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Saturday, November 12, 2011

NBTMV - Start your world travels with some guided tours


In a previous video I mentioned that you can start your world travels with some guided or escorted tours. Here I provide some pointers to doing just that, based on our experience with guided tours originating from the United States.
The nice thing about a guided tour or escorted tour is that the tour company takes care of everything -- air travel, hotels, travel between cities, transfers from airport to hotel, all the sightseeing, and even most of the meals -- plus you have at least one English-speaking guide. It’ll be in a group setting, so you’ll meet some interesting people as well.
First thing you’d want to do is browse the guided tours offered by online travel companies such as Gate1Travel, Smartours, or others such as China Focus Travel that specialize in just one destination, China. As for where to go, you may initially think of Europe or South/Central American countries as safer choices, but it makes more sense to go to a far-off destination such as China, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc. because those are the trips where a fully guided tour makes everything simple. Think of the weather as well when deciding when to go. For example, it can be very hot in India, Vietnam, etc during the summer. To minimize time off from work, you may also want to pick dates that span a weekend and holiday.
After looking at the itineraries and selecting one, you can book online or call a number to book. The quoted price is usually for one or two selected departure cities such as New York or San Francisco. You have to pay extra if you depart from other cities. There are also some other extra costs such as fees and taxes. You pay some deposit up front and pay the rest sometime before the trip.
If it’s a trip to countries such as China or India, you also have to pay for the visa. You can get it yourself or through the travel company.
You do typically have a half-a day or a whole day all to yourself in major cities, so you should get a guidebook for the cities and prepare to explore a bit on your own. In future videos I’ll tell you about specific escorted tours that we took.
Hope you can get started soon!
Here are some more things to help you
Browse the offerings from some online travel companies such as: Gate1Travel, Smartours, and China Focus TravelNote that some travel companies such as China Focus Travel specialize in tours to just one counrty, in this case, China. You may also want to read reviews by previous customers.

To budget for the trip, look up the advertised amount, then add the taxes and fees, any visa fees (for countries that require visa), and additional airfare if your departure city is different from the default offered by the tour company. You should then add the cost of any meals and estimated expenses for the days that are on your own. Also, remember to include any tips for the tour guide.

Most credit cards charge a currency conversion fee, so you should take along and use a credit card such as the one from Capital One that charge no such fees. Thebest way to get foreign currency would be to wihdraw from ATMs using your debit card. Banks would be the next best place to get foreign currency. The worst place to change currency seems to be the airport and the various currency exchange places (they often display good rates, but charge huge commissions).

Here are some books that may help you plan for that one or half-a-day when you are on your own or on overcoming the inevitable jet lag:



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