Visa and Lonely Planet launch online travel tool

When it comes to travel, almost half of all Kiwis spend more than 10 percent of their annual income on holidays, making the most of each trip by prioritising their time and pre-booking adventures.

New research commissioned by Visa looks at the travel habits of New Zealanders and Australians, noting differences and similarities between the trans-Tasman counterparts when it comes to researching, booking and taking holidays.

In New Zealand, 85 percent of Kiwis choose to book the majority, if not all, of their holiday activities before heading away, compared with 88 percent of all Australian travellers.

Travelling solo? 4 tips to remember!

This article is written by Aashish Gupta, founder of Yellowleg.com — The Discerning Traveller’s Bookstore

Travelling with family and friends is fun but there is a different thrill altogether if you happen to be a solo traveller. Here are some of the things you must keen in mind while travelling alone though.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime — Mark Twain.

Isn’t Mark Twain absolutely fantastic with his witty yet truthful one-liners? I am currently reading the book The Innocents Abroad written by him, which unveils the true spirit of travelling and is undoubtedly one of the best books ever written about excursions away from home.

So how does one start? I am sure you must have been to lot of places, met lot of different people and have enjoyed your travel. Were you there with friends? Family? Friends and Family? If yes, I am sorry to say but you might have missed that special novelty the place had to offer.

Consider this, what if you are given an opportunity to go somewhere you’ve never been before? And that too you’re asked to travel all alone! What do you say to yourself?

Surprisingly, I come across majority of people who usually end up responding to that question as ‘Yaar, main wahan akela jaa’ke kya karunga? (What do I do there alone?)’ and snub that opportunity which could have given them more rewarding experiences than they possibly could ever imagine.

And to your surprise, you may never know when travelling alone taught you to reach out to strangers and be compassionate and empathetic towards people around.

So have an open mind and the next time when you plan a vacation, think about travelling solo and take that leap! I’m sure you won’t regret it!

So how can you travel alone? What things to pack up? What to do while you’re alone? Read on.

Sounds too cliched, right? But it’s not. It’s really very important to have the information handy before you visit any unknown place.

Find about the culture, people, food, the local laws and the best time to visit. This will make you confident and fearless enough about the unknown factor.

If possible, get a local map and be sure that you carry it around every time.

Maps usually help create a mental image where you’re going.

Moreover, if you’re just more inquisitive, you can visit online forums where you can just post a specific query about the place you want to go and within minutes you’ll have it answered.

Guidebooks also usually provide a list of local police station, hospital, emergency cab service numbers. Better safe than sorry!

Tip: Websites like WikiTravel, Lonely Planet, Wikipedia can be of great help. Lonely Planet has an array of books published on almost all the international destinations. Pick one and you’re ready to go! Remember, the more information you have about the place, the better you can deal with any given situation.

Budgeting is an art. What kind of a traveller are you? Do you shop on impulse? Or you buy things ONLY when you need them? Do you like to splurge? Or a shoestring budget is more than enough?

When you know yourself better, you can spend better. Deciding a budget and sticking to it is one of the best way hone your self-discipline skills.

For instance: You must decide how much you want to spend every day: Room/Dorm rent – Rs. 500, food – Rs500 for and Rs. 500 for miscellaneous expenses, if any.

So a budget of Rs. 10,000 is more than enough for a weeklong trip. You can always save at times where you really can.

It really doesn’t make much sense if you rent out an expensive yet luxurious room and you’re out all day seeing places. Rather you can always go for a dormitory, which is usually comes at 1/10th rate of a luxurious room and can become another place where you can socialize a bit.

If you take a dorm, I am sure you’ll have lot of interesting people around you from different walks of life. Just another way to enjoy your journey! So it all depends upon you the kind of choice you want to make.

Tip: Budgeting can leave you stressed. Just to make it simpler, set your priorities as in what you really want out of your trip. One more thing, every choice will come with its price. So be it having a beer or exotic food, ensure that you know how much you’re spending on what, keep a tab!

Ask yourself what is it that you really need? Asking this over and over while packing can be of great help.

From regular clothes you wear, to goggles, sandals, shoes, socks, deodrants, soaps, cosmetics and some heavy ones like cameras, batteries, chargers, books are something you can think about.

If you’re going to a city, you can always buy things whenever you need them. Stuffing your backpack with all the things that you use every day will only leave your backpack way too heavy and you being worn out carrying it along. Rather than taking 2-3 pairs of jeans, you can always go for cotton trousers or khakis that are light and comfortable.

Tip: Whatever you’re packing, ensure that you travel light. Always! Since you may never know when you might miss a bus, train or even a plane. So carrying around that loaded baggage with you can give you a tough time. You never want to be left frustrated with pondering over why you packed so much!

When you’re alone you can be yourself. But soon there will be time when you will realise that you feel awkward being alone, you search around and there’s no one to talk to, no one to share with what you’re up to, how and what are you feeling and the list goes on. Don’t lose heart and stay bold!

