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Emergency phone numbers for vacation travel

June 15, 2009

With summer here, you are probably about to pack your bags, the car and the family for your vacation. And, one other item you need to prepare is your cell phone. You should have the numbers in your directory you may need in case of emergency. Here’s an quick reminder of those important contacts that you may be forgetting.

One of the first numbers to program in your cell phone is your credit card hotline. If you have a stolen or lost card, you need to report it immediately. Next, emergencies on the road. After calling for help, you need to contact your insurance company. Depending on the circumstances, your insurance card may not be readily available. Unless your insurance has other arrangements, select a towing company and put in that number. It can save time if you may be stranded.

Before you find yourself locked out of your car or home, do some research and put in the number of a reliable locksmith. Next up – health insurance. The number is probably on the back of your card; and can be an easy, quick way to call if the number is already programmed. Speaking of health, your doctor’s number should be in your directory. This will come in handy when out of town and you need information.

Do you travel a lot? Go ahead and program the number of your travel agent or airline that you use. Need a business number and don’t want to call 411 and pay? Try, 1-800-GOOG-411 and get the number free. Again, for business only.

You may want to have a co-worker’s number in your phone, just in case. And, add your own home and work phone numbers, so if you lose your cell phone. Hopefully some honest person will call you and return!

Top ten numbers you might need:

1. Credit card hotline
2. Car insurance company
3. Towing company
4. Reliable locksmith
5. Health insurance company
6. Your doctor
7. Airline – If you travel a lot
8. For business number info – 1-800-GOOG-411
9. Co-worker’s number
10. Your own numbers

Here is another one for you. Microsoft recently launched a new search engine called Bing. It offers a service similar to GOOG-411 with even more features, including driving directions. To reach it, just dial 1-800-BING-411. It is a free service!

BusJunction helps you find a bus route

June 15, 2009 works something like Expedia or Orbitz in the way it helps travelers find their way in a crowded market. But unlike those two popular airfare Web sites, BusJunction doesn’t sell tickets; it steers its users to the online ticketing on the bus companies’ home pages. It’s an aggregator of data, like, not a booking site.

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MakeMyTrip offers free air tickets on booking hotels and holidays

June 12, 2009 has tied up with low-cost airline SpiceJet, offering “free unlimited SpiceJet air tickets on the booking of hotels or holidays” through the online travel agency.

The free ticket is given to every traveller on every purchase. The offer is valid on hotel room-nights booked online and holidays booked through call centre or through walk-ins in the company stores across 25 locations.


Travellers can get unlimited tickets depending on the number of hotel-room nights or the length of holidays they book.

According to MakeMyTrip, customers need to confirm their free tickets 21 days in advance of their preferred travel dates. The number of free tickets increases with pax and duration of stay. Thus, a family of four, travelling for four nights will receive 16 tickets. The customer needs to pay the taxes on the tickets.

[Source: eyefortravel]

Photo of the day: Oman

June 12, 2009


Considerations for Responsible Trekking

June 11, 2009


Trekking can place great pressure on wilderness areas and you should take special care when trekking to help preserve the ecology and beauty of the country or place. The following tips are common sense, but they are also mandated by some governments, and you, or your guide, could be fined for not observing them.


  • Carry out all your rubbish. If you’ve carried it in you can carry it out. Don’t overlook those easily forgotten items, such as silver paper, cigarette butts and plastic wrappers. Empty packaging weighs very little and should be stored in a dedicated rubbish bag. Make an effort to carry out rubbish left by others.
  • Minimize the waste you must carry out by reducing packaging and taking no more than you will need. If you can’t buy in bulk, unpack small packages and combine their contents in one container before your trek. Take reusable containers or stuff sacks.
  • Sanitary napkins, tampons and condoms should also be carried out despite the inconvenience. They burn and decompose poorly.

Human Waste Disposal

  • Contamination of water sources by human faeces can lead to the transmission of hepatitis, typhoid and intestinal parasites. It can cause severe health risks not only to members of your party, but also to local residents and wildlife. A toilet tent can or usually is set up at each camp; please use it.
  • Where there is no toilet tent, bury your waste. Dig a small hole 15cm deep and at least 100m from any watercourse. Consider carrying a lightweight trowel for this purpose. Cover the waste with soil and a rock. Use toilet paper sparingly and burn it or bury it with the waste. In snow, dig down to the soil otherwise your waste will be exposed when the snow melts.


