Travel For Newbies: Travel Planning Advice For First Time Travelers

There are a lot of firsts in all our lives – first car, first house, first kiss. So, there is no shame in having questions or anxiety the first time you are traveling internationally. It may not even be your first time, but maybe a lot of time has gone by and a lot of changes in travel procedures have occurred. You want to know what to expect so that you are prepared. After all, being prepared just may take a bit of the stress out of the travel process. Here are some tips and recommendations that should alleviate any uncertainties and help you be ready to experience an amazing trip filled only with good memories!1. Purchasing tickets. If you are not going to use a travel professional to assist you with your flights, please make sure your international tickets are purchased in your name as listed on your passport. If you don’t have a passport yet, please purchase the tickets in your full name as listed on your birth certificate. Honeymooning? The ticket as well as passport will be in the maiden (current) name of the bride-to-be. Don’t worry, if you request a name change within one year of issuance, the new bride can get her passport name changed after she gets home from the honeymoon. Guys, remember to add any “Jr., II” if applicable.2. Passport book vs. Passport Card! If you have been to the Travel.State.gov site and investigated passports and still aren’t sure which one you should get, you’re not alone. Here is a simple answer: if you are traveling via an airplane and landing in another country, a passport book is required. If you are taking a cruise that ports out of a U.S. city, a passport card or Enhanced license (only offered in Michigan, New York, Vermont & Washington) will suffice, but a passport book is recommended. Why? Well, if you happen to get ill or have a family emergency that requires you to “abandon ship” and fly home from St. Lucia, a passport book will be required to enter the U.S.A. via air.3. Security and carry-on packing rules. There is a lot of good information on what is allowed in your carry-on from the TSA. All liquids should be 3.4 oz or less and in a quart sized Ziploc bag. In regards to security, once you check in with your airline, you will go through a line that requires a passport check to ensure it is real. Once you go through that, you will be in line to go through the screening process. Take off your shoes, your belt, your coat or light sweater, empty your pockets, put all items in a bin (or two), place your carry-on suitcase (if you have one) on the belt and wait for them to signal you through. Sometimes you will randomly be chosen to do a full body screen where you put your hands up over your head with your feet separated and they do a scan. This is random…don’t worry!4. Packing. I recommend keeping your valuables on you – cameras, jewelry, medications etc. If you take a medication that is a matter of life or death, please take more with you than you need and have a new prescription written up as a back-up. You can never be too safe. Don’t take jewelry that you can’t live without! Make sure you find out what the dress code requirements are for restaurants of your resort (if applicable). For example, some will require dress pants and close-toed shoes for men. Pack two days of essentials in your carry-on luggage if you have a connecting flight.5. Customs & Immigration. On your flight to your final destination, you will be given a form to fill out. Generally, the flight attendants will make an announcement and give some pointers or tips on how to fill them out (depending on where you are going). The basic information you will need is your name, passport number, flight numbers, dates of travel, reason for travel and where you are staying. It will request the address of where you are staying…it is okay to just put the name of your hotel as you most likely won’t have the address.6. At the airport in your vacation destination! Almost there…just a few more steps and you’ll officially be on your vacation! Once you arrive in the country you are visiting, you will be required to go through the immigration line. Here you will show your passports and the form you filled out on the airplane. Once your passport is stamped (woo-hoo!), you will head to the luggage area, get your luggage and then head to Customs. This is generally really simple in most airports and may require a screening of the luggage or random search and then you’re off!7. Heading back home! Can’t resist the duty free liquor at the airport? Let’s face it, a good bottle of rum is like a household staple. So, you can’t help buying Appleton Rum at $12 a bottle and you know several friends and family who would appreciate it as well. As long as you are 21 or older, you can purchase 1 liter of duty free liquor. So, once you purchase this at your vacation destination airport, you will carry it on your flight. If you have a non-stop flight, then you are good to go. If you have a connecting flight, then after you are admitted back in through the U.S. Immigration screening, you will proceed to get your luggage. Before going through Customs with your luggage, you will need to securely place your newly purchased liquor in your checked bag. This is because once you clear Customs, you will then go through another security screening where you have to comply to the TSA requirements for carry-ons. Remember: liquids must be 3.4 oz or less and in one quart sized Ziploc bag.8. Customs & Immigration coming back to the U.S.A. If you read #7 then you are semi-prepared for this. On your flight back to the United States, you will fill out the Customs and Immigration form. Upon arrival in the U.S. you will first go through Immigration for admittance back into the good ole USA. Following that, you will get your luggage from baggage claim and proceed to the Customs line. This is generally quite simple as well. P.S. The form is very easy and much like the form described in point #5. Please do not feel that you have to write down ever souvenir you purchased as a separate item. So your list might have something like coffee, souvenirs, liquor or food listed. After Customs, you will go through another screening like in #3…shoes off, pockets emptied etc. As a side note, for those of you purchasing your own flights, make sure you have enough time to go through Customs & Immigration plus make your connecting flight! A good rule of thumb is 1.5 hours or more. Once you clear Customs, follow the signs and drop your luggage back off to be re-checked on your next flight out. This area for luggage is clearly marked and generally has a customer service area for your airline near it.· A few miscellaneous tips:o Leave your hotel information and travel itinerary with a family member.o Give your travel professional the name and phone number of an emergency contact.o Call your bank before you leave the country.o Purchase an international calling card.o Lock all valuable items in your in-room safe.o Check-in online for your flight 24 hours prior to departure.o Do not use your cell phones while in any Immigration line.· Resources you may want to check out:Transportation Security Administration (TSA): www.tsa.govPassport info: http://travel.state.gov/passport//

