The sun is out and it’s that time of the year when we all can’t wait to leave the house and stay out all summer. Day trips, outdoor adventures or even an oversea vacation – we all have been pent up through the winter and just can’t wait to be free.
As you make your plans it is important to be prepared to avoid any health and safety risks. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for those long-awaited trips and to keep you and your family safe.
Find out details about your destination – Do some research about the places you plan to visit and acquaint yourself with new and important health risks. If you are traveling abroad, make sure to check travel.state.gov or https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel, for vital information about required vaccinations, travel advisories and possible diseases.
Get a check-up– It is always recommended that you pay a visit to your health provider and get a routine check-up before you travel. Make sure you are in tip-top shape and that you are up to date on vaccinations like measles and influenza.
Prepare a first aid kit – Make sure to pack an emergency travel kit that holds important prescriptions and medicines that you may need while traveling. Pack basic supplies like bandages, alcohol, hot/cold compresses and gauze. Don’t forget to pack a copy of your health insurance card as well.
Be SMART – If you are planning a trip oversees, make sure to register with the US Embassy or Consulate through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to get the latest updates and alerts before and during your trip. This also helps the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or a family emergency.
Prepare for the unexpected – Make copies of your travel plans and documents with a family member and/or upload them to a cloud-based storage system in case you lose them while traveling. Verify that your health insurance covers medical care abroad – most plans don’t, so be sure to get travel insurance. Travel insurance covers health and medical expenses while offering a wide variety of additional services like travel delay, lost baggage and lost passport service.
Be careful what you eat and drink – Always make sure you know how your food is handled. Contaminated food or drinks are the easiest way to spread diseases which can cause traveler’s diarrhea.
- Always eat food that is cooked through and served hot.
- Always drink bottled water, sodas and drinks that are sealed.
- Eat fruits and vegetables that are washed with safe water and that you have peeled yourself.
- Avoid ice that is made with tap water.
Protect yourself from the sun – Double check that your sunscreen is at least SPF 30 to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. I always recommend Blue Lizard, which is a mineral based sunscreen that uses natural ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Read the label and reapply as needed.
Prevent insect bites – Always use insect repellents especially in developing countries to prevent you from serious diseases. Use an EPA-registered insect repellant with one of the following ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.
Always buckle up and choose safe transportation– Nearly half of medical evacuations back to the United States are the result of a car crash, and a medical evacuation can cost upward of $100,000.
- Don’t ride motorcycles. If you must, make sure to wear a helmet.
- Avoid overcrowded, overweight, or top-heavy buses or vans
- Be alert when crossing the street. Know local traffic laws to avoid collisions.
- Always wear a seat belt and lock your doors.
AFTER YOU RETURN
Keep a close eye on your health – Symptoms can arise after you return home, so make sure to watch yourself closely. If you begin to feel ill, see a doctor immediately and inform your doctor where you have been and what you did during your trip. This will help your doctor when giving you a diagnosis of possible infections from other countries.
Whether you are fortunate to have an extended layover in Hong Kong or are embarking a cruise from its ship port, with its delectable cuisine and massive number of skyscrapers, intertwined with the ancient and modern China, you can cover much of the city in a short period of time and stay within whatever budget you might have. The great thing is that Hong Kong allows visa-free entry from over 150 countries from 7 days to 3 months; check with your local embassy to see if your country is one of these and how long of stay you are allowed. Also, even though the first language is Chinese (Cantonese to be exact), the second official language is English, which makes it very easy to communicate and explore the city. The street signs and directions are also translated to English as well as Chinese character. Unlike mainland China, the internet is not censored so you can stay in touch via social media as you will and use other commonly used applications such as Google Maps to help you get around.
The most important decisions to make when traveling to Hong Kong is hotel accommodations. You can choose from the downtown area (also known as Hong Kong Island) or stay across the Victoria Harbour on the landlocked portion called Kowloon. Staying on the island can be pricey, but you will be in the heart of the city. Hong Kong Island is known for being the historic and economic center of the city.
If you are looking for a more authentic experience, try staying in Kowloon. You will have the best view of the iconic skyline and enjoy the nightly Symphony of Lights show. Kowloon is also known for luxury shopping, parks and hip new neighborhoods. If you are on a budget or in transit to a cruise ship, Kowloon is must!
Getting around Hong Kong is fairly easy with alternate options by taxi, railways, and trams. Regardless of where you stay, Hong Kong’s vast railway system can get you practically anywhere, you can get from the airport to downtown in 30 minutes. You can find discounted tickets online to save some time and money, and send them to your smartphone for boarding. Taxis are readily available, which are all metered, clean, and fairly affordable. NOTE: Hong Kong drivers tend to all drive fast to get you to your destination (which isn’t always a bad thing)! Be careful not to confuse the tram and subway routes because they have similar routes in certain parts of the city.
