Kennedy Space Center in Florida

Orlando, Florida is home to many interesting places to visit no wonder the place is one of the well loved vacation spots around the world. One of the best places to come to during your stay in Orlando is the Kennedy Space Center.

Kennedy Space Center entertains it visitors by making them understand how the place first began and how historical it is. It also shows people mankind’s endeavours to knowing more about not just our planet but including the things in space. The space center is accessible to go to because it is just an hour away from Disney World. The space center has kept some of its parts closed to the public which is why the Visitor’s Complex is where they opened their doors to the public to let the world see what is going on in such an interesting facility. Visitors can also catch a glimpse of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The KSC also has attractions inside which are wildlife sanctuary, Mosquito Lagoon, Indian River, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Canaveral National Seashore. The KSC is also included in the list of National Register of Historic Places and is one of the 10 major NASA field centers.

The KSC Visitor Complex was once called as the Spaceport USA and it is under Delware North Companies which lets visitors see displays and attractions in it. When you come to the space center, you get the chance to know how it feels like to be in space and this is done through the Shuttle Launch Experience. It is a simulation ride that “takes” you out into space. There are also IMAX theatres that will show you great clips. The KSC has two of the IMAX theatres and bus tours.

Once you get in, you are then brought to the tour-bus transportation off to the Apollo-Saturn V Center. It is a large museum that has the Saturn V launch vehicle as its center piece. You also see other space articles exhibits and one of which is the Apollo capsule. The IMAX theatres give the visitors a treat by showing them the Apollo program days. One of the theatres simulate what it’s like to be in the space craft’s firing room during launch while the other theatre simulates the Apollo 11 moon landing. If that’s not enough, guests get the chance to visit the Space Station Processing Facility where they get to see modules tested for the International Space Station.

Transportation Services and Modes of Transport

In human evolution, the earliest means of transport were walking, running and swimming. Before the Industrial Revolution and modernization, water transport was the most efficient method of transporting large quantities of goods over long distances though it was very slow and expensive. The importance of water transport led to the growth of cities along rivers and sea-shores where boats, canoes and ships could dock.

The domestication of animals and the invention of the sled gave way to early animal transport services. Horses and oxen were used from as early as 3000 BC to transport goods and humans and traveled over dirt tracks. Later civilizations such as the Mesopotamian and the Indus Valley built paved roads for easier transport.

The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century turned transportation on its head. It was the age of many inventions that fundamentally changed the concept of transport. Communication, telegraphy, the steam engine and the steam ship sped global transport in all directions. Land transport became possible over large distances without the application of animal or human muscles. The Wright brothers’ successful experiments with aircraft paved the way for airplanes and air transport became a faster way to transport goods and people in shorter time-frames to further destinations.

Modes of transport

A ‘mode of transport’ is a method or solution that uses a particular type of infrastructure, operation and vehicle to transport people and cargo. A mode can be used by itself or in conjunction with several other modes; in this case it is referred to ‘intermodal’ or ‘multimodal’ transport. Each is distinct from the other and is used based on choice of factors like cost of transport, route taken, capability and so on.

1. Human-powered – this is the most common in developing and under-developed countries because of several factors like savings on cost, accessibility of location, physical exercise and environmental reasons. Human-powered transport is a sustainable form of transport and has recently been enhanced by the use of machinery and modern technology – e.g. cycling, skating, rowing, skiing which are extremely useful in difficult environments.

2. Animal-powered – whether ridden by humans or used as pack animals for movement of people and commodities, animals can work alone or in teams – e.g. mules, horse-carts, dog-sleds etc.

3. Air – airplanes and aircraft have reduced travel times considerably and is the fastest mode of passenger and goods transport. High costs and high energy use are the downsides of air transport; however, it is estimated that over 500,000 people travel in aero-planes at any given time.

4. Rail – Railroads and rail tracks run the length and breadth of every country in the world ferrying people and goods from place to place. Although they involve the use of large amounts of surface land, rail networks provide easy connectivity options within cities, within countries and between different countries as a mode of public transport- e.g. New York City Subway, London Metro, Eurotunnel or the Chunnel between England and France and the Euro Rail.

5. Road – road networks pass through cities, towns and villages and provide better connectivity options in addition to city rail networks and are ideal for public transport also. Road transport is entirely different from other modes as it allows a vehicle user to have complete freedom over speed, direction, timings of travel and change of location that other transport methods cannot provide. They require large surface areas, use high energy and are quite expensive.

6. Water – water transport includes barges, boats, sailboats and ships through canals, rivers and seas. The earliest boats and ships were routed through inland canals for transporting people and spices. Today large passenger and cargo ships provide an organized and efficient transportation method. Although the time involved is long, water transportation is significantly less expensive than air or road.

Other less used modes include cable and pipeline transports which are specifically purpose oriented – e.g. liquids and gases, water, sewage etc. for pipeline transport and conveyor belts, aerial tramways, cable cars etc. for cable transport.

All transport services involve three common elements – infrastructure such as terminals and facilities, operations that include government and private agencies and vehicles which are specifically made for the purpose.

Nursing And Allied Travel Jobs – The Real Story

THERE’S ALWAYS TWO SIDES TO THE STORY!

I’ve been a medical traveler for many years now and have had numerous occasions to review a large number of Travel Company web sites. Most of them contain some type of Q & A section that explains how they work and what they offer. I’ve found that the information given, while accurate, is very incomplete.

Most of what I’ve learned about the medical travel industry has been learned through the proverbial School of Hard Knocks. It occurred to me recently to write an article that expanded on the usual information given on medical travel websites, an article that presented (as Paul Harvey used to say) the “Rest of the Story.”

And so…here we go!

SALARY

Travel Company: On their web sites Travel Companies usually state a salary range that they offer depending on the type of position, your area of expertise and your experience.

Rest of the Story: What you are initially offered for a travel assignment is usually not the top dollar that is available for that assignment. Most travelers merely accept what they are offered believing the “deal is the deal” for that particular assignment. I used to do that too… but not any more!

You especially limit your chances of getting the best salary for your assignments if you choose to register with only one travel agency. When you do that, you give away all leverage to negotiate for better pay. I am always registered with multiple travel companies so I can compare several potential assignments at once and negotiate for the best over all packages.

There are numerous other “pitfalls” when it comes to getting the most compensation for your travel job. For example, it behooves you to clarify the stipulations for receiving certain types of bonuses and whether you must work solely for one company to earn those bonuses. Again, if you work for only one company, you may unknowingly forfeit higher compensation in other areas of your benefit package in order for the company to offer you those bonuses, in which case they can hardly be called a bonus.

Remember, you can always, “work your best deal,” (negotiate) with several companies while still remaining highly professional. In addition, knowing how to ask for more will telegraph to a recruiter that you know your business and will position you to receive the best offers.

HOUSING

Travel Company: Travel companies always state they will provide you with fully furnished housing while you are on your assignment.

Rest of the Story: You may be asked to share a two bedroom apartment with another traveler, even a stranger, who is working at your same location unless you know you can request a one bedroom separate apartment.

Some travelers have been “required” (because they merely accepted this arrangement) to live in an extended stay facility for the entire 13 weeks of an assignment. This is very cramped quarters and becomes extremely wearying after just a couple of weeks.

I have seen travelers deal with other conditions that were very undesirable such as having their housing located too far from the hospital. I had this experience on one assignment (before I learned to clear all that up in advance!). Each morning I had to make my way through 10 miles of early morning rush hour traffic to reach the hospital.

In addition, fully furnished means different things to different people. If you don’t know what to ask for in advance you can be stuck with things like a poorly furnished kitchen (only a few sad looking pots and pans for cooking) as well as sparse and unattractive furniture (an ugly green sofa and purple chair spring to mind).

Knowing what your options really are and how to ask for them is paramount to having a comfortable, safe, convenient and enjoyable living arrangement. Multiple considerations are there for the asking, but you definitely have to ask. By clarifying in advance what I need and expect, and by applying simple to learn negotiating techniques I’ve perfected over time, I now receive the very best housing accommodations on all my assignments.

GENERAL BENEFIT PACKAGES

Travel Company: All travel companies offer a variety of benefits besides housing and salary which can include per diem pay, travel expenses, bonuses, clothing and equipment reimbursement, insurance, continuing education, 401 K’s, etc.

Rest of the Story: Travel benefit packages are definitely not all equal! For instance, one travel company’s insurance coverage may not start until 30 days after you have begun your assignment versus a policy offered by another company that becomes effective the first day on the job. These and numerous other “small print” concerns can come back to bite you if you’re unprepared!

I’ve also talked to nurses who were never offered per diem pay (the average is $30.00 a day or $210.00 a week) but others were receiving it simply because they asked for it! Some were told they could elect to have per diem pay but would receive fewer benefits in other areas if they chose that option. However, that was not the case for other travelers who refused that trade off. I know I continually receive per diem pay on ALL my assignments without sacrificing any reduction in other areas of compensation.

To make your travel experience the most lucrative and enjoyable, it pays (literally!) to know what is available as well as how to access those top of the line benefit packages.

TRAVEL PROVISIONS

Travel Company: Travel companies offer a variety of ways to cover your travel expenses. If you are required to fly to your assignment, your flight costs will be paid in advance and your travel itinerary arranged for you plus a rental car will be provided once you arrive at your destination. If you are desirous of driving your own car to your job site, you will receive mileage compensation and/or a flat fee amount for travel expenses.

Rest of the Story: Travel companies can save a lot of money by booking you on flights that leave or arrive at undesirable times of the day or night or that re-route you all over the place, necessitating you change planes frequently.

I had that experience early on in my travel career (oh what a novice I was then!), when after 3 stops, and long layovers, I finally landed at an airport at 1 am in the morning that was a full two hour drive away from my job site! Just to add to the misery, after that two hour drive in the middle of the night I arrived to find the hotel booked for me was the ultimate rat’s nest with a stuck heater system that turned my room into an unbearable steam bath.

I also have some rather interesting stories about the type of cars that were rented on my behalf (tin can anyone?). Fortunately I’ve learned how to avoid all those nightmares and now travel comfortably and at reasonable hours.

The point is that if you don’t know your way around the available travel options, plus know how to negotiate for the best travel considerations, you can have some pretty nasty travel experiences.

JOB LOCATIONS

Travel Company: Travel companies paint a somewhat glamorous picture of the places you can travel and the wonderful experiences you can have.

Rest of the Story: If you’re a traveling novice there is a very good chance you will end up in some out of the way place or hospital that is anything but glamorous. Travel companies are anxious to fill whatever positions that present (after all, that’s how they make their money!) and so they can offer less than desirable job locations to those who don’t know how to navigate the system. That certainly happened to me the first time I took a travel position. I landed in a miserable little town with a very boring job assignment. It made for a very long 13 weeks!

Just knowing you might get dealt the “low end of the deck” if you’re new to the game can help you avoid something really dower. However, even seasoned travelers are often not getting the best assignments that are available. Thankfully, over time I’ve learned what to ask for and what to avoid, and more importantly, how to spot a bad job location no matter how many bows are on the package.

THE BEST JOBS

Travel Company: Travel companies accurately state that a recruiter will contact you about a job opportunity and will give you a general overview of the job, its requirements, and what salary and other benefits are being offered. You will also have an opportunity to ask whatever questions you wish concerning the position.

Rest of the Story: Recruiters are going to provide the basics of the potential job assignment to you but they are not going to go into any great detail unless it is in direct response to your questions. You should also be prepared to ask pertinent questions of the hospital representative if you should decide to interview for a position presented to you by the recruiter.

I remain astounded at the number of even experienced travelers that either do not ask many questions concerning a potential job assignment or don’t know what to ask to find out the “nitty gritty” of what the job really entails. As a result, there are many travelers who are quite “surprised” (and not in a good way!) about the real facts once they reach their job destination. And of course, like it or not, they are bound by a legal contract to fulfill their assignment.

Just by asking the number of staff that will be working on your floor or in your department, the number of patients or tests you will be expected to oversee or perform, and the ratio of permanent and travel staff, you can begin to get a definite feel for what you will encounter. Recently while considering a position, I was able to ask those questions plus several others that revealed there had been a recent “uproar” in the department with people leaving in mass, leading me to decide not to jump into the fray.

I am always being treated to the latest horror story concerning jobs that were anything but what they were thought to be. That doesn’t have to be your story if you learn the right questions to ask in order to get the real picture.

IN CONCLUSION

As you can see, knowledge is power! Without it, you’re in for a very bumpy ride in the medical travel world. I’ve explained just a few Q & A areas where travel companies are only giving you the basics of the process. Unfortunately, relying on “just the basics” will have you collecting a few horror stories of your own!

Fundamental Career Guide Towards All Travel Agency Career

The majority of those who desire a travel agency job are the ones thinking about traveling. A travel agent position will certainly open up opportunities for you to go to the Caribbean, Venice, Egypt, Tuscany, Malaysia, Morocco and any place else in the globe, however, not always. But in many instances, having a travel agent position allows you for you to visit the well-known narrow walkways of Baghdad, bargain with carpet retailers of Turkey and gesture with the man-eating tigers of Nigeria. That is a fantastic possibility for many, especially those who do not want a desk job in an 8-5 office.

Keeping a travel agency position requires that you be passionately in love with traveling and also have enough knowledge to influence plenty of people as possible to go with you to vacation packages in unfamiliar destinations. It is primarily the infectious travel love that makes your agency’s consumers be interested in just what the planet boasts also in doing this supply you with the revenue. A career in travel agencies indicates you can actually motivate others to enjoy everything you have loved during you expeditious journeys. Traveling for you becomes an enterprise when it is exciting for other people.

Fundamentally, a travel agency career involves assisting others schedule, organize and prepare for their vacations. Your task is to arrange and book their tickets and accommodation packages for as many vacation goers as you can influence. The education qualification needed for you to join a tour operator career is not as high as with many other career paths. You need at least a high school diploma and then professional training as a travel agent and the required certification. Main travel firms demand that their travel agents have a suitable degree. You may therefore seek such a degree or select the vocational schools offering specific in travel.

Besides the college background and professional education, your odds of acquiring a travel agent position may also depend on considerable business working experience. It helps if you’re able to prove to be a devoted traveler or to have enough knowledge about holiday destinations. Such expertise and knowledge adds volumes to your resume. The very best method towards such a CV is very first to get formalized training on travel to develop insight on how the business functions. Look for expert courses in such areas as sales and marketing, travel destinations, holiday package salesmanship and such relevant fields in the travel business.

The best vocational colleges’ diplomas or university degrees usually uncover you to the geography, history, languages, and communication expertise essential when traveling to several nations around the globe. A good method right here is always to go with the training with self initiative to master about the tourism, about the planet leading to internet businesses. Today, the world-wide web is the best reservoir of knowledge that you need to continually exploit as a confident or practicing travel agent.

It will likewise do you lots of good to help keep abreast with current routines. In this regard, apply for continuing classes in the travel sector such as the CTA qualification (Certified Travel Associate) as well as the CTC certification (Certified Travel Councilor). Even while, understand that your success in the travel agent job is determined by how trustworthy you are to clients, how dependable, how effective, how structured and just how innovative you might be while coordinating the itineraries of one’s clientele.

You must discover ways to successfully communicate while selling certain locations and packages to travelers while also being able to organize a creative traveling schedule, dependable in rent cars or taxis for travelers, booking hotel rooms, assisting specific travel budgets etc, for these are the basic features of a successful travel agent. When the art is learn, having a travel agency career is among the many enchanting encounters an outdoor individual may ever ask for.

A Unified Theory of Time Travel

Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity suggests that time travel to the past is possible via rotating wormholes and/or black holes. The actual technical practicality of actually carrying out such journeys need not concern us since this essay is in the realm of the thought experiment. Now Stephen Hawking says time travel to the past is not possible because he proposes that there is such a thing as a yet undiscovered Chronology Protection Conjecture that prevents this and thus makes the world safe for historians. I’ve come up with a unified theory of time travel into the past that incorporates Einstein’s general theory of relativity; Hawking’s Chronology Protection Conjecture, along with other assorted bits like parallel universes that are thrown into the mix.

Time travel is a staple in sci-fi stories, novels, films and TV series. And, time travel is possible – in theory. We all know about journeying to the future which we do at the rate of one second per second whether we like it or not. Apart from that, if one travels at close to light speeds relative to your place of origin then you can travel to the distant future (with respect to that place of origin) without aging an equivalent number of years (the twin paradox). Travel to the past is apparently allowed too, via the weird physics inherent in rotating worm holes and maybe Black Holes which is where Einstein’s general theory of relativity comes into play. The problem there is that relativity theory predicts worm holes, if they exist at all, will exist for nanoseconds and be very tiny to boot, and thus not very useful in the foreseeable future for the purposes of time travel. Because we don’t know exactly what the inside of a Black Hole is, and where it leads, if anywhere, current thinking suggests that jumping into Black Holes are a more useful means for committing suicide than for traveling to the past, but the jury is still out on that one.

Anyway, the fun bit about time travel is the various paradoxes that arise, the most famous one being the grandfather paradox. That is, what if you travel back in time and kill your grandfather before he sired your father (or mother). If you did that it means that you could never have been born, but if you were never born you couldn’t go back in time to kill your ancestor. This is the sort of stuff sci-fi authors (and philosophers) love – ditto physicists! My favorite time travel paradox however is the one where you get something for nothing. Say you have this edition of “Hamlet”, and you want Shakespeare to autograph it. So back you go in time to Shakespeare’s era. You knock on his door, but the housekeeper says he’s out for the day but if you leave the book he’ll autograph it and you can come by and collect it next morning. When Shakespeare comes home, he sees the book, reads it, and is so impressed he spends the night making a copy. You come back the next morning, collect your now autographed edition of “Hamlet”, and return to the present day with your now very valuable book. The question now becomes, where did the original “Hamlet” come from? You didn’t write it; but Shakespeare didn’t either as he plagiarized your copy which he then passed it off as his own work.

Another favorite is you meeting yourself. Say you’re 50 and not all that well off. You get the brilliant idea to travel back in time and convince your younger self to invest in some stocks you know will pay off big time later on down the track. And so it comes to pass that your younger self so invests, and becomes filthy rich, only, in leading such a high life, dies of a heart attack at the age of 45! Or you always regretted not proposing to the love of your life when you were young, and thus go back and convince your younger self to muster up the courage and do so. He does, but as they fly off on their honeymoon, the plane crashes with no survivors. Sometimes you don’t know when you’re well off.

Or if you can travel back in time, then of course others can to. Naturally there’s going to be lots of people interested in particular events, maybe even at the time, seemingly trivial events (yet which turn out in the long run to have had major impact(s)). And so you might have any number of people going back to particular historical focal points, each with their own particular agenda (most of which will be mutually exclusive), and ultimately causing havoc. I mean if person one goes back and influences an event producing a new outcome, then person two might go back and has a go at that result and things get altered again, which will then prompt person three to go back and influence things more to his liking, etc. In other words, history would never be fixed, rather always be fluid. The world is not safe for historians. Since we believe that history (or the past) is fixed, then that what’s written on your history book page today will not alter overnight. Thus, you have probably concluded that time travel cannot happen, will not happen, and has not happened, however much you yourself might wish to go back in time yourself and change something. (Don’t we all really wish some past something, personal and trivial, or perhaps something of major significance could be changed and you’d be that instrument of change?)

Its paradoxes and situations such as the above that prompted Stephen Hawking to postulate that there is as yet an undiscovered law or principle of physics which prohibits time travel to the past – he calls it his ‘Chronology Projection Conjecture’. Since we have never seen, according to Hawking, to the best of our knowledge at least, any time travelers – tourists or historians – from our future, he’s probably right.

So, putting it all together, here’s my theory of time travel: my unified theory of time travel, at least to the past.

Relativity theory has passed every experimental test thrown at it, so the theory isn’t in much doubt and one can have a high degree of confidence in what it predicts, even if that prediction is currently beyond any experimental test. Relativity theory allows for time travel into the past, but, IMHO, only to parallel universes (otherwise known as alternative or mirror or shadow universes) where no paradoxes can happen.

Why only parallel universes? The ways and means by which you can use relativity theory to time travel backwards involves rotating Black Holes or wormholes. There are serious reasons behind the speculation that what’s on the other side of a Black Hole and/or wormhole is another universe. So, therefore it’s relativity’s time travel allowance, but probably to another universe. The Black Hole or wormhole ‘exit’ isn’t within our Universe.

Whatever you do in that parallel universe is predetermined. It’s fate. It’s destiny – all because causality rules. Therefore, there are no unexpected ripple effects other than what was destined to happen. You were meant to be there and do what you do. Therefore, there will be no paradoxes arising.

Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has proposed his Chronology Protection Conjecture that prohibits time travel to the past within your own universe because of the possible paradoxes that could arise. Why can’t you go back in time in your own universe? That would mean that at a specific time and place you both were not (originally) and were (as a result of going back) present. That’s a paradox. And if you were to travel back in time to a set of time and space coordinates you were actually originally at, then there would be two copies of you occupying the same space at the same time – also a paradox.

But take the grandfather paradox. If you go back in time and kill your grandfather, but your grandfather in a parallel universe, then you don’t prevent your existence, just the eventual existence of yourself, your other self, in that parallel universe. In the case of Shakespeare and “Hamlet”, you gave your copy to a parallel universe Shakespeare. In your original (our) Universe, Shakespeare is still the legitimate author.

Once you time travel from your universe A, to parallel universe B, you can’t return again to universe A because of Hawking’s Chronology Protection Conjecture – paradoxes could arise. However, you could go from parallel universe B to parallel universe C, but, hence never return to either universe A or B – Hawking’s Chronology Protection Conjecture again.

Perhaps some people you’ve seen or known or heard about might be time travelers from a parallel universe’s future. If they then time travel to another parallel universe, then that might account for some missing persons’ cases!

In short, we can time travel to other parallel universes but not to our own; entities from other parallel universes can visit our Universe. No paradoxes need arise. Both Einstein (relativity) and Hawking (Chronology Protection Conjecture) are satisfied and happy campers.

Is that right? No, it’s wrong!

There’s still one very nasty loose end here. What’s to prevent those from a parallel universe meddling and altering our time stream? It’s not enough for them to have a Prime Directive against that – we all know Prime Directives are meant to be broken! So, it looks like Hawking’s Chronology Protection Conjecture must apply to those visitors from parallel universes to our Universe as well. I mean what difference does it make to your existence whether you travel back in time within your own universe and kill your mother before you were conceived, or some serial killer escaping from a parallel universe to our Universe who kills your mother before you were conceived – even though in the latter case there’s no paradox, you still wouldn’t have been conceived of here in anyone’s philosophy!

OK, so relativity allows time travel back in time, but only to parallel universes. The Hawking Chronology Protection Conjecture not only prevents time travel paradoxes in general, but it also prevents parallel universe time travelers meddling and altering our timeline; ditto we humans time traveling to someone else’s parallel universe. But how would the Hawking Chronology Protection Conjecture actually accomplish this? My best guess is that parallel universes aren’t in phase – they aren’t polarized or synchronized in-phase like a laser beam, or the light that passes through your polarized sunglasses – otherwise we’d have some rather hard evidence of them; certainly way more than we do now.

So, if we go to parallel universe B or those from parallel universe B visits us, we’ll, or they’d be respectively out of phase with respect to the universe they are now in. Translated, they, or we, could look, but not touch for all practical purposes. I say for all practical purposes as now and again what’s out of phase (high probability – the usual state of affairs) will sync into phase (that’s rare). But the in-phase times are so few and far between, and last for such a brief duration that it’s unlikely to result in any inadvertent or deliberate timeline alterations. That’s my rendering of the Hawking Chronology Protection Conjecture – he could well have other ways and means in mind.

