Cheap International Travel Insurance – How To Find The Best Plan

When traveling abroad, one must always take in consideration good and cheap international travel insurance. Travel insurances have now become a necessity when traveling. Many travel companies and insurance companies have coincided so as to make sure they provide the customers with the superb service they truly deserve. There have been many packages that come together with the booking of travels. Several cheap travel insurance can be searched online and offline, through a visit to a well respected travel agency or insurance company. This travel insurance makes sure that a trip is well secured with the assurance that the client will not have to worry about sometimes inevitable situations. Several coverage terms are available for different companies. They key to getting a good deal is through rummaging amidst the plethora of the offers available.

Being well informed of the availability of the offers is one good way to start a deal. Overseas travel is an adventurous risk which could lead to several uncertain situations as well. Countries have different cultures and even their medical systems are quite different from each other. A traveler may have a medical plan but having one does not assure that the international medical needs will be covered. Aside from these, basically, the two main reasons why a person must get cheap international travel insurance is the fact that sometimes, a trip is cancelled or it is delayed. When this happens, the travel insurance can take care of the expenses to be incurred. Cheap travel insurance worldwide is required for security. It will also provide the client the peace of mind he or she deserves when on the trip. Worldwide travel insurance is a must have for every traveler. An ideal plan covers the trip cancellation, medical transportation expense, baggage loss, delayed departure, curtailment, legal assistance or even overseas funeral expenses. However, carelessness will not be taken cared of by the company. The insurance can be arranged upon the time of booking the trip.

Most travel agencies offer cheap international insurance on packages. These packages are based on the traveler’s needs and wants. The traveler is therefore always the one in charge. He or she is the one responsible of choosing the perfect plan to suit his travel.

There are also some travel networks sites on the internet which provide information that is always easy to understand and offer rates that are within your budget. Having cheap online travel insurance can make someone smile without all the worries of unexpected expenses. A couple of them also offer a free and instant quote for the traveler to know what type of insurance he or she is most likely to avail.

There are several types of travel insurance. There is this thing called the emergency evacuation covering the medical expenses, group travel, annual multi-trip for those who travel on a regular basis, international insurance benefits for families and many more. Global travel insurance is the best way to ensure that the trip will be hassle-free.

Information on Two Type of Taxis in Israel

Taxi services are a common way to travel through Israel. There are many benefits to using a taxi as your main transportation method when you visit the country. Some of these benefits include affordability, comfortable cars, frequent arrivals and departures and easy to locate. There are two different types of taxi service which are currently available in Israel and these two types will be discussed below.

Special Taxi (the private taxi)

When most people think of a taxi they think of the special taxi. Also known as a private taxi, the special taxi in Israel will pick up you and only you (and your friends if you so desire) and then transport you to your destination. The special taxi runs on a meter, as required by law, and has a price scale which makes payment issues much less common. When you get into a special taxi you can rest assured that you will only pay what the meter registers, no more and no less. The special taxi is easy to spot on the road as it is a bright white color with orange numbers which show the taxi registration number. If you need to get a special taxi, simply catch one on the street that drives by or call ahead. Your taxi driver may even provide you with a glimpse into the city but make sure that they are registered with the Ministry of Tourism (ask to see ID/photo badge) if they try to give you a full tour of the city.

Service Taxi (monit sherut)

The service taxi known as a monit sherut is a larger taxi which carries many people at once. These taxis are typically minibuses and can hold around 10 people on average. The monit sherut will drive around town picking up passengers as it goes. Since it is a larger vehicle and money needs to be made along the way, the monit sherut driver will usually wait a while until their bus is full. This may take a ½ hour at times so if you are in a crunch to get somewhere, it may be wise to settle on a special taxi. On the bright side, you are often able to find a monit sherut at all hours of the night which is great for those night owls. Service taxis are prevalent in most of the main cities such as Eilat, Haifa, Netanya, Nahariya and more. If you are hoping to travel on the holiday, keep in mind that service taxis often operate on these days. The monit sherut provides an affordable option and is the less expensive of the two taxi services.

Both the special taxi and service taxi will get you from your location to your main destination. It is just a matter of whether you want the privacy of the special taxi or the affordability of the service taxi. Also keep in mind where you have to go and what time of day you are traveling to your destination as this could make a difference as to which taxi service you choose to use.

Traveling Single Doesn't Mean You Are Alone

If you have never been traveling alone, you may believe that it is boring. Not at all. Here are some of my tips and experiences for traveling alone. First of all though I would want you to consider why someone would be traveling single.

