Travel blog postings
|Earliest: September 24, 2003||Latest: March 11, 2017||Total: 37|
|March 11, 2017|
Traveling Overseas? A Few Considerations You Should Make
Traveling overseas to other countries and regions of the world can be a thrilling experience. Upon receiving their passports, most American travelers eagerly await their travels over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Depending upon your final destination, the length of stay, and travel plans can determine some of the requirements necessary before you leave your hometown. Making sure you are fully prepared and equipped with necessities to ensure you safely reach your vacation spot is extremely important. Poor planning can lead to a headache and potentially a dangerous situation when travelers reach their overseas destination.
Are you traveling to a foreign country this year? What are some of the most important considerations one must make before they embark on their journey? Below we will outline a few of the most important things to ensure you are checking off your list before traveling.
The American dollar can have a much smaller or larger impact in foreign countries where the exchange rate may be higher or lower. As a result, it's important to carefully consider the cost of common goods like food, and lodging before you even consider getting on the plane. Some areas of the world, such as Dubai may require large amounts of money in order to purchase necessary goods and services. You may be surprised how common items like a toothbrush or deodorant can greatly differ throughout different regions of the world because of exchange rates. Furthermore, some goods may be much more expensive because of the production process required for the product's development. The cost of goods may be much higher, resulting in a more expensive product.
Frugal travelers should consider traveling to places where exchange rates are much lower. One of the most budget-friendly places to travel that allow American travelers the ability to dine, shop, and relax is Thailand. Here, one US dollar is the equivalent to 35 Thai bahts (as of March 10, 2017). With this in mind, a typical hotel night can cost an American traveler anywhere from $12-$30 per night. Talk about getting a lot for your money!
Similarly, in countries like Australia, the American dollar is the equivalent of 1.33 Australian dollars. Though the exchange rate may be very similar in Australia, it's important to consider the costs of common goods. Are they similar to the cost in the United States, or are they more expensive because of their geographic region? This is where the importance of extensive research comes into play before planning your travels.
Traveling across the globe is enough to make first-time travelers nervous. Commuting on a plane for an extensive amount of time can already be enough to scare away those traveling to a foreign country for the first time.
Once travelers reach their final destination, it's important to consider the safety levels in the area. Will you be able to adapt to the cultural differences presented in the region? Making sure you are aware of what is considered respectful, and what is not is extremely important.
Its also important to consider your safety when traveling throughout different countries. When traveling to regions like the UK or Australia, drivers must quickly become adjusted to driving on the opposite side of the road in which they are accustomed to. As a result, this can cause a dangerous situation, especially if it's the first time doing so. When paired with sightseeing, and traveling to different restaurants and places of interest in foreign countries, driving on the opposite side of the road can be a distraction in itself. Paired with any slight consumption of alcohol can create a hazard for yourself and many other motorists on the roadway.
Creating a Pre-Travel Itinerary
Before considering any travel arrangements, consider important factors before embarking upon your next journey. Traveling to a foreign country is not only exhilarating, but it's an experience that lasts a lifetime. However, extensive preparation, research, and planning should be a part of any preliminary travel itineraries. Avoiding any potential dangers, unforeseen conditions, and problems should always be at the top of any travel plans. Make an itinerary far in advance, and plan for any unexpected issues that could arise. But most importantly, have fun and enjoy your trip!
|April 24, 2016|
Summer Road Trip Hacks
Traveling throughout the United States during the upcoming spring and summer months can be an exhilarating feeling. Getting out on the open road, with some of your best pals can create memories that will last a lifetime. It's the time of the year that most of us look forward to. But, there are a few things you should keep in mind before, and during your commute to your travel destinations.
Plan, plan, and plan more
The number one thing that most vacationers neglect is careful planning. Most think that planning a hotel room, and planning your commute to your destination will be suitable enough for planning a successful vacation. Though these are great planning tips, you should stop to consider the activities you will partake in, while at your destination. Believe it or not, some motorists can spend unnecessary money and time traveling from their hotel to leisurely activities, taking a bite from vacationer's wallet and time spent away from home. It's a good idea to get a rough itinerary in place, and plan which activities you will partake in ahead of time, so you can maximize your time away from home.