So another way of putting this is that time travelers would be spectral or ghost-like in their host universe, and maybe that’s where our traditions of ghosts and other things that go bump in the night come from! This is much like the parallel universe ghost or shadow photons that are conjectured to explain some highly mysterious aspects or phenomena contained within the famous quantum double slit* experiment. Now an obvious question is how do all the parallel universe ghost photons get into our physics labs where double slit experiments are carried out? I mean there are no local macro Black Hole or wormhole exits present – are there? Yes in fact there are! Not a macro wormhole, but a micro wormhole – actually wormholes. Theoretically, micro wormholes should exist all around you. It’s just that they are at quantum levels – incredible tiny; way subatomic in size. And they exist for just nanoseconds before collapsing. They are just part of the quantum foam** reality at super microscopic levels, a reality at the level where all things exhibit the quantum jitters or quantum fluctuations. Thus, every second of every day, everywhere, there are little quantum gateways – quantum sized wormholes connections between universes which quantum sized particles – like photons – can traverse! From the standpoint of the double slit experiment, it doesn’t matter whether the parallel universe’s ghost photons came from the past, future or present – just as long as they are, indeed, present!

Now you may think it would be easy to detect these ghostly photons. Just put a photon detector in a totally dark and sealed room. Well, not quite so easy. Some photons can pass through ‘solid’ matter. X-Ray photons anyone? Radio wave photons pass through the walls of your home. If you look at a bright light, you’ll still see light even if you close your eyes. So, your photon detector in your dark and sealed room could easily detect our local variety.

The ghostly bits aside, parallel universe time travelers (or even ordinary time travelers from within our Universe assuming Hawking is wrong)) might explain the sometimes uncanny, often incredible look-a-likes that we all seem to have. A long shot to be sure, but something interesting to ponder.

There’s still one more problem on the horizon. Just because a macro Black Hole or wormhole plunks you into a parallel universe (and of course you’ve got to be able to survive the trip itself which might be problematical), doesn’t mean you’re going to be with spitting distance of your ultimate destination(s) – say a parallel Earth(s). So, time travelers might also need more conventional transport – like Flying Saucers (okay, forget the saucers – like spaceships with fins and rocket motors). But then what’s really there to distinguish a visiting time traveler from a parallel universe from say a run-of-the-mill extraterrestrial from within our own Universe? Maybe you could just put out the welcome mat for both options!

One final thought. Could there be a Clayton’s time travel? – Time travel without traveling in time? At the risk of making Einstein turn over in his grave; I’m going to propose a universal NOW across all universes. Now I know that NOW, when it comes to observers, is a relative thing. An observer in Martian orbit sees Mars’ NOW somewhat before you on Planet Earth sees the same Mars’ NOW because the speed of light is finite. And relative motions and velocities complicate what is NOW. But, I propose (a thought experiment remember) to instantaneously freeze-frame the entire collection of universes’ NOW. Everyone and everything everywhere comes to an instant standstill. Right! We now have a universal NOW that we can study at our leisure (the freeze doesn’t apply to you and me – we’re outside the space-time continuum).

Let’s focus on that subset of all parallel universes – all parallel Earths and time travel between them. Now there’s no reason to assume that all parallel Earths are identical in all aspects. Indeed, some parallel universes may not even contain a parallel Earth! There maybe some parallel Earths identical or so close to identical to our Planet Earth as makes no odds – abodes you’d feel right at home in. Other Earths would differ in various ways, some minor, some major. Still others might be really weird and alien, as in having evolved a dinosaur society, civilization and technology. There was no parallel asteroid impact 65 million years ago; thus no human beings around the traps 65 millions later.

Your subset of parallel Earths would show near infinite diversity in infinite combinations. I say ‘near’ because you can only stretch the term ‘Earth’ or ‘Earth-like’ so far and no farther, before it’s not Earth or Earth-like. A 100% oceanic world is not Earth. If a parallel ‘Earth’ has Venus-like temperatures, it is not Earth-like. If it has a density approaching that of a neutron star, it is not Earth-like. If it has no life on it, even though in all other respects it is a near carbon copy of our Earth, it is not Earth-like.

Now it’s back to the NOW subset of parallel Earths and Earth-like abodes. There’s no reason to assume that evolutionary development; that evolutionary development rates would proceed in each and every case in an identical fashion. Some parallel Earths would still be in the dinosaur era (if they had dinosaurs of course). In some parallel Earths, cavemen and saber tooth tigers rule. In others, it’s Biblical times, or Medieval times or the era when Britannia ruled the waves. Others in our absolute NOW, on yet other parallel Earths, or parallel earthlings, might have just invented the wireless or landed on their Moon (if they have one). On some parallel Earths it may already be what to us will be the 23rd or 24th Century with interstellar warp drive capabilities at hand – and even way beyond that. So, you could seemingly travel to the past and future while actually remaining in our NOW. You’ve traveled in time without really traveling in time, or, time travel without the paradoxes – but maybe that spoils all the intellectual fun of contemplating time travel in the first place!

*The problem solved here is how can you get a classic wave interference pattern behind two slits you fire photons through; even when you fire the photons at say a rate of one per hour? Who you gonna call – ghost photons of course to the rescue.

**Quantum foam – the world may look pretty smooth from a distance, but as you keep magnifying the finer details, the micro world gets ever so slightly bumpier. Close in some more and things get rougher still, until at quantum level everything is a seething cauldron of tumultuous activity. It’s like the sea that looks perfectly smooth and tranquil from Earth orbit, but at rowboat level, you’re terrified as that 50 foot wave comes crashing down on you.

Deducting Travel As a Business Expense

As a general rule, travel expenses are deductible as a business expense as long as the expense is considered by the IRS to be an ordinary and necessary business expense under (IRC section 162). But when you incur a travel expense outside the United States, that is when the rules begin to change. Do not assume that 100% of your foreign travel expenses are tax deductible. And better yet, consult with your CPA during the planning phase of your foreign travel in order to maximize your opportunity for a tax deduction.

General Rules Regarding Travel Expenses:

Travel expenses traditionally includes the following categories of expenses associated with at least one overnight stay (i.e. where sleep is required while away from home):

1. Transportation Costs – Transportation includes airplane, train, bus, car, or ship between your home and business destination. It also includes commuter bus, taxi and limousine transportation.

2. Baggage and Shipping Costs- This category includes the cost of sending baggage, samples, display materials between regular and temporary work locations.

3. Lodging Costs – Such costs include overnight hotel stays and temporary housing costs.

4. Meals – Allowable meals expenses include food, beverage, tips and tax. If the meals qualify for a tax deduction they may be 50% or 100% deductible. Meals between employees/employers are generally not deductible unless a business purpose can be substantiated. In cases in which there is a business purpose, the meal is eligible for a 50% tax deduction. Meals also include customer-related meals in which business is discussed (50% deduction).

Also allowed are meals related to business-related travel that includes an overnight stay (50% deductible. If the overnight travel is related to an employer-sponsored social or recreational event the meals are 100% deductible. If the meal is related to promotional activities that are made available by the business to the public such costs are 100% deductible.

5. Cleaning – This category includes dry cleaning and laundry expenses incurred during your travel period.

6. Telephone – Business calls, fax costs or other communication costs associated with the business travel are deductible.

7. Tips paid for any travel expense category are allowed as a tax deduction

8. Other – Other costs related to the business travel might include internet fees, computer rental fees, equipment rental fees, supplies etc.

Travel expenses must be temporary in nature. What this means is that the travel period cannot last more than one year. If the travel lasts more than one year all of the travel expenses become non-deductible.

Special Rules:

1. Conventions – In order for travel costs associated with a convention to be tax deductible, such costs must be directly related to your company’s business and must benefit your company’s business. Conventions outside North America are allowed, however, there is reasonableness test that must be met. Reasonableness is based on the purpose of the meeting, activities taking place at the meeting, activities of any sponsors, homes of sponsors and other material facts and circumstances that the IRS will consider in determining eligibility for the tax deduction.

2. Cruise Ship Conventions – If the convention meets the ordinary and necessary business purpose test and the reasonableness test then the IRS will permit a tax deduction equal to $2,000 per person, per year for travel expenses incurred in connection with the cruise ship convention as long as the ship is a U.S. flagship and all ports of call are located within the United States or its possessions. In order to deduct cruise ship convention travel expenses the business must attach two written statements to their tax return. Statement #1 must be signed by the business owner. This statement specifies the number of hours each day that were devoted to business activities, total days of the trip and the program of business activities on the ship. Statement #2 must be signed by an officer of the cruise ship convention organization and provide detailed schedules of the meetings and the number of hours the taxpayer attended.

3. Travel Outside the United States – Only costs associated with the days in which business was conducted are allowed as a travel tax deduction. Business days include days spent traveling to and from the business destination. Days spent on non-business activities are not counted as business days. Weekends and holidays are considered business days if they fall between the business days. Where part of the foreign travel includes non-business days, travel costs must be prorated by dividing the number of business days by the number of total days. This
percentage is then applied to the total travel costs in arriving at the tax deductible travel expense deduction.

4. Non-Convention Cruise Ship Travel – The travel deduction allowed for this type of travel is determined by the IRS every year, so it changes every year. IRS publication 463 lists the daily deductible amounts allowed(called per diem rates). You multiply the per diem rate by the number of travel days in arriving at your tax deductible travel expense amount. If meals are a separate charge you are allowed to deduct 50% of the meal costs in addition to the per diem amount.

Tips on What You May Need When Travelling – Travel Bags and Accessories

Many people enjoy traveling and will always do so at any available opportunity. Some people travel often because it is part of their job requirements. There are those who rarely travel but will gladly do so once in awhile especially during vacations. When leaving your home for a night or more, it is always very important to take along with you everything you need to make yourself as comfortable as possible for the period you are away from home. Also take with you everything you need to fulfill the purpose of your travel, such as things you may need if you are on official/ business trips. If you forget something you would have taken for your travel, it may not only frustrate you but also sour your spirit, You may even incur extra expenses because you may be forced to buy something you would otherwise not have bought. So it is important you plan ahead and decide what you need for your journey and what kind of suitcase or luggage bag will be most suitable for your journey. What you may need for your journey and the type of travel bag you will need depends on the length of time you will be away from home and also the mode of your travel. What you may need for a business trip will be different from your needs when going for a vacation. When you have made a good mental recollection of what you need for your travel and your mode of travel (travel by air or drive yourself to your destination), you then have to decide on the type of travel bag to pack your things in. You have to choose the type of suitcase or travel/ luggage bag that will give you the greatest flexibility and allows you to travel light.

Traveling With Luggage Bags /Garment Bags for Official/ Business Trips

Most people prefer to fly if they are traveling for official or business purposes such as attending business meetings or going for conferences. In this case you may be spending a night or two away from home, then your best choice of travel bag may be a carry-on bag with wheels or a messenger bag. The messenger bags and rolling bags are available in many sizes ranging from 13″ to 21″. Each of these travel bags lets you travel light because you can fit your computer into your travel bag. The unique design of each bag allows you to comfortably store your notebook/iPad in addition to clothing and personal accessories in the same bag. Each bag has special overnight luggage section that provides enough room for the clothes you need while on your journey. Each bag is perfect for short official/business trips. Each type of carry-on case has all necessary notebook case features including a zip-down workstation with storage for your mobile accessories, pen loops, key clip and business card holder. The rolling carry-on bags have smooth-rolling wheels and telescoping handle that makes the rolling case a perfect companion for the businessperson on the go.

Some people may prefer to travel with a garment bag, computer /notebook carrying case or a multipurpose handbag (for women). The garment bag is great for protecting clothes while traveling. The clothes stay neat and wrinkle free. The garment bag has multiple pockets and can hold up to 4 garments. It has four interior pockets that provide enough room for shoes and accessories like cosmetic/makeup bags, toiletry bags and curling hot iron cases. It also has one exterior pocket where you can put the book you want to read on the plane or any other thing you want to be handy while you are on the plane. This garment bag is very stylish, lightweight and durable. It has full-length center zipper that gives you easy access to the inside. It also has full exterior zipper closure that ensures that everything inside the bag is secured. When you have packed everything you want inside the bag, you can fold the garment bag into two. The bi-fold bag has two handles that makes it easy to carry. It also has a metal hanging hook that allows you to hang it on a wall. You can then use your multi-purpose handbag or computer/notebook carrying case to carry your computer/iPad.

Some other travelers may prefer to travel with an overnight bag. The overnight bag has zippered main closure with three zippered side pockets and two Velcro end pockets. It has adjustable shoulder strap and carrying handle. It also has a black linen inside lining that makes it great for wiping out and keeping clean.

Travel Accessories- Snoozer – Travel Neck Pillow / Blanket in Velura

Beside the travel/ luggage bags that you need to pack everything you need for your journey, you may consider other travel accessories such as a luxurious Velura covered neck rest that not only carries a soft, easy care Velura 40″ x 60″ blanket inside, but also has an inflatable pillow that allows you to enjoy a warm and comfortable trip. The PVC inflatable pillow is easy to inflate and deflate and the blanket is so soft that it easily folds back into the pillow cover. This snoozer-travel neck pillow/blanket in Velura is a compact, easy to carry travel item that you can use to provide comfort for yourself on any journey. This travel accessory is ideal for business or recreational travelers.

What You May Need When going on Family Vacation

Many families choose to travel by road when on a family vacation; Traveling together in a car is part of the close family experience that every family cherishes and long for every year. Preparing for this long traveling experience for the families can be a sweet challenge for parents, especially when the journey involves very young kids. The thought of how to keep them engaged and entertained all through the long journey can also be daunting.

It is no brainer to say that you need suitcases to pack the family’s clothing and needs while on vacation, The challenge is what type of suitcases do you need. Do you need a suitcase for everyone in the family or do you need to put everyone’s clothing in a common suitcase? Depending on the number in the family and the ages of the kids, you may have a common suitcase for clothing and another for other accessories. Alternatively, each kid can pack his/her accessories in his/her backpack, while you have a common suitcase for everyone. In another arrangement, you can let everyone in the family use a garment bag to pack both his/her clothing and accessories. This is one of the “sweet-bitter” choices parents have to make.

Use A Thermal Cooler Bag to Pack Enough Cold Drinks For Everyone While On The Journey

Depending on the length of the journey you might want to travel with enough cold drinks packed in a thermal cooler bag. The thermal lining of the cooler bags prevents the drinks from absorbing heat as such the drinks will remain cold for a very long time. The idea is for you not to stop to buy cold drinks each time any member of the family wants something cold to drink. Having sufficient cold drinks handy when you need them gives you enough driving time and also lets you stop only when you need to break the journey for any other thing other than just buying some cold drinks.

Make Your Kids Comfortable With Kids’ Travel Accessories

Besides having enough drinks handy for anyone who needs it during the journey, it can also be a challenge to keep the kids comfortable during a very long journey. You can keep your kids comfortable all through the journey by allowing them to use kids’ travel accessories such as travel buddies. Kids’ travel buddies are ultra soft neck pillows that allow kids to snuggle with their buddy while “visiting the land of dreams!” These buddies that are available in different animal characters are perfect for strollers, cars and any other place kids drop off to sleep.

Scosche back STAGE pro II Vehicle Mount for Tablet PC

Apart from providing cold drinks for your kids when they need them and making them (kids) comfortable while they sleep during the journey, keeping the kids engaged during the course of the journey is another challenge. Some parents allow the children to read their books during the journey, and play their video games when they are tired of reading. These are good ways to keep your kids engaged. Another way is to have them watch videos/movies on iPad while you drive. In this instance, back STAGE pro II is very suitable. Use the back STAGE pro II to securely and rugged mount your iPad 2 to the back of any headrest so that your children can enjoy hands free viewing of movies, apps, games while you drive. This device is ideal to keep your family entertained with ease when you are on a long journey. The backstage pro II has a charger that plugs directly into the headrest mount and provides a continuous charge to your iPad 2. It has wireless IR headphones for private listening and a USB port that supports flash drive use for viewing images.

These are some of the things you need to consider when preparing for a business trip or family vacation, to ensure that you have the most comfortable journey whether you travel by air or travel by road with your family on a vacation.

Don't Have Time to Travel to Your Favourite Destination This Year? Think Again

Believe it or not, our life revolves around travel everyday! When we think of the word “travel,” we would normally think about exotic vacations, airplanes, road trips, our dream travel destinations, all inclusive hotels on a tropical island, you name it! Traveling is simply moving from point A to point B. This includes but not limited to traveling to work, traveling to school or even traveling to a destinations a few blocks away from our home.

Humans and animals travel for various reasons. During the winter time, some birds such as the Canadian geese, travel south to far as Mexico to escape the cold (humans do that too!), we as humans travel to work in order to make ends meet and the list can go on forever. Not to mention, we travel to other places on this planet to temporarily escape our chaotic environments, then we come back to it rejuvenated. Sometimes we even travel permanently to other destinations for various reasons such as seeking a “better life,” reuniting with family and taking up a new job offer.

Just about everyone has their own dream travel destination. Many people in developing countries dream about traveling to the USA to taste the American dream; many people from developed cold countries dream about traveling to tropical countries such as Jamaica to taste at least two weeks of sunshine and many others from various regions around the globe dream about exploring other countries that are known to have extraordinary scenery.

Now unfortunately, many of us don’t get a chance to fulfill our travel dreams in our life time for various reasons such as lack of finances, can’t get the time off from work or just simply having to fulfill other commitments. These common excuses mentioned here are all understandable; however, the truth is you can still fulfill your travel dreams if you work hard at it. The question I have for you is, “How important are these travel dreams to you?” If your dream travel destination doesn’t have any form of priority in your life, don’t expect to be going anywhere soon! Yes, I would certainly encourage you to be realistic with your finances and resources at the same time. If you really want to go on that trip that dreamed about all your life, make it happen!

Start planning ahead with your family about the family travel plans. If you plan at least 1-2 years in advance, you can make it happen (depending on where you’re traveling). For example, if you’re planning an all inclusive trip to the Caribbean for a family of four, and save at least $200 US or more a month, you’ll be amaze to see how much you’ll end up by the end of the year!

You may say “I can’t afford this” but think about all the unnecessary things that you’re purchasing and add up how much you can be saving and who knows, you and your family can be able to fulfill that travel dream in less than a year! By saving up from now, you can pay for that vacation with cash without going in to debt if you start saving now. Yes, it’s going to take some sacrifice but at the end of the day, it’s all worth it. It’s good to also plan ahead with your boss when you want to take time off from work. If you own your own business, plan ahead of time to set aside some days off from work.

Did you know that there are some benefits about traveling? Education may be the first benefit. Yes, traveling can also be a learning experience. A person from a developed country who travels to a developing country may learn how to complain less and appreciate life more in his own developed country. A person from a developing country who travels to a developed country will learn that he can have a “better life” in another environment though this may not be true all the time.

Traveling to other nations may give you the opportunity to discover developmental and business opportunities. If you’re an entrepreneur or investor who is on a vacation in another country, you may learn about some investment opportunities that may come with great rewards.

Traveling may be good times to get know your friends and family much better. Not to mention again, it’s one of the best opportunities to relax and escape the stressful world for a while. I enjoy traveling myself and I also enjoy encourage people to travel other places, and even locally. My traveling experience has taught me that there is much more to life than I thought before. In other words, my view about life has changed for the better.

Happy New Year to you! I hope that you, your family or friends, would be able to fulfill the travel dreams that you have in mind during this year. Remember, your traveling journey starts now by implementing the plans. All the best!

Time and Money – The Two Things You Must Have to Travel

“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” – Moorish proverb

If you had more time and more money, what would you do more of?

The overwhelming response is:

“Travel!”

Almost everyone wants to travel more. But there are two things most people need more of that are essential to travel:

1) Money
2) Time

Let me explain that money really is not the issue for many people, although most tend to think that it is the #1 thing they need more of to travel.

This simply is not true. Travel agencies have programed us into thinking that travel is expensive. They try to make us think that it costs $4,000 plus round-trip airfare for a short 10 to 14 day vacation.

Travel agencies try to sell us travel. The fact of the matter is – trying to sell travel is like trying to sell air – it’s completely unnecessary.

But they certainly try to charge you for it.

World travel can be done for only $1,000 a month – or less. No, this does not mean that you’ll be sleeping on the streets and eating out of dumpsters.

Instead, you’ll be doing everything you want to do, and travel very comfortably as well.

When you cut-out those ridiculously over-priced packaged tours, you pay what the locals pay. In some countries you can have a full-blown buffet at a nice restaurant for a measly $0.50, or book a 3-star hotel for $10.

When you know how to do it, the cost of world travel averages to only $1,000 a month (there are others who travel without spending anything – do a Google search on Peter Jenkins for an example).

As you can see, when you know how to travel independently, money isn’t the problem.

The #1 thing people need to travel is – TIME.

Earning $1,000 a month is easy. What you need is the time to travel. We’re not talking about a once a year two-week vacation. I’m talking about traveling as much as you like, when you like.

The biggest problem most people have with getting the time to travel is their job.

You could earn more than enough money to travel the world at your job, but you don’t have the time. If you quit your job to have the time to travel, you don’t have the money.

If I was making $10,000 a month at a job I hated that wouldn’t let me travel, or if I could make just $2,000 a month and have the time to do anything I please, I’d choose the latter.

What you need is a way to make money while traveling. Let’s say you earn only $2,000 a month – but you do so from anywhere on the planet. It only costs about $1,000 a month to travel the world. So this way you’ll have the time and the money (with $1,000 left over each month) to travel anywhere you want to, at any time, for as long as you desire.

Most of us are simply clueless when it comes to making money while traveling. However, there are scores of ways to do. Do a Google search for “travel jobs” and “adventure jobs” to find several opportunities that allow you to travel while earning money. Pick one or two potential jobs and study them.

Some jobs that earn you money while you travel are: internet marketing, travel writing, internet stock photography, online auctions and work as a group travel organizer.

When you make money while traveling you will have an abundance of the two essentials to travel – time and money, and you’ll be able to travel where you want, when you want.

Traveling To America? New ESTA Registration Mandated January 2009

For years, visitors from certain foreign countries have been able to travel to America without first getting a formal Visa sticker placed in their passport. Implemented in 1998, the “Visa Waiver Program” (VWP) has allowed for visitors of several countries to come to America for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without getting a Visa put in their passport. During 2007, more than 15 million visitors from VWP countries arrived in the United States.

As of January 12, 2009 America’s new ESTA program requires Visa Waiver Program visitors coming to the U.S. for tourist or business purposes via a plane or ship to “register” online before entering the United States to see if they pose a law enforcement or security risk to the U.S. ESTA is not required for land crossings. Officials are asking that the ESTA registration be done at least 72 hours prior to leaving, but theoretically it is possible to register at the last minute. An ESTA Travel Authorization is free, valid for 2 years, and valid for multiple entries.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for ESTA Travel Authorization:

What Countries Are in the Visa Waiver Program?

Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Where Do I Apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization?

A website, operated by the American government, is where you register for ESTA: esta.cbp.dhs.gov. The ESTA information you submit via the computer is compared with certain American law enforcement databases and then either approved or denied. Foreign travelers will not be able to submit ESTA applications at American airports after arriving or at a U.S. Embassy in their country.

