Tips for Choosing the Right Tour Company

These simple steps will help you pick the right tour company in the right destination :

1) Rely on Research

Finding reliable tour companies in your chosen destination is the first step of research. Check reviews on travel forums and websites like TripAdvisor or get advice from friends and colleagues. Visit the company’s social media pages to learn more from previous travellers’ reviews. Make sure you you are thorough and satisfied with your research.

2) List your Travel Goals

Have a clear idea of what you want your trip to be, be it adventurous, official, or leisurely. Then make a list of places you wish to see and activities or experiences you want to undertake. Also, make sure to align your preferred activities, transportation, and schedule, making sure it all times out nicely.

3) Track Interactions

The key to trusting a provider is keeping tabs on how responsive they are. Also, keeping your interaction alive with the company via email or phone is a great way to establish a rapport with them. Cross the unresponsive ones from your list, because if they are not listening to you now, then chances are they will not be reliable if you are stuck somewhere or need something during the trip.

4)  Don’t be Greedy for More

If you are planning to travel to 5 european countries in 6 days, then it is apparent that you won’t be able to see much of each of your destinations. Don’t try to fit too many places into your itinerary. Do you want a 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there kind of experience that leaves you exhausted, or do you want an in-depth, quality experience that allows you to explore a place with ease?

5) Check for Safety

Make sure the company is a certified company that adheres to safety measures. If it is a reputable company, then chances are it will have proper safety measures in place and will offer a low-risk travel package.

6) Calculate Costs

Be certain of what all the costs are and shop around to compare rates and services before committing to them. Also check the costs of things that are not included in the tour, like prices of activities or transportation from one place to another. Find out how many meals and stays are covered in the tour price. The company should also be able to provide you a rough estimate of additional expenses which are not included in the tour.

Article Credits : https://blog.bambatravel.com

Keeping Things Clean While Travelling

Keep your shoes shiny

If you can’t get your hands on a traveling shoe shine kit or don’t want to carry one around, pick up a few packets of white vinegar (your hotel restaurant may even have vinegar you can use) and use that to clean, condition and shine your leather shoes.  Rub the vinegar in with a washcloth from your hotel washroom.

Packing shoes

To keep dirty shoes from mucking up your clothing, wrap shoes in a plastic shopping bag and lay flat on top of clothing, or use a shower cap to store the shoes in and then lay flat on top of your clothing.

Packing toiletries

I place all of mine in zippered plastic bags.  That way, in case something explodes or breaks, it’s all contained.  I’d rather that than a fancy traveling cosmetics and toiletries bag getting gross in transit.  I pack a few extra bags in the event there is an ‘explosion’.  This one is pretty obvious but it works so well and is worth mentioning.

Mini laundry detergent packets

If you want to pack light but have a few days of travel planned, consider picking up a few packets of laundry detergent.  I found a Tide 3 pack suited for sinks at Walmart in their travel toiletries bins.  It was very inexpensive and a great idea, since there’s always a reason something needs to be laundered while traveling.

On that note, I want to take a moment and recognize hotel bar soap.  Hotel bar soap is miraculous stuff.  Recently, my niece got a huge oil spill on her favourite pair of pants while we were away on a girls weekend.  I told her the pants were goners, but my sister-in-law disagreed and touted the awesomeness of hotel bar soap.  It got every lick of oil off those pants, I’d never seen anything like it before.  They took that bar of soap home.  Don’t underestimate the powers of hotel bar soap.

Stain remover pen

Yes it’s nerdy, but if you travel around with one of these, you’ll be able to catch, remove pre-treat stains that you may not be able to tackle for a while.  They are worth it.  Stick it in your purse, you’ll be glad you were able to catch that ketchup or red wine stain when you did.

Alcohol wipes

I prefer these to Wet Wipes, because they contain a disinfectant, don’t smell like fake lemon and I can use one of these before eating on a plane or eating at a food cart while out and about.  I also find them easier to carry around than a small bottle of hand sanitizer and believe it or not, I’d rather smell rubbing alcohol than hand sanitizer.  They were super cheap too. I found them in the first aid section at Walmart.

