Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Still Alive

So sorry for the delay of blog entries. As you are probably aware, Thanksgiving was last week, and the woes of life took over the office, and also my "blogging time." But for those of you who were worried, I am indeed still alive. Tracee and Lori are alive and kicking as well. :)

I hope Thanksgiving treated you all as well as it treated me. I was able to avoid any extra pound-age, and even helped make the delicious meal! Christmas is right around the corner though, so we aren't out of the woods yet! I wish a Happy Holiday season to everyone.

Last minute Christmas trips have been a constant this week. Europe, cruises, the Caribbean, you name it, we have been booking it! New Years will surely bring on some last minute travel arrangements too. If you are in need of a small reminder to plan your "resolution trip," here it is! Start 2013 off right, and travel the world.

These last two weeks have been very interesting for me. While Tracee and Lori were away, I manned the office by myself, with the help of our independent agents. Teamwork at it's best! The week was a success, however, and I managed to keep the office from exploding or even catching fire at all! No one became stranded on an island, and everything flew by very smoothly.

For the first time in the almost five years that I have lived in Fayetteville, I traveled to the square for the Night of Lights. Beautiful! And so fun! Pictures are a must have if you get the chance to visit. And don't forget about the carriage rides, pony rides, and even CAMAL rides that you can partake in! So romantic! Here's a little taste of the magic:






That's all for now!

Keep calm, and travel on.




Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Surprises

This week is going to be interesting.

Tracee is having fun in the sand in Jamaica this week, and Lori is out of the office as well. To the rescue are Tina and Judy (our outside agents) to step in and help out this week. After all, no one likes to be alone. We navigated through a potential disaster yesterday, nabbed a couple of new clients, and ended on a successful note! We may have found the new dream team.

Last week was a win for Kristin. I booked my most luxurious Honeymoon yet, and this week I'm even working on a new honeymoon to Bora Bora! Starting off this week with some excitement!

This cold weather has everyone in a shock. The office was 54 degrees yesterday morning! I was shivering for the first hour while the heater worked its little engine heart out to heat up the room. But now we are toasty and warm. :)

Also, the snack machine was re-stocked this week. Glory, glory.

Keep calm, and travel on. 




Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Gulp

Are you a wine-o? Are you also a cruise lover? Then get excited!

"Royal Caribbean Allows Guests to Bring Aboard Their Own Wine"
By Tom Stieghorst
 
"Royal Caribbean International has changed a long-standing policy that prevented guests from bringing their own alcoholic beverages on a cruise.

The new policy allows for two 750-milliliter bottles of wine per cabin. The wine can be consumed in a guest cabin or on a balcony without charge. If the wine is consumed in a public space, there will be a $25 corkage fee.

The policy requires that the wine bottles must retain the original manufacturer’s seals and exhibit no signs of tampering.

If a guest brings more than two bottles, the additional bottles will be secured by ship personnel and returned just prior to the end of the cruise, Royal Caribbean said.

Previously, passengers were not allowed to bring any sort of beverage on the cruise, and alcoholic beverages seized on embarkation day were not returned to guests.

By way of explaining the change, Royal Caribbean said it recognized that "vacationers may have a particular bottle of wine or champagne that they would like bring on board to commemorate a special day or event while on their cruise.""

I think we can all rejoice that the election is over! No more campaigning, no more rants. I hope everyone got out to the polls yesterday and voted. I know I did! Go America!

No matter who we voted for, we all made a difference.
And for those having an urge to suddenly leave the states, make sure to give me a call for your travel arrangements!

Keep calm, and travel on. 

 



Friday, November 2, 2012

Bittersweet


While I am super stoked that Lori get's to have an awesome vacation, it is bittersweet not having her in the office with us everyday. It get's so quiet with just Tracee and myself.

Probably part of a passive aggressive torture plot to make Tracee and myself die of envy, Lori has been sending warm and loving emails of beach-y scenery and dessert tables to makes your eyes melt.

Do you feel our pain?

Lori returns next week, so make sure to call her for all the new GIVC details about Karisma  Resorts in the Riviera Maya. And of course, for all the wild stories that I'm sure she will bring back with her.

I'll make sure to update you as more pictures are sent our way. Tracee and I, however, are one picture away from packing up our suitcases and joining her ourselves! If only the election wasn't in 4 days. Perhaps after? A post-voting treat? I think we all deserve a beachfront villa for exercising our American rights, am I right?

Who's in?

I have some even better news. It's only 2 hours away from the weekend! TGIF! Get those party heels ready, ladies. And gentlemen, make sure you're prepared to carry us when our feet get tired. Those heels are a full-time job! A lady has to rest!

I'm sure all of you are ready for some puppy love as well. 

Blind your eyes from the upcoming cuteness if needed:

3....

2....

1....



 They live the ultimate life of dog luxury. But really, who can resist that brown eyed girl? Not me!
 At least I'm never lonely. :)

 I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend.

Keep calm, and travel on. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

So long, Farewell

Lori leaves tonight for Tulsa, and is off to the Riviera Maya first thing in the morning for the GIVC Awards, and of course, a short vacation. We will miss her while she is gone, but we shall also be mildly jealous. I mean, can you blame us?

The newly wed Davidson's returned from their honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas last week. They gave rave reviews of the RIU Santa Fe, and couldn't have been happier about their stay. Which obviously makes me one happy agent! One honeymoon down, millions to go!

Tracee also leaves for a break soon. She heads for Jamaica in November to learn all about the new Sandals Wedding program. I'm stuck here in Fayetteville for the foreseeable future, but, I guess there could be worse places, right?

Judy and Tina, our outside agents, have been very busy these past months. Don't forget about utilizing the skills of professionals for your next vacation. The advice and guidance of experts can make all the difference in the world. Trust me when I say that staying at the wrong hotel, or eating at the wrong restaurant, can easily ruin a once of a life time trip!


Charles and Prue are handsome/fabulous pumpkins this year for Halloween. Charles is more photogenic, so I snapped this picture over the weekend when he was trying on his costume. While Prudence adores her new wardrobe, Charles sadly prefers to remain Au-natural. This same pumpkin hat was found on the floor promptly after this picture was taken; another victim of Charles' wrath. Charles 1, Halloween 0.

Well travelers, that is all I have to report for now.

Keep calm, and travel on. 
 





Thursday, October 25, 2012

Through the Looking Glass

Price is everything...or is it? Take a look at this article for an eye opening view of the Travel Agent's mind-set.

Friday is almost here! Tomorrow, Destinations will be rockin' our Razorback apparel and celebrating with a Gusano's complementary pizza lunch from Airways Freight. Aren't our lives just hard? Please pity us, and forgive us of our incessant whining.

Halloween parties commence this weekend. Do you have a killer costume picked out and ready to go? This girl is going as "Sailor Mars" from my childhood days. Probably couldn't be more excited.



My children (four legged) have their very first vet appointment today. I'm one nervous momma. :/ What do I do if they aren't 100% perfect and healthy?! Someone hand me the brown paper bag now...breathe...

Keep calm, and travel on.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hilarious.

Another exciting day here at Destinations.

Europe is on the brain today! Already two new clients have called to start planning their trips overseas this morning.

