Travel Tips

Travel TipsTraveling Tips That Will Get You Far And Save!

If you are traveling overseas, it’s a wise strategy to join using the Clever Traveler Enrollment System (STEP), a complimentary federal government services for inhabitants of America who are now living in a foreign nation or are planning to go to one. Providing Stage along with your contact info and some information on your trip enables these people to contact you in case there is an emergency and to counsel you of travel cautions and alerts.

If you wish to journey abroad, try out learning about the language. It is possible to get small books which contain all the important words and phrases, in case you go missing or need to have something. Tend not to think that everyone will talk the English language and people may well be more friendly if you try talking their language.

Have a photograph of the suitcases in advance. This makes it quicker to determine your travelling bag if it becomes lost. Many parts of luggage seem very similar, and it can be tough to recall the attributes of your bag which make it diverse. Also, if you are vacationing worldwide, an overseas clerk may not fully understand English but they’ll understand a photo.

When you are traveling using a toddler, preparing plus a properly-loaded case are crucial. Pack a case with everything that your toddler needs. Incorporate comfort and ease goods that will aid her feel better. Create a list of items that you utilize on your toddler every day, like system cleanse, shampoo, lotion, combs, diapers, child wipes, and so on. Creating a record will help reduce the risk of forgetting to pack something.

Give some thought to picking up have-out menus and employing them as your travel souvenirs. By eating with a especially good way, request a duplicate of your menus and make a note of everything you ate on it. These menus may help you keep in mind everything you appreciated as well as let you seek out similar food in your area.

If the journey does not have precise times that need to be adhered to, adapt your time structure by way of a time or two when looking for bargains. Evaluate each of the accessible vacation and resort fees for the two full week period of time about your journey windowpane. You may find there presently exists particular prices which are precise to such dates and you can reduce costs by being adaptive.

When you are traveling aboard, ensure your passport is not really expired. In the turmoil of get yourself ready for a visit, may very well not understand your passport has expired. You may renew your passport by postal mail as much ahead of time as one year prior to it is set up to expire and up to two years following it has presently expired.

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Lonely Planet names new attractions worth visiting this year

A rare quokka appeared!
Image: flickr/ruerto42

It’s safe to say there’s an abundance of choice when it come to place to visit in Australia from urban landmarks like the Sydney Opera House to natural ones like Uluru or the Great Barrier Reef.

But according to Lonely Planet’s New In 2017 list, there are two stand-out destinations you’ve been overlooking.

One of which is Pinky’s Eco Retreat and Beach Club, opening in December 2017. It’s located on Rottnest Island in Western Australia, famous for its shameful colonial history, as well as its beaches and the so-called “happiest animal in the world,” the quokka.

The marsupial is internet famous, thanks to its adorable looks and gentle nature, making it a popular animal for selfies.

Just look at that face.

A photo posted by Geocaching (@geocaching) on

Quokka + me + forehead vein make three!

A photo posted by Bridget Over Troubled Water. (@bridgetmalcolm) on

When you’ve got your fill of cuteness, the freshly-opened Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is another stand-out attraction.

It’s not for the faint-hearted, however. The trek is 61 kilometres (41 miles) long, and will take approximately five days to complete.

The rewards are immense though, as you stroll “through forests and along clifftops, beaches and freshwater lagoons, passing abundant wildlife as well as photogenic natural formations like Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch,” according to Lonely Planet.

If the journey to Australia is too long, there’s plenty of other new places on the list.

Like Philadelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution, set to open in April. It’s dedicated to the volatile time U.S. history, arguably fitting considering the country’s political climate today.

There’s also LAVA, a centre dedicated to Iceland’s volcanoes and earthquakes, which even has an earthquake simulator for the uninitiated.

Or for the style conscious, Muses Yves Saint Laurent in Paris and Morocco are two museums dedicated to the fashion luminary.

Better revisit your travel “to do” list, we say.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/01/06/quokka-travel-lonely-planet-australia/

Koh Samui Travel Guide

(CNN)Gazing on the developing island of today: Five-star hotels. Upmarket dining scene. Plentiful shopping.

While the isle’s built-up northern and eastern coasts increasingly cater to the tourists, in the south and west locals still stick to the simple life, and traditions that brought backpackers on rickety fishing boats from the mainland to this island paradise in the first place.

