Tag Archives: travel research

Top 50 Must See Cities In The World To See In Your Lifetime

We have talked about dreams and bucket lists and top ten lists of various categories ………. so let’s take it one step further …… what are the top 50 must see cities in the world that you should see in your lifetime? Some of these you may have visited, some may be on your dream destinations or your bucket list. I have had the opportunity to visit 29 of the 50 and hopefully will visit number 30 next spring. Over the years I could have visited several other of the 50 if I been aware of this list and had added them to my bucket list. I will share 10 of the cities daily for the next 5 days. The list is not ranked so the list just includes the top 50 must see cities!

First 10:

Venice, Italy – Picturesque canals, grandiose basilicas, and cozy wine bars!

Seville, Spain – Moorish Castles, narrow streets, and great tapas!

New York City, NY – The crossroads of the world!

Lhasa, China – The spiritual center of Tibetan Buddhism and is set against the fantastic Himalayas!

Rio de Janerio, Brazil – Beaches, Sugar Loaf, and Christ the Redemmer Statue and of course Carnival!

London, England – The Queen, museums, shopping!

Marrakech, Morocco – Maze like corridors full of souks, stunning architecture, and more!

Petra, Jordon – Set in the desert, Petra’s monumental rock-cut buildings are a must see!

Rome, Italy – Ancient history and buildings, great food and wine …. and of course the Pope!

Varanasi, India – Set on the banks of the Ganges, Varanadi is one of India’s holiest cities!

10 National Beach treasures for your Bucket List

Everybody seems to enjoy going to the beach and isolated, undeveloped, and lots of nature is even better! Put these jewels on your bucket list and enjoy!

– Point Reyes National Seashore: Just north of San Francisco you will find Point Reyes. Over 80 miles of spectacular native beaches. Visit in the winter to see the elephant seals.

– Gulf Islands National Seashore : Located in Florida and Mississippi these undeveloped beaches and barrier islands are known for their temperate waters and brilliant sand.

– Cumberland Island National Seashore: The largest island off the Georgia coast preserves marshes, herds of wild horses, and wild beaches! It is only accessible by a 45 minute pedestrian ferry from St. Marys.

– Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: You will find some of the newest beaches on earth here due to this constantly evolving part of the Island of Hawaii. Colors vary from black to white to light brown.

– Assateague Island National Seashore: Located in Maryland and Virginia, this beach is known for it’s wild horses.

– Cape Cod National Seashore: Located in Massachusetts, you can think President Kennedy for creating this haven. The over 40 miles of beach was saved from development and remains some of the most pristine coastline in that part of New England.

– Cape Lookout National Seashore: Located in North Carolina, these largely undeveloped barrier islands can only be reached by ferry, and you must bring all your supplies, including water!

– Fire Island National Seashore: Located in New York, this 26 mile section of the barrier islands offers a getaway not too far from New York City.

– Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: This 35 miles stretch is located along Lake Michigan and includes 2 islands. Some of the sand bluffs can be ever 450 feet tall!

– Virgin Islands National Park: Located on St. Johns in the Virgin Islands, this park offers everything from tropical forrest to an underwater snorkeling trail. The park covers over half of the island.

Think nature and plan your visit to one of these treasures!

“Now you see it ……. now you don’t”!

Have you ever noticed a great vacation deal or airfare and when you “clicked” on it ………. it wasn’t there any more? That can be very frustrating when you are shopping for that great vacation. The first question that I ask, is the deal offered just sold out ……….. or is it the classic “bait and switch”? The answer is that it is probably some of both! I have experienced this many times and I do understand that any special can have a limited number available. What I do not understand is with today’s technology …… when the last one is sold …….. take down the offering! Sometimes when the offering is an airfare you will find that the fare may be there, but the flights offered may be at times that are awkward for most travelers.

The “bait and switch” is something totally different. There are companies and web sites that will, and do, mislead you! You will see a great vacation value, but once you “click” on it ……. you find it id no longer available ….. but they do have something at a higher price! “Now you see it ……… now you don’t”! I have found this on some reputable web sites, now whether or not it was “bait and switch” or just where the “deal” was just not taken down or adjusted, I don’t know ….. but it does make you wonder!

I think we all realize that there might be limited numbers of any special and therefore “timing” is everything …… but the vendors do have a responsibility to keep there offering updated.

There is also the possible pressure to purchase if you can find that “value”! How many times have you seen, or were told, “Only 3 rooms left” or “Only 2 seats left”? That may or may not be the truth ……. but the pressure is there to purchase …….. “Now”! In my opinion do not ever purchase in a pressure situation ……. I have found that there seems to always be another deal!

Continue to seek specials and deals, but to be smart in your decisions. Use reputable web sites or your travel professional to assist you in your pursuit of your travel dreams!

Does size matter?

