|Before You Leave
Airline Baggage & Airport Security Regulations
|ALERT: The US Department of Homeland Security is restricting the amount of liquids passengers can carry on an airplane. Canada, the United Kingdom and European Union have imposed similar restrictions.|
With each item you intend to bring, visualize how to make it smaller, like photocopying certain pages and maps from the guidebook instead of bringing the entire book. Streamline your daily habits. Bring only one bottle of all-purpose lotion instead of multiple lotions for hands, face and body. Choose a regular toothbrush or razor over electric models.
Film and other accessories can be purchased globally and often easily, so save packing room by leaving them behind. Create an in-trip adventure and discover more about the area by shopping for a local brand of deodorant or lotion.
When it comes to incidentals, a few items will go a long way. Important items to bring include a first-aid kit, a tin of aspirin, sunscreen and a small bottle of Woolite for emergency, in-room laundering if needed. Also, a Swiss army knife will amaze you with its handiness, whether peeling fruit or uncorking a wine bottle. Remember - it's not allowed on the plane, so pack it in your checked luggage.
Once your travel kit is complete, be sure to pack it in your carry-on bag to avoid a mess in your checked luggage and have on hand during the flight.
THE ART OF PACKING
Now you know what to bring, so let the packing begin. Iron everything before placing it in the suitcase. If it goes in crisp and clean, odds are more in its favor of coming out the same. Button all buttons and zip all zippers.
Learn to fold. Practice folding like they do in clothing stores - they use that method for a reason. The better the fold, the fewer the creases. All garments can be folded in many different ways - T-shirts, jeans, skirts and sports coats can be rolled up and strategically positioned (i.e. stuffed) in a duffel bag or travel pack.
The interlocking method of folding clothes is ideal for suitcases. Overlap two pieces of clothing flat and then fold them into each other so that each piece cushions the other to aid in defying wrinkles. Placing a piece of tissue paper between each layer of clothing will also help prevent wrinkling.
If using the fold and stack method, try to think chronologically, placing the items to be worn first on the top. This will prevent rooting around the suitcase for a specific item while disrupting the rest.
Always pack tightly. Packing loosely wastes precious space and causes clothes to wrinkle. Eliminate wasted space, such as the insides of shoes, which are perfect for socks or underwear.
Always carry travel documents, medication, jewelry, traveler's checks, keys and other valuables in your carry-on luggage. Items such as these should never be packed in checked luggage.
Label each piece of luggage, both inside and out, with your name and telephone number, but not your home address. If an address is needed, then put your office's. And remove old claim checks to avoid confusion.
Unpack as completely as possible as soon as you get to the hotel to prevent further wrinkles. When repacking, remember that balled-up, dirty laundry takes more space than carefully folded clothes, so repack your used clothing identically to your original packing method.
The main message: be in control of your luggage and not at its mercy. With a little travel sense, a few packing guidelines and some helpful packing tips, traveling light will be an easy plan to follow.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, airlines have imposed strict regulations on the size and the amount of luggage passengers may check. Travelers who fail to check size requirements before their flights may be charged with extra fees in order to bring the bag on board the aircraft. To avoid such issues, ASTA advises you consult with the individual airlines' Web sites or Customer Service lines.
Some or all of this information has been compiled by TravelSense.org. TravelSense© is a consumer website run by the American Society of Travel Agents (“ASTA”). Traveloni, via our parent company, Foremost Travel & Tours, is a proud member of ASTA.
Traveling With Special Items on Airlines
Traveling With Special Items on Airlines
Airlines have seen it all. They have seen passengers transport every type of item - from tubas to scuba gear, parachutes to perishables - and they have rules in place for each and every piece. Following those rules is critical if you want to board smoothly and arrive at your destination on time.
To help you travel better with the possessions you simply must have at your destination, here are some helpful guidelines from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for transporting special items by airlines.
Please note that some airlines and other countries may have additional rules and restrictions on these particular items, so before you travel, check with your travel agent to obtain the most up-to-date information. Your travel agent can verify your airline's policies before you arrive at the airport, so you don't waste time trying to track down the info yourself.
Travelers may now carry through security checkpoints travel-size toiletries (3 ounces or less) that fit comfortably in ONE, QUART-SIZE, clear plastic, zip-top bag. With the exception of medications, any amount of liquid including alcohol greater than three ounces must be packed in your checked baggage. However, you cannot take alcoholic beverages with more than 70 percent alcohol content (140 proof), which includes grain alcohol and high-proof rums like Bacardi 151, in your checked luggage.
As for alcohol between 24 percent and 70 percent, you may take up to five liters per person in your checked luggage if it's packaged in a sealable bottle or flask. Alcoholic beverages with less than 24-percent alcohol content are not subject to hazardous materials regulations.
Liquids, including alcohol purchased after clearing the security checkpoint are permitted aboard aircraft.
Camp Stoves - You can bring these as carry-on or checked luggage only if they are empty of all fuel and cleaned so that there are no vapors or residue left - simply emptying the fuel container will leave flammable vapors, so cleaning is essential. Safest bet: ship the fuel containers to your destination ahead of time - passengers frequently have to leave them at the checkpoint because of fuel vapors.
Gasoline - You cannot bring any flammable liquids, including gasoline, in either your carry-on or checked luggage.
Aerosol insecticides - Hazardous aerosols, such as insecticides, cannot be transported in either your carry-on or checked luggage. Personal items like hair sprays and deodorants are allowed only in limited quantities.
Flare Guns - You may pack flare guns in checked baggage, but they must be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided container, and declared at check-in. You cannot take these items in your carry-on bag.
Flares - You may not bring flare guns in either your carry-on or checked luggage.
Knives and Tools - Pack knives and tools in your checked luggage. Sheath or securely wrap any sharp edges so that they do not injure baggage handlers and security officers.
Animal Repellants - You can bring chemical repellants in your checked luggage if the volume is less than four ounces and its active ingredient is less than two percent (most bear repellants exceed these limitations). Safest bet: buy these items at your destination and leave them behind when your trip is over.
Compressed Gas Cylinders - Compressed gas cylinders are allowed in checked baggage or as a carry-on only if the regulator valve is completely disconnected and the cylinder is no longer sealed (i.e. the cylinder has an open end). The cylinder must have an opening to allow for an internal visual inspection, and security personnel will not remove the seal or regulator at the checkpoint.
If the cylinder is sealed (i.e. the regulator valve is still attached), the cylinder is prohibited and not permitted through the security checkpoint, regardless of the reading on the pressure gauge indicator.
Crematory Containers and Deceased Remains
You are allowed to carry-on a crematory container, but it must pass through the x-ray machine. If the container is made of a material that prevents the screener from clearly viewing what is inside, then the container will not be allowed through.
Crematory containers are made from many different types of materials, so it's difficult to state for certain whether your particular crematory container can successfully pass through an x-ray machine. Just in case, purchase a temporary or permanent crematory container made of a lighter weight material such as wood or plastic that can be successfully x-rayed.
You may transport the urn as checked baggage provided that it is successfully screened. TSA will screen the urn for explosive materials/devices using a variety of techniques; if cleared, it will be permitted as checked baggage only. Out of respect for the deceased, the screener may not open the container under any circumstance.
Some airlines do not allow cremated remains as checked baggage so please check with your travel agent before attempting to transport a crematory container in checked baggage.
Currency, Coins, Precious Metals, or Valuable Jewelry
If you are carrying valuable items such as large amounts of currency, coins or jewelry, ask the security officer to screen you and your carry-on luggage in private. This will maintain your security and avoid public scrutiny. Ask to speak with a screening supervisor before you reach the metal detectors and tell them you would prefer to be screened in a private location.
Firearms & Ammunition
You may only transport firearms, ammunition and firearm parts in your checked baggage; these items are prohibited from carry-on baggage. When transporting firearms, firearm parts or ammunition in checked baggage, you must declare them to airline personnel during the ticket counter check-in process. The firearm must be unloaded and in a locked, hard-sided container.
You should remain present during the screening and provide the key or combination to the security officer if he or she needs to open the container. If you are not present, and the security officer must open the container, the airline will make a reasonable attempt to contact you; if they cannot, the container will not be placed on the plane.
You must securely pack any ammunition in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. You cannot use firearm magazines/clips for packing ammunition unless they completely and securely enclose the ammunition (e.g., by securely covering the exposed portions of the magazine or by securely placing the magazine in a pouch, holder, holster or lanyard).
You may carry ammunition in the same hard-sided case as the firearm, as long as you pack it as described above. Finally, you cannot bring black powder or percussion caps used with black-powder type firearms in either your carry-on or checked baggage.
Hunting & Fishing Equipmen
Hunting Knives, Spear Guns, Bow and Arrows - All are prohibited from carry-on luggage and should be packed in checked luggage. All sharp objects should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and security screeners.
Fishing Rods/Poles - Fishing rods are permitted as carry-on and checked baggage. But before you travel, check with your air carrier to confirm that it fits within its size limitations for carry-on items.
Tackle Equipment - Fishing equipment should be placed in your checked baggage, for some tackle can be considered sharp and dangerous. Expensive reels or fragile tackle (such as flies) can be packed in your carry-on baggage.
Knitting Needles, Needlepoint & Sewing
Knitting needles are permitted in your carry-on baggage or checked baggage. However, security officers have the authority to determine if an item could be used as a weapon and may not allow these items to pass through security. To avoid this from happening, bring circular knitting needles made of bamboo or plastic and blunt scissors. In any event, be sure to carry a crochet hook with yarn to save the work you have already done in case your knitting tools are surrendered at the checkpoint.
Most of the items needed to pursue a needlepoint project are permitted in your carry-on baggage or checked baggage with the exception of circular thread cutters or any cutter with a blade contained inside. These items must go in your checked baggage.
Lighters, Matches and Zippos
In an effort to concentrate resources on detecting explosive threats, TSA will no longer ban common lighters in carry-on luggage. Torch lighters remain banned in carry-ons. You may not bring matches in your checked baggage because of safety regulations. You may, however, bring one book of safety (non-strike anywhere) matches in your carry-on baggage or on your person.
For safety reasons, you may not bring "strike anywhere" matches at all.
If you are uncertain as to whether your lighter is prohibited, please refrain from bringing it to the airport.
You may bring musical instruments as carry-on or as checked baggage, but first check with your airline prior to your flight to ensure your instrument meets the size requirements for their aircraft. Security officers must x-ray or physically screen your instrument before it can be transported on an aircraft.
As for specific instruments, pack brass instruments in your checked baggage and stringed instruments as carry-on items, if they are within carrier size limitations.
If you have an instrument in your checked baggage, include short instructions (very clear and understandable to someone with no musical background) for handling and repacking your instrument. Make sure these instructions are easy to find on or near your instrument.
Per TSA Screening Policy, you may carry one musical instrument in addition to your one carry-on and one personal item through the screening checkpoint. Individual airlines may or may not allow the additional carry-on item on their aircraft, so check before you arrive at the airport.
You may bring skydiving rigs with and without Automatic Activation Devices (AAD) as carry-on or checked luggage. Typically, a rig will move through the checked luggage or carry-on security screening process without needing physical inspection. However, security officers have a duty to thoroughly inspect any item that raises suspicion. If security officers determine that they need to open a rig to inspect it, you must be present and will be allowed to assist. For this reason, skydivers should add at least 30 minutes to the airline's recommended arrival window when they are traveling with their parachutes.
When checking the parachute in as luggage, pack the rig separately without any other items in the bag. Additional items, if suspicious, could trigger an inspection of the entire bag. Parachute owners may help security officers unpack and repack the rig.
You may bring regulators, buoyancy compensators and masks, snorkels and fins as carry-on or checked baggage.
Knives and spear guns are prohibited from carry-on luggage and should be packed in checked luggage. Sheath or securely wrap any sharp objects you pack in your checked luggage to prevent them from injuring baggage handlers and security officers.
Certain sporting equipment cannot be brought on-board an aircraft, but they may be transported to your destination in your checked baggage. These items include baseball bats, cricket bats, hockey sticks, martial arts devices, golf clubs, pool cues, ski poles and spear guns. Any sharp objects in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and security officers.
*This information is current as of May, 2009
Some or all of this information has been compiled by TravelSense.org. TravelSense© is a consumer website run by the American Society of Travel Agents (“ASTA”). Traveloni, via our parent company, Foremost Travel & Tours, is a proud member of ASTA.
Know Before You Go
General Travel Tips
With a business volume surpassing those of oil exports, food products and automobiles, the travel industry sends more than one billion tourists around the world every year. The soaring growth of tourism also has brought the advancement of ecotourism, showing that consumers are becoming more concerned with the negative impact their travel choices have on the environment.
There are numerous destinations we've come to appreciate and love for their extraordinary natural and historical wonders, including the unspoiled, serene beaches of the Galapagos, Mayan ruins found on the Yucatan Peninsula andchronicles of Rome's legendary Empire. By continuing to preserve such fragile places, we can offer future travelers the authentic experiences of the world's most priceless treasures.
There are many ways you can become a green traveler - far beyond hiking into the depths of the rainforest or camping in the Himalayas. In fact, it's gotten so much easier to travel on a clean conscience. You don't need to give up the comforts and conveniences you relish during any other vacation. Think of a paradise with sandy white beaches and calm, turquoisewaters. Visualize a vacation of self-indulgence in massages, savory culinarytreats and boutique shopping.
Whether you desire a peaceful getaway in the countryside, seek an exotic paradise by ship or long for the big, bustling city, a green vacation can easily become your dream vacation. With so many options for every traveler, it's not hard to find something that's affordable and has everything you value in a vacation - plus a few added benefits that make the trip worth taking.
Traveling Green Can Enrich Your Enjoyment
There's no need to trade off the exciting experiences that make a vacation in order to protect the destinations you value. You may find that you'll be able to enjoy more of the beautiful sceneries, friendly faces and unique activities as a result.
Across all seven continents, from the dazzling city nightlife to secluded villages tucked away in quaint valleys and mountains, there are hundreds of ways you can spend your green vacation. See how changing the way you encounter new places can take your vacation memories beyond the ordinary.
Travel by train instead of plane. Not only will you gain more scenic views along the way, but you'll also escape the headaches of long security lines and lost luggage. Destinations throughout Europe and Asia, for example, offer superior rail travel that allows you to save money and conveniently explore multiple countries and cities in one trip.
Opt for bus, rail and/or ferry transportation. Save money and gain convenience in getting from place to place. In your travels, you'll find several city buses built for tourists, which make frequent stops at many popular shopping and dining districts, museums and theaters.
In the recent years, more transportation systems are actively pursuing alternative resources in an effort to preserve the earth. Numerous bus systems fueled by natural gas, hydrogen or biodiesel are rapidly becoming a part of everyday life. Europe recently revealed plans for the very first hybrid high-speed train, which was originally engineered in Japan and claimed to cut emission levels by 50 percent.
Discover new places by foot. Several of the world's most enchanting sights are set off from main roads, hidden in remote valleys, at the base of a glorious waterfall or in other places only accessible by foot. Take advantage of many unforgettable ways you can capture amazing panoramic views and up-close experiences through hiking, biking or canoeing to unique attractions.
Consider renting an eco-friendly car. If you need a vehicle for taking day excursions far from your hotel, think about using a car-sharing program like Flexcar or Zipcar, which offers eco-friendly cars with low fees and convenient pick-up and drop-off options. You can also reduce car emissions by renting a hybrid car or the smallest car that can comfortably accommodate you.
It Pays to Be an Educated Consumer
It goes without saying that the best kind of traveler is a prepared one. Just in the past decade, there have been many more travel options made available for responsible tourists, offering bigger ways for individuals to make an impact for the good for the environment.
Use environmentally responsible services. Hundreds of hotels have a linen reuse program, recycling bins for guest use, energy-efficient lighting, low-flow toilets and showers and alternative energy sources. Restaurants, tour operators, car rentals and other travel service providers are also finding new ways to keep up with travelers going green.
In addition to the U.S. Green Building Council, organizations like AAA, GreenSeal and Sustainable Travel International have launched green certification programs. States have followed suit in creating rating systems or minimum standards designed to help move businesses towards greener practices. Certified businesses frequently display their green stickers (the Green Building Council's LEED certification is the most widely recognized), making it easy for responsible tourists to spot them.
Get the facts on reducing carbone missions.
Many major airlines are taking action to reduce their impact on the environment. You may notice that some have switched over to electronic ticketing, cutting down on paper consumption and waste. Now leisure and business travelers are investing in "carbon offsetting"programs. This option allows you to calculate how much Co2 your vacation will produce and purchase credits from emission reduction projects (such as solar andwind). Plan to research the airline or nonprofit organization and its alternate energy projects before you invest any money.
Looking for a Green Travel Agent?
Traveloni can help you travel green without downsizing the quality of your vacation experience. We can also provide you with vital information you need on the trip, such as your hotel's environmental program, attractions you can discover by foot and convenient transportation choices. Traveloni will ensure that you won't have to take risks in finding the green vacation that satisfies both your personal interests and desire to contribute to the welfare of the natural world.
Some or all of this information has been compiled by TravelSense.org. TravelSense© is a consumer website run by the American Society of Travel Agents (“ASTA”). Traveloni, via our parent company, Foremost Travel & Tours, is a proud member of ASTA.
As travelers reach the far corners of the world, they are faced with the responsibility to preserve the fragile environments they visit. This idea of traveling responsibly is called ecotourism, conscientious travel to protect the environment and nourish its many cultures.
In the spirit of exaggeration, the neglect of eco-conscious travel is akin to filling in the Grand Canyon to build a coffee shop. While we all love a good no-whip, extra-hot mocha, our priorities should be aimed at the preservation of this planet's natural and cultural treasures.
By focusing on the impact of our actions and using a little TravelSense, travelers can make the right decisions to positively affect the world around them. To start eco-traveling, please follow these guidelines compiled by ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know how special our planet is, and why we must take good care of it.
(1) RESPECT OUR FRAGILE PLANET
Sure the planet feels solid beneath our feet, and it can hold its own against the big boys in the solar system. Yet the Earth's ecosystemâ€”the scenic surface features which we stand next to in picturesâ€”is a fragile infrastructure dependent on balanced and cyclical nurturing.
Think of it as the Earth's hair. It looks great now, but the more we tread on it, the messier it becomes, until one day the planet wakes up completely bald. Unless we combine our efforts to help in its preservation, the unique and beautiful destinations we buy expensive cameras to photograph may not be here for future generations to enjoy.
(2) LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS
Take only photographs, leave only footprints. These two simple phrases sum up the heart of eco-tourism. Do not leave litter of any kind, and do not take any souvenirs from historical sites and natural areas. In some instances, like taking a piece of the Great Barrier Reef, it's a crime.
In the wilderness never disturb anything that you can avoid disturbing. Leave all the pretty rocks where they are; your desk will survive without another paperweight. The "it's only one rock" attitude goes out the window when a million people each take one rock from one forest.
(3) THE ROAD MOST TRAVELED
Following the basic rules of ecotourism can be as easy as following a well-marked trail, because on the well-marked trail is where you should be. Always follow designated trails and resist the urge to explore the forest.
Do not disturb animals, plants or their natural habitats, and hopefully they will not disturb you in return. You were told a thousand times as a child to not tap the aquarium's glass, so consider each ecological wonder a special aquarium.
(4) EDUCATION IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE
Increase the size of your brain and educate yourself about the geography, customs and manners of the region you plan to visit. The invasion of foreign values can damage a culture more than a bulldozer in some regards. Get to know the culture before you arrive and know which of your actions or standards may not be accepted smoothly.
Tourism provides a positive boost to local people. Attending local events encourages indigenous pride and cultural heritage, enabling many traditions to be preserved. These traditions present a more lasting, honest perspective of the destination than any postcard ever could.
Respect the privacy of others and always ask before photographing people. Some Australian aborigines believe that photographs steal their souls. Why you may not believe this to be true, respect their beliefs slide the camera back into backpack.
Also be respectful of local people's land by asking permission before entering buildings, shrines or sacred lands. Showing respect will gain you the most treasured of souvenirsâ€”trust.
Souvenirs are a vital part of every trip, special for their uniqueness and direct mental link to a fabulous vacation memory. As a concerned eco-tourist, do not buy products made from endangered plants or animals, such as ivory, tortoise shell, animal skins and feathers. Purchase souvenirs from local artists to keep cultural traditions alive.
Extend this idea and dine in locally owned restaurantsâ€”exploring the gastronomic scenery is just as important as visiting the main attractions of a destination. Choose locally owned and operated lodges, hotels, tour guides, and take advantage of local taxis, buses and car rental agencies.
(7) ECO-FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS
The easiest ecologically saving action to undertake is to support conservation-oriented organizations already working to preserve the environment. Select responsible tour operators and guides whose practices are based on sound eco-conscious beliefs.
Maintain an eco-friendly attitude when choosing destinations to visit. Encourage organizations to subscribe to environmental guidelines. TravelSense urges organizations to adopt their own environmental codes to cover special sites and ecosystems.
(8) IT'S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL
Globetrotting with the world in mind provides a more satisfying way to travel; challenging you to learn about the places and people you visit and help sustain their fragile environments, economies and cultures.
Through increased awareness and an earnest desire to help protect natural and cultural resources for the good of the planet and for the generations yet to explore, you can trek to the four corners with a positive impact.
Travel with purpose.
There is no doubt that travel feeds the soul. Travelers return from trips often refreshed and a smidgen wiser for experiencing a new part of the world and a new culture vastly different than their own. The effect is reciprocated by those countries and cultures that thrive from the inward flow of money tourism brings.
But oftentimes those cultures need more than money. They need help building schools and shelters. They need help learning skills and languages. They need help preserving the fragile environments and historic sites that draw tourists to their small part of the world. That is where voluntourism steps in.
Voluntourism involves people from all age and social classes traveling globally to give aid to communities in need and intimately experience the culture. This combination of exploration and inspiration is growing in popularity, mostly due to an increase in the number and variety of opportunities now available. No longer do travelers need to stay enmeshed in a foreign land for months to make a difference - they can now impact an entire community over the course of a week or two, or even during their honeymoon.
Regardless of how these travelers choose to contribute their time and energy into such a globally beneficial cause, they always return satiated, their souls well fed after making a lasting difference in the lives of their international neighbors.
Do You Have What it Takes to Volunteer Abroad?
Many of us have a strong urge to help others around the world, especially after witnessing such high-profile devastation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina or the 2004 tsunami off the coast of Thailand. Voluntourism is the perfect way for everyday people to make a difference; however, they should first know what they're getting themselves into.
As a voluntourist, you must be realistic - you are not going to single-handedly save a village or build a new school. During a week-long stay in Tanzania, you may only build a few desks and paint a classroom, which will not seem like much at the time. But the schoolchildren who later sit in those desks and enjoy that classroom will appreciate your efforts for a lifetime. Every improvement - no matter how miniscule it initially seems - helps form an essential foundation for further social and economic improvements.
Voluntourism is more than an alternative to a standard vacation. It's about offering your skills and time while being part of a team and interacting with diverse cultures. Anyone considering this line of travel should be flexible, take direction well and have both a sense of adventure and humor. No special skills are needed - you only need an intense desire to make a difference and experience a destination in a way few tourists ever will.
What to Expect on Your Trip
While each voluntour trip is unique, they generally share a few similarities when it comes to the services and amenities provided. Your fee will usually include meals, which will feature delicious and adventurous local cuisine; accommodations, where you'll stay in a hotel, guest house, community center or private home; and ground transportation from the airport to the community site.
The program fees do not typically cover airfare, visas or medical and trip cancellation insurance. For those crucial components, many wise travelers turn to a travel agent. Travel agents also offer good advice when you're considering various options during your free time. While the purpose of these trips is to serve the host community and learn from the local people, most programs include free time for their volunteers to venture outside the community and experience more of the host country.
The trips usually last one to three weeks, depending on the location, but travelers who wish to stay longer may sign up for additional programs, which are often offered in succession. As for the other people on your trip, you can expect a wide and diverse range of allies. People of all ages are traveling abroad, including families, grandparents and grandchildren, to experience this life-changing vacation together. Regardless of who else is on your tour, you all will automatically have several important traits in common: an innate desire to help others and a passion to experience the world.
