Best Strategies for Saving on Flights and Hotels

As a business owner, you always look for ways to save money when running a business. Amongst all areas business travel is one key area where you can find savings on flights and hotels. By following the best booking strategies and utilizing affordable options, travelers can reduce the cost of their business trip.
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Here are a few ways to save on hotels and flights:

Saving on Hotels

Book hotels and flights together
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Online travel booking sites offer price breaks for purchasing a flight and hotel together. Combined packages are mostly used by vacationers but also offer great value to business travelers with flexible preferences.
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Surf online, book over phone

To get the best deals, browse through various online booking channels and figure out your preferred option. Get in touch with the hotel and ask them to reduce the rate further. This works as many hotels will go lower to avoid paying third-party booking fees.
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Advance fees

If you are sure about your travel plans, nonrefundable hotel reservations offer the best price. Paying advance can save up to 20% on bookings made directly with hotels.
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Take advantage of refundable bookings

Alternatively, you can make a refundable booking by looking for the best prices online. Hotels usually don’t have any cancellation fees like airlines.
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Use corporate discounts

Businesses often negotiate with preferred hotel vendors and get discounts up to 40%. So, using corporate booking tools can give you the lowest possible fare when booking.

Last-minute travel
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If you are booking in last-minute, you can find deals on unused rooms. Talk to your preferred hotels to know about possible cancellations. Also, searching last-minute booking sites such as Hotel Tonight can help you get other options.
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Say no to cookies

Travel sites maintain cookies to identify customers with strong intention to buy. Clearing your browser history might give you more favorable prices.
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Flight Saving Strategies

Travel during off-peak hours

Flights are cheapest between 5 am to 7 am and after 8 pm. Businesses can save an average of $116 per flight by flying at peak times.
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Fly on specific days

Reports from recent studies revealed that Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are the low cost days to fly. Flying on these days can save you money.

Take connecting flights
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Direct flights are convenient, but flights with layovers will cost you less. Taking connecting flights is one of the strategies that can help you save money.

Check out from less expensive airports
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When you search for flights, check the box “include nearby airports”. You can choose alternative airports that cost you less than others and not necessarily farther away.

Make early bookings
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Tickets booked fewer than seven days before departure will cost you an average of 44% more than if they had been booked 15 or more days in advance.

Book on the right time
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Airfares fluctuate throughout the week. Studies revealed that the best time to book air travel is Tuesday at 3 PM ET, the time when airlines will release their discounted seat inventory.

Leverage refund rules

Bookings made at least 7 days in advance can be canceled within 24 hours. This creates a grace period in which you can cancel your bookings if your travel plans are not final.

These strategies can help you save money while booking flights and hotels.

Selecting Hajj Packages

Hajj is perhaps one of the most important pillars of the Islamic religion. It offers a very unique opportunity that you can use in order to reconcile with Allah and to seek His forgiveness. This will assist you make a new and fresh start in life. Hajj is also an experience of a lifetime since not everyone can afford to engage in it.

If you are planning to join the millions of pilgrims who undertake tours every year starting at Hajj and ending up at Mecca, you will need to locate the best Hajj packages around. There are a number of things you need to consider as you go about finding the most suitable Hajj package.

First of all, check out the services offered by various travel agents on the internet. Look carefully through the services they offer and check if they have bonuses. Usually, they will be able to make all your travel arrangements for you. This will include your accommodation in hotels found in Makkah and Madinah, the air transportation and your departure. Additionally, they will also notify you if there are any special air fares to help you cut on costs and reduce the amount you will spend on your Hajj packages.

Next, check the extra bonuses offered by each of those packages. For example, some packages come with a lot of extra information to make your pilgrimage as smooth and trouble free as possible. They will give you tips for preparing for Hajj such as before your departure, the documents that you will need, which items to carry with you and which are not allowed onto the plane by international airlines among other bits of indispensable information.

Hajj packages vary among different operators of tours. Each package is unique and you will definitely get confused trying to locate the most ideal and affordable package. Usually, most packages will comprise of a number of things.

This includes meals during all your rites of Hajj, domestic and international return flights and lectures to improve your understanding of Hajj. These lectures are usually undertaken by people who are highly qualified and who have a lot of experience in matters to do with Hajj and on most of the other related subjects.

It does not matter which country you come from, it is possible to locate Hajj packages from anywhere on the globe. The tour operator whose packages you elect to go with is very important if you are to have a successful and unproblematic Hajj pilgrimage.

These packages will enable you to go through your Islamic rites of passage safely and without undue stress. The Hajj packages vary in price. They range from budget Hajj packages to prestige Hajj packages. Be sure that you select a package that is run by people who are very proficient in matters relating to Hajj.

Check the customer ratings of all available Hajj packages. This will give you a hint of the kind of customer service you can expect to receive. Also find out on the professionalism of the firms offering the Hajj packages.

In conclusion, there are a number of websites that will assist you to find all the Hajj and Umrah packages and to compare them. They, for example, list all countries. You will have to select your city or country of departure and the website will automatically bring you results from different Hajj being offered. You will then sort through these packages by price, class of the hotel, the total number of nights you will spend, how many people you will have in your room. This gives you a wide perspective so that you can choose the most convenient Hajj packages.

Cheap Airline Tickets Can Be Found With Time

With a little research on the internet, you can find cheap airline tickets on many destinations, but to find the best deals you may have to take some time. Despite the searching and the efforts it takes, the money you can save may be worth the time you spend. However, when you find what looks like a good deal, do not stop looking until all possibilities have been explored.

For example, a search for round-trip airfares, leaving and returning from the same destination on the same dates, found fares ranging from about $180 to around $450. The cheap discount airfares offered were for various times of the day when none were specified in the search boxes, however in some cases the non-stop flights were slightly cheaper than those with one or two stops along the way. However, on some cheap airline providers’ sites, if you look for flights outside the date range originally offered, the price increases significantly.

The main disadvantage to booking cheap airline tickets over the internet is that in most cases the tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable. Meaning, that in the event you are unable to complete your travel, you lose the money spent on the tickets and typically, there are no exceptions. While most people will not book flights until they are positive of their available dates and times, emergencies do arise that can alter plans.