After you have made your way downtown and worked up an appetite, when in Hong Kong, you dim sum. Not only is it part of ancient Chinese tradition and a great way to excite your palette, it is also fun and an affordable experience. Dim sum restaurants are located throughout the city and will set you back on a few dollars per order (most orders contain 3-5 pieces). Another must have treat can be found on many street corners – fish balls. Small, deep fried or boiled bites of deliciousness, covered usually in a curry sauce. Quick and cheap, this option for on-the-go eating can easily satisfy your hunger while exploring. They are served throughout the day, so you can start your day or end a late night with them. Another staple in Hong Kong cuisine is barbecue. Roasted goose, chicken and pork can be found everywhere from the small local street shops to fancy sit down restaurants. Combined with rice or noodle and some vegetables, it is a complete meal that won’t leave you hungry.
One of the most visited areas is Victoria’s Peak which overlooks Hong Kong from atop a mountain side. Located on Hong Kong Island, you must conquer the 45-degree tram along the mountain side to see spectacular views from above. Check out Tian Tan Buddha (or big Buddha) statue located on Lantau Island, which is easily accessible by train or by ferry. TIP: Opt to take a 25-minute gondola ride to reach the statue aboard the Ngong Ping 360. Touted as one of the top ten amazing cable car rides in the world, you’ll enjoy scenic landscapes on your journey to the town of Tung Chung.
If time permits, you can make your way to Stanley Market, where you can find anything from little hand-made trinkets to top-shelf electronics. A must-see attraction for souvenirs as well as anything else you might be in the market to buy. Finish your day by enjoying a nightly light show on the city’s skyscrapers glamorously lit up at night. Since 2004, the Symphony of Light has become the signature icon for Hong Kong, showcasing the vibrancy and glamour of this international city.
There is never enough time to see all that a city has to offer however if you are tight on time a lot can be accomplished during a quick trip to Hong Kong. Purchase a day tour or half day tour to see some of the city’s iconic sites to maximize your time. If you are flexible and willing to venture out on your own, it is very easy to plan your own itinerary, but keep in mind some of the places are not as close as you think. Save yourself some time and money by booking things in advance but leave some room for spontaneity.
Washington D.C. has added a new airline to Southeast Asia. Starting September 16, 2018 – Cathay Pacific will begin non-stop service four times a week from Washington Dulles to Hong Kong. This route would be the longest in Cathay Pacific’s network and originating from the Washington Dulles airport.
With the addition of this IAD-HKG route, Filipinos will now have several options to choose from. Options include nonstop from IAD to Seoul (ICN) operated by Korean Airlines; Tokyo (NRT) operated by ANA and United; and Beijing (PEK), operated by Air China.
“Cathay Pacific’s new service between Washington DC and Hong Kong continues to improve the diversity of choice [and] worldwide connectivity at Dulles International Airport,” says Mike Stewart, manager of Dulles airport at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA).
This flight will be operated by one of Cathay Pacific’s brand-new Airbus A350-1000s which will feature a three-class cabin comprising of a revamped Business class, a Premium Economy and Economy class seating. The wide body, twin-aisle Airbus A350-1000 delivers a feeling of spaciousness wherever you look, with wider seats, high ceilings and alluring ambient lighting.
Cathay Pacific has created the perfect environment to enjoy flying your long-haul flight to Hong Kong with the highest possible air quality with optimized cabin altitude (6000 ft), temperature and humidity, with the air being renewed every two to three minutes. Passengers can relax knowing that they will arrive feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
The redesigned cabin will feature next level sleeping experiences, the best entertainment and even more controls for passengers to enjoy their flight. Every class will benefit from more space and comfort, panoramic windows and mood lighting contributing to overall experience.
The award-winning Business Class seats will highlight an ergonomic design and generous legroom to maximize comfort while converting into a fully lie flat bed. Premium Economy and Economy class seats will allow passengers to charge their electronics with exclusive power outlets and USB ports. Every passenger will enjoy state of the art entertainment system which is equipped with a larger widescreen monitor and with a more comprehensive user interface. For a nominal fee, passengers will be able to connect to browse the internet, send and receive emails and connect via social media.
CX861 will depart Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday mornings at 1:15 a.m., arriving in Hong Kong the following day at 5:10 a.m. Arriving early in the morning allows passengers to connect with flights to Manila and Cebu as well as every Cathay Pacific flight across Asia without sacrificing time with a long layover. The return flight, CX860, will depart Hong Kong at 6:35 p.m. (local time) on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, arriving in Washington, D.C. at 10:20 p.m. (same day).
“Dulles International is an ideal destination for our next US gateway,” says Philippe Lacamp, senior vice-president of the Americas at Cathay Pacific, in a statement. “Cathay Pacific is pleased to be the first air carrier offering nonstop flights from Washington DC to Hong Kong.”