What if I Don’t Have Plans to Travel to the U.S. Yet?

VWP travelers are not required to have specific plans to travel to the United States before they apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization. As soon as VWP travelers begin to plan a trip to visit the U.S., they are encouraged to apply for travel authorization through the ESTA website. Applicants are not required to update their destination addresses or itineraries if they change after their ESTA Travel Authorization has been granted.

Does the ESTA Travel Authorization Guarantee Entry to the U.S.?

An ESTA Travel Authorization only authorizes a traveler to board an airline or ship for travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. After they arrive, travelers who obtained an ESTA Travel Authorization may still be denied entry (also called “admission”) at a U.S. port of entry, such as an American airport. An approved ESTA is not a guarantee of admissibility at an American airport. In all cases, the American airport officers make the final determination whether a foreign traveler can enter the U.S. or not. You still have to establish to the satisfaction of the inspecting officer that you are entitled to be admitted to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.

Can I Change My Travel Itinerary?

It is possible to change an itinerary on an existing ESTA Travel Authorization; ESTA is designed so that you can update parts of it at any time. Travelers who did not get an ESTA approval may be denied boarding by the airlines, experience delayed processing, or be denied admission to the U.S. at the American airport.

What If I Already Have a Valid B1/B2 Visitor Visa?

While the ESTA Travel Authorization is completed online with no interview, there are Visas that require a U.S. Embassy interview. The Visa process has separate procedures, which generally require an appointment, travel to a U.S. Embassy, an interview with a Consular Officer, processing time, and the payment of an application fee. If a foreign national already went to the U.S. Embassy and has a valid B1/B2 Visitor Visa pasted in their passport it is not necessary to get an ESTA Travel Authorization because the traveler will be entering with a B1/B2 Visitor Visa and not through the Visa Waiver Program. Keep in mind that an approved ESTA Travel Authorization is not a Visa.

Can I Re-Apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization if Denied?

Yes, but you must wait at least 10 days to reapply and your circumstances must have changed. Unless there is a change in a substantive fact, re-application will not change the result. Keep in mind that applying for an ESTA Travel Authorization with false information can cause a foreign national to be permanently barred from ever entering America. The ESTA system is designed to try to prevent individuals from changing and manipulating an ESTA entry until they receive an approval.

What If I am Denied an ESTA Travel Authorization and Have No Changed Circumstances?

There are three types of responses to an ESTA application; approved, pending or travel not authorized (denied). Applicants who receive a “pending” response are advised to check the website 72 hours later. Applicants who are denied will be required to go to a U.S. Embassy to apply for a formal non-immigrant visa, such as a B1/B2 Visa, which may take months.

Can a Traveler Find Out the Reason Why an ESTA Application was Denied?

The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security has stated that travelers may contact the DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP at dhs.gov) but there are no guarantees that information about a denial will be divulged. U.S. Embassies and Consulates are not required to provide details about an ESTA denial nor resolve the issue that caused the ESTA denial.

What If I Have a Criminal Record?

Only those qualified to travel under the VWP are eligible to pre-register through ESTA. Persons who have been arrested and/or convicted are generally not eligible for VWP and probably require a formal Visa, such as a B1/B2 Visa, to travel to America. If a foreign national has received tickets for speeding (which don’t usually result in an arrest or conviction) they are probably still eligible for the VWP and ESTA. If a foreign traveler has been denied entry into or deported from the U.S., they require a formal Visa.

Do Any Other Countries Have a Similar Program?

Australia has a program called the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) that mandates travelers to submit an ETA application electronically through a website requesting permission to travel to Australia. Airlines may refuse to accept passengers who do not have either an approved ETA or Visa to enter Australia.

How Long Will the ESTA Application Data be Stored? Who Can Access It?

The ESTA Travel Authorization is valid for two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first. The American government will maintain the information for at least 15 years to allow retrieval of the information for law enforcement, national security, or investigatory purposes. Information submitted through ESTA can also be shared with any U.S. government organization.

What Information Does the Airlines Get?

Airlines will receive confirmation of a passenger’s ESTA status visa the “Advance Passenger Information System” (APIS) which shows whether the ESTA authorization has been granted for a Visa Waiver Program traveler. It is recommended that the traveler print out the ESTA application approval in order to maintain a record of their ESTA application number and to have confirmation of their ESTA status.

What About Children?

Accompanied and unaccompanied children, regardless of age, are required to obtain an independent ESTA Travel Authorization.

What if a Mistake was Made on the ESTA Application?

The ESTA website will ask applicants to review their application before submitting it. Also, there is an update function for certain information such as email address, telephone number, or flight information. If an applicant makes a mistake that cannot be “updated,” he will need to submit a new ESTA application.

What if I Only Have a Connecting Flight Through the U.S.?

Visa Waiver Program visitors who have a connecting flight in the U.S. are required to either have ESTA Travel Authorization or a Visa from a U.S. Embassy in their passport to travel through the U.S. even for a one hour stop. If a traveler is only planning to stop in the U.S. en route to another country, the traveler should enter the words “In Transit” and his final destination in the address lines under the heading “Address While In The United States” on the ESTA application.

What Are the Questions on the ESTA Travel Authorization Application?

The traveler must provide (in English) biographical data including name, birth date, country of citizenship, country of residence, email address, sex, telephone number, passport information, destination address in the U.S., travel information (round trip airline ticket, flight number and city where you are boarding) as well as questions regarding communicable diseases (chancroid, gonorrhea, granuloma inquinale, HIV, leprosy, lymphogranuloma venereum, syphilis [active], tuberculosis [active], and others), physical or mental disorders, drug addiction problems, arrests, convictions, past history of visa cancellation or denial, and prior deportations from the U.S. The traveler will also be asked whether they are seeking work in the U.S., have ever been deported or tried to get a visa by fraud or misrepresentation. The traveler will be asked if they have ever detained a child of a U.S. Citizen granted custody of the child, and whether they have ever asserted immunity from prosecution.

Do I Select “Business” or “Pleasure (Tourist) at the Airport Port of Entry?

After the ESTA Travel Authorization is granted, the foreign traveler will be interviewed by government officers at the first American airport they land. The officer will ask what the foreign traveler will be doing in America and the questioning can take up to four hours in a detained setting called “secondary inspection.” The officer may ask the traveler “what else are you doing in America?” repeatedly to try to get “the real” answer. If the traveler is only going to be a tourist, they are not allowed to do any business, including meeting with any attorneys, applying for a bank account, meeting with real estate agents, or other business consulting activities. Even though the traveler is going to conduct just one business meeting while in America, they are required to report it and enter as a business visitor. The business visitor is allowed to participate in tourist activities, but the tourist visitor is not allowed to participate in any business activities. Therefore, if any business might be conducted while in America, it is best to tell the government officers about it at the airport to avoid being accused of lying, put immediately on a plane back to your home country, and barred from America for life.

What Else Do Can the Airport Officers Make Me Prove After I Land?

The airport officers will ask the traveler proof of a foreign residence (address on foreign driver’s license), whether their intention is to depart at the end of the visit (round trip airline ticket), whether the traveler has a job (letter, paystub, business card) and family in their home country, (marriage certificate, children’ birth certificates), and whether the traveler has the money to travel around America (bank statement or credit cards with bank letter showing credit limit). The airport officers are also required to ask where the traveler will stay in America (hotel reservations or friends/relatives’ homes) and have been known to pick up the phone to verify all of the aforementioned information.

Can I Be Searched in the American Airport? Am I Entitled to Legal Representation?

While being interviewed at the American airport, all luggage (even locked bags) can be searched, as well as the traveler’s body and his/her cell phone (including text messages and phone numbers) and laptop (including hard drive). The officers may “google” a traveler’s name and check out their myspace, Facebook or hyves pages. The traveler is not allowed to be represented by an attorney or even call their attorney while in “secondary inspection.” Bathroom visits, water and food may be limited, so it is best to prepare for such an occasion while still on the plane before landing.

Do I Still Have to Go Through the “US-VISIT” Program at the American Airport?

Foreign travelers arriving at American airports and seaports must still be photographed and fingerprinted every time they enter the U.S.

Who Should I Ask For Help to Fill Out the ESTA Application?

The information a traveler provides on the ESTA application can remain in their file with U.S. authorities for a minimum of 15 years – probably longer. If a foreign traveler has some questions about how to answer the questions so as not to be permanently barred from America, it would be prudent to them to pay for a legal consultation with an American Immigration Attorney who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Beware of unauthorized private websites that offer ESTA application assistance for $49.99 – they are usually not authorized to practice immigration law and are asking travelers to pay for a copy of the application questions, which are free on the dhs website.

If I Am Denied the ESTA Travel Authorization Will it Effect My Ability to Obtain a Visa at the U.S. Embassy?

When the ESTA Travel Authorization is denied, the foreign traveler must make an appointment at a U.S. Embassy in their country to apply for a formal Visa. The U.S. Embassy is operated by the U.S. Department of State and there are no expedited procedures for those who have been denied ESTA Travel Authorization. Because the ESTA program is so new, it is impossible to predict how badly a denial of the ESTA Travel Authorization will impact a traveler’s application for a Visa at a U.S. Embassy or impact their future travel to America in general. American Immigration Attorneys are in close contact with their foreign clients and will share the denial information with each other starting in January 2009. Currently there are no government policies regulating this area of the law, or opportunities to appeal a denial.

When Is the a “New” ESTA Travel Authorization Required?

A new ESTA Travel Authorization is required during the two years if (1) the traveler is issued a new passport (2) the traveler changes his name (3) the traveler changes his or her gender (4) the traveler’s country of citizenship changes or (5) the circumstances underlying the traveler’s previous responses to any of the ESTA application questions requiring a “yes” or “no” response have changed (such as a new arrest).

Can an American Immigration Attorney, Travel Agent or Employer Fill Out the ESTA Application?

A third party, such as a relative, travel agent or American Immigration Attorney, is permitted to submit an ESTA application on behalf of a VWP traveler. Be aware that the traveler is still responsible under the law for the answers submitted on his or her behalf by a third party.

Over 68,000 travelers have already voluntarily registered by using the ESTA online system in the last few months. Applicants are reminded to obtain a new “e-passport” which has an integrated computer chip capable of storing biographic information from the data page, as well as other biometric information, when registering with ESTA.

Base Tendriling Travel Expenses

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and re-engineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticket-less” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference.

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and re-engineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

Lonely Planet Guides Vs Travel Blogs – Which Is Better?

If you find traveling the world to be a rejuvenating experience, you don’t have to strain your budget to stay young and kicking on the travel circuit.

I’m sure you’ll agree, It’s a lovely planet we live in, and Lonely Planet guides can show you the best treats, eats and retreats which some luxury tours choose to overlook as they sometimes only show you only the glossy, well worn parts of the country that you have chosen to visit, and leave you with the feeling of a somewhat ‘plastic’ holiday experience

If you are planning a backpacking trip of your own, then the correct use of Lonely Planet guides and various travel blogs are a great way to familiar yourself with your chosen travel destination before you ever leave home. They are a great option since they include some of the best kept travel secrets, helping you to travel further & longer with confidence.

Just because you want to travel doesn’t necessarily mean that you have burn a whole pile of cash to get an amazing traveling experience.

Backpacking from place to place can give you the chance to meet locals, as well as other travelers, and learn more about the planet we live in and the diversities of other cultures.

The famous Lonely Planet Guides have provided tourists with useful and practical information for many years.

Created after its founders splendid honeymoon during which they traveled across two continents and an ocean with borrowed money.

I always liked how the Lonely Planet guides are packed full of practical travel information and advice about the places I want to visit, however, I sometimes have found the guides to be outdated on more than one occasion.

The Guides are laid out beautifully with helpful maps & various photographs from local attractions.

Combine the photos with descriptions of cities & countries from around the globe and you have a great book that will inspire you to plan your next travel adventure.

What I enjoy most about the Lonely Planet Books is they can help to generate fresh ideas of new places to travel and things worth doing when I’m in need of some travel inspiration.

The books are full of lists. Top 10 Countries, Top 10 Regions, Top 10 Cities and so on.

I don’t know if I agree with the top 10 in each of these categories, and you might not either, but that is not the point.

Use the book to inspire you to travel to new places you haven’t yet been, and to generate ideas and travel inspiration.

Even if you don’t travel to the locations listed in the Lonely Planet Travel Guides, they will help you create awareness of what’s out there, and of the places that are available for you to explore.

If you enjoy traveling, you will enjoy looking through the Lonely Planet Travel Guides for fresh new backpacking ideas.

In 2007 approximately seventy five percent of the Lonely Planet was acquired by BBC Worldwide who resolved to continue creating travel guides as they have always been created in the past, providing trustworthy advice to independent travelers and backpackers.

Each year approximately 500 new Lonely Planet guides are published for travelers.

You can either purchase them from bookstores all over the world, or online directly from the company’s official website.

In addition, you can even download the guides now as an audio book.

Wandering from one distant place to another, allows you to experience the diversity of the world’s cultures, and the world-renowned Lonely Planet Guides have been helping tourists with their itineraries since it’s founders went on their own life-changing adventure, spending borrowed money and savings on an unforgettable travel experience across two continents.

Lonely Planet Publications is one of the world’s largest travel guidebook publishers, founded by Tony and Maureen Wheeler, who cashed in on their wanderlust.

Tony came up with the company name, having misheard the phrase ‘lovely planet’ in Joe Cocker and Leon Russell’s song, ‘Space Captain.’

Backpackers, travelers on the move, and jet setters who love to travel the world can find a bunch of relevant information on travel blogs especially information that may not be available in a standard printed travel book or guide.

First hand information about a possible travel location can come in very handy for the regular traveler, especially if it concerns local travel, hotel and food information, local weather information and travel maps etc.

Don’t depend on a single source for travel information. Flick through the Lonely Planet Guides, find a good Travel Blog with relevant & accurate information & even use Google to find helpful useful travel advice & tips.

Travel Guide

Who likes taking vacations? Of course, that would include approximately 99 percent of the population. The 1 percent would more than likely be workaholics that just do not like taking work along with them on vacation. And, no matter who you are, you probably like getting that travel deal.

Travel deals can come from the actual airplane flight, a hotel discount, car rental savings, cruise packages, and you can obtain travel deals from travel guides.

What are the most popular travel deals? The most popular travel deals include

1) last minute labor day deals or otherwise last minute getaway for the holiday weekend savings. You can save up to 70 percent on these last minute getaways for the holiday weekends. Usually, these featured deals include both air fare and hotel packaged-savings. A lot of times the travel package deals come with flexible departure dates from Thursday to Saturday. Of course, the travel packaged-deals expire within a limited time offer period, usually a weekend only packaged-deal.

2) Compare and save on air fare. Now you can see if you are getting a good travel deal. A lot of sites offer this option of compare and save on air fare and other flight services. Example, you can compare and save for Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year air fare flight rates. Often, you can get last minute travel deals with last minute packages from $199, United States dollars.

Other popular travel deals. Looking for a travel deal to London, Paris, Venice, Barcelona to New York, Arizona, or other popular hot vacation spots? Frequently, Norwegian Cruise Line, Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, and Continental Airlines offer hot deals on travel packages. You will find offers for travel credits, one way, round trip, pre-purchase, and other fantastic travel deals. Some popular travel deal destinations can include Atlantic City, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Orlando, San Francisco. Some popular international travel deals include travel locations such as Aruba, Bahamas, Cabo San Lucas, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Paris, and Puerto Vallarta.

Popular travel deal sites. You can search and find travel deals with carrentals, Orbiz, Delta Air Lines, Travelocity, Expedia, travel yahoo, travel channel, travel nytimes, cnn, and County Visitors Bureaus. For US citizen traveling abroad, try travel.state.gov. For car rentals, you can search and find deals from $10 and up for a weekend car rental deal. For hotels on sale nationwide, you can search and find deals from 30% off. For last minute fares, you can search and find weekend air fare deals. For county visiting bureaus, you can search and find hotel discounts and gift card options. Travel guides, travel magazines, travel zoo, train travel, last minute travel, cruises, and airlines offer many appealing travel deals.

Take advantage of all the travel deal options. To do this, you may want to explore package deals, not just a particular travel deal for flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and vacations. There are many available travel deals for many popular travel destinations in the United States and Internationally. Search all travel destinations if you are not set on one particular vacation hot spot. You will find different travel deals for various hot spots, vacation location destinations, throughout the travel holidays and seasonal travel deals as well.

Prepare For Long Term Travel

Preparing For Long Term Travel

Traveling abroad is an art. It requires intellect to plan, courage to enact, and perseverance to endure. When planning your dream trip, you must walk a fine line between over- analysis and not-so-blissful ignorance (summer in Sudan, anyone?).

There are several things you should consider before booking your travel, and the most important will be deciding where and when to go.

Where to Go

After working in a cubical and day dreaming about traveling around the world, most people already have a pretty good idea where they want to go. It’s a personal choice and there are amazing places to see and experience all over the globe. If you intend for your systems to pay for your travels, the main factor in deciding where to go is your budget.

How Much the World Costs
These numbers assume a few things. Firstly, you travel slowly (no more than one out of every four days). Second, you stay in clean, basic accommodations. While it’s certainly possible to rent a $3 room in Cambodia, most people mature enough to run a business want a little more comfort. We’re talking rooms with a bathroom, hot water, shower, towels, a bed, and a TV… but not much else.

The prices below are for two people and include food, room, laundry, toiletries, visas and overland (usually local) travel:
o Southeast Asia: $50
o UK and Ireland: $100
o Australia and New Zealand: $80
o South America:$55
o Africa: $60
o Western Europe: $90
o Eastern Europe:$65
o Indian subcontinent:$40
o Japan: $90
As you can see, expenses can be very reasonable, far more reasonable than what you may be currently paying back home. However, you will want to travel somewhere that your systems can afford.

You can escape home faster and live better if you visit third world areas such as Southeast Asia and India. Though we’ve visited the UK several times, my wife and I are still a long ways away from living it up in London! There’s another more powerful reason for going third world initially: a new perspective. Chances are, if you’re reading this you are probably raised in the Western world. When you board that plane, you will no doubt be ready for a change, and the transition from first to third world will be as eye opening as the transition from worker to entrepreneur.
All in all, their calculations have been fairly close to my personal experiences.

Money Saving Tips

These are some tips I’ve learned from both working as a travel agent and personal experience. There are many, many ways to stretch your budget:

o Purchase tickets ahead of time, or last minute. So many people lament over rising flight costs, when they should have bought the damn thing months ago and saved a bundle. Here is my rule of budget travel: purchase tickets ahead of time if you know where you want to go, purchase last minute if you don’t. For example, there is currently a special discount flight to Hungary from San Francisco for three hundred dollars, last minute. Did you plan on going to Hungary? No, but when the opportunity arises, you should take it.
o Slum it, then go all out. My wife and I cycled across Ireland without breaking the bank, and yet we stayed in quality bed and breakfasts (including an old Irish castle). How did we do this? Simple: for every one night in a great location, we camped two nights. Once we arrived at our room for the night, we cleaned up and had a good time. The next morning we showered and hit the road. Following this approach you only miss a shower for one day at a time…
o Change your drinking habits. One of my largest grievances with budget travel writers is their silly notion that you should sacrifice a cold beer in the name of saving money. There are far better ways to save a dollar while you’re traveling. What you should avoid are bars. You can drink cold beer or local spirits for cheap from bottle shops (or oddly enough, 7-11’s). I found myself contemplating buying a can of Guinness in Thailand for more than it cost back home! True, it was an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day, but come on…

Health: Avoiding Problems

Vaccinations

You need to start getting some of your vaccinations at least two months before departing on a trip. Several inoculations require three or four visits, spaced two to three weeks apart. Here’s a short list of the most common vaccinations required (or highly recommended) for global travel:
o Hepatitis A and B. (if possible, get the combined vaccine)
o Japanese encephalitis
o Polio, diphtheria and tuberculosis
o Rabies
o Tetanus
o Typhoid
o Yellow fever

Malaria

While there is no vaccination for malaria, there are a number of anti-malarial tablets you can take to help combat the disease (though none of them is 100% effective). Check with your doctor to see which prescription is right for you.

To get these vaccinations, visit your local travel clinic or speak with your physician. If you’re currently employed, check if your benefits will cover vaccinations. I was able to save over $700 on vaccinations thanks to the health insurance provided by my previous employer. Talk about a severance package!

Food
When it comes to food, I follow a few simple rules:

1. Eat at restaurants with a lot of people and high turn over. It probably means the food is fresher.
2. Eat cooked food. Try to avoid any raw vegetables and raw fish. Fruits and vegetables that you can peel are a safer option. Consider bringing vitamin tablets if you’re not getting enough fruits and vegetables.
3. Don’t over eat. If you stuff your face with contaminated food, you’ll feel a hell of a lot worse than if you ate a smaller portion. The only two times I’ve been sick abroad were shortly after a three or four course meal at a high end steakhouse.

Water

Depending on where you travel, you might need to bring a water purification system. I use The Steripen Adventurer UV purifier. The same size as a screwdriver, this wonder tool can purify one liter of water in one minute using an ultra violet light bulb and lithium batteries. Though it isn’t cheap- retail is about $130- the Steripen is both lightweight and effective. Keep in mind it doesn’t work with ice, a common cause for getting sick among travelers.

If you’re planning on buying bottled water over seas, keep in mind that many merchants refill used water bottles with local water and resell them. If the plastic seal is broken- and it often is – you probably don’t want to drink it.

Traveler’s Diarrhea

Traveler’s diarrhea claims 30-50% of tourists abroad within the first two weeks, and is often accompanied by vomiting. In other words, don’t be surprised if you’re leaking out both ends… it’s natural. The best thing to do? Take over the counter anti-diarrheal medicine or antibiotics (rather than something that just plugs you up), drink lots of water, lay low and let the good- or bad- times flow. Symptoms should clear up within a few days. Any more than that, contact a doctor.

Tying Up Loose Ends
Before you hit the road you’ll need to close up shop. While most of these steps aren’t necessary for short term travel, they are imperative for long term wandering.

o Three – Six Months Out:
o Get a passport (if you don’t have one).
o Book your airplane flights.
o Visit your doctor or travel clinic to get vaccinations. Check if your employer’s health insurance covers them before you quit!
o Determine how to handle your living situation. Consider renting out your residence furnished. This saves you the hassle of storing your belongings, and moves you one step closer to paying off your mortgage. Most people interested in furnished accommodations are working abroad for a year or more: perfect for your intentions.
o Book a dentist, doctor, and optometry appointment for one month before you go to make sure you have a clean bill of health. This gives you time to handle any cavities before you leave.

o One Month Out:
o Set cancellation dates for all insurance policies, credit cards, and other miscellaneous items.
o Close any unnecessary accounts (e.g. banking accounts and department store accounts).
o Sign up for Online Banking (if you don’t already have it).
o Set up a forwarding address with the post office to a friend or a P.O. Box in your name.
o Find someone to rent your car while you’re gone. Make sure they get insurance and to draft an automobile leasing contract.
o Go to your dentist, doctor, and optometry appointments.
o Get travelers insurance.

o Two weeks out:
o Give your two weeks notice to your employer.
o Email yourself copies of your passport, driver’s license, insurance policy, credit card, and any other important information you might need while you’re away.
o Get travelers checks and email the security numbers from those to yourself.
o Notify your bank that you’ll be making purchases in a foreign country with your credit card.
o Have a garage sale. If you don’t manage to sell the majority of your belongings, have another garage sale following week. My wife and I made over $1,500 of two days work selling our stuff- worth over a month of travel in Southeast Asia. If you can’t sell your stuff, look into a storage unit.
o Get a visa if applicable for your first country.