The time when you are making your searches also affects. Discounted airfare and the fate of airlines all depends on the economy. If the Middle East and its oil are in jeopardy, then oil prices rise and discount airfare on airlines will dwindle. The airlines base all of their discounts on the economy. If it’s a good year, there will be mega discount airfares amongst airlines. There is always the usual two week advance purchase discount, but the discount gets deeper if gas prices are down. As it costs the population more money to fill their gas tanks, the same applies to airlines as well.

So, when you are looking for good fares to make a travel, take two advices in consideration. Do spend time to explore all the possibilities and find the best deal. Also watch the news and get information about the global economy situation. If oil prices are in their highest prices, maybe you should wait for some time more to do your “once in life” travel.

How to Get Cheap International Airfare

Airfare can be a stranglehold whether it is domestic or international. More often than not, international airfare costs a great deal more than domestic airfare. There are several ways that you can fly out of the country without griping too much about the state of your wallet.

The following are such ways;

o Loyalty: Loyalty always pays off whether you are being loyal to your friend or to an organization. Being a frequent flyer on a particular airline can get you a discount on airfare. Some airliners give you discounts on airfare depending on the number of points that you have managed to accumulate by traveling a particular set of miles. Being consistent with one airline can get you cheap airfare, so avoid jumping from one airliner to the next.

o Travel agencies and tour agencies: You can obtain cheap airfare from tour or travel agencies that offer subsidized international airfare in package deals. Package deals are deals that are offered to a group of international air travelers that include cheap international airfare usually bought in bulk. As an international air traveler, looking out for package deals from these sources can save you extra cash.

o Consolidators: Consolidators are bodies that purchase airline tickets in bulk and sell it off at a cheaper rate. You can book your ticket through a consolidator and get cheap airfare.

o Advance booking: Booking your ticket in advance can save you a lot of trouble. Advance ticket bookings fetch less charges on international airfare than last minute bookings.

o Routes: Check up the route your flight will be taking. If it is less busy, you are bound to get a discount on your international airfare. Busy routes usually attract a higher charge for international flights so watch out!

o Peak seasons: Peak seasons tend to attract a higher charge for international airfare than off peak seasons. As an international air traveler, you stand to benefit more when you travel during off peak seasons than during peak seasons.

These tips should help you get cheap international airfare without too much worries.

Hawaii – How to Get To, And Get Around On, The Big Island

The Big Island of Hawaii’s beauty is legendary and it has the most diverse landscape on earth-but it can be as challenging to explore as it is charming. From the icy heights of snow-covered volcanoes, to steamy jungles and tropical beaches, to flowing fields of lava, flower choked canyons and wide-open tropical grassland, its scenery is unsurpassed. By and large the quality of your trip to the Big Island will depend on how much of it you choose to see and how you set about discovering your own Big Island adventures. Below are some ideas on the options for getting to Hawaii and for getting around Hawaii, once you are here.

Another key to the quality of your time on the Big Island has to do with the spirit of aloha. The people you meet in Hawaii, by and large, tend to be more open and friendly-quick to help or befriend-than elsewhere. This is the tradition of “Aloha”. When you meet local residents, whether to ask for directions and advice or to hire services or just in casual conversation, treat them with respect, humor and openness-return their spirit of aloha and you will find your journey, and yourself, deeply enriched for it.

In Hawaii, your smile is your passport.

Getting To Hawaii

The standing joke among residents of Hawaii when dealing with the time, inconvenience and hassle of traveling to the mainland is: “This used to be so much easier before the bridge blew down”! Of course, there never was a bridge spanning the roughly 2500 miles between the Big Island and mainland USA, but the humor tends to underline the commitment, planning and time it takes to travel to and from Hawaii.

Flying to Hawaii: Certainly the most common, quickest and least expensive (note I didn’t say “inexpensive”) way to get to Hawaii is to fly. Many major US and international carriers fly to Honolulu on Oahu and and a host of local and international carriers offer flights from there to all the other Hawaiian Islands, including the Big Island. Kona’s airport is the only one on the Big Island that has direct flight connections to the US Mainland, Canada, Japan and Australia. Despite styling itself as “Hilo International Airport”, flights to and from Hilo ONLY connect to other Hawaiian islands.

Although both airports have similar facilities and services, including onsite rental car agencies and access to public transportation, shuttles and taxis, it makes a big difference to the traveller where they land. By far the vast majority of visitors to the Big Island stay in either Kona or the Kohala Resorts which are all on the west side of the island and are between 20 to 45 minutes from the Kona airport. If you are staying in Hilo, it’s fine to fly in there; however, Hilo doesn’t have the resort facilities, fine beaches and great weather of the Kona side and few tourists opt to stay there anymore. Many people booked into resorts on the west side mistakenly take flights into Hilo, due to the misleading airport name, unaware (or even misinformed by ignorant but well-meaning travel agents) that they now, at the end of an exhausting day of travel and in the fading twilight of the early tropical sunset, face a drive of almost 3 hours, across high mountains and on narrow, winding, unfamiliar roads to get to their resort. They just better hope it doesn’t start raining, too.

So-know where you are staying, fly into the appropriate airport.

Whether you are flying directly into Kona or flying to Honolulu and getting a connecting flight into Kona or Hilo, you want to be sure to reserve a seat so that you see as much of the incredible scenery as you can. Since 90% of the flight is over open ocean (which just isn’t as riveting as one might expect) you want to wring the most enjoyment out of those portions of your flight which do feature scenery. If you are first stopping in Honolulu, sitting on the port (left) side of the aircraft for this leg of your trip affords the best views as the plane screams in past Koko Head and over the top of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach, turns around directly over Pearl Harbor and settles in to land at Honolulu International Airport. Sitting on the starboard side is not as spectacular, however, it offers views of Moloka’i and Maui islands, as well as views of Pearl Harbor, the Wai’anae and Ko’olau Mountains of O’ahu and downtown Honolulu just before landing.

