Monday, November 30, 2015

Your First Business Trip

The odd thing about business travel is to some extent, it is a mixture of what you know the very strange.  The business you are going out to do you know how to do.  Whether it discussing a new business project, developing a software product or attending a seminar or conference, the business part of your business trip is probably not the hardest part.

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But if you are new to business travel, there are some aspects to it that are very different from travel for leisure and ways to prepare for the trip that will make or break whether it goes well or you come home frustrated in your efforts.  Just like any business venture, the key word for success in this venture is preparation.  Above all, have your business program well organized and ready to use when you get there.  If you are giving a presentation, have it finished, the PowerPoint slides prepared and tested and all of your equipment ready to go when you set out.  The sheer fact that you are prepared for the work you are going to this new city to do will relieve your tension tremendously.

But preparation doesn’t stop just in planning for a successful business effort.  Do your homework about the place you are going and how you will handle the trip once you get there.  Here are some key things you should think well in advance about to assure your trip goes well.

*    Your plane flight.  As soon as you know your destination, book that flight.  The earlier you nail that down, the more you know you will have a flight and that your choice of seats is assured.  This can make business travel by air much less stressful.

*    Driving in a new town.  If you are going to drive in a new town, be sure you have maps and know how to negotiate the roads.  It’s a whole different world to drive in Boston compared to driving in Kansas City.  If you can avoid driving, make sure your ground transportation is arranged ahead of time.

*    Accommodations.  Obviously, book your hotel well in advance to assure you will have a room when you get there.  Only in situations where you are not sure where you will end up should you put this off.  The last thing you want would be to need a room at 11 p.m. and everything in town is booked up.

*    Extraordinary needs.  If you have medicines or other needs that are going to require special planning, get out ahead of that too.  If there are business needs you will require upon your arrival, you can ship things ahead for yourself so that equipment is waiting in your destination office when you arrive.

*    Dealing with security.  Remember that homeland security at airports is tight and the rules change from time to time.  You can usually find the current restrictions and ways the airlines will allow you to travel on the internet.  By knowing this in advance, you can avoid a lot of heartache when you get to the airport.

*    Money.  You don’t want to have wads of cash with you when you travel but think ahead about how much cash and other monetary needs you should have.  Travel with plenty of credit at your disposal.  Emergency situations on the road can be defrayed with good credit or you can find yourself in a real jam without it.  If you are traveling overseas, become familiar with the monetary system you will be using there.

*    Things you take for granted.  Little things mean a lot.  If you have creature comforts you need in the hotel room, think about them and pack such things so you can feel as at home as possible.  Something as small as your favorite pillow or a scented candle to relax you can make all the difference in your ability to rest and be ready for business the next day.

By doing plenty of good planning, you can assure yourself that you have what you need on the trip and nothing more.  This will become more natural as you travel more.  But take the time to prepare well and prepare early so as you venture forth on this big adventure, you know you have covered every base before you left home.

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Myrtle Beach

North Myrtle Beach is an excellent beach vacation that offers endless stretches of powdery white sand and the crystal blue Atlantic Ocean.  These are all but the beginning of what a truly great vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is all about.

No matter if you are looking for a relaxing break from your daily routine or a vacation filled with activity, you'll find it all and then some in Myrtle Beach.  There is something for your entire family here, including miniature golf, water parkers, fine dining, shopping, and a lot more.  Golf lovers will find paradise in choosing from over 80 pro courses in the Myrtle Beach/North Myrtle Beach areas.

When the sun goes down in Myrtle Beach, the fun doesn't stop.  Several fine dining restaurants will tempt you with their delicious food.  After you have dinner you can visit one of the many night clubs in Myrtle Beach that offers a dazzling array of entertainment that includes comedy, country music, rock 'n' roll, and of course the shag music that the beach is so very well known for.

Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of life you'll find endless stretches of sandy beaches with the sounds and smells of the ocean.  The salt water marshes here are full of shrimp, crab, oysters and even fish.  No matter what you do, you can't help but relax as the ocean breeze caress the amazing landscape of North Myrtle Beach.

Located just eight miles north of the Myrtle Beach area, North Myrtle Beach offers beaches that are less crowded, the pace is much slower, and fewer high rise hotels help to maintain a family oriented atmosphere.  Here, you can take early morning strolls along the ocean and discover the endless treasures that nature has left for you and your family to enjoy.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Sukhumvit Road Bangkok Thailand

Sukhumvit Road can be considered the "main drag" in Bangkok.  A six-lane road, with a fenced divider and an overhead train, it is a tourist's dream or a tourist's nightmare.

The street is wall-to-wall vendors, morning and night.  You can buy almost anything from clothes, to souvenirs, to food and drink.

There are many decent restaurants along the road featuring Thai, Italian, American, and many other nations' food.  And, of course, there are oodles of food vendors hawking their rice, noodles, and soups.

The main touristy area of Sukhumvit runs from Soi 1 to Soi 33.  You can visit beer bars on Soi 1, go-go bars on Soi 4, and a variety bars on Soi Cowboy or Soi 33.  There are a few expatriate hang-outs in and around Soi 22.

You will also run into the ladies of the night peddling their wares and you may even run into some third genderites that may be after your wallet.  Be careful.