Types of Voluntourism
The variety of programs is matched only by the variety of emotions each volunteer experiences during their stay.
You can teach English to Hungarian children, helping them fulfill their education requirements. You can nurture children in Ecuador, working at an orphanage. You can restore villages in the fabled Blue Mountains of Jamaica, restoring dignity to villagers. You can help care for disabled children in China and experience life through their eyes. You can repair Aboriginal homes in Australia, helping these proud indigenous people in their struggle for equality. You can help save lives by providing basic health-care screenings, such as diabetes tests, well-baby checks and prenatal exams, in Northern Greece.
Within the United States you can tutor the children of immigrants in Minnesota, construct playgrounds for Blackfeet Indians in Montana, help deprived Appalachian families start fresh in West Virginia, work with senior citizens on an Indian reservation in South Dakota, restore community buildings in Mississippi and more.
If you're a budget-conscious college student who wants to see the world, a volunteer abroad program overseas is ideal. Set your sights on the unforgettable scenery of Yorkshire, England, while taking part in a conservation program. Soak in the gorgeous South African sunset and learn how to protect dolphins, whales, seals and seabirds. Or venture to Costa Rica and get your hands dirty rebuilding homes. These trips are often less expensive than normal vacations, and you get more out of the travel experience than just a few souvenirs.
You will find many of these altruistic travel options and more at Global Volunteers, an organization that mobilizes teams of volunteers to live and work with local people on human and economic development projects.
Let Traveloni Help You Help Others
At the core of voluntourism is the desire to help others. When it comes to travel, no group of individuals understand that core principle better than Traveloni, for helping others travel better, safer and smarter is what they do best. Traveloni agents can help you set up your voluntour program, save money with your airfare tickets and plan some exciting adventures for your free time.
America's National Parks are not just the great outdoors, they're the greatest outdoors. They are the wide open spaces and the wild places, where generations of Americans escape to marvel amid the Earth's most wonderful playground of caves, caverns and canyons; of dry desert hills that stretch as far as the eye can see and geysers and waterfalls that conquer the air with water; of mountains, volcanoes and glaciers that make men look like ants and historic sites that remind us that some men become giants.
With 388 national park sites to choose from, picking one should be easy. At the tip of your travel tongue may be Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, but dig a little deeper and you will find many surprises. America's National Parks are more than just hiking trails into mountain valleys, campsites overlooking sweeping vistas and unparalleled chances to watch moose and elk run wild. Many are famous historical sites, battlefields and small parks with big-time scenery.
Whether you want a wild adventure or an historical quest, follow these helpful tips compiled by ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know which parks to visit when, and they'll gladly show you how to keep your "pic-a-nic" basket away from the pesky bears.
Follow Your Sense of Adventure
Choosing the park that's right for you is as simple as choosing how you want to play, for the parks offer a nearly endless range of activities to explore and indulge.
In America's National Parks, you can scale an active volcano in Hawaii; raft over class V rapids through magnificent gorges and valleys at Gauley River National Recreation Area; cap off a day on Alcatraz Island back at your hotel with a spa treatment before hitting the streets of San Francisco; embrace history by tracing footprints at Antietam National Battlefield or watching oil droplets bubble to the surface of Pearl Harbor above the USS Arizona Memorial; shine a solitary beacon of light into the dark depths of Kentucky's Mammoth Cave; snorkel off the coast of Padre Island National Seashore; experience a mystifying sense of neighborly warmth around the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site; or conquer the ice age by hiking along Glacier National.
No matter which park you choose, you will find many options and many delights, so keep your mind open to the possibilities and your soul open to the experiences.
Picking the park for you may depend on how well you like crowds, according to travel agents. Some National Parks reel in millions of visitors a year, though a crowded park is not like a crowded bus. There is plenty of room for everyone, and even the most crowded parks, like the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee, have plenty of areas where your footprints will be the first ones of the day.
|Most Visited National Parks - 2009|
|Name and location||
# of visitors
|Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tenn.||
|Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz.||
|Yosemite National Park, Calif.||
|Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.-Mont.-Idaho||
|Olympic National Park, Wash.||
|Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo.||
|Zion National Park, Utah||
|Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio||
|Grand Teton National Park, Wyo.||
|Acadia National Park, Maine||
Source: U.S. Department of Interior
Visitors may flock to the parks on the list above, but the good news is that others are relatively free of crowds, leaving more room for solitary adventure, quiet family outings and undisturbed wildlife. Travel agents suggest a few possibilities below to plan your next escape.
Nez Perce National Historical Park (Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana)
These 38 sites in the valleys, prairies, mountains and plateaus of the inland northwest honor the history of the Nez Perce people as they mixed with explorers, fur traders, missionaries, settlers, soldiers, gold miners and farmers. Several sites feature interpretive trails, and visitors will often see golden eagles, marmots, black bears and mule deer.
Isle Royale (Michigan, Minnesota)
Photo: National Park Service
You'll escape crowds of people in these wild woods of the North, but encountering crowds of wolves, otters and moose is another thing. Roadless Isle Royale is a 45-mile long wilderness archipelago in the heart of Lake Superior, gloriously threaded with 165 miles of scenic hiking trails connecting historic lighthouses and shipwrecks, ancient copper mining sites and plenty of spots to observe wildlife.
Catoctin Mountain Park (Maryland)
You will not see the President on Catoctin Mountain, for his nearby, well-known retreat, Camp David, is closed to the public. But you will see plenty of white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and woodpeckers among the beauty of this rolling forest. Camping and hiking dominate the minds of visitors here, with relaxation in resplendent nature the ultimate goal for presidents and common folk alike.
When to Go
Even though parks are open year round, travel agents suggest you check with each individual park to confirm that it will be open to the public. The summer and winter months are generally the most popular times, depending upon when the scenery excels. To avoid the crowds, gain better access to the viewing areas and enjoy more time in leisure pursuits, travel during the spring and fall, as the rising and falling foliage will add to the splendor of the landscape.
Peak periods also follow school schedules, so avoid winter break, spring break and the summer holidays. Visiting during the week will garner you much more open spaces than weekends. That said, traveling during peak times, like most of us are forced to do, should never deter you from visiting, for the parks are well worth the trip 365 days a year.
Where to Stay
Photo: National Park Service
Deciding how you will spend your nights in America's National Parks depends mostly on your individual needs and desires. Camping is the most popular option, whether in a tent, RV or in the backcountry. Most parks have cottages, cabins, lake houses or houseboats to rent. There are even hotels often located inside the park for those whose idea of roughing it is being forced to drink instant coffee instead of their usual blend from Starbucks.
Each park will have a different mix of options, so talk to your travel agent to see what's available. And as with any trip, book your accommodations as far in advance as possible. More people want to sleep in National Parks than the parks can accommodate, forcing park officials to ration campground sites and backcountry permits. The National Park Service has a reservation system that rewards those who know the rules and know when to callâ€”a system travel agents know well.
Fun for the Whole Family? Children, Yes. Pets, No.
National Parks are perfect for kids. Most of the larger parks run Junior Ranger Programs, allowing kids to participate in fun activities while learning about the area's natural habitat and historic significance. Other parks offer nature walks and wildlife talks specifically geared towards children, to show them that nature has more to offer than video games.
While kids thrive in the wide-open expanse of National Parks, pets do not. Simply put, the wilderness is not pet-friendly. Some hiking trails prohibit all pets, while others demand that they remained leashed. Bears, wolves and mountain lions prey on small animals and will be attracted to your trail or tent if you bring little Fifi along.
The first thing you should always do upon arriving is stop in at the Visitors Centers. Inside, the friendly park rangers will have the latest information about safety hazards, closures, weather and wildlife notices.
Photo: National Park Service
Always stay on the trails when walking and hiking to protect both you from the wilderness and the wilderness from you.
Clean up after yourself. We all must do our part to preserve the parks, so that everyone can experience the wonders they have to offer for years to come
Get out of your car. Too many people drive through the parks, stepping out here and there for a quick view. To truly experience the park, get out and find a hiking trail.
Save on park fees by getting a pass. A National Park Pass costs $50 and is good at all parks for one year. This will allow you to pass through the entrance gates more quickly and motivate you to visit more parks throughout the year.
388 Ways to Say, "Wow"
The United States goes to great lengths to preserve the best of its natural and manmade heritage. With 388 National Parks to choose from, millions of Americans enjoy this privilege, while millions more are welcomed to explore.
Contact Traveloni today to help you plan your visit to one or several of our wonderful National Parks. Traveloni agents can help you choose which park to visit, where to stay, and what you can do when you get there. And since most parks are unfortunately not in your neighborhood, Traveloni agents can get you there with little cost and littler worries.
We all come from somewhere. Whether our parents bravely crossed borders for a better life before we were born, or generations ago our families were deeply entrenched in the southern hemisphere, our bloodlines race with the trade winds across the oceans to connect to another land and another time.
Nowadays, more and more travelers are discovering the roots of these bloodlines through heritage travel, which combines the excitement, relaxation and bonding of a vacation with the education of a history lesson. But this is not your regular history lesson, when you slept on your desk in the back of the room during fourth period. When the subject of the lesson is your family, you'll enjoy sitting at the head of this class.
Discovering your roots through heritage travel is especially poignant if your cultural background is dissimilar from your partner's. Sharing their heritage with a new spouse or with children is driving more and more people to bypass the amusement parks of the world and head for the homelands of their forefathers.
To discover more about heritage travel and how it can enhance your next vacation, talk to a member of ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know how to connect the glories of your past with a glorious vacation of your present.
The Many Faces of Heritage Tourism
Heritage tourism is traveling to experience the places, monuments, museums and relics that tell the story of a people, culture or race. This story often represents eons, tracing the arduous journey of a national consciousness from its primordial beginnings to its present day state. During this story, travelers discover ancestral points of view, symbolic artifacts and all the small pieces that create their cultural identity.
Yet heritage travel is not just limited to the discovery of deep ancestral roots. Often it's a journey to the recent past to experience the events that shaped our current surroundings. This form of heritage travel is popular in America, where travelers seek out tangible history icons - battlefields, civil rights protest sites - that were instrumental in the development of the nation.
States are catching on to heritage travel's growing popularity. Many have formed cultural heritage tourism programs designed to promote significant sites and monuments within its borders. One crucial step in this promotion is to officially list these sites with the National Register of Historic Places, where currently more than 74,000 historic areas, national parks and landmarks are identified for preservation and celebration.
Not to be left behind, countries around the world are making their heritage sites a priority. Since heritage tourism uses national assets - historic, cultural, and natural resources - that already exist, countries realize the benefit of developing their tourism potential as opposed to creating new attractions. This arrangement works well for the assets themselves, for the prestige associated with national designation elevates these properties as valuable cultural resources, ensuring the restoration and preservation needed for them to be enjoyed for generations to come.
The Many Destinations of Heritage Travel
With 192 countries in the world, each with a distinct and unique history, there are a vast number of heritage sites for all travelers interested in uncovering their roots. Visiting the country of your lineage is the most common form of heritage travel, where you can see firsthand the customs and settings of your forefathers by visiting museums, castles, battlegrounds and villages.
In the United States, many minority travelers prefer to stay within the borders to investigate the recent past. African-Americans are rediscovering the scenes - of both triumph and anguish - of their southern heritage by visiting historic sites detailing slave life and civil rights struggles.
Aiding these endeavors, many southern states are endorsing African-American heritage sites. Tennessee actively promotes the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, while Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia recently opened the Great Hopes Plantation - a realistic replica of an 18th-century plantation complete with black field slaves and their tiny slave dwellings.
Hispanic travelers are also discovering the enormous impact of their forefathers. From the Spanish Colonial era up to the mid-20th century, the Unites States witnessed an influx of Hispanic immigrants from Central America, the Caribbean and Spain. Nowadays travelers are flocking to Hispanic cultural sites, including the San Antonio Missions, De Soto National Memorial Park near Tampa Bay and St. Augustine, America's oldest city.
Traveloni Agents Connect You to Your Past
Transforming the annual family vacation into a cultural history lesson can be a rewarding experience that adds an unforgettable and personal touch to your travels. However, Traveloni wants you to remember that half of a heritage vacation is the vacation - always plan a little R&R time between sites.
To begin the R&R time early, rest easy and get a Traveloni agent to plan your heritage trip. Armed with a world of knowledge, Traveloni agents know the best ways to get you and your family to the places you want to go, connecting multiple cultural sites into one, wondrous journey, all at a fair price that will make your ancestors proud.
Change history into your story. Contact Traveloni and make plans to explore your personal family history.
The permission slips are signed, your bags are packed and you're, like, so ready to ditch the classroom and head out on your class trip. Travel is an exciting opportunity to experience different places and wondrous cultures, so the key is not to blow it by doing something that will ruin the trip for yourself and others.
While it's tempting to forget about all the rules as soon as your chaperones turn their backs, you should keep in mind these tips from Traveloni. Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, Traveloni agents know that studying for your upcoming trip is a homework assignment you'll actually enjoy.
Before You Go
Before you go, learn about the local laws and customs of the countries you're visiting, especially those concerning drinking age, drugs and curfews. You are not immune to a country's laws just because you're a visitor, and you can be arrested.
Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. It's hard to enjoy the sights when you can't see them.
Pack a simple first aid kit with bandages, antibiotic cream and pain relievers. It's a good thing to have "just in case." And tell your trip leaders about any medications you're taking.
Give your parents the phone and fax number of your hotel, the cell phone numbers of the chaperones and a full itinerary of your trip. If anything changes during the trip, e-mail your parents immediately with the new info.
Pack all valuables, medications, travel documents and passport in your carry-on bag. Occasionally checked luggage gets lost at airports, so you want to have your important items on you.
While You're There
Do not carry all your cash at once, especially if all you need is enough to buy lunch and a few sodas. And keep your wallet in a zippered pocket, preferably inside your jacket. If you need to exchange money in a foreign country, only use authorized vendors like banks.
Don't be flashy. Wear an old, inexpensive watch and leave the bling at home. You don't want to be a walking target for thieves. If you bring a fancy digital camera or an MP3 player, don't flaunt them.
When you check in at your hotel, grab a card from the counter with the hotel's name, address and phone number on it. Keep this card on you at all times.
Look both ways before crossing the streets. Yes, you've heard that a billion times, but you'll be surprised how easy it is to step into oncoming traffic in foreign countries, especially the ones where they drive on the other side of the road.
Travel with a buddy at all times and never wander off alone from the group.
Be respectful around, and ask permission before taking photographs of, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and other religious sites. Also, ask permission before taking photographs of government buildings and military installations. In some countries you can be detained for taking a picture of the wrong building.
Talk to your trip leader or to a Traveloni agent about types of food or beverages to avoid, and don't buy food from street vendors.
Going on an extended class trip may be the most fun you'll ever have while actually learning something. If you follow the rules above and stay out of trouble, the only memories you'll bring back are good ones.
Women Traveling Alone
Women Traveling Alone
Now more than ever, women are traveling by themselves for business or pleasure. And although their reasons for traveling are similar to their male counterparts, women traveling alone have very different concerns. From safety issues to cultural variations, women travelers encounter a variety of difficulties that can be avoided if the necessary precautions are taken.
To learn how you can travel safer, read these tips from Traveloni. Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, Traveloni agents understand that while it pays for both men and women to be educated travelers, it is imperative for women to plan every step of their trip - from packing a suitcase to choosing a hotel room - to ensure a safe return.
Know Before You Go - Learn as much about the destination as possible, especially when traveling to a foreign country. An area's religious or cultural beliefs can directly impact you, compelling you to adapt your dress and demeanor to comply with local customs. Also, what is regarded as sexual harassment in one country is part of the social fabric of another, so avoid form-fitting or revealing clothing to prevent unwanted attention.
Welcome to Hotel Safety - Get to know the staff, who will be familiar with guests and are able to more effectively monitor who enters and exits the building. Ask beforehand if a member of the staff will be available to escort you to your room if you arrive late at night. Ask for a room on a higher floor near the elevator but away from emergency exits, stairwells, and any renovation work. Never accept a room if the clerk loudly calls out your name and room number.
While at the front desk, grab a card from the counter with the hotel's name, address and phone number on it, and keep this card on you at all times. Once inside your room, make sure the door has a peephole and a deadbolt. If it doesn't, make sure you don't open the door to someone you don't know.
Travel Documents - Make two copies of important travel documents - one set for the trip, and one for friends or family to keep at home.
Packing Smart - Pack light so you won't be weighed down and look weighed down, both of which would make you an ideal target for pickpockets. Avoid expensive looking baggage and clothing, lock all suitcases and only use covered luggage tags with your office address written on it rather than your home. Carry only one credit card, and don't keep all your money in one place.
Transportation - Explore transportation options available at your destination ahead of time, especially if you will be arriving late in the evening. Travel agents can help determine the safest choice and make the necessary arrangements. If renting a car, carefully examine maps, write out directions in advance and bring along a cellular phone.
Know Your Surroundings - Study a map of the area you will be visiting. Learn as much as possible about getting around the streets to avoid looking like a lost tourist. Ask the concierge about where - and, more importantly, where not - to go.
The Best Vacation Memories are Good Vacation Memories - There may be safety in numbers, but there is also safety in knowledge. With some advance planning and the advice of a Traveloni agent, your vacation or business trip can be safe, hassle free and memorable.
Contact a trusted Traveloni agent today and get professional assistance and advice for your next trip.
Business or pleasure? That's the first question people generally ask about an upcoming trip. Your answer gives them a reasonable range of responses, for they understand the parameters associated with both business trips and pleasurable vacations. On the other hand, an answer of adoption travel carries no definite impressions, for it intricately combines business and pleasure along with international bureaucracy and domestic devotion.
Adoption travel - traveling internationally to adopt a child - is a growing route for travelers. According to the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services, the availability of newborns in the United States is diminishing, prompting more than 20,000 Americans to adopt internationally in 2002. Of those adoptions, more than 75 percent of the children came from China, Russia, Guatemala, South Korea and the Ukraine - five countries that represent a broad range of conditions, for both travel and adoption.
Traveling to a foreign land while worrying about the adoption procedures provides a double-whammy of stress on potential parents. To alleviate the anxiety from the travel side of the equation, turn to a Traveloni agent. Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, Traveloni agents know how to prepare practically and mentally for such a life-altering journey.
The Travel Side of Adoption Travel
Adoption travel is an umbrella term for three separate journeys: the pre-adoption trip, where parents travel to another country to learn about the culture of the child they are to receive; the actual adoption trip, where parents meet and take home a child they've grown to love through pictures; and heritage trips, where the family re-visits the child's homeland, allowing the child to understand his or her cultural roots.
Pre-Adoption Trip: To give an adopted child a sense of their cultural identity as they grow up, it's essential for parents to form a relationship with their child's birth country. Reading travel books is a good start, but experiencing the country firsthand through a pre-adoption visit creates a superior connection.
Understanding a foreign culture imparts invaluable insight to parents as they raise their child, for a day will come when a child asks about his or her homeland. To completely appreciate a country's uniqueness, pre-adoption trips should be taken when a parent can focus on the culture and the people without being preoccupied with the actual adoption.
Adoption Trip: Some parents who adopt internationally are provided the choice of having their child escorted to the United States or traveling to the country to bring the child home. Traveloni agents agree: traveling to the country is best, especially if the parent was unable to previously explore the country through a pre-adoption tour.
When making plans for the adoption trip, parents often get swamped in all the details of coordinating an international visit while simultaneously filling out countless adoption papers. This is where a travel agent can truly help out.
Some countries require parents to stay for long periods of time to complete an adoption. Traveloni agents who specialize in adoption travel know of hotels or furnished apartments in safe areas that offer discounts to adoptive families. Traveloni agents who specialize in countries like China and Russia will know much about the country from personal experiences, and they'll help you prepare for the cultural differences you'll encounter while setting up your hotel and plane reservations.
Once the weight of travel planning is off your shoulders, you'll be able to focus more acutely on the adoption itself.
Homeland Heritage Trips: With most cases of international adoption, there comes a time when the adopted child's interest in his or her home country can only be satiated by a visit. Children are innately curious, and learning about the food, people and customs of their birth culture is a vital identity-building experience.
Traveloni agents stress the importance of creating a wide-ranging itinerary for a homeland heritage visit, for a child should reach beyond general tourist attractions to understand the true essence of his or her culture. Include in your itinerary a trip to a zoo, where the indigenous animals will delight the child, or have your travel agent set up insightful tours away from the main tourist hubs.
Adopting a Positive Attitude
In the end, Traveloni agents insist that parents take one thing along their journeys throughout the adoption process: a sense of wonder. Having a sense of wonder will help a parent adjust to new situations and become actively interested in the culture of their new child, all while keeping their composure in the face of adversity.
Business or pleasure? Make it both by including a Traveloni agent in your adoption travel plans to create an enjoyable travel experience that will help your new family start out on the right foot.
Winter Travel Tips
Winter Travel Tips
It's no secret that winter and holiday travel can be the most stressful occasion. Especially when the hustle and bustle of holiday travel starts, people become more distressed with long waits and unexpected challenges. If you travel by air or car during the cold season, you can count on more delays than you'd experience in the summer. Once bad weather appears during the peak times for air travel, we end up with the lengthiest flight delays, cancellations and missed connections of the year.
On the other hand, road travel has its share of annoyances and risks. There may be road closings, slower speeds due to snow or sleet, traffic accidents and other obstacles to throw you off track. However, don't let the winter and holiday travel season make you blue. Become a smarter and happier traveler for your next winter vacations — use Traveloni's winter travel tips to make life easier as you journey to and from your destination.
Airline Travel Tips: Flying Doesn't Always Lead to Disaster
Can you feel your teeth grinding as you imagine flying to your destination? If you're traveling a great distance over the holidays, the last thing you need is a stressful airport experience to start your vacation on the wrong foot. Consider some of the simplest airline travel tips that can alleviate your worries.
Plan ahead for your own sanity. Waiting to the last minute always leaves a great deal of your trip up to happenstance. Of all of the top winter travel tips you may find, this is the one piece of advice that will be well worth spending the extra time and effort. Contact your travel agent to book your vacation in advance as soon as you can manage. Then, you'll be able to avoid peak travel dates, get lower airfare, fly direct (or minimize your connections) and fly early or late in the day to avoid the bigger crowds.
Leave at least an extra hour earlier. As you prepare for your winter vacation, give yourself more time than usual in order to anticipate the peripheral delays that could occur. Remember to bring some reading material while you wait in the security line or at your departure gate. In cities with snow or ice, arrival delays can exceed two to three hours and de-icing procedures can take an hour before takeoff.
Pack as light as possible for your holiday travel. Since more airlines are getting stricter on baggage limits and weight allowances, packing less and lighter suitcases could save you money and time. If you're planning holiday travel to be with your family and friends, consider shopping online and having your gifts shipped to your destination. This strategy will help cut down on luggage and minimize the risk of losing any special gifts.
Steer clear of influenza. Winter travel can be a frequent contributor to the cold and flu time of year, adding a miserable element to your winter or holiday travel stress. Before you leave, visit your doctor's office to get the flu shot or nasal spray flu vaccine, which is only available for ages 5-49. Most germs will spread by contact, so wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer constantly.
Stretch your legs often. If you find yourself in cramped quarters or passing time on long flights, there's the possibility you could develop Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), leading to blood clotting in your legs. So, remember this essential airline travel tip on your next flight — take some time to walk around and stretch your arms and legs once every hour.
Winter Driving Tips: Easier and Safer Winter Road Trips
For road travelers, winter can also be the most dangerous time of year. Motor vehicle accidents involving bad weather, mostly ice and snow, claim the lives of 6,000 Americans and injure 500,000 more every year according to the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The following winter driving tips will help you stay safe and a little less anxious on your next trip.
Have your car examined before you leave. This is one of the most crucial winter driving tips. It's the climatic scene of many movies, where someone's car breaks down in a strange town. The last thing you want to worry about is your car falling apart, leaving you stranded far away from home. Take it to your local auto shop for a quick once over, and make sure your tires are winter ready and properly inflated.
