Vacation Packages – The Best in Travel Value!

Travel and the Economy

The other day I was surfing through classified advertising on the web. I was looking to answer three basic questions:

1. What will an average family or travel group expect to pay for a 5 day/4 night vacation?
2. What will they actually spend?
3. What value do they expect to receive from the experience?

At present, the news media drones on about the sad state of our economy and an out of control unemployment rate of 9.5% (in some parts of the country 15%) and how we are in for a least two more very grim years before our economy recovers. But, somehow the travel industry has not experienced the same downturn.

Travel Industry Growth

According to the latest Tourism Satellite Accounting (TSA) research, world travel and tourism generated close to $8 trillion in 2008, and is expected to rise to approximately $15 trillion over the next ten years while supporting 297 million jobs and 10.5% of global GDP by 2018 ( For any industry this is stellar performance.

Of course the bottom line reason for this success is people still want to “get out of Dodge” and are willing to pay for it. “How much?” and “Why?” were two of the questions that took me to the classifieds.

Back To My Research

In my two-hour surf through the travel classifieds, I found several discount vacations in a major destination from $700 to $1000. The prices were for the hotel stay only. Food and travel were extra and could realistically be expected to double that price. So the price of this 5 day/4 night getaway could easily be between $2000 and $2500. But, then I came across something that was even more interesting and rooted in my third question.

At first read, the three questions seemed to be in order of priority. We would assume that a family or travel group would first come up with a budget and then plan a vacation. Let’s find a place in a scenic location away from home. We can cook our own meals to save money. Our budget is based on what we can afford, now what can we get? And the second assumption is the vacation will realistically go over budget by an anticipated percentage. These are fair assumptions, but those assumptions go right out the window when seduced by the entertainment vacation.

An entertainment vacation is a destination vacation to any of the world famous destinations, i.e. theme parks, Las Vegas casinos, International cruises, and the like. Because most families believe the shared experience of going to Disney World is so much greater, they are willing to double, even triple the expense. The stay in a hotel and eat meals in restaurants, even drive a rental car if they flew to the destination. The entertainment vacation promises a lifetime memory that a mundane trip to the beach can’t.

But wait… there’s more!

A secondary discovery on my journey through the classified ads was the large listings of time share vacations for sale. The selling point of this type of vacation was individual ownership of a particular place and time in the year when you could get away. But, these listings were offering the timeshare for sometimes half of the original purchase price. The primary reason for selling was, “I am no longer using it.” There is an apparent shift in vacation value… from being together to experiencing something entertaining together. That shift is the reason the travel industry is experiencing near exponential growth.

If an entertainment vacation could cost the same or less than that trip to the beach, would you do it? The answer to the question is obvious. Of course! If you could save 75% on an entertainment vacation, and 50% on the restaurant meals, would you book it? Again… of course! Because the vacation value of the shared experience is high and the cost is the same or maybe even a little lower.

The Travel and Vacation Package

Over the past fifteen years, several companies are now offering travel and vacation packages that combine the best of both worlds… high value experiences with low cost. These packages are different from a travel agency booking. The package offers a series of discount travel cards and certificates that allow you to book resorts, theme parks, cruises, hotels, campsites, restaurants, and more for 50%-75% off. These are not travel clubs with monthly or annual fees. These packages are offered for a one time price, usually less than the cost of a typical week long vacation. The package usually contains the equivalent of thirty or more vacations, including restaurant discounts, that never expire. Some of them are even transferable. Usually a package will include several bonus vacations that can be given away. Often hotel rooms and condo rentals can be had for the cost of the room tax. While some results may vary, with a travel package the charge for a $200 per night room could be as little as $25 a night… an incredible bargain.

Vacation and travel packages can be found on the internet, but be warned, what I’ve written about is not a package from a travel agency for a one time vacation. These packages come offered by an association of business people who have negotiated the package through several travel vendors. The business association is NOT a seller of travel and therefore is not licensed to sell travel. What is sold is travel and travel related discount packages that provide discounted access to many travel and travel related companies.

These vacation and travel packages are by far the best in travel value and the shared vacation experience.

