Category: TRAVELLER’S NOTEBOOK

WHY CHOOSE CUSTOMTRIP.ORG–PERSONALIZED TRIP PLANNING SERVICES?

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customized itineraries, custom trips

There are so many tour agencies and trip planning services out there that it is easy to get confused. We decided to point out the differences between some of the companies who specialize in Customized Itineraries/Custom Trips.  It might sound strange to you, in the greedy world we live in today, but we do want our clients to feel sure about their choice of travel planning company. Yes, we need you–the client–to do business, but we want you to be happy and choose what’s best for you. Planning and going on a trip is exciting and requires some work in the same time. We hope that our comparison list below will be helpful!

1. BREKKE TOURS&TRAVELS

Brekke Tours & Travels offers some packaged tours to exotic destinations, such as Australia, Belize, Southern Caribbean. Prices are anywhere up to $2500-$3000 a person and they work with Princess Cruise Line as their partner. Their other tours are to Russia, Europe, North America and the Scandinavian countries. When it comes down to their Customized Itineraries their fill-out form is quite detailed. They even ask for your passport number and their questions about dates of travel could be a bit confusing. They charge $100 non-refundable fee that must be paid upon submission of your travel request. The fee is deducted from your customized itinerary ONLY if the total cost of your trip is more than $1500. You can choose between paying by credit card, debit card or check. Located in North Dakota, Brekke Tours & Travel‘s specialty are their Scandinavian trips.

customized itineraries

Copy rights reserved to Brekke Tours & Travel

We believe that websites are the #1 tool for success within the Travel Industry, so here is a screen shot of Brekke Tours & Travel website:

WHAT’S DIFFERENT BETWEEN CUSTOMTRIP.ORG?

√ Our total price for planning a customized trip are based depending on your request for countries to visit, cities, venues, etc. Everything is tailored, discounts are available, and we usually give FREE “cities” and/or “venues”, which are again tailored to the specific request. You can see our cost here.

√ Our contact form is user friendly and we never ask for your passport number or other confidential details. Our Privacy Policy is in full compliance with the GDPR /General Data Protection Regulation/ that the European Union has passed and we only ask for the basic of basics in terms of data.

√ At the moment we only accept payment via PayPal. Whether you choose to purchase one of our pre-made customized trips or to receive an invoice, our payment is secured and your payment protection, and/or refund if necessary, is guaranteed. Our site is also SSL certified.

√ Although we are capable and knowledgeable to plan trips to any destination in the world, our specialties are Europe and the United States.

2. OLD SOD TRAVEL

Old Sod Travel is another travel service company that comes up when you request a search about “custom trips”. Their specialty is the U.K, but primarily focused on Ireland, Scotland and England.

custom trips

Copy rights and credits to Old Sod Travel

They offer group travels, short visits, chauffeured trips, or study abroad programs. You can easily fill-out a Customized Itinerary form request as it is located on every page at the right sidebar, but prices or business physical address are not listed anywhere on the site. Old Sod Travel is a great company to use if you are interested in visiting the U.K. in particular.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT BETWEEN CUSTOMTRIP.ORG?

√ We offer Custom Trips to any destination in the world and not only to the U.K.

√ Our costs are calculated and estimated to the penny. The total costs posted on our website are the maximum.

√ Our contact form asks for few more details, which will help us to plan your trip faster and better.

3. JOURNY

Journy is one of the best designed websites for Customized Itineraries. Their team comes from wide backgrounds, but primarily from the food and restaurant industry. They are listed in some of the most popular travel news sites, such as Travel+Leisure, TechCrunch, WSJ and Cool Hunting. Their prices range from $25-$50 p/day of travel charged to you depending on your request and they offer 15-20 min free chat with a travel consultant. Usually, the faces behind Custom Trips operations/services are travel lovers who are either travel bloggers too or they just like to share their experiences with fellow travel enthusiasts and charge a minimum fee for their services.

customized itineraries

Copy rights and credits to Journy

Journy has had the financial back-up that most Custom Trips planners don’t, which also allows them to have an OK app you can download on your iPhone /not optimized for Android/. In order to request your customized itinerary you need to register on their site.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT BETWEEN CUSTOMTRIP.ORG?

