Planning Your Next Trip
Thorough planning increases the joy of travel. This month we explored travel and booking websites and we shared tips for planning your next travel adventure.
August 28, 2019
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Travel Talk – Planning Your Next Trip
Presented by Debbie Good and Ginger Irwin
August 28, 2019
Debbie Good: Here we are. I am Debbie Good. I've taught at Hadley for 26 years, Spanish, French, some other topics. Ginger, tell us what you do at Hadley and what you have been doing.
Ginger Irwin: I've been an instructor for probably over 25 years myself. Prior to that, I was an Orientation and Mobility Specialist. I've been working with students who are in the public school systems, and I have also worked adults in the area. That's basically it, and I love to travel.
Debbie Good: Yes. Ginger has taken people through airports, to Europe, as a sighted guide. She is the fountain of knowledge, so very happy to have her here.
I'd like to start out by seeing if anyone who was at the previous travel talk was able to use any of our tips, or any experiences. The topic last month was Staycations.
Does anyone in the last month, gone out to any local place that they've enjoyed? Anyone like to share? Okay, well hopefully, you'll still have a chance during the summer weather to strike out a little bit. So our topic for today is Planning Your Trip. Researching destinations. All of us would like to go someplace at some point, on a vacation. Sometime we're stopped though, I just don't know where I want to go, or I know I want to go someplace, but I just don't know where. I'd like to start off this travel talk with a little bit of self-reflection. So, just imagine that you are asking yourself, "Where would I like to go?" What comes to your mind first? Is there an image or an idea? If I said, "Hey, where would you like to go on vacation?" What comes to you? That can inform your choice of where you'd like to go. Here are some other useful questions, again self-reflection.
What is the ideal vacation for you? Are you the type of person who would like to relax on a beach for a week, like go to resort and just stay there hearing the waves? Enjoying the sun. Are you into a relaxation vacation? Where you stay in one place. Or are you the type of person who likes to strike out and explore all the popular places of a city? Or maybe something in between. Another question you could ask is, why do I want to go on this trip? For example, do you want to do something physically demanding? Such as going skiing or hiking? Or again, do you want to just relax on the beach instead of going out and raising your heart rate by hiking or walking all around some place. Do you want to be pampered? Do you want to have a nice, hot shower and all your conveniences or are you up for something more rugged like going on a safari or out on a wilderness adventure?
Another question is, do you want to make your own plans and arrangements? Or would you like somebody else to do that for you? For example, if you choose a cruise or an all-inclusive resort, you can have it both ways where certain things are set up for you and then you can choose other activities. Are you the type of person who likes to keep busy most of the time? Do you like to go shopping, go to plays, eat in lots of different kinds of restaurants? Are you looking for something cultural like visiting museums and historic monuments?
A very important consideration also is, how you like to travel. Are you afraid to fly? Do you get seasick? Do you need to be near a medical facility in case there's an emergency? How about the weather? Do you want to go to someplace warm and sunny or do something cooler? Or how about being near water? Are you an ocean person, or do you like lakes and rivers? Do you want to go fishing? Do you want to go saltwater fishing or freshwater fishing if you like to fish. Do you like to surf or snorkel? Or do you want to swim with the dolphins?
Asking these questions before you do any planning can really help you refine where you'd like to go and what you'd like to do. Would anyone like to share what came to your mind when I talked about what's your ideal vacation? Just raise your hand and just share what came to you. I'm going to talk to Leanne, go ahead Leanne.
Leanne: My hand was raised for your initial question of if you went to a local place, and I went to our county fair.
Debbie Good: That's great. Tell us how you found out how to get there and how you found it existed, all that. Talk us through it.
Leanne: Okay, well I've lived here four years, so I already knew it existed, but they have a shuttle bus that stops at a local shopping center, so, I got a ride there and then the bus dropped me, actually all the buses are free on that day. So I did Route 4 twice so I could learn it because I can't see the schedule or the signs. I did that and then I went to the fair. The bus dropped me off at the fair and they let me in, it was free day for handicap and local community and I just walked around and talked to people and met up with a couple of other blind friends and we had fun just looking at all the, what do you call them…
Debbie Good: All the exhibits.