It’s the start of 2018, and you may find yourself patiently waiting for trans-pacific flights to Manila which typically goes on sale during this time. However, with South Korea currently hosting the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and the demand for trans-pacific flights being high, U.S. travelers may start considering a different airline for their “balikbayan” needs.
Away from the popular Asian route carriers, Emirates Airlines has been gaining major consideration over the past 10 years as one of the world’s premier long-haul carriers. Ranking among the top 5 airlines in the world since 2013 and being awarded the #1 airlines title in 2013 and 2014.
Not only is flying Emirates on the way to Philippines an experience, but Emirates also offers a free stopover for passengers connecting through Dubai International Airport (DXB). At no additional cost, U.S. passport holders can enjoy a 30-day visa free window to explore the city of Dubai, UAE, a 2-for-1 deal that won’t last for long. Emerging as one of the world’s leading international business centers and regional hubs, Dubai has transformed into a buzzing international metropolis full of diversity. With a politically stable environment, visitors can rest assure that the city of Dubai is safe for all. Interpol reports Dubai to be “one of the safest cities in the world” in terms of crime and health. A small Arab village transformed into a global powerhouse with its world-class infrastructure, well-maintained roads, and excellent public transportation.
THINGS TO DO
Gold Souks – A traditional market in Dubai’s commercial business district is home to hundreds of retail shops offering a huge selection of jewelry made from gold, silver and other fine metals; the most famous and visited souk in Dubai. Prices are negotiable and credit cards are accepted, but for better pricing, cash is always king. The Gold Souk is located in Deira, along the Al Ras Metro Station. Open 7 days a week between 10AM to 10PM Saturday -Thursday and on Friday 4PM to 10PM.
Evening Desert Safari – A must-do for anyone visiting Dubai! Highly recommended to all first-timers to experience the majestic Arabian Nights. Tours depart from downtown Dubai in the afternoon, between 2-3PM, and last about 6 hours. Be sure to bring your camera since there will be several epic photo-stops during your dune bashing drive through the desert sand. Included in this tour is the opportunity to ride a camel, go sand boarding and get your hand or feet designed with a henna tattoo. After the adrenaline-pumped activities and you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy Arabian cuisines and traditional shisha (the famous Arabic water pipe) while watching a belly dancer perform under the desert sky. A combination package that completes the desert experience. Most tours will include pick-up & drop-off services from your hotel. TIP: Talk to your travel agents for the best way to coordinate the transfer services.
The Dubai Frame – Be the first to get framed. Newly opened on January 1, 2018, this giant golden structure is located next to Zabeel Park and was constructed to give visitors the best view of old Dubai, (Deira, Umm Harare and Karama) and modern (new) Dubai (Emirates Towers and Burj Khalifa) through the frame structure. Standing 150 meters highs and 93 meters wide, visitors can go to the observation deck to get a panoramic view of the city of Dubai and for the daring-types, cross the Dubai frame on the transparent walkway. A museum is also available which tells the story of Dubai’s infrastructure. Tickets are 50AED ($13USD) for adults and 20AED ($5USD). Visitors traveling to Zabeel Park can use the red line and get off at Al Jafiliya metro stop. TIP: If you don’t care to go up the frame, skip the line and purchase a ticket into Zabeel park to take better pictures of the frame without distortion.
Kite Beach – Thinking about something more relaxed? This long pristine stretch of white sand beach is great for kite surfers and spectators uniting. Located across from the Al Manara Road Junction. Showers, wi-fi, toilets and changing facilities are available for public use and plenty of food trucks and cafes are within walking distance. For more action-packed adventures, watersport operators are available along the sand, where you can rent equipment and test your skills against the emerald waters of the Arabian Gulf. TIP: Go to Kite Beach at sunset to capture beautiful sunset pictures of the beach and the 7-star Burj Al Arab hotel.
Downtown Dubai – Here you can see the trifecta of Dubai: The Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountains. If you didn’t already know, Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world by total area. With a plethora of 1,200 retailers/shops this is a shopper’s paradise. Another world breaking record is the Burj Khalifa, which takes home the world’s tallest building award. Standing at 2,722 ft, its been named the tallest structure since 2008. And, what else goes better next to the world’s largest mall and world’s tallest building than the World’s tallest performing fountain system, the Dubai Fountains. At over 900 ft. in length and situated across 30-acres, the fountain performs daily to a selection of different melodies. TIP: The Guinness World Record show “Light Up 2018” is the largest light and sound show, which debuted on New Year’s 2018 has been extended for a limited time. Visitors can see the spectacular phenomenon until March 31, 2018; Tuesday and Wednesday at 8PM and 10PM Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
After an eventful couple of days in Dubai, check-in at the Dubai International Airport (DXB) to join other “kababayans” and travelers to catch your connecting flight to Philippines. And, just like that you can see two great countries at the price of one fare.
MORE FACTS ON DUBAI
Currency UAE dirham (AED/DHS)
Time Zone GMT + 4.