I, personally, have taken on two new honeymoons this past week. :) Congrats to all the future newlyweds out there.

Charles managed to lock himself in the upstairs bathroom yesterday. Apparently he got bored during his stay in the lavatory, and decided to eat everything in sight. I am now out two toothbrushes, a toilet bowl cleaner, a hair brush, and the toilet paper roll-holder-thing. I give fair warning now, while bloodhounds might be incredibly cute and smart, I advise you to go for the less-intelligent dogs. (They don't get too bored when locking themselves in small areas). Prue, of course, was sitting patiently on the couch when I arrived home, with no household victims to speak of.

Speaking of the animals, I need to call the vet. Have you all taken your critters to have a check-up lately?


How many horses can you fit into one stall? heehee.


Look at those cuties. How can I not love my life? Say hello to Rhubio, Charlie, and Buddy. :) They are my part-time job, number 2.

Keep calm, and travel on.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Morning Schmorning

It looks like it's 8 p.m. outside. Such a gross, cloudy, rainy day. But, at least it's the beginning of the weekend.

Last night was the awards ceremony for the Best of the Best of NWA, where Destinations was awarded the title "Best Travel Agency!" We greatly appreciate the recognition, and feel grateful for your unending support!

Kentucky makes its way to Fayetteville tonight to face off against the Hogs. Make sure to wear your Razorback Red tomorrow, and to call them Hogs! We have to stay supportive of our boys, y'all!

My first clients leave for their vacation Monday morning. I'm excited to hear how everything goes, and hopefully there are no hiccups!

Are you all prepared for Halloween? I just got done ordering my ridiculous black wig. This is most definitely the best time of the year. So many holidays just crammed packed into 4 glorious months.

The Newsletter will be out next week. Keep an eye on your inbox. ;)

Keep calm, and travel on!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Gimp

I hope no one is aboard the MSC Orchestra cruising in Europe.

Why? Because all of the 2,723 are being treated for meningitis after an outbreak has reached its decks. While not all passengers have fallen ill, treatment is being administered for precautionary purposes. You can read more here.

Our MLT Rep Kim, and and a representative from Melia Resorts stopped by this morning. We had lots of laughs and stories to tell. Make sure to call today to book your Christmas or Spring Break vacation!

Today I am limping around the office. I fell off a horse yesterday while riding. My hip very much hates me right now. If you have the extra time, or energy, send healing vibes this way, please. :)

Biofreeze, Asprin, and ice are my best friends right now.

Yesterday I had my first in-office meeting with a client. We discussed a Royal Caribbean Cruise and a trip to Universal Studios. This family is super pumped about their July vacation, as am I!

I hope everyone is enjoying this fall weather. I know I am.


Keep calm, and travel on.






Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I'm baaaack.

It's been such wonderful week, hasn't it? Bookings left and right, and the weather is finally feeling like fall!

It's all sweaters and scarves here at Destinations, and honestly, I couldn't be happier. My heart belongs to Autumn. Mmmm. :)

The Spring breakers are officially rolling in. Lori is working on a rather large group for a Razorback Athletic team. I'll let you guess which sport! Can anyone say "Viva la Mexico!"

I'm personally working on a family cruise at the moment, and finalized a honeymoon last week!

I'm gonna mix up the animal posting for today. Don't tell Charles and Prue though, I don't know how they would handle it.

Meet Rhubio:



He belongs to a friend of mine, but I get the honor of training him. He's obnoxious, but aren't all the animals in my life that way? I'm destined to have difficult creatures in my life forever. At least he's totes adorbs. Haha. (Totally adorable, for those of us now up on the hip lingo of the kiddos).

There are so many cruise options, my goodness. How anyone can choose just ONE is crazy! And so many different choices even within the same cruise line! I have a lot to try and memorize.

Oye vey.

Keep calm, and travel on. 









Thursday, September 27, 2012

Whoops

I apologize for my absence. I have been very busy this week!

As most of you know, Tracee and I traveled to Minneapolis this past weekend to attend the MLT University and Trade Show. It was a blast! Tracee and I both partook in 6 classes a day, whew, for 3 whole days. We even got to attend some great "after parties" on Sunday. Vegas Resorts and the Hard Rock threw some pretty ballin' parties. There was even a Chippendale! Lot's of whistles going on at that party!

We returned on Monday to an exhausted Lori. She had the office to herself on Friday and Monday, and it was apparently a handful. Y'all are keeping us busy, and we love it!

I booked a wonderful honeymoon to Cabo San Lucas today. This lovely couple will be traveling to the RIU Santa Fe next month, and they couldn't be more excited. And I couldn't be more grateful to them for giving the opportunity to plan their trip! I'm so excited to see all the pictures when they return.

I'm becoming such a travel professional.  Go me.

Spring breakers are starting to roll in. So make sure to not be the last-minute planner! Flights book fast, and resorts are hard to find come March! Let us plan your perfect break from school.

Say "hello" to Prue Bear. It's a little fuzzy, but it was early morning! So my camera was apparently not awake yet. :)

She's so pretty.

Keep calm, and travel on. 

P.S. This is the cutest, sweetest thing ever:

In California, a tiger gave birth to 3 tiger cubs. Due to a difficult pregnancy, the cubs were born prematurely and due to their small size, they died shortly after the birth. After recovering, the mother tiger suddenly started to lose health, although physically she was fine. Veterinarians believed that the loss of her litter had caused depression. Since tigers are endangered, every effort was ma
de to secure her health. So they decided to put cubs from another tiger, hoping that it would improve her condition. Unfortunately it turned out that it is impossible to obtain tiger cubs of the right age for a grieving mother.

Zoologists wrapped piglets up in tiger-print cloth, and presented them to the mother tiger. She now loves these piglets and treats them like her own. And needless to mention, her health is back on track.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Anniversary

Yesterday was the anniversary of my first three months here at Destinations!
I know you're applauding on the the other side of the screen right now, so "thank you, thank you, thank you!" :)

Princess has a new ship underway. Check out some sneak peeks here. It looks like she's going to be a real beauty. You could be one of her first passengers! Just give us a call.

I'm definitely gaining more confidence in the travel world. Friends are asking me about booking trips, and call-in questions are no longer a hassle. Bring it on, world!

I have pizza and pooches waiting at home for me for my lunch break today. I cannot wait! Those excited faces get me every time. And who can resist reheated pizza? We all know it's better the day after.

Minneapolis is this weekend. Tracee and I head out on Friday, and the office will be closed early due to our departure. I'm pretty excited, for two reasons. 1.) I've never been to Minnesota. 2.) I'm pumped to be all professional in my expert classes. I was pretty awesome in doing the whole college thing, so I'm glad that I'm not out of practice.

Feeling down?

 Enjoy!

Keep calm, and travel on. 





Monday, September 17, 2012

Gloomy

Charles says "Hello." :)



This drizzle today is making it very hard to stay motivated. This is perfect nap weather, and I think my inner child is trying very hard to take over. Why can't we embrace the concept of siestas?! I need a good mid-morning snooze. How about you?

Lori is out of the office today. It is so quiet with just Tracee and myself. So make sure to come on by and give us some company.