Best Travel Writing – Top 10 Travel Novels

It’s hard to find great travel writing, but it’s out there. Part of the reason for this is that so much travel writing is also considered nature writing or narrative non-fiction. Part of the reason is that the field is so competitive because of a lot of good authors competing for a relatively small market space. But there is a wide array of great travel fiction out there, and here is my list of the best ten travel novels I’ve read over the past couple years.

10) Through Painted Deserts, by Donald Miller. This is one I actually found in the “Christian Non-Fiction” section, which can be unfair. There’s no question Miller is a Christian, but he’s a writer first and foremost, he’s not preachy, and his questioning of his own faith, of reasons for existence, of who and what he is or is becoming is reminiscent of the fantastic soul searching that came from the travel writing of the Beat generation. Miller’s account of his trip is great, going through the moments of beauty, the necessity of good road trip music, and admitting his moments of embarrassment and fear as freely as any other part of his journey.

9) Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah MacDonald. The early reading of this book can be hard, because after the first few chapters there’s a lot of the Western perspective, the whining of living conditions and poverty, the type of scorn you don’t care to read from travel writing. I’m glad I read the rest, because like “Through Painted Deserts,” “Holy Cow” is about the author’s journey. Sarah evolves and changes chapter to chapter in front of you as she sheds the scornful nature of an atheist “too smart” to fall for superstition, and she opens up, traveling through India and sampling all the different religious beliefs and practices as she becomes a humble Theist who learns happiness, learns to grow, and learns that alien cultures can have a lot to offer the open traveler.

8) Into the Wild by John Krakauer. I first caught sight of this book at a Barnes and Noble on one of the feature tables. I was on winter break from Alaska and visiting family in Iowa. I picked up the book, sat down, and read the entire work in one sitting. Travel book, journalistic book, nature book, adventure book-whatever you call it, this is one heck of a read, and the debate this book causes is deep and passionate. As a wanderlust traveler, I understand the drive the main character feels, as an Alaskan, I understand the native perspective of irritation, of the lack of understanding that nature is brutal and especially Alaska needs to be respected as such.

7) Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town, by Paul Theroux. Paul Theroux is at his best in “Dark Star Safar,” where his skills of observation and his dry wit are on full display. Paul takes readers the length of Africa via overcrowded rattletrap bus, dugout canoe, cattle truck, armed convoy, ferry, and train in a journey that is hard to forget. There are moments of beauty, but there are also many moments of misery and danger. This is a narration of Africa that goes beyond the skin deep to dare to look at the deeper core of what is often referred to as “The Dark Continent.”

6) Blue Highways: A Journey Into America, by William Least Heat-Moon. This is an auto-biographical travel journey taken by Heat-Mean in 1978. After separating from his wife and losing his job, Heat-Moon decided to take an extended road trip around the United States, sticking to “Blue Highways,” a term to refer to small out of the way roads connecting rural America (which were drawn in blue in the old Rand McNally atlases). So Heat-Moon outfits his van, named “Ghost Dancing” and takes off on a 3-month soul-searching tour of the United States. The book chronicles the 13,000 mile journey and the people he meets along the way, as he steers clear of cities and interstates, avoiding fast food and exploring local American culture on a journey that is just as amazing today as when he first took the journey.

5) The Lost Continent, by Bill Bryson. There are tons of fantastic Bill Bryson books out there, and any one of them could hold this spot here. “The Lost Continent” is Bryson’s trip across America, visiting some common places (the grand canyon), but also exploring the back roads and looking for that familiarity that helps him remember home.

4) Wanderlust: Real-Life Tales of Adventures and Romance by Pico Iyer. Probably one of the best travel writing collections released in recent memory, this collection is under the name Pico Iyer, who helped to edit this collection. These stories come from the “Wanderlust” section of and create a varied tapestry of travel writing that will keep the reader flipping from one writer to another.

3) A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins. This is one of the all time modern classics in travel literature, as Peter Jenkins recalls the story of his 1973-1975 walk from New York to New Orleans. For many readers, this remains a rare travel book that grips you and keeps you. Known as a travel writer who will walk anywhere, including Alaska and China, Peter Jenkins says, “I started out searching for myself and my country and found both.” That sums up what travel writing should be all about.

