Posts tagged "Tips"

Top Tips for Flying with Your Baby3 min read

Tips for Flying with a Baby

Ah, your little bundle of joy. While your baby is the light of your life, he or she may strike dread into the hearts of your fellow passengers if you’re not well prepared for your flight. Like flying with a toddler, your trip with your infant will be much more enjoyable and stress free if you take a few steps to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible. Follow these expert tips before and during your trip.

The TSA’s 3-1-1 Rule Does Not Apply

The TSA’s 3-1-1 rule is an easy way to remember what you can bring when it comes to liquids and air travel. You’re limited to 3.4-ounces of liquid in any one bottle, all liquids must fit in a quart-sized zip-top plastic bag, and every passenger can bring one bag.

Unless you’re traveling with food for your infant or toddler, in which case those rules are more relaxed. You may bring enough formula, breast milk, or juice to feed your child on the flight. You should inform the TSA agent if you are traveling with more than 3.4 ounces. You’ll likely be asked to have the liquid screened via x-ray – which is perfectly safe.

Dress Simply and Travel Light 

Babies require a lot of infrastructure: clothing, strollers, car seats, toys, bottles, etc. The more you can streamline these items on your trip, the easier it will be. Keep in mind that you will not ever be separated from your baby when going through security. However, you may be required to remove her from a carrier or sling if you’re wearing one.

You will also be required to remove your shoes, belts, bulky jewelry, and anything in your pockets, which can be tough while holding a baby. Simplify your outfit as much as possible.

Umbrella strollers are also a great option since they are light, maneuverable, and fold down relatively small for the flight and taxi.

Prepare for Mid-Air Diaper Changes

Babies go through a lot of diapers – A LOT. The airplane bathroom is small at best, and most don’t have a changing table. While it may be tempting to change your baby on the empty seat next to you, it won’t be a welcome sight or smell for other passengers.

If you need to change your baby’s diaper, your best option is to sit on the bathroom toilet with your changing pad and baby on your lap. This will provide the most possible room and also allow you to brace yourself and your baby if there is turbulence.

Avoid Ear Pain

Just like you, your infant will experience pain and pressure during takeoff, landing, and other times during the flight. If you’re feeling sensations in your ears, they are, too.

It’s impossible to have your baby yawn on cue or chew gum to combat the problem, but a pacifier or empty sippy cup can do the same thing. Keep it at the ready for those high-pressure situations.

Embrace the Crying

It’s inevitable. At some point, your baby will probably cry on the flight. When it happens, don’t stress yourself out, since it will only make things worse.

Do what you can to soothe your child and let the crying episode run its course. Many of your fellow passengers are parents, too. Most people will understand, even if they find the noise irritating.

Image is courtesy of SFGate.com

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Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder - June 21, 2017 at 16:22

Categories: Travel   Tags: , , ,

Using your Smartphone Abroad: 6 Tips for Offline Use3 min read

Using your smartphone overseas and abroad

You don’t need an international phone plan or local SIM card to wring incredible benefits from your smartphone while traveling abroad. I just spent a month in Europe, and beyond using the camera and tapping into Wi-Fi, I relied on my phone to navigate, translate, and keep myself organized — without paying a single penny in extra phone charges.

Here are some offline smartphone tips and tricks I relied on throughout my trip.

GPS Still Works

Yes, GPS still works when you travel abroad — even while you are in airplane mode — so you’ll always know your whereabouts. This is incredibly useful, for example, when navigating winding city streets, tracking your progress along a bus route, or orienting yourself when you resurface at a subway stop. Sure, there are times when getting lost is part of the fun, but for every other time, GPS can be essential.

Download Maps for Offline Use

Before departing on your next trip, consider downloading an offline version of Google Maps for the city or region where you’ll be so that you can access it on the go. Use Wi-Fi to do this, as file sizes can be rather large. The offline version of Google Maps is nearly indistinguishable from the online version, except that it lacks real time traffic information and the ability to map walking routes to a destination. You can even search offline using keywords (e.g., gelato) and Google Maps will make recommendations and include basic information such as store ratings and hours of operation. If you want to plan even more elaborate itineraries, try the Google Trips app, which also has offline functionality.

Customize Google Maps for Your Trip

You will never get truly lost with GPS and a detailed offline map, and labeling and customization can make finding your way even easier. Before arriving in a new city or leaving the hotel room to explore, for example, take the time to label your hotel and highlight places of interest — museums, restaurants, tourist sites, etc. Doing so will make it easier to get your bearings, navigate, and understand where destinations are relative to one another.

Bridge the Language Barrier

If you have traveled abroad, chances are you can recall occasions where you deeply wished you knew how to understand and speak the local language. Perhaps you sat down to dinner and realized you couldn’t read the menu. Or, you had to resort to childish hand gestures and pointing just to make a purchase. Enter Google Translate to save the day. Download the Google Translate app in advance and download the languages you need for offline use. You will not need to use data to translate words and phrases.

It’s More Than Just a Dictionary

Google Translate is also more than just a digital dictionary. Because it can translate complete sentences and the interface makes it easy to toggle back and forth between languages, it’s entirely possible to have a written exchange with someone by passing your phone back and forth. You can even speak into the phone and the app will translate and repeat the phrase aloud, albeit in a robotic voice. Another handy but work-in-progress feature is the camera mode in which the app will (clumsily) translate foreign text in real time as you hover over it with your phone camera.

Keep Your Most Important Documents Accessible

When internet access is spotty, it can help to have key information and documents — your itinerary, travel insurance, directions — accessible on your phone offline. It’s easy to transfer files if you connect your phone to your laptop. Or, if you store your files in Google Drive, simply select “available offline” for each file you want to be able to access at any time.