Venturing down some of the side Sois, you can find tailor shops, sports bars, numerous hotels, massage and beauty parlors, and shops of all shapes and sizes.

Getting a haircut, manicure, facial and massage for about $20 USD is a real bargain.  An Italian dinner at Pomodoro's and then off for some adult beverages.

Sukhumvit Road has it all.  You can shop, eat, drink and be entertained and do it all just walking around.

And just off of Sukhumvit Road are two of the most popular entertainment venues for tourists in Bangkok.  On Sukhumvit and Soi 4 is Nana Entertainment Plaza (NEP), three stories of bars in a U-shaped arena.  Everything from beer bars to go-go's and one on the 2nd floor that is for the gender challenged.

Further up Sukhumvit, between Soi 21 and Soi 23 is Soi Cowboy.  This street has been around since the 1970's and serves primarily the expats in the area, but more and more tourists have found it.  There are many small go-go bars and lots of cute girls on the street trying to entice you to come inside their bar.

Some of the bars have shows that have to be seen to be believed.  Written descriptions will not do them justice.

Sukhumvit Road is not for the tame.  It is a unique experience but caution must be taken as it would in any big city. 

You will not be bored walking around Sukhumvit Road.  But, be careful.  With a large amount of tourists, the crowded street is notorious for pickpockets.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Phuket City Hotels on the Phuket, Thailand

Phuket City Hotels, pearl of the Andaman Sea, captures the imagination of visitors from all over the world for its natural eco system.

The world-famous option island, with its unmixed blue waters and gold-sand beaches has long been required as a lull from the jostle and activity of city life. Phuket City hotels are a present hotel with breath-taking views.

Phuket City hotels are situated in the delightful wealth of the sunny island of Phuket. We know a lot about phuket city hotels in Thailand. Phuket city hotels is one of our big interests, and we know that the sites.

Phuket City Hotels, a present Phuket City Hotels on the pleasing island of Phuket, where nothing has been spared to cause you the finest in accommodation, facilities, dining and relaxation.

Going through the final part of this article, we will see just how important the subject can be to many people.

Phuket City Hotels offers guests a great experience and great leisure opportunities which combines the feature of international values with leniency and cozy hospitality from Phuket City Hotels.

This is complemented by the beauty of the natural surroundings and the charming air of done ease and relaxation. It's not surprising that many of Phuket City Hotels guests are recur visitors. This is not just any destination but a destination for a very exclusive holiday.

Hotel awaits you with cozy wanted and of course we will make you feel the exclusive of Phuket City Hotels. entertain contagious us and prefer your beloved Phuket City Hotels extent for your lovely holidays at here.

Having this information handy will help you a great deal the next time you find yourself in need of it.

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When Evening Falls on New York, it’s Time to Visit Times Square and Broadway

Although you can just as easily visit both Times Square and Broadway during the day, you won’t experience the magic of those world famous neon signs until darkness falls and they light up the night sky.

Times Square has been upgraded in recent years.  The seedy reputation it had in the 1990s has gone, and new legislation has meant the adult industry has had to make way for more family familiar franchises.  That doesn’t mean the adult industry has gone altogether, but it isn’t as prominent as it once was in this area.  Today big name stores and restaurants vie for space beneath the giant billboards and tourists flock here to stand in the famous square and have their photos taken to show everyone back home that they’ve been to New York! 

Broadway isn’t a place where you can take a photo of and have people instantly recognize where you are, but it’s an experience not to be missed nevertheless.  Whether you’re a regular theater goer back home, or someone who’s never seen a live show, catching a show on Broadway is part of the New York experience.  One of the main problems is getting tickets for the theaters.  Tickets are often in short supply for popular shows, and none of the shows are cheap.  However, if you aren’t too fussy about what you want to see, there are discount ticket booths in Time Square (your hotel should be able to help you locate one) where unsold tickets for that days’ performances are sold at discount prices.  If you want to see a live taping of a television show, the best place to try and get tickets is usually through the show’s official website.

If this is your first visit to the “Big Apple”, Times Square and nearby Broadway are two parts of New York’s past and present that are definite “Must Sees” on your New York itinerary.

Monday, November 9, 2015

2 Great Ways To Discover Florida

Here are Some Great Ways to Discover Florida.

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# 1. Fun and Adventure

With over 34 million visitors each year, Orlando is the undisputed theme park capital of the world. But if you are after more fun and adventure after visiting the theme parks at Disneyworld, Universal Orlando Resort and Seaworld, you should try the sensational Busch Gardens in Tampa, the world famous Daytona International Speedway and exploring the Everglades national park.

Don’t Miss a Space Shuttle launch…

Cape Canaveral on Florida’s ‘Space Coast’ is the only place in the West where people are launched into space. Being there when the Space Shuttle blasts into space is a truly incredible experience.

Don’t Miss Florida’s largest and fastest roller coaster…

Is Busch Gardens, Tampa

Prepare for the thrill of your life on Sheikra, Florida’s tallest roller coaster and the world’s tallest dive coaster. 70mph of pure adrenaline-pumping excitement. Travel 200 feet up and then plunge to the depths of an underground tunnel, with water!

