The Travel Junkie And The Benefits He Can Get From Travel Reward Credit Cards

Sunday, August 26, 2012 0 comments

Fond of traveling? Always on the go? If you're the quintessential jet setter, then you definitely should go for this - travel reward credit cards. It's the brand-new, ultimate solution to the ultimate globetrotter who always needs to be on the go. But what really are travel reward credit cards and how 'beneficial' are they for the cardholder?
Getting to Know Your Travel Credit Card
Travel reward credit cards give airline mile rewards to cardholders for availing the card. The cardholder accumulates points depending on the dollar amount of his purchases with the credit card. Once the number of points has been reached, the cardholder is entitled to an airline travel or any such related reward. There are actually three categories or types of travel reward credit cards, the airline miles earning card, the travel point card, and the hybrid card, a combination of the first two types. Airline mile earning cards earn 1 mile for every dollar spent while a travel point card earns 1 point for every dollar spent. The points can then be redeemed at the credit card's travel agency. The hybrid card earns 1 point for each dollar spent and can be exchanged for airline miles or used as travel points.
The jet-setter or the frequent flyer should consider an airline mile card or a hybrid card. With an airline mile credit card or a hybrid card, one can avail of free trips in first class even faster. Cards like Aerogold Visa and Royal Bank British Airways Platinum Visa can convert those economy trips to first class. On the other hand, for those who are not frequent flyers, the ideal choice to go for is the travel point card, or even the hybrid card. While these cards may not give free trips in a year, it can, however, provide discounts on your travel needs. As they offer points for every dollar spent which are redeemable as cash equivalent discounts through the credit card company's travel agency or reward center. Most cards offer $50 off for every 5000 points redeemed. These discounts can come in handy when the times come for that much-awaited trip or vacation.
Depending on the type of card, the reward may also cover purchase of gas, auto rentals, hotel accommodations and even purchase in shops and boutiques.
They also provide cash advances when you're on the road. There's also travel insurance that would include worldwide emergencies like medical evacuation, lost luggage, and emergency expatriation.
Travel Reward Credit Card SOS
The important thing with travel reward credit cards is you determine the frequency of your travels as well as your own spending habits. Before choosing which credit card to go for, assess the possible uses of these travel reward credit cards. Then, look for cards that offer the biggest savings on the types of purchases that you most probably will be making. If you're not the only one traveling, travel reward credit cards offering airline or car rental perks are good to go because it benefits, not only you, but your travel companion as well. Know also the schedule and value of the travel rewards these credit cards offer.
Of course, don't forget to read the terms and conditions, like the airline miles you gain for every dollar spent, or the airline miles you need to accumulate before qualifying for a free airline ticket or other rewards. And lastly, they come with an annual fee, so check to make sure that you know the charges to your account.


How a Graco Quattro Tour Deluxe Travel System With Snugride32 in Townsend Can Be Useful

Sunday, August 19, 2012 1 comments

Shopping for a quality baby stroller to give as a gift or for personal use can be an off-putting task, but it can end up interesting & even fun once you get updated about stroller trends and innovations. It’s amazing how the baby stroller has evolved throughout the years. Nowadays, people have different ideas about the `perfect’ stroller, mainly because they intend to use it in different ways. Some need an all-terrain stroller, while others require only a basic model for occasional use. Then, there are other factors like the age of the child, and safety features that are deemed essential. Style, color and fabric also come into the picture. The Graco Quattro Tour Deluxe Travel System with Snugride32 in Townsend is a great find as far as satisfying these criteria is concerned. It’s more than a nice stroller. It’s a godsend for most moms who need baby gear that can aid them in a big way.
Before you purchase the handsome vessel that doesn’t come cheap, though, with the end in view of using it as well for a future offspring (which the Graco line may very well answer), know that stroller safety standards are regularly reviewed, so you may have to invest on a more updated set of wheels for a future child.
In any case, Graco Quattro Tour Deluxe Travel System is one of the sturdiest and smoothest rolling wheels you can find. It can accommodate your baby’s growth. The Quattro Tour Deluxe Stroller is made of aluminum tubing which ensures long use. The travel system’s infant car seat comes with foam liner that absorbs energy and gentle cradles baby's head. The car seat has a lock-off and adjustment dial and is crash tested to meet and surpass US safety standards. If your baby, like most tykes, needs a few toys to hold his attention and avoid tantrums or fidgeting, the stroller comes with several handy features like a tray where you can put baby snacks or safe toys. Before buying a stroller, though, check that there are no small parts that may be hazardous to your child.
Babies who love napping on the go or are easily lulled to sleep in their stroller also benefit from a Graco stroller’s adjustable canopy with window & sun visor shades. Of course, smart moms know better than to be strolling around when the sun gets really scorching.
Once you’ve purchased a good quality stroller, you still need to remember some precautions. For one, make sure the stroller is fully locked before taking it on the road. Graco Quattro Tour Deluxe Travel System offers front swivel wheels which can be locked, and with suspension to make it seem like baby’s gliding away. A secure harness that may be adjusted as baby grows comes with the travel system. Moreover, efficient one-touch foot brakes add to the important safety features.
Indeed, when it comes to choosing baby gear for your precious infant, it pays to go for a reputable brand or manufacturer with a track record in churning out quality innovations. Opt for a zippy baby stroller which is the result of intensive research, with features that offer tons of convenience for both mom & child.