Leanne: All the exhibits, all the flowers, and what were those things called, fairy gardens.
Debbie Good: Oh yeah.
Leanne: And we had ice cream, it was very fun and people were very helpful.
Debbie Good: Wonderful, thank you for sharing that Leanne. That's a big success story about how to do something super fun and you managed all aspects of it on your own, so thank you for sharing that. Let's hear from Kim.
Kim: Hey, Debbie, when you're talking, and I've thought about this before, but there are two things on my mind. I'm thinking, I would love to go, even though I can't see a whole lot, like out train windows, it would be fun to go on a train trip to somewhere, where you would need an overnight sleeper, that kind of thing. Or maybe I'd like to go on a cruise. But I've heard that, and I don't think I would do any of these things alone, that wouldn't be any fun, but I have heard with cruises, they're a little bit picky about blind people, they want them to have a travel partner. They don't want them to go alone. That's the two things I think about.
Debbie Good: Okay, thank you for sharing that. As far as taking cruises. I've heard a few different things. A lot of people really like cruises because you can learn the layout of the cruise ship, even in advance and then you have an orientation about where things are. As far as them wanting you to have a sighted guide, I don't think that's always true. We're going to have Wendy David as a guest on another podcast, actually not another podcast, on a podcast. And she has a whole book about that and there's a whole chapter devoted to cruising. She travels by herself or with her companion who is also blind and that's one of her favorite modes of travel because of the ease of accessibility. You know where everything is. Once you learn the layout of where the meals are and the activities, then you've got that set and then as far as onshore excursions, that's up to you on how adventurous you want to be. But thank you for sharing that. Cruising could be a very fun thing to do. Let's hear from Gary.
Gary: Hey Debbie, a couple things that I've thought about for years that I haven't been able to do, one would be to go to Yosemite or another national park like that. I've always been a real wildlife junkie, the outdoors, hiking, like that. The other thing, which really is daydreaming, is maybe go to Mexico and see Machu Picchu or some of the Mayan ruins of Peru and see some, or Libya, Machu Picchu, Tiwanaku, or something like that. Those are the two kind of things I think of that would be fun for me if I could see again, a little bit more. The wildlife thing, going to national parks, now I'm totally blind, I don't see how I'd be able to enjoy it as much as I would like to do that.
Debbie Good: Okay, I'm going to…
Gary: Go ahead.
Debbie Good: I’m going to see- Elyse, are you still there? Because she just did a whole thing about national parks, Elyse, can you address that?
Elyse: Yes, thank you. We did, if you would like to look up our last calls, archived with Hadley discussion groups. With the Get Up and Go, we talked about national parks and how to get there. National Parks has a newly designed website and they, in the last couple of years, have pushed to increase their accessibility exponentially. The materials are going to be in alternate formats, some are Braille Ready Files. Some have visitor centers where you can go, they'll have tactile maps [inaudible] routes that you can look at ahead of time.
Elyse: They have a website, each national park is listed, has it's own page and then if you click through you can go to their accessibility tab and you can find features unique to that park. For example, the Grand Canyon has different roads that go in and out and different trails. So there's GPS-mapped roads, so if you're walking, be careful because it follows the road, but it's GPS-marked. Some of them have different trails, or different lookouts or certain features that are unique to that. Or buildings or museums that are part of it that will be highlighted. So I really encourage you to check out the state that you're interested in, or the park name if you have one in particular and then check out the accessibility. There's one more tip, they do have an app, if you're an iOS or an Android user, you can download the app and search a lot of this information as well with iDevice or iPad and that.
Gary: Oh, do you know what the app is called?
Elyse: Give me just a minute, I'll come right back with the name.
Debbie Good: Okay, thank you so much Elise, I hope you're encouraged by that, Gary.
Gary: Yeah. It was Get Up and Go, did she say it was last month's episode?
Debbie Good: Yes. Get Up and Go.
Gary: Yeah, I'll have to check that out because that's cool. I'm glad she was there, here to answer that.