  • Don’t use detergents or toothpaste, even if they are biodegradable, in or near watercourses. For personal washing, use biodegradable soap and a basin at least 50m away from any watercourse. Widely disperse the waste water to allow the soil to filter it fully before it finally makes it back to the watercourse.


  • At some places, hillsides and mountain slopes, especially at high altitude, are prone to erosion. It is important to stick to existing tracks and avoid short cuts that bypass a switchback. If you blaze a new trail straight down a slope it will turn into a watercourse with the next heavy rainfall and eventually cause soil loss and deep scarring.
  • If a well-used track passes through a mud patch, walk through the mud: walking around the edge of the patch will increase the size of the patch.
  • Avoid removing the plants that keep the topsoil in place.

Wildlife Conservation

  • Don’t assume animals found in huts to be nonindigenous vermin and attempt to exterminate them. In wild places they are likely to be protected native animals.
  • Discourage the presence of wildlife at the camp by not leaving food scraps behind.
  • Do not disturb or feed wildlife or do anything to destroy their natural habitat.

Cultural Conservation

  • Respect the culture and traditions of local people, whether they are villagers, your camp staff or your horse drivers, especially if you’re in a foreign country.
  • If applicable, do not give sweets, money, medicines or gifts to local people, particularly children, as this encourages begging.
  • If applicable, do not buy local household items or religious artifacts from villagers.

Mexico City offers free healthcare

June 10, 2009

In the aftermath of the A/H1NI flu virus outbreak, which has claimed the lives of 106 people in the country and devastated tourism, hotel occupation is at just 27 per cent compared with more than 50 per cent during the same week last year. During the worst point of the outbreak, which has since spread throughout the world and infected thousands, hotel occupation sank as low as 9 per cent. The city government has decided to offer holidaymakers free medical insurance – whether it be to cover migraine, a broken bone or even emergency heart surgery.

To get things going again, the Mexico City government is hooking up every visitor with health insurance:

The city government announced that it would also launch a bank card for national tourists visiting Mexico City, which would give them an interest-free loan for purchases made in the capital and payable via monthly deductions from their salary. It is even working on a special coupons book to give tourists discounts ranging from between 10 per cent and 60 per cent at more than 1,000 businesses in the capital.

Read more: Mexico City offers free health cover

Airplanes in U.S. start to show up on time

June 10, 2009

Stats released by the U.S. Department of Transportation say airplanes are taking off on time more frequently than before. More flights were on time in April than in March, as well as April 2008.

The Kansas City star singles out the airlines that are most often on time, as well as those that take schedules only as humorous suggestions:

Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time performance, while Comair — a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines Inc. — had the worst. Among legacy carriers, Northwest Airlines — operated by Atlanta-based Delta — was on time the most, and Continental Airlines Inc. posted the worst on-time performance.

Punctuality may be something to keep in mind when deciding which airline to book for your summer vacation.

More at: More U.S. flights are on time

JetBlue comes up with ‘Travel Now, Pay Later’ plan

June 8, 2009

JetBlue Bill Me Later  

JetBlue Bill Me Later

Just because the economy hasn’t rebounded doesn’t mean you can’t. Summer is one of the most popular times to travel, so set out and explore.

For budget-minded travelers, JetBlue is offering a limited time ‘Bill Me Later’ promotion so you can travel now and pay later. As an added bonus, travelers who use the new ‘bill me later’ feature will receive $20 off their booking.

Bill Me Later, the airline’s limited time offer, allows travelers to pay in full or in increments, from now until October 2009. The offer is only good until June 14 so you’ll need to act fast to capture this deal.

JetBlue Bill Me Later

JetBlue Bill Me Later

The promotion is fast, easy and secure, and you’ll get a monthly statement letting you know your balance. You can choose to pay a little each month or pay the entire bill in October. The choice is up to you – now all you have to do is book a flight.



JetBlue says:

Now for a limited time, when you book a JetBlue flight and choose to pay with Bill Me Later®, you’ll save $20 and don’t have to worry about making payments until October 2009*!

