5 Travel Tips for Honeymoon Couples

5 Travel Tips for Honeymoon CouplesAre you planning your first trip after marriage? The honeymoon is always exciting and there are many places that you can visit to enjoy the company of each other. It can be a seaside location like Amelia Island, or a forest like Tadoba National park. You can find the best Tadoba resorts by searching online and get the best deals, if you book rooms at the right time.

There is no doubt that traveling together is an enriching experience, but when you travel with your spouse for the first time, things can be a bit difficult. After all, you don’t know how she interacts with other cultures, how much she spends on vacation, and whether she will enjoy local food of the place you are visiting.

There is no need to feel nervous though. You have just got married and want to have the trip of your life because it is your honeymoon. Here are some tips for the couples traveling together for the very first time.

1. Select the right place to visit: Couples often ask people what is the most romantic place to visit and they get dozens of ideas from their friends. The fact is, there is no particular romantic destination. It all depends on the perspective. Some locations may have better resorts and natural beauty, but that does not mean it will appeal you. Suppose you like to lie on the beach for hours and your partner likes trekking! When preferences are different, communication is the key. The honeymoon is all about planning together. Consult with your fiance’ and try to select a place that both of you will enjoy.

2. Plan together: Some husbands like to take control of everything and want the wife to follow their decisions. A honeymoon is something that both of you need to enjoy and appreciate. Once you select the location, you need to make a plan for the days you are going to spend there. If you wife loves art, let her select the museums that you must visit. Similarly, if you are a foodie, then you must pick the restaurants. When both of you participate to make a perfect plan, there is a lot of excitement. In case you are going for a long honeymoon, then you can decide day 1 plans and your spouse can decide day 2 plans and follow this style for all the days.

3. Be ready to compromise: When you are a visiting a new place for the first time, you may want to see everything that the place offers. However, sometimes time and money may not permit that. So, you need to decide what you can do or see and what you can’t. Make sure that both of you sacrifice a few places from the list. Otherwise, your spouse may think that her choices are not important to you.

4. Decide the budget: You must be frank with your partner about the budget of your vacation. Some people spend lavishly when they visit a foreign country and repent later when the credit card bill comes. Before you start planning, you must tell your partner how much money you can spend on this trip. This way, you will be able to take wise decisions as a couple. For example, if your budget is low, then you need to select the affordable resorts and book plane tickets when airlines companies offer flash sales.

5. Try to be flexible: Sometimes things don’t go according to the plan and that is the fun of a honeymoon tour. You must learn to appreciate things as it happens in your life. Planes may get delayed, food may not be that good and many other things can happen during your tour. Don’t lose your temper or sense of humor when things don’t go according to your plan. As long as you are together and enjoying each other’s company, everything is great!

Apply these suggestions when you plan your honeymoon and you will surely be able to have a memorable trip.

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Chikungunya in the Caribbean

Chikungunya in the CaribbeanSince late December, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been reporting the transmission of chikungunya in Saint Martin, and other areas of the Caribbean.

The situation was update on February 27, 2014:
Watch – Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

What is the current situation?
Mosquitoes in the area have been infected with chikungunya and are spreading it to people.

As of February 5, 2014, the following Caribbean countries have reported cases of chikungunya:
Saint Martin (French)
Sint Maarten (Dutch)
Saint Barthelemy
British Virgin Islands
French Guiana
St. Kitts

What is chikungunya?
Chikungunya is an illness caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of chikungunya are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.

According to the Daily Beast, “The symptoms of chikungunya are easily understood by translating the term ‘chikungunya’ from Kimakonde, an East African dialect, it means ‘to become contorted.'” Leaving the victim doubled over in pain for weeks, and residual join pain perhaps months and in some cases years after being infected.

Now that it has reached the Northern Hemisphere, experts predict it is only a matter of time before chikungunya spreads through the rest of the Caribbean and cases will be seen in Florida, Texas and other areas of the United States with high humidity levels.

Who is at risk?
There is currently no vaccine or medicine to prevent chikungunya. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.

The Centers for Disease Controul suggest you prevent mosquito bites:
-Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
-Use an appropriate insect repellent as directed.
-Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection. Use products with the following active ingredients:
DEETExternal Web Site Icon (Products containing DEET include Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, and Ultrathon)
Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan [outside the US])
Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (Products containing OLE include Repel and Off! Botanicals)
IR3535 (Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart)

Always follow product directions and reapply as directed:
-If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
-Follow package directions when applying repellent on children. Avoid applying repellent to their hands, eyes, and mouth.
-Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents).
-Stay and sleep in screened or air conditioned rooms.
-Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.

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Passport Photos Now Available at Fernandina Library

Passport Photos Now Available at Fernandina LibraryPassport photographs are now available at the Fernandina Beach branch library, located at 25 North 4th Street on Amelia Island.

Need photos for your passport? The Fernandina Beach Branch Library now offers photo service for official documents.

The cost is $10.00 for two 2″ x 2″ photos; this includes the tax. Photos can be used for passports, hunting and fishing licenses and concealed weapons permits.

Photo service is available during library open hours and walk-ins are welcome.

If you need photo service AFTER 5:00 pm or on Saturdays, you must have an appointment.

Please call (904) 277-7365 for more information.

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How Not to Pack a Pest When Traveling

How Not to Pack a Pest When TravelingWashington DC – Whether you’re studying abroad in Europe, traveling on business in Asia, or taking that dream vacation to Hawaii, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is urging summer travelers to join us in the fight against invasive pests by not packing a pest.