The benefits of traveling alone

I have traveled all over the world from a couple of days to months in a row. I have traveled with others and I have been traveling single. I love both, and don’t mind having a travel companion at all. It’s fun. However, there are several benefits of traveling single:

1. When you are traveling alone you don’t depend on someone else availability. If you go on a vacation for a week you will probably find one of your friends willing to join and being able to take off. But what if you want to trek through Asia or South America for three months, or even a year. How many people do you know that have the money and the time to do that? I don’t and since I don’t want to depend on that I’m traveling single. If friends want to join for part of the trip, they are more than welcome of course.

2. Traveling single is the ultimate self-indulgent. You can go wherever you want and can decide on your own whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it without having to bother about someone else. Sounds selfish? It is, but so be it.

3. You meet more people when you are traveling alone. How is that? Well, it’s easy and very comfortable to just stick to your friend and hang out with him or her. There is no real need to meet other people since you already have your buddy. When you are traveling single you better start talking to other people though. Also, other people that are traveling single are less likely to walk up to pair or groups since they are more closed-off. Don’t believe me? Try it in your local bar.

Isn’t traveling alone boring?

Traveling alone doesn’t mean that you are alone. Read the third benefit above again: You meet more people when you are traveling single. As a matter of fact in all those years that I have been traveling single, I had a travel companion almost all the time. How did that work? Simple: Take my trip from Western Europe to India over land. I started of traveling alone, but in Russia I traveled for a week with some Russian people I met, then in Siberia and Mongolia I traveled for a month with some Swedish guys who I had met on the train. In Tibet I traveled with a Canadian girl and a Dutch guy, in Nepal I traveled with an American girl for two weeks and ran into some people I met in Tibet again.

Is traveling alone boring? Not at all! And the good thing is, even though those people became my friends, I didn’t have to travel with them anymore if I didn’t want to. I could just go left when they turned right: benefit number 2: traveling single is the ultimate self-indulgent.

Tips for traveling alone:

1. Stay in hostels
2. Try couchsurfing
3. Go out to bars/clubs
4. Get off the beaten path to meet locals
5. Most important: be open minded. This applies to traveling single as well as with others of course

Gay Travel Info For South America

Gay people who want to have a great vacation in South America now have a lot more destinations to choose from. The continent has a massive variety of places to go and things to do and increasingly vocal gay rights movements have ensured that it is safer than ever. There are lots of companies now offering gay vacations to South America.

Brazil is still the top gay destination in South America. Rio has long been popular with gay travelers as has Sao Paulo the two largest cities in the country. Now there are more destinations north of the cities, along the coast from Salvador to Fortaleza so gay travelers can get out of the cities and explore.

Buenos Aires has been an increasingly popular gay destination for some time and no wonder. This most European of South American cities has tons of gay bars, clubs and cafes. Palermo has some very chic gay friendly hotels and a wealth of top quality shopping and eating opportunities. San Telmo, the neighborhood for tango is also a great place to hang out and you can even take a gay tango class. The residents of Buenos Aires like to think of themselves as modern and liberal and it is possible to have a same sex civil union in the city.

Bogota, the exciting capital of Colombia is no longer associated with drug lords and terrorists and is a safe destination for anyone. Colombia is a rising travel destination and thanks to some recent laws same sex couples have the same rights as straight couples. There is a gay neighborhood in Bogota called Chapinero Alto which is full of bars, clubs and some hotels. In June, Bogota hosts a growing gay pride event. All in all Bogota is a great destination for gay travelers looking for a great time. Colombians are friendly folk who like to have a good time and these days anyone can join them.

Santiago is the other rising destination in South America. There are some great places to stay and some opportunities for a top night out. The country is moving towards legalization of gay marriage thanks to a vociferous LGBT movement. Outside the capital there is an amazing array of things to do in Chile. The natural beauty and changing landscapes are unique and you can travel from desert in the north, through the central valleys of vineyards through the Lake District to the fjords and ice fields in the south. The country also has some great ski resorts.

Other South American countries offer travel which is a bit more off the beaten path. This does not mean that gay travelers cannot find great trips to Peru, Bolivia or Ecuador. All the capitals have gay friendly places although not established scenes. However the real appeal of these countries is more adventurous pursuits such as jungle exploration, climbing, trekking, ancient ruins, traditional cultures and unique landscapes.

There are now many travel agents organizing trips for gay people to South America. Some are dedicated to gay travelers but other mainstream travel agencies are realizing the opportunities and providing gay trips.

If you want a trip full of adventure and variety check out gay travel to South America. You will find places with friendly people and amazing opportunities.

The Tao Philosophy of Independent Travel

What is an Independent Traveler?

There is a certain philosophy that the independent traveler adheres to. While the tourist looks for comfort, convenience and a home away from home, the independent traveler prefers to become part of the culture as much as possible. The independent traveler likes to leave home behind.

