Travel Traits of an Aquarian.

Picking a destination for your next vacation should be simple. Ideally you should be able to tick off as many places as you can on the globe.  But if you’re looking for something a little more, let’s say, unconventional, how about choosing something based on your zodiac sign. For example an Aries probably thrives off of some sort of activity with an adrenaline junkie kind of element, or a Virgo who loves to go on well planned and executed travel itineraries, and an Aquarian who is always known to be unconventional, loves to immerse themselves in a completely different culture.

I understand that this may seem a little hocus pocus and weird, but why not indulge in it just for the fun of it.

Aquarius-woman

Let me just give you an insight into the world of an Aquarian (AKA ME) with this post today.

While children make wishes on rainbows, artists paint them and dreamers chase them, an Aquarian is way ahead; not only do they live on a rainbow they even believe in it!

Being an air sign, Aquarius beings crave the numerous rich and varied experiences that travelling has been known to offer.

It’s often been heard that the Aquarius prides itself on being unique and different— whether it be in dress, thought, behaviour, or even choosing a travel destination.

Knowing how determined, intelligent, and charming Aquarians can be, it’s not surprising that Aquarius travellers seek qualities in their trips that mirror their personalities.

Anchorage-Skyline

So, unexplored landscapes such as the one-of-a-kind and full of adventure over the permanently snow-capped mountains and volcanoes of the Alaskan hotspots are a perfect destination for that “inner-maverick” wanting to do things differently. With tons of culture, sophistication, and stunning natural beauty in the large port city of Anchorage, makes it the ideal location for sight-seeing or taking on traditional Alaskan rendezvous.

Machu_Picchu

Shrouded with age-old mystery, Machu Picchu, Peru offers a good dose of rich history, as well as the chance to breath in some mysterious Incan ruins. Travelling to this Peruvian citadel where mountaintops and archaeological wonders are all around, this awe-inspiring ancient city perched atop a high plateau deep in the Amazonian jungle would be the perfect getaway for the dreamy Aquarian.

tech museum

Having being blessed with loads of energy, a hunger for steady mental stimulation, and a love for innovation with a constant need to change the world, it really is not surprise that Silicon Valley, the Northern Californian technology and research hub is a fitting motivation for any innovative and visionary Aquarius being-the revolutionary, the genius, the scientist, the eccentric artist, the truth-sayer, and the ultimate inventor.

computer museum

Engaging in tours of the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose and the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, as well as long walks through the spectacular campus of Stanford University near Palo Alto fuels their inspiration.

northern-lights-finland

Always on the lookout for a world away from the daily grind of working nine to five, the enchanting Northern Lights, in the Land of the Midnight Sun— a.k.a. Finland comes closest to an utopian paradise for all Aquarius individuals.

A modern state with well-planned out cities and towns, along with pristine landscapes, awesome latitudes and vast spaces of ripe wilderness to explore and breathe in, offers a wintry, European experience that’ll fulfill any Aquarian’s childhood fantasy, and cast a magically powerful spell that’ll haunt the imagination and memory for years to come.

disney

Doing anything too ordinary or going anywhere too touristy will bore dear Aquarius individuals to the bone– so it’s important to keep these water carriers excited with a highly adventurous vacation. What better place than Orlando to bring out their inner child, and let loose the excitement in places such as the Florida Kennedy Space Center, the Great Barrier Reef, or, for little Aquarians, the Magic Kingdom and Disney World’s Epcot Center. There’s nothing ordinary about this place. It’s truly magical!!

Water bearers love to find solace in places filled with rich doses of spirituality, serenity, and harmony. Getting close to nature and indulging in unique pampering indulgences which take a load off their shoulders, leaves them feeling invigorated and beautiful.

Spa-Four-seasons

To calm their over active mind and always craving for more ‘alone’ time, enjoying a soothing luxury spa treatment at the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius, would perhaps top the charts. The “Let it go” is just an indulgence found few other places in the world. This signature Let It Go 8 Handed Massage treatment” originating in Ayurvedic treatment takes place in an overwater villa and is the perfect opportunity for the water bearer to indulge in an exclusive treatment, where four highly trained therapists work in synchronicity, like a “dancer’s choreography,” on the body to release stress, emotional weight, and offer a sense of total rejuvenation. WOW!! Can there be anything better than this?

Aquarians love things that are unique and uncommon more than anything else. Something that’s off the wall and unconventional, something peculiar that’ll blow their minds.

Hawaii rainbow

Natural wonders offer the ultimate experience these free spirited beings are looking for. It goes without saying that the hills or the oceans have an inspiring affect on their creativity, and the Aquarian positively respond to the calming effect nature provides.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Where you would like to travel to based on your Zodiac sign? Do share in the comments.