Language The official language is Arabic, and English is widely spoken.
Weather Year-round sunshine. Temperatures range from a nighttime low of around 10°C in winter (Dec-Mar), to a daytime high of 49°C at the height of summer (Jun-Aug). The best time to visit is from October to April, with perfect temperatures for long, comfortable days at the beach and balmy evenings outside.
Vaccinations The UAE has no special vaccination requirements, unless you have recently transited from a cholera-infected area. It’s always best to check with the health authority at the time you book.
Dress code The UAE has a generally relaxed dress code, but out of respect for the local Islamic culture, modest clothing is recommended, and essential if you’re visiting a mosque or place of worship. This generally means clothing that covers shoulders to knees. Beachwear is fine on the beach, at beach clubs and at the pool, and formal wear or national dress is expected at business meetings.
Public behavior Drunkenness and overt displays of affection are offensive to Islamic culture and are also illegal.
Alcohol and tobacco You can drink alcohol in licensed bars and clubs. However, it’s illegal to drink alcohol in public and smoking is not allowed at the airport, in malls and in most restaurants.
Being a savvy shopper is important to get the best value for your money. But with every “great” deal it is important that you understand what exactly you are buying. There are tons of retailers like Groupon and LivingSocial apps which offer super discounted travel packages for unbelievable prices, but avoid these common pitfalls to avoid being scammed or disappointed.
If you have been offered a great bargain on a cruise or a 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. Typically, a scam operator 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 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 some time and money in the long run.
To help you avoid becoming a victim of a travel scam, here are some suggestions when evaluating travel offers:
- Stay away from travel offers that sound “too good to be true”, particularly if you have been solicited by phone or have received a postcard or certificate in the mail.
- Never give your credit card number or any information about your bank accounts over the phone to a solicitor unless you initiate the transaction or call. You should feel confident about the company with which you are doing business with.
- Get the complete details in writing about any trip prior to payment. These details should include the total cost (including taxes, port charges, service fees, and surcharges), terms and conditions, restrictions, cancellation penalties, if any, and specific information about all components of the package.
- Walk away from high-pressure sales presentations which don’t allow you time to evaluate the offer or which require that you disclose your income.
- Be cautious with companies which require that you wait at least 60 days to take you trip or require that you select several dates of departure for your trip.
Most Common Travel Scams
Scammers will find ways to contact you through direct mail, social media or enticing emails luring you for an “unbelievable” promotion. In reality, these types of vacations often end up with poorly disclosed fees or fake. Here are the most common travel scams that we hear about.
You just won a “free vacation”, but must pay a fee first
If you can’t remember how you were able to win a prize, most likely this is a scam. Make sure you understand all charges and fees associated with the prize. Often these awards are attached to a variety of fees, participation in a tour/ vacation club or seminars with pressure filled presentations. Find out all the details before you commit.
When the caller wants your credit card number
Scammers will always try to lead the conversation and pressure you to hand over your credit card. Make sure to receive paperwork before you do. TIP: Most scams require you to make rash decisions quickly. Grab their phone number and say you feel comfortable if you can call them back. Most scam artists prefer not to give any information about themselves.
They entice you with general descriptive words — but can’t — give you specifics
They promise a stay at a “five-star” resort or a cruise on a “luxury” ship, however they cannot tell you exactly which property or cruise line. Make sure that you know all the details before anything else happens. Make sure to always get it in writing to protect yourself. TIP: Find out the hotel’s address and check out their website for reviews and photos.
You’re pressured to sign up for a travel club that requires you to sell their memberships
As soon as you hear that you must sign up with monthly dues – run out the door. Travel clubs often have high membership fees and limited choice of destinations or travel dates.
You get an automated call
Most people do not realize that it’s that time of the year, right after the holidays when the cruise lines unveil the most attractive and exciting deals of the new year. Frequent cruisers and bargain hunters alike take advantage to find the best prices to almost every destination in the world. Cruise lines compete for your money and it’s time that you know why.
What is Wave Season?
From January through March, cruise lines begin the year with huge promotions and deals. Cruise lines and travel agents are busy during this three-month period. These months are basically the Black Friday or Cyber Monday for cruise lines, but lasts for three months.
Why January through March, you ask? Well the holidays are over and most Americans are dealing with the Winter, looking for their next getaway. Plus, its tax return time and this is the time when people often as a little cash to spend on a much needed vacation.
Why Should I Book a Cruise?
Why not? This is the best time to book a cruise because the prices are lower than usual and are combinable with amenities such as free internet, onboard credit and complimentary spa packages. Since every cruise line is different expect the same when comparing each offer. This is the time when you can plan far in advance what type of vacation you will have.
For instance, if you usually have high bar tabs – travelers can search for deals that include a free beverage package and use that extra money to upgrade your room. Or, for families – find early bird savings for connected or family-style rooms.