    Dining

    Barracuda
    One of the most noticeable tenants of The Wharf — a 24,000-square-meter open-air mall opened in 2015 at the western end of Samui’s Bo Phut walking street — is Barracuda.
    The stylish concrete and chrome restaurant sits close to the sand.
    Run by German Ferdinand Dienst, it serves Mediterranean-influenced dishes using local ingredients — 80% of the seafood comes from the surrounding waters.
    All its vegetables are locally and organically grown.
    Barracuda’s concept is winningly simple: serve fresh, high quality product on a small menu that changes frequently, with service to match.
    Chez Francois
    It’s rare to come across a restaurant that earns universal acclaim, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone with a bad word to say about chef Francois Porte’s Chez Francois.
    Guests enter on a street close to the Fisherman’s Village through a large, ornate door into a cozy space with black and white checkered floors, and a large wooden centerpiece table.
    At the back is a small bar. The menu changes daily, depending on what Porte finds at the market. Reservations are a must.
    Stacked
    From the yellow-bricked open kitchen to the bare-light-bulb chandelier to the electric green neon surfboard sign, the design at Stacked is contemporary and comfortable.
    The menu is full of classics like grilled Caesar salad, New England clam chowder and a selection of steaks.
    But Stacked is most famous for its burgers.
    For those that feel up to it, the Stacked Burger Challenge consists of four burgers and eight strips of bacon in a black sesame seed bun served with double fries and double slaw.
    It’s free to anyone who can finish the monster in 20 minutes — otherwise it costs THB1,000 ($28).
    The Larder
    The expat duo behind this favorite “decided Samui was lacking a down-to-earth eatery where the atmosphere is warm and welcoming, without the food dropping in standard.”
    They came up with The Larder, a pretension-free European gourmet restaurant — if you have a little beach sand on you, that’s cool.
    Menu offerings include chicken breast and liver pate, Spanish chorizo and potato minestrone, and Serrano ham with soft-boiled quails eggs, glazed cauliflower and wild rocket.
    Fine food, island vibe.
    Tough to beat.
    Cafe 69
    When he quit his job at one of the island’s five-star resorts, chef Vivian opened his own restaurant, the cheekily named Cafe 69.
    The interior is as colorful as the owner, with glittering silver tablecloths, turquoise walls and an oversized 69-shaped ceiling light, casting its glow on diners.
    The food, perhaps best summed up as Thai with a twist, is similarly inventive.
    Green curry pie with mango and fettuccine tom yum goong carbonara are solid examples.
    The small space can fill up quickly, so booking ahead is recommended.
    Closed on Sundays.
    Krua Chao Baan
    A best of Koh Samui beachfront feast for locals and visitors, this restaurant is a well-kept secret among lovers of fresh local seafood.
    The vast menu includes interesting southern delicacies like gaeng som, a popular local sour curry, as well as a full list of Thai favorites.
    The red snapper with chili and mango salad is a treat, as are tiger prawns in tamarind sauce, if available.
    Everything goes well with coconut juice straight from the tree.
    Diners needn’t worry about stuffing their face — they can always work off the calories by going for a post-meal paddle in the restaurant’s kayaks, offered free of charge.
    Think
    It’s hard to miss this funky little cafe.
    Not just because of its location — in the middle of the west coast, a few kilometers south of Koh Samui’s capital of Nathon — but because it’s made from recycled shipping containers, refitted and daubed in bold yellow, red, blue and orange.
    The fence of colorfully painted old tires is also an attention getter.
    Like many establishments in the southern Thai islands, Think has adopted a hippie-beachcomber, ramshackle decor.
    The collection of chairs and tables set in the sand at its covered entrance is the best place to watch the sunset with a drink in hand.
    Rock Salt
    British chef David Lloyd has worked at a number of Michelin-starred restaurants.
    His own Rock Salt occupies a classic tropical beach-side restaurant setting, with bamboo ceiling, chunky wooden furnishings and bohemian decorations.
    The food from a chef who has cooked for the likes of Tom Jones and Kate Moss is superb.
    Immaculately presented dishes include wagyu hash with sous-vide poached eggs.
    Starfish & Coffee
    With its warm Mediterranean decor and beach-side terrace in the heart of Bophut Fisherman’s Village, Starfish, as it’s known, is always abuzz with vacationers.
    An eclectic, occasionally quirky menu of Thai and Western dishes complements the restaurant’s fresh daily seafood offerings, the latter displayed on ice out front and cooked fresh to your taste.
    A distinct French influence means there’s a good wine selection and desirably dangerous desserts, such as the ever-popular mango and sticky rice.
    Named after a Prince song, the restaurant opens at noon so no chance of eating its butterscotch clouds and tangerines for breakfast.

    Nightlife

    9Gems
    9Gems is part luxury villa, part upscale lounge.
    There’s fusion food, tapas and cocktails, all served hillside, with great views over Chaweng Lake stretching to the beach.
    “Miami Vice” meets Buddha Bar — this best of Koh Samui place offers the white linen brigade a sassy place to splash its cash.
    Air Bar
    High on the west coast, at the pinnacle of the InterContinental Samui Baan Talin Ngam Resort, Air Bar is consistently rated as the best place in Samui to watch the sunset.
    It consists of a large open deck and stylish square, back-lit bar that juts out over the hillside, flanked by an array of sofas and armchairs all facing out to the vast ocean view.
    Getting there around 5 p.m. helps secure a front row seat.
    The cocktail menu is excellent, created by Bangkok-based mixologist Joseph Boroski.
    Woo Bar
    In the battle of scenic places from which to watch the sunset, Woo sets the bar high.
    There’s the infinity pool, with sunken, circular loungers, book-ended by a large white “W,” which reflects in the water.
    The amazing views northward look toward Koh Phang An — particularly stunning as dusk falls and the lights come on.
    A DJ is on hand nightly from 6-11 p.m.
    Drinks promotions include Thursday’s “Mo-Hee-Toe Madness” — free flow of 10 signature cocktails for a small price (about $36) supplies lubricant for the evening.
    Nikki Beach
    Nikki Beach Samui is part of the legendary global network of beach clubs founded in Miami in 1997, with branches in St. Tropez, Marrakech, Ibiza, Bali and — until it closed in the summer of 2015 — Phuket.
    The brand identity is glamor and indulgence,
    Starched white umbrellas shelter wealthy patrons sipping on champagne while they listen to DJ beats.
    Immaculately dressed guests, often head-to-toe in white linen, start to arrive around noon and occupy the plush daybeds until late.
    Bees Knees Brewpub
    The Bee’s Knees is, so far, the island’s only brewpub.
    But it’s swiftly developed a great reputation for its beers.
    These include Summer Bee, a pilsner-style lager and Wheaty Bee, made from German and Australian malts.
    The owner is usually around to explain the brewing process, which takes place in massive tanks visible through a glass divider.
    Green Mango Road
    A few clubs in Chaweng manage to regularly fill their dance floors.
    The best of Koh Samui nightlife in one area is Chaweng’s Green Mango Road, which has an aircraft hangar-like club of the same name.
    Another top club to hit on the Green Mango strip is Solo, popular with the late-night crowd and known for bringing in a regular rotation of quality DJs from around the world.

