Planning Vacations With Free California Travel Guides

Pick up some free California travel guides today to start planning your vacation to the land of sun and fun. No matter what time of year it is, you will find something in California to entertain you. In the winter, California still boasts warm temperatures and year round theme parks for your entire family. In higher elevations, you can find great places for skiing, so plan to hit the slopes for your next holiday vacation.

In the summer, California is particularly dynamic, as you will see when you visit the multiple beaches and enjoy the perfect temperature. When you look at free California travel guides, one thing they might not mention is that you should plan ahead.

Especially during the summer, you might find many hotels are booked, especially those hotels that are around public attractions. Expect longer lines during these summer months, and know that you might have to go exploring to find a spot of beach to keep to yourself.

If you want to avoid the crowds, fall is a great time to do that, and you can explore the many wine regions. Many free California travel guides can point you to the best ones in the area you plan on visiting.

Look through your free California guides to find the places worth visiting. Of course, you have the main, well-known tourist attractions, like Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. You have most likely heard of the Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, where you can be amazed at the immensity of the redwood trees. Take a trip to SeaWorld and Mission Bay, which are perfect locations for the entire family.

If you are looking for great family vacation spots, find free California travel guides that highlight these attractions. For example, there is the National Yo-Yo Museum, which is always a favorite with kids. There is Universal Studios, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom or Birch Aquarium, all of which are great locations to bring those with short attention spans. Free California travel guides should help you find places that interest you.

Alternatively, if you are traveling to California for a romantic getaway, one free of children, then choose free California travel guides that capitalize on that fact. Have a fun day out parasailing and walking around the heart of San Francisco before cozying up in one of the many romantic dining options available in California.

No matter which city you visit, you will find relaxation in the surrounding spas, culture in multiple museums and fun with all the different recreation places and parks. Using the various free California travel guides, you can set up the perfect vacation in no time, so get started and put it off no longer!

Why Travel Agents & Tour Operators Need To Focus On Authentic Local Experiences To Stay Competitive

The major elements comprising the generic destination competitiveness model helps to identify the key success factors of destination marketing. Among the many approximate set of indicators used to determine destination competitiveness, local experiences is one of the key points. Elaborate empirical as well as conceptual research points out the relative strengths and weaknesses of different tourism destinations, which can then be used to study the impact of local experiences on the travelers and vice versa.

The discerning travelers of today’s world love exploring unique experiences each destination has to offer and go much beyond staying in the top suite of hotels. Choosing the best dining options and spas has otherwise become passe. No online portal can take you to the hidden nuggets of the destination except the native folks. So, to match up with the millennials’ definition of travel, you need to indulge with the locals which is way beyond any packaged holiday or cookie-cutter options.

Blurring the borders of traditional definition of travel
It’s important for Travel Agents to realize that selling travel is actually selling happiness. Imbuing travel goals based on interaction with local people makes travel more meaningful than ever. Authenticity, simplicity, and culture are the new watchwords driving the growth of the travel tourism sector internationally. The evolution of the whole new travel genre is based entirely on indulging in local experiences. It is not about the best luxury experience but the intrinsic local touch will definitely add magic to the holiday memory. Remember that the most valued luxury is experience.

Present-day culture travelers have moved beyond the familiar environs and revel in the experience in itself. Clearly enough, tourists that like to break the mold are more interactive with local residents. This paradigm shift has not however, completely caught up with everyone yet. The focus of investments still remains on the traditional tourism-related components.

To create a layered travel experience, the hospitality industry is gradually promoting themselves as the portals for the local community. Although that might not be a necessity but local experience will definitely give a competitive advantage.

Blending national culture and heritage into luxury travel tours need careful planning and is bound to enhance tourist’s experience. Getting certified from the government tourism policies which include inter-cultural education policy helps to makes the travel agents’ outset more impressive.

Counter homogenization of the travel experience is the new clause of the tourism authorities. Embracing local cultural tourism will have an impressive lasting impact on travelers with like-minded outlook. Traditional vertical distribution chains among the travel providers has given way to complex value chains and thus in this increasingly competitive marketplace, providers need to seize every opportunity for competitive advantage. Collaborative advantage through local and government partnership is thus a new norm. Local culture and society has become an essential part of tourism value chain. The integrated inter-relationships between travel and other socioeconomic sectors are now conceived as a ‘value network’.

Promoting Local Cuisine
Sustainable tourism, which is tantamount to responsible tourism, has been a major concern in the travel industry for the past couple of years. Experiencing the local culture largely contours around the traditional gourmet industry. Trying traditional food completes the cultural experience of the place. Talking of the economic aspect, if you are eating at McDonald’s, instead of benefiting the local community, a major chunk of it leaves the local socioeconomic circle. The international traveler’s gang consist majorly the Western tourists and without much doubt, the need for Western food is always higher than the local recipes.

While traveling for a single night’s stay, people might think it not important enough to connect to the local traditions. However, pennies in the pocket of the local cuisine industry help to uplift the local tourism industry on a larger picture. Walking into a McDonald’s or a KFC might fill your tummy but will neither add to the local tourism sector nor enhance your experience. For instance, Vietnamese pho is now a big pull for travelers in Vietnam and when in Costa Rica, do not miss gallo pinto. Building connections with the local folks is not always the only token you get in return but you actually help to build a perception about your nationality as a whole. A country’s heritage is strongly rooted within the memories of the local people and as the old folks say, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!

Experiential travel – creating a deeper connect
The demand for ‘experiential travel’ is arguably the most significant as well as systematic trend in worldwide tourism. The term typically defines immersive, authentic, local, and more active travel trend. While some travel enthusiasts would like to argue that travel is inherently ‘experiential’ by nature and that the term is overused, the idea is to make it more mainstream. Travel consumer attitude has varied wildly when it comes to local tourism and it is its degree of definition varies widely how the overall trend is approached.

On a deeper emotional and more personal level, people want to travel better at the end of the day. Growing numbers of travelers shying away from the traditional packaged travel brochure is definitely a valid evidence of how local experiences matter for the new age travelers.

Going Social
Relying on technology and global networks of small and individual travel providers, travel brands are offering more connected experiences. Almost infinite online matrix of social media networks keep us connected no matter where we travel. But ironically enough these social networks are gradually isolating people in real life than helping them make closer to human connections. The online sharing portal pair travelers with the local citizen network and offer experience to travel like local.

With packaged tourism losing its appeal among modern day travelers digs the question of what exactly is authentic travel. Consumer data might reveal a section of these answers but tracking social media will give an organic result. For travel brands targeting specific niches, evaluating and adapting to the changing travel behavior is much important.

Tech tools
Undoubtedly, the most influential and dependable tech tool for millennials is the smartphone. Mobile phone location technology has made connection right. On niche apps, review-stuffed maps by Google etc. have made planning for set-piece events easier than ever before. The transparency of peer-to-peer accommodation and transportation services like Airbnb and BlaBlaCar add to the authenticity of the travel experiences and their reviews. The underbelly of a place can only be offered by the natives of the place and thus creates difference in the authenticity of the travel experience.

Large industry players have also chosen to go down to local level. The Instagrammable ideas and images of the less explored destinations is fun in itself. With a series of themed guides and commissioned travel advice by savvy locals has found intense popularity among the new age travelers. The aim is for travelers to get a genuine local experience of the destination. Travel Companies can do well to follow the adage – Think global, act local!

Transportation Services and Modes of Transport

In human evolution, the earliest means of transport were walking, running and swimming. Before the Industrial Revolution and modernization, water transport was the most efficient method of transporting large quantities of goods over long distances though it was very slow and expensive. The importance of water transport led to the growth of cities along rivers and sea-shores where boats, canoes and ships could dock.

The domestication of animals and the invention of the sled gave way to early animal transport services. Horses and oxen were used from as early as 3000 BC to transport goods and humans and traveled over dirt tracks. Later civilizations such as the Mesopotamian and the Indus Valley built paved roads for easier transport.

The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century turned transportation on its head. It was the age of many inventions that fundamentally changed the concept of transport. Communication, telegraphy, the steam engine and the steam ship sped global transport in all directions. Land transport became possible over large distances without the application of animal or human muscles. The Wright brothers’ successful experiments with aircraft paved the way for airplanes and air transport became a faster way to transport goods and people in shorter time-frames to further destinations.

Modes of transport

A ‘mode of transport’ is a method or solution that uses a particular type of infrastructure, operation and vehicle to transport people and cargo. A mode can be used by itself or in conjunction with several other modes; in this case it is referred to ‘intermodal’ or ‘multimodal’ transport. Each is distinct from the other and is used based on choice of factors like cost of transport, route taken, capability and so on.

1. Human-powered – this is the most common in developing and under-developed countries because of several factors like savings on cost, accessibility of location, physical exercise and environmental reasons. Human-powered transport is a sustainable form of transport and has recently been enhanced by the use of machinery and modern technology – e.g. cycling, skating, rowing, skiing which are extremely useful in difficult environments.

2. Animal-powered – whether ridden by humans or used as pack animals for movement of people and commodities, animals can work alone or in teams – e.g. mules, horse-carts, dog-sleds etc.

3. Air – airplanes and aircraft have reduced travel times considerably and is the fastest mode of passenger and goods transport. High costs and high energy use are the downsides of air transport; however, it is estimated that over 500,000 people travel in aero-planes at any given time.

4. Rail – Railroads and rail tracks run the length and breadth of every country in the world ferrying people and goods from place to place. Although they involve the use of large amounts of surface land, rail networks provide easy connectivity options within cities, within countries and between different countries as a mode of public transport- e.g. New York City Subway, London Metro, Eurotunnel or the Chunnel between England and France and the Euro Rail.

5. Road – road networks pass through cities, towns and villages and provide better connectivity options in addition to city rail networks and are ideal for public transport also. Road transport is entirely different from other modes as it allows a vehicle user to have complete freedom over speed, direction, timings of travel and change of location that other transport methods cannot provide. They require large surface areas, use high energy and are quite expensive.

6. Water – water transport includes barges, boats, sailboats and ships through canals, rivers and seas. The earliest boats and ships were routed through inland canals for transporting people and spices. Today large passenger and cargo ships provide an organized and efficient transportation method. Although the time involved is long, water transportation is significantly less expensive than air or road.

Other less used modes include cable and pipeline transports which are specifically purpose oriented – e.g. liquids and gases, water, sewage etc. for pipeline transport and conveyor belts, aerial tramways, cable cars etc. for cable transport.

All transport services involve three common elements – infrastructure such as terminals and facilities, operations that include government and private agencies and vehicles which are specifically made for the purpose.

Traveling Well – 10 Commandments of Wise Travel

In this age of high tech communication, the world has become a smaller place, and overseas travel, once the privilege of a few, is now enjoyed by many. However, traveling frequently is not necessarily synonymous with traveling well. I still note with dismay at the numbers of travelers that unknowingly jeopardize their own travel experience, and those of others, by failing to address the two cardinal sins of traveling: lack of planning and lack of sensitivity. I have dissected these 2 points further into the 10 Commandments of Wise Travel.

The 1st Commandment of Wise Travel is to check and organize all relevant travel documentation at least 1 week prior to departure date. This means passports, tickets, visas and travel insurance. Purchasing a passport/ document holder in order to keep all documentation together is a good investment, particularly when you are a frequent traveler. Otherwise, tour companies and travel agencies give less expensive versions away for free if you book flights with them. You may also want to alert your credit card company of the countries that you will be visiting. Due to credit card fraud and an increase in safety precautions, credit card companies are now putting a halt to cards when they notice a change of spending pattern. Although I may sound as if I am stating the obvious, checking all relevant documentation prior to departure means that you are stating your trip off on the right foot. Any mishap in this area could be enough to color not just the journey, but the rest of your trip.

The 2nd Commandment of Travel is to arrive at the airport with adequate time to check-in, and clear customs and security prior to the flight. This means airport arrival 3 hours prior to any international flight anywhere from the United States and 2 hours prior from Australia and New Zealand. Since 9/11, security procedures have tightened the world over, and one simply does not breeze through customs and security anywhere anymore. If booking a taxi to transport you to the airport, then ensure that the taxi booking is made the day/night before the flight. Similarly, if a friend/ family member is taking you, then confirm a pick-up time the day prior. I shamefully admit that my husband and I broke this rule on our last trip to Hawaii, to our detriment. We had forgotten to book our taxi for the airport the night before. Initially, we were not that worried as we don’t live too far from Kingsford-Smith International Airport. However, when the time came for us to book our taxi, even though we thought we were allowing plenty of time, our call coincided with the taxi driver changeover, and we could not get an available taxi for a very long time. This mistake caused us a great deal of stress, and it nearly caused us our flight.

