Bimshire for Spring


I like spring.  It is not my favorite season, summer is.  Nonetheless, I like springtime if only for the simple reason that after being cooped up indoors for most of winter I can now spring into action and enjoy more of the outdoors.  I can shed the heavy dull colors of winter for something lighter, brighter and cheerier.  The last vestiges of winter linger in the chilly air and the occasional snow flurry, but old man winter must eventually give in to higher temperatures as the mercury rises and as the sun’s rays get stronger every day.

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Spring – Forsythia (Traveltinerary)

I need sunshine.  It is a part of my DNA.  I love temperatures in the high 70s and 80s.  Whenever I see the blooming forsythia plant it tells me that spring is here and warmer weather too.  The yellow petals seem to appear overnight.  Whenever I feel down and out, the perennial’s rich vibrant color helps to cheer me up the same way the sun’s rays does in its mellow yellow radiance.  The first sightings of the bush against the sparsely foliage landscape, bright and bold, is like the sun shining through patches of cloudy skies.  Aah, I know.  A pampered vacation in the tropics is what I really need to scatter remnant winter blues.  This spiel about sunshine and individual care, segues succinctly to a destination where customer care is second nature.

Recently, Barbados, my homeland, was awarded the distinction of being the number one destination for tourist gratification.  A survey of 70,000 travelers rated the tiny island paradise best in customer service in the world.  Headlines like “Barbados Tops Charts with “Rihanna Effect,” Plans Bigger 2018”“Barbados Named World’s Top Travel Spot for Customer Satisfaction”, and “The Most Satisfying destination in the World” speaks of what draws these tourists to the shores of ‘Bimshire’ repeatedly.  While celebrity attractions and exquisite establishments may have bearings in contributing to such a prestigious honor, I believe it is more than just branding and smart marketing strategies.  It is its people.

“Friend to all, satellite of none.” – Sir Errol Walton Barrow

Over the years, many slogans and advertisements have gone into wooing visitors to Barbados.  However, in my opinion, if I had to speak for every Barbadian, it would be to say, “Bajans embody tourism as part of their culture.”  Years ago, one of the many successful slogans – “Tourism is our business” served a dual purpose: 1. attracting vacationers; 2. teaching nationals the art of keen customer service skills.  That slogan resonated with every Bajan across all walks of life back then.  To me, it is one of the most impactful slogans to have served the country’s tourist industry.

Growing up as a kid on the rock, I recall we were taught to be proud ambassadors, and how to handle foreigners to our island.  Exceptional service was made the number one priority which now pays sweet returns.  We knew we had no major economic wealth or competitive edge in the natural resources department.  All we have are our people.

“We loyal sons and daughters all

Do hereby make it known

These fields and hills beyond recall

Are now our very own

We write our names on history’s page

With expectations great

Strict guardians of our heritage

Firm craftsmen of our fate”

– Irvine Burgie (Chorus to Barbados National Anthem)

Today, I am excited at seeing forsythias which tells me warmer days are ahead.  I get even more excited recommending destinations where, besides the sand, sea and sun, apropos customer service gives holidaymakers the pleasure they seek and an enjoyable breather from a long harsh winter.  Is Barbados on your bucket list?  If not, it would be worth your while to add it now.  If international travel is not possible currently, contemplate road-tripping to where heats are already above 60 degrees.  If that is still not a possibility, don’t despair, you will not have too long to wait for higher temps and to enjoy all that is in your own backyard.  Wherever you choose to travel, be sure to enjoy springtime before it becomes a thing of the past.

Blog community, do your travel plans include a warm destination?  I can help you plan a bespoke itinerary for the tropics.  Select follow, click like and comment in the box below.  It means so much to me to read your thoughts and suggestions.  You may also follow me on Twitter @traveltinerary, LinkedIn, Google+, or share my post on any of your social media platforms.  It’s been real the whole time 😊.  Thanks for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

 

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Alter-ego Lifestyles


What kind of lifestyle do you lead when on vacation?  Does your alter-ego show up and you suddenly morph into the suppressed personality you always want to be? How do you behave when you are far away from the prying eyes of neighbors, family and friends? Does your inhibitions peel away like old clothes as you put new garb on instead?  Strange questions you might think.  Not likely.  Anonymity in unfamiliar places where one’s name, family, or residence are unknown, gives one a heightened sense of freedom.  One becomes ‘footloose and fancy free.’  Let’s look at some alter-ego lifestyles you may encounter while on vacation:

Laissez-faire –  This type of tourist expresses in their attitude a need for freedom to do

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Lifestyle – Laissez-faire (Traveltinerary)

whatever or go wherever their heart desires.  They exhibit an air of unconcern for everyday affairs by taking a break from the vicissitudes of life that may confront them.  Now on vacation, they may show little or no concern for things, or situations that, under different circumstances would be cause for alarm.  This happy-go-lucky spirit follow paths that are mapped-out for them and can easily be persuaded to jump on a fitting bandwagon.  They would enlist the services of an itinerary organizer to eliminate stressful holiday planning.  They do not want to be bound by time or limited by restraints.  Don’t worry, be happy is probably their vacation mantra.  Ideally, they just want to go with the flow.

Largesse – Cha ching, cha ching.  The demeanor of this type of traveler is seen in their: designer clothing, exquisite taste, expensive indulgences, and their generous tipping says money is not an issue. This type of vacationer spares no expenses on entertainment, tours and travel related costs.  Itinerary plans are made in advance, but even at a moment’s notice, without as much as a dither they are ready to resolve unforeseen issues with their cheque-book.  Who will know beside them and their wallets what the real bank statement balance says at home.  For now, the big spender is the envy of all others.  Whether the façade is real or fake it causes heads to turn.