Flying into Hilo from O’ahu, one also wants to sit on the port side of the aircraft. The flight path crosses over the islands of Moloka’i and Maui, skims along the eastern margin of Hawaii Island presenting a rich, fascinating panoply of soaring sea cliffs, jungle canyons and volcanic mountains, jaw-dropping waterfalls and crashing surf along the coast. Flying into Kona either directly or from Honolulu is no less wonderfully scenic than flying into Hilo, but one wants to be on the starboard side. This offers the traveller great views of the islands of Maui, Molokini, Lana’i and Kaho’olawe, as well as incredible views of the Big Island, Kohala Mountain, Mauna Kea, Hualalai and, on clear days, Mauna Loa as the jet cruises in over the Kohala Coast, making land right over Makalwena Beach and on to Kona International Airport at Keahole.

Cruise Ships and Cargo Ships: There are several cruise ship lines which ply the waters of the Hawaiian Archipelago, however of the ones that service the Big Island, most require passengers to book for an entire cruise, meaning that although you may make one or two stops on Hawaii, you will only remain in port for a day, overnight at most, before sailing on. Generally, you cannot arrive on one ship, disembark for a stay, and catch another ship out.

Of increasing popularity, however, is cruising to Hawaii on cargo ships-cheaper than a cruise line and with a completely open and adjustable itinerary, this is a great alternative to flying. It is both more expensive and more time consuming (average sailing is 3 days from Los Angeles to Honolulu, and times are variable for getting from there to the Big Island) than flying, but it is restful, peaceful and unique. Cargo ships offer spacious passenger cabins and, while not the floating feed-lots that cruise ships tend to resemble, the food on cargo ships is wonderful and plentiful. Perhaps the biggest drawback of riding cargo ships to the Big Island is that on the east side they dock in, let us say, the less desirable part of Hilo; on the west they dock at Kawaihae, halfway between Kailua Kona and the resorts of the Kohala coast-in other words, out in the middle of nowhere. Both land many miles from resorts and car rental agencies. However, both docking facilities are serviced by taxis and public transportation; if you plan ahead, it should present no problem.

Getting Around Hawaii

Shuttles/Taxis/Limos/Tours: Taxis, of course, service both Big Island airports, the metropolitan regions and all the resorts. The taxis, while not cheap, are not as usurious as one might fear and the drivers generally are knowledgeable, friendly, HONEST and genuinely nice-it’s that whole aloha thing. Taxi drivers are happy to answer your questions, even the silly ones you are kind of shy to ask; they will freely give advice about what to do and see and where to eat and generally try to be as helpful as possible. However, many speak in pidgin English that can be nearly impenetrable to the newcomers’ ear. Don’t be shy about respectfully asking him to repeat himself, and again if necessary-he hears that on nearly every fare he carries. Ask him to write down place names, restaurant names and such-many Hawaiian words do not look at all like they way he’s saying them and you’ll want to be able to read the words on maps and signs, or be able to ask another person, later.

Both Kona and Hilo airports are serviced by point-to-point shuttles and limos, whose prices are actually quite reasonable and certainly less expensive than the taxis. The drawback here is that there will be many people aboard going to many diverse destinations-so it takes a bit longer than a taxi.

Many of the larger resorts offer a free limo service to and from the airport and some will even arrange to have your rental car waiting for you on-property when you arrive from the airport…check when you make reservations. If available, this is the least personable, but quickest, easiest and least expensive way to get to your lodgings.

Some boutique tours offered by Hostels and the smaller tour companies will also pick you up at the airport at the beginning of their tours, if your arrival time is convenient to the tour schedule; thus, the cost of getting to your resort is absorbed into the cost of the tour. This option is worth looking into if you are not planning to rent a car during your stay.

Tipping tour, taxi, limo and shuttle drivers is not only encouraged, it’s their main source of revenue. Remember to return the aloha they showed you.

Rental Cars and Driving Tips: Although some people opt to not rent cars during their stay, relying on tours and public transportation to get around, you should bear in mind that there is a reason they call it “The Big Island”. Distances between attractions can be long, public transportation schedules are not always convenient and, face it, it’s just a lot freer, easier and more independent to have your own wheels. Be sure to thoroughly research the online booking agencies before you arrive-ofttimes great deals bundling airfare, room and car rental can be found, especially in the slack seasons.

There are two types of car rental agencies on the Big Island. The major, international car rental agencies are available on property at both airports, giving the visitor a wide selection of corporate deals and specials-particularly flight-room-car combo deals–as well as a diverse palate of available cars. The other option, frequently much less expensive particularly for long term rentals, are the off-property rental agencies. These folks won’t generally pick you up at the airport so you must make your way to their in-town offices, but the selection of vehicles, and rates, are generally wider ranged.

If you are under 21, the rental companies won’t rent to you. If you are between 21 and 24, they may add a surcharge to the rental that can be as much as twenty-five dollars a day on top of the regular daily fee.

The first question the traveller must answer for themselves is what kind of vehicle they will want while on the Big Island. Some rental agencies specialize in luxury and exotic cars–Mercedes, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce and such. Others offer Volkswagen Campers and RVs. Many people arrive and decide they want to flash around the island in a Mustang or Camaro convertible-which are great and fun, but they offer no security for your personal items and they severely limit the kinds of roads you can drive on, in addition to almost guaranteeing sun and wind burn. If you are coming to explore the island, you should consider going to the extra expense of renting a four-wheel drive vehicle-either a jeep or an enclosed SUV. Much of the mountain country and many of the more interesting beaches and canyons require four wheel drive. I suggest an enclosed SUV so you do not have to shout to be heard, as you do in a jeep, and have some more protection from the elements and from thieves.

Briefly mentioned above, RVs and Volkswagen Campers are excellent ways to see the island and obviate the need for an expensive hotel. However, RVs are not common on Hawaii and there are no RV parks as such; outside of the towns of Hilo and Kona there is nowhere to drain the waste tanks, so you have to be sure to use public facilities as much as possible. But you can park and camp free virtually anywhere, although most campgrounds will charge a camping fee for an RV, even if you are camping in the parking lot.

Motorcycles and scooters can be rented in both Kona and Hilo and are a fun way to see the island, until it rains. Which happens. It is also difficult to travel with any amount of luggage on a motorcycle. You will notice a burgeoning fraction of the local population zipping about town on scooters (locally, and incorrectly, referred to as “mopeds”). For bikes with engine sizes smaller than 50cc, no motorcycle license and no insurance are necessary. The “moped” class vehicle has the same license and road regulations as a bicycle, so it is not surprising to see them zip along the the roadside, passing cars stuck in traffic, or pop up and run down the sidewalk. If you rent a moped in Hawaii, please don’t drive them the way the locals do; it just isn’t safe. I use a moped almost exclusively to get around Kailua Town where I live-do not ride your scooter the way you see me ride mine.