The 3rd Commandment is to pack your luggage sensibly, coordinating your wardrobe carefully. This seems to be a common mistake for women. Rule of thumb is if an item of clothing cannot be worn and coordinated 3-4 ways, leave it at home. Keep the main items in a monochromatic color tone, adding your splash of color with a scarf or jewellery. Knits are ideal to travel with as they wrinkle far less than wovens and are easier to wash and dry. Always travel with a good quality,lightweight pashmina that fits into your handbag when folded. This can be pulled out and used during the flight or when the temperature drops during your travels. Keep shoes down to a minimum, as this only adds weight to your luggage. Have one pair of everyday shoes, one pair of good walking shoes, and another pair for dressier occasions. Leave your “skyscraper” heels at home, as they will only interfere with your mobility, not to mention the damage it will do to your spine.

The 4th Commandment is to make sure that you nurture yourself on long flights. Drink plenty of water, even if it means more frequent trips to the lavatory, and limit your alcohol intake. The pressurized environment of an aircraft is extremely dehydrating. Keep your skin clean and well moisturized on the flight, and for ladies, if you can manage it, leave your face make-up free. Any foundations or powders will merely clog up your pores. If you have an ipod, I cannot recommend listening to guided meditations on the ipod highly enough. From personal experience, it helps reduce jetlag. Wear clothing that has a stretch in it and does not cut into your arms, chest, waist, crotch etc. get up frequently for a stretch and a walk up and down the aisles whenever possible. The more that you can nurture yourself on a long flight, the more energy you will have and the less jetlag you will experience when you reach your destination.

The 5th Commandment is to keep a travel diary or journal in order to record all your experiences for posterity, and to share with friends on your return. Take note of all the interesting sites visited and the names and addresses of any fabulous eateries and restaurants. Take lots of photos and collate into an album or CD. This will ensure that the memories of your trip will live on in your mind long after the trip is over. And should you want to revisit a particular site, shop or restaurant, or even recommend a particular place to friends, you won’t have to struggle to remember it.

The 6th Commandment is not to be rude and obnoxious to cabin crew, waiters, waitresses, tour group staff and hotel staff during your travels. I cannot stress this point enough. Although it may be instantly gratifying to vent your spleen when you are tired, irritated and frustrated during your travels, please remember that these people hold your comfort, not to mention your food, in their hands. If a complaint needs to be made, by all means do so with assertiveness, but always accompany it with respect and courtesy for the individual that you are addressing. Never resort to sarcasm or humiliation. If necessary, take the problem further to a superior. If a problem is communicated by you in an aggressive manner, then you can expect at the very least defensiveness and resentment in return. If there seems to be no solution to the problem, question whether the issue at hand is worth fighting for. If it isn’t, then save yourself the aggravation and have the wisdom to mentally let go of it and walk away.

The 7th Commandment is to have as authentic an experience as possible when visiting other countries. The whole point of travel is to broaden your horizons, discover unfamiliar lands and open ourselves to new experiences. Research the country’s festivals prior to your trip and partake in the experience when you get there. Find out where the locals eat and frequent. Try the cuisine that is typical of the area, listen to different music and attempt some phrases in the local language. Educate yourself on the country’s history. The results can be quite liberating. You will develop a deeper respect and appreciation for the country and the people that you are visiting, and enrich your travel experience tenfold. If more people did this, our world would not be so divisive.

The 8th Commandment is to perform random acts of kindness whilst on your journey. When confronted with a fellow traveler who may be in a spot of trouble, take the time out to help without expectation of a reward. If you have the resources to help someone else, then the experience is its own reward. if the situation is a small one, than a small gesture on your part can revitalize a potentially negative situation for the other person. If the situation is serious, then try to get some help. Remember that the laws of karma are alive and well.

The 9th Commandment is to be sensitive towards the ecology and culture of the lands that you visit. Imagine for a moment that foreign visitors to your home town littered the grounds, destroyed the vegetation, insulted your neighbors and exhibited a gross disregard for your customs and culture. The scenario is not a pleasant one, and yet we as travelers do this when we visit foreign lands. So be extra mindful of this on your next trip, particularly when traveling as a group.

The 10th and final Commandment of wise travel is to savor and enjoy every moment of your travels. Remember that the world is a wonder and a blessing, and the opportunity to explore it is something to be grateful for. Learn to be in the moment as wise traveling is just as much about the journey as it is about the destination.

In conclusion, if you do your homework, and take care of all the necessary planning and organization for your trip prior to your departure, you are in a much better position to make the most of your trip. Utilize a checklist, as it saves plenty of headaches later on.

History of Travel & Tourism

2000 years Before Christ, in India and Mesopotamia

Travel for trade was an important feature since the beginning of civilization. The port at Lothal was an important centre of trade between the Indus valley civilization and the Sumerian civilization.

600 BC and thereafter

The earliest form of leisure tourism can be traced as far back as the Babylonian and Egyptian empires. A museum of historic antiquities was open to the public in Babylon. The Egyptians held many religious festivals that attracted the devout and many people who thronged to cities to see famous works of arts and buildings.

In India, as elsewhere, kings travelled for empire building. The Brahmins and the common people traveled for religious purposes. Thousands of Brahmins and the common folk thronged Sarnath and Sravasti to be greeted by the inscrutable smile of the Enlightened One- the Buddha.

500 BC, the Greek civilization

The Greek tourists traveled to sites of healing gods. The Greeks also enjoyed their religious festivals that increasingly became a pursuit of pleasure, and in particular, sport. Athens had become an important site for travelers visiting the major sights such as the Parthenon. Inns were established in large towns and seaports to provide for travelers’ needs. Courtesans were the principal entertainment offered.
This era also saw the birth of travel writing. Herodotus was the worlds’ first travel writer. Guidebooks also made their appearance in the fourth century covering destinations such as Athens, Sparta and Troy. Advertisements in the way of signs directing people to inns are also known in this period.

The Roman Empire

With no foreign borders between England and Syria, and with safe seas from piracy due to Roman patrols, the conditions favoring travel had arrived. First class roads coupled with staging inns (precursors of modern motels) promoted the growth of travel. Romans traveled to Sicily, Greece, Rhodes, Troy and Egypt. From 300 AD travel to the Holy Land also became very popular. The Romans introduced their guidebooks (itineraria), listing hotels with symbols to identify quality.

Second homes were built by the rich near Rome, occupied primarily during springtime social season. The most fashionable resorts were found around Bay of Naples. Naples attracted the retired and the intellectuals, Cumae attracted the fashionable while Baiae attracted the down market tourist, becoming noted for its rowdiness, drunkenness and all- night singing.

Travel and Tourism were to never attain a similar status until the modern times.

In the Middle Ages

Travel became difficult and dangerous as people traveled for business or for a sense of obligation and duty.

Adventurers sought fame and fortune through travel. The Europeans tried to discover a sea route to India for trade purposes and in this fashion discovered America and explored parts of Africa. Strolling players and minstrels made their living by performing as they traveled. Missionaries, saints, etc. traveled to spread the sacred word.

Leisure travel in India was introduced by the Mughals. The Mughal kings built luxurious palaces and enchanting gardens at places of natural and scenic beauty (for example Jehangir traveled to Kashmir drawn by its beauty.

Travel for empire building and pilgrimage was a regular feature.

The Grand Tour

From the early seventeenth century, a new form of tourism was developed as a direct outcome of the Renaissance. Under the reign of Elizabeth 1, young men seeking positions at court were encouraged to travel to continent to finish their education. Later, it became customary for education of gentleman to be completed by a ‘Grand Tour’ accompanied by a tutor and lasting for three or more years. While ostensibly educational, the pleasure seeking men traveled to enjoy life and culture of Paris, Venice or Florence. By the end of eighteenth century, the custom had become institutionalized in the gentry. Gradually pleasure travel displaced educational travel. The advent of Napoleonic wars inhibited travel for around 30 years and led to the decline of the custom of the Grand Tour.

The development of the spas

The spas grew in popularity in the seventeenth century in Britain and a little later in the European Continent as awareness about the therapeutic qualities of mineral water increased. Taking the cure in the spa rapidly acquired the nature of a status symbol. The resorts changed in character as pleasure became the motivation of visits. They became an important centre of social life for the high society.

In the nineteenth century they were gradually replaced by the seaside resort.

The sun, sand and sea resorts

The sea water became associated with health benefits. The earliest visitors therefore drank it and did not bathe in it. By the early eighteenth century, small fishing resorts sprung up in England for visitors who drank and immersed themselves in sea water. With the overcrowding of inland spas, the new sea side resorts grew in popularity. The introduction of steamboat services in 19th century introduced more resorts in the circuit. The seaside resort gradually became a social meeting point

 Role of the industrial revolution in promoting travel in the west

The rapid urbanization due to industrialization led to mass immigration in cities. These people were lured into travel to escape their environment to places of natural beauty, often to the countryside they had come from change of routine from a physically and psychologically stressful jobs to a leisurely pace in countryside.

Highlights of travel in the nineteenth century 

·        Advent of railway initially catalyzed business travel and later leisure travel. Gradually special trains were chartered to only take leisure travel to their destinations.

·        Package tours organized by entrepreneurs such as Thomas Cook.

·        The European countries indulged in a lot of business travel often to their colonies to buy raw material and sell finished goods.

·        The invention of photography acted as a status-enhancing tool and promoted overseas travel.

·        The formation of first hotel chains; pioneered by the railway companies who established great railway terminus hotels.

·        Seaside resorts began to develop different images as for day-trippers, elite, for gambling.

·        Other types of destinations-ski resorts, hill stations, mountaineering spots etc.

·        The technological development in steamships promoted travel between North America and Europe.

·        The Suez Canal opened direct sea routes to India and the Far East.

·        The cult of the guidebook followed the development of photography.



Tourism in the Twentieth Century


The First World War gave first hand experience of countries and aroused a sense of curiosity about international travel among less well off sector for the first time. The large scale of migration to the US meant a lot of travel across the Atlantic. Private motoring began to encourage domestic travel in Europe and the west.  The sea side resort became annual family holiday destination in Britain and increased in popularity in other countries of the west. Hotels proliferated in these destinations.

The birth of air travel and after

The wars increased interest in international travel. This interest was given the shape of mass tourism by the aviation industry. The surplus of aircraft and growth of private airlines aided the expansion of air travel. The aircraft had become comfortable, faster and steadily cheaper for overseas travel. With the introduction of Boeing 707 jet in 1958, the age of air travel for the masses had arrived. The beginning of chartered flights boosted the package tour market and led to the establishment of organized mass tourism. The Boeing 747, a 400 seat craft, brought the cost of travel down sharply. The seaside resorts in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Caribbean were the initial hot spots of mass tourism.

A corresponding growth in hotel industry led to the establishment of world-wide chains. Tourism also began to diversify as people began to flock alternative destinations in the 70s. Nepal and India received a throng of tourists lured by Hare Krishna movement and transcendental meditation. The beginning of individual travel in a significant volume only occurred in the 80s. Air travel also led to a continuous growth in business travel especially with the emergence of the MNCs.

Become A Travel Agent – The Secret To Saving Up To 80% On Your Personal Travel

Remember the days when travel agencies were everywhere and before you took a trip you consulted a travel agent? Of course, that was before the advent of the Internet. Now the travel agent’s job is one of the fastest disappearing jobs there are, but there is still a reason for you to become a travel agent.

Now there is a new kind of travel agent called a home-based independent travel agent.

These independent agents take advantage of one of the most effective ways of marketing products or services. It’s called word-of-mouth advertising. As people are bombarded with more and more advertising messages, advertising messages are getting less and less effective.

When people use a product or service they like, they tell other people about it. That has always been true. But now this fact is much more important. If you want to grow market share these days, it’s best to find a way to take advantage of word-of-mouth marketing.