These can also be used if you encounter something you don’t like in your hotel room, i.e. a dirty remote control.  They are great for quick, disposable cleaning wipes.

Dryer sheets

Place a dryer sheet somewhere in your suitcase (i.e. a mesh zippered pouch) and your clothing will smell nice throughout your travels.  If you are combining shoes and clean clothes, you’re bound to have some smell activities going on that are unpleasant.

As well, if you are going somewhere which has a mosquito or bee issue, keep a sheet in your back pocket.  The bugs can’t stand the smell and it will keep them away!

Dirty laundry

I use the hotel’s laundry bag (you know, the one they give you to place your laundry in for them to wash for only $20 per load or something like that) and store my dirty items in there.  That way, at the end of the trip I can easily drop that bag into my laundry sorter when I arrive home.  It makes unpacking easier.

Baby powder

If you are heading to a beachy locale, consider packing a small container of baby powder along with you.  When you are done at the beach, sprinkle it all over your body and your beach gear, stand on a non-sandy area and shake all of the sand off.  The talcum powder dries your skin and instantly separates the sand from your body and your gear.  That way, you won’t be dragging sand as a souvenir home with you!

Drinking Straws

Simple and easy!  Take a drinking stray and feel your necklace chain through it.  That way, your necklaces won’t become tangled during your travels.

I hope that makes for an easier, cleaner traveling experience for you!

What can (and can’t) you take from hotel rooms?

When you’re packing your bags and checking out of a hotel, you might be tempted to grab a few extra soaps, a notepad, or maybe even a towel. Is that stealing or does the hotel expect you to swipe a few items? A hotel manager responds and lets us know what’s okay to take with you.

Michael Forrest Jones previously worked as a general manager in the hotel business before starting his own company, and took to Quora to answer this oft-pondered question:

Let’s start with the obvious: We expect guests to either use or to take consumable items—soap, shampoo, stationery, etc. You’re welcome.

Things like towels, hair dryers, lamps, TVs, and TV remotes (I think some guests are mutant aliens who eat TV remotes—like, gee, the remote can’t be counted upon to work with any TV anywhere except the one in the room), alarm clock radios, comforters, coffee makers, bedspreads, blankets, etc., are obviously intended for the next guests, are part of the furnishings, and we don’t want you taking them. They are also a bit more costly—in a cheap motel, almost as much as you paid for the room in some cases, and definitely more than our profit margin in many more cases—so yes, we go a little nuts when people help themselves to them.

Bathrobes occupy a gray area, depending on what sort of hotel you’re staying at. Modestly priced hotels provide them as part of the bedding, and want to launder them and hang them for another guest when you check out. However in a more upscale property, some people actually assume that they’re gifts—with the hotel’s blessing. Something like that is a good promotional item, if a little on the pricey side for a midscale hotel. If you did it at all, you’d only do it for your most important customers. I wouldn’t provide them in every room to every guest, but a VIP might find a bathrobe monogrammed with the hotel logo left in the room, as a gift. (Not all of them get opened or taken in places where I’ve seen it done that way.)

Likewise, I’d keep a few down comforters around, in case I spotted a reservation for someone who might specifically request it or are some sort of VIP. But this is another item that wouldn’t be provided in every room: only for VIPs who I knew ahead of time were coming, and who I knew liked such things. Keep it down to that scale, and you can launder them after every use—which is the way it should be, anyway, but never is. And most people know not to take them although, again, at that scale and given the VIP status of the only people that would have access to them, I wouldn’t fuss too much if someone took one. (They probably wouldn’t find one on the bed the next time they came, but just once? Nah, I’d probably growl a little bit and let it slide.)

Believe it or not, that “should you take it or shouldn’t you?” gray area is occupied by another, somewhat surprising, item: the Gideon Bible in the nightstand. Gideons’ International sent a guy to speak at a church I attended one Sunday morning, and the speaker shared that Christian organization’s dirty little secret: supposedly the Gideons actually want you to steal the Gideon Bible from your hotel room, and can’t get enough people to do it. The hotel’s staff may or may not share the same feelings.

