Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Guide To Business Travel

 Planning your business trip wisely will free you from lots of trouble. Inadequate airline seats, long lines, heavy traffic, and unavailable hotel rooms are just some of the problems a business traveler might encounter. Despite the emergence of e-commerce, businessmen still travel more often for sales and business shows. Here are some tips to make your business travel a successful one:

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1. Plan your business trip long before you leave the office.

2. Always prepare a travel bag with complete necessities to be used on any emergency trips.

3. Bring some ready to eat foods, it will save you a substantial amount of money, considering the high cost of foods in hotels.

4. Be sure to have a buffer time between your flight and your scheduled meeting.

5. Choose aircraft that has better seats with ample leg room.

6. Put all your valuable materials in a small carry-on bag.

7. When calling your main office, use the 800 numbers as much as possible because it's much cheaper.

8. If you're a businesswoman, it is important to dress well. Additionally, you must bring casual clothes for your free time.

Not all hotels have inexpensive telecommunication systems from their rooms, so always choose your hotel's business floor, for these rooms are made especially for business traveler. These rooms should have dual telephone/modem lines, fax machine, and free communications between rooms. In order to save money on calls, use your calling card and place calls through your country's long-distance carrier or find a pay phone in the hotel's lobby. If available, use a nearby business center for your fax needs since fax service within your room will probably cost more.

These days, a business traveler has to bring a lot of electronic equipment such as; cell phones, electronic organizers, laptop computers, etc. Here are some suggestions on how to keep your expensive business items safe:

1. Put your laptop inside a bag that will not indicate that there's a laptop inside. The same works well for other equipment such as camera, electronic organizer, etc.

2. Don't expose your laptop to x-ray scanners at the airport security check, rather have it checked manually. X-rays could damage your electronic equipment.

3. Don't place your laptop on the aircraft's overhead bins; instead place it near your seat or under the seat in front of you.

4. Always bring extra batteries for your equipment.

Today's business travelers are enjoying much comfort compared to their counterparts a few decades ago. Low airfare, plenty of airlines to choose from, communication equipment (especially cell phones and laptops) make modern day business travelers more efficient. Even on a business trip, parents can always be with their family members and co-workers can still get in touch with their office work, at least virtually.

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Finding the Best Hotel Deals

 When it comes to hotels, things boil down to a tradeoff between low cost and convenient location.  In many cases, especially when traveling to major cities and popular attractions, the closer the hotel to the city or attraction the more you can expect to pay.  The best way to save money, particularly in large cities, is often to stay in the suburbs.

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Of course, this means that you will spend more time getting to the places you want to visit, and this will mean spending additional money on gasoline, etc.  It is important to compute all these costs to make sure that you will really be spending less on a less convenient hotel room.

There are of course a number of ways to save money on hotels and motels without compromising quality.  For one thing, a membership in AAA or a similar auto club also entitles you to discounts on hotel rooms, as does military service and senior citizen status.  When inquiring about a hotel room, always inquire about discounts that may be available.

In addition, shopping early for a hotel room can often yield the best deals.  That is because hotels often reserve a block of low cost rooms, and when they are gone they are gone.  Thus, the last room at a hotel may be much more costly than the first.  Getting the best hotel room deal is often a matter of timing.

Of course getting a great deal on a hotel will mean nothing if the place is a dump.  Shopping for a budget hotel should not mean settling for a hotel that is dirty, poorly run or in an unsafe location.

Fortunately, finding a good budget hotel has been made much easier with the help of the internet.  What used to take weeks or even months to research can now be done in a matter of hours or even minutes.  Many hotels, even budget properties, feature pictures of the property and the surrounding area, so be sure to research the property you are considering if you have never stayed there before.

It is important to research the area in which the hotel is located as well.  Be sure to check out things like restaurants and attractions within walking distance of the hotel.  Doing research on the area will help ensure you do not end up staying in a dangerous neighborhood just to save a couple of bucks.

The internet also provides a number of review sites where those who have stayed in various hotels share their experiences and their impressions of the hotel properties.  These review sites can be very useful for travelers, particularly those traveling to a new location for the first time.

In addition, the internet hosts a number of comparison web sites where travelers can easily find and compare hotel properties for their individual dates of stay and destinations.  These web sites offer a number of ways to search, including distance from a particular tourist attraction, price, star level and more.  The only caveat to consider when using such a web site is its independence.  Some comparison web sites feature only properties that pay an advertising fee, so using a comparison site does not necessarily guarantee the best price.  It is best to use a number of such web sites to get a true picture of the lowest prices available.

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Financial and Shopping Tips When Traveling Overseas

Currency

Local banks usually offer better rates of exchange than hotels, restaurants, or stores. Rates are often posted in windows. Above all, avoid private currency transactions. In some countries, you risk more than being swindled or stuck with counterfeit currency _ you risk arrest. Avoid the black market --- learn and obey the local currency laws, wherever you go.

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Shopping

Mail Small Items

When you purchase small items, it is a good idea to mail them personally to your home or to carry them in your luggage. This will help prevent misdirected packages, no receipt of merchandise, or receipt of wrong merchandise. When you mail purchases, be sure to ask about insurance.

American embassies and consulates abroad cannot serve as post offices. They cannot accept, hold, or forward mail for U.S. citizens abroad.

Items mailed home are not eligible for your $400 personal exemption. If the item that you are mailing home is less than $200, duty will be waived. Be sure to write on the outside of the package that it contains goods for personal use.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

Some European and Asian countries levy a value added tax (VAT) on the items that you buy. In some places, if you ship your purchases home, the VAT can be waived. Other places may require you to pay the VAT, but have a system to refund all of it or part of it to you by mail. You can ask the store clerk for an application to apply for the refund. The VAT refund is only for items that you can ship or carry with you. It does not apply to food, hotel bills, or other services. Because the rules for VAT refunds vary from country to country, you should check with the country's tourist office to learn the local requirements.

Beware When Making the Following Purchases:

Wildlife Souvenirs

Be careful when you buy articles made from animals and plants or when you purchase live, wild animals to bring back as pets. Some items, such as those made from elephant ivory, sea turtles, crocodile leather, or fur from endangered cats, and many species of live animals cannot be brought legally into the United States. Your wildlife souvenirs could be confiscated by government inspectors, and you could face other penalties for attempting to bring them into the United States. Do not buy wildlife or wildlife products unless you are certain that they are legal for import into the United States.

Glazed Ceramics

Beware of purchasing glazed ceramic ware abroad. It is possible to suffer lead poisoning, if you consume food or beverages that are stored or served in improperly glazed ceramics.

Unless the ceramics are made by a firm with an international reputation, there is no immediate way to be certain that a particular item is safe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that ceramic tableware purchased abroad be tested for lead release by a commercial laboratory on your return or be used for decorative purposes only.

Antiques

Certain countries consider antiques to be national treasures and the "inalienable property of the nation." In some countries, customs authorities seize illegally purchased antiques without compensation, and they may also levy fines on the purchaser. Americans have been arrested and prosecuted for purchasing antiques without a permit. Americans have even been arrested for purchasing reproductions of antiques from street vendors because a local authority believed the purchase was a national treasure.

Protect yourself. In countries where antiques are important, document your purchases as reproductions, if that is the case, or, if they are authentic, secure the necessary export permit. The documentation or export permit may be available through the country's national museum. A reputable dealer may provide the export permit or information on how to secure one. If you have questions about purchasing antiques, the country's tourist office can guide you. If you still have doubts, consult the Consular Section of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. In places where Americans have had problems because of purchasing antiques, the Consular Section is usually well aware of such situations.