While agricultural products make tempting souvenirs, invasive pests can hitchhike on fruits, vegetables, meats, processed foods, plants, and handicraft items. If these invasive pests were to become established in the United States, they could devastate urban and rural landscapes and cost billions of dollars in lost revenue and eradication efforts. As a result, APHIS restricts or prohibits the entry of certain agricultural products from foreign countries and from Hawaii and U.S. territories.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers or agriculture specialists with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will inspect your baggage when you first arrive in the United States to ensure that the agricultural items you are carrying are allowable under APHIS regulations. Be sure to declare all agricultural items to CBP officers or CBP agriculture specialists at the first port of entry. Failure to declare food products can result in fines and penalties.

The following food items are generally allowed entry, but should still be declared and presented to a CBP agriculture specialist or CBP officer for inspection:

-Condiments such as oil, vinegar, mustard, catsup, pickles, syrup, honey without honey combs, jelly, and jam
-Foodstuffs such as bakery items, candy, and chocolate
-Hard cured cheeses without meat, such as parmesan or cheddar
-Canned goods and goods in vacuum packed jars (other than those containing meat or poultry products, and those containing certain dairy products) for personal use
-Fish or fish products for personal use
-Powdered drinks sealed in original containers with ingredients listed in English.
-Dry mixes containing dairy and egg ingredients (such as baking mixes, cocoa mixes, drink mixes, instant cake mixes, instant pudding mixes, liquid drink mixes containing reconstituted dry milk or dry milk products, potato flakes, and infant formula) that are commercially labeled, presented in final finished packaging, and require no further manipulation of the product are generally allowed.

You may also be allowed to bring back certain fresh fruits and vegetables, animal products and by-products, plants and plant parts for planting, cut flowers, firewood, or miscellaneous agricultural products, depending on the item and its country of origin. APHIS encourages travelers to be aware of restrictions pertaining to agricultural products before leaving the United States and to use these as guidelines when purchasing souvenirs. For comprehensive information on importing agricultural items for personal use, visit APHIS’ Agricultural Information for International Travelers Web page at www.aphis.usda.gov/travel.

With Agriculture Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, APHIS works tirelessly to create and sustain opportunities for America’s farmers, ranchers and producers. Each day, APHIS promotes U.S. agricultural health, regulates genetically engineered organisms, administers the Animal Welfare Act, and carries out wildlife damage management activities, all to safeguard the nation’s $157 billion agriculture, fishing and forestry industries. In the event that a pest or disease of concern is detected, APHIS implements emergency protocols and partners with affected states and other countries to quickly manage or eradicate the outbreak. To promote the health of U.S. agriculture in the international trade arena, APHIS develops and advances science-based standards with trading partners to ensure America’s agricultural exports, valued at more than $137 billion annually, are protected from unjustified restrictions.

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Pity on the Thanksgiving Air Traveler

Thanksgiving Airline Travel Nightmares

Load factors for this year’s Thanksgiving travel will exceed 85 percent, even though there will actually be fewer travelers, down two percent and lower than the peak volumes in 2006, but seats will be more crowded than ever, because airlines such as Delta and American Airlines are reducing their numbers of destinations or even flying less frequently on popular routes to cut costs.

Watch out for Sunday, Nov. 27 and Monday, Nov. 28 as these two days will be the busiest air-travel days during the Thanksgiving holiday itself, according to insiders and as usual the best day to travel to avoid the crowds is Thanksgiving Day itself when there will be the fewest travelers . But then again what if you want to sped that day with the family? Try to book for early in the morning flights and know that contrary to popular belief, the cheapest fares at Thanksgiving are not going to travelers booking months in advance this year. They will go to those who take advantage of last minute deals.
And there is another reason why it is likely a better choice to try a last minute booking on Thanksgiving morning:

Tarmac delay penalties!

I pity the poor airline passengers. They can’t win. Case in point: the government fines American Airlines $900,000 for keeping planes for hours on an airport tarmac. Hardly a victory for passengers since many analysts say the price for this will be more canceled flights.

Passengers can’t win even under nearly $1 million settlements because on the one hand, the government cracks down on horrible delays for passengers sometimes kept without food or water – not to mention toilet facilities –  for hours on end. But fine-dodging airlines turn around and cancel more flights, causing further passenger delays. Airlines are already regularly cancelling flights to avoid violating the US government’s new three-hour limit on tarmac delays.

JetBlue is the latest airline to face millions of dollars in fines. The airline this week is discussing with federal officials why five of its flights were diverted to Hartford, Conn., when 550 passengers were stuck on the ground for hours during October’s freak northeast snowstorm.
Regulators are under pressure to enforce the tarmac rule, wire services reported.

Air traffic control recordings captured the pilot pleading for help from ground personnel in Hartford to have the Airbus jet with 123 people aboard towed from a remote location to an airport gate.
“Take us anywhere,” he said. “I just got to get some help.” But no help came.

The new rule means cancellations will be on the upswing, according to airline analyst Michael Boyd.
“If there’s a 20 percent chance of this happening, an airline will cancel,” Boyd told the AP.

The DOT’s record fine “may only fuel more debate over whether the government’s get-tough policy is making air travel better or worse for passengers,” said the AP.
That’s putting it mildly since the rule was clearly intended to prevent such happenings but it has had an opposite effect. “An inadvertent and anti-consumer effect,” is how Ken Quinn, a  former FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) attorney puts it.

The fine for airlines violating the new rule is as much as $27,500 per passengers. Up until the recent American Airlines fine, government officials generally had held off fines.
The fine imposed on American Eagle was the largest penalty ever paid by an airline in a consumer protection case not involving civil rights violations. The only other higher fees involved higher fines for violating federal safety regulations.
There’s speculation government was motivated to impose a heavy fine prior to the holiday travel season.

