Travel Information – Follow My 3 Travel Research Tips to a Worry Free Vacation

For many sun worshipers and golf enthusiasts that live in a seasonally cold climate, I have to regretfully inform you that the summer season is coming to a close.

The good news is that you may be planning your next sun drenched vacation to escape your cold winter, and if you are fortunate enough to get away this year, allow me to provide you some valuable travel information that can help you prevent any travel pitfalls!

Your vacation is supposed to be relaxing and carefree, and booking your holiday should be stress free as well. When planning your vacation it’s always best to research your destination, accommodations, and flight itinerary months in advance, even though you’re thinking about jumping on a last minute package deal.

Now you may be the spontaneous individual that may say that planning in advance takes the fun out of your last minute booking, but I have come across many people that overlook some key travel requirements, and wind up experiencing a vacation nightmare!

Travel Tourism Organizations And Embassies Are Your Best Source For Information!

The first step many vacation travelers do is either pick up a holiday brochure at their local travel agency, or go online and start searching travel sites for planning tips and package information. These sources are great for helping you select your travel destination, choice of hotels, resorts, and desired cruises, plus detailed information on the destination’s amenities and available tours, but chances are you won’t find in these brochures, or on many of the travel sites, currently updated political and economic situation at destination.

Other important information you may not find is up to date information on changes in your required travel documentation for the country you plan to visit, or any major construction going on nearby your accommodations.

You would be surprised how many vacation tour companies don’t advise travel agencies that extensive renovations are taking place at their properties they offer, and this can be a real inconvenience to you if you’re not informed ahead of time!

Even though you may put all your trust in your local travel advisor, or the information you find on some of the reputable vacation websites, it’s your responsibility to obtain the most current information available, and to do this you should contact the Tourist Boards and Embassies of the destination you’re planning to visit. If you’re not sure what to ask or find out, below are 3 valuable tips to help you plan a safe and enjoyable holiday, and avoid any pitfalls that may create a vacation nightmare.

Tip #1: In my opinion, knowing what travel documentation is required for each country you visit is extremely important, and if you think that your travel company or online services will keep you up to date, think again! Prior to booking your vacation, ensure you ask your agent to provide you a number to the Embassy of the destination you’re traveling to, and contact them directly yourself to get the most current travel document information.

You would be surprised how quickly a country can change their document policies to enter on a dime, and if your travel agent didn’t get this information quick enough, it’s your responsibility to get the proper papers, passports, or anything else that’s required to enter that destination. If you don’t, then it doesn’t matter whom you point the finger at, it’s your responsibility in the end! Contacting the country’s Embassy will give you all the requirements, and having this information ahead time will allow you to prepare without having to pay extra passport fees, or even worse, cancelling your vacation.

Tip #2: It’s a fact that many of the vacation paradises you plan to visit may have increased tourism crime. No matter where you go on you holidays, if you don’t use your common sense and gut feelings, you may become a victim to crime. Tourism Organizations are good sources to find out about the destination’s economic situation, and also other information on tourism growth. You might be asking what this all would mean to you, and I will tell you!

You unquestionably should be contacting the Embassies for any current political unrest, or dangerous events that may be undergoing, but don’t stop there. You should also contact the Tourism Boards as well, and ask them questions such as:

· Can you provide me your best safety tips that apply to your destination I plan to visit?

· Do you recommend I stay away from certain areas of your country or island?

· Is there anything that you “highly recommend” that I bring or not bring with me to your destination?

· Do you have any current information I should know about that the Embassies don’t have yet?

It’s best to compile as many questions as possible to ask the Tourism Boards that will help you determine that the destination you’re planning to spend your vacation at takes priority in your safety and well-being.

Tip #3: This tip in my opinion is very important to help you not only save money, but also save your vacation from becoming your holiday from hell! I can’t express to you enough on how many budget travelers jump on the deal of a lifetime without doing their research, and asking the necessary questions to avoid an extremely inconvenient and annoying vacation.

In my past experience in booking travel, I quickly realized that too good to be true vacation package deals pop-up suddenly for a reason. There are usually underlying factors of why these packages are so cheap, and I will tell you why!

A. The resort or destination is brand new! When tour companies introduce new destinations and properties, they like to offer them as a highly discounted package, so they can get exposure, and build up their new clientele.

Keep in mind this a great way to experience a high-end property with all the exclusive amenities at a price you would normally pay for a lower rated property, however, the only negative side to this is that you must understand the staff is new and inexperienced, so the standard of service is not going to be up to the level of expectancy. The properties are more than likely not completed, and chances are you may not get much relaxation due to the ongoing construction, and possible unexpected problems that may occur during the opening.

B. The second reason may be that the resort or hotel you plan on vacationing at is undergoing extensive renovations, they know this will be an inconvenience to the clients, so they offer it at an extremely low price to attract your business.

Please note: This is not a bad thing if you don’t care about the banging and drilling noises. The message I’m trying to convey is that hopefully your travel agent or the online vacation company brings this to your attention prior to booking. The last thing you want is to find an incredible deal, but one of your major vacation requirements is to stay at a resort that is peaceful and quiet.