That’s why a new form of travel agency has sprung up. These “hosting” travel agencies still have travel agents in them, but these agents have a different role. Their role is not to find customers to sell travel to, there role is to sell travel to the people referred by the home-based independent travel agents the agency signed up.

The home-based independent agents are the ones actually “selling” the travel. But most of them aren’t doing it the traditional way with standard marketing techniques. They are taking deeply discounted trips themselves and then telling their family, friends, neighbors, and business associates about these trips. Since these independent travel agents can sell travel too, this word-of-mouth advertising helps them make commissions on the trips the people they refer make.

So not only are they getting deeply discounted trips, they are making money by simply sharing their experiences! These agents even earn commissions on their personal travel too!

That’s where you come in. If you want to get the same perks travel agents get, then you can now easily become a travel agent. All you have to do is to sign up with one of these travel agencies, read a training manual, receive a travel agent ID card, and you are now qualified to receive the same benefits as other travel agents.

You don’t even have to quit your job and become a full time travel agent to get the same travel benefits that were previously only available to travel agents who worked in a travel agency. You can travel at up to 80% off and make some money from doing something you’re going to do anyway…talk to others about the trip you just took.

In fact, everyone benefits. You benefit by receiving huge discounts. The travel agency makes money by selling more travel without expensive advertising. The hotels, cruise lines, airlines, and the rest of the travel industry make more money because they see more travelers. It all starts when you become a travel agent for one of these host travel agencies.

Work From Home in the Home Based Travel Business

There are essentially 3 types of travel home based business opportunities.

1. Becoming a licensed travel agent.
2. Marketing and reselling promotional vacation certificates.
3. Marketing travel membership clubs.

1. Becoming a travel agent requires licensing. You can book travel under the umbrella of a registered travel business using their travel agency IATAN number. After a certain amount of sales and commissions earned you can apply for your own IATA number. As a travel agent you can book your clients’ travel using travel consolidators and marking up the price to earn a commission. Travel agents are required to be licensed and bonded. Some hotel chains require the travel agent to complete their own travel agents exam online in order to claim travel agent benefits. Becoming a home based travel agent has become a sought after home based business within the travel arena. Not all work at home travel agent businesses are created equal. Some members are unable to utilize travel consolidators and can only use their own replicated travel portal websites to book travel. The commissions here are very low and the main income comes from recruiting other members. Other travel agencies train the members to become fully fledged travel agents, where potentially the commissions on bookings can be much higher.

2. Marketing promotional travel certificates has become a popular business. The certificates can be resold to businesses or companies but generally can not be sold to the end user. Promotional items have become part of the marketing arena and create customer loyalty. If the promoter sells the certificate to the end user a license is required in most states and provinces in Canada. Everyone loves a good deal but many certificates have black out dates and require the spouse or partner to travel with the person registering the certificate. Some certificates require a timeshare presentation. As a work from home business, the promotional certificates generally generate smaller commissions.

3. Travel membership clubs have been the staple in the home based travel arena for over 14 years. They have progressed from those selling just promotional vacation certificates and discounted last minute travel to becoming full fledged travel agencies. Some even offer concierge customer service, have access to huge databases of resort vacations, cruises, flights, car rentals and more. Some home based travel businesses have the added bonus of earning rebates on travel booked from company portal websites. In order to resell travel, the home based travel company is required to be a licensed re-seller of travel and should have their license number visible on their website. These discount travel memberships are popular not only as a way to earn money from home for many thousands of members, but are also popular as a real way to get deeply discounted prices for the savvy and frequent traveler. The commissions on travel memberships can be very high, many companies offering direct sales bonuses of over 50%.

Unlike other home based businesses and work from home opportunities, the travel industry offers a product with market recognition. Everyone knows what a vacation is and what a cruise might entail. Travel is a $7Trillion industry and continues to be a growing market with no signs of losing steam. It is also packaged as a fun industry. When asked, a dream vacation is one of the most wanted items atop a wish list.

Helpful Notes When Preparing A Taxi Driver Accounts To Save Money

Self employed taxi drivers in common with other self employed businesses are required to submit a self assessment tax return form each year reporting the main totals from the taxi drivers accounts. The final submission date for these accounts to enable the tax authorities to calculate the tax payable is 30th September while the final deadline for submission of the self assessment tax return is 31st January. Miss the 31st January deadline and the penalty fine is 100 pounds.

The simplest solution to preparing the taxi driver accounts is to collect all the taxi receipts and expenses together, hand them over to an accountant who will prepare your self assessment tax return and might charge between 150 to 450 pounds for the privilege. That is taxing. Taxi driver accounts does not have to be that taxing. You can prepare your taxi driver accounts and self assessment tax return yourself but do something.

These taxi driver notes in preparing the taxi driver accounts and completing the self assessment tax return are to assist that process.

Mileage Allowances

Taxi drivers can claim as an alternative to vehicle running costs mileage allowances of 40p for the first 10,000 miles and 25p per mile thereafter. You may not claim mileage allowance and vehicle running costs. Should you choose to claim the mileage allowance then keep good records of mileage covered, purpose of journey.

Taxi Capital Allowances

If you bought a vehicle in the financial year 2007-08 and used the vehicle as a taxi you can claim a first year writing down tax allowance of 25% of the cost of the taxi, restricted to 3,000 pounds for vehicles costing over 12,000 pounds. On vehicles purchased in previous tax years you can claim 25% writing down allowance on the balance not yet claimed. Many taxis are bought and sold each year and where a taxi is sold the capital tax allowance that can be claimed is the difference between the written down value for tax purposes and the amount of sale proceeds. First year allowance on non vehicle assets in the current tax year 2007-08 is 50% for small businesses.

Taxis bought on Hire Purchase

Claim capital allowances on the original cost of the vehicle, interest and other charges count as business expenses and go in the self assessment tax return box 3.61 Other Finance Charges

Taxi Running Costs

When completing the self assessment tax return taxi drivers should enter fuel costs in box 3.46 cost of sales not motoring expenses. A standard check carried out by any competent inland revenue inspector inquiring into a self assessment tax return would be to check when the taxi driver was on holiday and examine if fuel receipts had been included for this period. Not many tax returns are inquire into as the system is based upon trust but taxi drivers should ensure their accounts do not contain this fundamental tax fiddle. Taxi running costs also include repairs, servicing and parts including tyres, road tax, taxi insurance and AA/RAC membership. Include radio hire and taxi office costs in general administrative expenses.

Household expenses

If you run your taxi business from home you can claim a proportion of household expenses as business expenses in the taxi accounts. Household expenses are likely to be disallowed unless they are either specific to the business or a specific area of your home is devoted entirely to your taxi business. Using part of a room part time would not be sufficient to include the household expenses in the taxi driver accounts.

Spouse Costs

You can claim expenses for partners who work for your taxi business and payments up to 100 pounds per week would not attract income tax or national insurance however any payments claimed in the taxi driver accounts must be real payments for real work done. The Revenue naturally adopt a strict view on taxi expenses claimed for partner work as it is an area some people might use to reduce the tax liability. Care is required to justify the partner as an expense.

Other Expenses

Enter all business expenses in a named expense box on the self assessment tax return. Avoid entries in box 3.63 Other Expenses if possible as any significant amounts in this box may give rise to an Revenue inquiry into the self assessment tax return.

The best method of ensuring the taxi drivers tax bill is as low as possible in the future is undoubtedly to meticulously maintain good records of all taxi receipts and expenses and mileage covered which offers the opportunity for taxi drivers to compare the taxi running costs against mileage allowances and choose the most tax efficient option. The decision to claim mileage allowance or taxi running costs can and often does change during the financial year. In general when a more expensive taxi cab is purchased then the capital allowance of 3,000 pounds will often outweigh the potential mileage allowance although if the vehicle is low value the mileage allowance might be the best option and a method of saving valuable tax pounds which you are entitled to. The best taxi accounting software will automate the comparison of taxi mileage allowances with taxi running costs doing the taxi accountants work for you.

Save and Profit From Your Own Online Travel Booking Engine

Now is your chance to finally profit and save big from the largest market shift in history. That is the Travel Industry Shift from the Brick & Mortar to the online Click & Mortar.

Are you ready for a good time off rate for your next vacation? If you are watchful for the cheaper prices, mull over using the internet and booking online using an online travel website. These online travel websites are becoming in demand with holidaymakers and travelers nationwide.

Usually, you will come up with cheaper rates, cheaper prices in airline and traveling fares. Online travel websites are qualified to accommodate their clients with cheaper pricing because their over-heads are normally less than your standard travel agency who maintains a big staff, have to pay a lease for their office space and have to furnish equipment for the travel industry. Utilizing the internet, travel entrepreneurs can cut their expenses by spending exclusively over the internet or by telephone.

Online travel websites are providing instant communication over the internet, where conventional travel agents have to check and research travel information. So, travelers are benefiting from instant travel information, services and the convenience of booking all travel online and not needing to leave the home or work place to book their travel.

Now travel enthusiasts can use these online travel websites to select their own vacation destinations, stops, routes, dates, and basically plan their own vacation to fit their particular needs. As you continue to read this article, you will find my resource box at the bottom with a link that will show you how you can profit big from this huge market shift in the travel industry. This is made possible with your very own online Booking Engine website.

So, there are numerous advantages for travelers to use online travel websites instead of a conventional travel agency. Online travel websites will allow you to plan and select your vacation or destination and then select the most affordable flights or passage to your selected vacation destination. Select an online travel agent with industry experience, this means that they will have sufficient expertise and knowledge, contacts and additional to guarantee you get the least expensive deal possible.

Use the internet to set up your next vacation, save yourself time, money and gain from the convenience of online shopping and booking. Online travel websites are becoming a big business in the travel industry. These online websites have practical, informative and helpful websites for their patrons to compare prices and find useful information on their vacation destination and their selected online travel website’s choices and services in the travel industry.

Join the travelers of the world and originate your plans and bookings for travel and vacations by using an efficient, professional online travel agent. Save money, time and take advantage of creating your own vacation structure. Decide on the best vacation for you, and let professional online travel websites get the cheapest travel rates available.

I hope you have gotten some good ideas from this article and are able to use them.

Top Travel Trends in 2010

The holidays next year will be to a great extent affected by the economic recession most countries suffered this year. That however does not mean that people will not go on holiday, but that instead they will be more careful with how and on what they spend their money. Holiday makers will spend more time searching for great deals, such as exploring new travel destinations to find the best bargains and joining Online Travel Agencies (OTA) to gain good discounts. Below are some of the predicted top travel trends for the year 2010.

1 – Looking for budget options

Economical holidays will the key deciding factor this year, with holiday makers searching out the best budget details and discounts. Make sure when you plan your holiday this year, not to just go for what looks like the best rate, but hunt deeper for complementary give-aways, such as a free night’s stay on a multiple night stay, gift cards, spa credits, coupons and free dining etc.

2 – Eco Travel

Humans are slowly but steadily becoming more aware of their impact on nature. Think ‘green’ is the trend these days, with its effects being felt even by the travel industry. Most travelers look for Eco friendly holiday options, holidays that cause minimum damage to nature. Eco travel was born out of this need and is a continuing trend for 2010.

3- Mixing business with pleasure

The world is always on the go, with most travelers finding it more economical and viable to mix business with pleasure. Nowadays business travelers look for accommodation options that cater to all their business needs while providing leisure activities as well, so they can enjoy the best of both worlds.

4 – Latin adventure

Latin America is finding itself growing more and more popular with travelers as a luxury travel destination.

5 – Train Travel

Rail travel in Europe has grown popular, as this is an economical way of traveling while enjoying the wonderful scenery on the way. This has become even more popular with the new high speed rail links into Spain and Italy.

6- Going Mobile

With the growth of mobile applications and capabilities, it is now even easier to plan your travels, such as tracking flight information and planning itineraries. Mobile phones now play a very important role for travelers in helping them with their travel planning. They are used to receive information from travel agents etc and are fast proving to be invaluable to travelers.

