Once again tourists (this time from the USA) have been arrested for vandalism at Rome’s Colosseum (read the story here). It seems sad to have to advise clients about this, but before traveling, you should familiarize yourself with the laws of your destination (domestic or international).
From the State Department website: If you break local laws while abroad, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution, and the U.S. Embassy cannot get you out of jail.
Besides defacing ancient ruins, here are some other examples of what you should be aware of before travelling (this is by NO means an exhaustive list; do your own research before leaving home).
In Singapore? Don’t chew gum. It may not lead to your arrest, but it will lead to hefty fines. “In terms of Singaporean law, the ban on chewing gum in Singapore can be considered an extension of the littering law. Therefore, the act of chewing gum in Singapore is associated with similar penalties to those imposed for littering. The littering law requires a fine of $500 to $1,000 US Dollars (USD) for first time offenders. Repeat offenders may be fined up to $2,000 USD and assigned a Corrective Work Order (CWO).”
Marijuana – leave home without it. If you live in a state that has recently legalized recreational marijuana … or even if you have a prescription for medical marijuana … leave home without it! It is still illegal to carry marijuana (prescription or no) across state lines, on airplanes, on cruise ships, and it’s definitely illegal to take it into other countries. And of course, buying it where it is legal (like Amsterdam) does not mean you can transport it to other countries, or bring it home.
Prescription and over the counter medications are not created equal. Besides the murky issues that surround prescription marijuana, other prescription medications can cause problems, even when travelling within the USA. Yes, even within the USA. In the state of Maine it can be unlawful to possess your own prescription medications, and it has been successfully prosecuted (read about it here).
Internationally, Australia prohibits the importation of certain medications like Ritalin, Adderall, and other drugs that are prescribed for ADHD. For other prescription medications like human growth hormone, DHEA and all anabolic and androgenic steroids, opioid analgesics, and narcotic based medications, Australia requires that they be declared upon entry into the country.
There are medications that require a prescription in the USA, but can be purchased over the counter in other countries (like Canada or Mexico); it is illegal to bring them back into the USA even if their initial purchase was legal in that foreign country.
And some countries do not allow the import of certain over the counter medications.
Bare shoulders and knees – you won’t be arrested, but women will be turned away at the Vatican and other religious buildings if they do not cover their knees and shoulders.
Moral of the story – do your research before you travel so that your travels are enjoyable!
Anyone who knows me personally knows that I like to be different. If there’s a box, I’m as far as possible outside of the box. Normal doesn’t work for me. So when a client shared this with me, I had to run with it.
In travel, we see a lot of people celebrating birthday and anniversary milestones. And typically, they focus on the anniversaries / birthdays that end in fives and zeros (you know, 25th anniversary, 50th birthday, etc.). Why? Because that’s what everyone else seems to celebrate as milestones.
How to be different: focus on prime number milestones. I won’t get into the mathematical explanation of prime numbers (if you’re really that curious, hit The Google). But what anniversaries, birthdays or other year-based milestones would we be celebrating: 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 11th, 13th, 17th, 19th, 23rd, 29th, etc.
Why not incorporate the “prime number method” when planning your milestone celebrations .. and no one says you have to ignore 25, 50, etc. You can always add in the prime numbers to enhance the milestones you celebrate. And remember, celebrating a milestone or making memories don’t have to break the bank. Contact us and let’s have a chat.
There is some debate about whether hotel, airline, and rental car loyalty reward programs are still viable, or if they are more trouble than they are worth. Simply, it varies from one individual to another. Many people just do not travel enough to earn an adequate amount of points / miles to use before they expire. However, I had one client recently redeem enough points for two ocean view rooms for six nights in Hawaii which was a significant savings. Personally, over the years I have redeemed points for more than three weeks of free nights (over time) with the Hilton Family of Brands, and numerous free flights with Southwest Airlines. These programs can be beneficial, when used carefully.
So are loyalty reward programs a good fit for you? Here are some points to consider when evaluating any program for you.
First, remember no two programs are the same. You need to take the time to read contracts and program fine print. You have heard that knowledge is power. It is definitely true about maximizing the benefits of any loyalty program.
