Why do we travel?

Ever notice how when you sit still for a few hours without moving, you suddenly get up and find your legs are cramped, or asleep, or feel tense? That’s because they’re not meant to be still…at least not for long. We’re meant to move. Our limbs have to be in motion almost constantly.

Humans have always been on the move. Our skeletons and muscle structures have evolved to facilitate gathering our food, escaping from predators, and to satisfy our animal curiosity. As our brains grew larger, so did our inquisitiveness, and driven by different reasons, humans began to travel.

The Early Explorers

In the Neolithic age we saw the first sailing vessels and the invention of the wheel, both designed to move us around in different ways.

Nomadic hunters and gatherers moved in search of food following seasonally available wild plants and game.

Then Ancient man began to build roads to facilitate the movement of troops through empires, and eventually civilians began to travel in caravans (camel caravans). Travel for the purpose of commerce and trade took explorers to strange lands to meet other people, and bring back riches of unfathomable value.

Wealthy Greeks and Romans began to travel for leisure to their summer homes and villas by the sea in cities like Pompeii and Baiae.

The freedom of travel in the Roman Empire brought many Jews to flourishing cities of the ancient world, and Jesus himself is thought to have traveled a great deal with his disciples.

We know that Vikings had a particular skill for sailing and a keen interest in exploring.

Through perilous voyages they conquered areas such as Iceland and Greenland, and were even the first to accidentally discover America in 985 A.D, when a ship was blown off course on the way to Greenland.

In 1001, Norseman Leif Eriksson sailed back to explore it further and called it Vinland, or ‘Land of Pastures’.

Vinland shows two large inlets, the northern one ending in an inland sea and seeming to represent Hudson Bay, while the southern seems to represent the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

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Enter the Dark Ages

In Medieval times, the most notorious travelers were pilgrims and missionaries. Driven by their religious convictions, pilgrims made dangerous journeys to places like Santiago de Compostela, Canterbury, and Jerusalem while missionaries traveled to heathen areas to evangelize the people, such as the Celts in Ireland.

In the late 16th century it became fashionable for young aristocrats and wealthy upper class men to travel to important European cities as a crowning touch to their education in the arts and literature, designed to enlighten Europe’s young elite.

This was knows as the Grand Tour. London, Paris, Venice, Florence and Rome were visited by these grand tourists to expose themselves to the great masterpieces.

The French revolution marked the end of the Grand Tour as was known, and with the coming of rail transit in the early 19th century, travel was revolutionized.

Travel was no longer limited only to the privileged as it became cheaper, easier, and safer to travel. Young ladies began to travel too, chaperoned by an old spinster as was appropriate, as part of their education.

Steam and Steel Age

The Industrial Revolution brought leisure travel to Europe. The new middle class now had the time to travel thanks to industrialized production with efficient and faster machinery. They had more money and more time to relax and take part in recreational activities.

For the first time ever, traveling was done for the sole pleasure of it. This was how Thomas Cook, in 1841, put together the first package holiday in history. He started off with tours in Britain but with his rapid success soon moved unto other European cities, where Paris and the Alps were the most popular destinations.

THE FIRST EVER EXCURSIONS by THOMAS COOK

Cook’s idea to offer excursions came to him while walking from Market Harborough to Leicester to attend a meeting of the Temperance Society.With the opening of the extended Midland Counties Railway, he arranged to take a group of 540 temperance campaigners from Leicester Campbell Street station to a rally in Loughborough, eleven miles away.

On 5 July 1841, Thomas Cook arranged for the rail company to charge one shilling per person that included rail tickets and food for this train journey. Cook was paid a share of the fares actually charged to the passengers, as the railway tickets, being legal contracts between company and passenger, could not have been issued at his own price. This was the first privately chartered excursion train to be advertised to the general public, Cook himself acknowledging that there had been previous, unadvertised, private excursion trains. During the following three summers he planned and conducted outings for temperance societies and Sunday-school children.

In 1844 the Midland Counties Railway Company agreed to make a permanent arrangement with him provided he found the passengers. This success led him to start his own business running rail excursions for pleasure, taking a percentage of the railway tickets.

On 4 August 1845 he arranged accommodation for a party to travel from Leicester to Liverpool.

In 1846, he took 350 people from Leicester on a tour of Scotland, however his lack of commercial ability led him to bankruptcy. He persisted and found success when he claimed that he arranged for over 165,000 people to attend the Great Exhibition in London.

