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A Photocopied Travel Letter To Home

As they drove from Traverse City, illinois to Tucson, Arizona, I wrote a series of letters, & photocopied them to send to relatives & friends. This was the first of the two.

Travel Letter #1

Saturday, 12/13/03 – nice morning. Welcome to our holiday form letter. we are in Arizona now. The sun is shining & it will be in the sixties today, which should melt the ice on the windows soon. Ana’s foot doesn’t seem to be broken, as they thought, so they took a long walk in the desert last night. they saw a coyote, probably the same two I chased the other day, & there were javelina tracks everywhere.

The library in Safford has books in french, so Ana is enjoying reading now that her eye-patch is off. The doctor promised that the “divet” left by his golf-club-like blade will heal soon. they learned that eyeballs have plenty of nerve endings, & they think the object in her eye may have been a fiber from a yucca plant.

Our uncontrollable coughs are under control now, & they are not among the ten people in Arizona that died from the flu this week. Oh, & the antibiotics from the Safford clinic seem to have helped with Ana’s abcessed tooth.

I should start at the beginning. The first day, after dealing with the usual rudeness of the INS employees in Detroit, they made it to Kansas. they hit a traffic cone there at high speed, & heard a horrible sound coming from under the van. The cone, I discovered, had been dragging along underneath. Nothing was broken, but later the bright light switch stopped working.

In Farmington, New Mexico, they spent a few days resting & coughing. they were about an hour away from buying a house when they discovered it needed new wiring, had a garden hose attached to the natural gas line, & other problems they missed on our first visit. The new bloke begged me to buy it, called our motel room to tell me they needed money for open-heart surgery in two days, & called again to lower the price, but they moved on. By the way, the house was to be a winter project, not a new home.

Fortunately, they drove during daylight after that. In the Colorado mountains they went from 16 to 20 miles-per-gallon, confusing the sensors & causing the “check engine” light to turn on. they successfully ignored it until it changed it is mind.

Steve & Ana

Monument Valley was beautiful, the Christmas parade in Holbrook was cute, & despite various problems & illnesses, we are having a great time. You see, I didn’t need to make you all jealous, so I left out a lot – the constant sun, the beautiful sculptures in Grand Junction, & the nine times we’ve been in hot springs in Colorado, New Mexico, & Arizona. Next week we are going to Mexico for lunch. Hope all is well in arizona. Adios,

Quick History of Sydney for Prospective Travelers

Sydney is certainly full of rich history that any traveler would like to discover for themselves. Established in 1788 when Briton Arthur Phillip claimed Australia for England, Sydney has grown to be one of the more famous cities in the world, boasting over four million people for the population.

Situated along the Sydney Harbor, Sydney is known as the ‘Harbor City’ in which travelers and residents can enjoy such sights as the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge. A previous host of the Summer Olympics, Sydney is certainly creating a destination for the travelers of today and the future.

The indigenous Australians (http://www.dreamtime.net.au) once roamed the lands of Sydney and the surrounding areas for approximately thirty thousand years. And while their numbers dwindled before the arrival of Arthur Phillips, they still inhabited the area and made their homes in the region.

In the past, there were three different languages spoken in Sydney: Darug, Dharawal, and Guringai. Many of these languages also have separate dialects for various tribes and clans. These languages are all but gone now, but rock carvings remain to tell the stories of these ancient peoples.

In 1770, James Cook was the first to see Australia and note its existence. This led to the British convict settlement as founded by Arthur Phillip. Founded in Sydney Cove, this settlement was named after the British home secretary. A few years later in 1789, a virulent disease spread over the land, killing the indigenous populations—many believe that this was the result of smallpox.

By 1820, there were few aborigines left and the period of civilization began: the education and Christianization of the natives. With the leadership of Governor Macquarie, the city of Sydney began to take a more organized form. Roads and wharves were constructed and local development was rapid. People began arriving from Britain and Ireland in order to find a new life for themselves.

This influx of people led to some of the first villages and later towns in Sydney. As the era of gold rushes came and went, the development of suburbs and improved transportation also blossomed. The construction of railways and tramways in the nineteenth century aided this rapid development. By the twentieth century, Sydney already had a population of over a million people. While the Great Depression hit Sydney hard, the Harbor Bridge (http://www.sydney.visitorsbureau.com.au/page2-03g.html) was still completed during that time.

