Dec
18th
  How to Find Meaning in the Wake of Devastating Events – Even While You Are Traveling

132 children. Killed.

I can’t even talk about it. This week’s news is so heart wrenching. I know many of you feel the same way. It doesn’t matter if it’s at a Pakistan school or in your own community, the loss of so many young, innocent life, so brutally, is painful.

It may ache to think of  this tragic incident. It may make us mad as heck to think about the cold-hearted act. But it won’t do any GOOD.

Instead, I would like to share something with you, that may do some GOOD when tragedy hits.

After another senseless attack just last month, I read something that resonated. A man reflected on his friend, Rabbi Kalman Levine, who was one of four killed while innocently praying in an Israeli synagogue. The friend said the rabbi would have advised this about finding meaning in his murder, or other tragedy:

“He would say when you observe this type of act, you need to increase the force of good in the world. Do something good you wouldn’t have done otherwise,” he said. “It’s the only way we’ll defeat the forces of evil.”

THIS is something we as individuals, who may feel helpless, can do. Try to make the world a better place with little moments.

I especially believe  this is important while we travel. We are giving everyone around the world an impression of Americans. Do they want to be our friends? Can we help make the world beyond our familiar borders a little less evil?

One meaningful, and adventurous way to make your trips meaningful and help is by voluntourism. It’s not only important to giving back, but how you help  can be a bridge between cultures… and intellectually interesting on a personal level.

 

Accommodations for Voluntourism on Mexican farm

Accommodations for Voluntourism on Mexican farm

IMG_3450

I report on voluntourism opportunities for the tv show “Travel Detective” on PBS member stations.  Above is a family farm in Mexico where I  helped in a garden…and the accommodations for volunteers.

Reporting on Heritage Malta Voluntourism

Reporting on Heritage Malta Voluntourism

You’ll see some more of my stories in the upcoming season:  I’ve profiled some interesting ways to give back to another country, while seeing another part of the world. Above, I was working on an archaeological dig in Malta, preserving Roman baths. It was amazing.

You can do it too. No matter what your passion, there is surely a volunteer trip for you.

How about working on a winery in New Zealand? How about helping preserve an endangered species’ habitat? Many times no experience is necessary. But – many times you do have to pay for your place to stay or contribute in some way. It isn’t always – “help out and you will have a free vacation. “  But you would be paying for a hotel anyway , right? By the way, the accommodations aren’t always 4 or even 3 star, but are you going for the experience or to be pampered? If pampering is your answer, this is not your kind of trip.

Here are some resources to help you begin researching some ways to volunteer on vacation.

https://www.justgive.org/donations/volunteer-vacations.jsp

http://www.wwoof.net/

http://heritagemalta.org/

Around this time if year, when we try to find good in the world, it’s nice to think we CAN do something that impacts others in a positive way. As we are thinking ahead to New Year’s resolutions, this might be anactivity for you to consider.

And although I believe in being modest or even anonymous in one’s charity, this just may be a time when you want to take photos for friends back home to spread the word :) #payitforward

 

 
Nov
20th
  Another Airline Charging for 1st Checked Bag – How to Save $$ On Baggage Fees
From blog.aztec247.com

From blog.aztec247.com

How many more airline fees can we fliers take? Just in time for the holidays, one of the only airlines to not charge for a first checked bag, announced that it is offering new classes of airfare – essentially eliminating the free checked bag with the discount airfare.

The airline – Jet Blue. Southwest now remains the only airline to not charge for the first checked bag.

The nation’s largest 15 airlines made $3.35 billion on baggage fees last year- With those kind of numbers, Jet Blue is calculating it to be a smart business move. Gas prices are down, so the airlines are poised to make even more money.

So how can we beat the airlines at their own game and save money? Travel smart and know before you go.

1) First way to avoid baggage fees: Consider getting an airline-aligned credit card that allows free checked bags. Even though the cards usually come with annual fees, if you travel & check bags frequently, the card pays for itself in saved baggage fees. Plus – you can earn other perks like extra miles, & free passes to the upper class lounges. Not to mention – your travel partners reap benefits too.