There are many different terms in use to describe independent travelers. A hobo, in this sense, is someone without a home, spends very little or no money, and travels to work. A backpacker is a traveler on a budget who’s luggage is usually a single backpack. A flash packer has more money to spend than the hobo or backpacker, but still prefers the lifestyle of independent travel.

Regardless of the term used, independent travelers share a common philosophy.

The Independent Traveler:

1) Does Not Like to be Pampered

Independent travelers have a distaste for typical, over-priced packaged tours. They avoid rigid itineraries, instead preferring to plan their own trips. Rather than being pampered during their travels, independents feel more comfortable on their own. When one is told when to eat, where to go and how long to stay, it is like putting a noose on experience. Independents rely on their own judgment, they do not let others think for them or tell them what to do.

2) Spends Less Money to Enjoy More

The less money an independent traveler spends, the more he or she enjoys the trip. Big spending tends to isolate the traveler from new, vibrant experience. Rather than getting caught up in the consumer trap of buying expensive souvenirs, paying for useless accessories and the “convenience” of doing what you are told to do on a tour, independents do more of the things they enjoy doing, rather than buying things that distracts one from the experience of the trip.

3) Travels Light

Traveling with lots of luggage is a huge inconvenience that costs the traveler time, money and worry. All those things that tourists take with them on vacation actually impedes the trip, rather than enhance it. One of the purposes of travel is to enjoy what is there, not what is at home. Traveling light provides more freedom for the traveler and instead of baby-sitting all those “important” material possessions one can focus on experiencing life.

4) Becomes Immersed in the Culture

It is very difficult, even impossible, to experience a new place or culture when you are sheltered in a tour bus, or in a fancy hotel. The only way to maximize the experience of new things is to step into them and participate with an open mind. One travels to a foreign place to experience the foreign. Yet, too often the tourist erects shields to become isolated from the foreign experiences sought. The independent traveler does not fear what is foreign, but seeks it out and slowly, courteously, attempts to let it become a part of his or her life.

5) Goes with the Flow

Worry kills enjoyment. Time schedules, tasks and material things contribute to worry. When worry pounds away in your head you cannot truly experience what is there. It is easy to see with the eyes, it is an art to understand with the mind. The independent traveler knows that not everything always goes to plan; a flight might be canceled, a bus could be delayed, the weather may not be ideal. With a tight schedule these things could ruin a trip. With flexibility one can actually learn to enjoy them. Sometimes things happen for a reason. Sometimes you can find without seeking.

6) Believes that a Vacation is an Education

When one continues to do the same things one has always done, he or she will continue to receive the same results. Travel to the independent is more than a vacation, it is an education. Independent travel allows the individual to try new things, to see beyond one’s mental and cultural background, to experience, to learn and to grow. When one travels with an open mind learning becomes a delightful activity. Acquaintances learn from the traveler, the traveler learns from them, and therefore learns more about his or her person than otherwise would be possible. Learning extends beyond the four walls of a classroom to include the world.

7) Enjoys Freedom

To achieve freedom one does not need more. One needs less. The independent traveler has very few time constraints, material possessions, itineraries and lists of things to do. The independent is free to take advantage of any opportunity that comes along. The independent may stay up late to watch the sun set, wander into an isolated village, discover healing rituals of a disappearing culture, enjoy extra time with old friends and accept the gracious hospitality of new ones. The independent traveler understands that baggage should be left at home.

Leave things behind to take the world with you.

Is There a Travel Consultant on Your Team?

OK, I have to admit… I book my own travel. I’ve been vacillating back and forth for months and months on whether to add a travel agent (aka travel consultant) to my team of experts that help make my life easier and I just haven’t done it yet. Now don’t get too impressed that I have a ‘team of experts’ – the list is short. It includes the lawn guy who’s also now the pest control guy, the maid, my hair stylist, my all-important driver to and from the airport, and that’s about it. But they’re all people who can save me time, save me money and can make recommendations based on their experience with me and my preferences. Hmmm… sounds like a travel consultant also.

So to help me make my decision, I thought I’d pretend that you’re asking me questions and I’m giving you the answers. It makes the writing so more interesting than just talking to myself.

Q: So why in these days on online booking of everything should I use the services of a travel consultant?

A: Online booking of travel may be the best way to go if you have a simple flight to book, have no long list of special needs, and know what you’re doing. I like to go to Travelocity or Expedia and search out my options and prices, but then I book my ticket on the airline’s direct site. I just trust that if I have any issue with my ticket that their airline will be more helpful to me.

I’ve only ever booked a ticket on one of these online sites when I needed a flight that had one airline on the outbound and another airline on the return.