Be prepared for a change in course. Before you depart, become confident in knowing your route. It's very important that you're ready for anything on the road that could slightly change your plans, including construction, road closings and traffic hurdles. Remember to keep the directions as well as appropriate state map(s) handy, in case you need to reroute your trip.
Stay hydrated for the journey. It probably seems like dehydration isn't very likely, but a recent Mayo Clinic study shows that a mere one- to two-percent loss of body weight can quickly lead to fatigue and decreased alertness, which could be deadly in icy winter driving. Also, your body requires more fuel in the cold — so rely on high-energy food including sandwiches, a thermos filled with soup and fruit.
Pack a winter safety kit for the car. Don't leave without the essentials for a safe road trip — a cell phone (don't forget the car charger); ice scraper; tow rope and jumper cables; sand or cat litter to aid with traction; blankets; flashlights, matches and emergency candles; first aid kit; portable radio; and a good book, in case you do get stuck.
Make frequent rest stops. Winter driving is much more fatiguing than in the summer, so you'll want to make time to stop and stretch your legs. Just a few minutes off the road will make all the difference in improving your alertness when you're back behind the wheel.
Contact Traveloni agents who can help make winter vacations and holiday travel enjoyable this time around.
Car Rental Tips
Car Rental Tips
Renting a car can enhance the flexibility of any trip - be it business or leisure. This information explains the process of renting a car and provides some car rental tips and car rental advice.
FINDING THE RIGHT CAR RENTAL COMPANY
Ask a Traveloni agent to help you find the right car rental firm for each trip. Different firms serve different cities throughout the world. A Traveloni agent can save you the time and effort of calling several different companies to find the best rate and car for you. Also, a Traveloni agent may be aware of promotional rates and special programs that may not be advertised to the general public.
THE COST OF RENTING A CAR
Car rental companies generally charge four types of basic rates: a daily rate with a mileage charge; a daily rate with a limited number of free miles per day; a daily rate with unlimited mileage; and a rate that has free mileage over an extended period. Rates vary according to the size and style of vehicle but most firms rent economy, compact, intermediate and deluxe cars. Special promotional rates are often available, especially over weekends, but these should be specifically requested in advance.
Other charges may also be added to the rental price, including:
Car Rental Taxes
In addition to the daily rental rate and the charges mentioned above, taxes (which vary by state) are also charged. For international car rentals, taxes often add up to 10 to 30 percent in addition to the rate quoted. International rentals are also subject to a possible Value Added Tax (VAT). At a few airport rental locations, some car rental firms may also charge an "airport surcharge" fee of about 10% of the rental rate in addition to normal taxes.
Be sure to read the rental agreement carefully to see what the rental rate covers, possible restrictions, and the liability for the renter. If a car rental firm is offering a low rate, make sure that the agreement's restrictions do not outweigh the cost savings.
Car Rental Drop-off Charges
An extra fee is usually charged if a car is returned to a different city or location than where it was picked up. Be sure to advise the agent when making your reservation if you wish to drop off the car at a different location. The drop-off charge may already be included in the car rental rate.
Familiarize yourself with the car rental company's policy on gasoline when you check in. Some companies charge you a flat rate for gas upon renting the car and expect you to return with the gas tank empty. Most, however, will assess a charge based on the firm's gas rates for filling the gas tank when the car is returned, if it is not already full. Since gas prices are usually less expensive at gas stations, it is advisable to fill the tank before returning the car if you are expected to return it with a full tank of gas.
CAR RENTAL INSURANCE OPTIONS
Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW)
If a rental car is damaged, the renter may be responsible for the first several hundred dollars of damage (the deductible) up to the full price of the car. By purchasing CDW (also known as Loss Damage Waiver or LDW), the renter is released from responsibility of any loss or damage to a vehicle up to the full value of the car. However, if the renter is in violation of the rental agreement, the waiver is void. Your personal auto insurance may already provide coverage for damage to rental cars and the purchase of CDW or LDW may not be necessary. Regulations for selling CDW/LDW vary from state to state.
CDW/LDW is usually an optional feature, however, a few companies require renters to purchase this waiver. Determine whether or not you need CDW/LDW before you arrive at the rental counter (check your own automobile insurance policy) and consider how much this CDW/LDW may increase the daily rental rate (CDW/LDW costs range from $8 - $12 per day). In some cases, you may find a special rate for a larger car which already includes CDW/LDW. In the long run, the larger car may be less expensive than the economy car with additional CDW/LDW costs.
Also, some credit card companies offer CDW/LDW insurance as a card holder benefit. Be sure to read the fine print on these agreements (as well as on car rental agreements!) Usually the protection afforded by credit card companies could be supplemental to your own insurance. Therefore, if you get in an accident, your own insurance will cover the repair costs up to its maximum and then the credit card company will cover the difference. As a result, your own car insurance rates may be affected.
Personal Accident Insurance (PAI)
Personal Accident Insurance provides accidental death and medical coverage for the renter and additional passengers during the time they are riding or driving with you. Check your personal car insurance policy to see if it covers car rentals. If your policy covers car rentals, you may not need PAI. This insurance is usually optional.
Personal Effects Coverage (PEC)
This coverage provides protection against loss or theft of personal belongings from the rental car. Once again, check your own auto insurance policy to determine whether your coverage includes rental cars.
Additional Liability Insurance (ALI)
ALI is an optional insurance that protects the renter and other authorized operators against claims made by third parties for bodily injury/death and property damage caused by the use or operation of the rental vehicle. Check with your own auto insurance policy to determine whether additional excess coverage is already provided.
CAR RENTAL DOCUMENTS AND REQUIREMENTS
All car rental companies require a valid drivers license. Some car rental companies check the driver's history and will deny a car to a customer with a poor driving record. In some foreign countries, an international drivers license may be required.
In addition, many car rental companies require a major credit card to guarantee payment even if there is a prepaid voucher or direct billing to the client or corporation. If a credit card is being used for payment, be aware of your credit card limit; many car rental companies require immediate credit approval before renting the car which can substantially reduce your remaining balance of credit.
Alternatives to Credit Card Payment
If you do not have a credit card, most car rental locations will accept their own pre-paid vouchers issued by an appointed travel agent. Some car rental companies require that you fill out a cash qualification questionnaire at the rental location during normal business hours so that it may be verified.
Most companies will require a large cash deposit or a cash advance that can even exceed the estimated charges of the rental if a credit card is not presented for payment. They may also require the renter to be over a certain age. The final acceptance of a non-credit card rental, however, is the decision of each individual rental location.
Usually, car rental companies require renters to be at least 18 years old, but some firms now require a minimum age of 25 years. For consumers under 25, a credit card is usually required for payment and the rental rate may be slightly higher.
Similarly, senior citizens over a certain age may not be allowed to rent cars in some cities. Verify the age restrictions when making your reservation.
Number of Drivers
Although policies vary, many car rental firms allow an immediate relative who is of age to drive the rental car. Some firms also permit a direct business associate to drive. Read the rental contract carefully; it will specify who can drive the car. Signatures of all drivers and their drivers licenses may be required by the rental firm. There may be a charge for any additional drivers added to the rental agreement.
CAR RENTAL CONFIRMATIONS
Travelers should always receive a voucher or confirmation from their travel agent before departing. This document should have a confirmation number, the car rental company name, type of car requested, flight information and date. If the car rental firm is located outside the airport, a telephone number for the courtesy car pick-up should be provided.
Confirmations also often help the car rental firms locate customers who have not picked up their reserved car. As a result of industry automation, the car rental firm can sometimes inquire to see if a renter's flight is delayed. Usually, a car rental firm will hold a reserved car for several hours before cancelling.
If you are considering two different flights, be sure to advise the car rental firm. Also, the company should be notified of any cancellations so that they can rent that car to another customer.
PICKING UP YOUR RENTAL CAR
Upon arriving at the car rental counter, present your confirmation number, voucher and credit card, if necessary. The customer service agent will then complete the process and direct you to where you can pick up your car. READ YOUR CAR RENTAL AGREEMENT before you sign it to familiarize yourself with your liability and to ensure that you know exactly what you will be paying for when you return the car.
Before leaving the rental lot, inspect the car for the correct mileage information and any visible damage to the car. If damaged, a notation should be made on the contract before leaving.
Take a few minutes to become familiar with the car. Adjust your seat and mirrors. Locate the controls for the turn signals, windshield wipers, lights (high and low beams) and cruise control (if applicable). Notice the placement of the horn and control panel for defroster, air conditioning, etc.
RETURNING THE RENTAL CAR
Rates are usually based on a 24-hour period, with a one-hour grace period allowed to return the car. If you keep the car for more than four hours after it was due back at the rental company, it is usually worth extending the contract for another day since overtime charges average $12 to $15 per hour. Hourly car rental rates are usually higher.
Some rates, like weekend specials, are only available during certain time periods. Keeping the car beyond that time may change the rate you pay for the entire transaction.
INTERNATIONAL CAR RENTALS
If you are renting a car abroad, reserve it through a Traveloni agent. At your destination, ask the rental agent to explain the car's features, which may be different from cars at home. Know the international traffic signs and rules of the road. Ask your Traveloni agent whether you need an International Driver's Permit. Also, ask about insurance coverage in each country; U.S. insurance may not be valid in all countries.
OTHER USEFUL CAR RENTAL INFORMATION
The renter of any car is liable for all parking and traffic violations both domestically and internationally.
Most contracts and insurance policies are void if you have an accident while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Be sure to lock the car and trunk and do not leave valuables in the car.
Seat belts should be worn at all times - it's the law in most states.
Most states require car seats for children under four years old. Advance notice is usually required to reserve a car seat and a small fee may be charged for the rental of these seats.
Many car rental firms have cars or vans that are accessible for customers with physical disabilities. Be sure to make arrangements in advance to ensure that an accessible vehicle is available.
Most major car rental companies offer free local maps. Plan your route before leaving the car rental lot to minimize the need to ask for directions.
Read your rental agreement carefully and ask questions of a Traveloni agent and the car rental agent if you are unsure about anything. The policies discussed in this brochure may vary among companies and locations.
Are you saddened when your commute home ends? Do you go weeks without shifting into fifth gear? Is there an inch of dust on your RV? Regardless of the ailment, the only medicine you need is the open road. With hundreds of scenic highways throughout the United States, a much-needed road trip is just around the next curve.
To unlock the secrets of road tripping without running out of gas, take the next exit and read through these tips from Traveloni. Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, Traveloni agents know what it takes for you to experience the soothing gray asphalt, the quirky small towns, the crazy roadside curiosities and, most importantly, the heart of America.
Road Tripping without Tripping Out - The Basic Philosophy of the Road
Road tripping is a state of mind. To truly enjoy it, you must embrace the philosophy of the road, much like European backpackers must bring a mindset of art and culture and beachcombers must be prepared for umbrellas in their drinks and sand in their shorts.
First, there are no boring places on the open road - just places that require a little bit of searching to uncover the remarkable. Be open to the possibilities and reach out for new experiences, like trying the "Roadkill Burger" at the diner or taking an unmarked hiking trail only to stumble onto a Civil War battle site.
Like a hiking trail, every road trip has a beginning and an end, but only the journey counts. The middle, the asphalt glide, the motorized mantra, getting from Point A to Point B, is the purpose of the road trip, realizing that you're supposed to be wherever you are. Enjoy being there.
Also enjoy the fact that your vehicle is in your control, so take it wherever your heart desires. While your road trip will most likely involve an itinerary with reservations, do not tie your bumper to a schedule. A good Traveloni agent will help you set up a loose itinerary with guaranteed reservations, so rushing is never an option when faced with the choice of hurrying to your hotel or diverting 50 miles east to see Albert, the World's Largest Bull, in Audubon, Iowa.
The Master Plan - Plotting Your Course
Your journey begins the first day you start planning your road trip, with anticipation as your gas pedal, floored and revving. So break out the map, grab a box of pushpins to highlight the highlights and let a little planning take you a long way.
Before the first pushpin digs into the wall, talk to a Traveloni agent to identify the purpose of your trip. If your goal is four days of backcountry wandering, then all you need is a full tank of gas and sharp eyes. If you plan include a final destination, like your cousin Irene's wedding in Albuquerque in one week, then advance planning is crucial.
Once your purpose is set, consider your level of comfort. Are you the type who needs to know a reserved hotel room waits in the next city or will any roadside inn suit your needs? Do you like your roads highlighted in yellow on your map, or do you keep your map in the glove box for emergencies only, allowing the winds of spontaneity to determine your course? Whatever your comfort level, be sure to ask your traveling companions for their opinions.
Once the bases are covered, talk to your Traveloni agent and begin researching all the possible routes. Traveloni agents know if certain mountain passes are blocked during the winter, or if a festival or event in a city you plan to drive through will cause major delays. Also, spend time on the Internet getting to know the smaller towns on your route. Treasures are often found in the most unlikely of places.
Before the Odometer Reaches 1
With your plan set and the trip already rambling in your mind, now is the time to make sure reality is on the same page.
The first and most vital step is to get your vehicle in top form. Whether you're traveling by car, RV, truck, motorcycle or lawnmower, your road trip will be smoother if your vehicle is ship-shape, or road-shape in this instance. Before you leave, have a qualified mechanic check all the car's vitals: brakes, battery, fluid levels, tire pressure, light bulbs and any parts that need regular maintenance.
As with all long-distance road trips, it's wise to bring emergency equipment such as a first-aid kit, flashlight, blankets, drinking water and snacks, along with flares and jumper cables. Check the weather for your route and be prepared for snow and ice with an ice scraper and chains for the tires.
With the mechanics secure, be sure to create the right ambience inside your vehicle. Take along a wide selection of your favorite cds and a few audio books. If you and your traveling companions don't agree on music, then the driver chooses and the passengers get two vetoes per three hours or 90 miles. That's the rule.
Safety - Don't Wreck Your Trip
Nearly 50,000 people die each year in collisions on the roadways of the United States, with another 22 million injured. Safety is simply the number one concern for you, your traveling companions and everyone on or near a road, so always have the following safety tips on the tip of your mind while driving.
Pay attention. Practically all collisions involve inattention on the part of one or both drivers. Distraction comes in many guises: daydreaming, fidgeting with the radio, sleepiness, fatigue and cell phones. Paying attention makes it possible for you to see, recognize and avoid the hazards lurking on the road; these are the three basic elements of defensive driving.
You are not psychic. You can never rely on what the other driver will do. While driving, always keep a wary eye on other drivers and leave yourself plenty of room. Anticipate the mistakes they might make and be ready. Stay alert and in control.
Yield anyway. If you are in doubt about who has the right of way, give it away. Right of way rules are often misunderstood, and there are situations where the rules may not be clear to everyone. If there is uncertainty about which vehicle should have the right of way, give the other driver the road. When it comes to driving safely, it's not the principle, but the outcome, that counts.
Don't speed. Speed limits are posted for a reason. Driving at a higher rate cuts your reaction time and results in more stored energy that must be dissipated in any collision. A safe driver should choose a speed matching traffic as closely as possible without exceeding speed limits. If traffic is moving at higher speed than you should go, keep to the right and out of the way.
Don't drive impaired. Drivers can become impaired through not only drugs and alcohol, but also fatigue or as a result of injury or illness. Alcohol is a depressant that will diminish your ability with the first sip, acting on the very skills you need most as a driver - judgment, vision and the ability to perceive several things at once. We all have the obligation to make sure we are able to drive safely every time we drive.
Wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the most significant safety device ever invented. They provide impact protection, absorb crash forces and keep you from being thrown out of the vehicle. Modern vehicles are built with "crumple zones," and seat belts are an integral part of the system. Belts help keep you in your place, in control and better able to avoid a crash.
Don't run red lights. Whether you coast through a red light daydreaming or step on the accelerator when the light turns yellow, running red lights kills hundreds every year. If you get a yellow light, stop. You can anticipate when the light is about to change, so it is no excuse to say it was too late. If you have the green light, watch for the red-light runner. Patience at an intersection is one virtue we can live with.
Drive precisely. Most everyone knows the basic traffic laws, yet drivers impatiently ignore them for the sake of expediency every day. Traffic rules are in place to create the consistency and uniformity that allow us to predict with some degree of confidence what other drivers will do, thereby avoiding conflicts and collisions. Ignoring the rules of the road helps create the chaos you see every day.
Hotels, Motels and No Telling What You'll Find
Many road-trippers dismiss the necessity of reservations, letting the road, the weather and their moods guide them to a neon "Vacancy" sign in the night. Traveloni agents suggest that, while this approach to nightly lodging is right for some, most should reconsider the value of a reservation.
Having a guaranteed reservation is ideal for those who want to save time, instead of pulling in and out of countless hotels looking for the last vacant room in the area due to an unexpected music festival; for those with health issues, preferring a clean and comfortable bed; for those with recreational preferences, wanting to stay at a campground with swimming facilities after a hot, summer drive; for those with limited funds, not desiring to be stuck shelling out a generous sum of cash for the last room; for those with particular taste in lodging, who sometimes find it difficult to sleep on a lumpy mattress; and for those traveling with pets, who want to know that their hotel will accept precious Fido.
Making a lodging or camping reservations at the wrong intervals, in the wrong cities can be catastrophic to a road trip. Seek counsel from a trusted Traveloni agent to perfectly space your reservations. The peace of mind will be a welcomed companion on your journey.
Exploring small towns, interacting with strangers and eating at roadside stands that sell odd fare like fried pie (Independence, La.) and broken chicken (Pike County, Ky.) all require a sense of adventure and a suspension of disbelief. You never know what lies around the next bend, because the moment you take that curve or crest over a sun-blazed hilltop is moment like no other.
Road trips are truly American adventures that everyone can enjoy. Talk to a trusted Traveloni agent to outline your next grand adventure on the road. Traveloni agents can advise you on the most scenic byways in the land, set up hotel or camping reservations along the way and even help you rent a convertible sports car to road trip in style.
Drive safe. Drive long. And enjoy the open road.
Every year more and more people discover why cruises are the ideal vacation. A cruise ship is basically your giant buffet of wonderful experiences, with a wide selection of cuisines and cultures, activities in the sun and spas to pamper your every indulgence, destinations to exotic locales and a million ways to relax. You can do it all or do absolutely nothing - the choice is yours!
To book the perfect cruise for you and your family, simply follow these helpful guidelines from Traveloni. Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, Traveloni agents know that booking your next vacation should be as relaxing as the vacation itself.
Chart Your Course! Pick the Cruise That's Right for You
Your first choice is the most enjoyable, for it allows your mind to wander around the globe and back again, revisiting every destination your dreams have ever taken you to. Where in the world do you want to go and for how long?
The length of your trip largely depends on how much you can afford. Cruises offer everything from one or two-night excursions out to sea and back to journeys that take you around the world in 100 days. Three-day weekend, four-day midweek, week and two-week cruises are the most popular.
With 70 percent of the planet covered in water, the next question should not be where to go to but where to go to first. Cruise ships visit more than 1,800 ports around the world, providing you with rare glimpses into many cultures all in one eye-popping vacation.
Many first-time cruisers choose the Caribbean or Mexican Riviera, where you pleasantly float from one island paradise to the next. Soak up the sun, learn a water sport or discover a new flavor of margarita-the tropics never disappoint.
For a local alternative try Alaska, where you'll experience calving glaciers and curious whales while following either the Inside Passage or the Gulf of Alaska route. Or, take a fall cruise to New England and Canada, where you'll be introduced to our neighbors of the north while watching the leaves turn on shore.
Aim for Europe with cross-Atlantic trips to Paris or Rome, Mediterranean cruises to the likes of Italy, Greece and the French Riviera, or tour the Scandinavian capitals from the sea, where historic cities like Copenhagen and Helsinki reign with centuries of heritage.
Finding a Good Rate and the Right Cabin
Paying the brochure rate for a cruise is like paying full sticker price for a car. To lessen the sticker shock, book early - generally 120 days prior to the sail date - and be flexible about your travel plans, for just like the rest of the travel industry, off-season cruises are typically cheaper.
A great tip: aim for a four-day cruise in the middle of the week instead of the popular three-day weekend cruise. You might get that extra day at a great rate!
The most significant factor in determining the price of your ticket will be the size and location of your cabin. Depending on the ship, cabins range from cozy closets to spacious suites with a hot tub. And they are priced accordingly.
If you plan to spend significant time in your cabin, choose the biggest room you can afford. Standard cabins have twin beds, which can usually be converted into a queen-sized bed, while bunk beds in other rooms cannot be converted.
The most-expensive and least-expensive cabins are likely to sell out first, so book early if you have set your sights on either. Cabins are listed as inside (no windows) or outside (with windows), with outside cabins naturally higher priced. If you are booking a cabin with windows, check with your Traveloni agent to ensure that your view is not obstructed by equipment such as a lifeboat.
Cruise Specialists - Your New Best Friend
For the most thorough advice and the best deals, find a cruise specialist. Traveloni agents are often certified cruise specialists, and they know which low Internet offers to avoid and which ports of call can make a great cruise unforgettable.
A Traveloni cruise specialist may offer you group rates, free upgrades, shipboard credits and other amenities or discounts. They will clarify the need for passports and visas, explain your dining choices and advise the cruise line of any special dietary requests, check periodically to see if the price of the cruise has dropped, book your air and hotel, and review your documents and reservations to make sure that everything is in order.
One if by Air, Two if by Sea - Are Air/Sea Packages Worth It?
Offered by many airlines, air/sea packages include a flight from your home to the ship's port and back again in the price of ticket. While this option does relieve the hassle of purchasing your own ticket, be aware of both the pros and the cons.
If you purchase the air/sea package, your transfers between the airport and the ship will be included in the price. The cruise line will claim your luggage for you and carry it to the ship, and all you'll have to do is board the bus. If your flight is delayed, the cruise line will be aware of your delay and may be able to hold the ship for a few hours. If not, they will make every effort to get you to the first port to board the ship.
If you make your own flight arrangements, you might be able to find a better deal, flying nonstop with an airline you prefer while earning frequent flyer miles. You will have to find your own transportation to the cruise terminal from the airport and claim your luggage and carry it with you, so plan to arrive a day early and purchase optional travel insurance that covers trip delays, missed cruise connections and lost or delayed baggage.
Hurricanes - Will They Blow Your Vacation Off Course?
Hurricane season lasts from June through November throughout the Caribbean. Prices tend to drop during this time, attracting new and seasoned cruisers with great deals, especially in late August to mid December. And while the chances are very slim that a hurricane will affect your plans, the best advice is to step on board with the right attitude.
Cruise ships are exceptionally safe, they possess sophisticated weather-tracking systems to steer clear of danger and stay in calm waters. If you plan a cruise during hurricane season, keep track of the weather in the area you are planning to sail. If it begins to turn nasty, keep in touch with your Traveloni agent for updates and advice.
If a strong weather pattern does wander into your vicinity, your ship will simply change course. If your itinerary is set for the eastern Caribbean, then your captain will switch over to the western Caribbean port schedule, remain a few days longer at sea enjoying the calm waters or simply change the order in which the ports are visited. You will not get a refund for missed ports, but you may find a new adventure waiting for you wherever you dock.
Travel Insurance - Better Safe Than Sorry
Travel insurance is a small price to pay for peace of mind. A policy is not only for trip cancellations but also can cover missed connections, lost or delayed baggage, emergency medical and dental expenses and emergency legal assistance.
Some cruise lines offer cancellation waiver insurance, which is different than trip cancellation or interruption insurance. Waivers apply to cancellations made several days prior to the scheduled start of the trip. Trip cancellation and interruption insurance will cover you from the time that you purchase your cruise until you return from the trip.
A Traveloni agent provides you with information to help you select the right travel insurance provider to meet your needs.
Passports and Documents
Your ticket packet information will give you specific instructions regarding the necessary forms of identification or other travel documents for your voyage. Most cruise lines require at least a state-issued picture I.D., even if your cruise will stay in U.S. territorial waters.
