Budget Travel Holidays – Three Quick and Easy Tips to Plan Budget Travel Holidays

We all want fabulous budget travel holidays without breaking the bank. Here are three tips that will help you plan your next great holiday while staying on a budget. We’ll go over the months you should target to travel that will give you the greatest travel savings, which type of airports to fly out of, and more general tips to give you the greatest bang for you buck. Let’s get started:

1. Try to travel during “Shoulder Season”, a term coined by the travel industry. This is a great time to travel because it’s not High Season, which is when it’s most expensive to travel and most crowded, and it’s not Low Season, when the crowds are not there but the weather is the worst. You can generally save hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, on your vacation just by targeting Shoulder Season because airfare and hotels are cheaper. For example, go to Hawaii in March or September, Tahiti in November, Costa Rica in December, or Baja California in June.

2. Use the internet to your advantage. Many airlines, resorts, cruise companies, and hotel websites offer rewards to people who subscribe to their e-mails lists. Usually all it takes is for you to visit their website and find the place where you can enter your e-mail in exchange for discounts, rewards, etc. These e-mail lists are often one of the first or only places to get major, unadvertised discounts. Social marketing is on the upswing and you can follow the airlines, etc. on Twitter to get similar savings also.

3. Be flexible with your travel planning. By being open to flying out of a less commercial airport, or staying in a neighboring city that borders the touristy city, you will save money. Many people want to go to San Francisco but cannot afford the pricey hotel rooms in the city. Consider staying in neighboring Berkely and taking public transportation into San Francisco. Neighboring cities often have the same “feel” as the touristy cities, yet the local businesses are more accommodating and even grateful for your business. You are more apt to be treated like royalty because the locals like you being there, rather than being an annoyance, aka “just another tourist”. Minor travel adjustments such as this can save you hundreds on your trip, while still being able to vacation in the city of your choice.

I hope this helps you see that the possibility of budget travel holidays can be a reality with a little planning and ingenuity. Flexibility in travel planning goes a long way to huge savings. Be a smart shopper and use the internet. It’s a great resource for budget travel. By following these simple tips, you will be able to have your budget travel holiday.

Travel Agencies – For a Comfortable Business Travel

There are a lot of things that one has to take care of while going on for a business trip to a foreign destination, more so when it is one’s first business travel. To make it convenient and comfortable, it is better that one hires the services of a travel agency. They will take care of all your requirements. There are a large number of travelling agencies in Australia who can fulfil all your travelling needs.

Some of the benefits of hiring travel agencies for the business trips are discussed below.

Since business trips are very different from the leisurely trips these need more meticulous planning and execution. These are more serious in nature and any loophole in the planning may lead to huge losses. Taking care of both the business deal and the business travelling details is not easy for a person. Therefore it is better to hire a travelling agency which understands these things and therefore give utmost attention to each detail.

These travelling agencies will look into all the details of your business trip and plan accordingly, right from the start of your journey to the last moment of your stay as well as getting back to your home destination.

For people who travel frequently for business purposes must go for travelling agencies specializing in the business tours. These agencies have a lot of experience in this field. They can provide you the best of services at very low rates.

From business air travel booking, hotel booking to meeting arrangements, everything is done by the travelling agency.

These agencies have a lot of experience in handling these business trips and therefore know each and every requirement of a business trip. This is the reason why you can rely on their services.

These agencies understand that businessmen travel frequently on business trips. Therefore to attract more travellers they give discounts on frequent basis. They have a lot of alluring business tour packages to suit the needs of all types of business travellers. These packages help you save a lot of your money but this does not mean that they compromise on services. These discounted packages provide you affordable business tickets, comfortable stay, fine dining options and the best arrangements for meetings and conferences.

You can also take your family along with you on the business trips. These travelling agencies can include all the facilities for the family members also. So your business trip can easily be turned into a family vacation.

They can in fact provide you with packages which have the business trip combined with sight seeing. After your work for the day is over you can indulge in a lot of pleasure activities also. The sight seeing will include visits to all the popular attractions of that place. There are many travelling agencies which provide these two in one services. There is always a lot of ample time between business meetings and work. This time can easily be utilized for sight seeing and pleasure activities.

Online Travel Agencies – The Advantages and Disadvantages

Planning on having a vacation with your family? Do you want to have a hassle free option for you to set up your travel plans and choose the best travel destinations around the world? No worries. The easiest and the most convenient way to book your ticket and help you with your travel itinerary are through the internet. You can find so many websites about travel guides and tours that would certainly help you with your trip.