Here are some cards and baggage bonuses I researched  - but please double check before becoming a card holder!!

United Mileage Plus Explorer  - First bag checked free, & one companion on the reservation also gets a bag checked for free.  Upgrade to a United Club card & you & a companion get two bags checked for free.

Platinum Select American Airlines AAdvantage -first bag checked for free, plus FOUR people on the reservation get bags checked for free – big savings for a family.

Delta Gold Sky Miles -  Not only do you get one bag checked for free, so do up to NINE people on your reservation. Sounds great, but… I don’t really know anyone who books nine people on one reservation, but heck, if you do – that’s a $450 savings round trip at $25 a checked bag.

From Fedex.com

From Fedex.com

2) Second way to avoid baggage fees: Mail your bags in advance with a carrier service like Fed-Ex or UPS. The farther you plan in advance, the cheaper it is. Depending on how heavy the bag is & where you go will determine how much you save, (or not.) BUT – it is more convenient, and the airlines won’t lose your luggage.

compression bag3) Third way to avoid baggage fees: Pack light so you can fit everything in your carry on.  Vacuum storage bags make everything compact & give you more room  – I recommend them if you have a lot to pack with little room for it. Wear your bulky clothes on the plane, & put your toiletries in your personal purse/bag if possible, as long as liquid items are  less than 3.4 ounces.

4) If you have to check bags & pay a fee, make sure you know the rules of the airline, & any weight limitations. You can buy a small scale so you can weigh your bags before you get to the airport  – overweight bags get charged extra, so know before you go. Digital luggage scales can easily be found on Amazon.com.

Good luck!

 

 

 

 
Nov
14th
  Hotel of the Week: Orlando, for Less than $200 – Top Destination for the Holidays!

Magic Kingdom Main StreetAccording to an Orbitz travel survey, Orlando ranks as  the top place travelers are going this holiday season.While many of us are visiting Grandma, many more are apparently visiting Mickey and Minnie :)

IMG_1114I ‘ve been to Orlando a dozen times for work & pleasure, visiting  Epcot, the Magic Kingdom, Universal Orlando, and all the other attractions. So I gotta tell you: For as much as Disney is SO great at making family vacations memorable and fun, choosing a hotel at Walt Disney World Resort can be VERY overwhelming. I am not kidding you when I say that if you look for a hotel at Walt Disney World Resort online, 30 very different lodging options pop up. Who has time to research which one is best?

(You can go through travel agents who specialize in Disney – They are also in the know about meal plans, ticket packages, etc & can steer you to the best savings. )

Most people booking the hotel themselves look at the price point for his or her budget- and there is a wide range…from thousands of dollars, to hundreds a night.

This past summer, my family and I tried one of their moderate/budget hotels -  we were only there two nights, with more time spent at the park than in our room. I was curious to see what $180 got you for one room where my entire family of five could stay together – two queen beds, and one pull down bed with  REAL mattress, not a roll away. A little squeezed, but as I said, the kids were up at the crack of dawn to get to the Magic Kingdom, and we were out late.

Port Orleans Riverside Walt Disney World ResortWe stayed at Port Orleans Resort – Riverside and were pleasantly surprised.

Port Orleans Resort RiversideLike all the Disney resorts, this one had a theme:  The Louisiana Bayou,  – think swamps and riverboats. Other Walt Disney resort themes are the Animal Kingdom Lodge, All Star Music, All Star Sports Resort, and a Beach Club to name a few.

Port Orleans wasn’t one of the more exciting themes for kids, but there is something nice about being in a tranquil setting near nature – ponds, greenery, etc – rather than neon lights and loud music. You’ll get plenty of that on the rides at Orlando’s theme parks.

Port Orleans Riverside, Walt Disney World Resort

The tranquil design is done really well -but lends itself to  be spread out on a lot of land. So if you can’t walk a lot, or get in late at night, try to request a room close to the main lobby BEFORE you arrive.  There are multiple pools and lounging areas and can make it more confusing when not in the light of day.