Debbie Good: Yes. Me too. Okay, very good. Now, since you've done some self-reflection, maybe you have a clearer idea of what type of trip you want. So we're going to hear from Ginger now and refining that even more, so go ahead Ginger.
Ginger Irwin: Let's talk about figuring out where you want to go. Along with coming up with those kinds of dreams, some people call those bucket lists. There are a variety of things that you can look into. Don't get discouraged if you think, by thinking that, we'll I don't see as well as it used to so it's not going to be as enjoyable as it used to. But it can be.
For example, someone was talking about cruises. There are a number of individuals who are visually impaired that are taking cruises all the time. The best part about getting on a cruise as a person with a visual impairment is, you're not going to get lost because you can't leave the ship necessarily. So you're always going to be able to find your way back to your room, ha ha ha ha. But anyway, my friends who have traveled as a small group find that they are very open to providing whatever additional modifications they need to do. Including putting the weekly newsletter into large print or having it available in auditory format. Providing them with the menus ahead of time and that sort of thing.
The other thing when you're getting ready to make a trip is, you want to figure out what your budget is. My mom used to always tell me that you don't go on vacation to save money, so obviously you don't want to scrimp and limit your enjoyment of the trip by staying somewhere that's cheap or eating at McDonald's all the time. But you can still have a really good time and work on a really good budget. Setting aside a little bit each month is a good idea. I come home from work during the day and I'll just take whatever change is in my pocket and throw it in the box in the drawer and eventually I have enough that I can go do something really fun with this money.
Then time of day, or what dates do you want to travel? When you're working, when you're getting ready to travel to locations, are you limited by needing to travel with other family members and meeting their schedules or can you be flexible? Sometimes if you choose to not go near a holiday or during the summertime, when most families go with their children, you'll find that you can get some really good deals during the off season. And as we were talking a little bit ago too, there are a whole variety of travel sites that can help you plan your trip.
A couple of the ones that most people use are Travelocity and Expedia. Not having used those with any kind of, like with Jaws or anything, I don't know how accessible they are, however, there are also other websites. Deb, you had a couple of them that you had looked into.
Debbie Good: Yes, and before I go into that, we have Carl who is from South Africa who raised his hand and so I'm going to unmute you, Carl, go ahead.
Carl: Hi, with us it's good evening, but with you it's good afternoon. You can hear me?
Debbie Good: Yeah, sure loud and clear.
Carl: Great, yes, we like all kinds of travel. For instance, we already went on two cruises. The one that we afforded ourselves and the other one that we got as a vacation reward from our company that I'm with. And then also we love to travel to other countries because I love, I like to listen to the culture, the music and the languages and I really enjoy to meet new people and why I like the cruises is because they have arranged entertainment on the ship and when you get off on the country that you traveled to, you can do all kinds of things.
We cycled in the one country, we rented a tandem bicycle, what country that was Croatia on the Mediterranean cruise, so I normally like to do lots of those. We are looking so much forward also to the travel that we are going to do to Germany and the Netherlands around about, three weeks from now, but we are at the moment also traveling in Cape Town which is roundabout 1500 kilometers from the place that we originally stayed. Probably also, if the weather is nice and everything is well, we will also tomorrow afternoon go on a champagne cruise and I'm looking forward to that as well. Lots of excitement and things to do. I normally like to go together with friends and family so it's very nice. Me and my life partner, we do the special trips and meet lots of people and have great times not only in South Africa, but also out of South Africa and one of the countries that I would like to travel to would be Argentina or some of the southern American countries or even, if it's possible also to Spain. That would also be very nice.
Debbie Good: Thank you for sharing that, Carl. Being from South Africa, that's a coincidence. I was just about to bring up a tour that I found out in South Africa. There was a gentleman that said are there any companies that specialize in traveling for the visually impaired? And I'll get into that in a moment, but I went to TripAdvisor.com, which is another very useful website and I just typed in blind and then I saw that there's a seven-night safari for the blind and visually impaired in South Africa. It starts on September 23, costs $2557, but that's for seven nights, so I'm not sure price-wise that is, but Carl, do you have any experience with safaris or do you any visually impaired person who's gone on a safari?
