Guides from our travels

Day-to-day details & all costs of our trips

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Make a memory of every place you visit by getting a postal stamp from local post office

Do's, don'ts, advice, how-to's

Øresund Bridge – linking Sweden & Denmark

March 12, 2009

Oresun Bridge

Oresun Bridge

The Øresund Bridge (locally called Øresundsbron) is the bridge that connects Øresund in Denmark with Skane, Sweden, in a total length of just over 10 miles (16,4 km). This is the road connection between the metropolitan areas of Copenhagen and Malmö. The international European route E20 runs across the bridge and through the tunnel via the two lane motorway (a 4-lane road carrying 6 million vehicles per year), as does the Öresund Railway Line (two train tracks carrying about 8 million people each year). Due to the Schengen Agreement, there are no passport or customs controls.

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Holi – Festival of colors

March 12, 2009

Holi (Source: Wikipedia)

Holi (Source: Wikipedia)

Holi, also called the Festival of Colours, is a popular Hindu spring festival observed in India, Nepal, and countries with large Hindu diaspora. Also known as Dolyatra in West Bengal of India and Bangladesh, and Boshonto Utsav.

Bonfires are lit the day before, also known as Holika Dahan (death of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi). The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad had when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his unshakable devotion. Holika Dahan is referred to as Kama Dahanam in Andhra Pradesh. The main day, Holi, also known as Dhulheti, Dhulandi or Dhulendi, is celebrated by people throwing coloured powder and coloured water at each other.

Holi is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalugna or Falguna (Phalgun Purnima), which usually falls in the later part of February or March. In 2009, Holi (Dhulandi) is on 11th March and Holika Dahan is on 10th March.

Rangapanchami occurs a few days later on a Panchami (fifth day of the full moon), marking the end of festivities involving colours.

For more information click here to see detailed description on Wikipedia.
Click here to see some pictures.

List of prohibited Items from TSA website

March 8, 2009

Ever wondered what items are you allowed to carry in your checked luggage and carry-on luggage? Here’s a comprehensive list from TSA’s (Transport Security Administration) website (Dated 09-March-2009):

Source: TSA: prohibited Items

Sharp Objects

Item Carry-on Checked
Box Cutters No Yes
Ice Axes/Ice Picks No Yes
Knives – except for plastic or round bladed butter knives No Yes
Meat Cleavers No Yes
Razor-Type Blades – such as box cutters, utility knives, razor blades not in a cartridge, but excluding safety razors. No Yes
Sabers No Yes
Scissors – metal with pointed tips and blades shorter than four inches Yes Yes
Swords No Yes
NOTE: Any sharp objects in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors.

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Sporting Goods

Item Carry-on Checked
Baseball Bats No Yes
Bows and Arrows No Yes
Cricket Bats No Yes
Golf Clubs No Yes
Hockey Sticks No Yes
Lacrosse Sticks No Yes
Pool Cues No Yes
Ski Poles No Yes
Spear Guns No Yes
For more information, please read our Traveling with Special Items section.

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Guns & Firearms

Item Carry-on Checked
Ammunition – Check with your airline or travel agent to see if ammunition is permitted in checked baggage on the airline you are flying. If ammunition is permitted, it must be declared to the airline at check-in. Small arms ammunitions for personal use must be securely packed in fiber, wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. Ask about limitations or fees, if any, that apply. Read Firearms & Ammunition section. No Yes
BB guns No Yes
Compressed Air Guns (to include paintball markers) – Carried in checked luggage without compressed air cylinder attached. No Yes
Firearms – firearms carried as checked baggage MUST be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided container, and declared to the airline at check-in. Read our Firearms & Ammunition section. No Yes
Flare Guns – May be carried as checked baggage MUST be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided container, and declared to the airline at check-in. Read our section on Camping. No Yes
Flares No No
Gun Lighters No Yes
Gun Powder including black powder and percussion caps No No
Parts of Guns and Firearms No Yes
Pellet Guns No Yes
Realistic Replicas of Firearms No Yes
Starter Pistols No Yes
NOTE: Check with your airline or travel agent to see if firearms are permitted in checked baggage on the airline you are flying. Ask about limitations or fees, if any, that apply.

