Top Beaches are in Florida

Siesta Beach in Sarasota boasts that it has the finest and whitest sand in the world, and I cannot argue with this claim,” Leatherman said in 2011. “The beautiful blue-colored water is clean and clear, making it so inviting to bathers and swimmers.”

The other Florida beaches making the TripAdvisor list are St. Pete Beach at No. 3, last year’s top beach Clearwater Beach dropping to No. 4, the beach in Panama City Beach at No. 5, Hollywood Beach at No. 6, Pensacola Beach at No. 7, St. Augustine Beach at No. 8,  Fort Lauderdale Beach at No. 11, South Beach at No. 12 and Henderson Beach State Park in Destin at No. 17.

Overall, Florida rated the most beaches in the U.S. top 25 with 10 followed by Hawaii with seven, California with three and one each from Maine, Maryland, Massachuestts, Georgia and Virginia.

Siesta Beach ranked No. 5 in the site’s world rankings, the only U.S. beach in the top 25. The No. 1 beach in the world is Baia do Sancho in Fernando de Noronha, Brazil.

This is the fifth year of the TripAdvisor awards, and the third year in a row a Florida beach has topped the U.S. list. Siesta Beach has always been in the top 3.

As far as 2017 goes, here is TripAdvisor’s rankings for the U.S. top 25:

1. Siesta Beach on Siesta Key near Sarasota, Florida

2. Ka’anapali Beach Lahaina, Hawaii

3. St. Pete Beach, Florida

4. Clearwater Beach Clearwater, Florida

5. Beach at Panama City Panama City Beach, Florida

6. Hollywood Beach, Hollywood, Florida

7. Pensacola Beach, Pensacola Beach, Florida

8. St. Augustine Beach Saint Augustine Beach, Florida

9. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve Honolulu, Hawaii

10. Ocean City Beach Ocean City, Maryland

11. Fort Lauderdale Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

12. South Beach Miami Beach, Florida

13. Wai’anapanapa State Park Hana, Hawaii

14. Ogunquit Beach Ogunquit, Maine

15. Wailea Beach, Wailea, Hawaii

16. Lanikai Beach, Kailua, Hawaii

17. Henderson Beach State Park, Destin, Florida

18. Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia

19. Virginia Beach, Virginia Beach, Virginia

20. Santa Monica Beach, Santa Monica, California

21. La Jolla Shores Park, La Jolla, California

22. Hapuna Beach, Waimea, Hawaii

23. Race Point Beach, Provincetown, Massachusetts

24. Carlsbad State Beach, Carlsbad, California

25. Poipu Beach Park, Poipu, Hawaii

Airport Delays

New York’s LaGuardia airport was the most delayed airport in the United States in 2016, according to a new study by the Global Gateway Alliance (GGA) an organization dedicated to promoting the development of New York-area airports. Newark and JFK both finished in the bottom five according to the analysis, which compared delays at the nation’s top 29 airports for passenger traffic.

Newark had the worst on-time performance for departing flights. Key findings:

  • LaGuardia finished last among the 29 airports for on-time arrival performance, while Newark ranked 27th and JFK 25th
  • Newark had the worst on-time departure performance in the nation, dropping two places from last year, while LaGuardia held steady at 26th-most-delayed and JFK dropped one place to 22nd
  • Approximately a third of all arriving flights, or 28.1 percent, at LaGuardia are delayed
  • Salt Lake City had the highest on-time performance, with approximately 87 percent of flights arriving on time

“Once again, New York airports lead the nation for delays. So while the terminal redevelopment projects are important, these dollars won’t be enough unless we address the delay problem too. Put simply, our airports will just be nicer places to get stuck in,” said Global Gateway Alliance Chairman Joe Sitt. “The FAA must finally fully roll out NextGen satellite air traffic technology where it’s most needed; the New York airspace, and we have to look at how to expand runways to alleviate the chronic congestion.”

GGA is calling for a full roll out of NextGen in the New York airspace in order to alleviate the congestion in the skies and clear the way for more on time departures and arrivals. While New York and New Jersey are benefitting from some of the NextGen reforms, like the digital pilot communications program and curved approaches, these work better when the whole system is in place.