Speaking of, Tracee has just started on a new Hawaii honeymoon today! A lovely couple is getting ready to take the next step, and a beautiful honeymoon is the best way to start that journey through life together. So exciting to be a part of this wonderful experience!

Do we have any families traveling to Magic Kingdom in the near future? This might be refreshing news for some of age parents: Disney's Magic Kingdom is going to start selling beer and wine! Don't let the kiddos stress you out, just take a sip and relax when dining at the local french restaurant.

Keep calm, and travel on.



Friday, September 14, 2012

Fancy

The Destinations girls headed out to the grad opening of the new Chancellor Hotel in Fayetteville last night. the place was packed with North West Arkansas' most notable people. I felt pretty important. The tour was great and the rooms were so wonderful! Such a great spin on a modern look, with some classic trimmings.

Make sure and head that way they next time you're looking for a night out on the town! It's right off the square for some great convenience.

I hope all your Hog fans show your support tomorrow. Win or lose, our boys work hard. They have had a very rough year, and need our ongoing support more now than ever! Airways and Destinations will be tailgating before the game, and you can bet your bottom dollar that we will be callin' those hogs!

Charles LOVES the water.

So regal. :)

Check your emails now for the new eNewsletter! We've already gotten responses back about the featured cruise sailings, and compliments galore! We want to thank you so much for your unwavering support.

Keep calm, and travel on. 




Wednesday, September 12, 2012

End of the World?

100 days left until the end of the world. December 12th looms upon us. So, book your trip before it's too late! Take in all the sites that you can before that dreary day rolls upon us.

That is, if you think the Mayan's are really on to something.
Otherwise, just book because vacations are pretty much awesome, and you deserve one!

I was out of the office yesterday. Finally broke down and went to the doctor. One shot, and three prescriptions later, it appears that I will indeed survive. It was, although, apparently busy while I was away. A large number of calls and walk-in appointments kept Tracee and Lori on their toes!

Business is a boomin'.

The new iPhone 5 came out today. Are you all super pumped?! I'll have to wait another year for an upgrade, but I'm sure many Apple enthusiasts are jumping at the bit to get off work and pick up their new gadget! Don't be afraid to stop by the office and let us ladies play with your new phone!

The Destinations girls are only a week and a half away from traveling to Minneapolis MN for the yearly MTL University and trade show. We will be spending the weekend in expert destination classes, and networking with hundreds of tour and cruise operators. So make sure to check in before the end of the month for all the latest travel news! We keep ourselves informed and up-to-date as best as possible to suit our client's needs, so feel free to ask about all of our great experiences!

And don't worry, you know I'll blog my little heart out about it.

It's been real. ;)

Keep calm, travel on. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday. Gross.

I AM A VACATION PLANNING MACHINE. Well, I actually only booked one trip. But let me tell you, it was magical.

So, now that I'm a veteran, I'm well on my way to making millions...right?

I am currently working on the September issue of the Vacation Therapy eNewsletter, so be checking your inbox this Friday for the newest issue!

I was hoping that by Monday Lori and I would be fully recovered. Lori seems to have taken the weekend to her advantage, and her sickness is barely noticeable. I, on the other hand, am only heading further downhill. I don't think any amount of vitamins and drugs can save me now. C'mon immune system, don't fail me now!

Luckily, Tracee has seemed to keep our germs far enough away to avoid the office plague.

I am so happy fall is here. Scarves, jackets, boots are the majority of my closet. Thank heavens for the changing of the seasons.

 Keep calm, travel on.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Under the Weather

This morning Pandora radio decided to remind me of my secret love of Dolly Parton. Her angel's voice gets me everytime!

This week Lori and I have been plagued with allergies and sickness. The office has been filled with sneezing, sore throats, and weak voices. Luckily, we seem to be steadily recovering and should be at full strength come Monday.

Why can't every work week be only 4 days? I say we call for a referendum.

TGIF, right? I think the best feeling in the world are the last 5 minutes of every Friday work day. Such a relaxing/anxious/wonderful feeling. I'm looking forward to that this evening.

I have to take the late lunch today. I'm debating on whether or not to chow down on my Styrofoam cup to hold me over. Breakfast this morning was limited. Send good thoughts my way. I'm pretty cranky when I'm hungry. So maybe send good thoughts to Tracee and Lori who have to deal with me till I eat as well.

The office is really bustling today. Lori and Tracee both have their chairs full with clients, and the phones are ringing off the hook! Vacation planning at it's finest! What a wonderful way to head into the weekend. Tracee just booked a gorgeous destination wedding at Sandals Royal Bahamian, and Lori has started today on a perfect honeymoon. Love is in the air, y'all!

There was a lighting issue earlier. Luckily, our wonderful co-worker Kevin came to help with the flickering light above my desk. Then, there was an incident with a shattering light bulb. That was a nice wake-up this morning! We spent a fair amount of time glass-proofing the office with the shop-vac. Teamwork at its finest!

I hope it stops raining for the day. I have an obnoxious Oldenburg who has a scheduled ride for today. Rain rain, go away! Come back on Monday. :)

Keep calm, travel on. 





Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Say It Ain't So

Oh no. I was spoiled by my relaxing weekend, and am now finding hard to readjust working life. Oh, the trials and tribulations of the working girl.

I just read an article about the decline of voice-mail due to the rise of texting (thank goodness). However, the comments left by readers at the bottom of the article, I find offensive. Many claim that modern day cell phones and text messaging are causing people of my generation to be less able to communicate in person, and cause bad grammar. I, however, love grammar and have absolutely no problem talking to people face to face. Y'all should take a gander at this article. Don't be scared to express your own opinion in the comment section of the article. ;)

Back to sunny days here in Arkansas. I'm sure glad we got that rain, but I'm happy to see the sun again!

Getting some calls today about Mexico and the Caribbean. Don't forget to book your holiday vacation. It's never too late! A Christmas cruise sure does sound good, right? Man, it's going to be hard to send all these people on these fabulous trips knowing that I can't go with them!

Note to self: learn how to fit into suitcase.

Y'all would take me, right? I'm a blast, I promise!

For future reference, I want to be stolen on my wedding day. Maybe I should move to Romania, who's with me? These weddings sound like a total blast. Perhaps I can help a soon-to-be-bride plan an inspirational "kidnapping" for her upcoming nuptials? If you're a brave bride to be, let me know. We could have some serious fun! I can hear the wedding bell now!

My cricket friend from last week appears to have moved on. Hopefully he is not making little cricket babies in my desk. My week would definitely be ruined.

Now, I know what you have all been waiting for. I call this one: Big Dog, Little Bed.


Charles hijacked Prue's little dog bed, and positioned himself like so. Adorable, I know. His daily acts of cuteness make up for his unforgivable howling.


Keep calm, travel on.

 




Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hump Day

I'm pretty stoked for my first 3-day weekend as a working girl. Time to sleep in like the professional I am. Well, except for that little mishap where I decided to graciously agree to drive back home to Missouri this weekend to help my parents move in to their new abode. Perhaps Monday's schedule will provide for extra sleep time. I wish the same for you, as well, fellow Earth dwellers.