Don’t Miss Bush Gardens Zoo…

With over 2600 animals, the zoo at Busch Gardens is one of America’s top zoos

# 2. Culture

Look beyond the more obvious tourist attractions and you will be surprised at what you find.
There is an abundance of architecture, museums, forts, art galleries.

Don’t Miss Historic Wrecks…

Pensacola has fascinating wrecks to explore. This includes the 500-foot World War 1 battleship USS Massachusetts, the Russian freighter San Pablo and an A-7 Corsair aircraft that fell off the deck of the USS Lexington.

Don’t Miss Art Deco Buildings…

Take a stroll down Ocean Drive, Miami, and enjoy South Beach’s Art deco buildings. Painted pink, lavender and turquoise, they line the palm-fringed walkway.

Don’t Miss a Driving Tour…

If you have a car whilst visiting Miami, do yourself a favour, and take a driving tour of Coral gables. Coral Gables Driving Tour isn’t just one of the country’s richest neighbourhoods, it’s a separate city within Greater Miami. Known as ‘The City Beautiful’ for good reason, its elegant homes line winding avenues shaded by banyans and live oaks. This driving tour winds its way along the lush peaceful lanes and is both relaxing and cultural.

Along the tour are these beautiful sights:

1. The Granada Entrance – a replica of the gate to Granada in Spain.
2. The Country Club Prado Entrance – complete with ornamental pillars.
3. Alhambra water Tower – built in 1925.
4. Coral Way – lined by live oaks and Spanish-style houses.
5. Venetian Pool – a beautiful public swimming pool.
6. Coral Gables Congregational Church – built in Spanish Baroque style.
7. Biltmore Hotel – one of the most stunning hotels in the country, beautifully restored to its 1920s century grandeur.
8. The Lowe Art Museum – contains European and Native American Art.
9. French City Village – one of several international villages built to add variety to the city.
10. Dutch South African Village.
11. French Country Village.
12. Chinese Village.
13. French Normandy Village.
14. Coral Gables City Hall
15. Miracle Mile – the district’s most important shopping street.

Other Bits of Culture:

- Hemingway’s House in Key West, where the novelist lived from 1931-1940.

- Little Havana in Miami – 3.5 square miles of Cuban culture and life.

- The Ringling Museum of Art and Ringling Museum (Sarasota).

- Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island – a charming Victorian resort.

- Salvador Dali Museum, St Petersburg.

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Unique Travel Gifts for Christmas

Coming up with unique Christmas gift ideas can be difficult. If you’re buying for a traveler, here are a few unique travel gifts you should consider.

Travel Gifts
For some people, travel consists of hopping on a plane and moving around the country as part of a job. For others, it is an opportunity to get out and see exotic locations. Regardless of the type of travel, following are a list of unique travel gifts you can buy friend and family who travel.

1. Gladiator School – Watching the movie, Gladiator, each of us had a moment where we pictured ourselves on the floor of the coliseum. Well, now you can give someone the ultimate travel gift. Yep, Gladiator lessons in Rome, Italy. Located on the ancient Appian rode where Spartacus met his end, the Gladiator School offers a variety of lessons in the theory and actual combat techniques of the Gladiators. You will actually cross swords with others. Courses range from on day to four months.

2. Packing Compressors – Okay, these aren’t the most exciting of gifts, but travelers love them. When you travel, space is at a premium. Packing compressors are zip bags that hold clothes. The bags have a pressure valve that removes the air and reduces the space taken up by the clothes by over 80 percent. This means you don’t have to leave the wool sweaters and winter jackets at home. A tremendous utilitarian item. Eagle Creek is the leading brand in this category and you can spend between $10 and $30 depending on the size of the bag. This is a travel gift that will actually be used and cherished.

3. 1,000 Places To See Before You Die – This books makes a great gift for travelers. Locations and descriptions of unique places are included. Be warned, the person you give this gift to will end up sitting somewhere for hours reading it. In rare cases, they’ll walk out the door and go directly to the airport. You can buy it at any bookstore.

4. Swiss Army Knife Pens – Everyone knows the value of Swiss Army Knives. Now you can buy it in the form of a pen. The tools pull out of the top of the pen just like the traditional knife. Expect to pay $30 for this travel gift.

5. Fly the Big Apple – If New York City is on the travel itinerary, then a helicopter tour over the Big Apple is a great gift and surprisingly inexpensive. Xperience Days is offering them for $65.

6. Nomad Travel Journals - A little self-promotion here. Nomad Travel Journals are compact writing journals that let travelers keep notes about their trips. Really great for creating a record of who was on the trip, things seen, people met, contact information such as email address, phone numbers and so on. As the years pass, you can read back through your travel journal to relive trips and laugh yourself silly over funny events you might otherwise forget. A tremendous gift for student travelers and backpackers. You can click the link at the bottom of this article to see the travel journals which cost $25 with case.

Shopping for the holidays can be stressful. If you’re buying for a traveler, any of the above gifts will be a hit.

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Use an all Inclusive Resort and Save Money

This article will open up a whole new world of awe and wonder for you when you discover how an all inclusive resort can save you money.
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For many vacationers working with a difficult budget, one of the first decisions to be made is whether to order their own travel deals or take advantage of one of the many all inclusive packages that are offered.