How to Become a Group Leader and Travel Free

If travel is your passion, and you can’t visualize yourself sitting at a desk all day, answering question about travel destinations which you would rather be visiting, becoming a Group Leader, may be your best solution.The cruise line industry caters to the group sales methodology to fill up cruise cabins. Most of the major cruise companies will provide a free cruise for a Group Leader who sells 8 cabins or 15 full paying passengers. Some cruise companies require the group leader to pay for taxes, fees and upgrades. Smart group leaders, usually will book themselves, into an Interior cruise cabin. That way no one in the group has a less expensive cabin.The Group Leader can sell his/her cruise or, cruise for free. This option is what makes the group leader’s opportunity so popular.Experienced Tour Conductors, usually generate multiple methods to market their cruises or group travel events. The most common way is to locate established groups, who want to save money by traveling together. Other successful groups include special interest travel.Because the majority of Group Leaders are not, travel agents, they may have regular jobs, and belong to social organizations and church groups which puts them in touch with hundreds of potential travelers.There are a number of ways to get started as a Travel, Group Leader. If you are a junkie traveler, you can use your own experiences to build your confidence and your sales.If you have a limited travel background, yet travel is a passion, you can take a home study course, or enroll in a couple of classes at your local junior college. There are also courses online, which are extremely affordable. Travel is a billion dollar industry and there are many options for learning different phases of the travel industry.My own path through this maze was to enroll in a UC Berkeley Extension (Berkeley, Ca) course, on Group Travel. My instructor was one of the most successful group travel professionals in the country, at that time. My next step was to volunteer as a group leader for a social club who was attending an annual ski summit in Vale.It is not necessary to spend lots of money on schooling be become an effective Group Leader. However, it is mandatory that you learn everything you can about your destination and the travel involved.Once you have secured a basic knowledge of the type of group travel you want to offer, you can then seek out a host agency. A Host Agency is a licensed, bonded travel agency which allows travel agents or outside travel agents to book travel using their company name. There is a split in the commission, as the host agency is the legal business which allows you to book travel for your clients. Most host agencies charge a fee, and an annual fee, but not all. Fees for joining a Hosting Agency can range from zero dollars, up to $500.Another option is to contact your local travel agency and let them know you want to work as an outside agent. Be prepared to explain what types of travel you want to offer and to what type of groups you want to specialize in. The agency owner, or manager, will provide you with the commission structure, if any, policies and procedures. Some travel agencies only offer free travel to group leaders, while others offer, free travel, and commissions.When first starting out, it is almost always better to join a group in process, or, create a fun, 2 day trip, to get experience. My own experience included learning the procedure for a particular cruise ship. For about 5 years, every time a Princess Cruise ship docked in San Francisco, I thought I should further my travel education and be aboard ship when it cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge and out to sea. My efforts landed me in the Captain’s Circle and qualified me as a Platinum Cruise Member.It is easy to find clients. Below is a list of ways to market your travel events.1. Informing your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, church members, club members, organizations, friends of friends, twitter pals, and your personal email buddies, is a great way to find new clients.2. The second best way is to invite friends, neighbors over for a travel party or a cruise party. Ask the cruise line or the resort, for a video tape and free promotional material to share with the guest. Provide guest with snacks and (cheap) wine. Keep the wine coming! No need to be aggressive. Travel sells itself, especially, if the destination and price is of interest. You can provide your clients with a bottle of fine wine aboard ship.Remember to ask for a deposit. Stay focused, your job is to provide information and collect checks. Ask friends to sponsor a travel party. The more parties you have, the more people you sign up. It’s that simple!3. Make announcements at your church and your organization. Include the information in the church bulletin or your organization’s newsletter, as many times as possible.4. Have flyers made up, but not before you have business cards printed, with your name, contact numbers, email address, name of travel event, dates and starting cost.5. Distribute flyers, at public places or public events.6. Use classified ads, online and offline to promote your travel event.7. Pass out your cards, everywhere you go. Doctor’s office, cleaners, grocery store, beauty shop, stores where you shop, your children’s school, your favorite neighborhood bar, and eating establishments.Paper work is extremely important and without it, nothing happens. Paper work must be completed correctly and forwarded to the host agency or travel agency in a timely manner. Failure to do so could result in an ugly situation, which could escalate into a legal battle.Checks should be made out to the host agency or the travel agency. Even if the travel agency says its OK for your clients to make the check out to you, don’t do it. Get you commissions from the host agency, unless you have a Seller of Travel license. One you turn in your deposits and payments, the host agency or travel agency, will provide you with your commissions, based on your agreement.Outside travel agents usually work under an Independent Contractor Agreement and are issued a 1099-MISC at the end of the year.