Because I routinely fly to the same city, I just jump on that airline’s site and can have a ticket booked within seconds. But when my husband and I are both flying and we’re originating in different, then a travel consultant makes much more sense. I spend an excessive amount of time searching multiple airline sites trying to get us to arrive and depart at somewhat the same time.

If you have special needs (allergic to peanuts, pets, people, etc.), then a travel consultant can help ensure that your seats and/or flights are suitable for you. If you’re traveling internationally and are concerned with connecting flights, tight connections, passport or health requirements, go to the expert on your team.

Q: What can a travel consultant really do that I can’t do myself?

A: Besides what I just mentioned above, they can also:

Scout out lower prices than you may be able to find.

Help you with recommendations and prices on cruise bookings and most other forms of travel packages (guided tours, all-inclusive resorts, safaris, etc.) based on YOUR needs and desires.

Keep you in the know about luggage fees, luggage limits, TSA, travel rules in other countries, best times to travel based on weather and more.

Help resolve travel issues (cancelled flights, oversold hotels) and complex travel itineraries.

All with personal service and expert knowledge.

Q: What does a travel consultant charge to use their services?

A: The fee depends on the consultant. While some of the more luxury agencies have higher fees, the average fee is quite marginal. Some travel consultants will even drop the fee or offer a discount once you have finalized your trip with them. Plus, you can always ask an consultant upfront what their fees are and decide for yourself if it’s worth it. Your time is valuable also… so consider the value of the hours that you’re searching for your own travel and the fee for the travel consultant then looks very reasonable.

Q: So what are the requirements for a travel consultant to become part of your ‘team of experts’?

A: Just a few minor requirements to fulfill:

  • They recognize who I am when I call and say “Hi, it’s Carol.” I do not want an agency where I speak to someone different each time I call.
  • They know my preferences and my type of travel. When I say “Bruce and I both want to get to New York City around 6pm on a Thursday,” they’ll know to put me on Continental, him on Delta, and get us both aisle seats (exit row for me, any row with a power outlet for him).
  • They know our 1,000 places to see before we die, know where we’ve already been, and call us when they see a great deal to a place we’ve yet to go.
  • They book our cruises and our hotels and airfare. No more cruise-only people that leave the rest up to us.
  • They provide recommendations for places to see, things to do, restaurants, etc. because they’ve already been there!
  • If they’re not an expert in a certain area, such as finding us a house to rent in Santorini, they’ll find someone who is.
  • They offer reasonable fees and throw in a freebie now and then because we use them so much (is that too much to ask??).

Q: So are you still going to book all of your own travel?

A: Heck no! I’ll take resumes starting today from any travel consultant who can meet my requirements! — I’m interviewing!

Explore Outdoor Bonanza Vacation in Phoenix

Family vacation gatherings and out-of-town adventures are the usual activities that most children and their parents enjoy during summer or semester break. These are the moments that they are able to spend each other’s company and have more time to interact to each other.

Even adults enjoy these times by taking a time-out from busy office work and away from the daily noise and on-the-go ambiance of the metropolis.

A busy life at school or in the office makes us feel stressed most of the time. Whenever we are given the chance to unwind, let’s take this opportunity by thinking better ways to make our vacation productive and enjoyable. Sometimes, staying at home is boring and limiting.

Indoor routine like cleaning your room, sleeping, or watching your favorite DVDs may somewhat be ordinary. Surfing the net, chatting or calling a friend may not be enough to spend a memorable vacation. Why not go somewhere? Visit your ideal resort or any place that you like? If you have the budget, grab your bag and do the packing. A variety of choices are available in the net. All you have to do is pick a location closest to your heart.

If you are looking for a sunny location with a desert-like atmosphere, Phoenix, the largest city in Arizona, may interest you. Its location in the central part of Arizona near the Salt River Valley makes the city popularly known as the “Valley of the Sun.”

Phoenix has an estimated population of almost three million inhabitants in the metropolitan area, along with other cities such as Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe and Mesa, making it the fifth largest city in the U.S.

For first timers who would visit the place, don’t worry it is very easy. The frequent visitors who come from the east or west take their car using the Interstate 10 as their common route. If you still need guidance in planning your route or in taking other possible routes. Don’t forget to bring your water jars while traveling, especially during summer months or hotter days to avoid dehydration.

Traveling by air is also fun and fast since Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is made available to service 20 airlines, especially visitors from UK using British Airways with six times a week nonstop flights.

Other airlines include Air Canada and Aero Mexico. All you have to do is to visit these airlines’ websites and make early bookings to make sure that your vacation will be set to your planned date.
Information about on-going flight schedules in San Francisco is available by calling the hotline number at 602-273-3321.

Rail terminals in Tucson and Flagstaff can also be used as means of transportation when visiting Phoenix. When you are already in the place, hotels, resorts, museums, restaurants and other places can be reached using several bus routes. For customer care concerns and other queries, you can call 1-800-872-7245 for specific details.