7 – One platform for travel plans

With the busy schedules most of us have, it is easier to have one central platform from which to plan your travel details. This way you can keep track of everything happening in the travel industry, be up to date on the latest happenings and not just make one off purchases. The Internet offers strong travel centrist sites where such central services are offered, so that people can plan every aspect of their travels, from creating the trip, to searching for accommodation, getting advice about the intended trip, finding the best deals down to updating profiles so as to keep friends and family informed.

8 – Adventure Travel

The year 2010 will find people looking for holidays with more action. Most now look beyond the standard and look for adventure such as jumping out helicopters, skiing, safaris, bungee jumping as well as more personalized holidays with private tours of museums and art galleries. For the more adventurous a growing trend is to take a high-speed car tour around major cities!

9 – Seeking out new hot-spots

As with everything in this world trends change. As travelers expand their travel horizons, China, India and the Gulf States find themselves growing into the latest hot-spots. This trend will grow more in 2010 as travel to the ever popular European destinations at the moment for most, is not economical. So traveling to China, India and the Gulf States gives the traveler an exotic holiday while being easy on the purse, with favorable exchange rates and low travel costs.

Monsters on a Bus

When I finished my drivers test last week, I was welcomed aboard as a new full time driver for Lisa Motor Lines and given a choice: if I wanted to start trucking that very afternoon I could have an International tractor right there in the yard in Fort Worth. If I didn’t want to drive the International (and who does?) I could have an older, five years, Freightliner tractor…


…The Freightliner was in Tampa, Florida, another reason to opt for the Freightliner. March in Florida, how bad could that be? I’d have to go to Tampa to retrieve the truck…

…but (and this was the really BIG BUT!)…

…Lisa would only send me to Florida by bus, a Greyhound, thirty hours from downtown Fort Worth to Tampa. The bus left at 6:00 a.m. the following morning and, God willing, would arrive in the Sunshine State around noon the following day. I hadn’t been on a cross-country bus since I was a kid. It might be kind of fun in a weird sort of a way, I thought. Besides, what could possibly go wrong?

I presented myself with all my gear (a lot of it) at the Greyhound station in downtown Fort Worth at 5:45 a.m. and was immediately assailed by the driver, a big man who threw his considerable weight around like a wrecking ball. He would not answer any questions from passengers, shouted orders like a drill sergeant and cussed and griped under his breath the rest of the time.

He yelled orders; passengers had to line up inside the terminal behind a specific door (we were all standing outside at the bus door). When a woman asked him to repeat the door number he dismissed her. “I already said the door number and I ain’t going to repeat it. You better learn to listen better.” He walked off. Later as we were boarding, a young man stepped out of line to throw a piece of paper in a nearby trashcan, the driver yelled, “Hey! When I say ‘all aboard’ I mean get on the bus! Don’t you get out of line again or I’ll leave you here!”

This bullying of the passengers continued all the way from Fort Worth to Dallas (what, a half an hour?), but I was so furious by the time I arrived at the Dallas terminal I was ready to chew through anything that got in my way. I found the station supervisor. “You need to fire that driver! You need to fire him off this job right now! He’s the meanest son-of-a-bitch I’ve ever met!” The words spilled out of my mouth like too-hot soup, but it was obvious this was not news to the supervisor who just turned and sauntered away.

The attitude of all the Greyhound employees I encountered, be they drivers, counter help or baggage handlers, was the same. Their sarcasm, condescending attitudes and aloofness were unconscionable! The drivers had all the warmth of vengeful prison guards. When a black woman, just as angry as me, deigned to ask still one more question, the driver retreated to an almost identical tirade about. “I already said it once, I ain’t going to say it again…,” like he had memorized it out of the company handbook, doubtless the very short chapter on Customer Service. But this brave woman wasn’t taking any more lip from the driver. “When I want a lecture I’ll call my mama!” she yelled back, overpowering the driver. “What I want from you is a civil answer to a simple question!” I joined in the applause the woman had earned. The driver was not moved.

The problem facing Greyhound is not merely one of escalating fuel prices, expensive equipment in poor condition and spotty passenger counts, but one of attitude and if it’s true that ‘manure’ roles down hill, Greyhound’s front line employees are standing in the cesspool created by distant, insensitive and uncaring management. The bad eggs need to be rooted out and fired. If there are any employees left after that house cleaning, they need to know that they’re going to be next ones thrown ‘under-the-bus’ if customer service doesn’t improve.

The ride was interesting. The bus was sort of clean, kind of like a football stadium right after a big game. It ran well when it was running (it quit three times, once in traffic and the police had to come and stop cars while the driver [a different but equally rude one] rummaged around in the engine compartment).

The day wore on into night and the array of odd passengers made the trip surreal. It was just as weird to see a well dressed, refined woman with coiffed hair and stylish clothes, as it was to see the grizzled old man in three different plaid pajama pieces, a bathrobe, slippers and a cowboy hat.

But in the hours when you can only see another passenger in the headlights of a passing car or truck, everybody looks weird. At that hour of the night we are all refugees, monsters who don’t know, don’t want to know, or don’t want anyone else to know where we are. It’s a grim parade with vampire overtones, one that kept us all from restful sleep.

Tampa came into view as the sun was hovering over the bay in the western sky. Only six hours late – not bad, I was told. I didn’t make any lasting acquaintances, you don’t on a trip like that, only momentary relationships that serve to wile away the daylight hours or to keep the monsters – the other monsters in the night – at bay.

But unlike our Greyhound drivers, when the sun came up, we passengers turned back into human beings.

Woman’s Travel World

As a woman, it is quite a rare opportunity to get to see and enjoy the world in our own way. There are very few travel opportunities when we drop our worries and responsibilities down and wear the new aura of being ourselves. It is our time that allows us to live from to-do-lists, children’s whereabouts, office tasks and the details of the rest of the world. Ladies travel club is a wonderful opportunity with international and domestic tour packages wholly designed for women.

Domestic tours packages involve auspicious Konark tour packages, unique relaxation special Kerala women tours and Chennai-Puri tour packages that would totally set you free and rejuvenate you. It is the best way to get ready for the life challenges again. From single mothers to home makers to professionals to business owners want to pick these domestic tours for women that offer various itineraries and packages of various sizes. Women from all the walks of life love the travel without any male guardian around. It offers time for gossiping, shopping, relaxation and just the time for your family to miss you at homes. It is the kind of two-in-one deals for women only.

There are so many ways in which women’s lives revolve around our jobs and family. If you continue to carry on your family pressure on your travel, you would not come back refreshed and empowered for the challenges of life. That’s why these packages are successful in domestic and international levels. From a short 3 day escapade to a total refueling package of 10 days, they are created with women in mind. From one night accommodation in Cochin to extra shopping time in the itinerary, from the spa visits in Kerala to sightseeing in Mysore, women are the central focus of all the details.

This is created to be our time. It is completely our time to be spent in gossiping or just laughing aloud, in yapping about husbands to non-sense shopping sprees. These alone travels allow women to heighten their confidence and also make them self-reliant. These qualities make them able to handle crisis situations in much better manner and also give them the kind of monthly group meetings to look forward to.

The international packages involved travels to Sri Lanka, Dubai, Bhutan and China. The explorations create the excellent opportunity to understand the cultural nuances of all these places and enjoy the different experiences. The small groups of 15-20 women give the chance to get to know each other as friends and fellow-travelers in much better and intimate way. That changes the dynamics of the group altogether. Women can here as travelers and leave with some friends of the lifetime and great moments that they would cherish for the lifetime.

Have you ever found a journey that can change you forever? If no, then you must join WTC and luxuriate in the experience because that’s what we enjoy and share with more and more women through WTC. The freedom and duty-free time just for yourself is what would create the most exciting and never-before time for each and everyone if us.

Travelling From Newark NJ to Orlando Florida Via Niagara Falls

The day finally arrived and it was time to set off on our journey to London Gatwick airport for our Month long trip to the US. We had booked to stay overnight at an Airport hotel so that we could be fresh for our trip the next day. I should point out that this trip was pre 9-11.

Our flights consisted of a flight to Newark NJ with Virgin Atlantic and a return flight from Orlando also with Virgin. We booked car hire in two parts, both with Alamo. Because car hire is more expensive in New York, the first leg would be for 7 days and then we would return the car at Orlando and take out another rental for the remainder of the trip.

Our planned itinerary was to stay overnight on landing at Newark in a Holiday Inn close to the airport. Then head off the next day to Niagara where we would spend 2 nights, then journey down to Florida, staying 2 nights on the way.

We took off on time from Gatwick for the almost 7 hour flight. Although we were regular travelers to Florida, we had never been to New York before and as our time would be a bit limited we had not planned on visiting the city across the water on this trip. We arrived mid afternoon after flying quite low along the Hudson River giving us a magnificent view of the New York skyline, to a very busy Newark airport. The airport itself was undergoing some major alterations and it was a bit chaotic to be honest. We eventually, cleared immigration and collected our luggage and at that time the Alamo car rental desk was off the airport so we had to wait for a bus to take us there. In fact from where we were waiting, we could see the rental depot outside the airport across the road. The bus arrived and took us to the depot. We had booked a one way rental and we knew we would have to pay a drop off fee of $300. The clerk tried to talk us into upgrading even though we had booked a seven seat minivan for the 4 of us and had prepaid all our fees and insurances. We paid the drop off fee and the airport collection fee (which she managed to get us to pay) she gave us the keys and told us where the vehicle was located.  Imagine our surprise when we found the vehicle was in fact an 8 seat GMC minivan, obviously the one she wanted us to pay the upgrade for and better yet it had Florida plates!! At that time we were keen to get going so it didn’t much bother us about that. We set off to find our hotel and after a short drive we came to the Holiday Inn. We got checked in and headed to our rooms to freshen up a little before having our dinner. We opted to stay in the hotel to eat and had a few drinks before retiring for the night.

The next morning with our body clocks still being on UK time enabled us to be up at 5am, fresh and ready for our drive to Niagara. We set off around 5:30am and decided we would get breakfast on the way. After a bit of a nightmare trying to get to the interstate we eventually left the Newark area. Daylight had come and we found a Perkins to have some breakfast en route. The rest of the drive was fairly uneventful and we remarked how similar the scenery was to where we lived in the UK. When were nearing Niagara Falls, probably about 30 minutes away, I could see what I thought was steam rising from a cooling tower in the distance. It turned out to be the falls.

We had decided to stay on the Canadian side of the falls and had booked 2 nights at the Sheraton. Once we got to the border we had to go through customs and immigration, we had no problems and were through in about 15 minutes. It was then that we got the first view of the falls, from the bridge, what a magnificent sight it was too. I can say that photos don’t do it justice. We went to our hotel and checked in then set off to discover Niagara. We decided to walk to down to the falls and it only took around 5-10 minutes. The first striking thing that occurred to me was that the spray rises so high, in fact the following morning when we left the hotel I thought it was raining, you know the fine drizzle type but it was in fact the spray from the falls. The wind direction was blowing towards our hotel. We did all the usual tourist things, went to where the whirlpools are along the river. I was surprised to see so many Armish people there, I don’t know if it was a holiday time for them or what but there certainly was a lot. We would see some more of them too later in the journey through Pennsylvania. We did the “Maid of the Mist”, well the men did and it was spectacular. We set off on the boat towards Horseshoe Falls, once the boat get close you hear the engine rev up as the skipper increases the power to get you in close, the only thing I can describe it as, is something like the Arctic, it was just white everywhere and you are being covered in a white spray. Even with the waterproof poncho’s you still find the water getting in somewhere. The trip over, you head back to the dock and take the elevator back up to the top, back on the main road. We also did a tour that takes you behind the falls. We found the Canadian people were fantastic and we felt we had good value for money. We never had to change our currency as you could pay for everything in US dollars. One thing to remember is that you can claim back the GST a sales tax for purchases in Canada. It is restricted to certain things though, so check to see what you can claim for. On our second day we went to Niagara on the Lake, a beautiful place with some lovely scenery. There is a jet boat that you can go for a ride on here which looked like fun. On a clear day you can see the CN tower of Toronto in the distance too. That night we crossed back over to the US side to visit the outlet mall where we got some great bargains.

