Tea Time in Costa Mesa, California

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If you look you can find some little treasures in your own backyard. Royal Tea and Treatery in Costa Mesa, California is one of those little treasures in more ways than one.

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Passport Changes and Renewals

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Is your passport coming up for renewal next year?  If so, I hope you find the following information helpful.  Even if it isn’t up for renewal for a few years, please read on you may still find part of it helpful.

Do you remember the rush to get a passport back in 2007?  If so, those passports are all going to be renewing next year.  The National Passport office has predicted that 20 million people will be renewing their passports next year.  Their estimations have been spot on the last few years, so what does that mean for you?  You will experience a delay in getting your new passport processed.  If you are planning a trip abroad next year, think about renewing it now.  The time between Thanksgiving and a week before Christmas is a bit slower and right now they are estimating 9 to 10 days to process renewals.

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Travel Insurance, Yes or No?

 

 

 

 

When you travel, do you buy travel insurance?

I guess you can say I am overly cautious, but in checking with my health insurance company, we would have some gaps in coverage if something should happen overseas.  So I do buy it.  But should you?

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Bag Storage at the Port in Vancouver, BC

 

 

 

 

 

I love Vancouver, so any time I can spend even a day in the city, I will.  Vancouver is an active cruise port, especially in the summer months when ships are in and out sailing to Alaska.

We recently sailed into Vancouver and I had booked later flights so we could hit the town for a few hours.  In the past we have checked our bags at the port, picked them up later and head off to the airport.  The process is really easy.  This trip was so much easier and I want to share with you.

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Travel and Adventure Show

Travel Show

I had the opportunity to check out the Travel and Adventure show in Long Beach this past weekend.  Packed with travel vendors and tourism boards, the event was fantastic.

Several stages were set up around the room with speakers giving travel tips, destination information and the tastes of travel.  Rick Steves, Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel and Pauline Frommer from Frommer’s Travel Guides to name a few; they were on stage talking everything travel.

The Taste of Travel stage was pretty popular.  Showcasing Chef’s from around the world and special destinations; Chef’s prepared their signature dishes.

I love everything travel and it is the reason I keep my fingers in the business.  There is nothing better than having a client return from a trip and hearing how much they loved their experience.

Travel experts were also on hand sharing changes in travel and new tips and tricks.  Here are a few that I picked up regarding your air tickets.  We all dread dealing with the airlines and trying to book a ticket can be difficult and very frustrating.  I hope you find these helpful.

Airline Tips:

1.  The best day now to purchase airline tickets is Sunday.  Tuesday’s use to be the best, but that has changed.  Traveler’s can expect somewhere in the ballpark of a 19% savings when buying on a Sunday.

2.  When booking flights for domestic travel, book your air tickets 57 days prior to travel for the lowest fares.

3.  When booking international travel air tickets, 171 days prior to travel should give you the lowest fares.

Most of you will see changes to your frequent flyer accounts.  The best way to earn miles is going to be changing and will be done through credit card purchases.  However, the cards that will offer the best travel points and opportunities for travel are cards Not affiliated with a specific airline.

Every year travel insiders come out with the top destinations for the years travel.  Again, they are all talking about the best destinations for 2015.  Over the next few weeks, I will share a few of these destinations with you.

The Travel and Adventure show still has a couple of dates left and both are on the East Coast.  If you are in these areas, give it a go.  You may be inspired to think outside the box and learn of a new destination for 2015 or your bucket list.

Washington D.C ~ March 7th and 8th
Philadelphia ~ March 21st and 22nd

Happy Travels,

Terri

Gringo Trails Documentary ~ What Kind of Traveler are You?

Gringo Trails DocumentaryI recently had the chance to see Gringo Trails, a feature length documentary directed and produced by Pegi Vail.  The film is so well done and such an eye-opening experience for any traveler.

The documentary starts with the story of Yossi Ghinsberg who backpacked with 4 friends into the Bolivian jungle, when a torrential rain overtakes them, washing them away and separating them.  Yossi is left alone in the jungle to survive. After several months he is rescued.  This is where the story begins. Continue reading

Moorea Adventure

Tahiti037Are you the type of traveler who prefers to take a tour with a guide, or simply lay on the beach and by the pool never leaving the resort or explore on your own?

I like them all, but really like exploring on my own.  You just never know what little hidden treasures you may discover that could have been easily missed.  While driving from the ferry terminal to the resort, we talked to our driver to get his favorite places and recommendations on what we should do and see.  We wanted to experience the island as much like a local as we could.

Couldn’t resist laying by the pool and kayaking, but driving Moorea sounded like an adventure not to be missed, is was so much fun.