If you live in the mountainous areas, traveling to a beach area can pose different driving variables then you might be accustomed to. Weaving in and out of hills and windy roads might be a commonplace practice for your regular commute, so traveling to flatter terrains, with more open roads might pose a challenge for your driving skills. It's important to study the roads where you will be traveling, and ensure you are prepared for tackling the road ahead.
Additionally, most don't think about how the weather can have a large impact on how you commute to your destination. Just think about those beach commutes that you have taken in the past, where torrential rains have caused you to pull your family car to the side until the rains let up. Coastal, and other various areas that make up vacation destinations generally have different climates than those you might be used to. Prepare ahead of time, and study the weather conditions in the area to ensure you and your family are safe during your commute to your destination.
Save some change
It might seem like an uncommon thing to think about, but if you are traveling over state lines, do some planning ahead of time. For states like North and South Carolina, gas prices can significantly vary when one travels over the state line. Tax rates are different in every state. Be sure to plan out how long your car's gas tank will last, and plan your stops accordingly. You might be surprised how much money can be saved by carefully planning your stops. When traveling a long distance, the value in planning gas stops can really add up. Besides, who doesn't like to save a few dollars on the road?
Whether you are planning your trip across the country, or to a bordering state, planning is of the essence. It can save you much needed time and money during your commute. There are plenty of tips and tricks that can save you, and your friends and family time and money while on your commute to your destination. What are some practices you commonly partake in while commuting during the summer months?
|March 27, 2016|
National Hotel in Jamestown, California
My car keychain has a bit of California memory attached to it:
The National hotel is a historical hotel right in the center of downtown Jamestown, California - It located right in the middle of Gold Country. It's about a 2.5-hour drive from San Jose, California.
Don't know if downtown changed much, but I remember some antique shops and some kitchen stores. The hotel has a small restaurant, with some good food and a bar. You can buy the keychain I have at the bar, get one with a room number that you are staying in.
When you visit the hotel, make sure to stay in room 6. (My Keychain has that room number on the back!) That room is supposed to be haunted, although I never encountered any strange encounters during my stays. Check out the room guestbook for my guest entry. I hope that the book is still there.
I have kept the National Hotel keychain as a reminder of my time in California. I do plan to go back someday and show my family all the places around Jamestown.
It seems very appropriate that I would post this on Easter Weekend because that's when I would visit the area in the late 1990s.
Easter Weekend Celebration
Between 1998 to 2001, this was my Easter routine:
I would head up to Gold Country after work on Good Friday. I checked into the hotel and then spend Saturday exploring various sites around Jamestown. ( Moaning Cavern, National Bridge (Near Moaning Cavern), Railtown State Historic Park, Columbia State Park, and downtown Sonora) I would then attend church services at St. Patrick's Church in Sonora.
On Easter Sunday, I would have a nice breakfast at the hotel and the head over to Yosemite to spend the day. While there, I remember stopping at the General Store and get some lunch. Then have picnic on the grass at the base of El Captain.
Lord Have Mercy
Here is the choir from St. Patrick's Church in Sonora, singing the 'Lord have Mercy' song:
|December 14, 2015|
Wright Brother's Day
On December 17th, the United States celebrates 'Wright Brother's Day.' It's not a huge celebration, you won't see parades or heavy traffic where people are scrambling to visit family.
The date commemorates the Wright brothers' first successful flight in heavier-than-air, mechanically propelled craft, accomplished on December 17, 1903, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Wright Brothers Day falls on the same day as Pan American Aviation Day.
If you're a huge Wright Brother's fan you should visit Wright Brothers National Memorial near Kitty Hawk. This is a 425-acre (about 1.7km2) area that features a 60-foot (about 18.3 meters) granite pylon (tower) on top of Kill Devil Hill, where the Wright Brothers' camp was located. There's all sorts of celebrations to celebrate the Wright Brother's invention.
If you manage a business, you may want to apply some of the techniques that the Wright Brothers used to bring their invention to light. I would highly recommend reading The Wright Way by Mark Eppler. In the book he teaches you seven problem solving principles from the Wright Brother that can make your business soar.
|August 27, 2015|
Have you ever what to bring as a carry on during a short flight? Recently I did some quick research before a flight on what things to bring and was very surprised that their was very little tips and tricks on what to put in your carry-on. So I thought I share what worked really well for me. We were traveling from Boston to Fort Myers total flight time around 3 1/2 hours.
