Springtime and the insects are beginning to bite. A mosquito bite in the tropics could result in any number of diseases from malaria to dengue fever. Luckily a similar bite in Europe usually results in nothing more serious than an irritating, itchy spot. Some people, however, can produce a strong allergic reaction to insect bites and end up with very inflamed and swollen wounds. Bites can easily become infected especially if you can’t resist the urge to scratch. Some people seem to be especially attractive to biting insects- the exact reasons this are still not completely clear.Scientists have identified a number of different cues which attract mosquitoes- including body heat, the carbon dioxide you breath out and even the odour of your feet! If you are prone to insect bites it’s worth taking some anti-histamine tablets with you, tablets tend to be more effective than anti-histamine creams at reducing the allergic reaction. Hydrocortisone creams may help reduce inflammation and swelling whilst calamine lotion, tea tree oil and tiger balm can help calm local irritation.It’s not just mosquitoes which can give you a nasty bite- other insects such as sand-flies, midges and black-flies can also leave you scratching! Many insects are more likely to bite at dusk and dawn time- so it’s a good idea to be prepared whilst sitting outside eating your evening meal. Take an effective repellent with you and apply to exposed skin. DEET (diethyltoluamide) based repellents are considered to provide effective and long lasting protection, although they are not without some problems. A small number of people have reported severe reactions with the chemical and many products are not suitable for young children. DEET can also damage synthetic materials and plastics so be careful not to spill it near your sunglasses or camera. Cotton ankle and wrist bands impregnated with DEET have been shown to be a very effective means of reducing insect bites. For a natural alternative use products derived from lemon eucalyptus which have been shown in laboratory and field trials to provide a comparable level of protection to DEET repellents. Unfortunately, there is no clinical evidence that eating garlic or taking vitamin B12 makes you less attractive to biting insects.Hard ticks are a particular problem and are one of the only European arthropods to transmit diseases. These 8-legged little creatures often dwell on grass/undergrowth in woodland clearings and attach themselves to passing animals and humans in order to take a blood meal. In the process of feeding they can transmit a number of diseases including tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease.Tick-borne encephalitis can lead to headaches and fever and in more severe cases can result in upto 10% of people dying or suffering long term disability. Around 11,000 cases of the disease are reported each year in Russia whilst 3,000 cases are reported in temperate parts of Europe. Many countries such as Austria and Germany have instigated successful immunisation campaigns which have drastically reduced the number of cases. A recent study has estimated that there are 60 ‘travel-related’ cases of tick-borne encephalitis reported each year in tourists visiting Austria.Travellers planning to go walking or camping in affected areas during the spring and summer months are often asked to consider immunisation (which is now available in the UK). It’s a good idea to be aware of the potential of infection and take specific precautions to minimise the risk. Wear effective repellents on exposed skin whilst out walking in woodland areas and tuck trousers into socks (not a fashion statement but effective!). Check yourself each day for attached ticks, they tend to like warm nooks such as behind ear and around groins. The longer they are attached the greater the risk that they can transmit an infection so remove them with tweezers or a tick hook. They can often be difficult to remove, it is best to grip them firmly as close to skin as possible. Be careful that all the mouthparts have been removed as the site can become infected. If you do find a tick attached don’t be too alarmed- only a small percentage are infected with any diseases.Good luck and lets hope the bugs don’t bite too much this year!
Ahh… summertime. Warm weather, school is out, longer days, and of course-vacation. Just because this summer is flying by does not mean you missed your chance to book a relaxing getaway cruise!FINDING THE BEST CABIN LOCATION
There’s a lot of confusion and misinformation concerning cabin location
choice on modern cruise ships. High speed elevators whisk passengers from lower to higher decks and return in seconds. Modular construction insures that cabins on lower decks are identical with their counterparts further up. If these premises are correct, what should the savvy cruise traveler be looking for in their cruise cabin location and does it really matter at all?Modern cruise ships are fully stabilized and in normal weather conditions,
display no discernible difference in motion between deck locations. Our vast super liners ensure the comfort of even the most motion sensitive passengers in almost all circumstances. However, in some inclement weather scenarios, cabins closest to center ship may have less motion than forward or aft cabins. Imagining a pendulum will explain the comparative motion as it relates to deck location. Ironically, cabins located on lower decks are generally lower in cost and yet also may indicate less motion under certain conditions than a comparable higher deck cabin.Based on these assumptions, why pay a higher rate for a higher deck cabin? It comes down to convenience. On many cruise ships, decks that contain restaurants, show rooms, pool decks, spas etc tend to be on middle to higher decks which are more easily accessible from higher deck cabins. The decision of whether to pay more is more a function of budget limitation rather than overall enjoyment of the cruise experience. The choice is yours.UPGRADING YOUR CRUISE CABIN
Getting an upgrade on your cruise cabin means that you pay a lower rate and get a cabin which is listed in a higher category on the published deck plan without paying a supplement. Upgrades may be in the same cabin type such as inside to inside (no ocean view) but located on a higher deck or they may be in a different cabin type such as inside to outside (ocean view). How can the savvy cruise traveler arrange a cabin upgrade?1. Special Promotions – Cruise Lines sometimes offer cabin upgrades as an incentive based on a qualifying factor. The qualification may be membership in a past passenger group, a group promotion, payment with a certain credit card, frequent flier promotion, or other qualification. Check with your agent at the time of booking to confirm whether any of these promotions are available.2. Guarantee- To Be Assigned (TBA) Some cruise lines permit booking in a guaranteed category with the POSSIBILITY of upgrade with the actual cabin number assignment being made closer to sailing date. As the name implies, the passenger is guaranteed that his cabin will be at least the equivalent of the rate paid. Booking on a guaranteed TBA requires some flexibility on the part of the passenger but in many cases, rewards this flexibility with a cabin upgrade3. Registration for Upgrade – Some cruise lines allow passengers to register for a possible upgrade if one becomes available. This approach normally gives the client an immediate cabin number and the option of accepting or rejecting an upgrade if available. The upgrade option is usually offered close to sailing date.
