Monday, March 28, 2011

Finding the Right Travel Agent

Travel Preparation
Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel 

Some travelers prefer not to seek the services of travel agents. They already had bad experiences with agents who try to take advantage of customers and cost them more than what they should pay for their trips. But you should not discount the advantages of having the right travel agent. The right agent can give you great savings not just on air tickets and hotel rooms, but on meals and car rentals as well.

The trick is to find one that is not only honest but is capable of giving you the service that is right for your needs and preferences. This is advisable especially if you are not so knowledgeable about finding cheap offers on airfare and hotel rooms online. 

Here are some things to keep in mind when finding the right travel agent:

  • The right travel agent will ask you many questions.
 This is the only way that she can find out what exactly it is that you need for your trip. She will ask for details about your itinerary, travel experiences, and budget. She needs the following information to get you the right deals you can choose from.

  • The right travel agent has many contacts.
The more vendors your agent is working with, the better. This means she can present you with more choices that you can select from. Avoid agents that refer only to one or two vendors consistently. You won’t get much choice that way and she is only interested in the commission from the said vendors. Look for an agent that will make the effort to shop around for deals that will suit your budget and preferences.

  • The right travel agent should be able to give you prices that are close or lower to the going rates online.
 Do a little research first before asking the agent the prices of the deals she can offer. This way, you will know if she’s giving you the best deal or just trying to rip you off. Better yet, list down the low prices that you see online and ask the agent if she can get the same deal for you at lower rates.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Air Travel with Babies

Air Travel with Babies or Kids
Photo by Octav Cado 

Most people avoid taking their babies during vacation, especially if it involves putting the infant on an airplane. But some parents cannot avoid this and will have to bear the thought of strapping their little one to an airplane seat. The good news is that it is generally safe to let infants travel as long as they are four to six weeks old.

But you can already buy air tickets for babies two or three weeks old if you have no choice but to take your baby with you on your trip. Airlines have strict guidelines regarding infants in airplanes. Here are some tips to help you plan your baby’s trip:

  • Book your air tickets in advance

This is important because you have to choose the best seat for your baby. Avoid seats at the rear end of the airplane, which is closer to the engines. Your baby might be disturbed by the noise. Take seats at the front of the plane if possible, you will appreciate the extra legroom.

  • Make sure that the airplane has adequate facilities for infants

Call your travel agent when you book your air tickets or contact them online and let them know you are traveling with an infant. This way, you’ll know what facilities and services they have for passengers traveling with babies. They can note on your record that you will need extra help for your little one.

  • Make sure you have all the baby stuff in your hand carry

Stock up on diapers, milk bottles, baby food, baby wipes, and other baby stuff to make your trip as comfortable and hassle-free as possible. If you need help with wiping the mess that your baby made, you can always ask assistance from the flight attendant.

  • Let your baby wear comfortable clothes

Babies get irritated easily with uncomfortable clothing, and the last thing you want to happen is your infant screaming loudly inside the plane for all passengers to hear. Dress him up in light clothes that are easy on the skin. Always have a blanket ready in case he gets too cold. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Best Asian Cities for Food

Asian Cuisine
Photo by Markus Winkler 

There are lots of reasons why travelers from all over the world flock to Asia, and one of them is to taste the unique, mouth-watering cuisine that the continent has to offer. Foodies from the West couldn’t get enough of the various Asian dishes that they sample during their travels, so much so that they look for the same dishes back home or learn how to make the dishes themselves. If you are on a big gastronomic adventure in Asia, here are some of the top cities that you should visit for an eat-all-you-can adventure. 

  • Bangkok, Thailand

When traveling in Bangkok, food is everywhere. Not just in restaurants but on food courts and food stalls that crowd the streets. For those who are on a budget and looking for something exotic, try the stalls that serve delicacies such as insects. Clearly, this is not for the squeamish traveler with regular Western tastes. Must-try food items include som tam (papaya salad), curry, and different types of rice. The city also has lots of restaurants for other cuisines, and you can have your fill of Lebanese and Indian food here as well.

