Are Travel Agencies Outmoded?

It seems like you cannot enjoy television for more than one hour without seeing a commercial with William Shatner referring to Travelocity or perhaps that silly gnome discussing Orbitz. When you have browsed a few of these travel sites, you might have noticed that they’re amazing in the diversity of travel choices that they make accessible. And it is difficult to deny that lots of thousands of individuals have taken advantage of these services. As a business traveler, however, your requirements are usually relatively distinct from the typical airline traveler.

There are several very specific services a living and breathing local travel agent can only provide, that just cannot be replicated by an automatic site such as Travelocity or Orbitz. Some of those services that the seasoned business traveler could be hard pressed to live without contain…

1. Focus. You being a business traveler are not arranging this journey for enjoyment. An individual possess specific business objectives as the primary goal. So should you need to take time from preparing for your business task to bother with travel itineraries, hotel and rental car bookings and the like, that’s time that you are not being productive for the business. In the event that it is possible to contact a gifted local travel agent who knows the travel profile effectively and delegate those arrangements to that particular representative, they do their work to locate the ideal accommodations to suit your needs and you are liberated to complete what you do best, focus on your company and the upcoming business travel.

2. Economy. It is hard to find which balance between finding the lodging that match the demanding schedule of a business person on the road which is well-intentioned of the companies travel budget too. If you use an automatic online travel support, you might have to compromise convenience, schedule or place for economy. A great local travel agent will continue to work hard to get the correct schedule while getting as near the organization travel cost restrictions as it can be. And they are going to do it without taking up plenty of your time.

3. Back up. You don’t need help if the trip goes flawlessly as designed. But if you experience issues traveling, you can find yourself in need of assistance or rescheduling flights and finding new hotels to work around terminated flights, weather issues or some other unforeseen disruptions to your plans. These traveling unfortunate occurrences are not aware of your tight deadlines to satisfy your company objectives. But if you have a travel agent who is focused on offering you support, they can see those other ways and resources to accomplish all they can to get you to your desired destination to help you conduct your business promptly.

4. That personal touch. A person might have travel preferences that you want to accomplish with every trip you take. A travel agent has your profile as well as your travel history so they can do the things they can to accommodate your preferences. But moreover, if you have certain special requirements like a diet plan limitation or perhaps a need for accommodation as a result of disability, it will likely be the travel agent which sees to it that your needs are given for and you’re simply properly cared for on the road.

5. Issues. When your travel itinerary requires making connections with business partners who’re journeying through varied workplaces, intricate travel agendas and itinerary challenges that simply cannot be described to the generic monitors of an online travel service, you can explain these types of complications to your travel agent and they can work along with other travel agents working to organize the meeting to see to it that the schedule fulfills the needs you have.

As the online travel services do give a valuable and inexpensive substitute for the overall traveling public, it is easy to notice their limitations if you’re attempting to arrange an outing that’s tricky or if you have specific needs that the monitors don’t anticipate. Which is why dealing with a human travel agent guarantees this travel professional will devote on their own to the task of making certain your journey works to your own specifications and you get to your destination prepared to conduct business and be successful in your reaching ones ambitions.

Healthcare, Air Travel and Interoperability

The healthcare industry is notorious for its severely disconnected practices. Often, a patient finds herself caught in the middle of the shuffle. If you’ve recently received medical care or attempted to schedule a doctor’s visit, you are certainly familiar with the headaches associated with the process. The article “If Air Travel worked like Health Care” from the National Journal, accurately and humorously sums up the issues we face.

As a patient, interacting with the healthcare industry feels overwhelming and disconnected. Unfortunately, we are forced to tolerate a high level of absurdity when trying to complete relatively simple tasks. As a consumer, we would rarely accept such circumstances in any other industry, but it seems when it comes to healthcare, we have limited recourse. Patients seeking care face repetitive lines of questioning and seemingly unending wait times as the entire industry suffers from a lack of interoperability.

