TRAVEL TIPS

Whenever you arrive in any country, whether it is by boat, plane or whatever, you are vulnerable. You have all your cash, cards, documents and anything else valuable on you right at that moment. It is even worse if you have never been there before and look like you haven't; there are always people who are willing to "help".
Every precaution you take will help to avoid any potential problems. After all you do not want someone to "help" themselves to your belongings, when you have just arrived. Here are a few tips that should help:

- Before leaving for your trip, try to get some prior information as to the rough layout of the airport where you will be arriving. This will help, to have a vague sense of where you should be going and where the taxis are located etc.
- Whenever possible, especially in certain countries we recommend taking either the airport limousine, or a hotel pick up.
- Never take a taxi that seems just to be hanging around, offering its services when there is a taxi queue available.
- Try to keep your wallet and valuables safely secured in a handbag or in one of your hand luggage.
- Change some money into the local currency before you depart. This gives you one less thing to worry about, and will stop you from pulling a large amount of money out at the airport arrivals.
- Keep a small amount of this local currency, easily accessible in a pocket or something, and away from the majority of your well earned money. You will need sufficient for the ride into town, a tip (perhaps) and a little for unforeseen needs like toll ways or a bottle of water.
- If you have not been able to find anything out about the airport that you are visiting then ask one of the airline staff, or the government tourism booth (if they have one at the airport) for some assistance, or tips on the best way of travelling.

Most countries really are very safe, but in others it is really very advisable to take to take as many precautions as possible. No matter what, the most important is that you have a great holiday.

What Clothes To Pack

1. Coordinate your clothes around one or two basic colors. This cuts down on the number of shoes and accessories you have to bring.
2. Take as few clothes as possible. Plan on laundering. One person suggested one week's worth of clothes.
3. Wear and carry washable silk clothing whenever possible. It is as warm as and as cool as cotton. It dries overnight and 10-15 pieces take no more room than two pair jeans. There are some other manmade fabrics that travel as well if not better, but they cost quite a bit more.
4. Plastic rain coat can double as a bathrobe or windbreaker.
5. Take older clothes that can be discarded along the way. Great for growing children. Many places, the local people are pleased to get these castoffs. There are travelers who take nothing but old clothes so they have that much more room for bringing souvenirs home.
6. Jeans - If both the time and money for laundering are concerns, take lighter weight pants.

If your child is traveling alone, you should write all the numbers that would be helpful for the child on a note, or in a little date book for when she/he arrives at the final destination.

Don't count on your toddler being willing to eat airline meals and snacks! Little chewy fruit snacks work great during takeoff and landing for keeping his ears comfortable, and the different shapes keep him interested.

When traveling with children by air, if at all possible book at non-peak times (late at night, midday and Monday to Wednesday). This gives you a chance at a free seat for your child to stretch out and sleep. Arrive at the airport early. Sprints down an endless terminal are difficult enough, but nearly impossible when packing a baby on your back and holding a small child's hand.

When travelling with small children, take along a package of outlet covers. Most hotel rooms neglect to provide these little shock savers, and there are often outlets placed tantalizingly at child height. For rooms equipped with stoves/ ovens, remember to bring knob covers, or simply remove the knobs while not in use.

While traveling, particularly with small, wandering children, one worry seems to enter all our minds; "What happens if I loose my child?" Here's a tip that will help defray some of that worry. Before starting on the trip, visit a local hospital and ask if they will make one of those plastic bracelets for each of your children. Usually, they will. Then you can put whatever information you'd like on a slip of paper and insert it into the bracelet. If you're traveling to/through foreign countries, you may want to put the information in several languages.

Take lots of children's stories and music on tapes, plenty of cheap toys, and new books.

Wrap individual goldfish, gummi bears, and (a small amount) of M&M's individually in aluminum foil. Small children will delight in unwrapping them to see what's inside. This is a great tip for plane rides. (Make sure to keep a trash bag next to him, though).

Always keep a recent photo of your child in your wallet - in case you loose them in a crowed area, and need help in locating them.

When travelling with children, especially if one parent only may accompany the child(ren) out of the country - make sure that you have a signed and notarized letter from both parents stating that permission is given to the accompanying parent (or temporary guardian) to take the child out of the country. Make sure also that the accompanying parent or guardian also has the necessary medical release forms for said child(ren). This is especially important when travelling to Mexico. Travel agents or the airline should have these forms available.