The rooms themselves are an ok size – But most importantly – they are clean. That is a consistent Disney trait. Port Orleans has connecting rooms for families as well.

Port Orleans Riverside

One trait that makes this resort unique is that it has a 95 foot waterslide on “Ol Man Island” – a man made island that is part of the hotel with a swimming pool and fishin’ hole. Think Tom Sawyer. Around the resort, there are five other pools. When it gets too hot in the middle of the day at the parks – and it DOES – it’s nice to come back & take a afternoon break. Although Disney does put spray misters on some of the park’s ride lines, they really can’t keep everyone cool – those lines can get really uncomfortable if they are long.

If you are a rare person who sleeps in late while at Walt Disney World, or anticipate being jet lagged, request a room away from any of the pools because they can be loud. Some of the favorite rooms are Magnolia Bend mansion rooms… closer to everything… & the Alligator Bayou Lodges are more rustic, & spread out.

photo 1There aren’t many places to eat here – one casual sit down restaurant open only for dinner, and heavy on Southern food – Boatwright Dining Hall.. or a food court with buffet service that is packed for breakfast!

photo 2One note – there are some Disney resorts like the Contemporary that are walking distance to the Magic Kingdom. Port Orleans is one of the farthest resorts from the park – it’s near Downtown Disney. (For those of you who know, Downtown Disney is like a Disney outdoor mall area, not part of the theme park.)  However – Disney offers great complimentary shuttle service to its resorts and parks. It is about a 15 minute shuttle ride from Port Orleans Riverside- which does seem like a long time at the end of a hot sweaty day at the Magic Kingdom- but for $180 a night? Worth it.

With tickets to the Magic Kingdom looming near the $100 range, my theory is that travelers will start compensating by staying at more of the budget hotels, not eating at the restaurants as much, and buying fewer souvenirs. If that’s the case – Port Orleans -Riverside should be considered.

 https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/port-orleans-resort-riverside/

 
Nov
11th
  War Memorials are Worth Visiting Beyond Veteran’s Day

Veteran's DayMany Americans today are giving thanks and appreciation to military personnel who have served in our wars. Around the country there are church services, parades, and moments of silence… as well as each of our own personal odes of gratitude.

Many of these formalities are taking place today at monuments or memorials specifically for our soldiers. But, while all the ceremony is nice, let’s not forget about these poignant public statues and reminders even when it’s not Veteran’s Day. There are so many educational displays dedicated to the remembrance of war and the warriors – many are great for families.

This summer I visited what may be the granddaddy of places to visit memorials – Our National Mall in Washington DC, where, in a matter of a couple hours you can visit three different war memorials.

Korean War Memorial, Washington DCThe Korean War Memorial happens to be my favorite – only because it is so different, and can be haunting when seen at low light.

National World War 2 Memorial

The National World War 2 Memorial is beautiful…

Vietnam Memorial from veteranstoday.comAnd the Vietnam Memorial is strikingly personal and human because of the more than 58,000 names you can read of those who sacrificed their lives in the war.

If you visit – here are some tips: In the summer, go at dusk when it’s not so hot and not so crowded. Pick a time when most travelers are eating dinner. BUT  – don’t wait until it’s too dark. The Vietnam Memorial is hard to see after dusk even though it is lit from the sidewalk.

Bring bottled water in a backpack or something, along with sunscreen and an umbrella. Wacky Washington DC weather can be humid, strikingly hot, and rainy all in the same minute.

bike rentals

Also – another way to get around is to rent bikes right there on the mall. The only downer is there are no kid-sized bikes, so teens and adults only.

Washington DC is obviously not the only place to learn about the sacrifices of our vets, and appreciate the memorials built for them. Here is a link to many others devoted to our men and women who devoted so much: www.usa.gov/Federal-Employees/Veterans-Memorials.shtml

Yes the pomp and circumstance is nice at many of these monuments on Veteran’s Day. But if you’d like to spend a more peaceful time, reflecting on our history with fewer people around, these special memorials are worth the visit year round.

