Travel to Learn

Many would love to believe that one of the purposes of living is Travel, exploring new lands, expiring different cultures, listening to different music and tasting different cuisines. Our planet has so many beautiful places which is probably God’s gift to Mankind. The incredible and magnificent natural beauty of mountain ranges, lakes, waterfalls, and forests are unbelievable. Even the man made structures built by human being throughout ancient times are remarkable. The efforts that human being is putting towards preserving these monuments as well as preserving nature are also truly remarkable.

When you see all the beauty that surrounds you when you go to visit a place it leaves a lasting impression on minds, it opens new doors and new dimensions to people. Traveling also makes it possible for us to meet different people, see different sights and do different things. The most important part is not what we see but what we learn from visiting these places. Although the whole human kind is kind of similar with the same need and desires, there are small things which are different form one community to other. While traveling we meet new people of different communities and learn form them. Traveling to new cultures and interacting with strangers teaches one as much about oneself as it does about other people. The challenge of new experiences will push one’s personal barriers back.

Coping with situations that have not been previously encountered can show you that you are capable of achieving, or succeeding at so much more than you had thought. Learning about different cultures can teach you things about your own culture – things you had erstwhile neither appreciated nor understood. Spending time with friends from another culture will challenge stereotypes that may be held by both parties. Some of the greatest joys of travel are gleaned from knowing that your preconceptions were wrong. Some travel to escape, others to explore. While traveling you may feel that you are just an onlooker or alternately when you visit a new place you learn the vagaries of their life and culture. Traveling gives you an opportunity to experience different foods, arts and language and helps bring you so much closer to people.

To make the most of you travels and to learn the most one should plan to travel to different places in the world. One shouldn’t just travel to the nearby beach or the neighboring hill resort or just one or two favorite destinations of yours. There are many countries in Europe which are rich in cultural history and have beautiful scenery and relaxing activities. Places like Greece and Rome, Berlin and Munich and the picturesque villages of Black Forest prompt travelers to come to these places again and again. Winter sports enthusiasts find snow covered mountains of Austria and France enthralling enough to show off their skiing and snowboarding skills. Asia and Africa with their vast natural sceneries and historical and cultural heritages have made their tourist sites attractive to woo international visitors. The top animal reserves of Africa are found nowhere else. So you have bag full of options to spend your vacations at some of the stunning locations of Asia, Africa and Europe.

Strategy 2 for Extraordinary Travel: Have a Well-Designed Plan, Adapted To Your Liking

When you travel in the great trip style, your trip will be independent but well planned. You will be traveling to places that are so remarkable, and seeing things that are so interesting, you will immediately begin to reap the benefits of traveling independently. Before you leave on your trip, you will adapt your trip to your own preferences, interests, style and pace. And you will have the flexibility of altering your timing according to your interests… to pause and fully experience what strikes you.

Traveling anywhere you please using the great trip travel style, either by using a pre-planned trip book of your choice, or by carrying out your own investigation and planning, you will have a complete trip blueprint, based on in-depth research. You will have a good idea of what your options are before you arrive. So you will be able to avoid the frustration of missing out on rich opportunities you really would have liked to experience “if only you had known in time.”

Lack of preparation can add to stress levels on any trip, especially a trip to a foreign country like France or Italy, where people speak a different language, and you may have limited access to the internet while you are traveling. Doing some preliminary groundwork before you leave home will make a tremendous difference in how smoothly your trip goes, and how much fun you have along the way.

With a little pre-planning, and by observing a few simple keys to being a more balanced traveler, you will have better experiences and more fun, and be assured of a great trip every time you travel. These keys include:

1. Balance your trip with a range of activities.

2. Maintain a comfortable pace.

3. Avoid traveling with the crowds.

4. Keep your trip relaxed and fun.

5. Adapt your trip to your liking.

Balance Your Trip with a Range of Activities

You will have the best experience if you maintain variety in what you do. Too much of anything can get tiring. More does not necessarily mean “better,” even for activities that are immensely interesting to you.

As an example, two castles a day, for three days in a row, is definitely out of balance. If you attempt this pace, the charm and the magic, the history and the amazement, will be lost. Stop at four per trip! By the time you reach your fifth castle, you will be on “château overload,” dragging yourself through the motions, and thus “wasting” a castle. It will be much better to save some castles for another year, and intersperse other types of activities into your castle days to break things up a bit.

Maintain a Comfortable Pace

Often travelers try to pack in as much as they possibly can, thinking that by doing so they will get more value for their money and have a more enriching experience. While this may seem to make sense intellectually, it can be a recipe for disaster. It’s easy to get so caught up in the excitement of trying to do everything that you end up feeling rushed and exhausted by the overly-aggressive pace you have imposed on yourself. Ultimately, such errors in pacing can make the enjoyment go out of the trip, or even cause you to get sick. And this you do not want, for numerous and obvious reasons.