In the case of American Eagle, airline officials had a plan in place that might have avoided the gridlock, but failed to implement it until it was too late, the DOT said.  The new DOT rule requires that after three hours airlines must either return the plane to a gate or provide passengers who wish to leave some way to get off the air aircraft. That can often involve sending passengers to the terminal on buses.
“We think airline passengers deserve to be treated fairly — before, during, and after their flights,” transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a blog posted by his office. “The tarmac delay rule and vigilant enforcement by DOT are critical steps toward ensuring they are.”

LaHood has hailed the three-hour delay rule as a success.
Between May 2010 and April 2011, the first 12 months after the time limit was in effect, airlines reported 20 tarmac delays of more than three hours, none of which was more than four hours long. By comparison, during the 12 months before the rule took effect, airlines had 693 tarmac delays of more than three hours, and 105 of the delays were longer than four hours

But a recent Government Accountability Office report concluded, “The rule appears to be associated with an increased number of cancellations for thousands of additional passengers — far more than DOT initially predicted.”
The rule has since been extended to international flight delays, which are capped at four hours. Apparently, they will be next to face the brunt of the new rule, while the lawmakers still have no clue that it is all a Zero Sum Game, as the consumer not only will suffer the treatment at one time or another, he will also indirectly pay for the imposed fines. Don’t be surprised if airlines come up with yet another fee to recoup these fines; something like “the unexpected cost of doing business fine fee”.

Forbes Doesn’t Mention Terrorism as a Threat

Are you being Served?

It doesn’t look like air travel is going to be any smoother in the future. While manufacturers of airport security equipment were showing off their new inventions that will eliminate the need to take off shoes, remove nail clippers or laptops from carry-ons at the Aviation Security World Conference in Amsterdam last week, lawmakers in Washington were trying to figure out how to make it easier for foreign nationals to visit the US. And while the HLS/TSA, our national security watch dogs, are moving its headquarters into a renovated castle-like structure that opened in 1855 as the Government Hospital for the Insane, Americans are also becoming increasingly paranoid about their safety while traveling.

With Mexican drug killings, recent unrest in the Arab countries, natural disasters in other parts of the world, most travelers could be forgiven for worrying about their safety vis-a-vis acts of terrorism while away on vacation. But the truth is if you are worried about getting back home alive, forget terrorism as a factor. Terrorism is very much less likely a cause than a car or swimming accident. Actually the numbers are incomparable. The odds of a traveler abroad being killed by any act of terrorism are about 1 in 12 million versus 1 in 45,000 chances of dying in a car wreck. Another even more sobering statistic? You are three times more likely to commit suicide while abroad than be killed by an act of terrorism.

Yet terrorism influenced security budgets devour a lot more money than can be justified by the reality of facts. Looking at the new security tunnels as presented during the Security Conference in Amsterdam, profiling is not even an issue of ethics anymore, which honestly I always considered a waste of time, because we humans profile every single moment of the day, always have and always will, because that’s how our brain is wired. So with that out of the way, security experts came up with the idea to build three levels of technical and chemical interrogations, done by a machine. If you are a known traveler with a longstanding record, you quickly move through the blue tunnel with your shoes on, your coat on, your carry on with you and obviously just a light dose of radiation. You’re one of us. Have a nice flight.

The next person is not a frequent flyer, but once or twice a year gets a whiff of the world and jumps on a plane. Well no, first you have to fill in your flight plan so to speak with the various justifications and declarations, preferably way ahead of your flight. At the airport you will be guided into the NORMAL tunnel and supposedly be on your way.
And then there is the enhanced security risk passenger. Flies once in a blue moon, mostly because family lives at car trip distance and his work is a 30 minute commute. The only dream he or she has is a honeymoon to St.Maarten in the Caribbean. Well after having answered all the questions on the form that was required to be filled out long before the flight could be booked, the days of the trip arrives and he or she finds out that some of the answers were wrongly interpreted by the less than smart TSA employee who thought that St.Maarten was right next door to St.Simon’s off the Georgia Coast, instead of a small nation island in the Caribbean.( Don’t laugh or shake your head, I’ve heard it dozens of times!) Long story short, the once in a blue moon traveler is condemned to walk the ENHANCED TUNNEL, injected with radiation, chemical smoke, detection and send back to do it once again, because the TSA person was temporarily distracted and forgot to watch the screen. Granted I exaggerate, but I cannot tell you my dear reader, the stupidity I have encountered over more than a thousand flights I have been on over the last 40 years. Airlines may think that this tunnel system will be to their benefit, after all the more you fly, the more you become profiled as a known traveler, ergo preferred, but reality is that technology when it works, it’s great, but when it doesn’t work it creates headaches larger than life.

Five Things to Watch For While on Vacation

The answer to terrorism security is more a matter of balancing the threat against the reality. And the reality according to Forbes Magazine, our national provider of top listed anythings, is that terrorism is not even on the radar of the five biggest dangers for travelers.
The dangers facing most Americans traveling abroad are far more mundane and usually preventable, according to Forbes Magazine and gives the following five top tips to avoid trouble.

1.    Most crimes in violent cities tend to be concentrated in specific neighborhoods. Check friends and associates or social media for areas to avoid. If you really want to be secure, check the local police department.
2.    US hotels require smoke detectors, sprinklers or both. Many overseas hotels, and especially older ones in removed areas, have neither. Stay in a Western style hotel that adheres to international standards, he advises.
3.    Some of the most common mishaps involve petty crime or crimes of distraction such as pickpockets. Avoid ground floor rooms where thieves or even worse offenders have easy access. Also, avoid floors above six or seven because many fire department ladders can’t reach them.
4.    Slips and falls are among the most common problem for travelers. So simply watch out for slippery surfaces in hotel bathrooms.
5.    Watch your diet. How is this helpful? Water-borne illnesses (particularly stomach ailments) are common in developing countries. One rule: if you can peel it, you can eat it. Avoid street food to be safe, however.