Plus, when booking early you also have the option of choosing the location of your stateroom – a major bonus since you may not want to be near the restrooms and elevators.
What’s the Current Deals?
- Royal Caribbean: All guests 30% off + $100 to spend at sea on all sailings departing on or after February 4, 2018. Plus, Free Gratuities for Royal Suite class on Oasis Class + Anthem of the Seas sailings to Bahamas, Bermuda or the Caribbean. Northeast cities – Additional bonus: Upgrade from Oceanview to Balcony on Adventure & Anthem of the Seas, and from Inside to Oceanview on Grandeur of the Seas sailings from May 1, 2018 – September 30, 2018.
- Celebrity Cruises: For a limited time, book an ocean view or higher stateroom and 1st and 2nd guest choose from two perks to enjoy on your award-winning, modern luxury vacation. Pick from • Classic Beverage Package • Unlimited High-speed Internet Package •Prepaid Gratuities • $150 per person to spend on board. Plus, 50% OFF current 3rd & 4th fares. Offer applies to select 4-night and longer cruises departing February 01, 2018 — April 30, 2019 book by February 28, 2018.
- Princess Cruises: Up to $600 FREE Onboard Spending Money per stateroom, FREE specialty dining for ALL guests + $100 refundable deposit per guest. For sailings between Summer 2018 and Spring 2019. Must book by February 14, 2018.
The bottom line: If you are in the market and you plan to cruise this year, don’t’ forget to take advantage of these offers. You’ll get a great deal and if you have a travel agent they can keep monitoring your rates to make sure you have the best value for your money. At Travelwise, we always recommend that each traveler purchases travel insurance. In case of any unforeseen circumstances so you don’t have to deal with problems later.
Remember to talk to your travel agent and figure out which cruise line and offers are best for you!
As you count the number of days until 2017 is over and done, some of you might feel as this year blew by so fast. Time is one thing we can never get back and it is important not to let next year pass you by. Here are a few tips to help you make that dream trip possible.
- Start a Travel Fund
Save money without thinking about it. Spending less money throughout your normal routine can help, but “out of sight, out of mind” is always better. Set up a separate bank account or talk to a travel agent who can set up automatic payments to help build your travel fund. I have many clients who prefer to pay in small increments to avoid a huge amount at final payment.
- Go Where the Conversions are Best
Next year will be one of the best time to ever head over across the Atlantic and see all your bucket list countries. Exploiting a situation can make you feel guilty, however with the UK set to depart from the European Union, the currency conversion is in our favor. Both currencies continue to plunge making Europe a hot destination for 2018.
- Price Bonanza
With the huge expansion by both Norwegian Airlines (Norway) and WOW Air (Iceland), it’s been a frenzy for low cost tickets to Europe. As of today, Norwegian is offering roundtrip airfare from Newark to Barcelona for only $419. WOW Air offers roundtrip airfare from Baltimore to Paris as low as $409 per person. With both airlines rapidly growing look out for more low-cost carriers to follow their paths and open competitive pricing to Asia and beyond.
- Choose your Airline Wisely
This may not save the most money each time but in the long run you will keep more of your cash and have some added benefits. Knowing your airline hubs is important when understanding the probability of which airline to use. For example, Washington Dulles (IAD) is a major hub for United Airlines which translates to many non-stop flights from the nation’s capital. Travelers who depart or normally connects through here should probably join United’s Mileage Plus program. Free checked bags, priority boarding and even free upgrades can be easily attained if your smart.
- Focus on Point Instead of Miles
For all those that have collected their miles with airlines such as Delta or Northwest, you may be in for a surprise, but your miles are no longer as valuable. Frequent flyer programs have gone through significant changes that have left members dissatisfied. Stickling to an airline to earn points is no longer the way to go, however credit card programs are far more valuable. Credit cards have enticed travelers with massive incentives such as sign-up bonuses up to 50,000 and more, transferable points and multiple ways to earn points.
- Exercise Regularly
Some might not understand this one, but keeping yourself busy while losing some pounds will save you a lot of money in the long run. Staying fit is a lifestyle and it helps promote better eating habits, more productivity and decrease health risks. Instead of splurging on dessert, take an afternoon run and sweat your stress away.
- Be Flexible If you don’t have a specific date in mind, then you might be able to move your dates for the best value. Consider leaving on the first or the last flight out and you can save hundreds of dollars. Traveling during the weekdays can also help save quite a bit of cash.
- Travel During Off-Season
If we all had large stacks of money laying around, travel would be so easy – however we all have budgets to stick to and planning properly is key. Learn the off-season months to travel to a destination and take advantage of “before tourist season” prices at hotels and tours. TRAVEL TIP: The two very best months to go to Italy is May and September. Mother’s Day signals the beginning of the travel season, while Labor Day is the end. Expect to save 30%-40% when traveling during these months.
