CREATE YOUR OWN TRAVEL VACATION

Learn how to create an oustanding travel vacation in just a few basic steps.
Learn how to create an oustanding travel vacation in just a few basic steps.

LISTEN TO YOUR VOICE

Each of us has a travel destination that we want to experience. The world is filled with interesting places that will open your eyes and remain in your heart. Your own adventure starts with listening to the voice that tells you which destination is especially for you.

But how do you make it happen? A little planning before you leave home is all it takes. Planning and a few arrangements will enable you to go anywhere. Even the culture shocked chaos of foreign travel can be navigated with the help of a plan.

Without a plan, this couple arranges their stay in Lisbon, Portugal from th sidewalk.
Without a plan, this couple arranges their stay in Lisbon, Portugal from th sidewalk.

BARE BONES

Your first step to creating your travel vacation is to build an itinerary. Begin by listing each date of your trip in a vertical column. Put the day of the week next to each date. You will need this information as your itinerary unfolds. This is the bare bones of your journey. It starts with your departure and ends with your return home on the last day of your trip.

Your itinerary will look like this:

May 13. Wednesday. Fly to London

May 14. Thursday. Arrive in London. Take the train from Heathrow Airport to central London. Take a taxi to your hotel. Sightseeing: Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Tate Britain Museum.

May 15. Friday. London. . . .

- - - - - - - -

May 23. Saturday. Go by bus from Salisbury to Windsor in the morning. Sightseeing: Windsor Castle. The Long Walk in Windsor Great Park.

Mat 24. Sunday. Take a taxi to Heathrow Airport. Fly to Minneapolis.

Remember, your plan is not a clipboard or a rigid schedule. It is a guide to lead you through your journey and provide you with interesting experiences.

New York City's multi-ethnic population provides an interesting backdrop to the city's wealth of sightseeing and entertainment.
New York City's multi-ethnic population provides an interesting backdrop to the city's wealth of sightseeing and entertainment.

THE JOURNEY BEFORE THE JOURNEY

Now that you have a beginning and an end to your vacation, you need to research the middle. Guidebooks such as Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Frommer's, and Fodor's provide in depth information on sightseeing, hotels, transportation, and cultural issues. They contain detailed maps, which are essential for finding your way. Guidebooks can open up the world to you, and the Lonely Planet Series has become something of a Bible for travelers and vacationers. Learn to read between the lines to find destinations that fit your personal needs.

In North America, state and provincial tourist bureaus provide useful information packets. Information on national parks can be found at www.npsgov/parks.

Begin your planning by finding out what there is to do and see along your vacation trail. Places that interest you will emerge from scouring the guidebooks, and you can arrange them into an itinerary.

Bangkok, Thailand has some of the world's most beautiful palaces and temples. The city is also a major crossroad for international travel in Asia.
Bangkok, Thailand has some of the world's most beautiful palaces and temples. The city is also a major crossroad for international travel in Asia.

THE REALITY ON THE GROUND

Your research will probably uncover a few surprises. You discover that the "must see" island where turtles lay their eggs is only reachable by ferry once a week; the Himalayan road you need to traverse will be washed out in the monsoon season; or an abundance of sightseeing is crowded into a certain city, demanding more of your time. Research enables you to adjust your plan to the reality on the ground, and your working itinerary will be different from what you first imagined. In the end, you will have the name of a town and intersting activities for each day on your itinerary.

Ecuador is home to the picturesque Andes culture. Its high mountain peaks are accessible to climbers, and the Galapagos Islands are reached from its coast.
Ecuador is home to the picturesque Andes culture. Its high mountain peaks are accessible to climbers, and the Galapagos Islands are reached from its coast.

RESERVATIONS

Once your itinerary is complete, you can reserve your hotels. Having a reservation in hand is so much better than looking for a hotel on arrival. You get to choose the accommodations you want, and sometimes there are discounts for early booking. More important, hotels are often filled if you wait until your day of arrival. Try to pick a hotel located near to your sightseeing.

The internet is your best source for hotels. You can e-mail the hotel directly for a reservation or call on the telephone. Hotels can be difficult to contact in foreign countries, so make international reservations through a booking agent website for the country you are visiting.  Larger agencies are more reliable.

Be sure to print out address and location information for each hotel and take this with you to show the taxi driver when you arrive at your foreign destination. It works like a charm, and is especially necessary in countries that do not use our Roman alphabet.

The Japanese have woven artistic beauty into their living environment. Their culture blends age-old customs with the digital age.
The Japanese have woven artistic beauty into their living environment. Their culture blends age-old customs with the digital age.

TRANSPORTATION

For vacations in North America, you will probably use the family car or a rental, but travel abroad usually involves public transportation. Bus systems around the world have experienced an upgrade over the years and are a pleasant way to travel. In some countries, train is the transport of choice. There are first and second class seats, as well as sleepers. More obscure places are reached by minivan, shared jeep, and ferry. Don't forget to plan for logistics, the all important travel time between your destinations.

Paris is a city of neighborhoods. The lively mood on the streets is enhanced by numerous monuments. Paris museums house wonderful collections of art.
Paris is a city of neighborhoods. The lively mood on the streets is enhanced by numerous monuments. Paris museums house wonderful collections of art.

THE ART OF TRAVEL PLANNING

Think of travel planning as an art. Your paints, brushes, and canvas are the elements of your trip; your itinerary, accommodations, and transportation. Like a bridge, your plan will provide an underpinning that spans your journey so that you can relax and enjoy the experience.

The magic of travel is within your reach, and whether your dream trip is a family vacation or a life changing jaunt down the Pan American Highway, your journey will be enhanced and empowered with a plan to guide you. Bon Voyage!

Towns and villages in Alaska are merely outposts of modern society in a vast, untouched northern landscape.
Towns and villages in Alaska are merely outposts of modern society in a vast, untouched northern landscape.

HOTEL BOOKING AGENCIES

Europeans enjoy meeting friends for cappuccino and conversation at their favorite cafe.
Europeans enjoy meeting friends for cappuccino and conversation at their favorite cafe.
Singapore is a pleasant city with museums and temples set among 19th century British colonial architecture. The metro provides  cheap travel to its many neighborhoods.
Singapore is a pleasant city with museums and temples set among 19th century British colonial architecture. The metro provides cheap travel to its many neighborhoods.
A West African market spreads over many streets and supplies fresh vegetables, clothing, and household items.
A West African market spreads over many streets and supplies fresh vegetables, clothing, and household items.
Indigenous tribes in the rainforest of Borneo live in longhouse communities and hold to their timeless beliefs.
Indigenous tribes in the rainforest of Borneo live in longhouse communities and hold to their timeless beliefs.
Kathmandu Valley in Nepal contains an abundance of Buddhist and Hindu temples. The Great Stupa in Bodnath is a center for exiled Tibetan Buddhists.
Kathmandu Valley in Nepal contains an abundance of Buddhist and Hindu temples. The Great Stupa in Bodnath is a center for exiled Tibetan Buddhists.
Russia is the largest country on our planet. You can travel across Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway which starts in Moscow and ends in Vladivostock.
Russia is the largest country on our planet. You can travel across Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway which starts in Moscow and ends in Vladivostock.

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