Category Archives: Independent Travel

Security Tips for Travellers

How Not to Look Like a Tourist

The most important thing to keep in mind is that many travellers go abroad ignorant not only of the types of scams they may see, but also unprepared in general. While it’s not unreasonable to be disoriented in a new city and to struggle with directions or understanding a foreign language, the more you look like a lost tourist, the better your chances are of being targeted. The best way not to look like an easy mark is to do your homework.

Some of the general preparations that should be undertaken before travelling to any foreign city are to obtain a map and study it so that you can navigate without having to stop every five minutes and also research the types of places you want to go so that you are not wandering around aimlessly trying to find that monument or gallery or restaurant.

Ou est la Toilette?

Put forth an effort to learn and properly pronounce a few basic lines of whatever language the locals are speaking. This is a sign of respect that you can show to the locals in whose country you are a guest and they will be friendlier and more likely to stop and talk. If you cannot question the statements of airport employees, taxi drivers and restaurant staff, you run the risk of being pressured into paying extra fees for services you may not want or that may not even exist.

Also, do some research to find out what the weather is usually like in your destination and bring appropriate clothing. Try to find out about any social mores, appropriate manners in addressing service staff or other behavioural standards. All of these things will help you to fit in better and appear as a savvier, more experienced traveller — in other words, the kind of person a thief would be wise to avoid.

Trains, Planes and Automobiles

Before arriving at a city proper, your choice of transportation brings with it different potential dangers. Jewellery and other valuables can be stolen from the conveyor belts of airport metal detectors, so always pay attention to your belongings. With that said, planes and airports are often a better bet than travelling by EuroRail, where stories abound of unwitting tourists being charged bogus fees by train staff for having their luggage stored.

Trains are also risky because they are often crowded and there are many opportunities for pickpockets to grab a wallet in such close quarters. For those who prefer to rent a car, rental agencies (and cab drivers … and businessmen for that matter) are capable of short-changing tourists with whom there is a distinct language barrier preventing the traveller from forming a coherent objection.

Not Kansas Anymore

Once you’re in London, Paris or Rome, the variety of scams you’ll encounter is almost exciting. These places aren’t like North American cities where, short of brazen thievery, the only con artists you’ll ever encounter are beggars and salespeople. First you have the relatively benign hawkers of cheap goods. You’ll see dozens of merchants selling trinkets, souvenirs and even knock-off designer handbags. It’s common to pay two euros at one merchant for an Eiffel tower keychain only to find someone selling them for 1.5 a block down the street.

I’ll Give You Four Bucks and a Cookie for That Louis Vuitton

I recall having a conversation with a man selling his paintings on a street in Rome that finally left, because in ten minutes he was unable to name a price for me. This goes for the bag sellers, too. If they ask you, “How much would you pay for this?” you might as well leave, because they are only going to play off the initial figure you throw out there. (Of course, if you like to barter, then it’s your lucky day). What these people do is illegal, yet they have a knack for spying oncoming carabinier, packing up their operation and returning to the exact same spot mere seconds after the officers pass through. It’s sort of like a horse flicking its tail to momentarily shoo the flies away.

One of the most easily avoidable scams involves someone approaching you and tying a colourful bracelet around your wrist, then asking a ridiculous price after the fact. Pressure tactics like this are a great way to coerce tourists, but you don’t have to reciprocate or show sympathy for these scammers — don’t give them a cent.

The Stranger Isn’t Just Being Friendly

The most professional scammers you’ll encounter are pickpockets. Anybody who would take the risk to rob you in broad daylight is either crazy or damn good at it, and neither of those things bode well for you. In Paris, I was walking with some friends on the subway and one of them bumped into a man for just a moment. Minutes after he passed, she looked at her backpack to discover that the zipper had been opened without any of us realizing it.

Although nothing was taken, it’s alarming to imagine the speed with which experienced thieves can operate. Some enterprising pickpockets work in groups to distract travellers by talking while others quickly snatch their valuables. Younger people and even couples with babies have been said to serve as distractions, so never let your guard down around anybody and keep your money in a secure place like a money belt.

Don’t Forget to Enjoy Your Trip!

Awareness is key to keeping all of your valuables where they belong. So be aware of all possible circumstances during your trip and once you’ve done all of your homework you’ll be so prepared that your chances of falling into a tricky situation are slim. Read up on your desired destination and your trip will go a lot smoother.

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Rainbow Travel Tips & Tidbits 18 Jan 2009

A380 AIRBUS BARGAIN FLIGHTS TO AUSTRALIA FROM $347.50* EACH WAY

qantas-a3803

Wow!!! What an opportunity to fly on the new A380 Double Decker Airbus. These bargain airfares are being offered on a select number of one way flights from Los Angeles or San Fransisco and travel has to be between 01 May and 31 May 2009. Seats are very limited and may not be available on every flight. The starting price includes 3 nights accommodation at 3 or 4 star hotels in Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne including day tours and transfers.  To find out more, contact Rainbow Travel Inc for details.

* Prices do not include any taxes, govt fees, or surcharges.