Adventurous – This transient type is constantly looking for the next thrill of victory.  Adventures planned or discovered, safe or dangerous are high on the list of their activities to seek out and conquer.  Sitting still is not an activity but rather a necessity only when it is time to eat.  They are willing to climb the highest mountains.  Hike steep trails.  Travel off the beaten paths to little known sites and be one with nature.  They are rough and rugged, taking photo ops at the edge of the cliff; daring to look over the precipice; or riding downhill at break-neck speeds on dirt bikes.  Whatever the activity, their liking for borderline danger and their precarious approach to the holiday says that they are seeking an exhilarating emotional high, an adrenalin rush.  Obviously, such experiences may be at complete odds to their normal, sedate lifestyle at home.

Minimalist –  This hippie type vacationer travels light.  They have figured out ways on how to get by with very little.  They travel from place to place, sometimes using only the thumb.  This lifestyle best fits and looks better on a younger tourist but is not limited to any age group.  Their bedraggled demeanor screams, “I am a poor backpacker, or I am hungry, feed me.”  Looks and proper deportment are not of much concern to them.  Getting by while enjoying their vacation is their only anxiety.  They too go with the flow and are flexible with their plans.  They are not above working for their keep or couching in places that may be considered disreputable.

Fun-Loving –  Though not the general rule, this lifestyle can sometimes be treacherous

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Lifestyle – Fun-loving (Traveltinerary)

and anything but fun.  Stories of spring-break tragedies are a sad testament to that fact. The unwary tripper throws caution to the wind lured on by the prospects of pleasure and enjoyment.  These bored holidayers fall prey to impromptu decisions, and flawed ideas all for the sake of having a good time.  Their predilection for any kind of excitement may lead to an impulsive decision.  Nevertheless, overall, once fun activities are properly vetted, a wonderful time may be had.

Have you at any time adopted at least one of these alter lifestyles while on vacation?  If you have a travel story that fits a lifestyle and would like to share, I would love to hear about it.  The long and short of it all is that no one is judging you.  Your lifestyle choices far from home are yours to practice for the brief period you are away.  You will return to your regular living and reality soon enough.

Thanks for reading this post.  I appreciate the time you took to do so.  All opinions expressed above, to which you may agree or disagree, belong to yours truly, just saying 😊.  Please click follow, like or comment in the box below.  Also, here is my twitter username – @traveltinerary.  I look forward to hearing from you.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Food – Choice or Chore


Countries that bank on tourism as a part of their economy, usually have a supporting gastronomy culture that peaks the interest of every tourist they attract.  Restaurants, food shops and entrepreneurial vendors abound to feed the weary traveler.  Besides exploring national sites and attractions, what to eat at the end of the day, in my opinion, is still the most pondered thought or question as you travel, whether in a group, or by yourself.  Vacationers from all walks of life want to know the answer to that question as they anticipate sinking their teeth into the delectable cuisines of their host country.  The more prolific the gastronomy culture the wider the variety of dishes offered.  A customized itinerary would not get into the meat and potatoes (no pun intended) of where one should dine or the foods one should try.  That is usually left to the discretion of the traveler.  However, itinerary planners like myself often recommend that clients have realistic expectations at their destination and be aware of the average price range of restaurants that will appeal to their dietary needs, and of course, suit their budget.

If you have chosen an all-inclusive resort where your meals from breakfast to dinner are prepared, or an ocean cruise where you can gorge throughout the day, then you need not worry about meal plans.  However, if you are traveling with your family, friends or solo, and your accommodation allows free access to their kitchen, you may want to seize the opportunity and utilize the resources to your advantage.  If you plan carefully, you will quickly realize how much better and healthier your dining choices can be for you and your family

Before leaving on a trip, you should actively research your meal options.  Know the ubiquitous and exotic foods of your place.  Learn the ingredients used to make the dish you might want to try especially if you have culinary objections, diet or religious restrictions.  The internet, guidebooks, restaurant’s and diner’s reviews are good places to start your search.  Social media is another excellent medium to source food information and can tell you what is: the latest rave, best and worse comments, photos, and how-to demonstrations.  Even if you are not a foodie-traveler, it is still wise to prep for a palatable experience before you begin your journey.  Hungry anyone?

Here are four sustenance means to choose from:

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Fine Dining

Restaurants ($$, $$$) –  These fancy kitchens are run by talented trained chefs in the art of cookery.  Exquisite menu offerings oftentimes highlight items that challenges the English speaker’s ability to enunciate.  Plates of food look like they have been manipulated by a food design artist instead of cooked and tussled in a skillet or frying pan by a sous chef.  Dainty drops of green, red, yellow or orange spot the plate or maybe a lone streak of sauce stretch across an oversized plate, that at the center, sits the lone morsel.

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Fine Dining

Depending on your deep pockets and thrill-seeking taste buds, you may choose to feast at a Michelin-star rated food establishment.  If so inclined, other eateries operated and/or owned by restauranteurs the likes of Alain Ducasse, Gordon Ramsay and Wolfgang Puck are worth visiting, even if only for the bragging rights.  Restaurants worth their salt in food preparation, presentation, and ambience seek to win you over with quality versus quantity.  You may walk away still hungry and lighter on the pocketbook, but who’s complaining?  It’s all about the experience and memory created.  You can talk about it for a long time, or write your own review on your blog page, etc.

Choosing to break bread nightly at a classy restaurant while on an extended holiday is not a sustainable option.  Apart from a few of us, it may turn out to be an extravagance you cannot afford.  At the end of the day, the choice would still be yours.