With the second highest immigrant population of any larger world city, Sydney is an interesting mix of culture and expression. In fact, forty-five percent of the population is said to be migrants of some relation. This makes for a different feeling in the city—one of acceptance and sharing, rather than segregation.

This allows Sydney to be an ideal vacation destination for those travelers that want a sense of history and development as well as great weather and nearby activities. Sydney is more than a vacation hotspot; it’s where time has shown that anything can be achieved with patience and hard work.

A Review Of Airline Tickets & Travel

Airline travel is not as pleasant as it used to be!

Over the last few years as airline profits have been squeezed by rising fuel costs, frequent flier programs, security etc. airline travel, if you want to do it at a reasonable price, could be likened to the cattle-truck effect. Planes have got smaller, the number of seats has been increased and in-flight service, especially meals, has become almost non-existent. Now, I do not blame any of the staff, this has become of today’s realities.

So! What can you do?

I have written a series of articles with tips, tricks and information which, I hope, will help to make your flying experiences a little less stressful and more enjoyable.

To be able to use some of these tips you will have to plan and be willing to be flexible. You will have to shape your flight around airline programs, it’s not going to happen the other way round. I have been able to save a lot of money by being able to fit within a certain flight schedule which would not have been one I would have normally taken. In the long run it really didn’t make any difference to the experience of the trip.

To further make it easier on yourself make sure that you are the airport in plenty of time. On most occasions you will find that security checks will be much quicker and easier. Also, book your flight online as it’s very simple these days. You will be able to, if you do it far enough ahead, choose your own seat. I love this service, as I happen to have a large frame,I like to have an aisle seat which will give me more shoulder room. This also helps you get through the luggage check-in a lot faster as you can also print out your boarding pass as well.

I hope you will be able to use some of the information and put it to some good use. Happy Flying.

A short guide to travel insurance

Travel Insurance – A Need to Know guide?

Travel insurance protects holiday expenses against adverse events such as cancellation and interruption and also reimburses medical expenses, the loss or damage of property and transit delays.

Many millions of travellers and holiday makers purchase some form of insurance every year, but few people know really what it is and how it can be defined. If you know what is included, and what is not you will be able to make the most of your protection, and get reimbursed fairly.

There are four main categories of travel insurance:

1. Health and Medical reasons

Emergency evacuation: This garuantees emergency transportation to either a local hospital in the event that the traveller is unable to get there by themselves or back to a hospital near the traveller’s home town. If family members are covered on the same policy they can travel back home also.

Medical reasons: This reimburses emergency medical and dental costs. Nearly all holiday insurance plans work by reimbursing the traveller after they have paid locally for treatment. Claims are usually paid within 7 – 10 working days. Pre-existing medical conditions are covered by most policies if the policy is purchased within (at the most) 21 days from the date the traveller made the first payment or deposit.

2. Delays and cancellation or curtailment

Cancellation: Re-imbursement comes into effect if travellers have booked and paid for a holiday, but are unable to embark because of personal illness or injury, death (of the individual or of a family member), adverse weather conditions, transport strikes, terrorism, bankruptcy, sudden unemployment, jury duty or by sustaining serious damage to their home causing it to be uninhabitable due to fire or flooding.

Delay: This reimburses travellers for hotel, food or clothing expenses in the event of a flight delay. Some plans also cover costs associated with catching up with a cruise should another delay cause the traveller to miss embarkation.
Interruption: Insurance companies pay money to policy holders abroad if they have to cut short their trip due to illness, death (of the traveller or a family member), terrorism, weather, airline strikes, bankruptcy, sudden unemployment, and other adverse conditions which mean that, due to events outside the control of the holiday-maker, a trip has to be curtailed.

3. Death:

Accidental death – covers death or dismemberment at any time of your trip. Usually garuantees the lowest amount of coverage due to a higher risk
Air Flight accident – this covers death or dismemberment during an air flight only. Usually garuantees the highest amount of coverage due to fairly low likelihood of this occurring.

Common carrier – Covers death or dismemberment while travelling on public transport such as a plane, ferry, train bus or taxi.