Travel is exciting, especially when you will be exploring somewhere out of your regular realm. It is important, however, to be aware and safeguard yourself from possible situations that could potentially ruin your vacation.Important Travel DocumentsYou cannot travel anywhere without a passport or visa these days, so safeguarding your travel documents are a priority. Have a photocopy or two of your passport/visa located somewhere safe in your luggage, not in a carry-on. It is also a good idea to scan your passport and leave it with someone at home like a friend or family member so you will have an electronic copy on file in the event your documents are lost or stolen.Look Out for Pricey Exchange RatesUsing your credit cards when you travel is usually the best and safest idea. Just in case, before you leave for your trip, call your credit card companies and ask them if they charge any special fees for international charges. Keep in mind that exchange rates at border crossings and embassies will offer you better rates also.Let Credit Card Companies Know You Will Be TravelingIf you are suddenly using your card like crazy in another country, your credit card supplier may suspect theft and freeze your account. Let them know you will be out of the country so they don’t “flag” your account so you cannot use it.Be Careful How You Pack Your Carry-On LuggageHave your essentials with you, such as your identification, boarding passes and passports. Also keep any jewelry you want to bring, a change of clothes, and any important medication you may need just in case your luggage is lost.Blend In Wherever You Go!Whatever you do, try not to act like a tourist! Be aware of how you dress and carry yourself so you don’t stand out. Tourists are often unfortunate targets of thieves, so it is important that you always remain aware of your surroundings. It is a good idea to carry a “decoy” wallet with you with a few useless credit cards and a small amount of money in the event you are robbed, the thief will take off quickly, and you will have lost virtually nothing because of the crime.Respect Local PeopleRemember – you are on THEIR turf, so behave yourself like you are a guest in their home. Before you leave for your trip, learn as much as you can about local customs and traditions, perhaps even learning a little of their language. It’s always interesting and fun to ask local residents to recommend their favorite places to eat and visit and they will love you for this. They typically take a lot of pride in where they live and love to share information with you. This is a perfect opportunity for you to soak up a unique travel experience!Miscellaneous TipsBefore you leave, check out websites such as the U.S. Department of State International Travel Information. Make sure you are aware of any and all warnings or travel alerts.Protect yourself by purchasing a good travel insurance policy, especially when traveling internationally. Register your credit cards with one company that specializes in protecting you if your cards are lost or stolen, such as Holiday Secure (the information for this service, among others, can be found on my website). This way, one simple process will protect you and your family from fraud, identity theft, or criminal use.When traveling internationally to a new location, thinking ahead and careful planning is a must. I hope these tips help you have a wonderful and safe vacation!
Traveling isn’t cheap, so it certainly helps to look at the available options for saving on flights and hotel stays. Learning to be thrifty on the travels helps save money in a variety of areas. This can make the holiday more enjoyable with more money to spend.Below are several tips to help with slashing the cost of the future planned break:Travel at the cheapest timesFlight cost varies depending on the time, day and month of travel. By avoiding the height of the season, it is possible to see nice savings in booking the flight tickets. It also helps to avoid the weekends. A travel plan with flights leaving and arriving on a day like Wednesday is certain to offer the more cost-effective option. Travel in low season and you are certain to find a variety of attractive hotel and flight deals.Flying indirectAn indirect route to an intended destination is often a more cost-effective option than flying direct. If time isn’t an important factor, a flight with an indirect route and short-term stop-over is certain to offer a far cheaper travel option.Use different airlinesBy mixing and maxing flights it is possible to find much cheaper prices to get to the planned holiday destination. By booking the flight out and back via different airports and different airlines, it is certainly possible to see some attractive savings. Also, it might be worth considering the closest airport to home isn’t always the cheapest to use. Make contract with several airports to see which is able to offer the most competitive prices.Booking Airport parkingIf planning on leaving the family vehicle in a long-term parking bay for the term of the holiday, make certain to pre-book as early as possible. Booking the airport parking at the last-minute is certain to be charged at a higher rate.Avoid luggage feesRather than paying excess luggage charges, why not weigh the luggage before leaving home. Excess luggage often results in having to pay some hefty charges. Check with the airline to make sure you are able to stay within the weight limit. Leave any unnecessary luggage items if you start to notice you are exceeding the airlines stated limit.All in all, by researching the most-effective strategies for saving money on future travel plans, it is certainly possible to enjoy a more affordable break with friends and family members.