Fast food –  As a tourist, you might like the casual dining alternative of the more well-known places like the golden arches, the colonel, or some other easily recognizable western fast-food chain.  Moreover, others may be averse to trying new foods and finding familiar tasting foods may bring them a measure of homey comfort.  They crave a familiar taste and texture.  That being the case, some fast-food chains in foreign countries accommodate side orders that appeals to their nationals.  Nothing off-putting.  Examples: In Venezuela, McDonalds serves arepas as a side order in their meal; and in Canada the widely loved poutine.  This western franchise has connected with its base, all the while wooing the international clientele that is familiar with its staple fare and everybody is happy.

Street food – A vendor cart, food truck, or person with a coal-pot stand qualify for this category.  They set up anywhere and offer quick and easy, no-frills dining that complement the tourist on the go.  Not much expectation for a satisfying meal.  Just a stop-gap measure until a better meal can be obtained later in the day or evening.  These kinds of meals are never satisfying and certainly not a sought-after replacement to the daily meal because of its nutritional value or the lack thereof.

DIY Dining – This is my favorite and highly recommended option.  Food is a choice and not a chore.  Managing your own catering can be a pleasurable activity all by itself.  Seeking out places to shop for your food, challenging yourself to purchasing items within a fixed budget, getting creative with the menu and interacting with the people you meet in the markets and supermarkets are all positive benefits to your vacation.  When you cook for yourself/family you have no worries, no complaints (hopefully) and practically no downside other than the time you take to prepare and clean up after each meal.  Total prep, cook and clean up, if you are smart about it can be limited to less than an hour of your vacation time, two days in a week.  Yes, you read that correctly.  It is possible to eat an appetizing, healthy meal whilst on vacation, and save enough money to splurge on other things.  Planning is the key to solving those issues.  Here are some additional tips to help you:

  1. Research your location and know what fruits and vegetables are in season.
  2. Plan menus that are affordable, quick and easy to prepare in 30 – 40  minutes tops.
  3. Shop for your groceries.  Fresh is best.
  4. Cook meals in one pot and enough to last for two to three days.

If you follow this plan, you may be able to afford at least one or two nights of fine dining at a restaurant of your choosing.  You might ask, “What’s the point of a vacation if I can’t get away from the kitchen?”  My answer to that is simple.  You can pay attention now or pay expensively later; after all, the dining choice is yours.

Readers, what are some of your food challenges when you travel and how do you solve them?  Would you like to make a recommendation not mentioned in the post?  I’d be happy to include it in a follow-up post.  Thanks for reading.  Hope you learned a thing or two, and I look forward to hearing from you either in one of three ways: click follow, like or comment in the box below.  Keep it real folks.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Best Graduation Gift


Graduating ceremonies for the class of 2018 for senior-year students in academia will begin some time in May.  Students are already prepping for their last act in school.  Year book photos are being taken, cap and gown orders underway, and invitations to attend the ceremonies are mailed.   On that big day, from kindergarten to college, graduands will don cap, gown and mortarboard, and march to the music of “Pomp and Circumstance” by the English composer Sir Edward Elgar.  It is a proud moment in their lives.

Family, friends and invited guests will make the trek to celebrate with their loved one. Most likely, many people will drive to area high schools or distant university campuses to attend the one or two-day event.   From here on I speak in reference to the young twenty-one year old college student. Specifically, in the case of universities,

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Graduate and Degree (Traveltinerary)

some may spend several hours on the road to reach their destination.  After all, it is the end of a long academic and financial journey.  Their loved one has successfully completed all requirements needed to earn a diploma/degree.  Now the time to transition from dorm life into the real world, that is, to find a job and start fending for themselves, has come.  Before parents, family and friends arrive, on their minds must be this one question, “what kind of gift should I give to the graduate?”  Let me give you a hint.  The best gift would be an all-expenses paid vacation to anywhere far from home, school and probably out of the country.  They would be ecstatic to receive such an unexpected treat.

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Graduation Ceremony (Traveltinerary)

Last year USA Today recommended 16 gifts for graduates, in my opinion, mostly suited to a school senior (not the alcohol decanter set).  Only three of them hinted at travel.  For the collegiate, a surprise ticket to a foreign land followed up with a customized itinerary would work wonders for the mentally tired, stressed student.  Every scholar would love the opportunity to visit a different country (Barbados maybe?), sample a different cuisine, and experience a new culture.  A holiday would be the icing on the cake for them. To start their new lives with total relaxation is not a bad idea.  As they prepare to walk and throw their mortarboards into the air in celebration of their academic accomplishment, all the while relishing the idea of no more books, late night studies, or cramming for exams, a one or two-week respite would be a dream come true and certainly a good fix to re-energize them.

Currently proud moms and dads are busy sending out save-the-date notices.  Have you gotten yours? While the proposal for international travel may be a financial hardship for some families, don’t forget a road trip could be an exciting alternative too.  For sure, the extended family and friends could be included on the road adventure to help celebrate and defray costs.  Either travel option does not have to start immediately but can be delayed for a few months or until the end of the year.

Whichever option is chosen, it will be the ideal gift for the graduand to unwind and loosen up.  Serious talks of the future can come at the end of the vacation 😊.  If you are interested in coordinating a customized itinerary, check me out.

Last words, please visit my website (www.traveltinerary.com) and peruse the pages or catch up on blogs you might have missed.  Check the map of places I’ve visited.  As usual, click like, select follow to receive blog posts immediately, or place your comments in the box below.  I have recently joined Twitter, so you can follow me there also.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Solo Tour de France Enthusiast Has Itinerary Challenges


Pulling together a bespoke itinerary can be time consuming depending on the destination, attractions, and length of vacation.  I carefully sift through the overwhelming research information to ensure the daily plan meets the needs of my clients.   Having said that, there are very few itineraries that stump me.  Let me explain.  I have been working on a solo itinerary for a few years that is proving a bit difficult to come together.  The destination and airfare are not the problem.  The knot is in the daily activity that I want to accomplish.  I want to follow all 21 stages of the Tour de France bicycle race from start to finish.  The plan is an ambitious one and does not line up with my US$1500 budget, no matter how I try to make it work.  Therefore, I have decided to ask for your help.