If your cruise itinerary involves ports in foreign lands, bring a passport or a birth certificate with a raised seal and a government issued I.D. such as a driver's license.
What's Free and What Costs Money?
The price of your ticket will include your cabin, on-board entertainment and food. Other items to consider when budgeting your trip include:
- Taxes, surcharges, and fees, including airport fees, handling fees, departure taxes and port charges. You should verify which fees and port taxes are included in your cruise rate.
- Alcoholic beverages, bottled water and occasionally soft drinks. Some ships offer "soda packages" that feature unlimited sodas during the cruise for about $15-$20.
- Cost of reaching the ship, airline tickets not booked as part of the package, shuttle service or in-port parking fees, if not included.
- Cost of staying at port before or after the cruise, such as hotel, transportation and meals.
- Shopping purchases made both on and off the ship.
- On board extras, such as gambling, spas, massages and ship-to-shore calls.
Most cruise lines use a billing system for your convenience. They will take an imprint of your credit card and set up a tab for the cruise, presenting you with the total bill at the end. Keep all the little receipts you sign to verify the tab's total.
No Belly-flops Into the Jacuzzi - Proper Cruising Etiquette
Even though your cruise ship may be bigger than your hometown, it's still one place where many people must coexist harmoniously. Be courteous and respectful of others by following these guidelines.
Dress Properly - Even if you're allergic to dress codes, do not show up to a formal dinner in jeans and flip-flops. The ship will have a code for each day, so learn it.
Keep Your Children Close - Kids, we all love them, except when they're someone else's. If you travel with your little ones please keep them under control, especially around pools and while passing through more adult-centered areas such as the casino.
Learn the Ship's Language - Your vessel is a ship and never a boat, and the ship is always a she or her. Left is port, right is starboard. Aft means rear or stern, while the bow is the front of the ship. The bridge is where the Captain and his crew control the ship, and only some ships have open bridge policies.
Save One Seat, Not All - While it's okay to save a seat for your companion, it's poor form to save a row of seats for your entire table. The same goes for deck chairs.
Follow Jogging Rules - Most ships post hours when running is allowed because passenger cabins are often located under the jogging deck and some people prefer to sleep at 6 a.m. than listen to your footfalls.
Land, Ho! Discovering New Worlds During Shore Excursions
Whenever your ship stops at an exciting port of call, you have three options: stay on board, explore by yourself or take a ship excursion. But once you glimpse out your porthole and see the tropical island, feel the vibrations of the bustling cities and sense the intoxication of the exotic countries, staying on board will quickly dissolve as an option.
Ship-sponsored shore excursions are valuable if you want to visit the attractions far from the pier, have easy access to historic monuments, forts, and castles and simply learn about the country. They also provide the best ways to experience a metropolitan city port like Barcelona or Rome, and the safest way to visit a third-world country where language and customs may prove too daunting a barrier.
However, if all you want to do is walk around a city or town, shop or go to a beach, then grab a map, secure your money and hike it on your own. Wandering a port on your own can be a great way to get away from the crowd and immerse yourself in a new culture, but it can also be challenging.
For miles around, everyone just noticed the big white ship full of wealthy tourists coming in, so your chances of blending are nil.
Don't draw attention to yourself with flashy jewelry and large amounts of cash. Don't walk down narrow alleys or poorly lit streets, and avoid being surrounded by large crowds if possible. Carry a fake wallet and put your money in your front pocket, or place a rubber band around your wallet to make it more difficult to remove from your pocket without you feeling it.
Overall, cruising is a very safe way to travel, as ships must follow an extraordinary number of rules and regulations and are subject to rigorous quarterly inspection. Ships operate under international rules known as Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), requiring them to utilize smoke detectors, sprinklers and low-level emergency lighting for escape routes.
Safety drills are practiced within the first 24 hours of sailing, where you'll learn how to put on your life jacket and locate your assigned lifeboat.
Seasickness is less common nowadays as the ship's immense size and state-of-the-art motion stabilizers control gentle rocking. Once on board, spend some time on deck and focus on a fixed point of the horizon to help you adjust and get your sea legs quickly.
Be sure to pack a your complete health information with you on your trip, with your medical history, your insurance information, contact person in case of emergency, blood type and list of allergies, medications and immunizations.
Tipping - Know Which Price Is Right
Tipping is a traditional part of cruising and an important part of the income of those who help make your cruise enjoyable. Each cruise line will provide its own guide to tipping, with some even providing envelopes for you to pass them out in. Here are some general guidelines:
- Airport skycaps generally - $1.00 for each bag.
- Porters at the loading area of the ship - $1.00 for each bag.
- Cabin Stewards and Waiters - $3.00/$3.50 each, per passenger per day.
- Servers or Busboys - $1.50/$2.50 per passenger, per day.
- Maitre d'- $2.00 to $10.00 per passenger for the entire cruise depending on how helpful they have been.
- Many bar and lounge tips are included on your bill at a standard 15 percent which you can generally adjust for poor or excellent service. Check your individual bills to see if a tip has already been included.
Your Final Port of Call—Home
A cruise ship is a luxury hotel with a different view every day. There really are no limits to where you can cruise nowadays, as every ocean and river can be explored in style and luxury. And when compared with the cost of a land-based holiday, cruising offers excellent value with everything you need wrapped into one package.
With a little common sense and the helpful advice of a trusted Traveloni agent, your next cruise will be the "best vacation ever!" Bon Voyage!
Guide to Charter Flights
Guide to Charter Flights
Over the past few years, charter rules have been relaxed to make lower cost air transportation available to more people. "Public Charters" can be purchased from a tour operator, a travel agent, or sometimes directly from the airline. If your flight has been arranged by a club or other organization for its members, it may be what is called an "affinity" charter flight. These charters generally do not carry the consumer protection provisions of Public Charters. Be sure you know what kind of charter flight you are purchasing. A Public Charter may include only the flights, or it may be sold as a complete package, including hotels, guided tours, and ground transportation. Either way, your rights are spelled out in a contract you have with the tour operator. The operator or a Traveloni agent should give you a contract to sign at the time you purchase your trip. Read it before you pay any money.
IMPORTANT CHARTER DISCLOSURES
The Department of Transportation requires tour operators to disclose certain information in your contract about the restrictions that they impose and also rights that you have under DOT rules:
You usually pay penalties if you cancel. The closer to departure you cancel, the bigger the penalty. On some charters, if a substitute can go in your place you only lose a $25 fee. You can buy trip cancellation insurance. These policies usually provide a refund in case you must cancel due to illness or death in the family. Your Traveloni agent or tour operator can tell you how to buy the insurance and what health conditions it does or doesn't cover. Charter cancellation insurance often won't pay you if you must cancel because of a preexisting condition.
The tour operator or airline can cancel a Public Charter for any reason up until 10 days before departure. Your flight might be canceled if it doesn't sell well or for some other reason. This is a risk you take in return for a low fare. (During the last 10 days before departure, a Public Charter can be canceled only if it is physically impossible to operate it.)
All charter flights and ground arrangements are subject to changes. Signing a contract does not guarantee that prices won't go up or that itineraries won't change. But, if there is a "major change" in your flight or tour, you have the right to cancel and get a penalty-free refund. Major changes include:
A change in departure or return city (not including a simple change in the order in which cities are visited).
A change in departure or return date, unless the date change results from a flight delay. (However, a flight delay of more than 48 hours is a major change.)
A substitution of a hotel that was not named as an alternate hotel in your contract.
An increase in price, if the total of all increases billed to you is more than 10% of what you originally paid. (No increases are allowed during the last 10 days before departure.)
If your tour operator notifies you of a major change before departure, you get a full refund if you decide to cancel. If you choose not to cancel, the operator is not required to make partial refunds. However, if you don't find out about a change until after your trip has begun, you can reject the changed flight or hotel, make and pay for your own alternative plans, and insist on a refund for the changed component when you get home.
No "open returns" are allowed on round-trip public charters. Be sure you have a specific return date, city, and flight, so you won't be stranded.
The tour operator has to take specific steps to protect your money. The tour operator must have a surety agreement, such as a bond, and must usually have an escrow account at a bank that holds your money until your flight operates. If your money is going into a charter escrow account, the bank will be named in your contract, and the check that is sent to the charter operator should be made payable to that bank. (If you are using a travel agency, it's OK for you to make your check out to that travel agency; he or she will cut a check payable to the escrow account.)
Identify the departure date and destination on the face of the check. If a tour operator goes out of business you should contact the surety company or bank identified in your contract for a refund.
You alone are responsible for knowing if you need a visa and passport for your trip. You can be certain of the visa and passport rules of the countries you plan to visit by calling or writing their embassies in Washington, D.C. or their consulates in some major U.S. cities.
If your luggage gets lost during your tour, there may be a dispute over who is liable. The charter airlines process claims for bags that were lost or damaged while in their possession. If it is not clear where the problem occurred (e.g. between the airport and a hotel), the operator and the airline may both decline liability.
To cover yourself, find out if your renter's or homeowner's insurance policy covers losses that happen when you're away from home. You might also ask your Traveloni agent if there's a one-shot baggage insurance policy available to cover baggage problems while you are on your charter trip.
Your charter may be delayed. Last-minute schedule changes and departure delays of several hours are not uncommon on charters. A flight can be delayed up to 48 hours before the charter operator must offer you the option to cancel with a full refund.
Charters and scheduled flights operate independently of each other. If there's a delay on the scheduled flight connecting you to the city where your charter departs, causing you to miss your charter, you lose your flight and money. Charter reservations are only good for one flight. If you miss it for any reason, you're probably out of luck. Check with the tour operator to see if he has another charter flying to your destination.
If your charter is late returning and causes you to miss a scheduled connecting flight back to your home, you have to pay your own expenses while you wait for the next connection. If you have a discount fare on a scheduled connecting flight you could lose it if the returning charter is delayed. Then you, not the airlines or tour operator, have to pay more for a regular non-discount fare.
Your baggage can't be checked through from a scheduled flight to a charter, and vice-versa. You have to claim your baggage and re-check it yourself. When planning a charter, allow plenty of time to check in at the airport from which your charter leaves, or from which you have a connecting flight. On international trips, remember that you may encounter delays in Customs.
You might find seating space for your charter plane to be more crowded than you're used to. The low charter rate depends in part on spreading costs over a large number of people with virtually all of the seats being filled.
If a charter flight hasn't sold out shortly before departure, the operator can sell seats at bargain basement prices to latecomers. Some who have paid the regular price well in advance may object, but should realize that the operator's alternative may be to cancel the flight altogether for economic reasons.
Charter rates are relatively low, but might not be the cheapest fare to your destination. Ask your Traveloni agent to compare fares on scheduled and charter flights for you.
Charters offer nonstop flights for an affordable price. They can be a wise travel investment if you can be flexible in your travel plans. Just be sure you know the conditions for the trip you're buying before you pay for it.
Dealing With Jet Lag
Dealing With Jet Lag
After crossing several time zones, many travelers suffer from "jet lag." Although there is no way to completely avoid jet lag, there are a number of ways to help your body adjust to a new time zone.
- Try to go to bed a little earlier a few days before you leave and get as much sleep as you can during your flight.
- Many side-effects of jet lag are the result of dehydration, so avoid alcohol, coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages and drink plenty of water during your flight.
- Eat lightly on your flight and forego rich or exotic foods on the first few days of your trip so that you can use your energy to adjust to your new surroundings rather than to digest your food.
- Exercising on a long flight will help alleviate such common discomforts as backaches, swollen legs and feet and general fatigue. Stretch at regular intervals and walk up and down the aisles of the plane from time to time to prevent dangerous blood clots from forming.
- Finally, take it easy on the day you arrive so that you can take advantage of your trip at a leisurely pace and establish a routine in sync with the local time.
Flying on Bankrupt Airlines
Flying on Bankrupt Airlines
In these tough economic times, struggling airlines may declare bankruptcy while continuing flight operations. TravelSense offers these tips to consumers holding tickets on any airline that has declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy:
Use a credit card. When selecting an airline rumored to be in financial trouble, you should pay by credit card. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, credit card customers have the right to refuse paying for charges for services not rendered. Details of the Fair Credit Billing Act can be found at the Federal Trade Commission's Web site.
Consider insurance. Some travel insurance policies may even include supplier default protection. Consult with your insurance provider for details.
File a claim. If all else fails and you are unable to take advantage of the Fair Credit Billing Act, you should file a claim with the bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy court usually provides filing instructions, including claim forms, within months after a bankruptcy is filed.
Flying During an Airline Strike
Flying During an Airline Strike
In the event of a labor disruption or strike with an airline, the following information will come in handy. The best piece of advice: Get friendly with Traveloni.
Understanding Airline Strikes
A strike can only legally occur after the Labor Relations Board declares an impasse in talks between the airline and the union. Once this occurs, the union must wait 30-days before a strike can be called. As a result, travelers holding tickets for the period immediately following the 30-day cooling off period should review their options.
An airline affected by a strike is not required to re-accommodate you on other airlines. Strikes are not covered in most airlines' Contract of Carriage, and most airlines will do nothing more than provide you with a refund, but only after a strike is imminent (within a day or two of being called).
The U.S. Government offers no protection. No laws exist to force other airlines to carry you to your destination.
Some airlines may offer to accommodate you and waive certain advance purchase restrictions if receipt of purchase is provided, but these options are often limited and are generally only offered shortly before, or just after, a strike is called. Also, these offers are of little value to you if the flights are full.
Before a Strike is Called...
If you hold tickets on an airline for travel during the period immediately following the mandated 30-day cooling off period, you should:
Review your options with other airlines. If you are attending a major life event (e.g. wedding, etc.) or connecting to a major vacation (e.g. cruise or tour package), it is important that you analyze your options. If you booked with Traveloni, ask us for help. Traveloni agents can help you explore all your options, be it an alternative flight or departure from a different airport or on a different airline.
If you hold a refundable ticket, you can simply purchase a ticket with another airline and request a refund for the original ticket.
If you hold a non-refundable ticket, your options are more limited. If you plan to travel on the airline in the near future (generally one year from the original outbound travel date for domestic tickets and one year from the date of purchase for international tickets), you can cancel your ticket and the airline will provide you with a travel credit for future travel, less an administrative fee that can range from $50 to $200 depending on the airline and the type of ticket you've purchased. It is important to review the rules that apply to your specific ticket before making a decision.
Consider insurance. Some policies cover strikes, but be sure to get all the details from the insurance company, such as whether any airlines are exempt or what amount is covered.
Constant contact. Check your flight status daily and make certain that Traveloni and the airline have your contact information (e-mail address and mobile phone number) in the event they need to contact you to reschedule a flight or alert you to an itinerary change.
During a Strike...
If you have a cell phone, carry it. If your flight is cancelled at the last moment, you're only a phone call away from the assistance of a Traveloni agent.
Pack snacks. It might seem like one more thing to carry, but when faced with a long wait in line or waiting for a delayed flight, having your own supply of water and snacks may make all the difference. Remember that any water brought with you to the airport will have to be consumed before going through the TSA checkpoint.
Need something special? If you need any special services, your bet may be to choose another carrier. [Pets, oxygen="1" and="1" stretchers="1" count="1" as="1" special="1" services="1"]
Let Congress know how you feel. If you are fed up with being at the mercy of the airlines, send a letter to their Congressional representatives to let them know that you believe the government must act now to protect consumers.
Family Travel Advice
Planning a Family Vacation
Planning a Family Vacation
The tricky thing about family vacations is that they include your family. And with your family comes school and work schedules, video games and cookbooks, rock concerts and the big football game that can't be missed. With these conflicting schedules and widespread interests, you'll definitely need time to map it all out.
The goal is simple - make everyone happy with an unforgettable trip to the perfect destination. Achieving that goal can be daunting, especially when all the travel planning falls on you. But it is obtainable, as long as you know what your family enjoys and what travel options you have at your disposal. In the end, seeing your children's faces light up makes it all worth the effort.
Before planning your family's next vacation, check out this advice from Traveloni. Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, Traveloni Destination Specialists know that planning the perfect vacation is easier with time and good advice on your side.
Great Family Vacations Start with Great Family Planning
At the heart of every good, stress-free vacation experience is the perfect plan. If you want a perfect plan that your entire family will love, then get them to help you make it. The more input you get from each family member, the better. Your children may surprise you with some of things they suggest to do on vacation. If the destination or activity is already set, have your kids research online or at the library for exciting things to do while you're all there.
Once the family plan is in place, keep your kids involved by putting them in charge of at least one aspect of the trip. If they're good with maps, make them the navigator. Do they have an eye for photos? Make them the official vacation photographer, in charge of not only taking photos during the trip, but also of compiling the album once you return. They will enjoy the responsibility of the project and the trust you give them to accomplish it.
Setting Your Sights - Where in the World Will You Go?
In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda says, "Adventure, excitement!, a Jedi craves not these things." Well, a Jedi might not crave them, but your kids do. The good news is that there are millions of exciting adventures in this world for you to choose from. The bad news is that there are millions of exciting adventures in this world for you to choose from.
Paring down the list is priority number one. Consider your budget, timeframe and expectations. Are beaches calling your name? How about something in the park variety, be it an amusement, theme, water or National one? Is international travel in your future? Family friendly cruise or resort? With all those in mind, check out these options below sent in by travel agents around the globe.
Follow Your Sense of Adventure at a National Park
America's 388 National Parks are not just the great outdoors, they're the greatest outdoors, and always a family favorite. From glaciers and geysers to canyons and deserts, there is something that will wow every age group. At the tip of your travel tongue may be Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, but dig a little deeper and you will find many surprises.
Your children will actually enjoy learning at a National Park. They'll become minor geologists in the dark depths of Kentucky's Mammoth Cave. Watch their eyes erupt with wonder at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. History comes alive by tracing footprints at Antietam National Battlefield or watching oil droplets bubble to the surface of Pearl Harbor above the USS Arizona Memorial. Experience white water action over class V rapids through magnificent gorges and valleys at Gauley River National Recreation Area. Or, conquer the ice age as a family by hiking along Glacier National.
National Parks are perfect for kids. Most of the larger parks run Junior Ranger Programs, allowing kids to participate in fun activities while learning about the area's natural habitat and historic significance. Other parks offer nature walks and wildlife talks specifically geared toward children to show them that nature has more to offer than video games.
All Aboard! Cruising Family Style
Cruise ships are a family vacation planner's best friends. Picture a floating, mega-resort with tons to do for everyone in a confined space where you know your kids are supervised and safe. Many cruise lines offer voyages designed specifically for families, with expanded activity programs and shore excursions for all age groups and waterslides, ice rinks and climbing walls that keep kids and parents happy for days.
Some cruises have even developed onboard programs that not only feature family together time, but also arrange crucial alone time for parents. Together, parents and kids can participate in mock game shows, story hours, treasure hunts and other activities. Later, adults can schedule a massage or spend time on the sun deck knowing their kids are enjoying a host of supervised games and activities. To find a family cruise line to your liking, talk to a Traveloni Cruise Specialist who specializes in cruises.
Something Wild This Way Comes - African Safaris
For something a bit out of the ordinary, Traveloni Destination Specialists rave about African safaris. There's a long list of wilderness adventures available in every degree of comfort, adventure and budget. Safaris range from luxury holidays, where elegant lodges and fine wines share time with tracking giraffes from a sturdy, open-roof vehicle, to mobile camping safaris where you follow predators or stake out the great wildebeest migration, sleeping in tents at a different locale each night.
Just mention the word "safari" to your kids and watch their eyes grow as large as a lion's as they roar with approval. Each safari is judged by the thrilling wildlife it encounters, and many come through with high marks as they safely bring your family into the playgrounds of zebras, lions, elephants, hippos, rhinos, gorillas, cheetahs and a whole ark-full of other animals. So many beasts roam these lands that the ground itself feels alive.
Traveloni Destination Specialists - Your New Favorite Aunts
When you're ready to make the most of your next vacation, open your arms to a new member of the family - your Traveloni Destination Specialist. Your Traveloni Destination Specialist can save you so much time and money while relieving stress that you may want to invite him or her over for next Thanksgiving.
Money is a big part of any travel experience, and the more value you feel you're getting, the more you'll enjoy yourself. Traveloni Destination Specialists understand this principle more than anyone, which is why they work within your schedule, budget and expectations to produce an incomparable vacation experience.
Doesn't a family as great as your own deserve an equally great vacation? Contact a Traveloni Destination Specialist and start planning your great family vacation today.
Traveling with Children
Traveling with Children
Family vacations can create long-lasting memories and fun learning experiences for parents and children alike. But traveling with children can sometimes be a test of preparedness -- and of patience. Traveloni has created a list of suggestions to help make the sometimes daunting task of preparing for a trip with the kids manageable and fun for the entire family.
Create anticipation for the family trip by starting a countdown calendar with perhaps a photo or illustration of the destination. Let kids pack their own bags. Decide what type of clothing (preferably loose and comfortable), but allow them to choose their favorites and to pack a special toy. In a carry-on bag, pack some hard candies and gum, hand wipes, tissues, books, paper, markers in a small, tightly sealed plastic bag and perhaps a surprise toy for each child.
Update immunizations for the entire family. If traveling abroad, check with public health authorities for advisable additional vaccines. Depending on the destination and duration of stay, the following immunizations may be recommended (although some cannot be given to infants and young children):
- Hepatitis B vaccine
- Typhoid vaccine
- Hepatitis A vaccine
- Immune globulin
- Yellow Fever vaccine
- Japanese B Encephalitis vaccine
- Meningococcal vaccine
- Rabies vaccine
AT THE AIRPORT
Allow plenty of time for check-in and also between connecting flights. Arriving early to board together prevents last minute delays and confusion, especially with the new security regulations. Be sure to have a safety plan in case anyone gets separated at the airport. Discuss where to meet and what to do.
|TOP VACATION DESTINATIONS FOR KIDS (8-13)|
1. Disney* - 100%
2. Cruises - 41%
* includes all Disney parks and Disney Cruises
Source: ASTA-member travel agents survey
Review screening procedures with children before entering security checkpoints so they will not be frightened by the process. Every person, including children and babies, must undergo screening at security checkpoints. Also, all child-related equipment must go through the X-ray machine. To speed the process along, remove children from their strollers/infant carriers and collapse/fold the equipment so it may be examined or put through the machine. When going through metal detectors, with an infant, have one parent hold the baby and walk through the machine. Do not hand off the baby under the detector, or hand the baby to the screener to hold. Children who can walk should go through the metal detector independently. For older children, it is important to stress that the process should be taken seriously and that threats made even as a joke could result in law enforcement being summoned.
ON THE FLIGHT
Bring a child/infant seat on board that meets current safety standards and is not more than 16 inches wide. The Federal Aviation Administration recommends that children weighing less than 40 pounds be placed in child/infant seats.
The best coach seats to have when flying with small children are the first row in economy class. There's a lot of legroom, and you'll be removed from most of the plane when the kids get cranky from the long flight. If the front row seats are not available, place children away from the aisle, preferably between responsible adults. Also, remember to get up, stretch and walk around with kids often during the flight, but do not allow children to walk around unsupervised.
TOP VACATION DESTINATIONS FOR TEENAGERS (13+)
1. Disney* - 57.4%
2. Cruises - 48%
* includes all Disney parks and Disney Cruises
Source: Survey of ASTA-member travel agents
Getting your seat assignment in advance can help ensure families are seated together and that children and adults will be seated next to each other. If a flight is full and obtaining seat assignments in advance is not a possibility, advise the airline personnel at the airport. The airline may need to ask other passengers to change seats so children are not seated apart from parents.
Bring bottled water to drink and lotion to apply to skin to rehydrate during the dry flight; gum, pacifiers and bottles to reduce air pressure on the children's ears; and a variety of toys in carry-on bags to keep the child's interest from waning.
IF TRAVELING BY CAR
Make it comfortable by bringing pillows and blankets. Stop frequently at rest stops to stretch and make use of restrooms. Play games like "I Spy." Make sure the car is stocked with paper, pencils, plenty of engaging toys and tapes or CDs of their favorite songs or books. Most importantly, keep children involved in the vacation process. Save everything collected on vacation - brochures, napkins, ticketstubs - and have children paste them into a scrapbook.