You can find online travel agencies that can be helpful in giving you information about great destinations around the world without going to any travel agency office or talk to a travel agent. These online travel agencies will surely give you all the comforts to set up your destination plans in front of your laptop or PC. When you choose your online travel destination, you have to remember to find the best deal that allows you to choose your own destination and at the same time gives you all the comfort and convenience.

The benefits and advantage of online travel agencies is having low cost and convenience. Online travel agencies is also available at any time, as long as you go online, you have all the time for bookings that you need to complete. With all these online agencies, you have all the option to choose the best deal and the right budget for you. It also gives the comfort in the country of destination; you are provided with the transfer to your hotel and agencies are the one taking care of any problems you might encounter.

Also, the advantage of choosing online agencies is your control on your decision without influences or pressure from travel agents. If you visit a travel agency office, many travel agents have the same tone like a salesman; remember that most of these people are working under a commission program. So basically, you might be pressured by their sales pitch and book a trip without checking other good options and much less affordable.

Usually one of the concerns for online travel agencies is the security of paying large amounts of money online. Online security is a major issue for any online business, so it is very important to make sure and choose a travel agency online with a good reputation by checking customer reviews and feedback. Not all agencies can be relied on because some of them might disappear with your money. There are so many scams over the internet nowadays, so b very careful. It is better to be safe than sorry.

So overall, make sure to choose the legitimate and quality online travel agencies to avoid scams. Always seek some tips and assistance if you’re not sure about the online travel agency. Most importantly plan your trip carefully to avoid any hassles or problems. Good luck and enjoy your vacation.

Elements of a Strong Corporate Travel Program

In order to make the most of your corporate travel budget, it is critical to plan for leveraging your program for all it is worth. Telling travelers to select the lowest logical airfare is just not enough. Here are the elements that should be considered when planning or evaluating your travel program.

1. Travel policy

A well written and disseminated travel policy is the foundation of any good travel program, and I am consistently amazed that so many corporations have such an outdated and poorly conceived travel policy, if they have one at all. It is not difficult to find a well written policy. One can be found online quite easily. All that remains is that it is edited to reflect corporate culture, and disseminated within the company so that everyone understands and agrees to follow it. For this reason, it is a good idea to have everyone sign a copy of the travel policy to ensure that it is read, understood and owned by all company staff. I suggest that everyone in the company signs a copy of the travel policy, whether they travel or not. They may change positions in the company later and be required to travel. A travel policy need not be long or complex. Some of the best travel policies I have ever seen were only a few pages long.

2. Centralized travel internally and externally

Many companies do not centralize their travel program, and they pay a price in terms of a loss of expense reduction opportunities and internal efficiencies. Many companies that do not centralize travel have a fear of requiring travelers to do something they may not want to do, along with the idea that centralizing travel will require hiring a Travel Manager. Both of these may be legitimate concerns but they do not have to be in most cases. By requiring travelers to book centrally, you are not necessarily causing them to lose flexibility. You can centralize travel while still allowing travelers to book on their own, either with a travel agency of your choice, or online through a provider that you have partnered with and have confidence in. By assigning someone with the responsibility of overseeing travel, you are getting a single point of contact both internally and externally for travel issues. If your company spends less than $1 million in air travel, you probably do not need a full time travel manager. In these cases, travel oversight can be given to the finance department, human resources, or even an executive level assistant. Here is a look at the advantages to be gained by centralizing travel.

When you centralize travel with a single agency, you gain in a number of important ways. You will have a single point of contact for problems while travelers are on the road, and you will have one entity to go to for all your travel needs. This eliminates the problem of consolidating a travel report from among several sources. By bringing travel together, you will gain significantly from economies of scale. If you can measure total travel among various divisions or locations, you can get more for your money from travel suppliers. This will allow you to gain more from airline soft dollar programs, which means more free tickets and upgrades, get a higher percentage discount from our preferred airline, and get better negotiated rates from your hotel and car contracts. Your fulfillment costs will decrease as well, as your travel agency will often discount their fees for a higher overall volume of travel.