Picked up a car at the hotel for 4 hours and off we go.  Driving the island was extremely easy.  Just watch your speed zones and the occasional chicken strutting across the small two lane highway and then you will be fine.  I recommend you take the road to the Belevedere lookout, the road twists and turns like a snake and eventually you will end up at the lookout.  The views are breathtaking and never ending.  You can see both bays and Tahiti from the lookout. 

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Heading back down the mountain, the next stop is the juice factory.  They will pour samples of the liqueurs and fresh tropical fruit juices made at the factory.  There are some little shops, pareo shops, roadside eateries to enjoy and explore.  Stop at one of the many beaches to put your feet in the water, beautiful churches to photograph or pick up some local fruits at a roadside stand.

Have fun and enjoy the moment, it really is a fun adventure and the people you meet along the way adds to the experience.

Making Travel Safe

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When you leave home for vacation do you stop and think about your safety before you go?

I want to finish out the week with travel security and ways to keep yourself from being a victim of identity theft or plain old fashioned theft.

Credit Cards ~ Unpack before you pack.

Take time to go through your wallet and take out any credit cards, debit cards, social security cards or a checkbook that you don’t need when you travel.  They are tempting to thieves.

My recommendation when traveling is that you travel with only 2 credit cards and are cards that are designated for traveling only and not your main credit cards.  If they are stolen or compromised they are not attached to your everyday life.  If the only charges on these cards are related to your trip it is much easier to track any charges not made by you.  If possible one of these cards should be an American Express card.  If your American Express card is stolen you can go into any Amex office and have it immediately replaced and the stolen card closed.  Leave 1 card in the hotel or cruise ship cabin safe and keep only one on you.  That way if you are a victim of a pickpocket, you still have one card and you can easily close the card that was stolen.  Leave copies of your credit cards at home or with a trusted family member so you can get in touch with them to get the information on who to call with the account number if you need to report it stolen.

Debit Cards

Leave the debit card to your main accounts home.  Consider opening a separate checking and savings account with a debit card attached to these accounts only for travel.  Before you leave home, put enough money in each of these accounts to get you through your trip. If the debit card is stolen, they won’t have access to your main accounts and the financial loss will be minimal.  In countries abroad, many ATM machines will only accept 4 digit pin codes, so make sure your pin code meets that requirement. 

ATM Safety

When traveling use bank ATM machines only.  Sometimes I know it can be tempting to stop at the ATM kiosk in the hotel lobby or a convenience store, but don’t.  Thieves can and do install card readers in ATM machines at these unattended machines.  They will capture your card number and pin code.

Internet

When traveling be very cautious about accessing your personal bank accounts, credit card accounts and even your Facebook, Twitter and any other social media sites on an unsecured wi-fi connection.  Your personal information and passwords can be easily compromised. 

Are you on Facebook with 700 friends?  If so, it may not be a good idea to post all about your trip, where you are and how long you are going to be gone.  You never know who may see it and pay a visit to your unattended home, it has been known to happen.  If you can, wait and post the beautiful vacation photos once you are home.

E-Mail

Would you consider setting up an e-mail address that you use only when you travel?  This is a great idea.  Use the account only when you travel, set your login and password for the account as something you don’t use on anything personal.  Don’t store sensitive information in this e-mail account and then you don’t have to worry about it being hacked.

Cell Phones

If you store bank information, pin codes and social media apps on your phone, you may want to consider deleting them and re-installing them once you are back home.  Or simply set a password so if the phone is stolen, no one can access the phone and it’s contents.

Passports

Put a copy in carry-on, keep the original with you while traveling.  Once you are in your destination, carry a copy with you, put the original in a safe and keep a separate copy hidden in your luggage just in case it is stolen.  Leave a copy at home and have your travel consultant keep your passport information in your file.  This will insure that someone will have the number, issue date and expiration date in case you need to visit the embassy for a replacement.

Did you know that you can register for the Smart Traveler Program through the U.S. State Dept. at https://travelregistration.state.gov? This allows the State Dept. to contact you in case of an emergency in your destination, or in case of a family emergency back home.

Medical Insurance

Whew, we made it to the last one.  Check your medical insurance company to see how your coverage will protect you while traveling out of the country.  Ask them if they provide emergency medical care, and emergency evacuation.  If not, seriously consider  purchasing Travel Insurance through your travel consultant.  The cost is very reasonable and most policies provide emergency medical care, emergency evacuation, lost luggage, travel interruption and more.  It is well worth the cost.  You just never know when you may miss a step and break an ankle, trip and fall and you need emergency care.

I was pretty long winded today and I’m sorry it drug on, but I want you to have the information you need to keep you safe while traveling.  As a travel consultant the last thing I want to hear from my clients is that they were robbed on vacation, or someone had their identity stolen or was injured. 