Plan ahead with the rental company to make sure they offer car seats and installation. If not, you'll have to bring your own in addition to a collapsible stroller. If nothing else, a simple call to the rental car company may save you the hassle of bringing along one extra piece of equipment.
Have a daily schedule planned with some flexible, free time for each family member. Provide friends or relatives with phone numbers and addresses of hotels where the family will stay, transportation information and emergency contact information. If possible, each member of the family should have a cell phone or walkie-talkie to keep in touch at all times. Coming up with an emergency plan or meeting point is also a good idea in case family members become separated.
AT THE HOTEL
Put safety first by avoiding a myriad of possible accidents. Bring outlet protectors and make a sweep of balconies and bathrooms for any potential dangers. Hide away small objects, accessible medications and cleaners children could get their hands on. Familiarize yourself with the hotel's fire and emergency evacuation routes and procedures.
SOME EXTRA PRECAUTIONS
If your vacation includes a trip to a pool, ocean, water park or any other place involving water, the number one rule is to never let children venture off alone. Even if they know how to swim, children should wear a life jacket at all times. Also, it is important to know what is in the water, such as chemicals or jellyfish. Very cold temperatures, currents, and sudden drop-offs are all things to avoid, especially with children.
Always bring a hat with a wide brim and sunscreen of at least 30 SPF to shield children's skin from the sun's harmful rays. Sun poisoning can ruin any vacation.
It is important to bring along needed medications. Diarrhea treatments (although these should not be given to very young children), pain relievers, insect repellants, antihistamines and adhesive bandages are good staples. Consult your doctor about â€œover the counter" remedies before using them. Bringing a doctor's number, even if traveling to a foreign country, is a good idea, as well.
To prevent diseases spread by drinking contaminated water, use only bottled or boiled water to mix formula and juices, or simply go with pre-mixed liquid formula whenever possible, if an infant is not being nursed.
Maintain a good sense of humor while traveling to give your children a vacation to remember in spite of any unforeseen obstacles. Remember that problems do arise and accidents do happen, but being prepared and keeping Traveloni's Travel Tips in mind may help avoid hassles and undue stress.
Traveling with Grandchildren
Traveling with Grandchildren
Befitting their titles, grandparents and their grandchildren should engage in grand relationships. Since the dawn of man, grandparents lived in multigenerational communities, living and working alongside their children and grandchildren. They were not "in the way" or a "nuisance;" instead they served as teachers, advisers and role models - key figures that positively shaped the lives of their grandchildren.
Times have changed and families are now spread across the country, forcing grandparents to constantly seek new ways to cultivate relationships and share special experiences with their grandchildren. The answer: intergenerational travel, where grandparents plan vacations with only their grandchildren, leaving the parents at home.
Intergenerational travel is a win-win-win situation: parents get a well-needed break; grandparents get quality time with the grandkids; and the grandkids get a week without homework, learning about the world with their grandparents. Yet while more and more seniors are leading active lives, it can be difficult to match the energy and interest level of a child for an entire week.
So if you want to take a "grand" vacation but are worried about keeping a grandchild entertained, check out these trusted travel tips from Traveloni. Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, Traveloni Destination Specialists know that children love shiny toys, and there is no better shiny toy than an exciting vacation with loved ones.
Tips to Travel By
Create a Multi-Generational Itinerary - Too often seniors plan activities to solely please the children, running themselves ragged to keep the trip in a high gear of constant fun. But if you become unhappy, the kids will soon follow. A Traveloni Destination Specialist will help you craft an itinerary that appeals to both generations, paying special attention to natural attractions, like mountains and canyons, and historical sites, like lost temples and medieval castles.
Consult the Parents - It may be awkward to turn to your own children for advice, but talking with your grandchild's parents is a critical step in planning a successful trip. Parents know their children's favorite activities and subjects, along with their sleeping and eating habits.
You're the Guardian, So Be Prepared - One lesson Traveloni Destination Specialists teach time and time again is to always have proper identification and medical histories wherever you go, for emergencies enjoy being unpredictable. During the vacation, you are 100 percent responsible for the children, so make sure you have their proper identification, health insurance, contact information, recent photos and notarized authorization from their parents in case they need medical attention. All identifying documents for the children should comply with the latest federal requirements for passports and other entry/exit documents. Also, it's your job to know their medications and dietary needs backwards and forwards.
Finally, some countries do not allow entry of minors not accompanied by both parents unless the children have written, notarized permission from the absent parents. The rules vary from country to country, so consult your Traveloni Destination Specialist before your trip.
Play Favorites - Since a child's energy level escalates exponentially with each additional child in the room, it's wise take no more than two grandchildren at time, or even just one. As much as you would to include all eight grandkids, in reality you should play favorites and take only a few at a time. You can always plan more vacations for the others.
Keep the Kids Excited - Just like a movie studio builds excitement for an upcoming release, so should you with your impending excursion. Have your grandchildren help plan the trip by reading guidebooks or talking with your Traveloni Destination Specialist together. As the date approaches, send your grandchild e-mails about the activities or maps and pictures of the destination in the mail.
Take a Warm-Up Trip - Before traveling alone with your grandchildren for an entire week or two, discover how you all travel together by taking a day trip or have them stay over for a weekend. If this short trip is more sour than sweet, maybe your grandchildren are not ready for a longer journey away from home. If that's the case, don't give up. Simply take more and more day trips until the group learns to have fun together.
Like E.T., Phone Home - An effective way to alleviate homesickness is to make periodic phone calls to the parents and let the kids gush about the day's exciting adventures. The parents will feel better knowing their children are in good hands, and you'll feel better listening to the kids rave about the activities you planned.
You Need Downtime, Too - Many places provide supervised activities for kids. If the resort or cruise offers these, take them up on that offer and get some much-needed rest.
Music to Their Ears - If you're traveling by car, especially with teens, let them enjoy their portable CD and MP3 players. Trust us - you won't like what they're listening to. And don't try and force Sinatra on a teen either. They will lean to appreciate Old Blue Eyes later in life; everyone does.
Plan B? Call Your Traveloni Destination Specialist
When life serves you lemons, your Traveloni Destination Specialist has a lemon squeezer, clean glasses and a bucket of ice. Many unforeseen factors - an illness, hurricanes, unscheduled closings - can dampen a vacation, no matter how thoroughly it was planned. When one of these occasions arises, stay positive, pull your Traveloni Destination Specialist's card out of your purse and give him or her a call. A Traveloni Destination Specialist has Plans B-through-Z at his or her fingertips.
Final Tip - Use a Traveloni Destination Specialist
Intergenerational travel is not a phrase created for this Web site; it's a gratifying market that many resorts, cruises and travel agents enjoy sustaining. If the idea of an intergenerational trip with your grandkids sounds appealing, but you feel uneasy about planning such a complex journey on your own, then turn to your trusted Traveloni Destination Specialist who specializes in family travel.
A Traveloni Destination Specialist can set up a fun-filled itinerary that will stimulate curiosity, encourage exploration and, most importantly, let you and your grandchild bond like never before. Using a world of experience, travel agents know which cruise lines, safaris or theme parks are the most family friendly, for your Traveloni Destination Specialist has most likely taken his or her own children there.
Ask your grandchildren if they want to see the world with you - the experience is simply priceless.
Holiday Travel with Children
Holiday Travel with Children
One of the country's leading experts on family travel, author and television personality Deb Geigis Berry spends up to 16 weeks on the road each year with her husband and two young children to seek out the best destinations to recommend to consumers. Here are some tips for holiday travel she's picked up along the way.
Keep planning simple: Traveling with kids in tow involves many details. To make the process easier, consider using a travel agent, who can recommend vacation destinations tailor-made for your family's interests and budget, find great deals on airfare and hotels, and fill you in on the latest airport security news.
Make getting to your destination fun: Use time traveling together for zany sing-alongs, family storytelling sessions and scavenger hunts. Parents can draw up a list of things you might expect to see from a car or plane, such as two-toned cows, a car toting a Christmas tree, or a man wearing a red hat, then have the kids vie to see who spots the items first. For the ultimate treat, splurge on a portable DVD player, and watch a holiday movie in transit, such as A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, which is always a good bet.
Pack a fun bag: Assemble a bag for each child containing stickers, paper and washable markers, poseable figurines (that don't have a lot of pieces), magnetic games and puzzles, and a pillow. If you use these particular bags for trips only, they'll remain novel, and kids will look forward to the journey.
Break up the trip with frequent stops: Playgrounds, indoor fun centers, and family restaurants are good bets. Use smartphones to access the locations of nearby fast-food restaurants, movie schedules, restaurant reviews, directions and even weather reports.
Make a memory box: Bring an empty shoebox along to store items you'll collect along the way, such as seashells, rocks, funny postcards, and marked-up road maps. When you get home, label the box with the trip destination and date, and you'll have a great souvenir of your time together.
Traveling with Teens
Traveling with Teens
Give some parents a choice between traveling with teenagers or with a pack of hungry badgers, and they'll choose the badgers nine times out of ten. There's just something about combining unpredictable teens and close quarters that create stressful situations for those unprepared for the journey.
When faced with a long trip with their teenager, some parents simply toss an MP3 player or hand-held computer game into the back seat with their child, or allow their teen to invite a friend. While this may stop them from repeatedly asking, "Are we there yet?" it builds barriers between the child and parent, defeating the true spirit of the family vacation.
Traveloni Destination Specialists, in all their worldly experiences, see vacations as the perfect opportunity to bond with your teens, for how often do you really get a chance to spend quality time with them away from phones, TVs, video games and instant messaging? Once teens are in a different environment, even for a day trip, they often become more open and communicative.
To unlock the secrets of traveling peacefully with your teenagers, check out these tips from Traveloni. Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, Traveloni Destination Specialists know that even though you don't agree on music and movies with your teen, you can all agree that hiking the Grand Canyon or watching the sun set from the deck of your cruise ship is very cool.
Space, the First and Final Frontier
Teenagers need space like fish need water. Give them space by having your Traveloni Destination Specialist select accommodations that offer more than just one room, such as a suite, or book adjacent rooms if the budget permits. Mental space is important too, so do not plan a schedule jam-packed with activities for every minute of the day. Have plenty of time for relaxing.
To teenagers, space equals privacy, and privacy is hard to come by in a cramped hotel room. Plus, the more space your teens have to get away from you, the more you'll have to get away from them.
They'll Love It When a Good Plan Comes Together
Planning is an important step of every vacation. If you want to plan a trip your teenager will get excited about, the solution is easy: get them involved with the planning. Your teen will enjoy sifting through the guidebooks with you or researching activities online. Bring them to your Traveloni Destination Specialist's office and urge them to ask as many questions as they like.
Brainstorm with your entire family and listen to their input. Your teen may surprise you with some of things he or she might like to do on vacation. The more you show that you are listening, the more your teen will come forth with ideas. Take their interests into consideration, whether it's their love of the outdoors, history or music.
Once the family plan is in place, keep your teen involved by putting them in charge of at least one aspect of the trip. If they're good with maps, make them the navigator. Do they have an eye for photos? Make them the official vacation photographer, in charge of not only taking photos during the trip, but also of compiling the album once you return. They will enjoy the responsibility of the project and the trust you give them to accomplish it.
They Love the Night Life, But They Don't Love to Boogie
Going out at night is a necessity for teenagers, so it's vital to visit an area with many nightlife options. Your Traveloni Destination Specialist will know which towns or resorts have something going on in the evening, and how to avoid quiet communities where they close the streets at 5 p.m. You should aim to go places where teens are, so that your kids can hang out with others in their age group.
Give your teens a night off. Allow older teens to go out on their own for a few hours, to just hang out at the local shops, and trust them to be back at the hotel at a designated time. For piece of mind, have your Traveloni Destination Specialist set up an international cell phone plan that can keep you and your teens constantly connected.
Even if they don't feel like going out, you can still give them the night off to simply chill out in the hotel while you enjoy the nightlife. Let them rent a movie and order room service.
Dollars and Sense
Set a budget with your teens for incidental spending and stick with it. One good idea is to make a deal with your teens, stating that they will get a percentage of the money left over at the end of the vacation. This often works in reducing the number of "I wants" that escape their lips.
Let your teens sleep in as much as your schedule allows. It's a win-win situation. They happily get to sleep in, and you have time for a quick nine holes on the course or a trip to the spa. Teens love to sleep late, and research has shown that their body clocks demand it. Try not to think of it as wasted vacation time, for letting them sleep is an easy way to eliminate tension.
Food for Thought
Part of experiencing a new destination is enjoying the local cuisine. While most travelers look forward to this savory part of world discovery, teens often fear it. Especially during international exploration, where the food can range from the exotic to the bizarre, forcing your teen to experiment day in and day out may not yield positive results.
Allow them the occasional fast food trip to cleanse their delicate palates. One great trick, Traveloni Destination Specialists tell us, is to let older teens eat on their own, especially in a foreign town. Give them enough money and set them free. This will force them to find their way around, communicate with locals and handle money responsibly. And all the while, you and your spouse can sneak off for a romantic dinner.
Just be sure to discuss with your teens to respect and obey the local customs while they're out on their own.
Take a CyberBreak
As many parents can attest to, it's difficult at times to pry your teenagers off their computers. While a vacation is a great opportunity for teens to experience the World Wide without the Web, don't force them to quit cold turkey. Make it easy for them to stay in touch with their friends back home by visiting cyber-cafes. You know you'll want to check your e-mail just as much.
Where to Go
Now that you have a better grasp on how to peacefully coexist with your teens while on vacation, the next logical question is where to take them? A question like that is best directed at a Traveloni Destination Specialist, for they know of many places that cater to the entertainment and cultural needs of all ages.
Travel agents recommend cruises as a great option for families, where teens often bond with others their age on board and enjoy a great amount of space and freedom. Ski holidays also come highly recommended, even though your teen will most likely choose to snowboard, for most resorts have special programs designed just for their age group.
"Family adventures" are a Traveloni Destination Specialist specialty, where you'll enjoy guided, multi-sport tours in amazing locales. If multi-sports are not your idea of vacation bliss, and you prefer to keep things low-key, possibly to visit relatives or an historic site, keep in mind some activities that your teen can look forward to or plan a side trip to an amusement or water park.
The Name is Agent, Travel Agent
The end result of any family vacation is to bring you closer to your loved ones while enjoying a fantastic travel experience. The key is to think of your next vacation as an adventure, for it's nearly impossible for anyone - especially your teenager - to not get excited about setting off on an adventure.
Contact your trusted Traveloni Destination Specialist today and start planning your next family vacation. Traveloni Destination Specialists are loaded with useful information, steering your in the right direction and saving you time and money in the process.
Traveling with Pets
Traveling with Pets
They're furry, they're friendly - they're absolutely lovable. Family pets are often a big part of the family, and sometimes it's hard to leave those adorable rascals behind when you leave town. With these simple tips, your pet won't have to miss out on one fun moment of the family's big vacation!
GET A CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH
|If you are a disabled person traveling with a seeing-eye dog, notify your destination hosts and airline ahead of time.|
Before you take your beloved pet anywhere, take him to the vet for an overall checkup, and ask for the number of an associate in the area where you will be staying. A few weeks before you depart, get your pet a physical, complete with vaccinations necessary for the area to which you are traveling. A direct, uncrowded flight is best (an evening flight if the weather is warm), but the vet can also give you tranquilizers to calm your pet for the long journey. If you're unsure whether your pet is up for the trip - ask. Although a cross-country flight may be no problem for you, a pet may suffer greatly while left in a hot baggage area. Don't wait to find out that Fido couldn't handle the hike up the mountain - or even the plane journey there.
Most airline and state officials mandate a clean bill of health in the form of a health certificate dated within 10 days prior to travel before your pet can fly with you. And even if he is in tip-top shape, traveling abroad sometimes assumes an automatic quarantine upon arrival for your pet whether or not there is an outbreak of a disease (Hawaii does, so contact your Traveloni Destination Specialist for assistance in this matter).
For U.S. territories and foreign countries, contact the appropriate embassy, governmental agency or consulate at least one month in advance before making arrangements for your pet. Moreover, some states require certain pets to have entry permits issued by the destination state's regulatory agency, and may request to view the interstate health certificate in advance of issuing the permit. Some even limit the time during which the entry permit is valid.
PAPERS FOR YOUR POOCH
Always keep an ID collar with your name and phone number on your pet, and always travel with favorite toys, proof of vaccination and proper licenses. Bring color photos of your pet, as well, in the unfortunate event he gets lost.
PETS ON PLANES
Because airlines limit the number of pets that can be on board at once, have your Traveloni Destination Specialist notify the airline of your pet when your reservation is made. Also ask for the allowable dimensions of your pet carrier. Regulations state that dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old and fully-weaned before flying. If your pet is pregnant or in heat, do not subject it to air travel. Written instructions for food and water must accompany any shipped pet regardless of the amount of time they are scheduled to spend in transit. Unless your vet signs a certificate otherwise, your pet may not be exposed to temperatures less than 45 degrees.
If your pet is less than 15 pounds and you are on a domestic flight, you may be able to fit a small, airline-approved kennel (check with your Traveloni Destination Specialist) under the seat in front of you. Out of respect for the person sitting next to you, inform passengers that you've brought your pet along so they may switch seats with someone else if they suffer from pet allergies. Have paper towels and a scooper on hand for any inevitable accidents that may occur. On international flights, larger animals can be shipped (for a fee) in the forward cargo bins, which are climate-controlled. Contact your Traveloni Destination Specialist or the airline for specific information on fees and requirements.
TRAVELING 'KENNEL' CLASS
One thing you should not underestimate is the importance of a quality travel kennel, no matter if you're traveling by bus, car, plane or train. Let your pet eat and sleep there before you leave, and throw an old sock - worn by you - in as well so he may accustom himself to the kennel in time for travel. Exercise, feed and give water to your pet before you leave, and place a dish for food and one for water inside the kennel. If you're shipping your pet, write the words "LIVE ANIMAL" all over the crate with arrows pointing in the upright direction, and put your name, phone number and address on a well-fastened label. Secure but don't lock the crate so airline personnel can access it if necessary. Make certain enough air is getting in. Check with your Traveloni Destination Specialist or call your airline and find out if there is an additional cost for your pet to travel with you.
ON THE ROAD WITH FIDO
Be careful if you're driving to your destination. Countless pets die each year from heatstroke after being left alone in hot cars for even a few moments. As a general rule, if you leave your car, your pet should leave, as well. If you park, make sure it's in a shaded area to keep the car cool. For safety's sake, check that your car's air conditioning is functioning before taking a long trip on a hot day. Never let your animal jump around or hang out the window - it's dangerous for both you and him.
A NOTE ABOUT BIRDS, REPTILES AND SMALL ANIMALS
|Travel is not recommended for smaller animals and birds because of the stress it causes them. Reptiles are especially discouraged because of their specialized requirements.|
A strong, mesh crate (the bottom lined by towels) with plenty of food and water is advised, with enough room so your pet can stand, turn and lie down. But exercise is necessary - stop frequently at rest stops for water and exercise, keeping a leash on your pet at all times. If your pet is unaccustomed to car trips, increase his time in the car before you take him on vacation. One piece of sugar candy - not chocolate - before hitting the road may quell motion sickness. Although you do want to feed your pet at least four hours before air travel, leave a window of six hours before a car trip during which your pet is not eating. If he's overly fussy, it may be best to rethink bringing him along.
YOUR PETS AND HOTELS
Ask your Traveloni Destination Specialist to call ahead to make sure your hotel or motel allows pets. Or, for a list of pet-friendly lodgings, call the Convention and Visitors Bureau at your destination. Once there, clean up after your pet - don't abuse the privilege. Likewise, pack a supply of plastic bags to make this chore easier. Request a room at the end of the hall so other guests aren't bothered by the possible noise.
So plan ahead, bring the right supplies and rely on these Tips on Traveling With Pets to ensure that you and your pet have a safe and enjoyable trip. With the helpful hints we have listed here, your pet can be the perfect addition to a perfect vacation.
Planning A Family Reunion
Planning A Family Reunion
What better way to gather loved ones than at a family reunion? Whether your family is large or small, consider getting help from the start by calling in the experts. Traveloni Destination Specialists can take care of details ranging from recommending appropriate destinations to arranging for airline tickets, and making hotel or car rental reservations.
They are well acquainted with cruise ships and resorts that specialize in family travel. Traveloni Destination Specialists can help families with last minute itinerary changes and cancelled flights, as well as arranging for family members with special needs. For large groups, a Traveloni Destination Specialist may have access to pre-negotiated airfare and hotel rates otherwise unavailable. And, a Traveloni Destination Specialist can serve as a friendly and patient third party to help prod those family members who may not be quick to decide on travel plans.
START PLANNING EARLY
Planning a family reunion can become complicated, especially a large reunion involving lots of people. Experienced reunion planners recommend that families begin planning up to two years in advance.
Allow time for your guests to plan. Give them enough advance notice to adjust their own schedules in order to attend. If you are planning a reunion that involves traveling long distances, or an adventure like a cruise or a trip out of the country, many family members may need time to save money and make special arrangements for extended leave from work.
Be prepared for guests who require special consideration. Everyone has different needs and it is important to the success of your event to be aware of those needs and have adequate time to plan accordingly. Disabled guests may need special equipment or accommodations. Others may need to arrange for pet care. Whatever the circumstances, leave yourself enough time to ensure suitable arrangements can be made to accommodate everyone.
SELECT A DATE AND STICK WITH IT
Picking a date that works for everyone can be one of the most difficult - but one of the most important - steps in planning a family reunion.
Avoid the obvious busy times of the year. Try not to schedule your family reunion on major holidays, or during prom and graduation season.
Ask for suggestions and select a date that will work for everyone.
Communicate plans to host a family reunion far enough in advance that attendees will be able to avoid conflicting events.
Avoid changing the date. Once you announce the date to family members, they will immediately begin planning other activities around it. Changing the date mid-stream, even once, will affect everyone and some guests may be forced to cancel.
COMMUNICATE EARLY AND OFTEN
By communicating your plans to organize a family reunion early, your guests will have adequate time to plan to attend, and you can generate interest in catching up with family and creating new family memories at the reunion.
Distribute a newsletter. A reunion newsletter is an excellent way to keep the family up-to-date on the planning process, who will be attending and what activities are planned.
Use e-mail to keep guests informed and interested. E-mail is an inexpensive way to maintain communications with reunion guests and provides an easy way for guests to ask questions and provide feedback.
Solicit ideas from guests. To keep everyone involved and excited about attending the reunion, allow family members the opportunity to submit ideas for planned activities, venues and menu options.
PLAN ACTIVITIES FOR EVERYONE
Family reunions are unique in that they can involve people from all over the world, each with different interests. Your guests may span up to four generations and it is important to consider ages and physical limitations when planning activities. Grandparents may not want to participate in activities like scuba diving or water-skiing. Likewise, children may not enjoy ballroom dancing or a mahjong tournament.
Consider holding the family reunion on a cruise ship or at an all-inclusive resort. Each offers entertainment options for every generation and can take much of the stress out of planning activities around varying interests.
Ask your guests. Since they will likely have different interests, you will be better able to plan activities if you know what they enjoy doing.
Choose a venue that is large enough to accommodate activities for everyone and offers a variety of things to do.
BE SURE TO ENJOY YOUR OWN PARTY
The best reward for organizing a large get-together is being able to enjoy the day when it arrives. Planning a family reunion can be a stressful endeavor. Ask for help so it does not become so burdensome that you are not able to spend time with your guests and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Recruit helping hands. One way to ensure you have time to enjoy the reunion is to recruit willing family members to take care of last minute details. You will be surprised how much help is available if you just ask.
Family Reunion Survival Tips
Family Reunion Survival Tips
Dr. Laurence A. Basirico, professor of sociology at Elon University, researches and teaches about family reunion relationships. He is one of seven siblings, married, has three children, and participates regularly in his family's reunions. Featured on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" and in most major newspapers in the country, he is the author of The Family Reunion Survival Guide: How To Avoid Problems With Your Family Without Avoiding Your Family (http://www.identitypublishing.com). Here are some "Relationship Boosters" from his book, especially important for destination reunions.
