Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Advice for Traveling Abroad - What Would You Do?

What will you do if situations not in your favor should arise while you are traveling? You may not have the convenience of your cell phone nor computer to check on details for awhile during your trip. And, who do you call?  Many tourism centers now are closed for the holidays or taking extended holiday vacations.   

With Thanksgiving week as one of the most active travel weeks, I thought it would be great to share some advice from another traveler.  After listening to this travel tale from one of my colleagues, I invited her to share with us here as my guest writer today. I am very delighted to have Brandi-Ann, Writer, to stop by and share some inspiring traveler tips from her own recent European holiday trip which didn't go very well for her this year.  I have honestly enjoyed following Brandi-Ann's inspiring advice for writers on her website this year. 

Sometimes it really does help to learn through other people's experiences about what to do when you get to the destination. These are some real experiences to remember on your trips, whether local or afar. Thanks Brandi-Ann! ~~

Brandi-Ann Uyemura is a Associate Editor for Psych Central and a freelance writer with a penchant for all things inspiring. With a MA in Counseling Psychology and a BA in English, she's made a career out of following her dreams and helping others to do so. You can visit her at her freelance writing website at ( and her blog to inspire others to take the leap and find and follow their own dreams (

3 Things to Do If You’re Traveling Abroad

I went to Paris and London this past fall. But it wasn’t the dream vacation I expected. Far from it, actually. If I were going to be dramatic, I might say it was a nightmare. In between the awestruck and excitement over being in these two amazing cities, there were some major lessons I learned about traveling to a foreign country. Tips that I will share with you here.

1.    Consider booking directly with the hotel. This is the second time that I’ve traveled to Europe, but the first time that I ever got bumped off of my reservation on the day that I tried to check in. Can you picture getting off a 10-hour flight, with an expensive taxi ride to your hotel, only to be told that your reservation with a reputable online travel agency cancelled your booking at the very last minute? This was the beginning of my trip. You can imagine how upsetting the rest of the time was. A word of caution: Don’t mess with a woman with jet lag and no sleep. I was in no condition to be looking for a hotel at 7 p.m. at night. Would you be? Better to book directly with a hotel where last minute un-notified cancellations are less likely to happen.

I’m actually not sure why that company was so unreliable. But I do know after talking with other people that this was not the first time they made this same mistake. When I spoke to a customer service representative there he admitted that it does in fact happen. So be wary!

2.    If it sounds too good to be true… There will be package deals that will amaze you and prices that seem too good to be true. Like anything else in life, they probably are. My husband and I found that sometimes it was worth it to spend the extra money for a quality tour group than to go on a free one. We discovered with some of the free tours, we almost always ended up paying more for them through undisclosed charges and tips in the end. The worst situations occur when you think you’re saving money, but you get ripped off instead. Be careful out there!

3.    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. We worried about the most unnecessary things like which museums to see and which order to see them. What we didn’t worry about was getting sick. And guess what ended up happening? Yep, the two of us were coughing through some of Paris and all of London. It was not fun and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Here’s what I would do, if I could have done it all over again: 1) get a flu shot 2) pack tissue and vitamins 3) bring cold medicine and throat lozenges 4) use hand sanitizers. Then, hope for the best!

It may not guarantee the best trip you ever had, but at least it’ll prevent you from having the worst one! Good luck and Bon Voyage!

 *  *  *

*Thank you so very much, Brandi-Ann, for sharing your story today!  To our readers, don't forget to create that action plan during your trip. 

What do you do when things happen like this?

Happy Thanksgiving for USA travelers ~ and others, remember to be safe! The Fun Tour Guru

Visit our new website for news, book your hotels, tours, and cruises, Lighthouse Travel & Tours.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mineta San Jose International Airport - Past & Present

We are grateful for our new airport in Silicon Valley!

This is my first story about our new Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) which opened in 2010, Terminals A and B.  I support this much needed project in the center of Silicon Valley, there is a part of me that is disillusioned to see the old terminal C torn down with all of the history. When I mention this to my friends and family, they laugh and tell me that these buildings were old, dilapidated, and not at their best.

San Jose Airport Terminal C with parking structure behind from Wikipedia
I am intrigued with the history of our area and the local people and their stories, of the Santa Clara Valley region. So to overcome this, I did something not many people think about.