And then there’s the telephone book, although it’s largely an outdated item now. Before internet availability was as widespread as it is now, telephone directories wouldn’t last that long. If I checked into a hotel in a new town and there was a telephone directory in good condition in the nightstand, color it gone. Back in the day, the local phone book was the best that could be had for various kinds of market research, and I knew that the hotel had been provided with a half pallet load from the phone company and could always get more, anyway.

One thing we tried in a hotel where I worked as a general manager (prior to launching my own company) was imprinted coffee mugs. Like the Gideon Bible, we can’t afford to offer it as a giveaway item to everyone, but we won’t fuss if you take one or two (we plan on losing about one of every five or six). Someone determined to collect the whole set from each of our hotels—you don’t have to steal them, we’ll give you a couple of them if you ask—has some potential as good, loyal, customers well worth the price of an occasional cheap coffee mug stolen from the room. The cost to us, even with the logo imprinted, is about two bucks. The promotional value as an advertising impression every time you pour a cup of coffee into your favourite mug in the morning or have guests over for coffee at any other time, is worth much more.

Your room might have some other trinkets that you might be tempted to take. Want to steal the bathtub ducky? These are well-received promotional items in places I’ve been able to use them; seeing the ducky on top of your fresh towels assures you that the tub is clean and it’s also a touchstone and a conversation piece, like the Doubletree chocolate chip cookie. I don’t care if you take fifty of my 28¢ bathtub duckies—in order to get that many, you have to stay fifty times at a hundred bucks, give or take per night. Do the math.

And finally, here’s a relic that you don’t see anymore: imprinted towels with the hotel’s logo. Originally intended as a deterrent to theft of the towels, they actually incentivized it: the hotel’s imprint on the towel gave it value as a souvenir to what otherwise would have been just an unremarkable, plain white towel.

A hotel can still order them if they shop around (and don’t mind paying extra for the imprint so you can go through your terry twice as fast, as more people take them home); but they’re not nearly as commonplace as they once were. In the years since, hotels have gone back to plain, white towels, their advantage being that they are unremarkable.

The Takeaway : Obviously, Michael can only speak from his experience at his hotel chain, and it likely varies from hotel to hotel. But if we’ve learned one thing here, it’s that you might be allowed to take more than just that shampoo. More importantly: if you want something, just ask. In many cases, the hotel may let you take the item with their blessing, and you’ll never worry about being an accidental thief.

Credit to https://lifehacker.com

6 tips for choosing the best hotel online for you

How to have a delightful stay at a hotel without breaking your back

Once you choose the destination, the search for the perfect hotel can begin. But where should you start and how can you choose? There are so many choices available, and it can feel like a big-time investment to browse through most of them.

1. Pay close attention to the location

The location of your hotel matters for a handful of reasons. First, it will have an impact on how long you have to travel between the hotel and the sightseeing locations. The further away you are, the earlier you will probably need to make your way back.

Secondly, you want to know what area you are staying in. There’s no fun in staying in a hotel next to two completely abandoned buildings and an open field which also requires you to either walk through China town or take a long train journey to get to the city centre .

And lastly, being in close proximity of what you value will make your journey more pleasant. Prefer to stay as close to the city because you can walk everywhere? Or, do you prefer to avoid the buzz and enjoy the green areas? Let’s find out.

2. Know how you like to travel

This one is quite an important step. Do you travel to relax and let others take care of you? Or do you want to be challenged, learn new facts and dive into a completely different culture?

Knowing how you like to travel can tell you a lot about what kind of hotel you’d enjoy most. If you don’t care that much for breakfast, don’t upgrade your room. If you will be mostly outdoors, you don’t need a fancy room. And finally, if your aim is to travel on a tight budget, only spend money on experiences you know you will enjoy (for example, your bucket list items).

