Monthly Archives: June 2016

Guide to Plan an Affordable Vacation

In the Indian Ocean, to the south-southwest of India lies the Maldives, a pristine archipelago comprising some 1,192 coral islands. The Maldives is regarded as one of the most luxurious holiday destinations in the world, and there are several reasons for this. For one, it boasts of absolutely stunning white-sand beaches, which are perhaps amongst some of the very best in the world. Moreover, it also offers some of the world’s best underwater activities and a fascinating marine life. What is even more compelling about these islands is the fact that virtually every resort in there has its own private island, and the facilities and services that these resorts offer just seem to be unparalleled.
Maldives on a Budget
Alright, let us get this straight―the Maldives is expensive. It never was a typical backpacker-type destination; however, there are ways to save money on your Maldivian vacation if you research well and know the tactics of spending wisely. Buzzle brings you this brief guide to help you plan, not a cheap, but an affordable vacation to the Republic of the Maldives.
Visit in the off-season.

The off-season in the Maldives runs between the months of May and November. This is the time when the islands experience heavy rains and storms. During the off-season, there are fewer tourists around, and the resorts tend to lower their rates to a considerable extent.
So, if you are not very choosy weather-wise, the off-season is the best time to travel on a budget in the Maldives. Those interested in surfing should note that the surfing season in the country ranges from March to October. So, by traveling in the off-season, you will be getting the best of both worlds―you will save money as well as get a fantastic surfing experience.
Book your flights and stay online.

Making all your bookings on the Internet can be both convenient and affordable at the same time. Booking for flights and accommodations online, more often than not, entitles you to certain benefits and discounted offers, which cannot be found otherwise. Moreover, you can always compare prices quoted on different travel websites, and acquire the cheapest possible bargain. However, remember to check all the details carefully before making payments, and also look for any sort of hidden costs, taxes, etc. Moreover, it is also a good idea to read customer reviews for the hotel/resort, and then decide on whether or not to opt for the same.
Look for last-minute deals.
While it is an extremely good idea to plan your vacation well ahead in order to get the best deals, sometimes, last-minute deals may also do the trick for you. Often, resorts and even airlines offer tempting discounts on last-minute deals to attract people. Although these may not be very cheap at all times, you will definitely be saving a certain amount of money of such deals. Especially, if you are intending to travel during the high season, it is a good idea to look for such deals. They might not be available at all times due to the large number of tourists traveling during the peak season; however, you can always test your luck.
Go for an all-inclusive package.

Everything in the Maldives comes for a price, and it is not one of the most suitable destinations for those on a budget. However, one of the best ways to save money on your Maldivian vacation is to go all-inclusive. There are a number of resorts out there, which offer all-inclusive packages that include, apart from lodging, lunch and/or dinner buffets, activities, excursions, and sometimes, even transport. Moreover, if you intend to consume a lot of alcoholic drinks, opting for an all-inclusive package will be the only worthwhile option at your disposal. It will strictly restrict you to house drinks, rather than buying them at splurging prices outside.
Stay on a local island, instead of a resort.

As mentioned before, virtually every resort in the Maldives owns an island for itself. This means that these resorts offer you exclusive facilities and activities, which in turn also means that you will be ending up breaking your bank. If you are visiting in the low season, you might be able to afford a stay in one of these resorts, but even then, there are other less pricey options available. A good number of B&Bs, inns, and guest houses are available in the inhabited atolls of the Maldives, which provide pretty good facilities at affordable rates. And, staying in the inhabited atolls also have an added advantage. You will get to experience the local fervor of the country, something that you will miss out on in the resorts.
Some local guest houses and B&Bs offer cheap activities.
This is, by far, one of the best advantages of opting to stay at a local guest house or a B&B. The owners of these facilities almost always tend to double up as your tour guides, and you can buy their courteous services at pretty affordable prices. Added to this, some guest houses also offer water sporting activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing at less than half of the resort rates. All you need to do is to book them in person with your lodging facility―it may not be a very luxurious experience, but a memory worth cherishing.
Travel as the locals do.

The main modes of public transport available in the Maldives include boats and air taxis. The only places where you will need to travel by road on the islands are the capital city, Male and the archipelago’s southernmost atoll, Addu. At these two places, you can hire private cars and motorbikes―there are various local companies offering these services―however, these are again pricey. You also have an option of hiring bicycles at these places, which are available at affordable prices, and walking is of course free. On all the other atolls, water transport is the only reliable mode. Inter-island ferries are available; prices depend on the distance, but are still not very pricey. If you are traveling in a group, you may also go for chartering a boat/water taxi, which might seem affordable as the total amount will get divided amongst your group members.
Do not opt to stay very far from Male.