In most cases, the choice to go with an all inclusive hotel will depend on the particular arrangement being offered.  For instance, there are a great many terrific all inclusive hotels or resorts that offer considerable discounts in the off season and the shoulder season, so it is definitely a value for checking out these choices if you get the chance.

One of the best ways to choose if an all inclusive hotel or resort is certainly the best deal available is to make a spreadsheet inventory of all the numerous expenses of a do it yourself vacation.  Be certain to incorporate both apparent things like airfare, hotel, rental car, meals and sightseeing excursions, as well as incidentals like tips and gratuities.  Then begin searching for the best deal on all these things in the resort location you have selected.  Add it all up, and remember that number as you begin shopping for all inclusive travel packages.

From now until the now until the end of this article, take the time to think about how an all inclusive resort can help you save you money on your next vacation.

It is regularly possible to discover all inclusive travel packages that meet or beat the expenses of a do it yourself trip.  That is since all inclusive tour operators are able to reach deals for substantial discounts with airlines and hotels by assuring them a certain amount of business.

Of course, when reserving an all inclusive vacation package, it is essential to find out just what is – and is not – included in that all inclusive package.  For instance, most all inclusive packages don’t consist of alcoholic drinks, while some do consist of them.  If this is a concern, you may want to distinguish between the prices of these two kinds of all inclusive and make the appropriate decision for your wants and lifestyle.

In addition, a number of all inclusive travel packages don’t consist of airfare, so be certain to find out if airfare is included in order to make an intelligent and educated decision.  Sightseeing excursions are another item that are usually not included in an all inclusive travel package, so be certain to get a listing of included and possible sightseeing excursions, along with a cost guide for those that are not included in the main price.

If you are touring alone, it is also important to think about the dreaded single add-on.  The single add-on for all inclusive resorts can differ quite a bit, to as little as $100 to as much as doubling the advertised cost of the vacation.  If you are touring on your own, it is central to understand how greatly the single add-on is before booking the trip.

The choice of all inclusive versus do it yourself is seldom a simple one to make.  It is important to compare packages thoroughly in order to convince yourself that you are honestly getting the greatest value for your money.

This article is meant to inform you about all inclusive resort packages and how they really can save you money. Hopefully this has been accomplished and you can have a more relaxing and less costly vacation.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sharm el Sheikh Holidays

Sharm El Sheikh which gave the Red Sea an international reputation as one of the world's most extraordinary diving destinations in the Red Sea, Egypt.

Sharm-El-Sheikh, popularly only "Sharm", is located at the southern tip of Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. It is situated on a narrow coastal strip between the Red Sea and Mount Sinai where the Reef meets the mountains and Desert compliments the Red Sea.

Sharm-El-Sheikh enjoys year round dry and bracing climate; the average temperature ranges from 80˚F high to 69˚F low. Due to its enchanting landscape, temperate climate and stretches of long natural beaches along the clear, calm water, Sharm-El-Sheikh has become a very popular tourist destination. The 250 different coral reefs and 1000 species of fish among other marine life are unmatched anywhere in the world and they offer a thrilling and challenging time to divers. Various watersports, particularly recreational scuba diving and snorkeling available here are considered to be among the best in the world.

Sharm-El-Sheikh, is easily approached from the Sharm-El-Sheikh International Airport, has become one of the most famous, yet expensive tourist destinations. There are many tourist attractions here.

Na’ama Bay is the most popular resort in Sharm-El-Sheikh and offers numerous activities, live entertainment, restaurants, cafés, bars, dive shops, casinos, shopping, underwater photography and other attractions. From here make a visit to the Sinai Desert and enjoy excellent Bedouin cuisine. 

Om El Seed Hill has a spectacular beach with sea reefs ideal for relaxing and swimming.

Ras Mohammed, located south of Sharm-El-Sheikh, is an underwater National park. Experienced divers find delight in the amazing reefs. The Red Sea offers opportunities for snorkeling and if you don't snorkel or dive, take a tour in a glass-bottomed boat to get a glimpse of the Red Sea coral reefs & marine life. There are beautiful reefs in Shark's Bay and Ras Um Sid, located next to the lighthouse and the beach here attracts a lot of crowd. A visit to the Aqualand waterpark, built as a replica of the famous Abu Simble Temple with pharonic statues, is an experience you must not miss.

From the resort, approximately a 3-hour drive away, is Mt. Saint Catherine Monastery built in 542 AD. You must visit Mt. Moses, “Moses’ Well” and the burning bush. You can book a full-day excursion of 157 km drive to discover the awe-inspiring Colored Canyons.

Nightlife here is quite attractive with numerous bars, restaurants, nightclubs and discos that remain open year-round. If you love shopping, Sharm-El-Sheikh mall offers both local and foreign products. The Bedouin Market or “Souk" offers handmade items including garments, jewelry, embroidered bags, camel leather shoes and pottery. Most tourists pay 5-10 inflated prices; however, Old Market can be cheaper, if you bargain.

The resort is dotted with many small and 5-star hotels. The well known  
is only a 10 minutes drive from Sharm-El-Sheikh Airport. It provides excellent air-conditioned well appointed accommodation and in-house facilities such as poolside bar, swimming pool, fitness centre, playground and games centre, hair salon, concierge assistance, valet laundry service, and onsite shopping. Separate children's pool and childcare centre are provided to take care of the children. Since it is set on a private beach in Sharks Bay, guests can enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving and an Arabian experience in the Bedouin tent with shisha pipes, Oriental tea and authentic cuisines. All the surrounding excursion sites are easily accessible from here and the friendly hotel staff willingly makes all necessary arrangements for the excursions.