Four years later, he planned his first excursion abroad, when he took a group from Leicester to Calais to coincide with the Paris Exhibition.

The following year he started his ‘Grand Circular Tours’ of Europe.

During the 1860’s he took parties to Switzerland, Italy, Egypt and United States. Cook established ‘Inclusive Independent Travel’, whereby the traveler went independently but his agency charged for travel, food and accommodation for a fixed period over any chosen route. Such was his success that the Scottish railway companies withdrew their support between 1862 and 1863 to try the excursion business for themselves.

Panels from the Thomas Cook Building in Leicester, displaying excursions offered by Thomas Cook

THOMAS COOK & SON

In 1872, he formed a partnership with his son, John A Mason Cook, and renamed the travel agency as Thomas Cook & Son.They acquired business premises on Fleet Street, London. By this time, Cook had stopped personal tours and became an agent for foreign or domestic travel. The office also contained a shop which sold essential travel accessories including guide books, luggage, telescopes and footwear. Thomas saw his venture as both religious and social service; his son provided the commercial expertise that allowed the company to expand.

In accordance with his beliefs, he and his wife also ran a small temperance hotel above the office. Their business model was refined by the introduction of the ‘hotel coupon’ in 1866. Detachable coupons in a counterfoil book were issued to the traveler. These were valid for either a restaurant meal or an overnight hotel stay provided they were on Cook’s list.

Conflicts of interest between father and son were resolved when the son persuaded his father, Thomas Cook, to retire in 1879. He moved back to Leicestershire and lived quietly until his death. The firm’s growth was consolidated by John Mason Cook and his two sons, especially by its involvement with military transport and postal services for Britain and Egypt during the 1880’s, when Cook began organizing tours to the Middle East.

By 1888, the company had established offices around the world, including three in Australia and one in Auckland, New Zealand, and in 1890, the company sold over 3.25 million tickets. John Mason Cook promoted, and even led, excursions to, for example, the Middle East where he was described as “the second-greatest man in Egypt”.

However, while arranging for the German Emperor Wilhelm II to visit Palestine in 1898, he contracted dysentery and died the following year.

Thomas Cook pioneered all the common services that travel agencies undertake for the passenger today: accommodation, travel tickets, timetables, attractions, currency exchanges, travel guides and tours.

Air travel began after World War II, when a surplus of aeronautical technology and ex-military pilots who were more than ready to fly. Only the rich could afford holidays with air fare, whereby an all-inclusive two week holiday in Corsica cost around £ 32 in those days.

The Modern Age

Affordable air travel soon contributed to international mass tourism, pretty much as we know it today. Over the years different developments in tourism have changed the way we travel, such as technology, safety and security, costs, social changes, etc.

The Grand Tourists of the 17th and 18th centuries echo today of the hoards of backpackers and gap-year students who, not content with traveling through one continent, do so throughout the entire world.

Much like the young European aristocrats of the time, we today also consider traveling as a rite of passage, an initiation, a transition, an opportunity for soul searching.

With tourism currents like Eco-travel, Ethical Travel, Volunteering, Mystical tourism, Dark Tourism, Pop-Culture tourism, Cosmetic Surgery tourism, and Independent traveling, the travel industry has reached an apogee never before seen.

So when we wonder why we travel, and where it all started, it might be comforting to think about our predecessors, and how they moved first out of necessity, then for religion, migration, emigration, commerce, enlightenment and finally for pleasure.

Today each of our personal reasons may vary, but one thing is certain: there will never be rest for a species that can only move, move and keep moving.

GO. FLY. ROAM. TRAVEL. VOYAGE. EXPLORE . JOURNEY. DISCOVER. ADVENTURE.

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12 Genie Tricks to Stick to Your Budget on Vacation.

Have you taken that one perfect trip, the one that was just so epic you can’t stop talking about it? Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on comfortable accommodations and decent flight times. In fact, savvy travelers already know how to maximize their travel budget and take advantage of low prices on travel packages, airline tickets and other travel-related expenses. Planning ahead will usually give you the upper hand when it comes to playing the vacation-booking game, and there are several tricks and tactics you can use to slash those costs even further.

Vacations are well-deserved treats and money shouldn’t be a cloud over these precious times away.