√ We charge p/city, p/country or p/venue/interest. Our total price is almost half less than what a customized itinerary with Journy might cost you.

√ We don’t ask for our clients to register on our site because that requires giving out personal detail and exposing themselves to unwanted mail spam. We respect our clients’privacy and make sure their personal information is kept strictly confidential and used ONLY to plan a trip.

√ We are more flexible when we create the customized itineraries.

4. TRIPIT

Tripit is the best app to create your own customized itinerary. It is free to download and the basic features you can use for FREE. If you travel more than three times a year, it is worth paying the $50 p/year fee for more advanced features. TRIPIT combines all of your travel details into one so you can access it at any time. However, you do need to e-mail all of

customized itineraries

Copy rights and credits to TRIPIT

those details to a general TRIPIT e-mail. Featured in Forbes, WSJ, New York Times.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT BETWEEN CUSTOMTRIP.ORG?

√ We only operate through our website or social media channels. No app yet.

√ We have real people sitting and working on your customized itinerary while with TRIPIT it’s all computerized.

5. THE TRIP TROTTER

The Trip Trotter offers packaged tours and customized itineraries. Their prices are not clearly stated on the website, but they specialize in European trips. The Trip Trotter is a member of the U.S. Travel Association, Member of Signature Travel Network and Tzell Travel Group. Physical address of the company is not listed on the site, but they do offer affiliate links for hotel, flights, rental cars bookings. The Trip Trotter’s website is easy to navigate and very user friendly.

customized itineraries

Copy rights and credits to The Trip Trotter

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE WITH CUSTOMTRIP.ORG?

√ Our prices are clearly stated

√ We create customized itineraries to any and all destinations

√ Our blog posts vary in thematics

√  Our contact info is complete and clear

 

If you need some TIPSforTRIPS or travel advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us at mytrip@customtrip.org or via our on-site chat! We’d love to share our knowledge and expertise with you and help you out with your trip brainstorming ideas or making it all possible by proper budgeting. Bon Voyage!

 

 

 

 

 

PERFECT TRIP: 4 DAYS VISITING LONDON

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visiting London, photo credit to S.T.

PERFECT TRIP: 4  DAYS VISITING LONDON

My best graduation gift for being done with college was a trip to London. I had wanted to see it for so many years and the perfect time came for it. One of Europe’s most vibrant capitals and one of the world’s largest cities.

London has something and everything for everyone!

London is truly a city where the ‘old’ is ‘mixed’ with the new. It is a city that never sleeps. Its culture and vibrant life know no end, and while life there goes faster and faster, people still find time to stop by the Big Ben or Westminister Abbey, take a selfie or take a stroll through London’s Hyde Park.

THE 5 DAYS “MARATHON” STARTS HERE

I was only visiting London for 4 days, so I did not really have much time to see absolutely everything. That’s fine, though, as it gives me an excuse to return and dive once more into this beautiful city’s life, culture, and history.

I like to refer to my visit to London as “a marathon” because it’s exactly what I did. I got up early every day and was out and about on the streets, going from one place to another /mostly on foot/ from 9 AM until 10 PM. If you have already been to London, you would understand how physically exhausting this could be. But let me tell you: it was totally worth it!

After arriving in London, flying in from St.Louis, MO, I was shocked by how big the city actually is. It was a clear early September day and I was able to see the central part from the airplane window. Although I had previously been to Istanbul, Seattle, Chicago and other big cities, there was something about London I immediately found charming, classy and upbeat. Needless to say, my impressions were all proven right!

THE FUN BEGINS…

After settling in, I grabbed my backpack and went down to Trafalgar Square. Took a little stroll through the national gallery, went down to Piccadilly and a bit by the river. That little introduction to the city finished my first day.

