32 FOCUS - JANUARY 2019 Once I decide on route, hotels, dura- tion etc., I send out emails to tour compa- nies asking their opinion on my requests and include a driver, guide or driver/ guide. I usually reach out to 4 or 5 com- panies, local to the area. It does not take long to see all types of recommenda- tions filter into my inbox. Changes such as routes due to traffic and conditions, hotels because of locations, sightseeing based on entry times, etc. The end result is a very detailed itinerary, which I then send back to each company and ask them to quote. The cost of individual travel is higher, however, dealing locally you cut out a few levels of resellers. I don’t always go with the lowest, but base my decision on the comfort level attained from communi- cating back and forth (timeliness, listen- ing to what I want, suggestions, etc.). Of course cost is important, but quality outlasts the price. When I finally make my decision, I have a great understanding of everything I can expect on my trip. If something goes wrong, more than likely it will always be my fault. Before I finalize I contact the airlines and find out the best routing at an affordable price. Important questions have to be answered: do airlines allow upgrades for bulkhead seating? Are meals included? Is there enough time to make connections? And most important for me, am I allowed multi-day layovers (I like visiting destinations enroute for a few days prior to and after my trip). To travel this way has its drawbacks, in that it can take a long time to plan an excursion. You are also roaming with a guide in a car and do not have the safety of group travel. The advantages for me, however, are endless: I can start each day when I want to and end when I de- cide. I receive vast amounts of informa- tion as the guide is dedicated to me only. Mostly though, it is the flexibility, in that I can stay longer at a site, skip one alto- gether, move things around, etc. I never rent a car and drive, as I can’t find my way around a shopping mall, let alone a strange country. I always book hotels in advance ensuring I have a place to stay. Whatever your favourite method of travel is depends on your needs and wants and the comfort level you seek. No matter what your age or what destination you want to visit, there is a method of travel out there for you. The key is to do it! Jonathan van Bilsen is a photographer, author, columnist, keynote speaker and can be followed at photosNtravel.com TRAVEL TIP: Sinorama Holidays has closed its doors after 13 years in business. The company offered very inexpensive tours to China. Claims against the Compensation Fund may exceed the legislated maximum of $5 million. Travel (continued from page 31) Choosing the proper seating makes train travel in Sri Lanka lots of fun. Sometimes public transportation is just not available, as seen here in Santa Clara, Cuba. Not upgrading to business class on flights has its drawbacks. Scooters and bikes have always been a favourite way to get around Saigon. ® ® 158 Casimir Street, Port Perry • virginia.frew@marlintravel.ca MC TICO #4577532 905-985-2268 The bar has been raised in the cruising industry . . . has arrived. CelebrityEDGE ASK US FOR DETAILS ON HER SAILINGS