Booking travel tickets

    At New Year a group of my foreign-teacher friends nearly missed their hols because they didn’t know how things worked.  For anyone interested, particularly those used to European/North American-style planning:

    Their boss told them no one booked transport tickets before travelling.  HA!  Firstly, on national holidays, transport tickets, especially train and plane tickets, must be booked, and in some places the hotels get full too.  At other times it’s not so important.  However.  ‘Advance’ doesn’t mean three months in advance like in Britain.  I booked 9 days in advance for the May Day hol, although the earlier you book, the bigger the discount on the plane tickets.  If you book too close to the time for buses and trains, the prices go up.  New Year is probably best 3 or 4 weeks in advance - things go a bit crazy then.  If it’s not a national hol, hotels can be found, buses bought at the time (usually), and trains booked a couple of days before, max.

    Also, travel agents won’t spend 45min searching high and low for the best deal for you.  You have to ask the right questions to get the right answers.  No trains at that time?  What about the next train?  What about a different class?  They won’t automatically look for you.  The same for hotels - that’s the price?  Is there a discount?  Half day discount?  What about dorms?  If you ask for a room they’ll give you a standard twin with bathroom.  Think carefully, have a translator at hand, above all, be polite - and patient.

    Maggie Ad