New York and New Jersey also need longer runways in order to accommodate growing passenger traffic and reduce delays, the GGA said. A study from the Regional Plan Association outlined four programmatic proposals for runway expansion at JFK and one for Newark to boost operations and reduce delays in adverse weather with minimal noise and environmental impacts. The proposals recommend expanding runway access into Jamaica Bay at JFK and building a third western runway parallel to the existing two at Newark. ReThinkNYC has also set forth a plan to extend runways at LaGuardia into Rikers Island.

Delay information is sourced from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and was analyzed on a year-to-date basis for 2016. The 29 U.S. airports included each account for at least 1 percent of the nation’s total domestic scheduled-service passenger enplanements. A flight is counted “on time” if it operated less than 15 minutes after the scheduled arrival or departure time, and arrival and departure times are calculated from the arrival at or departure from the airport gate.

Source: GGA

How to Save Money on a Safari

 

(This article was recently in the New York Times…thought I would share it with you)

An African safari can be an expensive vacation proposition — many camps in prime game-viewing areas run close to four figures per person per night, and the multiple flights required to reach them ratchet up the cost even more. But a safari in Africa does not have to blow the bank, said Jenny Mikkelson, a safari specialist at Travel Beyond, a tour operator in Wayzata, Minnesota. “There are ways to drastically cut down on the cost of a safari,” she said.

Here, she shares her advice on keeping a safari getaway affordable:

Know when to travel: Maximize your budget by traveling in so-called shoulder season, a period that is a few months before or after peak season and varies with different safari regions, including Botswana, Kenya and South Africa. In Botswana, for example, the busiest time with the highest prices is between June and October. In May and November, however, prices at many lodges drop by 30 percent or more, and the game viewing is just as rich. To save even more — up to 50 percent — consider a trip to Botswana from December through March, known as “green season” because the normally dry and brown landscape is lush with greenery.

Stick to one brand: Most safari-goers, Mikkelson said, visit multiple camps on the same trip to experience different ecosystems, activities and animal-viewing offerings, but few know that if they stay at properties within the same portfolio, discounts may be in store. “You often get a break on accommodations (up to 30 percent), free nights, flight transfers between lodges and other perks, which amount to a big savings,” she said. Brands with multiple lodges in Africa include Andbeyond, Asilia Africa, Nomad Tanzania and Wilderness Safaris.

 

For South Africa, get a quote in local currency: Almost all safari lodges and hotels in South Africa are priced in South African rand. This means that tour companies and camps in the country that quote a price for your trip in U.S. dollars have a hedge worked into their pricing because the exchange rate of the local currency may fluctuate before your final payment — a hedge that is never in the traveler’s favor. “Be sure the company you’re working with quotes you a price in South Africa rand so when you pay for your trip, you’re getting the price based on the currency that day as opposed to one that may be marked up and hedged,” Mikkelson said.

Watch for promotions: Mikkelson says many safari camps have specials that they do not necessarily promote but that can save guests big bucks. These deals may include getting 30 percent off regular room rates for booking early, discounts for stays longer than five nights and add-ins such as a hot-air balloon ride at sunrise if you are celebrating a special occasion. And you are in luck if you are on your honeymoon: Mikkelson says some lodges give newlyweds 25 percent off the usual daily rate.

Riding the Street Car in New Orleans

New Orleans (CNN)The sultry rumble and chipper clang-clang of passing streetcars are as emblematic of the atmosphere of New Orleans as brass bands, jazz funeral lines and Creole cooking.

Favorite son Tennessee Williams bolstered the lore of it all in 1947 when “A Streetcar Named Desire” was published. (Blanche DuBois, en route to Stanley Kowalski’s residence, described it as “that rattle-trap street-car that bangs through the Quarter, up one old narrow street and down another.”)
While the Desire streetcar line (named for a Bywater street, not to mention the name of a long-demolished housing project) is no more, New Orleans now has a new route: the North Rampart Street-St. Claude Avenue line.
Christened in October 2016, shiny red-and-yellow cars carry passengers from the palm tree-lined theater district of Canal Street to Elysian Fields Avenue, a neighborhood corridor revived with youth appeal and alternative music clubs and adventurous cuisine imported by rebellious newcomers.
Though locals have been slow to jump onboard the new line (it seems to be mostly used by bartenders, waiters, hotel staff and Harrah’s casino workers commuting to the French Quarter and its fringes), visitors coming to the city during Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest will find it makes for an enthralling alternative bar crawl.
The Rampart-St. Claude streetcar line runs along the edge of the French Quarter.