And…In case you didn’t know – Veteran’s Day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice which ended World War 1.

Thank you.

 

 

 
Oct
28th
  Travel Tip Tuesday: Ways to Maximize Your Frequent Flier Miles with Children
Peru, Traveling with Kids

Peru, Traveling with Kids

Family travelers – you know this. It is hard to find multiple open seats for families using frequent flier miles. You may only be able to use miles on one or two tickets instead of the whole family because the seats allocated for awards use are all booked up.

If this happens to you, make sure you do it right in order to maximize your award seats. Here’s how:

Always have the most frequent flier on the paying tickets – that would most likely be the adult(s) in the party. In other words, since you probably travel more than your kids, pay for YOUR ticket, and put the kids on the awards tickets, that way you accumulate even more miles on your account for a trip.

The tricky part is, if you are booking online, airlines won’t let you book a free ticket for a minor unless there is an adult flying with them. For example, if I try to book free tickets for all my three kids, and pay for my ticket, they are separate transactions, so the website reads it as the kids would be flying alone.

(Unaccompanied minors are a whole different story in booking, and require a service charge.)

But don’t give in and put the adult names in the free ticket booking information. Pick up the phone and call the airlines. Make the reservation on the phone – I’ve never had an airline charge me the fee per ticket for reserving over the phone because they are giving me a service that the website is not set up to do. Book your kids on the award ticket, and pay for yours – again to accrue more miles to your account.

Also – many people don’t know this but there are airline loyalty programs that allow families to share their points and miles within a household by transferring them for free.

Here are the ones I know about and should be checked:

British Airways:  The Avios program allows members to pool miles between up to 7 residents at the same address.

Etihad Airways (Airline of United Arab Emirates) The Etihad Guest Program allows family members to pool miles in one account.

Hawaiian Air: The Hawaiian Miles program has a “share miles”  feature, but only to holders of their credit or check cards.

Japan Airlines: The Family Club allows members to share miles between relatives at different households. There is a $30 fee per family that is charge to the account of the designated “Primary Member”.

Korean Air: Immediate family members can combine miles to issue awards.

Be smart about your valuable miles.. especially when it comes to something as expensive as booking flights for multiple people. Ask questions, and book the miles far in advance.

Happy travels!

 
Oct
17th
  Hotel of the Week: A Place Where Teens Will Roll Their Eyes… in Amazement

So I am officially a parent who doesn’t have a clue. According to my 13 year old son, anyway. More than ever I am getting the exasperated look from him like I am from a different planet. Here is the conversation yesterday, as I was helping him with his science experiment that I hadn’t fully read yet.

Him: “Mom, how should I measure my geyser?”

Me: “Geyser… what geyser? ”

Him: ” The one that goes up”

Me: “What do you mean? I thought you needed to drop Mentos into a Diet Coke from a distance?”

Him, eyes rolling “Mom, everyone knows when you drop Mentos in a Diet Coke it causes a geyser – it’s OBVIOUS. Nevermind. ”

Guess I must have missed that viral video.

I thought about many things… including how long does attitude this last… and, just because my life with years of this flashed in front of me, what kind of summer vacation would keep teens happy.

So I am updating an article I wrote about wilderness lodges in Alaska – where I met many teens who loved the adventure.

Tutka Bay WIlderness Lodge, from Withinthewild.com

Tutka Bay WIlderness Lodge, from Withinthewild.com

Visiting a wilderness lodge is not as easy as taking a cruise through the Last Frontier, and is not your typical hotel.  There will most likely be a lot of driving to get there…but what a novel way to see the country. The wilderness lodge offers activities as well as meals and a place to stay. It is exactly the kind of travel destination I love to recommend: Sort of off the beaten path…great for kids…lots to do in the great outdoors.