After doing a thorough research on best places to visit in London, opening hours and admission’s fees — remember this was my college graduation gift, so the excitement might have been big, but the finances were limited — I figured out the best way to tour the city was to purchase a 3-Day City Pass with Travel Card. It gave me an advantage to quickly enter the museums and unlimited rides on all public transportation.

I first went to the Westminister Abbey and the Buckingham Palace, which seem to be the most visited attractions in London. While the Abbey has a sacred meaning for the Royal family, I believe what’s best about it is the architecture and design. Being preserved for so long, hiding so much history between its walls, and still standing as a type of an emblem to the British monarchy. I would say that Westminister Abbey should be anyone’ stop#1 when in London.

/Tip for Trip: sometimes there is a long line of people waiting to go in, so be there early/

The Buckingham Palace is simply magnificent! It’s size, history and the guards in front simply give a sense of aristocracy. It takes the tourists back to the 17-18 centuries where carriages with horses were arriving in the front of the palace, aristocrats and government officials were participating in decision makings, formal dinners including ballroom dances, and long nights full of the typical /which I find fabulous/ British sense of humor!

Unfortunately, it was my understanding that it is very hard for tourists to be given access inside the palace as it is still a functioning residency to the Royal family, so changing of the guards is the most one can see.

HISTORY GEEKNESS…

Being a history geek, I made it a point to visit as many historical and royal-related places a possible, but my most favorite one was the Windsor Castle.

The Windsor Castle. Photo credit:S.T.

The Windsor Castle. Photo credit:S.T.

Being located outside of London, I finally reached it after changing a train and two subway lines. The village of Windsor is small and cute, and it has the typical ‘tourist trap’ area where one can spend all of his money on souvenirs. The palace itself is gigantic! It is still used and if the Royal Standard is flown above it means that the Queen is in residence. There are organized tours but the best way to tour it is at your own pace. There is so much to see and lots of significant information about the history and the way it was built, as well as its location. The self-guided headsets come in handy and are included in the London City Pass.

“THE LITTEL GIRL” INSPIRATION

I found it amazing to be walking on grounds where knights, kings, and queens were once walking. To enter hallways, dining halls and chambers where royalties have lived /only one wing of the castle is currently used by the Royal family/. If you like fairytales and heroic stories, then Windsor Castle is a place you should visit too.

Kensington Palace was my other favorite place. Dating back to Queen Victoria and her beloved Albert, the palace holds a rich history of art and objects presenting their life and her ruling years.

Whitehall, the Household Cavalry Museum, The Guard’s Museum are also places I would highly recommend if you care about world history.

The famous Tower of London, the Tower Bridge Exhibition, and the London Bridge are more about the “dark” side of the city. It is not a secret that once upon a time they had ‘strange’ methods of murder, punishments, and imprisonment.

The parliament and Big Ben are always there for nice selfies and/or group photos.

THE SUN NEVER SETS OVER THE BRITISH EMPIRE

The British Museum is one of the biggest museums in the world with various collections and exhibits. The Science museum of London is highly recommended for people of all ages as it tells the stories of many new beginnings and inventions that took place in Europe. Both will take about 4-6 hours to tour, so plan on a full day for those. Admission to both is free.

The Victoria and Albert Museum was my favorite one. Art, art and more art that perhaps other than in Paris, you won’t see elsewhere.

AT THE END OF THE DAY VISITING  LONDON IS A PIECE OF CAKE
The London Bridge. Photo credit: S.T.

The London Bridge. Photo credit: S.T.

Although huge, London is not hard to get around. Using the tube/subway is the best and fastest way. Purchasing the travel card was the best decision ever as it eased the process a lot. As long as you are not afraid of huge crowds of people and going deep under the ground, you will be fine. There are signs everywhere, as well as kind personnel to assist and guide you. Tubes are frequent and fast.