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Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder - June 15, 2017 at 14:40

Categories: Travel   Tags: , , , , , ,

Traveling with Heart Disease: Tips for Staying Healthy2 min read

Traveling with Heart Disease

Traveling is stressful in general, and for those with heart disease it can pose an even bigger challenge. But having heart problems doesn’t necessarily mean you have to miss out on the next family vacation or island getaway. With proper preparation and care, travelers with heart disease can easily enjoy a comfortable and healthy vacation alongside their loved ones. Here are some tips to ensure a heart-healthy trip.

Talk to Your Doctor Before You Go

If you experience any unusual symptoms, have had a recent procedure or hospitalization, or have an irregular heartbeat, be sure to visit your doctor prior to your departure.  He or she will let you know if it is safe to travel and, in some cases, provide you with a copy of a recent EKG test to bring with you.

Prepare Your Medications

Make sure to pack enough medication for the entire trip as well as for a few extra days in case of delays or cancelations. If you are flying, keep your medication in your carry-on bag so that it is easily accessible at all times. Be sure that all medications are properly labeled and that you have access to water (and food if necessary) when it is time to take them.

Plan Ahead

Once you’ve talked to your doctor and prepared your medications, there are a few other key things you can do before departure to eliminate health risks:

  • Pack using suitcases on wheels to avoid heavy lifting.
  • If flying, request an aisle seat so you can get up and move when necessary.
  • If traveling overseas, arrange for a day of rest after arrival.
  • Arrive to the airport, train station, or bus depot early to avoid crowds.
  • Pack plenty of healthy snacks and water (if flying, buy water bottles once you get through security).
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages.

Avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

For people with heart conditions, sitting for extended periods of time can increase the risk of swelling in your legs and blood clots. Flying adds to this risk because of lower oxygen levels on the plane. To avoid DVT:

  • Try to move every 2 hours or so. If driving, stop the car and take a walk. If flying, walk around the cabin. If you cannot get up and walk, move your feet around for several minutes while seated.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and socks.
  • If flying for more than 8 hours, wear compression stockings. 

Take Proper Precautions If You Have a Pacemaker or ICD

If flying with a pacemaker or implanted cardiac defibrillator (ICD), make sure you carry your device ID on you and inform a TSA agent. It is safe to walk through most metal detectors and full body scanners now, but you should not permit a hand-held metal detector to be used near your device. If you are unsure of what is safe in your situation, it may be best to ask a TSA agent for a hand search.

Get Travel Health Insurance

If you follow these tips, you should have a comfortable and problem-free trip. However, in the off chance that medical assistance is needed, it’s important to have a travel health insurance plan that covers hospital or doctor visits, prescription drugs, and medical evaluations.

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Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder - May 19, 2017 at 19:40

Categories: Travel   Tags: , , , , , ,

Traveling with Fibromyalgia: 5 Tips to Make Your Trip Successful3 min read

Traveling with fibromyalgia

Traveling when you’re perfectly healthy can be hard on your body. When you have chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia, it can be grueling. You’ll have to deal with lots of walking through the airport, cramped seating, time changes and irregular schedules, food you’re not familiar with, and a bed that’s not your own. If you’re not careful, any one of these challenges could trigger a fibromyalgia (FM) flare-up that could ruin your trip.

However, with a little planning and help from your travel companions, you can have a successful trip. These tips will help you anticipate some of the potential triggers you’ll encounter during your trip, and how to avoid them or deal with them while you’re traveling.

Changes in the Weather and Temperature

Many people with FM are extremely sensitive to temperatures and changes in the weather. While it’s not always possible to avoid the conditions when you’re traveling – especially if it involves another climate or time zone – you can prepare. And remember that airports can be cold since they crank the air conditioning – I myself spent an uncomfortable 2-hour layover shivering in SFO.

Tip: Like the Boy Scouts – always come prepared. Have a light jacket available at all times in the bag you’ll be carrying with you, so you can pull it out as soon as you need it. Layers are your friend.

Stress

Stress is one of the biggest FM triggers and there’s no shortage of it when you travel. Delayed flights, missing baggage, sick kids – they can all get your heart rate going. Again, these may be unavoidable but remember, as Jack Sparrow said in Pirates of the Caribbean – “The problem is not the problem. The problem is our attitude about the problem.”

Tip: Let some things go when you’re traveling. If you miss a flight, there will always be another one. Remember your deep breathing exercises and forewarn your travel companions that you may need to take some time for yourself to practice them.

Lack of Sleep

You won’t have access to your regular bed and you may have a time change to deal with as well. These factors, combined with the general hustle and bustle of traveling, can lead to missed sleep – a big no-no if you have FM. Know going into the trip that you’re going to have to make sleep a priority.

Tip: Many FM sufferers find it beneficial to bring a thin roll of foam on a trip to smooth out the lumps and bumps of a strange bed. You may also need to schedule a few naps and regular bedtimes, even if it means missing an excursion with your travel companions or some late-night fun. Avoiding an FM flare-up is worth it.

Breaks in Your Treatment Plan

Anything that breaks your normal treatment plan can put you at risk for an FM flare-up. This includes changes to your routine, which the tips above will help you to avoid. But it also includes missing doses of your prescribed medications and other therapeutic approaches you use on a regular basis.

Tip: Make sure you stock up on the medications you’ll need before leaving for your trip, and search online for pharmacies at your destination in case you need them. You can also ask your doctor for recommendations for service providers – such as therapeutic massage therapists and acupuncturists – who can help alleviate symptoms and keep your fibromyalgia management on track.