Carl: I know that a lot of people enjoy the safaris, but I think at that price for some visually impaired people in our country, it would be a little expensive. I love to go Kruger National Park, we can also do things like that but I don't really particularly like arranged, organized tours as such. We like to go read up about places and then see and so on. My friend is very much into photography so then we go to places where she can also take very nice pictures and we can listen to the birds and do all types of interesting things.
Debbie Good: Very good, Carl, thank you. I'm going to mute you know. I suppose if you live in South Africa, you could experience everything on a safari without going on an organized tour. For someone like me, who lives in Chicago, that sounds so exotic. Going to South Africa, I wouldn't know what to do on my own. Just as an example of what one could do, I printed it out. This is again from TripAdvisor.com, about the safari. This is a unique product that allows blind and visually impaired people, accompanied by their loved ones, to experience a safari in South Africa. Focus is on the senses of touch, smell, taste, hearing and spatial awareness. That's one option. There are some travel agencies that specialize in organizing travel for the visually impaired. So I'm going to talk about two and then Ginger is going to talk about two.
So, let's talk about Traveleyes. Traveleyes. You will get the names of all these websites in our show notes, which will be up soon after, within a few days. Traveleyesinternational.com. For this company, it's based in the UK, but they organize tours from wherever you are. They say we place a real emphasis on sensory experiences on our trips. We include lots of tastings and sensory excursions such as vineyards, street markets and gardens. We dine together in the evenings, so you'll never have to eat alone. After dinner, individuals can choose whether to socialize or just relax with a bit of "me" time.
This is so interesting; they make people into blind and sighted pairs. Each day we pair a sighted traveler with a different blind traveler. Swapping partners on a daily basis means that each person gets to know everyone else within the group. This is partly the reason why our groups bond so well. Blind travelers would tell their sighted friends how much vision they have and how they like to be guided, then it's off to explore. The sighted travelers, they're not like caregivers, they're just other people on the tour and if a sighted person signs up, they would get 50% off on the tour. So that's neat where you'd get paired with someone every day, a different person so you get to know everyone on the trip. That's Traveleyes, based in the UK.
Then we have one based in US called Mind's Eye Travel, like M-I-N-D-S E-Y-E travel.com. They also create tours for people who are blind and visually impaired. They take care of everything. The boarding passes, embarkation, disembarkation, orientation while onboard a ship, they do shore excursions, online bookings, everything. If you're traveling with a sighted person, then they said please call for discounted rates. For example, there was a trip on Viking River Cruises in Europe, it was down the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland and then the Danube River from Germany to Budapest to Hungary. Someone wrote a review and they said, it's great because there's only 200 passengers, it's just three decks. So it's very easy to find your way around. Those are two travel agencies that cater to the blind and visually impaired. Ginger's going to tell us about two more.
Ginger Irwin: There's another website that you can check into called The Blind Guide and it provides information for people to experience a variety of different things. And then Traveling with Blindness is another website that can give you a lot of good information. This one happens to be a blog that people write about various disabilities and how to travel. Specifically article four, the fourth article, talks about traveling with blindness and goes into specifically addressing the things that you should look into.
For example, if you are thinking of going to Italy, you might think about, okay so you want, most people when they go to Italy, all the things that they want to check out, such as the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain and if you're going to Rome and that type of thing. But one of the things that a friend of mine do, she's visually impaired, is we take cooking classes when we travel. What better way to really experience Italy than to learn how to fix some of the wonderful dishes. Probably one of the best recipes we've come back with is limoncello, which is an alcoholic drink that we enjoy, but we've also learned how to do a whole variety of pastas from scratch and other dishes. So that makes it really fun.
Debbie, earlier you were talking about travel agents I believe, and some people were talking about using a travel agent can also really help you to set up your trip and tweak it the way that you want to do. You can add the things that you want to check out and that you want to go see and skip over the things that most people would do that you don't want to see. It can be very helpful. Some individuals do charge people if they're a travel agent, but there's nothing wrong with asking them right up front, what are you going to charge? They really don't need to charge anything. Everybody that I've been talking to say that they get paid a commission from the tour company that they book you with, or the hotel where they book you. They will pay the travel agent a commission. So it should not cost you anything to use a travel agent. Has anybody ever tried using a travel agent?