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Item Carry-on Checked
Axes and Hatchets No Yes
Cattle Prods No Yes
Crowbars No Yes
Hammers No Yes
Drills and drill bits (including cordless portable power drills) No Yes
Saws (including cordless portable power saws) No Yes
Tools (greater than seven inches in length) No Yes
Tools (seven inches or less in length) Yes Yes
Screwdrivers (seven inches or less in length) Yes Yes
Wrenches and Pliers (seven inches or less in length) Yes Yes
NOTE: Any sharp objects in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and Security Officers.

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Martial Arts & Self Defense Items

Item Carry-on Checked
Billy Clubs No Yes
Black Jacks No Yes
Brass Knuckles No Yes
Kubatons No Yes
Mace/Pepper Spray – One 118 ml or 4 Fl. oz. container of mace or pepper spray is permitted in checked baggage provided it is equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge. For more information visit, click on Passengers, then Preparing to Fly. No Yes
Martial Arts Weapons No Yes
Night Sticks No Yes
Nunchakus No Yes
Stun Guns/Shocking Devices No Yes
Throwing Stars No Yes
NOTE: Any sharp objects in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and Security Officers.

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Explosive & Flammable Materials, Disabling Chemicals & Other Dangerous Items

Explosive Materials Carry-on Checked
Blasting Caps No No
Dynamite No No
Fireworks No No
Flares (in any form) No No
Hand Grenades No No
Plastic Explosives No No
Realistic Replicas of Explosives No No
Flammable Items Carry-on Checked
Aerosol (any except for personal care or toiletries in limited quantities) No No
Fuels (including cooking fuels and any flammable liquid fuel) No No
Gasoline No No
Gas Torches No No
Lighter Fluid No No
Common Lighters – Lighters without fuel are permitted in checked baggage. Lighters with fuel are prohibited in checked baggage, unless they adhere to the Department of Transportation (DOT) exemption, which allows up to two fueled lighters if properly enclosed in a DOT approved case. If you are uncertain as to whether your lighter is prohibited, please leave it at home. Yes No
Torch Lighters – Torch lighters create a thin, needle-like flame that is hotter (reaching 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit) and more intense than those from common lighters. Torch lighters are often used for pipes and cigars, and maintain a consistent stream of air-propelled fire regardless of the angle at which it is held. Torch lighters continue to be banned. No No
Strike-anywhere Matches – One book of safety (non-strike anywhere) matches are permitted as carry-on items, but all matches are prohibited in checked baggage. No No
Flammable Paints (See Other Items below for non-flammable paints) No No
Turpentine and Paint Thinner No No
Realistic Replicas of Incendiaries No No
NOTE: There are other hazardous materials that are regulated by the FAA. This information is summarized at, click on Passengers, then Preparing to Fly.
Disabling Chemicals & Other Dangerous Items Carry-on Checked
Chlorine for Pools and Spas No No
Small compressed gas cartridges

(Up to 2 in life vests and 2 spares)

Yes Yes
Fire extinguishers and other compressed gas cylinders No No
Liquid Bleach No No
Spillable Batteries – except those in wheelchairs No No
Spray Paint No No
Tear Gas No No
NOTE: There are other hazardous materials that are regulated by the FAA. This information is summarized at

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Other Items

Item Carry-on Checked
Gel-type candles No Yes
Gel shoe inserts – Gel shoe inserts are not permitted, but shoes constructed with gel heels are allowed and must be removed and screened. Read more on shoe screening policy. No Yes
Non-flammable liquid, gel, or aerosol paint Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Flammable liquid, gel, or aerosol paint No No
Snow globes and like decorations regardless of size or amount of liquid inside, even with documentation. No Yes

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Listen to ‘tourcasts’ on any MP3 device

March 4, 2009

Tourcaster offers audio-tours which can be purchased from their website and download on to your iPod or any MP3 device.