I'm sure you ladies will understand when I say this, but I am mighty proud of my "business" attire for today. And may I say, I am rockin' it. I don't think any girl can go wrong with a nicely fitted pencil skirt, a flow-y blouse, a cardigan, and some killer heels. So, fellow office gals, embrace your business fashion and rock out with those two-piece suits and blazers! Time to show the boys how it's done!

School has started up once again. What a lovely time of year. Must say though, it is very strange for me. I have friends who are still working on their undergrads, or who decided to pursue a Masters, and it is eye-opening to receive texts and phone calls about textbooks, lectures, and homework. I feel so left-out! I never thought I would say this, but, I miss school! GASP. Let's try to keep that between you and me, okay? Even my own mother is back in school. Such a surreal experience to be graduated and moving on from the education process. 16 years of my life spent in school preparing for this moment, and now it's finally here! The real world has welcomed me with open arms, however. And thank goodness, I'm so grateful for that.

...there is a cricket under my desk...

Is everyone pumped for the first Razorback game? I was just given the 411 on how season tickets, tail gating, and parking works. My reaction? "WOW." As a student, you pay $1 per game, and just have to move your car from campus the night before any home game. Attending just ONE game as a non-student cost upwards of $150! That's dedication right there, people. Considering most games are sold out. Razorback nation, y'all!

Want to read a funny, travel related, story? This made me crack up. Carnival Cruises is being sued...wait for it...over a hairy chest contest! Check this out. Pretty far out there, right? Poor Carnival. I lament for hairy chests everywhere. Such travesty.

Our wonderful clients, Slade and Holly, have returned from a wonderful get-away in Punta Cana. They have also just become the new cover photo for Destinations facebook! Go and take a look at the lovely couple, and their beach romance. I'm a big enough person to admit that I'm a little jealous.

Okay...a lot jealous.

Also, this cricket is still creeping me out.  He's like a little cricket ninja.


Keep calm, travel on. 









 




Monday, August 27, 2012

Wish It Were Sunday...

Well kids, looks like that rain dance really worked! See? Team effort really does win in the end.

However, the rain is now interfering with my riding schedule. I have a pretty little Oldenburg that needs to be ridden, and this rain is not coinciding well with those plans. Even my lesson is rescheduled to Wednesday due to rain, and a drenched arena. We get your point, Isaac.

The phone has been ringing off the hook this morning at Destinations. I have been kept pretty busy. In my spare time I'm reading the latest travel magazines for this month. Learnin' learnin' learnin'.

I feel pretty bad for the boyfriend. He flies out Thursday night to spend a 5 day vacation with his college buddies in Panama City, FL. Too bad his fun times are probably going to spent indoors watching T.V. Poor kids. David is leaving me alone with the attack dogs, and a full house to clean. Have I mentioned that the garbage disposal is broken and our landlord (who is also our neighbor) is out of town? Life is swell.

Speaking of flights:

If any of you are being affected, flight wise, by Hurricane Isaac, and are a traveling with Delta, and happen to need a change in flight time, make sure to call us here at 479-582-1900, to see if your flight qualifies for a flight change. Delta is being very understanding and generous in trying to alleviate the ailments of Hurricane Isaac on flyers this week. Yay, Delta!

My father, a Norwegian decedent, and lengthy man of 6'8,"  might not be too happy about the recent trends of airlines these days. "Luxury" airlines such as JetBlue and WestJEt are taking on the every-growing trend of reducing the already snug leg room among the coach class members of their flights, all in the name of profits. Check out this article from CNN to learn more about these reductions. I know my father will have to start considering business and first class from now on...how about you?


Fun story: When Prue and Charles were first introduced, they were mortal enemies. Well...I suppose I should say that it was a love/hate relationship. In the sense that Prue hated Charles, while Charles vied for daily attention. However, about 6 months into their relationship, they finally began to get along. This moment was captured around that time, and is forever proof that they can indeed get along. Take a peek at this adorable case of "puppy love!"



"Awwwww."
I know, right? Too much cute for one household to bare.


In case you all were wondering, Snooki had her baby yesterday (err, this morning). Let's all give a big welcome to little Lorenzo! (I'm just a fountain of valuable information, I know.)

Keep calm, travel on.





Friday, August 24, 2012

Workin for the Weekend

Oh thank goodness it is Friday.


Our Disney Representative just stopped by the office to get us up to date on all the latest deals, brochures, a goodies. So if you've been dreaming about a Disney vacation, now is the time to give us a call!

Everyone, start doing your rain dance.

Tropical storm Isaac is causing such a ruckus. And there is another one coming in to take his place when he's finished! Kind of ironic really. All of this rain and bad weather in the Gulf, and the Mid West is slowly forming into a desert. I wouldn't mind a tropical storm here in Fayetteville. Can I get an "Amen?!" Haha. But for real, let's get some rain up this way, Mother Nature!

Alex, our favorite resident IT guy, has been very occupied with us this week. We had a printer mishap on Wednesday when trying to print out some post cards. And today, Tracee's computer has decided not to work momentarily, during very inconvenient times. And of course, works again by the time Alex shows up to fix it. Currently, we are talking the pros and cons of Windows phones versus iPhones. Very intellectual, indeed.

Our computer skills are laughable, and I think that Alex has a good time poking fun at us. 

Have you stopped by to see our beautiful Pig yet?
She seems to be getting lonely out there.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Enjoy the nice weather, and the sun!

Oh, before you go:


Prudence would like to wish you farewell. :)

Travel on.





Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Brain Food

Ran across this article today. Truer words could not have been written:

How to disconnect from work and enjoy your vacation

By Joel Garfinkle on August 20th, 2012
 
     "Last month, I did something I’ve never done before. I spent two weeks 100% disconnected from my work. No cell phone, computer, e-mail or iPhone.
      This was a difficult decision to make. I might miss a potential executive coaching client, speaking opportunity or interview with the media. I was hesitant to completely unplug, disconnect and disengage from work. At the end of the two weeks, I was rested, relaxed and rejuvenated because I was able to slow down and decompress.
      Vacations give you a chance to unwind, to enjoy life, and to keep your work-life balance from swinging too far toward work. They allow you to take a step back from your normal, stressful routine and enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation — that is, if you actually take them.
      Unfortunately, too many Americans skip their vacations. Some are afraid of falling behind and having to work extra hard to get caught up when they return. Others worry that company leaders will decide they can do without them. Whatever the reason for skipping your vacation, you are depriving yourself of more than a trip to the beach or the mountains.
      Skipping vacations can lead to a loss of productivity and creativity, negatively impact the quality of your work, and eventually cause burnout. On top of that, it is bad for your health. Both men and women who take infrequent vacations have a higher mortality rate, especially from coronary heart disease (Framington Heart Study, 1992, Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, 2000).
When you do take your vacation, make sure you disconnect completely. Forget working smarter while you’re away, as suggested in a recent Fast Company article. You won’t get the full benefits of taking a vacation if you’re still working. Instead, take the following steps to ensure that you are able to fully enjoy your time off and come back to work refreshed, recharged, and ready to put your heart into your work again:
  1. Train your replacement well in advance. Take a cue from McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner, who requires each executive to train two potential replacements. For many, the idea of having someone ready to take over their job at a moment’s notice can be scary — after all, the company wouldn’t be faced with a long hiring process if they decided to fire you. But the benefits far outweigh the risks. If there is someone else who can do your job, you can take your vacation without worrying about whether your work is getting done. In addition, you are prepared for unexpected time off. If you need to take a few sick days or some time off for bereavement, you’ll know you are covered.
  2. Don’t spend the whole time traveling. Too often, vacations are a harried, nonstop flurry of activity. You have your bags packed ahead of time, leave right after work on Friday or first thing Saturday morning, and go, go, go the whole time, arriving home the day before you’re due back to work. Leave a two-day cushion at the beginning and end of your vacation, and spend some time at home resting, reading and allowing yourself to truly recharge.
  3. Don’t answer your phone. If work calls, resist the urge to pick up the phone. You’re on vacation. True emergencies are rare. You’re unlikely to be missing anything that can’t wait, and chances are, if you’ve properly trained your replacement, he or she can handle whatever crises arise in your absence.
     After taking a real vacation — without bringing my work along — I am returning with renewed enthusiasm, ready to tackle new projects and challenges. Next time you take time off work, consider turning your cell phone off and resist the urge to check your e-mail several times per day. You’ll enjoy your vacation a lot more, and you’ll enjoy your work more when you return."
 - The original source of this article can be found here.