Image courtesy of The New York Times.

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Posted by Lustige Bilder - May 8, 2017 at 20:17

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Traveling with Fibromyalgia: 5 Tips to Make Your Trip Successful3 min read

Fibromyalgia yoga

Traveling when you’re perfectly healthy can be hard on your body. When you have chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia, it can be grueling. You’ll have to deal with lots of walking through the airport, cramped seating, time changes and irregular schedules, food you’re not familiar with, and a bed that’s not your own. If you’re not careful, any one of these challenges could trigger a fibromyalgia (FM) flare-up that could ruin your trip.

However, with a little planning and help from your travel companions, you can have a successful trip. These tips will help you anticipate some of the potential triggers you’ll encounter during your trip, and how to avoid them or deal with them while you’re traveling.

Changes in the Weather and Temperature

Many people with FM are extremely sensitive to temperatures and changes in the weather. While it’s not always possible to avoid the conditions when you’re traveling – especially if it involves another climate or time zone – you can prepare. And remember that airports can be cold since they crank the air conditioning – I myself spent an uncomfortable 2-hour layover shivering in SFO.

Tip: Like the Boy Scouts – always come prepared. Have a light jacket available at all times in the bag you’ll be carrying with you, so you can pull it out as soon as you need it. Layers are your friend.

Stress

Stress is one of the biggest FM triggers and there’s no shortage of it when you travel. Delayed flights, missing baggage, sick kids – they can all get your heart rate going. Again, these may be unavoidable but remember, as Jack Sparrow said in Pirates of the Caribbean – “The problem is not the problem. The problem is our attitude about the problem.”

Tip: Let some things go when you’re traveling. If you miss a flight, there will always be another one. Remember your deep breathing exercises and forewarn your travel companions that you may need to take some time for yourself to practice them.

Lack of Sleep

You won’t have access to your regular bed and you may have a time change to deal with as well. These factors, combined with the general hustle and bustle of traveling, can lead to missed sleep – a big no-no if you have FM. Know going into the trip that you’re going to have to make sleep a priority.

Tip: Many FM sufferers find it beneficial to bring a thin roll of foam on a trip to smooth out the lumps and bumps of a strange bed. You may also need to schedule a few naps and regular bedtimes, even if it means missing an excursion with your travel companions or some late-night fun. Avoiding an FM flare-up is worth it.

Breaks in Your Treatment Plan

Anything that breaks your normal treatment plan can put you at risk for an FM flare-up. This includes changes to your routine, which the tips above will help you to avoid. But it also includes missing doses of your prescribed medications and other therapeutic approaches you use on a regular basis.

Tip: Make sure you stock up on the medications you’ll need before leaving for your trip, and search online for pharmacies at your destination in case you need them. You can also ask your doctor for recommendations for service providers – such as therapeutic massage therapists and acupuncturists – who can help alleviate symptoms and keep your fibromyalgia management on track.

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Posted by Lustige Bilder - May 5, 2017 at 16:20

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Traveling with Fibromyalgia: 5 Tips to Make Your Trip a Success3 min read

Traveling with Fibromyalgia

Traveling when you’re perfectly healthy can be hard on your body. When you have chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia, it can be grueling. You’ll have to deal with lots of walking through the airport, cramped seating, time changes and irregular schedules, food you’re not familiar with, and a bed that’s not your own. If you’re not careful, any one of these challenges could trigger a fibromyalgia (FM) flare-up that could ruin your trip.

However, with a little planning and help from your travel companions, you can have a successful trip. These tips will help you anticipate some of the potential triggers you’ll encounter during your trip, and how to avoid them or deal with them while you’re traveling.

Changes in the Weather and Temperature

Many people with FM are extremely sensitive to temperatures and changes in the weather. While it’s not always possible to avoid the conditions when you’re traveling – especially if it involves another climate or time zone – you can prepare. And remember that airports can be cold since they crank the air conditioning – I myself spent an uncomfortable 2-hour layover shivering in SFO.

Tip: Like the Boy Scouts – always come prepared. Have a light jacket available at all times in the bag you’ll be carrying with you, so you can pull it out as soon as you need it. Layers are your friend.

Stress

Stress is one of the biggest FM triggers and there’s no shortage of it when you travel. Delayed flights, missing baggage, sick kids – they can all get your heart rate going. Again, these may be unavoidable but remember, as Jack Sparrow said in Pirates of the Caribbean – “The problem is not the problem. The problem is our attitude about the problem.”

Tip: Let some things go when you’re traveling. If you miss a flight, there will always be another one. Remember your deep breathing exercises and forewarn your travel companions that you may need to take some time for yourself to practice them.

Lack of Sleep

You won’t have access to your regular bed and you may have a time change to deal with as well. These factors, combined with the general hustle and bustle of traveling, can lead to missed sleep – a big no-no if you have FM. Know going into the trip that you’re going to have to make sleep a priority.

Tip: Many FM sufferers find it beneficial to bring a thin roll of foam on a trip to smooth out the lumps and bumps of a strange bed. You may also need to schedule a few naps and regular bedtimes, even if it means missing an excursion with your travel companions or some late-night fun. Avoiding an FM flare-up is worth it.

Breaks in Your Treatment Plan

Anything that breaks your normal treatment plan can put you at risk for an FM flare-up. This includes changes to your routine, which the tips above will help you to avoid. But it also includes missing doses of your prescribed medications and other therapeutic approaches you use on a regular basis.

Tip: Make sure you stock up on the medications you’ll need before leaving for your trip, and search online for pharmacies at your destination in case you need them. You can also ask your doctor for recommendations for service providers – such as therapeutic massage therapists and acupuncturists – who can help alleviate symptoms and keep your fibromyalgia management on track.