Offering audio-tours of places from over 35 countries, the tourcasts, as they call it, can cost anything from $4.85 to $24.95. Of course, you can listen to a 1 minute preview of the tourcasts before you decide to purchase. Registration is simple and quick, and you can gift a tourcast to a friend for the same price.

What: tourcasts (MP3) for download
Cost: $4.95 to $24.95
Free: I saw only one tourcast free!

If you have used their service or tourcasts, let us know what you think. Send an email:

South America – Visa & Reciprocity fees

March 4, 2009

Photo by

Photo by

BootsnAll have come up with a detailed breakdown of visa and reciprocity fees for Americans traveling to South America. The article also lists all the legal workarounds and reduce the number of fees you may wind up paying, which can be very helpful.

Visa and Reciprocity Fees in South America, and How to Legally Get Around Many of Them [BootsnAll]

Star Alliance Round the world fare

March 3, 2009


The Star Alliance Round the World Fare offers you 28 airlines flying to over 1,500 airport destinations in 181 countries. Which means there’s no limit to the experiences you can enjoy, not to mention the memories you can take home. Remember that surcharges apply on a lot of airlines on different routes for different classes of travel.

Star Alliance Round the World fare applies for round the world travel from and to countries which are served by the following Star Alliance member carriers:

  • Adria Airways
  • Aegean Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air New Zealand
  • ANA
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian
  • Blue 1
  • BMI
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • Continental Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Scandinavian Airlines
  • Shanghai Airlines (until 31 Oct 2011)
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Spanair
  • TAM Airlines
  • TAP Portugal
  • THAI
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United
  • US Airways

In general, Round the World fares are offered on all Star Alliance operating and code-shared flight numbers including flights operated by regional partner airlines.

Find out more

Koninginnedag (Queen’s day) in Netherlands

March 2, 2009

Koninginnedag or Queen’s Day is a national holiday in the Netherlands and it’s territories on 30 April (or on 29 April if the 30th is a Sunday). Queen’s Day celebrates the birthday of the Queen of the Netherlands and is supposed to be a day of national unity and “togetherness” (Dutch: saamhorigheid). The tradition started on 31 August 1885 on the birthday of Princess Wilhelmina, later Queen Wilhelmina. Since 1949, after the ascension of Queen Juliana, Queen’s Day is Queen Juliana’s birthday on 30 April. Although Queen Beatrix’s birthday is on 31 January, she officially celebrates her birthday on 30 April.

Queen’s Day is known for its “freemarket” (Dutch: vrijmarkt) all over the country, where everybody is allowed to sell things in the streets. Other activities during Queen’s Day are children’s games, individual musical performances, and music concerts. The night before Queen’s Day is celebrated too in some cities, and this is called Queen’s Night (Dutch: Koninginnenacht). The largest celebration of Queen’s Day is in Amsterdam and of Queen’s Night in The Hague. During the celebrations as reference to the colours of the House of Orange-Nassau, people dress in the colour orange, which is sometimes called “orange craze” (Dutch: oranjegekte).

Some of the highlights of the “celebrations” are:
This is a typical occasion for oranjegekte (orange craze), when the colour orange is a ubiquitous sight, referring to the name of the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange. There are orange banners, orange colored foods and drinks, and extreme amounts of orange clothing and creative accessories are worn as well. Sometimes even the water in fountains is dyed orange. It is not uncommon for people to impersonate the queen, not always in a flattering manner (rudely).

The so-called ‘vrijmarkt‘ (‘freemarket’) is similar to a US car boot sale or Flea market. Owing to a holiday dispensation from the Dutch government, people do not need to pay taxes on their sales. The items sold are traditionally old rubbish, but for commercial traders this is also an extremely profitable day. The freemarket in Amsterdam attracts the most visitors. Prices tend to be very negotiable and drop as the day progresses. By the end of the festivities, much of the unsold merchandise is left on the streets to be picked through until it’s hauled off by local municipalities shortly after. There are, however, some areas where the original style is preserved. One of these is the Jordaan (pronounced: Yordaan), a gentrified former working class neighborhood, where prices are very low because the sale is just an excuse to have a nice day and a friendly chat with complete strangers. Sections of the Jordaan can become so full of pedestrians that they become completely gridlocked, despite the absence of cars. Another is the Vondelpark (pronounced: Fondelpark), which is officially reserved for children. Especially there, but also elsewhere, there are many other activities besides selling second hand goods, such as performing music or providing other entertainment for money.

