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.

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.

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.

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:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tips for Comfortable Airplane Flight

Casey Morris

Stay Comfortable and Rested During Your Flight with These Tips

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 , 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.

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