Debbie Good: While I'm thinking about it, Ginger, you mentioned cooking classes and how experiencing the cuisine of another country is a great way to enjoy travel. I just thought of something else. The website TripAdvisor.com has lots of reviews by people on their travel experiences. There are a lot of restaurant reviews. Just for fun, I went to TripAdvisor.com and then I entered blind in the search bar, and all of these postings by blind individuals came up and they talked about, I really like this BBQ place, it was really spicy but delicious. They just give little reviews of restaurants or other experiences. TripAdvisor is good. It originally started out, I think, just people rating things. Just normal people. Later on, they did add where you can actually book your trip through TripAdvisor, but they still have the strong capacity to show all of the reviews that people have made, again they're just ordinary people. I've used it before to find restaurants. You just type in the name of the city where you're going, or where you already are, then all these restaurant reviews will pop up by everyday people. I like TripAdvisor a lot.
Here's something else I just discovered yesterday, as far as travel agents or people who can help make arrangements is, AARP. A-A-R-P. It's a US organization and it stands for American Association of Retired People. So I just joined AARP. I paid my $16. It caters to people 50 and over, but I was surprised to hear that you can join if you're 18 years or older, as of a few years ago. If you join, you can have another companion get a membership for free. Why AARP is good is that they have their own travel center also. You go to www.aarp.org/travel and they can book cruises for you or any other travel service or hotels. They have very nice people on the phone because I call and just like, what do you have to offer? They don't charge any extra to book airline flights or anything else. Another nice feature, if you join AARP is you get discounts on hotels.
There's a whole list of hotels where you can get a discount of 10% off. I just printed it out. These are places that I stay in all the time, and I thought oh wow. If I was an AARP member, I would have gotten 10% off. So, there's five pages here. I'm not going to read everything, but for example, County Inn and Suites, Embassy Suites, DoubleTree by Hilton, Best Western, Radisson, Ramada, Super Eight, Travelodge, Hilton Garden Inn, even fancy ones like Waldorf Astoria. You can get discounts, and Wyndham. All you do is say, "I'm an AARP member", and then you show your membership card and you get your 10% off. AARP is kind of a cool thing.
Another thing I found out is, they have a monthly bulletin and they have a newsletter and all that. You can get their newsletter in braille. It's through the National Library Service. You can also listen to their bulletins by audio. There's a phone number to call if you want to listen to their monthly bulletin or newsletter. You can get audio or braille with their information. It's pretty good, for $16 a year, think about it. If you stayed at two hotels at $100 a night, you get $10 off and then $10 off and you've already paid for your membership. So that's my plug for AARP.
Other ways to look into hotels, as Ginger said, we have those major travel sites. There's Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, et cetera. I really can't recommend one over the other because they all have their strong points and now, they're getting taken over. I think Expedia owns Orbitz and Travelocity. So, any of those would do. You can also, of course ask people that you know that have stayed there and what do you think about that. Here's something interesting, if you ever go to the UK, there's an organization called Henshaws and they recommend something called Vision Hotels. This is like a dream come true. I think of visually impaired. Let me tell you what Vision Hotels is. It's a small group of specialist hotels run by an organization called Action For Blind People.
The specialist hotel has staff specifically trained to offer support to people with sight loss. They hotels often have additional features such as color contrasting services, talking lifts, tactile signs, talking menus, useful products such as liquid level indicators and talking alarm clocks, special areas for guide dogs, large button phones. Wouldn't it be nice if your hotel had that? Of course, a way to find out about how accessible your hotel is, is to call them and ask for the concierge. The concierge is in the bigger hotels. They can arrange tours for you, but they can also answer questions about features as I was saying, and they might be more up on that than if you just called and the receptionist answered the phone and you asked these questions.
Ginger is going to talk about, in addition to regular hotels, another option that many of you have heard of and perhaps some of you have used, called Airbnb. We're going to go to area code 813, you had something to say.