Another website called OneBag.com, a self-described site on “The art and science on traveling light,” claims that overpacking tops the list of biggest travel mistakes. The site also features safety suggestions that I have learned over the years to be true and on the mark.
It says there are three variables when thinking of safety and security: individual circumstances, areas of travel, and personal perceptions:
Individual Circumstances: “Generally speaking, a woman is more at risk than a man, a weak person more at risk than a strong one, and a tourist more at risk than a local; these are things that we can do little about, other than recognize them as risk factors and adjust our expectations — and preparations — accordingly,” the site says. Paying attention to your surroundings always helps, the site says.
Areas of travel: Keep up with changing political winds in countries by checking consular offices, for example, about the latest in any political unrest or travel warnings.
Personal perceptions: The site advises taking the time and trouble to investigate the real and updated risks of any country you are looking to visit. “An example: the concerns that many have about terrorist aviation threats are, quite simply, irrational,” it says. However, “Few people these days take the trouble to educate themselves as to the true nature of any risks presented by the various scenarios that are being sold to them.”

With today’s social media access to any corner of the globe, the smart approach is to check with people who have recently (like a couple of days ago returned from the same spot you are visiting). It’s a bit like how pilots warn eachother while passing midway, about quickly changing weather conditions and wind shear. Go on Facebook or Twitter. Dig a little and be prepared.

Travel Tips for the Holidays

Travel with a Plan-here are some tips

With the Holidays less than 2 weeks away, we figured you could benefit from some insider travel tips to make your trip more enjoyable.
Here are some general tips travel veteran Ange Wallace from the Travel Agency here on Amelia Island wants to share with you.

Leave Your Itinerary with someone back home
. Whether you’re single or have a million relatives, leave your travel itinerary with a colleague, friend or loved one.   Include all the phone/ fax. Numbers and email addresses for your hotels and your flight schedules. Carry extra copies with you in case you lose it. It’s always a good idea to carry photocopies of your passport, photo I.D. and emergency contacts.

Extra security is never a bad thing. I never travel without a simple rubber door-stopper. It’s inexpensive, light to pack, and gives you peace of mind. The main door may not need it, but if there is an adjoining room, it might have a fairly flimsy lock, especially at older hotels.

Quick fix. Another item I never leave home without is a foot-long piece of duct tape, which I wrap around a pencil. If a strap on a sandal snaps or a purse handle breaks, it’s duct tape to the rescue.
Beat Blisters as foot problems are a real pain. Band-aids can slip off toes and heels, so pack thin moleskin instead. Buy the soft self-adhesive sheets at a grocery or drugstore, cut them into small squares and keep them in your purse or briefcase. If your shoe starts to rub, cover the area right away before it turns into a nasty blister.

Tag it. Make sure you have a secure I.D. tag on all your luggage and carry-ons, including your laptop. Tape your business card to the bottom, with your cell phone number, in case you leave it at security, they can call you at the airport. Also, brightly colored tags or a colorful strap will make your black bag stand out from all the others. It’s a good idea to put your contact information INSIDE your bags, in case your tag goes missing or gets ripped off.

Wake Up Calls. Carry your own alarm clock or a sports watch with an alarm. Even five star hotels miss wake up calls.

ALSO Before you leave home

• Consider registering your travel itinerary online at travelregistration.state.gov .This site allows you to enter your local and home contacts, itineraries, and passport numbers. U.S. embassies and consulates abroad are there to help Americans who are victims of accidents, crime or illness, or to help family or friends contact you in an emergency. Overseas consular officers will also provide you with the names of reputable local hospitals, lawyers and doctors and issue a temporary passport and even provide small loans if you have lost all your cash and credit cards.

• Make photocopies of your itinerary, hotel confirmations, passport, driver’s license and airline tickets and pack them in your carry-on bag.

• Your emergency kit, which should be packed in your carry-on luggage should contain:
- CASH – Several $20 bills and at least ten $1.00 bills WHY? CASH IS KING. If there is a power outage, credit cards and ATM cards can’t be used.
- Cell Phone with charger
- Phone card with a pin you can easily remember. WHY? Cell phones don’t work in some areas and you may need to use pay phones or the phone in your hotel room.
- Consider renting a satellite phone if you must be in contact with home or the office from ships, mountainous areas or remote locations.
- Bottled water
- Filling snack bars
- Medicine (enough prescription medicine to last 4 days more than your trip).
- A list of your prescriptions, with their generic names. Brand names vary from country to country
- Extra batteries for phone and flashlight
- Tiny flashlight
- Your doctor’s phone number, in case a hospital or emergency center needs to contact the doctor for your medical history/allergies, etc.

• Consider overseas travel health insurance. Make sure it covers emergency evacuation, lost luggage, trip cancellation, medical, dental, and life insurance coverage, at the least.

• If you’re a scuba diver, Diver’s Alert Network (800-446-2671) offers complete coverage for diving accidents, and if you’re a thrill-seeker or mountain climber, ask your insurance company about special insurance to cover adventure sports—these activities are often excluded from basic insurance plans.

Traveling by plane? Here are some more plane specific tips to make your travel experience better.

– Consider sending presents ahead of your trip, it may cost a bit more but it will save you a lot of hassle. Try UPS, Fedex or USPS

– Wear loose-fitting clothing, shoes and socks. Your best bet is comfortable slacks or long skirts so it is easy to cross your legs. Leave your panty or support hose in the suitcase: they can contribute to the formation of blood clots in your legs. Also avoid wearing tight socks or knee-high stockings. If they leave a mark on your leg, then they’re too tight to wear for long periods of immobility.