So remember to really enjoy your next vacation, I know we all have problems leaving home behind when we travel. Also, here's another interesting article: Way to go, Holland America!

I hope you all have a great "Hump Day." ;) Enjoy the rest of your lovely work week!
Check back in on Friday if you get a chance.

Thanks, Travelers!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Okies Never Say Die

Lori got great news today. The very happy Mr. and Mrs. Steiner emailed her today about how satisfied and over-joyed they were with their Alaska cruise last month. They sent in some pictures of their wonderful trip, and highly recommend the Rhapsody of the Seas by Royal Caribbean to anyone who is wanting to cruise in the future.

Say "Hello" to the Steiners:


This weekend, the boyfriend and I were in Tulsa for a weekend getaway to visit some friends. While I have to say that Tulsa was more fun than I anticipated, the Oklahoma roads lived up to their disappointing expectations. I mean, really OK? Lets give those "roads" a tune-up! The poor suspension on David's Camry must have been struggling really hard to get us home safely.

I started working on a Mexico trip today. Very exciting! Research, research, research. So many different ways to book a trip! It can get very lengthy, let me tell ya. I'll let you all know how it turns out. I'm sure Tracee and Lori will soon be annoyed with all my questions before the day's end. Haha!

Also, Charles and Prudence have been very well. They stayed with "Aunt" Becca over the weekend while David and I were away. They had a very good time socializing with all the new people, and Becca's lively Husky, Bandit.

Want to see something funny?


Ta da! Charles somehow manages to sleep like this for hours at a time, on a regular basis.

I hope that brightens the rest of your day. 

Until next time, travelers!

Friday, August 17, 2012

You Would Think It Was A Monday

This morning I was so proud of myself for leaving the house earlier than usual.

Apparently, though, I left my brain at home when I left this morning.

If you are not aware of the construction going on between the lanes of 540, then you might not get this post. However, I was paying a silly amount of attention to the rods and pins that are being set up in the middle lane, and did not notice that I had passed my exit to get to work. In quick reaction, I took the next upcoming exit, which happened to be the Cado Springs. If you are familiar with Cado Springs, which I am not, you will know that it does NOT allow you to simply get back onto 540 North. I spent the next 8 minutes in a panic trying to U-turn my way back to 540. Needles to say, I took a lot of U-turns.

Anyway, I made it to work safe and sound with my morning sweet tea in tow, thank goodness.

I also have some good news today, in case you were wondering. The photo shoot on Wednesday was fabulous.

Here's a little sneak peak:



So glamorous.

Lori is out of the office today. So Tracee and I are lonely little travel agents. Please feel free to stop by, or just call to chit-chat. :)

I believe that all of the Mexico pictures are uploaded to Facebook, if not, I apologize. Feel free to request more if you wish. 

On a side note, I despise election year. Just fyi. I think my Political Science minor will ruin me forever.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Big Break

Today is my big break.

The Arkansas Gazette is coming to Airways Freight and Destinations today to take picture of us Destination girls, and our PIGShibition contender. (Google PIGShibition). Of course, my straightener promptly broke upon my return from Mexico, so I was left to my own devices this morning in terms of hair. Last night I decided, while at Walmart Market, that a head band might help tame these locks. Luckily, my mane was blessed by the hair Gods this morning, and my hair is not too frizzy. So, it looks mildly decent (Kristin, 1; Hair, 0). I wish you could see the massive "fist pump" I'm putting up right now.

I present you, "Pigtopia."  She sure is a beaut!

I'll try to post some pictures of us super models on here, but, if not, please get a copy of the Arkansas Gazette every day this week and keep a look out for these knock-out ladies, oh, and our pig, of course.

My current dilemma: Red lipstick or pink?! Oh no...the trials and tribulations of the rich and famous.



Monday, August 13, 2012

World Traveler

Good Samaritan advice: never ever eat the blueberry muffins at the XNA cafe. My trip to Mexico was almost ruined by a very dry, very pasty, very awful blueberry muffin at the airport. And that's a shame, cause I'm an avid muffin supporter.

Luckily, my trip to Cancun was "first class." So the special treatment, free TV, and roomy seats made up for my original misfortune.

Also, I advise that you carry a hefty supply of "OFF" with you at all times while traveling to the tropics. I made the rookie mistake of napping outside on the beach bed, and I am now being kept company by a colony of mosquito bites. The worst one is the mountain of a bite located on my middle finger, left hand. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

Send anti-itch vibes my way.


Anyway, on to important issues. I have returned from Mexico with a brain full of new information. Site inspection after site inspection: it's hard to keep it all straight sometimes! Training was intense, and the inspections were very jam-packed, thankfully my college days are not too far behind me, and paying attention wasn't too much of a challenge. The alcohol, however, did prove to be an interesting twist. The resorts kept our hand busy with frequent drinks of all varieties. And I can gladly say that there were all muy delicioso! By the way, you can check out the Destinations facebook page all this week to see all 743,458,462 pictures I took. :)

I arrived at the El Dorado Royale at 2 in the afternoon, after checking in and handing over my luggage, I took the extra half hour I had till my room was ready (check in is at 3) to grab a small tasty lunch at the Asian restaurant on site (Kampai).  Now, since this is an adults only resort, most people travel in pairs, or in larger groups. Due to this, I was the only person eating as a single. This happened on my first meal, and my last. The embarassing part about this were the "Only one?" and "Are you waiting for someone to join you?" questions that ended in the second plate setting being removed from my table. Talk about awkward. I suggest taking a companion on your next vacation. Company is always a nice touch.

The grounds and the staff were amazing. Everyone greeted me with a smile and an "Hola!" I felt a little discouraged when I tried my rusty Spanish with the employees. Most responses were in English, however, I was rewarded my last night with a wonderful server at the Itialian restaurant. His name was Jamie (Hay-mae), and he was verty delighted with my efforts to use his native tounge. Now, it's been a while since I've been quizzed over my Spanish in class, but Jamie did a great job in playing the professor. He quizzed me pretty good during my meal, and I really enjoyed it. If you're visiting the Royale anytime soon, make sure to ask for his services. :)

After all the site inspections, I would have to say that I definitely have a top three list of Karisma resorts that I would recommend (Outside of the Royale). The El Dorado Seaside, the Azul Beach, and the El Dorado Maroma are on my vacation list for the future. Wonderful honeymoon and destination wedding locations, and not filled with screaming children. ;) Plus, the nicely kept beaches are always a plus!