Remember, you don’t need half of what you may think you do, a truism that applies to a crucial step in preparing: packing for long term travel.

What (Not) To Pack
Prior to departure: create a checklist of items you need to take. At a maximum you should include:
Passport
Drivers license (international if possible)
Airline/train tickets
Credit cards, travelers checks and US dollars
Photocopies of important documents
Youth hostel card
Scuba diving certification (if applicable)
Passport photos (1 or 2 per country)
Money Belt
One small day pack
Sunglasses
A good book
Pen and notepad
Laptop and headset for Skype
Two pairs of light weight pants
One pair of shorts
Three shirts (one for going out)
1 Pair Sandals
1 Pair Shoes or Boots
Underwear
Swim suit (if applicable)
Toiletries
Silk sleep sack (not a sleeping bag)
Sewing kit
Nail clippers
Ear plugs
First aid kit
Swiss army knife

Possessions will only tie you down. For example, let’s say you purchase a brand new digital camera before your trip (chances are you will). Sure, it’s a great way to document your experiences, but it weighs you down a lot more than you think.

You have to think twice about swimming in the ocean for fear someone will steal it. Crossing a river could potentially destroy it. Strangers become potential threats.

And these are just the tangibles. The worst, and most common, is that it prevents you from truly experiencing a place before reaching for your camera. This effectively removes you from your surroundings, preventing you from ever really gaining anything at all.

Why Einstein Was Wrong – How to Travel
The theory of relativity states that time slows down when as speed increases. For example, imagine a friend whizzing across or solar system in a spacecraft while you remain here on the Earth. Einstein proved that your friend’s clock would seem to tick more slowly than your own.

Sadly, the opposite is true when traveling. People who travel near the speed of light- or at least sound- arrive home seemingly unaware of where they had just visited. Locations become nothing more than a check box on their itinerary, an experience not to be savored, but shown off to others. They develop the classic “If it’s Tuesday, this must be Rome” syndrome. Speed is not better, which is why you shouldn’t try to travel at the speed of light.
My advice is to travel at the speed of smell.

As I write this, there is a large Vietnamese market going on less than five meters away. The smell of pho boiling over and the sounds of locals conversing is something I wouldn’t have noticed on a five day whirlwind tour of Vietnam.
In order to really experience your surroundings, you must slow down. While guidebooks may offer walking tours that allow you to “do” a city in a day, it takes much longer to “feel” it out.

Somewhere along the line, we lost the point of travel. People visit pagodas, temples, churches, museums, and art galleries not out of personal interest, but out of some misplaced obligation. If you aren’t interested in art, skip the Museum of Modern Art. If you don’t like sports, forget the Superdome. Can’t stand witnessing first hand poverty? Don’t go to India.

It’s not about seeing the most acclaimed sights. It’s about experiencing those that affect you the most.

Your First Night Abroad: Make It a Soft Landing

Your first two days in any new region should be seen as a transition period. Don’t throw yourself into the mix right away; book your hotel prior to departure and stay there for at least two nights. This will help you acclimate to your new surroundings, and sleep comfortably for the first few days. Your first few nights shouldn’t be concerned with travel plans, budget, or any other logistics… just unplug and rest while your body adapts to the new sights, smells and time zone.

Lunch at 4AM? How to Deal With Jet Lag
There are several ways to combat jet lag, a common problem among travelers. It certainly hits some people harder than others; it takes me over a week to adjust, while my wife takes it in stride. Here are some ways to battle jet lag:
o Don’t eat. Studies have shown that your liver takes longer to adapt to a new time zone than any other part of your body. By not eating for 12 hours or more, your body will adjust much more quickly. If this seems like too much, try eating on your intended destination’s clock a few days before departure (dinner at 10 AM, anyone?).
o Sunshine. The sun helps you set your circadian clock, so the more the better. Exercise also helps.
o Pop some pills. There are additional over-the-counter pills that claim to help with jet lag. Though I have no personal experience with them, several people I’ve spoken to swear by No Jet Lag.

Staying Connected
Now that you’ve freed up your time and location, you’ll need to monitor your systems and stay in touch with loved ones. Here are several crucial tools to maintain your systems abroad.

Poste Restante
A great way to pick up care packages from home. Get the address of the main post office in whatever town you’re in (or will be shortly) and have people address your mail to the following:

LAST NAME, First Name
Poste Restante, General Post Office
Town, Country

When you arrive at the post office, simply present your passport as identification and you’ll be able to claim your mail. Generally post offices around the world will hold mail up to two years.

Blog
A great way to keep in touch is to start a travel blog. You can do so with free services such as Blogger.com or WordPress.com; both are free and can be set up in a matter of minutes. By creating a travel blog, you are able to avoid sending out group e-mails, which always come across as forced and rather generic. This way, people who were really interested in your trip can check up on you whenever they like, leave comments, and engage other people visiting your blog.

Also, blogs allow you much more creative freedom than sending emails. You can include pictures, video, polls, international clocks, maps and a whole host of other customization, all of which provide a great scrapbook after your travels.

Word of the Year: Wifi
Wireless is the name of the game. As time progresses, connecting to the Internet will only become increasingly important, so you might as well get used to ranking “free internet” higher than amenities such as free breakfast, swimming pool, and massages. Let’s face it: you’re now able to create systems that pay for your lifestyle, completely free of employees. Free of fax machines, cubicles, commutes, and water coolers… so logging into your accounts to make sure the money’s coming in doesn’t seem like too much of a hindrance, does it?

Expect internet cafes to run around $1-2 USD an hour. Seeing that your business is Internet based, you may want to consider traveling with a laptop depending upon your goals.

Laptop: Luxury or Necessity?
If you intend to develop more systems while traveling, a laptop is necessary. You will need to upload web-pages to your sites, conduct phone interviews with prospective freelancers, and keep tabs on your expenses and revenue streams. If you intend to just monitor or expand your existing systems, you can use internet cafes, though working amidst Chinese computer gamer ain’t what it’s cracked up to be.

Laptops also provide more security. You don’t know what kind of spyware (programs that remember your keystrokes for future use) might be on some random computer. To paraphrase sex ed teachers, a trusting, monogamous relationship is one of the best ways to avoid viruses.

Cell Phone
Though I personally don’t use one, cell service is getting better all the time, and can save you a lot of time if you need to call people who don’t use Skype. For example, I spent thirty minutes in search of an international phone to call my bank for a phone call that lasted two minutes.

Skype
You can’t go wrong with free international phone calls, and Skype provides just that. Get your friends and family back home to sign up and you can chat through your laptop for free. More and more businesses are jumping on the bandwagon, though banks and credit card companies are still behind the curve.

An additional feature that may be of some use is the ability to forward calls from a US based phone number to your cell phone abroad. If you handle customer service questions, it pays to list a domestic number. After all, would you buy a product from a company that requires you to call East Timor with questions?

Dragon Naturally Speaking
If it wasn’t for this software, this book would never have been written. For less than thirty bucks you get a microphone, headset, and the ability to dictate to your laptop. I’m able to “write” at about 120 words per minute. An added bonus is that you can use the microphone and headset with Skype.

USB Card
An absolutely essential tool. There will be times when you won’t be able to access the Internet with your laptop, and a handy USB allows you to backup your work.

Other Technological Marvels for Working Abroad
o GoToMyPC : This software allows you to access your home computer from any other computer in the world. If you are abject to traveling with a laptop, this is the way to go. Just remember, you’ll have to pay for internet connection along the way, making this a better solution for short term travel.
o World Electronics USA: Get information on global phones. Good explanation of which GSM frequencies and “bands” function in which countries, which will determine the phone you purchase for travel (and perhaps home).
o Universal Plug Adapter: I’ve purchased adapters in several countries in order to power our digital camera and laptop, though it can be a hassle if you’re exploring several different regions. This universal adapter works wonders around the world.
o World Electric Guide: This site is a life-saver when it comes to handling electronics abroad. It breaks down voltage, wattage and a slew of other technical requirements by country.
Use what you’ve learned and hit the road!

Productivity Tips for Travelers – How To Be A Productive Road Warrior

You have seen them, they all look alike, the regular ‘road warrior’ with their determined expression, wrinkle proof suit and pulling a beaten up carry on bag…whether you travel a little or a lot with your company there are many ways you can boost your personal productivity when you travel. These before, during and after strategies will help you maximize your time, limit your stress and overall increase your travel productivity.

Before You Travel

Buy the tools – you wouldn’t build a house without the right tools, travel is no different. To be a productive traveler you want to ensure you have a variety of tools to assist the comfort and productivity of your trip. Tools to consider purchasing are quality luggage, Ipod, noise cancelling earphones, soft briefcase and GPS system.

20-22 inch Carry On expandable luggage – I like Briggs and Riley, it is durable, light weight, expandable, self healing and well made. These are allowed in the US and other countries as carry on baggage. When you are buying luggage look for features such as pull along, strong wheels, stability foot on the bottom (in case it gets too heavy), external zippers (to hold travel documentation and the Ziploc toiletry bag) and also make sure the pop up handle is a ‘one pull’ action.

IPOD or MP3 – this is not a luxury, this is a requirement for any travel. I have a created a selection of play lists, including one with very relaxing music so that when it is time to sleep I can turn to this group and fall asleep.

Noise canceling earphones – these are a little bit of a luxury, but I wouldn’t travel anywhere without them. My husband previously flew many long international flights and he turned me onto this great invention.

Briefcase – I like a soft tote briefcase that allows me to include personal and work related items. My favorite is from Coakley Business Class (sorry guys these are just for women) and they are the best travel briefcase I have ever found (and you can use it everyday!). For the gentleman, try the soft Samsonite one, it has great suspension in the shoulder strap. When looking for a brief case also make sure it has the feature to be able to slide it over your carry on luggage (many have a soft strap or a zippered section to allow you to do this).

GPS (Global Positioning System) – this was the best gift I ever got! They are now getting smaller and smaller and are perfect to plug into your rental car when you arrive in another city. Also when we were in Italy last year we downloaded the European maps and it was great fun to get around tiny little towns. I have named mine ‘Bella’ – she keeps me company when I am driving late at night or in a city where I don’t know my way.

Consider clothing – When you are regularly on the road I suggest a few strategies to help make your life easier for both packing and arriving looking together.

Travel Outfit – Create your own travel outfit, yes it can be the same every time. Mine is a pair of black pants, black top (I have a short sleeve one for summer and a long sleeve one for cooler months), pantyhose and a pair of black patent leather flat slip on shoes. I wear the same silver jewellery with it all and I know when I arrive at the security line I don’t have to remove anything (except my shoes) – that is why pantyhose (or socks) are good when you have to take off your shoes. The fabric of this outfit doesn’t crease and is comfortable (which makes a huge different on those long flights).

Airport shoes – think about the quality and make of the shoes you wear to the airport. I suggest slip ons of some description so you are not awkwardly trying to tie up laces or straps. Also ensure they are comfortable and well made as you often have to walk long distances between gates or to the parking area.

Carry a pashmina – for the ladies, I recommend you invest in a dark colored pashmina that has many uses. On the plane it is a great blanket (and so many airlines in the US don’t supply pillows and blankets). When I rent a car it becomes a booster seat for me (he he). When I have to sit on an airport floor (yes I have done that living here in the US) it is great to place on the floor … oh and yes I can wear it if I need to keep warm.

Jewellery – wearing the same silver jewellery when I travel I know I can wear it the next day and I can walk through the screening area without having to remove it. It simplifies the process and speeds up the line.

Belts – if possible, don’t wear an outfit that requires a belt as it is only one more item of clothing you have to remove at the airport line.

Productive Packing – there are many opinions on what to pack and I find the most productive way for me is having a series of pre-packed bags. This includes luggage, carry on plane survival kit, brief case, make up and toiletry bags.

Pre-packed luggage contents includes:

  • Ziploc toiletry bag
  • Underwear
  • First aid items (band aids, safety pins and head ache tablets)
  • Make up bag
  • Gym gear
  • Clothes brush (I have a long haired cat and her fur seems to make its way across the world with me)
  • Book of interest
  • Cell Phone charger
  • Laptop power pack
  • Stamped stationery (note cards and envelopes)

Carry on plane survival kit contents include:

  • Ipod
  • Noise cancelling earphones
  • Spare battery for noise cancelling earphones
  • Lip balm
  • Eye mask (for those long flights)
  • Pen
  • Eye drops
  • Travel size toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Breath mints

Make up kit – ladies if you travel a lot I suggest you buy a full set of make up and make up brushes and tools and keep them in a separate make up bag so you never have to go looking for something and you never forget something on your trips.

Ziploc Toiletry Bag contents include travel sized:

  • Decanted shower gel
  • Skin care
  • Hair care products
  • Travel sized perfume or aftershave (most brands now supply a smaller size compliant with airline safety standards)
  • Toothpaste
  • Spare contact lenses

Many department stores and pharmacies carry a range of travel sized products. I was fascinated when I was in Sephoria in Times Square recently that the merchandising near the payment counter had changed significantly and provided 50+ choices of regular band products in travel sized convenient containers.

Plastic helps – My friend Camille was an airline goddess for many years and gave me this great tip, using the plastic you receive from your dry cleaners around your clothes helps avoid creases.

Duplicate copies – to be more productive (and for a few extra dollars) consider investing in duplicates of everything you travel with. If you are a regular traveler, having a pre-packed bag will allow you to leave with minimum notice and save time and stress before any trip. On your list of items to buy you could include:

  • Toiletries available in travel size
  • Brushes – make up brushes, hair brushes or combs
  • Cell phone charger
  • Laptop power pack
  • Make up
  • Stamps and stationery
  • Spare items i.e. pantyhose, clothing brush.

Choose your seat – I like to sit in an aisle seat so I can get in and out and I don’t feel cramped by others. For longer flights (especially the red eye), my friend Shawn books the window seat so you can lean against the window to sleep, choose your seat wisely. If you have an option of an exit row choose this seat as it gives you more leg room. You may like to check out – it is a great website to see exactly what your seat will be on most major airlines.

Pre-print your boarding pass – whenever possible go online 24 hours before you fly and select your seat and print your boarding pass. This will save you time in the long lines at the airport check in and also help you find the seat you want.

Join airline clubs – if you fly frequently to same cities join the airline programs of those major airlines so you can also gather frequent flyer miles for all your travels. You may be able to use them for a fun trip with those you care for later on.

Join airline lounges – if you fly with the same carrier regularly to invest in a membership for that lounge so you have a quiet place to snack, get changed or to catch up on reading. I noticed in Australia this was a great use of money and well worth it however in the US the gates and lounges are so spread out and there are so many options to travel with different airlines this hasn’t been a worthwhile investment for me here, however if you fly the same airline every time it might be worth it for you.

Create a one page itinerary – create a one page template that includes your confirmation codes of all flight details, hotel and rental car information. Include on this template all your frequent flyer clubs and associations also so that if you arrive and they haven’t included this in your booking you can quickly get credit for your travel.

During Your Travel

Allow extra 30 minutes – add at least 30 minutes onto any amount of time you think it will take you to get to the airport or park. This additional time will save you stress if you are stuck in traffic, can’t find a car space or the security line is longer than you expected. If you have pre-packed a book or magazine you can use that 30 minutes to read or to connect with a friend or client.

Know the Parking Garage – if you regularly travel on the same airline, know the shuttle system or design of the car park so you can get in and out quickly.

Take your ticket – when you receive a parking receipt/ticket on your arrival place it in the same compartment of your bag or briefcase so you know where to find it upon your return.

Write the parking space on your ticket – in the US the parking garages are so big that I always write the color and space on my parking receipt so that when I arrive back after a few days away (often late at night), I can quickly find my car and not waste time wandering around the parking garage.

Ground transport notice – when you enter an airport, notice where the taxis, rental car shuttles or parking garages are. This will save you time when you return and allow you to quickly make your way to the next place.

Regular rental – Use the same rental company each time you travel will also boost your productivity because you will expect a certain standard each time you fly. You might also consider joining their frequent customer program too. I like using Enterprise because they are affordable and also each time you arrive they look so happy to see you and they pay attention to small details including water bottles in the car and also pre-printed local lists of radio stations and areas of interest.

Play music – by creating different play lists on your IPOD you will enjoy your travel more if you can listen to music and block out the noise around you. This is effective in the airport lounge, at the gate and on the plane. You might also like to include a CD in your packing checklist for the rental car.

Getting through security – there are several tips to help you get through the line faster:

  • Wear an outfit that doesn’t require any removal of items or have any metal.
  • Place your cell phone and keys into your briefcase or purse before entering the security line.
  • Keep your Ziploc bag of toiletries in an outside zippered compartment for quick access.
  • Get your laptop out of your briefcase before you reach your place in line.
  • Place your laptop, shoes and toiletries in one container on the security screen belt.
  • Keep your boarding pass and photo identification in your hands.

Check in or carry on – I always carry on luggage (up to a five day business trip), I have learn to pack well and have invested in a minimum number of outfits. I think there is so much time wasted waiting for luggage (not to mention the concern it may not arrive with you!) wherever possible try and carry on luggage for your business travel.

Laptop … or not – if your trip doesn’t require you to take your laptop, leave it at home. It is one less thing to juggle through security and some laptops add significant weight to your briefcase. Leave it behind if you can. If you have to take it with you consider buying a smaller, light weight model one that is easy to use and you can balance in small places. You do pay more for smaller, lighter models but it is money well spent.

Keep a reading file – as you collect articles, newspapers or journals you want to read, take them with you when you travel. Each week I receive the Philadelphia Business Journal and I take it with me on the plane to read and enjoy. It is a paper that keeps my interest and small enough it doesn’t crowd the person beside me.

Buy bottled water – part of my routine as soon as I get through the security line is to head to the nearest store to buy 2 bottles of water. During the flight it is essential to drink water to keep you hydrated, two bottles allows me to drink before the plane arrives (has been helpful when there are large delays) and during the flight.

Eat healthy – many airlines don’t supply quality food on board so try to find healthy solutions within the airport to satisfy your hunger. You may also like to buy something to eat on board for longer flights so you are snacking on healthy items. I like to travel with a bag of almonds and pecans so that I always have a yummy (and healthy) snack available. AS you are flying from the same airport each week, become familiar with the food offerings inside the terminal so you can quickly find something you enjoy eating.

Hotel routine – no matter what time I arrive at a new hotel I have the same routine. I open my suitcase, remove my suit and hang it on a hanger. If it has gathered small creases in the travel I take it into the bathroom, hang it up and turn on the hot shower to create a ‘steam room effect’ and this removes any creases. Now for my Australian readers who are experiencing a drought right now that seems very wasteful so you may want to hang these clothes while you are showering the next day to avoid water waste. You might like to take this opportunity to iron your clothes instead. I then plug in my laptop, set up my cell phone charger, set my alarm and pull out the documents or reading for the next day. By having the same routine each time you will be productive and not forget important details (and you save time in the morning also).

Exercise – if you don’t have a gym in the hotel consider either taking a walk outside at the beginning of your day or exercising in your room. I often place a towel on the floor and then do a series of stretches, yoga, sit ups and push ups. You can establish a routine especially for travel that doesn’t require any equipment i.e. push ups, sit ups, squats and any yoga.

Call a client – you often have down time in the airport so it is a great time to reconnect with a client or colleague. I use this time to touch base with important people in my life and it becomes part of my business development time.

Be strategic – time in hotel rooms can be lonely or unproductive so I use this time to design new products, review my business plan, catch up on reading and design new models or programs for my business. Some of my best ideas have come while sitting in my hotel room – use this time for strategy and thought space instead of turning on the TV to keep your company.

Stay connected – when you arrive at your location notify someone important to you. I like to call my husband when I have arrived in my hotel so he knows I am safe and sound and I get to hear his voice. Calling your family or friend is a great way for you to keep connected on the road.

Write thank you notes – because I carry stamped stationery with me when I travel, I use the flight home to write notes to people I met during my trip. When I arrive my next destination I post them. It is a great way to reconnect with people after you have met them and is a productive use of flight time.

After Your Travel

Know the quickest route home – understand the quickest and least traffic congested way to get out of the airport so you can be home with those you care for in the smallest amount of time. Where I live there are 2 major ways home and if you take the wrong one at some particular times during the day it can add up to an hour to your ride home (not so much fun after a long flight) so know which ways are best at different times during the day.

Unpack quickly – if you arrive home early enough, unpack your bag, refill any necessary toiletry items and allocate clothes for washing or dry cleaning.

Refill and replace – update any items in your ‘pre-packed’ toiletries or luggage that need attention to save you time for future trips. Note any additional items you may have forgotten on this trip and place them in your luggage so you don’t forget them next time.

Debrief your trip – recall any items you missed, notice things that you enjoyed or frustrated you and make the changes that are within your control. Each time you travel you may learn something new that will help you save time or save you frustration for your next travel experience.

Thank your team – if you have an assistant, let them know what went well about the trip and any enhancements you would like to make for your next trip. Thank your travel agent for the trip planning and also let them know if something didn’t go well and discuss how to fix it for the next trip. Thank your client for the opportunity to work with them. If you experienced great service at some point in the trip take the time to email or write a thank you note to that organization. The simple art of thanking people is often overlooked but is one of the most powerful things you can do to boost your productivity and make someone else day!

Gather your receipts – there is so much paperwork collected on trips including boarding passes, rental agreements, and food and hotel receipts. Keep this in a central place when you travel (I take a clear plastic folder for this very purpose each time I travel). When you arrive home quickly sort through the paper, action business cards and file any receipts or keep them aside for your clients. Process all your paper within 24 hours.

Action business cards – if you have met new people during your productive trip take the time to now action those cards. You might like to write a ‘nice to meet you’ note, scan them and add them to your database and write a note for any follow up action required. Following this process diligently each time you travel will avoid piles of business cards gathering on your desk (reminding you of action you haven’t taken!)

Be grateful – if you are traveling for business it means you have a successful job that is supporting you and your family. Stop hating it and start enjoying it. Giving thanks for the opportunity to see new places, meet new people and share your experience is a privilege.

Change your language around travel, enjoy it, embrace it and you will be more productive! Next time you see another road warrior smile at them and let them know you understand. You can be more productive every time you travel by applying these before, during and after you travel strategies… now where am I off to tomorrow?

Miami And The Florida Keys – Reflections

The earliest known residents of what is now Miami were the “Tequesta” Indians. Little is known of the Tequesta Indians other than they resided along the banks of the Miami River over twelve hundred years ago. Believe it or not there was a small natural rapid a few miles upriver from where it emptied into Biscayne Bay. The Tequesta Indians hunted and fished along the banks of the River. In the 16th and again in the 18th century the Spanish established a few small missions along the banks of the Miami River. Spain originally possessed the area now called “Florida”, but ceded Florida and of course Miami to the British in later years. The first American Settlers began arriving in Miami Florida sometime in the early to mid 19th century and settled in and around the River. Agriculture in addition to fishing was one of the few economic mainstays of the area. The River’s water source was the Everglades and it was believed that the wetland could be drained by removing the rapids. Thereby providing additional cultivatable land for the new arrivals to settle and develop as farms. I am very sure that real estate sales and potential profits were a motivational factor as well. Real Estate in Miami has been a motivation from the beginning to present. Regardless of the reason(s) a decision to remove falls by dynamiting was made and implemented in mid to late 1800s. Other than during those years of the Seminole Indian wars the population steadily increased as did the real estate industry.