Consular officers can inform you about the local laws and the correct procedures to follow.

Customs

It is important that you keep all receipts for items you buy overseas. They will be helpful in making your U.S. Customs declaration when you return.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How to Discover the Best Hotel Deals?

In this article, we hope to share with you the many aspects on how to find the best hotel deals and still feel comfortable on your vacation.

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When it comes to hotels, things come down to a tradeoff between cost reduction and a fitting location.  In a lot of cases especially when traveling to major cities and well-liked attractions, the nearer the hotel to the city or attraction the more you should expect to pay.  The greatest way to save money, particularly in big cities, is often to reside in the suburbs.

Of course, this means that you will spend more time getting to the locations you would like to visit, and this will mean paying out additional money on gasoline, etc.  It is imperative to calculate all these costs to ensure that you will really be paying out a smaller amount on a less convenient hotel room.

There are of course a number of methods to put aside money on hotels and motels without compromising quality.  For one thing, a membership in AAA or a related auto club also allows you to get lower prices on hotel rooms, as does military service and senior citizen status.  When inquiring about a hotel room, remember to inquire about discounts that may be presented.

For the remaining of this article, we will continue to discuss how to find the best hotel deals without sacrificing comfort.

Additionally, shopping early for a hotel room can regularly yield the greater deals.  That is because hotels regularly reserve a block of low cost rooms and when there are no more remaining then they are gone.  Therefore the final room at a hotel may be a great deal more costly than the first.  Receiving the best hotel room deal is regularly a matter of timing.

Of course receiving a great deal on a hotel will mean nothing if the place is an unattractive place.  Searching for a budget hotel should not mean staying at a hotel that is dirty, poorly run or in an unsafe location.

Fortunately, finding a good budget hotel has been made a great deal easier with the help of the Internet.  What used to take weeks or even months to investigate can now be done in a matter of hours or even minutes.  Most hotels, even budget properties, include pictures of the property and the surrounding area, so be certain to investigate the property you are thinking about if you have never stayed there before.

It is important to investigate the area in which the hotel is situated as well.  Be certain to assess things like restaurants and attractions within walking distance of the hotel.  Completing some investigations of the area will help ensure you do not end up staying in a dangerous neighborhood just to put away a few bucks.

The Internet also provides a number of review web sites where those who have vacation in different hotels reveal their experiences and their impressions of the hotel properties.  These review web sites can be very helpful for travelers, particularly those traveling to a new area for the first time.

In addition, the Internet hosts a number of comparison web sites where travelers can simply find and evaluate hotel properties for their individual dates of stay and destinations.  These comparison web sites present a number of ways to research, including distance from a particular tourist attraction, price, star level and more.  The only caveat to think about when using such a web site is its independence.  Some comparison web sites include only properties that pay an advertising fee, so using a comparison site does not necessarily promise the best price.  It is best to use a number of such web sites to get a better picture of all the smallest prices available.

As they say, knowledge equals power, so continue to read information on this topic until you feel you are adequately educated on how to discover the best hotel deals.

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How Much Did You Pay For Your Plane Ticket?

Because of the emphasis on price competition, consumers may choose from a wide variety of air fares. Some airlines are trying a "back to basics" approach-offering flights at bargain basement prices with few extras. For fare information, you can contact a travel agent, another ticket outlet or an airline serving the places you want to visit. Ask them to tell you the names of all airlines flying there.

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A travel agent can find virtually all airlines' fares in his or her computer. Or, if you prefer you can call each airline to ask about the fares they charge, particularly any special promotional fares they may be offering at the time. You can also pay attention to newspaper and radio ads, where airlines advertise many of the discount plans that apply to your city.

Finally, be alert to new companies serving the market. They may offer lower fares or different services than older established airlines. Here are some tips to help you decide among air fares:

Be flexible in your travel plans in order to get the lowest fare. The best deals may be limited to travel on certain days of the week or particular hours of the day. After you get a fare quote, ask the reservations agent if you could save even more by leaving a day earlier or later, or by taking a different flight on the same day.

* Plan as far ahead as you can. Some airlines set aside only a few seats on each flight at the lower rates. The real bargains often sell out very quickly. On the other hand, air carriers sometimes make more discount seats available later. If you had decided against a trip because the discount fare you wanted was not available on the desired date, try again, especially just before the advance-purchase deadline.

* Some airlines may have discounts that others don't offer. In a large metropolitan area, the fare could depend on which airport you use. Also, a connection (change of planes) or a one-stop flight is sometimes cheaper than a nonstop.

* Does the air fare include types of service that airlines have traditionally provided, such as meals or free baggage handling? If you have a connection involving two airlines, will your bags be transferred? Can you get advance seat assignments? If you are stranded, will the ticket be good on another carrier at no extra charge? Will the first airline pay for meals or hotel rooms during the wait?

* Many discount fares are non-refundable; if you buy one of these fares and later cancel your trip, you will not get your money back. Some fares also have a penalty for changing flights or dates even if you don't want a refund. You may also have to pay any difference in air fares if your fare is not available on the new flight.

* Some airlines will not increase the fare after the ticket is issued and paid for. (Simply holding a reservation without a ticket does not guarantee the fare.) Other airlines may reserve the right to collect more money from you if the fare that you had purchased goes up before departure time. Find out from the airline before you buy your ticket what its policy is on assessing fare increases after the ticket is purchased.

* After you buy your ticket, call the airline or travel agent once or twice before departure to check the fare. Fares change all the time, and if that same fare goes down before you fly, some airlines will refund the difference. But you have to ask.

Differences in air fares can be substantial. Careful comparison shopping among airlines does take time, but it can lead to real savings.

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How Do You Get Help Overseas?

If you are ill or injured, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for a list of local physicians and medical facilities.  If you request, consular officers will help you contact family or friends.  If necessary, a consul can assist in the transfer of funds from family or friends in the United States.  Payment of hospital and other medical expenses is your responsibility.

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Should you find yourself in legal difficulty, contact a consular officer immediately.  Consular officers cannot serve as attorneys, give legal advice, or get you out of jail.  If you are arrested, consular officials will visit you, advise you of your rights under local laws, provide a list of local attorneys who speak English and who may have had experience in representing U.S. citizens, and ensure that you are held under humane conditions and are treated fairly under local law.

A consular officer will contact your family or friends if you desire.  When necessary, consuls can transfer money from home for you and will try to get relief for you, including food and clothing in countries where this is a problem.  If you are detained, remember that under international treaties and customary international law, you have the right to talk to the U.S. consul.  If you are denied this right, be politely persistent.  Try to have someone get in touch for you.

Resources for U.S. Citizen Crime Victims
When a U.S. citizen becomes the victim of a crime overseas he or she may suffer physical, emotional, or financial injuries.  The emotional impact of the crime may be intensified if the victim is in unfamiliar surroundings, far away from sources of comfort and support, and not fluent in the local language or knowledgeable about local laws and customs.  Consuls and consular agents can provide assistance to U.S. citizen crime victims

If you become the victim of a crime overseas, contact the nearest U.S. embassy, consulate, or consular agency for assistance.  Also contact local police to report the incident and obtain immediate help with safety concerns.

