Cheap Flights and Hotels in Top Indian Destinations!

Take a trip to vibrant, colourful India for the holiday of a lifetime! Book your discounted air fares on line now and receive discounts immediately! Fly into the main hubs of Delhi or Mumbai and then take connecting flights or trains into the rest of India. Rail travel in India has never been more comfortable with most services offering the traveller a choice of First & Second Class, air-conditioned sleeperettes with en-suite bathroom and a personal butler service. Prices are still low so getting around India is a very viable option.

India, being a diversified land of many cultures, religions and hospitality, has always been the first choice for tourists looking for that little bit extra the world over. Romantics will adore visiting the glorious Taj Mahal in Agra, a grand marble monument dedicated to the memory of a great love to neighbouring pink city of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur where you can stay in the wondrous floating palace! See the stunning yellow domes of the Golden Temple in Amritsar and enjoy the fresh, hot ‘halwa’ which is generously distributed to all worshippers daily. India is not just a land of sights and wonders. It also offers fantastic, white sand beaches and an excellent variety of water sports and speciality massages. From hot stone therapy to cold mud body packs to hot oil being slowly dripped on your forehead in Kerala, there really is no place quite like India.

India has many travel holiday packages to offer. The capital of India, New Delhi, is a green, clean city with many famous tourist sights including the Lotus Temple, Jama Masjid, Red Fort, Qutub Minar and the India Gate (reminiscent of the Parisian Arc de Triomphe). The bloom seasons of February and March make Delhi vibrant, colourful and aromatic. Go further west and modern and fabulously rich Mumbai’s stock market and Mahalakshmi racecourse can make you a millionaire overnight. The Juhu Beach, Fashion Streets, Elephanta Caves, Marine Drive, Gateway of India and Flora Fountain are its major attractions. Enjoy the throbbing pace of the Mumbai nightlife where bumping into a celebrity or two is part of the norm!

QUICK OVERVIEW:

AHMEDABAD:

A variety of habitats coastlands, islands, saline desert plains, forests, hills, lakes, grasslands combined with a location on the migratory route of birds from Europe and West Asia has made Ahmedabad one of the most prolific bird watching areas in all of Asia.

HYDERABAD:

Hyderabad is known for its rich history and culture with monuments, mosques, temples, a rich and varied heritage in arts, crafts and dance.

CHENNAI:

Particularly charming features of Chennai are its allegiance to ancient traditions.

BANGALORE:

The flirtatious city of Bangalore can never stop wooing the people. It is known as the Silicon Valley of India.

KOLKATA:

Kolkata, India’s largest city is now a busy & flourishing city, the centre of cultural as well as political and economic life.

The cheapest flights to New Delhi, Mumbai and various other cities of India are available by online booking at “http://www.ticketstoindia.co.uk”. It offers air tickets to India top destinations at extremely competitive rates as well as regular discounts and special offers. Trips to India will always continue to be the best option for your Indian vacations. We can also cater for all your Wedding needs. Want to get married like a Rajah or Rani on horse or even elephant back? Want to get married by the sandy shores of Goa whilst flower maidens scatter rose petals at your feet? Amazing wedding packages are now available in India and will leave lasting memories for you and your guests!

Getting Cheap Flights for Your Vacation

Houston is a lively and a fun city to be in for any kind of vacation or break. The city has great green landscapes and parks and the architecture is simply breathtaking. Art lovers as well as nature lovers will find the city quite impressive which will leave them with good memories for the longest time.

Everyone wants the best rates when traveling to any destination and Houston is no exception. If you need to get to this city without having to stretch your finances too hard, you can choose to get assistance from the various travel consultants. Most of the consultants are well experienced and are dedicated to getting you very good offers and rates for your vacation. You can also search through the internet to see the price ranges offered by the airlines flying to the region to get the very best out of the many different airlines that service the region. Leading airlines have a tendency of offering very good ticket rates and typically have discounts and other good offers.

The spring and fall months attract a greater majority of people compared to summer months. This is due to the months of October and November have favorable weather conditions compared to the humid conditions of summer. Most people therefore prefer the warm conditions to the more humid ones. If you are looking for cheap flights, you can choose to travel during the off peak months when everyone else is staying away from the region because of the weather.