The patient in the National Journal article, after being sold a flight departing months past his desired travel date, after he is required to fax in a consent form, and after he must call a separate company to handle his baggage, informs the customer service representative that in a modern system, he would be sold “a safe round-trip journey, instead a series of separate procedures. It would have back-office personnel using modern IT systems to coordinate my journey behind the scenes. The systems and personnel would talk to each other automatically. At the press of a button, once I entered a password, they would be able to look up my travel history. We’d do most of this stuff online.” He’s describing the way most industries operate today, from air travel to banking to freight transportation, all of which are able to successfully communicate between systems, companies and types of data.

This article highlights, in a light-hearted way, the tension created by trying to coordinate answers to simple questions like appointment scheduling or billing inquiries while on the phone with a provider or health plan. All the healthcare stakeholders, patients, providers and health plans, are frustrated by the lack of interoperability and the high administrative costs to accomplish simple tasks like scheduling an appointment.

Providing healthcare in this disconnected manner is expensive and unsustainable. As we look to the future, health systems and health communications will need to be integrated across IT systems, providers, specialist offices, labs and health plans. Data will need to be mobile, secure and efficient. It will need to be accessible when and where it’s required by authorized personnel.

Glimpses of History

Traveling to the Washington D.C. area and the northwestern part of Virginia becomes a trip into history. The eye and mind not only view the scenery, but also ghosts of the country’s past.

Whorls of fog, like mists of memory, wind over paths swathed through forests of ever vigilant green. Trees choke off the view of the horizon as sleek horses graze on ground christened by a nation’s two fights: one a battle for independence, one a battle within. Everywhere the eye wanders, glimpses of history, memories of the past mingle with scenes of the present.

Battle fields forever scarred with the scattered litter of the dead are surrounded with masses of hardwoods fertilized with the blood of men who wore the Union blue or the Confederate gray. Cannons, forever guarding ghosts of those who fought and died, left wheel ruts unfilled by the passing of time. In hollow mockery of troops long gone, towering trees stand attention around a painting of a grand house which burned leaving but scraps of a foundation and graves and monuments, lasting reminders of the price of a war which turned brother against brother and friend into enemy.

In Fredricksberg, colonial buildings march side by side in their restored grandeur, quaint, narrow, and deep with pocks caused by shelling in revolutionary or civil war time. Stark, plain yet with silent dignity, a battle-scarred church, built of brick and mortar, stands separated from rushing traffic by a line of swaying trees. Aged pine floors creak echoes of the past in the building where heroic medicine had been found, while young girls, older ones too, shudder at the tales of treatment of long ago. A tavern and inn sits in memory where the rich entered by the front door, and the common folk by the back. A deck of cards lies on a table, the ace of spades missing to avoid more of the King’s tax, the start of “not playing with a full deck.” White and proud stands the home of the first president’s mother, a mother’s home where a son came to ask her blessing and where a boy ghost lurks.

Monticello brings many to visit its splendor and its view. Gentle mountains softened by graduated shades of green touch the low, lazy haze curling about the rounded peaks. Deep valleys spread below, filled with close ranks of pines, oaks, and elms divided by lush meadows or fields of fragrant grasses and hay. On a hill-top sits the ancient, in New World time, house with multiple chimneys pointing to the bright blue sky where wisps of friendly clouds play hide-and-seek. Around the mansion lie carpets of velvet grass shaded by weeping willows and towering oaks while flowers peek through hedges. Vistas of wooded hills and valleys hide old houses in armies of trees with roofs and chimneys briefly spotted behind the sentries. Trails of history meander through today’s sunlight, bringing back memories of yesterdays gone by. A stone monument marks the grave now empty while immortality lives in brick and wood for all to see, but not touch.