Have I mentioned yet that I missed my babies terribly while I was gone? The boyfriend sent me a pic of the cuties while I was gone. 

They are just to die for.

Back to Mexico...the house keeping was excellent. These people are like little ninjas. Every day when I came back for lunch, and again after dinner, the room was freshly cleaned. The bed was turned down at night, and a new towel animal greeted me at every entrance. I even had a "romantic" set up one night with rose petals and slow "love" music playing in the background.  The complimentary champagne was a nice touch, and the outdoor shower is super romantic. Too bad I was all by my self, buuuut I still indulged in a little jacuzzi time with some good Gotye and Florence & the Machine blaring from the iHome. Thank goodness for Skype, right? At least I had a webcam human to keep me company before I went to bed every night.


Take a gander at that beautiful room! The bathroom was gorgeous as well. Can't beat a walk-in shower, an outdoor shower, and freshly cleaned white towels everyday! I really got an idea on how the other half lives. Watch out, Brad Pitt! I've tasted the life of the rich and famous so you better move on over! Haha!

More for next time, travelers!





Monday, August 6, 2012

The New Girl

Today I was given the account information and password for the Destinations blog. Whether this decision by my superiors will turn out to be a stroke of genius, or a horrible disaster, is yet to be known. My slightly sarcastic, yet refreshingly optimistic attitude, will hopefully make for a good read. I plan on wowing you all with my witty prowess and fun-loving sense of humor.

Not to keep you in the dark any longer of my mystery identity, I shall reveal myself here: My name is Kristin Ray, and I'm the new "agent in training" here at Destinations. I'm 23 years old, a recent graduate of the University of Arkansas (Go Hogs!), with a Bachelors in International Relations. I hail from the wonderful Show-Me State of Missouri, but in absolutely no way have any loyalties to Mizzou or those pesky Tigers. After making Fayetteville my home, I'm glad to say that I might just be an Arkansas girl at heart, and forever. Much to my much dismay, I am embarrassingly obsessed with my dogs, who will more than likely frequent future posts. Introductions are in order, I believe. Charles is my royally obnoxious 3 year old Bloodhound, with what appears to be a mission to destroy all of my most precious valuables. Recent victims have been two TV remotes, multiple computer speakers, two wooden spatulas, and countless new articles of clothing. It's very possible that the sole source of my love for this animal derives from what can only be described as undeniable cuteness. I often try to get away with blaming his behavior on the fact that he was a "pound puppy," although that seems unfair since Prudence, dog number two, is also a rescue. Prudence is the lovable "motherly" type. At 4 years old, she's already had her own litter of cuties, and is a Beagle/Terrier mix whose soul purpose in life is to keep me warm on cold winter nights. I shall warn you now that pictures will most likely appear on a regular basis. If you are adverse to overwhelming cute furriness, I suggest that you shield your eyes now.


            I only hope my future children are as loved as these two rascals.

Now, on to important business (sorry, doggies!). I am pleased to announce that on Wednesday (8/6/12) I embark on my first official FAM Trip! Now, for those of you in the dark, a FAM trip is a "familiarization trip" with resort sponsored inspections which are used exclusively to educate us savvy travel agents on all the latest and greatest.  I'll be arriving to the El Dorado Royal in Riviera Maya on Wednesday afternoon, and will be spending the evening, and the following two days, touring and learning about all the Karisma Resorts in the surrounding area. But, it's not going to be all work and no play. I have the chance to visit the beaches during my lunch breaks and evenings, and even have the opportunity to spend my last day in Mexico taking in a popular excursion that includes snorkeling, cave exploring, and zip lining! Now, this isn't my first attempt to leave the country, but it will be my first success. So, as you can probably predict, I'm quaking with excitement. Upon my return I promise I will update you all on what I hope to be a life changing experience. I have always wanted to travel the world, and Wednesday marks the start of a wonderful journey that will hopefully give me every opportunity to make that dream come true! Even better, my new experiences will end up helping someone else create their own great memories. What else could anyone ask for?

Beach photos will surely be posted next week. And don't worry, I'll make sure to keep those bikini clad shots for my own personal use. ;) I will make it my duty to recount my experiences as clearly and truthfully as possible. I do not want to keep my experiences over seas, or even in the office, a secret. I wish you invite you all to join me on my journey as a young woman beginning her (what I hope will be) blossoming career. Perhaps you can live vicariously through me, or use this blog as a source of nostalgia, or inspiration for future travel! If anything else, photos of Charles and Prudence are a good enough reason drop by, right? =)



Thursday, June 21, 2012

Reasons to Love Travel












Henna Heart
Travelers Today | | By Carly Okyle
Updated: June 19, 2012 7:54 PM EDT
 
Travelling is expensive these days, and it can certainly be stressful. Some people might not like being in unfamiliar locations with traditions and foods that they don't understand. It can be tiring and confusing. Yet, tons of people choose to take some sort of trip each year. Despite the negatives, here's why trave is great.

Seeing the sights in real life
Every high school language book has impressive pictures of art and architecture from the countries that speak this language. Spanish text books have photos of Picasso's Guernica or Frida Khalo's protraits. French books will show the Eiffel Tower, and pictures of the Sistine Chappel abound in Italian language texts. Still, nothing compares to seeing these impressive works in person. There are some things which even the most accurate photograph cannot recreate.


Appreciation
Daily life get to be routine. By mixing it up with travels, it's easier to appreciate even the more mundane aspects of the day. Scenery is noticeable and food is flavorful. After a trip, you appreciate the comfort and familiarity of home just as much (if not more) as you enjoyed the differences when you left.

Connection
The world is large and people are different from one another, but through travel, we can see just how much we have in common with one another. Smiles and laughter are universal, for example. Every location, no matter how remote, has music. It can be refreshing to note how alike people can be, even when they live in different parts of the world.

Memories
Second only to the trip itself are the memories of the experience. There's a sense of pride and satisfaction in knowing that you went somewhere new and tried different things. You'll likely be able to laugh off the bad experiences like lost luggage, and can always relive the happier moments.
 

