FOCUS - JANUARY 2019 31 jus t d o i t Travelling continues to change, mostly because current events and situations constantly change. I have been at this for many, many years and recall how simple life was, prior to 9-11. Most countries began scrambling and made changes, without much foresight, and unfortunately today we are in an environment where most airports and airlines have different rules. People travel in various ways. Ocean liners, river cruises, coach tours, ad- venture travel, individual tours, etc. Each comes with its own set of circum- stances, which may or may not be your type of travelling. Travel agents are well trained in assisting travellers with the best alternatives, and many people use them. They can filter through airlines and tour companies, and do all the legwork for you. I have never been on a cruise ship, so I cannot speak to them. I understand they are comfortable, floating hotels and are perfect for certain travellers. Daily unpacking doesn’t exist, good, safe food (and lots of it) is standard, organized tours off the ship can easily be arranged, and the social element is non-stop. River cruises are similar to large ships, but tend to be geared for smaller groups. Where the average ocean liner holds 3,000 passengers, the new ones, like the Genesis will hold 6,400 people at a construction cost of $1.24 billion. Most riverboats hold between 200 and 250 passengers, making the boarding and disembarking much easier. Many people purchase tours on board, which ensures your prompt re- turn, as the ships do not wait. This year has been a problematic year for river cruising in Europe, as the rivers are too low for the ships to navigate. This results in bus tours, ferries and generally upset passengers. Coach tours can be good, if you en- joy travelling in groups and meeting new people. They make travelling simple and take most of the organizing away from passengers. Hotels are looked after, meals are usually organized and excur- sions are both, included and optional. Normally there is a tour manager who looks after all your needs, and local guides who hop on at various points along the trip. They even rotate passen- gers in seats each day, so everyone has a good vista through the window. For me, the downside of coach and ship travel is lack of freedom to explore areas when you want, and as long as you want. I want to eat where I want and the food I want, and I am not a fan of waiting for the slowest person in the group to get on the bus. A lot of people are staying close to home (US and Canada), which is great, as there is so much to see and explore. RV-ing is a great way to explore this continent, but as I require room service, running water, a big bed and little choco- lates on my pillow, I have absolutely no experience with camping (I did it when we first came to Canada, but soon dis- covered Marriott). I have travelled all over the world (102 countries) and my formula is quite simple. I decide on a destination and look to see where tour companies visit. I normally look at coach tours, as they hit the highlights and also have a list of excellent hotels. Once I hone in on the destination to what I want to see and do, I search for hotels, using TripAdvisor as a reference. If 80 out of 100 reviews are bad I will pass, but if 1 or 2 are bad I will delve deeper. For me it’s a numbers game. My grandfather used to say if one person calls you an ass you hit him, but if 20 people call you an ass, you buy a saddle. JONATHAN VAN BILSEN JONATHAN VAN BILSEN ...................... Please turn to page 32 A typical cruise ship in Easter Island. River cruises offer some spectacular sights. Sometimes 5-star isn’t available in Western Africa and sacrifices have to be made.