Kids who are used to being plugged in and electronically entertained are probably going to be happier on a cruise, where there is never a shortage of modernization. However, if you want to get your kids away from that…my driving trip through  Alaska exposed me to SO many cool things, and I felt closer to nature. Granted, a cruise ship can take you through passages that you normally wouldn’t get to see….and there are some cruise lines that have biologists on board to teach kids about their environment  – so a ship is not all pools and play stations.

Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge

Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge

But the most memorable and teen-attractive thing I encountered on  my Alaska by road trip  is that I stayed at  Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge. Out in the middle of no freaking where, this place is so peaceful. And rugged. We spent some time in Homer, than took a water taxi to the lodge.

scenery

It is located at the southern end of Kachemak Bay on the Kenai Peninsula… on eleven acres. There is a main lodge, and six private guest accommodations, so you really feel like you are spending time with your family. The lodge offers organized excursions, so it makes taking day adventures easier.

img_0546_edited

We went bear viewing…kayaking with otters…and deep sea fishing. After a full day out in the fresh air, there are hearty home cooked meals and a hot tub awaiting. A family with teenagers and pre teens was staying there the same time I was , and the kids said it was their best vacation EVER. I was sold.

There are other wilderness lodges in Alaska…  they are unique to the region. Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge is high end and nice I understand, but I liked the owners at Tutka Bay.  One website to check for other wilderness lodges is www.alaska.org/where-to-stay/wilderness-lodges or  Withinthewild.com

I’m not going to act like everything is easy about traveling this way  – it is a lot more work getting around the huge state of Alaska this way, driving or flying from town to town..it’s not like there are places to stop and ask for directions in the middle of practically nowhere. And not a lot of convenient restaurants. So if that doesn’t sound like an adventure, or if you have really young kids then maybe a cruise is for you. Or stick to one place like Denali National Park. But the teens I met loved it.

From Alaska.org

From Alaska.org

Alaska’s not a luxurious place. It is unpolished, but beautiful. You will find your soul there. There is no Four Seasons… no hotel spa. Not that kind of trip…but wonderful and real. Definitely take the kids. Best time to go, since kids are out of school and weather is nice, is summer – and Tutka Bay is only open May-Sept.  – “OBVIOUSLY”. :)

www.tutkabaylodge.com

 
Oct
14th
  Travel Tip Tuesday: Los Cabos One Month After Hurricane Odile

 

From KRQE.com

From KRQE.com

One month ago today, Hurricane Odile ripped through Baja California,  closing Los Cabos International Airport, badly damaging resorts and city infrastructure, and leaving residents worried about their future.

I know so many travelers who had trips to Cabo San Lucas planned for Thanksgiving or Christmas break, and weren’t sure how to proceed afterward. Should they cancel their reservations? Some of the hotels weren’t responding to phone calls due to power outages. At that time, it really seemed like things would not be better quickly – shoot, there are spots along the Atlantic Coast  are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy in 2012!

I am happy to report that my sources who were in Cabo during the storm tell me the government has acted quickly to restore normalcy – some flights have resumed, some hotels are reopened, and things are looking almost back to normal in Los Cabos.

According to Cabo San Lucas Tours, here are the airlines and locations from which there are resumed flights to Cabo… and also a list of soon to be flights.

Already Operating:

Atlanta (Delta)
Houston (United)
Los Angeles (Alaska)
Mexico City (AeroMexico, Interjet)
Salt Lake City (Delta)
San Francisco (United)

Non-Stop Flights Resume:

October 15:  Orange County (Southwest)
October 18: Dallas, Chicago (American), Denver (Southwest), Charlotte (US Air)
October 23: San Francisco (Virgin)
October 26: Los Angeles (United), Calgary & Vancouver (WestJet)
October 31: Dallas, San Diego (Spirit)
November 1: Denver (Frontier, United)
December 13: Newark (United)

Security after the looting is reportedly back in check, and many popular restaurants are open. For golf enthusiasts, some golf courses are open.

