Vancouver Travel Tips and Tricks

Every city’s different, but with these handy travel tips about Vancouver, you’ll feel just like a local in no time. From dog owners to weather worriers, and on to those that just want to get the lay of the land before they arrive, this section tips will help get you ready for your very own adventure.

FAST FACTS

Population

Based on the 2011 Canadian Census, the population of the City of Vancouver is estimated to be 603,502. The Vancouver metropolitan region is home to an estimated total population of 2.3 million people, representing 52.3% of B.C.’s population of 4.4 million.

Languages

Federal government departments provide service in English and French, but most of the population speaks English as either a first or second language.

The City of Vancouver is quite cosmopolitan and is a mix of many multicultural groups. Because the city is multicultural, it’s also multilingual on an unofficial level. Its people speak many different languages and many follow the traditions of their native lands, sometimes moderating them with Canadian culture.

After English and Chinese, the most common mother tongue languages spoken are Punjabi, German, Italian, French, Tagalog (Filipino) and Spanish. More than half of Vancouver’s school-age children have been raised speaking a language other than English.

Currency

We recommend all visitors use Canadian currency (the Canadian Dollar – CAD) when travelling within Canada. Visitors can exchange currency at Canadian chartered banks, trust companies, credit unions, or at offices of foreign exchange brokers, but it is advised to have local currency on hand prior to arriving. Some hotels, merchants, restaurants and suppliers accept US or other foreign currency at a pre-determined rate, which may differ from the daily rate posted by financial institutions.

The Canadian Dollar is made up of 100 Canadian cents. Coins are in denominations of 5 cents (nickel), 10 cents (dime), 25 cents (quarter), $1 (loonie), and $2 (toonie).  Notes are in denominations $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 and $1,000.

Note that Canada phased out use of the 1 cent (penny) coin in 2013. If you are paying cash, the total amount of your purchases will be rounded either up or down to the closest 5 cents. Credit card and debit card payments are not rounded. For more information, visit the Royal Canadian Mint website.

Taxation

Most purchases in British Columbia are subject to a 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST) as well as a federal 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST), with a few exceptions including liquor (10% PST) and accommodation (8% PST plus up to 3% hotel tax). Some goods such as food and restaurant meals, books and magazines, and children’s clothing are GST and/or PST exempt. For more information, visit the Province of British Columbia’s website.

Time Zone

Vancouver is in the Pacific Time Zone and observes Daylight Savings Time from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November. You can see Vancouver’s time in relation to most cities around the globe by visiting www.thetimenow.com, which is also home to a Canadian calendar with important dates.

Workdays

Vancouver, like all major cities, runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In general, the standard work week is Monday to Friday, from roughly 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, but hours vary for each organization or business. Retailers are usually open seven days a week, and most stores are open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm each day, except on Thursday and Friday, when many stores are open until 9:00 pm. Some retail stores (e.g. some drug stores and grocery outlets), nearly every hotel and motel, and some restaurants, remain open around the clock.

Birmingham roundtable for entrepreneurs

Birmingham roundtable for entrepreneurs

The Townsend Hotel, located at 100 Townsend in Birmingham, will be hosting an Investepreneur Roundtable with two local successful business owners who created their start-up companies and succeeded in making them thriving second-stage companies.

The event lasts from 4 to 6 p.m. and will include valuable business lessons and tips for any start-up owner or entrepreneurs who could use some proven advice in making their companies more successful.

The event costs $85 per person if tickets are bought before Sept. 27 or $95 a ticket on the day of the event. Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce members will get $20 off the price of the ticket. For more information, visit www.bbcc.com, or call (248) 644-1700.

Becoming an Associate Travel Agent

Becoming an Associate Travel Agent is (probably) the Smartest Thing I’ve EVER Done: Part II

My husband and I were married in April 2005. We had purchased a house before the wedding, and we wanted to save as much as we could on our Honeymoon. In truth, we set a budget of $2,000 for our trip. However, while I was looking up different packages, I just couldn’t find anything less than $3000 including airfare, food and activities. We really wanted to go somewhere in the Caribbean, but it seemed as though it would be impossible.