As a customary practice for foreigners in Phoenix, tipping is made for taxi drivers and staff of hotels, restaurant and others in U.S. at 15% rate.

In Phoenix, the sunny days from November to April are the best time to visit the place. During these months, resorts are full of vacationers in the valley and enjoying the popular outdoor activities like golfing, hiking, hot air balloons and scenic sightseeing in the deserts and mountain towns.

Other lovely places to visit are the world-class restaurants, hotels, museums, shopping centers and sports arenas. With all these things to look forward to, you will never miss to consider Phoenix as your vacation destination.

Why Travel Solo?

The wonderful thing about travel: it provides you with experiences that will remain locked forever in the scar tissue of your mind – Dave Barry.

Solo travel can be a daunting experience but well-worth the effort. When women travel alone, an entire world of new opportunities opens it’s doors! Unaccompanied women travelers have the gift of being able to focus on their travel needs instead of focusing on everyone else.

And solo travel also offers you the unique opportunity to strike up interesting conversations with people wherever your journeys may take you. Locals and fellow travelers will be impressed by and curious about your brave independence, which can lead to a great conversation and possibly a life-long friendship. So if you are without friends, spouse, family members or a co-worker to share in your travel experience, don’t fret — solo travel offers the opportunity for you to enjoy a trip on your own terms. And the hardest part just may be coming back home!

Women who take the plunge and travel the world alone can truly enjoy tasting the fruits of exotic places, shop for to-die-for fashions in the thick of the world’s most sophisticated cities and really take in ancient sites. The ability to visit the sites that interest you and only you, when and how you want to, allows you to find what truly satisfies you, mind, body and soul.

But how do you know about that out-of-the-way boutique with haute couture at wholesale prices, or how do you find that tasty trattoria in Florence when it’s off the beaten path? A travel agent, of course! A travel agent can not only direct a woman traveling alone to the best and the brightest travel spots to suit her needs, but the travel professional can also offer expert tips, advice and safety precautions. Your travel agent will help you determine the package that will be tailored to fit your needs, guaranteeing your happiness and safety.

A knowledgeable travel agent provides an added sense of security that will be necessary to help your trip run as smoothly as possible. Many women are skeptical of traveling alone due to safety concerns and a lack of time or savvy to plan the trip. A travel agent can schedule unique ways to fill your free time, develop a personalized itinerary, and, if necessary, organize a group tour at your destination. Whatever your travel needs, your agent will be a vital part of ensuring your enjoyment. Your travel agent will also help you understand your surroundings by providing trusted tour guides and helping you to navigate your destination to make sure you avoid potentially dangerous areas.

Safety is an essential part of any travel experience, and when women travel solo, it becomes even more important. Discuss your safety needs with your travel agent and she can offer pointers and tips that only a seasoned traveler would know, keeping you safe and sound as you explore the world. Your agent will offer advice on how to dress and observe cultural norms, helping you to blend in once you arrive at your destination, preventing you from being targeted for crimes or harassment.

A travel agent can also help you stay connected with your loved ones. In today’s high-tech world, your contacts are only a phone call, text message, or email away. Your travel agent can provide a list of cybercafés, phone services and other communications access points that will help you stay in touch with your family and friends back home, putting your mind and theirs at ease.

If you work closely with your travel agent and use good judgment, you will be equipped with the necessary tools to travel solo and enjoy yourself immensely. The new sights, sounds, locales, museums, restaurants and the possibility of new friends will combine to produce the most memorable experience of your lifetime. The wonders of the world await. So stop waiting for a companion to tag along. Contact your travel agent to create a travel package that you will remember forever!

Taxi 'Recap' – The Short Version; Part 2

“Our focus [is] on taxi operators who intend to exit the industry and…is certainly about ensuring that we do not destroy vehicles that still have value.”

Delays in the program were attributed to owners holding onto their old vehicles until compensation became available, but ongoing indecision about necessary specifications delayed the manufacturing process. Factory floors can never afford to remain idle, in anticipation of final decisions that never seem to be finalized. Production is planned months ahead and one ‘run’ must be completed before another can begin.

The government was called on to subsidies the industry in the same manner as it does urban rail and buses. Mass action was threatened. When this happens, taxis are not the only public transport that comes to an abrupt halt: strikers stone buses and have been accused of deliberately sabotaging rail services. Intimidation tactics work very well on average citizens, who subsequently also lose income because they are too fearful to venture out to work.

“…applications for conversion of permits into operating licenses…for transfers and upgrade, including those applications made during the Be Legal Campaign [have not been processed].”