In the beginning Dade County was a huge track of land that extended from the southern tip of Lake Okeechobee (Fort Worth Florida) south to Key West Florida. Indian Key was the the seat of Dade County until sometime between the years 1860 and 1870. Prior to these years residents of the Florida Keys, other than those at Indian Key were counted as residents of Dade County.

MY RECOLLECTIONS AND REFLECTIONS

Once upon a time there was a little fishing village located in Dade County, towards the southeastern tip of Florida. The name of this village was Miami. Many people living in Miami at the time, pronounced the name “Miama”.

I offer these remembrances’ as one born in the Biltmore Hotel; a land mark hotel in Coral Gables Florida, a town located in Miami-Dade County and a veteran’s administration hospital during the years of WW II. If my stories and recollections seem somewhat disjointed to the reader I beg forgiveness. They are all or at least most inscribed from memories. My only reason for attempting to write this article at all is to impart a few of my impressions/reflections to an interested reader regarding the conception of, development of, metamorphosis of and transformation that has occurred to the area that is today Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys. My intention is to offer the reader a comparison of sorts to the areas mentioned, the inhabitants, their way of life compared to then and likewise now. I have no intention of smearing of chastising any particular group of people but too simply record the facts as I believe-remember them to be. I will leave it to the discretion of the reader which Miami, Florida Keys he/she prefers to relate. The then version 1945 to 1970 or the now version 2010, in order to provide a comparison between the two I will offer, in addition to my recollections, a few bygone happenings and circumstance conveyed to me by my predecessors on my mother’s side of the family, all residents of the Keys and Key West dating back 150 plus years ago, some still living there. To do this I am going to begin with my earliest recollections following WW II living first in Hamburg Germany, my father was an officer in the Air Force during the war and was at the time stationed there. Since he had not received his discharge my mother and I joined him, I think, sometime in the year 1946.

KEY WEST CONCHS

They Don’t Call Them Conchs For No Good Reason! (yes I know that’s double negative but I use it for emphasis)

Those that have eaten conch can relate to what I mean by this statement. Conk is a very tough marine mollusk. Rumor has it that in the early 1800s the doctors of Key West prescribed for new born babies, that they be set out on the porch to allow mosquito bites. The reason for this was to make the baby immune to the bite of a mosquito. What does this have to do with conch; man those people had to be tough to live in that environment during those very early years. Screens for windows did not happen until late in the 1800s so it is safe to say that these early Keys inhabitants did not have such luxuries. Don’t forget they had no present day amenity such as air conditioning either.

WALTER C MALONEY, JR.-KEY WEST FLORIDA

The Economies of Key West-1800s

It is a fact that at one time Key West was not only the most populated city in Florida but also had the highest per capita income in Florida and rivaled that of many other US cities. The economy was driven by numerous industries during this period of time.

AGRICULTURE

My relatives speak of one, Mr. Walter C. Maloney Jr. (Maloney was my grandmother’s maiden name). The story goes that at some point in time, during the year 1885, Walter left Key West to travel to what was then known as the Gainesville Land Office in Gainesville Florida. There under Grover Cleveland’s land act, I think for the price of fifty cents per acres, he purchased 67 acres of property in what is now known as Marco Island, Collier County Florida. In reality the land he purchased was located on “Horr’s Island”, AKA “Marco Key”, located a mile or two west of Marco Island, Florida. Mr. Maloney’s purpose was to plant, grow, harvest pineapples on this island and sell his produce to the Key West market. To me it’s amazing that a man in his late forty’s’ and then fifty’s would board a sailboat in Key West and navigate his way across one hundred miles of Florida Bay to sell pineapples in Key West. The reader should understand that the waters of Florida Bay are prone to sudden violent storms during much of the year. In addition there were no cell phones or GPSs.

My granddad once told me of a relative, I believe last name “Hart” that would travel from Key West to Chokoloskee Florida to hunt. Chokoloskee is an island located south of Everglades City. This was also a very long boat ride from Key West. Chokoloskee boasts an elevation of 20 feet above sea level. Rumor has it that the reason for its’ elevation was discarded shells of various types deposited by the Indians of the “Ten Thousand Islands”, living in the area many years ago.

Obviously these were a different breed of people during that time in our history.

The Keys and Key West produced other crops in addition to pineapples, tomatoes, I call charcoal another because of the process used to produce it. Hookie-Pokee Ice Cream, made in the shad and sold in the sun, if you aint gotta nickel you cain’t have none. Yes with the heat and humidy ice cream was big in Key West. Cigar factories were also big in Key West.

FISHING INDUSTRY

Like Miami, the fishing industry was and still is a driving economical force. Florida lobster (commonly called crawfish) is still a big ticket industry. In early times turtle and conk were plentiful; today these are for the most part protected throughout the state. I will offer additional experiences I had as youngster with the seemingly unlimited conk and spiny crawfish that could be easily taken from the waters surrounding Key West and Miami Florida.

THE NATURAL SPONGE INDUSTRY

Before the invention of synthetic sponges, sponges were harvested from the sponge beds located in the waters surrounding Key West.

SALVAGE

The waters surrounding Key West also had arguably the most treacherous reefs of any found elsewhere in the world. The history books are full of accounts of ships hitting these reefs and sinking, Spanish galleons loaded with gold taken by force from the natives of North and South America crashed on the reefs and sank with unbelievable regularity.

One of the better known salvage operations of recent times was that of Mel Fisher’s. He and his team of researchers and divers located the long lost “Atocha”. The Atocha crashed and sank on a reef west of Key West in the early 18th century and was loaded with over 400 million dollars worth of gold, silver, precious gems and other valuable artifacts. Most of which stolen by Spanish missionaries and Conquistadors (conquerors) from the Aztecs of Mexico and Incas of South America among many others.

During the 1800s, ships were still crashing on these same reefs. The series of light houses now erected on the reefs were not there during most of the 19th century. This resulted in a very lucrative salvage business during the 1800s. I have heard family members mention that years later, after the warning lights were built on the reefs some residents of the Keys would either allow them to burn out or manually extinguish them for the purpose of causing shipwrecks on the reefs to promote their salvage businesses. All productive salvage operators and operations were required by law to register their salvage ships and any salvaged items with the authorities in Key West which of course served to boost the local economy.

Prior to the erection of light houses on the reefs in an effort to reduce the number and severity of ship wrecks in these waters, the federal government commissioned “light house ships”. These ships and their captains were charged with the task of anchoring on the reefs, 24/7/365 to keep and maintain warning lights. One such ship was captained by another relative of mine Captain Whalton (my mother’s maiden name). Drinking water and other supplies were brought to land locations of these ships and deposited on shore. The crews would then leave the ship in a row boat, get the supplies and row back to their ship. The story goes that one night Captain Whalton and one sailor traveled to shore to transport the supplies back. For some inexplicable reason they traveled ashore unarmed, a war part of Seminole Indians waited, hidden in the bush. Both the captain and the sailor were killed.

FROM HAMBURG GERMANY TO KEY WEST and Back to Miami-THE YEAR 1947-1950 +/-

During my time in Germany but sometime after my Dad was discharged from the Air Force. My Grandfather Whalton called and suggested to Dad that together they should open a hardware store in Key West. At the time Key West did not have a hardware store. Purchasing a “Western Auto” Franchise they opened for business at 515 Duval Street directly across the street from the San Carlos Theater, now a land mark, in Key West Florida. The family remained in Key West for about 2-1/2 years, while Dad and Granddad operated the hardware store. The year was 19850 maybe 1951. The commercial passenger airline industry was stirring-ready to be born in earnest. National Airlines called my Dad and asked him to fly for the airline. Flying being my Dad’s first love, we moved from Key West to Miami, Florida. My parents rented a little house near the main hanger for National. The hanger was located on the east side of Lejune Road but Miami International Airport was located on the west side. We had one car; so when it was time for my Dad to fly, my mother and I would take him to the hanger. There he would board a two engine aircraft renamed for it new purposes a DC 3. The same plane, a C-47, Dad flew during the war with some seats bolted to the floor and some paint applied to the fuselage. A policeman would stop the automobile traffic on Lejune Road and my Dad would taxi his plane across the road and onto the end of the only runway that the airport possessed at the time, which was runway 9. For those of you that have passed through MIA recently I know this seems a bit bizarre, but as was Miami the airline industry was in its infancy. During this time 1950-1955, I would be surprised to learn that Miami Florida’s population exceeded 300 thousand.

After we moved to Miami, I for many years thereafter traveled from Miami to Key West. During summer vacations I worked in the store that my granddad still owned and operated. He had left the Western Auto Franchise and then operated the store as “Walton’s Auto Toys and Hardware.”

Each summer for about 5-6 years my mother would put me on a “Greyhound Bus”. Greyhound ran regularly between Miami and Key West. The bus station as I recall was in Downtown Miami, 8th street, AKA the Trail, AKA US-41. The driver would take a route west on 41 to US-27 or Krome Avenue, turning south on Krome proceeding through Homestead Florida and then left to US-1. Within a few minutes of entering US-1, we would be traveling at rate I believe to be over 80 miles per hour. I feel comfortable that this was so because the land distance from Miami to Key West is 160 miles and the trip never took more than 1 hour and 45 minutes. Folks on a trip today from Miami to Key West by car, you cannot do 35 miles per hour once entering the upper keys.

During the years that I worked in this store, the store would open for business 5-/12 days per week. On Thursdays the merchants of Key West would close at noon. My Granddad, my Grandmother and I would travel out “Overseas Highway”, US-1. With a “four pronged gig” and a bucket walking into the Mangroves that lined both sides of the highway, we could gig enough crawfish (Florida Lobster) for crawfish enchilada to be served at dinner that night, conch style with black beans, rice and fried plantain. During that time, Florida Lobster was plentiful in the Keys; there were no restrictions against harvesting them. Today, first you cannot use a four pronged gig without the risk of incarceration; second harvesting Florida Lobster is restricted to certain times of the year. This is also true of conk that could be taken a few yards off the beaches of Key West and sea turtle cannot be taken at all.

My point is, the quality of life in south Florida has been reduced by the influx of too many people from all over the US, south America and Cuba. I don’t believe that State and Federal authorities have done their jobs in protecting the things that were here when I was young and growing up. I believe that some measure of prudence could have and should have been applied a long time ago. The experiences that I had my children will be denied they will never have the opportunity to know the area the way I knew it.

As one that makes his living as a builder and General Contractor in the State of Florida but has known this area intimately for so many years, I have a number of questions in mind that I deal with on a daily basis, the questions are, 1. What could we have done previously to reduce the impact of uncontrolled influx here and thereby preserve more for future south Florida generations. 2. Is there a possibility of regaining some measure of the resources that were here in the earlier years?

I do believe that these are questions that some of the Florida agencies and law makers now deal with on a daily basis as well. But I’m not certain that the legal vehicle and money resource is available to accomplish the task if so be it possible.

But then with similarity to some higher mathematical problems, I think that the only constant is change and the only variable is time. Is this not also a statement of the development-over development and maybe the resurrection, restoration of south Florida?

Find Travel Bargains by Thinking Outside of the Travel Box

There are many bargains in travel for the person who knows where to look and how to take advantage of existing programs. Of course, I am not talking about taking a winter vacation to Galveston Texas and spending your weekend in a cardboard box on the beach. I am also not referring to a tree house on the shores of Lake Michigan in the dead of winter.

Where Do You Look For Travel Bargains?

Just a couple decades ago, travel shoppers would go to their local travel agency to find discount travel services and discount travel packages.

Many people have known for years that if you buy a plane ticket from the airline company, then chances are solid that you will always pay full price for that ticket. However, the average travel agency can acquire that same airplane fair at a discount – in essence so that the travel agency can profit from the difference, but many travel agencies will pass those savings to the consumer.

Travel agencies also offer another advantage to consumers in that they have the ability to look at airline fares from a number of different airlines. Often it can be much cheaper to fly to Chicago and change airplanes to catch another flight to New York City, than it would be to take the direct route to NYC. Travel agencies have the ability to see those discounts that others will not see.

Discount travel packages are often available by grouping a set of people into the same vacation plan. The elderly and retired most commonly take advantage of this option, but they are not the only ones. From Las Vegas, people will join together to fill a bus for the ride to Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon. All around the country, people will board a bus and ride it to a casino closer to home. Tour groups frequently catch a flight to Europe and share a bus trip tour around Europe.

By getting three-dozen distant strangers to share the costs of a particular tour schedule, travel costs can definitively be lowered. Costs are reduced because the tour can be priced according to the real costs of the journey, as opposed to the inflated costs designed into a package to pay for the empty seats. But, do you really want to build your next vacation around the strict schedule designed by the tour operator?

What If You Don’t Want To Share Your Vacation?

The truth is that there are plenty of travel savings out there for people who are a bit more independent than the people who fill tour buses.

To pose the question again as to where to get actual travel savings, many people in this day and age turn to the Internet travel companies for travel discounts.

The travel companies are in a grand advertising battle, fighting for your business. Expedia, Travelocity, Yahoo Travel, Travel.com, Orbitz, Priceline and others are fighting for your travel dollars. But, who really offers the best travel deals?

People have many opinions about who has the best travel deals available online. If you listen to William Shatner, you would look no further than Priceline for those travel deals. But, I am here to tell you that if you want the real travel deals, don’t stop at Priceline.

Big Dollar Advertising Requires Big Dollar Sales Markups

Consider this. In order for Expedia, Travelocity, Yahoo Travel, Travel.com, Orbitz, and Priceline to be household names, they have to spend millions on advertising to put their names into your subconscious mind.

How much of your travel package cost will be used to sell their services to the next person? In other words, how much are you overpaying for travel, in order to know who these companies are?

Cheaper Travel Can Be Found When You Escape The Beaten Path

If you know what to look for and where to look, you can find travel packages that are much less expensive than you can get with a tour operator or the top six travel companies shown above – and you will not have to share your trip with three dozen people you don’t even know and probably will not like.

To prove my point, let me give you a couple of examples.

On the Pacific side of Baja California Sur, in the town of Cabo San Lucas, Las Cabos, Mexico, there is a 5-Star Resort called Hacienda del Mar Vacation Club. At this resort, you can get a one-bedroom condo for 8 days and 7 nights, and you can spend your days and nights overlooking the Pacific Ocean. At Priceline, this package will cost $2088.38. At Travelocity, this same package will cost $1976.59. If you know where to shop, you can get the same one-bedroom condo for 8 days and 7 nights, for a mere $645.

Located on 600 acres in the greater San Diego, California area, Welk Resort San Diego offers unique accommodations in the form of vacation rentals with a variety of amenities and resort activities. You can get a one-bedroom villa suite in the most complete resort setting, which provides a golf course and a private theater. For an 8-day, 7-night package at Welk Resort, Expedia will charge $2064.43; Orbitz will charge you $2236.40, and Travelocity charges $2063. If you know where to shop, you can get this package for as little as $298.

In Conclusion

There is a little known secret that can literally save thousands of dollars on your next vacation, perhaps even step up the value you receive in exchange for your limited vacation dollars.

Top 5 Basic Things to Consider When Choosing a Travel Agent For Traveling to Antarctica

Travelers planning a trip must perform due diligence with the task of choosing a dependable travel agent. This becomes crucial when the planned trip is to Antarctica. The harsh and unpredictable weather as well as remote and inhospitable geographical conditions of the region demand that experienced and capable people handle the affairs of an expedition be it by air or sea.

Choosing a dependable travel agent is a tricky job as there are a dismayingly large number of travel agencies out there. Anyone with a little knowledge of Internet ticket booking and awareness of travel destinations can set up a travel agency. It is hard to expect quality and dependable service even from registered travel agencies as the registration process is simple and doesn’t require much more than filling out a simple form and paying some fees. Airliners and cruise liners affiliations are also meaningless. Let the lure of visiting the White Continent not make you overlook some basic factors in choosing a travel agent. If I were traveling to Antarctica these are the things I would be concentrating on for selecting a travel agent.

Reputation

This is the prime consideration while choosing a travel agent. Usually, the more reputable a travel agency the better is its service. Ascertain whether it’s lower cost or quality service that makes a particular travel agent special. Your target is clearly reputation based on the dependability of service. Cheap and best are not applicable always. You don’t drive the cheapest car, don’t wear the cheapest dress, and don’t eat out in the cheapest restaurant. So why choose a travel agent that specializes in providing cheap services. You are going to Antarctica, remember. Everything should be top notch. You should concentrate on getting that. Getting better rates becomes secondary to getting top equipment, facilities, and services.

People assume that the longer a travel agency is in business the better will be the quality of their service. This is purely a common assumption and there are no statistics to support this. Not how long has the travel agency been in service, but how well is it serving travelers now should be the question uppermost in your mind. The fact is that there are many old travel agencies on the verge of running out of business and there are many new travel agencies offering better services with newer and appropriate policies. Reputed, experienced, and efficient should be the preferred criteria of your choice. Equally important is to choose tour operators that specialize in expeditions to ice covered lands like the Arctic and Antarctica.

Check with Friends, Clients, and Suppliers

The best opinions that you can get are from trusted friends and associates that have traveled to Antarctica. If you can tolerate a little exaggeration or understatement you will get honest opinions from them. However, don’t take a single emphatic recommendation as final. Check and verify with others about any recommendation. Find from the recommended travel agent if they are giving any benefits to clients for bringing in referrals. Make sure that your friend has not referred you mainly to earn benefits for himself.

Get a list of existing clients and suppliers from the travel agent to verify its claims. Find out how the travel agency performs on a bad day. Be careful as it’s natural on the part of a supplier to say only positive things about a travel agent if the latter is the former’s client. You should contact a reliable and reputable supplier to establish the truth whether or not the travel agent does business with it. Clients can better testify about the veracity of the claims made by a tour operator. Get an exhaustive list of clients so that the travel agent will not know which ones you are going to contact. If you are taking the contact address of a few clients then contact them right away so that the travel agent gets no time to tutor clients and dress up testimonies.

Dependable Team

The competencies and expertise of the expedition team are crucial to an Antarctic expedition. In the unending stretch of ice and cold water you have only them to ensure your safety. A dependable team should comprise of at least one veteran captain having several expedition experiences, expert sailors, environmentalists, geologists familiar with the topography of the continent and specializing in glaciology, oceanographers, marine biologists, polar scientists, and polar educators. It’s essential for all the above people to have previous Antarctic expedition experience. Make sure that the team has all the qualification and experience to make your expedition a safe and enjoyable one.

Sturdy Ship

Special attention must be paid for the kind of ship the travel agent is going to put you on and the team that will lead the expedition. The ship must be in top condition. It must have all the latest communication tools as well as expedition equipment. Find out how well the ship can cope with disaster?

Ask the travel agent about which cruise liners are listed in their agency and how many voyages the cruise liners have made to Antarctica? The more successful voyages made by a cruise liner the better – the rule is simple. Is your travel agency offering good ice breaking ships or ice strengthening cruises? If you are more adventurous you should prefer the ice breaking cruises as they will take you to places that just ice strengthened ships cannot take. Ask the tour operator what kind of logistics the ships offer (zodiacs and helicopters). What kind of gear and equipment do they make available on the ship? Will the ship have qualified guides, naturalists, geologists, and sailors to make the expedition safe and successful?

Some More Questions to Ask the Tour Operators

There are expeditions led by people that have explored the entire Antarctic. Your expedition can benefit immensely from the knowledge of such people. Find out whether the tour operators are members of International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO). IAATO is a private body, which has laid down the rules to be followed by tour operators while going to Antarctica and about conduct on the continent.

Ask the travel agent this precious question, “what service they offer which any other agents do not or cannot offer”? Compare the results and answers of the travel agents and go for the most reliable one.

If you plan to fly over part of Antarctica then find out from the tour operator whether the pilot and crew members have previous flying experience to the continent. Some travel agencies make sure that the captain of the airplane has flown to Antarctica at least once before.

These are just five basic factors that you should consider when selecting a travel agent for an expedition to Antarctica. There are more things that you should take into account while doing the due diligence in this regard. Look up on the Internet and guidebooks to cover all the aspects to make sure that you have taken utmost care in selecting a travel agent. Do not always trust what is posted in forums without cross checking. For that matter trust advise or information only when they come from an authentic and reputed source. Cross check them to be absolutely sure. Have a safe and happy voyage.

Dynamic Packaging for Travel and Hospitality Industry

The concept of Dynamic Packaging is to bundle all the components chosen by the aspiring traveler and create one reservation. Regardless of where the inventory originates, the package that is created is handled seamlessly as one transaction, and requires only one payment from the consumer.

To a traveler, there is nothing better than a one stop shop for his traveling needs. The Dynamic Packaging Engine uses a travel component inventory and prices. Regardless of where the inventory originates, the package that is created is handled seamlessly as one transaction, and requires only one payment from the consumer. It automatically applies rules defined by the suppliers and the travel marketer to build and price travel packages. This package configuration process determines which components are used, what combinations of components are allowed or required, and handles inclusions such as taxes, fees or additional package features. Rules also determine how the final retail price is computed.

CAPABILITIES

A typical dynamic packaging application will need the following capabilities:

1. Search and Availability

2. Memberships

3. Shopping Cart

4. Booking and Reservations

5. Payments

6. Cancellations

SEARCH AND AVAILABILITY

A traveler always seeks a destination. Even though he may well be aware of where he needs to go to, he will search for the most appropriate place to stay and enjoy his visit. The search starts with a Transportation and Travel components, Hotel Property, Leisure Components. The search therefore has to be divided geographically to include destinations and neighboring destinations that meet the search criteria. An example search could be travel to New York City, stay at Stamford, Connecticut, Golf at upstate New York. Clearly the Dynamic Packaging engine needs to know the dates of travel, from and to destinations, closest airport to hotel, rental car or other desired ground transportation from selected airport to hotel and access to tee times at the neighboring golf courses. Like the traveler, businesses also seek travel related information.

Travel Agents, Call Centers, and Meeting Planners need packaged information on behalf of their clients. Such a search is riddled with rules and complexity. Besides, the customer needs to have choices that can vary from comfort to price and everything else in between.

1. Proximity: The search uses parameters that can narrow down possibilities yet offer extended possibilities. In our search example, Westchester Airport would have been the best choice. La Guardia airport would be an ideal choice. JFK and Newark and Teterboro are the next choices from a distance to Hotel point of view.

2. Fare and Rates: The traveler will look for the best fare. In our example though Westchester is close to the hotel, offers limited Airlines and perhaps not the best fares. Some fares maybe very attractive, however when it comes to flexibility and cancellation they are not the best. Flexibility of change, penalties associated with change and cancellation are important factors to include in the search results.

3. Travel Times: That’s another important factor for the business traveler. How many flights are there to the airport and at what intervals. Check in times and total time to travel also helps in determining his choice. Therefore non-connecting and connecting flights with layover times need to figure in the search.

4. Accessibility: Another key factor often not paid attention to is accessibility. Physically impaired travelers, people who need meals on a flight, wheelchair access, and quick access to rental cars or trains or ground transportation play a very important role in travel. Do the hotel(s) have wheelchair access? Is it possible to get ground transportation to destined hotel that has wheelchair access?