That is, until I found a company that promised me the title of Associate Travel Agent. For just $225, I would have all of the benefits of a travel agent – including incredibly discounted rates – as well as earn a 10% commission on all of the travel that I booked. I also had to pay an additional $19.95 per month to maintain a website through this company, which was only a site that had a bunch of different links to other sites, such as Travelocity and Orbitz.

Still, I purchased my membership for $225, and I booked our Honeymoon at Sandals Grande St. Lucian for $1,400 TOTAL. I saved $5,600 on the hotel stay alone – and we had all of the benefits that other Sandals guests had. Since I had enough frequent flyer miles, we only had to purchase one plane ticket. So, add the $225 cost for the membership card, $19.95 for the website, $1400 for the resort and $300 for the plane ticket, I still came in under budget for the Honeymoon of our dreams.

Since I did so well with our Honeymoon, I was motivated to book travel for other people. I booked around $10,000 worth of travel in just 6 months, yet all I received was a $45 commission check from this company. I couldn’t believe it. So, I headed down to the local Department of Labor and registered my own travel business, Popular Resorts Transcontinental – Known as PRT Travel because the name is so long. I soon obtained a CLIA number for my company, and was well on my way to becoming a success.

I have booked 7 cruises in the past week alone. That means that I earned a $1,372 commission rather than the $137.20 that the other company would have paid me. I keep 100% of my commissions. I am no longer registered with the other company, because I don’t have to be. Besides, I did a search on the Better Business Bureau with the company’s name, and I learned that it has 40 complaints within the past 36 months. Because of these unanswered complaints, the company has an unsatisfactory record with the BBB. Plus, I have read many different accusations of this company (among others) being a scam from hundreds of people. I didn’t think that this was the case for me, as I saved a lot of money on my Honeymoon. But, after getting a check for just $45 after selling $10,000 worth of travel, I started to think otherwise.

Then, I started to think about the hundreds of other people that are in the same boat that I was in: spending $225 as a registration fee, $19.95 per month for a website that I could have created for free on Geocities or something, and a $50 renewal fee every year. That adds up to $515 for the first year and $290 every year thereafter. That’s a lot of expense for a very little return.

So, I decided to open my company up to more people that want to save money on travel and earn money booking it for other people. I don’t charge you for some bogus website that you could create yourself– If you want one, go ahead and create one. You will get 100% of the commissions that you earn through the different programs that you can register yourself for. I won’t leave you to work hard on your own, then take 90% of what you earn. It’s completely unfair, in my humble opinion. You will receive 80% commission off of all of your bookings, which will be paid via check within 15 (fifteen) days of the check clearing into the PRT account. The company will keep 20% commission for administrative fees and taxes. There isn’t any travel company out there that offers this.

You will be registered as a Specialist with Popular Resorts Transcontinental on every single booking engine where the company is registered. If there is a company that you want to register with that PRT isn’t yet registered with, all you have to do is send an email to PRTTraveller@gmail.com with your request, and it will be taken care of within a week. This is how a travel company should be run.

So, what do you have to do? Well, that depends on how much money you would like to make. I am simply providing you with the means to book travel and earn income. How much you earn is on your shoulders: Book as much or as little as you like. Plus, you can always use the membership card that you will receive in order to get your own discounted travel.

It’s simple, really. All you have to do is fill out the Registration Form, make your payment ($75), and mail your form, receipt and passport photo in. If you want more than one specialty, it is an additional $30 for each, and you will receive separate cards for all of them. You’ll receive your welcome kit within 2 weeks. The card is good until December 31, 2007, which is when the CLIA registration must be renewed. I am so tired of these other companies taking advantage or me and people like me, and it was time that I did something about it.

Be the Boss of Your Life

Be the Boss of Your Life

I like the entrepreneurial life. You set hours and tasks for the day. I control my product and distribution. It’s fun selling your creation. I can’t believe people are buying my work. It’s great and it rewires thinking patterns. During the majority of my life, I worked to make someone else rich.

