Travel Pre Internet:

I’ve been traveling for over 40 years – by thumb in my early days, by boots in the Scouts, a Lambretta came next and then my first old banger followed by newer old bangers to the beaches of the Costa Brava.

My thumb, boots, bikes and bangers took me all over Europe and the UK before finding that a charter flight to Spain on an old ‘Connie’ could get me to the beaches and bars a lot quicker and allow more time to enjoy the local travel opportunities by horse and cart and the occasional bus and train.

‘Go West and Prosper’ seemed to be a good idea so instead of taking an 8 hour flight I took an 8 day transatlantic crossing from Tilbury to Montreal on the Stephan Batory of Polish Ocean Lines ensuring that jet lag did not trouble my travel plans. Some years later I crossed the pond again on a ship but this time it was 5 times bigger and I traveled in style on the QE2 and dined in the Queen’s Grill somewhat removed from my earlier experience. I highly recommend ocean voyages but cannot see myself on one of the modern cruise ships going from port to port with constant line-ups to get on and off to buy t-shirts. However, I have done 10 Windjammers and a Star Clipper cruise in the Caribbean which were all memorable (let’s hope Windjammer Barefoot Cruises recover from their woes). But I digress.

I had read that Canada is a spectacular country, from sea to shining sea, and my entrance into the St. Lawrence River to Montreal and then heading west in an old Econoline van from the Great Lakes, across the Prairies to the Rocky Mountains before ending up whale watching off of the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island was a trip of wonder to a bloke from London. Today the scenery is still spectacular and the best way to go is still by road so rent or buy a car, motorhome or motorbike, take the train or tour bus but remember the maps, a fly rod, good boots and take your time.

My favorite part of Canada / USA for adventure travel has to be Northern BC / Alaska, to hike the Chilkoot Trail in the steps of the goldseekers of 1898. The Northwest Territories to canoe the Nahannie River and the Yukon to drive from Dawson City to Chicken, Alaska. If you like the outdoors and can put up with a few bugs, cast a fly and scale a few hills or drive on endless dirt roads sharing the space with moose, caribou, elk, bears and eagles, then these are the places to put on your list. The pleasures and experiences in driving to Inuvik on the Dempster Highway or to Prudhoe Bay on the Dalton Highway or even the Canol Road can only be felt by doing them. I would have mentioned the Alaska Highway but now it is an easy drive unlike the aforementioned.

Today the costs of driving these distances may mean that sharing the journey with others is required, but RVing or simply vanning and camping is a great way to see beyond the horizon. Some enroute adventures now need to be booked in advance whereas when I hiked Denali and the Chilkoot Pass it was just a case of turning up, registering with the local ranger office and heading on out. A little more forward planning is needed for today’s traveller and cost considerations of lengthy flights or drives have to somehow be countered with more careful planning. In the days of reasonable gas prices I would not even consider the driving or flying costs and have driven to Key West from the northwest coast, down the west coast to the Baja and to the west coast from New York. I once even flew my 1946 Fleet taildragger from the Pacific to the Atlantic and back using around 5 gallons an hour of avgas. Before the oil and credit crisis I drove from Rio de Janeiro to Lima, down to Tierra del Fuego and back to Rio covering over 15,000 miles of spectacular scenery and with no consideration about the cost of gas. South America should be on your itinerary too! Some other memorable drives that may now require a mortgage with the gas companies include London to The Nordkapp, Norway, Skippers Canyon in New Zealand and the loneliness of the far north of Australia and the amazing coast of Western Australia stopping by at Monkey Mia and Wave Rock.