The next day we checked out of our hotel and began the journey to Florida. We had a little bet to see who the first person was to spot a wild Palm tree but that would be a day or two away yet. We crossed back into the US and headed towards Buffalo where we took the interstate. After New York, the next state we entered was Pennsylvania and we passed through Harrisburg and onto the next State Maryland where spent our first night. We stayed in a motel and were surprised at the difference between, here and other places we stayed at. It was a Sunday and the hotel bar closed at 10:30pm. It just seemed that they were more religious than some of the other places we stayed.

Anyway next day we were off and I must say that the scenery in Pennsylvania and Maryland was starting to get so much better and passing by the towns of PA with their quaint churches and steeples was very picturesque along with the fall colours of the leaves. It is our intention to drive down the Blue Ridge parkway and travel through the Shenandoah national park for some of the journey so we head for Front Royal and in no time we enter the Park. As we enter and pay the small fee, we see a deer crossing the road ahead of us. We thought this was a taste of things to come but believe it or not that was the only one we saw! The speed limit on the twisty roads is only around 20mph so the journey can take some time. Every so often there are overlooks where you can stop and take some photos. This area is steeped in Civil War history and there were many plaques that commemorate the lives lost between soldiers of the North and South. Much of the scenery you are looking at won’t have changed that much over the years and you can just imagine what it was like when you look at the battlegrounds below. You can see how the name Blue Ridge came about as there is a blue tinge to the hills in the distance and this is caused by the trees putting the “blue” in Blue Ridge, from the isoprene released into the atmosphere,thereby contributing to the characteristic haze on the mountains and their distinctive colour. There are information stations along the route and places to buy refreshments. We traveled along the route for about 3 hours and then left to rejoin the interstate and on to our next stop passing by Roanoke, Charlotte and into South Carolina where we stayed overnight at a Howard Johnson. The girl on the reception desk had that southern drawl which we found so nice. Princess Diana had not long been killed and when she noticed we were from the UK she went to great pains to express her sorrow, which we thought was very nice.

The next day we wanted to get to Jacksonville in Florida for our last overnight stop and to visit some friends. We set off early and travelled south on the interstate towards Charleston where we joined the I-95. This interstate runs from the North of Maine all the way down to Miami Florida. We passed by Savannah and it was around here that I won the $10 for the spotting of a wild palm tree! Before long we were entering Florida and Jacksonville was in sight. When we got there we chose a beach hotel and checked in. It was early afternoon and we set off to meet our friends. We met up and we went back to their home for a while and arranged to meet later at the Mandarin ale house for a meal later. After a great night out we went back to our hotel, we had arranged to go to St Augustine the next day. This was a great day St. Augustine is reportedly the oldest US city and is steeped in history with a definite Spanish flavor. We had a look around the Fort and did some shopping. Later that afternoon we were going to go to Orlando. We said our goodbyes and headed off to the land of the mouse.

The temperature now was getting much warmer and we had changed into shorts in SC but as we neared Orlando it was getting very warm. When we got there, we decided to get the car sorted out and during the trip it had been needling away at us that we had paid $300 for the privilege of returning a Florida rental car to Florida! So when we went to the rental office in Orlando we complained to the clerk, she went to speak to a supervisor and came back to tell us that they will refund the $300 and gave us a brand new 7 seat Dodge Grand Caravan. So that was a good result.

We had pre booked our Orlando accommodation and during our stay we did the theme parks and all the other things that tourists do. We also set of for a few days down to Fort Myers, this has always been a favourite of ours. We stayed at Pointe Estero a condominium right on the beach. I can heartily recommend a road trip such as this and look forward to doing it again sometime. You can see so much more of the country this way.

Why the London Riots Created a Greater Business Travel Threat Than a Terrorist Attack

Introduction to the London riots threat

If you have business travel to London, you need to read this article. In this article you will discover why the London riots created a greater travel threat than a terrorist attack. We will examine the threat posed by the London riots and demonstrations, terrorist attacks and resulting travel delays, disruptions and changes. At the end of this article, you will have a specific understanding of the required business travel management response and awareness as to why this will happen again.

The London riots and demonstrations has resulted in one of the largest business travel disruptions of 2011.

London Riots and Demonstrations

The London riots and demonstrations have come as a complete surprise to many. It is not a unique event and certainly not unique to the UK. The scale, violence, fire and failure of the authorities is often something expected in other countries but the lack of preparedness for destinations like the UK is common and widespread. Therefore, the lack of preparedness and last-minute scramble to respond and the inability to avoid major business travel disruptions are widespread as a result.

Due to the footprint of disruption, many routes and modes of transport have been negatively affected. Simple commute from the airport, trains and ports to planned accommodation options have been altered and continuous review of hazard or threat assessment are required. Furthermore, travel support providers such as taxis, hotels, restaurants, emergency services an other basic amenities have also been affected, to varying degrees.

Travel and risk managers need to immediately identify:

  • Affected areas,
  • Degree of threat,
  • Affected and exposed (inbound and outbound) business travellers,
  • Arrival/departure points,
  • Safe and non-affected areas,
  • Mitigation or eradication options,
  • Cost of implementation,
  • Funds available,
  • Emergency support,
  • Accommodation options,
  • On-going or developing events,
  • Social or non-business activity,
  • Insurance claims and compliance requirements,
  • Cancellation criteria,
  • Resumption of travel criteria,
  • Extended event plans,
  • Travel alternatives (domestic and international)

The London riots have affected multiple support systems related to business and leisure travel. Any leisure travel disruptions will further compound business travel threats such as decreased accommodation options, airport congestion and increased public transport demand. Even simple actions like withdrawing money from an ATM will prove a challenge and compound the hazard/s.

The London riots have had a prolonged affect on UK business travel sector, far greater than the majority of terrorist attacks. Further affects such as planning and preparation for the 2012 Olympics will also contribute to the lingering affects.

A lack of planning and subsequent response capability by businesses could constitute a failure of duty of care, due diligence, corporate social responsibility, workplace health and safety or other related legislation.

Terrorist attacks less of a threat than London riots

With the exception of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, most have limited travel disruption and only affect a narrow band of travelers. Inclusive of the Mumbai terror attack, terrorist attacks typically have clearly defined threat elements (terrorist, bombings, gunfire, etc) whereas the London riots is a constantly changing and unclear threat. Most business travelers will be unprepared for such decision-making demands and lack sufficient experience to make consistent and safe decisions.

Most contemporary business risk management systems focus on location and plausible event threats, then seek to inform or prepare travelers for the best results to mitigate or eliminate the hazards and threats. Therefore, the bulk of business travelers will not be prepared or educated on how to respond in London, with such wide spread disruption and threats. Few will have residual knowledge from information and preparation for such events in other locations, considered more likely to be medium to high risk. Many of the supporting business travel management departments and managers will be equally unprepared and resourced.

A terrorist attack and other similar violent crimes would have a much smaller footprint of disruption, not affected such a wide business travel demographic, not affect business travel support providers so comprehensively or have such a prolonged impact on all exposed.

Routine travel delays, disruptions and changes represent one of the most persistent and probable travel risk management issues.

Travel delay, disruption and changes

Change management and the decision-making involved is one of the most commonly accepted workplace hazard concerns. This is equally relevant to business travel and business travel threats.

The instinctive and guided response of travelers to any delay, disruption or change can significantly affect the outcome of any spontaneous or new hazard as it presents. Particularly when this is the first level of response, before support options and resources can be activated or come into affect.

Travel delays have been triggered due to airport and airline workers unable to get to work, taxi drivers not able to refuel vehicles, hotels and staff overwhelmed, business travelers unprepared and convergence of business and leisure travelers upon all available exit travel nodes.

Access to information, at all levels, the ability to consume and process all the options and explore alternatives is imperative in this and similar travel disruption events. Crisis leadership will succeed more frequently than simple crisis management, to which are dependent upon timely and accurate information from all available resources.

Unfortunately, many will fail to fully understand the gravity of the events, the threats posed and respond or prepare accordingly. While many others exposed will chalk it up to another force majeure or random act that is just part of the rich experience of international travel. Courts, business travelers and peer review increasingly do not share this flippant view.

This scenario and lack of preparedness has been played out numerous times in recent history. Volcanos, volcanic ash affects, Japan’s tsunami, airport closures, airline failure and many others have caught business travelers and managers alike unprepared. This disturbing trend will continue.

Conclusion: London riots threat

You should now see why the London riots have a far greater impact and threat to travelers than you may have originally thought. We have examined the business travel threat posed by the London riots, terrorist attacks and resulting travel delays. You now have a specific plan for this and similar events and the required business travel management and response. This will happen again. Perhaps not in London, perhaps not a city wide demonstration but this kind and scale of business travel disruption event will happen more than once before the end of 2011. Review your plan and make the necessary enhancements now.

School Bus Safety – What To Teach Your Kids

Over 20 million children nationwide ride the school bus every day. While school buses are regulated to some extent by federal law, not all states have the same safety standards. For example, New York, New Jersey, and Florida all have state laws in place which require school buses to have lap belts installed for student use. No federal law exists, however, which makes this a national standard. In fact, the debate over seat belts in school buses has been going on for years.

That being said, school buses do not have a bad safety record. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses have some of the best safety records on the road in terms of deaths per distance traveled – just 0.2 deaths per 100 million miles. Furthermore, while some 30,000 people died in passenger vehicles crashes during 2004 alone, only 71 school bus passengers have died in accidents in the past eleven years combined.

Of course, as scintillating as the statistics may be, no one can argue that they are perfect. Children are society’s most valued resource, and it only takes the death of one child to make a significant impact on a family and community. One must also consider that many more children die as a result of being hit by buses than do while passengers on a bus. Even though bus drivers are required to undergo safety training and to take extra precautions due to the nature of their job, accidents happen. Nearby drivers may also be at fault. Despite laws which require motorists to stop for school buses, thousands upon thousands of irresponsible drivers ignore these laws daily, creating a serious safety risk for children getting off the bus.

As a parent, one of the best things you can do is reinforce bus safety guidelines with your child. Even though such rules may already be communicated in school, children often look to their parents to give the final word on issues. Be ready to answer questions your child may have, and make sure he or she understands how to be safe around buses.

– When waiting for the bus, stand several feet away from the curb. Do not enter the street or attempt to board the bus until it has come to a complete stop and opened its doors.

– While riding the bus, do not distract or otherwise aggravate the driver. Keep backpacks, lunchboxes, and other objects out of the aisle, as these create tripping hazards.

– When getting off the bus, use the handrail and watch your step. Try not to cross in front of the bus. If you must do so, walk several feet ahead of the bus and wait for the driver to signal for you to cross. Watch out for passing motorists when crossing the street.

– Never, under any circumstances, crawl under the bus. Not even to retrieve lost property.

Teaching your child to respect these safety guidelines can reduce the chance of a devastating accident on the bus, at the bus stop, or at school.

How to Become a Group Leader and Travel Free

If travel is your passion, and you can’t visualize yourself sitting at a desk all day, answering question about travel destinations which you would rather be visiting, becoming a Group Leader, may be your best solution.

The cruise line industry caters to the group sales methodology to fill up cruise cabins. Most of the major cruise companies will provide a free cruise for a Group Leader who sells 8 cabins or 15 full paying passengers. Some cruise companies require the group leader to pay for taxes, fees and upgrades. Smart group leaders, usually will book themselves, into an Interior cruise cabin. That way no one in the group has a less expensive cabin.

The Group Leader can sell his/her cruise or, cruise for free. This option is what makes the group leader’s opportunity so popular.

Experienced Tour Conductors, usually generate multiple methods to market their cruises or group travel events. The most common way is to locate established groups, who want to save money by traveling together. Other successful groups include special interest travel.

Because the majority of Group Leaders are not, travel agents, they may have regular jobs, and belong to social organizations and church groups which puts them in touch with hundreds of potential travelers.

There are a number of ways to get started as a Travel, Group Leader. If you are a junkie traveler, you can use your own experiences to build your confidence and your sales.

If you have a limited travel background, yet travel is a passion, you can take a home study course, or enroll in a couple of classes at your local junior college. There are also courses online, which are extremely affordable. Travel is a billion dollar industry and there are many options for learning different phases of the travel industry.

My own path through this maze was to enroll in a UC Berkeley Extension (Berkeley, Ca) course, on Group Travel. My instructor was one of the most successful group travel professionals in the country, at that time. My next step was to volunteer as a group leader for a social club who was attending an annual ski summit in Vale.