Open air concerts
In recent years, Koninginnedag has become more and more of an open-air party, with many concerts and special events in public spaces, particularly in Amsterdam, which attracts anywhere from 500,000 to 800,000 visitors. Many Dutch people living abroad try to make the pilgrimage home to experience this holiday each year. Booking accommodations in Amsterdam and elsewhere for Queen’s Day is notoriously difficult, requiring booking 6 months or more ahead.

Queen’s Night
During the preceding ‘koninginnenacht‘ (Queen’s Night) many bars and clubs throughout the Netherlands (particularly in Amsterdam and The Hague) hold special events catering to revelers that last all night long. The event draws tens of thousands of visitors every year.

Source: Wikipedia

Some tips:
1. Reach early (if you are staying out of the city) to avoid the rush in trains and on the streets. Most of the concerts start early (or been going on all night-previous).

2. You can buy a glass of beer for €5 at any of the hundreds of beer-selling counters. Remember to save that glass because you can refill for €2 at any of the counters. You don’t necessarily have to be at the same counter where you purchased your first one.

3. Wear something Orange. Wait – wear everything orange, because you’d feel totally out of place if you don’t!

4. Be safe – Take care of your belongings and beware of pickpockets. There may be at least a million people in the city and while you’re clicking away those moments, you may not realize that someone might be robbing you.

5. Frequency of the trains is very less and they are packed with people going to the city. Trams and cars are not allowed to run and Amsterdam being a relatively small city, walking around is the best way to experience the energy and celebrations.

6. Officials install “pole-toilets” across the city (which can be used by men) and public toilets are not clean and usually used by women.


Koninginnedag - Ex-Porn Star Concert

Koninginnedag - Ex-Porn Star Concert



Koninginnedag - Free market

Koninginnedag - Free market



Koninginnedag Koninginnedag
Koninginnedag Koninginnedag - Open-air Concert

Open-air toilets for men

Open-air toilets for men

Travel shows and things we miss on them

March 1, 2009

While I watch the travels shows on TV, the one thing I keep wondering is why would they not show titles on the screen – titles on costs or just the names of cities or places the hosts are visiting? They say those names of the cities or places they are visiting, but some of the foreign names are spelt & prnounced differently, and if you – as a prominent visitior – want to visit those places you’d ask yourself – “what was that name (s)he just said?” I was watching a show where the host was in Cĕsky Krumlov (pronounced Chesky Krumlof) in Czech Republic, which, for a new traveler, who’d love to visit, would go to Google and search for “Chesky Krumlof” and just maybe find the actual place. It would have somewhat, or maybe really, helped to know it’s spelt as Cĕsky Krumlov!

Samatha Brown’s “Passport to Europe” (Travel Channel) has some titles on the screen, but Lonely Planet series and Rick Steves’ Europe series don’t show any titles. Some of the things we would love to see on the screen are:
1. Name of places that are being visited – this is the least we can ask for!

2. Hotels
2a. Name of the hotel
2a. Reservation phone number
2b. Website URL of the Hotel, maybe!
2c. Cost of the rooms – single occupancy, double… blah blah
2d. How about a rating – a la
2e. Not that we’re asking for too much, but how about any other cheaper options!

3. High-level (zoomed out) map of where the city exactly is in this big wide world.

4. Ok, so you meet these amazing local people who look extremly happy to show you around; so can we meet them too, please? If they are people who have enrolled in websites like, and would love to show you around, then can you please (ask them and if they are ok then) give us their email address?

5. We like your commuting options recommendations, but can you please show some information on those options – like bus number or metro routes.

6. Oh and how about mentioning costs of the tickets for the commute options – and it would be wonderful if you can tell us where we can purchase them from?