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Posted by Lustige Bilder - April 27, 2017 at 16:21

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3 Tips for Healthy Green Travel

healthy green travel

If you’re a health-conscious traveler, you think of all the ways your business trip or vacation will impact your physical and mental wellbeing. You probably know how to avoid jet lag during time changes, stay fit while you travel, and plan for sickness and medical emergencies when away from home.

You should also think about your impact on the environment when you travel too. It not only benefits the planet, but many of the same things you do to reduce your carbon footprint will also keep you healthy. These five tips will help you go green and stay healthy at the same time.

Tip 1: Rethink Your Transportation Options

If you’re traveling internationally, there’s not much you can to avoid flying in a plane. Just keep in mind that airplanes are one of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. If you have to fly, choose a coach seat to reduce your carbon footprint, since first-class seats take up more space than those in coach, and choose the most direct flight.

Once you’re at your destination, consider how you will travel locally. If possible, do your sight-seeing on foot or travel by bicycle to lower your environmental impact and get some much-needed exercise. If you have to use a vehicle to get somewhere, busses and trains are more ecofriendly than cars.

Tip 2: Eat Organic and Sustainably

When choosing meals while away from home, your best bet is to seek out options that are organic and sustainable, which means they have a lower impact on the environment and pollution levels during production. In general, they’ll also be healthier options since they’re not farmed using a lot of chemicals and pesticides.

A few tips to keep in mind that will make it easier to eat this way:

  • Eat local, seasonal fruits and vegetables since they have traveled the shortest distance to your plate.
  • Reduce your consumption of meats and dairy, since they take a lot of resources to produce.
  • If you do eat meat and dairy, look for options that are grass-fed and hormone free.
  • Choose seafood that isn’t overfished using the Monterrey Bay Aquarium’s interactive list of sustainable seafood.

Tip 3: Keep Track of Your Packaging

Instead of buying snacks in the airport and bottles of water when you’re exploring a new city, bring reusable containers. A small Tupperware container for your tasty treats will help you reduce waste, save money – and it fits easily in your backpack or carryon. Assuming you’re going to a place where drinking the water is okay, a reusable water bottle reduces waste too, with the added healthy benefit of helping to keep you hydrated since it’s instantly available.

If you must buy something that’s prepackaged, make sure you recycle as much as possible.

Bonus Tip: Unplug Your Phone – and Your Brain

There’s a growing movement of using vacation time to unplug from the world – this means using your phone or texting for emergencies only and taking a break from email and social media. This allows you to leave your charger at home (or use it minimally), which helps to reduce your energy consumption and lower your environmental impact. It also gives you a nice little mental health break so you can recharge your own batteries and return from your trip refreshed and healthier.

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Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder - March 20, 2017 at 20:22

Categories: Travel   Tags: , , ,

Living “Pura Vida”: Tips for Healthy Travel and Adventure in Costa Rica

Costa Rican Woman Dancing

Pura vida. Meaning “pure life,” pura vida is the ubiquitous greeting, way to say farewell, and catchy phrase that you’ll hear everywhere in Costa Rica. It gets to the heart of what the country is all about – living a high-quality life focused on pursuing your own path, with a little bit of fun and relaxation mixed in.

Costa Rica is located between Nicaragua and Panama in Central America. It has both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, as well as a diversity of ecosystems unmatched virtually anywhere else in the world. In the same day, you can laze on the beach, hike an active volcano, explore the rainforest, and swim in a pristine lagoon. Fortunately, Costa Ricans – also known locally as “ticos” – recognize the value of their homeland and have set aside more than 25 percent of their country in national parks and conservation areas.

When to Go to Costa Rica

The weather in Costa Rica is nice almost year-round, but there are a few times when the rains fall a little harder and the beaches are packed with tourists. If you skip the high season and plan your trip around the rain, you can save money while avoiding crowds of tourists jostling for the best selfie with that baby sloth in the rainforest.

Best Costa Rican Beaches

If you’re looking for dry beach weather, January through March in Guanacaste – the northwest beach area – can’t be beat. Travel after January 1 to avoid the holiday crowds and you’ll have the beaches almost to yourself at a much lower price. You’ll find the cheapest (and wettest, in terms of rainfall) accommodations from September through December. If you’re planning to visit the rainforest, any time is good – it’s almost always rainy there, so you don’t have to worry about the weather.

Things to Do in Costa Rica

Don’t be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things to do in Costa Rica. No matter what you choose, it’s hard to be disappointed. The following activities will give you a good sampler of what the country has to offer:

  • Visit Guanacaste: Costa Rica’s “gold coast” has white sandy beaches, remote fishing villages, and a thriving cowboy culture. Include a visit to Rincón de la Vieja National Park, where you’ll find hot springs, waterfalls, and volcanic activity.
  • Explore the wildlife: You’ll find bizarre insects, howler monkeys, creepy spiders – and maybe even a jaguar or two – in the lush rainforests of Corcovado National Park. Go early in the morning to see the animals at the peak of their activity.

Sloth in Costa Rica

  • Absorb the locals’ healthy lifestyle: Don’t just focus on the beaches and rainforests; mix with the friendly locals, too. Costa Rica is known as a “Blue Zone,” one of the areas in the world where people live longer lives than average. Take the opportunity to learn how they live, what they eat, and how they work – you may just pick up some healthy tips.
  • Eat and drink the local specialties: Costa Rica is sandwiched by two oceans, so healthy seafood abounds. Try the sea bass and ceviche, which are local specialties. Wash it down with a refresco, a drink made with local fruit and water or milk.