But – some of the luxury hotels that were hit hard aren’t opening until December or next year, so stay in touch, or check either of these websites for more information and the full list of hotel updates: http://www.cabosanlucastours.net/Hurricane_Odile/   or  http://www.loscabosguide.com/

Photos of Cabo taken recently are on this blog - http://www.cabovillas.com/blog/?p=2904

The best thing we can do to help the people of Cabo, who depend so much on our tourist dollars, and are dealing with their own personal damages, is to spread the word, and if so inclined… plan a trip!

 

 

 
Oct
07th
  Travel Tip Tuesday: Seats You Should Never Choose on the Plane

Take a good look at the below online seating chart of the economy section of US Airways. Pay close attention to row 21.

Airline online seating chart

Airline online seating chart

Do you see how there is a complete empty space on the left side of row 21, where there are usually seats? Be very very careful – if you choose the aisle seat on the right in row 21 you will be sitting next to…… a BATHROOM. Yep – you heard me… within arm’s reach you could be grabbing a tissue from the lavatory without even getting up.

It is misleading because there is NO indication that empty space is indeed a bathroom. (And the most undesirable place on the plane)

On the plane, there is no curtain, not any sort of barrier between that bathroom (and that airplane bathroom aroma) and you. And… once everyone on the plane has had his or her complimentary beverages, there will not be a barrier between you and all the full-bladdered passengers standing in line either.

Row 22 is also affected because people will be standing there waiting for the lavatory, and invade your space since it is an exit row and there is room for them to stand. Also in row 22, like any exit row – there is no tray in front of you if you like to work on a laptop…and no place at your feet to store an extra bag. But if you like a lot of leg space, there is plenty.

This plane is an Airbus A321. I am not sure if other airlines that fly this plane have the same configuration – I can tell you that American’s new A321s do not have this configuration, but do have some other space problems.

Bottom line: Anytime you are searching for seats, note the empty spaces, or anything suspicious. Double check with SeatGuru.com – that website indicates the space in row 21 is a bathroom. There should be a marker as well on any airline’s website that the space on row 21, or anywhere, is a bathroom. Little icons of men and women, something!

Even the flight attendants at the gate didn’t know what that empty space was – one told me it was where the attendants pull up emergency seats. You have to be a proactive traveler to make the journey a lot smoother.

Have a great day!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Oct
02nd
  The Ebola Virus and International Travel

Just because I travel for work doesn’t mean I  sometimes don’t have the same irrational fears as the regular air passenger who may not travel that much.

photoFor instance – I just flew on an international flight where two bathrooms were completely shut down because two people got sick in them.

This was before the news of the first person being diagnosed in the US with Ebola, so I didn’t worry a lot about it then – But let me tell you I have certainly thought it about it since the news broke.

I don’t know if any special precautions were taken in cleaning the area later , or if the sick passengers were questioned about their health or travel history to places like West Africa. And I know experts say it is unlikely someone exhibiting symptoms would fly because he or she would be too ill, but I was on a long 10 hour flight.. who’s to say symptoms can’t develop within that time frame?

Let’s look at the facts of the US Ebola case and the safety questions that are emerging:

–According to the NBC station in Dallas, TX, the Ebola patient in Dallas flew from Nigeria to Brussels on Sept 19, on Brussels Air… had a 7 hour layover… then flew  United flight #951 to Dulles… & from Dulles to Dallas on United flight #822.

–He didn’t exhibit any symptoms then… BUT reportedly  had just helped carry a sick girl with Ebola to the doctor a week before. The girl died the next day.

This makes me ask: Are airlines questioning passengers from West Africa well about their health, or potential contact with other Ebola patients before letting them fly? US airlines are federally prohibited from allowing anyone with serious contagious disease from flying – but what about foreign airlines? (And what makes Ebola difficult is that, the infected patient may not know yet he or she has Ebola.)

And questioning isn’t enough apparently: Latest reports are saying the Dallas patient was questioned at airport and LIED about his exposure to Ebola.