While consular officials cannot investigate a crime, provide legal advice, represent you in court, serve as official interpreters or translators, or pay legal, medical, or other fees for U.S. citizens, they can assist crime victims in many other ways.  Consular personnel overseas are familiar with local government agencies and resources in the countries in which they are located, and they can help you:

    * replace a stolen passport
    * contact family, friends, or employers
    * obtain appropriate medical care
    * address emergency needs that arise as a result of the crime
    * obtain general information about the local criminal justice process and information about your case
    * obtain information about local resources to assist victims, including foreign crime victim compensation programs
    * obtain information about crime victim assistance and compensation programs in the U.S.
    * obtain a list of local attorneys who speak English

Victim Assistance: If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, you may benefit from specialized resources for crime victims available in the United States.  Throughout the United States, thousands of local crime victim assistance programs offer help to victims of violent crime and most will help residents of their community who have been the victim of a crime in another country.

These include rape crisis counseling programs, shelter and counseling programs for battered women, support groups and bereavement counseling for family members of homicide victims, diagnostic and treatment programs for child abuse victims, assistance for victims of drunken driving crashes, and others.  Information about locating crime victim assistance programs is below.

Victim Compensation: All states operate crime victim compensation programs and nearly half of them offer benefits to their residents who are victims of violent crime overseas.  (See contact information for state compensation programs below.)

These state compensation programs provide financial assistance to eligible victims for reimbursement of expenses such as medical treatment, counseling, funeral costs, lost income or loss of support, and others.  Generally victim compensation programs require the victim to report the crime to law enforcement and they usually request a copy of the police report.

Contact Information for Victim Compensation and Assistance Programs:
Information about each state’s crime victim compensation program and how to apply for compensation is available on the Internet at the web site of the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards.

The toll-free 24 hours a day/7 days a week hotline for sexual assault crisis counseling and referrals in the United States is 1-800-656-HOPE.  It is operated by a non-profit organization, RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network).

Information about local sexual assault victim assistance programs in the U.S.  is also available from each state’s sexual assault coalition.  Contact information for these state coalitions are listed on the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice Violence Against Women Office.

The toll-free 24 hours a day /7 days a week National Domestic Violence Hotline that provides crisis counseling and referrals in the U.S. is 1-800-799-SAFE.

Information about local domestic violence victim assistance programs in the U.S.  is also available from each state’s domestic violence coalition. Contact information for these state coalitions is listed at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice Violence Against Women Office.

The toll-free 24 hours a day/7 days a week crisis counseling and referral line for families and friends of those who have died by violence is 1-888-818-POMC.  It is operated by a non-profit organization, POMC, Inc. (The National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children).

Information about national and local resources for victims and family members of victims of drunken driving crashes is available at the web site of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Contact information for non-emergency victim assistance services in communities throughout the U.S. is available at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime.

Information for crime victims on the impact of crime, safety planning, legal rights and civil legal remedies, and options for assistance and referrals to local programs is also available from the National Crime Victim Center (NCVC).  Call toll free (8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST) 1-800-FYI-CALL or call TTY for hearing impaired (8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST) 1-800-211-7996.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Fall Traveling can be within your Budget

In the next few paragraphs, we will explore how fall traveling can be within your budget that may help you achieve your goal and decide what is best for you.

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For most people, fall is the time of year when the evenings get colder, the days become shorter, the foliage change color and the year heads quickly toward the cold wintry weather months.  The fall of the year is the time when the children are going back to school and eager travelers are no longer visioning of coastline resort towns.

For the clever budget traveler, however, the fall season provides some tremendous opportunities for reduced prices, tiny crowds and a whole better vacation price.  The very items mentioned above make fall a wonderful time for budget minded travelers to go to some of the best known resorts and take pleasure in reduced prices on airfares, rental cars, restaurants and resort rooms.

Every vacation location has its own high and low season, but the fall of the year has the benefit of being the off season for both summer and winter locations.  For instance, whereas winter is the high season for ski resort towns and other wintry weather destinations, the mountain locations of these resorts regularly mean that skiing and other activities are offered in late fall, while costs for lodging, meals and rental cars are still reduced.

As we continue, we will take a look at how this information can be implemented in ways to stay within your budget.

Likewise, resorts and travel destinations that benefit from huge popularity in the summer months are still rather pleasurable, and regularly more so, in the autumn of the year.  For instance, fall provides such benefits as cooler temperatures and smaller crowds in addition to reduced prices.  The same restaurant at which reservations were hopeless to come by in the active summer months may all of a sudden be obtainable in the fall, and that costly summer resort room may be rather affordable once summer has finished.

When looking for the greatest possible deal on autumn travel, it is important to carefully study your particular destination.  Whereas fall is the off season for most locations, this is not valid for every destination.  Be certain that there really are better values in the fall season before booking your trip.

It is also essential to assess the weather, including typical temperatures and typical rainfall levels, for your fall travel destination.  After all, reduced fall prices will do you no good if rain or uncomfortable temperatures spoil your long anticipated vacation.

If the typical temperature and precipitation levels are to your taste, it is time to begin shopping for the perfect autumn travel deals.  The apparent first place to begin researching for most people is the internet.  There are a number of very good web sites and newsgroups dedicated to the best in budget travel, and they are a great place to begin.

It is also important to begin planning ahead of time for your fall vacation.  While the warm of summer is still around, be certain to begin searching for the best fall deals.  Airlines regularly begin promoting their reduced fall airfares while summer is still in full swing, and it is essential to act swiftly to get the most reduced fares.  The same goes for rental cars and resort rooms, and those autumn specials are regularly snapped up very quickly by other budget minded travelers.

Find out more by reading our other articles on budget traveling and other subjects we have written related to it.

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European Vacation-Tips to Have the Most Fun

I lived in Germany for five years, many moons ago, and as a result had the opportunity to travel around Europe quite a bit, visit lots of places, learn a little of three languages and have lots of fond memories. But since those golden days of yore I have been back twice with my fiancĂ©e for a three week trip and one 18 day’er.

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The first was completely planned with reservations for each night and was high intensity, high stress covering six countries and nearly 1800 miles. How else can you cover all the bases? Actually you can’t and do it any justice at all.

And my friends that is lesson number one. For any trip to Europe lasting less than 3-4 months decide ahead of time and agree that you cannot see it all. There is so much not just the big cities but the countryside and small towns. That is where the heart of the country lies. You have to set priorities on what you want to see and stick to it. This requires quite a bit of advance planning on your part-or if you trust someone else a “Travel Agent”.

And that is lesson number two.Find a travel agent who you can trust-one who’s been there many times. Unless you have been to the country before you cannot possibly know all the nuances of foreign travel. Depending on your personality consider doing a tour first. Self guided trips to a foreign country can be very stressful and will perhaps ruin the trip

Lesson number three-Make an attempt to speak the local language. Even in France (with one exception) the locals appreciate you trying to speak the language. Depending on where you go for example most Beneulux countries, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and even northern Italy you can get by with German-and truth be told English if all else fails. But the locals really appreciate the effort and you will be rewarded for your efforts.

Lesson number four-Contrary to an international myth there are speed limits in Europe so watch the signs.

Lesson number five-Room sizes like bathrooms and bedrooms are without exception considerably smaller than what you are used to. So if you tend to be claustrophobic-beware. Also mealtimes are generally different from ours especially in Italy and France. The normal safety precautions should be taken for your room with a alarm door stop or a keep i for added security. Thieves live in Europe too.