And that just scratches the surface of the healthy travel and adventure opportunities you’ll find in Costa Rica. If you’re ready for a vacation that’s part tropical paradise, part eco-adventure and 100 percent fun, make sure Costa Rica is on your shortlist this year.

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Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder - February 22, 2017 at 20:27

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Traveling to Cuba: Tips and Advice from Recent Visitors

havana

For the first time in decades, U.S. citizens can now travel to Cuba for vacation and tourism. However, given the country’s long history of embargo with its southern neighbor, it’s not as easy as booking a ticket and hopping on the next flight to Havana. There are still certain restrictions and bureaucratic hoops that you’ll have to navigate before you get there. And, once you’re standing on Cuban soil among some of the first waves of American tourists to see the island in over 50 years, you’ll encounter a whole new world of experiences unlike anything in the United States.

So, what is it like there? We spoke with expert travelers to get their insights and advice from their recent trips to Cuba. If you’re planning a trip in the next few months – especially if you’re a U.S. citizen – review these tips before packing your bags.

Now Is the Perfect Time to Go

U.S. relations with Cuba are good now, but evolving. The trade and tourism embargo that started in the 1960s was relaxed by President Obama’s executive order this year. However, with the death of Fidel Castro, the current regime is in flux. Additionally, recent statements from president-elect Donald Trump imply that he may reverse that historic reconciliation with Cuba if the Cuban government doesn’t meet certain demands related to human rights and political freedoms.

In short, if you want to go, now is the perfect time to make the trip. It may be one of your best chances to see Cuba in the near future without the fear that your vacation plan will be ruined by international political strife.

You’ll Need a Visa to Enter the Country

In order to travel to Cuba as a U.S. citizen, you’ll not only need your passport but a visa as well. One of the easiest ways to get a visa is to book your trip through a tour company that will help you plan your itinerary from start to finish, including helping you sort out the necessary paperwork.

“It was actually quite easy to get a visa since our tour company handled all of the logistics,” said Jared Alster of Stride Travel. “It’s probably the best way to go, too, since the tourism infrastructure is still developing.”cuba-hotel

If you do decide to book your travel on your own, you’ll need to prove that you’re traveling under one of the 12 categories approved by the U.S. government in order to procure a visa. Pure tourism, like sitting on a beach for a week, is still technically prohibited. Any one of the following reasons for visiting will get you the visa approval you need:

  • Family visits
  • Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organization
  • Journalistic activity
  • Professional research and professional meetings
  • Educational activities
  • Religious activities
  • Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
  • Support for the Cuban people
  • Humanitarian projects
  • Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  • Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
  • Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines

Our experts found that the hurdle for getting a Cuban visa was actually pretty easy to clear. Most people find it “easiest” to travel under the family visit, journalistic activity, or education activity categories. You’ll need a copy of your passport, which must be valid for at least six months after your departure date from Cuba. Typical visas for leisure and recreational purposes will be valid for up to 30 days.

“If you book directly, your airline will provide a link to the website where you can order a visa online,” said Cheryl MacDonald of What Boundaries Travel Media. “It was no trouble at all and cost us about $ 75.”  You can also buy your Cuban visa in person at the airline ticket counter.

Don’t Forget Your Travel Health Insurance

In addition to your passport and visa, medical insurance is required when traveling to Cuba, and you may be asked to show proof of it when entering the country. This rule applies to anyone visiting from overseas as well as Cuban citizens living abroad.

There’s a reason for the requirement. The Cuban government wants to ensure that anyone on holiday have adequate travel medical coverage prior to arriving on the island. The Cuban authorities will not allow anyone with outstanding medical bills to leave the country. Your travel medical insurance must include coverage for medical evacuation by air, medical emergencies and repatriation.

Tobacco workers roll cigars at the Partagas Cigar Factory in Havana, Friday, April 13, 2007. The factory, in the heart of Havana, was built in 1845 by a Spaniard named Jaime Partagas and produces one of Cuba's leading cigar brands. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)

If you arrive in Cuba without travel health insurance, or with an invalid travel medical plan, will be able to buy a policy from a Cuban insurance company at the airport, port, or marina where they enter the country. However, as you might imagine, it’s better to have all of your requirements covered before leaving for your trip.

If you do get sick while in Cuba, rest assured that the country has an excellent healthcare system. Healthcare is considered a basic human right according to the Cuban constitution, so the government has invested a significant amount of time and money in medical education. And while the country is poor and spends only $ 813 per person annually on medical care (compared to the $ 9,403 the United States spends), life expectancies in Cuba are the same as they are in the United States.

Cuba has more doctors per capita than the United States, so travelers will be in good care should something go wrong. But of course, bring any medications with you that you regularly take.

However, because of the embargo with the United States, the medical infrastructure is not the same as it is in the United States. Modern equipment such as MRIs and CT scans are not available in every hospital, which is why travel health insurance is so important. If you have a serious problem while in Cuba, your best option is to return home as soon as possible, even if that means cutting your trip short or – in a worst case scenario – being evacuated.

Bring Cash Since Credit Cards Are Unreliable
Cash is king in Cuba. While there have been some inroads made by Visa, Mastercard and smaller U.S.-based banks, using a credit card in Cuba is not a viable option – especially for U.S travelers. You also should not count on being able to withdraw cash from an ATM using a debit card.

In general, only major hotels accept credit cards, so even if you have a non-U.S. based credit card there aren’t many places to use them. Most local stores and shops don’t accept credit cards, and even if they do, the connectivity needed to communicate with your banking institution is unreliable.