It is not necessary to spend lots of money on schooling be become an effective Group Leader. However, it is mandatory that you learn everything you can about your destination and the travel involved.

Once you have secured a basic knowledge of the type of group travel you want to offer, you can then seek out a host agency. A Host Agency is a licensed, bonded travel agency which allows travel agents or outside travel agents to book travel using their company name. There is a split in the commission, as the host agency is the legal business which allows you to book travel for your clients. Most host agencies charge a fee, and an annual fee, but not all. Fees for joining a Hosting Agency can range from zero dollars, up to $500.

Another option is to contact your local travel agency and let them know you want to work as an outside agent. Be prepared to explain what types of travel you want to offer and to what type of groups you want to specialize in. The agency owner, or manager, will provide you with the commission structure, if any, policies and procedures. Some travel agencies only offer free travel to group leaders, while others offer, free travel, and commissions.

When first starting out, it is almost always better to join a group in process, or, create a fun, 2 day trip, to get experience. My own experience included learning the procedure for a particular cruise ship. For about 5 years, every time a Princess Cruise ship docked in San Francisco, I thought I should further my travel education and be aboard ship when it cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge and out to sea. My efforts landed me in the Captain’s Circle and qualified me as a Platinum Cruise Member.

It is easy to find clients. Below is a list of ways to market your travel events.

1. Informing your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, church members, club members, organizations, friends of friends, twitter pals, and your personal email buddies, is a great way to find new clients.

2. The second best way is to invite friends, neighbors over for a travel party or a cruise party. Ask the cruise line or the resort, for a video tape and free promotional material to share with the guest. Provide guest with snacks and (cheap) wine. Keep the wine coming! No need to be aggressive. Travel sells itself, especially, if the destination and price is of interest. You can provide your clients with a bottle of fine wine aboard ship.

Remember to ask for a deposit. Stay focused, your job is to provide information and collect checks. Ask friends to sponsor a travel party. The more parties you have, the more people you sign up. It’s that simple!

3. Make announcements at your church and your organization. Include the information in the church bulletin or your organization’s newsletter, as many times as possible.

4. Have flyers made up, but not before you have business cards printed, with your name, contact numbers, email address, name of travel event, dates and starting cost.

5. Distribute flyers, at public places or public events.

6. Use classified ads, online and offline to promote your travel event.

7. Pass out your cards, everywhere you go. Doctor’s office, cleaners, grocery store, beauty shop, stores where you shop, your children’s school, your favorite neighborhood bar, and eating establishments.

Paper work is extremely important and without it, nothing happens. Paper work must be completed correctly and forwarded to the host agency or travel agency in a timely manner. Failure to do so could result in an ugly situation, which could escalate into a legal battle.

Checks should be made out to the host agency or the travel agency. Even if the travel agency says its OK for your clients to make the check out to you, don’t do it. Get you commissions from the host agency, unless you have a Seller of Travel license. One you turn in your deposits and payments, the host agency or travel agency, will provide you with your commissions, based on your agreement.

Outside travel agents usually work under an Independent Contractor Agreement and are issued a 1099-MISC at the end of the year.

Improving Travel In Our National Parks: The Transportation Scholars Program

As the population of the United States continues to increase, so do transportation issues in our national parks. In the past three decades, park visitation has jumped more than 83 percent; almost all of these additional visitors have traveled to and through the parks in privately owned vehicles. Roads and parking facilities that were once adequate are now overwhelmed, especially during peak travel seasons.

The resulting congestion both degrades visitor experiences and imperils the natural and cultural resources the National Park Service (NPS) is committed to protecting. The result is further strain on an agency already stretched by small budgets and over-worked staff.

In 2001, in an attempt to help the NPS find innovative solutions to this problem, the National Park Foundation (NPF), the Ford Motor Company Fund, and Eno Transportation Foundation teamed up with the NPS to establish the National Park Transportation Scholars Program. Today the program continues under the guidance of the National Park Foundation, the National Park Service, the Federal Highway Administration, the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks and Technical Assistance Center, and the Eno Transportation Foundation.

The Transportation Scholars Program provides parks with transportation professionals who assist in developing transportation systems to help parks reduce traffic, congestion, and pollution while improving park visitor experiences. The Scholars Program pairs transportation professionals and graduate students with NPS staff seeking expert assistance with projects involving transportation planning and analysis, public outreach, intergovernmental coordination, environmental impact assessment, and other transportation-related tasks. Assignments generally begin in early summer and last either six or twelve months.

The Transportation Scholars Program provides the Park Service with much-needed transportation expertise at a fraction of the cost of hiring consultants or bringing on full-time staff. The Parks derive significant advantages from having Transportation Scholars located on-site versus using off-site assistance, and Scholars benefit parks by serving as single points of contact on transportation matters for consultants, contractors, and local communities. Scholars also bring a fresh perspective to the Park Service, while taking away valuable personal and professional experiences.

Jacqueline Lowey, Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) from 1996 to 1997, and Deputy Director of the NPS from 1997-2001, conceived the idea for the Transportation Scholars Program. “I think that transportation is absolutely key to protecting park resources,” said Lowey. “Transportation is the nexus of how you preserve parks while enabling visitors to experience the parks’ incredible natural and historical treasures now and in the future.”

To be eligible for consideration, parks must have a specific transportation-related project ready to begin or already underway. A committee made up of representatives from the NPS, the NPF, and the Eno Foundation reviews park applications that meet these basic requirements; final park selections are made by the NPF’s Board of Directors.

Parks with projects connected to well-developed, long-term transportation plans and involving innovative approaches to addressing park transportation issues are given priority. Examples of such innovative approaches include projects incorporating alternative transportation systems, community involvement, sustainable transportation, transportation master planning, multi-modal access, and non-motorized transportation. The scholar selection process is administered by the Eno Foundation, which assembles a selection panel with representatives from the NPS, the USDOT-Federal Lands Highway, and other organizations with a transportation focus. The panel reviews the project proposals of parks selected by the National Park Foundation, and matches the best qualified candidate with each project.

Transportation Scholars have come from a diverse range of educational and professional backgrounds; several have been working professionals in transportation-related fields. Others have been graduate students pursuing PhD or masters degrees in civil engineering, landscape architecture, urban planning, public policy, and business administration. Most Scholars are given assignments of between 3 months and 1 year, though some have worked for the same park for multiple years.

At the end of their term, the scholars are required to submit a report to the NPF detailing their accomplishments, providing guidance to NPS decision makers, and describing the significance of their findings for other park units and the larger transportation community.

Group Travel Planning and Traveling Tips

Thinking about traveling with a group? Group travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to see the world and visit popular destination sites; not only is the vacation care free, but you can make lifelong friends on the way! If you are planning on experiencing group travel for the first time soon, here are some traveling tips to help you have the best group vacation experience.

Have Group Will Travel

Did you know that many group travel companies love it when you already have an established group to travel with? If your church society, school class, hobby club, social group, or extended family and friends want to take a vacation to an exciting destination together, tour operators are happy to handle all the details so your group can travel simultaneously without the hassle of planning the vacation, gathering payments or handling travel documents. This is one of the best ways to travel with a group since you already know the members of the organization, share a common interest and nobody in the group has to handle the tedious details!

Finding the Best Group Travel Services for You

The best group vacation company is the one that meets your needs and provides you with the vacation experience you were looking for! There are all types of tour operators such as adventure travel services, group travel for singles, and senior group travel companies. First, pick a travel company that is specialized in the type of travel you want (unless you already have a group of people to travel with). Then make sure the tour operator is respected and well established in providing escorted vacations. Just because a company claims they have led groups before does not mean they are an established tour operator! Just think, you are leaving all the details and traveling plans up to someone else; that is a lot of responsibility and your happiness is on the line! Make sure you pick a respected, established travel company that is specialized in the type of travel you are looking for and has built relationships with its travel partners from years of doing business together.

International Traveling Tips

If it is your first time traveling overseas then learning about the country you are going to visit is important even when traveling in a group! Simple things like charging your phone might be challenging if you are traveling overseas. Escorted travel companies will try and alert you about native customs and give you international traveling tips, but you might also want to learn the basic “hello” and “goodbye” greetings as well as how to say “yes,” “no” and “thank you” in the native language of the countries you will visit. Don’t forget to pack your passport and any additional documentation you might need for medical purposes; it is good to bring the phone numbers of your home physician in case your medical history needs to be accessed while on vacation.

Unfortunately, going on vacation is a treat that most people only get to do once a year! Group travel can be very rewarding and allow you the comfort of experiencing a foreign land without the feeling of being alone. Tour operators also make sure you have the best travel experience possible so that your escorted vacation becomes your dream vacation.

Why the Timing is Right – Become a Travel Agent

Why the sudden surge in interest for the travel industry? Here are a few facts to consider when looking at a travel career as a career option.

Here are the facts:

  1. Travel is a $7 Trillion dollar industry expected to double to $14 Trillion within the next decade.
  2. This lucrative industry is currently growing 23% faster than the global economy.
  3. A key factor in this growth phenomenon is the stream of baby boomers that are retiring, or getting ready to retire.
  4. Baby boomers are retiring at a rate of 1 every 8 seconds.
  5. Travel was rated the number one thing these baby boomers intend to do when they do retire.

When considering a career in the travel industry, there are several options available for those looking to work from home.

There is an increased demand for qualified travel agents, due to the explosive growth of the industry as a whole. To become a certified travel agent, your options are not limited to the traditional brick and mortar setting. Many reputable travel agencies now offer options for the individual looking for a legitimate home based business.

While doing your due diligence in researching whether this industry is a fit for you, consider that there are excellent income opportunities available to work from home.

If your goal is to work as an independent travel agent from the comfort of your own home, consider working as an online travel agent.

Here are some companies that you can research, that offer excellent training. Some of the companies will hire you as an employee, while others offer the freedom of being your own boss, and setting your own hours.

Do your due diligence!

  1. Research each company carefully, and make it a priority to understand the compensation plan.
  2. Know what training is available, and whether the company will offer you the opportunity to become certified.
  3. Does the company have IATA, IATAN, ARC and CLIA affiliations?
  4. What is the initial investment? Are there additional costs associated for licensing, or becoming certified?
  5. If you are considering a work at home position, what kind of support is offered?

Are you a right fit for the travel industry?

Lets break down the qualifications that will determine whether you are suited for this challenging, but rewarding career.

Travel agents should have a minimum of a high school diploma.

Travel agents should have a love for travel. Enthusiasm and a love for working with people are crucial elements for success in this industry.

Travel agents should possess excellent multi-tasking and organization skills.

Great communication skills, as well as computer skills are essential.

Travel agents should possess a professional, courteous demeanor when working with suppliers, and the general public.

Attention to detail and accuracy are very important. Some sales ability is very helpful as well.

Now, the benefits of becoming a travel agent

The benefits of becoming a travel agent are many. I have listed the top three.

Travel agents save up to 80% on travel to many of the worlds exclusive resorts and destinations. These discounts include, but are not limited to:

Complimentary upgrades Hotel room upgrades and discounts

Car rental discounts and upgrades


Theme park discounts

Vacation Packages

FAM trips, also known as familiarization trips. Suppliers want travel agents to have first hand knowledge of their facilities, so that the travel agent can make a recommendation based on personal knowledge and first hand experience.

The supplier will offer discounts and other perks, and roll out the red carpet to ensure the travel professional has an outstanding time.

Tax Benefits for individuals who chose to do this profession as an independent travel agent. Consult your CPA or tax professional for more information regarding this benefit.

Summary: How Do I become a travel agent?

In summary, becoming a travel agent can be a lucrative and rewarding career. Should you decide that you possess the skills and abilities needed for success, you can look forward to a promising career.

Get Started: Do a search online using the keywords: become a travel agent, how do I become a travel agent, or online travel agents.

How Cheap Budget Travel Online Experts Can Help You on All of Your Travel Needs

More considerable travel savings are given to the best travel planner. Oftentimes, the best planners are those who hire travel agents. There are lots of cheap budget travel online experts who can help you on your travel needs. With their help, you will be able to obtain the best travel deals, save money and prevent problems in your chosen destination.

