February 27, 2014

Be Suspicious of Quick Answers to Your Travel Questions

I really need to quit reading the Q&A in the newspaper's travel section, because I always seem to get riled up.  Basically, readers write in with questions, such as what to do and see in a particular location, or what hotel or cruise is "the best."  And they get a brief answer, usually with very specific recommendations.

If a client called and asked me any of these questions, we would spend a minimum of 15 minutes in conversation before I would consider giving them an answer.

No cookie cutter answers
for my clients!

In fact, I’d be asking them a whole lot of questions right back, such as:
  • Can you tell me more about who is going on this trip?
  • Why are you going, what is your vision, are you celebrating anything?
  • How old are your kids, what are their interests & activities?
  • What are your favorite hotels?  
  • What do you like to do on vacation?
  • Have you ever cruised before, traveled outside the US, etc?
  • What are your hotel “must haves” and what do you like to avoid?
  • Do you want to be in the middle of the action or do you want a quiet retreat?
And something that is really important to families: do you need guaranteed connecting rooms or a specific bedding arrangement?

The answers I receive usually create more questions: “So you’re taking along the grandparents.  Do they have any mobility issues, or they ok with stairs and long walking distances?”
Spiral staircase to get to breakfast
Paris elevator - not for claustrophobes!
You can buy a guidebook and or easily find on the internet a list of top attractions of any destination.  But is a book or a website going to say “Since you are a gourmet cook, why don’t you check out this market, it’s the best one in the city.  Or better yet, how about a Farm to Fork tour?” 

Farmer's market in Provence

“Since your teens are active and enjoy being outdoors, this is a great place to rent bikes to explore the area.”


“This hotel has a zero-entry pool so it’s much easier to monitor your toddler, they can sit and splash in shallow water.  Then you don’t have to stand in the pool holding them the whole time.”  

Turks & Caicos waterpark
So you see there is no one right answer when it comes to travel.  Even the most expensive, top rated, most talked about hotel in the world is not “the best” hotel for everyone.  And the “must do/must see” list for a retired couple traveling alone is different from that of a family with young children.  
As for selecting a cruise, don't even get me started! 
When you thing about the variables for just one destination:  the cruise line, the ships within that line, cabin types, ports visited, onboard activities, etc. it staggers the mind. 
Small ship
Big ship
Or something in-between
My job is to make sure I give the best answer for each and every client.  And that requires a lot of communication between us.  Many people email or call to ask about rates for a specific hotel, often because their friends recommended it.  Personal recommendations are great, I use them all the time.  But is that really the best fit for you, of ALL the hotels available? 

After all, think about your friends and family members.  Do you all drive the same model car?  Like the same food?  Have the same hobbies?  I have over 300 Facebook friends, but there are only a handful that have the same travel style as I do.
Do you like cool, modern elegance...

Or warm, rustic luxury?
One time I had just returned from the destination featured in the Q&A section.  And while the “expert” recommended a couple things I agree with, there were several things I think he/she missed, and I would have narrowed the list even further if I knew the ages of the travelers.  They also made a dining recommendation which baffled me, as the town had many other much better restaurants.

So don’t believe everything you read!  

For help with planning the perfect vacation just for you, contact me at suzette@family-treks.com.

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