There are two types of Cuban cash: Cuban Convertible Currency (CUC) and the Cuban Peso (CUP). As a tourist, you’ll be using the CUC.  While the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and Cuban Convertible Currency is currently 1:1, do not make the exchange while in Cuba. There is a 10% tax levied on the exchange. The better approach is to exchange U.S. dollars for euros while in the United States, and then exchange the euros for CUC once you reach Cuba.

Some of our veteran Cuban visitors report that you can use U.S. dollars and Euros on the street in Cuba without exchanging them, but with a caveat: Cubans are particular about what types of US currency they accept. For example, if a bill is damaged or torn in any way, many merchants will reject it. Bring crisp, new $ 50 or $ 100 bills.

Where to Stay and Where to Go

el-maleconThe hotels in Cuba are beautiful – on the outside. However, you should be ready to rough it a little since “tourist class” hotels are few and far between. What would be considered a four-star hotel in Cuba may only earn two stars in the United States.

“I stayed in hotels and lodges in all of the cities I visited – Havana, Trinidad and Playa del Largo,” said Jared Alster. “I stayed at Hotel Inglaterra in Havana, which is in a great location. The lobby was ornate and beautiful, but the rooms were quite basic. In our hotel in Playa del Largo, we had to switch rooms twice due to lack of running water.”

Lucy Ballantyne of Lion & Lamb Communications, recently visited Cuba and shared her favorite places to visit in and around Havana:

  • El Malecon: A broad esplanade, roadway and seawall that stretches for 8 kilometers along the coast in Havana, Cuba. It starts at the mouth of Havana Harbor in Old Havana, along the north side of the Centro Habana neighborhood, ending in the Vedado neighborhood. Locals meet up and celebrate at certain points along the stretch, which is designed to keep the waves from destroying the city.
  • Fábrica de Arte Cubano: The Cuban Art Factory, where the artists meet the public. Combining art, music and nightlife, the project is the brainchild of internationally renowned Cuban musician X Alfonso. It’s supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Institute of Music.
  • Plaza de San Francisco: The town square in Old Havana with the basilica and the monastery of San Francisco de Asis. Make sure you pay the two CUC to climb to the top for a great view of the old city.
  • Belle Artes (and the Cuban exhibition specifically): The National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana exhibits Cuban art collections from colonial times to the present.
  • El Cañonazo: One of the city’s oldest traditions is the firing of this cannon at 9 p.m. every night. Centuries ago this signaled the closing of the city gates at the end of the day.
  • Hotel Nacional de Cuba: This hotel has hosted many notable guests such as Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemmingway, Ava Gardner, Marlon Brando, Alexander Flemming, Frank Sinatra, and many more. Hotel Nacional de Cuba houses the Cabaret Parisien, which hosts the “Cubano, Cubano” cabaret, tracing the fusion of Indoamerican, Hispanic, and African cultures that have given rise to Cuba’s modern culture as we know it today.
  • El Floridita: A legendary Havana bar, one of many regularly frequented by Ernest Hemmingway for daiquiris.

The Culinary Scene in Cuba

You’ll find many fine restaurants throughout Havana and the larger cities worthy of exploring. About a decade ago, Castro allowed “private business” to emerge so many people opened family restaurants in old homes and buildings. You can find many hidden gems throughout the country – and it’s a good idea to ask your hotel manager or host for their favorites.street-food-in-havana

If you’re not ready to explore or want to ease into the culinary scene, hotels can be a good alternative. “Of course hotel restaurants are always available and dining is cheap: a lobster risotto with 3 lobster tails in Old Town Havana was $ 20 with wine,” said Paul Eschenfelder of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

And don’t forget to try the seafood, which Lucy Ballantyne raves about. “The culinary scene in Cuba really impressed me with some of the most exquisite seafood dishes on offer,” she said. “My favorite meal would have to be from the renowned La Guarida, where I had grilled prawns and chocolate fondue – the best I have ever experienced.”

If you’re ready to venture off the beaten path, you can’t go wrong with trying the street food. Cubans have had to make do with very little, so you’ll experience their creativity and ingenuity firsthand at a roadside food stall. You’ll find many varieties of pork dishes and sandwiches, which are almost always accompanied by two Cuban staples: rice and beans.

One word of caution, however. Do not drink the tap water in Cuba. It’s a good idea to use bottled water when you brush your teeth, and avoid getting water in your mouth when you shower or bathe.

Staying Active and Fit While You’re There

Havana and the other major cities in Cuba are very walkable, so you’ll get a good amount of exercise as you explore and sightsee. If you’re looking to ramp up your activity level even more while you’re there, you’ll have a variety of options.

Cuba has many national parks that are relatively empty, since most Cubans can’t afford to travel to them and tourists stick to the city centers. If you want to explore the natural surroundings in relative solitude, try hiking through one of these natural wonders.  Jared Alstel suggests Topes de Collantes near Trinidad. “I saw a beautiful waterfall, went for a swim, and then ended up at a simple restaurant in the park for lunch,” he said.

If you’re looking for an adventure at sea, Cuba is also well known for its spectacular scuba diving sites. In particular Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) is a mangrove archipelago of hundreds of islands and a reef that has some of the best underwater conditions in the Caribbean. “Up to 20 different species of Caribbean reef sharks can be seen in a single dive,” said Sandro Lonardi of Diviac Travel. “The reef is healthy and untouched, and you can even snorkel with crocodiles.”

If dry land and a slightly slower pace are a better fit for your lifestyle, Cuba also has two golf courses available (three if you count the course at Guantanamo Bay that’s available only for the U.S. military).  The Varadero Golf Club hosts and 18-hole course outside of Havana on a narrow 3.5 kilometer strip of beach near the major hotels east of Havana. There’s also the smaller 9-hole course of the Havana Golf Club, south of Havana. Most Cubans don’t golf because it’s expensive, so you’ll have the courses mostly to yourself if you decide to tee up.