For the 4 days I spent in London I can see that I saw the Best of London, but London also got the best out of me. My feet were killing me and I was physically exhausted from running from one place to another /remember museums close around 4 or 5 PM/, jumping from tube to tube, but it was an amazing experience I would recommend to everyone

If you’re up to the challenge, I have a pre-made customized itinerary ready that you may purchase here for $25.

 

Author: S.T.

CUSTOM TRIP: THE ONLINE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

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How it works! Custom Trip

CUSTOM TRIP: THE ONLINE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Custom Trip is the newest way of travel planning, trip organizing, and travel booking. Custom travel has been becoming more and more popular within the past 5 years and it will only get better. Searching for a specific, already put-up together, travel arrangements and tours are becoming less popular and soon will be overtaken by the Customized Trip industry.

Our Custom Trip is one of the first businesses to specialize in Customized Travel Itineraries only!

“THE ONLINE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE”

Custom Trip is truly your go-to Online Chamber of Commerce. Have you ever contacted a physical Chamber of Commerce? What did you ask them? What were you looking for? It is our guess that you were looking for ideas of where to go, what to see, how to get there, correct? This is what custom travel services do nowadays. Someone has already collected all that information, stored it, organized it and now it is easily accessible. There is no need to collect brochures from all the places you have been to or you want to visit because Custom Trip can give you all that information with a click of a “send” button.

The world is pretty big and it could be overwhelming to keep track of all events and arising in popularity touristy destinations, but that’s why so many traveling nomads, travel bloggers and Custom Trip, regularly post fresh content that covers these subjects, plus many more wonderful ideas of where to go, what to see, when to visit, and for how much. This is free information and easily accessible to you, as well as weekly newsletters. And we do like to call ourselves “ the online chamber of commerce” because with few clicks on the web we promote many local businesses from all over the world by sending them, tourists and curious visitors.

WHAT DO WE DO?

We have compiled a rich database of what we like to call “travel network”. In this travel network, we have the personal connections (on site people) who are available to provide us with any information we need in regards to current local events, best restaurants, best places to visit, etc. We have also compiled separate sections with hotels, hostels, restaurants, venues, activities, etc., that we use when we customize travel itineraries. We follow the client’s request and strictly keep things according to (in this exact order) his interests, budget, and timetable.

Our website, https://www.customtrip.org/ is simple and easy to navigate. We use it to gather clients’ trip requests under ‘plan here’. Our contact form is quite long, but also detailed. We try to get to know our New Custom Trip Traveler from step 1. We want to be as familiar as possible with his availability, points of departure and return, preferred activities, available budget for this particular trip so that we can create the best and most suitable customized trip plan for him. Once we have this information on an average, it takes about 10-15 min for a client to complete our contact form-we have 48 hours to prepare the travel itinerary including all travel logistics from the airport of departure to the return destination. Depending on the length of trip requested, we may plan it all in 24 hours. After payment is submitted (we use a secure payment system) we send the trip itinerary, i.e., customized trip plan.

We specifically customize all travel requests so no two trip plans will be the same and the final cost will differ too, again, based on customer’s preferences. 

We are not a travel agency, so we don’t do any of the booking or reservations. We suggest our top 3, based on your interests, budget, and timetable, and let you book it yourself. We do all the hard work to organize your trip, perform a detailed research and explore all possibilities, and all you have to do is say: “Yes, I love it! Then, book it!” The total time our clients spend on planning a trip with us is no more than 30 min.

premade customied itineraries

premade customized itineraries

LOGISTICS AND TRAVEL GUIDES

Custom Travel is not an easy job neither for the traveler nor for the business. If you want to travel, but have no idea where you’re going then, chances are you are already lost. It is difficult to plan the logistics on how to get from point A to point B when visiting a foreign country. Unfortunately, cell phone data is still not available at all corners of the world, plus international data could be quite expensive.

This is what we specialize in: travel logistics for tourists. Custom Travel requires customized travel logistics and we provide you with those from the moment you leave your home to the day you return. No more confusion, no more “I asked, but they didn’t understand me because I don’t speak the language”;”I got lost”; “I missed my train or the taxi driver overcharged me because I am a foreigner.”-those you can completely forget about!