The Tour de France, also called the holy grail of cycling is slated to take place on July 7 – 29.  The race route changes annually and for a frugal backpacker like me, I have found that these changes effect my plans as prices fluctuate thereby making it difficult to stay within my fixed budget, so I am willing to increase the budget to US$2000.

Every year, I get excited as I watch teams battle each other along the grueling course, strategizing and outmaneuvering each other with their cat and mouse tactics.  Team Sky, Movistar, Lotto Soudal, Mondiale, Canondale-Drapac, Tinkoff-Saxo are some of the better-known teams.  Riders like Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana, Richie Porte, Leopold Konig, Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan, to name a few, rise to the occasion vying for the most coveted jersey – the yellow jersey.  There are five other jerseys contested to win.  Teams are made up of nine riders, and there are usually 20+ teams entering the 23-day cycling event.

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US Cyclist – Tour de France 2015 (Traveltinerary)

The commentary of the event is just as exciting.  Bob “Bobke” Roll, a former cyclist himself and my favorite commentator, explains every nuance of the teams, riders, and support personnel.  To watch the event is thrilling but to be there must be a different story.  A former work colleague who witnessed two stages of the race back in 2015 told me he was impressed with the speed of the cyclists.  He claimed the teams sped by so swiftly that spectators who had been waiting along the roads and at every vantage point, some for hours, could scarcely catch a glimpse of their favorite cyclist in the peloton before they disappeared out of sight within minutes.

Be that as it is, my adventurous nature still wants to see a portion of the race at every stage.  The race comes to an end as they bike along the Champs Élysées and circle the Arc de Triomphe.  On television the climax is spectacular, and I wouldn’t want to miss that for anything.  I have been to France a few times but would still use this opportunity to enjoy the many sites and attractions along the way.

Here are some of the decisions where I need your help:

Budget – I have already determined that this is not a US$1500.00 budget prospect.  I have increased the amount.  Is that doable or do you think it should be higher?

Transportation –  Joining the first peloton is out of the question.  What should be my means of transport?

Accommodation – At the end of each stage, teams, staff, tour operators, media, et al have first dibs at local hotels.  Airbnb, couchsurfing, hostels maybe hard acquirements given the die-hard European fans who come out to support their teams.  Accommodation cost may also be pricey depending on location.  Not a problem if I rent a RV (hee-hee, not in the budget), or if I campout in a tent.  What would you suggest?

Meals – On other trips I would manage my own cooking, however, not sure of my accommodation or routing, I may have to dine out every night.  This too could be pricey.  The much-touted French gastronomy is not a cheap option.  What do you recommend?

Route safety – Navigating the route may prove to be difficult even with a GPS.  How should I tackle this one?

Language – Even though I may be able to say a few phrases in French, I do not speak the language well enough to be understood.  To further complicate the issue, internet translations may not be accessible if I get lost high in the mountains where there is no signal (not likely but still possible), or if I need to communicate in an emergency.  Smoke signals are not an option, so tell me what you think I should do?

Blog Peeps and viewers, if you think you can help me plan my Tour de France itinerary, or you have an answer to any of the issues above, or I completely missed a pertinent aspect of the trip, then let me know by dropping a comment in the box below.  All recommendations will be considered and I will let you know if they become part of the plans for the trip.  God willing and life be spared, without question I will give a comprehensive update of the experience post-trip.

If you read this post completely, thank you.  Remember to click like, select follow, or post your comment in the box below.  Anxious to hear from you.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Travel Tips for Students on Spring Break


Words have power.

Generally speaking, most students would say they are too broke to travel.  As an Itinerary Planner, my response to that would be, “be careful what you say.”  The claims we make regarding our transient financial circumstances eventually are manifested in our lives.  Therefore, we would be best served if we spoke life into our aspirations, including travel dreams, rather than death.  Using the term “speak life” may be hard to grasp, and may sound a little like hocus-pocus, but, it is not.  Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”  Talk.  Yes, talk of your plans, they have a way of eventually become a reality like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Besides speaking out loud your travel intentions, you should add thoughtful planning.  That’s it.  No formula, equation or complex strategy.   The moment you conceive the vacation idea, tell friends, family, work colleagues, and whomever would listen.  The act of putting it into the air helps to convince yourself (possibly others too) that you can actually do it, and it is going to happen someday.  The more you talk of it the more it begins to take shape because of your interest and actions.  So, to the cash-strapped student who may be pondering spring-break plans, these recommendations are germane for you.

The internet provides a plethora of information re popular travel options.  Wade through the ones that are pertinent to your need, that will give you the result you are looking for.  Like tips on: how to save enough money; premium places to go; best and safest places to stay; budgeting while on leave.  Be prepared to spend a lot of time on this aspect of your research.  You will need a lot of discipline, flexibility and patience.  For example, I always wanted to visit Israel.  I had in mind the places I wanted to go, the things I wanted to do and the money I wanted to spend to cover it all.  I searched high and low until I found a charge that fell in line with my budget.  It took me approximately a year and a half to line up my ducks in a row to make this particular trip happen.  Thank God the trip was phenomenal, worth every penny, and the timing was perfect.

Following are my favorite go-to tips which you may adopt:

  • Save Money.  Look into the many ways you can raise funds to finance your trip.  Think of how much you are willing to spend on air ticket, lodging, food, transportation and tours and set a budget.  You will need money to cover the expenses, but the good news is you don’t have to rob a bank to afford your holiday respite.  If you reviewed the link you will realize that discipline and focus is all it will take to accomplish this number one tip.

