vacation lovers who wish to explore the natural wonders of India. The members of forums can share their pictures, suggestions, and first-hand experiences on several destinations. Technology features like “chatting” enable the forum members to get swift responses to all their travel related queries. The personal travel experiences shared by the members give an honest review of the place visited. From the route to be taken, the tips to be followed, the places to be visited to the money you need to expend, you can actually get all the required information as to everything that a traveler can think of. Indian travel industry is expanding rapidly as every other Indian is eagerly looking forward to a getaway within India to discover the mystique landscape and the breathtaking water bodies. As they say: “Better late than never”, India has finally struck on the right keys with several Indian travel communities being set up to make travel as easy as it can get.

    The Indian travel discussion forums have eventually made their mark and have come a long way from taking advice from a few friends before heading for a vacation to sharing it on a much larger platform with thousands of real-time travelers. Travel forums are not only for people seeking answers to their travel related queries, but also for people who have immense knowledge about the Indian hot-spots or frequent travelers as they can share or guide the other members. There are countless advantages of being a member of the India travel forums as listed above but a fairly important one is being saved from the exaggerated views of the Indian travel agents about any destination, which may land you in a highly praised location but does not suit your interests. Most of all, if you pay a hefty amount and do not get the worth then all that remains is an unhappy traveler-the basic purpose of travel being defeated. You are no more rejuvenated but remorseful after your trip, this is where the forums step in with the genuine common people (travelers) ready to lend a helping hand. To the contrary, the forums might just suggest a travel agent or a tour operator who turns out to be a blessing for your vacation offering cost-effective packages.

    The picture-sharing feature of the forums help you to get a look and feel of the place you wish to visit. Thus, Indian travel forums can save your time, money and offer you an expert opinion by the travelers themselves. Next time when you are making your travel plans, be it a South India tour, a North India tour or any corner of the Indian subcontinent, you know where to find the travel gurus. Be a part of the change, be a member of the Indian Travel forums. Happy traveling!!

    Top Advantages Of Using A Car Rental When Traveling

    The most significant advantage to using a car from a rental service is cost and freedom. If you are a regular business traveler or are simply traveling for leisure, having your own vehicle to move around in is more convenient, not to mention more cost effective, than using a taxi or public transportation. This is especially true for those who are traveling for site seeing or are spending longer periods (typically 3 weeks to a month) in a foreign nation. In this article I list a few advantages of renting a car when traveling that you may find useful.

    Anyone traveling on vacation with a budget will immediately see the benefit of renting a car from any international rental company. If you want an appropriate balance between cost of transportation to complete your explorations and site seeing, and freedom to leave your residence at any time of day with a car, then a rental is your only option, short of buying a car there. If you are a member of a loyalty program with a car rental company back home that has an international presence, you may be eligible to receive better discounts at your destination.

    If you are traveling from the US to an Asian country, the disparity in fuel costs can work to your advantage. On average (because of the value of a dollar) you can gain slightly more fuel for a dollar in many Asian countries than you would back home. Unfortunately this wouldn’t necessarily apply for European countries as the cost of pump fuel there is higher than it is in the US.

    You can expect the same high quality standard of vehicles from rental car companies in Europe as you would expect to find in the US. Not only does the European Union enforce strict rules on emissions, the level of competition coupled by the massive market of travelers to Europe who rent cars on a daily basis ensures that you will find affordable high standard car rental companies.

    If you have just landed in a foreign country and are at the airport, the typical cost of a taxi is normally a huge fraction of the total cost of a car rental for an entire day. Many of the well established car rental companies have offices in the major airports of the world, making it easy and convenient for you to rent a car almost immediately you land in the country.