Lesson number six-For the really adventurous forget all of the above and just wing it. There is no better thrill in traveling, to my way of thinking, than being able to turn left off the autostrada to go to Venice just because you feel like it.

Traveling to Europe requires much planning and careful preparation. Having a good travel agent that has been to Europe many times is almost an absolute necessity for a self guided tour. If you are with a group you needn’t worry so much. But the most fun of all is doing it on your own without an itinerary.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Disney Vacation with Kids

The one dream that parents in America have, is to take their children for a trip to the Disney World in Florida. The vacation at times proves very difficult on the parents as they need to save through the year to be able to spend on the trip to the resort and then there are the expenses during the stay that need to be calculated as well. But they are willing to go to any lengths, so they can show their children the joys offered within the walls of the Castle like Disney World.

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  3. Orlando Florida Holiday Guide
The cheapest Disney World vacations are about cutting corners and pinching pennies, which is what parents become experts in by the time they are ready to pack and leave for the fun rides. There are some points to be kept in mind so one can make the most of their cheapest Disney World vacations and yet have a good time.

Decide on what your budget is - It is important to plan ahead of time as to how much money you can afford to spend on your holiday and work towards it. Once you have determined this figure, you can plan your trip around the same. It does not make sense to go over board during your trip using your credit card and then come back to a pile of debt. Allocate funds to different aspects of the trip, so you can cover all the basics and use the leftover for the occasional splurging.

While booking flights, check for those offers and don’t wait for the last minute to book your tickets. Or if Orlando is only a couple of hours away, see if you can take your SUV and drive it down, this way you save flight tickets and have a vehicle to go around Disney World.

Accommodation and food - A major part of our cheapest Disney World vacations is where to stay and how much the various options cost. If you are not very particular about the place, you can stay at a private home or cottage, which is very comfortable and cozy. This way, you can save money but keep in mind the cost incurred going to and from to the Disney World theme parks. Book your stay well in advance to get the early bird offers and various discounts that come up.

Since most of those who want an affordable and stress free Walt Disney World vacation and a visit to the various theme parks, especially to Magic Kingdom and The Tree Of Life, you need to allot at least 4 days. This means, that much more expenditure on your place of stay and food, and requires immense amount of self control to not give into those temptations at the park. Make sure to have food brought in from home or cooked at the cottage you are staying in to save money. If by taking a bit of extra effort, you can provide your children with a chance to enjoy the rides and the adventures, then why not?

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Try this to save more money for your disney world travel
  1. Disney World Vacation And Savings Travel Guide
  2. Plans For Disney World
  3. Orlando Florida Holiday Guide
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Do You Know How to Apply for a Passport by Mail?

You may apply for your passport by mail if you meet the following requirements:

You can submit your most recent passport.

Your previous passport was issued on or after your 16th birthday and was issued within the past 12 years.

You use the same name as that on your most recent passport or you have had your name changed by marriage or court order, and can submit proof of the change in name

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How to Proceed

Obtain Form DSP-82, Application for Passport by Mail, from one of the U.S. passport agencies, from a Federal or state court, from a U.S. post office that is authorized to accept passport applications, from your travel agent, or from the Internet.

Complete the information requested on the reverse side of the form.

(1) Sign and date the application.

(2) Include your date of departure. If no date is included, passport agents will assume that your travel plans are not immediate, and you will receive your passport within 25 working days from receipt of the application at the passport agency.

(3) Enclose your previous passport. (Your previous passport and other documents that you may have submitted will be returned to you with your new passport.)

(4) Enclose two identical 2x2 photographs.

(5) Enclose the $40 passport fee. (The $15 execution fee is not required for applicants eligible to apply by mail.)  Check for current fees.

(6) If your name has changed, submit the original or certified copy of the court order or marriage certificate that shows the change of name.

(7) The person that you list to be notified in case of an emergency should be someone who could act on your behalf. The person should be someone to whom you have given or could give a power of attorney.

(8) For processing, mail the completed application and attachments to the National Passport Center, listed on the application form. An incomplete or improperly prepared application will delay issuance of your passport.

(9) If requesting Expedited Service, include the expedite fee.

How to Pay the Passport Fee

The following forms of payment are acceptable when you apply by mail:

A bank draft or a cashier's check

A check: either a certified check, a personal check, or a traveler's check (The check should be made out for the exact amount.)

A money order: either a U.S. postal money order, an international money order, a currency exchange money order or a bank money order

Checks must be made payable to Passport Services.

When You Receive Your Passport

Sign it right away! Fill in page 5, the personal notification data page. (For the emergency contact, do not include the name of your traveling companion; instead, write in pencil the name, address, and telephone number of someone who is not traveling with you.) Your previous passport and other documents that you may have submitted will be returned to you with your new passport.

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Dealing with Motion Sickness when you travel for the Holidays

If you or someone in your family suffers from motion sickness then you have an extra element to prepare for when you think about traveling for the holidays. Not everyone experiences motion sickness the same and it may not happen every time. For example some people get motion sick on a cruise ship but not while they are in a car. Others may get queasy when they are on a train but not on an airplane.

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Common symptoms of motion sickness include sweating, nausea, dizziness, saliva in the mouth that is more than usual, and vomiting. Most people know when it is coming on and do all they can to minimize the effects. Many women many suffer from motion sickness when they are pregnant due to the changes taken place in their body. Children are also quite susceptible to it as well.

There are plenty of things you can do on your own to help prevent the effects of motion sickness from occurring. Many adults find they don’t suffer from motion sickness if they drive the car. This is because the sensors in their brain view the scenery flashing by differently when they are in the driver’s seat. This is why so many get sick when they travel by train. If you are susceptible to motion sickness as a passenger in a car avoid a window seat on a train. You also want to avoid those seats that face backwards.

Children should avoid trying to play games or read books in a moving vehicle if they suffer from motion sickness. They should also ride in the middle seat in order to offer them a view out the front of the vehicle instead of from their peripheral vision on the side windows. Offer them light snacks before travel such as crackers and water. Avoid having them travel on an empty stomach or after eating a large meal.

For those that still suffer from motion sickness, an over the counter or a prescription medication may be required for successful holiday travel to take place. Make sure you carefully follow the instructions of such medications. Don’t exceed the recommended dose. If it says to take it with food or water then make sure you do so. Some of them require consumption during a specific period of time prior to your departure so pay attention to this important detail.

Even so, no method or medication is 100% foolproof when it comes to motion sickness. Some people experience it only once in a while and others deal with it all the time. Try to get to some fresh air if possible. If you are on an airplane turn on the air above you and take slow, deep breaths. You will find bags offered in case you do end up having to vomit. You can also try to make your way to the bathroom where you will have more privacy.

While it may be embarrassing you need to understand you aren’t the only one that has problems with motion sickness. The fact that the mode of transportation you are taking may be full during the holiday season can be stressful but you will never have to see most of them ever again. You may want to carry extra clothing with you for those in your part that do suffer from motion sickness, especially children who may end up vomiting on their clothing.

Don’t let your holiday travel plans be stopped due to your fear of suffering from motion sickness. Do all you can to subside the symptoms on your own. If that isn’t effective then try various over the counter products. As a last resort as your doctor for a prescription medication to help ensure you can get through the travel process so you can enjoy your holidays. If you find certain types of transportation are more difficult for you than others you should avoid them if possible.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Checking Accessories that You Need in Traveling

So, finally you have found the time for your deserving break. You have already planned what to do on the big trip. Everything seems to be prepared. But what happens when you forget your favorite digicam and you only discovered it when you’re already nearing the point of your destination?

