Planning a trip to a foreign destination is a composite of a myriad of decisions, considerable research, and the organization of countless detail. It is a complex project, the success of which, in my opinion, is largely dependent on a few critical components.  This is particularly the case when travelling a less developed country.

I have spent months planning every detail for every trip undertaken by Personalized Odysseys with a razor focus on four elements I consider to be essential.

  • Your itinerary

  • Your guide and local transportation

  • Your accommodations and

  • Your travel companions 

 


 

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 8.17.38 PMYour Itinerary

Where to go, when to go, how long to go, what to see, what to do?   These are just some of the issues that an itinerary must address.  A good itinerary exceeds expectations by providing opportunities for you to enjoy the anticipated highlights of a destination while introducing some unanticipated delights.  It budgets both your time and your pocketbook.  A carefully planned itinerary takes into consideration that travel can be tiring and balances structured activities and free time.  And too, the timing of what you see and experience is fundamental. A traveler who has been captive on a flight for 15 hours is in no mood to hop in a vehicle the first day and drive for 5 hours.  Timing, as they say, can be everything.

I have been planning itineraries for years.  I’ve also traveled with a number of top-notch tour operators learning from them and benefiting from their expertise and their missteps.  My itineraries are based on this acquired experience and the guidance of local tour operators with whom I partner.  I review every itinerary on a regular basis and make changes based on my most recent visits, valued client feedback, or changes within the country.

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 9.28.04 PMGuides

In so many ways, the most crucial element when travelling countries that are vastly different from our own is the individual who is guiding you.  An expert guide not only has in-depth historical, cultural, and environmental knowledge  – he/she communicates this information clearly and with enthusiasm in your native tongue (for my trips that is English).  A good guide also has the personality suited for the profession.  By that I mean he/she enjoys interacting with clients and can handle difficult situations with humor and aplomb.  Most importantly when on safari, a qualified guide knows how to track wildlife and has eyes trained to see what many of us could not.  And, when visiting remote tribal areas, you are best served if your guide has local relationships ensuring a warm welcome into the community.

The best local tour operators hire and train the best local guides – the operative word being local. That’s why I have established relationships only with on-the-ground companies that I know from personal experience and ones that I know provide guides who offer extraordinary experiences.  In addition, not to be under-valued, is the caliber of the equipment a local operator provides.  You may have a wonderful guide, but if you are travelling in an unreliable vehicle without air conditioning in 90 degree weather, you are not going to be a happy camper.  I make sure that we travel in comfort and that everyone always has a window seat.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 8.18.35 PMAccommodations

When traveling in developed countries, visitors frequently rely on the star rating of a hotel or B&B to determine whether it will meet their standards (and pocket book).  That system doesn’t readily apply when visiting less developed parts of the world where top rated might mean running hot water in your room.  Intrepid travelers will tell you that they prefer “authentic” lodging that reflects the indigenous community.  BUT, this does not mean they want to sleep on a mat with mosquitoes feasting on them.

I make identifying accommodations that I love and feel others will as well, a foundation of my trip planning.  I much prefer small boutique hotels to large ones, I book comfortable rooms that may be luxurious by the local standards but are also infused with charm and character.   When you arrive at your lodging for the night, I want you to feel that its ambiance contributes to your enjoyment and understanding of the culture as well as providing you with comfort and good food.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 8.17.54 PMTravel Companions

I’ve travelled solo and I’ve travelled in small groups.  Each has its benefits.  Without question, the advantage to a small group is the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and to share the trip experience with them.  How does a compatible group happen?  First and foremost there is the element of self-selection.  Millions of people are interested in travelling to Europe. Only a limited number of individuals are interested in the trips undertaken by Personalized Odysseys. Our destinations attract people who want to open their minds to new experiences, new cultures and gain new perspective. They are not newbie travelers; they are seasoned  and can take in stride the challenges that this type of travel throws at them.  And, I communicate with every individual who signs on to one of my trips to ensure that the trip is the right fit.

 


These are the most significant services I provide to you.  In addition, I will provide Departure Tips, Packing Tips, Visa/Passport/Inoculation Information and General Information about your destination.  I am happy to answer questions.  Just email your inquiries to info@personalized-odysseys.com  Include your phone number if you prefer to talk in person.