3. Create a list of your must-haves and nice-to-haves

Must-haves for hotels

  • Good location with no more than a 30-minute walk between the hotel and the main sightseeing activities. If you are planning a short stay (<4 days), every hour counts, so wasting it on sitting in traffic doesn’t sound like a good idea, especially after having spent that much money on aeroplane tickets, transfers and the lot.
  • Clean, well-sized room with a slightly modern interior. After Milan and a few experiences after, we realised that we don’t enjoy overly modern interiors with weird shapes and colours. When we get to our hotel room, we want to rest up and get ready for the next day of exploration, so we tend to choose very light interior when possible.
  • Good breakfast options: included or great options nearby. Hotel breakfasts may seem a bit boring, especially compared to the next up-and-coming cafe on the corner, but it can take a lot of time to find great places to eat spontaneously. We used to skip the breakfast options at hotels and choose to look for something in the morning which almost always left me hungry for most of the first part of the day. It’s fine when you are lounging in the car, but it’s not as great when you want to spend an active day outdoors.

Nice-to-haves for hotels

  • Bath. Staying at a hotel is a chance to relax, so a bath is definitely on the nice-to-have list. It’s almost on the must-have, to be honest, but we have had great breaks in hotel rooms with a shower only, and the former can be quite expensive.
  • Nice view. It’s tough to get a great room on a budget with beautiful views, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. If you are flying on your birthday, anniversary or any other joyous occasion, don’t forget to mention when making your booking. You may just be in for a little treat.
  • Gym or Swimming Pool. This is something I’ve been trying to get into but have only succeeded once so far, and it’s exercising while travelling. All that glorious food and cocktails can accumulate quite fast so, in the version of my dream life, I travel and exercise in the mornings.

4. Use a reputable website to choose a hotel and compare prices

You can use individual hotel websites to make your booking, but before you do, you may want to compare the prices in the area to get the best value for your money. You may be surprised at how the prices in specific hotels can differ by date due to availability and events in the area.

One of the best places to look is booking.com* — you can compare prices based on date, location and plenty of hotel features like the WiFi, parking, amenities, and of course, guest rating and stars. I used to compare multiple sites like this, but booking.com has won me over with their simple user interface and the extra mile they go to make sure your trip is more enjoyable. For example, you automatically receive a trip guide to the city you are travelling to, with discounts for popular attractions as well as guidance on experiences and food destinations.

There are other websites for browsing hotels though, like Trivago, and I know that Momondo is getting into this as well. What’s important is that you look at the prices, decide on the price range you are comfortable with and start building your list.

With your location and must-haves in mind, you can start narrowing down your list. It will take you some time at the start, but don’t worry as it’s a simple task and it will get faster each time you take this approach.

Once you have set your eyes on a particular hotel for your city break, I’d recommend making a quick check on the hotel’s website, just in case they have a deal for the same room, or you can get some extras for free.

5. Narrow your choice down based on your preferences and reviews

Compare by what’s important to you (location, hotel features, and of course, price).

Sort the tabs of your semi-finalists/quarterfinalists and compare them even more based on the money you are paying and what you are getting in return. We mostly look at the breakfast photos, if the hotel has any of our nice-to-haves (since we would have sorted the must-haves already).

Double check the hotel against the fresh/new reviews

Some hotels had excellent service in the past and have seen a steep decline. There’s nothing quite like entering your hotel room and realising that the photos you saw were probably taken more than 10 years ago.

Also, pay close attention to the photos, when do you think these were taken? — customer reviews are usually the best as they are timestamped, and you can actually see how rooms and the public areas of the hotel look without professional lighting and HDR toning.

Triple check the reviews on other websites

Check not only on the website you are booking your room on but also Google Reviews and TripAdvisor. Street viewing the property helped us to narrow down our lists too on some occasions!

6. Enjoy it when you get there

Be friendly and kind to hotel staff

This may sound like a given, but sometimes it can really make all the difference in the world to be nice to the staff.

Skip the minibar – go shopping at the supermarket

Going shopping where the locals do must have been the best travel hack of 2017 for us. Why overspend on eating out when you are not feeling like it? Instead, pop by a local supermarket, stock up on ready-made local food like cooked meats or salad greens, some fresh fruit and the drinks of your choice.

Going shopping like this has saved us quite a bit of money, and it’s actually quite romantic if you come to think of it. It’s just the two of you enjoying each other’s company and tasting different flavours together. The money you save on that odd meal at the room can be better spent on an activity, a tour or even a more luxurious dinner at a restaurant.