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Why does it happen that every time you go out of town, you always forget an item or accessory that you only remember after you left the house? If you are lucky, you usually forget small things like a toothbrush, where you can buy one in the nearest store.

But what happens if you forget, for example, your digicam? Or how about your raincoat in a rainy season? How about the travel supplies you usually forget?  If you’re lucky, it’s a simple accessory like a toothbrush, which any hotel will have in their gift shop.  But what if you forgot a more important product, for example, a rain coat?  Or a backpack you’ll be using for a hiking trip?

What are all the travel accessories you need?

When going on trips, whether it is big or small, check out if you have a complete set of your travel accessories. What accessories should I bring? Among the most obvious are:

- Suitcases

- Travel clothing

- Toiletries

-Travel appliances (electric razor, travel alarm, hairdryer)

These, however, are just the basic accessories. You will see that the more you travel, the more you need things other than suitcases, toiletries, and travel clothing and appliances. For example, did you think that you should have brought a small nice neck pillow in a long train ride or flight? Or, what if you get bruised from a hiking trip, do you have a first-aid kit close at hand?

Here are some accessories that you might want to bring when you take your next trip:

- Binoculars

- Music player

- Mini-flashlight

- Camera

- Clothing steamer

- Mini-umbrella

- Luggage rack

- Door alarm

- First-aid kit

It would not be surprising that you might have additional options to this list, or you might have a list entirely different from the list above. And when you check out stores and Internet sites that sell travel accessories, you would learn that there are many products out there that you thought you never needed but turned out to be the contrary!

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Car Rental - Time & Money Saving Tips

Lowest Rates Vs. A Good Bargain

The thing is, Car Rental market is very competitive one and rates differences for comparable quality and service are relatively small, sometimes as small as $10 to $20. These minuet price differences are going to vanish in the wind when you consider the long lines and lost time at the cheapest renter counter, drop charges for remote destinations, late return fines, and gasoline inflated rates as well as other service charges you didn’t think about when you shopped for the “best deal”.

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Don’t get us wrong, we don’t like to pay higher prices more than you do. We do recommend to shop around and check the various rates available, especially when it’s so easy to do it via the Internet at comparison sites.

All we say here you need to consider other things beside the price and when you compare please make sure you compare apples to apples and not apples to pears.


Things to consider when ordering a rented a car

Who is using the car, are you by yourself on a business trip or you are traveling with the whole family? How much luggage are you going to have, does the car you are thinking about is big enough to have you all plus all your hand luggage and big suitcases? If not, consider to change to a mini van or a car with extra large trunk.

Do you need an Infant seat or a child booster?  make sure it is mentioned clearly with your order,  usually there is a shortage of these seats and they are provided for extra charge. Check the state laws for where you are traveling.
A new law in Denver for instance, requires Booster Seats for all 4 and 5 year olds who are not 55 inches tall.

Do you actually need the car in the town or city at the first few days? If not, consider to take a taxi, a bus, a train or the hotel shuttle into the city and when it’s time for you to go out of town and travel around, then, rent the car from the city location and by that save up to 15% on Air-Port charges as well as on city parking fees.

Are you going to a very warm and humid destination? If yes, it’s recommended to order a car with air conditioning, usually the price difference is negligible, the problem is that it’s not available in all destinations like in some European countries.


Most major rental car companies allow for unlimited mileage in the same state, but it's a good idea to check their policy before confirming. Many smaller local independent companies charge mileage after 100-200 free miles per day.

As mentioned before price is not the only factor to consider when choosing a car rental company. If you choose a very small, no-name company, don’t expect them to provide you with service across all nation or continent, what would you do if the car is needed to be replaced or serviced for some reason?


Frequent or Preferred Renter Programs and affiliations

Frequent renter programs, Like airlines and hotels, major car rental companies track their customers’ rental histories and offer preferential service to loyal customers. Most of the major companies offer frequent renter programs that are similar to airline frequent-flyer programs and hotel frequent-guest programs.

Preferred renter clubs, Most major car rental companies also offer preferred renter programs or clubs (one example is the Hertz #1 Club). When you belong to one of these clubs, you get preferential treatment, including automatic upgrades when those cars are available. You can join these programs at any time, even if you are a first-time renter with that company.

While basic-level club memberships are often free, higher-level memberships (as in the Hertz #1 Gold Club, which allows you to bypass the rental counter) generally come with a price tag. What most people don’t realize is that it’s often possible to avoid the membership fee by simply writing or calling your car rental company and asking them to waive it. They will do it because the car rental industry is very competitive, and they want your business

If you're still faced with a steep rate, try getting discounts based on your affiliations with organizations like AARP, AAA or others. These discounts are usually not great, but they are better than nothing.

In addition, always check for corporate rates if applicable to your situation.


Car Rental Insurance

Some of the Insurance terms seem to be confusing, let’s try to clear them out first.

CDW - Collision Damage Waiver.

LDW - Loss Damage Waiver.

PDW -  Physical Damage Waiver.

PAI - Personal Accident Insurance.

PEC -  Personal Effects Coverage.

ALI - Additional Liability Insurance.

Many of the Credit Cards have most of these coverage, therefore it’s not mandatory to purchase excessive coverage. It’s better to check this issue with your travel agent, insurance agent and your credit card company a head of time. Some Car rental companies require that you show proof of insurance.

Also be aware that your personal insurance probably doesn’t apply to your rental car when traveling overseas. All this is somewhat complicated and at times confusing because there are no industry standards for terminology and policies vary by locations.


Important things to check and  do before leaving the Air-Port

After a long flight and the waiting in lines for your luggage and afterwards for
your keys at the car rental counter, it is understandable you just want to take the rented car and drive away to your hotel, but wait! Here is a list of things you must check first.

Start by making a careful check around the car, look for any small dents or scratches, in case you find some, don’t be lazy, go back to the office and ask a representative of the rental company to write down all of these dents, ask for a copy of that report. Other wise you might be responsible for damages you didn’t perform.

Open the trunk, make sure you have a spare tire, a jack and set of tools, there is noting more irritating than to find out in the middle of nowhere that you don’t have a jack when you need to replace a flat tire.

Many car companies will provide you with an extra key if you ask for one. This can come in handy for some of us who are absent minded.

It is recommended to spend some time to get acquainted with the cars’ features and switches, make sure you know where the lights switches are, how to operate the windshield wipers, the air conditioner and even set your favorite radio stations as well as set your side mirrors. It might be quiet frustrating to fight with the new switches while driving, when all of a sudden it starts raining.

Make sure you have a map and it’s better to spend few more minutes and plan your driving route.

Last but certainly not least, If you have a lot of luggage, don’t park the car in the parking lot and go for lunch, in many countries, this is an easy target for
the thieves,  It’s better to buy some sandwiches and beverages in the air-port, or stop somewhere along the way for refreshing but never leave the car unattended.


In case you are involved in a Car Accident

These are the most important pieces of information to collect from the involved parties: full name, mailing address, telephone number, insurance details, and drivers’ license number.

Also try to get the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident. Make a note of the vehicle’s make, color, brand and license plate number.