The cost of gas in Hawaii is even worse than you’ve been led to believe, so when selecting a rental car, bear this in mind. Costco in Kona has the absolute cheapest gas on the island (and it’s handy, near the airport); the gas station off the Akoni Pule Highway in Kohala near mile marker 76 has the cheapest gas in Kohala and the Chevron Station at the Airport turn-off in Hilo has the cheapest gas in East Hawaii. Remember that the Big Island is largely rural-gas stations, particularly in the far north and on the south side of the Island, may not keep regular hours or even stick with their posted schedule-especially if the surf is up or the fishing is good. In general, outside of the urban areas of Kona and Hilo, gas is hard to find after about 6 in the evening. I personally don’t ever let my gas tank get more than half empty, ever, just for this very reason. Certainly, you should never let it get more than half empty when on the south side of the Island; you should make a point to fill up before late afternoon when you have the chance, definitely before you go into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (you’ll stay longer and use more gas than you planned because, trust me, it’s the coolest place, ever) and before crossing the Saddle Road.

Driving times between attractions on the Big Island are longer than you might expect, given the actual mileage between points of interest. This is in part because much of the “highway” system is composed of winding, narrow, two-lane blacktop with a speed limit of 35 miles an hour. Another reason drives take longer than expected is because you are going to want to pull over and look, stop and explore, take your time and enjoy. As the bumper sticker says: “Slow down, Brah-dis ain’t da mainland!” On this note, many local residents will pass on hills and blind corners, even into oncoming traffic; they know the road, you don’t-don’t follow their lead. Trying to drive like the locals drive is like jumping into the ocean and trying to surf like they surf-it just isn’t a really bright idea. Local custom is to eschew use of turn signals and horn; this is another custom you shouldn’t emulate.

The police on the Big Island are well-trained, serious professionals. However, most cruise around in their personal cars (with a blue light on top) and can be very hard to spot (a Ford Mustang or Toyota Rav4 with a light bar? It happens…). They are particularly serious about drunk drivers, speed limits and child restraints/seal belts. Aloha, respect and honesty go a long way toward making any interactions with the Hawaii County Police more pleasant. This isn’t Louisiana or some Third World banana republic-do not even think of offering a bribe if you are stopped by a Hawaii County Police Officer. On the topic of police, it is local custom to flash your brights at on-coming traffic if there is a cop behind you. Participate in this at your own discretion, but this is the reason all those people are flashing at you.

There are feral goats and sheep (feral donkeys along the highway in Kohala!), wild pigs, feral cats and dogs that present driving hazards, especially at night. Fruit such as mango, avocado and guava frequently fall, en masse, into the road and produce a slimy hazard, particularly to motorcycles. In town, watch for cyclists, pedestrians and skateboarders (check out those guys skateboarding to the beach with their surfboards under their arms!). Kailua Kona is the proud home to the Iron Man World Championship Triathlon and many runners and cyclists fully utilize, and rigorously defend, their rights of way; smile, wave and yield, OK? You came to have fun: relax. The Big Island is also Big Sky country…driving east into the sunrise or west into the sunset is painful and hazardous; try to plan your day to avoid this.

Do not leave valuables in your car, not even the trunk. Ever. The locals are friendly, but but some are frisky and high value items will evaporate from your car with alarming alacrity. Consider any spot frequented by visitors to be at risk for theft, even if you only are going a hundred feet from your car.

Many roads, intersections and attractions are poorly marked and what signs exist are in Hawaiian, which is hard to read, harder to remember exactly the name of the place you are searching for. When you ask directions, have the person write down the name of the place. Many residents are in the habit of giving directions in terms of landmarks that mean nothing to you (“Remember where Uncle Kealea had the fruit stand 20 years ago? You want to go just across Aunty Tutu’s pig farm from there to where the coconut grove used to be…”) so have them show you on a map. Be sure they start by pointing out where you are, right now. Respect, humor and aloha will help get you where you are going.

Along these lines, many tourists bring their GPS from home to help navigate-be sure to download the maps for Hawaii before you come; some brands of GPS do not offer Hawaii coverage. A few of the rental car agencies have GPS units for rent at reasonable prices. The best solution, however, are the folks at Tour Guide Hawaii (808.557.0051; http://www.tourguidehawaii.com) who offer a hand-held computer with an onboard GPS at very reasonable rental rates. They have stuffed into this device over six hundred points of interest (did you hear that? 600!) of recreational, cultural and historical importance. They have produced a short audio/video presentation for each site, telling you all about it, the history and culture, what to bring, what to do while there; they even have the public restrooms listed! These presentations play as you approach the points of interest, or can be searched for at any time or location. Thus, the device can be used to preview all the sites around the island in the comfort of your hotel room, pre-plan trips or to get information and turn by turn navigation on the road. Combining cutting-edge technology and old-fashioned story-telling, the unbelievably easy to use, fabulously informative and terrifically fun Tour Guide Self-Guided GPS Tours are an amazing bargain and a great way to see Hawaii. They are now offering a pared-down version (45 of the top sites-iAND the restrooms!) that is downloadable to iPhone and iPod.

Commercial Tours: Whether or not you rent a car, commercial tours offer a great way to get oriented to the island and hear a bit about the history and about the culture of our home. Tours come in all sizes and description, from the taxi driver who makes it up on the fly as he takes you to dinner, to personalized taxi tours lasting a half to a full day, to specialized van tours and large, full day, round the island tours in full-size motor coaches. There are bus tours to the summit of Mauna Kea, tours through the coffee country of Kona, tours to see the volcano, historical tours-tours of all lengths and covering just about anything and everything you want to see. Some tours include meals-one even takes you to a real, working ranch for a barbecue! Then there are the highly specialized tours: fixed wing and helicopter tours of the island, whale and dolphin watching tours, snorkel tours, sunset cruise tours, organized bicycle tours, powered hang-glider tours, tours of Kailua Bay in a submarine and even boat tours to see the lava flowing into the ocean. Although they can be fairly spendy, most are fully worth the price. Be sure to shop around for the right tour at the right price to suit your interests.