4. Loss or damage of property:

Baggage loss – reimburses travellers for lost, stolen or damaged personal items. This coverage is usually restricted to the duration of the trip and not confined to baggage damaged or lost by the airline. There are two policy limits, total claim and per item maximum. Some policies also place limits on the type of items that can be claimed for – such as precious jewellery, laptops and sporting goods

Hire Car damage – This reimburses travellers for damage or loss to a rental vehicle. It is designed to allow the traveller to decline collision damage waiver (CDW) coverage offered by the car rental companies. Liability coverage should still be purchased through the car rental company. Rental Car Damage coverage is also often included with the credit card used to pay for the car rental which is often matches the coverage provided in the policy.

Assistance services – garuantees a 24-hour collect telephone advice and assistance service to travellers. This service can be used anytime a traveller needs advice. Make sure you keep a copy of this number in several places in your luggage or on your person when you move around.

A Quick Travel Getaway To A Fantasyland (Literally)

Sometimes everyone needs a little vacation. Atlantic City provides just that. You’ll find a wide variety of casino’s, nightlife, the boardwalk, and much more. Whether you’re just spending the day or staying the weekend you’ll never have a dull moment.

The Hilton Casino Resort is one place not to be missed. Not only do they have luxurious rooms but they just added 250 new slot machines. They also offer a variety of fine and casual dining. The Oak Steakhouse is a must. Are you interested in a show? The Hilton Theater can hold up to 1,200 sets. It has showcased many top name performs. No matter where you sit it’s the best seat in the house.

Didn’t leave the kids at home and can’t get a nanny last minute? Bring them along and take them to the Steel Pier. It holds twenty four rides, as well as games, and a food court. The Boardwalk has a wide variety of candy stores and an ice cream shop. When you think of Casinos, the last thing a person has on their mind is Art. The city Museum should be visited by everyone who attends the city…you can’t leave this city without spending a couple of ours in the Museum. It is one of the most culturally diverse. It not only displays modern art but displays ‘futuristic art’.

For adults there is always the Belrose Galleries. Family-owned since 1955 it specialize in jewelry, artwork, and statues. See rare diamonds and antiques.

Looking for a younger and hip crowd? The place to be is the Tropicana. It has Vegas-style gaming. They have their own poker room. One of the largest in Atlantic City it offers food side service while you play 24 hours a day. It also offers slot gaming, table games, and Asian games. It also has its own comedy club. The Comedy Stop is said to be the funniest in town. It is where the club original started. Since then it has become so popular it has expended to Vegas and Laughlin.
So if you’re in need of some fun look no further then New Jersey.

It should be mandatory that everyone who needs relaxation should visit the Bluemercury Spa. It has been highly advertised in some of the top 10 magazines across the nation. Anyone who spends a day or two in this spa will come out feeling years younger. If the spa isn’t your thing maybe working up a sweat is! Go to they’re health club. With treadmills and weight you never have to worry about all the delicious food you’ll be eating. When it’s too hot…it’s time to cool off. Here you will find both an indoor and an outdoor pool. You can swim in any kind of weather. You can also relax in their Jacuzzi or sauna.

Review Of German Mannerisms For Foreign Travelers

Visitors from other parts of the world that visit Germany for vacation or business purposes are typically pleased to note that Germans are cordial, polite, and welcoming. However, as with any culture, Germans have mannerisms that are unique to them. Since social etiquette is considered important in every society and Germans are no different, visitors that take a small amount of time to familiarize themselves with what Germans consider good manners will find that locals will often appreciate and even more warmly accept them into their country.

Shaking Hands

Germans typically wait until introduced by a host to shake hands. Typically, older parties in a group or more senior persons reserve the right to extend their hand for a handshake first. Attendees of small parties will always take the time to shake hands with one another when greeting, as opposed to larger functions where hand shakes are very rarely performed. The act of shaking hands in passing is considered rude. If one takes the time to shake hands, it is considered a precursor to at least a brief chat. Additionally, it is considered to rude to shake hands while the other hand is in your pocket.

In formal settings, it is still considered custom to kiss a lady’s hand when introduced, though the lips should never actually touch the hand. When being introduced to adults, little German girls will occasionally courtesy in greeting. Furthermore, unlike in the United States, children will rarely thank someone for a compliment.

Addressing Others in Germany

The female term “Fraulein” is only used to address particularly young, unmarried girls. The shorter “Frau” is used to address older, unmarried young ladies and women since it is considered a more mature greeting. Also unlike in the United States, a married woman is not addressed by her husband’s first name (e.g. Mrs. John Smith), but by her own first name (e.g. Frau Jane Smith).