This article is copyrighted by Travelers Today, the travel news leader
 
 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

5 tips for happy toddler travel


Summer travel with toddlers can be heavenly… or hell on wheels (or wings, waves, etc.). But here’s the good news: What you do now (and on the trip) can totally stack the deck in your favor.
Here are 5 ideas to help you have the time of your life… from start to finish:

1) Get ready before you leave
  • Perfect your sleep routine. Use a white noise CD (for all naps and nights), a lovey, massage and reading.
  • Make a little book of the trip (with photos of the plane, hotel, sites, etc) to read every day BEFORE you leave.
2) Getting there 
  • Keep them busy! DVD’s are a godsend. Make frequent stops, if driving. 
  • On jets, walk a lot, and bring special treats and surprises. Hide them in different pockets of your purse, coat, etc. Read your trip book, to keep your child engaged with all the fun things that will soon happen.
  • Use stickers, tokens, checks on hand, treats, etc to reward your tot for being cooperative/quiet (every 30-60 minutes).
  • For meltdowns, first use your best Toddler-ese to acknowledge your tot’s feelings. THEN try distraction, explanation… or bribery, just to get through the rough spot.
3) Helping sleep, even with time zones changes 
  • Lots of morning sun the first one to two days helps to overcome jet lag. 
  • Limit naps to 90-120 minutes. (Too much daytime sleep can hurt nighttime sleep.) 
  • An hour before bedtime, dim lights and turn on white noise in the background. 
  • Keep your sleep routine. Predictability helps tots relax. Use white noise for all naps and nights (it’s a “teddy bear of sound” and it covers outside disturbances). Don’t forget your tot’s lovey.
4) Avoid traumas (big and little) 
  • Bring first aid/illness medicine including anything special your tot needs (breathing medicine, 2 Epi-pens, etc). 
  • Indoor safety - childproof the room (duct tape, electric plugs, etc.) And scout around for dangers: cords that can be pulled down, scalding hot water, etc. 
  • Outdoor safety - avoid sunburns. Keep bugs away with natural repellants or DEET (only put this on clothing, not on skin).
5) Keep it simple
  • Before you go, find the kid spots: parks, museums, etc. Plan lots of stops, and always carry food and water.
  • Use a carrier for little kids, and for bigger kids consider a harness/leash. 
  • Keep activities short. One hour in a museum then 30 minutes playing chase in the garden. 
  • Avoid candy and treats. Wild sugar swings can trigger outbursts.
  • Ask your tot’s opinion many times a day, to boost his sense of being respected. 
Pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp is the author of "The Happiest Baby on the Block" and "The Happiest Toddler on the Block." For more advice, check out Dr. Karp's "Parent's Night Out," a talk about babies, toddlers and sleep simulcast to 600 movie theaters across America on June 21.
For more info: http://moms.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/18/12279970-5-tips-for-happy-toddler-travel?lite

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tips for Comfortable Airplane Flight


Casey Morris weather.com

Stay Comfortable and Rested During Your Flight with These Tips

inside-airplane-tips-comfortable-airplane-flight-20120330
Airplane flight is often the quickest way to get to a destination, although it may not always be the most comfortable. Flying high in the sky at an altitude of 30,000 feet with a plane full of passengers can be quite an experience!
Try these tips for staying comfortable and rested during your flight, whether your destination is a couple of hours away or halfway around the world.
What to Wear
  • Dress comfortably. Your body swells slightly due to fluid accumulation on long flights. Tight rings, shoes, and waistbands can cause considerable discomfort. Loose fitting pants and shirts and elasticized waists can make life much more comfortable.
  • Dress in layers, or carry a light sweater or covering with you. Airline cabins tend to have large fluctuations in temperature. If you do not wish to carry an extra piece of clothing, request a blanket from the cabin crew when boarding.
  • Carry a change of clothes with you. In case of any unfortunate spills, you will be able to change your clothes immediately.

What to Eat and Drink

food-tips-comfortable-airplane-flight-20120330
  • Eat a light meal. On a long flight, it is easier for your body to digest a light meal than a heavier, more complex one.
  • Minimize alcohol and caffeine intake. Alcohol dehydrates the body, as does caffeine. If you do have a drink containing alcohol or caffeine, be sure to counter it with an extra glass of water.
  • Drink an adequate amount of water. Due to the regulated pressure and temperature of the cabin, the body tends to get dehydrated very fast; this contributes to jet lag. It's a good idea to keep drinking water throughout the flight.
  • If you have special dietary needs--vegetarian or kosher, for example--be sure to confirm at check-in that your meal will be available. This is especially important if your plans changed at the last minute or you have been bumped to another flight. And, since mistakes happen, bring a snack with you just in case, as insurance against going hungry.

During the Flight

headphone-tips-comfortable-airplane-flight-20120330
  • Keep stretching and moving around. By moving around, you can prevent the blood from pooling in your lower extremities, thus minimizing fatigue and jet lag. People with any kind of heart problem should definitely attempt to keep moving, as this reduces heart strain from lack of blood.
  • If you want extra leg room, ask for seats by emergency exits or doors. They have more leg room than regular seats due to FAA regulations. These seats are usually only available at check-in.
  • If you want privacy from your in-flight neighbor, put on a set of Walkman headphones -- even if you are not listening to them. Be sure to bring a comfortable set of headphones if it's going to be a long flight.
  • Remember to put the "Do not disturb" sign on your seat rest if you intend to sleep. This will prevent you from being disturbed for that extra drink or cup of coffee. It is also a good idea to fasten the seat belt on the outside of your blanket where it is easily visible to prevent the flight attendant from waking you up to check if it is fastened.
  • Be nice to the flight attendants. They have a hard job and are taking care of a lot of passengers, and they have the power to make your trip significantly more--or less--comfortable. Asking for their assistance in a calm, pleasant tone is much more likely to get you what you want.

Prevent Discomfort

gum-tips-comfortable-airplane-flight-20120330
  • If you are suffering from nasal congestion take a decongestant or nasal spray before your flight. For a long flight, take it again about an hour before landing.
  • If you feel excess pressure in your ears, open your Eustachian tube by yawning or swallowing. You can also chew gum or ice.
  • If you are traveling with children, make sure they're not congested--they probably won't think to tell you. Also, as soon as the descent begins, pass out the chewing gum. Don't wait to be asked--that won't happen until they're already uncomfortable, if at all. Save nursing infants' meal, or part of it, until the descent; nursing will help keep their ears clear.

After the Flight

  • As a general rule, it takes a day for your body to adjust to each time zone crossed. Jet lag is often more common and more dramatic in your eastbound travel (e.g., from Tokyo to San Francisco than from San Francisco to Tokyo).
  • If at all possible after transcontinental or transoceanic flights, don't plan on conducting important business the day you arrive. Instead, use the day to get your circadian rhythms back in sync.
  • Avoiding alcohol, regulating your diet, being sure to get plenty of sleep and exposure to sunlight are all effective methods to deal with jet lag.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Top 10 Foreign Taxi Safety Tips


Taxi safety is pretty simple and foreign taxis are generally perfectly safe, but bad things can happen -- in April 2006, for instance, the bodies of two Austrian backpackers, victims of a lethal taxi scam, were found in Bolivia, and women have reported being kidnapped in foreign taxis. Get the top foreign taxi safety tips and you'll know how to stay safe in a foreign taxi -- and won't need to worry whatsoever!

By , About.com Guide

1. Find a Taxi Stand

You can usually find a taxi stand on the street in any country -- even if you can't read the words, you'll notice taxis congregating near the sign. Generally, only cabs authorized to carry passengers are allowed to stop at these cab stands, meaning the taxi is as safe as that country mandates, and the cab driver licensed. Look for these cab stands at foreign airports, too: finally, don't let aggressive drivers or their "helpers" steer you into a cab without sussing out the sign scene first.