Fine, we will buy your travel guides and look up all this information, but it’d be really nice of you if you can give basic information about [some of] the items we mentioned above.

We, at Travel on a dollar, would be bringing you these information and making sure you have options on your travel destinations. Keep visiting for more.


Scandinavia Trip – Maps of the trip

February 26, 2009

For a 23-day trip from Los Angeles, US to the four Scandinavian countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark – and Estonia, here are the maps. Click on each of them to see a larger version:

Map 1 – Northern Europe map with cities marked

Map 2 – Scandinavia map with cities marked

Map 3 – Scandinavia map with route shown
See the itinerary to see what the numbers mean.

Scandinavia Trip – Estimated costs for the trip

February 26, 2009

For a 23-day trip from Los Angeles, US to the four Scandinavian countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark – and Estonia, here’s the tentative costs for the trip:

Where: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia


So here are the TENTATIVE costs for the trip. These include accommodation in Youth Hostel, food for one person per day in each city, and other costs from train, cruises and buses. Please note that these are tentative and does not include any personal expenses. Some of the costs cannot be determined so I have put my assumptions.

Note: All costs are subject to change. These are as per current (2008) rates, which may be different in 2009.

Costs for Local Curr USD Notes
Travel Insurance $150 Tentative
Visa Fees $100 Schengen visa fees – $95 + $5 FedEx fees. N/A to U.S. Citizens. Fees may vary from one consulate to other.
Airfare & Railpass
LAX-OSL and CPH-LAX $1,300 Tentative
BGO-TOS and TOS-OSL $300 Tentative
TLL-CPH $150 Tentative
Scandinavia Railpass $515 For 8 days in 2 months. $437 “Saver pass” (for 2 or more) Link
Oslo – Bergen Trip (Norway)
Train from Oslo to Myrdal Nkr 567 $114 Upgrade to “Komfort” for an additional 75NOK ($15)
Train from Myrdal to Flåm Nkr 190 $38 Note: Actual price. 30% with Railpass
Cruise from Flåm to Gudvangen Nkr 215 $43
Bus from Gudvangen to Voss Nkr 76 $15
Train from Voss to Bergen Nkr 153 $31
Food $25 For 1 day
Oslo (Norway)
Accomodation (YHI) Nkr 460 $92 Approx: For 2 nights, per bed, per person
Bus from Airport to City Nkr 80 $16 Note: Covered by railpass
Food $50 For 2 days
Oslo Pass Nkr 320 $64 For 48 hrs. Nkr 220 ($44) for 24 hrs
Bergen (Norway)
Accomodation (YHI) Nkr 310 $62 Approx: For 2 nights, per bed, per person
Food $50 For 2 days
Bus from City Center to Airport Nkr 70 $14 One way
Bergen Folklore Folk Dance Nkr 350 $70 Includes bus trip and meal
Funicular to Fløibanen Nkr 70 $14
Tromsø (Norway)
Accomodation (YHI) Nkr 400 $80 Approx: prices for 1 bed for 2 nights. For a Single room it’s Nkr 350, hostel open from 6/17 to 8/14.
Food $50 For 2 days
Stockholm (Sweden)
Accomodation (YHI) Skr 460 $74 Approx: For 2 nights, per bed, per person
Food $50 For 2 days
Stockholm – Helsinki Cruise €55 $83 Note: Railpass holders get 50% discount on both Silja & Viking lines
Stockholm Card $79 For 48 hrs. $57 for 24 hrs
Helsinki (Finland)
Accomodation (YHI) €100 $150 Approx: For 2 nights, per bed, per person
Food $50 For 2 days
Helsinki – Tallinn Cruise €57 $86 €50 one way, maximum. Some lines available for €30. A €7 service charge applies in booking tickets.
Tallinn (Estonia)
Accomodation (YHI) $60 Online booking N/A: Tallinn – Tallinn Backpackers, Lai 10, Tallinn 10133 Estonia, No rates online
Food $50 For 2 days
Copenhagen (Denmark)
Accomodation (YHI) Dkr 440 $88 Approx: For 2 nights, per bed, per person
Food $50 For 2 days
Copenhagen – Ærøskøbing Trip Dkr 545 $90 Dkr 345 (Round-trip ferry) + Dkr 200 Train (approx). Prices for round-trip.
Airport to Downtown Train Dkr 30 $5
Copenhagen Card Dkr 459 $75 For 72 hr card. Dkr 209 ($35) for 24 hr card. No 48-hr card available.
Ærøskøbing (Denmark)
Accomodation (YHI) Dkr 300 $50 Approx: For 2 nights, per bed, per person. Online booking N/A: Ærøskøbing, Smedevejen 15, 5970 Ærøskøbing, Tel. +45-62521044, Fax. +45-62521644,
Food $50 For 2 days
Total $4,474