Here is a great activity for long road trips with the whole family: Write down the names of your children's favorite songs on separate pieces of paper. Mix them up in a small box or bag (an empty wipes container works great!) While you are traveling, have your children take turns pulling one piece of paper out of the box. Everyone in the car has to sing the song that's written on the paper.

Airplane Advice: Pack some finger foods, like fruit, pretzels and cereal for your children to enjoy during the flight. These items might help them adjust to in-cabin pressure changes. For younger children, try using bottles, "sippy cups" or pacifiers to help ease inner ear pressure. For older children, chewing gum can serve the same purpose.

In planning a road trip with younger children, prepare surprise packets for them to open periodically during the trip. Perhaps you could plan for two a day - one midmorning, the other mid-afternoon. In these packets could be such items as books, travel games, snacks, small toys. This gives the child something to anticipate . . . as well as something to do.

Tips to avoid your valued possessions from taking a walk.

Hotels, especially of the four and five star category are normally extremely safe; providing you with a safe in the room and at the reception area, security guards hiding around the place, and cameras that can be as much your friend as your enemy . However still things do occasionally disappear, sometimes without the owner ever knowing that they have gone.

So here are a few tips to avoid your valued possessions from taking a walk:

If the hotel has an in room safe use it and keep all your valuables in there. However, if the safe is electronic, wipe the touch keys down before operating it with a damp cloth, and then dry it before entering your secret code. Try to do this every time you use the safe.

Also after you have keyed in your code and closed the door firmly locked on the safe. Press all the other keys /numbers that do not make up your code, and press them firmly. Doing this may set off a small alarm from the safe but it stops quickly and no one will pay any attention (!!). The reason to do this is because certain hotels have caught their own hotel staff placing, a light oil residue or powder on to the touch keys that shows them when using a certain light what numbers were pressed. They were managing to open the safe, and one very clever thief was taking only 1 or 2 US$ from each room. Would you have noticed ? It is not a lot but in a 400 or 500 room hotel the guy was doing quite well for himself.

Never leave valuables in soft/material bags with pockets even if they are padlocked like Alcatrass. This avoids any potential of somebody simply splitting a seam to a pocket with a knife and removing select contents. This has happened to one of our friends and he never even noticed until he went into the and bag and pocket a while later. This should also apply to luggage that you check into the airplane.

10 Steps to Enjoying the Perfect Cruise

Although these steps are meant for honeymooners, most of the information is relevant to any cruise:

1. Find your dream boat. The biggest mistake cruising beginners make is booking the wrong ship. Most people focus on the destination (Caribbean, Mexico, etc.) and don't pay enough attention to the ship itself. Cruise lines -and even individual ships within a line- vary greatly in terms of atmosphere and facilities. Some have a party-all-the-time ambience and/or a great gym and spa; others are ideal for curling up on deck with a good book. So work with a travel agent who specializes in cruising. Discuss your budget and what you are looking for, or better yet, arrive at the agency with your personal wish list in hand.

2. Book early. There are two ways to get the best price on a cruise: book early or book at the very last minute. Both will save you money, but early bookers get the best choice of cabins for roughly the same "sale" price as late bookers-and avoid being disappointed because their ship is sold out. "Early" usually means three to six months before the cruise; the savings generally are 25 to 50 percent off the published brochure price per person.

3. Get the best cabin you can afford. Some people say that it doesn't matter what your cabin is like, since you'll only dress and sleep there. Not so! If this is your honeymoon, you'll want every detail to be perfect. Don't assume anything: queen-size and even double beds and bathtubs are not givens on a ship. While some cabins do have oversized beds, in others single beds are pushed together for couples. In some cases (mostly on older ships), the beds are nailed to the floor, not exactly a honeymoon dream come true. Most cabins have small (single-occupancy) showers, not bathtubs, so if you like to soak ask for a room with a tub. Most important, a nice cabin makes you more inclined to enjoy things like room service.

4. Take care of business. A bit of preparation pays off in a carefree trip. In the pre-wedding whirlwind, it's easy to forget that life will go on while you're away. Such as the mail (stop it.) And bills (pay them.) And your pets (kennel them.) Tape a "To Do" list to your fridge, and check things off as you go. Don't forget to shop for film, extra batteries, sunscreen and travel-size toiletries. These are more expensive to buy on the ship, and you may not find your favorite products. Consider filling small plastic containers with conditioner and shampoo from the big bottles, which you can leave at home.