-To minimize swelling in your ankles and feet and to increase circulation, keep your feet elevated. Stash your carry on luggage under the seat in front of you and rest your feet on top of it, off the floor.

-Avoid drinks or snacks high in sodium such as Bloody or Virgin Mary’s, pretzels or peanuts. Read the labels! If you consume too much salt during a long trip, your feet may swell so much you won’t be able to put your shoes back on. I’ve seen people walk off the plane in socks, carrying their shoes!

-If you don’t already own an inflatable neck travel pillow, buy one. Most international airports have a good luggage and accessory store. They are inexpensive and readily available.

– Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Eight ounces of water an hour is the recommended amount. That may sound like a lot, but if you drink 6-8 ounces an hour, you’ll be forced to get up and use the bathroom, thus stretching and moving around. Carry your own water bottle aboard and ask the flight attendant to fill when they serve meals or snacks. If you store it in the seat pocket in front of you, you’ll drink more often and have it available when the lights are out and the flight attendants are nowhere to be found.

– To help you sleep, use an eye shield. Break it in by sleeping with it once at home prior to your trip.

– Pack soft earplugs to mute airplane noises, the wailing of a baby or the rock music seeping from your punk neighbor’s C.D. The pellet-shaped foam earplugs don’t work as well as the soft silicone (or wax) variety that conform to the contours of your ear.

– The cabin temperature during the flight can range from stifling hot to an arctic chill so dress in layers.

– Carry cloth slippers or socks and wear them to keep your toes warm and let your feet breath.

Airplane Stretches

Shoulder Shrug: Lift the top of your shoulders toward your ears until you feel mild tension in your shoulders and your neck. Hold your shoulders raised to your ears for five seconds then relax and resume your normal posture. Do this 2-3 times every two hours.

Head roll: Begin with your head in a comfortable, aligned position. Then slowly tilt your head to the left side to stretch the muscles on the side of your neck. Hold this stretch for 10-20 seconds. You should feel a good, even stretch. Don’t over do it! Then tilt your head to the right side and stretch. Repeat this exercise 2-3 times on each side.

Ankle twist: Point your toes and hold the stretch for five seconds, then stretch your feet up and back toward your knees and hold this position for five seconds. Next rotate your foot to the left, hold five seconds, and to the right and hold for five seconds. Repeat several times.

And don’t forget to breathe!
Take 10 deep breathes and exhale slowly at least once an hour.  It not only relaxes you, but helps detox your body by expelling carbon dioxide and helping maintain a balance in your blood gases.

And if you’re planning a Solo Trip you may want to consider these tips:

Register with the State department
When traveling alone outside the United States  it is always smart to register with the State Department and stay in touch for updates about the security of the area your are traveling to or in.  www.state.gov is a site you will want to check.  ALWAYS leave an itinerary with a friend or family member and make plans to check in once in awhile, especially if your itinerary plans…  or your contact numbers change.

Check Out the Independent Travelers Meeting Places listed in some guidebooks (such as the Lonely Planet series) will list them. Many cities have well-known Mecca’s for independent travelers from bookstores to cafés to youth hostels with bulletin boards and calendars of local events.

Trust your instincts and use common sense about situations and places.  The concierge or front desk manager is a great source to ask where and when you can safely move around and if there are any local customs you should show respect for or mimic.

Even if you want to be unstructured, book at least the first night’s accommodation in advance.  This makes it easier getting your bearings and ensures you don’t start the trip fatigued, trying to get it all together right when you step off the plane in a foreign country. Also try to schedule your flight to arrive during daylight hours.

For additional security, if your budget will allow, book your travel through a reputable inbound tour operator who will provide contact and emergency contact numbers and act as a sort of guardian angel in the case of any problems.

Avoid power plays and unwanted attention as most advances can be thwarted by silence, no eye contact and quickly moving away from the source of irritation. Always trust AND FOLLOW your instincts. If you are really being pestered, go into a store or hotel and explain that you are a tourist and there is a person annoying you. Explain that you are afraid and don’t know how to handle it. Ask them to help by calling the police or telling the obnoxious person to go away.  If you are a woman, take clues from the way local women are dressed and dress accordingly.

Do Talk To Strangers! Some of the most meaningful travel experiences come from spontaneous invitations to join a person, family or group for a dinner or activity. Communicate with women, children and elders.  School age children and teens often speak at least some English from studying it in school or on the internet.  And even if you don’t speak their language, a smile goes a long way.

Eating alone comfortably is a skill you will quickly develop. Choose a lively cafe or bistro with lots of people. Consider sitting at the counter and watch your food be prepared. Take along reading and writing material. Enjoy watching people and the fine art of eavesdropping. Again, use that smile to reach out and make contact with the diners around you. Your conversations with them may be the highlight of your evening.

Avoid Romantic Destinations. Ask yourself if a destination is perfect for a honeymoon. If it is, then reconsider this option of destinations, unless it has other importance to you!

Happy Holidays and Have a Great Trip!

by Ange Wallace

Traveling to Muslim Countries During Ramadan

Ramadan Image by www.sunna.info

Ramadan Image by www.sunna.info

If you plan to travel to Muslim countries during Ramadan, there are a few things you should know. Ramadan is the ninth month in Arabian culture and the Islamic calendar, which is celebrated several days earlier each year because the calendar is based on the phases of the moon.

This month of fasting during daylight hours also includes restrictions from drink and sex from dawn until sunset, and more prayer than usual. Similar to the Jewish practice of Yom Kippur.

Fasting symbolizes empathy for those who go hungry. The month is dedicated to avoiding what they consider obscene sights and sounds. This practice of self discipline encourages reading the entire Qur’an during the month.