What You Can Bring Back

The U.S. government will allow you to bring back $ 400 worth of souvenirs, and cigars can make up only $ 100 worth of that total. Don’t take chances with the imposed limits either, since fines are hefty. Break the law and you could be facing a $ 250,000 fine and 10 years in prison – so don’t risk it.

However, there is no limit to the amount of memories and stories you can bring home with you. So plan the trip of a lifetime and – with the help of these tips – enjoy a safe, happy and unforgettable visit to Cuba.

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Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder - December 2, 2016 at 14:24

Categories: Travel   Tags: , , , , , ,

Top Tips from Frequent Business Travelers

Business woman sleeping on plane, side view

Top Tips from Frequent Business Travelers

Business travel has its own unique challenges. Unlike traveling for vacation where you can go with the flow, you have responsibilities and commitments to keep. You need to be there on time, show up at your meetings looking well-groomed, get enough rest to be on the top of your game, and find the time to get some much-needed work done. One bad experience, missed connection, or dirty hotel room can throw the whole thing off.

How do the pros do it? We talked to people who log thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands, of miles in business travel over the course of the year. We gathered their expert tips so you can navigate your next business trip like you fly a million miles a year.

Fly at the Right Time

Flying on the right day of the week and the right time of day can help you avoid serious headaches and long lines at security that will start your business trip off on the wrong foot. “To avoid crowds, traffic, and delays, don’t fly on a Monday or a Friday,” said Denise Foley, who travels up to 80 percent of the time for her job as a visual merchandising professional. “Tuesdays through Thursdays are much less busy at the airport, and you may also save money on airfare as well.”

airport-security-lines

However, occasionally you will need to be in the office in another city for an early Monday morning meeting. In these cases, ask whoever handles travel arrangements at your company if they can book your flight and hotel for the Sunday before your meeting. If you are an exempt employee, meaning you’re not eligible for overtime, they may agree. Although you’ll be flying on your own time, it’s worth it to lower your stress level and have time to prepare for your meeting.

As for time of day, Roman Shteyn, CEO of RewardExpert, suggests an early flight. “The best time to fly is early in the morning, before 9 a.m.,” he said. “Airports are typically less crowded and it’s also less likely that you’ll experience delays due to heavy air traffic, which increases throughout the day.”

Our experts agreed that traveling between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. should be avoided, especially on Mondays. These times are the most prone to congestion.

Survive and Thrive at the Airport

 The modern-day airport sometimes feels like a battleground, with a maze of obstacles, crowds and sub-standard dining options you’ll have to navigate before reaching your destination – but not for our experts. Their top tip: Find an airport lounge.

Airlines operate lounges as a premium service for passengers, usually those flying business or first class and people with frequent flyer miles. You’ll find more comfortable seating, quieter working areas, stronger Wi-Fi access, and better access to customer service representatives. Airlines will have one or more lounges in each of their major hub cities.

If you’re not a member of an elite program that gives you access to these lounges, there are certain workarounds. For those without program membership, day passes to lounges typically cost around $ 50 for 24-hour access. It can be worth the expense if you have a long layover, want to get some work done, or need to get some shut-eye in a quiet environment.

Also…there’s an app for that. “I use the app LoungeBuddy to tell me which lounges are available and see pictures and reviews from other travelers,” advised Lee Huffman of BaldThoughts.com. “The app will also tell me whether there is a charge to enter or if I have access based on elite status, credit card benefits or lounge memberships.”

airport-lounge

If you’re traveling internationally for business, many airport lounges in Europe are a step above what you’ll find in the United States. “In Frankfurt or London, the lounges have showers, quiet rooms, and more robust food selection,” said Aaron Udler, President of Office Pro, Inc. “Nothing is better than taking a shower during an international layover. The facilities in the United and Lufthansa lounges are pretty nice for taking a shower, and they include towels, slippers, soaps, and shampoos!”

When you’re not able to access a lounge at the airport, you still have a few options. Find a nearby gate where another flight won’t be boarding for a few hours; it will be relatively empty and quiet since others will not have arrived yet. You can usually work in peace without being distracted. You’ll also usually find the strongest Wi-Fi signal near that check-in desk at the gate, so camp out there if you need to send emails or get online.

laptop-heathrow_784323c

Get Some Rest on the Airplane

 If you want to catch up on some sleep while flying, seat location is the single-most important factor that you have control over. Set a reminder for yourself to check in online 24 hours in advance so you can be among the first to select your seat preference. Your preferences may vary, as did those of our experts.

Shetyn prefers an aisle seat. “Aisle seats are my preference as they easily allow me to stand up and walk around without disturbing other travelers,” he said. “Plus they offer just a little bit more of that valuable legroom when I sleep!”

However, Greg Geronemus, co-CEO of smarTours, likes a window seat. It allows him to rest his head on the wall near the window, which is easier than trying to fall asleep on a neck pillow while basically sitting upright. He uses either a blanket or a pillow as a cushion. A window seat also offers some measure of control over light exposure, since you can open and close the window whenever you want.