3. Mix of online booking and personal service

This is an addendum to the previous element, which calls for centralizing travel with one travel agency. This is important, but in doing so, you need not require travelers to use an online booking system, and you need not require travelers to call the agency directly. By offering travelers the option of doing either, you are accomplishing several goals. You will reduce your fulfillment costs, as online booking is cheaper in terms of a service fee. By giving travelers the option, you are giving them a sense of control, thereby increasing morale and standing a better chance of a high adoption rate. Thirdly, you leave open a best practice of using your online booking engine for less complex itineraries, and allowing senior executives, frequent travelers, and complex itineraries to be booked directly with a travel agent that can offer a higher level of service and a better overall travel experience where it is most warranted.

4. Look under every stone

While the bulk of most travel programs revolve around the air budget, there are several other areas one can investigate to find savings opportunities. There are a couple of more obvious areas to look, such as negotiated hotel rates at your favorite hotels, or car rental discounts with a favored supplier. Often your travel agency will already have discounted rates through consortia affiliations and agency car contracts. There are also some less common areas that should be investigated. For example, if ground transportation is a concern, most suppliers will offer discounted rates and a direct billing option. Direct billing arrangements with hotels and car rental agencies are also a great way to increase efficiencies and make the job of the accounting department easier.

5. Leverage hard dollar and soft dollar contracts

Most major airlines today offer hard dollar discounts as well as soft dollar incentives in exchange for company loyalty to their product. If your travel program is over $1 million in air spend, you can secure a discount off of the lowest fares of your carrier of choice in return for a market share commitment. For your secondary carriers, or if your volume is less than the minimum required by the airline, you can enter in to soft dollar programs for free tickets and free upgrades, as well as traveler status enhancements or airport club passes. These programs require little in the way of volume, but they are not well publicized so you may need to hunt for them or ask Baker Travel or your current agency to point you in the right direction.

6. Do not neglect hotel volume

Hotel volume is sometimes overlooked but it should not be. Negotiated rates can be had through your travel agency or directly with the hotel properties of your choice. Individual hotels near corporate locations will negotiate discounted rates for you in exchange for a minimum room/night commitment. By utilizing a travel agency, you are likely to receive discounts of 5% to 50% on thousands of hotels worldwide.

7. Have at least one car rental contract

Rental car contracts are easy to enter into and require little in the way of commitment from the corporation. Choose a partner that has airport locations and a reputation for excellent customer service. You can save 5-10% very easily and can also negotiate frequent renter membership for all your employees. This will make them more efficient and enhance morale. You can also enter in to direct billing agreements at the same time that can make the jobs of your travelers and accounting staff much less stressful.

8. Understand group and meeting contracts

Airlines and hotels will discount your fares and rates when you have groups traveling together or meeting at a single destination from multiple points of origin. These meeting contracts can bring you airfare discounts of 2-10%, and if you have enough travelers on a single airline, you may be able to negotiate for free tickets to be awarded at contract completion. The minimum requirement is usually 10 travelers going to the same place at the same time. Some airlines have higher minimums so be sure to ask before a contract is generated. Hotels will discount their rates in a similar way with a minimum of 10 room nights. These discounts can range from 10% to a much higher discount depending upon occupancy rate and seasonal variances.

9. Use reporting to consistently improve metrics

Well managed travel programs require constant monitoring and financial controls to be properly leveraged. Insist on timely and customized reports that can be designed to bring you the information you need most. By receiving regular reporting on traveler behavior and provider contract performance, you will be in a better position to fulfill contract obligations, achieve cost reduction objectives and see where opportunities for future savings may lie.

10. Use all avenues to enhance traveler comfort and efficiency

Lastly, any well managed travel program will take in to account the comfort and productivity of their travelers. When travelers are comfortable, they can focus on their main priorities that help propel your business forward. If travelers are happy, they perform at a higher level. Ask if your travel agency can upgrade traveler status on a preferred airline. Look in to purchasing blocks of airport club passes so they can be used strategically during long and complex itineraries. There are many ways to reward travelers for the difficult and often grueling chore of travel. These kinds of rewards generate feelings of loyalty and increased productivity and efficiency.

If you would like to learn more about how your company can better leverage their travel program to benefit your bottom line and the satisfaction of your executive level, feel free to contact me. I am delighted to point you in the right direction.