Try to pinpoint the exact time and location of the accident. If the police get involved, ensure that you receive a copy of their report. Don't forget to inform your insurance agent immediately and notify the car rental company.
They will let you know about their accident procedure.

If you purchased insurance through the car rental company, they will have to make the claim. If there is damage to the rental car, there will be much paper work to complete

Make sure any involved parties are ok. Any injuries should be taken care of ASAP.

Call the police and/or ambulance (if necessary), and then call the car rental agency. Be as cooperative as possible. The car rental agency will have its own policies regarding accidents.

Exchange information with the affected parties. Try to record everything on the scene. Your notes should include details of the accident, identification of the autos and people involved, and the names and badge numbers of all emergency personnel.

Take pictures if possible. If you are on vacation, you will probably have a camera handy already.

File an accident report with the police, and report the claim to your own credit card company or insurance company.


When returning the Car

Make all necessary arrangements to return the car on time, that includes looking the location in the map especially if you return the car in a foreign city.

Late return charges are high and arbitrary, secondly, if you are late, you  probably won’t have the time to fill the car with gasoline yourself and the rental company will charge you exorbitant inflated gasoline rates.

In case you return the car in a city location on Sunday, it might be that the station will be deserted, it will let you in via automated gate, make sure to take the card and leave it over the dashboard, this is your recorded time of arrival.

In addition, lock the car, take the keys plus your rental contract and insert them into the designated box.

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Car Rental: The Basics

It’s easy to get mixed up the first time you look to rent a car.  When scanning various advertisments, do you ever flip back and forth, completely unsure of whether or not you're getting the best deal?  Not even sure if you can figure out which one is the best deal?  Whether this is your first time renting or not, it is always important that you never enter a car rental arrangement without researching all of your options first.

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Insurance is a classic example of this.  The four most common types are: collision damage waiver (CDW)/loss damage waiver (LDW), supplemental liability insurance, personal accident insurance, and personal effects coverage.  Most rental car companies will pitch the CDW really hard, as well as the theft insurance.  What you should know is that usually you don't need either of them.  Before you shell out $15 per day or more for these options, check your normal auto insurance already covers rentals.  The other thing to look up is your credit card’s policy on rentals.  Almost every rental company requires a credit card for payment.  That is because it makes it easy for the company to add charges for "damages" later.   As a side note, because of this, DO NOT use a debit card, ever.  You will have no opportunity to dispute the charges if you get cheated.  Make sure you use a real credit card.  Since you have to use a credit card, see if your credit card offers automatic insurance coverage as long as you charge the rental to that card.  You would be surprised how many do. 

The next major rip-off is the fuel purchase option.  The idea is that you pay for a full tank of gas ahead of time so you can return the vehicle on empty.  The catch: it's virtually impossible for you to use all of the gas in the car, so it's best to decline the offer and fill up the tank just before returning it.  That way, you only pay for what you've used.  Otherwise, the cost is usually far more than what you actually use.

Aside from hidden costs, most rental companies will only rent to someone who is at least 25 years old or even older.  Some companies will rent cars to persons 21 years or older but often charge an additional ten to twenty dollars a day.  Also, only the driver who is renting the car is covered under the insurance, so don’t let a buddy drive because if he wrecks it, you’re responsible.

Keep this basics in mind, and watch out for local taxes.  With the internet, it can be easy to search out the most expensive and least expensive cities and to plan your rental accordingly.  Use all the tools at your disposal, and your experience is much more likely to run smoothly without any unpleasant surprises.

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Car Rentals

Monday, September 21, 2015

Budget Travelling - Your Adventure Of A Lifetime

You want to travel and see different places but you have a tight budget? Remember you don’t have to be filthy rich to go on a domestic or international holiday. With proper research you will find that you can actually travel within your budget. Traveling is not just meant for people with a pocket full of money, it is meant for everyone!

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If you have chosen a domestic destination, then it is suggested that you stay at hotels and motels on the outskirts of your travel area. You can save a lot of bucks if you decide to lodge in one of the budget hotels or motels available commonly these days. If you are planning to rent a car, then it is better if you search for a place on the periphery of your vacation location.

It is not a difficult task to go on a budget vacation. The main requirement is proper planning. You must survey and do adequate research to avail the best deals. One of the best places to look for the most current packages is the Internet. Many a times you get a discount when you book online.

You can save a lot of money by staying in a hostel instead of a hotel and you can even take a tent. This will not only allow you to stay within your budget limitations but it would also be an adventurous experience for you.

One of the important tricks that you must know to travel real cheap is traveling during the off-season. Owing to less demand, the prices of traveling fares and accommodation will be comparatively lower.

You can also consult the various travel agencies because they often offer cheap packages. This will prove to be beneficial for you. If you do not want to go the travel agent way, then you can always contact the different airline companies directly and find out the most recent offers for those companies. Do not stick with only one Airline Company. The biggest advantage of budget travel is that you are going to be totally independent and be your own person.

One important thing you must not forget is about travel insurance. In case of any mishap like losing your belongings or any medical issues, you can at least recover some expenses if you have insurance.

Be practical and inquisitive. Try to gather as much information as possible about your dream destination so that you can cope in a better way in case of any emergency. If you are involved with any travel agency, find out about any budget tours that they might have available. By doing this, you can arrange your schedule and plan your trip well ahead of time.

The budget trip will really be an adventurous experience that you will treasure throughout your life. So collect as many souvenirs of the place as possible, but don’t get lured into the duty free shops—they always charge more!

With general awareness, being cautious and with the proper strategy you are bound to have a great budget vacation!

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Budget Travel To Any Summer Ski Resort

When most people think of ski resorts, they naturally picture mountains full of fresh fallen snow and people huddled around a roaring fire enjoying a cup of hot cocoa. While this image is certainly accurate, and ski resorts are some of the most popular of all vacation destinations, the prices of these resort getaways can often be beyond the means of the budget traveler.

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There is another way, however, to enjoy these upscale resorts for a fraction of their in season costs. Many ski resort locations stay open all year round, and the prices of lodging, meals and local entertainment often drops precipitously after winter has passed.

Visiting a ski resort in the middle of the summer does not mean there will be nothing to do. In fact, many people prefer visiting these resorts in the off season, since their mountain locations provides for a comfortable, activity packed getaway.

For instance, most ski resorts have ample hiking trails through beautiful mountain vistas. All those great cross country ski trails become wonderful hiking and biking trails after the snow has melted, and the scenery can be even more spectacular, and more comfortable, without the cold and snow of winter.

Besides hiking and biking, there are a great many other activities to be offered as well, including horseback riding, fishing swimming, and other outdoor activities. In addition, many ski resorts use their ski lifts as fun summer sky rides, and open their slopes to such summertime activities as tobogganing down the side of the mountain. The kids in particular love these fun rides.

Another great thing about visiting a ski resort area in summer is that the mountain location often means cooler temperatures. Even when the lowland temperature is stiflingly hot, the temperature in the mountains can be refreshingly cool and comfortable. Of course, it is important to check the monthly weather for your destination and to avoid the rainy season

There are ski resorts in many states around the country, and the northeastern and western parts of the country have a great wealth of these resorts. While many of them stay open year round and offer a host of off season activities, not all do, so it is important to verify the summer activities of the resort you are considering.

It is also a good idea to research the activities that are offered by each resort. With the concentration of ski resorts in some areas of the country, it will be easy to compare the various offerings and choose the one that best suits your individuals needs.