Some groups are exempt from fasting including children, the unhealthy, pregnant or nursing women and those who are traveling. Instead some of these groups must feed the poor or make up for the days of fasting that are missed.

If you travel to Muslim countries during Ramadan, be forewarned that food and drink may be difficult to find during the day. Tourists are also encouraged to avoid drinking, smoking and eating in public during daylight hours in respect of this practice and to partake in private where they cannot be seen by Muslims.

Some countries are more strict than others. According to 4SomaliWomen.com “Keep in mind that in some countries like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar it is illegal to eat, drink, or smoke in public during Ramadan. In other places, like Turkey, many restaurants will be open (varies by city), however they might not serve alcohol for the length of Ramadan. Turkey Travel Planner points out that while it is not illegal, it is Impolite too eat, drink and smoke in public or around those fasting.”

To help understand more about Ramadan and what is means to Muslims, I found this Egyption press release very enlightning.

If you have news or information that you would like to share, please send it to us by clicking here.

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Slow Down in Georgia

Slow Down in Georgia

Slow Down in Georgia

For those of us that venture across the border, north into Georgia from time to time, the Atlanta Journal Constitution has reported that beginning August 1, there will be even more reasons to slow down and keep your foot light on the gas pedal. Georgia is planning a 30 day speeding ticket frenzy. Fifty state troopers will be on duty at all times of the day. They are expected to pull over a car every 10 to 20 minutes and people driving over 5 mph over the posted speed limit should expect to be targeted. 30 brand new unmarked Dodge Charger Police cruisers have been issued as well.

Georgia expects that $9 million will be generated in speeding fines. One million of this money will pay the state trooper’s overtime and the remainder will be used toward budget deficits. The troopers will be focused on patrolling the seven main intersections and highways in Georgia.

They are:
I-20 east and west

I-75 north and south

I-85 north and south

I-675 north and south

GA-985 north and south

GA-316 east and west

GA-400 north and south

Although none of these are close to the border, it is usual to see Camden County Sheriff’s cars lining I-95 clocking the speed of the cars and pulling them over. Expect this to become more common as government agencies need to raise money for their bottom line. If you don’t want to contribute, be sure to slow down.

Vacationing in a Rental Home

Vacationing in a Rental Home

Vacationing in a Rental Home

We often vacation with other couples or other families. A great way to save money and get more bang for your buck is to share a rental vacation home. Two, three, four and more bedrooms will give your party the privacy, space and accommodations that will make your vacation memorable.

Orlando, Florida is full of homes to rent and we stumbled upon the concept many years ago when planning a trip to Walt Disney World with another family. There were five of us and four of them and we found a three bedroom that was perfect.

There was an screened-in swimming pool directly off of the living room and the garage easily held both of our cars. Located in a nice neighborhood, an evening walk after dinner felt safe and familiar.

By sharing the rental, each family’s portion was less than we would have paid by staying in a small motel room closer to the Magic Kingdom. We saved even more money by cooking our meals in the large kitchen. When you travel with children, there is another often over-looked convenience; the home also had a washer and dryer!

Since that first experience, we have rented homes in a variety of locations and had quality vacations, without breaking the bank, every time!

Amelia Island has many vacation homes available.

Tips for Booking a Cruise with Teenagers

Tips for Booking a Cruise with Teenagers

Tips for Booking a Cruise with Teenagers

Alan Fox is the CEO and Chairman of Vacations to Go and a leading authority in the travel industry, especially when it comes to traveling with teenagers.

My family has booked several cruises through www.VacationsToGo.com and I am extremely excited to share his latest article that is full of insights about how to go on a cruise with a teenager.


I’ve taken several cruises with a teenager, and I can summarize what I’ve learned with 5 points:

#1 The best thing about traveling with teenagers is that they are big enough to carry their own luggage.
I’m kidding of course, that’s the second best thing. The best thing is that they are old enough to go anywhere you can go, so if you’ve dreamed of the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Alaska or even more exotic destinations but held back while the kids were young, now you can go for it.

#2 Teens need more space.
It’s a little-known fact that the Second Law of Thermodynamics, namely, that all systems tend to spread out and become disorganized, actually refers to a teenager settling into a cruise cabin. Any triple or quad cabin will work for families with one or two younger kids, as the kids will appreciate the coziness, but teenagers need more space and privacy. Space costs money, so here are some considerations for parents who are willing to pay to get more.

Beyond the standard triples and quads, options may include mini-suites, suites, family suites (holding 5 or more passengers, on some ships), adjoining cabins (two cabins with a private connecting door, on some ships), adjacent cabins (next door with no private connecting door) and cabins facing each other across a hall (one oceanview or balcony and one inside).

Every sailing is different with respect to cabin options and availability, so you should confirm details with your Vacations To Go cruise counselor before booking. In general, you will find that mini-suites are a little larger than the largest regular room, and may have a curtain to separate two sleeping areas. Suites and family suites are much larger than regular rooms, and may have separate TV viewing areas, tables or desks, as well as curtains or even doors to separate sleeping areas. A suite may be as large or larger than two standard rooms combined, and may be more or less expensive than two rooms. I advise you to compare both options on the sailing you are interested in.

Cruises offer teens activities away from their parents

Cruises offer teens activities away from their parents

If prices are similar, the main considerations in comparing a suite to two rooms are comfort and privacy. A large suite will have a spacious feel and will accommodate the entire family or new friends in a sitting area. Separate rooms will provide more privacy, but less ability to track your teens’ comings and goings.

If you are considering two rooms, keep in mind that adjoining rooms and adjacent rooms allow you to monitor the level of noise emanating from your teens’ room at night, while cabins across the hall from each other will not.