  Methodically set aside money dedicated to the trip.  Collect spare change, these add    up.  Scale back or cut out completely spending that is not necessary, scilicet, the          morning coffee, movie tickets, impulsive shopping, restaurant dining, cable, etc.          Control your spending.  Challenge yourself to meet set money-saving targets each        week.

  • Set alerts – You have read this one before on a previous blog.  Bird-dog fare-alerts of the destination you have in mind.  A caveat to setting up your alerts is to occasionally reset or clear out cached data and cookies to avoid repeated data from populating your inquiries.  You always want to ensure recently updated data in your searches.
  • Compare quotes – Do not buy the first hog you see on the various websites.  Call an agency, see if they can beat your lowest quote through their business contacts.  Once you are satisfied you have exhausted all options, choose the one that is below or closest to your target price.  Recently I was able to find a fare below what the agency offered.  Way below.  I am still excited about my find.
  • Book tickets – Opt to purchase tickets that commences your journey on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. This may be difficult for a student who has a Friday class, but if you can wrangle a late-night escape the Thursday evening to begin your journey ahead of the crowd, this would be a sure bet to keeping your ticket cost within reach and affordable.  Always read the fine print and watch out for add-on fees.   Weekends and holidays  prove to be the pricier times to purchase tickets.  Not only on airfare but also tourist attractions.  Here again, choose to purchase your tickets in the country you are visiting versus at home.
  • Rest stop – Nowadays, accommodation trends for millennials include Airbnb, VRBO (vacation rentals by owner), Hostel, and Couchsurfing.  These are the likeliest lodging selections for college students and budget-travelers.  Hotels are still an option too, especially if you prefer a more luxurious and refined place to sleep, and not the backpacker experience.
  • Tour Tickets – Research the tours you find interesting before you leave, BUT only purchase the tickets on arrival at your location.  You will save a bundle if you follow this recommendation.  However, there are exceptions to this rule which may request payment for a tour before leaving your home’s shore.  For example, if you plan to join a group for a camping trip, logistics dictate that a monetary advance be submitted months ahead to accommodate participants.
  • Itinerary Planning – That’s what I do.  Why stress over planning every detail of your trip when you can have someone do the work for you.  Go to my “Itinerary Request Page and purchase a customized itinerary that will save you time and energy, and will ultimately give you a more rewarding experience.

After a hard winter season, choosing where to go on spring-break may be top of mind right now.  You may want to sprawl on a beach, hike up a mountainside, zip-line through a forest canopy or relax poolside.  Whatsoever your vision, it can be achieved by first believing and then purposefully moving towards it by using the steps I have laid out above.  Click the links in this post for added information, which I am sure you will find helpful.

If you have tips you would like to share, go ahead and leave them in the comment box below.  You can also like and follow to show your interest.  As per usual, I want to thank you for reading my blog.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Differently-able Loves to Travel


For the most part, travel for the majority of able-bodied persons is not a problem.  Standing on long lines, dragging bags through airport, train or bus terminals and running from one gate to the next, is not a hassle (well sometimes it is).  The same cannot be said for the differently-able.  Considerations and adjustments have to be made to accommodate their need.  As a versatile itinerary planner, my goal is to consider every aspect of a traveler’s profile when planning their dream vacation, including their disability.  Creating an exciting itinerary for the differently-able person can be a challenge, which I like, but not an impossibility.  To capture the travel experience of what it is like traveling with a disability, I interviewed a personal friend.  This is what she had to say:

Q.  How are you differently-able?

A.  I am physically differently-able; therefore, I must use a walker or a wheelchair

Differently Able1
Differently-able and caregiver – Traveltinerary

depending on the distance I have to travel.

Q.  Do you like to travel, and if so, where?

A.  Yes.  I love to travel.  I have traveled by airplane, cruise ship, and of course, every day by car.  I have been to places like:  Belize, Cayman Island, Honduras, Margarita Island, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States of America.

Q.  Tell me about your experiences at the airports and seaports.

A.  In 2010 I became differently-able when I lost my first toe.  Travelling at that point was not too difficult even though it had some challenges.  During that trip I was about five months post-amputation, so I did not ask for any special assistance. I was traveling with relatives. I found traveling throughout the various airports was a bit challenging as I tried to keep up with the crowd and not get left behind. I recall one of my struggles back then as I was leaving Barbados was climbing the stairs to the plane with my carry-on luggage.  I had no problems on the aircraft.  In contrast to my experience on boarding in Barbados, when I disembarked in the USA I was introduced to a nice gentleman with a wheelchair who assisted me through immigration and customs without any problems.

On the cruise ship, my only problem was walking the ramp with the bumps to get on or off the ship. For the wheelchair-bound differently-able person it would have been uncomfortable.  At some ports-of-call, the distance to exit or to pick up the tours were too far away, and I did not see any services provided for those like me who had a physical impediment.  It was a mad scramble to board a bus or taxi and to complete our tour in the allotted time we were at our destination.  Inside the ship was wonderful.  Elevators were available on every floor making it easy to move around the ship, so I did not have to use the stairs.  The bathroom facilities were spacious and easy to use.

Q.  How were you treated at the airport, in the aircraft and at your destination?

A.  In 2014 I travelled to the USA.  By now I had lost more toes – two on my left foot and two on my right.  This meant I needed assistance.  From the moment I arrived at the airport in Barbados, a wheelchair was secured for me and I was taken from the airline check-in counter, through immigration and to the passenger waiting lounge.  My daughter accompanied me on this trip.  When it was time to board we were loaded onto a vehicle which elevated us to the door of the plane.