We tend to forget that the real cost of traveling is often less today than over the 40 years of my travels. In 1977 my round-trip airfare from Canada to Australia cost over $1700 in 1977 dollars so today it is far cheaper to fly, even with the airlines gouging for fuel, extra baggage, no service and no pleasure. The ‘Big Mac’ method of price comparison as developed by The Economist newspaper gives us a good gauge for most expenditures of today compared to yesterday but my $1500 cost to get a private pilots license in the 1970’s seems cheap by comparison to today, but obviously not when using this Big Mac principle. Other travel costs are also far cheaper today but this should not mean that travelers should disregard the many methods of saving costs that can then be put to extended or improved travel experiences

Travel Post-Internet:

In my 40 years of travel I have had to use travel agents to make even the simplest of reservations and buy tickets, not even thinking to ask them if they had “been there, done that?” It was just a case of there being no other options to buying travel. Now we have unlimited choices and can seek out better travel agents, better prices, better selections and information about anywhere in the world for our travels – without even leaving home.

The Internet now gives travelers ideas and options of Where to go, When to go, Why to go, What to do, Who to book with and How to save money and offset costs. We can search and find experts for every travel option. If we are comfortable with the Internet we no longer have to go to a travel agent to make reservations and buy tickets except to book with some of the larger travel companies that still produce glossy brochures and offer all inclusive packages or tours that only sell through the agency system. The Internet also allows those of us who are smart enough to know when to seek out a top travel agent with knowledge, experience and expertise (KEE skills) of destinations and activities about where to find them. There is no longer any need to only use our local agents when we can find one somewhere else in the world. When we do not need ‘the knowledge’ and can do it ourselves we simply surf the web so that we can book directly with tour and travel operators wherever we have decided to go.

Some travel agents operate their own tours, some are both wholesale and retail, some limit consumer selection by only selling their ‘preferred’ suppliers and some have professional consultants with years of experience invested in gaining knowledge, experience and expertise and are worth their weight in gold to the savvy traveler. Beware though, as some are also called destination specialists and some of these designations merely require the agent to take a rudimentary test offered by tourism offices, destination marketing groups or even tour operators and in my opinion can harm the reputation of the travel industry. A specialist is not necessarily an expert.

Travel is probably the most used commercial aspect of the Internet and if retail agents want to harness this exciting medium to offer ‘the knowledge’ and their ‘kee’ skills to a global audience, not just their local community, they must embrace the changes that are happening. Travelers now have the ability to seek answers to the 5 W’s of travel and the important ‘How to’ save money and offset costs by having information just a click away.

And then it occurred to me that even internet travel prices often include a commission element even when sold directly to the consumer. If we book directly with operators we should not have to pay full retail prices as we are doing for ourselves what a retail agent would normally do for us. A dilemma for the operator is that to show a both a retail and a cost price option could deter many agents from selling the services as travelers could use an agent for free advice and book directly with the operator to get a ‘net of commission’ price. Obviously this two tier pricing is not often available but travelers who do not need advice should also not be penalized by retail pricing. A new way had to be found and I think I have found it!

The need for fairer fare prices is why I developed the Top Travel Voucher program at The Top Travel Club and I even found a dot com for it. All travel selections on the site are at ‘net of commission’ prices for members who handle there own travel arrangements directly with the operators linked on the club website using our voucher program.

I am inviting travel operators from around the world to join this program, from B&B’s, Motels, Hotels, Luxury Lodges, Eco Resorts, Beach Resorts and Tour and Adventure Operators who want to promote their products and services to travelers who are comfortable with direct bookings and reservations.

I am also inviting Travel Agents with knowledge, experience and expertise of destinations and activities to showcase their skills to a global audience of travelers and to the members of this new travel club. I am leery of ‘specialist agents’ and only want experts to showcase their services.

This opportunity is available to the travel trade at no cost except for them to offer net, wholesale or outlet prices to club members and visitors to the website using top travel vouchers. I believe this program offers fairer fare prices to direct-booking travelers. The operator would normally be paying commission anyway but now travelers get the savings because they make their own arrangements.

The Top Travel Club opened in mid-April 2008 offering thousands of top travel vouchers for travel in over 70 countries with around 150 travel operators on-board. Every week we add more travel operators with more choices for members. Currently you can get savings on accommodations, adventure travel, boat charters, culinary tours, hike, bike and dive tours, auto and RV rentals fishing lodges and guides, safaris, vacation rentals, single travel, women only and dude ranches. Members get the vouchers free of charge by paying an annual membership fee and non-members can buy the vouchers on the internet at Top Travel Sites at deeply discounted prices to the face-value. The future growth will include restaurants, travel clothing, travel insurance and the opportunity to access air ticket consolidators who want to deal directly with consumers.

