Subject: do it yourself arrangements
Hi Sandy and Barb,

We always do things on our own. I am not sure however that it is the absolute best but it is the best for us and we get a lot of satisfaction out by doing it ourselves. Of course a site like this has been absolutely wonderful because of the people in it. When we travel to Europe we do it with upgrades through Amex so what I do is call the airline and get an upgrade. I do not like to give our credit card in the internet. When we travel toSouthAmerica I call a travel agency and get great prices. Regarding hotels I read some books to have an idea of what is available, and then ask locals if possible, friends, etc. Normally we do not book a lot of hotels from home. We certainly book the first hotel, we also book a few others but not all of them.The key of everything is the time of year you travel, Spring and Fall are great because there is room in most hotels. Except in Eastern, for Eastern you must book in advance. We are flexible in our itinerary and often change on the spot . The main reason for changes is the weather. We try to avoid the bad weather all together. Also we might love a place and decide to stay longer than planned... We rent a car which is so good for flexibility. Lately we have been mixing driving with some train travel. We make often reservations in Europe as we go along. The first golden rule to get good prices is of course the time of the year, the second is the day in the week. As a rule city hotels love to have you during the week ends, and those in the country side most probably between Monday and Thursday. Now you do not wish to be on Sundays in the city. Another important factor is when Museums are closed. Like Tuesdays in France and Mondays in Italy so that should also be taken in consideration. When driving we try to enter of leave a city at the right time of day. Sunday mornings are great time to leave a city, Sunday early afternoon are good to arrive. The very best hotels have often a better rate. You should ask . We always request to the front clerck to give us a room the way we prefer it, and very, very, often I ask to see the room first.

All this is fun for us, but I understand that other travelers like to have everything reserved from home so it depends each person. I guess it is a good feeling for us to be on our own. Hope this helps in any way, ???? Graziella Miami Beach