Identify a reunion theme that connects all family members. Shared experiences and memories are a powerful source of unity for any group. Organize your reunion around a theme that everyone in your family can relate to. Family ancestry, a milestone such as a golden anniversary, or even a sports or cultural event can serve as common thread. Be creative.
Plan activities that focus on the commonalities that family members share. Activities that reinvigorate cherished family moments strengthen bonds. A table displaying old family photographs, a night of swapping stories about colorful deceased relatives, photo albums or videos of key family events, or games that require deep knowledge of the family's past are only a few ways to blend the family together.
Elicit input from everyone who is going to attend about time, place, and activities. This gives all the family members a sense of ownership for the reunion rather than simply being an attendee. It makes the planning process an integral part of the reunion, extending it, and getting everyone to interact, well beyond the time that everyone spends together.
Consider enlisting the help of a professional reunion planner. While every family member's reunion suggestions should be heard, a non-family member such as a travel agent or cruise planner, can offer non-biased expertise about the range of experiences suitable to a family's particular interests. It makes the planning more fair and avoids the possibility of plans made in anyone's self interest at the expense of others.
Recognize that there may be some pre-reunion jitters and take steps to help curtail them. For some, uncertainty about what to expect at the reunion, about how they are remembered, about how people have changed, or about how they might fit in can create some anxiety. Plan activities that allow everyone to feel like an important part of the family and let people know beforehand about these plans.
Develop some activities that require that family members work together and to depend upon each other to complete the task. Besides shared experiences, another way to build unity is through interdependence. Regardless of peoples' differences, completing a task together, such as planning a meal, playing on the same team during a game, making a family skit, or working together on any project creates a sense of accomplishment and togetherness.
Don't underestimate the importance of planning, organization, and structure. The research clearly indicates that successful family reunions don't just happen. A survey of readers of Reunions Magazine found that the highest levels of satisfaction at the end of a reunion were reported by people who said that their reunions were the most planned, structured, and organized. Painstaking planning is proven to pay off!
With input from everyone, make important decisions, rules and boundaries prior to the reunion. All of us have lifestyles and daily living patterns that make sense in our own adult lives and families, but these might be different from other adults in the reuniting family. It's essential that rules for daily living be discussed and compromises be reached prior to the reunion rather than during the reunion.
While You're There
We all know how tempting it can be to abandon our good sense while on vacation. When it comes to eating healthy, many of us tend to make poor choices and relax our restraint...grabbing an ice cream cone here, a slice of pizza there. But there are ways to keep watch over what we put in our mouths, and with some help from Traveloni - along with some hard work and common sense - your job should be made a little bit easier.
It is easy enough to request a low-fat or vegetarian meal on your airplane flight these days. But if you choose to drive to your destination, the quest to find healthy food on the road gets a little more complicated.
Rather than relying on roadside greasy spoons for nutrition, pack a variety of nutritious foods in a cooler filled with ice packs. Fruits and raw vegetables, sandwiches, individual packages of crackers, yogurt and granola bars are quick and easy solutions for the road. Also, pack a few bottles of water so you don't become tired and dehydrated while driving. If you have to stop at a drive-thru, try to order your hamburger without cheese, skip the condiments, choose grilled meats instead of fried and look to the salad bar for options whenever possible. Just make sure you don't drive too long without eating, always stop at a rest area to eat (especially with children, who run the risk of choking when fed while in a car seat) and stay away from sugary snacks.
When you arrive at your hotel, do yourself a favor and turn down the minibar key to avoid tempting yourself with goodies. If your hotel offers a Continental breakfast, stick to fruits, cereals and proteins such as eggs. Low-fat muffins are also a good alternative to sticky danishes and fat-laden donuts. If your hotel has a microwave or in-room refrigerator, consider bringing food from home whose nutrition content you already know. If worse comes to worst, you can always rely on the hotel coffee maker to heat water for oatmeal you've brought from home.
If you have to eat out, remember to eat only when hungry - don't fill up simply because it's free (if you're on a business trip) or because it's there. Restaurants tend to serve overwhelmingly large portions, so be wary. If you do overindulge at one meal, simply scale back a bit on the next. Forgive yourself for any "diet" blunders and take a walk around the hotel or swim in the pool. Also, try to find restaurants that will work with your needs: that broil instead of fry, cook with low-fat cheese, or use non-fat milk.
If you feel you can't fit in three square meals throughout the day, try to fit in six smaller meals or snacks as your body requires fuel every four to five hours. When eating out, either avoid the appetizers altogether; or choose appetizers instead of entrees to avoid eating oversized amounts of food. Whatever you do, don't skip meals.
When possible, avoid large meals at night. When your body slows down and readies itself for sleep, it also burns calories less efficiently. Pass up the bread basket at dinner, and certainly avoid the butter, margarine and oil that come along with it. Choose fish or poultry for your entrée, and make an effort to include lots of vegetables rather than French fries or cole slaw. Finally, moderate your desserts, choosing sorbet and not ice cream, fresh fruit and not cake. And definitely limit your alcohol intake - all those extra calories add up.
The following is a list of menu terms divided into two categories: those you should avoid and those you should embrace. Let these be your guide when all else fails.
Avoid these terms:
- Buttery or buttered
- Fried, French Fried, Crispy
- Creamed, in gravy
- Au gratin or In cheese sauce
Look for these terms:
- Stir fried
- Au jus (in its own juices)
- Garden fresh
In short, trust your own good judgment and stick to your normal eating habits or as close to them as possible when away from home. Take care of yourself so you can have many happy, healthy vacations for years to come!
Health & Safety Travel
Health & Safety Travel
You've planned and packed - you're all ready for your trip - but you may have overlooked one of the key ingredients for a great vacation: taking the necessary steps to make sure you and your family have a safe and healthy trip.
The healthier your body is, the easier it will be for you to adapt to the effects of jet lag. If you plan a few days ahead, however, even the most out-of-shape may be able to head off the misery of jet lag. Several days before you leave, try going to bed a little earlier or a little later (if you are flying east or west, respectively), and start a stretching regiment. Hydrate yourself and eat lightly the day you travel. The headache, light-headedness and nausea associated with jet lag should lessen significantly when such measures are taken.
COMMON TRAVEL AILMENTS
Motion sickness is an unpleasant problem for many travelers; however, there are some over-the-counter and prescription medications available. If you wish to combat motion sickness on your own, try the following:
When traveling by car, try to sit in the front seat and, if you can, avoid reading as it only heightens the feeling of motion sickness.
When traveling by boat, sit as close to the middle of the vessel as possible and look straight ahead at the horizon, a fixed point that will not move. Today's high-tech cruise ships are built for comfort, with stabilizers for smooth sailing, and most passengers experience little or no motion sickness.
When flying, try to sit near the wing of the plane, or the side where you are accustomed to driving. Ear plugs also may help.
Extremes: Heatstroke and Hypothermia
To avoid heatstroke, stay out of the sun for prolonged periods of time. By the same token, try to avoid unusually cold water to prevent hypothermia.
It's very easy to get caught up in the excitement of a vacation and get dehydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, and don't wait until you feel thirsty. Avoid caffeinated drinks, which can dehydrate you even more.
People who suffer from allergies should take the same precautions on vacation as they do at home. Bring any medications used on a regular basis. It's also a good idea to bring an antihistamine in case of accidental exposure to a substance that triggers an allergic reaction. It also may be helpful to pack your own pillowcase for use in hotels, and to request a non-smoking room.
The inflammation of the joints that occurs with arthritis may be especially troubling during long trips that restrict movement. Taking frequent breaks to walk around and relieve stiff joints and muscles can make car, plane and cruise trips more enjoyable. Remember to pack aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, or any prescription medications you normally use for arthritis.
There's nothing more miserable than getting sick while on vacation. For most destinations, the major health risk to travelers is diarrhea, which may be easily avoided. In general, common sense prevails. When in doubt, steer clear of uncooked meat, raw fruits and vegetables and unpasteurized milk products, and drink only bottled water (although the tip of the bottle may be contaminated, so wipe it clean before drinking from it) or water that has been boiled for at least 20 minutes. If you begin to feel sick or develop a fever, rest and drink tea or purified water. Most cases of traveler's diarrhea clear up within a few days.
Overactive Bladder and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you suffer from an overactive bladder or irritable bowel syndrome, you may require frequent bathroom visits during long trips. Over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications are often helpful for the latter, and there are prescription medications available for people who may experience more severe symptoms. Avoiding stress, caffeine, and certain types of high-fat foods can help keep these conditions under control.
Animal and Insect Bites
If you are bitten by a wild animal, it's important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Many animal bites require a tetanus shot and, in certain cases, a rabies shot. If bitten by a snake, lie as still as possible so not to spread the venom that may be present; then send others to get help immediately.
Check your body for ticks. Remove any with tweezers and watch the area for rash over the course of the next few weeks. See your doctor if you develop abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, rash, cough or weight loss.
FIRST AID KIT
It's a good idea to keep a first-aid kit handy for any emergencies that may arise during your trip. It should include:
|A first-aid manual||Throat lozenges|
|Bandages, gauze and tape||Anti-diarrheal medication|
|Scissors||Motion sickness medication|
|Tweezers||Water purification tablets|
|Antibiotic ointment||Insect repellent|
|Cold and flu tablets||Health and vaccination records|
PERSONAL SAFETY TIPS
Work with your Traveloni Destination Specialist to get as much information as possible about the destination, especially if you will be traveling alone.
Stay in hotels on well-traveled streets in safer areas of any city. The more expensive hotels usually have better security. Stay on lower level floors in case of fire or other need to evacuate quickly. Avoid the first floor, as it may not be safe from burglars. When returning to your hotel at night, use the main entrance. Be observant before entering parking lots.
Close and lock your hotel room door at all times. Check sliding glass doors, windows and connecting room doors. Acquaint yourself with the location of stairways, fire escapes, exits and alarms.
Do not answer your hotel room door without verifying who it is. If someone claims to be a hotel employee, call the front desk to verify. Never invite strangers into your room.
If you see suspicious activity or suspicious object, contact someone in authority immediately.
Your Traveloni Destination Specialist can arrange for transfers from the airport or port, if necessary. Taxis or private car hires are recommended, as you are more insulated. Most airports, ports and train stations have areas clearly marked for taxis and car service pick-up. Do not enter any vehicle that does not have a proper license or does not pick you up from the designated area.
If you will be renting a car, get maps in advance and clearly write out the directions from the airport to your hotel. If you need to stop for directions, go to well-lit public areas. Keep the phone numbers of your destinations with you.
Lock your car doors while driving. Do not pick up strangers or stop for people you don't know. Police cars will have blue and red lights; do not stop for cars flashing their high-beams.
Keep a low profile
Do not discuss your travel plans or itinerary publicly. Vary your schedule, if possible. Vary travel routes when possible.
Maintain a low profile. Dress down, if possible, and leave the expensive jewelry and watches at home. Do not display large amounts of cash or travelers checks. Look like a person of modest means. Do not leave your itinerary or other sensitive business information in your hotel room.
Blend in with the locals as best you can so you do not want to stand out. Cultural and racial differences may make this impossible, but you can still make yourself look like a person of modest means.
Be alert for surveillance, especially in high-risk countries. Kidnappers and extortionists identify their targets and then watch their potential victims to determine daily patterns.
Avoid disturbances and civil demonstrations, as they may become violent. Seek safe shelter away from the disturbance as quickly as possible.
Out and about
Keep your valuables, including passports, etc., in a money belt concealed under your clothes. Or, use the hotel safe to store valuables. Keep a copy of your passport with you at all times, but separate from where you are carrying your passport. In high-risk countries, it is a good idea to check in with the American Embassy and provide them with a copy of your passport in case you need to have it replaced. Pickpockets and thieves operate widely in many cities around the world, but especially near tourist attractions.
Whenever you use your credit card, keep an eye on it until it is returned to you. Always verify that it is your credit card before storing it again. Check credit cards when they are returned
If you are unfamiliar with the local language, carry a card or matchbook with the hotel's name and address. You can show the card or matchbook to a cab driver or police officer if you get lost. Before leaving the United States, make up several pocket cards with key phrases in the local language. (i.e., "Which way is the airport?" and "Where are the restrooms?")
Be careful when out on the town at night. Watch your drinks being poured and never accept a drink from a stranger. Get advice from your hotel concierge or other trusted source about reputable restaurants and other entertainment. Avoid being out on the streets late at night. Have your hotel arrange for car service or taxi service and know the addresses and directions before getting in the car.
BLAZING YOUR OWN TRAIL SAFELY
If you're charting unknown territory, you're going to want to take extra precautions to avoid putting yourself in harm's way. Plan for the worst. Pack a survival kit that includes your first aid kit, a map, compass, flashlight, knife, waterproof firestarter, personal shelter, whistle, warm clothing, sturdy hiking boots, rain wear, high-energy food and water. Ask your doctor about necessary immunizations. Take a first aid course before you leave and learn the ABC's of treating emergencies. Learn to recognize medical emergencies and respond to them immediately and appropriately, comforting the victim until help arrives. As common sense would dictate, avoid areas of natural hazards such as avalanche, rock fall, floods, and hazardous plants and animals, and check for potential hazards of terrain, sanitation (including infectious disease) and climate.
Finally, the best thing you can do for yourself to keep healthy and happy while on vacation is to purchase travel insurance. Neither Medicare nor Medicaid pays for care outside the United States, and most health insurance plans don't, either. Travel insurance is advisable, especially since the odds are you or someone in your family will need to seek some type of medical assistance while away. Talk with your Traveloni Destination Specialist to help you decide what coverage you'll need based on your type of travel (developing country, adventure safari, Disneyland, etc.). Be sure to examine different policies, make careful inquiries and always read the fine print. Two features are essential: a 24-hour, toll-free, English-language phone assistance and a plan that provides direct, immediate payment to the medical provider.
Although you can't anticipate every contingency, these are steps you can take to ensure a healthy vacation. For travelers with special needs, your Traveloni Destination Specialist can assist you with any personalized services.
TIPPING AT AIRPORTS AND TRAIN STATIONS
Upon arriving at or leaving from the airport or train station, tip the standard porter rate of $1 per bag; more if your luggage is very heavy. Typically, a $1 tip for hailing a taxi is appropriate for doormen. However, you may want to tip more for special services, such as carrying your bags.
HOTEL TIPPING ETIQUETTE
When you arrive at your hotel after a long flight, first things first: Tip the taxi or limo driver. Ten to 15 percent of your total fare is usually expected. If you drive your own car, give the valet parking attendant $1 to $2. If you take a shuttle van or bus, tip the driver $2 per person.
The bellman, who will be more than happy to assist you with your bags and the door, should receive $1 to $2 per bag. Tip when he shows you to your room and again if he assists you upon checkout. Tip more if he provides any additional service. The concierge, who can get you anything from dinner reservations to hard-to-come-by theatre tickets, deserves $5 to $10 for such feats. You may tip at the time of service or at the end of the trip. To ensure good service throughout your stay, add a $20 tip to the bill.
Add 15 percent of the bill to a room service charge, unless a gratuity is already added, then add no additional tip or simply $1. If you requested something delivered to your room such as a hairdryer or iron, tip $1 per item received. Typically, the maid deserves a $2 tip each day, as well.
TOUR TIPPING ETIQUETTE
If you're taking a tour and a tip is not automatically included, tip a local guide $1 per person for a half-day tour, $2 for full-day tour. Tip a private guide more.
If you are on a multi-day tour with a tour manager - someone who travels with the group for several days and is essentially in charge - tour operators suggest anywhere from $3-8 per person per day. Don't forget the bus driver either - $2 per person per day.
CRUISE TIPPING ETIQUETTE
When on a cruise, tip according to your comfort level and only on the last evening of your cruise. As a general rule, dining room waiters receive $3.50 per person/per day whereas the dining room assistant waiter should receive $2.00 per person/per day, the dining room maitre'd $3.50 per person/per day and the dining room manager $1.50 per person/per day.
The room steward, for all his efforts, receives $3.50 per person/per day. Other personnel, such as bar waiters, bellboys and deck stewards may be tipped as service is rendered.
RESTAURANT TIPPING ETIQUETTE
Although excellent service calls for 20 percent of the total bill, most U.S. restaurants accept 15 percent as the standard tip. In restaurants where you sit at the bar or the waiter is a small part of the meal (cafes or pubs), 10 percent is also acceptable. The bar tenders, themselves, generally receive between 15 and 20% when you sit at the bar. If the food or service is unsatisfactory, speak to the manager - don't walk out without tipping. And pay attention to lunch and dinner bills in Europe and Asia, as some restaurants tack on an additional 15 percent (usually listed on the menu or check as a "service charge") and do not expect tips.
At fancy restaurants, tip the maitre d' between $5 and $10 if he gets you a table - more when the restaurant is full and you have no reservations. Tip $1 when you check your coat, and another $.50 to $1 for restroom attendants. For personal service from the wine steward, opt for 10 percent of the wine bill.
This tipping etiquette will hopefully give you a general idea of the standard tipping rate for different stops along your journey. You are always welcome to tip more when the service is excellent, and when you do, you are sure to see the red carpet treatment all the way. Enjoy your vacation, and don't forget to tip!
Using Overseas ATMs
Using Overseas ATMs
Wherever you travel in the world, cold hard cash is your most essential necessity. This is true if you're buying a cup of coffee in Los Angeles, a silk scarf in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar or a bracelet off a street vendor in Hong Kong. That is why the first thing many travelers look for when they step off the plane in a foreign country is an ATM machine.
ATMs usually solve the traveler's dilemma of where to safely and quickly obtain local currency. All cash withdrawals, regardless of size, are exchanged based on the wholesale exchange rate, which is usually a few percentage points better than the rate at a local exchange counter. Plus, these machines are practically everywhere - ATM cards linked to the PLUS or Cirrus networks can be used in more than 135 countries - which makes them the convenient choice of cash-strapped travelers.
Yet some travelers are running into ATMs that, like stingy uncles, refuse to give them money, usually when they try using their debit cards. Recently, debit cards have been the targets of international frauds, prompting banks to block out entire countries where these frauds occur most often. Travelers usually don't even know a block is currently in place until they are standing cashless in front of an ATM, mildly cursing at their debit card that no longer seems to be working.
Countries that have recently been blocked by various banks include England, Thailand, the Philippines, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Singapore and Japan, though different banks utilize different criteria when selecting countries. Also, some banks block PIN-based transactions, while others block signature-based transactions; it all depends on their risk threshold.
Unfortunately for travelers, banks are not required to inform their customers about these bans, for they do not want to tip their hand to the countermeasures they're employing to criminals. Travel agents urge you to call your bank or check out its Web site before you leave to find out if your debit card will work at your destination.
Here are some additional tips from Traveloni Destination Specialists concerning the use of ATMs when traveling abroad:
Take a variety of payment options, such as credit cards, debit cards, traveler's checks and currency, to be prepared for all circumstances.
Go to a bank if you have problems withdrawing cash from an ATM. Many debit cards can also function as a credit card, which will allow you to get a cash advance (though at a higher interest rate than a normal debit transaction).
Bring your bank's contact information when you travel, just in case your card fails to work like you expect.
If your PIN number is longer than four digits, go to your bank and have it changed. Many ATM's abroad, especially in Europe, do not accept PIN numbers longer than four digits.
If your PIN number is based on letters, translate the letters into numbers before leaving the country. Many ATMs abroad only have numbers on their keypads.
Always have Traveloni's contact information with you. It's good to have an ally back home you can call whenever a problem arises.
With these tips and a little common sense, you should be able to freely explore the world without standing in long lines at the bank trying to access your money.
3-1-1 Liquids Policy
Getting Through The Line
Traveling With Kids
Traveling With Special Items
Lost And Found
Airport Flight Delays
Fly-Rights-A Consumer Guide to Air Travel
International Health and Vaccination Requirements
List of State Consumer Affairs Offices
State Dept. Travel Warnings
Transportation Security Administration
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Embassies and Consulates
Avoiding Travel Scams
Avoiding Travel Scams
If you have been offered a great bargain on a cruise or resort vacation, but you cannot seem to get all the details unless you pay the company first, you may be dealing with a travel scam.
PAY NOW, TRAVEL LATER ... MAYBE
Typically, scam operators won't give you full and complete information in writing until after you've given them a credit card number, certified check or money order. Once you do get further information, there will be restrictions and conditions which may make it more expensive, or even impossible, to take your trip.
While getting a refund is sometimes possible, it's better to avoid paying anything in the first place. While there is the remote chance that you might miss a legitimate deal, chances are you will save yourself time and money in the long run.
To help avoid being a victim of a travel scam, Traveloni provides the following suggestions when evaluating travel offers:
- Retain a healthy dose of skepticism. Be extremely skeptical about unsolicited e-mail, postcard and phone solicitations saying you've been selected to receive a fabulous vacation or anything free. Be especially wary of firms requiring you to wait at least 60 days to take your trip.
- Do your homework. Some offers might sound great on the surface, but be sure to read the fine-print. Certain offers impose so many requirements and restrictions, such as black-out dates and companion fees, that you will either never have the chance to take the trip or you will end up paying more than had you made the arrangements on your own or used Traveloni.
- Run a "background check." You should vet the companies from which you purchase travel services. You can do this by checking to see if they are members of ASTA or by searching for the company on the Better Business Bureau's Web site. Other sites to check are Complaints Board and Ripoff Report.
- Keep private information private. Never give out your credit card number unless you initiate the transaction and you are confident about the company with which you are doing business.
- Get the facts. You should receive complete details in writing about any trip prior to payment. These details should include the total price; cancellation and change penalties, if any; and specific information about all components of the package.
- Follow up. Once you have the complete details of your trip, contact the hotel and transportation companies on your own to make certain the reservations have been made.
- Know where you stand. If you insist on replying to an e-mail or calling a 900-number in response to a travel solicitation, understand the charges and know the risks.
- Know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away. High-pressure sales presentations that don't allow you time to evaluate the offer, or which require that you disclose your income are red flags to be heeded.
- Protect yourself. Always pay with a credit card if possible. Even legitimate companies can go out of business. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, credit card customers have the right to refuse paying for charges for services not rendered. Details of the Fair Credit Billing Act can be found at the Federal Trade Commission's Web site.
If you think you've been scammed, contact your local Better Business Bureau, your local or state Consumer Affairs Office, state attorney general's office, or email ASTA's Consumer Affairs Department at email@example.com for information and assistance.
SPORTS TRAVEL PACKAGES
Often you will find advertisements for travel packages to major sporting events, like the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500 or the World Series. Many of these offers are legitimate, but there have been instances in the past where consumers have been scammed by unscrupulous vendors who never had tickets to the event.
"Every year, we hear reports of sports fans whose travel plans were ruined by a questionable organization with an offer that sounded too good to be true," said ASTA President and Chair, Chris Russo CTC. Traveloni knows which questions to ask and what to look for in a legitimate sports travel package. Many people aren't aware, for instance, that under the U.S. government's 'Truth in Ticketing' rules, a tour operator advertising a Super Bowl travel package that includes a flight and game tickets must have the game tickets in hand or have a written contract for the tickets before they can even advertise."
Before you buy a sports travel package, be sure to carefully read the tour brochure and any other solicitation material and pay by credit card, where possible, so you can be protected under federal fair credit practice laws.
AGENT CREDENTIALS FROM 'CARD MILLS'
Beware of offers from companies that sell questionable travel agent credentials. Consumers may be led to believe that such cards allow them to travel at free or reduced rates.
Organizations making these offers are known throughout the travel industry as "card mills" because they routinely offer credentials by the thousands in the form of an identification card that is sold for a significant fee. In turn, these cards would presumably be accepted by every segment of the travel industry. Many suppliers of travel, however, do not accept them.