Holistic Approach to Pet Health Care – Preventing Disease in Dogs and Cats

Preventing Disease in Dogs and Cats with Holistic Health CareHolistic health care uses knowledge of what causes disease to make preventative lifestyle choices. For people, holistic health has a history that goes back 5,000 years to India and China, but for pets, the concept is modern.Often times, Western medicine hasn’t been on the same page as holistic health care. In Western medicine, scientists identified germs as outside causes of disease, and created synthesized chemicals to destroy them. People made unhealthy lifestyle choices and assumed health problems could be “fixed” if they got sick.While it is wonderful to be able to cure disease, wouldn’t it be a better approach to prevent disease in the first place?Promoting optimal health and disease prevention are the main goals of holistic health. As a pet owner, you can choose to use holistic health with your pet. The benefits include:
Lower overall health care costs (prevention is cheaper than curing)
Pets with greater energy and freedom from infirmity
Having a disease-free pet who lives a longer, healthier lifeHolistic Health Care Diets for Dog and Cat Holistic health care for dogs and cats is simpler than it is for people. Why? Because dogs and cats are have simpler needs and are easier to satisfy.For many people, the most challenging aspect of maintaining holistic health is consistent emotional balance. The human mind creates its own worries in the over-stimulated world we all live in.However, a dog or cat that has a bed to call their own and gets exercise and belly rubs on a regular basis is likely quite content. For owners, the simply purity of our pets happy state of mind is one of their great charms.The food we give our dogs and cats, however, is dubious from the holistic health perspective. Many dogs and cats go their entire lives eating nothing but processed food. This creates imbalances with essential nutrients, fatty acids and digestive enzymes.Providing a well-balanced diet for our pets can be challenging but is the most important factor in achieving optimal health. Many people barely keep up with cooking healthy for themselves, much less their pets. Although commercial pet foods are convenient to serve and most pets gobble them up, they are often quite poor in nutritional value and can even lead to many adverse health conditions such as allergies, skin problems and digestive disorders.Nutritional supplements can provide a consistent means for ensuring your pet receives the nutrients they need to lead healthy lives.Natural Support for Anxious Pets While dogs and cats don’t sit around worrying about bank accounts or politics, being part of the human world can be stressful. Unfortunately, we have also bred traits into dogs and cats that leave some animals susceptible to not only physical problems, but also anxiety disorders.Holistic health offers help for nervous pets. Herbal remedies are similar to giving a nervous dog or cat a soothing cup of tea. This calming effect allows your pet to learn how to deal with anxiety provoking events like being left alone or loud noises.Holistic Health and Everyday Choices Every day you make a variety of choices about how you live your life – what you choose to eat, whether you exercise and how much you sleep, how you handle stress, etc. Your pet cannot choose a holistic lifestyle. It is up to you as the owner to make everyday decisions that have a cumulative, long-term effect on your pet’s health.Exercise and attention are everyday essentials for holistic pet health. With a complete diet, your dog or cat will be happy, active, and require fewer trips to the vet.The average pet owner usually has little choice but to use processed foods. Adding nutritional supplements is an everyday choice that ensures your pet is getting essential nutrients in their diet. Over your pet’s lifetime, you will spend less on health care and have a healthier pet.