With my 3 traveling tips, I truly believe that you will be able to find the vacation of your dreams on your budget, and avoid many of the common problems many travelers come across. You will be experiencing fun in the sun, and also enjoying your golf getaways from your long cold winters stress free!

Gay Friendly Hotels and Accommodation – Are They Really Gay Friendly Or Just After the Pink Dollar?

Having been running a gay hotel on Crete, Greece for the last five years, I do try to keep my finger ‘on the pulse’ of what is happening not only locally but worldwide, in the gay accommodation industry. During that five years various other people have come up with gay accommodation on Crete, presumably expecting to make a killing by renting apartment blocks and even going as far as building a whole gay resort, albeit only small, just for gay and lesbian travellers. Without exception they have lasted only a year, maybe two, before they close!
 Just lately I have been getting more than usual the number of alerts from ‘Google Alerts’ for gay hotels and travel, not only in Greece but around the world, and not for just hotels, but travel agents who are now offering gay friendly holidays. In these difficult times for business it seems that many more businesses are chasing the ‘Pink Dollar’, Pound, Yen, or even Euro, and advertising their services as ‘gay friendly’.

 Taking a brief look at some of the new sites that have sprung up, and also many that already existed has proved an interesting experience just lately as the same hotels appear over and over again, and almost without exception the hotels on offer are just ordinary hotels, some of whom have been thoughtful enough to put ‘gay’ or ‘gay friendly’ in their web site search terms, but in general this is probably the only place on their web site where the word ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ is to be seen!

 The other notable feature of virtually all of these hotels is that they are all in the upper price and luxury bracket. So it seems that if you are gay or lesbian then you will automatically be able to afford room rates that start at EUR150 per night excluding breakfast?

 Now I don’t know about all of you, but while it might be nice to occasionally spend a night in a 5 star hotel with health spa, tennis courts, private golf course, your own Jacuzzi on the balcony and so on, none of which you are going to use, because you arrive at 6pm and they throw you out at 10am the following day, (you would think at that price they could afford to pay a cleaner to work until 6pm). And, I for one avoid Jacuzzis. I can never see the point of spending ages in a lukewarm bath with jets of water and bubbles bouncing ones testicles around, added to which you never know what was going on it in it yesterday, (or maybe I have been watching the wrong sort of movies), and then you get out looking like a white prune, and you still have to take a shower because you can’t use soap in a Jacuzzi.

 And after all that you have just spent three weeks (or more) food money and didn’t get anything to eat except the complementary chocolate on the pillow. Just because you are gay does not mean you have pots of dosh, some of us are rubbish collectors, cleaners, nurses, teachers, even guesthouse owners and we just do not have that kind of money to spend, what we need is clean comfortable accommodation at a reasonable price!

 So why do all these ‘gay’ web sites list this type of accommodation? I have a sneaking feeling that it is because they are the only hotels that can afford to pay the agents a reasonable commission. I get agents approach me and seem disappointed that they are only going to make 15 euros out of a one week stay and nothing at all for anything less than 3 nights, but then I am not in the business of lining another companies pockets or allowing them to ride off my back and all the hard work I have put into my business!

 And then we come to the gay friendly part. How does that fit in with the rest of the guests who always seem to be families from other parts of Europe, with three children and who spend all day by the pool while the children are in the non-English speaking crèche? Gay anonymous I call it not gay friendly. You can quite easily disappear into the throng of 2,500 straight guests staying in the same hotel and nobody really cares whether you are gay or not because they don’t even know your name!

 If you really want to check if a hotel is gay friendly then ask the receptionist where the nearest nudist beach is located. This is usually one of the first questions I get asked before guests even make the booking, that and the distance to the nearest gay club.

I tried this at one of my local 5 star hotels where I had the pleasure of staying at someone else’s expense for two nights. The girl on the desk looked rather bemused, dealt with some other guests in various languages, very fluently, none of them English, and talked to a member of the service staff in what sounded Spanish, before coming back to me and announcing that nude sunbathing was not allowed.

 Obviously as she was a mine of non-information and as I was in a daring mood I asked her if there were any gay bars close by. This confused her even more so I expanded on the theme and asked about bars for homosexuals. This struck a chord because she turned to colleague and asked him, and then came back with the reply that there were no homosexuals in this area!

 So for EUR250 per night I got a quite nice room, comfortably furnished, clean, with a nice little terrace outside where I could hold a conversation with the guests in the next apartment, 2 tea bags and 2 little sachets of coffee, 2 biscuits in foil wrapper, and 2 of those little plastic pots of milk, yes, you know the ones. The ones where the foil top suddenly gives way and you splash most of the contents over the carpet and yourself. Not forgetting the quite classy but very small soap and things in the bathroom.

 So where does the gay friendly come in? Seems to me like it doesn’t!

 You want a gay hotel then look for the web site that says ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ in black and white on the home page. Look for the place where they can tell you where the nearest nudist beach is, where the nearest gay bar is, and if they don’t know they should!