To take advantage of this offer, simply select to pay with Bill Me Later® at time of purchase, answer a few simple questions, accept the terms, and Bill Me Later® takes care of the rest!

Hurry and book now—this great offer is only available through June 14, 2009. 

  • Pay with Bill Me Later® to get the special offer. The “No Payments for 90 Days” offer is not available from all retailers who accept Bill Me Later®.
  • You may see this offer advertised as “No Payments until…” such as “No Payments until December 2009”.
  • Simply select “Yes, I’d like No Payments for 90 Days…” in order to be eligible to receive the promotional offer.
  • Make your purchase before midnight ET on June 30, 2009 to receive the promotional offer.
  • You will receive monthly statements and if you pay in full by the promotion expiration date as listed below you will not be charged finance charges. 

Booking hotels online?

June 5, 2009


The next time you’re looking at hotels online, try and

Consumer Reports readers recommend both sites for helping you figure out which hotels you’re being offered on Priceline or Hotwire.

Medical Travel – ‘Patients Beyond Borders’

June 4, 2009

Last year more than 180,000 Americans packed their bags and headed overseas for nearly every imaginable type of medical treatment: tummy tucks in Brazil, heart valve replacements in Thailand, hip resurfacing surgeries in India, addiction recovery in Antigua, fertility diagnosis and treatments in South Africa, or restorative dentistry in Mexico.

Currently, at least 28 countries on four continents cater to the international health traveler, with more than 2 million patients visiting hospitals and clinics each year in countries other than their own. The roster of treatments is as varied as the travelers. If the notion of complex medical procedures in far-flung lands seems intimidating, don’t feel alone.

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International Istanbul Music Festival

June 4, 2009

International Istanbul Music Festival International Istanbul Music Festival

The 37th International Istanbul Music Festival, which runs from tomorrow, June 5, through June 30, is bringing top international and Turkish classical musicians to the city’s stages and providing ticket holders with a rare chance to meet and greet some of the artists before the shows.

Among the big names participating this year are the German violin virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter, in concert with Lynn Harrell and Sir André Previn; the Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez, who The New York Times wrote is “fluent in scales, runs and fancywork far beyond Pavarotti’s comfort zone”; and, on the festival’s last night, the Argentine conductor and soloist Daniel Barenboim, leading La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra of Milan in Beethoven and Berlioz.

These concerts are a great opportunity to treat the eyes as well as the ears by getting a glimpse inside some of Istanbul’s most interesting musical venues, each with its own fascinating back story. There’s the Sureyya Opera House in Kadikoy, for example, built in the 1920s just after the birth of the modern Turkish Republic and inspired by the Champs-Elysee Theater in Paris, or the Aya Irini, commissioned in the fourth century as the first church built in Constantinople.

In the meet-the-artist series, ticket holders will have a chance to speak with some of the younger musical sensations, including the willowy Argentine cellist Sol Gabetta, or the former child prodigy Han-Na Chang of South Korea, also a cellist. Both sessions take place in the cloisters of the Aya Irini.

And if classical music isn’t your thing, be patient. Watch this site for the rundown on highlights for the city’s jazz festival, running from July 2 to 15 — as well as info on upcoming Istanbul gigs from Leonard Cohen, Santana and Loreena McKennitt.

Opening Concert
Baroque Trumpet Gala
Concerts at the Palace – I
Festival Encounters – I
Voice of the Heart
Reflections on Bach
A Baroque Feast
Festival Encounters – II
Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra & Juan Diego Flórez
Mutter, Harrell, Previn
Young Legend Han-Na Chang
The English Concert
Concerts at the Palace – II
Play Bach 50th Anniversary
Dances of Centuries
Encounters Around Cello
Filarmonica Della Scala & Daniel Barenboim


Southwest to allow small pets in the cabin for $75

June 3, 2009

Southwest previously did not allow animals in the cabin unless they were there for medical reasons — but times are tough, so the airline that doesn’t charge for bags is looking for ways to add revenue without annoying customers.

Starting June 17, you’ll be able to bring Rosy and Ginger for a mere $75 a piece, which is cheaper than the industry standard. Southwest says that they’ll be a maximum of 5 pets per plane, and that they plan on outfitting their terminals with places where animals can relieve themselves.