The Rampart-St. Claude line encompasses about two miles of restaurants and bars and a handful of destinations along the way, among them the French Quarter, Louis Armstrong Park, farflung Tremé (the real deal when it comes to jazz hubs) and the Faubourg Marigny, the latter the epicenter of spontaneous street music and local color.
New Orleanians and frequent visitors know the allure of the St. Charles line — the oldest continuously operating line/track in the world — is that you can pull the cord, kicking off a buzz, and get out at any street you like to marvel at antebellum mansions, walk over to the retail of Magazine Street or sip a Ramos Gin Zizz on the grand porch of The Columns Hotel.
The Rampart-St. Claude line, while far more abbreviated, provides similarly distinct opportunities to hop off and drop in to a watering hole or cafe along its path or to stroll into uncharted turf. (Do travel in a group; the streets are picturesque, but tipsy loners make easy prey for alley-loitering muggers and worse.)
Streetcar single fare is $1.25. For $9, you can get a three-day “Jazzy Pass,” so you can make a handful of stops. Exact fare is required for single fare. Streetcars on this line stop operating around midnight, so riders might want to gravitate back toward their lodgings’ surroundings for late-night revelry.

Testing the route

On a recent brisk but clear early Saturday evening, we kicked off our own streetcar nightlife crawl at the corner of Canal and North Rampart streets, the backdrop aglow with the newly restored neon signs of the revived Joy and Saenger live music and performance art theaters and the hotel and condo skyscrapers looming in the distance.
Near the entrance to pastoral Louis Armstrong Park (named for native son “Satchmo”), on the French Quarter side (Tremé is adjacent), is the Black Penny, our first stop.
A craft beer (nearly 100 varieties) and cocktail bar, the shabby-chic corner watering hole opened in 2015 but feels as lived in as the trompe l’oeil walls covered with salvaged barge boards and vintage framed photographs.
It’s a mostly young and stylish crowd, favored by pre-and-after-work restaurants staffs, and a perfect indoctrination to a more local scene. Grab a booth off the bustle of the bar.
Meauxbar on N. Rampart St. is a great spot for a romantic date.

Back on the streetcar, we approach the mustard-yellow corner storefront that is home to Meauxbar, a three-year-old restaurant with a lively bar scene.
With Spartan decor and a modern vibe (not seen enough in clutter-obsessed New Orleans), the restaurant is one of the most reliable spots for a romantic date over French-inspired cuisine (say, hanger steak au poivre with parmesan frites) and savory booze-absorbing comfort fare like a popular French onion grilled cheese stuffed with braised beef and onions, duck fat popcorn and chicken and boudin cassoulet.
Owner Robert LeBlanc, a handsome devil with an understated demeanor, takes a seat with our gang, nudging us toward trying a spiked sno-ball, overflowing with a dollop of shaved ice. We’re glad he did.
Modestly priced, Meauxbar. At happy hour, it’s $5 for a beer and a shot until 7.

A friendly port

Meauxbar is our fancy-leaning stop on the run. Now we head farther downriver to Esplanade Avenue, the oak-tree lined expanse off North Rampart that acts as a border separating the French Quarter and the Caribbean-flavored Faubourg Marigny.
Exiting the streetcar, we walk a few blocks up the cinematic avenue and can already smell our destination. We’re going where any savvy traveler does when in this area of town: Port of Call.
Besides the wooden sign announcing you are there, you’ll find on almost any given day or night a line outside the door, and one of the more diverse mixes of people, standing around drinking from Big Gulp-sized white plastic cups bearing the bar’s logo.
This is most likely the fruity-toxic Monsoon (take it easy, and start with its smaller version, the Windjammer, as we do from near-blackout experiences thereafter). “They’re lethal,” I hear one awaiting customer say with glee. The Monsoon is the local’s Hurricane alternative, afloat with pebble ice, pineapple-and-passion fruit, and light and dark rum.
Cleverly, the owners of this charbroiled-cheddar-burger-and-loaded baked-potato classic have, since the 1960s, blown vented grill smoke out onto the streets. You can smell Port of Call’s backyard cookout aroma even with car windows closed from five blocks away. It’s a divining rod to what’s in store.
It’s dark inside, and most of the time, freezing cold: There’s no way of putting it lightly. Its patronage — a mix of locals and tourists, black and white, lawyers and blue collars — largely have frames befitting the fare. Take your time to nab a stool at the horseshoe-shaped bar. It’s just more fun to be playfully heckled by the bar staff and mix with whoever is next to you.
Everyone has an anecdote; most are on their way to being jovially wasted. There’s a reason most of the male and female bartenders never quit or are dismissed. They’re some of the most comedic and expeditious servers in the city.