2) Travels w/ Charlie by John Steinbeck. This was a novel that helped John Steinbeck win a Nobel Prize in Literature. “Travels with Charlie” is a fantastic travel narrative that gets to the heart of travel, the point of the trip, and the strange confrontation and realization that the places and people you remember are gone once you are. As he revisits the places of his youth that many of his books are based on, he realizes on seeing old friends that they’re as uncomfortable with him being back as he is with being there. A great story about travel, about home, about mourning lost history, about aging, and about America-this should be required reading for every high school student.

1) The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac. The beat generation was full of great travel narratives, and Jack Kerouac was the master of powerful, moving, passionate language that unfolded stories like few people have ever managed. While “On the Road” is the most often pointed to travel narrative by Kerouac, “The Dharma Bums” is a better book. Full of passion, interesting characters and stories, and the kind of passionate language and powerful prose that made the beat generation writers popular, this Kerouac book is extraordinary and deserving of its number one spot.

Group Travel Benefits

Have you anytime marveled that how adorable will it be to analyze assorted wonders of the apple forth with accompanying alive altered humans and authoritative accompany with them? It is a lifetime acquaintance to apperceive not just assorted places but aswell assorted people. The allocution is all about allowances of traveling in groups. Accumulation biking basically refers to traveling with a readymade accumulation of people. At present accumulation biking is the best anatomy of biking for added than bisected of American population.

Often a banausic and aggravating adventure can construe into an agitative and merry-making one, by advantage of accepting accompanied by abounding people. While one bisected of the continued and annoying boating is covered in accepting alien to your group; adorning and alive them bigger makes up for the added bisected of it. So even admitting you are not with your ancestors and set of friends, you cannot feel abandoned because of the aggregation of abundant men and women.

However the allowances of traveling in groups are not just bedfast to alive humans and merry-making but there are several added admirable advantages of it. Accumulation traveling is the safest anatomy and cheapest anatomy of biking today. Accepting with a accumulation ensures best assurance for even admitting you are thousand afar abroad from home, in case of any emergency advice is there with you in the anatomy of humans in your group.

Traveling in a accumulation is acutely amount effective. Most generally the admiration to analyze ideal vacation spots, simmers in all of us. But the better impediment that abstains us from materializing our dreams is money. Traveling abandoned to globally acclaimed day-tripper spots such as Las Vegas, the Caribbean, the Grand Canyon etc. is badly expensive. Huge amount is incurred in traveling, accommodation, and aliment and in accepting about the place. However by way of traveling in a accumulation all these costs are aggregate and so acutely reduced. For instance, a alone adventurer who would accept paid $100 to appoint a cab to ascertain the site, in a accumulation of 10 travelers will pay simple $10 for the same. Thus accumulation campaign are acutely economical for all the associates of the group. Accumulation biking provides the befalling to see best amount of places incurring minimum expenditure.

Group travelers are generally advantaged to alone ones in abounding hotels and inns. In affiliation to a alone vacationer, it is abundant easier for humans in a accumulation to acquisition a lodging. Moreover accumulation travelers get best analysis from cat-and-mouse in band at community to accepting appropriate behind-the-scenes tours not offered for alone travelers.

Today there are a array of accumulation biking options available. According to the destination, his desires and the accessories offered in the amalgamation bout by the biking agency, a being can calmly adjudge which accumulation to opt for. Accumulation biking can be for a one-day cruise as able-bodied as a one-month or lengthier tour. Forth with added amenities, biking companies aswell supplement accumulation travelers with biking insurance.

All in all in the accepted scenario, accumulation biking is the ideal anatomy of biking for everyone.

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Travel – The Best Education You Can Get

Upon re-examining our lives and the decisions we made to get here, we wondered what it is about travel that has changed us in so many ways. That was when a cousin-in-law’s mother hit the nail on the head when she told us at a family gathering (upon learning that we had been all over the world) that travel is the best education you can get. Even though my wife and I had already suspected this was the case, here we had someone who actually lived it and confirmed our suspicions.

“I have memories that are still with me since I traveled in the 60′s and friends who still keep in touch,” she said. “I’ve seen so much and learned so much about things you’d never learn about in school or watch on TV. Keep traveling while you still have your legs. I congratulate you.”

And with those words of wisdom in mind, we’re digging deep into our personal experiences to explain why travel is the best education you can get.