5. Amenities: Does the hotel offer standard amenities like restaurants, swimming pool, health parlors, spa, fax and printing, broadband Internet access etc? Similarly does the rental car come with GPS, insurance, inter state travel? Does the Golf Course allow only cart access? Are ski rentals available near the resort? The inclusion of amenities in a search result ensures the traveler is not in for surprises at the first lap of travel.

6. Prepackaged: You want to travel, stay in a semi luxury hotel, play golf, why search for each individually. A prepackaged deal would also be more attractive than customizing the travel. Perhaps cheaper.

Travel should be far from being hostile. It is after all a home away from home. A home is a pivotal source for living and entertainment. One uses the home and its peripheral surroundings to make the best of living. The travel destinations and the mode of travel should be as non hostile and as hospitable as is possible. A dynamic packaging should offer a wealth of choices to the traveler yet not inundate the traveler with so much information that he/she is nervous wreck at the end of an itinerary creation.

ACTORS

From the above description one can determine who the obvious actors are in this case.

1. The Traveler

2. GDS (Airlines and Hotels Rate Distribution)

3. Airlines

4. Car Rental Companies

5. Hotel Central Reservation

6. Tour Operators (Buses, Ground Transportation)

7. Proprietary Aggregators (like Golf, Ski etc.)

MORE ACTORS

The Dynamic Packaging should be capable of extending the services for business-to business operations. Which would imply that our actors now are?

8. Travel Agents and Meeting Planners

9. Call Center Agents.

SHOPPING CART

The key item in dynamic packaging is the Shopping Cart. The results of search can be selected and added as line items in the shopping cart. It bundles all the components chosen by the traveler to create one reservation. This shopping cart based vacation builder allows comparison shopping of packages that can include plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, insurance, attraction tickets and other features. Regardless of where the inventory originates, the package that is created is handled seamlessly as one transaction, and requires only one payment from the consumer. It automatically applies rules defined by the suppliers and the travel marketer to build and price travel packages. This package configuration process determines which components are used, what combinations of components are allowed or required, and handles inclusions such as taxes, fees or additional package features.

Cheapest Airline Tickets – How to Find Best Travel Deals

So you are in the market for cheap airline tickets, but not sure where to start and how to find the best travel deals. The reality is that in order to find the cheapest flight fares and schedules you need to know when and where to look and how to search. Yes, it is that easy, and all you need to know is several tricks. First of all, do you need a domestic or an international travel ticket?

Domestic Air Travel

These can be US domestic flight or flights within Europe, or within any country or other continent. If you are looking great flight deals, you need to know WHERE to look for low airfares. If you are looking for flights within the US, you may contact local US airlines or travel agencies or look up flights on the online travel search engine.

Airlines compete among each other and they can give great flight deals (just know WHEN to look). Travel agencies might also find you great deals. Here is the truth… lately several airlines and several large and well known travel agencies started having some issues and several airline banned those huge agencies from selling their airline tickets. Therefore, small and specialized agencies still do have very good contracts with major airlines of the world. So, my advise is to look who has the best flight deal, not at the size of the agency or the popularity. At the end of the day, it matters how much you pay for the ticket and that you have a confirmed seat.

Most smaller travel agencies have online only booking so they can save YOU money by eliminating staff salaries. Most of the time travel agencies use the same fares as airlines offer (unless negotiated better rates), but usually with 0 commission. Since agencies need to survive, they are forced to add a small service fee on the top of the ticket price. If you do not mind that, call your travel agent or best of all go online and check flights yourself. If you are traveling within Europe, you might want to contact a travel agent or search online travel agents’ websites first. In Europe local travel agencies and agencies outside Europe that specialize in international travel will have low fares because they use very low so called consolidator fares. This is nothing else, but negotiated contracts with airlines to sell special very low priced airline tickets.

International Travel

Whether you live in the US or other country, you travel internationally if you leave your country of residence.

What concerns transatlantic, transpacific or other between countries international travel, your best bet is a travel agency. The consolidators will offer you the best fare deals and will find you the best schedules. Depending on personal preferences, some might prefer talking to a travel agent, while others would want to do their own fare search online at their own pace. There is no right or wrong choice here. As long as you find a flight and a fare that works for you, you succeed. HOW to find a travel agency or a good travel website Always work with the travel agent or travel website that specializes in your travel destination or region. For example, if you need to fly from the US to Europe, search for ‘flights to Europe’ or so. Usually online search will give you best results. Check several websites or call several travel agents and compare the deals.

NOTE, you might know lots of huge agencies like Travelocity, Orbitz, etc. They might seem attractive to you because they are big and well known. But they will not always give you the best flight, hotel or cruise deals. They might be good for US domestic travel, but not always for international travel.

HOW and WHEN to search for best fares

Where you need a flight, hotel or a cruise, you need to know how to find the best fares and when to look for those. Let’s say that you found a travel agent or travel website that specialized in your travel destination.

5 tips on How to Find your Best Travel Deal:

  1. Be Flexible. In order to find lowest price, you might need to be flexible on travel dates, arrival/departure times, airlines, and sometimes destinations. In short, there are different price levels for every flight and the only difference is the price and number of seats an airline assigns to that price level. Therefore, all depends on when you buy a ticket, how popular is the destination, travel season (peak or low), and how full the flight gets.
  2. Book domestic travel tickets as early as you can (this applied to some international travel as well). Most domestic airlines have best fares with 21, 14, and 7 day advance purchase. This means that you may find lower fares when booking (= purchasing) a flight this many days before the flight.
  3. ‘Play’ with the search. This means that you need to be creative when searching for flights. Check flights couple days or weeks (if possible) earlier and later, check various airlines, different connections (an airline might have several hubs or fly with 1 or several connections), search based on price and try searching based on schedule (you’ll see different results).
  4. Check travel package deals. If the purpose of your travel is vacation, instead of booking flights, hotel, and car rental separately, check on travel package rates. Sometimes your total package rate is lower that if you book everything separately.
  5. Use miles or points when possible. Apply for airline/ hotel/ car rental, etc. frequent traveler programs. They are FREE, and you can get lots of benefits. For example, I cannot remember the last time I paid for a hotel room when Hilton Hotel is in my destination. Check out hiltonhhonors. Go to the airline, car rental, or hotel websites and sign up. The only disadvantage of using miles and points is that you need to book your travel early as there is limited number of seats for miles or points on the plane and they go fast.

If you cannot decide whether to use an airline or a travel agent, here are some suggestions.

AIRLINE vs. TRAVEL AGENT/AGENCY WEBSITE

Advantages of booking a ticket with an airline:

  • you are talking directly to the carrier, the entity responsible for a flight
  • it may take much less time to deal with the airline directly (if an agent knows his/her job)
  • airline customers representatives are usually open 24/7

Advantages of using travel agents or travel websites:

  • lower negotiated (consolidator) fares
  • more flight options; travel agents/travel websites search all possible airlines, not just one
  • low fares available 24/7 given that an agency has a online booking system

Please send in your comments on how you find your best deals, and I shall be happy to share them with the rest of the world. Good luck!

Official Tibet Travel Guide – Must-See for Beginners (Part 1)

Climate of Tibet:

1. How’s the climate in Tibet? Is it hot in summer? Is it very cold in winter?

Tibet is in a high plateau, and it belongs to typical downy special climate. Climates are quite different in different areas of Tibet. The eastern Tibet which is at a lower elevation is warmer than western Tibet. In some mountain areas, there are four seasons at the same time in different altitude. The weather in a day varies greatly, too. The night is cold while the day is warm. It spans 12-15 degrees centigrade in a single day.

Climate in southeastern Tibet including Nyingchi and Chamdo is balmy with an average temperature of eight degrees centigrade; while in western Tibet (Shigatse and Nagqu) is quite cold with an average temperature below zero degree.

However in the central area of Tibet, the climate of Lhasa and Tsedang is more favorable for traveling. Travelers can visit these two areas all year around, not too hot in summer and not too cold in winter.

2. How is the road condition in rainy season in Tibet? Need I take any rainproof with me?

The rainy season in Tibet is mainly from June to August and it does have a very bad impact on the roads. However, there are many track maintenance workers and local army would also give help to restore the roads. Generally speaking, it only takes a few hours to make the roads feasible again. As for the rainproof, you are suggested to take raincoat, rain-proof trousers and shoes if you want to trek, climb the mountain or ride a bike. If you have group tours organized by some travel agencies, usually you don’t need to take rainproof with you, because Tibet often rains at night and the weather is quite good in the daytime. Besides, the tourist bus is always along with you.

3. What is the best time to travel to Tibet?

Generally speaking, early April is the beginning of travel season, which lasts to mid-June when a large number of Chinese travelers rush to Tibet for summer holiday. Late June to the end of National Holiday is the peak travel season when some important festivals held in Tibet, like Shoton Festival, Gyantse Dawa Festival and Nagqu horse riding Festival. After mid October, Tibet turns to winter and as the visitors reduce greatly, more than half of hotels are closed for the poor reservation.

As for the best time to travel, it depends on your travel requirement.

1. If you want an extremely cheap price, go to Tibet in winter, from December to next March. All the things are quite cheap; even the tourist sites offer 30-50% discount on entrance fee. Hotels are cheap, too. You can enjoy 5 star hotels with less than 100USD including breakfast. Compared with traveling in August, the cost of a winter tour is only 50%-60% of a summer tour. Because of the poor amount of visitors, the Potala Palace allows you to spend even a whole day in it. Besides, the monks are not busy and have spare time to chat with you.

2. If you like trekking, do it at May or September when the monsoon will never bother you and the weather is balmy and pleasant.

3. If you love Mt.Everest and want to see the clear face of it, try to avoid the rainfall season and foggy weather.

4. If you love to visit the grass land in north Tibet, do the tour in July when the flowers bloom in vast grassland and groups of yak and sheep, Tibetan nomad tents spread all over the grassland.

5. Those who want to drive to Tibet through Sichuan-Tibet highway should avoid the rainy season. There will be mudslides, cave-ins and mire on certain sections of the road, blocking the passage of vehicles.

About high altitude sickness

1. What is high altitude sickness? What’s the symptom of high altitude sickness?

High altitude sickness may occur at high altitudes (over 2700m) due to the decreasing availability of oxygen. It usually occurs following a rapid ascent and can usually be prevented by ascending slowly. Symptoms often manifest themselves six to ten hours after ascent and generally subside in one to two days, but they occasionally develop into the more serious conditions. Common symptoms of high altitude sickness include shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, stomach illness, dizziness, and sleep disturbance.

2. How to avoid or relieve high altitude sickness?

  1. Keep a good mood, don’t be too excited or be too worried about high altitude sickness. Before visiting Tibet, get as healthy as possible, both physically and psychologically.
  2. Take care of yourself and avoid catching cold before going to Tibet, and not to take shower at the first two days after you are in Lhasa to avoid being cold, or you will easily suffer from altitude sickness under weak physical condition.
  3. Do not drink any alcohol on the first two days when you are in Tibet. Drink plenty of water and eat light, high-carbohydrate meals for more energy.
  4. Do not run, jump or do some taxing jobs at the first two days. Being peaceful and having a good rest are important.
  5. Once you have the symptoms of altitude sickness, take some medicine (it is said that it’s helpful to have some butter tea if you can adapt to the flavor of it) and don’t go higher. Medication and oxygen also help to prevent altitude sickness. Mild altitude sickness symptoms can be treated with proper medication. If medication and oxygen do not relieve the symptoms, go to hospital or evacuate immediately to a safe altitude!
  6. Oxygen can help you relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness, but do not use it too often in Lhasa while your symptoms of altitude sickness are not serious. If you feel chilly or feel very uncomfortable, you should go to the nearest hospital available in the area.
  7. In addition to the normal medications for traveling it is advisable to bring high altitude medication. Seek suggestions from your doctor.
  8. Tell your tour guide quickly if you don’t feel well and follow the guide’s advice.

3. What should I do if I have high altitude sickness after arriving in Tibet?

There are hospitals in many large cities in Tibet. You may adapt to mild high altitude sickness by yourself slowly and you may go to hospital if it is serious. After you have already had high altitude sickness, you should rest well, do not move too much, keep eating, drink some water with black sugar or take some medicine. If the high altitude sickness is pretty severe, you should go to hospital, or descend to some lower places, or leave Lhasa immediately. High altitude sickness shall disappear after you descend to certain altitude and it has no sequel symptoms.

4. Is high altitude sickness more serious if going to Tibet by plane than by train?

Exactly, but both means have their advantages and disadvantages. You are more likely to have high altitude sickness because you don’t have enough time to adapt to the plateau environment gradually if you go by plane. The altitude change is directly from several hundreds meters to more than 3000 meters. While, if you go to Tibet by train, you can adapt your body to the high plateau environment slowly and gradually. Then, you may relieve or avoid high altitude sickness.

5. People with what kind of diseases can not go to Tibet? Do I need physical practice before traveling to Tibet?

People with the following diseases can not travel to Tibet:

  • People with all kinds of organic heart diseases, severe arrhythmia or resting heart rate over 100per minute, high blood pressure II or above, all kinds of blood diseases and cranial vascular diseases.
  • People with chronic respiratory system diseases, medium degree of obstructive pulmonary diseases or above, such as bronchus expansion, emphysema and so on.
  • People with diabetes mellitus which is not controlled properly, hysteria, epilepsia and schizophrenia.
  • People with bad cold, upper respiratory tract infections, and body temperature above 38F or below 38F while the whole body and the respiratory system have obvious symptoms, are not recommended to travel to Tibet until they’re OK.
  • People who were diagnosed to have high altitude pulmonary edema, high altitude cerebral edema, high altitude hypertension with obvious increase of blood pressure, high altitude heart diseases and high altitude polycythemia.
  • High risk pregnant women.

If you are not sure about your body condition, you may have a physical examination. But you are not supposed to do more exercise before going to Tibet, for exercising will give more burdens to your heart and you’ll need more oxygen, which may easily cause high altitude sickness.

6. Why can not people with cold go to Tibet? What should I do if I catch a cold in Tibet?

Your immune system shall be weak if you catch a cold and you may suffer high altitude sickness easily because of it. Besides, severe cold may easily turn to some more serious high altitude diseases, especially pulmonary edema, which is very dangerous. So you are not supposed to travel to Tibet before you get rid of a cold.

While, if you catch a cold in Tibet, things might not be so serious, because your body has already, to some extent, adapt to the plateau environment and you can go to a doctor and take some medicine

Permits & certificates

1. Are there any limitations or restrictions imposed on foreigners to travel to Tibet? How about overseas Chinese, Taiwan Compatriots and Hong Kong and Macao compatriots? How to handle it and how long does it take?

There are some special requirements for foreign travelers to Tibet. Firstly, foreign tourists to Tibet must be organized by travel agencies, with confirmed routes. Secondly, a Tibet Travel Permit issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau is indispensable. The Tibet Travel Permit must be obtained before they head to Tibet. What’s more, foreigners are not allowed to travel alone in Tibet by their own, even with the travel permit. They must be accompanied by a licensed tour guide. Tibet travel permit is also required from overseas Chinese and Taiwan Compatriots, while Hong Kong and Macao compatriots can travel to Tibet like other Chinese citizen with valid Home Return Permit. Foreigners, overseas Chinese and Taiwan compatriots can apply for Tibet travel permit from Tibet tourism bureau or certain qualified travel agencies with valid passport (copies), visa (copies) and job certificate. Usually, it can be obtained in one week and 2 to 3 days if you are in urgent need.

2. What is Tibet Entry Permit? How to get a Tibet Entry Permit and what documents are required to get it?

Tibet Entry Permit, also known as Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) Permit or Tibet Visa, is the basic document for foreign travelers to enter into Tibet. No foreign visitor can visit Tibet without holding the Tibet Entry Permit in their hands. Foreign tourists are required to show both their Chinese Visa and Tibet Entry Permit when they change for the boarding passes of flying to Tibet or board trains to Tibet.

Tibet Entry Permit is officially issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau, in purpose of restricting the numbers of foreign visitors. With this permit, foreigner tourists can travel in Lhasa region including Lhasa city, Yamdrok Lake, Ganden, Tsurphu, Namtso, Drigung Til and Reting.

Tibet Entry Permit is not available for independent travelers. Foreign travelers have to travel in tour group and ask legitimate travel agency to apply Tibet tour for you.

Documents required:

You can get Tibet entry permit (TTB permit) by sending certain qualified travel agency the first page of your valid passport and a copy of your Chinese visa by fax or by email, and state clearly your occupations (Foreign journalists and diplomats are not allowed to go to Tibet as a tourist). If you are Taiwan Compatriots, send us the copies of your MTP-Mainland Travel Permits or called Taiwan Compatriot Entry Permit/travel document (commonly known as “Tai Bao Zheng”), and tell us your occupations.

If you are the citizens of Hong Kong and Macau SAR, China Re-entry Permit for Hong Kong & Macau Compatriots is enough to travel in Tibet. You are not required to apply for the Tibet Permit.

Pay attention: If you are planning to travel to places officially closed to foreigners in Tibet, an Alien’s Travel Permit is required.

3. What is Alien’s Travel Permit?

Except Tibet Entry Permit, an Alien’s Travel Permit is required if you are planning to travel to places officially closed to foreigners in Tibet, such as Mt. Everest, Rongbuk Monastery, Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasorovar. Alien’s Travel Permit is not needed for places in Lhasa region, towns of Shigatse and Tsetang, or nonstop travel on Friendship Highway.

Alliens’ Travel Permit is required to visit ‘unopened’ areas. Which is issued by the police (Public Security Bureau, “PSB”). Usually you can apply for it once you arrive at Lhasa. For tour groups, our guide will ask you for the passport and TTB permit and submit it to the Foreign Affairs Section of PSB for the Travel Permit. It normally takes several hours and the cost is 50 CNY/person. If you are an individual traveler, you need to join local tours to ‘unopen’ areas, and the local travel agencies will arrange the PSB for you as well. Pay attention, there is no travel agency can provide ‘PSB permit-only’ service.

Notice: If you want to do a Tibet overland tour from Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai or Xinjiang province to Tibet, you must got the PSB permit before your tour starts.

4. Which parts of Tibet are listed as the closed areas?

At present, you have to apply for a Travel Permit if you are planning to visit the following places:Tsedang: Samye Monastery, Tomb of Tibetan King, Trundruk Monastery, YumbulakhangShigatse: Sakya Monastery, Mt. Everest, Rongbuk MonasteryGyangtse: Pelkor Chode Monastery & Kubum StupaNgari Region: Mt. Kailash, Lake Manasarovar, Tsaparang, Years, etc. Nyingchi Region: Basum-tso, Pomi, Rawo-tso, etc.Chamdo Region: Chamdo, Riwoche, Tengchen, etc.

5. Are there any other certificates and permits may be required in Tibet?

Except Tibet Entry Permit, Alien’s Travel Permit, there are Military Permit, Foreign-affairs permit and other permits which may be required when traveling in Tibet.

Sensitive border are as such as Mt Kailash and eastern Tibet also require a military permit and a foreign-affairs permit. For Tholing and Tsaparang in western Tibet you will also need a permit from the local Cultural Antiquities Department. All these will be arranged by our travel agency one month before you enter Tibet. The Military Permit is issued by troop while the Foreign-affair’s permit is issued by Foreign affairs office in Lhasa. It normally takes 10-15 working days to get them all.

6. How to deal with the visa from Tibet to Nepal? Can I apply for Nepal visa in Lhasa? Is it fast? Shall I be denied?

Nepal has two embassies in China: one is in Beijing and the other is in Lhasa. It is easier and more convenient to handle the Nepal visa in Lhasa as long as you conform to the certain procedures. And there are seldom any cases of denial. But the visa officers don’t work at regular time, so you are recommended to stay several more days in Lhasa to apply for Nepal visa and it is more secured if you handle the visa first after you arrive in Lhasa. The general consulate of Nepal is in Lhasa, near the Norbulinka Park. Normally you can get the visa in the afternoon of the next working day if you submit the application and necessary documents in the morning of the first day. The time to submit document is from 10am to 12am, Monday to Friday. So, you need plan a couple of days in Lhasa to wait the visa. The time to get visa is usually at 4pm, once you get the visa, you can fly to Kathmandu or set out to Zhangmu border by cars or by bus.

To apply for Nepal visa in Lhasa, you need prepare the original passport, 2 passport size copies and complete a form. Your passport must be valid at least for the next 6 months. There are three kinds of visas according to period you plan to stay in Neal, the 15 days, 30 days and the 3 months. If you are going to stay more than 15 days in Nepal, it is better to get the visa in Lhasa, as the border office issued 15 days visa only and it is relatively expensive to extend the visa in Kathmandu or Gorkaha.

You can also get Nepal visa at the border. Not far away from the Friendship Bridge, you can get the arrival visa of 15 days stay at the border office with 25 USD. You need prepare a passport size photo and complete a form as well.

What to Pack:

1. What drugs to take when traveling to Tibet?

In the first few days after arrival in Tibet, you may experience some degree of altitude reaction. Colds, insomnia and digestive disorders are common. Take an adequate supply of any prescription medication you use regularly, including medicine for cold, headache, stomachache, and insect bite, diarrhea and so on, like the Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Antibiotics, throat lozenges, nasal decongestant and vitamins etc. Most over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin and anti-diarrheal pills, are available in Lhasa, but are more difficult to obtain outside of urban areas. It is advisable to take anti-altitude sickness drugs to cope with oxygen deficiency. Bring diamox pills which are believed to be able to prevent the altitude sickness effectively. Please consult your doctor prior to your travel to Tibet.

2. What food to take when traveling to Tibet?You may take some chocolate, dried beef, hot pickled mustard tuber, biscuit and other food and snacks you like. You’d better take food with high calorie. You may also take some gum with you, which may help relieve the symptom of syrigmus and headache. When traveling to remote areas of Tibet it is a good idea to pack some food, snacks, and drinking water. It is not always easy to find food or drinkable water in these areas. Water purification equipment, such as hand pump filters, is not necessary, as bottled mineral water and thermoses of boiled water are available everywhere throughout Tibet. Water purification tablets can be useful during trekking. It is a good idea to take a good quality multivitamin to supplement your diet since a supply of vegetables and fruits may not be readily available.

3. The necessary commodities you should take when traveling to Tibet Necessities: sunglasses, hat, sun cream, skin cream, lipstick, long sleeve clothes, sweaters, Passport, visa, money, credit card, camera, film, batteries, toiletries, cosmetics, knife, watch, day bag-pack, big travel bags (soft luggage), water bottle, journal, reading book, writing materials, binoculars, family pictures and snack foods.

4. What kind of clothes and shoes should be taken when traveling to Tibet?

Clothes

The temperatures change greatly on the altiplano. In the north part of Tibet, people wear thick coats all year round (including July and August which are the hottest months in most of the areas in China). The highest temperature is 4-5 degrees centigrade in northern Tibet. It also snows in July and August.

The temperature difference in a single day is big. In Lhasa, the temperature in July arrives at 30 degrees centigrade at daytime, but falls to 10 degrees centigrade at night. Sometimes it will snow or sleet at night, so you’d better take some down garments (those with hats will better), woolen sweaters, warm gloves, warm and wind-proof shoes and socks. Wearing several layers of clothing that can be easily added or removed is the wise choice since temperatures may vary greatly within a single day.

Most hotels in Tibet have no central heating. The air-conditioners in single rooms do not work well in the cold night. In winter, from November to next March, of course you need bring down jackets, warm sweaters, gloves, warm pants, woolen hats. It is very cold in the morning and evening. In summer, wearing a T-shirt in day time but the Jacket is necessary at hotel in the morning and evening.