While you are on your great trip, traveling independently with your trip-in-a-book guide or your own detailed plan, you will be in control of the pace of your trip. When you need more time, take it. When you spot something marvelous, stop and enjoy it. Lounge on the steps outside d’Orsay, listening to the marvelous pianist playing his full-sized piano on the sidewalk. Hang out watching the sidewalk artist beside the Pompidou Center as he completes his chalk drawing masterpiece. If you discover an organ concert in progress in Notre Dame, take the time to listen to it for as long as you like.

When you are out and about, there’s no need to push yourself too hard. Give yourself permission to slow down, to take “power pauses” to recharge your batteries, and to experience things that pop up along the way. Sometimes “less is more.”

Often you will be walking… at your own pace, pausing where you wish. On your strolls through the elegant Tuileries Gardens, with its vibrant colors and striking sculptures, you will reach a large pond surrounded by inviting chairs, where Parisians gather to sit and bask in the sun. And you will have the freedom to find yourself a chair and join them before you climb the hill to stand in awe surrounded by the misty loveliness of Monet’s waterlily murals in l’Orangerie.

If you have a yen to linger over a coffee, or a glass of wine in a café… If you feel that you’re at the end of your rope and need to sit awhile on a park bench to regain your energies, while watching the parade of people passing by… Even if you’ve just had enough for the day… Set your own pace. When it suits you, especially on the day after a strenuous travel day, allow yourself the luxury of a slow morning, with a relaxing breakfast. Ease into your day as you would on a Saturday at home, after a hard week at work.

Remember, this is your vacation, to be spent as you like. There is no need to set new records of how many museums and attractions you can see in one day. Traveling is not about doing everything you possibly can. It’s about relaxing, unwinding and having great experiences.

Avoid Traveling with the Crowds

When you travel with a group, every place you go will be crowded because you are a crowd. By definition, traveling in the company of 30 others produces a constant reality of “hurry up and wait.” You will suffer through long lines for hotel check-in, to purchase tickets, and to use the restroom. At restaurants, you will be one of 30 people placing your dinner orders at the same time, then awaiting the arrival of your drinks and food, and later your check.

On your great trip travelling independently, you will be in crowd-avoidance mode, moving against the crowds, not with them. Wherever you encounter swarms of people, and see that the lines are building up, you will have the flexibility to go somewhere else instead, then come back later when the crowds disband. So you will be able to admire Monet’s pond lilies, or Van Gogh’s self-portrait, or the model of da Vinci’s rotating bridge, without throngs of people blocking your view. And you will be first in line for ice cream in da Vinci’s park. In Paris you will have in your pocket the “magic” Museum Pass that will allow you to skip the lines at museums. And you will have advance tickets to avoid the lines at the Eiffel Tower.

While you visit the châteaux of the Loire Valley, you will have the time freedom to fully explore these phenomenal and historical palaces, inside and out. If there are crowds blocking the door to Chenonceau, you will be able to shift the order of your visit to take in the gardens first and delay your entry to the palace itself until after the masses have dispersed. You will have time to wander the gardens, as well as to visit the ballroom and royal chambers. And, if you so choose, you will be free to pause for lunch right there, sitting at an outdoor table, with a view of the castle.

When you visit Mont Saint-Michel, again you will enjoy the considerable benefits of traveling against the crowd, moving about in a pattern that separates you from the throngs. Since you will be staying overnight on the Mont, by the time the masses arrive and flow like a torrent through the gates, you already will have climbed up to the Abbey at the top. When the hordes complete their climb to reach the entrance to the Abbey, you will be making your way back down by way of the ramparts.

As the throngs flood the restaurants on the Mont for lunch at noon, racing to bolt down a meal in time to get back to their buses, you will be at liberty to snack on the cheese and crackers you gathered earlier, and wait to dine later, after the streets have emptied and you have the Mont more to yourself. So you will dine at a window table as you watch the spectacle of the tides advancing across the sands at the speed of galloping horses, until the sea surrounds the Mont and renders it an island again.

Keep Your Trip Relaxed and Fun

Have you ever been on a vacation that turned out to be more stressful than your normal work and life at home? Let’s face it, traveling anywhere can be remarkably challenging, whether it be visiting relatives nearby, making your way to a national park you’ve always wanted to see, or embarking on a grand adventure overseas. You find yourself plucked out of your comfort zone and in unfamiliar territory. But travel doesn’t need to add to your stress level, raise your blood pressure, or make you run for antacid tablets.

Go easy on yourself. Anytime you travel and step out of your comfort zone, the number of things that can “challenge” you dramatically increases. Cut yourself some slack when traveling. There’s no reason to get upset when things that are normally simple, and a matter of routine, trip you up and get in your way.

For example, when traveling in a foreign country like France where you don’t speak the language, even finding a restroom can be a challenge. The food is not what you’re used to, and asking simple questions with unfamiliar phrases from a book can feel daunting and embarrassing. Even going to the pharmacy to buy basic essentials can be an ordeal, with unfamiliar brands, not to mention that everything is in French.