It’s one thing to see something on TV or read about it in the newspaper (or internet or books or whatever your media of choice is), but it’s another thing to see and experience those things in person. More often than not, when you’re told about something, you’re unlikely to appreciate its message and more likely to react (or not) briefly and then forget about it not long thereafter. But if you’ve witnessed a bombing or were confronted with beggars firsthand, these moments stick with you and you start to wonder why these things happen.

For example, in school, you can try to teach students about revolutions by regurgitating what’s in the history textbooks citing such factors like say the population had a 95% illiteracy rate, the rich got richer while the poor got poorer, and the populace was oppressed with no opportunities to break out of poverty. Sure the students might memorize some dates and some key figures in history, but it’s forgotten after the test or class is over and the implications of the cause and effect of the conditions leading to the revolution are lost.

But if those students perhaps visited (or better yet stayed with) a family with no running water, no electricity, no schools, and lack of food while working real hard to survive; all the while harboring deep resentment at the government for accepting bribes, hoarding most of the country’s wealth, and even coming in and building dams or deforesting to mine for coal (thereby putting more pressure on their own lands and impacting their own means of survival), then perhaps those students would be so deeply moved by the experience that they can better understand why the people want to act and revolt to improve their situation.

That is the essence of why deep impressions, which you can only get by experiencing things firsthand through travel, is one main reason why travel is the best education you can get. Perhaps more importantly, such impressions stick with you to the extent that you’re more inclined to want to take action to change things for the better.


We always believed that reality is the fastest and most effective teacher. When you buy some knock-off at a deeply discounted price at some street market only to have the knock-off fall apart on you when you get home, you learn never to look at knock-offs at street markets the same way again. But until you’ve had the bitter taste of being ripped off, you’ll always be looking for the next great deal no matter how dodgy the vendor is.

When you’re out there traveling, you’re more likely to witness places where socialism has been successful (and not as evil as gung-ho pro-capitalists and industrialists would have you believe), you’re more likely to appreciate how other people around the world (especially in Europe) don’t worry as much about health insurance and health care, and how locals in rural villages have found ways to adapt and live with their environment rather than trying to force arbitrary and detrimental changes against Nature. Without travel, these lessons may never be learned. As a result, you’re more likely to be swayed by bias from the media or from peers, which is not unlike kids learning bad habits by learning from undisciplined peers (i.e. the so-called “bad influences”) since they don’t have the information needed to make wiser decisions.

So it’s with this in mind that we think travel has a way of testing your theories and beliefs. You’re bound to run into different people, different cultures, different ways of doing things, different beliefs, and different environments. Often times, these are contrary to what you’re used to or what you’ve preconceived going into the trip. In that way, travel expands your horizons and makes you more open to the tremendous diversity and variety on the planet and its peoples. And by keeping an open mind about things, you’re more apt to learn from these differences and apply them in ways that would improve your own life (and hopefully others as well). And in the process, you’ll develop greater respect for other people while embracing differences instead of alienating people who are different.


Perhaps one of the most important things that travel has done for us is give us a greater sense of perspective. For when you travel, you’re exposed to a greater range of experiences. Thus, you have a more extensive library of experiences and knowledge to call upon when you’re confronted with a new situation or issue. And given our expanded library, we have the confidence to see the big picture, solve problems, not sweat the small stuff, believe in ourselves and what we know, understand people better, judge character better, and look at things more objectively. And through this awareness and self-belief, we feel that we’ve broken through barriers (many of which were self-imposed) regarding what we thought was possible.

Travel in general (at least the more enlightening customized types) is expensive, logistically difficult, and requires a lot of time, health, and energy to pull off. However, we’ve learned to overcome these barriers while getting richly rewarded with the knowledge acquired as a result. And it was through our own time put into trip preparation and execution that we broke through those mental barriers that typically keep people from getting out there in the first place; coming up with such excuses like it’s too expensive, too difficult, too much time to plan, etc. In a way, it forces you to overcome complacency, step out into the real world, and acquire the intangibles that make you a better person as a whole.

Through what we’ve learned, we are more able to filter and process information (so we’re no longer slaved to what the media pushes or says), we are better positioned to align our work (and consequently our lives) to our core values (my personal ethic is a sustainable future), we’re less inclined to give into hot air and hypocrisy when it comes to political issues, and we’re more apt to be respectful of different people with different backgrounds (you never know what you can learn from them).