During the peak tourism season, April, May, September and October, you need to prepare T-shirts, overcoats and jeans, warm sweaters. Besides, frequent rainfall in this season makes waterproof clothing and raingear absolute necessities.

Even in summer, a down coat is necessary for those who are traveling beyond Lhasa and Shigatse into more remote areas such as the Everest Camp. A windbreaker plus a sweater will work nicely for strolling around Lhasa in summer.

Other essentials to pack include four or five pairs of cotton or woolen underwear, four or five pairs of woolen socks, long sleeve cotton or lightweight wool shirts and T-shirts. Women should avoid skirts or dresses.

Also, whenever you visit Tibet, if your plan includes overnight at Everest Base Camp or Namtso Lake, or a several days outdoor trek in mountain area, to keep warm is very important. The winter clothes are a must. However, you do not need to worry too much about clothing, you can buy any kind of clothes you need in Lhasa and clothes is quite cheap.

Shoes

It is very important to have a strong comfortable pair of boots, especially your travel covers remote area and you have to walk for a long distance. For example, if your travel reaches Everest Base Camp, you need to cover 8 km from Rongpuk Monastery to EBC and back. Lightweight boots are fine, but Tibet can be wet and we will do extensive walking, so make sure your shoes fit well and are suitable for cold and puddles. You should also have a pair of comfortable and tough sandals.

5. What certificates and documents should I take with me when I travel to Tibet?

Of course you should take your passport, China visa and Tibet travel permit with you. Or you won’t be allowed not even to get on the plane or the train.

There are overall four documents required for foreign tourists who want to travel freely in Tibet:

Chinese Visa – you can apply for in Chinese Embassy in your country;

Tibet Entry Permit – It is issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau and is a must for foreigners entering Tibet;

Travel Permit: It is required when you are planning to travel to the closed areas in Tibet, and you can obtain it after you arrive in Tibet

Military Permit – you have to obtain if you are planning to travel to some military sensitive areas.

Paid to Travel? Can You Really Get Paid to Travel (or for Free?)

Traveling… ahh yes, doesn’t EVERYONE LOVE TO TRAVEL? Well, I know, I know… the pains of connecting flights, delays, cancellations, dragging luggage a mile across terminals… the hassle of renting cars, fighting traffic in a foreign country (and figuring out which side of the road to drive) and trying to figure out what the guy is telling you when all’s you asked was “where is the bathroom?”… Aside from all of that, is it not the greatest feeling when you can step away from the normal routine, take a few deep breaths and realize you have nothing to do but sit on the beach… your hardest decision is if you’re going to have steak or lobster that night… and your biggest worry is if you have enough sun screen? That’s what traveling is all about… when it transposes us from our everyday lives and places us in a completely new culture… seeing, breathing, eating and dancing to what people 10,000 miles away from you are doing and thinking to yourself “this is the kind of stuff you see on TV”. That’s when it’s all worth it… that’s why traveling is so amazing.

But, one of – if not “THE” – biggest obstacles in traveling is that little green piece (or many pieces) of paper called MONEY. Whether you’re trying to visit a friend in Dallas or take your wife to Bora-Bora, it all costs Money-and a lot of it. The days of those Southwest “$49.00” fares are long gone and even the little weekend getaways whack a dent in your pocket book. There are definitely ways to shave off a few dollars here and there, but no matter how you slice it, traveling is expensive. Not everyone has a cush, 6 or 7 figure salary that allows them to take off 6 day weekends or weeks at a time to party in Ibiza. So, is there really a way to travel-and I mean really travel-and either get paid or travel for “free”??

The travel industry is an $8 TRILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY. Yes, you read that right… that’s Trillion with a capital “T”. So, other than the hotels, airlines and luggage manufacturers, how can you get involved?

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can earn a living, traveling across the world:

Flight Attendant: This is actually a great way to visit a LOT of places-FAST. The average flight attendant makes $37,000.00 a year, with the higher level salaries hovering in the $75,000.00-$90,000.00 range. It’s definitely an advantage if you know more than one (1) language. Flight attendants receive a daily per Diem for meals, along with flexible work schedules, discounts on flights, hotels and travel expenses for vacation. The downside is that when you are working, the flight schedule can be grueling-traveling to multiple cities in a 12, 18 or 24 hour time frame. When you finally stop to rest, the urge to go sight-seeing or check out the city, is traded out with the simple need to sleep in a bed. Oh yea, I forgot to mention… have you ever NOT seen a few angry, annoyed or upset people on your plane? Yep, be prepared to deal with those rude customers during your 12-24 hour shift!

Commercial Airline Pilot: Same deal with flight attendants, in terms of work schedule, but the pay is much better-depending on the size of the jet and company, you can be making $121,000.00 a year. If you want to go to flight school, pass your minimum 250 hours of flight experience, go for it! Just make sure you have perfect vision and hearing. Again, if you want to make this a career, you will visit cities all over the country (and the world), but be prepared to deal with thousands of customers, weather and equipment problems, grueling schedules and the stress that comes along with the responsibility of flying so many people to different places.

Travel Agent: As you may already know, travel agents know all about the best places to visit. They are the middle men between the hotels, airlines, tourism bureaus and the travelers. More than likely, they have an opportunity to visit some of these places so they can see everything for themselves-that’s a pretty sweet perk, eh? Typical salaries are anywhere from $25,000.00 to $35,000.00 and most likely be required to enroll in some sort of training, typically with the Travel Institute.

Freelance Writer or Photographer: What a cool job this would be… traveling all over the world… spending your time with various cultures, observing how the people communicate, eat, sleep and worship. You truly are “free”, relaying what you see and experience to the people sitting on their couch, thousands of miles away. Only catch… well, it’s that one thing we talked about a little earlier: MONEY. Obviously, you are not going to get paid before you get to these places, so be sure to plan this out a little bit, stock up some green in your checking account and pick up some pointers on how to express yourself with the pen & paper or with the camera. Try to develop some sort of “following” so you have a good base of people reading and viewing your content. Do not try to fly to India with a thousand bucks and an iPad, expecting to start a travel blog that generates cash, allowing you to wander the world for the next few years. You might as well go to your nearest casino and play blackjack. If you can pull of this occupation (and to those that currently do this), I tip my hat to you-great work!

Okay, now that we have gone over a few of the travel “jobs”, you may be saying, “well, I like my job right now and don’t really feel like dealing with all of those people and flying across the country 6 times, only to sleep in Des Moines for the night.” If you’re in between jobs, just out of school or simply want to take a “sabbatical”, why don’t you consider these routes in traveling the world:

You Speak English?: Speaking English can provide access to countries in all places across the globe. Some companies offer free room & board in exchange for you to help their employees enhance their English speaking skills and knowledge. There are also programs you can find on the web that well set you up with a certain country and company in order to train their people English. Now that you have your room & board covered, now we just need to figure out how we can pay for food and drink…

Start Giving Back: Feeling charitable or want to help others? Why not look to jump on a church mission trip, Habitat for Humanity-International, or if you can take off more time, join the Peace Corps? Obviously, this is not going to be as glamorous as sailing the Mediterranean, island hoping the Greek Isles, but if you want to feel good about helping out people less fortunate-and work hard-pack your bags and sign up for a volunteer opportunity. You will definitely see some places without paved roads, running water and people simply looking for a roof over their head. Giving the less fortunate the simple things we take for granted: food, clothing and shelter, will give you new sense of gratitude, after completing one of these tours.

All of these ways to travel are great and all, but how many people have the opportunity to take off extended amounts of time or have the nerve to just walk away from their job and become a commercial pilot or join the Peace Corps? Everyone has a job because it pays the bills and gives us financial security. I don’t know about you, but I am responsible for my wife and three(3) children, thus taking the plunge on the “unknown” is absolutely NOT realistic.

So, back to the original question above… How can you realistically travel for free? And when I say, “travel”, I mean, really travel… That means taking a care-free vacation… not having to worry about if you can afford to leave the resort for dinner that night, or buy those extra pair of sunglasses… Care-free travel means doing what you want, when you want and not worrying about the bill when you get back home. Let’s break down a few ways in which we really can travel for free (or as close to it as we can get)… or even better: GET PAID TO TRAVEL!

Use Those Points!: You know, I always knew I was going to be thankful for all that money I spent on my credit card. Now that I racked up all that debt, I also racked up all those points! Points I can use towards booking a new flight or maybe pay for my stay at the Bellagio in Vegas… where I can blow even more money!… I’m kidding!… kind of. Whenever you are looking to obtain a new credit card, choose the card that offers the most, when used. Compare the interest rate for charges and cash advances, the annual fees and also the credit card that provides the best rewards. If you fly a certain airline, be sure to input your frequent flyer number to gather those miles. Use travel sites that allow you to accrue points when you purchase flights, hotels, cruises and rental cars. You’re paying for this stuff anyways, so why not try and earn a little more for the next time you want to take a trip?

Vacation Packages through a Resort or Company: Very similar to a travel agent, only you are selling pre-packaged vacations at a discount to consumers. Instead of creating a customized travel package based on what and where the customer likes, you are selling a pre-packaged stay at a specific resort or hotel/resort/meal itinerary. They come in all shapes and sizes… and they can be dirt cheap (think: hotel next to Senor Frogs-Cancun during Spring Break), or the Rolls Royce type of trip. Depending on the type of company or resort, there are many perks with the access to all of their locations, with commission schedules pretty generous. There are limitations on the demographic of the clientele and if you are representative a company or resort with mediocre selections-and reviews-then it may put you in a rock in a hard place.

Direct Selling with a Travel Company: With this, you really do have the opportunity for the best of both worlds-traveling the world on the cheap (or in some cases, for FREE!) and making money. Typically, people that get involved in this industry already have a full time job and are looking for a better, cheaper way to travel and an additional source of income. It can be extremely lucrative, in terms of creating wealth and a residual income, but a lot of the members simply take advantage of the fact they can generate a few extra dollars every month and access to the premium resorts at wholesale pricing. The direct-sell companies in the travel industry offer 5 star packaged vacations at 2 Star pricing, as well as access to their trip planning website that works like an Expedia or Travelocity. Also, confirm there are ways you can accrue points, when you buy flights, vacations, or even their travel mall, so you can use those points for a free trip. Bottom line: do your research… choose a company that has a great reputation and make sure you have a good support system… thousands of people are catching on to these companies and are really capitalizing on the residual income and extremely low cost of travel.

As you can see, traveling for “free” is really only for professional poker players and the kids with enormous trust funds. You are going to have to work one way or another-whether it’s building up a stockpile of cash and funding an overseas trip or jumping into a new occupation on a plane or abroad. There are multiple ways you can get paid to travel, as well as minimizing your travel costs through various companies and resources… it’s all a matter of preference on what you want to do and how much time you have. Traveling can be a life changing experience or simply a much needed time-out from our crazy lives. Whatever you choose, just make sure to not take it too seriously and enjoy yourself!

Accessible Adventures: Traveling With Special Needs

There is a world of travel possibilities for people with special needs! Where do you want to go? What do you want to experience? With a bit of careful planning and the asking some important questions, individuals with disabilities can find accessible travel options for many exciting destinations worldwide.

If vacation or business travel has been a daunting idea to you or to your family, be encouraged that there many places to explore where special needs can be easily accommodated with your comfort and convenience in mind.

You Have Places to Go & Things to Do

Family Vacations – Travel options abound for families with special needs children. Ranging from amusement and theme parks designed for a number of disabilities or camps that offer programs and accommodations for a broad spectrum of special needs, there are exciting possibilities for making fun family memories! Vacations to Disney World, National Parks, museums, and the like can also be accessible for those with disabilities through the utilization of things like travel wheelchairs, access guides, and travel agents that specialize in travel with disabilities.

Travel Planning for Special Needs – there are a number of companies that specialize in creating group tours, cruises, and individual wheelchair travel options. These companies develop itineraries and travel arrangements that facilitate special needs accessibility. Their travel agents assist in making arrangements and providing the appropriate resources to make your experience an enjoyable and memorable one.

Travel Resources for Special Needs

Travel Agencies & Tour Groups – A number of travel agencies and tour groups that specialize in travel arrangements for people with disabilities have developed over the years. Theses agencies and groups provide assistance in planning and executing vacations for people with a broad range of special needs.

Travel Companions – Whether you require assistance from a companion to manage daily activities or simply want someone to travel with, there are companies that can offer these services. Be sure to search for companions from reputable companies or with credible references.

Accessibility Guides – There are a number of publications, websites, & blogs available to assist with your travel planning. These guides outline destinations, accommodations, transportation, and other resources for traveling with disabilities.

Travel Wheelchairs – The right travel chair can make any trip less stressful and much more comfortable. There are travel wheelchairs that are especially designed for making travel feasible and safe. Look for chairs that are comfortable and durable, but also lightweight, compact or collapsible, and easy to maneuver.

Online Resources:

Disability Travel and Recreation Resources

Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality

Travelconsumer

DisabledTravelers

Additional Travel Tips

Airplane Travel – Travel by airplane can be a bit intimidating for some travelers, especially if you must travel with a wheelchair or have mobility restrictions. Airlines are required to provide reasonable accommodation for individuals with special needs, but that does not mean you should leave your travel comfort in the airline’s hands. A little extra planning on your part can make for a much more enjoyable airport and flying experience.

  • Plan to arrive two to three hours prior to a domestic flight or up to four hours prior to an international flight to ensure enough time to get through security and make your way to the gate.
  • If you experience discomfort after sitting for extended periods of time, strongly consider selecting destinations where travel times are limited. You should also consider if limited mobility is an issue, restroom use on the plane may be difficult. Some airlines provide small chairs to transport guests to the restroom, but if this is not an option, it would be wise to limit your time in the air.
  • It may be a bit more expensive to secure non-stop flights for your trip, but limiting connections can reduce the stress of navigating multiple airports in a restricted time period.
  • Research the airline and plane ahead of time. Can the plane size accommodate a wheelchair in the cabin? Can you reserve an aisle seat?
  • Individuals in wheelchairs or scooters are subject to thorough searches at the security checkpoints. While it may be a bit uncomfortable and tedious, these searches are to ensure the safety of all passengers.
  • If you require medication or have mobility restrictions, it can be helpful to secure a letter from your doctor to make the transition through security a little easier.

Hotel Accommodations – While most commercial establishments are required to provide handicap accessibility, there are a few things to consider for ensuring a successful hotel stay during your travels. Make your hotel reservations over the phone if possible. If applicable, ask about whether the doors to the rooms are wide enough for a wheelchair and that the restrooms and showers in the room are handicap accessible. Be sure to get a confirmation number for your reservation. For convenience, it is often good to request a room on the ground floor or be sure to verify that an elevator is available.

What to Pack for Travelling

This is what I consider to be essential items for any traveler/backpacker. These are items which I have used in my past travels, and have served me well.

Backpack

The first most obvious thing for any traveler to decide on is whether to use a backpack or a suitcase. During my first solo travel experience to Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan, I traveled with a backpack. For under 50 I bought a Eurohike 55 litre backpack with a rain cover, which came in handy during the monsoon season! The pack was top-opening, and didn’t really offer much by way of security. I therefore bought a special backpack transit case which I put my backpack into and made it secure from theft, but also made it secure from airport conveyor belts. I had heard that the conveyors in airports sometimes broke clips from backpacks if they were not properly secured, and that some airlines didn’t even want to have backpacks on their airplanes because they were a safety threat. I actually lost the backpack case during the course of my travels, and had to resort to wrapping my backpack in black bin bags and tape in order to prevent the clips from catching airport conveyors. The backpack was comfortable, with some very nice cushioned padding. However, I realized as my trip went on that the pack was a little too large. I had read on many different websites that the smaller and lighter your pack, the more comfortable your trip will be. This is so true. It is not just about how light the pack is for you to carry, but also practical reasons like traveling on packed trains and subways with a giant wardrobe on your back. The backpack was incredibly annoying whilst traveling on busy subways, as I didn’t know if, and how badly, I was bumping into people – but I am sure that I definitely was! However, it was great to have my hands free when I needed to pay for tickets and also carry bags and water bottles.

Suitcase

On my second trip to Japan, I decided to ditch the backpack and travel with a medium sized suitcase. I was traveling for 3 weeks, and had planned to move around the country quite a bit. I was worried about the condition of the suitcase’s wheels by the end of the trip, but altogether I preferred the comfort of a nice suitcase. The suitcase takes up the use of your arms, but it does relieve your back. I found time and again that my backpack was becoming too heavy and cumbersome for longer walks; a suitcase, meanwhile, makes walking a pleasure. Trying to find your hotel in the humid and busy conditions of Bangkok with your gigantic backpack is not a pleasant experience. Though, going up stairs is a pain with a suitcase, but with a backpack it is a breeze. This may be important to you as it is best to travel around a Japanese city (and many other Asian cities) via the subway system, and sometimes they have enormous staircases leading to the platforms. The final clincher is that a suitcase makes you look more businesslike and professional; a backpack makes you easily identifiable as a traveler or tourist, and makes you stand out far more. If I entered a nice hotel with my backpack, I wouldn’t be given the same service as if I travelled with a suitcase. I believe that backpackers have a bit of a bad name in some countries, as backpackers tend to be younger people who are more prone to loutish behavior due to letting of some steam after finishing university.

Daypack

You don’t want to take your suitcase or backpack with you on your daily walks or excursions, so you need a nice convenient daypack. I actually took a shoulder bag, as it looked more stylish than a small backpack. But be warned, a shoulder bag can give you some irritating neck and shoulder pains if you over pack it with large water bottles or souvenirs. In this instance, a nice mini backpack is better as it transfers the weight evenly on your back and shoulders.

Travel Insurance

I always take out travel insurance as you never know what could happen during your trip. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Medical help abroad could cost you thousands if you do not have the correct insurance, so always read the insurance policy properly. When I search for insurance I always turn to comparison sites, such as moneysupermarket. This way you can compare all the different companies offering insurance and their relative policies.

Skype

Skype is a free service which allows you to call anyone in the world (who also has a Skype account) for free. The service is completely free when using the Skype-to-Skype service, and the prices are competitive if you want to call mobile phones or landlines. You can use Skype on your iPod Touch, an actual Skype phone or on your laptop. If you are taking a laptop abroad, you can even use your webcam to make video calls, but if you are not taking a laptop, I found that many internet cafes in Asia had Skype already installed on their computers. Skype also allows you to send instant messages, play games and even transfer files. All in all, Skype is a great device which you should be make use of whilst traveling.

First Aid Box

I like to take a mini first aid box when I travel. The boxes come in some very nice convenient sizes with everything you could need for your trip. Items can include: plasters, antiseptic cream, insect repellent, and various tablets for common travel sicknesses.

Clothing

I will not speak at great lengths on clothing, as I believe this is a personal choice and dependent on different people’s needs. However, I will say that you should always pack light, and think about whether you will ACTUALLY need an item of clothing. Sometimes, I have fallen into the trap of packing far too much clothing ‘just in case’. Whilst traveling in Asia you can always pick up cheap clothing, so there is no need to over pack. The minimum I would take for a month traveling is: 3-4 t-shirts, 2 shirts, trousers, two shorts, swimming shorts, 2 pairs of socks, trainers/sneakers (I would buy some that look formal but are as comfortable as trainers).

Travel Washing Line

I take a small washing line on my trips in case there is not enough places to dry my clothes. If you are packing light, you can just wash your clothes more often, and you will sometimes need a washing line for extra space.

Travel Sink Plug

I used this occasionally when I stayed in hostels. In some budget accommodation you will not have a sink plug, which makes shaving difficult. The travel plug is therefore recommended if you are considering staying in budget accommodation. Also, even some higher grade hotels have faulty plugs in their bathrooms, so it is generally a good item to take.

Toiletries

As a dandy backpacker I have a vast array of toiletries. My toiletry bag consists of: shavers, moisturizers, sun cream, nail clippers, eyebrow tweezers, aftershaves (which I tend to buy from airport duty free), lip balm, deodorant and more!

Rain Mac

If you are traveling anywhere that has a monsoon season then a rain mac is a great idea. Monsoon rain is awesome, and can just take you by surprise and leave you drenched. A little rain mac can be scrunched up into a very small size and can easily be carried in your daypack.

Swiss Army Knife

I sometimes take this on my travels as it has various useful devices: a bottle opener, scissors, toothpick, tweezers, screwdriver heads and numerous knives of varying shape and sizes.

Travel Towels

I recommend taking a large travel towel. These can be folded into an incredibly small size and take very little space in your luggage. They also dry quicker than ordinary towels.

Camera

I really don’t know much about cameras but I definitely know that you will need one on your journey. It’s a way of recording experiences that are not possible in any other way. I just bought an 8 megapixel camera in Bangkok – it has served me well.

Batteries

You will need these for your camera, so make sure you take enough spares from your own country, which tend to be cheaper than whilst abroad.

Mobile Phone

A mobile phone is now a necessary gadget in all parts of life, and is very important during your travels. It is a great device to keep in touch with other travelers, but is also a safety device if you become lost or in danger. Remember to take you charger though, or it will become useless after a few days.

Backup Sim Card

Just in case you lose the first Sim card you can just take another Sim, which are usually free.

Backup Debit/Credit Card

I would take a backup card just in case I lost my main card. If I lost my main card I could just cancel it and then transfer the money from my main account into my backup account via internet banking.

Pens and Paper

You will occasionally need to write things down, such as directions or contacts, and a pen and paper would be very helpful. I would always travel with a mini pen and small notepad in my daypack so that it was easy to get to. You can always use your mobile phone or iPod Touch for this as well.

Travel Adaptors

Travel adapters are necessary if you want to charge your iPod or mobile phone. Once you know where you are going, you can find out what converter plug you will need. It will save you having to search around in your destination country. Some plugs are all-rounders and cover everywhere.

iPod Touch

My iPod Touch has been irreplaceable during my travels. Not only is it great for watching movies, listening to music and playing games whilst waiting for your flight or on long train journeys, it also has practical uses. By downloading free applications via its Wi-Fi capabilities you can turn your iPod Touch into a hotel or hostel finder, a currency exchange service, a travel guide and much more. I also bought a special, and inexpensive, earphone and microphone set for my Touch, which allowed me to use Skype wherever I had free Wi-Fi. Actually you can find free Wi-Fi everywhere in Southeast Asia: McDonald’s, Starbucks, shopping malls, hotels and even airports. However, I surprisingly found that Wi-Fi access is not so easily found in Korea or Japan, and tends not to be free if it is offered.

iPad

I don’t actually own one of these but they just seem to be a large iPod Touch. All the convenience of the iPod Touch being a nice pocket device which is easy to take everywhere is lost on this device. But maybe I am missing something about it.

Travel Guides

I love to read travel guides and always take them on my trips. My favorite guides have always been DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. I regularly use DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: Thailand, Japan and Rome to name a few. I found them incredibly helpful, but most importantly I loved the focus on culture and historical sites. The guides are wonderfully illustrated, easy to navigate, and the pictures and captions are beautifully presented. In addition, the historical sections are informative, well illustrated and a joy to read. I would also recommend Rough Guides and Lonely Planet, which I have also used in the past.

Money Belt

I originally bought one in order to hide my valuables, but then just used it to hold my bus/train tickets or small change so that it was easily at hand and I didn’t have to rummage though bags or my pockets. The money belt can be used as just a regular bum bag (fanny pack if you’re American) without valuable items and just left on display rather than inside your clothing. I just used it as an extra convenient pocket.