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See the Sensuous Sculpture

Khajuraho one of the ancient centre of the Chandela Dynasty in India. Khajuraho flourished from 950 to 1050 AD and is spectacular feat of architecture carved with the roughest of tools. Each temple has a large number of spires in ascending order representing man's aspirations towards spiritual goals. They are famous tourist draw because they have the most sublime, sensuous and erotic sculptures and are romantically situated miles from anywhere in the dry and hot plains of Madhya Pradesh.
With Khajuraho Temple Tour Package you visit the legendary temples of khajuraho are an incomparable experience. Acknowledged as one of the world's artistic wonders, these temples dedicated to the Hindu pantheon of Gods are covered in carvings that are a paean to life and love. Built within a short span of a hundred years by the Chandela Rajputs, the 10th century temples lay forgotten until they were discovered in the present century. Khajuraho has achieved fame for the sensual appeal of its erotic sculptures. Arrive Khajuraho & transfer to hotel. Later explore the Western and Eastern temples of khajuraho while your guide explains the intricate meaning and legends behind each describable sculpture. Then with Khajuraho tour package visit the Eastern group of temples which consists of 3 Hindu and 3 Jain temples, their proximity attests to the religious tolerance of the times in general and of the Chandela rulers.

Also visit the most important and fascinating western group of temples. The temples of Khajuraho have been declared a 'world heritage' site by UNESCO in order to preserve the rich legacy of architecture.

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Visitors Medical Insurance

Foreign travel can be both exciting and challenging. Travel planning calls for a lot of thought and time. Often healthcare needs of travelers are overlooked. This oversight can turn an otherwise great trip into something out of a nightmare.

Get Travel Insurance 

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These are some important steps you must take before you undertake any travel:

1. See your primary care physician and discuss your needs during your foreign travel. Ensure everybody is current with immunizations. Many Asian and African nations demand proof or certificate of vaccination. These requirements can be obtained from your travel agent.

2. Study your current health insurance plan to determine if it offers adequate coverage overseas. If it is not clear check with your insurance company about what is covered and excluded during overseas travel.

3. If your current health plan doesn’t offer coverage for medical expenses and medical evacuation it is prudent to consider foreign visitor insurance. If your travels are short term then you can consider a visitor medical insurance policy. If you are out on a long trip spanning several years then you can consider a more comprehensive international health insurance plan offering regular pregnancy and preventive healthcare benefits.

The premium for the plan is influenced by your age, the type of benefits and the length of coverage. It is best to speak to an experienced visitors insurance professional. Ask the right questions and ensure you protect your most important asset - health.

Get Travel Insurance 

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Traveling with Young Children to Disneyland - 12 Things You Must Take With You

A trip to a Disney theme park with young children is a wonderful experience.  But first you have to get there with very excited children in tow.  How do you make sure you arrive with your sanity intact?  Read on for 12 tips to make your trip run smoothly.

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Unless you live right near Disneyland then when you organize your holiday, you know that it means you are going to have to take into account how to get there.  There are two issues that you need to deal with.  The first is what transportation method you’ll use and the second is how you will keep your young children amused on the way.  There is no denying that traveling with children is a whole new test of your parental ingenuity.

Do the scout/girl guides thing and be prepared with backups and lots of distractions.  Who knows maybe by following these tried and true tips you’ll arrive triumphant at the other end…OK, maybe not triumphant but perhaps you’ll manage to keep your cool the whole way and that is something!

Here are 12 things you need to carry with you and not in the trunk or luggage hold:

1.    A change of clothes for each child and socks (it can get cold on airplanes and the socks provided don’t come in any size other than big).

2.    Extra clothes for you in case of spills.

3.    Tissues (can you ever have too many where young children are concerned?), a few empty plastic bags (to contain any smelly nappies and dirty clothes) and a face washer.  Take a Ziploc bag for the face washer so that when it’s wet, not everything else in your bag gets damp.

4.    Variety of snack food (cereal, sultanas, crackers, fruit etc) in Ziploc bags.  If you’re on a plane, the food never comes quickly or often enough and if you’re in a car, you can guarantee a child will be hungry 15 minutes after you departed.

5.    Drink bottles – disposables are handy but sometimes having the comfort of a familiar drink bottle makes it worth taking your child’s with you.  It depends a bit on the child and how adept they are at drinking from a regular bottle. 

6.    A new toy for each child – something they haven’t seen before and won’t see until you get going and they start to get restless.  Make it something that isn’t noisy, doesn’t take batteries (or if it does, take some spares), that they can interact with, that doesn’t require your involvement to put it back together if it falls apart and that isn’t made up of a million pieces that can get lost down the back of the seat.  A tall order I know but I can tell you from experience that it’s worth spending a bit of time choosing something that fits the bill.