After your long international flight back to the U.S., the very next thing you see is another long line as you wait to be processed. Sometimes you can get lucky and if you run fast enough, you can beat the rush and you are out within minutes. The introduction of the Automated Passport Control (APC) has also sped up the process by reducing the wait times by half. And now, we have Global Entry which is another expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States for a small price.
But one of the newest travel hacks is the new app: Mobile Passport, which gets your through immigration within minutes!
Mobile Passport Control enables travelers to submit their passport and customs declaration information via their smartphone instead of the traditional paper form. The “Mobile Passport” app is free to download and free to use. The app is sponsored by the Airports Council International-North America and Boeing and authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Wi-Fi or a cellular network are required to submit information and receive a receipt. U.S. citizens with a valid U.S. passport and Canadian citizens with both a valid Canadian passport and B1 or B2 visa status may use the Mobile Passport App.
Once the traveler downloads the app from the app store, it only takes 4 simple steps and you’re done.
STEP 1: Set up Your Profile
Enter your profile information as it appears on your valid, official passport. You can set up profiles for your entire family. Your information will be encrypted and shared only with CBP.
STEP 2: Answer a Few Questions
Answer CBP’s five brief questions about your trip. Then carefully review ALL of your information for the trip.
STEP 3: Submit to CBP
Once you are at your port of entry (airport or sea port), connect to wireless or wi-fi and submit your data to CBP. Remember: when you submit, you are confirming under penalty of law that your information is correct. Within a few seconds, you will receive a CBP receipt with an encrypted barcode. Your receipt will be valid for 4 hours.
STEP 4: Breeze Through Custom and Save Time!
Follow the Mobile Passport Control signs to the designated Mobile Passport Control line. Show your passport to the CBP officer and scan the barcode on the CBP receipt. And that’s it!
Mobile Passport is available in 24 international airports and on cruise port across the U.S including – Washington, D.C. -Dulles, Baltimore, Boston, New York, Newark, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
For more information, visit their website https://mobilepassport.us
You’re ready and all prepared for that highly anticipated family vacation and you know you have everything on your checklist. You have managed to bring all of the necessary items like pre-packed snacks, extra sets of clothes, wipes and diapers and you have just passed security without any issues. Now, you’ve boarded your plane and stashed your carry-ons away. Your child(ren) start fidgeting with the seat belts and arm rests and you slowly realize that this is where your patience will truly be tested. As you
Fly during nap time
This may not be the most affordable, but if you are on a longer haul flight, it is recommended that you try to schedule a flight during your child’s nap time. If you can coordinate an agreeable time, at least you only have to deal with half of the flight.
Give them expectations
No one likes to be put in a situation where they do not know what going on, and that includes your little people. I bought several books about airplanes and flying to read to them at night a couple days before the trip. This helped him understand what an airport is and how cool it is to fly in an airplane. We brought the book on the day of our flight, and he was so excited to follow the book as we went through the daily routine.
Burn excess energy before the flight
Have you ever seen your child sit still because if you have, please tell me your secret. As for the thousands of parents who haven’t, well don’t hold your breath. Kids are full of energy and they can’t help but let it out. Plan to arrive to the airport early so you kids can adjust. Have them help push the carts, go up escalators and if available, in the play areas. The more energy they burn, the more sanity you will have when you arrive at your final destination.
Be first or last
This next tip is debatable and I have spoken to a few parents who listed the pros of cons of each. If you board first, you’ll be able to board the plane without waiting and can put your carry-ons without fighting for space. If you decide to board last, your child will have less time be cooped up on a plane. Decide what works for you and your family.
Eat snacks at take-off and landings
I see a lot of parents miss this one, but it can save you some tears. Eating snacks during landing and take-offs help with the changing of air pressure.
Grab some coloring books or toys
Head down to Target or the Dollar Store and grab some quick toys or coloring books to brign with your on the flight. Having activities for them will help break up the time. I normally try to bring flash cards, stickers and games to preoccupy their time.
Flight attendants can be your friend
Get friendly with our flight attendant as soon as your board and they can save you a ton of stress. Talk to them early and you can have them bring snacks drinks early to avoid a meltdown. If the flight isn’t too full, sometimes they even take them up and down the airplane and show them all of the cool gadgets.
Bring a scarf
Planes are usually cold, so it’s smart to bring something to cover your child in case they get chilly. It also helps to wipe up messes quickly. Sorry Mom – it’s had to be prepared and chic at the same time.
Go, go, gadgets
As much as we hate giving up our gadgets, if you need a few minutes (sometime more, who’s counting) it’s okay to hand them a brief stint on the phone. Try to download interactive apps that can help them read, count or even o simple math problems.
Keep calm and just go with it
Let’s be honest, no matter how much you prepare, there is always a chance of a meltdown. You tried to be as considerate as possible, but some things are just meant to be. Just take a deep breath and rest assured that this flight is only getting shorter. Relax and enjoy the ride.