Off the line

A block south of the end of the line, along the St. Claude corridor, are several terrific live music and performance clubs: the AllWays Lounge and Theatre, The Hi-Ho Lounge and Siberia, a hat trick of character.
What separates them from the formidable selection of clubs to go to in New Orleans is that these spots often provide entertainment that is less conventional than the more legendary live jazz hubs New Orleans is known for. And you can jump from one to another if there’s a set break or the music’s not your bag.
The area may appear somewhat desolate, maybe even dodgy, between watering hole beacons, but it’s one of many corridors that have been tapped by a youthful set to the point where, like its adjacent Bywater neighborhood, it’s sometimes referred to as Brooklyn South.
We opt to head back to the Quarter fringe and get out of the streetcar on Orleans Avenue, where about 10 blocks away, in the neighborhood Tremé, the birthplace of jazz and onetime Congo Square, we enter the truly bona fide live music scene at the Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar, within a 15-minute walk (but Google map it up).
In the heart of Tremé, where nearly every legendary jazz dynasty has come up and learned their trade with marching drums and trombones passed down to grandchildren, Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar is named after a hit composed and performed by R&B great Jesse Hill, whose family own it now.
On this night, about 10 p.m., James Andrews and the Crescent City Allstars are already in full swing. We’re in luck. Besides the charismatic and natty Andrews, the Treme Baby Dolls performers are in the house, bobbing parasols to the beat. These ladies of a certain age are dressed in sateen bonnets and baby-doll dresses, each a character unto themselves.
James Andrews, known as “Satchmo of the Ghetto,” is the older brother of Trombone Shorty (Troy Andrews). Leading his band into jazz, R&B and blues standards, he alternates between belting his trumpet, singing in his raspy voice and battling an upright bongo.
The mixed crowd carries plates of barbecue and Southern staples (provided gratis) as an informal “second line” is formed, circling the dance floor.
In New Orleans, a little extra something, or unexpected prize, is called, in Louisiana French patois, “lagniappe.” Considering the embarrassment of riches of food, exceptional music, spectacle and welcoming vibe, we were over-served. Time to head home.

Cruising on the Mississippi River

 

(THIS ARTICLE WAS RECENTLY PUBLISHED IN THE Advocate in Baton Rouge?

River cruises will carry nearly 14,000 well-heeled passengers through Baton Rouge and New Orleans this year, dropping them off for day trips to local museums and restaurants.

That’s an increase of about 8 percent, although the economic impact of those visitors is unclear. Neither Visit Baton Rouge nor the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau have spending data on the passengers.

“What we like about the cruises is that they bring a lot of international travelers to Baton Rouge, and although they don’t overnight, they do spend a great deal of time with organized tours, and they certainly see all that we have to offer,” said Visit Baton Rouge President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Arrigo. “The type of person that does the river cruises, they’ll go back home to wherever they originated, domestically or internationally, and talk about their great experience they had in Baton Rouge. We’re excited about that.”

New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau spokesman Kristian Sonnier said most river cruise passengers stay around two nights in the Crescent City, either before or after the cruise.

Officials with American Queen Steamboat Co., which will have two ships calling on New Orleans and Baton Rouge this year, estimated the vessels will combine for more than $650,000 in direct and indirect spending with each docking. American Queen said that figure is based on 2012 estimates that each passenger spends about $60 on a stop.

The American Queen, a 414-passenger vessel that is said to be the largest riverboat ever built, has been paddling up and down the Mississippi River under its current ownership since 2012. In June, it will be joined by a sister ship, the American Duchess, which can accommodate 166 passengers.