The way I have traveled and the way I see travel is that consumers should have unlimited access to every travel opportunity with the ability to do their own due diligence or to find a professional who can offer quality advice and services at fair prices, and to find all of this without needing endless hours of searching.

To find out more about the new way of cost offsets for travel please go to The Top Travel Club and my apologies for some of the spelling (traveler / traveler) but that is what I was taught. As long as we all understand the meaning, vive le difference!

Part 1: Health, Medicinal Benefits of Garlic:

There are many reasons that adding raw garlic to your diet will increase your health. In part 1 of this article you will learn 10 facts about how garlic affects your health.

1. Garlic supports a healthy heart. It can help you lower your bad cholesterol levels, and prevent hardening of the arteries, among many other benefits for your heart.

2. Organic garlic has a higher amount of sulphur in it, and the higher this amount the more health benefits there are.

3. Garlic that has been aged has more antioxidants than garlic that is not aged.

4. Garlic can be used in diabetics to lower blood sugar, or continue to keep it low.

5. Too much garlic can cause irritation to your bowels.

6. One of the compounds of Garlic can be used as an anti-fugal.

7. Microwaving garlic will completely kill the antibiotic and anti-fungal properties of it.

8. By crushing fresh organic garlic you will get the most medicinal use out of it.

9. The fresher the garlic and the freshest chopped or crushed the more taste you will get out of it.

10. Garlic has been used for over 5,000 years for medicinal purposes, starting in India.

From reading this you can conclude that by buying raw organic garlic bulbs and only opening them right before you crush or chop them for immediate use, you will get the most medicinal purposes out of your garlic. The smaller the garlic pieces when you are done chopping, mincing or crushing the more of the healing components you will get out of it, these components are activated when you cut the garlic, as time goes by the benefits will diminish, that is why it is very important to only get the garlic ready just before using it. You may also want to note that by using garlic this way you will get more taste out of it, so you can actually use less.

The luxury travel industry has been the core of my business world for many years. In my role as marketing consultant have seen travel companies grow and fall as the trends for vacations and short breaks changed in line with needs for the industry’s most important component – the customer.

From just one holiday or vacation a year, the trend has grown to a pattern of two maybe even three vacations. For those with more disposable income, a sprinkling of short breaks throughout the year has become a typical indulgence… until now.

With the onset of the financial recession from 2008 onwards large families and travelers in their 40-50s were hardest hit in terms of the number and quality of holidays taken. Excited at the opportunities afforded by budget flights and exciting destinations many families looked forward to a few weeks in the sun with cheap food and drink plus the opportunity to pick up some duty free luxuries and a tan.

But the fall out from flight route closures on the cheaper airlines, the rising costs of hold baggage and the affects of currency fluctuations have made larger numbers of potential holiday makers taking the cheaper option and staying at home.

The younger singles market still managed the short luxury breaks to European cities such as Prague and Barcelona and the island retreats of Ibiza and Mallorca. But even this market is being eroded as salaries dip in line with recession. Currency fluctuation and exchange rates have hit the cost of bed and board rises dramatically in the once celebrated destinations. Add in the effect of ‘global warming’ on the conscience of the younger travelers and its easy to see why so many of the budget holiday companies are falling on difficult times.

And what about the luxury end of the market? Believe it or now but some of the top end companies are having a very profitable time. How? They have talked to each other, joined forces and shared resources to help bring their marketing costs down and in many cases their market coverage up.

I have seen groups of top Scottish Hotels who might have been fighting for a customers attention, become a collaborative marketing group whose aim is to sell the destination first and then divide up the spoils among their spa resorts, golf complexes, boutique hotel partners and city centre apartments.

I have also seen small specialist travel agents collaborate by forming a collaborative venture specializing in high end luxury travel destinations – each member having a unique destination or service. With one innovative marketing message they have a louder voice than they might have as individual travel operators.