  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

If you still don’t know your way around KL, try the dishes at the food court inside the KLCC mall, which is underneath the Petronas Towers. Lots of international dishes are here under one roof, so you can feast on Malay, Indian, Chinese, and Western food here without having to venture elsewhere. Of course, when you set out to explore the city, make sure to head to Chinatown, where you can sample the best Chinese food around the area.

  • Beijing, China
The list wouldn’t be complete without Beijing, where naturally, Chinese food is at its best. There are thousands of dim sum restaurants where you can feast on every Chinese food imaginable. Make sure to drink lots of tea to make room for more of the dishes. It is too easy to get stuffed when eating Chinese food. Never leave Beijing without tasting the Peking duck, which is regarded as one of the best poultry dishes in the world.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The World’s Best Airports

People often think of airports as huge places crammed with people and luggage, with endless queues and counters. As much as people want to travel, going to the airport is usually a stressful affair, what with all the security checks and the never-ending rush of faces. But there are certain airports in the world where things can get easier for passengers. Believe it or not, some airports provide a great experience for passengers while they are waiting to board their respective flights

These airports come with certain perks apart from first-class restaurants. Some even have golf courses and spas. You can even find an airport where you can see giant slides. These airports very much exist and of course, you’re wondering where you can find them.

Here are some of the world’s best airports according to the survey compiled by Skytrax, the world’s largest airline and airport review site. These airports were voted by more than 9 million travelers who answered the questionnaires.

  • Auckland International Airport, New Zealand
Auckland is considered the second largest cargo port in New Zealand, and this airport houses more than 20 international airlines. The airport has garnered the Airport Staff Excellence Award for Australia/Pacific. Over 13 million passengers are served by the airport a year.

  • Amsterdam Schipol, The Netherlands
The Amsterdam Schipol used to be a military airfield. Now it is one of the busiest airports in the world, serving more than 43 million passengers yearly. Travelers can play games at the casino or get a massage while waiting for their flights. It was given the #2 Best Airport Shopping award.

  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia
For those looking for a “green” airport, check out the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which keeps a section of the rainforest inside the main terminal. The airport was given the Best Airport Immigration Service (#1) and Airport Staff Excellence South East Asia (#1).

  • Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore
This ultra-modern airport houses a fitness center, nature trail, and swimming pool. The tallest slide in the country can also be found here. These, in addition to the excellent service, make Changi Airport the first on the list.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What to Expect in Hong Kong Travel

A fair lot of tourists think of Hong Kong as one small, dynamic country where you can already explore everything in a week. But those who have stayed longer in Hong Kong to fully enjoy the worth of their air tickets know that there is more to Hong Kong than meets the eye. The cluster of tourists usually just stays within Tsim Sha Tsui and the Causeway Bay area, but if you make the effort to explore the innermost parts of the country, you will find inexhaustible delights that any type of tourist will surely appreciate.

Forty percent of Hong Kong’s open land is allotted for tourism, recreation, and conservation. You will find marine parks, beautiful coasts, and country parks all over Hong Kong. Nature lovers will surely enjoy spending time at the Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve, which houses various types of woodland creatures. Another place for nature-tripping is the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, which serves as a great sanctuary for plants and people who are dedicated to agriculture.

No vacation in Hong Kong will be complete without enjoying the country’s shopping sites. If you manage to save a lot in getting an air ticket to Hong Kong, then you can spend it when you shop for both luxury and cheap items. There are lots of designer stores for those who can afford it, and there are lots of night markets for those who are on a budget.

Hong Kong is made for those who love water activities. Those looking for great surfing will surely enjoy testing the waves at Tai Long Wan or Big Wave Bay. Surf in waves as high as fourteen feet or simply enjoy the buff bodies walking around the area.

Dolphin lovers will find their place here in Lantau Island, where you can join their exciting dolphin tour. Watch out for those cute pink dolphins and the white dolphins, which are considered as one of the endangered species.

Those who are into mountain biking must explore Hong Kong’s trails, such as the Dragon’s Back, Wan Tsai Peninsula, and Chi Ma Wan. Make sure to go only to designated trails to avoid accidents.