Add another $600 for personal expenses or any additional expenses and you reach the $5,000 mark!

YHI – Youth Hostel International
LAX – Los Angeles International Airport
OSL – Oslo Lufthavn Airport
CPH – Copenhagen Lufthavne Airport
TOS – Tromsø Langnes Airport
BGO – Bergen Airport Flesland
TLL – Tallinn Airport
Nkr – Norwegian Kroner
Skr – Swedish Krona
Dkr – Danish Krone
Ekr – Estonian Kroonie

Scandinavia Trip – Tentative itinerary

February 26, 2009

For a 23-day trip from Los Angeles, US to the four Scandinavian countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark – and Estonia, here’s the tentative itinerary:

Day Place Mode
Day 1 Oslo – Arrival Airplane
Day 2 Oslo – Local –
Day 3 Oslo – Local –
Day 4 Oslo – Bergen Train, Bus, Cruise
Day 5 Bergen – Local –
Day 6 Bergen – Local –
Day 7 Bergen – Tromsø Cruise / Airplane
Day 8 Tromsø – Local –
Day 9 Tromsø – Local –
Day 10 Tromsø – Oslo Airplane
Oslo – Stockholm Train (nightly)
Day 11 Stockholm – Local –
Day 12 Stockholm – Local –
Stockholm – Helsinki Cruise (nightly)
Day 13 Helsinki – Local –
Day 14 Helsinki – Local –
Helsinki – Tallinn Cruise
Day 15 Tallinn – Local –
Day 16 Tallinn – Copenhagen Airplane (evening)
Copenhagen – Local –
Day 17 Copenhagen – Local –
Day 18 Copenhagen – Local –
Day 19 Copenhagen – Ærøskøbing Train, Cruise
Day 20 Ærøskøbing – Local –
Day 21 Ærøskøbing – Local –
Day 22 Ærøskøbing – Copenhagen Cruise, Train
Day 23 Copenhagen – Los Angeles Airplane

Scandinavia Trip – The idea

February 26, 2009

Back in the days when I learned that the earth was round (almost!) and what this world was all about, (for some reason I don’t remember) I have been fascinated by Scandinavia. It always seemed to me that everyone went to Americas and “mainland” Europe but no one went to Scandinavia for a trip or maybe a honeymoon! It’s been a dream to visit the Viking & Fjord country and see what they really mean by “Land of the midnight sun”. So, this is now that I have started planning for this trip of a lifetime (at least for me).

So here are the first details of the first tentative trip:

When: Tentative
Length: 4 weeks (maximum)
Cost: US$5,000 (maximum) This includes everything.

Places to visit:

Norway – Oslo, Bergen, Tromsø
Sweden – Stockholm
Denmark – Copenhagen, Ærøskøbing
Finland – Helsinki
Estonia – Tallinn

Keep checking for details.

The ultimate packing list

February 25, 2009

Travel packing checklistPacking your bags for that exotic trip is not an easy task. Especially when you have to remember all the essentials and things-not-to-carry.

So to make your life simpler, here’s a list of some things one should remember to carry:

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Some Websites for flight reservations

February 25, 2009

Some of the airline-booking websites:
Chawla Travel

Apart from these one can always try the individual airline websites for deals, offers or competitive rates.

Click here for a comprehensive list and more links on various categories.