From facingchina.me

From facingchina.me

More rigorous screening is needed. Looking back at the SARS outbreak in 2002…. I had to have my temperature taken at Hong Kong’s airport before being allowed in the country … shouldn’t there be screening of this sort of passengers coming from Ebola infected areas? Fevers are one of the first symptoms to appear. I have seen photos of some airports like Lagos, Nigeria doing it, but are all?

What about requiring a very recent doctor’s note before boarding – indicating blood was tested for Ebola antibodies or other proteins that may be present in the disease? (I am not a doc so don’t know if those would be present before symptoms occur.)

I have read all the reports that say it is highly unlikely for Ebola to spread here because we can control it much better. But I can’ t help but think about the holes in the system (hospital NOT asking Dallas patient if he had been near Ebola!!) and more potential ways Ebola could spread since international travel is more commonplace:

–I  read on World Health Organization’s website that Ebola can be transmitted from person to person by exposure to MATERIALS that come in contact with infected bodily fluids. Funny because as I was sleeping on my plane seat, I was still wondering how often the airlines clean the upholstery on which I was lying.

–Also – think of the airport security screeners who have to go through people’s luggage and could possibly be exposed.  Nasal sprays,  eye drops, toothbrushes all come into contact with bodily fluids, and these are items with which airline screeners come in contact. If they wear gloves, do they change them between each screening? The pace of the lines makes me think not.

–If an unknowingly infected person stays at a hotel , then gets sick – there could be traces all over the room  – areas we all know don’t always get cleaned – the remote controls, light switches, door knobs, etc.

Granted – I am being a bit over the top, as most medical reports again, say it is highly unlikely to spread in the US because of our advanced medical care and ability to control the spread. But we do need to examine the role of  international travel in prevention, and can’t understand why we aren’t instituting more precautions. Reporters returning from reporting on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa said they met very few questions from customs agents after telling them had traveled to infected areas.

The stock market also reflected all these fears, as airline stocks took a dip, and companies that produce hazmat suits were driven up. Hopefully this Dallas case will be a wake up call: All airlines, airports, and the CDC,  need to actively work together to keep us healthy.

For more info on travel and Ebola  - http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/ebola

 
Sep
16th
  Top Travel Spot Cabo San Lucas Gets Slammed: How to Travel During Hurricane Season

“Demolished paradise” is how one observer describes Cabo San Lucas after the beach resort town was hit by an unprecedented hurricane – Odile. The storm roared through Monday with 125 mph winds, causing all sorts of infrastructure damage and making a mess out of luxury hotels. There were hundreds of injuries reported, and thousands of tourists evacuated, but at the time of this writing, no deaths.

Many people without school age children travel this time of year called shoulder season – and with good reason.  In hurricane-prone areas especially, prices are generally lower, and there aren’t the crowds. We take a chance traveling now when we book near the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Mexico from June-November, with most hurricanes historically hitting after August.

If you do decide to travel during this time, there are some precautions you can take to  minimize your risks.

–Purchase travel insurance and make sure you’re covered in the case that you must cancel or cut short your trip due to a hurricane. Shop around for a policy that meets your needs.  Some insurance providers sell a plan called “Cancel For Any Reason, ” which really follows it’s name. If your cruise ship is rerouted due to weather to places you’ve already been and don’t want to see them again… or some other reason….you can usually cancel two days before departure. It depends on what kind of plan you bought as to how much money you get back.

I highly recommend it so you don’t lose money you spend on this vacation for which you’ve been saving. Typically travel insurance costs 10% of trip.

—Ask if your hotel has a hurricane policy, or some sort of evacuation plan

—Stay aware of the weather. Don’t completely abandon reality. Check with the National Hurricane Center website.

—Leave a detailed itinerary with family member or friend.

—If this is an out of country trip, register with your country’s embassy. Also, think about buying an international calling plan so you can make emergency calls or texts if needed.

Remember, there are always risks when we travel, and the potential for unexpected hazards. The best thing you can do is be prepared.

Meanwhile, our thoughts are with the people of Baja California  – According to AccuWeather. com Odile will “continue to bring life-threatening impacts, such as significant flooding and tropical storm-force winds.”