A flood of traffic rushes into the nation’s capital, greeted by a towering white spear and a columned reminder of those who led through the two historic wars most grim. The spires of a red-brick American castle reach toward the drizzling sky on one side of a mall of grass and paths. Mobs of citizens from here and there play tourist, staring in awe or simply gawking at the mixture of history now surrounded by crass commercialism. The long reach of grass is framed by a domed capitol blurred by mist, buildings old and new housing memories and dreams, the towering column reaching upward unsoftened by any influence. Around and through rages a river of people flowing, ebbing, creating rapids that cannot be navigated. Apparently healthy men accost walkers, begging for money for food; all look amazingly well-fed. Here lies history drowning in today as a nation’s mansion hides behind bars and barricades, unapproachable.

Standing tall and proud at the top of a hill like an elderly lady fallen on hard times, Chatham, a mansion from colonial times used in the Civil War as a Union headquarters to subdue Fredricksberg, brings feelings of dread and of anticipation. The mansion gathers her tattered gown around her with dignity, staring haughtily across the river, overlooking the shadows of destruction left in her lap. One is overwhelmed with the need to escape from the oppressive darkness by fleeing around the circle of her skirt. Like hiding behind his mother in safety, he finds her garden holds peace and contentment, full of flowering, blooming life.

Travel the World by Book

Whether in an airplane seat or an armchair I like to read about countries of the world. My job has given me the privilege of visiting many but there are others I seem to know almost equally well, by courtesy of my books.

Like many others, I spend long day-time hours in front of a computer screen and get much of my daily dose of information by that route, but still there’s nothing quite like a book. It may be a mass market paperback or a leather-bound antiquity, but for me print on paper is something special. It takes me out of myself to other places in the world. Instantly I’m transported, and without the hassle of the airport.

Great travel writers have brought me into contact with the terrain and have introduced me to the people of towns and villages away from both traffic fumes in the streets and glass cages high in the concrete towers of capital cities. But far more than travel books have played important roles. Economists have introduced me to the challenges faced by many countries to survive in an intensely competitive (and sometimes grotesquely unfair) world. Novelists have based their plots in fascinating places and painted the background to their action. Historians have taught me how events and experiences of the past have shaped the present. Biographers have shown me the lives of outstanding men and women, and their impact for good or ill on their countries and the wider world. With or without illustrations their words have conjured up sights, sounds and scents.

Travelers, economists, novelists, historians, biographers; other specialist writers could be added: geographers, botanists, conservationists, missionaries, sportsmen, politicians, explorers, journalists; the list rolls on. Any one specialism by itself would have created partial and possibly biased perceptions. Together, however, each in his or her own way has contributed to a diverse, interdisciplinary flow of information, ideas and, I hope eventually, understanding of areas and peoples of the world very different from my own and which I have never actually seen with my eyes. I am profoundly grateful.

Scotland Travel Guide

The charisma and aura of the European country Scotland is unknown to none. It is the land, which was a surface to numerous significant historical battles, is the mother of cherished sport ‘golf’ and is globally appreciated for its Balmoral Castle (a vacation spot for Queen Elizabeth and her family) and Scotch whisky. Scotland is blessed with a rich history, culture and scenic splendor. It is one amongst the most admired places on the globe today. Geographically, Scotland is bifurcated into three regions- Southern Uplands, Central Lowlands and Highlands. These regions adjoin different places and comprise of different landforms for instance by way of river valleys the Southern Uplands act as a link between the country’s central plain and England border.

The Scotland Activities

o Since time memorial golf is an immensely crucial activity in Scotland. Infact the golf sport originated from this very European country. The Highlands region of Scotland nestles some of the prominent golf courses in the world. There are around 540 golf courses in Scotland. These are variously scattered in Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, Historic Heartland and Central areas of Scotland.

o Cycling and bike riding is another cherished pastime in Scotland. The enthusiasm for cycling is such that many tourists hire bikes to explore this divinely beautiful place. The Glencoe, Galloway region and the Isle of Skye are perfect spectacular riding places.

o The exclusive Scotland attractions are the Heavy and Light Athletics. Heavy Athletics includes games that demand muscle. These games are stone, weight and hammer throwing, sheaf tossing and so forth. Dancing, sprinting, running and jumping are the light athletics sports that basically require an impregnable stamina.