We were the first to board the plane, and from there I walked to my seat.  We did not pay for special seats or extra leg room space. The only challenge on the aircraft was manoeuvrability in the bathroom.  The space is tight and uncomfortable.  When we arrived in the USA we were the last persons to disembark, but our wheelchair assistant took us through immigration and customs without having to wait on the long lines.

On this particular trip moving around our destination was more accessible.   Some places posed a challenge where there was a ramp to go inside the building, but to access the lower levels like the basement where some of the activities were held, for example, in the churches I visited, there was no ramp.

Q.  What changes would you recommend especially to help those who are differently-able concerning travel?

A.  My answer to this question is not a one size fit all and may not apply to many places.  However, I would like to see much larger spaces in the bathroom and dressing rooms specifically for the wheelchair-bound person and their care-giver.  Another change would be the soap and the hand towel dispensers.  Lower these bathroom services so persons in wheelchairs can reach them.  My observation of the paved streets/sidewalks in modern cities should be built with more level sidewalks and less bricked tiles.  Some of these things may look attractive but are uncomfortable for the differently-able person and they caregiver to navigate.

Q.  Do you see a difference in North America than anywhere else?

A.  The only places I have travelled to are: the Caribbean, Central America and North America. I must admit that North America is more developed than the other two regions. However, In the other two regions where tourism is one of their main sources of income, there has been some measure of progress to reach international standards.  More consideration is given to the differently-able, more public awareness, and more laws are enacted to prevent able-bodied persons from using services strictly designated for the differently-able.

Q.  Do you have a specific safety plan or an appeal for help if in difficulty?

A.  To be truthful I never thought of what I would do if I am in trouble, because I always travel with someone.  I remember once in New York City gun shots were being fired across the street from the store that I was in.  I hid behind the counter until it was over.  I guess if I am alone and need any help I would shout for help or ask a nearby stranger kindly for assistance.

Q.  Do you like to travel alone or with a chaperone?

A.  Since I am more ambulatory with the use of a stroller or a wheelchair depending on the distance, I do not mind going through the airport alone. I know the airport staff would assist me.  However, right now I would not take a trip to a strange place by myself.  Maybe I would do it in the future.

Q.  Do you believe that your disability has limited you from travelling to places you would like to visit?

A.  Certainly.  I like to travel, sight-see and experience the cultures of other people. I cannot travel solo yet, and I do not like the idea to travel if I am a great burden to someone else.  I would like my travel companion to enjoy the trip as well, and not have to worry about my every move.

Differently Able2
Wheelchair – Traveltinerary

Check out these other posts which highlight the pros and cons of using  wheelchairs in hotel rooms, or learn first hand the experience of this deaf traveler.   Their experiences showcase challenges, as well as, gives encouragement to those who are hesitant to travel just because of their disability.

I hope this post sheds some light from the differently-able person’s perspective regarding travel issues and challenges.  I would love to hear of other experiences or even share a best-practice with fellow itinerary planners who arrange travel for such a special group of people.  So what are you waiting for?  You have four choices:  comment in the box below, like, follow or share.  I look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

More times,

Itinerary Planner

P.S.  If you receive this post twice, my apologies.

Two Thousand Thanks


When I launched Travel Itineraries blog-website eight months ago, I had no idea, experience, or understanding of what it would take to maintain it.  It is like a child that needs constant attention, love and care.  Good thing I know the adage that says, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.”  That’s where my followers come in.  Their interest, attention, comments and likes have engendered the growth of the site into the viable entity it is today.

200 followers are not a large number, the actual number as of today is 226, but it is not a meager stat by any means.  In fact, my 200+ followers are the bedrock of the site and just the community I need to ensure that TI‘s growth continues progressively.  They are the crucial link to the site’s existence.  They are the ones who got in on the ground level and are helping to shape the dynamics of what TI is all about and the contributions she makes.  So, followers, this is all about you.

 

TI Award

Travel Itineraries landed on the world’s stage with a bang in July 2017.  She received 177 views in one day mainly from USA, Canada and Barbados.  Friends oohed, ahhed and said how beautiful she was.  Some sent messages to their social media communities echoing her existence.  Over time, she has gained global interest and to date 83 countries are included in her fan base.  She has grown to a level where she receives adoring fans on a weekly basis.  Every newborn needs support.  Lots of it.  My brainchild is no different.  She demands attention and constant care, which at times can be all-consuming, but those are just aspects of her nature.  Despite her demanding attributes and challenges, she also brings incredible joy and happiness to my daily life.

I want to thank my community peeps from the depths of my heart for their support, comments and likes from inception to now. WordPress Happy Engineers for their patience and wealth of knowledge.  Family and friends who continue to encourage and care for TI by occasionally checking in on her and giving their suggestions for her progress.

Two thousand thanks are more apropos of my heartfelt appreciation for the time you take to read the blogs, peruse the website pages, purchase a travel itinerary, view videos and photo gallery and the like.  Your time and interest in Travel Itineraries’ growth, content and contribution are valuable to me.

As always, fellow bloggers on the WordPress, LinkedIn, Google+ platforms, please drop a note in the comment box, follow or like to let me know your solidarity.  I look forward to hearing from you.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

 

 

 

 

Speak Her Love Language When You Travel


Valentine’s Day is a couple days away and it is the time people express their undying love and devotion to each other.  Couples give gifts of: chocolates, flowers, jewelry, and other tokens that may be cherished and enjoyed for the moment or for a very long time.  Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the book “The Five Love Languages” revolutionized the way we view loving associations.   He identified: acts of service, gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation, and quality time as motivators for building happy relationships.  A person may have one distinct language that makes them truly happy or may have a combination of these languages that makes them feel loved and appreciated.  If you know which language(s) you or your partner speaks, then you are already ahead of the game, and can daily nurture your connection for a happy relationship.