There is only one international airport in the whole of the Maldives, which is the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Male. This means that no matter in which corner of the Maldives you opt to spend your vacation, your first and last stop in the country is going to be Male. So, the closer your destination is to the country’s capital, the lesser you will have to spend on your transfers.
The resorts which are more far off from Male generally require expensive seaplane transfers both ways. Plus, it is also time-consuming, in that you may have to spend a night on one of the domestic airports from where you may be getting a connecting flight. On the flip side, if you choose an island/atoll that is not very farther apart from Male, you will save a substantial amount of money on getting to your destination and back.
Traveling to the Maldives on a budget can be a big challenge; however, it is not impossible. It is very important that you are extremely careful while planning your budget, as the country is never going to turn out to be cheap, especially by Asian standards. The best way to avoid busting your budget in the Maldives is to stick to your plans and control your splurging urges.

Ways to Plan a Perfect African Safari

Whether you are a hardcore wildlife enthusiast, an adventure freak, or just a spirited traveler, going on an African safari will surely occupy a prominent position on your travel wish list. And why not? There is probably no other place on earth where there is a concentration of so many different species of exotic animals. With numerous national parks distributed all across the continent, an African safari is truly a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience that’s worth cherishing. What makes these safaris even more unparalleled is the fact that in terms of experience and adventure, no two of them seem to be the same.

Planning an African Safari

If you love wildlife, enjoy visiting adventurous locations, and wish to embark on an African adventure in the near future, this Buzzle article will tell how you can plan your trip for a truly enchanting experience. Here are a few factors, which you will need to consider while planning your African safari vacation.

◾ Do research on what the African safari can offer you. For this, the Internet is the best source; however, you can also refer to certain magazines, such as National Geographic Traveler to get an idea of where you can go and what you can expect. In case you know people who have already been to an African safari, it would be a great idea to ask them about their trip and experiences.

◾ Decide on what you want to see and/or do. Africa has innumerable options to offer to tourists, and many tour operators design customized safaris depending on the preferences of their clients. So, think about what kind of activity you would most like to participate in and accordingly, make a list of things you would like to see and do during your vacation. This will help explain your point of view more clearly to your tour operator.

◾ Prepare a rough itinerary. As mentioned above, Africa has innumerable options for tourists, and every safari is different from the other. Every region in the continent offers you a unique set of things to do and hence, once you have decided what exactly you want out of your trip, it will become easier for you to list out places, which will offer you that kind of experience. You can then communicate regarding the same with your tour operator, and get a customized safari, or join a group with similar interests.

◾ Proper timing is important. Deciding on when to go on a safari is crucial in order to get the kind of experience you are looking for. For instance, if you are aiming to spot hundreds and thousands of animals migrating, you can head to Kenya between June and August, which is the season for wildebeest migration. Similarly, if you are interested in game drives, it is advisable to plan a safari in winter, when there is limited vegetation in the grasslands and it is much easier to spot the animals. Your tour operator may help you with this, but it is advised that you do a bit of research on your own as well.

◾ Choose the type of accommodation you want to stay in. This you need to do, especially in terms of luxury. Africa is renowned the world over for its 5-star luxury camping that has all the amenities required for a lavish holiday. However, if you are looking for a budget vacation (for which there are plenty of options as well), you will first need to do some research and then set a “flexible” budget for the same. Please note that while booking a cheaper accommodation, you will also need to inquire how safe a particular facility is. But if it is a tour operator that you’re going through, your accommodation will be taken care of.

◾ Determine the duration of your stay. This is another major factor you need to consider while planning your safari. Some operators offer short, but focused adventures, which may last for about eight to ten days. However, there are also longer excursions that extend up to even three months, wherein you can get a more in-depth experience. So, if you have a good budget and a little flexibility with regards to your vacation days, it is advisable to take one of the longer safaris, as it won’t be possible to travel to Africa again and again, especially owing to high airfares. So, see to it that you make the most of your vacation while you are there!

◾ Ascertain how you wish to commute from one point to another. Sometimes, two places mentioned in your itinerary may be miles and miles away from each other. More often than not, there are two ways to commute from one point to the other, viz., land transfers and air transfers, and both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Although flying from one point to the other is expensive, you get to save on a lot of time. On the other hand, land transfers involve traveling for hours together in a car across many miles of uninhabited wild terrain, thus, adding a lot more transit time. However, land transfers are more cost-effective; in that you have numerous opportunities for game viewing. So, according to the time at your disposal, decide the way you want to travel and estimate your budget accordingly.

