by Janet Ross
In the age of the Internet, travel options are endless. You can do all the planning and preparation yourself, join a tour group, use a Travel Agent, or take advantage of all three options to put things in motion.
Once you reach your desired location, whether your dream destination becomes the trip of a lifetime or a disappointing disaster, the end result depends largely on you. And, that is why energy and agility count – along with a good amount of enthusiasm. Expect to be surprised, amazed and annoyed when you leave the comforts of home. You'll be an ambassador for your city, state and, internationally, for the United States.
A very good friend of mine qualifies as an intrepid world traveler. She makes almost all her travel arrangements online for herself and the family members who come along on her twiceyearly excursions around the globe. Destination research begins with travel magazines and guide books (Fodors, Frommer's or Lonely Planet). She culls these sources for cultural information (those essential “do's or do nots”) along with weather considerations, local attractions and events, transportation tips (bus vs train, etc.). Once a basic plan is in place, she uses websites for flights (www.expedia.com, www.obitz.com, www.seatguru.com), accommodations (www.vrbo.com, www.homeaway.com) plus www.tripadvisor.com for reviews. She often Googles this query: “10 best things to see in ”.
My friend never leaves town without a detailed itinerary that includes enough flexibility for unexpected events (a cancelled flight, rainy days, or a local festival). She also takes along an extra, folded suitcase for those musthave souvenirs.
My brother prefers cruises for most of his bucket list travel. His longest cruise was a threemonth Millennial voyage around the world; a recent favorite is to the Hawaiian Islands from the Pacific Coast. He usually stays with one cruise line so perks and discounts for future cruises add up. He also ignores most of the costly shore excursions, instead hiring local taxi drivers for exploring port cities along the way. You can book your own cruise directly with the line of your choice, or work with a Travel Agent, especially if you're cruising for the first time.
When it comes to traveling with a group, you can create your own. This takes a lot of work and previously required a minimum of ten participants before there would be any discounts. Or, you can join a tour company's outing to the destination of your choice. I have participated in more than a dozen Road Scholar tours with the number of participants ranging from a cozy seven to a maximum (but manageable) forty-four, all within the United States or Hawaii. (Road Scholar does highly rated international tours and cruises as well.) Road Scholar tours (formerly Elderhostel) can be ideal for a solo traveler and usually include all ground transportation, admission fees, most meals, and gratuities. Take a look at what's on offer at their website:www.roadscholar.org.
For day trips from Reno and Carson City – and these aren't exempt from being on one's bucket list, I've had good experiences with Patty's Tours (www.pattystours.com). As an example, one could drive to Ananda near Nevada City to see the tulips in the Spring, but why do the driving when you get on a large, comfortable bus, let someone else take the wheel, eliminate the hassle of traffic and parking, enjoy a fine meal as part of the outing, and even have time to explore the shops in Grass Valley – all in the space of a day.
My favorite trips and locations – one to London, one to New York City – were with a company that has 40 years in producing tours to see the latest plays and musicals in London or on Broadway. That's all they do, theater tours. Accommodations are topnotch, seating for all productions is firstclass, and a lot of great extras are included in the price. BreakAway tours is headquartered in San Diego; locally they are sponsored by Reno's Pioneer Theater. For more information you can call 800-962-7325 or check their website at www.breakawaytours. com.
Finally, there's a bucket list destination few of us can afford, but it may be available sooner than we think. Either Richard Branson or Elon Musk plans to get you there … SPACE. Might be a good idea to reserve your seat now.