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“Q” is for Questions

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Yep, still working on A to Z. Do you know how hard it is to think of something for “Q”?

I firmly believe that the key to a good travel experience is questions. If you’re a traveller, you want to find out some things about your destination before you go – or perhaps, before you even choose your destination. If you’re selling or advising on travel, you want to ask your client questions before, and while, you put their trip together.

The best tack is to ask specific questions that aren’t open to ambiguous replies. Instead of asking, “Is there anything fun to do in Tennesee?” try asking, “What kinds of outdoor recreation can I find in the Nashville area?” On the other side of the desk, instead of asking “What do you like to do?” try asking “Would you rather go white water rafting, or do you prefer hiking?”

Getting good travel deals is often about asking questions too. When booking a room for instance, instead of asking, “What’s the price on a double for two?” you could ask, “Are there any current discounts on rooms at this location?”

Ask questions of friends and relatives, but again, try to be specific. Instead of “Did you like Rome?” try “What was the best thing about Rome? What was the biggest surprise? What did you wish you’d known beforehand?”

But try to remember that friends, relatives, colleagues and even the Internet don’t always have accurate information. Check with your travel professional. For example, as a traveller, I could tell you, “Oh, you can get reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table less than a week out.” And I did. But the reality is, “Cinderella’s Royal Table is a very hard reservation to get – they reserve a year out, so call as soon as possible and have a backup plan.”

If you’re embarking on the type of trip you’ve never taken before, don’t hesitate to ask your travel agent questions, even if you think they’re silly. “Does this package include a lot of walking? Will we be able to leave our belongings on the coach while we tour?”

The most important thing about questions is to ask what you really want to know. There’s a standing joke among Disney-philes that the most common question asked of on-the-ground Cast by visitors is “What time is the 3 o’clock parade?”

Think about it for a minute.

What the questioner really wants to know is, “what time should I choose my spot on the sidewalk?” Or, “If the parade starts at 3, what time will it pass this spot right here?” But that wasn’t the question, was it?

My daughter worked one summer as a custodian at Disney Studios. She shared a story with us of a guest who asked, one morning, “Where’s a good spot to view the High School Musical show?” My daughter replied, “Right here is an ideal spot.” The woman nodded, and sat down, in the spot – for the next several hours until the show began, because she hadn’t asked any advice about when to claim the spot, what time the show started, etc.

The questions you ask can make a big difference.



“O” is for On Your Feet

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“O” my goodness, I’m more than halfway through the A to Z Challenge. I will finish, I will, I will. Thanks for sticking with me!

We’ve talked about hats to hit the road in, now let’s talk about shoes. Of all the things you pack, regardless of where you’re off to next, shoes are oh so important. Sore, blistered, aching feet can ruin your mood, and leave you with memories of your trip you’d rather not have. “Oh, yes, Rome…no, we skipped the Trevi Fountain because I just couldn’t take one more step without screaming in agony.”

If you are going to be doing any kind of sightseeing on your trip, you MUST wear shoes that are going to feel just as good at the end of the day as they do at the beginning. Most of us are not accustomed to prolonged walking in our daily lives; after an hour or so on your feet, your feet are going to swell, and probably sweat too. Wearing an elevated heel changes the way you carry your entire body. The shoes you travel in should fit well, not pinch or shift, and offer the proper support to your foot and the rest of your body. Socks will absorb moisture and help your shoes fit properly. Your shoes should also offer the right amount of protection for the kind of terrain you’re covering, be it concrete, asphalt, cobblestones, gravel paths or sand.

It always amazes me the shoes that people, particularly women, will wear to theme parks, museums and historical sites. In fact, a couple of years ago, we turned it into a game, and started snapping secret pictures of people’s feet at Disney World. To point out our sightings to one another, we use the code word “Parcheesi.” I’ve seen women hobbling along in 4-inch heels struggling to navigate ramps, stairs and uneven ground. 

I’ve seen children whiny and miserable simply because the sandals they’re wearing, while adorable, have caused the Mother of all Heel Blisters. For children who spend much of the day in strollers, shoes are still important. If they’re not used to walking too far, stubbed toes can happen frequently with a sandal or open-toed shoe. And even in the stroller, a shoe that covers the foot will prevent sunburned tootsies!

We’ve found that the running shoes we wear on a daily basis are almost always the best shoes to wear away from home too. We tend to pack a pair of flip-flops to wear around resort pools or on the beach; and ugly though they may be, a Croc-type shoe is remarkably comfortable and versatile. When the kids were little, we always insisted they wear socks and running shoes on vacation, and tried to lead by example. Another benefit to opting out of the foot fashion parade is that only bringing one or two pairs of shoes leaves lots of room in your suitcase for other things.

You need to keep your eyes on your feet too; check them often throughout the day for “hot spots” that may turn into blisters. Also watch for skin changes that may indicate Athlete’s foot or another problem is developing. Don’t be afraid to change your socks a couple of times in a day, depending on how much you’re walking, to make sure your feet stay clean and dry. And check the kids feet too – often, they won’t say anything about a blister developing until it’s too late.

Check out this cute clip of an upcoming Modern Family episode on The Disney Blog that really sums things up, and made me smile – I couldn’t get the video to embed here!

What kind of shoes do you wear when you travel?