On the customer side collaboration is also proving very beneficial. Instead of taking lots of individual holidays there is a growing trend for groups who might have booked separate hotels and a similar destination to team up and book a large villa or apartment. Combining their entrepreneurial skills, purchasing skills and cooking skills they are able to eat well, organize great activities while staying at some of the most exclusive holiday destinations.

Wearing the latest in fashion is what every one of us likes to do. But it is very important to carry the clothes in style. Having a great wardrobe is definitely essential but some basics of style should also be adhered to in order to make a striking fashion statement. There are lots of online wholesale apparel shops that cater to the fashion conscious generation. But apart from stocking up a fantastic collection, there are a few other issues that need to be paid attention to.

• A well groomed appearance is very essential in order to carry any ensemble with style. Nobody looks good with straggly, greasy hair, chewed up fingernails, gross skin, unplucked eyebrows, and leg stubble.

• Taking good care of your clothes is also very important. Well maintained clothes are the basic requirement of carrying off any stylish look with elan.

• Over usage of accessories can kill any fashionable ensemble. It is always best to make minimum use of accessories so that they can act as a compliment to the basic outfit and add some style.

• Try to choose outfits based on which colors and styles look nice on you. It is a good idea to match what you are wearing with your own personality. This helps in bringing out your true colors and helps you look and feel great.

Each year new fashion trends are born and it is time for the old ones to retire. Though it is definitely a great idea to go with what is in vogue, but at the same time you should keep an eye out for the comfort factor as well. Comfort and style goes hand in hand and choosing apparel based on how comfortable you feel wearing them is the smartest decision. Fashion trends appear unexpectedly and fade away even quicker than they appeared.

There is no limit to the permutations one can think of in terms of mixing and matching clothes and creating a style that is comfortable yet elegant. If you want to achieve a great look, be in line with new fashion styles that are influenced by different seasons. In recent we have seen the rise of new brands as well as the comeback of some old fashion trends. To wear something different and with style is to create fashion and with a bit of creativity you can come up with unique combinations that can become a personal fashion statement.

There’s a famous saying that goes, ‘the clothes make the man (or the woman).’ This simply means that what one wears can say a lot about him; some actually judge people on the kind of clothes they wear. Ever since that time when man decided to put on something to cover his naked body, he has always been paying attention to what he wears not only in terms of how it protects his body, but also on how he’s going to be perceived by other people. Today, fashion trends come and go as fleeting as the latest smartphones.

If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t necessarily keep up with the latest trends in fashion but don’t want to look old-fashioned either, you can follow these tips on how to dress up in style without necessarily spending a fortune or without looking like you’re trying to follow the trend:

Choose clothes that complement your skin color, height and size – Some people make the mistake of putting on something that they’ve seen their favorite celebrities wear that may not necessarily be ideal for them. Always go for outfits that will highlight your good features and downplay the not-too-good ones.

Don’t go for too much: It’s okay to make a statement with what you wear, but you don’t necessarily have to go over the top for it. You can be bold sometimes, but don’t make yourself appear like a human placard.

Have a few pairs of jeans: Jeans always work with almost anything and are never out of style. Jeans can also be used to neutralize your overall look in case your top looks too formal or too elegant if you’re only attending a small soiree. However, you should still stay within the bounds of good taste and decency by not going too low waist-ed with them. Tattered jeans are fine, too, but overdoing it may just result to a fashion disaster.

Know how to mix and match: When shopping, look for clothes with neutral colors and plain prints so you can match them with anything in your closet. But this is not to limit your shopping range. Of course, you can always go for shirts that have different colors and exciting prints, but nothing too outrageous.

Create your own style – There’s nothing wrong with looking like your favorite celebrity, but wearing exactly the same shirt, pants, shoes, and accessories he or she has worn in a picture you’ve seen in a magazine makes you look like a copycat. Some people would even think it’s creepy. Experiment with different combinations and create a style all your own.

Looking stylish with the clothes you wear is certainly not rocket science. Just know who you are and what looks good on you and you can strut your stuff with panache wherever you go.