Common Business Etiquette in Germany

“Du” and “Sie”

The method of addressing others by saying “you” is divided into the formal and informal manners of “Du” and “Sie.” “Du” is considered informal and should be reserved only for close acquaintances, friends and family. To avoid seeming disrespectful when meeting new persons, especially in a formal or business environment, it is generally accepted that “Sie” is the proper form to use.

Attire

American standards of business dress have relaxed in certain niche industries in recent years, but that doesn’t mean that the same is true of Germans. It is typically customary for business attire to be worn in nearly every business setting. Jeans, T-shirts, and similar clothing will typically be frowned upon. When in doubt, always opt to possibly slightly overdress than to take the risk of under-dressing.

Meetings and Functions

Unlike many other cultures, Germans will typically send invitations that outline not only when a meeting or function will begin but also when it will end. It would be considered good manners to use this time as a queue to bid a proper farewell. Though no one will expect every one to jump up and run out the door at the exact time, it can be considered rude to ignore the outlines set up by the hosts.

A Phoenix Rises From The Ashes: Atlanta Travel Information

To gain a full understanding of America’s struggle through infancy and keeping the threads of the nation together during the Civil War, Atlanta is a mandatory travel destination. The entire city was at one point or another an actual battleground for many pivotal moments during the Civil War. The Union Invasion into Atlanta in 1864 is even the center story of the famous 1939 film, Gone with the Wind. Find your airfare to Atlanta today and immerse yourself in the city’s tumultuous centuries and even find some good ol’ southern hospitality.

Most major assets in Atlanta were destroyed during the Union siege of the city and when Union General Sherman finally gained control, he ordered the city to be burned to the ground on November 11, 1864, save some churches and hospitals. Thus Atlanta began again, leading the southeast in industry at the end of the 19th century and racial equality during the Civil Rights movement.

A Large Obsession in Atlanta

A new beginning in Atlanta meant open space for large public works and a sense of hometown pride that has been glorified by many art displays and projects. Book your airfare to Atlanta and begin your journey through history at the Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum, which is home to the world’s largest painting, “The Battle of Atlanta.” The painting is in diorama form with a revolving audience viewing platform.

If you leave the museum hungry, head on over to The Varsity, the first location of the chain and the world’s largest drive-in restaurant. Then, make your way to the Georgia Aquarium, which is – you guessed it – the world’s largest aquarium. Eight million gallons of water and 100,000 living specimens hold this elaborate marine wonderland heads above the rest. If you’re ready to see Atlanta’s outlying surroundings, take a drive to Stone Mountain to see the largest piece of exposed granite slab in the world carved into the busts of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. For a taste of southern musical culture, make sure you travel to Atlanta during the Atlanta Jazz Festival, which happens to be the largest free jazz festival in the United States.

Capture Contemporary Atlanta

Atlanta is littered with modern cultural sights and post-modern design. Take a visit to the unique World of Coca Cola museum where the soda company’s incredibly successful marketing strategy is revealed during a journey through the 20th century. You can see the legend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s civil rights organizing and campaigning at the King Center, where his tomb rests in the center of a reflecting pool. For an evening out, visit the Woodruff Arts Center and choose among symphony, ballet, theater or its expansive are collection.

Atlanta is one of the most easily accessible destinations in the United States, hosting the headquarters or major hubs of most major airlines at its airport. America’s heritage and legends await; what are you waiting for?

A Review On Travel Insurance – Do You Need It Or Not?

Personally I think it would be very foolish not to have some sort of travel insurance, especially if you are flying abroad. People sometimes make the mistake in thinking that their local insurance policies will cover any losses and have a big shock when they come to make a claim. Besides, if you have the right policy, it takes all the worry out of your trip.

You should always be offered insurance, by your travel agent, when you arrange your trip. If not, ask, because it will be on your own head if anything goes wrong.

A Cheap Policy or Not?

When a travel insurance policy is issued there are a number of allocations if the premium, agents commissions, administrative costs, some goes towards profit and what’s left over goes towards the actual insurance coverage. So, you can see, if it’s a cheap travel insurance policy, something is going to miss out and you can bet it will be the level of coverage.

If you buy a regular travel insurance policy, that is, you fill out a form and send it to the insuarance company with your remittance there are a lot of costs involves. A better way would to get a wholesale policy (which travel agents do sell) where the administration costs are dramactically reduced, meaning more money is spent on the actual coverage.