However, you can still enjoy your vacation during the peak months and not pay too much for your ticket by conducting the right kind of research and getting all your facts right. It is always advisable to make early reservations to get the best offer available or register with travel companies which will give you alerts every time something interesting coming up.

Houston has a lot to offer not just to the visitors and tourists traveling to marvel in its glory but also for business people and the locals who know how important the city is to the whole of the United States. Never let high ticket rates change your mind about visiting the region since you can still enjoy the very best of the city without spending too much.

Mauritius – An Unforgettable Experience

Get ready to be enchanted, enjoy personal attention and uplift your soul – a visit to Mauritius is bound to make you feel that you belong to the chosen few.

Often referred to as 'The Star of the Indian Ocean', Mauritius has safe beaches, gentle seas and mild tropical climate. This combined with a legendary Mauritian hospitality makes this one of the world's most well-after holiday destinations.

The contrast of a multitude of colors and tastes, the island set in a turquoise sea is an oasis of peace and tranquility. Mauritius, a melting pot where past and present are smoothly blended together, offers the traveller a multitude of things to do (apart from laze on the beach). Mauritius is a real paradise for those who want to enjoy the sea or just to soak up the sun.

You can roam the French town of Port Luis, the capital of Mauritius – visit The Harbor, La Citadelle- a stone fortress on top of a hill that offers a splendid view of Port Louis and to this day, guarding Mauritius; the Natural History Museum with Mauritius' National Bird, the Dodo; go window shopping at Port Louis Market, a riot of color with myriad curiosities on sale; buy French cosmetics and perfumes at reasonable prices at the duty free shops in Continental Shopping Arcade. Stroll through the lovely Pamplemousses Gardens, which boasts one of the largest collections of exotic plants in the world, including giant water lilies and the Talipot palm. An excursion to Ile aux Cerfs, a tiny island with the most beautiful beach in Mauritius and a paradise for water sports is a must. Embark on an exciting Undersea Walk and get an intimate view of marine life.

In South Mauritius, visit the Floreal Knitwear Factory Shop, Troux aux Cerfs – an extinct volcanic crater covered with greenery with a breathtaking view, and Grand Bassin – one of the island's two natural lakes and a place of pilgrimage for Mauritians of Hindu faith, snug in the crater of an extinct volcano. Behold the splendid views of the Black River Gorges – a natural sanctuary for the flua and fauna of the island and the fascinating dunes of Chamarel – the 'seven colored earth,' in contrasting layers of blue, green, red and yellow earth tones caused by the weathering of volcanic rocks.

Airline Choices For Cheap Flights to Australia

An abundance of promotions and special offers for cheap flights to Australia has made it much more affordable to vacation Down Under. Airfare to Australia, especially for travel in low season – the month of May and August through mid-September – is priced favorably compared to other long-haul destinations like Asia and eastern Europe.

Non-stop flights to Australia depart from Los Angeles and San Francisco. If you live in other parts of the US, you’ll have to first fly to California.

In the past few years, flights to Australia have increased as existing airlines added flights and new airlines began service on this route. This is good news for travelers – increased competition brought the prices of flights to Australia down.

When searching for the cheapest flights to Australia, you’ll find that airline consolidators usually have the lowest pricing. But, when the airlines are trying to fill the seats on their planes and offer a short-term special promotion, their prices can’t be beat. Always check pricing on the airlines that fly to Australia before buying your tickets.

Airlines that fly to Australia:

Qantas

Qantas, the airline of Australia, offers the largest aircraft and the most flights. With daily non-stop flights from Los Angeles and less frequent flights from San Francisco, Qantas flies non-stop to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Qantas offers code-share flights operated by American Airlines from many cities in the United States to connect to the flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Qantas’ website frequently features low season flight deals, promotions that include a “free” flight to a city within Australia, and special offers on the Aussie AirPass. If you are an American Airlines Aadvantage member, you can earn mileage points by flying to and within Australia on Qantas.

VAustralia

VAustralia, the newest addition to the Virgin Airlines Group, flies non-stop from Los Angeles to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Connecting flights are available from other US cities on Virgin America and Delta. VAustralia also offers a few flights that depart from San Francisco.

