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Sunday, January 29, 2017

How to Travel: Part 1 - Make Your Own Plans

Disclaimer

Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 if the copyright act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

This review is my personal opinion. I am not paid by anyone. I do not receive any amenities (free or discounted).


HOW TO TRAVEL - 
PART 1: HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN PLANS




mcraytontravel
How To Make Your Own Travel Plans

Making your own plans involves the patience and time to explore all options. If you love to shop and browse, you already have this mindset. The more you travel and make your own plans, the quicker the process, even when you start to explore new destinations.

1. How to Get Started

Be able to use the Internet with a desktop computer, a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone. This is essential and crucial. Create accounts on various sites and to purchase with your debit or credit card online. To minimize hacking and if you're concerned with security issues, you may want to designate one card for purchases. Third, for some alternative lodging (like vacation rentals), you may need a PayPal account.

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You also should have access to a printer and a scanner. There are some units that are all in one. If you read my article about how to obtain a visa to India, you will see that a scanner was necessary.(http://www.mcraytontravel.com/2017/01/an-intro-toindia-part-1-getting-visa-to.html).



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2. Where to go? 
That depends on the reason, the time of year and your budget. Talking to people is one way to get ideas; watching travel shows is another; you'll get ideas watching movies, going to an event, following hobbies (your favorite team, performing artist or fan conventions). Still others have a mission: the top roller coasters, every water park, waterfalls, lighthouses, national parks, etc. You may want to golf the most famous courses or you may be a food or wine connoisseur. Finally, there is the wish or bucket list: all the major cities, every continent, all 50 US states, you get the picture. Whatever the reason, all trips have three basic components: how to get there, where to stay and what to do or where to go.




3. Do Your Research

Guidebooks are still a great investment. My favorite series are Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, Moon, Frommers, and Fodor's . I buy one of the pocket versions and buy two of the electronic versions either through Apple's iBooks (®), Barnes and Noble or Amazon. You don't have to own a Barnes and Noble Nook (®) or Amazon Kindle (®) specifically. You can order on a desktop computer and then use their apps on your tablet or phone. Many people take guided tours. They do the thinking for you. 


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How To Get There
4. How to get there? 
If you are cruising, you can directly to the cruise line of your choice or use a travel agent (recommended). Cruise.com and cruisecritic.com can be good search engines to filter through. Cruising combines the where and how efficiently. It gives you a taste of places by way of boat and a place to stay at the same time. 

If you are flying, there are tons of search engines. These sites will scan all the possibilities for you without you having to go to each individual airline's website. Popular sites are Kayak, Orbitz, Cheapoair, Expedia, Travelocity, Hipmunk, Hotwire and Hopper. Most will let you set notifications so that you can keep track of prices. 

If you are sure of which airline you want, you may get the best price directly at that site. I usually view the prices on a search engine site and then I usually go to the airline and book it. This is because I like to make sure I get any rewards. 

If you are taking a bus, there are also many options. I do not travel by bus but others do. I would only recommend this for short journeys, especially if you do not drive or taking your car is not feasible. Greyhound and Trailways are still around but traveling by budget bus has become very popular: Megabus, BoltBus, etc. Budget Travel's website has some suggestions: 

http://www.budgettravel.com/feature/6-best-budget-bus-companies-in-the-us,7430/

Finally, there is driving by automobile, whether it's your car or a rental. AAA, Map Quest, Google Maps, Maps.Me and every GPS app known to man will give you any type of directions you need. 


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Resort, Hotel or Apartment?

5. Where to stay?
Resort, hotel or motel or rented apartment: the above-mentioned search engines have lodging information also. There's also Hotels.com, Getaroom.com and Hotel Tonight. 


  Articles to follow: how to use Google Maps for traveling, how to book an apartment.



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