Ted Sykes, who serves as president and chief operating officer for American Queen said the lower Mississippi River cruises that stop in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Nottoway, St. Francisville and Oak Alley are the company’s most popular routes. Sykes said many of the boats will be at capacity and the American Queen added four suites this year to meet guest demands. “U.S. river cruising is one of the fastest-growing sectors in travel, and we are proud to be leading the way,” he said.

Riverboats will make 72 stops in Baton Rouge during 2017, said Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District. The first boat will arrive Tuesday, when the American Queen calls on the city.

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Rhorer said the cruises have a great economic impact on the city, as passengers eat at downtown restaurants, visit attractions such as the Old State Capitol Museum and the Louisiana Art and Science Museum and shop for gifts at the Main Street Market. “It’s not uncommon on the weekend to have people from all over the world downtown,” he said.

The number of riverboat visits to south Louisiana cities is expected to increase in 2018, when Viking River Cruises makes New Orleans home port for its first North American voyages. That service was projected to launch this year, but there were delays with the construction because of a federal law that states ships that transport passengers directly between American ports needs to be built in the U.S., and owned and crewed by U.S. citizens.

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Because of the growing importance of the riverboat cruises, Baton Rouge is set to spend about $720,000 this year on riverfront improvements, including adding shade structures to the city dock, improving the landscaping and removing concrete at Riverfront Plaza, Rhorer said. Plans to expand the city dock to accommodate more than one boat at a time are also in the works.

“We’re turning our attention to the riverfront as a tourist destination,” Rhorer said. “We have a great new industry to encourage this and we want to diversify the use and the interest of the attractions on the riverfront. We have something that’s unique with this body of water.”

The LSU Museum of Arts in the Shaw Center is a regular stop for the American Queen, and an average of 300 passengers visit every time one of the cruise line’s riverboats comes through, said spokeswoman Brandi Simmons. Sales in the museum’s store typically jump 40 percent during each visit.

The riverboats bring about 8,000 visitors a year to the Old State Capitol and about 840 to the LSU Rural Life Museum.

River cruisers are frequently older and more affluent than passengers on oceangoing vessels. The riverboats are also much smaller and ticket prices higher. A river cruise might carry 150 passengers, while an ocean cruise can easily accommodate 3,000. The price for an 8-day round trip on the Mississippi River leaving from New Orleans starts at $2,399. A 7-day ocean cruise starts at $409.

The river cruises are growing in popularity. There were 184 river cruise ships internationally in 2015, and 13 are on order for 2017, according to the Cruise Line International Association.

The French America Line’s Louisiane is one of the new entries into river cruising. The Avondale-based company will launch its inaugural cruise this year. Cruises are scheduled for each week from mid-March to early January, ranging in length from five days to 16. The longest cruises follow the river from New Orleans all the way to Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Christopher Tidmore, one of French American’s owners, said the company’s economic impact in Louisiana is estimated at about $7 million. French American tries to buy Louisiana products as much as possible, although that becomes impractical past a certain point on the river.

Each cruise has daily stops, like Oak Alley or Nottoway plantations, and there are overnights in some cities, Tidmore said. At each stop, the cruise has buses with guides to help passengers explore.

The cruises are all-inclusive. Everything — alcohol, shore excursions and meals — are covered, Tidmore said. In each of the departure cities, French American includes a night at a luxury hotel. In New Orleans, it’s the Bourbon Orleans. In Memphis, it’s the Peabody.

“So when people arrive they don’t have to rush to the boat. They’re relaxed,” Tidmore said.

The cruise line takes care of everything, including taking the luggage from the hotel to the passenger’s stateroom, Tidwell said.

Response to the new river cruise has been “tremendous,” particularly for the lower Mississippi cruises, Tidwell said. Four cruises have already been completely booked, and French American is still spreading the word about its business.

Cruise Critic Top Awards

For the fifth consecutive year, Disney Cruise Line has taken top honors in Cruise Critic’s annual Cruisers’ Choice Awards, with Cruise Critic reviewers choosing Disney Dream as the “Best Overall” large cruise ship for the third year in a row.

Meanwhile, sister ship Disney Magic earned the same honor in the Mid-Size ship category, accounting for the second of Disney’s eight awards, which also include “Best Cabins” and “Best Service” in the Large ship category and “Best for Families” overall.