It’s often enough that most first timers are unsure the differences between all the cruise lines especially when they persuade cruisers that can offer an all-things-to-all-people experience. When planning your next cruise, it is important to understand that each cruise line designs their experiences to distinctive lifestyles and markets.
Choosing the right cruise line is still tricky, just like choosing the right food to eat – sometimes you want to try something different, but don’t fully know what you want. At first glance, all cruise lines look similar, but each has their own personalities and quirks. Here are a few tips when planning your next cruise vacation:
Best for Families
It’s no surprise that cruising has made vacationing easier and more affordable for families. Constantly innovating and adding newer and more daring activities onboard such as the iFly by Ripcord on the Quantum of the Seas or the new go cart course aboard the Norwegian Bliss, the cruise lines understand their highest growing segment is.
With families with younger children, it is without a doubt, Disney is the best to introduce younger children to cruising. The only cruise line to accept children as young as three months old, Disney creates an amusement park at sea that children and parents love. Themed play areas, Disney characters interacting with passengers and amazingly design staterooms with child features such as child-proof balcony locks and split bath tubs show how committed Disney is to children.
As your children grow, their taste changes and so should their experiences on a cruise. Royal Caribbean targets families with older children with numerous activities and never been done features such as zip-lining and sky-diving at sea. Come aboard their newest ships like the Symphony of the Seas and enjoy onboard activities like rock climbing, DJ classes, teen parties and water slides 10 decks high.
Best for Relaxation
With a high attention to passengers who aim to unwind and rejuvenate themselves while traveling, Princess should be there first choice. Princess delivers an extraordinary experience that is coupled with eye pleasing design and therapeutic aromas throughout their ships. Visit the Sanctuary which is an adult only space above the Lotus Spa. Passengers can enjoy “attentive service” with fruit infused water and spa treatments or have access to private cabanas for your exclusive space. You’ll leave relaxed rejuvenated like you have been in the spa all day.
Best for Entertainment
If you want the Las Vegas type shows and high energy – Royal Caribbean is good choice. Royal Caribbean has set the bar in entertainment with innovating venues such as the first Aquatheater at sea (Oasis class) and the new 270, at two deck venue at the back of the ship with 270-degree views. Its main attraction is at night when the venue transforms into Vistarama, ultra-HD screen more than 100 feet wide and 20 feet tall. Vistsrama’s 12K resolution is nearly twice the resolution of that of an IMAX screen.
In addition to entertainment, Royal Caribbean also includes complimentary activities as well such as rock climbing, zip-lining, daily dance classes and culinary demonstrations. The best part of it all, is that its complimentary.
Best for Foodies
One of my most favorite things to do on a cruise is to eat and this is by my favorite category. If you are like me and food is an art – then you must try a cruise on Celebrity Cruises.
Celebrity is well-known for their attention to detail in cuisine. They have allotted the most area at sea to specialty restaurants such as Tuscan Grille, a modern steak house, the Lawn Club Grille, an interactive open-air grilling venue or my favorite, Qsine, uniquely unordinary culinary experience. Qsine is a gastronomic adventure with flair and flamboyance with dishes such as lobster escargot, sushi lollipops and popcorn fish and chips.
Best for Late Night
If you’re a night owl, then you need to try a Norwegian cruise which has a variety of themed bars and venues. You’ll be able to enjoy sipping mojitos at Sugarcane’s Mojito Bar and then head down to Fat Cats Jazz Club and groove to the best jazz and blues at sea. Norwegian’s signature White and Glow parties however are where all the action is. Cruisers dress up all in white for a high energy party filled with neon lights, massive light displays and interactive games.
Best for Onshore Experience
If you want an amazing experience onshore with an authentic experience set sail on Azamara Cruise Line. Azamara’s fleet consists of two ships, the Journey and Quest, which seeks selective itineraries to less traveled destinations. In addition to their itineraries, Azamara also includes the most overnight stays ay port unlike most cruise lines. You would be able to spend a night in Bangkok and experience the street food or enjoy ample time to explore Havana with two nights at port. Plus, every cruise includes an “Azamazing Evening”, a complimentary shoreside event that presents the local culture in an intimate or exclusive setting. When possible, Azamara also tries to schedule its cruises around major destination events, such as Carnival in Rio or the Grand Prix in Monaco.
Whether you are an avid cruiser or its your first time, everyone wants to know how they can get the best value for their money. The answer is not so simple because finding the best prices depends not only on when you book, but also when you travel.
The cruise industry revolves around the seasonality of its destinations. Travelers who can plan around these key times can save hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars by becoming a smart travel shopper. Here are a few tips to help you plan for your next cruise adventure.
When to Buy?
The most popular season to begin planning and booking your cruise is usually October (National Plan a Cruise Month) and January through March, known as “wave season”. During these times cruisers can take advantage of incentive driven promotions and exclusive savings such as two-for-one deals, early-bird fares and additional amenities like onboard credit, free gratuities and free shore excursions.