A couple of days before the trip, I purchased a large bag of M&Ms and some Swedish Fish candy. I figure this would be good as snacks on the plane. I got the large bags so that I would have plenty for the return trip.
I also packed my handy USB charger, Jockery Bar 5600mAH battery pack, which fits perfectly in one of the front pockets in my laptop bag. I packed cables for my iPhone and Kindle. In future flights I want to get shorter cables that are different colors so it will be easier to identify them in the bag. Once the plane was in the air, I put my phone in airplane mode and charged it the whole way. In my bag I had some napkins and some travel wipes, because you never know when you?ll need them.
I brought my Kindle Fire HD for my in-flight entertainment. Prior to the trip, I selected and downloaded some interesting TED talks. I also put two movies on my tablet; Frequency and Enemy of the State. I watched a couple of TED talks then watched my feature movie. The Kindle Fire held up the charge with no problems. I also packed some Boston brochures that I got at the Prudential Mall. I brought these in case my daughter wanted to look/draw at something on the flight, or while waiting to board the plane.
My feeling, after returning home, is that I packed just the right amount of food and entertainment that I didn't feel board on the plane or that had packed too much in my carry-on. My carry-on was small and light that I was able to put it under the seat in front of me and not worry about finding an overhead compartment. My lesson learned is that keeping it simple and light makes for a much better trip.
Logan International airport has lots of USB charging ports throughout the terminal, you can even find them under some of the seats. You won't find many wall huggers at this airport. I was surprised that their wasn't anything at the Fort Myers airport.
Carry-on packing summary:
- Bag: Used my Swiss Gear Laptop Backpack bag.
- Snacks: M&Ms and Swedish Fish candy
- Entertainment: Kindle Fire HD with Ted Talks and a couple of Feature movies.
- Extras: napkins, Antibacterial hand sanitizer and travel clean up wipes
- Media: Jockery Bar 5600mAH battery pack and cables for iPhone and Kindle
|August 19, 2015|
Getting past the TSA during difficult times
Have you ever wondered what happens when your on a faraway vacation and you loose your wallet or purse? How will you get back home? Similarly, what happens if your license expires and get a temporary paper replacement (Which isn't consider an official ID). Can you get pass the security screening at the airport and still board an airplane?
It turns out the Transportation Security Administration does have some sympathy and will work with you to find other ways to identify who you are. Just be safe and plan on arriving extra early for your flight.
According to the official tsa.gov site:
We understand passengers occasionally arrive at the airport without an ID, because of losing it or inadvertently leaving it at home. If this happens to you, it does not necessarily mean you won't be allowed to fly. If you are willing to provide additional information, we have other ways to confirm your identity, like using publicly available databases, so you can reach your flight.
If we clear you through this process, we may give you additional screening. If we can?t verify your identity, you may not be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint or to board a plane.
Meanwhile for those in Massachusetts waiting for your official Identification:
If you get a temporary license at the Massachusetts Department of Motor Vehicles, you won't have to wait too long for your official identification. The good news is that the Massachusetts RMV will mail you your official license in about 7 days. (Good luck trying to find that information on their site!)
|June 22, 2015|
UHaul Van Rental Tips
This past weekend we rented a UHaul truck from Uhaul Natick site. Here are some tips/tricks that you should know to help make your move just a bit easier.
First make sure to reserve a truck online before going to the store. One person in line want a truck but was told by the manager that there were none available. However, there were a few available because a customer canceled a large order overnight. So, it doesn't hurt to constantly check on availability when you need a truck on short notice.
The Uhaul Natick store is well stocked with everything that you need for moving. They had lots of boxes, tape and twine at reasonable prices. The store seem clean and the layout was nicely done with similar products placed near each other.
We got one of the new model cargo vans. The truck was nice and clean. The dashboard was a bit hard to read, so I wasn't sure exactly how many miles it had on it - but I think it was roughly around 800. It took a while to learn how to use the side mirror on the Masspike traffic.