Speaker 8: Yes, I had a comment and a question. If you live in a city or an area where you have a local Lighthouse for the Blind or Center for the Blind, they often have trips to different festivals and fairs in the area and also social clubs that go out and do travel activities as well. My comment is concerning Airbnb and I'm interested in staying at a bed and breakfast and I wanted to see if you had any idea of one that caters toward the blind and visually impaired, thank you.
Debbie Good: Sure. Ginger, did you want to address that?
Ginger Irwin: What area are you thinking of staying that you're looking for a bed and breakfast? I mean what town? Anywhere?
Speaker 8: Places that have a little history. Boston, Charleston, South Carolina, Atlanta, Georgia. Places like that where you can, as you were saying you can get to get a taste of the food and the culture. Mostly I would be interested in one that has a bathroom in the bedroom area. I know some of them you share common bathrooms.
Ginger Irwin: Yes. Yes. So you are not looking for any specific location at this time, just a general how can you find a bed and breakfast that would be readily accessible to you.
Speaker 8: Yes.
Ginger Irwin: I would recommend that you would contact a local blindness agency. For example, here in Chicago, there is the Lighthouse for the Blind in Chicago, but there's also an agency called Second Sense and there are a couple of other places. So if you go to the city's website and then look up services for disabilities, they would provide you with what agencies are available. I would ask them if they have any recommendations of specific places that would be best for you to stay, finding out if they've had good experience that other people have recommended. That's what I would do. They also would have access to their membership and could possibly send that out.
Checking out on a Facebook page too. I'm not sure what Facebook pages are available. I know that there are some general Facebook pages that are like Blind Traveler, I think there is a Facebook page if I remember seeing it correctly. Again, you could throw your question out to those individuals and get advice from them. Does that help?
Speaker 8: Yes.
Ginger Irwin: Okay.
Debbie Good: Very good. We have a few other questions or comments. Charles, you're unmuted so go ahead. Charles.
Charles: Yeah, AAA has a travel tour service. Where you can go through them and they help you go on a tour or whatever you want to do. I've never used them, but I get emails from them because I have their card and it's pretty neat because although I've never used it, if I'm riding with somebody and their car breaks down, they can use my card or I can use it to get somebody out to fix their car.
Debbie Good: Oh, you're talking about AAA, did I hear you correctly?
Charles: Yeah, AAA.
Debbie Good: Yes.
Ginger Irwin: Yes.
Debbie Good: They have a travel agency too, that's very good. I don't know if they specifically cater to visually impaired, but they do have a good travel agency. I can share this with everyone. On my honeymoon to Kauai, Hawaii, we used the AAA travel agent and we had a great time. That was, let's see, 19 years ago. Yes, they're very well known. Thank you for sharing that.
Charles: Sure, I used to use a travel agency, but they're dead now. That's lie 40 years ago. But recently my brother paid for my plane flight to go home and I got off the plane in Charlotte to catch another plane and as I was walking down their road, or in the terminal, going over to my next plane and they came and they said, "Is Charles around?" And they said, "That's him, that just left." I didn't know that somebody was supposed to meet me. Back 40 years ago when you flew, you had to get to the next terminal all your own, you didn't have somebody to come by and help you and that's neat for me. My brother set that up for me.
Debbie Good: Okay, we're going to go to Leanne who has something to say. Go ahead Leanne.
Leanne: What blind resources are on Facebook?
Ginger Irwin: If you type into the search engine, for example, I just typed in blind travelers and there is a webpage, not a webpage excuse me, a Facebook page. It has just a number of members and they share ideas. You can ask a question out there. For example there's one here about a discussion board that's available. There's another one called BlindTravelersNetwork.org. So they would be able to advise you as to places that they have successfully used.
Leanne: That sounds good. So anytime you want to search something, just put “blind” next to it and you'll find resources?
Ginger Irwin: I know, it's amazing the thing that you can find online. You know?
Leanne: Thank you.
Ginger Irwin: You could probably even put blonde haired blind travelers and get very specific [inaudible].