Valuable Tips to Choose a Travel Agency

Your dream vacation can come true if you manage to hire the services of a good travel agency. Just like the plethora of choices you have when selecting your dream destination can get you confused, selecting the right travel agency for planning your vacation may be equally challenging. The wise thing to do is to find out what the types of travel agencies you can choose from are and what kinds of unique services they offer their clients. It is also important to decide whether to hire an online travel agent for the job or seek those that are based locally. The former guarantees service throughout the day making it easy for you to book your travel whenever you feel like. When you interact with a local travel agent, he can give you any specific information you may desire and make suggestions keeping your interests in mind. There is still another type of travel agency that offers both online facilities and personal service of an agent that has a local office where you can check your itineraries and bookings online. These are perhaps the best when it comes to providing you with the best travel deals.

Tips to choose the ideal travel agency for you:

You should first find out which destinations the travel agency can cater to because while all agencies offer services in popular tourist locales there are few that deal with remote locations.
Comparing the prices is a must because rates differ from one travel agency to another.
Read the contract made with your travel agent carefully and in case you are uncertain about your travel dates, you may want to approach an agency that allows for last minute travel plan changes without charging exorbitantly.
Some agencies offer other advantages when you do business with them and depending on the sum you are expending, they may offer you flight upgrades or tickets for special events.
It always helps to read through online reviews and feedback before choosing a travel agent for the job. However these reviews are not necessarily always true and some agencies may actually be paying its clients to put up impressive reviews about them!
Listen to recommendations from close friends and relatives who have used travel consultants in the past and who can advise you on the benefits of hiring their services.
Find out in advance if they can arrange for your accommodations at the tourist destinations you would like to visit.
Find out about the packages the travel agency can offer and if they suit your budget.
Some agencies specialize in arranging leisure trips while others are more competent when it comes to business trips.
In case you want to travel abroad make sure that your agent knows essential rules relating to international travel and can give you accurate information about passports and visas.

Planning The Perfect Travel Holiday

The first thing you must do before deciding on a location to go to on your holiday is the amount of money that you are willing to spend. It’s not just the travel expenses that have to be accounted for but also the food, accommodation, sightseeing, recreation and miscellaneous expenses have to be accounted for as well. The more money that you are willing to spend, the better your holiday will be. You must set yourself a budget otherwise you may end up having financial problems which will cause your travel holiday to become not as enjoyable as you hoped for. Always keep a little bit over your budget (around $100 to $200), just in case you need it.

Once you have set yourself a budget, the next thing you should do is decide on the type of activities that you are looking forward to doing. You may want to go cave exploring or you may want to go bungee jumping for example. This foundation decision will affect where you end up going for your travel holiday. If you are not going alone on a travel holiday, it is always a good idea to take the opinion of the people that are going with you so that they do not feel left out and end up not enjoying themselves. This way, you get more ideas on the activities that you may want to do.

Once you have decided on the first to decisions, it is time to actually decide where you want to go. When going for a holiday, always remember to go somewhere exotic so that you can get a taste of different cultures. Always keep in mind that your decision as to where to go for your holiday must depend on the budget that you have along with the type of activities that you wish to do.

By following this simple and straight-forward guide, you will be able to plan the perfect travel holiday in no time and with minimal expenses and waste of time.

Discount Travel Holidays – Easy Tips For Your Happy Tour

Whether you earn a big sum of money or low, you may have a keep desire to enjoy holidays within your pouch! The discount travel holidays will be the right ways to quench your thirst in this manner because they take care of everyone and people can avail them with ease. When you are going to avail a discount travel holiday package, you can keep some tips in your mind that will help you gain more and more benefits through one package.

Discount travel holidays can be availed for every place that too during every season and thus, you don’t need to wait for a holiday or off season. However, it is suggested to you to plan holidays during the off season because this time, you can book a cheap holiday package through any online agent. There is no need to spend thousands of dollars in order to book your holidays because you have various chances to plan a cheap holiday.

In order to book the discount travel holidays, you should use the online method that is easy and convenient and offers you many more chances to plan a satisfactory holiday tour. See that your package includes all the compulsory facilities that can bring true fun in your life. Well, there is no need to waste time at all and wait for any other time to plan a tour.

It is the good way to enjoy holidays in your own way because there is no need to break your expectations because of the lack of money because the discount travel holidays are always ready to help you out. Well, if you want to save some money and have a desire to enjoy some happy days, the discount travel holidays will help you out.