5. Pack light, pack right. Be prepared for the off chance your luggage will get misplaced. Even if your bag isn't lost, it often takes hours before it gets to your cabin. So pack for survival: Put a little of everything you'll want and need in a carry-on bag. This includes underwear, shirts, socks, a bathing suit and something to wear to dinner. As added protection, buy travel insurance that covers you for lost, stolen, damaged or delayed luggage.

6. Beat the rush. On most cruises, you'll want to schedule all kinds of things. So will everyone else usually at the same time. Shore excursions are described in a brochure that comes with your cruise tickets; book any excursions you can't bear to miss early on (Increasingly, lines allow you to book them before you leave home.) It's also a good idea to make your spa appointments and specialty restaurant reservations on the first day of the cruise so you don't lose out.

7. Be shore-savvy. Some shore excursions are worth taking. Others are not. How do you know the difference? Take shore excursions when they offer a chance to do something really spectacular-like helicopter flightseeing. A car and driver can be a more personal (and less costly) way to sightsee. To make it more fun (and affordable), put your own group together and share the ride with newfound friends you've met on board. But note: if you go solo and miss the boat, you're on your own.

8. Get the royal treatment. Ask your agent about cruise lines that pamper their passengers with in-room extras like terry cloth robes, fruit baskets and the like. Let the cruise director know you're newlyweds. Ask about honeymoon and anniversary parties, dinner at the captain's table and other special recognition. You can also buy packages that include things like a formal portrait in an engraved frame and a champagne breakfast in bed. Most lines also tailor packages for couples who want to kick off their honeymoon with a wedding.

9. Stuffing the envelope. The last night of the cruise is a bittersweet time. You've had fun. You're going home. And then there's that little business of tipping to take care of. Remember that tipping is always entirely up to you. Most cruise lines will recommend just how much to tip. (About $3.50 per passenger for the waiter and cabin steward and $2 a day for the busboy.) These are only guidelines; tip what you want. You should never feel pressured. The maitre d', for example, need not be tipped just for asking, "How was your dinner?" On the other hand, if he made your cruise extra special by finding that table for two, let him know with a monetary gesture that says, "Thank you."

10. Cruising for romance. On most cruises, you'll be assigned a dinner table (usually with other passengers) and time (early or late) for the entire trip. See the maitre d' as soon as you board to specify which seating you prefer; also let him know if you prefer a table for two and be sure to advise him of your newlywed status. After dinner, remember that the hot tubs never close, and you'll probably find yourselves alone under the stars. For more alone time, stay on the ship when everyone else goes ashore it's like having your own private yacht.

How can I save money on my Rental Car rates?

Shopping the Internet can be the quickest and best way to compare many Rental Car rates.

If you are planning on purchasing extra items such as a damage waiver or insurance, you should also comparison shop those rates.

Make sure their mileage policy is favorable to you so you can avoid extra charges.

Airport fees can be quite large so you might see if it is worth it to use an off-airport facility. However, if the off-airport company picks you up at the airport, you'll probably still have to pay some of the fee.

You can check their national reservation centers and their local offices; one may be offering a better deal than the other. ASK, if this is the best rate they have available.

Make your reservation as soon as you have decided on plans. Most Rental Car Companies increase their rates as reservations come in and their fleets become booked. Also, certain classes of cars will sell out and you may have to end up reserving and paying for a larger vehicle than you want.

Being flexible about your travel plans can save you money. Rental Companies that focus on the business or replacement market customers often have great weekend specials. The best rates are found during the off season and at other times when the Rental Companies have extra cars sitting around.

Check into booking your vacation as a package. You might be able to save by booking your car along with a certain airline, hotel or attraction ticket package.

Book the smallest car that you will need and hope for a free upgrade. But, remember you may get stuck with that small car.

Check into other size class vehicles. They may have extra cars in a certain class and be offering discounts for that size class.

Use coupons, but read them carefully for exceptions. Most upgrade coupons are "based on availability", so if you have an upgrade coupon that you wish to use and also have a monetary discount coupon, bring them both. If they can't honor the upgrade, they may still give you the monetary discount. Also, remember to book any coupons or discounts in your reservation.

Apply any special discount programs for which you are eligible.

When you get to the counter, ask if there are any upgrade specials available, they might have some good deals.