Have fun and travel smart and safe!

Preventing Identity Theft while Traveling

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Identity theft is unfortunately something we all have become very aware of in our daily lives.  For some reason though when we leave home to go on vacation, a lot of us throw security to the wind because we are on vacation what can happen?  Plenty can happen and it does.  Make sure you don’t find yourself a victim.

Today, I am want to chat with you about RFID ~ Radio-frequency identification.  With all of the new technology, microchips are now found in passports and in some credit cards and debit cards.  Handheld RFID reader’s can be easily purchased online and can read these microchips from 10 feet away.  What this means for you is that thieves have these small handheld devices and they can access personal information from you without you even knowing.

They can read the Name, Date of Birth, digital photo, issue date, expiration date off of a passport.  They can get the Account Name, Issue Date, Expiration Date and Account Number from a credit card.

Here is a link to a useful information page found on Travel Smith that explains the RFID technology and shows symbols to look for on your passport and credit card to know if you are at risk.

http://www.travelsmith.com/wcsstore/images/TravelSmith/pop_ups/RFID/pop-up_RFID.html

To keep yourself safe and insure the security of your personal information, you can purchase travel sleeves, wallets and travel purses that will protect your documents from RFID reader devices.

To find these items visit:

www.travelsmith.com or www.magellans.com.

These items are well worth the money and sure give peace of mind while traveling.

On Wednesday, I am going to give you tips on traveling with credit cards, debit cards, insuring internet safety and more.

Luggage, Packing and Travel Prep. ~ Part 2

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Are you the type of traveler that knows exactly what you are taking on vacation and it fits perfectly into your bag, or do you pack at the last minute?  Do you try to cram it all in because you want choices while you are on vacation?  I tend to want to take it all because you never know what you are going to want to wear.  But I am getting better.

If you are taking off this summer to spend time in a big city for vacation you will pack differently than you would for a camping vacation.  For a city vacation, think simple, chic with a couple of evening options depending on your plans.  Try packing clothes that can be dressed up or down but compliment each other.  Take slacks that you can throw on a jacket and it is perfect for evening.  Comfortable walking shoes are a must. If you buy them new, give yourself enough time to break them in before you go.  Blisters can ruin a trip.  Take comfortable shoes that will work for day and into the evening.  I have a pair of Merrell’s that are super comfortable for walking, yet will work with slacks for dinner.  Women, please re-pack your purse, do you really need everything that you haul with you everyday while on vacation?  Get a travel purse with a wide band that is difficult to cut and one that can be worn messenger style across your body.  It makes it more difficult to grab.

Men, wear a light blazer on the plane so you don’t have to cram it into the suitcase, but take one for evening wear.  Scarves are a great option for women.  They are lightweight and don’t take up much room.  Added to an outfit it can totally change the look.

If you don’t want to lose it, don’t pack it, leave it at home.

Try to fit in and look like a local and not a tourist.

Are you a beach lover and are headed to the beach or tropical destination?  Seems easy enough to pack for, throw in a few swimsuits, flip-flops and some shorts and t-shirts.

Just a suggestion ~ skip  the tacky, tattered and worn t-shirts and shorts with holes.  Aim for lightweight fabrics and classic looks.  Beach cover-ups come in really handy as you can throw them on to head to the beach, or walk through town.  Sundresses for women work really well too for casual days.  Need to dress it up a bit, throw in a nice piece of costume jewelry and you have transformed the sundress for evening.  Men, nice shorts and a collared golf style shirt work perfectly for evening time.

I love to throw in a few large ziploc bags, they weigh nothing, but boy do they come in handy.  You can use them to stash wet swimsuits in the luggage to come home if you haven’t had time to dry them or wash them.  They are also great to put cell phones, ipods and any other electronics in while in the beach bag.  It keeps them from getting wet and sandy.  I throw the sunscreen and bug spray in them too to keep them from leaking in the suitcase.

Sunscreen, don’t forget it.  No matter where you live, once you are on a beach, the sun’s intensity changes and sunburns happen fast and can spoil your vacation.

If I am going to a snorkel destination, I leave just a bit of room for my own snorkel and mask.  Yes, they can be rented at your destination, but I am just a little weird about putting things on my face and in my mouth when I don’t know how well they have been cleaned.

I hope that I have given you a tip you haven’t thought of, or reminded you of something you have already known but forgot.  If you have packing tips that work well for you, please feel free to share them in the comments box.  You will help other traveler’s and myself.  As a travel consultant I work very hard to stay up on the newest trends and information, but I can’t possibly know it all and love hearing your tips and learning from you too.

Happy Packing!!