Various Types Of Travel Agencies

Travel agencies basically act as agents who sell travel tickets and products like hotel reservations and others. It should be understood that they would provide services free of charge to the traveler. Instead, the agencies gain profit through commissions on the total cost of the tour. The commission will be taken from the advertised cost or price of the tour.

In this day and age when the internet offers online means of booking for an airplane and travel accommodation, some people believe that they are already obsolete. However, there are still a lot of benefits that travel agencies offer to travelers which cannot be obtained when you book and arrange for a tour on your own. First of all, they free you from the hassles of arranging your own tour. They make everything simple and convenient for you. Most of all, they can get you considerable discounts on fares and accommodations.

There are also various types of travel agencies offering specific services that may be of advantage to your travel needs and preferences. First, there are the general travel agencies and agents which act like ambassadors of tourism. For example, an agency whose headquarters is located in Hawaii may establish offices in other parts of the world. These offices then will advertise and promote tourism to Hawaii where the central office is based. It tries to get and provide better deals to customers so that there will be a higher chance that the customer will book again next time. These better deals they may find from many airlines and hotels.

There are also travel agencies which have specific departments or may specialize on dealing with commercial and business travel. The needs of people who need a business travel may differ from the needs of people requiring commercial and leisure travel. Thus by specializing or appointing specific departments to handle such conditions will allow the travel agency to provide better services to clients.

They may also vary by class. Some are national chains owned by a corporation; others may be franchises from international or national agencies; others still are members of recognized associations; the rest may be independent or owned by local individuals. The national chain class of travel agencies implements consistent pricing and policies regardless of the destination and may offer the best international service to customers. Franchises can provide same perks to clients while locally owned agencies may not have the promotions and price discounts offered by other classes of agencies. The independent types are known to service niche kinds of markets like school field trips, church and sports team who are looking for affordable travel packages. Agencies who are members of associations earn through membership fees instead of commissions.

Some of them may also specialize on shipping cargos and therefore would not be a good choice if you are looking for agencies to cater you with personal or business travel. There are travel agencies offering trips to just about anywhere. These agencies are known as multi-destination. The niche agencies specialize on tours to certain parts all over the world like Greece, Italy, etc.

Adventure Travel Holiday Ideas Like Paddling the Zambezi

Not all of us get the chance to have a real adventure, however these adventure travel holiday ideas can help you get closer to adventure. And these aren’t just for the young, as baby boomers mature and find they’re still fit and have spare funds there are more such ideas tailored towards them as well.

An African Safari is a good start for adventure travel holiday ideas, especially one that starts in the South Luangwa National Park or the Kruger National Park and ends up with some time on a beach in Mauritius. Flying over rugged and raw Damaraland, home to spectacular scenery, desert elephant and black rhinos is a kind of safari that deserves a mention in any list of vacation ideas. Combine this with a flying trip up the Skeleton Coast as far as Serra Cafeema and you will reach areas of utter Wilderness; areas that seem barren, yet captivate adventurous spirits.

For adventure travel holiday ideas with even more action try paddling the Zambezi: the Everest of rivers – but an Everest even first time paddlers can have a bash at (under good supervision.). It’s a big volume, big white water river trip with waves up to 24ft (which you’re tackling in a 16ft raft.) and the added bonus being surrounded by astounding African scenery, meeting some of the more exotic locals and the comfort of sunshine and warm water (around 24 degrees.). Paddling Uganda’s White Nile, Nepal’s Sun Kosi or Chile’s Futaleufu River are similar, just with different, but equally adventurous backdrops.

Why opt for the Everest of rivers if there are also adventure travel holiday ideas that allow you to tackle the Everest that is Everest? Trekking to Everest Base Camp is manageable for most people, after the correct training and preparation. Kilimanjaro is another good challenge for adventurous people, as is the Paine Circuit, The Great Walk of Africa or even the Mont Blanc Circuit – for starters.

For more exotic adventure travel holiday ideas – the kinds of things your friends may never even heard of, let alone attempted, consider Paragliding around Oludeniz, Bungee jumping off Verzasca Dam ah la James Bond, camping with Saharan Nomads, swimming with Bull Sharks at Protea Banks or Cave Diving under the Nullarbor Plain.

Adventure travel holiday ideas for people looking to pick up and dash off without training include padding between the Lofoten Islands, walking between the picturesque villages of the Pyrenees or exploring some of Scotland’s Knoydart Peninsula. Just start by looking at extreme activities available for holidaying people – like Heli-biking in the Tien Shan, and work your way down until you find a truly adventurous holiday activity in the same vein, but less likely to see you bursting one without the proper preparation!