It takes time and specific skills to be a travel logistics planner and we have mastered those. 

Our travel guides and suggestions could be general and mentioned in an article or specifically designed as an online travel guide. Either way, the information is 100% accurate, verified and great to use when brainstorming your next trip.

Custom travel will be becoming more and more popular. It will take time, trust and adjustment to this type of travel planning and travel, but it will be way more rewarding at the end. You can still visit the classics such as Paris, London, Dubai, New York City, but now you can experience more than the hop-on-hop-off bus tour for the same amount of time and less money. Customized trips give you the freedom and independence to create your own travel itinerary from A to Z. You are in charge of it all! The people who offer custom trip plans are there to simply guide you and give you a hand.

BRIEF BIO: Silviya is the founder and managing director of https://www.customtrip.org/ Silviya’s natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge has always pushed her to explore the beautiful world we live in. She likes to visit new places, discover new things, and meet people with different backgrounds and to study foreign languages. Silviya’s most favorite travel destination is Greece and her specialty. She adores the Mediterranean cuisine, music, culture, and lifestyle. Silviya created Custom Trip because she believes that the best trips are the “spontaneous” ones. She is a firm believer that travel agencies overcharge for what they offer and rarely give you the opportunity to really dive into the local culture and places as you could have independently. Silviya supports “travel and learns” instead of “travel and shop”. She likes to have fun when traveling but also puts a great importance on visiting enriching cultural, architectural, culinary and artistic venues and museums.

 

A WALK THROUGH ETARA, BULGARIA

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Etara, Bulgaria. Photo credit: D.Stafford

A walk through Etara, Bulgaria

Etara is the first museum under the open sky in Bulgaria, established in 1964. It takes the visitor back to the 18th and 19th centuries when the Revival was in its apogee. I, personally, don’t like fantasy movies, but going back in time is very real while walking through Etara. It catches my breath from the entrance with the smell of old wood, aging moss on the stone slit roofs, the bright colors of stucco and planters, and the calming sound of running water from the river. There are about 50 houses with workshops where skillful masters demonstrate how things were done 200 years ago. There are not many craftsmen who can use old-fashioned and primitive fools and their own hands. It is a miracle to me to see the wooden bowls, the leather shoes, the carved knives, copperware, and much more coming out of their hands. Then all stored on a shelf behind the window, inviting the tourists to be touched, admired, purchased.

Etara, Bulgaria. Photo credit: D.Stafford

Etara, Bulgaria. Photo credit: D.Stafford

The people from that area apparently expressed their dreams, feelings, and hopes through colors and shapes. I could see it in the hand-woven rugs, in the elegant and unique silver jewelry, in the pottery products, and the folk clothes.

Most fascinating and authentic experience to me was the visit to the coffee shop. Upon the second floor, we were sitting on the “minder” ( a wooden bench under the window, covered with a colorful rug and offering comfort with many pillows). The traditional Turkish coffee is made in a copper pot with long handle. The strongly smelling precious brown powder is mixed with some water and brought to a boil over hot sand. Right after the coffee starts boiling. (turning over), the pot must be removed. The coffee doesn’t cook or boil. It has to “turn over” three times. Then it is strained and poured into a small coffee bowl/cup ( no more than 50 grams). If it doesn’t have a handle, the cup needs to be held in the palm. The coffee is served with a glass of water and the authentic homemade white jam. Everything then is being consumed slowly, with an expression of pleasure and thanksgiving to the shop owner. Traditionally in the 18th and 19th century, the client will be sitting criss-cross on the ‘minder’ as in those times only men were allowed to visit public coffee shops. Women visited each other in their homes and enjoyed the same style of coffee and white jam.