HAWAII NIGHT SNORKELING ADVENTURES

night-snorkeling-hawai

Hula Kai has introduced its new Manta Ray Night Snorkel and Dive making it Kona’s first-class manta adventure. Just before sunset, guests are whisked away from the pier at Keauhou Bay and arrive a few minutes later at Manta Village, in water around 25 feet deep, to observe the sea’s most graceful creatures. Staff members are on hand to serve warm soup, delicious breads, hot drinks and other snacks. The two and a half hour Hula Kai excursion departs Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The cost per snorkeler is only $89 including snorkel gear and wetsuit, $110 for certified divers including equipment. 

COSTA RICA CREATES A NEW PARK

costa-rica-ecosystem

Costa Rica has just completed it’s newest national park, Los Quetzales, covering approximately 4,000 acres. It’s approximately 1205 km southeast of San Jose. The park was previously called Reserva Los Santos.  The new name, Los Quetzales, is derived from the unique emerald-green and ruby-red quetzal bird which lives high in the canopies of the Talamanca Hills. The park is located in one of the rainiest parts of the country with an altitude of 2,800 metres. Among some of the endangered species located here are the quetzal, puma, jaguar and tapir.

Additionally , the park is home to 3 types of forests and 14 ecosystems. The park owes its extreme biodiversity to the 7 diferent levels of altitude that house 25 unique local species, 116 types of mammals, and wetlands such as seasonal lagoons. With direct charter flights from Vancouver and many other Canadian gateways there has never been a better time to visit Costa Rica.

Rainbow Travel Tips & Tidbits 25 August 2008

The World’s Eyes on China

The world’s eyes were focused on China with the Olympic Games and for at least the near future as well.

One of my clients recently returned from an exciting trip which we helped organize.  Travelers are just beginning to realize that they can explore China on their own rather than following the traditional guided tour.  They have the freedom to do their own thing at their own pace while enjoying a significant cost savings.  With independent travel, we do recommend that travelers have handy the contact numbers for the various services on the detailed service vouchers; these are very useful in the event things do not go as planned.

A good travel agent with their network of contacts can arrange hotel accommodations, sightseeing, and airport transfers based on a client’s budget and desired destinations…not just for the dominant tourist cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Xian but to other major cities across this large country.

Hotel options in China range from 2 to 5 stars with nightly prices going anywhere from just over $30 per night to $500 per night (USD).  In addition to hotels, we can offer over 1600 services for independent travelers to China including 145 sightseeing tours plus guide services, transfers, shows, and other options through our supplier.  These options include half and full day private/group tours to places such as the Great Wall, Chuan Di Xia Village, cooking classes, a foot massage, a traditional meal such as Peking Duck, and cultural shows such as acrobatics and kung fu.

Rainbow Travel Blog - Chuan Di Xia Village

Rainbow Travel Blog - Chuan Di Xia Village

I am pleased to be able to share with you one such itinerary lasting 7 days to Shanghai and Beijing for one of our clients.  On arrival in Shanghai, our clients were met and transferred to the JC Mandarin Hotel.  While the grandiose marble lobby and modern business style rooms were impressive, the best attribute was the hotel’s central location.  Our clients had booked a half day chinese cooking lesson on their first morning.  Promptly at 9am, the chef instructor was waiting in the lobby to whisk our clients off in a cab (at the chef’s expense) to his kitchen classroom.  Together they made oyster mushrooms with baby bok choy, sweet and sour pork with pineapple, and sichuan style chicken with spicy chilies and peanuts.  At the end, our clients were put in a cab to return to their hotel.  For the remaining 2 days in Shanghai, they explored the city on their own with a city map translated in both english and chinese, and a handy business card from the hotel which had their name and directions written on it.

Rainbow Travel Blog - Beijing National Stadium (aka The Bird Nest)

Rainbow Travel Blog - Beijing National Stadium (aka The Bird Nest)

On the third night, our clients flew from Shanghai to Beijing  and were met by private transfer from the airport to the Holiday Inn Temple of Heaven, a very nice 4 star hotel.  They found the only drawback was its location which required taking taxis everywhere.  However for the first 2 of their 4 days in Beijing, they didn’t have to worry about taxis as they had a full day Great Wall and Ming Tombs private tour and a half day Summer Palace private tour scheduled.  Once again their tour guides were promptly downstairs in the lobby at the designated meeting time.  The full day tour was with a young chinese gentleman whose english was adequate and was happy to make any additional stops to places like the Olympic Stadium site.  With a driver, our clients were taken to the Ming Dynasty Tombs and then the Great Wall at Badaling where our clients were allowed to climb on their own for as long as they desired.  They were then driven back to the hotel.  The following morning, another tour guide, a young chinese woman, and her driver took our clients to the Summer Palace.  Both guides were excellent.  As an added surprise, the tour also included a silk factory visit where the actual silkworms process was shown, as well as, the “magic” silk blanket which is cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  The rest of the time in Beijing was spent on their own to do whatever they wanted.

Rainbow Travel Blog - Shanghai at Night

Rainbow Travel Blog - Shanghai at Night

This is just a sample of the many options available for independent travelers to do what they want to do, when they want to do it, at their own pace with as much free time as they want without the crowds.  So why not put together your own China Adventure, with our help you can do it.