◾ Traveling with kids can be fun too. A large number of tour operators specialize in providing kid-friendly itineraries and accommodations. Some activities can be specially designed for kids to ensure their active participation in the safari. Hence, while you are planning your safari, it is important to take into consideration the likes and preferences of all those who will be accompanying you so that everyone enjoys the adventure to the fullest.

◾ Choose an appropriate tour operator. After you have researched well and listed down your preferences regarding the things mentioned above, it is now time to look for a suitable tour operator. The Internet is, by far, the best source for this, but you can also refer to travel books, magazines, and your friends and colleagues. Shortlist those who you think are best suited for your needs, and then speak to them personally. Ask them a lot of questions, and get all your doubts cleared. Most importantly, ask them about the overall price of the package―whether it is all-inclusive, if it includes flight tickets and internal transfers, whether it includes meals, etc. You can then pick the one that best suits your style of travel and budget.

Having done all this, you are finally all set to embark on your adventurous journey. Your tour operator will give a list of the items to carry during your trip. Make sure that you have packed each and every one of them. Your tour operator will also advise you on the various immunizations that you will need to take before you go to Africa. Take them at least a few weeks in advance. So, get going, enjoy the adventure, and stay safe!

Ways to Become a Good Certified Disney Travel Agent

Are you one of those working in the travel industry, who considers himself to be an expert of sorts on all things Disney? Do you find yourself scheduling a personal Disney vacation a little too often? If the answer is in the affirmative, you can consider being a Disney-certified travel agent. This way, you can make great use of your expertise to create some fabulous and personalized holidays for your customers.

Furthermore, as a certified agent, you will be able to solicit exclusive offers and discounts, which are only valid for bookings made through an agent like you. Sounds enticing enough? So, here’s how you can go about it.

Who is eligible for being a Disney-certified travel agent?
Those of you who own or work in a travel agency as a qualified agent, or operate as a home-based one can apply for the training program. A certified travel agent in this case refers to your IATA/CLIA qualification. Prior work experience is not necessary, but would definitely give you an edge. You will not be able to register for the training program without your IATA/CLIA identification.

How does one register for the training program?
You need to visit the Disney Travel Agents web page to register yourself. Here, you need to enter your IATA/CLIA id, along with your name and e-mail address, and create an account for yourself. After this, click on the “College of Knowledge” link, and begin browsing to understand the training procedures.

How is the training conducted?
After you register, the training is offered through Disney’s College of Knowledge program, which will require Internet access. It is imperative that you are up-to-date with everything that goes into the making of a Disney vacation, as it will certainly come in handy throughout the duration of your course. Before you sign up, it is recommended that you brush up regarding the latest trends concerning each of Disney’s hugely popular resorts. The online course is quite rigorous, and requires dedication and thorough knowledge. It comprises comprehensive training regarding every aspect of a Disney holiday, including hotel bookings, trip planners, restaurant reservations, special events, and other park details. You will be tested for your level of expertise and competence at every stage, and having satisfactorily performed, you can complete the course successfully.

On completion of the online coursework, you will be able to gain access to the exclusive travel agents’ page, which has the latest deals on packages and special offers.

Be aware that earning your “mouse ears” isn’t so easy.
With the hype and expectations associated with any Disney holiday, it goes without saying that it’s going to take a lot for you to be able to use the Disney Authorized Vacation Planner logo on to your website or agency brochure. Disney conducts a thorough and painfully detailed evaluation of each agency before they can claim their Disney certification.

What if I do not have an IATA/CLIA qualification?
In this case, you will have to register with a Disney Authorized Vacation Planner like Mickey Vacations to become an independent contractor, who offer a ‘work from home’ training program. This program helps you gain CLIA certification, along with assistance to become an Independent Contractor. Mind you, an Independent Contractor is a Disney Travel Consultant, not a certified agent.

It’s time you turned your passion for Disney vacations into a worthy profession. After all, doing what you love is the best profession to be in.

Tips to Find a Good Travel Agent

Planning a fulfilling vacation can be a challenging task; however, the introduction of several travel websites, have seemingly made it much easier for people. While numerous people opt to choose their destination and make all the bookings online, it is needless to say that even the best laid plans with regard to a self-booked holiday may go haywire and lead eventually to sheer disaster, due to reasons such as insufficient research, etc. In such a case, you not only end up ruining all your fun, but also your time and money. The best way to avoid this unpleasant, unwanted situation is to hire a good, reputed travel agent who will be able to help you plan your entire trip, and also make sure that it is completely free of hassles.