In the last few years, cruise lines have released better and more enhanced promotions to entice early bookers. The latest trends have been lower cruise fares combineable with multiple value added perks like complimentary spa treatments, private lounge services or free Internet.
Why you Should Book Early?
Unlike airfare, booking a cruise is less stringent and restrictive allowing you to make deposits and allowing you flexibility to cancel without penalties before final payment. Booking early means a wider selection of staterooms to choose from as well. It allows you to select the perfect cabin instead of getting stuck close to a lounge or being too close to the public areas. It is important to plan ahead, especially if traveling with family, because the first staterooms to sell out are usually the triple and quadruple occupancy staterooms.
The pricing structure of the cruise line is simple: prices are low when the ship is empty. The general rule of thumb is the farther your cruise destinations are from where you live, the earlier you need to book.
Another key benefit is if the price drops before final payment, you can always ask for an upgrade or request a price adjustment. Travel agents monitor rates and can keep you informed when prices fluctuate to ensure you get the best value.
When you Should Book Late?
If you are flexible in destination and time, booking late can be very advantageous and can get rock-bottom prices. Within 60 days from departure, cruise ships will offer discounted rates to fill up any remaining inventory and avoid unoccupied rooms. Please take note that most rooms however are in least desirable locations such as lower decks, obstructed views or close to public areas.
Why You Should Book Onboard?
One of the newest trends is booking your next cruise onboard. The cruise industry relies heavily on repeat customers, so being loyal to one does have its benefits. Booking onboard allows you to avail of the current promotions while combining them with additional incentives like onboard credit, reduced deposits, and/or lower cruise fares.
Cruise lines now allow you to make onboard bookings on behalf of friends and family members who you plan to travel with in the future, allowing you to share the savings.
When it comes to planning your next cruise the best way to save is to plan early. Start doing your research and talking to a travel agent to lay down your options especially if you have any specific preferences in destination or time. Being flexible is key, and planning to travel during the off-season will save you a lot of money and frustration.
Just 191 miles from hustle and bustle of Philippines capitol Manila, is an island that has everyone talking about its newly discovered natural beauty. The Palawan island of Busuanga houses the up and coming town of Coron where you can experience majestic views of limestone karst, white sand beaches and some of the best marine life you will find on this this planet. It’s been recognized by Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast for having the top beaches in the world. Conde Nast voted the Palawan Island to be the number 2 most beautiful island in the world as of January 2016.
It is a town that locales say, “they want to keep intact for its natural beauties even if many tourist come to the island.” General Manager Mike from the Funny Lion hotel, a native from Palawan says, “…that is why there are only a limited number of flights from Manila (MNL) to Busuanga Airport (USU) to limit the number of tourist that can be on the island at one time”. Coron wants to be known for its breathtaking panoramic view, limestone formations and an island that will remain untouched.
What to do in Coron?
When you start your day, start your trip by familiarizing yourself with the locales and the Coron Surroundings.
You may not know until you land that Coron town is different from Coron Island. Coron town is where you find all your local hotels & accommodations, restaurants and marketplaces. Coron Island is a 15-20 minute boat ride from Coron town where tourists travel to in the day by private boat or joining an island hopping tour. Some of the most notable destinations to visit while on your island tour will definitely be the most talked about rock formations and the world class under water corals and shipwrecks. First and foremost, the hands down site you must see is Kayangan Lake, which is surrounded by
limestone and traces of lush greenery. With a composition of 70% freshwater and 30% saltwater, Kayangan Lake is the cleanest lake in the Philippines. Once you get to Kayangan lake, make sure to climb 167 steps to the peak where the viewing deck is located. There you will see where some of the most cinematic photographs of Coron were captured.
For those appreciate the beauties above and below ground, Lusong Ganboat is the place to go. The famous gunboat wreck is popular for its shallow sunken Japanese shipwreck from World War II. It has an average depth of 20 fee and a maximum depth of 33 feet. The clear waters and visibility as well as its vast variety of underwater species, makes the Lusong Gunboat the perfect place for snorkeling and underwater macrophotography.
Further away from the turquoise waters, you can find yourself enjoying Calauit Safari Park. A must see attraction on the island, especially for families traveling with kids. Contrary enough, even if the safari park is located on land the best way to get to Calauit Safari Park is by boat. Both African and endemic species roam freely on site and brings the safari feel a completely new feel. Giraffes, zebras and the Calamian deer are some of the friendly animals tourist will be able to meet during you visit.
Coron has something special that everyone is talking. A holiday in Coron means engulfing its breathtaking seascapes, uninhabited coastal areas, white sand beaches, a safari adventure, freshwater lakes and friendly townspeople who care about the maintenance of their home. A family friendly island that will have visitors of all ages full of excitement and new discoveries. Not to mention a snorkeler and divers paradise.