One final note, adjoining cabins and family suites are in short supply and in very high demand during the summer, spring break, and at Christmas, so I recommend booking 4-6 months in advance in order to have the best odds of getting one. Click here for a complete list of ships with adjoining cabins, and click here to see a list of ships with family suites.

#3 Teens may not buy in upfront, but they’ll enjoy it when they get there.
Every spring, I scour thousands of cruise departures on our website and research ships, itineraries and ports to identify the ideal summer vacation. Then, I send up a trial balloon to see how quickly and vigorously it is shot down by my son, who consistently claims he would rather stay home and hang out with his friends.

Despite his protests, we cruise every year, and at some point during every cruise, he admits he is glad that he came. He has never been ready to leave the ship at the end of a cruise.

#4 Teens need more freedom from you than you need from them.
The enlightened parent wants to cruise with a teenager in order to enjoy a great family vacation and to explore the world together.

The enlightened teenager may have a different goal for the cruise, for example, to get as far away from one’s parents as is humanly possible, and stay there.

Fortunately, a cruise allows an easy compromise. Whenever possible, we choose active shore excursions that we can enjoy as a family. Onboard, we let our son set his own agenda — with a curfew and an occasional check-in.

Choose exciting family excursions for your teen

Choose active family excursions for your teen

#5 Any ship will do.
The bigger, newer ships will have more teens, more teen facilities and more planned teen activities. However, it’s been my experience that teens need this structure less than young children — they’ll find a way to meet each other and have fun, with or without special programs. So choose your cruise based on the quality of the ship, the itinerary and the price, and don’t worry too much about teen programs.

Being the parent of a teenager is almost like nearing the end of a great cruise: I’m amazed at how fast it’s gone by, not ready for it to be over, and thankful to have been along for the ride.

Alan Fox
Chairman & CEO

Vacations To Go

Take a Vacation

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Taking a vacation, even a short one, is a great way to recharge your battery to regain the energy needed to tackle life head-on. I just returned from a well needed trip to Pigeon Forge, TN. Although I am extremely busy, I needed the break so that I could boost my morale and get ready for the pressure I am going to be under for at least the next six weeks.

I am in the middle of my final semester of school. In fact, one of my midterms involved six separate essays on the Theories of Criminal Behavior that had to be completed while I was on my trip. I am also preparing for a very intense audit at work and I need to be ready for our own Amelia Island, Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival. My graduation, audit and the Shrimp Festival are all happening the first week of May!

A shift in mental attitude and change in routine can be a vacation as well. No matter how busy you are, or what state your finances are in, a vacation is possible even if you don’t actually go anywhere. Here are some ideas to help you escape:

1. Take a vacation from thinking. Periodically, set aside some time to let it all go: perhaps, meditate. Put your thoughts on paper, they’ll be there when you return to them. An added benefit is, by taking a step back, you’ll gain fresh perspective and come back even stronger.

2. Take a day off and plan your favorite activity. If planning a week or two of vacation time is not realistic, plan a day. Clear your schedule of everything and either plan to do nothing, (if that’s heaven to you) or plan a day of “I’ve always wanted to…” and do it.

3. Plan a special weekend. Be a tourist in your own town. Amelia Island is full of wonderful and fun things to do and see. Try new restaurants, explore the Greenway, or attend an event.

4. Spa night. Lock yourself in the bathroom with all your favorite hair and body products and do it up. Light candles, play your favorite music, soak in the tub until you’re wrinkled. Pamper yourself.

5. Change it up. For example: sleep in a different room, take a break from TV and read a book. Create themes around mealtimes; bring Mexico or Italy into your kitchen. Spend a Saturday watching old comedies. As Milton Berle once said, “Laughter is an instant vacation”.

The bottom line is that taking a good amount of time away from the stresses of daily life can give us the break we need so that we can return to our lives refreshed and better equipped to handle whatever comes along.

Cumberland Island, host to royalty and celebrity

The Historic Glory of Cumberland Island is Impressive

Carnegie's Dungeness on Cumberland Island was Impressive

Cumberland Island has been a place for the super rich and famous for well over one hundred years.  Families with names such as Johnson, (Johnson and Johnson) and Carnegie to name a couple have spent many millions of dollars on the Island building their individual mansions.

John Kennedy Jr. got married on Cumberland Island.  I remember a back yard neighbor of ours who lived on six street, we lived on fifth and our backyards met.  Bertha was the cook on Cumberland Island and would always let us know who was visiting the Island and how important they were.  I guess Bertha was our living version of People magazine, we got the inside scoop of the rich and famous.

The Carnegie family had a beautiful mansion named Dungeness.  I can remember in 1959 standing on the the city docks with my parents looking at the orange glow in the sky to the north, Dungeness was burning.  Today you can visit the ruins of this once beautiful mansion and it is not hard to imagine the splendor once enjoyed by the Carnegie family.  There have always been rumors of how the fire started.  Some say it was arson and others say not, I only know it was a shame that it burned.

The JF Kennedy Jr wedding in the chapel

The JF Kennedy Jr wedding in the chapel

Another beautiful mansion is Plum Orchard.  I was invited one summer to visit this beautiful place and was taken with the large indoor swimming pool.  I confide that as a kid I thought this was the best thing on earth.  We would swim most of the day and had a great time swinging out over the pool on a rope creating huge splashes when we let go.  Plum Orchard still holds it’s beauty to this day.

John Kennedy was married on Cumberland in a small wooden church, for the most part this was kept a secret from the public.  If only Bertha was still alive I would have known months in advance.

If you have never visited Cumberland Island I suggest you make that a to do on your list.  You can catch the boat to Cumberland from St. Marys Georgia, plan to spend the day and enjoy the natural beauty and sights that Cumberland has to offer.