Buying Travel Online
Buying Travel Online
Many consumers are unsure of whether to use the Internet for researching or buying travel - and if so, when and how. The Internet can be a powerful tool for researching travel. But when you're ready to buy, the Internet can't replace the expertise of a trusted travel agent from Traveloni. Ed Perkins, the consumer advocate for the American Society of Travel Agents and former editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, answers some of the more common questions about researching and buying travel on- and offline.
Q: Can I use the Internet to plan a trip?
A: Yes, at least partially. The Internet is great for facts and figures: Thousands of destinations - regions, countries, states and provinces, cities, and park systems - maintain websites. Those sites are great sources for information you need: main features, activities, climate and weather, local transportation, and much more. In fact, your problem is likely to be information overload rather than too little.
But the Internet is seldom able to supply enough depth and detail to allow you to prepare a complete travel plan. You will still probably need good guidebooks and maps (which you can buy online). And you should always speak with a professional travel agent before making a travel purchase.
Q: How about finding out what's going on at my destination?
A: The Internet is a great resource. Most tourist attractions maintain Websites with complete schedule and price information, as do sports teams, theaters and arenas, cultural programs, and such. Newspaper sites let you access such local details as movie schedules, restaurant reviews, church services times, and much more.
Q: Can I be sure of getting the lowest airfare on the Internet?
A: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Some really good airfare deals are sold only on the Internet. They're usually limited and highly restricted, but if you can live with those limits and restrictions, prices can be very good. However, if you need to change your ticket or you make a mistake, customer service is not a strong point of the Internet. You can also buy discounted consolidator air tickets from some Internet sites.
In general, however, the online price is about the same as you'd pay if you buy from a conventional agency. And some sites that claim to search for the "lowest" fares don't include those discount tickets in their searches, which means they won't really get you the lowest fare.
Q: Can I use the Internet to find the best flight schedule?
A: Yes, usually. Many websites permit you to specify schedules and search by minimum travel time rather than minimum time. However, some sites exclude some important low-fare airlines from their searches. Also, sometimes it is difficult to discern the flight itinerary or the number of steps and length of layovers.
Q: How about seating?
A: The Internet is helpful but it doesn't answer all your questions. The main domestic airlines' websites show their seating charts and dimensions (if you know where to look), but most small US lines and foreign lines don't provide that information. Also, some websites let you pre-select seats when you reserve, while others don't. If your ticket permits, you can usually pre-select a seat by calling an airline's reservation site, and a knowledgeable travel agent can often not only get you a seat but select one with a bit of extra room.
Q: Can I cut my costs by buying a package tour online?
A: Usually no. You generally pay the same price for a package tour no matter where you buy it. Many wholesale tour operators (the people who put tour packages together) maintain websites, but they don't cut prices there. You can use the Internet as a source of information, but a travel agent can give you as good a deal - plus, possibly, a few perks or extras.
Q: How about special interest tours?
A: The Internet is a great locator and source of information. It enables some very small niche-market tour operators to reach a national audience. You'll find almost any imaginable kind of tour on websites maintained by operators of special-interest tours. But prices are usually no lower online than from other sources. And an operator's website is hardly likely to let you know if the operator is financially sound - information you can often get from a travel agent.
Q: Do the cruise lines discount on the Internet?
A:. Generally, no. Even though most of the big cruise lines maintain elaborate websites, they typically don't cut prices online and many don't sell online at all.
Q: So where are the cruise discounts available?
A: Lots of agencies - online and off - provide discount cruise pricing. The Internet is a great way to get an idea of what's available and the price. But offline sources can usually get the same discounts as you find online and may be able to provide insights on the cruise company and its ships. Cruise specialists can give you firsthand knowledge of the line and help you select cabins, dinner seating and shore excursions.
Q: Is the Internet a good place to find hotel deals?
A: Again, sometimes yes, but not always. Several hotel discounters have websites. And several chains offer Internet-only specials (although they're often duplicated by parallel non-Internet promotions). But Internet discount prices aren't always the best you can find. Chain-sponsored promotions are often better, as are deals offered through just about any agency. Your travel agent can also help you select a quality hotel in a convenient location.
Q: What about other accommodations - rentals, B&Bs, and houseboats?
A: The Internet is great way to track down unconventional lodgings. You'll find hundreds of sites that cover vacation rentals, for example, ranging from large worldwide agencies to individual apartments. Ditto B&Bs, houseboats, rental boats, and such. But the main benefit is in finding the place you want: Prices are usually the same no matter where or how you buy.
Q: Is the Internet a good source for last-minute bargains?
A: Yes, in many cases. The Internet provides an easy way for suppliers to unload airline seats, cruise cabins, and hotel rooms that might otherwise go unsold, at very attractive prices. The Internet is the only place you'll see some of the best last-minute deals, but others are available just about everywhere.
Q: How about those "auctions" that get so much publicity?
A: They're fine, but only if (1) you're willing to let the Internet-based agency select the airline or hotel for your and (2) you really know where to set your bid. Apparently, they work better for high-priced hotel rooms than for air tickets.
Q: Are there any drawbacks to those deals?
A: The obvious ones. You usually find the best prices only a few weeks to a few days in advance - often leaving insufficient time to arrange your schedule. Selection of destinations/cabin classes/flight times/locations may be limited. In many cases, once you buy, you're stuck, with few if any refund options.
Q: Are there any potential pitfalls and traps in using the Internet for travel?
A: Yes, several:
- Perhaps the most important is that the Internet can respond only to the questions you ask. If you don't know what to ask, the Internet can't give a useful answer.
- A related problem is "Plan B deficit." Except within very narrow limits, the Internet can't suggest an alternative if your first inquiry doesn't turn up a satisfactory answer.
- The Internet is a fertile field for deceptions and misleading information. Just because a site labels a price as "discount" doesn't mean it's really discounted. Ask 10 sites for the "lowest" price for an identical service and you can get as many as 10 different answers.
- The Internet is also full of misleading promotions. For example, some sites list absurdly low airfares, with the condition that you buy a week's hotel accommodations through the same site. Obviously, the hotel rate is padded enough to cover the real cost of the airfare.
- Some sites can't handle such routinely available deals as senior and AAA discounts.
- If you run into difficulty, you could have a tough time trying to get an online agency to straighten out your problem - in fact, you may not even know its location.
If you're accustomed to making all your own travel arrangements, the Internet can be a powerful tool. It can increase the scope and reach of all your efforts, and allow you to check hundreds of options. But to make the Internet work for you effectively, you have to know what to ask and where to ask it. If you don't, you can spend endless fruitless hours that ultimately produce unsatisfactory results.
Even if you know what you want, Internet research can be time-consuming. But just because you prefer some outside assistance and counsel with your travel arrangements, you needn't ignore the Internet. It can be a good place to do your homework - along with the more traditional guidebooks and other references.
No matter how you buy travel, the more homework you do, the better consumer you'll be. And the Internet is a great place to start your homework.
Buying Travel Insurance
Buying Travel Insurance
Travel insurance can protect you from substantial losses that result from a variety of situations, including canceled trips, lost baggage, medical emergencies, supplier defaults, as well as other unforeseen circumstances.
TYPES OF TRAVEL INSURANCE COVERAGE
There are several general types of consumer travel insurance available. The coverage and limitations of each will vary depending on the insurance company issuing the policy. The following is a brief description of some of the general types of travel insurance.
- Trip Cancellation: The most important and common type of travel insurance. Generally covers non-refundable payments or deposits if a trip is canceled or interrupted due to unforeseen circumstances.
- Trip Delay: Provides reimbursement for expenses incurred when a trip is delayed.
- Accident/Sickness Medical Expenses: Covers costs incurred due to injury or illness that occur while on a trip.
- Medical Evacuation/Emergency Transportation: Covers transportation when a medical emergency while traveling requires transportation to a hospital or other medical facility.
- Supplier Default: Covers deposits or payments lost due to the financial default of a travel supplier.
- Baggage/Personal Effects Loss or Delay: Covers losses due to items lost, damaged or delayed during a trip.
TRAVEL INSURANCE ADVICE: SUPPLIER PROVIDED COVERAGE VS. THIRD PARTY INSURANCE COMPANIES
Many travel vendors (tour companies and cruise lines) offer their own protection plans and these plans may provide very different coverage than offered through third party insurance companies. In most cases, supplier-provided coverage won't cover you in the event they go bankrupt. When considering a supplier protection plan, you should carefully compare the coverage with third-party travel insurance products.
Who should buy travel insurance?
Travelers who want to protect their travel investment should consider purchasing travel insurance. If an illness, accident or sudden change in plans forces you to cancel or interrupt travel plans, you face two major financial losses - money you've invested in nonrefundable prepayments, and medical expenses that aren't covered by your health insurance.
How does trip cancellation coverage work?
It is designed to reimburse you for forfeited, nonrefundable, unused payments or deposits if you have to cancel your interrupt your trip due to a variety of situations, including but not limited to inclement weather, illness or another unforeseen event.
Depending on your policy, it may also cover:
- Emergency medical expenses
- Transportation ordered by a doctor to the nearest adequate
- Reasonable accommodations and travel expenses for travel delays
- Essential items you purchase if your baggage is delayed
- Lost or stolen luggage
How much does travel insurance cost?
The cost of travel insurance varies from company and policy to policy. The more you have invested in your trip, the more you need to protect it. Travel insurance covers you for losses caused by trip cancellation and interruption, medical expenses, baggage, trip and baggage delay. When you consider all the protection you get, travel insurance is actually a great value.
Where do you buy travel insurance?
Traveloni offers travel insurance from a 3rd party source, as well as their vacation suppliers.
Congratulations! You're getting married! Over the next year you will be making a million decisions about your wedding and honeymoon, and hopefully the process will be as enjoyable and stress-free as possible. One choice that many couples are making nowadays is foregoing the traditional idea of a wedding - a local ceremony in front of 300 family, friends and random strangers - for an intimate destination wedding.
A destination wedding, labeled by some as a "weddingmoon," combines the wedding, reception and honeymoon together in one location. The destination wedding is held at a desirable site, sometimes tropical, other times exotic, allowing the guests to enjoy a relaxing, activity-filled vacation while spending more quality time with the wedding couple. The couple invites only their nearest and dearest to celebrate the union. All events occur over a long weekend, along with other wedding activities designed to bring the revelers together.
If it's hard to imagine what a destination wedding is like, picture this: you and your partner are in a warm, tropical setting, surrounded by friends and family toasting your success. The sounds of music and ocean waves peacefully blend together in the background, and a feast is prepared in your honor in the local traditions. Every single detail, from the setting of the service to the flowers, has been effortlessly arranged to suit your taste. And after the ceremony, you won't have to leave this breathtaking locale, for you'll have your honeymoon there as well.
To discover if a destination wedding is right for you, contact Traveloni Weddings. Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, Traveloni Destination Weddings specialists know that a special destination can make a special occasion extra special.
Reasons to Say, "I Do"
The Beauty of Package Deals - Tourism organizations, resorts and cruise lines offer wedding packages to keep a destination wedding stress-free and simple. Some offer the complimentary services of their on-site wedding consultant to help coordinate the essentials, like your marriage license and an officiant. All you have to do is show up. Traveloni can sometimes expand these package deals to include fun activities for you and your special guests, such as sightseeing excursions, snorkeling adventures or shopping trips.
Avoiding the Awkward Invites - Because destination weddings are generally intimate affairs attended by only your closest friends and dearest family members, you can avoid being forced into inviting cousin Matt with halitosis or your best friend Jenny's little brother you met once 10 years ago. You get to choose the level of intimacy you want for the ceremony and invite accordingly, or you can invite no one at all for a very romantic trip down the aisle.
No Reception with 250 People to Pay For - You do the math: 250 people, including co-workers and business contacts, at $75 a head equals too much money! A luxurious wedding weekend at a fabulous destination oftentimes costs less than a seated dinner at the local country club. Proper etiquette of a destination wedding calls for invited guests to pay their own airfare, while you'll pick up the tab for the lodging, food and beverages. You can add a few perks for your guests if feeling generous, such as gift certificates to nearby spas.
It's smart for a couple planning a destination wedding to contact a Traveloni Destination Wedding specialist to negotiate a discounted rate for booking multiple rooms and group rates with airlines or cruise ships. If money is an issue, Traveloni can steer you toward domestic locations or countries with a favorable exchange rate.
No Extra Traveling Necessary - Destination weddings are perfect for couples with families and friends scattered around the country or even the world. If a good majority of your guests would have to travel to your hometown anyway, then getting married in a desirable vacation spot will make many of your guests happy.
Reasons to Think, "Maybe Not"
Long Distance Planning and Legal Red Tape
For those not getting married at a resort with a complimentary wedding consultant, you'll have to juggle all the small details yourself long distance. You might experience complications when trying to get a marriage license in a foreign country or even another state. Many places require marriage fees and residency requirements.
It's wise to work with a Traveloni Destinations Wedding specialist who specializes in destination weddings to help you navigate the twists and turns. We can help keep costs in check by bargaining with vendors or utilizing professional relationships to obtain special discounts. The more exotic the locale, the more necessary the wedding planner becomes.
Where's Granny? - While exotic locales are a great way to keep undesirables from attending your special event, it may also have the reverse effect with loved ones who may not be able to attend due to the expense, physical limitations or getting enough time off of work. Think about all the guests who are truly essential before deciding on the location. If money is an issue for your guests, simply tell them that their presence is the only wedding gift you need.
No Room for Impetuousness - With a destination wedding, advance warning and save-the-date cards are crucial. Send them off as early as possible, preferably at least eight months in advance, for your guests will need to work the trip into their budget and work schedules. Also, many guests, since they're suddenly planning to visit an exciting corner of the world, take vacations before or after the wedding. Fair warning gives them time to contact Traveloni and plan the perfect trip.
Crowded Honeymoon? - With your family around, will you be able to enjoy a private honeymoon with romantic alone time? If you want alone time, you'll have to schedule it. Arrive a few days before everyone else, which you may need to do anyway for marriage license requirements, or enjoy your honeymoon nearby on a different island or neighboring resort. If neither of these options is possible, plan fun activities, preferably of the all-day kind, to occupy your friends and family while you and your new spouse sneak away to a private beach or special restaurant.
I, Traveloni Weddings, Take Thee (State Your Name) Anywhere You Want to Go
Once you decide a destination wedding is right for you, then say "I do" to Traveloni Weddings. Traveloni Destination Wedding specialists excel at making plans for multiple people from multiple locations, oftentimes at special, discounted group rates. Planning for the most important day of your life will be a wonderfully crazy time for you, so finding someone you trust to aid in your decision making will be a welcomed relief.
Traveloni Weddings can save you money as well as time - two enormous factors for a couple planning their life together. Through their love of travel and reliable relationships with suppliers around the globe, Traveloni Weddings specialize in providing personalized suggestions to suit both your dreams and your budget. Traveloni can even set up a layaway plan, so you can make monthly payments for your special trip.
Wherever you decide to share your vows and spend your honeymoon, Traveloni Weddings wants you to remember to pack a good attitude and simply enjoy your time together. With a little common sense, a few guidelines and some helpful tips, your destination wedding will lead to many, many destination anniversaries.
Contact Traveloni Weddings and start dreaming of a barefoot wedding on a beach.
Documents & Papers
Documents & Papers
Travelers have long needed various documents to travel. As security tightens in the United States, authorities are being strict about proper documentation. Whether you are visitng the U.S. or an American citizen traveling abroad, it is vital to have all your papers in order.
PASSPORTS AND VISAS
Depending on the country you plan to visit, you will probably need a passport, and perhaps a visa or tourist card.
To obtain a passport application, contact the nearest Passport Agency, one of the many federal or state courts, or a U.S. Post Office that accepts passport applications. The State Department's Passport Bureau has details on what you will need to apply for a passport.
Visas are available from the embassy or consulate of the country you will be visiting or from a "visa service" which will get your visa processed for a nominal fee.
In both cases, apply for your travel documents several months in advance of your scheduled departure to avoid peak season delays.
- Update:Travelers to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada will be required to have a passport or other secure, accepted document to enter or re-enter the United States.
- Beginning Jan. 31, 2008, U.S. and Canadian citizens have the option, in lieu of a passport or alternate document, to present a government-issued photo ID, along with a birth certificate at land and sea borders.
- Also, The State Department will no longer amend valid passports. Passport holders will have to apply for a replacement passport.
- Visiting the United States? If you are visiting from one of the 27 Visa Waiver Program countries, the US government is instituting new passport requirements in 2005 and 2006 that will affect you.
MAKE COPIES OF EVERYTHING
Remember, your passport is your most valuable travel document when you are in a foreign country. Keep a copy of your passport number in a safe, separate place and immediately report the loss or theft of your passport or visa to the U.S. embassy or consulate and the local police authorities.
Make several copies of your passport, traveler's checks, credit cards, itinerary, airline tickets and other travel documents. Leave one copy with a relative or friend back home and carry one copy with you.
Take most of your money in traveler's checks and record the serial numbers, denominations and date and location of the issuing agency. Remove all unnecessary credit cards from your wallet. Be sure to carry your credit card company's telephone number in case your card is lost or stolen. Always report losses immediately.
LET THE U.S. GOVERNMENT KNOW YOUR PLANS IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
Be sure to register your trip with the U.S. Department of State. Travel registration is a free service to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. Registration allows you to record information about your upcoming trip abroad that the Department of State can use to assist you in case of an emergency.
U.S. embassies and consulates can assist American travelers who are victims of crime, accident, or illness, or whose family and friends need to contact them in an emergency. By registering your trip, you help the embassy or consulate locate you when you might need them the most.
Certain countries may require an "International Certificate of Vaccinations" against cholera, yellow fever and other infectious diseases before you are allowed to enter. Specific information on entry requirements can be obtained from your Traveloni Destination Specialist, physician or the embassy of the country you will be visiting.
As an added precaution, make sure that your measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria and tetanus shots are up to date. You can also check with the Citizens Emergency Center at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. (202.647.5225), or the Centers for Disease Control at (404.639.3311) for up-to-date information on epidemics or unsafe conditions in your planned destination.
The holidays are steeped in family traditions - opening presents at first light on Christmas Day, napping during the football game on Thanksgiving, lighting the menorah during Hanukkah, inching the car through a traffic jam on the interstate and standing in an airport line that just doesn't move.
To maximize holiday travel happiness and minimize coal-in-the-stocking grief, follow these helpful holiday travel tips from Traveloni. Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, Traveloni Destination Specialists know the secrets that will help you and your family arrive at Grandma's house full of holiday cheer.
'Twas the Night Before Christmas - Before the Holiday Travel Begins
Contact a Traveloni Destination Specialist well in advance of your trip to secure the lowest-priced airline seats, hotel rooms and rental cars that usually sell out quickly for holiday travel. Be aware that prices generally escalate during the holiday season, as demand is higher.
Packing light saves time and energy when it comes to filling the trunk with fragile bags packed with gifts or racing to fill the last empty space in the overhead bin. Some airlines place special restrictions during the holidays and allow only one carry-on, so less luggage is vital.
One holiday travel tip for packing lighter is to ship your gifts to your destination ahead of time. Allow at least two to three weeks for your package to arrive, for the holidays are hectic times for courier services like UPS and Federal Express.
Before leaving, be sure to secure your house. Lock all doors and windows, and don't forget to set the alarm. Also, give your home that lived-in look to repel potential burglars by having a friend collect your mail, setting lights on timers and not leaving details of your trip on the answering machine.
Now Dasher, Now Dancer - Flying During the Holidays
Without a sleigh and eight reindeer, your holiday travel plans will most likely bring you, and millions of others, to the airport. But fear not - with a few precautions and a little common sense, your pre-flight schedule will be absent of anxiety.
First, avoid peak travel days. As your Traveloni Destination Specialist will tell you, the busiest days to fly are those immediately before and after the actual holidays. Book your flights two days before and after Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.
Your Traveloni Destination Specialist can secure you a non-stop flight, or one involving the fewest connections and stops. Every time your plane touches the ground during peak travel times, the possibility of delays due to inclement weather or air-traffic problems increases. Also, aim to book morning flights, which tend to be delayed less often than afternoon departures.
If possible, have a friend drive you to the airport, or take a shuttle or public transportation. Shuttle services generally pick up guests early to ensure a timely arrival. If you drive and park at the airport lot, do not leave any valuables, such as CDs, or GPSs in plain view. Also remember to put jumper cables in the trunk in case the battery dies during your trip.
Take the worry of getting to the airport completely out of the equation by staying at an airport hotel the night before an early flight. The additional sleep is well worth it. In some cases, hotels will allow guests to leave their car in the hotel lot for the duration of their trip, so make a few calls to discover which hotels offer this valuable service.
As flights are sometimes overbooked during the holidays, it's critical to check in early. Domestic travelers should arrive at the airport two hours prior to departure, while international travelers should arrive three hours in advance. Spending an idle hour in the gift shop is much more fun than missing your flight by ten minutes.
If you do not send your gifts ahead, then do not wrap them before the flight. With safety a priority for all airlines, security personnel will need access to all items. Pack collapsible gift bags to be used as wrapping upon arrival.
Keep a positive attitude, but also be mentally ready for setbacks. Delays happen, and airlines do the best they can to keep their schedules on time. Bring water and snacks, an inflatable pillow and eye mask, a good book, your favorite CDs, MP3 player and a deck of cards. Boredom is the true enemy in these situations, so be prepared to conquer it!
Turkeys Can't Fly - Holiday driving Tips for Navigating the Open Road
Most Americans tend not to stray too far from their family's roots, making long drives on the interstate an integral part of the holiday ritual.
The first step to ensure a smooth car trip is to keep your car in good working order. As temperatures drop during November and December, being stuck on the side of the road while waiting for an overworked tow-truck driver is not the place to be. Before you leave, have a qualified mechanic check all the car's vitals: brakes, battery, fluid levels, tire pressure, light bulbs and any parts that need regular maintenance.
As with all long-distance winter road trips, it's wise to bring emergency equipment, such as a first-aid kit, flashlight, blankets, drinking water and snacks, along with flares and jumper cables. An ice scraper and chains for the tires will also come in handy. While a white Christmas is great for the memories, it's not ideal for winter driving conditions.
Pad your schedule to allow plenty of time for the drive. Like shopping malls, the roads are busiest on the days right before and after the major holidays. If possible, take an extra day off to reduce the chances of being lodged in a traffic jam.
Once on the road, drive carefully, patiently and stifle any burgeoning impulses of road rage. Try not to view other cars and traffic signals as personal obstacles. Work with your fellow drivers and not against them. Indicate during lane changes and give everyone plenty of room. Also, be forgiving when someone demonstrates reckless driving.
Don't leave valuables in your car. Pack all items, especially brightly wrapped packages, in the trunk. If afraid of squashed bows, wait until you arrive to wrap the gifts.
Overall, try to make driving fun, and view it as part of the holiday, not as a chore. If traveling with children, get everyone involved by singing or reminiscing about favorite past holidays. The ride will be over before you know it, and you'll actually look forward to the drive back home.
Giving Thanks - Arriving Safely Is Thanks Enough
If Santa can travel safely year in and year out, so can you and your family. Just remember these tips from the friendly Traveloni Destination Specialist. With a little common sense, everyone will be home for the holidays with warm memories to share.
CHOOSING A GOOD HOTEL
Choosing the right hotel is half the battle. Most Americans will spend hours finding the perfect airline ticket, but only minutes to research a hotel room, often going with the lowest price option.
While price is a universal factor, remember that all hotels want a full house and strive for this goal every night. To get the best deal, book early through a Traveloni Destination Specialist and try to be flexible with your dates. Hotels that cater to business people surprisingly will have great weekend rates, which they consider "off season."
Traveloni Destination Specialists will ask for special package deals loaded with options or discounts for seniors, families or the military that may apply. They also understand your needs and expectations, so they will be able to choose the hotel that's best for you, based on the amenities and services it provides, along with its proximity to the interstate, airport, restaurants and attractions.