Permit issues became cause for fury on both sides of the fence. Authorities officiously claimed that operators were delaying, but instances, where processing channels, meant to deliver within three months, were taking “three to five years” were then exposed. Decisive action was demanded by the Minister. But little glitches are part of process when the tendered management allocation is only R250-million.

“many taxi operators…bring to my attention the serious weaknesses that characterize(s) many of the Operating Licensing Boards in the Provinces.”

Applications finally closed in the latter part of 2006, only a year later than originally planned. Operators at last began seriously to calculate the affordability of the new vehicles on offer.

Making the price right

“For us, a strong, safe and vibrant taxi industry remains a vital element in Government’s efforts to bring about significant improvements in our public transport system.”

The initial taxi recap plan to tender manufacture, relied on high numbers keeping the prices low. When that option fell away, government no longer had any control over the pricing and since then, their only task has been to lobby in defense of an often non-creditworthy market.

The total cost of replacing the 100 000 fleet is estimated at R15-billion. Wesbank pledged R3.6-billion to the cause over five years, whilst a memorandum of understanding was signed by ABSA, Nedbank, Asset Finance, Standard Bank, DaimlerChrysler Services and Santaco.

“…affordability will be determined by other important factors such as the level of competition in the market, willingness and ability of the financial institutions to develop differentiated products suitable to the taxi industry.”

The law regarding Road Accident Fund (RAF) payouts has recently changed to limit the benefits that can be obtained by claimants, but the possibility exists for players in the taxi industry to access top-up public- and passenger-liability cover.

Should the industry consider this, it should be said that their contributions could be high and the limits imposed on insured providers could achieve more to regulate the industry, than the government: clauses could include the need to prove regular vehicle maintenance and safety checks, regular driver training, permit restrictions, regular driver health checks, etc.

“The taxi industry should also be in a better position to negotiate better terms from both the financial institutions and manufacturers.”

The other change that might possibly rock the nation would be that all vehicles on hire purchase must legally be insured. In theory, this sounds like a revelation, since few taxis presently are. But don’t hold your breath and do cancel dreams of insurance payouts in cases of taxi crashes! Rumour has it that, with the increase in vehicle purchases, a new phenomenon has already hit the country.

Apparently, our car pounds are filling with crashed vehicles whose private owners cancelled their insurance despite the fact that those vehicles still belong to the banks that financed them. The vehicles are repossessed as soon as they are involved in accidents, neither use to man nor beast. Since the majority of these vehicles were privately purchased, it seems logical that the same tactic may be adopted by the taxi fleet.

“It is the taxi operators, and not Government, who are ultimately responsible for their businesses and for the choice of vehicles, and as such will still make their business decisions.”

Taxi owners reeled under the Taxi Sector Agreement at the end of April 2005, which defines issues such as working hours, unemployment insurance and minimum wages (between R945 to R1 350 a month; hardly exorbitant) for rank cleaners, marshals and taxi drivers, for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, taxi operators immediately sunk their teeth again into the question of receiving government subsidies in line with rail and bus transport. This is surely their due, and the Minister agrees, but that will require of operators, stricter adherence to government regulations – a game two sides can play. Mind you, buses have also got away with ‘murder’ through the years, so perhaps the theory will not match the practice!

“I hope and trust that the taxi industry will organize itself into appropriate business models and take advantage of this economic opportunities.”

One bright idea for financing the taxi sector came from the Sowetan (Taxi industry could go public and flourish, 4/8/2005) with the suggestion that the taxi industry form a co-op with each member’s contribution being his approved vehicle(s) to be valued at a ‘share’ percentage. Should the co-op then go public, shares could be traded to raise the finance to buy the new vehicles.

I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry at that. Surely it’s not possible to contribute something one doesn’t own into a co-operative that would surely belong only to the banks, have a value attributed to your (which is really mainly their) contribution (when your ownership is only R 50 000 of the total value) and then raise money from independents to buy what you have already contributed although it was never yours to contribute.

Don’t think I’d take a risk on shares like that, but it is possible, I suppose that black economically empowered individuals would back such a deal, doubtless in the interests of economic empowerment, although I would have to add that it would be in their interest to ensure that the money raised from the shares went directly to the finance houses, without passing ‘Go’.

“Municipalities are responsible for the provision of public transport infrastructure and facilities…[often] approved without due cognizance given to public transport requirements.”

Durban and Gauteng are already planning to incorporate the taxi industry into such initiatives as single ticketing strategies: allowing commuters to switch modes of public transport while using the same ticketing system. Not only does this option allow for greater regulation, but many commuters who buy season/monthly tickets, will be able to convert, when their first choice of public transport operators, takes time out to march.