Travel Pre And Post Internet

Travel Pre Internet:

I’ve been travelling for over 40 years – by thumb in my early days, by boots in the Scouts, a Lambretta came next and then my first old banger followed by newer old bangers to the beaches of the Costa Brava.

My thumb, boots, bikes and bangers took me all over Europe and the UK before finding that a charter flight to Spain on an old ‘Connie’ could get me to the beaches and bars a lot quicker and allow more time to enjoy the local travel opportunities by horse and cart and the occasional bus and train.

‘Go West and Prosper’ seemed to be a good idea so instead of taking an 8 hour flight I took an 8 day transatlantic crossing from Tilbury to Montreal on the Stephan Batory of Polish Ocean Lines ensuring that jet lag did not trouble my travel plans. Some years later I crossed the pond again on a ship but this time it was 5 times bigger and I travelled in style on the QE2 and dined in the Queen’s Grill somewhat removed from my earlier experience. I highly recommend ocean voyages but cannot see myself on one of the modern cruise ships going from port to port with constant line-ups to get on and off to buy t-shirts. However, I have done 10 Windjammers and a Star Clipper cruise in the Caribbean which were all memorable (let’s hope Windjammer Barefoot Cruises recover from their woes). But I digress.

I had read that Canada is a spectacular country, from sea to shining sea, and my entrance into the St. Lawrence River to Montreal and then heading west in an old Econoline van from the Great Lakes, across the Prairies to the Rocky Mountains before ending up whale watching off of the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island was a trip of wonder to a bloke from London. Today the scenery is still spectacular and the best way to go is still by road so rent or buy a car, motorhome or motorbike, take the train or tour bus but remember the maps, a fly rod, good boots and take your time.

My favorite part of Canada / USA for adventure travel has to be Northern BC / Alaska, to hike the Chilkoot Trail in the steps of the goldseekers of 1898. The Northwest Territories to canoe the Nahannie River and the Yukon to drive from Dawson City to Chicken, Alaska. If you like the outdoors and can put up with a few bugs, cast a fly and scale a few hills or drive on endless dirt roads sharing the space with moose, caribou, elk, bears and eagles, then these are the places to put on your list. The pleasures and experiences in driving to Inuvik on the Dempster Highway or to Prudhoe Bay on the Dalton Highway or even the Canol Road can only be felt by doing them. I would have mentioned the Alaska Highway but now it is an easy drive unlike the aforementioned.

Today the costs of driving these distances may mean that sharing the journey with others is required, but RVing or simply vanning and camping is a great way to see beyond the horizon. Some enroute adventures now need to be booked in advance whereas when I hiked Denali and the Chilkoot Pass it was just a case of turning up, registering with the local ranger office and heading on out. A little more forward planning is needed for today’s traveller and cost considerations of lengthy flights or drives have to somehow be countered with more careful planning. In the days of reasonable gas prices I would not even consider the driving or flying costs and have driven to Key West from the northwest coast, down the west coast to the Baja and to the west coast from New York. I once even flew my 1946 Fleet taildragger from the Pacific to the Atlantic and back using around 5 gallons an hour of avgas. Before the oil and credit crisis I drove from Rio de Janeiro to Lima, down to Tierra del Fuego and back to Rio covering over 15,000 miles of spectacular scenery and with no consideration about the cost of gas. South America should be on your itinerary too! Some other memorable drives that may now require a mortgage with the gas companies include London to The Nordkapp, Norway, Skippers Canyon in New Zealand and the loneliness of the far north of Australia and the amazing coast of Western Australia stopping by at Monkey Mia and Wave Rock.

We tend to forget that the real cost of travelling is often less today than over the 40 years of my travels. In 1977 my round-trip airfare from Canada to Australia cost over $1700 in 1977 dollars so today it is far cheaper to fly, even with the airlines gouging for fuel, extra baggage, no service and no pleasure. The ‘Big Mac’ method of price comparison as developed by The Economist newspaper gives us a good gauge for most expenditures of today compared to yesterday but my $1500 cost to get a private pilots licence in the 1970′s seems cheap by comparison to today, but obviously not when using this Big Mac principle. Other travel costs are also far cheaper today but this should not mean that travellers should disregard the many methods of saving costs that can then be put to extended or improved travel experiences

Travel Post-Internet:

In my 40 years of travel I have had to use travel agents to make even the simplest of reservations and buy tickets, not even thinking to ask them if they had “been there, done that?” It was just a case of there being no other options to buying travel. Now we have unlimited choices and can seek out better travel agents, better prices, better selections and information about anywhere in the world for our travels – without even leaving home.