Geronemus has several other tips for sleeping on a plane:

  • Wear comfortable clothing. Falling asleep on an airplane is all about making yourself feel as at-home as possible.
  • Don’t cross your legs. When you cross your legs, you can restrict blood flow and increase your chances of a blood clot or unnecessary pain when you awake.
  • Recline your seat. Reclining your chair will ease some of the pressure on your lower spine. With less pressure on your back, it’ll be easier to fall asleep.
  • Skip the alcohol. Drinking won’t help you sleep soundly and may dehydrate you. Your tolerance may also be different because of the cabin pressure.
  • Eat light. Overeating or indulging in fatty foods may upset your stomach and make it harder to sleep. A grilled chicken salad typically does the trick.
  • Keep your seatbelt visible. The key to avoiding interrupted sleep is to buckle your seatbelt over your blanket or sweater, not under it. That way, the flight attendant can see that you’re buckled up and will not wake you if there is turbulence.

Choose the Right Hotel Room

While the criteria for the perfect hotel experience will vary from person to person, most seasoned business travelers tick off many of the same “must-haves” in their ideal hotel. Most want something that gives a bit of the same feeling as their home, with separate areas for work and sleeping.

“My favorite hotels are places that have a living or couch area, along with a desk in a separate area away from the beds,” said Robin O’Neal Smith, a frequent business traveler and founder of Be Social, Get Success. A few of the other common points of advice from frequent business travelers included getting a room on a non-smoking floor, not just a non-smoking room. You’ll also want to make sure the hotel has dependable Wi-Fi, a gym with up-to-date machines, a restaurant on the premises that caters to your dietary needs, and late check-in and check-out.

To get the perfect night’s sleep at your hotel, Greg Geronemus suggests following these tips:

  • Be aware of your room location. Request a room as far away from the elevator as possible. You don’t want to hear the elevator bell, doors and foot traffic all night.
  • Get a room on a high floor. It’s generally less noisy on higher floors, just be careful that you’re not right below a rooftop bar.
  • Make sure the air conditioner works. Check as soon as you arrive – don’t wait until you’re trying to fall asleep to find out that your AC doesn’t work.
  • Check the voltage. If you live with a condition such as sleep apnea and use a CPAP machine, find out if you’ll need a voltage adapter to use your machine. This is especially relevant if you’re traveling abroad.

When Aaron Udler travels domestically, he goes off the beaten path for his accommodations. “I have started staying at an places listed on airbnb, but only if I can get a whole apartment or house to myself,” he said. “It’s usually less expensive, roomier, and I truly get to experience the local community.” Internationally, he prefers to stay at U.S.-branded hotels since their quality standards are similar the world over. In countries or cities that don’t have these options, he uses TripAdvisor to find the nicer hotels in that locality.

Stay Wrinkle Free and Look Your Best at the Big Meeting

If you’re going straight from the plane to the office, wearing your work clothes while you travel may be unavoidable. If you have a few minutes before you jump in a cab to leave the airport, you may be able to pack your clothes and do a quick change in an airport lounge or bathroom. This strategy can help to keep you wrinkle free.

However, if you do have time between your flight and your meeting, you should revise your strategy. Daisy Jing, travel veteran and founder of Banish skin care products, prioritizes comfort and versatility when she flies. “I usually wear athletic or athleisure wear because it’s comfortable, easy to wash, and easy to move in,” Jing said. “I have these running shorts (with underwear attached) I purchased for $ 5. I love that they are so light and small. They are perfect for either sleepwear, running around, or working out. You can also wash them in the shower, which is what I do when I travel.”

Lou Altman, CEO of Globafone, doesn’t wear meeting clothes on the plane whenever possible. If you ask nicely (and you’re flying first class), the flight staff can be a big help. “Ask the flight staff to hang your clothes – you just have to ask politely and I’ve never been turned down,” he advises. “I often hit a gym when I land and change there, or I simply change in the bathroom at the airport.”

Remember that your hotel has services as well, and can press or dry clean your clothes fairly quickly. Pack lightly and spend $ 20 to $ 30 for hotel laundry service. This will help you travel with a carry-on only, and keeps you nice and fresh throughout the trip.

When you open your bag to an onslaught of wrinkled clothes, there’s always the hotel iron. Be careful using it though, as it sometimes creates more problems than it solves. Hotel irons are not always the highest quality, and previous guests may not have used it correctly. You may be transferring fuzz and lint from the iron to your work clothes. Also, never iron a suit jacket – it should only be pressed or steamed.

If you decide to skip the iron, hang your clothes along the shower bar in the hotel bathroom and turn the shower on as hot as it will go. Close the bathroom door and wait 10 minutes for the steam to release the wrinkles from your clothes. It’s a trick that many of our seasoned business travelers swear by.

Ask and You Shall Receive: Little-Known Perks

Your mantra when you travel should be “always ask, it can’t hurt.” If you ask hotel staff for extra services, sometimes you’ll get them.

  • Always ask for a complementary upgrade to a bigger room, or even the “executive lounge.” Often times, employees will say “ok, but just this one time.”
  • Request basic amenities, like extra towels and pillows, that could make your stay more comfortable.
  • Inquire about free parking or free breakfast.
  • If the property asks for you to pay for Wi-Fi, ask the person at the front desk to remove the charge from your bill as you check out.
  • Certain credit cards offer a complimentary fourth night stay at hotels, just be sure to book through their network.
  • Ask for access to the hotel lounge, even if you are not on the executive floor. You may also be able to get access to the lounge for a nominal fee, which may be worth it. You will typically get a better breakfast, evening hors d’oeuvres and facilities where you can hold meetings.

When you’re traveling for business frequently, you start to learn the ins and outs pretty quickly. Start to incorporate these tips, and come up with a list of your own to make your next trip comfortable and productive.

 

Images Courtesy of: The New York Times, Huffington Post, CNN, The Telegraph

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Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder - October 23, 2016 at 03:19

Categories: Travel   Tags: , , , ,

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