A wealth of information on cheap travel deals is available on the Internet. Because of it, you can easily compare different travel deals and prices. Excellent budget travel online experts can not just offer you great perks that can help you save hundreds of dollars but they can also help you save time in planning and booking. They can also inform you which airlines or cruises charge the less and how you can avoid other travel charges.

Consulting and hiring affordable budget travel online experts is truly rewarding, since they could get special hotel accommodation rates and have the skills to negotiate a cheap vacation package that would enable you to save both time and money. Also because of their expertise, you will be able to have a more enjoyable vacation or travel experience. These people often have access to cheap hotel deals, airfares and other travel perks that average travelers cannot simply obtain on their own.

Oftentimes, most budget travel online experts get bombarded with lots of travel promotions that sometimes you can even get travel packages for as low as a hundred dollars. At a minimum, budget travel online experts can book you tickets to your specific destination. Most of them typically focused on air, sea and rail travel as well as on other options available. They may also prepare a car that you can rent along with other services like arranged arrival meals and airport or dock pickups.

Budget travel online experts also have more to offer. They can even provide recommendations regarding immunization and preventive medicine routines that may possibly be required when traveling in different countries. These experts can also be of great help in organizing passports and visas, ensuring that their clients move effortlessly during their trips.

Some budget travel online experts can also suggest and recommend language classes and other travel arrangements, while others may give helpful tips and hints for their clients to make sure their clients will be able to experience an enjoyable trip. A travel expert who specializes on things like business travel may take account of travel itineraries that are customized for business people like well-organized tours and accommodations that include services like Fax machine usage and Internet access.

Budget travel online experts usually sell themselves based on their abilities to organize intricate and enjoyable trips, whether it could be whirlwind tours or relaxing luxury cruises. With lots of websites offering the services of these experts, you can surely find one who is experienced and knowledgeable in all of the eccentricities of the travel scheme and a trip can at times run more slickly with an expert at the helm.

Traditional Home Furniture

The different elements of traditional furniture

When you first hear references to the Captain’s bed you immediately think of sailors that have been through the rough seas. However there are practical uses for this piece of furniture in the home. In fact it can help the home owner to increase the enjoyment that they get from their living spaces. All this is achieved with the use of minimalist principles and materials that are actually sustainable. It is a pity that not many people are completely used to the idea that this piece of furniture can make great furnishings for the home.

    1. The Modern bed is great for storage purposes. You have an item of furniture that is used for a variety of functions including storage. If you have security needs you can even put a lock onto the furniture to ensure that it is not easily accessible. The people that run with such a course of action can look for other discreet ways of securing the storage space. The needs of the individual customers will vary and therefore the solutions to their problems cannot be generic. However we can conclude that this piece of furniture is very useful when it comes to protecting your property in storage. The delicate items will not be shifting from side to side and that is a definite advantage.
    1. Depending on the brand that you buy the Usable bed can be very comfortable. You can use the mattresses and other cushions to ensure that you have a very comfortable stay. This will be nothing like the conditions that you can expect in a cramped ship. Instead you will have great flexibility in terms of the way that you can arrange your home yet at the same time you will be living in relative comfort. It is the thing that is making this piece of furniture very popular with the public. Even children might be able to use if you take the necessary safety precautions. In using the item you are really just getting the benefits that the manufacturers planned all along.
    2. You can use sustainable materials for the Captain’s bed. This means that you do not have to restrict yourself to wood. It is possible to look at the other alternatives and see whether they can do the job effectively. At the same time you will be playing your role in securing the environment. This is the dual role that you can look to in order to ensure that you are getting the maximum benefits from the purchases that you make for your home in terms of furniture.
  1. Space is utilized responsibly when you buy the Captain’s bed. If you live in the modern homes where the space that is available to you is at a premium, this can be a great solution to your problems. You will be able to fit in well and yet you will have the extra room to store your property as well. This is a complete furniture piece.

How to Pick Out Home Furniture for a Busy Lifestyle

Leading a busy lifestyle means having less time to enjoy the comforts of home. But that doesn’t mean you should abandon comfort altogether. In fact, when you’ve got no other choice but to be busy, your home furniture should help you get the most of what little time you have to feel comfortable.

Furniture that will fit a busy lifestyle should have certain qualities above other considerations. First, it has to be low maintenance. The less you have to do to keep it spic and span, the more time you’ll have to simply lay back and relax. Next, it will need to be space-efficient. After all, when you’re trying to get from point A to point B on a tight schedule, being forced to go through a long path or to squeeze between sofas and tables will definitely make your temper rise.

Here are some suggestions to create a comfortable, low-maintenance home for a busy bee:

The More Functions, The Better. Aside from the novelty factor, multi-functional furniture can help you reduce clutter and make it easier to move around. Some ideas you can consider include using a storage chest or ottoman for your coffee table in the living room, or choosing a sectional that extends into a chaise-like section instead of buying a separate chaise lounge to pair with your sofa.

Plan The Room To Make The Most Of The Furniture. Speaking of multi-functional home furniture, instead of buying a single desk for a single function, try to envision a space-efficient room and select furniture to follow that idea. This is especially important if your home tends to double as your second office. By being wise with how you arrange the room and position everything you need for certain tasks, you can spend less time searching for documents or designs and finish work faster.

Whether To Go Leather. When it comes to upholstery for your home furniture, investing in leather will definitely matter in short run. Cloth-upholstered sofas get dirty and dusty easily and will have you taking the covers to the washers every so often. Leather upholstery will also help greatly if you keep a pet at home. Fur is much easier to deal with and leather is more resistant to stains. Split liquids will often just need a wipe-down to keep clean.

On the other hand, leather tends to fade over time, especially when humidity varies. If you use an air-conditioner, but leave it off when you’re not in, then leather may not be the best option to you. Leather also scratches relatively easier and these may be harder to repair.

While all of these ideas will help you pick out the best home furniture to suit your lifestyle, remember that above all, you must prioritize comfort. This is most important for the places you plan to spend the most time in, such as your home office and your bed.

The Fast Food Industry – You Pay Them to Kill You, While Still Making Hefty Profits

The power of advertising has made the public rethink their unhealthy habits. After the September 11th terrorist attack, the marketing department of the Department of Health used this angle to decrease the desire in young adults to use drugs. We’ve all seen these public service announcements from time to time, and I have mentioned them previously: “My drug habit lead to the ruination of lives far from where I live, I am directly helping organized crime… In other words, my drug use has financed murder…”

This chapter is using another angle to get the right point across. “Today, I built up the plaques in my arteries, I increased my triglyceride level by 30%.” I guess this is a blunt way to make a point. By eating fast food, you literally finance your death.

While several worthwhile books have been written in recent years about the broader social implications of a meat-centered diet (Erik Marcus’ “Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating”, Gail Eisnitz’s “Slaughterhouse”, and Howard Lyman’s “Mad Cowboy”, to name a few), none has been greeted more warmly by the mainstream press than Eric Schlosser’s “Fast Food Nation”. They all make one point in common: the dangers of eating fast food. In spite of this bad press, we haven’t seen many fast food corporate giants go under. Actually, some are doing very well, indeed. How can we comprehend the fact that despite everything that health magazines, newspapers, and television documentaries say about the dangers in the food we eat, such as hamburgers, fries, soft drinks, etc., people still find themselves filling the seats of these restaurants without thinking about the consequences of their actions? We are talking about your health here. A well-researched and trenchant expose of the fast food industry has caused some people to sit up, take notice, and perhaps even rethink their unhealthy eating habits.

It is obvious that a book talking about the causes of obesity talks about the fast food industry as well. Eric Schlosser’s book “Fast Food Nation” has enabled many to understand how fast food is being processed. Today McDonald’s is the country’s largest purchaser of beef, pork, and potatoes, and it’s the second biggest purchaser of chicken – which should seem obvious to us all. With their restaurants in every corner of America and beyond, millions of tons of meat and poultry are being processed in the slaughterhouses that supply meat to McDonald’s.

They can only offer their promotions, 2 burgers for $2.22, if their expenses are low. The point here is to make you realize that each time you enter their restaurants, order food, and pay the cashier to eat their food, you are signing your death warrant. Some statistics are truly staggering: In the early 1970’s, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they shelled out more than $110 billion, more than they spent on higher education, computers, or new cars. McDonald’s operates about 28,000 restaurants worldwide and opens 2,000 more every year. That equals six McDonald’s/day. If they follow the same trend for the next decade, they might reach the 50,000 franchises mark. In real life, opening more franchises will mostly send more Americans to their doctors or the emergency room to get diagnosed with several diseases, including high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. There is at least one positive outlook of these corporate giants. They keep our labor force working by creating many jobs in America and abroad. The 3.5 million fast food workers are by far the largest group of minimum-wage workers in the world; not too bad for the fast food industry.

However, creating jobs should not be used as an excuse, though. They are still convincing people to eat their food by using the media and other sources of advertising. Fast food chains collectively spend about $3 billion annually on television advertising, most of it directed at children-talk about creative marketing. By reaching out to kids, they (the fast food giants) assure themselves a future. What is the point in reaching the older crowd since they are already hooked to their food? They need to reach a virgin market. Yep, ladies and gentlemen, they are targeting your kids. While you are trying your best to teach your kids to adopt a healthy lifestyle by making their lunch everyday, making them participate in after school sports activities, encouraging them to avoid unhealthy temptation, the industry is spending several millions dollars to brainwash them about what food to eat. I guess you agree with me that these are counter-productive measures. Can this ever end? I don’t think so. Unless Congress confronts one of the underlying factors in health costs for the country, we might never see any progress.

There is some good news, though. We’ve seen some changes in this industry in the past few years. McDonald’s and other fast food chains have tried to implement some healthy items in their menus. Americans are finally seeing some choices offered to them: salad in a cup accompanied by low fat salad dressings is one positive result. Although, most consumers are still not ordering these healthier items, they do have the choice anytime they desire.

Diners can now order salads, baked potatoes and grilled chicken sandwiches, some of which weren’t on restaurants’ original menus. Jeff Bonasia, Burger King’s Senior Director of Product Marketing, says customer surveys revealed that 41 percent of Burger King’s “heavy users”, the beef eaters, wanted a vegetarian burger on their menu.

“We’re not necessarily going out to appeal to people who are strict vegans or vegetarians,” Mr. Bonasia says. “It’s meant to provide more choice and variety for the people who love burgers.” When the BK Veggie Burger idea came up, Burger King officials envisioned it as anchoring a nutritious meal combination, possibly paired with a side salad and bottled water. That didn’t register with customers, Mr. Bonasia says. “Their reaction was, ‘I’ll get the Veggie Burger, and I’ll have my fries’,” he says. Most fast-food chains supply customers with the nutritional content of their menu items, either through Web postings or handout guides.

Fast-food restaurants may have consistent menus, but items typically can be customized on request. Often, Ms. Gensler, a Chevy Chase Maryland Dietician, says, “the delivery time of such meals is the same as with a standard order”. “Today’s consumers appreciate a flexible, heart-friendly menu,” says Wendy’s company spokesman Bob Bertini. The burger chain just went nationwide with four new entree salads after successfully test-marketing them last year in five cities. The Garden Sensations salad lineup offers “ingredients that consumers are not used to seeing [in a fast food restaurant],” Mr. Bertini says, from Mandarin Chicken Salad to crispy rice noodles and roasted almonds. Condiments are included separately.

“The whole approach now is not as much on strict diet regimes … it’s more now about balance and choices,” he says.

“For too many, those choices involve super-, mega- or ultra-sizing the meal in question,” says Keith Ayoob, a registered dietitian in New York and spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. Super-sized meals also contain excess fat, salt, and sugar, the three main items people crave. The chains (fast foods giants, that is) “know exactly what they’re doing,” Mr. Ayoob says.
Too much fast food leaves diners susceptible to weight gain and all its risks, including diabetes and high blood pressure, not to mention the strain on the heart. Moreover, fast food tends to offer small amounts of fruits, vegetables and fiber, three components that counteract obesity and other health woes. Mr. Ayoob says: “Americans won’t stop eating fast food, but if they eat it wisely, there is nothing necessarily wrong with that”. “Go eat it, but eat smart,” he says. “Find the food there you like the most and have it in a more modest portion. As long as your weight is being maintained and you eat a low-fat, balanced diet,” he says, “An occasional journey into a fast-food restaurant should present no problem.