It is also important to research the surrounding area and see what else there is to do when you are not at the resort. While many ski resorts have plenty of activities to keep you busy for days, you will probably want to venture off the property at least a few times.

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Budget Travel Tips For Your Thanksgiving Road Trip

Your annual road trip to Grandma's with your family is not the time to be wasting money on unnecessary items or services. Road trips the type of vacation where saving money is possible and easy to do. Follow these simple steps and your Thanksgiving road trip will be one of the best and cheapest you have ever taken.

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One of the biggest areas where money can be saved is on food. Pack snacks and maybe even a picnic meal or two before leaving home. Rest stops are great to stretch your legs and enjoy a picnic lunch.

If you are going to make stops to eat out along your trip, keep in mind that many restaurants offer either discount prices for children. Some offer deals where kids eat for free. Research this prior to the start of your trip. Know where they are, what they offer and the savings can add up.

Filling the car with gasoline can be the most costly expense of your trip this year. With sky-high gas prices, the gas pump is definitely the place to try to save money. When filling use a credit card that offers rebates on the amount of gas purchased. Typically, nationwide gas station chains such as Mobil or Shell offer credit card rebates to frequent customers. Keep in mind if you are using Mobil you will have to find and only use Mobil stations on the road in order to use your rebate.

During some longer road trips an overnight stop and lodging might be required. Research lodging choices ahead of time. Use online resources prior to your road trip to find a quality hotel or motel that offers reasonable nightly rates. With children look for places that offer "children stay free" promotions.

Look to book a hotel that offers the most complimentary services. Many hotels offer complimentary continental breakfasts and some have snack bars set up as well. Hotels can also be useful in offering coupons and discount rates for local attractions and eateries, as well.

Finally, be safe. Traffic accidents increase over the holidays with lots of people on the road. Drive the posted speed limits. Take a first aid kit, extra safety supplies and drinking water, drive safely and make it fun!

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cheap Travel – How To Save Substantially On Travel, Vacation And Entertainment Packages

An increasing number of individuals utilize the internet to make travel reservations. Potential travelers often make their arrangements through the company or website offering the lowest prices. Popular sites such as Hotwire offer highly discounted rates on various types of travel packages. However, these types of sites do not disclose certain information such as name of hotel or airline until after the customer has made the non-refundable purchase. Alternative travel agents generally offer similar rates to one another. However, it is possible to save significantly on your travel, vacation packages and entertainment.

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Every day, thousands of tickets and fares become automatically discounted by companies due to unclaimed or unsold status. Tickets are discounted by travel companies and direct providers for a variety of reasons such as unclaimed status, unsold status, discontinued status, midnight fare recalibration status and more. These tickets are then sold to travel customers for up to 90% off the original price.

Previously, these types of direct discount purchases were generally only available to authorized travel agents. However, there are currently internet databases which provide these tickets for purchase to members. Anyone is eligible to join these sites. Members are provided with a searchable database of discounted flight tickets, vacations, cruises and entertainment packages. Flights and cruises are available to hundreds of destinations worldwide on every major airline and cruise line. A variety of travel options are accessible, including trips to exotic destinations, family holidays, romantic getaways, weekend deals and more. Entertainment packages include tickets to sports events, concerts, theater plays and many more. Upon sign up, users are given access to the database which usually contains listings of thousands of available packages. Members book directly with special discounts through wholesalers, travel discounters, last minute specials and air couriers.

Unlike more popular discount sites, users are provided with full details before purchase. Buying through unclaimed ticket databases provides consumers with huge travel savings. Now individuals previously considering a vacation but were unable to afford it may now have the opportunity. Regular travelers can also benefit from the significant cost savings.

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Cheap Vacation Travel Packages versus Independent Budget Travel

When traveling on a budget, one of the most often asked questions is whether it is best to travel independently, reserving your own airfare, hotel stay and sightseeing reservations, or choose a package tour where everything is set up for you in advance.

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Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question.  It is largely dependent on the location you have selected and dates of travel.  For instance, travel to European destinations are often less costly to book on your own, especially when the airlines are running specials of European airfares in the off-season. 

On the other hand, travel to many exotic locations, like Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, and India, are often much less expensive when booked through a vacation package company or travel agent.  That is because these tour operators often have special deals with the national airlines of these companies, and with very nice resort hotels, to provide considerable discounts in exchange for a steady flow of business.

For instance, with a little bit of shopping, you can book a vacation package from New York to Egypt  for a grand total of $1,100, including airfare, an excellent hotel, daily breakfast, airport transfers, and daily sightseeing tours, including guided tours of the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx.  This is far less than you would have paid if you had booked this trip independently.

Similar deals exist for other locations, notably India, China, and Taiwan.  So be sure to check on the availability of these package deals when shopping for a budget travel deal.

Of course, some great deals can be had on your own as well, and this is often a great way to go, especially if you are a solo traveler.  Solo travelers often have difficulty getting those great deals on package deals, since the required single supplement can often ruin the deal. 

It is also important to find out exactly what is, and what is not included, in any package you are considering.  Many package deals have optional excursions built in, and these extras can add considerable cost.  Be sure to ask for a detailed daily itinerary to determine if you will be left on your own if you fail to take these optional.  Also ask for a detailed list of these optional excursions, including full descriptions and prices, and then carefully compare the total price to what you could find on your own.

If you are traveling on your own, be sure to start shopping early, especially if you are traveling by air.  The important thing to remember is that airlines allocate only so many seats for those advertised low fares, and if you fail to act quickly, you may be out of luck.  It is important to book the airfare, and the hotel, as early as possible to ensure the lowest possible prices.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to choose a vacation package deal or independent travel is up to each individual traveler.  It is important to carefully compare package prices with those for independent travel to the same location.  It is also important to consider your own personal travel style.  Some people are more comfortable with a packaged tour, particularly to an unfamiliar location, while others relish the freedom from schedules that independent travel provides.

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Choosing Your Vacation Walking Shoes

Carefully chosen walking shoes will make a world of difference on your vacation. Your feet are as unique as your personality so just any old shoes won't do.

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Here are some tips to help you choose the right walking shoes for you.

Find an athletic store that has qualified people who can evaluate your walking gait. They can then point you toward a shoe that will match your style.

Your feet will swell on a walk. So pick a walking shoe that is about a size bigger than you usually would buy. Or, if possible, try on your shoes after a long walk.

Fit your shoes while wearing the same socks that you will be wearing on your vacation.

Consider the type of walking you will be doing. Hiking boots are good for poorly maintained trails, off trail or cross country hikes. But they are heavy and stiff. Stick with walking or running shoes for walks on paved or maintained trails.

Make sure there is room at the toes and the sides. Even a small amount of rubbing will produce blisters.

Cushioned shoes provide comfort and are great for non rugged walking surfaces. They usually have a little less support.

Lightweight is important when you are walking all day. You can afford to give up a little support for light weight when you are walking on pavement or maintained trails.

Avoid flared soles and heels that are more than an inch higher than the sole in front. These types of shoes are not good for a walker's gait.

You want a flexible shoe that will twist and bend at the ball of the foot.

If you have wide or narrow feet make sure that you get a shoe that is sized for you. Don't settle for a standard width shoe. You will regret it.

The success of your vacation can depend on having a comfortable pair of shoes to walk in. Take the time to find the right one. It is worth it.