Indeed, travel has given us the tools we need (through exposure, education, and perspective) to take steps necessary to improve not only our lives, but that of our children as well. We don’t proclaim to know everything, but at least we can put things in perspective and act accordingly.


Even though we’re saying that travel is the best education you can get, we’re not suggesting that you should forego a formal education nor does it mean it’s the answer to all of our problems. We’re just saying that travel will educate you in a way that will bring you closer to a more meaningful, healthier, and happier life if you go in with an open mind and the right attitude.

However, there are different kinds of traveling and we should point out that not all of them are conducive to learning. In fact, if you travel just to consume (like only chill out at resorts, go golfing, or do watersports [not that I condemn these activities]; all without interacting with locals or experiencing what the place has to offer in terms of authentic experiences), then you’ll only learn about consuming and little about local cultures, environments, and peoples. You won’t be able to expand your own horizons and acquiring travel’s educational benefits.

Speaking of consumption, we acknowledge that travel is not environmentally sustainable (what with the greenhouse gases [GHGs] spewed into the upper atmosphere by flying, planes being as close to energy efficient as they’re going to get, and the environmental damage caused by wasting water at resorts not to mention all the plastic bottle waste). However, we think if more people traveled to learn and see or experience genuinely different things, they’d be more understanding, better able to put things in perspective, and take steps to make the world a better place as well as more sustainable. So with that said, perhaps these same people would be more willing to find a way to make travel (let alone their own lifestyle) less impactful while still benefitting society (especially the education you don’t get in school) as a whole.

And regarding school, I think travel can do wonders if you complement your education with worldly experiences. That way, you get the skills needed to earn a living through school, but you retain more of what you learn (or even question some of it) through your experiences and observations while traveling. Besides, it’d also cause you to vote more intelligently thereby producing better leaders. I dare say that people who haven’t expanded their horizons and don’t have an open mind have been unable to stem the tide of corruption and poor leadership, which has resulted in much of the big problems we see around the world today.

So is travel the best education you can get? As far as we’re concerned, you bet!

Even though our travels have caused us to dip well into our savings thereby delaying that home purchase that everyone (including our government through its twisted tax laws) pushes for, we wouldn’t trade it for the world. We’re not materially rich, but we have a lifetime of memories and moments as well as a few friends we’ve met along the way. We rekindled a deep urge to constantly discover new places using waterfalls as the excuse to see places both far and near. We hope we can keep it going. For we never want to stop learning, improving ourselves, and making a difference in the world.

Student Travel Insurance – For Your Safety!

Many student travellers overlook insurance, but it can be tremendously important, providing peace of mind for you and your family back home. Student Travel Insurance offers you a solace when you’ve planned to travel abroad. Most policies provide insurance cover for your baggage, medical expenses and cancellation, making sure you have the help you need when you need it most. When buying a policy, check with your insurer that it covers you for any extra activities you may participate in, such as bungee jumping, white water rafting.

When planning on travelling abroad in a gap year, cheap travel insurance is absolutely vital for peace of mind and safety. Take a look online to find student flights, bus, rail and travel insurance. Travelling abroad in a gap year is recommended by many colleges and universities as it offers great experience for students as well.

There are a number of excellent travelogue sites online, offering advice and suggestions from experienced travellers. Many blogs focus on specific areas and can offer fantastic insight into your chosen destination. Just ensure that you leave a planned itinerary at home. Your family and friends can have a check on your progress.

Planning to study abroad? You get covered for up to 2 years as long as the duration of your course. Additional cover is available for computers or valuable items. Get insured under a protective cover known as student travel insurance UK.

Be prepared for all uncertainties – with a good insurance cover!

Get an annual insurance cover for your multiple trips. You can travel up to a maximum of 42 days in one trip. Such insurance covers you for multi lingual medical assistance. Insurance experts provide students with low cost, discounted prices on airfare and other popular travel needs! Always apply with organisation which is well associated with a select group of high quality companies that offer specific services to meet your travel insurance needs.

Your travel insurance should cover basic medical and accident cover, baggage loss or delay, and trip cancellation.

Bear in mind that if you need to make a claim, most travel insurance companies require you to have purchased the insurance policy before you leave on your trip. If your student travel involves official study and work abroad or you are on Gap Year travels, you have a choice of long stay travel insurance products which are all individually designed to protect you. Find out all about travel insurance travel insurance UK []