I found that the radio was a bit hard to use and didn't have much time to learn to get my station on. They did have an audio cable jack where I could have played my iPhone through the radio speakers, really quick way to listen to my music. I would recommend bring a male-to-male retractable audio cable. You'll need some music because van makes a lot of noise. There is a power car jack so you can also charge your phone as you drive. Yes, you'll need your own USB Car Jack charger. Oh and there's plenty of cup holders, I counted 4 places where a driver could put down their drink.
I had to remember that I didn't have my fastpass transponder with me and use the Mass Pike cash-only lanes. I have gotten so use to the fastpass system that I didn't know how much the tolls were. I put some change on the dashboard to remind me to pay cash. Currently it's $1.30 from the 84 exit to Framingham.
We rented some furniture moving covers which came in handy moving some mirrors and frames. These only cost $20 for a dozen and were perfect protection. Nothing broke during the move! The moving covers were dusty when we open them, so your best to put the covers on the pictures in the truck.
I cleaned out the van using a Multi-Purpose Mega Cleaning Brush that I got years ago at the California State Fair. It worked really well and got the job done quickly. I noticed that the rear cabin floor mat looks like that it comes out for really quick cleaning. I did a simple sweep job and made sure the drivers area was clean.
Returning the van it took longer than expected since someone else had to open the store on a Sunday and that person got lost on the way. Once the manager opened the store, it took a few minutes to figure out how to turn off the alarm that was going off. Once the alarm was off, he then took a few minutes to figure out how to sign into the Uhaul computer system.
At this location, when you return a UHaul vehicle your supposed to stay with the truck until someone helps you - similar process when you return a car. I didn't do that this time, since I arrived before the store opened and thought it would be faster to be the first person in line at the store, that wasn't the case. There was another worker that was handling returns that was working while the manager was trying to get the store ready. Your best bet is to stay in the vehicle and wait for someone to come up to you.
Overall it was a good van rental experience and we certainly would use them again.
|June 17, 2015|
Group Photo Opportunity
Have you ever been asked to take a photo of a bunch of people that you don't know? It can be hard to get everyone looking at the camera so the photo is perfect.
The next time that you get asked, do everyone a huge favor and take multiple photos. Don't be afraid to take 10 to 15 pictures of the group.
We are beyond the age of film photography and people had to worry about using up film. If the person that owns the camera doesn't like the photo they can just delete it. What they can't do is bring back the moment to take a better photo because someone blinked or wasn't looking at the camera for the one shot that you took.
I can't count how many times when I ask someone to take a picture that they basically do the bare minimum and take one or two photos.
If you don't know how to use the camera ask the owner. You should ask if the photo doesn't look right. Perhaps the camera is in the wrong setting for the environment your in. Don't be afraid to speak up as you are the best judgment on how to give them the best possible shot.
You could also have people do different things to give them a fun shot, such as ask everyone to be silly or to have everyone do a thumbs up.
Be creative with the next time you are asked and by all means take more than a couple of pictures.
|September 23, 2009|
Back from Vacation
Yesterday we came back from a ten day vacation in LA and Las Vegas. In the next few day's I'll blog some of the sites that we saw and recommend some great places to eat.
We both had a great time on our trip and we took a lot of photos (3,000 +) and videos. Some of the photos were put up on Facebook, and others will go in the photo gallery with some detail descriptions of the place.
|December 21, 2007|
Some Frozen Cocktails to enjoy if your visiting St Maarten. I really enjoyed BBC and Strawberry Shortcake. You can find these at most bars on St. Maarten, or goto the pool bar at Pelican Bay. Each drink cost about $6.
- Mango, Strawberry or Banana Coladas, Daiquires and Margaritas
- Melon Coladas
- Mud Slides
- Blue Simson Bay
- Banana Delight
- Strawberry Shortcake
- Lime Lambada
- Toasted Almond
- Mango Madness
- Pelican Passion
- Guavaberry Coladas
If you are staying at the Perlican Bay Resort you can buy all the ingredients at the Peli Deli and make these drinks in your own room cheaper than getting it at the bar. Be creative and get a good Frozen Cocktail book before you go so you can try different tropical drinks.