City Look

The capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh is a perfect blend of contemporary and archaic Scotland. The traditional Scotland is reflected from the ancient Edinburgh castles and buildings. While the marvelously constructed hotels, restaurants and thrilling nightlife are the emblems of present-day Scotland. Edinburgh is swarming with people every year for more than one reason. The foremost attractions are the museums of this place. The Royal Museum that houses the first cloned sheep named Dolly, the National Gallery of Scotland along with quite a few national museums are paradigmatic cases in point. Next there are the famous Edinburgh castle, the Royal Mile Street that conjoins this castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the garden of medicinal plants i.e. the Royal Botanical Gardens and the Princes Street, worldwide famous for shopping.

If you want to experience the mind-boggling Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet, the city of Glasgow is a place ideal for that. Apart from being a home for some of the most noteworthy Scot museums such as St. Mungo Museum Religious Life, the largely acclaimed Museum of Transport and the Scotland Street School Museum; Glasgow is endowed with ample of other lures to woo its visitors. For instance there are primitive constructions like The Pollock House, the Country Black, the Glasgow Cathedral and the Bothwel Castle. These places hold immense significance not just as tokens of an abundant history but also in incurring tourist wealth. Not to forget are Glasgow’s eminent pedestrian shopping streets- Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Street etc.

Some nitty-gritties

The best feature of Scotland is an easy access to it. Americans can throng this place without any passport. April to September are the ideal months to visit Scotland. So make sure that you get your reservations done beforehand. Scotland does not accept Euro currency. The visitors must get it exchanged prior to their visit.

The History of Cunard Line Cruises

When it comes to cruises no other line has quite as much experience as Cunard line cruises, now operated by Carnival Corporations. Their history started way back in 1840 but even to this day the cruise line has managed to retain its high class status and stands as a symbol of elegance and luxury when it comes to cruise travel. This cruise line is perfect for anyone who is interested in a classic but also modern experience. So let’s take a further look into the iconic Cunard line cruises.

It was back in 1840 when it all began with the launch of the world’s first transatlantic sailing. Since then the name Cunard has become constantly been matched with lavish ocean cruising. For example from 1939 to 1945 Cunard used two of the finest ships that he built; the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth to carry over two million servicemen for duty. This act was then credited by Churchill as an aid to help shorten the war by a year. During the war all four ships, which included the two Queens and Aquitania as well as Mauretania survived.

As you can see from the above the ships featured in the Cunard line were used for more than simply cruising. They played a vital role in many events that have shaped our history. In 1971 the line was purchased, by this time Cunard operated both cargo and passenger ships as well as hotels and resorts. The cargo fleet was made up of forty-two ships in service, with twenty on order. The passenger fleet however included the two-year old Queen Elizabeth 2 and included the remaining two liners from the 1950s, plus two purpose-built cruise ships that were on order.

However in the mid 1990′s things turned bad for the line, starting with exploding pipes on the Queen Elizabeth 2 during a journey, the reason for this came down to unfinished renovation work. This cost the company 13 million. In 1996 an attempt was then made to sell the company but this provided no takers so instead substantial investments were made as a means of turning around the company’s reputation. It was then in 1998 that the company was sold for 500 million to Carnival Corporation.

So where does this line stand in present day? Cunard line cruises are now known for Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Victoria and the line is expanding to other vessels including the forthcoming Queen Elizabeth.

Queen Mary 2 is the largest passenger ship ever built. It provides a journey that captures Cunard’s idea of grad voyages and crosses the Atlantic from spring until autumn.

Cunard line cruises prides itself on providing the best in British heritage and upholds its reputation for elegance that it has had since its first voyage. It is thanks to its British heritage, elegance and fine cuisine as well as its high level of service that has meant the company has always been popular with the English. It comes down to a matter of pride. We are proud of this line and what it stands for and this will continue to be the case for as long as the line continues for.