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Hostelling, is it for you

You might think of hostelling as something that college students do while traveling through Europe for the summer.  However, hostelling is not just for the college crowd anymore, and now includes people of all ages and backgrounds.  If you are a traveler on a budget, staying at a hostel can be an adventure that will add to your travel experience.

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Staying in a hostel will not be everyone’s cup of tea, and many travelers would prefer to spend the money on a traditional hotel.  Hostel traveling is best suited to those traveling alone, or to young people traveling in groups.  Hostels are not really recommended for families traveling with young children.  In fact, many hostels do not accept children under a certain age.

Most hostels are set up like dormitory rooms, with several bunk beds arranged in the room, with anywhere from four to ten bunks per room.  Each traveler is assigned a specific bed upon check-in.

Nearly all of the hostels in the United States group their accommodations according to gender, with the female guests in one section of rooms and the male guests in another.  In multi-level hostels, males and females are often separated by floor.

It is not uncommon, however for European hostels (and those elsewhere around the world) to allow mixed genders to share a room.  Make sure to ask about the policy of the hostel before you check in.  I, as a woman traveling solo, have never encountered a problem with these arrangements, and I have stayed in hostels throughout Europe, including Rome, London and Amsterdam.  Some visitors might be surprised or offended by these sleeping arrangements.

The bathroom accommodations at hostels differ also, with some rooms containing a shared bathroom and shower, while other hostels will have shower and bathroom facilities located in the hallway.  If you would prefer not to share a bathroom with strangers, make sure you ask about the hostel’s policy ahead of time.

More often now, reservations are becoming increasingly vital at hostels, especially during the summer months in popular cities.  It is now not at all unusual for hostels in popular tourist cities to be booked solid for months, where once it was common for travelers to be able drop by the hostel and expect to get a bed.

Price is by far the biggest appeal of staying at hostels.  The nightly rate for a hostel is usually no higher than $25 or $30 per night, with most costing even less.  With the average hotel room cost somewhere around $100 to $150 in many cities, it is easy to see why hostels are becoming such a popular alternative.

Another benefit of staying in a hostel is that the staff is extremely accommodating and knowledgeable about the local area.  Unlike many staff members of some luxury hotels, who travel in from the outlying areas and rarely see the city in which they work, hostel staff tend to live in the city, and have an personal knowledge of the local sites, including which attractions are can’t miss and which ones aren’t worth the trip.

Hostels also usually have access to discounts and coupons for local area attractions and restaurants, and they can provide information on the best restaurants and hangouts around.

While not everyone will find a hostel appealing, and the accommodation of a local hostel are simple at best, they can be wonderful options for lodging for the budget minded traveler.  After all, the goal of travel is to get out and see the world, and hostel travel lets you save money on lodging so that you can do just that.

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Holiday Travel with your Pets

The holidays are a time when many people travel, and that leads to the dilemma of what to do with the family pets. Many people choose to bring them along because they don’t have anyone to care for them and they don’t want to place them in a dog kennel for the duration of their holiday trip.

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Traveling with your pets for the holidays can be a pleasant experience if you are prepared for it. Otherwise it can turn into a nightmare due to the care your pets need and where you will be staying. If you are visiting family or friends of the holidays you really need to make sure they are comfortable with you bringing you pets along.

Keep in mind that most hotels won’t allow you to keep pets in your room. Make sure you look into this information before you secure the reservation. Those hotels that do offer you the right to bring your pets will you will charge you a deposit just in case your pet destroys something in the room during your stay.

Most airlines will make accommodations for your pets to travel in the plane but they have to be secured in a carrier. This can be very stressful for pets that are used to roaming around freely. They will have to fly in the cargo area of the plane unless the airline allows small cats and small dogs to be placed under your seat for the duration of the flight.

If you plan to place your pet in a carrier let them get used to it in the weeks prior to your travel plans for the holidays. This way they won’t be so overwhelmed by the concept of being in the carrier for the duration of the flight. This can be quite traumatic for your pet and you don’t want them injuring themselves during the flight.

 Keep in mind that they will charge you more if your pet is aboard the plane with you instead of with the cargo. Still, this is a great way to ensure your pet is being well cared for while your travel for the holidays. If you have any connecting flights though you will definitely want to keep your pet on board with you. The risk of losing your pet this way will really put a damper on the holiday festivities.

You will not be able to take your pets along with you on the bus lines or the train due to their strict guidelines. The only exception to this rule is seeing eye dogs as not allowing them on board is a violation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a result many people traveling with pets for the holidays decide to take their own vehicle.

Make sure you have plenty of food and water for them so they can stay hydrated and feeling well. If you are traveling by car you need to plan to stop often for them to exercise and use the bathroom. It is a good idea to take along their favorite toys or blankets in order to minimize their stress during travel.

Pay close attention to the weather for your holiday travel as it can be quite a change for your pet. They are likely used to their normal climate and they may have trouble coping with the extreme heat or the extreme cold.

It is very possible to travel with your pets for the holidays but it take plenty of planning. You want them to be as comfortable as possible without it affecting your ability to enjoy traveling for the holidays as well. Even though you may want to have your pets with you, carefully weigh the decision. If you determine that they travel conditions won’t be right for them then find a quality kennel for them to stay at so you can still enjoy your holiday travel.

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Holiday Travel by Train

More and more people are turning to Amtrak as a reliable way to travel for the holidays. After the terrorist attacks of 09/11/01, airport security has become increasingly difficult to get through. As a result most airports have long lines and delays taking place around the holidays because they don’t want to become lax even when it is busy.

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Traveling with children for the holidays can be stressful, especially if you are traveling with them alone. Keeping them entertained in a car for the trip is often a two person job so one can drive and one can play games or offer snacks to keep everyone in the vehicle happy for the duration of the trip.

Airplanes are very cramped and most people don’t do well with children roaming the isles or crying during the flight. For younger children, the amount of pressure that can build in their ears on an airplane is very painful. Being stuck on a runway for hours will definitely make children uncomfortable and these delays often happen around the holidays. If you have ever tried to change diapers in the small airplane bathrooms you will know that it isn’t an easy feat to accomplish.

Amtrak is very family oriented so this may be the best mode of transportation for your holiday travel. The cars are roomy and you are able to get up and walk around freely. There is plenty of scenery along the railway routes too for you to enjoy.

If you are be going on a long trip for the holidays, Amtrak offers sleeping cars of various sizes. This is a great way for your children to have the room they need to take a nap and to play. Most of the family sleeping cars offer enough space for two adults and two children comfortably.

You will find great holiday travel deals on Amtrak when you reserve a sleep car as well. Many times you will get coupons for free meals offered in the dining car. This is an expense you will have to cover on your own otherwise so it helps offset the cost of the sleep car.

Make sure you make reservations for Amtrak early though. They tickets often sell out quickly for holiday travel and they have a limited number of sleeping cars. You don’t want to be stuck without one or have to accept one that is too small for comfort because you waited too long to make your reservation.

Most train stations are very well set up and you can even leave your car there when you board the Amtrak for free. Most airports charge you by the day to leave your vehicle behind and that is an expense that quickly adds up. You can either have your family or friends pick you up at the train station for your destination or choose alternate modes of transportation. There will likely be rental cars at the terminal or you can take a taxi cab.

You can go online to find out the various destinations that Amtrak travels to. If they don’t go to your exact location but within 100 miles you may want to consider having someone pick you up there or to rent a car to go the rest of the way. Amtrak is affordable and much more comfortable than taking an airplane or traveling all that way in a car.

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