When looking at a program, consider how many points / miles are needed to be redeemed for a free flight, hotel room nights, or upgrades that you want to earn. Then figure out how many stays or flights would be needed to earn those “freebies”. An important consideration – do the points / miles ever expire? If possible, consider loyalty programs that don’t have expiration dates (taking note that all of the programs reserve the right to change any part of the program, including whether or not points / miles expire). When there is no expiration on your points / miles, even with a low amount of travel, you can eventually earn some freebies down the road.
Once you know how many points / miles you WANT to earn for redemption, and how much travel you need to take to reach those levels, you have to figure out if you’ll earn enough to reach your goals. You can do this by looking at your past travel history, as well as your projected future travel. How often do you fly versus drive, and to what destinations? When flying, you will need to figure out how many miles (or in some programs, points) you will earn when flying to the destinations that you visit.
The next evaluation is really important: can you focus your flight loyalty to ONE airline? Does the same airline from your home airport serve all (or most) of the destinations that you frequent? Can you focus on one hotel chain or family of brands in all or most of the destinations that you visit? Based on your evaluation of past and/or projected travel, can you accrue enough points / miles to achieve your free travel goals? Can you do it before the points / miles expire (assuming they do expire)?
Another way to judge the value of your loyalty programs is to consider the cost needed to earn those “free” flights, stays, etc. In other words, are you spending more than necessary on your travel, in order to earn points / miles to redeem later? That “freebie” might end up not being free at all. Many airline loyalty programs these days offer credit cards that help you earn points or miles. But if you are paying fees and interest on those credit cards, you might end up spending more than you’ll ever earn in “free” travel. If you consider a credit card that is tied to your reward program, you need to be diligent about paying off balances EVERY month; otherwise it’s not going to be an effective program for you.
There are some other considerations as well. What ancillary benefits are provided by the program(s) you are evaluating? With airlines, can you get baggage fees waived? Or gain access to the airlines airport lounges (note that not all airlines have airport lounges)? Do they have express check-in lines? Can you speed through TSA security lines? You need to evaluate the value of these benefits, and how they fit into your travel plans.
For loyalty programs to be most effective, you have to BE LOYAL. Belonging to EVERY airline program isn’t going to get you anything but headaches in the long run. You need to consider which airline, rental car company, and hotel(s) that you prefer, versus which ones can get you the most bang for your buck (more freebies with fewer stays, or with lower cost stays/flights). Also consider this, if you booked less expensive, non-chain hotels that don’t have loyalty programs will you save more than booking those hotels with a loyalty program? Would that savings be more than enough to offset “free” stays with any loyalty program?
It was a beautiful November afternoon in Queenstown, New Zealand, and I was suiting up to be thrown out of a perfectly good plane. I had always contended (as recently as 3 days prior to this particular day) that I would never voluntarily JUMP out of a plane that wasn’t on fire (or at least visibily smoking). So what was I thinking? Simple, I needed to get out of my comfort zone, and more importantly, I was confident that the Tandem Master strapped to my back had a vested interest in landing safely on the ground himself.
This was my first foray into what is often called “adventure travel.” And after I safely returned to Mother Earth, kissed her, and then hugged my Tandem Master, I decided that adventure travel was my new passion.
Yes, this is me tandem sky diving over Queenstown!!
Adventure travel doesn’t have to do with the particular destination, and it doesn’t have to be death-defying. It encourages you to stretch your mind or your body but intentionally go beyond one’s comfort zone, seeking out experiences which are unfamilar. It takes you out of that “been there, done that” rut and opens a new world of possibilities to you. For an avid cruiser, it may be taking the step away from blue water (ocean) cruising and going on a river cruise or a cruise to Antarctica. For others adventure travel may be more rugged, hiking Maccu Pichu, spelunking through caves, learning to SCUBA dive, or going on an African safari.
Whatever your adventure may be, be open to the life-changing possibilities that it has to offer! We are here to help, just give us a call!
At Ships 'N' Trips Travel we have been providing memorable travel experiences for our clients since 2005.