Follow the following tips for staying within your budget on vacation so money concerns don’t interfere with your good times:

1) Start planning early with a Budget in Mind

The key to optimal vacation spending is you guessed it – planning and budgeting. About 8 percent of your total yearly budget can go toward “fun” spending like travel. If you love to travel, you can increase this portion of your budget by cutting other areas. When trip planning, balance your total costs based on 1) where you’re going; 2) how you plan to get there; and 3) what you’ll do once there.

Genie Tip:

– Book sharing apartments or budget resorts instead of star categories hotels.

Suggested site: https://www.airbnb.com/

Airbnb is a website for people to rent out lodging.It has over 1,000,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries. Founded in August 2008 and headquartered in San Francisco, California, the company is privately owned and operated by Airbnb, Inc. Users of the site must register and create a personal online profile before using the site. Every property is associated with a host whose profile includes recommendations by other users, reviews by previous guests, as well as a response rating and private messaging system.

– Negotiate hotel rates: If you can’t find a great deal on a hotel and flight package through a third-party travel site, call the hotel or resort directly and inquire about the best available deals. Sometimes the rates extended by the hotel are lower than those published online. Hotels may need to fill rooms at the last minute, and some will be open to negotiating a rate or package deal.

– Create a daily cash allowance: After the initial investments of transportation and hotel, set a daily budget for expected food, drink, activities and souvenirs/shopping. Inflate the number by 10 to 15 percent as a cushion for small emergencies or unforeseen expenses. Vacations are a great time to practice the “cash diet.” Once you arrive at your daily allowance, set aside that amount in separate envelopes for each day and stash the envelopes in the hotel safe. Each day, use only what’s in one envelope. Your credit card can be saved for emergencies.

– Subscribe to deal sites: Groupon Getaways, Travelzoo and Living Social Escapes are three major travel deal sites that will keep you in the know about the latest deals and discounts. You can also sign up for free, membership-only sites like Jet Setter to get exclusive, negotiated rates for many luxury hotels and travel packages throughout the country.

2) Fly to alternate airports.

When you are heading to a major city or other hub with multiple airports, consider all your options. Flights to alternate airports can be slightly less expensive than flying into a larger, international airport in the same city. In some cases, you might also be closer to your final destination and can skirt traffic. Just make sure to calculate taxi fares from all airports before making your decision.

3) Book and fly on the right day of the week.

Shop for airfare on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, advises Gabe Saglie, Travelzoo’s senior editor. Most airlines publish their sale fares on Tuesday, and this is when competition to match those fares begins each week. You’re also likely to find a better deal when you fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. This might mean you have to wait a few days to secure that vacation package, but you could end up saving significantly on airline tickets.

4) Seek out off-peak deals.

Do your homework to find out which destinations are currently in their off-peak season. You’ll discover that many destinations around the world have attractive package deals during the spring and early summer months. Traveling during the off-peak season could save you up to 50 percent or more on your entire vacation package.

5) Research ground transportation options.

Don’t wait until you arrive at the airport to figure out how you are going to get to your hotel or resort (some budget hotels do not have facility of pick up and drop, but they definitely will guide you how to reach their place). Research taxi service providers and rental car companies before you leave so you can negotiate a rate or book a great deal.

6) Look for freebies and deals at your final destination.

Search for free attractions, events and guided tours at venues throughout the town or city you’re visiting. Keeping activity costs low means you can spend more on a great meal and splurge on other travel expenses. You could also check the daily deal sites at the city you’re visiting to see what types of discounts are available for local activities, events and dining destinations. Consider buying a city pass or similar activity card that lets you visit several attractions for one low price.

7) Travel light

Over-packing can lead to extra checked baggage fees, so make sure you’re packing only what you need. If you’re planning an extended stay trip, get quotes from shipping service providers that will ship and pick up your items to your destination. In some cases, shipping your belongings instead of carrying them in a suitcase will be less expensive.

8) Be an Exchange Expert

You’ll get the best exchange rate at your destination (not at home), and usually at a bank ATM. Foreign banks will have lower exchange rates than commercial exchange counters. Exchange the total amount of money you can spend based on your budget.

9) Eat like a local

Hotel restaurants can often be much pricier than restaurants in the surrounding area. If you can’t afford to spend $30 each morning on the breakfast buffet, ask for recommendations for inexpensive cafes or sandwich shops nearby. Street food is another inexpensive option and is a great way to try authentic local cuisine. You can also save on breakfast, lunch and snacks—and experience local color—by buying fresh produce at local markets.