    Wellness

    Samahita Retreat
    This calming yoga and wellness retreat is located in the rural southern part of the island.
    Meaning “balanced” in Sanskrit, Samahita offers a range of classical yoga practices and meditative techniques, as well as personalized detox and de-stress programs.
    Guests vary from beginners to experienced, singles to families.
    Located on the beach, the center is committed to environmentally friendly practices, including solar-powered hot water, rainwater harvesting and cultivating its own fruit trees and herb garden.
    55/20-24 Moo 4 T. Namuang, Taling Ngam; +66 7792 0090; samahitaretreat.com
    The Spa Samui Beach Resort
    This beachfront resort has been selling Samui as a center of the wellness universe for more than 20 years.
    Now with two locations — the other is in the hills overlooking Lamai Beach — the two decades since it opened have seen it attract people from all around the world for intriguing treatments that include hypnotherapy, Hawaiian healing and astrology.
    The vibe is relaxed, with a convivial atmosphere that encourages guests to share their experiences and bond in a beautiful setting.
    A shuttle runs regularly between the two locations.
    171/2 Moo 3, Lamai Beach, +66 7723 0855; thesparesorts.net
    The Sanctuary
    Koh Samui may not be far enough removed from your daily grind.
    If that’s the case, a slow ferry north to a little bay called Had Tien on the neighboring isle of Koh Phanga reveals a magical little oasis.
    Be warned though, things here are rustic.
    There’s no land line phone or permanent electricity, and it’s strictly cash only.
    But that’s the attraction.
    Along with yoga and detox treatments, there’s a fun lineup of weekly events, including “movies under the stars” on Tuesdays and open mic nights on Thursdays.
    Koh Phangan, +66 81 271 3614; thesanctuarythailand.com

    Beaches

    Picking which strip of Samui sand to plop down on depends on whether you’re looking for white sands with no crowds or want to lay in front of a beach bar run by dudes who never seem to tire of listening to Bob Marley.
    For action, the busiest strip of sand in town is Chaweng Beach.
    It has the most concentrated accommodations and best nightlife.
    Though crowded, it’s a nice beach with white sand and turquoise waters.
    Second on the popularity scale is Lamai Beach.
    Not as busy as Chaweng, but with plenty of hotel options and a lovely beach, it’s an alternative for traveling families who want to be in the thick of the action but without the wild nights.
    Other good options include Choeng Mon, Bophut, Lipa Noi and Maenam.
    If views of neighboring Ang Thong National Park are preferable to fine sand, there’s Taling Ngam, which sits in a remote corner of Koh Samui. Keep in mind, this one is really far from the action.

    Adventure

    Kiteboarding
    Learning kiteboarding skills takes energy and commitment.
    But vacationers can still nurse a hangover and give it a go.
    Koh Samui is one of several Thailand beach destinations that attracts fans of the sport, thanks to the island’s optimal wind conditions.
    For lessons, there’s the Samui branch of Kiteboarding Asia.
    Island hopping
    Ang Thong Marine Park is reachable on a day trip, and deserted enough to offer unspoiled Crusoe charm.
    “The Beach” may have been filmed elsewhere, but it was this 42-island archipelago that provided the inspiration — a truly stunning spot to snorkel, dive, lie on the beach or kayak.
    One of the park’s islands, Maekoh, has its own emerald inland lake.
    Most hotels and Koh Samui travel agencies offer a variety of Ang Thong tours.
    Diving
    Because Samui is essentially a sand island, the water just offshore can be murky.
    In other words, the island’s dive options suck.
    But there are inspiring snorkeling and dive trips that leave Samui daily for nearby islands like Koh Phangan and Koh Tao and Ang Thong Marine Park.
    For snorkelers, the waters around the much-photographed islets at Koh Nang Yuan, off Koh Tao, are often fishbowl clear.
    Sail Rock is a popular world-class dive site halfway between Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, one of the few places in the world where you can dive with whale sharks.
    Sightings generally are present between March and August.
    Koh Tao itself has more than 30 dive sites and considerably more schools and operators.
    The 100 Degrees East Dive Team limits the number of divers/snorkelers per trip and heads for less-visited areas or gets to the popular ones early to avoid the crowds.
    Ziplining
    Not all the action in Samui takes place on the water.
    There’s also flying through tropical treetops strapped into a harness while snatching glimpses of the glistening coast below.
    The rides at Canopy Adventures, which claims to be Asia’s first cable ride, are set in one of Samui’s least spoiled patches of forest, near Mae Nam on the northwest coast.
    Altogether there are 15 cable rides, with 21 treetop platforms, totaling some 2,000 meters.
    A secret waterfall for a cool-off awaits along the way.
    Golf
    Koh Samui has two mountainside golf country clubs — Santiburi and the Royal Samui Golf — with above-par views from the tees.
    At Santiburi, carts are mandatory and absolutely necessary. The course takes players up, down and around a wide area, offering fantastic views that challenge you to keep your mind on the game.
    Magic Buddha Garden
    Hidden in the mists of Koh Samui’s hillside jungle, the Magic Buddha Garden is a mystical anomaly created by local septuagenarian fruit farmer Nimm Thongsuk.
    Along a mountain stream, Uncle Nimm built statues and sculptures that portray various deities and mythical creatures.
    It’s an oddball, best of Koh Samui attractions that’s worth including on an island tour, in addition to the usual Big Buddha and Grandfather/Grandmother (penis/vagina) rock stops.
    The final climb up to the garden can be a little steep.