It would be interesting to find out how much my employer makes from Omar Hasan’s services. I’m paying their kids tuition, mortgage, retirement fund and their summer home in Barbados (lol). I don’t get angry. It’s a choice.I have freewill. In America, everyone has the opportunity to be the bossof their talents.

Since becoming an author of “The Disappearance Of Hate”, I’ve had to develop marketing tactics. I didn’t take marketingin college. I didn’t know it’s importance. I’m an artist. This isn’t relevant. As I got older, I realize its significance. Talent is great, but marketingis essential.

The public needs to discover your talent via flyers, word of mouth, social networking, podcastingand other platforms. Once you do this opportunities appear. People want to help spread the word and offer encouragement to your goals. What’s crazy is strangers can offer more support than family and friends.

Yesterday, when I was in the West Village, a middle aged white woman named Susan said”I’m proud of you”. Only thing I did was give her a flyer and gave insight on my book. I never met this woman before. I felt so good. Why can’t people I’ve known for more than 10 minutes show me this kind of love? This isn’t directed to those family and friends that are encouraging and supportive.

I guess become I’m a threat.I’m moving to a new level. What will he become? What will he do? He might actually succeed. I can’t let this happen. These thoughts are probably entering their minds. Maybe, I’m overreacting and overthinking. I can’t let people’s actions or inaction stop me.

You have to be a boss of your own life. Your not living for anyone else but yourself and God. Make your own money and grow an empire. What’s wrong with making yourself wealthy?Read motivational blogs and books,escape dead end friends and people. Risk everything to live the life you deserve.

BTW pick up the 50 Laws by 50 Cent and Robert Greene

My current status: Still working a job to support my talents. But this in only temporary. I look forward to remarkable change in 2010.

Style and Comfort

5 Additional Girls Guide Tips for Traveling in Europe in Style and Comfort

A trip to Europe is on the agenda of many high school and college students. Here are a few additional tips to consider, no matter what your age.

  1. Be aware of different business hours, especially banks!

In Europe, businesses, especially banks, are conducted at different hours that we are used to in the United States. For example, many banks are only open from 8 AM to 4 PM; with a long lunch break in between. In addition, in Spain, most businesses close mid-afternoon for a siesta. However, with the exception of banks, most reopen for the evening. When you arrive at your destination, do a little research into business hours and take care of your money situation right away. With those two pieces of advice, you will never be without cash and won’t be disappointed.

  1. Always utilize your travel time, whether that means time on a plane, train, or bus.

During my semester in Spain, I traveled nearly every weekend. For me, that meant a lot of time on buses and trains. I made the most of it. I used that time to read, listen music, or finalize trip plans. It was also nice to simply write or take in scenery. The point is, make the most of the dead time. It will mean that you can make the most of your trip.

  1. Visit Cathedrals, but you can take in too many at once! The same goes for historic churches.

Europe is filled with historic churches and cathedrals! They are wonderful to visit and the architecture is simply amazing. No two are exactly alike. That having been said, you can do too much of a good thing. By the end of my trip to Spain, I could have cared less as to whether or not I would ever see another cathedral in my life. If you are into visiting cathedrals and churches, just don’t overdue it. Mix it up and go shopping for a day!

  1. Do hit the main sites.

Many college students who are into being non-conventional may wish to skip the Eiffel Tower, the Tower of London, and the like, but such huge tourist attractions are big tourist attractions for a reason. You owe it to yourself to do the touristy thing at least once or twice, just try not to stick out like a sore thumb.

  1. Plan fun, out of the way excursions.

While it is fun visiting the main sites in a city, it also can get boring, especially after a full day or two of doing the touristy thing. There is so much more to Europe than what is in the guidebooks! For example, I was in Cáceres, Spain during Valentine’s Day 2002. I decided to get all dressed up, go to a free play all by myself, and then met up with a bunch of friends at a local hang out. It was a blast! I had the best of both worlds: I spent time alone and then had the time of my life partying with all of my friends. It was a great evening and took very little planning. In many places in Europe, all you need to do is visit a café or small store in order to find out what is going on locally. You won’t be disappointed.