There’s a way to deal with it, what I do is I simply jot down whatever things I faced all day including anger, happiness, excitement, loneliness whatever in my travelogue. It helps me cope up with myself. And the next day I start afresh!

Whatever things you are experiencing you can write them down before the day ends, and soon you’ll start appreciating it.

This method may or may not work for you, but within first couple of days of your travel, I am sure you’ll find your own ways to deal with your emotions!

Soon you’ll start to enjoy being with yourself and that’s when you enjoy things around you.

Travel is one of the best ways to self-discovery; it’s the best teacher where the world is your classroom.

Carpe Diem!

There are many more things that can be written here. I wish to cut this article short by quoting few lines by Dr. Seuss

Congratulations!
Today is your day,
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

Yes, you’re off and away!

Bon Voyage!

Aashish Gupta

2011

http://www.rediff.com/getahead/slide-show/slide-show-1-travel-travelling-solo-4-tips-to-remember/20111111.htm

Wales coast is best on Earth to visit – Lonely Planet

Coastal Wales has been named the “best region on Earth” to visit next year by a travel guide.

The Wales Coast Path, which passes St Justinians in Pembrokeshire, will open in full in May 2012

The nation’s coastline is highlighted in the Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2012 guide to the best places to go over the next 12 months.

Next May, Wales will become the first country in the world to offer tourists a formal trail right around its coast.

The Welsh Government said the recogition of the coastal path was “fantastic news”.

The book, in it seventh year, highlights 10 countries, 10 regions and 10 cities handpicked by the publisher’s travel experts as the best places to visit.

“How better to truly appreciate the shape – and soul – of a nation?” the annual guide asks of the coastal path.

It states: “What a wonderful thing: to walk the entire length of a country’s coastline, to trace its every nook, cranny, cliff-face, indent and estuary.

“Well, in 2012 Wales will become the only country in the world where you can do just that.

“The All Wales Coast Path (AWCP) will squiggle continuously from Chepstow in the south to near Queensferry in the north – via dramatic serrations, sandy bays and domineering castles – making 1,377km of shore accessible.”

‘Royal stamp’

Lonely Planet’s Tom Hall explained: “These are some of Lonely Planet’s must-see spots for 2012, either because they have something special going on next year, there’s a lot of buzz about the place, or because we are tipping it as an up-and-coming spot that you should visit, before the crowds get there.”

He continued: “As well as the novel ability to walk its entire coastline, the region comes out top because of its wildlife, great surf, castles and fantastic spots such as Barafundle Bay and St Davids.

“Now that Wills and Kate have set up home in the area it has also received the Royal stamp of approval.”

Wales Coast Path project manager, Sue Rice, of the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) said she was “really excited” at the news.

“We hope that the path will encourage not only visitors to Wales, but also locals to enjoy the health benefits of outdoor recreation,” she said.

“The local authorities along the path have all put in so much effort to make this happen. Their dedication and hard work on the ground has enabled the project to take shape. We look forward to seeing it open next spring.”

Environment Minster, John Griffiths, said the recognition of the Wales Coast Path was “fantastic news”.

“When it opens the path will provide a real boost to local economies around Wales’ coastline,” he said.

The path is due to officially open on 5 May 2012.

Of the approx 870-mile (1400km) long path, some 838 miles (1350km) have already been completed, said CCW.

‘Safe and practical’

The Path has been developed by the Welsh government and CCW, along with 16 local authorities and two national parks.

In addition to £2m a year funding from the Welsh government and the coastal local authorities, the project has received nearly £4m in four years of European funding.

CCW said improvements to the quality and alignment of the route will continue during 2012 and 2013 to ensure that the path follows the Welsh coastline as close as it is safe and practical.

Over time, the Wales Coast Path is expected to lead to the creation of circular coastal routes as links to inland towns and villages are improved, it said.

28 Oct 2011

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-15482233

Travel Industry Wooing Tourists from India

An entertainer dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean poses for a photo with an Indian tourist outside the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles

In India, May is the cruelest month. The short spring is already a distant memory, and the heat- and dust-quelling monsoon rains are still weeks away. There’s no better time for Indians to take to the road.

All told, some 550 million Indians travel to other parts of the country each year. Once school lets out for the summer, many families set off on annual visits to grandparents in their native town or village. Another 12 million Indians choose to fly overseas. Wealthy families from Punjab and Gujarat, in the north and west of India, respectively, flock to cosmopolitan meccas like Switzerland or Dubai, where women can indulge in brand-name shopping and don the revealing, Western-style fashions they don’t dare flaunt back home.

But while more than half a billion Indians take a holiday each year, the appeal of travel has traditionally been less about exploring someplace new than about simply getting out of town. Many Bengali families in the eastern corner of the country, for instance, escape north in the summer to the cooler Himalayas — an unfamiliar land and landscape. But they typically join large tour groups, interacting almost exclusively with other Bengalis and eating only Bengali-style meals.