From Chicago Tribune:

Southwest is the only major carrier that doesn’t charge passengers to check two pieces of luggage, a policy the carrier maintains would alienate loyal customers. Its fees kick in for passengers who check three or more bags.

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly told investors last week that Southwest was looking at new ways to generate generate income without angering customers. In addition to the new pet service, Southwest said it starts to charge a $25, each way, service charge for children aged five through 11 who aren”t traveling with an adult.

Photos: Keukenhof Gardens, Holland

June 1, 2009

Keukenhof Gardens, Holland

Keukenhof Gardens, Holland

Click here to see the photographs

ten links for today

June 1, 2009

1. 10 Key Destinations For The Historical Time Traveler

2. Travel Accommodation Options

3. 4 Reasons You Should Hire a Guide on Your Next Family Vacation

4. Kathmandu, Nepal: Crossing a Bridge

5. Travel Safety Tips

6. The Train Line

7. A Bali Waterfall and Hot Spring no Travel Guide will tell you about

8. 16 Most Livable Cities in the World… and more

9. Desire Longevity! Come to Dominica

10. 72 Hours in Brussels

Photo of the day: Jain Temples, Palitana, India

June 1, 2009

Jain Temples at Shatrunjay Palitana

Jain Temples at Shatrunjay Palitana

The Palitana temples are considered the most sacred pilgrimage place (tirtha) by the Jain community. There are more than 1300 temples located on the Shatrunjaya hills, exquisitely carved in marble. The main temple on top of the hill, is dedicated to 1st tirthankar lord Adinath (Rishabdeva).

No one is allowed to sleep overnight including the priest, because the temple city has been built as an abode for the Gods. The town is considered by many Jains to be more important than the temple covered hills of Jharkhand, Mt Abu and Girnar. Palitana was the capital of a princely state of the Gohil Rajput clan. It is also one of the greatest tourist attractions in Gujarat for foreign tourists. Every year millions of people come to visit these temples.

There are hundreds of other temples (besides those on the Shatrunjaya hills). Guest houses (dharmashalas) are found in Palitana city. It is believed that every Jain should visit Palitana at least once in his lifetime to get “Bhavya” status (fit to attain nirvan or salvation).

Getting There:
By Air
Bhavnagar, the nearest airport lies at a distance of 51 kilometer from Palitana, but it connects only with Mumbai. For people coming from other places, a more convenient airport would be Ahmedabad which has an international airport or Vadodara (a.k.a Baroda) as it is connected through regular flights to many important cities of the country like Mumbai and Delhi.

By Rail
Palitana is a small railway station and has connection only with Bhavnagar. Best way is to take a train to bhavnagar and go by road to Palitana using local transport. The railway station at Palitana is improving and it is going to soon have direct trains from Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

By Road
There are busses for Bhavnagar from Palitana. Regular buses are also available from Ahmedabad, Talaja, Una, and Diu. Taxis are also available on hire for Palitana from Bhavnagar, Ahmedabad or Vadodra. The bus stand is situated 800 meters away from the Palitana railway station. Since Palitana is an important destination for a lot of people who follow Jainism, and the fact that there are a lot of people in Mumbai (Bombay ), there are buses that run daily between Mumbai and Palitana.

As a “Second Class” princely state, founded in 1194 (one of the major states in Saurashtra, where there were many smaller states), Palitana covered 777 km² and had 58,000 inhabitants (in 1921) in 91 villages, generating a 744,416 Rs revenue.

It used to be a native state of India in the Kathiawar agency of the Bombay presidency. Area, 289 sq. m.; pop. (1901), 52,856, showing a decrease of 15% in the decade. The chief was a Gohel Rajput, with the title of Thakur Sahib. Gross revenue, £42,000; tribute jointly to the Gaekwar of Baroda and the Nawab of Junagadh, £700. The capital of the state is Palitana; pop. 12,800. It was ruled by a Thakore sahib (also spelled Thakor Saheb), enjoying a 9-guns salute, of the Hindu Gohil dynasty, which received a privy purse of 180,000 Rupees at the state’s accession to independent India on 15 February 1948.

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