Same applies to cocktails by the way — if you like your G&T, why not enjoy that in the comfort of your hotel with a movie. By the way, here’s a little hack. If you travel with your laptop and your hotel room has a big TV, bring an HDMI cable with you so you can connect the former to the TV and enjoy a great movie with that cocktail.

Over to you

And that wraps it up! You should now be fully suited to choose the best hotel for you online without having to worry too much about making the wrong choice.

 Credit: https://www.lifeviewers.com/

Top 12 hotel safety tips travelers should never ignore

These days, travel is no Sunday picnic and when you finally stumble into the lobby of your hotel, you may be tired, dirty, and in a hurry to get cleaned up, get some sleep, or get to the first item on your agenda.

Unfortunately, this is no time to let your guard down. If you’re traveling on business, you’re probably traveling alone and these tips are even more important to follow.

The following are the top hotel safety tips culled from the experts.

Upon arrival

1. Stay with your luggage – if you walk into the lobby ahead of your luggage, it could be snatched. Keep your luggage nearby too, because if the lobby is busy, enterprising thieves can take advantage of the distraction.

2. Ask for a room that’s not on the ground floor (it’s too easy to break in). Many safety experts recommend staying between the third and sixth floors – where rooms are high enough to avoid easy break-ins, but low enough to be reached by fire engine ladders.

During check-in

3. Most reputable hotels with honest staff know not to give out names or room numbers, but it’s still known to happen. If your room number is compromised (i.e., announced out loud), ask to be given another room. You never know who is listening and your room number is a matter of personal security.

4. Don’t set your credit card on the check-in counter – it’s too easy for a thief to capture the numbers with a good camera. And when it’s handed back to you, be sure it’s your credit card and not someone else’s or a bogus card.

5. Ask for two business cards with the hotel name and address. Place one by the phone in your room. If there is an emergency, and you call for help, you’ll have the name and address of your location. Place the other in your pocket or purse. If you have to take a cab or get lost, you can show the driver your location and avoid being taken to the wrong hotel.

In your room

6. If a valet has accompanied you to your room, block the door open while you check the room. Look in the closet, in the shower, and behind the curtains before you shut the door or release the valet.

7. Check the lock to be sure it’s functioning properly.  Make sure that the door has a deadbolt and keep it locked whenever you are in the room.

8. Use a door wedge to further secure the door – especially when you are sleeping or in the shower. Crooks are not always caught and may not have a record, so they can get hired by hotels where they have excellent access to spare room keys. Some criminals have been known to wait until they hear you in the shower before robbing your room or attacking you.

9. Place your flashlight or headlamp by the bead. If there’s an alarm or the electricity goes out, you’ll have the light you need to navigate an unfamiliar building.

When you leave

10. Lock the items you won’t be carrying with you, such as your laptop or other electronics, in the room safe. Modern hotels with a safe that lets you select your own combination are safer than those with keys. Don’t leave your passport behind.

11. If the safe in your room doesn’t appear safe, lock valuables in the hotel safe, but be sure to get a written receipt for your items and ask about the coverage for loss. Most hotels do not accept liability for items left in the guestroom safes but they will for those locked in the hotel safe.

12. If you lose your key or room entry card, report it to the hotel immediately and ask to be moved to another room. You can’t assume you ‘lost’ it – it may have been stolen from you by someone with malicious intent.

Oh, and one more thing: be wary of using the remote – that’s likely to be the germiest thing in the room.  Slide it into one of those small clean trash bags or wrap it in a wash cloth before pressing the buttons.

Credit to https://www.travelinsurancereview.net

Malaysia

10 spots in Malaysia to travel to

For many years, Malaysia has been one of the top travel destinations in Asia for international tourists. Our country is home to a trove of cultural activities, scenic landscapes and exciting destinations.

Perhaps this year, we Malaysians should take more time to explore the amazing attractions or sites that Malaysia has to offer.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can always check out travel fairs for ideas. The Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) organises a yearly travel fair to promote travel within Malaysia.

If you’d like to get started now, here’s a list of Malaysian attractions to visit and places to travel to this year.

Squid fishing in Terengganu

Malaysia

Located on the east coast, Terengganu is one of many Malaysian states that boasts beautiful beaches and many water-based activities.