Many Bulgarian villages back then had granite basins with running spring water on the streets. Gabarevo is one, known as the village with the hundred spring waters. Etara shows that well. Visitors don’t need to buy bottled water. There is mountain spring water running nonstop, and it is cold and tasty.

It can take a whole day to visit, observe, and learn from each workshop. The information on the internet doesn’t do it justice. The true experience is when a hand can touch, the eye can see, and the nose can smell.

Author: D.Stafford, MI, USA

 

CEBU,PHILIPPINES: WON ITS PLACE IN MY HEART

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Cebu, Philippines, lifein360degrees.com

It was in 2014 when I first went to Cebu City for a holiday trip and never did I know that I will grow fond of it.

It was just a matter of luck that I had a job that required me to travel a lot and one of the destinations I frequently visited was Cebu. It was because of the occasional visits that I got the chance to know and connect to this wonderful place.

Vibes

It’s a bustling metropolis with hidden wilderness gems. The traffic is so bad especially during rush hour and all people are such in a hurry. But when you just go out of the central city, you will see more of its laid-back side. I was amazed to experience how a 30-minute drive can give you both the peace you need and a good scenery to see. To me, switching from the “hurry” mode to “chill “mode real quick is one of its magic. 

Cebu, Phillippines

Swimming with the whale sharks. Photo credit: Marjorie, www.lifein360degrees.com

People

I love them. I really love them. Being able to work with different people in Cebu, I was able to experience first hand their hospitability as well as straightforwardness. They will welcome you in the city and help you the best way they can. And oh, did I mention most of them are very good in speaking English compared to Tagalog (known to be the first language of Filipinos and is widely spoken).

Places and To-Dos

I really love the variety of the places you can visit and the adventures you can take. I was like ticking off my bucket list one at a time in the same place. It is truly a place for every kind of traveler.

If you want to go high, try Sky Walk Experience or Skydiving which is not for people who are faint-hearted (like me) though I did the first one. All about pushing the limits for adventures.

Cebu, Phillippines

Hike to Osmena Peak. Photo credit: Marjorie, www.lifein360degrees.com

But if you prefer to be in the water, why not swim with the whale sharks? 

Want to get closer to nature? Go to Kawasan Falls or hike the tallest mountain in Cebu and stand on Osmeña Peak. I did and it was a very beautiful experience. The hike was relatively easy but the sight was priceless.

Or if you are keen to know some of the historical places, visit Yap-San Diego Ancestral House, 1730 Jesuit House, Cebu Heritage Monument, the famous Magellan’s Cross and more. You can never go wrong with the chunks of knowledge you will learn.

Maybe you just want to be awed by some beautiful structure, try Temple of Leah or the Simala Church. Try to ask the story behind these structures, I am totally astonished when the locals told me the story of these two.Truly, you can never run out of things to do and places to see.

Food

I ate a lot of lechon (roasted pork) while I was here. Cebu is very famous for this dish. Fun fact, the rice here is called “Puso” a Tagalog word for love.  

Cebu, Phillippines

Famous Lechon. Photo credit: Marjorie, www.lifein360degrees.com

Costs

You can have a hearty lunch around Php 60.00 ($1.19). A room in a hotel for Php 1,700.00 ($34.00) but of course there are other cheaper options for accommodations. The activities you can do ranges from being free to Php 800 ($15.00) or more. There’s a variety of mode of transportation. You can ride the jeepney, hail a cab or request for an Uber. I remember that I budgeted about Php 2,000.00 ($40.00) for my transportation and I was able to roam all over the city and some out of the city scenery.

Overall, it’s pretty cheap for a metropolis.

My thoughts

Cebu won its place in my heart. I don’t exactly know if Cebu practically grew up in me but I love everything about it. I had developed this feeling of “being home” whenever I was here. One day, I’ll be back again to discover more of it.

 

This is a guest post written by Marjorie Fernando. The author of the blog LIFE IN 360 DEGREES (https://lifein360degrees.com/). She writes about her experiences starting a new life in Melbourne, Australia, and bits of pieces of traveling around the world.

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