    Getting there

    By air
    As Samui International Airport is privately owned by Bangkok Airways, the only carriers flying in are the airline itself, plus some flights operated by Thai Airways and Silk Air.
    However, international connections are easy via Bangkok.
    Bangkok Airways flies direct to more than a dozen destinations throughout the region.
    By ferry
    A variety of fast and slow ferries connects mainland Surat Thani with Koh Samui, arriving and departing from piers at Nathon, Lipa Noi, Bang Rak and Mae Nam.
    If you’re traveling through southern Thailand by car (which makes for a scenic road trip), regular car ferries run every hour from 5 a.m.-7 p.m.

    Location transportation

    Airport transfers
    Most hotels provide airport transfers, but for a slightly cheaper option there’s an official airport taxi counter, where you pay the fare in advance.
    Local cabs aren’t metered so, for example, it’s usually 400 baht ($11) for a 10-minute ride to Bophut.
    It’s 100 baht ($3) in a shared mini-bus if you’re not on a tight schedule.
    Car rentals
    If you plan to do more than hang out on the beach, the easiest way to get around the island is by car.
    The airport has several rental counters — Avis, Budget, Hertz, Europcar — each offering a fleet of sedans, SUVs, minivans and jeeps.
    Local companies such as TA Car Rent usually have lower rates than the big brands and flexible drop-off and return locations.
    Motorbikes
    Motorbike rentals are about 150-250 baht ($4-7) per day depending on the bike’s condition.
    Despite many people driving without them, Thai law requires wearing a helmet.
    The island has one of the highest road fatality rates in the country. Legend has it the only activity that’s deadlier is sitting under a coconut tree.
    Songthaew
    A safe way to get around is to flag down a converted red pickup (songthaew), the island’s non-scheduled public transportation. Prices range from 30-80 baht per ride for short distances.
    For longer distances, the rule of thumb is 100 baht ($3) per beach you want to travel to (for example, 300 baht from Chaweng to Bophut).

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/18/travel/insider-guide-koh-samui/index.html

    How to pack your laptop so it doesn’t get completely destroyed

    What to do in case this is no longer an option for you
    Image: Shutterstock / Aureliy

    Search the internet about how to pack your laptop in checked luggage, and you’ll find a recurring theme: don’t.

    But, in light of the new electronic device restrictions being implemented for flights into the United States from 10 international airports, some travelers won’t have a choice anymore.

    For passengers affected by the restriction, there are only two options: ship your laptop to your destination or put it in your checked luggage. Well, there’s a third option don’t take your laptop that’s not so realistic for business travelers.

    Let’s break down your best options for a crummy situation.

    Placing the laptop in a checked bag

    Having to pack your laptop in a checked bag is hardly ideal, as it puts the laptop at risk of damage and increases the chance of it being lost or stolen. But if you’re affected by the new restrictions, you simply have no choice so here are some things to remember.

    First, it’s important to consider what’s on the laptop you’re taking along. The best plan is to use a wiped laptop meaning nothing important is on the hard drive. Put any data you need to keep on a thumb drive or a small external hard drive that you can carry on with you. Also, back your laptop data up to your phone or to the cloud.

    In the event you have to use your laptop and it isn’t wipeable, consider removing any documents or files that would reveal your personal information. If you’re super paranoid, you could remove your hard drive, though you might need professional help to do so.

    Consider investing in a laptop case and insuring the laptop. It won’t prevent theft or loss, but it’ll help prevent serious damage to the computer, and you’ll get a payout if anything happens to it.

    You can also wrap the damn thing in layers of bubble wrap; there’s really no such thing as overkill in this situation. And make sure you pad the laptop in the middle of your suitcase, surrounded by clothes and anything else you can get in there to help soften the blow.

    Baggage locks are another item to consider if you want to protect against theft, but, remember, if baggage checkers want to get in to your luggage, they’ll have no problem simply cutting the lock off. And a lock doesn’t protect against damage, so you can still crack a screen even if you think the laptop is snug and secure.

    Shipping your laptop

    This option is even less ideal than placing the laptop in your checked bag because outside of posing the same risks damage, loss or theft it’s also prohibitively expensive for most travelers. Based on UPS’s shipping calculator, shipping a MacBook Air from Dubai to New York, depending on how much you claim for its value, will run you anywhere from $350 to $500.

    It’s your choice to make, but if you insist on shipping as the option, you still should take the same precautions you would checking it: wipe the computer and back up your data.

    At that point, it’s all about the packaging. That note above about a laptop case? Definitely buy one. No amount of bubblewrap will save your laptop from damage when it’s tossed around like a football in the back of whatever truck or plane it winds up on.

    Oh, and don’t be dumb and use a box that’s way too big for your laptop. You don’t buy XXL t-shirts if you fit into an L, do you?

    For further help, Google and YouTube are your friends.

    Again, neither of these options are ideal, but it’s better to be prepared as the new restrictions roll out. The luggage option actually seems the less terrible of the two, but just barely.

    These restrictions likely won’t go away any time soon we’re still screening our shoes 16 years after that incident so if you’re a frequent traveler through any of the affected airports, investing in laptop cases and lots of bubblewrap is in your future.

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/03/22/packing-and-shipping-a-laptop/

    Asia travel: Top luxury holiday homes for travelers who shun hotels

    (CNN)Will the linens be up to snuff?