By following the advice given above, you won’t go wrong. You will have a European experience that you won’t soon forget.

Reality TV

Reality TV when the Rubber Meets the Road-Justin.tv An Internet Phenomenon

A camera zooms past some well tended plants, past the well lit exterior of a mansion, and into a well lit glass “closet.” All we hear is a muffled shriek of frustration. Tears dribble down a young woman’s face as she sobs into the phone over the “stupidity” of all the other people she lives with. Something tells us that this may not be “reality” as we know it. Many of us had our share of reality shows such as “Survivor,” “Big Brother” and the countless other spinoffs that pose to be reality shows, but are in essence the concoction of media giants having meticulously designed scripts and editing. Nowadays, the reality show furvor has subsided as fast as we could say “you are voted off the island.”

How then has the recent video account of one typical, tech entrepreneur enflamed viewership upwards of ten thousand people at one time? Especially when this person’s life is utterly “normal,” completely unedited and unscripted, filmed for 24 hours a day and 7 days a week? Justin.tv is a new internet reality TV show that documents the life of Justin Kan for a full 24 hour day. The show differs from previous attempts at reality tv because there is no show editing and the mounted camera on his head enabling anyone to take a look at what is going on in this person’s life at any one time, even while he is sleeping or going to the bathroom. Recent archived clips show Justin talking with friends, eating, or doing mundane tasks like cleaning up empty cans after a party. Why would anyone want to watch someone else’s life when he has his own to live? A recent slogan for the website says it all: “Waste Time Watching Other People Waste Time.”

Kan is the new internet phenomenon and justin.tv a new chat room hub, with people watching the website even while Justin is sleeping for hours at a time. Not all are so patient, however. Much of justin.tv ‘s fame has been fueled by pranksters changing caller ID through their computers to call 9-1-1 on his apartment through his phone, prompting police to burst in the investigate the alleged stabbing. Another time a fire was reported, but the fire trucks were not caught on camera. Now Justin’s telephone number is listed as a potential prank number so that law enforcement confirms if there really is a fire or a crime before dispatching to this phone number. Another prank included ordering 63 dollars worth of pizza hot to his front door.

Other ways to add some spice to Justin’s life to entertain fans is to have “auctions.” For example, a recent bid said that if the website recieved 100 emails within the next 20 minutes, people would jump into a pool fully clothed. The site had 300 emails quite quickly. Other bids include bids for blind dates and an open forum for suggesting Justin to do fan’s requests. Is justin.tv slowly turning from the everyday life phenomenon that made the site famous into the trite “reality” shows on televison that has lost its sense of reality? Tune in to justin.tv to find out for yourself, just be sure its not when Justin is peeing.

On the Way to Amsterdam

On the Way to Amsterdam

As a young pothead in 1999 I had one major thing to look forward to, and that was the Cannabis Cup held in Amsterdam, Holland. This would be my first trip on a plane and just getting there is a story in itself, thus, this travel story.

I awoke at 5 AM, that had not happened in about three years. My bags already packed I go take a shower, and then get my stuff ready. One half of the filthy, nasty, repugnant Anderson Brothers, Jason, picks me up. He receives some bonus money for the trip as do I. My Mommy kisses me bye and then continues to put a damper on the trip by crying, realizing this could be the last time she sees her beautiful baby boy in one piece.

One thing I forgot to pack for my trip were Philly Blunts. I figured they would have them in Amsterdam, and they did, for roughly $15 for two packs.

We eat breakfast at Denny’s. I didn’t have much, getting on a metal tube had me a little nervous even though it was hours away. Jason ate like a hog, he is part hog. I get the squirts at a gas station and use their facilities. Now, we are on our way to Atlanta. Being the spoiled young man with money that I was I would have much rather flown to Atlanta than driven. But the Anderson Brothers are part Jewish, they like to save money.