Some tour operators and agents provide an “in-house” travel insurance policy and, often, all it covers is their own cancellation fees and little else. It may be cheaper but will not give you much travel insurance coverage.

Another way to reduce costs, which depends on the level of travel you are going to do, is to purhase an annual travel insurance policy. This is buying in bulk and is likely to be much less expensive than the one-off trip policy.

Primary or Secondry Travel Insurance Cover?

These 2 types of cover determine the way the payouts are made. The primary travel insurance cover means that the company will “Pay First”, that is the payment will be paid to the claim maker. The secondary travel insurance cover means they will pay only after you’ve have claimed as much as you can from other insurance cover that you may have. So, you can see that the primary cover is a lot better than the secondry cover.

What Type Of Coverage Will You Need?

It’s fair to say the 2 biggest risks that are covered by most travel insurance policies are the costs of changing your travel plans and and any medical care and emergency assistance that is required while you are away.

Most travel insurance policies will include a few hundred dollars for baggage/loss/damage/delay, loss of travel documents and other small sum for flight delay or interuption. Some will also cover for someone to fly out to you if you are to be hospitalised for more tha 2 or 3 days.

Another major cost, and I must admit I never thought of this one before, can be supplier bankruptcy. Many time the supplier of your travel insurance policy are unable to have the policy to cover thier own bankruptcy. This would be another good reason to have an independant policy from the company arranging your travel.

Most travel insurance policies include a large ammount of air death insurance, but surprisingly, it’s of very low value item about 25 cents for a $100,000 cover. I suppose this indicates how safe air travel is.

Some travel isurance policies will also cover car rental risks and this may be an important thing to consider as car rental insurance policies are extremely expensive.

Trip Cancellation/Change Coverage

To understand the possible costs that you may need if you have to change your itinery or cancel the trip, if you have pruchased an unrestricted first class ticket there may be not any costs associated with changing the ticket as this is usually covered in the purchase price.

It may seem strange but the the cheapest ticket has the most risk attached to it as far as cancellation/change is concerned. It can cost a heap more to change the cheap fare to return home on a different flight than the original purchase price of the ticket.

You will have to be aware that when some travel insurance policies state that they will cover ‘your total trip cost’ you may think that the full charges are covered, but this may not be so. Let’s say that your discounted fare cost $590 and you have a package that actually costs $895 and you have to change you may find the return trip will cost more than the whole package. Maybe you will have to pay another $1120 to get home on a no advanced one way return ticket.

I had this experience a few years ago when I had to rush home for my Father’s funeral. Because of time restrictions I had to buy a non-discounted ticket. After not feeling well all day, when I finally arrived at the airport I succumbed to a middle ear infection. So with all the vomitting and the different air pressures that come with flying there was no I could get on a aircraft. But, as I had purchased a full fare, there was problems in changing my flight to the next morning. Goes to show that you can’t always control your circumstances.

The more restictive travel insurance policies may exclude circumstances that are deemmed ‘under your own control’, and perhaps this may include work related issues. Let’s say you are about to leave work and you are told there is an issue that has to be solved and that you leave has to be deffered. There’s a very good chance that this type of travel insurance would no pay out because of this reason.

Medical Care and Emergency Assistance

Some people mistakenly think that their home medical insuarnce policy will cover all costs wherever they are in the world. They may find that that it doesn’t cover at all, or the deductions will be much higher or perhaps their medical costs are covered but not any related transport costs.

You may be on a cruise and you need some medical attention by the ship’s doctor. There is a good chance that their services are charged for as with any other doctor. You may have to be flown home on a stretcher and this will involve blocking out nine seats, can you imagine how much that would cost. You should make sure that you have travel insurance of at least $10,000 or more to cover these emergencies. Let’s imagine you are in a remote area and you break a leg and you need to be lifted out by a helicopter, this is what good travel insurance is all about.

To Summarise

Imagine your worst case travel mishap scenario and decide whether you need travel insurance. This may be the cancellation of the whole trip coupled with the associated cancellation costs or some emergency medical mishap that will require medivac and local care. I know these are horrible thoughts but if you can’t afford to self-insure the expenditure of around $100 on travel insurance will give you the piece of mind and one less thing to worry about.