7.    A couple of books, preferably one or two new ones. 

8.    Balloons – they don’t take up much space and are perfect for that transit stop that seems to take forever.  There is nothing like a child chasing a balloon to make everyone feel that bit better and lighter about life.  The other thing to do with balloons is to blow them up and then let the air out slowly with the opening directed at the child.  My children love this.  They squint and turn their faces away and then double up with laughter and shout ‘more, more’.  Again this may require a bit of discretion because the noise of an exhaling balloon can be loud and well, unbecoming.

9.    Bubble mix – another space saver that works a charm.  Best saved for outdoors.

10.    Drugs.  I’m going to get controversial here as I know this isn’t a choice everyone is comfortable with but drugs to help children sleep, especially on long haul flights, can be an absolute lifesaver – for you and the child.  Taking children across many time zones in a steel capsule with an uncomfortable chair for a bed isn’t their choice for a good night’s sleep, so make it easier for them by helping them to get some rest.  It means you will all arrive in better shape. 

11.    A favourite toy or sleep buddy (preferably something small) can be an enormous comfort to an over-tired or stressed child. 

12.    And lastly don’t forget to take something to read for yourself.  You never know they may sleep or watch a movie and you could be left wondering what to do with yourself.  Nothing too ambitious or bulky.  A magazine or short story should do the trick

What should you put it all in?  If you have to do any walking, a daypack is best because it won’t slip off your shoulders, leaves both hands free and has lots of compartments so you can find things, like your wallet, in a hurry.

If this list sounds like a lot to you, believe me when I say that being prepared can make all the difference between a never-ending ordeal and an unusual, possibly pleasurable way to pass time.

Happy traveling!

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Travel tips – getting the most out of your limited space

The number-one rule in packing for a trip is to pack lightly because we often forget how frequently we’ll have to lift or carry our luggage during our travels. Consider how, you’ll be dragging your luggage into the trunk of your car and out again, through the airport, off of the luggage carousel, through another airport, back into the trunk of your rental car and out again until finally you get to the hotel where hopefully they’ll have a porter.

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On top of having to lug your bags around, your airline will have strict rules on the size, weight and the number of bags you can travel with—for both carry-on and checked baggage. Make sure you check your airline's website for current information on restrictions and don’t assume that what you took last time will be allowed this time—especially if you are travelling on a different airline. Luggage size and weight restrictions can vary by airline or travel destination.

Packing lightly for your travels can save you money. Many airlines are now charging fees for overweight bags, oversized bags, and for checking more than the allowed number of bags per passenger.

Other great reasons for packing lightly: shorter waits around the luggage carousel, less need for porters (and tips!) and easier Customs inspections (after all, if you had to force your bags closed, imagine how happy the Customs agents will be!)

Travel tips for packing your carry-on
Your carry-on should contain all your most valuable items and must-have documentation like:

•    Your wallet
•    Your passport
•    Your tickets
•    Your traveller’s cheques
•    Your emergency medical travel insurance
•    Your medications (be sure to keep them in their original bottles)
•    Phone numbers and addresses of where you’ll be staying
•    A small amount of local currency for immediate use when you arrive
•    The maps you’ll need to get where you are staying once you’ve arrived
•    If you must bring valuables like jewellery with you, your carry-on is your safest bet – but leave them at home if you can.

Travel tips for packing your checked luggage
The following tips should help you keep your luggage light and leave enough room so you can pack souvenirs when you return:

•    Find out if where you are staying offers laundry services or has facilities you can use. This is one of the major secrets of packing lightly.
•    Coordinate your outfits around a central color so you’ll be able to mix and match.
•    Plan your outfits so you can layer instead of bringing lots of coats.
•    Take a solid color sweater that will match any outfit to use to keep you warm
•    Why pack the rain gear if rain is nowhere in the forecast? Check the weather online, so you can pack weather-appropriate clothing without wasting space on things you won’t need.
•    Rolling clothes rather than folding them will help prevent wrinkles and optimize your limited space.
•    Take small sample sizes of toiletries that will last just long enough instead of huge bottles.
•    Don’t waste an inch of your luggage space, pack underwear and socks inside your shoes. This will also help your shoes keep their shape. Pack your belts around the edge of the luggage.

A final travel tip
Although already mentioned as one of the items you should keep in your carry-on so it doesn’t get lost, emergency medical travel insurance is a must-have for all Canadians. Even Canada’s Consular Affairs don’t mince words when they say on their website “DO NOT leave Canada without supplementary medical insurance.”

Even for the smallest of accidents, or the most common illnesses, emergency medical travel insurance offers you protection by ensuring you get the attention you need, when you need it while not having to worry about how your emergency treatment will get paid.

Before you leave, get emergency medical travel insurance quotes from competing insurers online and get the coverage you need. And don’t forget to pack it with your other must-have documentation!

Compare emergency medical travel insurance today!

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Travel Insurance - Don't Go Abroad Without It

If you are considering traveling abroad, review your health insurance policy to see if you are covered in other countries.  If not, purchase a travel insurance policy.

Your choice of a travel insurance policy is probably the most important decision you will make in planning your holiday.  You will enjoy peace of mind on your vacation knowing that any unforeseen circumstances, such as a hospital stay due to sickness or accident will be taken care of.