In two days you may be on your way to enjoy a romantic vacation.  Maybe you are heading to an exotic Love Language3location like Barbados, Bora Bora, Maui, Santorini, Tahiti, or some other island that wreaks romance.  You want this vacation to be indelibly written on her mind and be remembered as the best everrr for the rest of your lives.  So, I propose you spend this vacation with the girl of your dreams discovering what love language she speaks.  You can practice a motivator each day to see which one(s) she responds to the best.  Don’t know what to do?  Here are some easy suggestions to start you off.  Bear in mind, you can practice all the love languages in one day, but if you are on a five-day holiday why not assimilate one each day.

Acts of service – Plan a bespoke itinerary for each day of the vacation that says you put some thought into it.  To avoid any objections, take care of household chores that you know she may be concerned about in your absence.  Handle all the scheduling details for an evening of dinner, dance and entertainment.  As much as you can, pre-arrange to have her commitments resolved before leaving on the trip.  Consort with her work supervisors for the time off and surprise her at the job with tickets neatly tucked into a bouquet of flowers.  Last but certainly not least, select her favorite clothes, pack her bags and have them waiting by the door ready for your departure.

Gifts – After a day of exploring the island, she may feel exhausted but a gift of one or all of the items listed will surely perk her up.  You would be surprised to see how fast the exhaustion disappears into thin air: a bouquet of flowers, a box of the finest BelgiumLove Language6 chocolates, or a beautiful piece of jewelry in the signature baby-blue colored box you know she has been eyeing for a long time.  She may squeal with delight, I would, and by this reaction or even the lack there of, you may know whether you are on to discovering gifts as one of her love languages.  Giving her a gift when she least expects it may warrant a reaction that is priceless.  After all, everyone loves a good gift and if it is given in a unique way, the story will be retold for weeks, months and years to come.

Physical touch – On your down times take a leisurely stroll on the beach or along a garden path.  Walking hand in hand will speak volumes of tenderness to her mind.  A light touch on Love Language4the back or on the shoulder may be interpreted to mean, I support you, or we are  connected.  These physical touches transmit a sense of loving appreciation.  Show her you are attentive by occasionally holding her hand, recline against her shoulder, or lay your head on her lap.

Words of affirmation –  Believe it or not but this is one of the most difficult of the languages to express.  If you spout words of love too much you may run the risk of Love Language1making it sound trite.  If you express sentiment grudgingly you may come across as cold and your words forced.  Therefore, choosing your words, delivery and timing are key to making sure your person feels loved and respected.  Use a candlelight dinner in a cozy restaurant to talk of all the qualities that you find fascinating about her.  You don’t have to be untruthful, you only need to be sincere.   Let her know you appreciate the little things she may think are mundane but that means the world to you.  Let her know how well she does them and because of that you have learned to stay in your lane when it comes to certain areas where, in your book, she’s the expert.

Quality time – This time is probably the best love language of all.  Just my opinion, hehehe.  You can either lay on the beach, sip a mocktail, listen to the sound of the waves Love Language2lapping in the ebb and flow, feel the gentle breezes as they rustle through the palm trees, enjoy the glow of the evening’s sunset, or you can set an appointment to receive a full body massage for two and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the deep kneading that often lulls you to sleep.   No words are necessary.  Being there and quietly sharing the moment is the perfect finale to a five-day trip.

There you have it folks a romantic vacation to remember.  You have learned how to speak her love language and have fun doing it while on vacation.  Thank you for reading and viewing my site from time to time.  Feel free to add your comments in the box below.  As usual, I encourage you to follow, like, and share with your family and friends.  Happy Valentine’s y’all.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Enchanting Peru


Spending the first part of our vacation in Ecuador, more precisely Quito, prepared us for our journeys in Cuzco, Sacred Valley of the Inkas, Machu Picchu and Lima.

Cuzco  –  We arrived in Cuzco on a high note – read of the experience here.  We stayed in the San Blas Barrio and settled in comfortably into our accommodations.  Conveniently located in front of our hostel was the San Blas Market where we found a variety of food stalls, fruit and vegetable vendors, and all-natural juice bars to choose from.

 

No sooner had we left the produce market and entered Plaza de Armas of Cuzco than we were approached by street vendors peddling their ware of clothing, handicrafts, art, jewelry and trinkets.  Every nook and cranny of this hillside town is geared towards the many tourists who leisurely roam the narrow streets and avenues in search of bargains and attractions.  Plaza de Armas of Cuzco was a beehive of activity.   In the landmark square are two baroque-styled buildings you cannot miss:  La Cathedral and Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus (Church of the Society of Christ).

 

Our number one priority after arriving in Cuzco was to arrange a next-day travel tour to the Sacred Valley of the Inkas.  Tip #1 Compare prices of tours before choosing to book with your hotel.  Shop around.  It is best to compare prices in a place where bargaining is an acceptable business practice and to stay within your budget limits.  Plaza de Armas de Cuzco was not short of options.  I am happy to report we settled on a tour within our budget and that fulfilled the must-see sites on our list.

With some direction, we found the office where we could purchase the entrance tickets into Machu Picchu.  The ticket office was the scene of the crime.  My sister and I got into a heated argument about which tickets to buy.  My sister (Overly Cautious) wanted to purchase a ticket for Machu Picchu, and yours truly (Radically Impulsive) a ticket for Wayna Picchu and Machu Picchu.  To my mind we came so very far it only made perfect sense to explore both places.  Lesson learned?  Certainly.  Tip #2 If traveling with a partner, decide beforehand the sites and attractions you want to visit together to avoid any conflict.   Even though the mansuetude afternoon was fractured by harsh words, we somehow managed to contritely spend the rest of the evening talking of how we could better handle situations in the future.