Some people think that planning a vacation on your own helps save a substantial amount of money, as it automatically eliminates the use of travel agent, the so-called middleman. While this might hold true in certain cases, we say that planning your vacation via a travel agent can actually help you obtain better, cheaper deals, thus, saving you from breaking the bank. An experienced travel agent will also be able to aid you in designing a feasible and practical itinerary, and provide tips with respect to choosing accommodations, renting private vehicles, and so on. Plus, you will get personalized attention while planning your vacation, as all your queries will be addressed then and there. However, it needs to be remembered that there are several traps out there in the market and so, it becomes extremely important to make a good and a wise choice from the countless travel agencies that are there. Buzzle brings you some vital tips to help you choose a right travel agent, in order to ensure a great vacation.

Travel Agent With Customers

Pen Down Your Expectations

Before going out to search for an appropriate travel agent to help you plan a perfect vacation for you, it is vital that you know exactly what you want, or what kind of services you expect from the agency. Unless you are absolutely sure about your own needs and demands, it will be very difficult to find the right travel agency. Note that some travel agents specialize in organizing some specific kinds of vacations, such as family tours, pilgrimages, wildlife safaris, etc. So, it may also be vital to recognize the exact nature and purpose of your holiday, before starting with your quest.

Do In-depth Research

With numerous established travel agencies and many more coming into existence each day, it may become rather confusing to choose the ones that suit your needs. Adequate and in-depth research is the solution to this problem. Use the Internet, inquire with your friends and acquaintances, and refer to local magazines and newspapers. If you know people who have hired any travel agent in the past, it is also a good idea to get in touch with them, and inquire about the services offered, money charged, priority given to customer satisfaction, and so on.

Narrow Down Your Search Results

Shortlist the ones that best suit your needs and demands and only then, go ahead and contact them. Your narrowed down list should depend on several criteria such as the services offered, the overall experience, the money charged, the location of the agency, and so on. No matter which of the above parameters (or others) you lay most emphasis on, do not forget to check the agent’s reputation and goodwill in the market.

Check if the Agency is Registered

You have conducted an in-depth research and have shortlisted some of your prospective travel agents, it is now time to check which of them are registered with the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). ASTA is an organization that regulates the practices and activities of travel agents throughout the United States. A registration with ASTA indicates that a given travel agency has a good market standing. On the contrary, if it is unregistered, it indicates that either the agency holds a bad reputation or it is a completely new establishment that lacks adequate experience and knowledge.

Get in Touch and Ask the Right Questions

After checking the registration details, you can now get in touch with the agencies that you feel are the best for you. These days, most travel agents have their own websites, and you can contact them via email; however, speak to them or meeting face-to-face is a much better idea. It is essential that you ask the right questions like how the agency obtains discounts from travel providers, or how they earn their commissions, etc. A good travel agent will be more than happy to answer all your queries satisfactorily and patiently. It is best to stay away from the ones who avoid answering your questions, or are not patient or courteous enough.

Let the Agent Ask You Questions

While conversing with a prospective travel agent, it is essential that he/she gets to know about your needs and expectations. For this, it is obvious that a good travel agent will ask you certain questions about your travel destination, the duration of your stay, your overall budget, and so on. You, on your part, will need to be as frank and honest as you can so that he/she gets a clear idea about the kind of vacation you are looking forward to. Remember that an experienced travel agent will always ask you questions, and tell you what is possible and what is not. Avoid the one who does not do so.

Ask for Personal References

In order to confirm that you are about to hire a right travel agent, do not hesitate to ask him/her for references of previous customers. It is an extremely good idea to contact some of these people personally, and ask them about their experiences with the agent and the agency’s services. While a good travel agency will have nothing much to hide, and will happily provide you with personal references, the one that hesitates or avoids doing so, should not be hired.

Review the Written Agreement Carefully

First and foremost, making a written agreement with your travel agent is very important. It not only binds both the parties on certain terms and conditions, but also ensures that complete transparency is maintained in the entire dealing. When your travel agency makes an agreement, it is very important that you read and understand it properly. If you have any doubt, it is advisable to even consult a contract attorney and get the agreement reviewed. Look specifically for restrictive clauses, and inquire if the agency can amend some of them, according to your convenience. Moreover, ensure that the agency provides you with a written agreement before you make any payments so that you can rethink on your decision, if required. Do not hire an agency that asks you to pay before making an agreement, or does not make a written agreement at all.

While a good travel agent will make every possible effort to help you spend an enjoyable and a comfortable vacation, it is vital to see that you do not end up busting your budget by choosing an agent who provides all required services, but is expensive. ‘Cheap’ may not be the aim all the time, on the contrary, it is better to opt for a travel agent who offers good value for money.