-M

 

 

PC;AlaskaTourSaver; LonelyPlanet;VisitSanJose;HouseofLapland;Tripadvisor;LuxuryMauritius;TravelAndLeisure

 

 

 

Show them you care.

chekin

After spending years training newbie entrants in Automated Ticketing, Tourism and Soft skills in the field of Aviation, Travel and Tourism, I can’t help but notice the customer service delivered to me everywhere I go, whether I am shopping, dining, or even travelling. I guess the trainer in me still has that ‘Hawk Eye’ when it comes to service.

Great customer service is the holy grail of any business. Competition in the marketplace has made it crucial for businesses to spruce up on not only their hardware but more importantly their software – aka employees.

Having said that, customer service training is and should always be the top priority in organizations having multiple customer touch-points.

JapanAirlines_PR

In fact service approach needs to be in the DNA of the organisation. Only if product, policies and strategies are designed keeping customer’s wellbeing in mind that a good service experience can truly be delivered by customer interfacing teams.

Today travellers are more demanding than ever. They have more power than they used to. They are smarter and have higher expectations than ever before. They are more up-to-date and better informed today, as technology has made it easier for them to do their homework.

Smart travellers – empowered travellers – know what options they want hence airlines, travel companies and hotels must be equipped to meet customers on their terms, when, where and how they want.

In the Aviation industry good customer experiences are of great significance. Customer demand is about meeting and exceeding expectations and making the customer feel special with a more personalized experience.

Emirates-Fly-With-Me-Monsters-1

For example; Emirates, provides the so called ‘Knowledge-driven Inflight Service’, which enables cabin crew to operate with greater efficiency and provide a more heightened level of service to the airline’s customers. This technology enables the crew to know the customer’s preferences and issues that might have occurred during their previous travels thereby enabling the carrier to offer personalized service, unrivalled within the industry and for which the airline prides itself upon.

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Closer home, SpiceJet provides a host of offers like ‘Hot Meals’ on board which is a paradigm shift for Low Cost Airlines. It is a great delight to customers, and a differentiator for the airline. ‘SpiceBiz’ the new Business Class offering at affordable fares, and a premium product called SpiceMax which has spacious seats with extra leg space, complimentary meal, Priority Check In, Bags out first, etc. – all at a nominal charge.

united-ibm-apple

Eventually the best way to retain your customer is knowing what they need. Courteous staff, ease at checkin /boarding, inflight service, are just few of the ways you can keep your customers happy. Airline Loyalty programs and club memberships offer exclusive benefits such as a complimentary pick up service to the airport and also at the final destination, or a Lounge access card at departing airports to its First or Business class passengers.

Unfortunately, complaining passengers are on the rise. They have complaints, sometimes frivolous, about their journey. A delayed flight for instance has the twitterati in a twist. Passengers start abusing and condemning the airline not realising the reason could be genuine for such delays.

Aircrafts are not supposed to be standing on the tarmac forever. They are supposed to ferry passengers in the air. Most airlines have a tight turnaround time and if the aircraft is delayed from the originating airport for some reason such as inclement weather or offloading the baggage of a gate-no-show passenger, this cartwheels into delays at further sectors.

But people have no clue about the intricacies such as time slots, availability of runways, crew rest coming into effect, and many other factors involved. Passenger safety is of utmost importance to any carrier. And delays are as much a part of air travel as on time performance.

In the past, when customers had a complaint, they’d speak to a gate agent or call the airline. Today, they’re more likely to post about their problem on social media, including Twitter and Facebook — which means the world is watching to see how the airlines react.

social media

Furthermore today the impact of social media trolls influences the passenger’s choice a great deal. It has therefore become crucially important to have a knowledgeable team at the helm of all Social media platforms, to capture the Voice of the Customer and provide quick, helpful, understanding and encouraging response and support, in a timely manner.

Airlines always keep trying their best to keep their customers happy. For instance, incase of a delayed flight of more than 12 hours, most airlines would offer a hotel stay until the next flight becomes available or rebook/transfer passengers to another airline, space permitting.

Air travel can be a confusing experience for a first time traveler. The customer service team must be able to convey timely and useful information to the passengers through their Apps, emails, WhatsApp, SMS, and other social media channels.

Keeping all customers happy at all times is as elusive as finding a unicorn. Providing flawless service, however, is not always easy.No matter how many customer service surveys are conducted, much of the customer psyche will forever remain of ‘yeh dil mange more’ !.

