Go To An Expert Travel Agent Or Directly To The Operator?

Unless you are comfortable with handling your own arrangements directly with travel operators over their websites or your travel selection is just a simple selection from a brochure you should consider finding an expert travel agent for your travel destination or activity requirements. This is not as simple as it sounds as many travel agents are designated as ‘specialists’ which often does not mean too much, except that they specialize in selling certain destinations, activities or named tour operators.
To obtain a ‘specialist’ designation can also be a very simple test set by a tourism office or tour operator and does not necessarily require an actual visit or experience. Travelers should beware of specialists, simply find out if they are experts by asking “have your been there, have you done that, did you buy the t-shirt?” or some more exacting questions, as you are investing hard earned money in your trip or vacation.
In our lifetimes we hopefully spend more on our travel wants and needs than on any other professional or expert in their chosen fields such as lawyers, accountants, plumbers, electricians, builders, dentists, doctors and we certainly choose them very carefully, so why not use the same quality control when choosing a travel agent. Also, as with our other experts, there may be different agents needed for different destinations and activities, so do not necessary stay with one agent for all of your travel requirements unless of course the agency has different experts for different products and services.
There is an understandable element of extra costs when using these experts called commissions and fees but the extra cost is often worth the investment if you really need travel knowledge, experience and expertise. Many travel experts are dedicated professionals who have spent years gaining knowledge of their products and services, gaining experience by visiting destinations, taking part in activities and gaining expertise in the reservation and search systems for better itinerary planning.
They are out there, but not necessarily in your town, region or even country. With the Internet we have the ability to find experts for anything and to compare and check credentials and product quality before committing our investment.
If you, as a traveler, do not need to use an expert travel agent and are comfortable with handling your own arrangements over the internet you have unlimited choices but not unlimited time to do your searches. You also have probably questioned why, if you do your own bookings directly with the operator, that you have to pay the commissions that are normally built in to travel prices to allow for retailer or wholesaler percentages, and rightly so. Are you getting a fair fare price when you go directly to operators and if not why not?
Not as simple an answer as it seems. Travel Wholesalers and Retailers are needed to market, promote and represent travel products so that travelers have the opportunity to view the myriad travel choices around the world. Without them many of us would never know the choices available to us so, when you have found your expert you should be loyal to them for yourself and also recommend and refer their expertise to others.
Travel Operators often have a predicament that if they show a two-tier price on their websites, one for buying from travel agents and a lesser price for direct bookers, that this could cause a rift in the supply chain and should therefore be protected for the benefit of the industry and the consumer in order to ensure that certain travel selections are available.
To overcome this predicament needed a new and completely different approach to both protect the traditional supply chain and to ensure that direct booking travelers get fairer fare prices and protection from unnecessary costs. The new innovation is Top Travel Vouchers from Top Travel Sites, a system whereby the operator still incurs the payment of a commission but most of that commission is then rebated to the direct-booking traveler.
At present there are hundreds of these vouchers available for purchase from operators around the world and each purchaser is offered a 100% money back guarantee, with some restrictions, but there is also a refund if the traveler is unhappy upon completion of their travel.
This service is in the early days of building a voucher inventory but with the growth of travel by direct bookings it does offer travel operators who want to encourage direct bookings and also to protect their relationships with wholesalers and retailers a new opportunity and method of representation for their products.
For the many thousands of travel providers and operators around the world who are not large enough to get representation by wholesalers and retailers there is now an opportunity to use this service by building an attractive savings incentive into voucher offers to encourage travelers to handle their own arrangements directly with the operator.

