Sunday, August 12, 2012

5 Travel Pet Peeves

I'm writing this post as part of the Traveling Brown Girls Blog Carnival.
For more info, check out OneBrownGirl's Blog! Enjoy!

The topic for this month's blog carnival is Travel Pet Peeves. I don't usually like writing about negative things; I try to be an optimist, so I had to dig deep! Here are mine:

1) People who forget they are a guest in the place they are visiting

Even if I'm just visiting a different city in North America, I try to remember I'm a guest and am on my best behavior. Yes, being a guest often comes with special privileges/treatment, but it also means you need to remember your p's and q's. It's one thing to make yourself at home and it's another to make a mess and put your feet up on the coffee table. I don't like it when people are rude and act like they own the place. Remember as a visitor, you are representing a whole group of tourists, not just yourself. Don't turn all of us into "unwanted guests."

2) Inconsistent airline security rules

This one probably bugs me the most. I re-read all the rules before I fly - especially since they like to change the rules every 5 minutes. I comply. I put all my liquids in the special zipped bag they provide. I don't try to hide anything. However, it seems that the rules depend on the mood of the security agent at any given moment. I have flown with the same bottles of the same liquids and 99% of the time, go through without any questions. Once in a while, one gets snotty or I don't know what  and wants to stop me for it. I've never had anything taken away because I can explain that I've flown with this particular item millions of times before and I happen to travel a fair bit, but it still annoys me to be questioned for what seems like a totally insignificant item.

3) People who complain things are not like at home

One purpose of travel, if you ask me, is to get out of your comfort zone and experience different things. Things should not be exactly the same as at home because, well, why not just stay home then? I can't stand to hear people complain about silly details and how this or that isn't like at home. You are allowed to not like a place, but every place should be judged on its own merit, not how much it meets the comforts of home.

4) Late check out issues

This really is a "First World Problem" but I like a late check out as much as anyone now and then. However, when checking out really late, I always inform them DAYS before and I also pay the extra hourly rate they require. I have no problem paying extra for what I need, this isn't my issue. My issue is the lack of communication to hotel staff and how my door gets knocked on at least 10 times by cleaning staff even after I've repeatedly told them I paid for late check out and no, I won't be leaving before X o'clock. I know they have to get a certain amount of rooms done in a certain amount of time, but my paying extra should compensate everyone for that inconvenience. Really, someone needs to find a way to put a note in the system (or maybe on my door!) and stop bugging me!

5) Stomach problems

Is it just me or are people more likely to get food poisoning while traveling? It could just be from eating out so much. Although with me, I don't get food poisoning as much as I get the opposite problem: constipation. I put this down to drinking less water while running around, not always being able to find a bathroom and the major change in diet. I have a wheat allergy, but travel often prevents me from avoiding wheat since it's in so many things and so hard to avoid. It's hard to maintain any sort of strict diet while traveling and yeah, I suffer for it! I might get stopped up, but I don't let it stop me! Ha!
Sorry I had to go there!

If you're not part of this month's blog carnival, feel free to share yours in the comments (with a link to a post if you like) and make sure to participate in October for the next one!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Group VS Solo Travel

If you read a lot of travel blogs, you'll hear a lot of disdain for group travel or organized tours, as if they are less valid experiences than hardcore "roughing it" with solo travel.

My opinion is any travel is good if it gets you out of your comfort zone and experiencing new things. Travel does not have to be rough, scary or constantly spontaneous. It doesn't even have to be adventurous. Just go out, follow your dreams and see the world.

So while I've never actually participated in group travel, I can understand the benefits and the appeal. As a solo traveler, I have done organized group day trips/tours. I'm going to try to compare the benefits of the two and people who have done both can correct me if you think I'm wrong!

Safety in numbers

People always say there's safety in numbers and it's true. That being said, there are tons of tips and articles about staying safe while travelling solo. Still, group travel is one way to at least make you feel like you'll have help if you need it. As long as it doesn't give you a false sense of security and you let your guard down, this is a great benefit.

Group Gouging?

The drawback to the group is touts can see you from a mile away and they see dollar signs painted on your foreheads. On the plus side, you can negotiate group discounts or deals.

Blame Someone Else

With an organized tour or group, if you don't like the food or the accommodations you were provided, you can complain and maybe even get your money back. Sure, a solo traveler could also, but there's more power in a group when it comes to complaints and tour operators want to keep everyone happy. As a solo traveler, if you've done your research and end up in a hell hole for the night, usually it's your own fault!

See More, Learn More, Do More

Some activities or sites have areas that are cut off from the general public, but will let guided tours in to special spots, so you actually get to experience more than a solo traveler would. I've also always appreciated the extra information provided during a tour, often from a local. As a solo traveler, unless you hook up with Tours By Locals, you might miss out on a lot of educational and enriching information.

Who Pays More?

This is the big question: does it cost more to take a group tour or to organize your whole trip alone? I think group tours are more expensive, but has anyone really looked at it objectively? Let me know!

Worry Free

The bonus to a group tour is you don't have to worry about getting lost and don't have to think about where you'll sleep any given night. All the thinking has been done for you. All you have to do is wake up at the right time and get on the bus/plane when they say. I'm a control freak, so I'm going to leave my personal opinions out of this one!

So what has your experience been? What other points am I missing? Lend us your wisdom in the comments!