All said and done, in today’s world of competitiveness, service industry must invoke technology to couple training and fine-tuned SoP’s to deliver top notch, proactive and personalised customer service to keep their customers loyal.

 

Madhavi

 

 

 

PC: Twitter;Bloomberg;SmartCitiesWorld;Emirates;Spicejet;Future Travel Experience;AfroMum

 

Micro Travel-When less is more.

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With time travel trends keep changing almost every year or so. The ever evolving travel market is always on the lookout for extraordinary experiences which can satiate the ever demanding need of the current generation.

Increasingly, most millennials are foregoing see-everything, do-everything vacation junkets for Micro Travel.

Micro travel is focused, have less-frantic itineraries that concentrate on limited locales and activities and offer a deeper, more rewarding appreciation of each destination. You see less but you see more. Seemingly contradictory but true.

bleisure

A trend to be noted is that travellers who are short on time for ex. the “bleisure” trip, where business travellers tack on an extra night or two to have a fun, leisure trip.

For some travellers, that kind of schedule checks all the boxes and allows them to say, “Yep, I’ve seen Croatia” or wherever they find themselves in.

I’m not judging, but just thinking about an itinerary like that makes me stressed. In the end, for me, it would all be a blur.

I’m a devotee of small, personal and concentrated travel. For me – and I am sure increasingly for more and more people – travel shouldn’t be a chore.

Too often, with the fast pace and ever-present “chatter” of modern life, it isn’t surprising that we want our leisure time to be calmer, more meaningful and more digestible.

But if you are enthusiastic and are loaded with short bursts of energy, micro trips are definitely for you. Micro trips have to be well planned, which means you can maximize destination time, minimize wasted time and cut down on expenses with clever flight times and usage of optimal time zones.

Most micro trips generally center on great flight options which allow you to leave after work or land near the same time you take off. Yes, it may sound slightly crazy, but you need to be looking for destinations which involve overnight flights where you Leave after work and land in your destination in the morning.  Or taking flights going west or short destinations you can fly to in the morning and return in the evening.

By taking advantage of any of these options you’re able to maximize time and spend the hours you’d be sleeping let’s say in the air instead of hotel rooms. This way you can also save huge money. By flying overnight you easily avoid one night of hotel and if you can find an evening flight back, you get two full days while booking just one night.

For Example USA to Europe, Or Vice Versa- Thanks to overnight flights from the USA and late departing flights from Europe back to the USA, you can put in a full day’s work whichever direction you go. You could take a 10PM flight from New York to London on a Friday evening, land Saturday morning, buy one night of hotel for Saturday night and spend all day in London Sunday, before heading back to New York on the 8PM flight, which gets into New York around 11PM.  No days of work missed, and you have two full days of exploration ticked off the bucket list. If you’re starting in Europe, you could take an 8PM back from the USA and land in Europe in time to make it to the office on time.

Shot Code C

Depending where you are from your micro travel could be anything such as some indigenous culinary experiences with locals in France teaching you the secrets of baking the perfect baguettes, or learning the art of making the famous blue pottery in Jaipur.

pottery

Maybe it’s a journey to visit the dozen most historic pubs in London. Or even a small-group kayak trip on the Dordogne instead of the usual wine tour of Bordeaux.

pub

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Or experiencing the wonder of living in a real palace turned hotel in Udaipur.

udaipur

Micro trips are for the people who are ready to throw themselves into a destination, make the most of every hour and turn up to work on Monday with a better “how was your weekend?” story than the rest of the office combined.

 

Madhavi

 

 

PC: Biznisto.cz;Lonelyplanet;Booking.com;Kingarthurflour;Timeout

 

 

 

Passengers behaving badly – a ‘Flightmare’

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Oh, please excuse me while I go on a rant here!

Air travel was like being in a five star hotel some decades back. Flying used to be a treat in itself. Passengers would dress up; skirts and heels for women, coat and often a tie for gentlemen.

Good hot meals along with beverages were usually included across all classes of travel and the service was impeccable and served with a cloth napkin and real silverware—spoon, fork and yes, a sharpened knife.

‘Air hostesses’ -the young women with big smiles and bright uniforms greeted every passenger graciously and courteously.

I am talking about the 70’s and 80’s here, when flight travel was not so common, but exciting and very special for flyers.

And the best part, travellers behaved!!

Today, air travel is the most popular method for traveling. And as more and more people take to the not-so-friendly skies, what with the fares being as competitive, stories of rude, disgusting and selfish behavior of many a ‘first time air traveller’ abound.

And as for a dress code, its non-existent; with many passengers dressing as if they are headed to the beach or about to go back to sleep in their dirty sloppy PJ’s no less. They get on planes and decide to behave in ways that drive you beyond your limits of tolerance.

