Passport Crisis, The Sequel

If you were one of the many caught in the 2007 passport crisis, renew now. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was implemented then requiring a passport for air travel to and from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean replacing just a drivers license or birth certificate as acceptable entry requirements. The State Department experienced a tsunami of first-time passport applications, from about 12 million in 2006 to over 18 million in 2007. The passport book is valid for 10 years, and the agency is preparing for a bombardment of renewal applications from the WHTI Generation.

US Passport
Renew Now!

But wait. Isn’t my passport valid until 2017 if it were issued in 2007? Maybe, maybe not. Take careful look at your passport expiration date. Many countries, such as China, Brazil, Russia, Argentina and Ecuador require that your passport is valid for no less than six months after you return home. Several countries in Europe require three months validity after your exit date. Requirements will vary by country. For example, India requires six months of passport validity after the date which you apply for a visa, but countries in the United Kingdom will accept any valid passport. So do your research. The best source of online information is from the US State Department’s web site section on International Travel.

http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

Simply select the country that will be visited, then click on the “Entry / Exit Requirements” link. Not only will the information tell you how long a passport has to be valid, it also provides information about visas and how to obtain one if needed.

Plus, you have great access to lots of other country-specific information, health information, and travel warnings.

Complete instructions for obtaining a passport can be found at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en.html Travel tip: September through December is typically slow season for applications. Frequent jet-setters should request a 52-page book (same cost) so they can avoid any emergency trips to the passport agency.

Difference between a Passport Book and a Passport Card (I wish it would be renamed-it’s confusing:)
http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/information/card/Difference-Between-Passport-Book-and-Card.html

Bonus Travel Tip: Scan the front and back of your credit cards, your driver’s license, travel vouchers and the photo page of your passport. Email these to yourself as well as a family member or trusted friend and a travel companion. If your wallet, passport or travel documents are lost or stolen, you are prepared to quickly cancel credit cards, retrieve travel confirmations and expedite passport replacement by accessing any computer. When the unexpected happens, it can be heartbreaking. The ability to recover in short order can prevent a vacation disaster.

5 Tips for a Successful Wine Tasting Tour

We ran across the following article on our way to searching for other things. Enjoy!

White Wine Tasting

If you are considering a wine tasting tour, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

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  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

  • River Cruising Advisement #1

    The weather.  It can’t be predicted.  It can’t be guaranteed.  So, when is the best time to take a European river cruise?

    Uniworld Germany Rhine Valley

    September is the most popular time to take a river cruise in Europe, but also the most expensive. You’ll find lower prices during the months of November, December, March and April. The snow melt from the Alps swells Europe’s rivers in late April and May, at times so much that river vessels cannot sail under the ancient low bridges. June, July and August typically have the warmest weather but the ports are most crowded. And, severe heat and drought in the summer can cause water level to drop too low for river boat navigation. The fall usually means the end of the drought, but rains begin and the rivers start to swell again.

    OK, so what do the river cruise lines do?

    River cruise lines have developed a couple of alternative plans when rivers become impassable. One is to turn the remainder of the cruise into a bus tour, with passengers reaching destinations by bus and staying overnight in hotels. This is a solution Avalon Waterways®, a division of Globus® has successfully implemented. Otherwise, the vessel can operate day trips from a central docked location so the ship remains the passenger’s hotel. The ship then resumes its course when water levels return to normal.

    The other is to exchange ships à la Viking River Cruises. In cases where a line has two or more ships running the same river, often in different directions, passengers might be bussed around a high-water stretch and board a sister ship for the rest of the sailing. Since many riverboats have identical layouts, passengers can typically retrieve the same cabin number on the new ship with minimal hassle.

    Only in extreme circumstances will the cruise be cancelled entirely.

    Tauck® European River Cruising has dealt with the issues of water levels by developing an amusing animation video called Meet Europe’s “River Gods.” The video makes clear that sometimes the river gods are in a surly mood and they don’t want anyone traveling in their realm. But the video explains that your vacation will not be substandard since appropriate land arrangements will be substituted. Tauck® is prepared for the unexpected along Europe’s waterways

    Water levels can impact any river cruise. The best advice is to choose a river cruise line that is also experienced in land touring or has many ships along the rivers that can be swapped if a section of the river becomes impossible to negotiate.

    If you are considering a European river cruise, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

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  • TIPS FOR TROUBLE-FREE HOLIDAY TRAVEL!

    This holiday season, we at The Cruise Center, Inc. and www.TastefulJourneys.com would like to express our appreciation to our loyal clients.
    As we do throughout the rest of the year, we want to ensure that your travel experience is easy and hassle-free during this busy holiday travel season.

    Thousands of travelers will fly in and out of airports over the next few weeks, and our team is fully prepared and committed to keeping our clients informed so they get to their destinations safely and efficiently.

    To help simplify your journey, we’ve prepared a brief list of travel tips:

    • Make sure that the passenger names on the reservations are an exact match to their passports (this must be done before the tickets are issued.)

    Passenger names must match ID
    Passenger names must match ID

    • The purchase of optional travel insurance is strongly recommended. Allianz Travel Insurance

    • Reconfirm your flights with the airlines directly, at least 72 hours before departure (outbound and return).

    Reconfirm flights directly with the airline
    Reconfirm flights directly with the airline

    • New baggage restrictions apply for domestic and international travel. Your e-ticket confirmation e-mail notification will have a link for the baggage policy details, that are specific to your client’s trip. In addition, you may also contact the airlines directly or visit www.travelbaggage.info for more information.
    Check airline baggage allowance.
    Check airline baggage allowance.