MAKING HOTEL RESERVATIONS
While direct online booking is an option, it's still advisable to book through a Traveloni Destination Specialist. If you choose to contact a hotel directly, Traveloni Destination Specialists recommend that it may pay to connect in a more conventional way - by phone. Many hotels, both national and independently owned, have toll-free numbers to connect you to reservation specialists. If no such number is available and you must call the hotel directly, be sure to call in the afternoon or night, for the mornings are hectic times while guests checkout.
When making a reservation, confirm the quoted rate and record the confirmation number and the name of the person with whom you spoke. Ask the reservation specialist to repeat him or herself, write down the details, and be clear about the type of room you are getting, if it's smoking or non-smoking, and what are the check-in and check-out times.
Once the room is reserved, document all hotel information and a full itinerary to leave with a friend or neighbor in case of emergencies. If you book your room through a Traveloni Destination Specialist, make copies of the reservation confirmation we provide you, for it will clearly state the hotel's information and your arrival and departure dates.
Have this confirmation information or a printout of your e-mail reservation available when you check-in. Hotels never intentionally misplace or incorrectly enter reservation information, but it's always a good idea to bring evidence just in case.
GUARANTEEING HOTEL RESERVATIONS FOR LATE ARRIVALS
There's nothing worse than driving all day through syrupy traffic only to arrive at the hotel and discover your reservation is expired and there are no more rooms available. The key to never having this happen is knowing how late is late.
Most hotel chains will hold a normal reservation until 6 p.m. For those arriving later in the night, ask to guarantee the reservation with a credit card number. Even those pulling up after midnight with a guaranteed reservation will find a warm bed waiting. Hotels hold the right to cancel reservations that are not guaranteed. If you are delayed en route, call the hotel and ask to hold your reservation until you arrive.
OVERBOOKED HOTEL - NO ROOM IN THE INN?
Even though losing an expected room due to over-booking or a misplaced reservation may come as a shock, don't let it get you down. Most hotels will assist in remedying the situation by transferring you to a sister location or an associated hotel nearby.
If the lost reservation was guaranteed, then the burden falls on the hotel to ensure that your new room at the sister location is of equal or greater quality and at no additional cost. The hotel should cover any transportation expenses incurred by paying for a taxi or providing the use of their shuttle service.
If this courtesy is not extended, then ask to speak to a manager or contact your Traveloni Destination Specialist to act as your advocate.
CUSTOMER SERVICE WITH A SMILE
As a valued consumer, your satisfaction is important. Hotel staffs are thoroughly trained, working around the clock to meet your needs. However, problems may arise, such as uncooperative neighbors, so know the hierarchy of the hotel's customer service for a swift resolution.
A quick call to your Traveloni Destination Specialist is always a good first step, for they speak the hotel language and understand reasonable reparations for each problem. Through advocacy and advice, Traveloni Destination Specialists can assuage most situations, pleasing you and the hotel.
Staying within the hotel, the front desk clerk is trained to handle problems without involving the manager, so state your complaint clearly and allow them to arrange a remedy. From forgotten toothbrushes to room relocations, front desk clerks offer the quickest and most direct assistance.
If your complaint falls outside their jurisdiction, politely ask to see the manager. Managers better understand the necessities of customer loyalty and possess the authority to offer guests discounts on current or future stays.
If nothing is resolved with the manager, contact the hotel's customer service department. Be sure to write down the names of the people you spoke with, the dates of your stay and the rates charged to aid the operator in assisting you in the most proficient capacity.
CHECKING INTO YOUR HOTEL
The only obstacle during check-in should be the line at the counter. With your reservation made, hotels will want to usher you to your room as quickly as possible, so have your confirmation information ready and verify that the rate charged is the rate originally quoted.
Know the proper check-in time and ask specific questions about the area and the provided services. Request a card with the hotel's name, address and telephone information in case you get lost exploring the city.
FULLY STOCKED - THE THINGS YOU MIGHT NEED
Depending on your needs, ask if the hotel offers or provides the following:
- Laundry service or in-room ironing board and iron
- Hair dryers
- Voltage converters
- In-room coffee makers, refrigerators or kitchenettes
- Morning newspaper service
- Complimentary meals (usually breakfast)
- Access to fax machine, copier or printer
- Mini-bar or refreshments
- Data port
- In-room safe
- Cable television, movies or video games
- Portable cribs or rollaway beds
- Shuttle service to airport or other points of interest
- Recreational facilities
- Telephone access charges
- Adequate parking
Hotels often have a limited number of internet-ready rooms or hair dryers, so ask for specific items during check-in.
HOTEL SAFETY TIPS = SLEEP TIGHT
Safety is a priority for you and the hotel. From your car to their bed, take a few precautions and don't leave anything to chance.
Park in a well-lit space near the hotel entrance or your room, and be sure to lock all doors and keep valuables in the trunk and out of sight. If given the option, always ask for a room with an interior entrance. At the front desk, ask that the attendant write your room number down so that no one can hear it, and quickly pocket your key if it has the room number printed on it.
Once inside your room, lock your door with the deadbolt and the chain lock, and familiarize yourself with the fire exits posted on the back of the door. Do not open the door for anyone unless you verify the identity of the person either through the peephole or verbally, even if you are expecting a friend or room service.
CHECKING OUT WITH NO SURPRISES
At the end of a hotel stay, checking out should be a pleasant experience as long as there are no surprises like left-behind items or incidental charges. Check the room thoroughly before vacating, including drawers, closets and the bathroom, especially behind the shower curtain and the back of the bathroom door.
Most hotels have established checkout times ranging from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you need additional time, request it in advance, or else you may be charged an additional night.
Review the bill to ensure all charges are accurate, and you received all entitled credits and discount. Get a receipt, and if you pay in cash, make sure it is marked, "Paid in Cash."
HOTEL TIPPING ETIQUETTE
Unless your hotel has already accounted for gratuities, tipping various employees is expected, depending on the amount and quality of the service. Here's a general guide:
- Bellhop - $1 to $2 per bag (extra if bags are heavy or cumbersome).
- Coat check - $1 to $2
- Concierge - $2 to $10 depending on the service; 10 percent of the cost for securing hard to find items like tickets to the theatre or sporting events.
- Doorman - $1 to $2 for hailing cab (extra in bad weather).
- Housekeeping - $1 to $2 per night (extra for upscale hotels or if room was particularly messy).
- Room Service - 15 percent or at least $2, unless gratuity is included.
- Valet - $1 to $2 each time you request your car (extra in bad weather).
Money-saving Summer Travel Tips
Money-saving Summer Travel Tips
How to Save on Summer Travel - With Rising Gas and Air Prices Find Ways Save!
Summer is quickly approaching so before you load the kids into the car to escape town, there are few money-saving tips you might want to consider.
Whether you are traveling internationally, by car or just for the weekend, costs are going up and it is important to save on the small things. A Traveloni Destination Specialist is your best resource for finding ways to save while you travel this summer.
When traveling internationally:
- Visit destinations where the U.S. dollars is closest in value to the local currency (currency in the Caribbean is tied to the U.S. dollar, for example)
- Look for all inclusive packages, such as resorts or cruises and pay upfront in U.S. dollars
- Ask your Traveloni Destination Specialist about locations that may be less costly as they are in their 'off season'
Ways to save money on hotels:
- Ask your Traveloni Destination Specialist about upgrading your hotel reservation to a room with two king size beds instead of getting two hotel rooms when traveling in groups or with kids
- Ask your Traveloni Destination Specialist to find hotels where kids stay for free or cheaper when traveling with kids
- Ask your Traveloni Destination Specialist to find a hotel room with a kitchenette so you can take care of a few meals yourself instead of eating out for every meal
- Your Traveloni Destination Specialist can suggest properties that might offer complimentary breakfast or heavy hors d'oeuvres in the afternoon.
When traveling by car:
- Pack the car as light as possible - the more weight, the harder the car works and the more gas you use
- When renting a car for a large group of people, renting one SUV saves on gas mileage vs. renting two smaller cars
- Make sure tire pressure is accurate so that gas is spent efficiently
- Use only the grade level of gas that your car owner's manual calls for, nothing more
- Use cruise control to run the engine efficiently and save on gas
Ways to save at home while you are away:
- Turn the air conditioning off or down
- Put your lights on timers
- Unplug large appliances like TV's and computers
- Turn off automatic sprinklers
- Buy travel insurance: it may cost more upfront, but has the potential to save you thousands
- Fly in and out of airports that may be farther outside of the city to get cheaper flights then take public transportation into the city
- If a family member has a business trip, consider adding your vacation onto the end of the trip so there is one less plane ticket to pay for
- Consider a volunteer vacation--the volunteer portion of your travel may be a tax write-off
Planning a Honeymoon
Planning a Honeymoon
So you're planning your honeymoon? Congratulations! The honeymoon is an important part of the wedding experience, and a much-needed escape after months of exciting, yet exhausting, wedding planning.
To unlock the secrets of honeymoon bliss that will make all your friends envious, check out these tips. Traveloni Romance Specialists know that planning your honeymoon should be as relaxing as the honeymoon itself.
First Things First - Let's Define Ideal
Most people grow up with a preconceived notion of what an ideal honeymoon should involve. However, a bride's idea of tropical paradise and a groom's idea of a ski resort could conflict.
Communication and compromise are needed from the start (and preferably the duration) of the marriage, with the goal to make your honeymoon romantic, memorable and stress-free. Consider these questions as soon as honeymoon talks begin:
- What is most important? Suntan lotion, sand and surf or the privacy and seclusion a cozy mountain retreat?
- Are you looking to experience new cultures in distant lands or do you just want to get away from it all?
- Are you more interested in going around the corner or around the world?
- Do you want to spend more on the wedding or the honeymoon?
- Niagara Falls like your parents? The Caribbean like your friends? Europe like your ancestors?
- What sounds better: a cruise, a package vacation or an all-inclusive resort?
Paradise Comes in Many Guises -Types of Honeymoons
When it comes to honeymoon planning, most couples try to select the destination first, yet Traveloni Romance Specialists suggest a more productive way to begin. Unless your dream destination has already been set in stone, first decide what type of vacation you want and then narrow down your list of destinations accordingly.
Resorts are the most popular honeymoon destinations, for they transport you into another world for a miraculous escape from the daily grind. Often set in the most picturesque places in the world, they include pools, private beaches and golf courses, as well as culinary delights and relaxing spas.
All-inclusive resorts streamline the enjoyment process by including everything - your room, transfers, recreational facilities, meals and drinks - all in one price. Without the worries of wondering how much everything little thing will cost, you are free to live the high life and experience everything you want as often as you want it.
If an all-inclusive resort sounds tempting but too stationary, consider taking a cruise. Cruises are floating resorts that whisk you away to one exotic port after another. Whether you want a cultural cruise to the Mexican Riviera or a wildlife adventure up the Alaskan coast, your travel agent will match you and your betrothed to the perfect floating experience.
If the idea of lying on beach sounds about as exciting as a nap, then shift to a higher gear and take an adventure vacation, especially if you and your fiancé share a kindred spirit for outdoor exhilaration. Whether it's white-water rafting in Colorado, hiking through the Alps or taking an African safari, sharing the experience will become a vital bond you both will share forever.
Cultural and historical trips are fascinating and romantic ways to reconnect with the past. Visit a famous European city - Paris, London, Rome...the list goes on - and inhale the culture, soak in the sights and experience the art of living. Or dive into the rich history of the old world country from which your family originated. The unique perspective you gain will become a central root for your future family tree.
Want Stress Free? Leave it to a Professional
After "I do," your two favorite words will be "stress free," and we can't stress that enough. Planning for the most important day of your life will be a wonderfully crazy time for you, so finding someone you trust to aid in your decision making will be a welcomed relief.
Would you try and bake your wedding cake yourself or ask a professional for help? For stress-free travel plans - especially those with multiple steps like a honeymoon - seek out the expert advice of a Traveloni Romance Specialist.
A Traveloni Romance Specialist can save you money, as well as time - two enormous factors for a couple trying to plan a wedding and a honeymoon simultaneously. Through incomparable experience and valuable resources, Traveloni Romance Specialists specialize in providing personalized suggestions to suit your interests and your budget. And our services are absolutely free!
From Their Lips to Your Ears - Traveloni Romance Specialist Tips
Begin early and share the planning. To ensure that you both enjoy the honeymoon, make all the decisions together.
Make time for yourselves. Pad your honeymoon schedule with generous amounts of free time, for a rushed and overly organized honeymoon might feel too much like your wedding. Instead, plan a few enjoyable activities and leave lots of opportunities to just enjoy each other's company.
Set a tentative budget. Talk about your expectations and priorities from the very beginning and decide what you might splurge on and where you might cut corners.
Splurge on whatever accommodations you choose. No matter what type of vacation package you choose, you will spend an enormous amount of time in your room or cabin. Make it special = make it unforgettable.
Use your maiden name. Unless you're taking a delayed honeymoon, you won't have time to change the name on your passport and driver's license. Use your maiden name on visas, airline tickets, etc., so they match as it appears on your official documents.
Tell the world you're on your honeymoon. Stand up on every chair, on every rock and shout, "We're on our honeymoon!" Everyone from strangers to airlines to hotels will take notice and cheerfully offer you such special treatment such as complimentary champagne in-flight or a gift basket in your room. Go ahead, it's your honeymoon.
Starting Your New Life
Marriages should start out on the right foot, and there's no better right foot than the perfect honeymoon that's romantic, stress free and unforgettable.
Wherever you spend your honeymoon, Traveloni Romance Specialists want you to remember to pack a good attitude and simply enjoy your time together. With a little common sense, a few guidelines and some helpful tips, your honeymoon will be love at first night.
Stress-free Summer Travel
Stress-free Summer Travel
Memorial Day kicked off the summer travel season for Americans and with the usual trips to the beach and lazy days spent by the pool come dire warnings of high gas prices and economic recession not to mention overbooked flights, long delays at check-in and baggage fees. So what's a traveler to do?
"Working with a professional travel consultant to plan your next trip, be it a grand tour of Europe or a long weekend, can save you both time and money," said ASTA President and Chair Chris Russo. "Travel consultants are committed to making their clients' trip the best travel experience possible. So while the summer travel season is always a busy one, this year if you work with a travel consultant to plan your summer vacations, it doesn't have to be a frustrating one. "
Despite the weak dollar, some travelers will be heading overseas this summer. For those looking to keep expenses down, consumers can opt for destinations whose currency is tied to the U.S. dollar or trips for which they pre-pay in U.S. dollars, such as Mediterranean cruises or an all-inclusive resort.
Tips for air travel include:
- Book your ticket ASAP. If you must book last minute, remember, you have options. The key to securing the best deal is flexibility in travel dates--ask your Traveloni Destination Specialist to check into special fares or consider flying into an alternate airport and renting a car. If your vacation includes international travel, make sure you have a valid passport. Your Traveloni Destination Specialist can advise you on the new rules and how to apply.
- Arrive early. Difficult airport parking, long lines at security checkpoints and the possibility of the airline overselling the flight and bumping passengers, should all be considered when deciding what time to arrive at the airport. Give yourself plenty of extra time. Need some incentive? Keep in mind that those who arrive earliest for an overbooked flight stand the greatest chance of staying onboard.
- Keep a close eye on all your belongings. Just as flights are becoming extremely crowded, airports can also be fraught with thieves. Be aware of your surroundings and maintain a close watch over tickets, wallets, purses, and other belongings at all times.
- Avoid getting bumped. 1) Get an advance seat assignment. Passengers with seat assignments are typically only bumped if they arrive late and their seat assignment is released. 2) Check-in online. Most airlines allow you to do so within 24 hours of departure. Seat assignments that were not available at the time of ticketing may be available when checking in online. 3) Don't be late. If all else fails, get to the airport early. Some airlines reserve a portion of their seat assignment inventory for airport check-in. If you are denied a seat assignment at check-in, put your name on the "standby" seat assignment list.
- Remember 3-1-1. New regulations limit the amount of gels and liquids passengers can take through security in their carry-on luggage to travel-size toiletries of three (3) ounces or less that fit comfortably in one (1) quart-size, clear plastic zip-top bag and the one (1) bag per passenger must be placed in the screening bin.
- Know your limits. Pack light and know baggage limits. Some airlines now charge for a second piece of checked luggage.
Tips for travel by car include:
- Plan itineraries and arrange accommodations well in advance. Reservations for hotels, restaurants and rental cars get booked quickly during peak travel times. Your travel agent can help you get the lowest rate and make sure your rental car has room for your family, luggage and whatever souvenirs you bring home.
- Get a tune up. Before any long-distance drive, make sure to have your oil changed and your brakes, fluids and tire pressure checked. The slightest deficiency in air pressure significantly reduces your car's gas mileage. On the flip side, too much air can result in a flat.
- Get an early start to avoid holiday weekend gridlock. Traveling during late night/early morning hours helps. The worst times to travel are after meals since most travelers postpone leaving until they've eaten with their families. Make sure that all drivers are thoroughly rested.
Why Use a Travel Agent?
Why Use a Travel Agent?
Planning a trip today can be confusing and time consuming. A travel agent not only arranges the various modes of transportation, but a travel agent also may be able to save you money with early booking discounts, special fares, hotel deals and travel advisories.
Benefits of Using a Travel Agent
Save Money! - Strong working relationships with travel suppliers and the latest in computer reservations technology enable travel agents to access the most up-to-date information on how to get you the best value.
Traveler Advocates - Your best interests are the priority. ASTA (The American Society of Travel Agents) has a long-standing record of fighting for consumer rights and ASTA member travel agents are required to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics.
Convenience - The ASTA membership includes travel agents across the country and throughout the world, most of which offer one-stop shopping for all travel arrangements.
Service - ASTA member travel agents are knowledgeable and active in the industry. The Society provides education, training and resource materials to its members to equip them with the tools to offer the highest quality of service.
Agents Will Go the Extra Mile - Agents work for you and will do everything they can to meet your travel needs. Some agents literally go that extra mile to help their clients. One ASTA-member agent even went to Ethiopia to escort two adopted orphans to the US.
How do you find a good travel agent?
Choose one like you would a doctor or lawyer. Get advice from friends and relatives who use an agent they trust. Since travel choices are personal decisions that reflect individual desires and lifestyles, you will want to visit or call several travel agencies to find the one that best suits your needs. Consider everything from the appearance of the office to the travel agent's willingness to listen and answer questions. The best agents want to establish a long-term relationship with a client, not just make one sale.
What should be the determining factor in choosing a travel agency?
Your travel agency should belong to ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). With over 20,000 members in 140 countries, ASTA is the largest and most influential travel trade association in the world. Membership includes travel agencies, airlines, hotels, railroads, cruise lines, tour operators, car rental companies and travel schools.
Through its continuing education and training programs, ASTA prepares its members to operate high-caliber, competitive businesses. Due to the Society's on-going educational programs, comprehensive agent management resources and stringent Code of Ethics, ASTA travel agents are known as dedicated, hard-working professionals who provide superior service to their customers.
What special services do travel agencies offer?
As the travel industry grows more competitive, travel agencies increase the quality and type of services they offer. Travel agents can arrange all types of domestic and international travel, from hotel and resort accommodations to air and ground transportation, including car rental needs and tour packages. They can provide assistance with travel insurance protection, passport and visa applications, inoculation procedures and other foreign travel requirements. Many have toll-free phone numbers and offer meeting planning and incentive travel services.
Some travel agents maintain automated individual profiles that include the client's frequent flyer number, airline seating preference, smoking or non-smoking designation and other specifications for a custom-designed trip.
Arrangements can also be tailored to suit business and vacation objectives, personal interests and budget concerns. Although most travel agencies provide a wide range of services, some agencies may specialize in areas such as family travel, group travel, adventure travel, ecotourism, the mature market, incentive travel or travel for the disabled.
How do I know if my travel agent is consumer-conscious?
Membership in ASTA is a sign of consumer awareness. The Society works on behalf of its members to support pro-consumer issues. In addition to lobbying for consumer protection on issues like airline bankruptcy and travel safety, ASTA has an active Consumer Affairs Department that monitors travelers' problems and helps to find solutions. The Society works closely with other travel organizations to continually upgrade service and technology to better serve the traveling public.
How do I know if my travel agent is well trained?
Ask about your travel agent's professional background. Many have been trained in business management, travel and tourism or geography. Others have supplemented their agency experience with extensive education and training courses. Some travel agents are Certified Travel Counselors (CTC), having completed an educational program with the Institute of Certified Travel Agents.
Who uses travel agents?
Travel agents are the leading distributors of travel products and services. Travel agents sell:
- 87% of cruises
- 81% of all tours and packages
- 51% of all airline tickets
- 47% of all hotel stays
- 45% of all car rentals
Agents are the only unbiased professionals who can sort through nearly 100,000 daily changes in airfares alone.
Experience, constant industry interaction and computer reservations systems make travel agents the only source savvy enough to engineer a relaxing trip out of the fluctuating complexities of travel offerings. So, save yourself time, money and frustration.
Who are ASTA travel agents?
ASTA travel agents are knowledgeable professional members of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) - who uphold a strict code of ethics. The Society provides education, training and resource materials to its members to equip them with the tools they need to offer you the highest quality of service. ASTA travel agents keep up-to-date by attending industry events that offer educational seminars and networking opportunities.
The ASTA membership includes over 20,000 members across the United States and around the world. Most ASTA member agencies offer one-stop shopping for all travel arrangements.
ASTA's priority is fighting for your best interests. We have a long-standing record of fighting for consumer rights. And, should you ever encounter a problem with an ASTA member, our Consumer Affairs Department is here to help you. We want you to have a safe and happy trip. Start by seeing your local ASTA member travel agency.
Cruise Line Executive on Travel Agents
The following is an open letter from Joseph A. Watters, President of Crystal Cruises to newspaper and magazine travel editors:
Dear Travel Editor,
"Why should I use a travel agent?" As a veteran travel executive, that's a question I'm often asked. Today, with the overwhelming number of sources for travel information (the Internet, cable television, newspapers, magazines, guidebooks, etc.), it's no wonder the consumer is confused. Yet that's precisely why the services of a professional travel consultant are more valuable than ever.
In January, the television news magazine, 20/20, reported the results of a test in which travel agents beat consumers at uncovering the best airfares. However, it is much more than the "lowest fare" that provides the compelling argument for a good travel agent.
The best thing an agent can do is to match up a traveler with the vacation that's right for them. The professional travel consultant builds relationships with their clients to learn their interests and lifestyles, as well as their dispositions.
Below is a list of some of the important services, which are either provided free or for a nominal charge, by travel agents:
1. Distilling the product information: Through an on-going and time-consuming process of familiarization, continuing education and customer feedback, the agent becomes a travel expert.
2. Investigating and supplying competitive information: No single supplier is going to advise a consumer that a better route or a better fare is available on a competing carrier.
3. Staying abreast of the most current and timely promotions: Via daily faxes, agent-only e-mail transmissions, and their relationships with their district sales managers, agents are obtaining the most current promotional information.
4. Analyzing the current promotions: The cheapest is not always the best.
5. Clarifying the fine print, such as cancellation penalties and restrictions: Again, the benefits of a professional's experience can save a traveler money . . . and headaches.
6. Making recommendations for travel-related options: Travel agents share the to pack for different travel options.
7. Simplifying the research and subsequent transaction: Like a personal shopper, agents can provide one-stop shopping for travelers who require air arrangements, rental cars, cruise accommodations and hotel stays - with suggestions that are in the best interest of the client, not the supplier.
8. Enhancing the trip with value-added benefits and amenities: Agents can add to the client's experience by sending a bottle of wine, providing a special land package, a specific escort or other customer amenities.
9. Using their clout to obtain the best possible in seemingly impossible situations: Whether it's airline seats, hotel rooms or cruise space, the travel agent has more buying power than the consumer.
10. Getting problems resolved: The agent serves as the consumer's advocate in the event something inadvertently goes wrong.
The use of outside service providers for many transactions, such as tax preparation, isn't questioned.Â Similarly, if one is going to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars, as well as a good chunk of valuable leisure time, it makes great sense to use a professional.
I hope you'll consider sharing this information in future consumer interest columns.
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