Their planes on the Australia route are new, custom decorated with an Australian theme and feature comfortable seating for the long flight. VAustralia’s website keeps up with the special offers Qantas has for cheap flights to Australia, but VAustralia does not offer specials for flight packages that include other destinations within Australia.

Delta Airlines

Delta began flying to Sydney in 2009. Shortly after they began service on this route, Delta entered a code-sharing agreement with the Virgin Airlines Group, VAustralia, for international flights, and its sister airline, VirginBlue, for domestic flights within Australia.

Delta SkyMiles members with Club access can use VirginBlue’s luxurious airport lounges when traveling within Australia on VirginBlue or internationally on Delta or VAustralia.

United Airlines

United flies to Sydney from Los Angles and San Francisco, with connections from other cities in the United States. Infrequently United’s website will promote specials sales on these flights. United does not fly within Australia.

Other Airlines

Air New Zealand flies from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Australia, but the flights stop in Auckland first. This adds several hours to the total flight time to Australia. Their pricing is very competitive.

Several Asian airlines also offer multi-stop flights to Australia. These flights tend to be much more expensive than the non-stop flights on Qantas, VAustralia, Delta or United.

Flying East

Travelers, for whom airplane comfort and luxury is more important than price and a non-stop long-haul flight, should consider flying east to reach Australia. For the most part, flying east is more expensive – but you can combine a visit to Singapore (Singapore Air has a daily non-stop flight from Newark to Singapore) or Dubai (Emirates offers two daily non-stop flights from JFK and non-stop flights from Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco) with your vacation in Australia.

Tenerife Cheap Car Hire – Are You Getting A Good Deal?

Brief Background:

If you're traveling to Tenerife for the first time then here are some basic facts that you might find useful.

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, and rumour has it that it is the most popular when it comes to the annual influx of holiday-makers from across Europe.

Tenerife enjoys good year round weather conditions with slightly little difference between summer and winter month temperatures.

The scenery is stunning and when coupled with the low cost of living and alluring night-life in the main resort towns of Santa Cruz and Los Cristianos, it's no wonder that it has become a firm favorite for many.

Driving

Driving around Tenerife's highways and byways is the best way to get to know the island and discover its dramatic scenery and picturesque villages.

The Tinerfeños as the locals are known are quite a sociable lot and tend sometimes to use driving around as way of catching up on the local gossip often stopping in the middle of road to engage in conversation with family and friends.

On arrival you basically have 2 choices of pick up and drop of locations namely:

1. Tenerife Norte – Los Rodeos Apt
2. South Tenerife – Reina Sofia Airport

For either of the above drop off / pick up locations the cost of hiring a car is roughly the same.

But do make sure that you specify the correct airport on your booking form as this will help to avoid needless time loss and confusion on arrival.

Typical Car Hire Rates:

Hire rates tend to vary greatly depending on the size, make and model. But in the main, most car hire companies will quote you roughly around £ 135 for an Economy Volkswagen Fox 2 dr. with AC Manual for 7 days. For those after something more sport, a 'soft-top' Volkswagen Eos Cabrio with Ac, Manual may just fit the bill. Cars with that kind of, high-spec and flashy looks do not come cheap at around the £ 440 mark for a week's hire. A 2-dr and 4-dr version are both available with the 4 -dr. version approximately £ 20 cheaper to hire for the week.

So, are you getting a good deal?

When it comes to hiring a car in Tenerife it does pay to check exactly what is and is not included in your hire rates as this does vary from company to company.

For instance your hire company should include these as standard:

1. Unlimited mileage
2. Local taxes
3. Airport hire
4. Apartment / Hotel Delivery Service
5. Driver insurance
6. Car theft insurance
7. Civil liability
8. 24 hours emergency phone service
9. Low excess charge

If not, do shop around particularly online where you can easily compare different supplier rates and offers.

Other options that you might want to look out for are:

  • Child Seat – what's the daily hire cost?
  • Does the company offer – Out of hours Pickup / Drop off?
  • Surcharges if any for drivers aged 25 or younger or aged 70 or older?

TIP: For rentals concluding at airport locations make sure that your booking form has accurate flight information. This is essential to ensure a timely service in case your flight is delayed.

In Conclusion

If you want to save yourself some time and hassle then click on the Tenerife cheap car hire link in the signature below to get instant access to a review of top supplier offers.

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”