    Were the espresso beans sourced locally?
      Is there a chef who can meet my family’s diverse dietary needs?
      Such details might sound horribly pedantic to some travelers.
      But to those paying upwards of $10,000-a-night for a vacation home rental, it’s the little things that matter.
      And for the world’s cash-rich/time-poor crowd, that means entrusting someone to make sure these essentials are covered.
      Enter the luxury travel destination club, which offers members access to super high end vacation homes and hotels while also playing something of a concierge role.
      The concept has long been popular in the US market, with players such as Quintess, Solstice and Inspirato offering a variety of programs for luxury vacation seekers.
      And now, it’s arrived in Asia.

      Lifestyle consultants and on-site concierges

      Afini's

      Launched in November 2016, Singapore-based Afini refers to itself as a “bespoke luxury travel destination club that crafts customized journeys for its members at exclusively managed residences and iconic hotels across the world.”
      Membership costs $8,888 while the annual renewal fee is $2,000.
      “Members are paired with a personal lifestyle consultant who will oversee that every component of their holiday is prepared prior to departure, promising a hassle free vacation,” says John Blanco, co-founder and CEO of Afini.
      “Each residence has an on-site concierge who will ensure that every detail is perfectly executed and to assist with any additional requests.”
      Blanco says because Afini controls and manages most of its residence collection, members get access to properties at nightly rates averaging 20-60% below market rates for comparable properties.
      So far, he says they’ve received particularly high interest from luxury travelers in Hong Kong and Singapore.
      “Each and every Afini residence goes through a meticulous vetting process and only the finest properties are selected,” he adds.
      “Our operations team then goes in and installs our Afini touches ranging from the Rivolta Carmignani bed linens and towels to locally sourced coffee beans in a state of the art espresso machine.”
      What types of properties will Asia’s luxury seekers get access to? We asked Afini to share some of the top homes in its collection, which can be viewed in the gallery above.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/19/travel/asia-luxury-destination-club/index.html

      Chinese park installs facial recognition software to stop toilet paper thieves

      Beijing (CNN)It seems like the pettiest of powder room problems, but apparently toilet paper theft has gotten so bad at the Temple of Heaven Park in Beijing, authorities have installed facial recognition software in the stalls.

      In order to get a few sheets, visitors now need to make eye contact with a computer before the dispenser spits out a serving of TP. The facial recognition program keeps the dispenser from offering another round to the same person; if you need more, you reportedly need to sit tight — literally — for nine whole minutes.
      Visitors say the biggest targets of this new crackdown are older people who stuff their bags and pockets full of toilet paper to take back home.
        “Many old people come here for free toilet paper. They were probably born in 1940s or 1950s,” said Wu Qingqi, a visitor to the park. “During that time, people were very poor. And they somehow still are in fear of being poor. Other migrant workers come here too.”
        The people CNN spoke to said that while the process can be inconvenient, it’s a necessary evil.
        “I think it’s necessary. There are many people wasting public resources,” Wu said.
        “They should have done this decades ago,” said Zhang Shaomin, who is retired and visits the park frequently.

        What about privacy?

        The whole idea of having to introduce yourself to a machine before getting toilet paper may seem very “1984,” but China has a different relationship with public bathrooms and personal freedoms than say, the United States. In some areas, Wu said, people will walk to a public bathroom rather than use their own.
        Many public restrooms in China do not provide toilet paper, and visitors are expected to bring their own. But due to the growing number of both domestic and international tourists, the country is in the process of revamping and adding thousands of public toilets that are more in line with foreign travelers’ expectations.
        While privacy may be an issue, it takes a backseat for many to eliminating the problem of paper-nappers.
        “You can do nothing about it even though it’s related to personal privacy,” said Liu Mei, a housewife visiting the park. “People come here for free toilet paper, they have already lost their self dignity. Do you think they would understand what personal privacy is?”

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/20/world/china-toilet-paper-thieves-face-recognition-trnd/index.html

        Never-ending honeymoon: In El Nido, a retreat built from romance

        (CNN)“Get dropped off at the road by Las Cabanas beach about four kilometers (2.5 miles) outside of El Nido Town.

        “Walk all the way to the end of the beach, then ask the people at the coconut stand for Mark and Camille’s house.”
        Those are the instructions to find The Birdhouse — a new jungle glamping retreat in El Nido, a remote corner of Palawan island in the southwestern Philippines.
          The hard-to-find address is the brainchild of Mark-Anthony and Camille Dimson Villaflor, who built The Birdhouse after traveling around the world on a 16-month-long honeymoon — documented on their blog 365 Travel Dates.
          Inspired by the couple’s transformative trip around the world, the rustic-luxe tents offer a romantic refuge for honeymooners and adventure travelers.

          A year-long honeymoon

          The Villaflors’ love story started in 2009 when they met through a friend.
          Two years later, Mark was down on one knee at the W Hong Kong, proposing to the tune of Train’s “Marry Me.”
          The pair legally wed two months later.
          “I moved from Singapore to Shanghai where Mark was working and we lived together for the first time,” says Camille Villaflor.
          “That first year was hard. We were fighting all the time.”
          A teacher at the time, Mark pitched his new wife a crazy idea: What if they took a year-long honeymoon?
          “It sounded like the coolest thing ever, how can you say no?” she recalls. “But we were doing well with money and had proper jobs … We were just going to leave all of that to go on a sabbatical?”

          Making it work

          It started with a trial run. The couple spent 40 days backpacking through Cambodia and western China.
          After the experience, the adventurous duo returned to Shanghai feeling refreshed.
          “We knew then that travel was our common ground,” remembers Camille, who is originally from Manila.
          “Instead of focusing on each other and our flaws, we were distracted by the amazing things we were seeing and we felt so grateful for the experiences.”
          Convinced that a year-long honeymoon was totally doable, the couple began saving for the trip.