Three hours later we arrive in Atlanta. We check our bags. I stop and buy one awesome U.S.A. fanny pack that I never wore. A couple hours later and it is time to board. At the time I seen an imaginary line. Once crossing this line there was no turning back. I could get on the plane or not. Before leaving I called my mother like a good little boy, she was crying again, so I’m thinking damn, maybe I shouldn’t get on this plane. That was my choice. Not get on the plane, waste the money I spent, and go back home. Or take a chance, get on the plane, go to Amsterdam, and maybe fall from the sky in a metal tube.

So hell yeah, I got on the plane.

I was a little leery of the takeoff. I had learned by this time that most airplane crashes occur shortly after takeoff and upon landing. So I grabbed my armrests and got ready, it was uneventful, yet scary. From watching movies I heard airline food and the in-flight movies are not great. The movies were right.

Our in-flight movies were Wild Wild West, which is Wild Wild West, no explanation needed. The next movie was Big Daddy. I’m an Adam Sandler fan but Big Daddy just wasn’t good. It didn’t help that I watched the flick a week earlier. The food wasn’t bad. We had a choice of chicken or pasta. I wanted the chicken, I wished for the chicken. The stewardess asked me which I wanted, I said chicken. She said they were out of chicken. I pondered why she even asked.

I couldn’t sleep on the plane, but I could get drunk off the free Heineken. I figured if the plane was to crash it would be my best bet to be drunk. I couldn’t sleep on the plane. Something about closing my eyes and hearing a jet engine doesn’t relax me. I listened to my headphones provided by the airline KLM, “Larger Than Life” by The Backstreet Boys became my in-flight anthem.

The hours ticked by slowly, our little plane on the big screen inched along, across the Atlantic, over Ireland, the United Kingdom. Our pilot informs us we are approaching Schipol airport. We come in for the landing, I pray we don’t crash, we land safely.

Step one complete. I’m now in Amsterdam. The time in Amsterdam is earlier than when we left the states, that will be mind trip one. I wonder what awaits me in this magical city?

Traveling in Cabo San Lucas

Traveling in Cabo San Lucas: What to Do and Where to Go on Your Cabo San Lucas Vacation

Overview

Cabo San Lucas, located at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, was, until recently, a simple fishing town. However, in the last two decades interest in this relatively-unknown Mexican city has been building among adventure-seeking tourists, and, as a result, the city has built itself up to encourage and expand this newfound interest. Primarily a destination that caters to tourists looking to experience outdoor adventures, Cabo San Lucas is crawling with sun-ridden activities for its guests to immerse themselves in. The most amazing site to be seen is Land’s End. Here a huge arching rock separates the Cortez Sea from the Atlantic Ocean, and the rocks that surround Land’s End are the home of a local sea lion colony. Daring tourists may want to attempt to cross the rocks to reach the rock arch, but less thrill-seeking visitors may instead choose to arrive at the arch via the boat rides offered by local vendors.

Outdoor Recreation

Around the marina, you’ll find local vendors offering just about every service you could imagine. Here you can sail out into the ocean in a glass-bottom boat, rent a jet-ski, deep-water fish, scuba dive, bungee jump, snorkel, paraglide, or simply sunbathe. For tourists interested in scuba diving and snorkeling, some of the best spots are Pelican Rock, home to several schools of tropical fish, Cabo Pulmo, the location of a large coral reef, and Playa Del Amor, the location of a sand fall that starts at 100 feet below the sea level and drops more than 6500 feet below. For a more relaxing day in the sun, check out one of Cabo San Lucas’ many golf courses. Best of all, from January to March, the Ocean off of the coast of Cabo San Lucas is the home to whales, and visitors can watch them rise and fall in the water, for a price, of course.

Nightlife

The tourist-oriented restaurants and bars are mostly clustered around the marina, so you’re likely to find a wealth of dining and drinking establishments there, though the prices will be inflated because of the location. For a cheaper night out, head to Morelos. In Morelos, you’ll find Mariscos Mocambo, a fresh seafood restaurant that’s popular among both tourists and natives alike. For authentic Mexican cuisine, check out La Perla, Mi Casa, El Patio, and Senor Greenburg’s. To experience a Latin nightclub, the Giggling Martin should be your first stop.

