My hands will not stop sweating. Not long after the radio interview begins, other body parts join in the glowing nervousness. Thankfully listeners of western Canada’s premiere radio show, The Informed Traveler, are unable to see the perspiring hot springs overtaking my forehead.
Host Randy Sharman gently guides me, while I share our story of finding ourselves in a riot in Barcelona. Surviving civil unrest is not a topic I ever hoped to know much about. However the travel road is never lined with only rainbows and unicorns. From time to time a dragon pops by for a visit.
As we chat about avoiding crowds and researching political climates before travel , a thought is brewing in my clammy noggin. How about turning the table on Randy? What would it be like to ask The Informed Traveler the questions?
From first time travel tips to finding the best deals we asked the travel expert. Below you will find our interview with Randy Sharman.
As the title of your radio show is The Informed Traveler, what aspect of travel do you believe is the most important for a first-time traveler to know?
To have travel insurance, both medical and trip interruption/cancellation. Nothing can ruin a vacation more than an unexpected illness or accident or having your flight cancelled or delayed. Worse still is the potential financial crisis that they can cause.
After years of interviewing those in the travel industry, where do you go to find the best travel deals when booking vacations?
This may sound funny but I like to begin searching on sites like Expedia or Travelocity, they give a great overview of what’s available for hotels, flight options, etc. Then I usually go to the airline’s website or tour operator’s website. I also have the luxury of accessing travel agent booking sites as well so I check those too.
Have you ever encountered a travel scam? Do you have any tips for avoiding scams while on the road?
Fortunately I haven’t come across any travel scams. I do still get the odd phone call however saying that I’ve won a cruise or vacation package but I know those are scams. The best way to avoid being fooled is to do a little research and look up some of the common ones or that are common at the destination you’re visiting. Knowledge is power.
Is there a location you have visited that you would advise family and friends not to follow in your footsteps?
I’ve been to Venezuela a number of times and enjoyed it immensely but I would advise to avoid it these days because of the political unrest that’s going on there now.
We are hearing a great deal about over-tourism in popular destinations such as Dubrovnik and Venice. What are your thoughts on this crush of worldwide visitors?
The tourism industry is a victim of its own success which is sad because I think the best way we all learn to get along in this world is to travel and learn about other cultures. One thing the travel industry is however is resilient and it usually finds a way to solve its problems.
What are three destinations you would consider hidden gems that those planning to travel might consider?
I wouldn’t say they are necessarily hidden as you can easily find them in the Caribbean but Curacao, St Kitts and Bonaire.
Do you have any etiquette tips for travelers on being a respectful guest in a foreign country?
Yes, don’t take any selfies… anywhere. But seriously do your research on what’s appropriate before you go if you’re planning to visit any historical or religious sites. I’d like to say use common sense but some people are unfortunately lacking in it these days.
If tomorrow you were told you could only travel to one destination for the rest of your days, whether you have been there previously or not, where would it be? Why?
The Serengeti National Park in Africa, I’ve never been but I’ve interviewed a number of people who have or offer tours there. I think it would be amazing to see all the wildlife in their natural habitat.
Having worked in the cruise line industry for several years, can you suggest how someone considering a first-time cruise should look for?
Find an experienced travel agent that specializes in cruises, one that is CLIA (Cruise Line International Association) certified. They can help you sort through the many different options and itineraries that are available and help you find the best deals.
Do you have a key message or words of wisdom you have for those heading out to explore the world?
As the folks from NIKE would say “Just do it”. There are so many excuses people come up with not to do something so just go. It doesn’t matter where or for how long, etc. Just go, explore and have fun.
Do you have a question you’d like to ask a travel expert? We will do our best to get them to Randy.
Randy Sharman is the host and producer of The Informed Traveler Radio Show, a weekly travel program dedicated to bringing listeners the latest travel news and information. Each week he provides insight traveling to interesting destinations and amazing resorts plus useful travel tips. Heard Sunday’s on 770CHQR in Calgary, Alberta 980CKNW in Vancouver, British Columbia and 630 CHED in Edmonton, Alberta and available in podcasts.
Randy’s travel knowledge and experience comes from working in the cruise line industry for 3 years and being a home-based travel consultant.