          Taking off

          One week (or more) in this paradise. Big Lagoon, El Nido, Palawan. #travel #backpacking #365traveldates #banca #philippines #elnido #smartbrotrips #agodalens #tourismphl #wheninmanila

          A post shared by mark + camille villaflor (@365traveldates) on

          The couple took on several part-time jobs and worked weekends, investing 40-50% of their income each month towards the travel fund.
          Mark estimated they could get by on about $100 a day, or $3,000 a month.
          Once they had saved $30,000, the couple packed up two rucksacks — a 28-pound backpack for Camille and a 44-pound bag for Mark — and set out for the US to begin their journey.
          They took advantage of credit card travel promotions, collecting redeemable points and rewards. Mark estimates they opened 10 to 15 cards by the end of the trip.
          The couple also worked along the way, taking on everything from check-in services at hostels to social media management, design consultation, blog reviews — even mopping floors.
          “We had figured out blogging and social media by the fourth month or so, so we started pitching places — trading reviews and advertising for accommodations,” says Mark.

          Building the Birdhouse

          After 16 months abroad, Mark got a job offer in Austria.
          To arrange visas, the couple had to apply in their countries of residence.
          That meant flying to the US to take care of Mark’s passport and then over to Manila for Camille’s.
          While waiting for Camille’s visa to be approved, the couple ventured to El Nido — a pristine corner of the southwestern Philippines.
          Meaning “the nest” in Spanish, the remote beachside area is home to beautiful turquoise water and imposing limestone cliffs.
          They hosted travel workshops while scouting out potential real estate investments on the island.
          The couple could see that El Nido was due for a tourist boom.
          They came across a half-acre plot of wild jungle, set back from the beach on a mountain.

          The mighty jungle

          “The terrain was very thick,” remembers Camille. “Mark went up and took me up later and we fell in love with the view. We decided to buy it — it was a no-brainer. “
          They bought the land in November 2015 and began building in February 2016.
          “We had been unemployed for a year and a half, so we ended up selling a property in Manila to fund the construction,” says Mark.
          Coming off a year of liberating travel, it wasn’t the most glamorous transition.
          “We came from being totally free to working around-the-clock on construction,” remembers Camille.
          “We had no electricity except fireflies in our room. We had no running water. It was rainy season and we were collecting rainwater and using it to shower and everything.”
          “But we had a home,” Mark interjects.

          Enter the love nest

          Six months later The Birdhouse opened with three glamping tents — which the couple dubs “nests” — and a communal lodge overlooking Marimegmeg Beach.
          It’s so “off-the-beaten path” the couple had to build their own trail.
          From the aforementioned coconut stand, hand-drawn wooden markers pegged to tree trunks lead travelers over bamboo bridges and deeper into the jungle.
          After the short trek, a stairwell leads travelers up a steep mountainside where contemporary tents are visible between the tree branches.
          At the top, a treehouse-like lodge dubbed the “Mother Nest” triples as a lobby, restaurant and Mark and Camille’s home.
          Designed by Camille, the communal house has an eclectic vibe, featuring romantic hanging bamboo chairs, Moroccan-style rugs, a library of travel books and a ukulele.
          The couple’s cat lounges in the late afternoon sun, while guests enjoy a home-cooked meal and views of Bacuit Bay.
          Below the main lodge, each tent sits on a platform in the trees, with a small porch to take in the sea view and a night sky full of stars.
          Inside the canvas flaps, there’s a queen-size bed, a yellow carpet and locally made wooden furnishings.

          Keeping El Nido green

          But The Birdhouse aims to be more than just a unique getaway.
          The short-term goal? A completely self-sustainable restaurant and retreat.
          As for the bigger picture, Mark and Camille are in the process of introducing a waste-management nonprofit, with an aim to work with more hotels in the area and protect El Nido’s natural beauty amid an uptick in tourism.
          The municipal tourism office estimated that El Nido received 12,000 monthly arrivals in 2015 — up from 10,000 in 1994.
          “What normally happens in El Nido is that the waste management is viewed as an expense by hotels,” explains Shyo Sayajon, the retreat’s full-time permaculture designer.
          “Hotels transfer most of the expense to the local government, which is required to manage waste. Sadly, the local government doesn’t manage the waste effectively and ecologically.”
          A former government employee, Sayajon moved into the field to make a more direct impact on the environment.
          Sayajon has implemented several solutions at The Birdhouse so far, including composting, water recycling, natural water storage and organic gardening.
          “I don’t think El Nido has even started to boom. But it’s coming,” says Mark.
          “We want to present an eco-friendly lifestyle for other people and be an example for other hotels in El Nido to replicate.”

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/19/travel/honeymoon-bird-house-el-nido-philippines/index.html

          Twitter asks ‘Has Donald landed yet?’ as bombshell reports hit during his flight

          Trump took off from Andrews Air Force Base Friday.
          Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

          After a week in which the New York Times and Washington Post traded bombshell reports, the pair dropped two scoops just as Donald likes at the same time Friday.

          The timing was odd several hours earlier than the daily reports from earlier in the week and inconvenient for Trump, who had just boarded a looong flight to Saudi Arabia.

          The news lit up Twitter as we simultaneously learned that a) Trump reportedly called FBI Director James Comey a “real nut job” to the Russians and claimed firing him would take “great pressure” off the president and b) someone close to Trump is now under scrutiny in the Russia investigation.

          (Unless you were watching Fox Newsthen you would have been deep into a story about dam repairs.)

          As the news rippled out, one pressing concern rocked Twitter: Has Donald landed yet?