The Internet now gives travellers ideas and options of Where to go, When to go, Why to go, What to do, Who to book with and How to save money and offset costs. We can search and find experts for every travel option. If we are comfortable with the Internet we no longer have to go to a travel agent to make reservations and buy tickets except to book with some of the larger travel companies that still produce glossy brochures and offer all inclusive packages or tours that only sell through the agency system. The Internet also allows those of us who are smart enough to know when to seek out a top travel agent with knowledge, experience and expertise (KEE skills) of destinations and activities about where to find them. There is no longer any need to only use our local agents when we can find one somewhere else in the world. When we do not need ‘the knowledge’ and can do it ourselves we simply surf the web so that we can book directly with tour and travel operators wherever we have decided to go.

Some travel agents operate their own tours, some are both wholesale and retail, some limit consumer selection by only selling their ‘preferred’ suppliers and some have professional consultants with years of experience invested in gaining knowledge, experience and expertise and are worth their weight in gold to the savvy traveller. Beware though, as some are also called destination specialists and some of these designations merely require the agent to take a rudimentary test offered by tourism offices, destination marketing groups or even tour operators and in my opinion can harm the reputation of the travel industry. A specialist is not necessarily an expert.

Travel is probably the most used commercial aspect of the Internet and if retail agents want to harness this exciting medium to offer ‘the knowledge’ and their ‘kee’ skills to a global audience, not just their local community, they must embrace the changes that are happening. Travellers now have the ability to seek answers to the 5 W’s of travel and the important ‘How to’ save money and offset costs by having information just a click away.

And then it occurred to me that even internet travel prices often include a commission element even when sold directly to the consumer. If we book directly with operators we should not have to pay full retail prices as we are doing for ourselves what a retail agent would normally do for us. A dilemma for the operator is that to show a both a retail and a cost price option could deter many agents from selling the services as travellers could use an agent for free advice and book directly with the operator to get a ‘net of commission’ price. Obviously this two tier pricing is not often available but travellers who do not need advice should also not be penalized by retail pricing. A new way had to be found and I think I have found it!

The need for fairer fare prices is why I developed the Top Travel Voucher program at The Top Travel Club and I even found a dot com for it. All travel selections on the site are at ‘net of commission’ prices for members who handle there own travel arrangements directly with the operators linked on the club website using our voucher program.

I am inviting travel operators from around the world to join this program, from B&B’s, Motels, Hotels, Luxury Lodges, Eco Resorts, Beach Resorts and Tour and Adventure Operators who want to promote their products and services to travellers who are comfortable with direct bookings and reservations.

I am also inviting Travel Agents with knowledge, experience and expertise of destinations and activities to showcase their skills to a global audience of travellers and to the members of this new travel club. I am leery of ‘specialist agents’ and only want experts to showcase their services.

This opportunity is available to the travel trade at no cost except for them to offer net, wholesale or outlet prices to club members and visitors to the website using top travel vouchers. I believe this program offers fairer fare prices to direct-booking travellers. The operator would normally be paying commission anyway but now travellers get the savings because they make their own arrangements.

The Top Travel Club opened in mid-April 2008 offering thousands of top travel vouchers for travel in over 70 countries with around 150 travel operators onboard. Every week we add more travel operators with more choices for members. Currently you can get savings on accommodations, adventure travel, boat charters, culinary tours, hike, bike and dive tours, auto and RV rentals fishing lodges and guides, safaris, vacation rentals, single travel, women only and dude ranches. Members get the vouchers free of charge by paying an annual membership fee and non-members can buy the vouchers on the internet at Top Travel Sites at deeply discounted prices to the face-value. The future growth will include restaurants, travel clothing, travel insurance and the opportunity to access air ticket consolidators who want to deal directly with consumers.

The way I have travelled and the way I see travel is that consumers should have unlimited access to every travel opportunity with the ability to do their own due diligence or to find a professional who can offer quality advice and services at fair prices, and to find all of this without needing endless hours of searching.