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A Miami International Security Story. LOL

Newark, Miami, Atlanta, nothing has improved

Newark, Miami, Atlanta, nothing has improved

Okay people. This is a story about stupidity in the relentless pursuit of better airport security.

I was reading the whole security breach misery that happened at Newark Airport which set off alarms all over the place a couple of days ago. Besides the fact that a breach like this is absolutely not unusual and easily to perpetrate, I think that Senator Lautenberg should get on a plane and check out Miami International, if he really wants a soapbox to shoot from. Here is what happened to me and my group a while back.

Flying in on an American flight from St.Maarten to Miami the following craziness was bestowed upon me and my travel partners.

In St.Maarten I had a little matchbook in my carry on which would allow me to smoke a quick one in Miami’s famous gate D34 smoker’s room- yeah yeah I know, but that’s not the point. Thought matches were allowed, just no lighters. Well one of my travel partners had a full large box of self striking matches and another one had forgotten that he had a lighter in the back pocket. No problems for them however.

The very friendly flightcrew on the flight donated a bottle of good wine to me in exchange for a good time on the island next time they were going to be down there. We planned to show them around all the hotspots. I put the bottle in my carry-on not anticipating the stupidity I was going to run into once landed in Miami. First point of entry into the US, so as a frequent traveler I am very well aware that this is where I check into the country with all my luggage, fully expecting that after custom clearing, I quickly check the luggage through for my ongoing connecting flight, make a run for the smoker’s room at Gate D34 and catch the 50 minute flight on my way home to Amelia Island. Uh no. Not in Miami.

They put you on a stupid yellow stipped walk of about a mile, to a drop off point for your luggage in an area less than 10 feet from the exit doors to the taxi stands. And guess what?:….. you have left the secured area of the airport’s flight operations and all at once find yourself in a long line of irritated travelers at a security check in, waiting to be manhandled, followed by another barefooted walk through a technological concoction that goes off if a long forgotten dime has nestled itself in the lining of your coat pocket. And by the way what is with those machine that spit air at you?

Anyway, here is the thing.

On the issue of protecting my belongings, I realize how easy it is for someone to step inside the exit doors and either put something in my luggage or make a quick getaway with it. There is absolutely no TSA around to keep an eye on something like that not happening. On the issue of travel comfort I have this suggestion: Avoid Miami International like the plague if you can. If you can’t,  just travel with one carry on and take a couple of extra bucks to buy what you need. It will save you a lot of hassle.

On the issue of waste I have this observation:

Miami International handles more than 100 incoming international flights daily with an estimated capacity of what? 20,000 passengers? More I would think, but anyway,  let’s assume 100 passengers per plane have connecting flights to other US destinations. An easy calculation states that Miami International’s homeland security needlessly double checks at least 10,000 passengers daily. Needless, because these passengers are forced to go from an airport secured area into an unsecured area and then have to go back into the secured areas to catch their connecting flights.

Wasted money, wasted manpower and ever increasing travel irritation.

In man hours this wastes easily a 1,000 hours daily, which translates into 125 TSA employees doing a useless 8 hour job, day after day. Money wasted. Who knows how much? I don’t know what these people get paid. A major slap for you Miami International. Get with the program, if San Juan Puerto Rico knows how to do it right, why can’t you keep international travelers in secured areas and saves us all a lot of unnecessary irritation and money.

Of course I lost my pre-screened, homeland security approved bottle of Merlot to some TSA treasure chest of confiscated goodies, but I raise my glass of vintage claret at my home to hope. Hope that one day someone up there in Washington grows brain cells and figures out that this whole airport security thing is not working. That’s my opinion, let me know what you think.

Well this was written about 2 years ago.

Apparently they still haven’t grown any brains up in Washington since.

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Plan a Merry Nearcation for Yuletide Cheer

Plan a Merry Nearcation

Plan a Merry Nearcation

By: Jane Kastner

With Yuletide just around the corner, is the season to be merry, so don’t let the economic downturn put a damper on your family’s holiday spirits and plans. If you have been searching for a low-budget quick getaway for your family and are finding yourself stumped, look no further. Why not plan a nearcation instead?

A nearcation is that wonderful middle ground between the staycation (staying at home), and a full blown vacation jaunt at some far flung place. While an exotic locale may sound tempting, after the Christmas binge, the wallet may not permit this. So why not visit destinations close to home? Even scenic Amelia Island residents need to go away on vacation, and a quick camping or RVing trip is a great eco and budget friendly holiday for you and your family.

Amelia Island is a perfect place to start. Did you know that there are 20 campgrounds and RV parks within a 50 mile radius? Within one or two hours of leisurely driving, you have a grand selection of places to go, things to do and campgrounds to stay. Willing to venture a little further out of town? Within 100 miles there are over 70 campgrounds and RV parks to entertain the family, and best of all, you can even get there with one tank of gas!

Nearcationers have plenty of options available to them. From exploring an abandoned old fort at Fort Clinch State Park to kayaking by the tidal creek at Little Talbot Island State Park, or even riding a bike around Jekyll Island, there is no shortage of activities to pick from.

Camping promotes family bonding time, encourages physical activities and allows you to connect with nature and the outdoors. What’s more, you can do all this without breaking the bank! You can choose to rough it and camp out in the traditional tent camp. Or you can carry your comforts with you in an RV or rent a cabin for the weekend. Whatever your camping style is, your family is guaranteed to have a fun, low-cost holiday.

For a list of all the campgrounds and RV parks located within a 50 or 100 mile radius of Amelia Island, you can run a Smart Search on www.CampingRoadTrip.com a camping and RV travel website and directory of over 10,000 U.S. campgrounds and RV parks.

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