Err, excuse me but the airplane is not an extension of your home. You are travelling  with 200 strangers. When the captain says “Relax and enjoy the flight,” this does not give you the permission to start behaving like you own the airline and start treating staff with utmost disrespect.

From changing their baby’s diapers on the dinner trays — leaving the soiled ones in drink cups for the cabin crew to take away, from  either cramming their cabin baggage in the overhead bins or stashing it away under your seat, from reclining their seat almost into your face, from refusing to turn off the smart phone, from kicking the seat in front, from playing loud music in cabin, from smoking in lav, from inappropriately touching the cabin crew to sticking their bare feet on your armrest from the seat behind you and of course how can you forget ‘mommy’s darling’ who runs across the aisle causing pandemonium across the plane.

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And don’t even get me started about the passenger seated in the middle seat. A lot of passengers rate the battle for the armrest as one of their very greatest peeves. The battle for arm rest superiority has long plagued travellers, with awkward social etiquette and downright confrontation. If the window seat gets the far armrest, and the aisle gets their own, what’s the story with the middle? Well last I heard that Jetstar, in a press release announced that the middle seat is entitled to both armrests – and that’s final.

Well if you are seated on either corners, I pray you are not literally on a flight to hell.

Badly behaved passengers are obnoxiously present world over and in general gross behaviour is unfortunately, becoming the norm.

But what, though, can you do about it? Yes, you can complain to a crew, who may be reluctant or even powerless to stop certain passenger behaviors, however, you try and politely just bear it without even grinning.

But seriously, Why are passengers behaving badly? 

Are we becoming a nation of rude narcissists? Basic, decent behavior has been lost with day-to-day living in a bubble where you feel like YOU are the most important person on this planet. The sense of entitlement and privilege is exemplified by the thought: “I want to do what I want, when I want…. and I will!”

And to make matters worse this bad behavior is contagious. The ‘If he can do it, why can’t I?’ mindset continues to flourish and our “It’s all about me” society continues to rumble out of control.

Don’t you think it’s time that Airlines need to have a ‘dress code’ so passengers will know ahead of time what will fly and what won’t. And maybe include a ‘behaviour code’ as well in their contract of carriage and acceptance of passengers.

However as a fellow passenger there are certain things you can do and follow these common sense guidelines:

When the meal service is on, with trolley carts in the aisles, its best to avoid making trips to lavatories unless absolutely important. This helps both, the crew and other passengers too.

badly1

Tension between cabin crew and passengers often arises from the strict safety directives on board. Though passengers may find them restrictive, crew members must ensure that safety rules are abided by. After all, cabin crew are on board primarily for passengers safety along with the service ,but it has been taken for granted by lot of passengers thinking that cabin crew are mainly at their beck and call.

  • If you have an unruly passenger near you, try to calm him/her down, but don’t waste your time on this if the individual is out of control – simply proceed to the next step, which is press the call button and let the trained cabin crew take over the situation. Some carriers have Air Marshalls on board who are trained to handle aggressive passengers.
  • Do not panic in case of turbulence. Stay calmIf you start panicking, it’ll just add to the chaos and might complicate the situation further. But yes, easier said than done.
  • Leave it to the professionally trained cabin crew. Stay in your seat – but if you’re blocking a cabin crew’s access, get out of the way. Try to find an empty seat and use it.
  • Be helpful if asked. Don’t intervene unless the crew requests help. If you’re the least bit unsure if you can render assistance, let someone else do it.
  • And finally brace yourself for delays. If the captain decides to divert the flight to drop off the passenger to law enforcement authorities, there’s nothing you can do about it but resign yourself to a delay.
  • Well, travelling in groups is fun but air travel seems to be a challenging one for people travelling in group. Most of the passengers in group wants to stand in the aisle chatting with their friends causing hindrance to cabin crew tasks and won’t even occupy their original assigned seat. Cabin crew needs to be firm with them to ensure safety is not compromised during any phase of the flight keeping in mind nobody’s sentiments are hurt.

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Are we really living in this world of arrogant and egoistic passengers where basic etiquette are forgotten by some of our esteemed passengers? You may have read about the case of an Irish passenger who spat on an AI crew for not serving more alcohol, in Business class, last November and was arrested on landing. Well, she was finally convicted of assault by a British court, early March.

Many countries ‘blacklist’ unruly passengers from flying. Our Ministry of Civil Aviation has recently come out with guidelines for such passengers on Indian domestic flights. Unfortunately not a single passenger has made it to that list. What a shame!

Travel safe, travel sane.