CNC Cutting Machine Financing Has Never Been This Convenient

The CNC cutting machine is an immensely useful tool that is used in several industries which involve usage of heavy machines as well as require precision. Metal-works, shipping, electrical and test equipment industries are the ones which fall under this category.

Uses of a the machine: A good basic CNC cutting device does both plasma and oxy-fuel cutting. Refinements on a basic cutting machine might provide it with the ability to perform other functions like spotting holes in order to facilitate drilling, side or end cutting and routing wooden shapes. Further refinements, could enable it to do water jet-cutting too.

Skilled Operators are a Must: The operators of the present-day device should be as adept as traditional craftsmen. Since the machine is specialized and computerized, only skilled personnel can operate it. The operators of the CNC cutting devices include the men and women who design and make cabinets, woodwork, signs, and a whole range of metal, solid surface and plastic objects. The manufacturers who employ these operators know how important it is to have a good quality CNC cutting machine, since a skilled operator and a high-quality machine together would ensure excellent results.

Requirements of a Good CNC Machine: A good quality machine has a cutting table that covers the area bound by a length of four feet and a width of eight feet, which can handle satisfactorily a standard 4 x 8 plate of metal, wood, plastic, glass or stone.

A table which is not of the sufficient dimensions will hinder the work of the operator since he has to repeatedly reposition the plate. In their jargon, this repositioning is called indexing. Since the operator would spend a considerable amount of time indexing the plate, he would lose out on the time allotted for the actual cutting. This would have a direct impact on the output, which in turn, would translate into fewer products on the shelf.

Thus, a manufacturer has to be a smart buyer in order to avoid the vicious reaction between a bad purchase and poor sales volume. A wise manufacturer would recognize the fact that a good sales volume reflects the well-planned purchase of a CNC cutting machine. The manufacturer also has to look out for proper after-sales service facilities to ensure proper maintenance. Retrofitting the lost/damaged parts of the machine is hazardous for your machine as it reduces the performance of your machine. Not only is it time-consuming to operate the machine, but it also has direct detrimental impact on the quality of work. If your operator is constantly indexing then he has less time to produce goods, thereby decreasing your output. So ensuring the proper maintenance of your machine is instrumental to a great performance.

CNC Cutting Machine Financing: Due to their specialized features, these machines are high-priced. This becomes a major impediment to small-time buyers. However, this problem has a solution in the form of CNC cutting machine financing facilities.

These days, numerous financing companies provide debtor-friendly finance schemes for you to go ahead and buy the equipment you need for your business. These finance schemes ensure hassle-free procurement of such equipment, thereby ensuring the use of good quality products and higher sales volume. Since these machines are digitized now, they guarantee accurate and high-quality work. If you need a machine, you know you can get one right away, thanks to CNC cutting machine financing. So your dream CNC cutting machine is just a scheme away!

Home Improvement Tips – Ideas for Changing the Flooring

So you’re thinking about changing that ugly old carpet or vinyl floor with something fresh and beautiful and you want to use tile instead. You have looked at a lot of pictures in home design magazines; you have an idea of the cost, and the retailer with the best selection but know where to start.

Well it sound like you already have a great start, you found some design ideas from magazines, you know where to purchase the materials, and you have a rough idea of the cost, and you have decided to do this yourself, outstanding! The tips I’m about to give you come from my experience as a professional tile setter in Phoenix Arizona.

The first thing you want to think about is what kind of surface are you going to lay that beautiful tile on, wood or concrete. I have found that the preparation of the surface will determine how your tile will look after it’s installed and how long it will last in the home, and let’s face it you don’t want to redo this next year. Follow these basic steps first before you lay your first tile

Is the surface level

Look for flaws like dips and bumps make sure the surface is smooth

If working with a wood surface make sure it’s secure no nails sticking up and it’s tight to the substructure

When working with concrete look for cracks, you don’t want the surface to crack more after you install the tile

Make sure the surface is clean before installation

These starter tips will save you time and frustration and make the experience more enjoyable for you. Next you want to make sure you measure the area you’re going to lay. You don’t want a 6″ cut on one wall and a 3″ cut on the other that would look really bad especially in a entry way. The first thing you need to make sure of is the room you are working with square? Trust me when I say this you don’t know how many times I went into a new home and found that one end of the room measured 12′ and the other end was 12′ 2″ Because of poor framing. This is ok if you’re working with larger tile but can be a real problem if it’s smaller tile like in a bathroom. Here are some tips on laying your floor out before starting the installation.

Buy some tile spacers. They look like small rubber crosses, they will determine your grout line width and give you an idea of your wall cuts, and in most cases will measure ¼ in, between tiles.

Don’t be afraid to lay the tile out in both directions using the tile spacers to get an idea what it’s going to look like.

After determining if your room is square set an installation chalk line in both directions, this will help keep the installation straight.

There are different types of adhesives for laying your tile I use thin set mortar for concrete, and you can use what is called cement board, this can be laid over any wood surface and will eliminate the use of the mastic clue. The reason for this is when wood is affected by temperature it will expand and contract, and the mastic clue will allow it to change with this effect, this is not a concern with cement board, Mastic is pre mixed, and thin set mortar will need to be mixed before you can use it. When mixing your thin set mortar it’s like mixing concrete it comes in a bag and you need to add water, be careful not to get it to thin, it needs to be thick enough to use with a trowel. I used a wheel barrel to mix it in and then transferred it to a 5 gal bucket, this made it easier to handle. Also remember that when installing the tile to make sure not to leave any air bubbles trapped under the tile. This will cause the tile to brake. The method I use is to set the tile by pushing down evenly on the tile until I see the adhesive start to come out from the edges and then I lightly tap on the top of the tile a listen for any hollow sound, this will tell you if there is a pocket of air trapped and if you need to push a little more.

Gold Rings for Men – A Popular Accessory

We usually don’t associate any kind of jewelry with men. When we think about jewelry we always think about the female gender and how they love to adorn themselves with ornaments. However, we have seen that as of lately men have started showing an interest in rings, especially in gold rings. Previously, they used to wear only gold rings on their engagements or on their weddings. But now, gold rings are worn to many formal and informal occasions and it has become more of a fashion statement, not merely an obligation or sign of marriage. Gold rings, due to the rising gold prices worldwide, are usually worn by the upper class, rich people in society. These people can afford to wear gold rings for almost every occasion. But if we look at the average man, a man owns at least one ring for himself.

Even though gold is such an expensive metal, it truly hasn’t been replaced by any other metal. There are a lot of reasons behind this, cultural being the main one. In this article we will be taking a look at the different kinds of gold rings for men in terms of design and we will also be emphasizing on how the variety of rings for men keeps increasing every day. Gold is a very popular choice for men’s rings. However, there is not just one kind of gold that is used in making rings for men. Although yellow gold seems to be used more often, there is white gold and rose gold, which is sometimes used in making rings for men. White gold is more commonly known as platinum and it is much more expensive in terms of price. It gives off a very white look, something that is similar to the shine of extremely well polished silver. Rose gold, on the other hand, has a slightly pinkish color to it (not too much) we don’t see many rings made out of rose gold, but it is used in several rings.

Gold rings, or perhaps any kind of gold jewelry, are not made out of 100% gold. It is almost always mixed with another metal, to make it stronger. We often hear the term carats when we’re shopping for gold jewelry and these carats tell us about how pure the ring is i.e. how pure it is. Usually, the higher the carats, the more gold the ring contains. For everyday use and to keep the affordability factor in mind, 10 to 14 carat rings are suitable for men. There are some rings which are gold-plated but we don’t recommend you to buy those, even if they are cheaper, because once the plating comes off, the metal is not as glossy as it was before.

There are many designs available in the gold rings. There are plain designs like the simple band and there are more complicated designs available in stores. Popularly, gold rings men have plain deigns like the simple wedding band, but now some gold rings have carvings and other designs engraved in them too. The use of stones in the rings is also popular, with different kinds of stones; precious and semi- precious, are used on the rings. There are some rings that have a ribbed design on them. You can either buy ready-made gold rings from stores or over the internet, but if you’re looking for something unique, you can have rings specifically made for yourself in your size and chosen design as well.

Is the New Fashion Trend Right for Your Business?

Is your style the right one for you or are you trying to copy the magazine or a celebrity? A lot of women today have this dilemma because we live in a world where fashion style dictates who you are in the society. The world is changing so fast and the fashion trends are also adjusting every now and then. With a variety of fashionable items to choose from, creating your own personal style is not an easy task to do. You also need to take into consideration the kind of personality you want your viewers to convey about your fashion statement. Dressing your own style of fashion is not only to blend in the crowd but also to express more of yourself and be confident of your personality. Your own personal fashion style is your own personal brand of your own interests, aspirations, desires and lifestyle.

The following are some tips to consider when creating your own fashion statement:

  • Before trying something, try to scrutinize various fashion trends from different sources like magazines, television, advertising materials and the internet. You must know how to gather data to be able to investigate what you really want in your fashion style. You need to know how these trends are being collected so that you will have a better idea about the basics of fashion. From these concepts, you can mix and match and can create a clearer picture of your personal style.
  • Do not try to copy fashion statements of celebrities or friends because their own trend may not be the perfect style for you. Only buy items that best represent you as a person. Focus more on the clothing you wear and feel good about being yourself.
  • Venture on different styles. You can try different dresses and experiment on your own closet. Walking in front of a mirror or taking a picture of yourself can help you. By doing this, you will know what are the styles you want to keep or change. You need to remember that loving the items you wear boosts your self esteem.
  • There are several accessories you need to consider. Try to find the perfect accessory that will complement your outfit. Don’t go for accessory items just because they are a popular trend in your society. You need to realize that accessories are also important in creating your own personal brand.
  • The right hairstyle and make up is also a must in making your own style. Try to consider the shape of your face in selecting the perfect hairstyle. Be conscious about the right blend of make up for the right occasion.

Organizing your fashion statement involves risk. Don’t be afraid to take that risk. Inspire yourself with personalities you admire in the fashion world. Through this, you will be able to discover the true and unique person that’s within you.

The Future Is Now – Green Construction

Energy costs are skyrocketing and climate change is a legitimate threat. With traditional energy resources depleting at an alarming rate, it is imperative that we begin utilizing green concepts into our construction technology and building maintenance. It should be our goal as a responsible society to become energy independent and self-sufficient as soon as possible.

Taking measures to increase energy efficiency should not be thought of as a future endeavor. The time to begin modernizing our office buildings and commercial facilities is now. Building designers and architects have come up with amazing ways to support green development and healthy lifestyles from within small towns to expansive cities. Builders and planners are now on board with constructing facilities that meet or exceed LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. With new green technology being developed every day, new energy efficient and LEED certified buildings are going up at a monumental rate.

Wind and solar power are just two ways that a new green building can be energy independent. Clean solar or wind energy can power entire city blocks, not just the building where the instruments are installed. It is easy to see how a large commercial building has an impact on the surrounding community. By installing solar panels or wind turbines, a modern skyscraper can be a positive force for change to the entire city. When one giant leads by example and demonstrates how beneficial – economically and environmentally – operating a green facility is, it won’t be long before the entire city follows suit.

Obviously, not all buildings are new construction, and no one will tear down a perfectly good building in order to build a more efficient one with new green technology. But there are some steps that can be taken that will make even the oldest commercial building operate more energy efficiently.

Taking measures to decrease water waste is just one way a building can save money and have a positive impact on the environment. Installing tank-less hot water heaters and water-regulating faucets and toilets will have a significant impact on the overall amount of money saved in utility bills. Other steps a building maintenance department can take are making sure the HVAC system is operating correctly and replacing all incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient fluorescent ones. Cleaning and maintaining a building’s HVAC system will keep it operating at optimum efficiency, ensuring clean airflow and ventilation, while swapping out traditional light bulbs for fluorescent ones will drastically reduce electric bills and electricity consumption.

By incorporating green standards and green construction techniques into our commercial buildings, we will all enjoy the benefits of lower utility bills and clean, renewable energy. By reducing carbon emissions and water waste, we are creating an environment that the entire global community can enjoy for many years to come.