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In addition, while many travelers have health insurance, it sometimes does not cover them outside of their network or outside of the United States.  Most medical plans will not cover medical expenses abroad, which is why travel insurance coverage is vital to avoid financial disaster.  Always check the details of your insurance coverage before you travel.  Additionally, with out the proper medical insurance, you will not have a say on where you will be treated if you were in an accident.

Generally, comprehensive travel insurance policy costs 5 to 7 percent of the price of your trip.  Your policy may also provide reimbursement for lost luggage, some degree of medical evacuation insurance, accidental death coverage, medical expenses, personal liability, cancellation, loss of baggage and theft.  Your policy should also include all the details of how to make a claim. 

Not all travel insurance plans are created equal.  The cost varies from company and policy to policy.  Policies may be purchased for individual trips or as an annual policy for all trips taken in the year of insurance.  If you purchase an annual travel insurance policy, it will cover you for one year from the start date you choose.  In some cases, it might be your best option to purchase a trip cancellation waiver and a third party travel insurance policy.

Credit card companies usually provide what is called travel accident insurance, which covers accidents but not incidents of serious illness.  When you travel abroad, you should always consider buying insurance that includes medical care.

If you are willing to assume a financial risk (the cost of your trip), you can probably forego insurance for your domestic travel.  Since 9/11, many are looking to travel insurance to safeguard their trip against any unforeseen terrorist attacks at their destination.  Traveling abroad without insurance can be risky and impose long-term financial hardships if an accident or illness occurred.

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

When in Italy- twenty essential things to do

Sitting round the dinner table one night , after a few bottles of Chianti with some old friends, most of whom had spent time as European tour guides and backpackers, I asked them to name the best thing to see or do while staying in Italy. There was a lot of loud discussion as some tried to praise the less obvious things over the more mainstream, but there were also plenty of unanimous agreement for others. In no particular order may I present to you the top 20 things to do in Italy as decided by my mates.

1.    Nun Watching in Piazza San Pietro

There is something serene about watching a line of Nuns on tour, especially on specific Saint’s days, taking photos of the façade of St Peter’s or trailing behind each other inside the huge basilica. They are only out numbered by the pigeons, which parents ,who hate their children, encourage to sit on their offspring’s head in hopes they will pick them up and fly away, perhaps dropping them somewhere over the Forum.

2.    Eating Gelati 3 times a day

This is mandatory for anyone travelling during the months of June, July and August. How the Italians get it so creamy, tasty and dribbly is beyond me but you never feel full. It’s the best thing after a long hot day queuing up for hours to see all those magnificent artworks. It is made with totally natural ingredients and everybody claims to have the best gelato shop in Italy, which is believable, but some even go further, experimenting in odd flavours like tomato and believe it or not basil.

3.    Holding up the leaning tower of Pisa

You’ve all seen it. The obligatory photo of someone and their mates holding up the Leaning tower, either with one finger or both hands. Probably the next best thing to climbing it, which is all anyone goes to Pisa to do. And holding it up is about the cheapest thing there.

4.    Dodging Cars in Rome

After sky diving in Switzerland and a taxi ride in the Czech republic this probably the most adrenaline packed activity you can do in Europe. To cross the road you must keep walking, make sure you keep eye contact with any oncoming driver like a bullfighter and keep moving. The cars and bikes will come very close, never actually touching you, so long as you keep going.

5.    Parking on a Kerb

Everyone else does it.

6.    Singing a Duet with a Gondolier

He may not be the next Pavarotti but your gondolier should have a pretty good voice. They know all the old favourites and it makes the experience all the more authentic. They usually ask for a bit extra for the service on top of the hire fee. The most favoured time is around dusk as the lights are coming on making the reflections in the water add to the atmosphere.

7.    Hanging out with the Pope on Wednesday

Tourists, Nuns, Priests, locals and pigeons flock to Piazza San Pietro for the weekly address from his holiness Pope Benedict XVI at around 10am. Afterwards you can check out the inside of the Basilica and the crypt where St Peter’s remains are kept.

8.    Checking out David’s A—e

You could line up and pay to see the original inside the Accademia, where it was shifted at the end of the 1800’s to protect it from vandals and the elements. Or you could examine his copy up close in Piazza Signoria for free, or you could climb the hill above the Ponte Vecchio to see the bronze version standing in Piazza Michelangelo. Or you could see all 3 and make a comparison.

9.    Drinking wine and watching the sunset in Cinque Terre

There is something quite unique about sitting on the rocks next to where the fishing boats pull up, lanterns bobbing along the wires around the cove in the sea breeze, listening to a guy practising his baritone opera through an open window, watching the sun sinking over the horizon sipping on a locally made red after eating home made pasta and pesto sauce. Perfect.

10.    Eating Pizza in Napoli

Home of the Margherita pizza. A famous local pizza maker Rafaelle Espositi heard the Queen of Naples was interested in trying a pizza so he made a patriotic one using basil, tomato and mozzarella for the colours of the Italian flag. She liked it so much she gave her name to it. To be enjoyed while observing the kamikaze scooters and cars going hell for leather down the narrow streets.

11.    Cliff Diving in Sorrento

Not for the faint hearted. Locals, generally boys, scramble up the steep cliffs to leap off dropping tens of metres into the big blue beneath. If that is way too over the top you could always take a mask and snorkel and wait around underneath.