Foods for Your Hard-to-Feed Child

Foods for Your Hard-to-Feed Child In…Spain

When you’re a visitor in a foreign country, it’s hard enough not speaking the language or being able to read the street signs, and it’s even harder when you’re vacationing with a child who’s a notoriously picky eater. Though many restaurants in Spain cater to Americans and list menu items and ingredients in English, others do not-and you don’t want to have to find a McDonald’s every time your child is hungry. Luckily, lots of traditional dishes on the Spanish menu are universally popular enough to be found throughout the country, and it’s easy to choose simple foods to please your child’s palate. Even better, since Spain is the land of tapas, servings are small in size and prepared for one or two people-you won’t have wasted the price of an entire meal on food that goes to waste.

The tortilla española-or Spanish omelet-is a simple omelet made with fried potatoes and onions and is ubiquitous on Spanish menus. Though its flavors are far from complex, it’s a warm, delicious dish made with familiar ingredients.

Pan con tomate-bread with tomatoes-is another choice that should be popular with children. Warm, crusty bread is sliced thickly, spread with crushed tomatoes, and then drizzled with olive oil and salt. Its mild taste and crunchy texture may make it one of your favorites, too!

Spain is rich in seafood dishes, but if your child doesn’t eat fish, they can get ample protein with chorizo or Iberian ham-both Spanish specialties and both familiar enough that a child won’t balk at eating them. Order this with a side of patatas bravas-fried potatoes that can be covered in sauce or left plain.

To make sure your child gets his greens, look for menu items such as escalivada (grilled eggplant and tomato), ensalada rusa (potatoes, carrots, peas, and egg, usually held together with mayonnaise), or champiñones al ajillo (grilled mushrooms). At some restaurants the tortilla espanola may come with a small side of salad, usually with a simple vinaigrette drizzled over it.

A more adventurous child might enjoy the country’s famous paella-it can be ordered with chicken, seafood, beef, or even rabbit and is a mixture of saffron rice and vegetables such as peas, beans, tomatoes, artichokes, or peppers.

You can even ask for something as simple as a tabla de quesos-an assortment of cheeses-and crackers.

Of course, dessert is one food you won’t have to convince your child to try! Order some crema catalina, Spain’s version of crème brûlée, horchata, a thick, milky drink that tastes of vanilla and almonds, or churros, crispy sweet pastry served with thick hot chocolate.

While the Spanish look down upon fast food restaurants, you do have a few choices, there, as well-chains like Café y Te and Pans and Company have cheap options that still allow you to try a bland version of the culture’s famous cuisine that should appeal to your child’s tastebuds. In big cities like Barcelona and Madrid, there are also countless little pizzerias and shops that sell bocadillos-baguette sandwiches with crispy bread and fresh vegetables and deli meat.

As you can see, you don’t have to give up your culinary adventure in Spain-with this guide, you should be able to find foods for your hard-to-please child even in the most hole-in-the-wall restaurants. ¡Muy sabrosa!

Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park

Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park is a Disaster in of Itself

Blizzard Beach Water Park at Disney World in Orlando, Florida is one of the most disappointing water parks ever made. It’s one of two water parks in Walt Disney World Resort, the other being Typhoon Lagoon, which is where you should really be spending your time if you want some cool water park action, not here. Maybe I’m being a little too harsh, Blizzard Beach actually does have some cool rides but they’re a pain in the butt to get to (I’ll get into that shortly) and the running theme and concept behind this water park is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it’s very cool and it’s something different, then again, it’s a curse because it makes commuting from ride to ride a living hell.

See, the idea behind Blizzard Beach is some big snow storm attacked Florida and now there’s a ski resort there. And then somehow the warm weather returned, thus beginning the melting process. Now what you’ve got as a result is a ski-themed water park. So let’s talk about the good stuff first. Blizzard Beach houses one of the biggest and fastest water-slides in the world which is Summit Plummet — standing at 120 feet high, it’s a free-falling water-slide with a 12 story drop at a speed ranging between 50 to 60 miles per hour. Other cool water-slides include the Slush Gusher, Snow Stormers, the Downhill Double Dipper, and Toboggan Racers.