    • Plan ahead: Airport security screening lines can be fast and efficient, but during peak periods, travelers should check-in with the airlines at least 3-4 hours prior to departure for international travel and at least 2 hours prior to departure for domestic USA travel. Late check-in may result in the cancellation of your reservations, and your tickets may not have any remaining value.
    Airport Check-in
    Allow plenty of time before your flight.

    • Have ID ready: Please have identification and boarding passes out when approaching the security checkpoint.
    Have your ID and boarding pass handy.
    Have your ID and boarding pass handy.

    • Follow the 3-1-1 rule: 3-ounce bottles or less for all liquids, gels and aerosols, placed in a 1-quart-size clear plastic zip-top bag to hold all small bottles, limited to 1 bag per passenger. Larger quantities of liquids may be packed in checked baggage.
    Limit liquids and gels in carry-on
    Follow the 3-1-1 rule

    • What to wear: Wear comfortable clothing and easy-to-slip-on shoes. Take everything out of pockets before screening. Don’t wear clothes with a high metal content, and put on heavy jewelry after you go through security.
    Comfortable Shoes
    Wear comfortable, easy-to-slip-on shoes

    • Wrapped presents: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) also recommends that passengers do not travel with wrapped packages in their carry-on bags.
    Pack wrapped presents in your checked luggage.
    Pack wrapped presents in your checked luggage.

    Travelers can find more security and travel tip information from the Transportation Security Administration (http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information).

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    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

  • 10 Ways to Stay Safe While Traveling

    Europe Express, a tour operator specializing in flexible independent travel, recently posted valuable safety tips worth passing along.

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    “Staying safe while traveling abroad is always top of mind. Most people aren’t dishonest, but those few bad apples or one unfortunate incident can blemish an amazing travel experience. We polled our travel specialists and created a list of tips for staying safe while traveling abroad.”

    1. Dress like a local – Many people have a perceived idea of what the quintessential American looks like: white sneakers, big camera, or sweatshirts with university logos. Staying away from these stereotypes when dressing can help travelers avoid drawing attention to themselves. Also, be wary of public displays of wealth – leave flashy jewelry and unnecessary expensive gadgets at home. Respect the local culture dress and traditions. Women, leave those low-cut blouses and shirts at home and dress more conservatively than you would at home. Tip for men: wear dark colored slacks or jeans~khaki is more common in North America.

    2. Separate money sources – Don’t leave all cash and credit/debit cards together as most do when they are at home. This is a safe guard against unfortunate events like theft – the phrase ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ is very true in this case. Use a “Port or Sightseeing Wallet”: A port wallet is separate from your real wallet. It only contains the items necessary to go out and about for the day and nothing else. If it is stolen, it becomes irrelevant simply because you already anticipate that it could go missing anyway. What’s in it?
    * Enough cash for the day’s activity
    * A debit or credit card with access to $1,000.00 immediately at an ATM
    * A copy of your driver’s license
    * A copy of your passport information page
    * A copy of the ship’s shore-side port contact information or a business card from the hotel
    * A copy of your travel insurance policy contact details.
    * A copy of any health issues that you may have and medications you may be taking
    * Complete emergency contact information
    Leave your real wallet in the safe at your hotel or on the ship and only take your port wallet with you to tour. If your port wallet is stolen, you can easily cancel your debit / credit card and replace the documentation with a second port wallet for the rest of your trip.

    Continue reading 10 Ways to Stay Safe While Traveling

    5 Travel Tips Before You Leave Home

    You’ve just booked a fantastic international travel adventure. Terrific! Now what?

    You know you’ll need a passport, but did you know that when traveling to some destinations a valid passport may not be enough.

    Check the Expiration Date
    Certain destinations such as Russia, China, Brazil and Ecuador require your passport to be valid for at least six months beyond your return date. European countries typically require a passport to be valid at least three months after your return. OK, so where do you find out? The best source of online information is from the US State Department’s web site section on International Travel.

    http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

    Simply select the country that will be visited, then click on the “Entry / Exit Requirements” link. Not only will the information tell you how long a passport has to be valid, it also offers information about visas and how to obtain one if needed.

    Plus, you have great access to lots of other country-specific information, health information, and travel warnings.

    Oops! Need a passport in a hurry?

    Continue reading 5 Travel Tips Before You Leave Home

    Travel Tips

    Check out the latest airline travel tips from The Wall Street Journal. (A shoe in your in-room safe? Really?)

    Planning a vacation? Please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

  • Preparing For A Hurricane Tips

    For vacationers to the Caribbean, fall is an ideal time for fewer crowds and, typically, great prices. Another plus for couples traveling is the fact that children have gone back to school. But wait! It’s also hurricane season. June 1 through November 30 is commonly known as “Hurricane Season” in North America. And, with hurricane Irene bearing down on the East Coast, many travel suppliers have executed storm preparations.

    Caribbean Beach
    Oceania Cruises Caribbean

    Even at the peak of the season — late August to mid October — the chances of a hurricane spoiling your trip are fairly low. But in case a nasty storm is predicted, here are a few tips:

    Continue reading Preparing For A Hurricane Tips

    Handy New Free Travel App From Austrian Tourist Office

    Sailing on a Danube river cruise that includes Vienna or other Austrian ports-of-call? A new and free smartphone application called “Austria. Unique Like You” was recently unveiled by the Austrian Tourist Office. Available for iPhones, Blackberry as well as Android phones, the app is designed as a personal guide to travel experiences in Austria. The app pledges “one-of-a-kind suggestions and ideas for discovery and exploration beyond the ordinary,” as well as an easy slider system for accessing travel information based on the user’s interests. The app is not only designed for the pre-planning stage, but is also a handy tool while in Austria. The “Near Me” feature promises that users can easily access sites around them using their GPS.

    Viennese Cuisine
    World-Class Dining In Vienna

    Continue reading Handy New Free Travel App From Austrian Tourist Office