7 Best Online Travel Communities

True, Tripadvisor, Frommer’s and the Lonely Planet are some of the best online travel communities going, but they’re far from the only ones amongst the greats. So go on, expand your travel community horizons and check out our 7 Best Off The Radar Travel Communities:

1. Travelistic

From YouTube to Hulu to Yahoo, were a video obsessed bunch. Travelistic has cleverly taken this to head and created a travel community wholly centred around video.

Log on and you’ll find over 10,000 user submitted travel videos, to view, comment on and inspire your future travels. Want to visit the Great Wall? Journey to the top of Everest? You can do it all on Travelistic, without ever leaving home.

2. Igougo

A masterful all in one travel community, where you can plan your trip, compare flights and hotels and share your travel experiences with the world.

Just type in a destination and you’ll be instantly connected to a plethora of photos, reviews and users who have traveled or reside there. When you’re ready to go, create your very own trip journal and give back to the community by sharing your own travel experiences.

3. Trip It

Less of a travel community and more a travel service, Trip It is perfect for the organization nut in all of us. Just enter your flights, hotel stays and destinations and let trip it create an optimized travel itinerary for you in seconds. Never miss another plane or train again.

For those who truly want it all, upgrade to the pro version and Trip It will automatically alert you if there are changes or delays in your travel plans. That means less time at the airport, and more time at the beach.

4. Dopplr

Create a map with the dates and location of your travels; share it with the Dopplr community, check out other’s maps, then meet up with those whose travel plans overlap with your own. If you’d like to keep your location a secret from some (mom, dad, a raging x), don’t worry, you can control who can and can’t see where you are.

Along the way you’ll get a wealth of location specific travel information, so you’ll always know where to stay, where to eat, and what to do. Taking the thinking out of traveling, we like that.

5. Travbuddy

Travbuddy’s got all the ingredients that make for a killer online travel community; helpful forums, honest reviews, stunning travel photos and a dedicated membership 1.5 million strong.

Travbuddy ups the ante by giving you your very trip blog, allowing you to easily post your stories, pictures and reviews as you go. There’s even a built in mapping feature that builds a map of your travels as you venture across the earth.

Wherever, you’re headed, this is one buddy you don’t want to leave behind.

6.Travelers Point

Besides being a great place to plan, book and share your next trip, Travelers Point has hands down one of the best travel resources on the web; wiki travel guides.

These 100% user created and edited travel guides, give you the collective wisdom and travel experiences of over 250,000 members, right at your finger tips. From country and city guides, to travel health and safety information, you’ll find everything you need to get in the know, before you go.

7. Travel DODO

Travel DODO takes travel reviews and puts them into a fun, easily digestible format, Travel Do’s, and Travel Don’t.

Want to find out which restaurants, hotels and attractions are best avoided in France? Just click on the location on the interactive map, and you’ll be given a list of places to cross off your list (travel don’t), so you spend your valuable vacation time wiser.

Frankly, you’d be a DODO, not to check up here before you GOGO.

Computer Programming: Chapter: 02 – Know the Basics

In the previous article Computer Programming: Chapter: 01 – Introduction, I spoke about what is programming and ended it by saying that computers do not understand English or for that matter any language we humans speak. I said that computers only understand the language of 0’s and 1’s.

If you have used a computer for any purpose till now, you will not agree with me, since you have been using it mostly in English or any other language that you know. You would have watched movies, listened to songs, created documents, sent e-mails, browsed lot of sites and even you would have read my articles in one of the human readable languages. Also if you have written a program or even seen somebody doing it, you might have noticed that even they have not been using the language of 0’s and 1’s.

Even if you agree that there are people who knows this language of 0’s and 1’s, looking at the second important point I said that “The instructions should be PRECISE”, you might be wondering that it will be next to impossible to even write a simple computer program, if what I am saying is true.

Today, to use a computer you need not know how a computer works or what language does it speak? All you need to do is simply turn on a computer and when it is ready use the mouse and keyboard to point at some little graphical object on the screen, click a button, Swipe a finger or two in case of a touch screen device to get a computer to do what is required of it. An example would be what you need to read this article.

The reason computers are so easy to use today because of the hard work of some programmers who have programmed for it to behave in a certain way. And, here we are not trying to use a computer, but to learn how to program a computer. But the computer doesn’t know anything except 0’s & 1’s called binary language, and remember not all computers speak the same dialect. That is the reason a program on a desktop computer does not run on an iMac and vice versa.

Let me explain with an example of two blind people, where in the first person (let us call him as Person-A) knows only English and the other person (let us call him as Person-B) knows only Sanskrit. Person-A wants Person-B to draw a sketch? Now, how do you expect these two to communicate with each other, isn’t it difficult. Person-A can’t even show in writing since the Person-B being blind. The only way of communicating is through speech in a known language, and by giving precise instructions.

Now, the only way they both can communicate with each other is by having an interpreter. Now when the Person-A speaks in English, the interpreter then translates it into Sanskrit and repeats it to the Person-B. When the Person-B says something in Sanskrit, the interpreter again translates and repeats the sentence in English to the Person-A. Now with the help of interpreter, both are able to communicate very easily.

By using the interpreter solves our language problem. We still have another problem at our hand. That is Person-A is asking Person-B who is blind to draw a sketch. Though this is not something that is impossible, but it is difficult, unless you know how to instruct. Even if Person-A is able to now communicate, he should know the steps in a proper order and very precisely, otherwise he will get Person-B to draw something, but not what he would be expecting. Person-A should know every minute detail very precisely, since the Person-B is blind, he will just follow whatever Person-A instructs. If the Person-A asks him to draw a line of 1.23 cm, from a particular point with a certain degree, Person-B without even questioning anything just does that without even thinking about the outcome. If Person-A knows how to instruct precisely and exactly in the way it is required, then Person-B will draw what he wants in the way he wants.

If we get back to computer programs, and use the same approach as in the above example everything becomes very simple and easy. Replace Person-A with yourself and Person-B with the computer. Now the first thing you need is an interpreter and the second is you should know what you want and the precise steps that is required, so that you can get the work done.

To Read or Write a Binary code or program is unfortunately very difficult for humans. So we have to use some kind of program that can translate something we instruct in English into Binary language and vice versa. These programs which can translate our instructions in English into Binary code are surprisingly called as an interpreter.

Do these interpreters really understand English?

This will be the question that might be running in your mind now. The answer is Yes & No.

Yes, since we use English words programming languages, and No since computers are still not up to that level so as to understand what we speak be it in any language. This type of language is known as high level languages. By using the term languages, I am not referring to various languages such as English, French, etc., but I am referring to the high level languages that we use to write programs, which are then interpreted and converted into binary code so as to make the computers understand it. High Level languages are covered in more detail in the coming sections.

Learn Computer Programming – You Can Do It!

Almost anyone can learn to program. There are only a few requirements (like having access to a computer), and you don’t have to be a genius. (Well… it helps if you are a genius, I suppose, but you don’t HAVE to be one).

This article addresses some of the motivations you might have for wanting to learn to program computers, looks at some things to consider, and discusses a few different ways to start learning now!

What is it you want to do?

There are a lot of reasons for wanting to learn computer programming, and what you want to do with it can help guide you in choosing your path in learning. Perhaps you are interested in programming as a career. In that case you will want to make sure you are learning things that will make you attractive to those who hire programmers. On the other hand, you might just be looking for a fascinating hobby, and in that case you can let be a bit more casual about what you learn and focus only on things that interest you.

Maybe you need to automate various applications you use at work. For example, perhaps you want to automate a word processor to do mailing labels or a spreadsheet to do customized financial forecasting, or maybe you want to write computer games, or have a cool web site, or… the reasons are endless, just as the things you can do with a computer are.

The languages you learn will be influenced by these things, as well as the approach you will want to take as you begin to learn to do computer programming.

What resources do you have available?

Time, money, people who can help guide you, computers, books, programming clubs, classes, programming forums… these are all resources that will be handy as you are learning to program.

If you have a lot of time and money, a computer, and access to learning opportunities like college classes and developer group meetings, you will probably be able to learn at a rapid pace. If you can only spend an hour or so each day, and you don’t have your own computer, and you can only buy one or two books, you will have to adjust your expectations a bit. However, either way, or somewhere in-between, you will be able to learn to program.

What is the level of your motivation?

This is a very important consideration. This isn’t going to be easy. You are going to need to keep going even when things seem impossible and you can’t find the answers you need. It takes a fair amount of brain power, will power, and the ability to work things out. You will be well served if you can muster a “stick-it-out” kind of attitude.

One of the attractions of computer programming is that there is a lot of problem solving, and you will have to solve a lot of them both while you are learning as well as when you are using your skills to do useful things. It takes a lot of interest and dedication to stick with it long enough to get somewhere – if this still sounds good to you, you will probably do okay.

So, how to get started?

There are a lot of ways to go about getting started. You can get started today, regardless of how you are going to approach this over the long run. Here are a few tips on getting started quickly:

* Learn in baby steps – Start with something very easy, and add to it. There is no advantage to jumping in with both feet unless you have unlimited time and resources.

* The quickest way to start might be to use a language that comes with software you already have. For example, you can do a great deal of programming in Microsoft Word using Visual Basic for Applications. There are numerous commercial software applications that include a way to enhance them using programming or scripting languages.

* Here is another idea for getting started quickly: There are simple languages available with almost every operating system (Windows, Linux, Mac) for automating your repetitive tasks. For example, in Windows you can use VBScript. Again – a simple internet search will get you lots of information.

* Pick a more full featured language that is available free – To get started with the least expense and as quickly as possible, one approach is to download a programming environment for free on the internet. For example, you can download the Ruby language and everything you need to work with it for free. Another example is the Microsoft .NET Express languages (VB.NET or C# are good choices) – again, you can download everything you need for free from Microsoft. A little internet search on either “Ruby Language” or “Microsoft .NET Express” will get you all the info you need.

* Use the internet – You already know this or you wouldn’t be reading this article, but the internet is full of resources to help you learn to program. That makes sense, since the internet has been created and programmed by programmers. A lot of programmers are willing to share their knowledge through free tutorials, forums, tips sites, and articles. You will find links to a lot of good resources just by doing a simple search. One thing is certain, there is no shortage of information.

* Work with what you have, or what you can easily get – To get started quickly, my advice is to do something right away and keep doing something every day. Soon you will be better able to judge what areas are most interesting to you and best fit your needs, as well as where to get the information you need to keep progressing.

* Buy used books – Many of the book sellers on the internet now offer used books through a network of thousands of book re-sellers and private individuals. You can save a lot of money this way.

* Once you get started, write simple programs that help you automate something that is wasting your time. For example, if at the end of every day you make a backup of the files you worked on during the day by copying the files “by hand” to a cd, you could write a program that automatically searches your working folders and copies the files for you – without you having to do anything. The extra time you get from each little helper program you write is time you can use to learn more about programming.

* Find a computer programmers “user group” somewhere near you. Almost all larger cities have such groups that meet on a regular basis – usually monthly. Many of these meetings are free, and usually they provide presentations on “how-to” do various programming tasks. They often also have study groups and beginners sessions. Not all languages are represented in all cites – but anything is better than nothing, so it can be worthwhile to attend any meeting of this sort that you can find that is within a reasonable distance.

* Take a beginners course at a local community college or extended studies program. These classes are usually offered at a very reasonable cost, and will help you get started. I have found a number of these classes available on line – and if you are eligible for entry, it can be very convenient to take a course this way.

It’s time to get started

Programming can be fun, challenging, useful, and profitable. Not everyone has the nature or interest to become a full-time programmer, but almost anyone who can use a computer can learn to do something useful or fun with computer programming. If you think it is something you might enjoy, then I encourage you to give it a try and see what it’s all about. It is going to take time and dedication to become proficient, but it all starts with a single step. So now is the time.

Luxurious Home Furniture

Luxury in the way that you furnish your home

There is a school of thought that says that you should indulge in luxury regardless of whether you can afford it or not. The iconic piece of furniture in the form of the timeless black leather couch is one of the luxuries that you can bring to bear on your house. It is an item that will cost you a significant amount of money. At the same time it oozes class and sophistication. You should not get worried that it is up to you to manage the different elements that go into the creation of the different couches in the home that bring their own flavor to the decorative scheme in the living rooms. They are items that have been done to high specification.

One of the things that will trouble you is cost. You have to rationalize the expenditure that you are going to put on the products for the modern age that is used to improve the appearance of different living spaces within the constraints of the family budget. It might be enough to buy a small car. This might represent an indulgence that is going to set you back in terms of your financial planning. There has to be a reason for this purchase or spouse might query the decision. The first thing that you have to remember is the fact that you are getting good quality. This happens when you purchase the reviewed furniture items that are supposed to give the person a great outlook on the different product items that work in their favor. That justifies the costs when they come in.

It is also unlikely that you will have the need to buy similar items in the short term when you go for the new products that are used to improve the general stylistic qualities of a given living area. These are beautiful things that are expected to last the home for a significant period of time. In fact the owners are normally so proud of their purchase that they will take extra care to ensure that the item is well protected. This is what is expected and this is what should happen in normal circumstances. You get assurance and confidence when you purchase the Modern furniture center pieces that bring a touch of glamour to the living rooms of ordinary families. Even the people that visit your home will be impressed.

It is up to you to work out whether the efforts that you put into the glamorous furniture items that bring great joy to the home owners are worth it. Your family might feel that the money could be used in a different format but you are just holding on with some stubbornness. These are the risks that you are going to take and it is up to you to ensure that you have the right mix of ingredients to work them out. In short you would expect that your great furniture will make sense. If it does not then you will have wasted a good deal of money. That is something that you should avoid.

Taliesin West – Home Design in the Desert of Scottsdale

There are a number of reasons that Scottsdale, Arizona homes, land and real estate are so highly sought after by families. Here’s one: there’s so much to do, whether your lifestyle leans towards indoor luxuries or outdoor amenities.

For example, internationally renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright came to Scottsdale in 1937 and purchased what was then barren real estate. Designed as his personal winter home, studio and architectural campus, he built Taliesin West in the lush high Sonoran desert directly in the shadows of the McDowell Mountains in northeast Scottsdale.

Wright created a new form of architecture and established a legacy that still draws visitors from all over the world to Taliesin West, which is a living laboratory of Wright’s ideas. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has made many renovations to Taliesin West over the years, giving guests the opportunity to view Wright’s private home which has been restored inside and out to its original appearance.

Ranging from one to three hours, tours of Taliesin West are offered on a regular basis, allowing visitors to experience firsthand Wright’s heralded ability to integrate indoor and outdoor living spaces. Depending on the tour you select, you can visit the Cabaret Theater, Music Pavilion, Kiva and Frank Lloyd Wright’s office, all of which are linked by dramatic terraces, gardens and walkways overlooking the rugged desert and the valley below. Knowledgeable guides explain how the site relates to the surrounding desert real estate and provide a general overview of Wright’s philosophies and theories of design. Twilight tours are offered during select months, providing sightseers with the extraordinary opportunity to view Wright’s one-time home in a nighttime setting when the desert masonry structures, lighted from within, appear as sculptures.

According to the Scottsdale Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Wright’s vision and influence are seen throughout Scottsdale, including at one of Scottsdale’s premier resort properties, Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa. This luxurious resort enjoys a history filled with Hollywood celebrities as well as an architectural past linked to the Wright legacy. Representing the cosmopolitan side of Scottsdale with its clean lines and minimalist approach, the property was originally designed by architect Hiram Hudson Benedict, a protégée of Wright. What makes it even more unique is the fact that several stunning private homes are snuggled just steps away from the resort’s front doors.

Vernon Swaback, a former student of Wright’s, also has left an indelible mark on Scottsdale’s real estate landscape. He spent more than two decades studying and working at Taliesin West and over the years has been involved in the design of award-winning hotels, office buildings, recreational facilities and custom homes throughout the Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Phoenix metropolitan area.

DIY Travel Should Save You Money

Travelers or Travelers today, whether experienced or not, have unlimited choices, so why use a travel agent?

Savvy travelers or travelers, when in need of information relating to specific destinations or activities, seek out travel agents with knowledge, experience and expertise of those destinations and activities.

It is not always easy choosing a travel agent. Many agents are called specialists, but sometimes the qualification to be a specialist is a simple test run by a tourism office or tour operator. Sometimes, these tests do not require the agent to have ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt.’ Some of these tests are too simple and could harm the reputation of the travel industry if allowed to continue unchecked. A ‘specialist’ can mean, ‘I know the brochure product’ or ‘I have seen a training video’ or ‘I have taken a test given by a Tourism Office.’

If you find a specialist, ask about their expertise. Ask them if they or their colleagues have any direct knowledge, experience and expertise of where you want to go and what you want to do, after all, it is your hard-earned money.

Experts are out there. Find them locally or use the internet and then do your bookings with them. You may have to use different experts for different destinations and activities, just as you would select any other professional for accounting, legal, medical or mechanical matters, except in your lifetime you will probably (or hopefully) spend more on travel than all of the others put together.
Reality Check: “I once tried a major chain of travel centers to get 2 tickets to Mexico from Canada. I was only offered 2 airlines. I then used an internet search and came up with 5 airlines and made my bookings online. Perhaps the travel center did not earn commission or was not able to charge a fee for the booking or did not want an ‘air only’ booking or did they only offer their ‘preferred products’ which limits client choices?”

The Nomad

If you do not need an expert agent you can use the internet to find all kinds of global travel choices and then you can make your booking directly with an online agent or travel operator. If you decide to make your own bookings directly with the travel operator you should not have to pay the full retail price which has a built-in amount for commissions to be paid to sellers of their travel products. Retail agencies that have their own in-house tour products which are sold through other agencies should also be prepared to sell at a net price for a direct booking from a consumer.

It is only fair that agents and agencies earn commissions and fees from travel providers such as hotels, lodges, tours, cruises or mark up their own tour products to allow for a third-party sale. They all have overheads which have to be covered to give local consumers the convenience of local shopping and it is important to support your local businesses as long as they offer excellent pricing and service. At the same time, it is only fair that consumers who make their own bookings directly with travel operators should not have to incur this extra cost. Fair fare prices should be available for consumers who want to handle their own direct bookings.

If you are comfortable with dealing over the internet directly with the travel providers and you want to get fair fare prices you can check out a travel website that was launched in April 2008 that, for members only, offers free travel vouchers that saves them the commission or fee elements in retail travel prices. The site offers thousands of travel vouchers for travel in over 70 countries ranging from simple B&B accommodations to complex adventure travel, all at net of commission prices. This travel site is operated by an online travel club that does not sell travel or make reservations and all monies therefore, are handled directly between the members and the travel operators.

The internet has just about everything a traveler or even a traveler could want, whereas agents and agencies can only offer limited selections of brochures from travel providers and operators. There are thousands of travel businesses that never get to see the inside of a travel agency or brochure, but they would still be prepared to pay commissions to sellers of their products. This online travel club allows travel businesses to promote their products and services at no cost except the requirement to issue travel vouchers that represent the normal commissions and fees in the retail price. 100% of these savings are then passed on to members who do their own direct bookings. As a member, all travel vouchers are free but if you do not want to join there is an associated website that sells the same travel vouchers without requiring a membership fee.

A tip from the website. When you make your own direct bookings, do make sure that the time in the time-zone that you are calling is appropriate as “it is embarrassing to wake up a Greek Sea Captain at one in the morning somewhere in the Greek Islands to discuss their listing.” The Nomad at The Top Travel Club.

This site is continually adding new travel selections and as long as you are comfortable and prepared to be a D.I.Y. Traveler or D.I.Y. Traveler over the web, you might find some interesting trips and adventures, some of which are not readily available elsewhere.

In closing, I hope you find the little bits of attempted English language humor humorous and as I consider myself 1 L of a Traveler, I say 2 L with travelers but at last I am happy to have found a web travel centre centered around saving me money. Apologies to both Websters and Oxford dictionaries.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Fashion Style

My favorite star of all time would have to be Elizabeth Taylor. To be sassy, bold, confident and passionate like her, is to my mind, the epitome of womanhood). For me, the most famous image throughout her long history in the movies, would be her sultry look, wearing the satin slip-dress and leaning on the door frame, in the movie ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’.

Unbelievably, there are only 3 outfits in the whole of the movie and each time I watch this film, I start searching on EBAY for chiffon, white dress or a pencil skirt.

The famous and brilliant costume designer, Helen Rose, is the hero that was responsible for these simply elegant, classic and memorable styles.

Elizabeth Taylor’s emotional strength was inspirational, especially since she made the movie after the tragic death of her beloved husband, Mike Todd in an air crash. Helen Rose had been by her side throughout the making of the movie, and their relationship grew stronger through this bond, leading to the successful moulding of the movie star into an icon- Elizabeth Taylor. Their long career included other collaborations, such as ‘Butterfield 8’.

‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ certainly made our Liz the main focus. Wearing a short sleeved, cotton shirt and a skin tight, pencil linen skirt, with a figure-hugging belt, she made sure that she was noticed in that movie.

To play opposite the ultra electrifying Paul Newman must have been quite a challenge, since Paul’s presence could certainly steal the limelight from lots of other female stars – but, our Liz certainly held her own. Each time I play the movie, my eyes are always drawn to her, however much I love Paul, he just has to take a back seat.

In that movie, Liz had never been more beautiful, she was such a devastatingly stunning woman. With her curvaceous figure and Helen Rose’s expert tailoring, the simple but classic outfits show just what perfection can be created. The simple shirt and the pencil skirt is expertly highlighted with the Hermes orange-hue leather belt – simplicity in its perfection.

The second outfit is her more famous pose, leaning on the door frame in her white slip-dress, expertly tailored around her curves. How can her husband not have noticed her? Any normal woman would show lumps and bumps with such a shiny satin slip – not our Liz, every part fitted to perfection.

The final outfit was a dress that Helen Rose had fought hard for. The studio had preferred a more plain, cotton dress. The result of Helen Rose’s victory was most stunning: a simple Grecian wrap, around sculpting cuts, with the expert pleating being one of the most copied looks of design history. The white chiffon dress was later produced to be accessible to the women of the world, and aptly called, ‘The Cat’.

Both Practicality and Fashion Style Can Be Obtained by Carrying Tote Bags

More and more women love to use tote bags, because of their practicality and fashionable style. Usually, tote bags are designed to be in large size, which can enable people to carry more things that you may happen to buy at the supermarkets apart from basic personal necessities. For daily use, totes are top choices for women to create trendy and fashionable styles.

Generally speaking, leather is the most preferable material used to make totes. With the material of leather, the quality of the bags can be firmly ensured. Since totes are supposed to carry many things from personal stuff to unexpected items bought anywhere, the quality and durability should be seriously reliable. On the other hand, when you are buying a tote, you need to check the straps to see whether they are made of real leather and whether they can bear the weight of heavy things. If the straps fail to meet the needs, the quality of the bag should be questioned. Sometimes, you can also find tote handbags are made from cotton or canvas.

The design of totes can vary a lot. Still, regarding the practical purpose, many totes are designed with several pockets inside and outside, some with zips on them. Some totes have adjustable straps, which provide great convenience to busy women. The straps of bags in different styles are attached to the bags in different ways, some with the use of clasps and some with buckles.

Without doubt, designer totes always turn out to be top choices for women. You will have no worries about both the style and quality. However, even though the bag is flawless in design and style, you should be careful with the pairing. Only when you pair the bag with the outfit in proper way will the whole style become eye-popping.