As we travel, we pick up little tips along the way; actions or procedures that worked for us and we know to be true. In advance of travel, we seek out experts who have ‘been there and done that’ for a first-hand preview of what to expect. Travel service providers have their share of tips that work well with whatever it is they are selling. Some resonate with us in a ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ sort of way, others go in one ear and out the other, discounted as not applicable to our travel plans. Considering all of the above and looking back on 2013, here are some helpful travel suggestions that seem to be universal choices that anyone can use.
Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
A flight is delayed. Weather forces an itinerary change. Embarkation starts late for one reason or another. These are all events that, in and of themselves, should not ‘ruin” a cruise vacation, yet for some travelers, they do. What was once a highly-anticipated trip has become a ‘nightmare’ or ‘cruise from hell’. Well folks, I’m here to tell you: often those wounds are self-inflicted. Some are just things that happen when traveling and there is simply no way around them.
Surely, if a hurricane is headed in the direction of where your ship should be, there is nothing we can do about that except make the best of the modified sailing. But allowing that itinerary change and the disappointment associated with it to overflow into dining, entertainment, accommodations and/or service is not only wrong but unfair as well.
My classic case of just how bad things can go is, oddly, related to the best ocean cruise experience I ever had. It was on Azamara Club Cruises, doing a sailing themed “Castles and Distilleries” that sailed from Scotland, to Ireland, Wales and other fabulous places. Attempting to fly from Newark (EWR) to Edinburg (EDI), our flight was delayed, delayed, delayed then finally canceled so we arrived a day late. All along the way, the service personnel with whom we had contact performed superbly. The United Airlines flight crew were dealing with some pretty upset air travelers and handled the situation with grace. The cruise line was with us every step of the way to the point of Azamara Journey‘s Captain Johannes Tysse coming on the bus when we finally arrived at the ship to personally greet us. Still, there was one couple who just could not shake that ‘problem getting to the ship’ part. I remember seeing them around the ship and ashore throughout the 10 day sailing and they never seemed happy. We see this a lot too, on almost all cruise lines; more unhappiness than is warranted in almost all cases.
A key to happy travel is to isolate the bad part of the experience, deal with it if there is something to be dealt with and move along.
Choose Your Experts Carefully But Do Choose Some
Expert advice comes to us in a variety of forms, ranging from guide books to blogs, magazine articles and web sites. Breaking them down to information they are comfortable using, travelers might choose blogs from trusted travel sources, travel service provider web sites to go right to the source, unbiased governmental or professional organization web sites. Over time, we have found a hand full of sources that work well for us, in our particular situation in life; two empty nesters in the process of downsizing.
Frankly, we are the next generation of old people. Accordingly, our choices of information are evolving right along with us. Information on family travel with small children, for example, is of little value to us now… at least until/if we have grandchildren. Saving with discounts from @AARP Member Advantage is all of the sudden important. Now that we have traveled most lines a number of times, each past-guest program gets a second look and benefits are of particular interest too.
When evaluating your current travel information sources, be sure you are engaging experts who are approachable. Find some that share a similar background to yours, are of similar age and will take a phone call, respond to an email or post on some social media platform like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and hold them accountable. If they (we) are not providing the information you need, tell them (us). The whole point of all this is to provide you with the information you need to get the most out of travel and do it with ease.
Coming up: Our List Of Reliable Travel Sources: A Great Place To Start