Bicycle Rental: There are several places where you can rent bikes on the Big Island-and it’s very pleasant to spend the day pedaling through Hilo and Kailua Kona. However, problems of weather (hot sun, torrential downpour!), the long distances between points of interest and the ever-present, enormous volcanoes (think: “HILLS!”) preclude this as a major method of exploration, except for the most avid bike tourer.

Public Transportation: The Hawaii County-run Hele-on Bus travels most of the Island, and makes pretty good time-the good news here is that riding the bus is free…the bad news is that it is scheduled to get workers between the large resorts in Kona and Kohala and the small towns all across the island where they live. As such, the bus schedule may not be convenient for the visitor nor conducive to exploration. However, it’s very handy if you just want to go somewhere and spend the day there. Be sure you understand the bus schedule, however, as many places only are serviced twice a day by bus (one in-bound and one out-bound trip per day) and if you miss your return ride and have to find an alternate way back to your hotel, you will quickly learn why they call this “The Big Island”!

Walking and Hitch-hiking: Two words here: BIG ISLAND. It is possible to hike across the Big Island (I’ve done it both west-to-east and south-to-north; heck, in 2008 a wheel chair athlete rolled his wheel chair from sea-level in Hilo 37 miles and 13,800 feet in elevation up to the summit of Mauna Kea-did you catch the part about “wheel chair athlete”?), but the long distances, rural nature (it’s an impracticably long way between places to get food, water and to camp) and intense sun make this an epic adventure, not a restful sight-seeing vacation. Both Hilo and Kailua Town are comfortable and safe to walk around, but getting to beaches, waterfalls and other points of interest is difficult on foot.

Until very recently hitch-hiking was a common and respectable way to get around the island-if you were a local, everybody either knew you, or your aunty; if you were a visitor, your uniqueness made you interesting and so it was very safe, as well. Although probably just as safe today, with the explosion of mainlanders moving to our island (who may be reluctant to offer rides), I notice a sharp decline in the number of hitch-hikers on the roads now. Hitch-hiking is legal from the roadside, as long as you are not in the road, presenting a hazard to yourself or an impediment to traffic. If you hitch-hike use your judgement, be home before sundown and refuse to ride with drunks or folks of questionable character or cleanliness. Do not ride in the backs of pick-up trucks.

So-armed with this information, you are now better prepared to evaluate your options for exploring the unique and varied landscapes, experiences and delights of Hawaii-your adventures are limited only by your imagination. Remember that attitude in Hawaii is important to the quality of your vacation-the spirit of Aloha is pervasive. When angry, lonely, confused, frustrated, tired or bored, recall what I said: “In Hawaii, your smile is your passport”

10 Ways To Save Money On Flight Tickets

1. Have patience. It does take effort to get a good price on flights. Now, don’t let that deter you, because saving $100+ on flights can mean having more money to spend on sight-seeing, hotel, dining out, tours, etc. This means that if you want to travel in Spring, you should start checking prices in the late Fall or Winter. Sometimes there are last minute deals, but more often than not, you will find the best deals at least 21 days before your departure date.

First thing in the morning (around 9:00am, and in the evening, after 6:00pm) I like to browse travel websites to see if there are any deals being offered that day. I also like to delete my browser history and cookies, because sometimes travel websites and airlines will remember your search and this might cause prices to actually increase.

My favourite website is Skyscanner. One of the great features about this website is that you can check to see what the best price for the day is for travel worldwide from the airport of your preference. For example, I live in Toronto, so I will enter flights from Toronto (YYZ) to Everywhere. This is a great feature because it will tell me where on that day, which date, month, etc. is cheapest for me to fly anywhere in the world. [I used this site recently to help me get tickets for my trip to Seoul, South Korea in April. Other airlines were charging $1,000-$1,500+ for flights to Seoul, but Delta was having a promotion and I was able to get round trip flights for only $850 CAD / $770 USD with the exchange rate.]

Another great feature on Skyscanner, is that you can put in your destination and dates of travel and sign up for “Price Alerts” so they will email you if the price goes up or down for your specified dates of travel. [My sister just used this feature to help her get a flight to Edmonton, Alberta for travel in May. Prices for one-way tickets were around $300-$400 and she was able to get it for $269 CAD.]

Another website I like to use is Expedia. Everyday they will shows travel deals available to the top domestic and international tourist destinations. They will also include deals packages for “Flight + Hotel”. This helps me get a feel for what the average cost is for example, a 4 night trip to Las Vegas. Let’s say the price for flight and hotel to Vegas for 4 nights on the Strip is $500-$600 per person from Toronto, I like to try and keep an eye out for deals that are equal to or below this price – that’s how I know I am saving money and getting the best price.

One thing about Expedia however is that the price advertised is not always available. If I am looking on their flight deals for last minute getaways, I might see round trip tickets to Miami for $250 CAD (departing from Toronto), but once I click on the deal, it may say the price has increased to $350 CAD instead. This isn’t always the case, but it does happen sometimes which is something to keep in mind.

Other websites that I like to use are: Kayak, Redtag, Sunwing, Bing Flight Predictor and Airfarewatchdog.

2. Check the airline’s direct website. While these third party travel websites can be great, sometimes the best unadvertised deals are found directly through the airline’s website. I recommend signing up for email promotions offered through your preferred airline. For example, since I live in Canada, I am signed up for Air Canada’s travel promotions. This let’s me see special offers available as soon as they go live on the Air Canada website.

I really wanted to do a weekend trip to NYC with my sister this past February to celebrate her 21st birthday. In addition to checking third party websites, I would also play around with dates by entering the travel in Air Canada. They did not advertise this deal, but I was able to find direct round trip flights from YYZ to LGA for $199 CAD. This was a great deal that I was so happy to find through Air Canada. Sometimes the Airline’s website will offer promotion codes as well, so it is worthwhile to take a look.