Schengen Visa details (for non-US & non-EU residents/citizens)

February 25, 2009

What is a Schengen Visa?

“With a Schengen visa, you may enter one country and travel freely throughout the Schengen zone. Internal border controls have disappeared; there are no or few stops and checks. This means that internal air, road and train travel are handled as domestic trips, similar to travel from one US state to another.”

The Schengen countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

To apply for a Schengen visa:

The applicant must first identify which Schengen country is the main destination. This determines the State responsible for deciding on the Schengen visa application and therefore the embassy or the consulate where the traveller will have to lodge the application. If the main destination cannot be determined, the traveller should file the visa application at the embassy or consultate of the Schengen country of first entry. If the Schengen State of the main destination or first entry does not have a diplomatic mission or consular post in his country, the traveller must contact the embassy or the consulate of another Schengen country, normally located in the traveller’s country, which represents, for the purpose of issuing Schengen visas, the country of the principal destination or first entry.

Source: Wikipedia

Also see: Schengen Visa Info

The documents required for a Schengen Visa are:

  • Completed visa application form. Check the country’s consulate website for specific form.
  • Passport or official travel document recognized by the Schengen countries, with a validity that exceeds the intended stay by at least 3 months. Please make sure that the passport has a blank page to affix the visa.
  • (For applications from US): Original Alien Registration Card (Green Card). If you do not have an alien registration card, a Green Card Stamp in your passport, an Advance Parole, or a valid US Visa together with the valid I-94 departure record must be provided. Students should also submit an original validated I-20, DS-2019 or IAP-66.
  • One recent passport photograph, full face, which show a clear and exact likeness of the applicant. Photo must be taken against a plain, light background with good contrast, in color or black & white, clear and of good quality, printed on normal photographic paper (without sunglasses or head covering, unless it is on account of religious or medical reasons).
    Children travelling with their parents on their parent’s passport do need their own visa with photo (free of charge). Therefore, applicants should also submit one recent passport size photographs for every child travelling with them. Please make sure that you have enough pages to affix the visa’s for you and your child(ren).
  • Proof that you can proceed to the next country after you have visited the Schengen countries, i.e. confirmed itinerary / airline reservation or airline ticket and required visa. When you bring a confirmed itinerary / airline reservation at the time of your visa application, the actual airline ticket has be shown if your visa has been approved.
    Important: if you are not sure that your visa will be approved, do not buy an airline ticket yet, bring a confirmed airline reservation which can be cancelled.
  • Proof of sufficient funds for your intended stay: 3 recent monthly bank statements and/or signed travelers checks.
  • Original letter of employment or 3 months of recent pay stubs. If you are self employed a business license and tax return forms are required.
  • Proof establishing the purpose of your trip:
    When visiting relatives or friends, please submit an official invitation letter issued and certified by a City Hall in the country you’re visiting and a copy of the relatives’ or friends’ passport or valid country residence card. If they are paying for your expenses proof of financial means is required from your reference person in the country (e.g. salary statements, recent bank statements, etc.).
    For tourism, please submit confirmed hotel reservations, stating name, address and telephone number of the hotel, including confirmation number and/or proof of group travel participation, etc.
    if you are traveling in group then make sure that the hotels give a confirmation letter stating names of all the travelers, and not just the name of the person who will book the hotel.
  • Medical health/travel insurance that meets the following criteria (recommended: AXA-Schengen):
    1. It is valid throughout Schengen territory.
    2. It is valid during the entire period that you will be in Schengen territory.
    3. The coverage is at least €30.000 (US $45.000).
    4. The coverage includes repatriation for medical reasons, urgent medical care and/or emergency treatment in a hospital.
  • Cash (exact change please) or money order to pay the visa fee. Personal and business checks and credit cards are NOT accepted. Visa fees vary depending upon the type of visa, duration of stay and the exchange rate between the euro and US dollar. Check the website of the consulate you’re applying at for the correct fee. Visa fees are non refundable. It is possible to have the passport with the approved visa sent to your home or business address – at your own risk – by overnight mail. In this case an additional postal fee will be charged.

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