Travelling in Scotland


I must start by saying that I am proud to be a Scot. For a very long time, Scotland was the “poor relation” in comparison to England and all its wealth and pomp. The Scottish castles were not as splendid as the English castles, they lacked the warmth and glamor of their English counterparts, they were built to withstand the climate of cold Scottish winters. The winds that blew in across the mountains were bitterly cold and the castles had few fireplaces to warm the inhabitants, it is said that under their long gowns the ladies wore long underwear to keep them warm.

For a long time the image of Scotland has been one of mountains and meanness, of aggressive perhaps drunken men, wearing tartans and tammies and shouting football slogans. This spirit of aggression is a reminder to the English that Scotland is a very different country and has its own set of rules.

The visitor who thinks that he can “do’ Scotland in a day or two is sadly mistaken. It is two-thirds the size of England, and besides its famed Highland mountains and glens there are rolling hills, picturesque fishing ports and many handsome towns and villages as well as a splendid capital. Fishing and golf can be ludicrously cheap and therefore a popular place for sportsmen. The weather can be excellent but it can also be maddeningly overcast, wet, and really windy.

Do not equate the whole of Scotland with the Highlands, the Lowlands cover half the country, house almost all the people, and are rich in their variety of life. Only in recent years has the discovery of North Sea Oil promoted the re-population of the Highlands as they were in decline as people left to find work further afield.

Most visitors go wrong in their conception of Scotland and the Scots by equating the whole country with the Highlands. For centuries the Scottish people have known adversity. Whether from the Highlands or Lowlands they have been torn by martial strife, persecuted by grasping landowners, and crushed by bitter climatic conditions. Yet they have produced famous men, cradled the arts, and fostered an unbending pride in their homeland.

Miami Travel Guide

They say that there are more pink flamingoes made in plastic then there are in reality. And where does one find the plastic ones the most? Miami. Welcome to Miami. Will smith sing all the way? They say that party never ends on the Miami beaches. Being on the southern most tip of America it enjoys the maritime climate. So very fit for the other wise cold country. The golden sands on Miami beaches attract millions and you find yourself among the most number of people if you decide to go in the fall. The year was 1895 when the Americans realized that to save the travelers from the intense cold they must move to the southern tip of Florida. And thus came up the biggest state of Florida- Miami.

Known for not only its beaches, it has the biggest of the universities. The city finds its Latin roots come handy when it comes to hospitality. It has finest hotels of whole America and the best beaches too. The American holiday cannot be defined with out the Miami factor. It has reached deep in to the Hollywood and the glory runs too deep. Even the hurricane and the shark threats do not falter the tourist’s faith and no body wants to miss the chance to go to Miami, Florida. The place has wonders in store for the gourmet. The food styles expand from the continental to the seafood extravagance. The effect of the Caribbean food is too extensively seen in the menu cards. The Cuban and the Latin food are also very famous in the city. Mangoes, coconut, rice, fish, crabs and oysters all form important ingredients in the food list.

The beaches give ample space and opportunity for the sports enthusiasts. The beach volleyball events as well as the water sports are found all over the place. The clubs and small set pups provide many options for people to enjoy. The Para-sailing is also picking up at a fast pace. The water scooter is very popular among the youngsters. For the not-so-sporty types the beach is full of serene places to bask in the sunny sands. The tan is lasting and the experience is magical. Apart from these the place is known for its football, baseball, hockey and basketball teams. Major players of these teams come from the universities.

The art and culture of Miami is one of its kinds and is rich with artifacts and regional styles. Apart from these the pop culture has come in a big way for the place by the infusion of many films and television feature shootings in and around the beaches. The regional art too is picking pace and the local museums and art galleries are encouraging the locals to show their talents. These art galleries too form an important part of the Miami travel schedule. The lively nightlife of the place is just electrifying and the people enjoy their lives out on the beaches in the nighttime. Sitting around slowing fires they have the time of their lives.