          The hashtag refers back to the whole Justine Sacco incident, when a corporate communications director made an inappropriate joke on Twitter and then boarded a flight for 11 hours. #HasJustineLandedYet became the internet’s obsession for a full half day as the outrage grew.

          This time, however, it relates to a current president and a massive ongoing scandal so just a bit more serious. Also, Donald reportedly has Wi-Fi on Air Force One, so he could potentially tweet a response and end it at any minute.

          In the meantime, though, Twitter had a field day.

          Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/19/trump-reports-plane-landed-twitter/

          The secret history of Ellis Island

           (Reuters)

          Between 1892 and 1954, immigrants arriving on the shores of the United States passed below the towering face of Lady Liberty before docking at Ellis Island. A processing center for more than 12 million people, Ellis Island earned the dubious nickname of the Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears.

          Following its close, Ellis Island was transformed into a museum. Every year, visitors come for a glimpse at the historical gateway to New York Cityincluding the Renaissance Revival architecture featuring intricate Guastavino tiling. But a place like Ellis Island is not without its share of mysteries and unknown facts.

          Ellis Island was once barely even an island

          If you go back a few centuries, you’ll find that the site of Ellis Island was merely part of a tidal flat colonized by oysters, which were an important food source for the native Lenape people. One of the flats was eventually dubbed Gibbet Island (after some pirates were publicly hanged there) before being purchased by Samuel Ellis (whose name stuck around). Eventually, the island became the site of Fort Gibson and continued to function as a military base for much of the 1800s. It wasnt until railroad construction in the Northeast required a place for land filling that the island grew in size.

          Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2017/01/12/secret-history-ellis-island.html

          This Website Lets You Travel Around The World If You Agree To Take Care Of Other Peoples Pets

          Imagine yourself getting to stay at the most amazing accommodations when travelling – from French farmhouses to Australian beach villas – all in exchange for looking after an adorable furbaby. A company called Trusted Housesitters allows you to do just that for around $100 a year.

          The concept is simple, yet genius – it connects people wanting to travel the world, but feeling guilty about leaving their pets behind, with trustworthy, vetted travellers who would love to look after their house and pets in exchange for accommodation.

          To secure the most breathtaking houses to stay at, you’ll need to build a good reputation. But that’s relatively easy to do if you’re willing to petsit in your town in exchange for reviews. Your chances of scoring that dream mansion getaway are higher if you also make sure to get someone to write you a character reference and have your ID documents checked online.

          Then you’re ready to hit the road and get to housesit that three-storey mansion you’ve always dreamed about – while enjoying the most charming four-legged company. Some people quit their jobs to do it!

          Imagine yourself getting to stay at the top houses when travelling – all in exchange for looking after pets

          A company called Trusted Housesitters allows you to do just that for around $100 a year

          It connects people wanting to travel the world, but feeling guilty about leaving their pets behind…

          With trustworthy travellers who would look after their house and pets in exchange for accommodation

          To secure the most breathtaking houses to stay at, you’ll need to build a good reputation

          But that’s relatively easy to do if you’re willing to petsit in your town in exchange for reviews

          Then you’re ready to hit the road and get to housesit that three-storey mansion you’ve always dreamed about…

          While enjoying the most charming four-legged company

          Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/this-website-lets-you-travel-around-the-world-if-you-agree-to-take-care-of-other-peoples-pets/

          Are you getting the vaccines you need before going abroad?

          (CNN)There’s cholera, which can give you explosive diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps. Then there’s measles, which can give you a high fever, cough, runny nose and rash.

          Don’t forget yellow fever, which can come with chills, headache and nausea.
          Those are just a few of the illnesses, sometimes fatal, that pose a risk to international travelers. Yet many jet-setters might overlook getting vaccinated for them before touring the world.
            Slightly more than half of international travelers in the United States who were eligible to receive the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine before traveling did not get vaccinated between 2009 and 2014, according to a new study that published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine on Monday.
            Therefore, those travelers were probably at risk for being infected with measles while abroad, said Dr. Emily Hyle, an instructor in medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and lead author of the paper.

              Sneeze on a plane: A chance of getting the measles

            “Pre-travel vaccinations are important because diseases that aren’t found in the United States, such as typhoid or yellow fever, may be a risk in other countries. These diseases can be severe or even fatal,” said Dr. Phyllis Kozarsky, an expert travel health consultant with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Travelers’ Health Branch and a professor at Emory University. She was not involved in the new study.
            “Even diseases that do occur in the United States, such as measles or hepatitis A, are often more common in other countries,” she said. “Several countries in Europe are currently experiencing measles outbreaks, which emphasizes how important it is for travelers to be up-to-date on routine vaccines as well as get travel-related vaccines.”
            Measles was declared eliminated from the US in 2000 but remains common in many other parts of the world, such as Western Europe, where the measles virus causes death in at least one in 5,000 cases. As many as one in 100 die from measles in the poorest regions of the world, according to the University of Oxford in England.
            This year, the CDC has reported outbreaks of measles in Italy, Germany, Belgium, Guinea and Romania. Also, the measles virus is found regularly in Indonesia.
            Measles, in particular, is a highly infectious illness that can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the National Health Service in England.

              Measles: Why not vaccinating your kids can be deadly

            Yet, every year, immunization prevents between 2 million and 3 million deaths around the world in all age groups from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and measles, according to the World Health Organization.
            Measles vaccination resulted in a 79% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2015 worldwide, the agency said.
            In 2015, about 85% of the world’s children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday, according to the WHO.
            The vaccine is typically given to children in two doses: at 12 months and at 4 to 6 years old. For adults, officials recommend vaccination if you didn’t receive it as a child or haven’t had all three diseases.