Allow yourself some extra time to “flounder” a bit. Quickly get over any initial shyness you have about asking for help whenever you need it. These “permissions” can make a huge difference in how smoothly your travel days will go. And you will be surprised at how quickly the French people will make every effort to assist you once you overcome your hesitations about asking for help.

If you let the intriguing uniqueness of the French culture and lifestyle be part of the adventure of your trip, you’ll find yourself eliminating stressors, having a lot more fun, and making friends along the way.

Adapt Your Trip to Your Liking

Make adaptations to your trip based on your own particular interests, adding more of the types of activities that you will particularly enjoy. And don’t forget to keep your travel partner’s interests in mind when you do. One way to ensure that neither of you tires of a single type of activity, is to take turns deciding what comes next for the day.

The Day Pages in each pre-planned trip book, or that you will set up for yourself, will provide you with a full schedule, and lots of specifics. But what if you discover that tomorrow is Market Day? Or you hear enchanting pan flute music drifting down the shopping street and emerge onto the square to find live performers playing in the sun beside a café that faces a lovely old church?

What if you spot a shop that sells Santons-those remarkably detailed artisan-created figurines, popular for collecting, that portray all the chief characters in the village including the baker, the “goose girl,” the old couple, the crazy man, and the ladies of Provence, as well as Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the shepherds and the Wise men? Or when you encounter a wine-tasting tour in the candle-lit catacombs of a former abbey?

When these and other golden opportunities present themselves, you are free, even encouraged, to deviate from the plan, alter your path, and otherwise seize the moment, then rearrange as needed. Take advantage of happy coincidences that occur. Experience Market Day. Listen while the pan flute music soothes your soul. Pause in the Santon shop to pick out a few figures that strike your fancy-maybe the woman carrying a basket of lavender or the little drummer boy.

When you happen upon the old abbey that offers wine tasting in its crypt, pay the few Euros for your tasting cup, and pick up a form to record your descriptions and scores of the wines you taste, placing asterisks beside your favorites. Then walk through the catacombs, pausing in front of the wine barrels to pour yourself samples by the light of the candle.

As you shift your plans for the day to get the most from unforeseen opportunities, you may need to do some rearranging of what you had planned, according to what is most important to you. But you will always have your original Day Pages as a guide to help you avoid missing out on any of the “must see” items at the top of your list.

As you make choices, and reprioritize how you spend your time on this trip, remember that you likely will return here again in years to come. So you will have other chances to do what you miss doing this time.

How to Use Technology to Plan a Remarkable Vacation

If you can still remember the Flintstone’s, chances are you are not quite as savvy with some of the newest travel technology as the current generation, but it’s never too late to learn.

Tweet a Twacation

Twitter is a powerful tool for friends and family to help keep track of each other, but it also happens to be a nifty search tool in planning some pretty remarkable vacations. Twitter feeds enable various companies, such as Travelocity and American Airlines, to keep their followers up to the minute on the very latest deals and savings going on.

If you thought that registering for a daily travel newsletter was up to the minute, you’re actually missing out on some of the best “last minute” deals available each day. Many of these bargains are only offered on Twitter (United Airlines calls them, “Twares”), so if your not already Tweeting, it might be a good idea to set up an account. An account is not necessary for the search function, but it will allow you to follow other vacationers and ask questions.

The search feature on Twitter allows visitors the opportunity to type keywords, find great deals (type-in “travel deals”), and locate fun things to do (“Christmas festival”, “water park”, etc). A nifty trick is to use a minus sign in front of your initial keywords, followed by another keyword which expresses content you’d like to extract from your search. For instance, if you type, “ski colorado – durango”, it will eliminate all ski related subjects in Colorado associated with Durango, and so forth.

While you’re at your destination, you can also use Twitter to keep abreast of any special events in the area, such as festivals or new exhibits, while also gathering quick consumer reviews on restaurants and attractions. The easiest way to follow this type of “on the road” update, is through a compatible cell, such as an iPhone.

Traveling Via iPhone

Computers are great, but what limits their practicality while on vacation, is their pure cumbersome size and design. This is where an iPhone makes perfect sense. Using one of the many travel applications available (for various fees), you can literally place the entire world at your fingertips, including packing reminders (your toothbrush), and proof to your friends (via GPS) that you are actually where you say you are.

A few popular, “free”, applications to keep in mind for your next trip are Wikitude, Citysearch, GasFoodLodging.mobi, and OpenTable. Wikitude is a useful travel guide holding over 300,000 points of interest. Citysearch locates your favorite shops, restaurants, and night venues. If you like to take roadtrips, GasFoodLodging.mobi helps locate lodging, food, and gas; while the application, OpenTable, helps discern which restaurants are worth your while. OpenTable works by offering consumer ratings along with a sample menus of the types of food served.

Fred Flintstone only wishes he had this kind of practical, technological convenience!