Delivering the vision

One of the difficulties that arises from the three tiers of government is the different perspective that each tier has. National government has the vision, which generally, from the hallowed halls of Pretoria, is pretty benign. Provinces have the difficulty of interpreting the vision for local benefit and often finding that it is not always very pragmatic or ‘do-able’ for local government to achieve.

“…the lack of effective planning frameworks between the three spheres of Government…the absence of planned public transport systems…”

With so many municipalities in financial difficulties and unable to account for their budgets, it is easier to make demands from on high than to deliver the service and pay the bills incurred in so doing. The taxi industry, as an informal sector, has historically and notoriously made up the rules as it went along and municipalities seldom have the ability to maintain the status quo at their pleasure.

For instance: taxis might take over a spare piece of ground at a freeway off-ramp, as a rank, simply because the position is close to an industrial area and therefore convenient to commuters. The local municipality can hardly build a formal rank on a freeway verge, or accommodate any other public transport modes in the same limited area.

“…we see informal taxi ranks mushrooming around major shopping malls, with provision made for parking, but without any consideration for pedestrians and public transport inter-modal facilities for buses and taxis.”

The only suitable land may lie half-a-dozen kilometres away and both taxi drivers and commuters are put out when they find their informal rank is no longer accessible and that their daily journeys must be broken one more time, each way. In the same way, how can taxis be expected to stop at approved stops that are not clearly posted? This is the case in many areas.

The myth of self-regulation

“It does not help when we urge the taxi industry to act in a manner consistent with legislation, when in fact State institutions fail the taxi industry by not upholding requirements of the law.”

The Interim Minibus Taxi Act of 1998 and the National Land Transport Act of 2000 were followed by the Public Transport Bill of 2004, which was set to pass into law at the end of 2005. By September last year, Johannesburg was planning to clamp down on taxis and buses that stopped
illegally on the roads, by constructing dedicated roadside parking bays to allow other road users to pass unhindered.

Since I haven’t visited inland since then, I have no way of telling whether anything has changed, but the habit of taxis to stop as and where they prefer, to the detriment of traffic flow, is one behavior pattern they have in common with Durban buses – a breed that happily comes to an abrupt halt in the centre of two lanes, holding up everything behind it..

“The leadership of the taxi industry must address problems [of] operators [who] pay exorbitant amounts…to use and access what are essentially publicly provided facilities, as well as taxi routes.”

Cape Town reeled under accusations that their May 2005 street battles and shootouts between rival minibus-taxi associations were linked to organized crime and in July of the same year, Metrorail reported that sabotage of the city’s rail system could be traced back to the taxi industry. Durban taxi-related inquiries are common and, if they are not in Johannesburg, it’s not for lack of suspicion.

The Cape Town report found corruption rife in the licensing bodies and a mafia-style industry where hit squads are hired by mature (in age only) drivers to murder rivals. A provincial list of the sixty-two ‘most wanted’ was compiled for investigation (with a view to subsequent prosecution) in an attempt to stop “corruption, extortion, money-laundering and murder in the taxi industry” (Cape Argus 7/9/05).

“there is no taxi operator or association that has the authority to prevent other operators from using these facilities.”

And the only people, surprisingly, who were surprised at these findings, were those who commissioned the investigation! Deregulated, the taxi industry became totally lawless. We all know that. As is said: ‘it doesn’t take a rocket scientist…’. Why on earth would self-regulation ever have been suggested

On a lighter note, the local South African National Taxi Drivers’ Association begged Tshwane’s Metro police for amnesty from their outstanding traffic fines, for its members. Either way, it seems clear that taxi drivers seldom understand the game of socially responsible consequences.

Empowerment tool

“…a comprehensive strategy (that) also seeks to empower the taxi industry and set it on a sustainable path. Our strategy will lay foundation.”

In declaring the taxi industry a “lucrative, black-empowerment tool” (IOL, 22/8/05), the Minister suggested that the industry learn lessons from its dark past for taking advantage of economic opportunities in the future. I, for one, believe the power has been on their side for many years (to the detriment of commuters) and I certainly believe that breaking completely away from the past would be a far better strategy.

In four years, we are promised, three out of every four taxis on South African roads, will be brand new vehicles. For me, that Maths does not add up: in four years, rather, 25% of taxis will be older than four years, another 25% will be four years old, another 25%, two years old and the last 25%, one year old. And then, Dear God, the warranties will start expiring and who will fund ongoing maintenance then?

“We are here to further strengthen and empower an industry that is synonymous and has everything in common with the disadvantaged masses of our people.”

Looking ahead

There is little doubt that, despite how little Mr Joe Average likes competing with minibus taxis for road space, they are virtually all that has kept mainstream South Africa mobile for the last fifty years, plus. Dissolution of the industry would have caused ongoing, total havoc, although its very existence now intermittently causes not much less.