Sacred Valley of the Inkas

 

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To give a blow-by-blow account of the Sacred Valley of the Inkas tour would mean a few more postings (I can hear you sigh and say, enough already).  Suffice it then to say, the tour was phenomenal.  You must visit and see for yourself.  I will let the photos in the slide show speak for themselves.

Aguas Calientes  –  After spending a couple of days in Cuzco, we departed the Poroy station onboard PeruRail for Aguas Calientes, otherwise known as Machu Picchu Pueblo.  The three-hour journey was uneventful as we rambled along the scenic countryside, through rural communities, past flowing rivers, and at times, flank by mountainous terrain on either side.

 

After disembarking the train, we trudged with our bags uphill to our hostel.  Thankfully, our housing was not too far up the incline.  We were near to the main square, and within easy access to the plethora of restaurants, vendors, and handicraft shops. That same day we purchased bus tickets for the ride up the mountain to the ruins.  Machu Picchu Pueblo is a quaint town but there is not much to see or do there, except eat, relax or go to the hot springs for a therapeutic dip.  I discovered a map highlighting more than 20 stone sculptures around the town.  To pass the time I decided to use the map as a treasure hunt guide and photograph as many of the carvings as I could.  This activity took us some time to accomplish.

 

Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu  –  Of all the talk about Machu Picchu, you would think that the revered site is within walking distance.  It is not.  Of course, hardcore hikers could probably make the trek in a couple of hours, but it took the bus approximately half hour winding up the mountainside to arrive at the gated entrance.  There we stood in line, excited and eager to enter the grounds.

Machu Picchu1
Machu Picchu – Entrance to MP (Traveltinerary)

Hikers to Wayna Picchu get an hour head-start so they have enough time to cover both ruins sites before the afternoon tourists arrive. Only 400 hundred persons are allowed to climb each day.  I was among that group.  Tip #3 It is best to train before your trip if you plan to incorporate strenuous activities such as mountain climbing on your itinerary.  Assured by the authorities that the average time to scale Wayna Picchu is approximately two hours roundtrip, I started out in high spirits on the steep climb.  As I got closer to the top, navigating the tiny steps upward necessitated crawling on my hands and knees.  At first the clouds were thick and obstructing, but as the temperature rose and the sun’s rays became stronger, the clouds dissipated, revealing the crown jewel below – Machu Picchu in all her splendor.  The view of the surrounding valley as far as the eye could see was also a bonus and was worth the trek.  I came, I saw, and I conquered was the feeling I had as I surveyed the view, inhaled the cool fresh air and soaked up the tranquil surroundings along with fellow-hikers.  The decision to climb Wayna Picchu was a good one.

 

Whoever said going downhill is easier that climbing uphill probably never climbed down the slopes of Wayna Picchu.  The descent was more tedious and strenuous than anticipated.  I was anxious to rejoin my sister (maybe it was guilt) seeing that I was running late on the time we were supposed to meet.  She had been patiently waiting for me so we could begin to explore Machu Picchu together.  Of course, she was well rested, but by now my feet and leg muscles were aching, and I felt as though I was walking on stumps.  However, this was our moment of truth and we were resolute on covering every inch of the ruins.   To cap off a day well spent, we splurged on a sumptuous meal, and tried to relax before catching the train back to Cuzco.

 

Weary and tired we boarded our train retracing our travel footprint back to Cuzco en-route to Lima.  Unlike our initial ride into Machu Picchu Pueblo, this time entertainment was provided in the form of a fashion show by Felipe, Nichy and Gabriel of PeruRail.  They showcased Peruvian wear as they strutted up and down the aisle sporting reversible scarves, hooded/collared sweaters and stylish jackets that were versatile, trendy and made from the very soft but expensive alpaca wool.

 

Lima  –  With just a four days left to expend on the itinerary we looked forward to discovering the cosmopolitan city of Lima and to see what it had to offer.  We were not disappointed.  On arrival at Jorge Chavez International Airport we negotiated the fare for our taxi ride and was quickly dispatched to the Jesus Maria district to our Airbnb residence. We spent much of our time scouting the areas in and around Plaza Mayor.  We witnessed: street mimes who would only move after receiving a monetary donation; musicians and locals dancing to the vibrant salsa beats; demonstrators marching in support of a cause; a formal Christmas event for society’s crème-de-la-crème hosted at the Governor’s Palace.  The last event which took place on the steps of the Cathedral was organized by the Catholic Church in support of the expected Papal visit early in 2018.

Lima_Miraflores
Lima – Miraflores (Traveltinerary)
Lima_Barranco
Lima – Barranco Street Art (Traveltinerary)
Lima_San Isidro
Lima – San Isidro (Traveltinerary)
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Lima – A view from Barranco to the city of Lima (Traveltinerary)

Our last to-do in Lima was a tour to the other districts.  Tip #4 – Ride the Hop-on-Hop-off bus as a last-minute option to capture sites you may have missed.   On the bus we visited the touristy areas of: Barranco, Chorillos, Miraflores, Lima Central, Pueblo Libre, San Isidro and San Miguel.  There is something worth discovering at every location.  The history is rich and interesting.  We did not experience one dull moment.  Hands-down, this has been one of the best vacations I have had irrespective of the arguments, differences of opinions, likes and dislikes.  My sister and I definitely agree that it was worth every penny, actually, every sol.  In-spite-of our character flaws, we continue to remain best friends, and each other’s biggest supporter.

My concluding post on this epic adventure will talk of: our observations of each country – good or bad, the budget – bust or win, and the gastronomy culture.   If you have experienced similar travel challenges with a family member, please share.  Comment in the box below.  Click the follow or like buttons if you enjoy these posts.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Thanks for reading.   Stay tuned.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

 

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