Thursday, February 6, 2014

Getting the Most from My Travel Plans

I’ve heard fellow travelers proclaim preference for spontaneity in their travels. They do just enough planning to get themselves going, and they leave the rest to chance. Supposedly, this is more daring and fun. Although, I have much respect for these travelers’ individual preferences, I would not be in favor of traveling in their company and, would creatively find a way to get lost from their presence. My personal preference is to plan everything down to the last detail.
Although the travel experience itself is fun, the detailed research and planning adds to the excitement and creates vicarious enjoyment. I generally start such research and planning six to seven months before the actual trip, and as much as possible, follow my game plan while allowing room for flexibility in the event that something or someone interesting does come along to alter a specific plan in my itinerary.  My travels have never gone exactly according to plan, but I felt secure by at least having a solid plan.

I read travel guides like Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, Moon’s Guide, in addition to doing Google searches and reading blogs of other travelers who been there and done what I plan on doing myself. As a registered on-line member of Trip Advisor, Couchsurfingand Virtual Tourist (websites for travelers), I’m pretty much ready for anything.

This extra effort saves me a lot of unnecessary stress, frustration, and of course, money. My trips, primarily to Latin American countries, including airfare, has been relatively inexpensive. As pointed out in my article, How To Enjoy Travel Without Being Wealthy, I was able to reserve flights to Mexico City, Lima, Cartagena, Quito, and Panama City, in that order, for a total of $897. Naturally, this fare did not come without intensive on line research. I managed to snag this fare three months before the actual take-off date. Once I arrived at my destinations, I already knew the details of the local currency, cheap or free places to stay, public transportation, where to go for food and entertainment, and how much I could expect to pay.

Another travel aid that has worked in my favor over the last five years is Facebook, as pointed out in my article, Using Facebook for Latin-American Travel, where I can be immersed in the language and the culture(s), I created a separate Facebook account for Spanish speakers where, to date, I made over 300 friends with people throughout Latin America, thus when I do arrive in their respective countries, I have warm contacts who can show me the ropes, save me an enormous amount of money, and shelter me from gringo taxes..

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