2. Look for Taxi Similarities

VW Bug Mexico Taxis Face Off in Taxco, Mexico© Kathleen Crislip
When you see taxis at a taxi stand, note the types, colors or logos even if you don't need a cab now -- you can avoid a "gypsy" or fake taxi later if you have an idea what the city's legit taxi companies' cars look like. Fake taxis -- yeah, very not safe sometimes: fake cabs can be being used by criminals to part you from your money in many ways -- or worse. A taxi that doesn't look like the others probably isn't like the others. Conversely, if all taxis look the same, like VW bugs in Mexico, they're probably safe.

3. Check for Phone Numbers

Every taxi company everywhere wants to advertise. Legitimate taxis usually have the taxi company's phone number plastered on the roof, doors and trunk. A taxi without a phone number doesn't want to advertise -- why would that be? Don't get into a taxi without a company phone number advertised plainly somewhere on the cab's exterior unless all the taxis are clearly the same (see above).

4. Look for a Taxi Meter and Radio

A legitimate taxi will probably have a meter and two way radio inside; look for either before you get in and feel free to wave the cab by if you don't see them. A taxi may not use a meter and still be safe, but a taxi without a radio -- fuhgeddaboudit. Every taxi needs to communicate with a base -- without a real radio, it may not be a real taxi.

5. Know Where You're Going

Having a general idea where you're headed will help keep you out of trouble in a taxi -- even if a neighborhood looks unsafe, it may be a shortcut, though; or the neighborhood to which you're headed may actually be unsafe if you're an adventurer. However, if you know you should be going north to the city center and you're headed south in a slum, feel free to get out at the earliest opportunity. Toss money over the seat in case you're mistaken and all's well, and you won't be chased.

6. Keep Your Backpack Close

Always keep your bags right beside you or at your feet in a taxi. If you must jump out fast, you'll have to leave your bag if it's in the trunk (and the driver can leave with your bag if you get out before he does). If you're in an emergency situation, leave the bag, no matter what -- you can run faster without it, anyway.

7. Look for a Door Handle

Don't get into a taxi without checking to be sure that there are door handles inside the passenger compartment. It goes without saying that you can't get out in a hurry if you can't get out at all.

8. Ask for the Badge

It's okay to ask to see a policeman's badge if your taxi is pulled over. A real cop probably won't mind a polite request if it becomes clear that he wants you to get out or to follow him. Don't leave a busy street until you know you're following a real cop. Bear in mind that in some places, like Bolivia, fake police uniforms and badges are common -- don't get in a cab with anyone dressed in a cop uniform or showing a badge, period. Say you'll meet at the police station instead.

9. Be Aware of Sharing

Sharing a cab with strangers can help you stay safe and save bucks -- but it's a scam in some places: your taxi stops for an accomplice posing as a tourist who is carrying contraband of some kind. When a fake cop subsequently stops your cab and the stuff is "found," you may be about to be searched and robbed, or possibly taken to a fake police station while your credit cards get used. Seriously!

10. Know Who to Call in Emergencies

If you're okay with taking a non-licensed taxi and taking your chances, you may save some cents on a cheap cab ride. Be prepared, though -- this is the time to carry a phone. Know the local emergency number (foreign equivalents of 911). Watch for street signs so you know where you are. And always, always be ready to jump out and run like the wind.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Packing Tips

By Independent Traveler


Some travelers jam two weeks' worth of gear in their bags for a long weekend. Others pack a bit too lightly and forget important things like medicine orpassports. Savvy travelers strike the perfect balance and bring just what they need -- with a little help from our list of road-tested packing tips, of course!

Packing Methods
When packing your clothes, you don't want to neatly fold them individually as you would in a dresser. If you do, they will crease when compressed. Here are a few alternatives:

Rolling Your Clothes
Backpackers swear by this method. Rolling works well with pants, skirts and sports shirts. Lay the item face down, fold back the sleeves and then roll from the bottom up.

Fold Clothes Together
Take two or more garments, for example trousers, and lay half of one pair on top of the other. Fold the one on the bottom over the pair on the top. Then take the other and fold it on the top. This gives each pair some cushion where you've folded it so it's less likely to crease or wrinkle in the folds.

 What Not to Pack

The Bundle Approach
This ingenious method of packing, which we learned from Judith Guilford, co-founder of the Easy Going travel store and author of the "The Packing Book," has now become our favorite. It's a bit difficult to explain without a demonstration, but we'll do our best. You need luggage that opens up and lays flat to do this. You will also need a flat, soft, pouch-like rectangular "core" with dimensions that are at least 1/2 to 3/4 the size of your luggage compartment. This can be a pouch filled with underwear or something similar.

Start with your sports jacket or the longest, most wrinkle-prone item you have. With the collar or waistband flat, place it against the bottom edge of the bag and drape the rest of the garment over the opposite side of the bag. Take another garment and place it in the opposite direction, flattening and smoothing out both garments in the bag and draping the remainder over the side. If you have trousers or other narrow items, do the same with them in the narrow direction of the bag. Keep alternating your items, ending up with the most wrinkle-resistant clothes you have.

When you finish, place your "core" in the middle. Now you're going to start folding the garments over the core and each other in the reverse order you put them in. If you fold something over and there's excess draping over the sides of the bag, tuck it underneath the bundle you are creating.

What you will end up with is a bundle of all of your clothes that looks like a pillow. You can pick it up in one piece. It's compactly packed and doesn't waste an available space in your luggage. Plus, because of the way things are folded, your clothes will wrinkle less.

To find something in the bundle, lay it flat and unwrap until you reach the layer you want. Take the item out and refold the remainder. If done properly each layer should result in a self contained bundle at each layer.

 Interactive Packing List

Tissue Paper
For delicate items, try tissue paper. Lay the item face down and place tissue paper on top. Fold it up with the tissue paper inside. Use additional layers of paper as you fold the garment so it is completely wrapped in and around paper. This is easy enough the first time you pack, but becomes a pain if you have to keep repacking. We only use this approach for evening clothes that we don't want to crush.

suitcase backpack packingTips for Air Travelers
  • You may not pack liquid or gel substances in your carry-on unless they are in individual containers of 3.4 ounces or less and enclosed in one clear, quart-size, plastic, zip-top bag per passenger. Any larger containers of liquids and gels must be packed in your checked luggage. For more information, see Airport Security Q&A.
  • Be aware of restrictions on the size and number of bags you may bring onto your flight. Many airlines now charge a fee for every checked bag or have lowered the maximum permitted weight limits for checked luggage. For a clear overview of what the airlines are charging for checked bags these days, and how large and heavy your luggage is allowed to be, read Airline Baggage Fees.
  • Do not lock your checked bags except with TSA-approved locks; otherwise, if your bag is selected for random screening, agents will have to break the lock to get inside.
  • Do not overpack your bag. Screeners will have a difficult time closing your luggage if selected for inspection, which will only lead to wrinkles and the potential for lost articles.
  • Carry all film with you onboard, as screening equipment for checked luggage can damage undeveloped film.
  • Place any packed belongings you don't feel comfortable with strangers handling in clear plastic bags.
  • Do not stack books and other documents on top of each other; instead, spread them out throughout your bag.
  • Make your own must-pack list with our interactive packing list before your next trip!
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