Debbie Good: Thank you Leanne, let's hear from Kim.
Kim: Hey Debbie, I just wanted to comment. A couple weeks ago we had a big family wedding in town and my sister and her husband and their daughter, no their son and their family wanted to do a bed and breakfast. They found an air bed and breakfast right in our town, and I don't know for the Airbnb, I don't know if that's what you type, if that's the email address or whatever, but in this situation what they got was the owner, the house was not occupied but it was available to rent and getting a key wasn't a problem because they had touch pad for a code, but even though they had to make their own breakfast in the morning there was enough room for the two, four, five, six, seven people that they had in their group. So Airbnbs sound like a really cool idea. I don't know how much that one cost, but I'll be they're a lot cheaper than a hotel.
Debbie Good: Yeah, okay thank you Kim. Ginger, before you talk about it, I just want to say a few things because I am a big Airbnb fan. Recently Airbnb, it was called that because it was, I think they offered breakfast or something first, nowadays it's often just a room that you'll rent or a whole apartment, or it could just be a room in someone's apartment. I did that in 2016, I went to Chile, I was singing in an international choir and I rented just a room with its own bathroom from a student. Actually two students. They were just university students and they had an extra room. It cost $23 a night and I thought this is a pretty good deal. I got to use their kitchen and all that. That's one situation.
And other times, when I was in Paris two years ago, I had a whole apartment, just a one-bedroom apartment, but what's great is that I had a whole kitchen there that I could use and a washer/dryer and privacy and all that. Or it could be a whole house that one could rent and it's usually cheaper than hotels. It is a nice option. Ginger, what did you want to add about Airbnb?
Ginger Irwin: I was just going to explain that it's basically now an online marketplace and they arrange the, they don't provide, it's not their lodging, they just are the go-between. The company doesn't own any of the real estate, they just provide the link up, if you will. So if I wanted to put my place on Airbnb because I was going to be out of town for a couple of months, I would share that information with Airbnb, let them know how much I would charge and possibly let them know some of the perks of staying where I am. Then, when somebody was looking for something in the area, Airbnb would link them up with me. That's how that works. OK?
Debbie Good: Yes, I'll add to, like you said, it's just normal people, average people that usually rent out their places. In fact, I have a sister who lives in Sedona, Arizona in a three-bedroom apartment and she rents out a room. So, she's an Airbnb host in Sedona, Arizona. The person has their own bedroom and bathroom and then they share the kitchen. There's a hot tub in the back and it's $78 a night which is really a deal because Sedona, Arizona is a big resort place and it's hard to get a hotel room for under $120 a night. Airbnb is growing and growing, and I think it's a nice option for people. Carl, you have something say, go ahead.
Carl: I just want to say, I'm a huge fan of Airbnb. We use that quite often. You can even read the reviews on the site of the place that you plan to get. Also, on two occasions the host couldn't make the appointment so Airbnb had to help us to, we actually found a new place that we could get to stay and they gave us a voucher for both those times. So that was very nice and actually make you to want to make use of this service a lot in the future. You can save a lot by using Airbnb and not the general hotels. In some cases you can also meet the people to who these Airbnb properties belong.
Debbie Good: Yes, that's true. When I was in Chile, with the students, one reason I wanted to do it is because I wanted to get to know what it would be like to be a university student in Santiago. It was fun getting to know them and speak with them.
Ginger Irwin: I'd like to move ahead and talk about a couple of other resources that you all might want to check into for scouting out the neighborhood where you are choosing to go visit. For example, if you are going to be to St. Louis, Missouri and you want to find out what's available around the area, if you go to Google Maps and type in the address of your hotel, and then you can link up to what's nearby. What hotels are in the area? Is there a Walgreens within walking distance? What restaurants are available? What kind of public transportation is in that area?
There's another website that I use all the time that's called WalkScore.com. Now this was set up for finding an apartment and deciding I want to check out this apartment and the address of the apartment it will tell me how walkable is it for that neighborhood? It will give you a score between one and 100 as to how well you can travel, but you can also put the hotel address in there, and again, you can find out where all of the different shopping is, all the different hotels and restaurants and public transportation as I say. Deb, I think you also found out about getting tactile maps of an area, right?