Madhavi

PC: DenverPost:Pinterest;Kelly Kincaid

Going SOLO

me goa

Everyone remembers their first solo journey. For some women it was a long time ago, and there have been many more trips since. For others, the memory is still quite fresh.  I know mine is. It was the year 2009. Taking the leap of faith I plunged into a 2 night trip. Things had come to a head on the personal front and I wanted to break out of the rut of work and home and head out to the safest place I knew . Goa!

I know. I know. Who in their right mind takes off to Goa alone? But that’s me. Never following the herd, I have made my own rules.

me kochi

Coming back to the solo trip, it’s true almost everyone has some anxiety before setting out. But there is not a single woman out there who has regretted doing so.

Solo travelling is becoming more important and more popular for women today .It’s an opportunity to discover more about themselves and the world around them.

Although I have to say that the Indian woman is still a little conservative when compared to her western counterpart.  India is an old school country, and where women’s safety is often a massive concern. Many women aren’t allowed to or are afraid to be travelling alone. However, things are changing. More and more strong, independent women are choosing to travel alone and do not let the patriarchy hold them down. Right from backpacking across India to hitch-hiking in another country altogether, these women are inspiring others to give up their fears and have major travel goals.

However there are a few Travel Tips I would recommend for Women Travelling Alone.

  1. Do Your Research! Choose your destination with Intent.

Preparation is the key to success! Or safety in this case. I cannot emphasis enough how important the research you undertake before or during your trip is. User review sites are really useful when looking for advice on where to stay (hotel/hostel/Airbnb) but usually you’ll get some insight into the surrounding areas from people who have been there. This can mean the difference between staying in a shady area where you’re afraid to go outside or a comfortable place full of like-minded travellers and friendly staff.

For example Scandinavia, Ireland and New Zealand,Verona (Italy), Hilo or Oahu (Hawaii) and Amsterdam (Netherlands), just to name a few countries/cities that are safe for women travellers.

reviews

  1. Frequently Update Someone on Your Whereabouts.

Whether it is your mum, dad, brother, sister, friend etc. always keep someone informed of your movements. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Regularly call a friend or family member, where you can check-in and they can rest assured!

  1. Be Smart with Your Smartphone.

We’re lucky that these days everything we need for getting around is in the palm of our hands. So be smart and download the apps on your Smartphone before you take off. From navigation to interacting with locals who have shared interests it’s essential for every woman traveller. Apps like Uber, Google Maps, Toilet finder etc are smart applications that will keep you covered.

Additionally do invest in your phones data plan before you leave so that you can use the data for your maps/Uber etc, without it pinching your pocket on buying a local sim card.

apps

  1. Make Copies of Important Documents. 

Make copies and additionally take pictures of your travel docs and store them on a secure online server, such as Dropbox, that can be accessed from any computer. If any of your documents are stolen or get lost, this is a sure way of helping your Embassy allocate new ones for you so that you are able to continue on your travels and/or get home.

Passport

  1. Don’t be a fool. 

You’ve made the super-smart decision to explore the world, now just make sure that intelligence extends to your everyday life during your travels. Just general common-sense including, not going down dark alleys on your own or talking to strangers, securing the locks on your purse or locking away your things are few things you need to keep in mind. Just be observant to the world and goings-on around you.

  1. Don’t flaunt your cash. 

If you’re travelling alone, be careful of where and how you keep your cash/credit card. Make sure your purse/bag has a hidden pocket for your wallet. Pack light. Protect your documents, cards and cash

  1. Don’t Trust People Too Quickly.

There are a lot of like-minded solo travellers and friendly locals out there, but not all of their intentions are as fun-filled and honest as yours. Women travelling alone should try to avoid going down anywhere too remote or hidden or when it gets too dark and you are far away from your hotel. Trust your gut, if something seems peculiar, strange or weird about someone, you can walk away. Always remove yourself from uncomfortable situations as quickly and quietly as possible.

  1. Blend In.

 This seems quite obvious, just try and blend in as much as you can. Do not wear too revealing outfits and pay attention to your surroundings; do not walk around with your camera around your neck and your nose pressed into a map.

 

The first step is taking the first step. Yes, it’s scary and I’ve found that feeling doesn’t necessarily go away, but if you don’t do it you’ll always regret it. The bigger question is what if I don’t do it? You will be amazed where your strength will come from.

It’s no doubt wonderful to travel with your bunch of friends or your family, but I feel travelling solo once in a while nourishes your soul. I have taken many a solo trips since that day in 2009 and believe me I just can’t get enough.

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Good luck with your life’s experiences!

Madhavi

 

 

 

PC: Personal; Getty Images