My solo day trip to see our new airport.

Out with the old, friendly walk up two-story airport we once knew – now there is a new, sleek, modern building with all the newest amenities travelers seem to want.   

San Jose is in the heart of technology and computers and the third largest population city in California, with more people than San Francisco.

With airports as a part of any community, I appreciate that San Jose finished this project in the downturn. We now have a new airport to go with our grown up face – as millions of business people arrive daily to this airport which ultimately takes them to their corporate meetings in the tech center of Silicon Valley.  (The other new local community airport I wrote about (2009) is in Branson, Missouri.) 

Our new $1.3 billion airport looks like a shiny new airplane – long, bluish, cylinder tube from one end to the other. 

There is also a nice cell phone waiting place available for those people picking up friends and a really great on-the-airport rental car designation.

Parking Structure Artwork

Once you become familiar (again) with the new approaches, roadways, and parking structures (nice artwork of local Silicon Valley peoples’ hands waving); passengers find the airline check-ins on the lower level.

There seems to be plenty of room for them to access self service machines and regular ticket counters now.

Has anyone noticed the interesting technology display exhibits near the check-ins on the lower level?     

Of course, there are many new technical things we have which airport workers, airline employees, and all travel related companies really appreciate.

I am describing some of the travel user features - amenities –  you might see. Most are behind security for passengers to enjoy on the second level. Examples are: Santa Cruz Wine Bar, Le Boulangerie, and great artwork like the e-cloud.   

Check ins - Terminal B

I enjoyed walking on the tarmac where I see the motions of everyday airport life in action – and with our San Jose 300 days of sunshine it was great to have the fresh air.

Our travelers will find the new convenience of covered walkways to the planes now. We will still get our exercise as we walk from one terminal to the other (A to B). The people-movers project was taken out of the budget. Exercise is good, and we do enjoy the convenience of this smaller airport in this region.

For our technology geeks, our airport has “free” wi-fi available and plug-ins for power every fourth seat. Now why is it that I noticed people not using computers seem to always sit near the plug-ins?
Upper lever before entering security

I am grateful for our  shiny, new, clean, and up-to-date resource now available in Silicon Valley for our millions of travelers to use. I certainly will adapt to this new place. 

A quote from the movie, Field of Dreams, "Build it. He will come."  A million people come to Silicon Valley. 

Why do I find the one piece of equipment out of order?   When I walked out to the parking structure to pay for my parking ticket at the automated machines, the first box I went to did not work.

I did really appreciate the one (person) parking attendant of three exits who was extremely helpful and cheerful as I was departing! (Note: this is no longer the case in 2016)
Looking towards Terminal A
Yes, I am fascinated with our newest bay area airport now, which is a place many people take for granted. We spend quite of bit of time at airports during our travels. What are your personal airport stories to share?

Please note my disclosure of a reference for use of this old San Jose "C" terminal picture from Wikipedia - San Jose Airport.  The only one I was able to find now on the web.  Does anyone have pictures (not videos) of the C terminal?  

Every week I venture out & always find something new on the street corners of Silicon Valley. ~ The Fun Tour Guru


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Activities at Walt Disney Family Museum, The Presidio, San Francisco

Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco CA Credit to FTG
 I received a question about special celebrations of the Walt Disney Family Museum first year anniversary  in San Francisco.  Yes, there are special celebrations – and my best advice is to follow the Museum calendar  to stay up to date. 

My tip is to watch for the screenings, lectures, and discussions under “public programs & education” at the Walt Disney Museum website for more programs coming. 

Love this quote - "It Requires People to make the Dream a Reality" from Walt Disney

These examples may be found at their website

Be sure to follow Walt Disney Museum blog for great information too!  Of course, you may follow along at Twitter. 

Enjoy your great experience!  ~ The Fun Tour Guru

Inside the Museum - credit to FTG
Disney magic in the floors too!  Credit to FTG

View from the Presidio San Francisco Credit to FTG


Monday, November 1, 2010

Celebrating San Francisco Giants! Champions!

I have been waiting for this for a long time - a former season ticket holder and a Giants fan forever!  Go Giants!  ~~ The Fun Tour Guru