3. Check departures/ arrivals from alternative airports. This is not always convenient, but sometimes a lot of major cities have more than one airport or have another airport within close proximity to them in another city. For Toronto residents, we have Pearson Airport that offers domestic and international flights and Billy Bishop Airport that offers select flights within Canada and the USA. There is also the option of driving across the border and flying out of Buffalo Airport too. It is almost always cheaper to fly out of Buffalo airport than Pearson or Billy Bishop. But the downside is most, (if not all flights) are not direct and you will have to pay for parking since most people leave their car at the airport while travelling. Flying out of Buffalo is always a last resort for me, because it is a 90 minute drive from Toronto (you have to consider gas charges) and depending on how long your trip is, parking costs may bring that discounted flight up to or around the same cost as the flight would have been if it had departed from YYZ or YTZ. However, sometimes there are significant savings to be had when flying out of Buffalo, which will definitely make it worth your while. [When I handled the company corporate travel at my previous job, last minute trips happened often and if a group of 2 or more needed to travel to the USA, flying out of Buffalo saved the company upwards of $300-$600 + per flight ticket.]

This can also be said of not just the departure airport that you choose, but also the arrival airport. For example, when flying to NYC, there are essentially three airports that you can choose to arrive in: LGA, JFK or EWR. Sometimes you can get a better price when arriving at one airport over the other. One thing to keep in mind however is the travel from the airport to your hotel. If you are taking public transit, you can get to Manhattan from LGA for as little as $2.50 when taking the bus and subway train. However it is a bit more pricey when getting to Manhattan from EWR because you have to take New Jersey transit, then switch onto the Manhattan transit system. If you are taking a taxi, prices to get from each airport into Manhattan can vary. This is an important point to keep in mind and I recommend you conduct your own research before traveling.

4. Follow airlines and third party travel websites on Twitter (social media) and sign up for their mailing list. One of the great features about social media is that airlines can use this to advertise special travel promotions through certain social media outlets. Sometimes an airline will offer a special promotion code through their Twitter or Facebook page that isn’t advertised on other websites. West Jet offers Blue Tag Thursdays, which is a special promotion that is offered only Thursday afternoons (unless they have another special running during this time). You can find this on their website, or watch for it advertised on their Twitter or Facebook page. When signing up to third party or airline website’s mailing lists, they will sometimes send private promotional offers to their subscribers that give you secret access to their sale.

5. Don’t be afraid to book your flight and hotel separately. Sometimes you can get a great deal on sites like Expedia when you bundle your vacation and book flights and hotel at the same time, but this is not always the case. If you see an exceptional deal on a flight, book it now, don’t wait! You may be able to find a better price on the hotel later. I also recommend that if you do in fact see a great deal on a flight, please book it now, rather than wait until later that same day. Let’s say you see a great deal on a flight to San Francisco in the morning, but wait until you get home from work to purchase the tickets, this may not work to your advantage.

I will give you an example: I grew up in San Francisco and was looking for flights to go back and visit (this was back in October 2012), but they were around $600 and I wanted to wait for a better price. A few weeks later, Delta had a sale and was offering flights from Toronto to San Francisco for $437 CAD. This was an unbelievable price, considering all I was seeing was $600+ in the previous weeks, so I didn’t wait around and purchased the tickets immediately. I checked later that afternoon to see if the deal was still live and the price had shot back up to $600. I highly recommend booking when you see a price you feel is a great deal, because it may disappear sooner than you think.

Sometimes if you are booking multi-city flights, it may be more cost effective to book them separately than go with the same airline. For example, last summer (June 2013) I wanted to fly from Toronto to Las Vegas, then from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, and finally from Los Angeles back home to Toronto. I spent about a month and a half checking prices daily to get the best deal. I was eventually able to get a sale through Air Canada for the flights from Toronto to Las Vegas and from Los Angeles back to Toronto. I waited on booking the USA domestic flight from Las Vegas to Los Angeles because Air Canada obviously didn’t offer this and prices were around $100 USD for this one-way flight at the time. About a week later, I was on Southwest.com and I saw they had a “Getaway” deal for $49 USD for the flight I needed from LAS to LAX. This was a great deal, so of course I booked right away. My entire multi-city airfare ended up costing $515 altogether. [YYZ to LAS and LAX to YYZ cost me $466 CAD and the Southwest flight from LAS to LAX cost $49 USD].

6. Know what time of year and which days are cheapest for flying. Travelling on Tuesday and Wednesday are generally cheaper than any other day of the week. (Generally, searching mid-week for flights produces the best deals too). From experience, I also find that Thursday and Saturday can offer the best price sometimes as well. Of course doesn’t happen all the time and you will have to experiment with dates, which is why Skyscanner is great for deciphering which day is cheapest to depart and return. Days that tend to be most expensive are Monday, Friday and sometimes Sunday. Airlines know that most business trips take place Monday – Friday, which is why it tends to be more expensive to depart Monday and return on Friday. However, business travelers have started to fly out on Sunday instead of Monday in hopes to get a more affordable fare, but this doesn’t always work. Getting the cheapest departure date of the week of course is dependent on the flexibility of your travel dates.

The time of year also helps. It is usually cheaper to fly to Europe in the off-season and shoulder seasons (late fall, winter and early spring). Last year (2013) my parents traveled to Paris in April with direct round trip flights with Air Transat from Toronto for $671 CAD each. This isn’t the best price I have seen, but it was definitely the best deal at the time for non-stop round trip flights. Traveling during the off or shoulder season isn’t always negative. Sometimes due to poor weather, you will not want to travel during the off-season, but generally the off-season is less crowded and offers better prices.

I find that right now (early Spring) it is a bit more expensive to fly to Las Vegas (around $400-$500 CAD) because most people like to go there during the Spring time before the weather gets too hot in the Summer months. [I am comparing this to flight deals I saw this past winter for around $350 CAD.] It’s always wise to check out what events are happening during the dates you want to travel to a particular destination. Sometimes a holiday or big conference meeting could jack up the fares. I always suggest scoping out the average price for flights to your preferred destination, then keeping an eye on how the price fluctuates.

7. Save money on your baggage. Most airlines now charge you $25 each way to check your luggage. And they will charge you extra if your luggage goes over the airline weight limit. You can avoid this by packing light and making sure that your luggage does not go over the limit (check the airline to confirm the weight limit and for prices on checked luggage). Also, if you are going on a short trip, consider sharing one checked luggage bag with your travel partner(s). This can save you $50 on travel costs, since it costs $25 each way to check your luggage.