There is, however, a quickly growing segment of Indian travelers — mostly young, rich and hailing from India’s larger cities — who are decidedly more adventure-seeking. Unlike their parents, they visit uncommon places and pursue unconventional activities — a safari in Tanzania, a ruins tour of Turkey, an F1 race in Singapore — with an interest and curiosity about other cultures that previous generations may not have had.

It is still a small proportion of Indian travelers who are so venturesome — but, by the numbers, even a small proportion qualifies as a mass movement, globally speaking. So it is no surprise that the travel industry has taken note. From New Zealand to Namibia, government tourist boards have designed campaigns specifically to woo Indian travelers, and luxury-tour purveyors like Cox & Kings and Kuoni, both based in Britain, advertise hard for Indian rupees. Kuoni, for instance, has joined hands with fabled Bollywood production house Yash Raj Films to offer the “Enchanted Journey” tour of movie locations, letting travelers ski the Alps or boat on Lake Zurich in the footsteps of their favorite stars.

In February came another nod to the Indian traveler’s increasing clout: international travel-guide leader Lonely Planet launched an Indian version of its eponymous monthly travel magazine (other editions of the magazine are published in the U.K. and Brazil). And in October, the bible of luxury travel, Condé Nast Traveler, has plans to follow with an Indian edition, building on the established successes of the publisher’s Indian versions of Vogue and GQ.

The target readers of the new magazines are Indians who are traveling more and traveling differently — many as singles or couples without children or parents in tow. “You’ll be surprised by how many married women there are traveling without husbands and single women traveling with girlfriends,” says Sumitra Senapaty, 49, a travel writer who has run Women on Wanderlust, a travel club for women, since 2005 and has watched her business grow many times over. “I quite struggled with it initially,” she says. “I didn’t have the pocket to advertise, so everybody’s mother, friend, aunt and sister spread the word. I just wanted women to come onboard.” Today, Senapaty’s tours — which usher female travelers to hard-to-reach places like Ladakh, a high mountain desert in the Himalayan foothills — are usually sold out.

In addition to seeking girlfriend globetrotters, the industry is going after the growing number of travelers who embark on longer, activity-driven trips and seek novel experiences, rather than just another jaunt to the hotel pool. More and more, Indian travelers are going deep-sea diving in Australia, for instance, and booking yoga retreats in the Himalayas. “There are more people choosing adventure travel over conventional holidays,” says Vaibhav Kala, who runs Delhi-based Aquaterra Adventures and arranges trips for more than 3,000 customers per year. “Since four or five years ago, our clientele has turned on its head. From catering to largely inbound foreign tourists, we’re now catering to mostly Indian travelers.”

But catering to Indian travelers means catering to certain Indian preferences and peculiarities, no matter how far-flung or exotic the vacation. Lonely Planet Magazine India always gives readers the requisite practical information about obtaining visas and finding consulates overseas, but it also has a section called Fancy a Curry? that locates Indian restaurants and vegetarian options in foreign cities. “Indians are getting a bit more adventurous, but we still need a little hand-holding,” says Vardhan Kondvikar, editor of Lonely Planet Magazine India. “We’re a bit like Nemo right now — the big world outside is very exciting, but we still need the anemones nearby for security.”

The worldview of the Indian traveler strongly influences the editorial choices that the magazine’s staff make, Kondvikar says. For instance, the magazine tends to highlight mainstream tourist destinations — which are perhaps familiar to world-weary travelers but new to the Indian populace. The tone of the magazine is also much more introductory, friendly and informative than that of its British and Brazilian counterparts. Recent feature stories introduced readers to Rome, Vietnam, Los Angeles and Puducherry in peninsular India; another popular article covered five weekend getaways from several major Indian cities. “[The U.K.] magazine was designed for experienced travelers who want to see the unexplored sides of places they’ve already been. So it has a lot of stories that bypass traditional tourist sites and find hidden alleys and restaurants,” says Kondvikar. “We couldn’t do too much of that — many Indians are only going to the major destinations for the first time, and we didn’t want to ignore them.”

The travel lust of this budding demographic has largely survived the global recession, which has otherwise diminished international travel overall. In fact, a stronger rupee has seen more Indians traveling abroad, especially to long-haul destinations. The U.N.’s Madrid-based World Tourism Organization estimates that by 2020, some 50 million Indians will be taking foreign holidays each year.

So while Lonely Planet and Condé Nast may be wading into a shaky market already cluttered with dozens of travel titles, they have high expectations for success. “[In terms of] advertising revenues, not only have we dominated market share in the categories we operate in but also we are growing at an exponential rate,” says Alex Kuruvilla, managing director of Condé Nast India. “So we are very bullish on the opportunity.” If the rupee continues to rise, this May might not end up being so cruel after all.

Madhur Singh
2010
http://www.time.com/time/travel/article/0,31542,1989633,00.html