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 (http://Brandi-AnnUyemura.com) and her blog to inspire others to take the leap and find and follow their own dreams (http://TheInspiringBee.com).
 
 

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


A not so technical review of our new bay area airport. 

I haven’t written anything yet about our new Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) which opened this year (2010), Terminals A & B. Even though I do support this much needed project in the center of Silicon Valley, there is a part of me that became disillusioned to see the old terminal C torn down with all of its 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 know it is because I am intrigued with the history of our area and the people, the many local people and their stories, of the Santa Clara Valley region. So to overcome this, I did something not many people think about.

I took a 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 a like a baby sister in the shadow of its sibling, San Francisco. But wait, maybe this baby sister has grown up now in the heart of technology and computers. We are the third largest population city in California, with more people than San Francisco. There must be a reason for this growth!


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 at 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.) 

It isn’t all about corporate meeting planning here with not one, but two convention centers (Santa Clara and San Jose). I know from the daily calls and emails I receive what people do not know is of the many touristy things to do in this south bay region if they plan to stay an extra day here. 

Okay, enough rambling, back to my inspection trip of our new $1.3 billion airport, which almost looks like a shiny new airplane – long, bluish, cylinder tube from one end to the other. 

Oh, by the way, the best road sign that I found while driving to the airport, is the “U-Turn to Terminals” in the street approaches. How many people missed their turn offs?  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 now that 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 have always enjoyed walking on the tarmac where I  see the motions of everyday airport life in action – especially in San Jose with our 300 days of sunshine.

Our travelers will find the new convenience of covered walkways to the planes now. Although 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


~ All in all,  I am grateful to have this 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." 


 
Yes, our travelers will return! It helps my own transition to take a day and explore what this resource has to offer.

A funny thing that did happen on my trip: why is it, that 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!

Looking towards Terminal A
 Yes, I am fascinated with our newest bay area airport now, which is a place many people take for granted. Yet we spend quite of bit of time during our travels. What are your personal airport stories to share? 

Another question, because I didn't see that many people working and a lot of automation, will we be ready (with people) when the crowds come?  

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

A question has been asked about special celebrations of the Walt Disney Family Museum first year anniversary  in San Francisco.  Yes, there has been special celebrations – much of which happened during the first week in October.  There is even a video contest (until Nov 15) which you may enter.

A tip is to watch the screenings, lectures, and discussions under “public programs & education” at the Walt Disney Museum website for more programs coming. I have copied examples (below) of events to see November through December.  
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


***From the museum website***

Film of the Month: November 1-24, 2010
A Month of Mickey Mouse and Friends (1928-1942)
1:00 and 4:00 pm (daily except for Tuesdays, November 13 and 20) Join us in our Theater for a selection of Mickey Mouse cartoons including: Steamboat Willie, the Karnival Kid, The Band Concert, Mickey's Birthday Party, and more!

November 20, 2010
M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E Club
3:00 pm, Theater
We're bringing a few of the original Mouseketeers to the Museum! Come see Bobby, Sharon, and Cubby, and hear them talk with Lorraine Santoli, author of The Official Mickey Mouse Club Book, about what it was like to work with Walt.

Film of the Month: November 26 - December 31, 2010
Christmas with Walt Disney
1:00 and 4:00 pm (daily except for Tuesdays and December 5, 11 and 25)
This special holiday screening includes The Nutcracker Suite from Fantasia (1940), Pluto's Christmas Tree (1952), scenes from the television Christmas specials, and rarely seen home movies of Walt and his family. See how Walt celebrated Christmas at the Studio, at Disneyland, and at home.

December 5, 2010
Memories of Walt: A Conversation with Legends
3:00pm, Special Exhibition Hall
Join us on Walt's birthday as we hear from Disney Legends who worked directly with Walt. Alice Davis and Marge Champion will be with us to discuss, celebrate, and honor Walt Disney. Don't miss this unique opportunity to hear from these legendary women! 

December 11, 2010
A Tribute to Art Linkletter
3:00 pm, Theater
Celebrate the life and career of one of America's most popular television hosts and a great friend of Walt Disney's, Art Linkletter! Author and historian Don Peri will talk with Art's daughter, Sharon, about what it was like to grow up in the LInkletter household.

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