Then you’ve got your tube and raft-based rides like Teamboat Springs and Runoff Rapids. Furthermore, there’s the main star of the water park — the almighty chair lift. While it’s not necessarily a ride in the sense of the other attractions at Blizzard Beach, it serves as a mode of transportation and nothing more. However, this the park’s mighty downfall, so to speak, because having to wait to go back and forth on the chair lift is quite torturous. To make matters worse, it’s the easiest way to get to the top of the park where most of the rides await, otherwise you’ll have to navigate your own hectic journey up Blizzard Beach’s pathways and stairs.

Last but not least, you’ve got the two most important attractions which a water park can not live without – the wave pool and the lazy river. Every water park has them, to take them away would be like taking french fries off of McDonald’s menu. At Blizzard Beach, Cross Country Creek fills the shoes of the lazy river quite well. Then there’s Melt-Away Bay, the park’s very own wave pool — spanning over one acre, this wave pool is decorated with a number of waterfalls and extends up to about eight feet. Overall, if you want your time well spent in the water at Disney World, you’re probably better off at Typhoon Lagoon.

Winter Fun and Travel

Time to Book Your 2011 Winter Fun and Travel

Booking a winter wonderland vacation means many different things to the traveler. It is that time of year to begin looking into booking that winter trip. Remember the first tip to planning an inexpensive trip is booking early.

Make a list of those great places that you want to visit. This is the most important planning step for any traveler. Once the list is created then it is time to check and see who will be traveling with your party. Perhaps this winter you wish to take children or grand children. Prices always change from season to season and it is best to remember that traveling with children can be less expensive if you choose the off season for those theme parks and other activities geared to the young.

If getting away from your hometown’s weather is the reason for a wintertime trip, plan to visit a place that is experiencing summertime during your winter months. Places like South Africa have their spring in August. Research every detail of the weather and be sure to search out the historical weather patterns of the area being considered. Recently when planning a trip to South Africa myself, I used Accuweather at www.accuweather.com/ to check on the best time of year for travel. Don’t always depend on your travel agent to know exactly what the weather has been like or will be like in the future.

After choosing who is going and where you are going now it’s time to find out the price of that trip. When booking for overseas travel it is best to use a travel agency. One like Costco Travel can give a traveler a great price. Their upcoming 2011 season includes trips to the Caribbean, Jamaica, Italy, Spain, and more. When using a travel agency they are able to find some all-inclusive packages for travelers that include ground transportation and meals in the total cost of the package. Keep in mind that the agency is adding a cost for their services so a comparison of prices when booking with your agency and on your own can save money in the long run.

Booking a trip from beginning to end can be stressful but it can be done. Choose the dates, air travel, hotel, and then visit Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity and use your search guidelines to include air, hotel and rental car. It is a good idea when booking a trip like this to put in anytime as your flight time, locking yourself into a specific time of day can cause the prices to rise considerably.

If your choosing a place such as Italy, Spain, France or another destination that may have lots of driving, it may behoove you to chose to stay in more than one hotel/motel or even a villa. Research for these extras will need to be done separately as you cannot put in more than one destination when using sites such as Priceline, Expedia, or Travelocity.

Make sure when booking an overseas destination that the cost is being quoted in US dollars and not the currency of the geographical area. It is easy to use the currency calculator but the rise and lowering of the currency exchange can be several hundred dollars from day to day. Travellers need to keep this currency exchange fluctuation in mind when travel time comes also. Pick up some of the local currency at the airport before leaving the US. Most major airports have a currency exchange office. There will be a charge to change money over both leaving and coming from and to the US.

Travelers Checks and credit cards are not recommended. During our recent travels in South Africa we used a personal credit card, which was then compromised and used in Italy, Spain, and with several rental car agencies. If a credit card is a comfort issue then purchase a pre-loaded credit card to use on your travels. That way if the card becomes compromised it is for a specific dollar amount and will not affect your personal credit.