The very thing that ails the industry is what ails the entire country: lawlessness; and God bless anyone attempting to turn that around. I suspect that it’s all a bit like marriage from a woman’s perspective: go into it believing you can change him much and divorce is virtually certain.

“In a nutshell, the taxi industry is doing a pretty job for our country and providing an important service to our commuters.”

At this point, public perception is, that the taxi ‘recap’ process is mostly about lousy drivers taking control of bigger vehicles and cause more devastating accidents, thereby killing greater numbers. The taxi industry doubtless believes it’s being pushed into corners it doesn’t choose to inhabit and it will doubtless retaliate again before acknowledging defeat. Retaliate physically, to the detriment of itself, its customers and their safety, on an ongoing basis, for quite some time.

“I had come here to deliver a message of hope and to assure you that our Government and our movement, the ANC, could not work against the interests of the taxi industry.”

Progress expected by January/ February next year, Mr Editor? Your guess, Sir, is as good as mine, but I’d lay a bet that what hasn’t been achieved in the last twelve years, is unlikely to fall into place in three short months. As with land reform, free housing, free medical treatment, free education, free services, etc., you have to be a real optimist to believe things will ‘be sorted’ overnight.

One week ago (10/11/06) DoT released a press statement about a meeting convened to address grievances submitted last month by the National Taxi Alliance after a strike had left thousands without transport to work. It went so well that a second meeting (two weeks later) was scheduled to “continue with the deliberations” and find “a common ground”.

Trust is an important issue here, and an ongoing PR and information campaign, that targeted the entire industry, might have saved a lot of time, feelings and ‘face’, over the years. Associations, operators, drivers, rank officials all have independent interests in the whole and all deserve equal attention. The message of hope, above, delivered by Minister Radebe more than a year ago, must have worna bit thin, by now.

Place your bets, Gentlemen and Ladies. But I’d hazard a guess that the common ground will not be concealed in Minister Radebe’s stocking this Christmas or in his egg by next Easter!

Will One Be Successful With a Travel MLM Opportunity in This Economy?

Question: What would you do if you had more time and money?

Chances are, travel is one of those things you would love to do.

Given the current economy, people want to make money and to save money. Some will cut back on their most pressing needs, and others will go totally frugal.

We cannot argue, travel is something we would all love to do.

Given the size of the industry, people will no doubt still travel.

However, your choice of travel MLM business opportunity, as well as your own individual traits and characteristics will decide whether you find success or not.

Given the various travel MLM organizations around, such as Global Resorts Network, Coastal Vacations, Your Travel Biz, and so many others, you have so much choice in what company you choose to join.

The price point of whatever travel product or service you choose to advertise will however influence how well you may eventually do.

People will definitely be hunting for a bargain as they look to save on vacations and taxes for themselves and their loved ones.

So the low-end travel products and services will bring in the masses. These have universal appeal, and of course have to be better priced MLM travel products and services than what consumers are already buying, without sacrificing quality.

The mid-point and high-end opportunities and products may be viable, though perhaps a little more difficult.

For business builders, given the large size of the industry, there are definitely many opportunities that can be exploited, again with price being a major determinant.

World over, the baby-boom age band is nearing retirement. It’s been proven that for the most part, people in their later years spend more money in certain industries, particularly, healthcare and leisure travel.

A travel home business opportunity, if well positioned, can be a perfect offering for this generation. Not to say this is the only target market of course, as you also have budget travelers, adventure travelers, people seeking timeshare alternatives, corporate travelers, and many others.

Travel is something everybody does. They either book with you or Expedia, Travelocity, of one of the other travel providers.

In some cases, a travel business opportunity can provide more competitive fares than traditional travel companies and search engines, because of their bulk-buying concept.

A travel business opportunity will offer you multiple ways to earn money upfront, while you build a residual income. You can market cruises, vacations, holidays to dream destinations at dream prices, as well as conventional travel.

Some of these opportunities offer an option to become a travel agent or consultant, and market leisure travel at very competitive rates for the most part.

Success with travel will depend on your offering something that offers the customers usefulness, or helps them create or save money without too much hassle or difficulty.

Travel is a broad and very competitive industry, but targeting a small niche within this industry, gives you focus and can lead to greater success that trying to take the whole market.

Travel network marketing companies carve out niches within the broader travel industry. In marketing travel, it may well be wise to choose a company that works within a niche that best suits you, and that shows signs of growth in the years ahead.

Travel is not a difficult concept to explain. Compare this to other industries, where you have to explain technicalities and complexities involved with the products (science and formulas behind them).

The easier the product is to talk about, the easier it is to duplicate.

While there will undoubtedly be so many ways to market your travel MLM business opportunity, it will all depend on the effort you put in, as well as what the best market for you is.