Did your favorite make the list? See the full list of the 2017 Cruisers’ Choice Award winners.

Cruise Critic’s annual Cruisers’ Choice Awards are based solely on the ratings from everyday cruisers’ reviews. This year’s awards include reviews submitted for cruises taken during 2016, and they’re given in four categories: Large (2,000 passengers and more), Mid-Size (1,200-1,999), Small-Mid (400- 1,199) and Small (fewer than 400).

Celebrity had winners on both ends of the size spectrum, commandeering an impressive eight awards. Celebrity Xpedition, the line’s expedition vessel, came away with six accolades in the Small category, including “Best Overall.” Add two more — “Best Dining” and “Best Embarkation” — for Celebrity Reflection in the Large category.

Also of note is Viking Ocean, which nearly swept the Small-Mid category, winning nine of 10 possible awards that include bests in dining, service and entertainment, as well as “Best Overall” for new ship Viking Sea, which debuted in 2016. Additionally, Viking won “Best for First-Timers.”

Equally impressive is Oceania, which gets the nod for “Best Dining” in the Mid-Size category for the sixth year in a row. This year, Marina got the honor. The ship also took “Best Cabins,” “Best for Fitness” and “Best for Service.”

A newcomer to the awards this year is Celestyal Crystal, which offers Cuba sailings year-round. It took home four awards in the Mid-Size ship category, including “Best Value” and “Best Shore Excursions.”

Finally, with its commitment to all-inclusive beverages, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sky snagged recognition among large ships for “Best Value.”

–By Ashley Kosciolek, Editor

Motion Sickness

(this article was recently in the New York Times about Motion Sickness)  Some good advice.

Motion sickness — an inner ear disorder that causes nausea, dizziness and even vomiting — is an unpleasant but common occurrence on car, boat and plane trips, says Dr. Jennifer Derebery, a physician at the House Clinic in Los Angeles who specializes in ear disorders. “Motion sickness happens when there is an imbalance between the eyes, inner ears and spinal cord, but fortunately, there are ways to reduce the chances of it hitting you,” she said.

Dr. Derebery offered these prevention tips.

LET YOUR EYES SEE THE MOVEMENT When motion sickness hits, it’s natural to want to keep your eyes shut or lie down, but Dr. Derebery recommends doing the opposite. “The key to recovering from motion sickness within minutes is to look toward the movement that’s happening, because doing so will reorient your inner ear,” she said. This means that if you’re in a car, look at the road ahead, and if you’re on a cruise ship, stand on a deck and look at the water or the horizon in the direction the ship is moving. You can’t see movement ahead while sitting on a plane, but staring out a window and seeing the clouds and the ground underneath you alleviates symptoms, Dr. Derebery said.

PREVENT THE ONSET You can prevent the onset of motion sickness or lessen its severity. On car trips, be the driver or sit in the front passenger seat because, in either instance, you’ll be looking ahead at movement. And avoid reading, watching television and texting — all can throw off inner ear balance, Dr. Derebery said. On planes, request the window seat, and on cruise ships, book a room with a window, preferably in the stern or back of the ship because this area doesn’t have as much up-and-down motion as the front of the ship.

HIT THE DRUGSTORE Over-the-counter antihistamines such as Antivert, Benadryl and Dramamine help with motion sickness — those prone to getting sick should take the recommended dosage an hour before their journey starts. These medicines can bring on sleepiness, and Dr. Derebery doesn’t recommend them if you’re driving. As an alternative to drugs, some may find motion sickness wristbands helpful. They have a button that presses a wrist point that affects inner ear balance. For cruises, she suggested getting a prescription for a transdermal scopolamine patch, which keeps the inner ear in balance.

EAT AND DRINK WISELY Fried food, spicy food and rich dishes like fettuccine Alfredo can worsen the nausea that comes with motion sickness. “These harder-to-digest foods increase the chances that you’ll throw up,” Dr. Derebery said. Before and during your trip, it’s best to stick to easily digestible foods like chicken noodle soup, bagels and crackers. To drink, go for carbonated clear liquids like ginger ale, which are helpful with nausea.

Travel Insurance? Should I buy It?

 

BUS TRIP INSURANCE

I often get asked whether travel insurance is needed especially on bus trips.  My answer is that the insurance is so cheap why would you not want to buy the insurance.  Most bus trip insurance ranges from $59 to $89 dollars and covers you up to about a thousand dollars.