The Best Ways To Keep Your Money Safe Whilst Travelling

Most travelers know how to find the cheapest airfare or hostel room. But when it comes to how to travel with your money and how to access it, most travelers have a thing or two to learn.
There is no single best way to travel with your money or to make sure it is always accessible.
Travel Security Products
You must make sure you always have access to money overseas, and the best way to do that is by keeping your cash, ATM cards or travelers cheques safe with travel security products. The most popular are travel money belts, combination padlocks, security cable locks, and mesh security products. Be sure to plan ahead and purchase these products before leaving home.
Cash
You will need easy access to your cash, but it is not a smart idea to carry a large amount of cash around with you. It is also not a good idea to carry the bulk of your travel money around with you in cash form. If you get mugged or your luggage stolen, your holiday could be ruined.
You should disperse your cash around when traveling. Some should be placed in your wallet, also in your travel money belt. But you should keep a spare $100 or 100 Euros hidden in your backpack. This way if you do get mugged, you will still have money to tide you over.
A small supply of local currency is important to have when you arrive in a new country. You will be able to pay for transport to your accommodation, and also buy something to eat. If you are traveling in a third world country always pay for items and bargain for items in the local currency. You are less likely to be ripped off!
Credit Cards
A credit card should only be used as a back-up option to access your money when traveling. You will get charged large transaction fees to withdraw money in another currency. If your credit card gets stolen, your details could be used to steal your money and essentially ruin your vacation.
Always have the details of your credit card company, so that you can contact them if something goes wrong.
However, if you look after credit card, it can be very useful. It can be used to book flights, accommodation and tours online. It is also reasonably safe to pay for hotels and meals at well established and quality businesses.
Travelers Cheques
Travelers cheques are not very popular any more with any traveler. They cost you to make and they cost you to access your money. Often banks will give you a worse exchange rate when converting you travelers cheques. Using an ATM is a lot easier now that they have become universal.
On the upside, if yo lose your travelers cheques, you may be able to contact the nearest office of the issuing authority with the numbers on your not redeemed cheques to get them replaced.
ATMs
You can find an ATM just about anywhere now. They are by far the most convenient way to access your money when you are traveling. You must make sure your ATM card is authorized for use overseas before you go.
You are smart to travel with a spare card, just in case you lose your only means of accessing your money. Remember, you may be charged overseas transaction fees and conversion fees from your bank.
Cash Passport Cards
These are becoming a very popular option now with many travelers. You buy this card before you leave home, and place your funds on it, but in the currency of the country you are traveling to. The most popular currency cards are US dollars, UK pounds, and Euros.
Once your money is on the card you can access it anywhere from an ATM. This way you wont be charged conversion fees.
What should you do?
You should travel with a variety of options to access your money. Choose the best option for you that makes you feel comfortable. Remember, you can always get someone to transfer money to you internationally anywhere if you run out!
What not to do?
Avoid carrying large quantities of cash, when you use an ATM separate the money into smaller amounts and hide them around your backpack, pockets and wallet.
Do not give your credit card details to anyone.
Do not use your credit card to with draw money at an ATM. It will cost you so much money in fees!

School Bus Drivers Can Text and Drive in Some States

In the early morning hours of every school day, youngsters board a yellow and black bus and head to an exciting day at school. We rely and trust that knowledgeable and responsible school bus drivers will deliver and retrieve our children each day, with safety as their number one priority. According to the American School Bus Council, each school bus equals 36 cars, which means that children have a better chance at a safer ride to and from school rather than riding in a standard vehicle. Even the safest, most law abiding drivers are at risk for being involved in an accident with a distracted driver. Taking your children out of the backseat and on to a school bus should be a safer alternative, but recently in some states, school bus riders are at risk of being involved in an accident caused by distracted driving. The distracted driver? The trusted school bus driver.
Laws Against Texting and Driving
According to the U.S. Government Website for Distracted Driving, currently 41 states ban text messaging while driving and for good reason. No one, regardless of what they think or say, is good at texting and driving. Texting and driving, as separate actions, require visual, manual, and cognitive attention. Choosing to combine the two actions, at the same time, is a potentially lethal decision. While many drivers may argue that they have texted while driving without an incident to date, we all know it only takes one small incident to change life forever. Some drivers are self-proclaimed multi-taskers, boasting at their ability to drive the kids to school, while drinking piping hot coffee, texting co-workers, and keeping the car within the speed limit.
Studies show that multi-tasking doesn’t really exist. When you try to do more than one thing at a time, your brain struggles to prioritize the task at hand. For example, when you are driving, your visual attention is on the road, your manual attention is on the wheel, and your cognitive attention is in tune to driving. Once you hear the beep of a text notification, your brain suddenly “switches gears”. Your eyes may remain on the road, your hands may be on the wheel, but you are suddenly thinking about the text message and who may have sent it. The alert nags at you until you reach into your purse and check your phone, causing you to take all attention from driving.
Considering all the potential dangers of texting and driving, why are the school bus drivers in particular states allowed to text while transporting dozens of innocent children? Against the Golden Rule?
In September, a student, riding the school bus, took a video of the bus driver texting while driving. At one point, the driver was using her knee to control the wheel and struggled to stay within her lane. While the driver was suspended, the video footage has left many parents feeling uneasy, rethinking their morning transportation plan. While those states that allow it ban texting while driving, school bus drivers are allowed to text if the messages are work related. Even if school bus drivers pledge to use their cell phone for work related information, who will monitor to make sure the term “work related” isn’t be used loosely?
More importantly, how would a cell phone interfere with a bus driver’s performance? A school bus driver’s occupation can be rewarding and stressful. Safely transporting children is the main objective of the job, which doesn’t (and shouldn’t) allow for error. In addition to being a safe driver, according to United States Department of Labor, bus drivers are expected to have good customer service skills, be in good physical, mental and emotional health, have patience, good hand/eye coordination, and excellent vision and hearing. If a driver becomes immersed in “work related” text messages, he/she cannot perform the following important tasks:
Watch traffic and people carefully to ensure the safety of children getting on and off the bus
Take care of the needs of children with disabilities
Keep order and safety on the school bus
Understand and enforce the school system’s rules regarding student conduct
Report disciplinary problems to the school district or parents
Although texting laws have a few exceptions, it is safer and smarter to adhere to the “no texting and driving” law rather than trying to read between the lines or slip through a loophole. Texting and driving can injure, kill, and change your life in a matter of seconds. The next time you walk your child to the bus stop, will you trust her life in the hands of a texting bus driver or will you drive her to school, risking the busy roads filled with distracted drivers?