12.    Calling your mum from the top of the Venice Campanile

Believe it or not there is a public pay phone at the top of the campanile so you can make that all important call to your mum, or maybe order a pizza for dinner.

13.    Wine Tasting in Chianti

There is a theory that the word Chianti comes from the old Etruscan word for water ‘Clante’, which is an obvious connection to make if you drink a lot of Chianti. The stringent production standards set by the Consortium means the quality of all types of the wine is consistent and it’s hard to find a bad one.

14.    Tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain

But don’t go swimming unless you want to pay a huge fine. One coin means you return to Rome, two coins means you return and get kissed and three coins means you return and get married. All the money gets swept up regularly and given to charity. The authorities also don’t take kindly to anyone stealing from the fountain. Put the coin(s) in your right hand and throw over your left shoulder. It’s something fun to do with the change from your third gelato.

15.    Visiting the Sistine Chapel

If you survive the 3km walk through the rather opulent Papal Rooms of the Vatican Museum you will be rewarded with the sensational view of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Created in situ by Michelangelo, he often painted freehand straight onto the wet plaster, through belligerent Papal outbursts, financial difficulties, staffing problems, slipping foundations, wars and finally completed after 4 years in 1512. Take mini field glasses and some sort of key to each fresco. The noise of everyone whispering is only drowned out by the guard bellowing ‘silencio’ every so often. And don’t sit on the steps.

16.    Walking the planks in a flooded Venice

One of the more original experiences when visiting this watery city. Winter rains flood the lagoon and when the tide is in the level can rise to your knees. Practical locals have come up with the solution in the form of raised platforms so you can walk the planks around Piazza San Marco without getting your toes wet. Or you could invest in some stylish rubber booties.

17.    Getting Grappa-ed ( drink too much Grappa)

Every country has it’s fire water. In Russia and Poland it’s vodka, in Mexico it’s Tequila, in Czech it’s the Absinthe and in Italy it’s Grappa. Distilled from the leftovers from pressing the grapes for wine, all the pips, skins and stalks, it is usually drunk at the end of a meal after the espresso. The first shot takes care of any sensation in your throat and the second and third take care of the rest of the nervous system.

18.    Buying a Ferrari hat

After football, the Pope and their own mother comes the nation’s almost religious following of that little red car from Maranello. Most Italian drivers appear to fancy themselves as the next Schumacher along the autostrada, including the truck drivers, but you have to admit the car is cool.

19.    Riding a scooter in Tuscany

Winding country roads between rolling green hills, vine rows neatly slicing down the hillsides, wild flowers in the fields and those tall cypress trees lining the driveway to a mediaeval villa. All that fresh air and the chance to take life at the local pace while unpacking a tasty picnic in some farmer’s field.

20.    Finishing a Bistecca alla Fiorentina ( T bone Steak)

The resurrection of the Florentines favourite steak made national headlines. The local celebrity butcher from Panzano, Dario Cecchini had held a public funeral and memorial service when the EU banned the sale of beef on the bone products after the mad cow scare a few years back. Now it’s back and everyone is celebrating. Just make sure you’re really hungry for this one as it is huge.

The general consensus was that these were all the things that should be done during a trip to Italy, along with all the usual art and history things of course, in order that you get the most out of the trip.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What Happens If You Are Arrested Overseas?

If you are going overseas, avoid drugs at all costs.

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When you are in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws, and American officials are limited as to how they can assist you.  They cannot, for instance, represent you in legal proceedings or pay your legal fees or other expenses.  They can, however, perform a variety of vital services, which include providing a list of attorneys, assisting in contacting your family in the U.S. if you wish it, helping you obtain money from family in the U.S., and monitoring your health and welfare and the conditions under which you are being held.

If you are arrested, immediately ask to speak to a consular officer at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  Under international agreements, the U.S. Government has a right to provide consular assistance to you upon your request.  If your request to speak to your consul is turned down, keep asking—politely, but persistently.

Special warning about drug offenses abroad

Every year, several hundred Americans are arrested abroad on drug charges.  Persons caught with illegal drugs in a foreign country are subject to the drug laws of that country, not those of the U.S.; as always, ignorance of the law is no excuse.  In many countries, the burden of proof is on the accused to show that he or she is innocent of the charges.

Some Americans take advantage of an offer of an all-expenses-paid vacation abroad in exchange for carrying a small package in the luggage.  When, to their surprise, they are caught, the fact that they did not know that there were drugs in that package will not reduce the charges against them.         

Every aspect of a drug arrest abroad can be different from U.S. practice.  For instance:

    * few countries provide a jury trial

    * many countries do not permit pre-trial release on bail

    * pre-trial detention, often in solitary confinement, can last several months

    * prisons may lack even minimal comforts, such as beds, toilets, and washbasins

    * diets are often inadequate and require supplements from relatives and friends

    * officials may not speak English

    * physical abuse, confiscation of property, degrading treatment and extortion are

    * persons convicted may face sentences ranging from fines and jail time, to years of hard labor, and even the death penalty

    * penalties for drug possession and for drug trafficking are often the same abroad, so possession of one ounce of marijuana could result in years in a foreign jail      

As with any arrest of a U.S. citizen abroad, consular officers perform a variety of services.  But, you will basically be on your own.  Don’t be stupid.  Stay away from drugs.

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