I recently had a couple who had paid the bus company a little over a thousand dollars per person to go on a trip to Canada.  Yes it is one of the more expensive trips.  They had declined to buy the insurance I am sure thinking they were in good health.

Two days before the trip the wife came down with a severe case of the flu. They could not go.  So they lost their two thousand dollars.  The insurance would have cost less than two hundred dollars for both of them.

One time my wife and I was going to China on a Chamber or Commerce tour.  I rarely get sick so I did not think it was necessary to cover the cost of the trip which was quite good at only three thousand dollars for both of us.  I think the Chinese government may have been paying some of the cost.  Anyway the day before we left I became so dizzy I could not sit up.  The doctors told me if I went to China I would end up in a hospital over there and that might not be too good.  So I lost the three thousand dollars.

Most bus companies will give your money back and the insurance company will even refund your money back if you cancel several weeks before the trip.

So my advice is to wait and buy the insuance at the time of final payment so you don’t have to make an investment too far out.

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

The short answer is yes you always need to purchase insurance when you plan to go over seas.

The cost of the insurance will be about ten percent of the total cost of your trip.  So if you trip cost around five thousand dollars you can expect to pay around five hundred dollars for the insurance.  The cost of the insurance also depends on your age. So the younger you are the less you will pay verses someone who is a senior will end up paying more.

Make sure you include the airfare, hotel, tours and any item where you will not be able to get a refund if you have to cancel your trip.

Also remember you will not be getting back your premenium.

If you have some ailments you may want to buy insurance as soon as you book your trip.  Most companies, if you do this, will let you include any preexisting ailment in the policy.  If you try and buy the same policy at a later date it will probably be excluded.

If you plan on taking a cruise you can either buy the insurance from the cruise company or you can go out on the open market and get quotes.  Many times the quote from the cruise company may be a little higher so it is a good policy to always check.

When traveling and you have a problem overseas make sure you have the number from the insurance company with you and call them.  Explain the situation and they will provide guidance on what you should do.

One thing I have learned over the years is that you always want to keep your receipts if you buy a replacement item. Without the receipt you will not reimbursed.

If you luggage is delayed and you policy says you can be reimbursed up to $300.00 for clothes.  You actually have to go out and buy the clothes and show the receipt.  One time a friend of mine ask for the $300.00 but he just borrowed some clothes from a friend until his suitcase arrived.  His claim was denied because he did not buy any clothes.

Also it is a good idea to check with your credit card company and see if they provide any insurance as well. So do but many do not.cx

 

 

 

 

Tips on Traveling to China and other Asian Countries

This article was written by Dr. Ruth Nemzaff and was posted in Huffington Post

Before Leaving

1. Visit your local travel medicine clinic to be sure your immunizations are up to date.

2. Bring all your medications. Even the ones you only use occasionally. They are not available everywhere or the formulation is different. Take medications along in the event you are struck by travelers’ diarrhea.

3. Buy medical evacuation (medevac) insurance if visiting a country without excellent hospitals that meet the standards of the United States or your home country. A helpful, reputable website where you can shop for the best option for your needs is Squaremouth.

4. Call ahead and get a wheelchair! If you have less than a mile of walking in you, go online and ask the airport for transport from your plane to the immigration area or to your connecting flight. Save you walking stamina or some place more interesting. They will have a wheelchair and attendant waiting for you when you get off your plane. If necessary, they will have an electric cart. The service is free though you will probably want to provide a tip and you do not need medical certification.

5. Pack light. Weight is the enemy of all travelers, but for those with aching joints the heavy lifting and pushing become even more difficult.

6. Wear only comfortable, sturdy shoes or sneakers. This is not a time for glamour!

Once you arrive

7. Use bathrooms when you see them. You might not find another one for a while. Men with enlarged prostates and that’s’ most men over over 70 and many even younger lads do not have quite the control they used to and peeing by the road is frowned upon in most cities (though more acceptable in the countryside). In Asia, Western-style seated toilets can be a rare resource. If you can’t squat, go at your hotel or look for fancy restaurants. Be prepared to discard used toilet paper in a wastebasket and not flush it (plumbing can be primitive).