Debbie Good: Yes. So Ginger I'm just going to spell out what you just said. So WalkScore.com is like www W-A-L-K-S-C-O-R-E.com. WalkScore. Another option is something called TMAPs. T standing for tactile. So, I found this great resource. It's the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco who does this. They make tactile maps. It does cost something. It costs $25 plus a $3 handling charge, but you can receive your own tactile maps, called TMAPs. So to order it you can call the Adaptation Store, I'll have the phone number in the resource list and then they'll give you two maps.
The first map will be a tactile map of a three to four block area around your central address. You would supply them with your address, a hotel for example. The first map will have the three to four block area around the address and then the other tactile map will be an eight to nine block area around the central address. The maps were labeled in large print and braille. TMAPs gets their information from a site called Openstreetmap.org. So if the open street map has buildings or footpaths in that map, then your TMAP will also have it because TMAPs gets the information from openstreetmaps. Then you will have tactile markers of footpaths and buildings on their too. Some people like to get that before they go into the city. So that once they get there, they'll be ready to go with their tactile map. TMAPs.
Ginger's going to talk about using a concierge in a hotel once you get to your destination. Go ahead, Ginger.
Ginger Irwin: Oftentimes people overlook the fact that there is often an individual at the hotel, usually his desk is off in the corner, and the concierge can provide you with all kinds of information. They will tell you where the local hotels are. They can make arrangements for you. They can make the reservation. They can get tickets for you to a theater. They can suggest a specific spa if you want to go someplace and relax for the day. They also will arrange transportation for you and help with directions. If you need transportation to and from the airport or train station, wherever you're traveling to and from, if you need transportation to a particular event or the restaurant, those kind of things. The concierge is another really good resource.
I guess then, just to finish up, or wrap this up, don't forget, when you go on vacation to make sure you take lots of pictures so that you can share your wonderful trip with everybody, right? Do you guys have any other questions or any comments that you'd like to add?
Debbie Good: Carl has something to say, go ahead, Carl.
Carl: I'm sorry, it seems like I'm quite talkative tonight.
Debbie Good: We love it.
Carl: I have three more resources. Couchsurfing.com is actually also a site where they actually allow you to stay at other people's apartments and also where you can offer travelers to stay at your apartment. Then there's also Homestay and HomeAway.com. Those three we also use on quite a regular basis.
Debbie Good: Okay, so just, I'm going to repeat that. Couchsurfing, so that would be C-O-U-C-H-S-U-R-F-I-N-G, like you're surfing on a couch, is that right?
Carl: Yeah that's it. It's not really that they give you a couch, but it's like, I believe in some people's apartments it really would be a couch, but in all the couch surfing that we took part, they gave us a proper bed to sleep in, so that was nice.
Debbie Good: Thank you. The other two were Homestay and HomeAway.
Carl: The other one is HomeAway, yes.
Debbie Good: Great. I'm going to mute you now and Elyse has something. Go ahead, Elyse.
Elyse: I just want to pop back in for the national park app. It's called National Park Service Tours. Also, will you have your list, I guess your brainstorming list, self-reflection posted later? That was a really neat tool, I would like to look at that later.
Debbie Good: Sure. Again, what's the name of the app, Elyse?
Elyse: National Park Service Tours. It's a free app that gives you over 70 official national park service apps in one spot.
Debbie Good: And what information can you get from that?
Elyse: It features different audio tours, locations, wayfinding information, historic imagery and trails. Also, historic information, facts, maps and other info to explore about the particular park that you're interested in. Some have monuments, some homes or battlefields. We talked about the GPS technology to orientate yourself in relation to each different destination point or points of interest.
Debbie Good: Thank you so much, Elyse. Again, you can go to, they have the website, Get Up and Go is Elyse's discussion group and you can click on the last one which was about national parks, so thank you for that. I'd like to say to everyone, thank you so much for your participation. Whether you said anything or not, we love having you here. Ginger and I love traveling and we hope we've sparked a little bit of desire in you to go out and explore the world.