The traditional art of squid jigging, or candat sotong, is a unique activity in Terengganu. The best time to go is from April to July, when squids are aplenty, and tourists can join locals on their boats as they go fishing for squids.

Cruising along the Melaka River

Malaysia

Home to the ever famous A’Famosa and Jonker Street, Melaka is one of Malaysia’s popular destinations.

Malaysian tourists who are looking for different ways to explore the historic city will be delighted with the Melaka River Cruise. The cruise will take tourists around popular sites along the Melaka River.

If you want to escape the heat during the day, the cruise also offers the option of a night cruise where tourists can take in the view of the city with its lights.

Spelunking in Perak

Malaysia

Like Penang, Perak is also famous for the food it has to offer. From Ipoh Hor Fun to the must-try Ipoh White Coffee, Perak is another haven for Malaysian foodies. However, it’s also a popular destination for nature lovers.

Located in Gopeng, Gua Tempurung, serves as a popular attraction for adventurous tourists. There are a series of cave tours for that differ in length and difficulty, so if you’re a newbie testing waters, be sure to book the right course.

Walking on the sky in Selangor

Malaysia

During the rainy season, Salar de Uyuni, a salt lake in Bolivia, is transformed into a shallow lake that reflects the sky. The remarkable sight makes it a popular spot for tourists and photographers, but Malaysians won’t need to travel abroad just for the experience.

Located in Kuala Selangor, Sasaran Beach is Malaysia’s very own Salar de Uyuni. Although it’s not as famous, it has no problem in attracting its own group of enthusiastic tourists.

Before you rush off with your camera, keep in mind that this picturesque attraction only appears during certain periods of the month, when the tide is low.

Do note that to get to Sasaran Beach, you’ll have to make a booking in advance at a travel agency.

Taking a break in Kedah

Malaysia

Itching to get away for the weekend and relax by the beach? You don’t have to fly all the way to the Maldives to enjoy a day by the beach.

Instead, head on over to the gorgeous beaches of Langkawi for a relaxing holiday away from city life.

Spend your holiday indulging in the local seafood or snorkeling with the fishes. If you’re feeling courageous, take a shot at scuba diving while you’re there.

Unleashing your inner child in Johor

If you’re a family with young children, you should definitely take your kids to Legoland.

First opened in 2012, the Malaysian Legoland is the first in Asia. The amusement park is filled with a ton of fun activities and rides for both adults and kids alike.

From the roller coasters to the water slides and the adorable driving school for kids – Legoland has activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Breath-taking sights in Putrajaya

Malaysia

You may be wondering, just what is there to do in Putrajaya? It’s not as popular as Penang or Melaka, but it has its own charms.

Adventurous travellers who wish for new experiences can look into the hot air balloon rides in Putrajaya. Although the experience comes with a hefty price tag, the overall experience makes the price worth it.

Watching the sunrise in Pahang

Malaysia

Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature at Teluk Chempedak in Kuantan, Pahang.

With the breathtaking sight of the sea on one side and the jungle on the other, it makes for a trendy hangout spot for families and couples. The spot is especially gorgeous during sunrises and sunsets.

Observing orang utans in Sabah

Malaysia

Have you ever seen an orang utan up close? If your answer is no, you can change that this year. The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre was set up years ago to help rehabilitate orphaned, injured or displaced orangutans before they’re returned to the wild.

The centre has since grown and now attracts a large group of visitors. At the centre, visitors have the opportunity to observe the orangutans in their natural habitat.

Flying kites in Kelantan

If you’re headed to Kelantan, do check out Pantai Cahaya Bulan. The beach is a popular destination for picnics for families and couples.

This spot is also pretty popular for kite flying and horse riding on the weekends.

Get discounted rates when you travel

Looking forward to getting away from all the hustle and bustle? If you’re looking for good deals on holiday packages, make sure to check out the MITA Travel Fair.

The fair is a great opportunity to score good deals on domestic travel packages. Selected tourism packages and services will see discounts of up to 70% at the fair, so be sure to mark the dates on your calendar!

For more information, visit their websiteFacebook page or call +603 4251 0351.

This article is brought to you by the Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association.

Credit to https://www.star2.com