Well, I’m talking about cruise ships! That being the case, does size matter? We have sailed on small, medium, and large ships …….. so what is the difference in size and how do you tell the difference! When people talk about cruise ships, they usually compare the gross tonnage of one ship to the gross tonnage of the other. ┬áBecause the word “tons” is used in connection with this measurement, people often think the gross tonnage is the weight of the ship. However, as Captain Herman Zini of Royal Caribbean explains, “The tonnage is not the weight, it is a volume measurement. So when we are talking about the tonnage of a ship, we are talking about the volume inside.”

The measurement was developed in order to be able to assess a ship’s cargo capacity. In fact, “tons” as used here is a corruption of “tuns”, an archaic term for casks of wine!

Traditionally, one gross ton was equal to 100 cubic feet of Space. Today, however, tonnage is worked out using a formula but still translates into the internal capacity of the ship.

Gross tonnage is a different standard of measurement than displacement. As Captain Stig Nilsen of Royal Caribbean explains, “Displacement is the weight of the water that a ship displaces. It is actually the weight of the ship.”

Military ships are often stated in terms of its displacement. For example the USS Ronald Regan had a displacement of 102,000 tons while the Brilliance of the Seas measures 90,000 gross tonnage. It would be a mistake to compare these two ships as to tonnage as you would be comparing apples and oranges!

Similarly, gross tonnage is different than deadweight. Deadweight is the amount of load that a ship is allowed to take on board. While the Oasis of the Seas has a gross tonnage of 225,000, her deadweight is only about 25,000 tons!

All that being said, as to cruise ships if we compare gross tonnage, we should have an apples to apples comparison. The gross tonnage normally relates to passenger load also. For example the Azamara Quest has a gross tonnage of about 30,000 tons and a passenger capacity of about 600. Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance has a gross tonnage of about 90,000 tons and a passenger capacity of about 2000, therefore the Brilliance is about three times larger than the Quest!

As most of you know the trend is to build larger and larger ships. For example, the evolution of Royal Caribbean ships has been: Vision class – 78,340 tons, Radiance class – 90,000 tons, Voyager class – 138,000 tons, Freedom class – 160,000 tons, Allure class – 225,282 tons. However RCCL’s new Quantum class will only be 167,800 tons. As a rule gross tonnage does translate into not only the size of the ship, but also number of passengers, added activities, more open space, more restaurants, etc. So, size does matter.

Personally we prefer the smaller ships, like the Azamara Quest or RCCL Radiance class, but we have also had some great cruises on larger ships.

As for me, going forward I am going to think not only of the ship’s gross tonnage …………. but that the ship might be able to hold that much wine!!!

Where will you go this year?

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We all tend to be creatures of habit! We find a restaurant, a hotel, a beach, a cabin in the mountains …….. and we go back year after year ………. why? We are all comfortable with the familiar! But why not once a year, try something new …….. try a new restaurant, a new beach, a new country! Get out your bucket list and take that first step toward your dreams!

Where do you get your travel information?

When researching possible travel ideas, do you find it difficult to find accurate information? I think this is a challenge for us all. There are lots of avenues to follow when researching travel:

Travel books – There are usually many books available with travel information. Frommer’ s, Fodor’ s, Access, Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, Virtual Tourst, and many other sources offer lots of travel information. What I do most of the time is make a visit to Barnes and Noble, get a cup of coffee, select a few books on the area of interest, find a comfortable chair, and research while making notes. If I find a book that has the information I need I will purchase it, other wise I just make notes. Your local library is also a great source of books. I personally do not like travel books in e-book format as it is very difficult to go from one area to another, so I do stay with a hard copy of travel books.

On-line: There are numerous sources on-line to research travel. Most of the books noted above all have web sites that offer good information. The number one web site for travel information is Tripadvisor. I have found that I tend to use Tripadvisor as my number one web site also and supplement their information from other sources. On-line web sites of various hotels and airlines can also be used. I usually use Orbitz, Trivago, Expedia, Kayak, etc. to research multiple hotels and airlines prior to focusing on a particular hotel or airline. I have found some great, economical hotels on Tripadvisor. Their rating systems to be fairly accurate and I find the reviews to be accurate. Do be cautious in using on-line reviews as some may not be accurate.

Travel Professionals: Travel professionals are always an excellent source of travel information, especially with complex trips. They have many resources available, some that are not available to the independent traveler. They also my have personal experience with a particular travel area or may have booked similar trips for other clients. Some on-line web sites offer a combination of independent travel research and the input of a travel professional. Even when I use a travel professional I do my own research also.

Videos: Various web sites, YouTube, Netflex, and others also have an abundance of videos available for review. I have found these very useful in travel planning. Rick Steves and Samantha Brown in particular have excellent videos available.

Friends: Friends are an excellent source of travel information, at times.
If someone has been to a location or taken a specific trip, their input and experiences can be valuable to you. Just remember that everyone tends to have their own opinion and experiences and you may or may not have the same experience. I also find that talking with new friends made while traveling can be a good source of information.

Just remember the trip is yours, so make sure you do what you want to do ………… It’s your vacation and you are paying for it!