There is nothing more important during your travels than remaining safe. Constantly on the news you hear about violent outbreaks happening. These security related concerns should be a part of every smart travelers radar early on before you have made all the reservations (if possible). First, you’ll want to check out the government warnings for the particular country you will be visiting. Have there been any warning within the past few months that would be of importance to you as a traveler?
Next, if the country you plan on visiting is not on any warning list, then I always bring a money belt to help reduce the risk of having my money taken while doing site seeing. You can usually pick these up at Amazon for under $20. When I was in Italy a few years ago, our tour bus made a stop at the rest station so everyone could use the restroom. There was a small convenience store in there and one older gentleman who was waiting in line had his wallet taken along with the $2500 in cash that was in there. This was a real shock to the person since that was their entire budget for the trip. Lesson there: Don’t keep all your money in a easily accessed area.
Don’t wear clothing that would give a criminal the sign that you are from a certain country or economic status (i.e. shirts with flags or expensive brand name clothing). Also, keep most of your really pricey jewelery at home or safely locked up. These are all things that the common pickpocket will look for. Know where your embassy is just in case you need a hand. The embassy handles a lot of the major issues that could very well be outside your control. It is important that you know at least where one is during your trip and preferably have a phone number just in case you have to reach them for advice or assistance.
Health safety is another concern that every smart traveler should consider. The food and water quality of most undeveloped or developing countries is poor and could make you really sick. I have always adopted a certain level of precautions that have so far kept me from getting really ill. First, purchase bottled water, and make sure that the lid is sealed. Sometimes people will refill the water from the tap and if that happens, then you will be seceptable to some bacteria or nasty stuff associated with it. Brush your teeth with bottle water. People forget about this part, but it is just as important. Also, don’t drink with ice cubes. These are things that may make perfect sense for some, but other people may overlook the fact that water can come in different forms (but it still leads to the source). Bring along some of your medicine in case you do get sick.
There are many ways to find affordable flight options for you next travel opportunity. Back in the “olden” days people would call the travel agent and they would find the customer the best vacation package deal. This still can be an effective strategy, but with the online market as strong as it is today, calling an agent is just one option and shouldn’t be the only resource for keeping your costs low.
Websites today make booking your reservations a snap, even if it is straight from the couch in your living room. The various online reservation platforms like Orbitz.com, Priceline.com, or Kayak.com help you compare flights with your preferred airline and time of departure/arrival.
I have noticed recently that many online airfare reservation companies are advertising a price match guarantee. Meaning that within a certain period of time, if you find anything cheaper, they will refund you the difference. Some important things to realize here is that you will need to track the prices after you buy the ticket and see if there are any other comparable fares that pop up during the window of opportunity. Most companies offering this guarantee are banking on the fact that their customers are going to forget to follow up.
Online resources such as
provide a great deal of information to help you find your ideal travel arrangements in one place. Keep in mind that you will want to check out where your seats are before you purchase and that if you are booking for your entire family, that the seats are all together in the same place. Sometimes, it is possible to get the seating arrangements worked out after you purchase the tickets, but it is always a peace of mind knowing that your not going to have to hustle to make sure you aren’t on opposite sides of the plane from each other.
The most common method of ticketing for online systems today is through the e-ticket process. An e-ticket stands for electronic ticket and you usually have to print it out (so not that electronic after all). This helps airline ticket companies save some of the cost by issuing tickets that don’t have to be sent via snail mail.
Traveling with kids is perhaps one of the biggest challenges that people face today. There aren’t a lot of resources out there that discuss this process in depth. I believe there could literary be thousands of niche businesses out there targeting this segment of people alone. Since having kids, I have had to learn new ways to be a smart traveler. This usually starts with being realistic on what will work not only for my spouse and I but also what will not overly stress out the kids.
Today, most people opt for the easy and typical travel destinations when bringing along their children. Think Disneyland or Sea World. There is life however beyond the theme parks we so readily visit. Even exotic locations like Bali, Africa, or India are all possible, but keep in mind some very important things before venturing out into the unknowns.
Traveling to some destinations in third world countries isn’t usually done by taking a direct flight. Sometimes it means having to take several connecting flights just to get to your final destinations. If that means bringing small kids, keep enough things on hand to keep them busy and comfortable during the long journey. Many parents opt for the easy distractions like Nintendo DS or portable DVD players with the kids’ favorite movies. While these things work well, consider a couple of other learning based activities that you can do within the plane itself (such as puzzles, reading, etc.).
Where You’ll Stay
If traveling to Bali, the Conrad and Intercontinental both offer activities and features for children. This includes special meals and also things like shadow puppets. If you are like most, you’ll probably be making these reservations online, so take a good look through their website to see if any prospective hotel has additional details that will be more memorable for your kids. Also, many times the hotels have a parent company here in the United States. If so, call them and ask if there are any additional features or activities for kids that isn’t listed on the website. Some times, hotels can be a little slow to update their content, and they may have already introduced a new activity for families but still haven’t disseminated the details online.
What To Do
If you are considering a safari in Africa, it would be ideal if you went to South Africa. Cape Town is flush with things to do for kids. This includes painting ostrich eggs, rock climbing and dune surfing. The national parks are teaming with wildlife indigenous to this amazing continent. If your kids are a little older, then you might also want to take them to get dive certified so you can see some amazing underwater landscape.
Plenty of Activities For Smart Travelers
The key to pulling off this adventure of a lifetime begins by having a good initial plan and preparation stage. If you get that right, then you have already done most of the heavy lifting. Enjoy your trip and tell us how it went when you return.
Until recently, I believed that the national parks were only in the United States. The truth is national parks are part of nearly every countries strategy to preserve the natural landscape and wildlife. Here in the United States the National Park Service runs the 58 protected areas. Some of the most visited parks are Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.
National Parks As Part Of Your Travel Plans
Whenever I plan on going to another country or a trip within the U.S. I always look for an opportunity to visit the national parks. The first reason why is because a smart traveler is not only looking for good deals, but they are also looking for the most scenic destinations in the world. You will definitely find that this preserved area was chosen for the beauty that it possesses. It will bring you back to what the world was like before humans decided to take over every square inch of land to build something on it.
Entrance fees into the parks is generally very affordable. If you are a disabled vet or citizen, check into getting an America the Beautiful pass which gets you into the park for free. The key to having a successful visit is to get some of the research done early. Go to the nps.gov website to see the weather conditions and if any of the roads or trails are closed. They also have an event calendar there, usually highlighting special programs and narrated hikes.
Practice Good Stewardship
Visiting the national parks is a great opportunity for you to teach your children about being good stewards of the earth and resources that we have. We need to leave this world in pristine condition for them and their children. Nature has a huge impact on the way we interact with each other every day. It teaches us every lesson that we could possibly learn. Some tips on making the parks a better place:
- If you find trash on the ground please pick it up
- Remember that other people are there to enjoy peace and nature so limit the cell phone calls and don’t use the speaker phone or stereo to broadcast your music.
- Bring water and food (it’s cheaper than buying in the park)
- Remember to clean up your trash and put in the appropriate bins.
The national parks are a testament to the hard work that our earlier ancestors did to establish an area that we can enjoy apart from the hustle of city or industrialized lands. We have a duty to preserve this area for generations to come.