8. Follow good preventive health measures when eating. Those in developed countries take the FDA (or their country’s equivalent) for granted to assure our food supply is safe. Though even so we occasionally have a food-borne disease outbreak. In many developing countries there are no such protections. Do not eat uncooked vegetables or fruits you cannot peel yourself. Eat only hot food that has not sat around. Drink only bottled water and use bottled water for brushing your teeth. (Just think if it as washing your toothbrush in feces and you will follow the rule!) Assume that not everyone who handles your food has adequate washing facilities at home such as soap and running water. The hotel may be five-star, but the waiters and kitchen workers homes’ may lack rudimentary sanitation or clean water.

9. Do not eat street food, no matter how appetizing it may look. That includes ice cream.

10. Expect the unexpected. Be willing to change your plans. In the past, you may have enjoyed climbing 777 uneven steps with no railing to see a beautiful monastery. Now you may need to view it from a lovely restaurant on the next peak. If you hire a guide, make sure the guide will be willing to modify your plans if the walks are too long or difficult. The guide may know of alternative routes for reaching the pinnacle.

11. Take a break. In the old days you might have been able to go-go-go all day and then go out at night. Maybe not so much today. Either take a nap, if you love your evening restaurants, or if you are not a foodie go all day and then snack in the hotel. You may need to do both.

12. Travel with a caring, compassionate companion.It will be disappointing and frustrating at times. You might want to agree in advance that sometimes one of you will go ahead alone and the other will sit in a cafe observing or reading. You may have different physical challenges, so empathy will be indispensable.

13. Accept help. Think of it as a great way to meet kind caring people and to renew your belief in the kindness of humanity. You will find many barriers to entry unless you do. It could be a sandy boat ramp, a way to large step or a steep passage.

14. Talk to the people around you, exercising your usual good judgment. Meeting other people is as interesting as sightseeing and a lot less strenuous. People are very quick to let you know they are not interested in talking. A one-word reply is a good clue to move on.

15. Use a walking stick or a cane. It helps with balance on uneven sidewalks, open sewers and other unexpected obstacles.

16. Be grateful for what you can do, rather than bemoan what you can’t. This may take discipline, but it’s good practice.

 

Carnival Adds Sailings to Cuba

Reservations Now Being Accepted for Carnival’s First-Ever Visits to the Historic Cuban Capital MIAMI (February 14, 2017) – Following the history-making launch of cruises from the U.S. to Cuba on Carnival Corporation’s Fathom brand last year, the company’s namesake and largest cruise brand — Carnival Cruise Line — has now received approval to sail to Cuba. The Cuban capital of Havana will be added to select Carnival Paradise voyages from Tampa beginning in June 2017. The overnight visits to Havana will be featured on 12 four- and five-day cruises aboard Carnival Paradise departing from the Port of Tampa starting June 29, 2017, providing vacationers with a rare and exciting opportunity to explore this fascinating and previously off-limits destination. Four-day cruises will depart June 29, July 13, August 24, September 7 and 21, and October 5 and 19, 2017 as well as May 3, 2018 and include a daytime and overnight visit to Havana. Five-day voyages will depart August 14 and 28, September 25 and October 9, 2017, and include a daytime and overnight visit to Havana as well as a stop in either Cozumel or Key West. Carnival Paradise guests will be able to choose from a range of exciting shore excursion experiences that showcase Cuba’s vibrant culture and majestic beauty, along with the island’s warm and friendly people and centuries-old architectural landmarks. “Cuba is an island jewel unique from anywhere else in the Caribbean and we are thrilled to have this rare opportunity to take our guests to this fascinating destination,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “The opportunity to visit Havana, combined with the fun, relaxed ambiance and wide variety of amenities and features offered on Carnival Paradise, will make for a truly one-of-a-kind vacation experience,” she added. Aboard Carnival Paradise, guests can enjoy an array of amenities and a full schedule of daytime activities and nighttime entertainment. A variety of dining options include two full-service main dining rooms and expansive poolside choices. The ship also features a 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival health and wellness facility and an exclusive Serenity adults-only retreat. Popular family-friendly programming includes Seuss at Sea in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises and featuring the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends and fun, supervised activities for kids in three age groups. Four swimming pools and a 115- foot-long water slide are additional features. 2