If you are going on an even shorter trip (weekend trip), consider only bringing carry on luggage and forget about the checked bag. Most airlines will let you bring a small amount of liquids on board the plane. If you are just going for a quick weekend trip, you might be able to get away with just a carry on bag. I did this for my trip last month to NYC. I went to my local dollar store and bought a small travel pouch of clear plastic containers. This allowed me to bring shampoo, conditioner, face wash, night/ day cream, foundation, etc. It also included sticker labels so I knew what everything was. I do realize that this is not practical for everyone, but for a 2 night trip, I would much rather spend $1 for the travel pouch at Dollarama then $50 for a checked bag. It also saves me the hassle of waiting to retrieve my checked bag at Baggage Claim.

8. Shop around for travel / health insurance. I always recommend getting travel or (extra) health insurance for your trip, but sometimes you are not getting the best price when you select the insurance package offered through the airline when you book your flights. Usually your work insurance will offer some type of travel or health coverage when traveling. Talk to HR about this if you are unsure. You can also buy insurance through your bank – that’s where I tend to find the best prices. This will also be cost efficient in the long run in you plan and traveling multiple times during the year. [Rather than pay for insurance each time you book a flight, you can get covered through your bank or alternative place for the year for a set fee.] If you are over 40 years old (or have a history of health issues), I recommend purchasing extra health coverage (even you already are covered through work). Unfortunately we can never predict what might happen while traveling, and if, heaven forbid, anything did happen, you will be happy that you purchased the extra health insurance. This is something that is unique to each person, so I cannot tell you what the best option is, that is something that you need to discuss with HR, your bank and family in order to see what the best choice is for you.

9. Avoid paying for seat selection (if you can). Some airlines ask for an extra fee to make advance seat selection, sometimes it is included in the price – if that’s the case then great, but if you have to pay $20 or so to make an advance seat selection, I would pass. You can usually check in early (24 hours before flight departure) and make the seat selection for free. You may be able to get the seats that you wanted, or you may not. It’s a hit or miss. If you don’t have a preference on where you sit, or willing to take the risk, then avoid paying the additional fee for advance seat selection.

10. Take advantage of travel reward programs. There is so much competition between airlines and credit cards today, so sign up for their travel reward programs. Talk to your bank and see what travel reward credit card works best for your needs. A lot of them allow you to collect points on your everyday spending so you can redeem them for free flights. Some of these credit cards do have stipulations, such as you can only book the flights through your bank, or there are black out dates for travel. However, due to the vast amount of travel reward credit cards being offered today, they are getting better and you can find one that does not contain any of these stipulations. That means you can use your points to redeem flights anytime, anywhere. Sometimes these cards do come with a slight annual membership fee, but the rewards alone are worth it.

The same goes for airline frequent flyer programs. The more you fly with one airline, the more frequent flyer points you will collect. This works great for business travelers because while their company pays for their trips, they are be able to collect frequent flyer points so they can redeem for their personal holiday travels. Some companies even allow employees to book their own flights, then submit the receipts for reimbursement. This allows the employee to get points on their travel reward credit card in addition to frequent flyer points.

I hope these tips will help you when booking your next vacation or trip. Please note that these tips have worked in my own experience, but may not work for everyone. The main thing to keep in mind is that the key to getting the best deal on your flights is to have patience and be flexible with your travel dates.

Check This Out Before Purchasing a Travel Club Membership

When it comes to selecting a Travel Club Membership there are many different options available. Today I would like to spend some time helping you determine which one is best for the long term travel needs for you and your family.

1. The first thing to look for is how long has the provider of the Travel Club Membership been in business? Generally it is best to be at least a little skeptical if they have only been in business for only a few years or less. If they have been around for a decade or more it generally means they have many satisfied clients. In either case you can check out their reputation by going to rip-offreport.com and put their name in the search box. Also their local BBB should be able to help you out.

2. What is the initial investment and what are the fees you will pay in the future? It doesn’t make sense to select a discount travel club membership that you won’t be able to afford in the future. Some will have hidden fees you must pay even if you don’t use your travel club. It is best to select a plan that only require you to pay when you travel.

3. What types of trade associations does the re-seller belong to? I.E. Do they belong to reputable associations like CARE (Cooperative Association of Resort Exchangers) and ARDA (American Resort Development Association)?

4. How many locations will be available to you when you use your discount travel club membership? Some only offer a dozen or so while others offer thousands of world-wide destinations. If you enjoy variety you will want to select a travel club that has a large inventory.

5. Check out their customer service record. Are you doing all the planning yourself or do they offer 24/7/365 concierge customer service? Now I don’t know about you, but I enjoy being pampered like a big old baby when I go on vacation!

6. Will you receive large discounts not only at the resort but also on airfare, motel stays and discount cruises? When we have a recession in the future I’m sure you’ll still want to go on a nice vacation, right?

This essentially puts a wrap on the decision making process you will need when you purchase a travel club membership. Who knows, we just may meet some day on the best beaches, cruise ships or resorts the world has to offer!

Reward Your Employees with Travel Incentives

Reward your Employees with Travel Incentives

Motivating employees, especially highly competitive employees like inside and outside salespersons and telemarketers, can be a challenge. Sure, everyone likes cash, but what if you could offer a incentive that was worth more than cash? That’s what travel incentives are all about.

What do you think would generate more excitement among your employees; offering $50 to the person who sets the most appointments in one day, or offering a 3 day and 2 nights hotel stay in Hawaii including airfare? I’ll bet that you didn’t have to think about that for too long. The Hawaii trip wins hands down.

I’ll also bet that you’re thinking “sure, I would love to give away a travel incentive deal like that, but how can I afford it?” Prepare to be shocked. You see, travel incentive coupons sell for pennies on the dollar. The key to success in offering travel incentives is their perceived value, not their actual cost to you. The truth is, most travel incentive coupons cost under $10 each. That means that instead of giving away $50 in real money, you’re spending less than $10 and giving away something that’s worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars!

Travel incentives are coupons good for real travel to desirable destinations. There are no gimmicks. The travel industry authorizes distribution of these coupons through approved brokers. Depending upon the offer, these certificates can be redeemed for air travel, cruises, hotel stays, and lots of other travel opportunities.