            ‘People often underestimate the risk of getting infections’

            The new study is based on 40,810 adult travelers who each visited one of 24 Global TravEpiNet clinic sites, affiliated with a hospital, medical school, doctor’s office, pharmacy or public health clinic, in the US between 2009 and 2014.
            Of those travelers, 6,612 were eligible for MMR vaccine at the time of their visit, before they went abroad. However, 3,477 — or 53% — ended up not getting vaccinated, the data revealed.
            “We were surprised to see such a high number of missed opportunities for MMR vaccination, even in these specialized travel clinics,” Hyle said.
            “To my knowledge, our study presents the largest analysis of systematically collected data about pre-travel MMR vaccination,” she said. “Providers should have clear discussions with their patients about the potential risks of having measles illness and the risks of spreading the disease upon return to the US, especially to the very young and the immunosuppressed.”
            People with certain health conditions and children under 6 months old should not be vaccinated, Hyle said.
            After analyzing questionnaires taken during each traveler’s visit, the researchers found that 48% of those who were not vaccinated — despite being eligible because they had not received it before — refused the vaccination, as most thought it was unnecessary. Among 28%, the provider deemed the vaccine to be unnecessary, and for the remaining 24%, there were barriers to getting vaccinated, such as the patient being referred to another provider for the vaccine and never going.
            “People often underestimate the risk of getting infections,” said Dr. Pritish Tosh, an infectious disease physician and researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who was not involved in the new paper.
            The highest-risk group for travel-related illnesses tends to be people who think they are at a lower risk, Tosh said.
            For instance, “people who were from a country and come to the United States to live and then they visit their friends and relatives back in their country of origin and they often think, ‘Well, when I was there, things were fine,’ and they don’t seek travel advice. They don’t get medications to prevent malaria. They don’t get vaccinations and these other things,” he said. “So, the people who think they are the lowest risk actually have the highest risk of getting some sort of travel-related infection, mostly because they don’t think they are at risk.”
            Hyle said more research is needed to determine whether the new study findings might be generalizable to other health clinics and travelers.
            “Additionally, travelers who seek pre-travel medical advice may be more likely to be up-to-date on their vaccines and might be more likely to accept vaccination than travelers who do not seek pre-travel advice; as a result, our findings might underestimate opportunities for MMR vaccination among travelers,” she said.

            Your guide to travel vaccinations, by country

            Measles isn’t the only vaccine-related health issue flagged under the CDC’s travel notices.

              The dangers of yellow fever

            “Hepatitis A is a potential risk almost anywhere in the world, so this vaccine is recommended for almost all international travelers,” said the CDC’s Kozarsky.
            “Yellow fever is a risk in parts of South America and Africa, and malaria is found in parts of South America and Asia and is very common in Africa,” she said. “There is no vaccine for malaria, but travelers can take medicine to prevent it.”
            Last month, the WHO and the CDC expanded the list of areas in which yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travelers to include parts of Brazil. The WHO recommends vaccination against yellow fever at least 10 days prior to travel.
            “There is currently a large outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil, and a shortage of vaccine may make it difficult for some travelers to be vaccinated. Because of the seriousness of yellow fever disease, CDC recommends that people who cannot get the vaccine not travel, so travelers to areas where yellow fever vaccine is required or recommended should plan well in advance to get vaccinated,” Kozarsky said.

              Nigeria’s fight against polio

            In Nigeria, health officials have reported several cases of wild poliovirus, and the CDC recommends that all travelers to that country be fully vaccinated against polio.
            The CDC recommended Friday that adult travelers visiting areas with endemic or epidemic cholera receive a vaccine called Vaxchora, the only such vaccine licensed for use in the US.
            The cholera bacterium, which is rare in industrialized nations, has been associated with outbreaks in Mexico, Haiti, parts of Asia and parts of Africa. The WHO recently has responded in “full emergency mode” to an upsurge in cholera cases in Yemen, it said last week.

              Busting common myths about vaccines

            “The cholera vaccine in the US is new, and while everyone should be vaccinated against measles, whether or not they are traveling, not everyone needs to be vaccinated against cholera,” said Dr. Jason Harris, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.
            “There are vaccines, like Vaxchora, which can protect travelers from serious infections that they might be exposed to while traveling overseas,” he said. “Another important benefit is that travel vaccines may also prevent people from carrying infections to another country or back home with them, so these vaccines may not only benefit the traveler but in some cases their families and communities as well.”
            If you are venturing across countries, the Mayo Clinic’s Tosh offered some travel advice and recommended visiting a travel clinic.

            Travel tips for going abroad

            “The travel clinic will not only give you vaccines you need, medications in case you are going to a malaria-endemic area to prevent malaria, medication in case you get travel diarrhea; but also, most importantly, the travel clinic will give you advice to make sure you know how to prevent infections, including how to avoid insect bites and how to ensure you are consuming safe food and water,” Tosh said.
            “I would also encourage people to make sure they have gotten their routine vaccine series that are recommended to them,” he said. “Things to also do when traveling overseas is — the US State Department actually has a very nice website for travelers — to know the types of safety issues and how to get in contact with the consulate. The State Department website will also talk about scams that can happen, and it is country-specific.”

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            Experts can’t predict which travel-related diseases are likely to have a large impact this summer, but mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika have affected large numbers of travelers in the past, said Kozarsky, the CDC expert.
            “Unfortunately, no vaccines for these diseases have been licensed in the United States, so it’s important for travelers to take steps to prevent mosquito bites,” she said.

            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/15/health/travel-vaccinations-measles-study/index.html