10) Do less traveling while you’re traveling

All of those train trips, cab rides, flights, and cruises will start to add up. Instead of seeing ten different cities on your trip, choose only a couple you really want to see and spend more time getting to know those better. This will also help you feel less travel fatigued, keeping you excited and energetic on your trip. And, when navigating the city, try to forgo public transport and walk. You’ll get to see a lot more of the city that way and will have a better chance of discovering something you likely would have missed riding on a bus.

Genie Tip: Do not completely rely on GPS maps when exploring the city/town. Do keep asking local people for the nearby attractions. Because some attractions are might not mentioned on web portals.

11) Shopping gifts

Before leaving, make a list of people to buy gifts for and how much you want to spend on each person. When you hit a nice shop where you can knock several gifts off your list, buy in bulk and negotiate a discount. Shop with your budget in mind.

12) Set aside an emergency fund

An emergency fund is important to consider, even if you (hopefully) never dip into it. This budget could include visits to an urgent care facility or the extra cost of buying over-the-counter medication in a pinch. Check with your insurance company to see if you’ll incur any out-of-network costs for a visit to the doctor, or consider purchasing travel insurance to offset any unforeseen medical expenses. Take a look at InsureMyTrip.com to compare travel insurance providers and plans and read customer reviews. For this (and all your vacation fees), make sure you diversify your funds; carry some cash, a credit card and an ATM card — but not all at once. Leave whatever you’re not carrying with you that day in your hotel safe. If a pickpocket manages to steal what’s on your person, you don’t want to be completely high and dry for the rest of your trip.

Genie Tip: Do mail (not e-mail) picture cards to your home address every time you visit new city. Once you back home and received all those postcards in your post box, it will take you back to those places. Because the joy of receiving a POSTCARD is way better than that of receiving a message 😉

EXPLORE THE WORLD!!

Why we should collect stamps?

Stamp collecting is the most popular hobby in the world. However, if you are not a collector you may be asking, “Why stamps? Aren’t stamps just pictures on little pieces of paper?” Scientifically speaking, yes that’s correct. However, there is so much more to stamps that people of any age, any income and any interest can find some aspect of stamp collecting appealing and very satisfying.

Stamps are History!

Stamps represent historical events, people and places. Its an easy stepping stone to learning as much or as little about world or local history as you want. With the aide of a good stamp catalog the world is at your fingertips. Stamps makes learning fun and you might not even realize that you are learning.
Its like visiting exotic places from your own living room.

Many ways to Collect.

There are so many ways to chose how to collect. You can be a generalist and collect every stamp ever made. You can specialize on a particular area. Or you can be a generalist with a number of specialized areas. You can collect a specific country (or area) or a particular kind of stamp from an area. The possibilities are virtually endless.

Some Specific Areas of Collecting

Here are a few very common areas of collecting: topical (ie: birds, castles, Disney), Precancels (i.e: US or foreign), Machins (Queen Elizabeth heads), Perfins (stamps with holes punched into them), classics (stamps issued in the 19th century), forgeries, airmail and postal history, just to name a few.
What interests you?

Cost??

The advantage of stamp collecting is it allows you the ability to spend as little or as much money as you want. Many areas of collecting cost less than 15c a stamp, while others can cost in the $100s. You can choose! In India it can be varied from Rs.5 a stamp to Rs.200. Vintage stamps cost more!!

Last year in Oct, 2015 during my visit to Gandhi Museum at Raj Ghat, Delhi, I found vintage stamps of Gandhiji from all over the world. Being a stamp collector since childhood thought to add some real classic stamps in my collections. But the cost of 500 real Gandhiji stamps were starts from Rs.1,00,000. Phew! May be in future 🙂

Social Benefits!!

You can join a club and have weekly interactions with other people. This is a great way to meet people and make new friends and share ideas. Clubs are also a good way to increase your social skills and enjoyment by getting involved in community events (such as a local stamp show).

Do it Alone: Stress Reducer 🙂

You can also do stamp collecting alone. You can spend as much time or as little time as you want. You can work with your stamps any time, rain or shine! Its a weatherproof hobby. Its a passive hobby that can help reduce stress and easily gives a feeling of accomplishment.

Always Something to Learn 🙂

You will never be done learning in this hobby. There are libraries of information on every subject of stamps and research is continuously uncovering more information. Also, new stamps are always being issued, creating even more items to be learned and researched.
If you want to be mentally challenged, then this hobby is for you. However, challenges are not a requirement to enjoy this hobby; some collectors collect stamps simply because the picture on the stamp appeals to them.