Hotel and airline operators know that they will rarely be booked to 100% of their capacity. Rather than have empty seats or rooms, they offer free travel deals. They know that the vacationer is going to spend more money on food, sightseeing, and other products and services during their stay, so the free travel offer isn’t a dead loss. In addition, airline and hotel management is counting on the fact that the guest will have such a good time that they will come back some other time and pay full fare.

This means that travel incentives are a triple win. The airlines win, the hotels win, and you win by offering a productivity incentive with a perceived value many times greater than the actual cost. You’ll be a hero with your employees and productivity will soar.

Where to buy travel incentives

You should only buy your travel incentives from an authorized travel incentives broker. That way you are assured of receiving genuine certificates that are good on major airlines and at quality hotels. There are a lot of inferior travel offers out there, and you don’t want to disappoint your employee by sending them to a second-rate hotel on an unknown airline.

One of the other advantages of dealing with authorized brokers is that they are able to offer you the ability to combine different travel incentive coupons to create even better packages. For example, you can combine a 3 day, 2 night, 3-star hotel package with a $500 spending certificate in some cities.

Another popular combination is to create a getaway package that includes dream vacations like a 4 or 5-star hotel package that’s combined with a free round-trip airfare travel coupon. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Stop offering boring bonuses and give your best performing employees the travel vacation of their dreams. Ordering travel incentive coupons is easy, inexpensive, and can be done 100% on-line.

Tips to Get Ready For an Air Ambulance Flight

If you are going to travel for some medical needs, such as medical tourism or medical treatment, you may consider air ambulance for safe and comfortable journey.

It can take some time to get ready for an air ambulance fight. But a reliable service provider will provide all the assistance you need throughout the process. For best care and peace of mind, we suggest that you follow the tips given below for better preparation.

Decide on Your Destination

For specialized care and fair prices, try your level best to look for the best destination. Air ambulances that travel internationally may be your best choice in this case. Aside from this, you can talk to your medical professional for recommendations.

Know More About Air Ambulance Providers

Here, it’s important to realize that the service you choose to travel is as important as the health care professional you choose for your treatment. Before you choose a service, here are some important considerations to make.

Accreditation

Good service providers are accredited by CAMTs, which is responsible for regulating and overseeing medical transport service providers.

Aircraft

Based on your travel needs, you need to choose the right aircraft.

Clinicians and providers

Patients may have health problems while they are on the way on an aircraft. So, it’s important to find out about the type of health care staff that will be on the plane on each flight. Most aircraft have respiratory therapists in addition to an experienced nurse.

Important Documents

Make sure you hand over your important medical documents to your air ambulance service. Without the documents, you may not be able to get the health care you need.

Apart from the medical files, make sure you provide your non-expired passport as well. Make sure you get these documents ready a few days ahead of the flight date to enjoy a great air ambulance experience.

Luggage

On an air ambulance, different types of medical equipment is also there to monitor patients and help health care providers deal with medical emergencies that may arise. So, there won’t be a lot of room for luggage. Therefore, be sure to take the stuff that you need.

The things you may want to pack include documents, clothing, snacks, books and other stuff that you may need for entertainment.

Ground Transportation

Last but not least, it’s important to keep in mind that an air ambulance will pick you up from one airport and land you on another. Therefore, you may want to look for a good ground transport so you can reach your destination from the airport you landed on. Often, the air ambulance provider may help you make arrangements for this transportation for you.

But make sure you talk to them ahead of time for best care possible. It may take them a while to arrange for the transport for you.

Long story short, if you are going to fly on an air ambulance for the first time, it may seem a difficult undertaking to you. However, if you have a solid plan in place, your trip can be as smooth as possible, and you won’t have to go through any trouble.

Checklist for Finding the Best Flights Around the World

Traveling is fun, especially if you are traveling thousands of miles for spending a holiday or visiting your old friend. Traveling on buses on trains is not imaginable for long distances making air travel the ultimate option. The prices of air travel differ by country and the airlines. Sometimes the difference is very large and choosing the cheaper one can save lots on costs. But low cost flights may always not be the best option. Low cost flights are relatively less furnished and provide very less facilities to the passengers. Here are some tips and tricks to help you pick the best flight to any destination.

Your nation or place of visit makes the largest difference in the flight costs. Journeying from Melbourne to New York would cost a couple of folds more than traveling from Melbourne to Sydney. If you are traveling very far, you have to work your backside off before finding the cheapest flight deal. Start looking for the cheap airlines months before your journey and book it a few weeks before because inexpensive flights get packed easily.

The airfares in general hike up in the tourist season. For example, should you wish to travel to Thailand during the summer, you will have to pay more because during summer, more holidaymakers flock to Thailand. So, if you are a budget traveler, it is ideal to travel during the off seasons. The increase in price of fuel also induces the air fare to upsurge. Airlines therefore charge much more than the regular price to meet the expenses. But the slump in oil costs can be beneficial as airlines bring down the air fare on such events. You need to understand this and if you want to travel cheap, better not purchase your tickets when the oil prices are high.

Generally, airlines offer flights at cheaper or discounted rates particularly during their anniversaries or some special occasion. Keep tabs on such announcements and get a ticket when the discount offer is still valid. Internet is the best source to keep yourself informed on them. But generally, such announcements are also made through newsprints and Televisions.

One thing that you need to understand is that the cheapest flight is not always the best flight. If you look for more luxury, economy flights typically are not the best option for you. Research online and see what other people say about an airline. Start a discussion at travel forums enquiring the pros and cons of a flight and see what other individuals say about it. On cheap flights, you by and large do not get any snacks or drinks. You will need to compromise with many things if you are traveling via inexpensive flights.

You can have the benefit of cheap flights during certain festive times of year. Like during Christmas and Thanksgiving Day, the air travel prices are down between 15 to 20 percent for long distance flights. The prices are taken down even for short distance flights but by comparatively lesser amount. Some airways offer round trip packages if you are traveling long distances and to multiple cities. They often come with a holiday package but there are individual travel packages too. If you need to make such trips, such packages may be handy and very affordable.

If you are buying your tickets from a travel agent, be heedful to check out the prices with a grateful of them. Sometimes, the price for the same flight can differ from one travel agent to another. It will cost you less to buy direct from the concerned airlines. Do proper research on the internet and you'll unquestionably find the best flight deal.