Detroit Travel: A Walking Tour of Brush Park and Dinner at the Ren Cen

Sunday, August 12, 2012 0 comments

Susanne Pacher
After having learned so much about architecture during my morning walking tour of downtown Detroit, we embarked on another urban discovery: a walking tour through Brush Park, one of Detroit’s historic residential areas with a location very close to downtown. Bob Goldsmith, our local expert from Detroit Tour Connections, met us at 97 Winder Street, location of a recently restored bed and breakfast, and started explaining the history of the area to us.
In its Victorian heydays, Brush Park was an affluent neighbourhoood with numerous mansions for upper-class families. The area’s beginnings date back to the 1850s when local entrepreneur Edmund Brush started subdividing his family’s property. Construction activity peaked in the 1870s and 1880s, and in 1906 one of the last mansions to be built was renowned Detroit architect Albert Kahn’s personal residence.
The neighbourhood stretches for 24 city blocks and originally included about 300 homes of which 70 were Victorian mansions. As transportation and the use of the automobile expanded in the early 20th century, people started moving further afield, and the Brush Park area started on a long road of decline. Many of the houses were subdivided into smaller apartments during the Great Depression, and during the post-war years numerous houses were abandoned altogether and fell into disrepair.
Many of the abandoned mansions started to attract criminal activity and in many cases the city moved to demolish the homes, leaving large empty lots of land behind. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “urban prairie”. At the turn of the new millennium, less than half of the original structures were still standing in Brush Park.
Bob, a true Detroit connoisseur, came equipped with a series of articles about the various historic structures, many of which outlined the new owners’ story and the cost and extent of the renovation effort. Brush Park was truly an interesting experience, with its mix of beautifully restored mansions that might sit right next to a burned out ruin which in turn might be located adjacent to an empty plot of land where one of the former buildings had been taken down.
The highlight of our tour was when a local resident invited us to come inside her apartment: Lisa Rush, a friend of Bob’s, recently bought a renovated studio apartment in one of the historic apartment buildings in Brush Park. As we were walking through the neighbourhood, Bob called her and she invited us in to show us the apartment. She even offered us to use her washroom if we needed to.
Lisa’s apartment is a sleek studio with a living room area and features a kitchen with an island and a bedroom area that are all aligned in a long rectangular space. Off to the side was the bathroom. Lisa is a member of Preservation Wayne, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving, promoting and protecting Detroit’s defining neighbourhoods and structures. Lisa was just celebrating with a few friends, and I was amazed that she would invite three complete out-of-town strangers into her beautiful apartment. This local connection was definitely unexpected and totally exceeded my standard expectations of hospitality.
Walking further north on John R Street we turned left and walked by a mansion that is owned by a University of Windsor professor who restored a beautiful Victorian era home that dates back to 1870. Similar to Lisa, this professor has also invited Bob’s tour participants into his personal home to show them his art collection. A welcoming attitude like this where locals open their private homes to complete strangers would probably be unheard of in many other places.
We also saw two churches, right next to one another, one boarded up and out of use for several years now while the neighouring church was a fully intact impressive Richardson Romanesque sandstone building. A few steps further up the street is the Bonstelle Theater, which was originally designed by Detroit architect Albert Kahn as Temple Beth El in 1903. Historic buildings abound in this area of Detroit.
On our way south on Woodward we stopped at the upscale Zaccaro’s Market at 3100 Woodward Avenue which offers a variety of delicatessen and fresh, organic foods. Detroit has a marked absence of large supermarkets, so stores like Zaccaro’s fill in an important need for local residents.
Our tour was slowly coming to an end and Bob took us back to Winder Street. This walking tour had certainly started to introduce us to some of the historic and socio-economic issues of Detroit as well as some of the recent rejuvenation efforts that have happened over the last 10 years.
After a coffee inside the stunning Guardian Building and a brief rest at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel my travel partner Linda and I were ready to head out again and decided to explore another Detroit landmark: the Detroit People Mover. This 3 mile (4.5 km) long transportation system hauls people through downtown Detroit on a single-track one-way loop. It only moves in one direction (at present in a clockwise direction) and encompasses 13 stations throughout the central business district.
We entered the People Mover at the Renaissance Center, and the two rail cars were absolutely packed due to a Detroit Red Wings game. Detroit is a big sports town, with six professional sports teams, the most well-known of which include the Detroit Tigers (baseball), the Detroit Lions (football) and the Detroit Red Wings (hockey). Fans dressed in red hockey jerseys were entering the vehicle, and things were getting crowded. For tourists, the heavily subsidized People Mover transportation system is a great way to get around the downtown area and even do some sightseeing from the elevated vantage point. At a cost of only $0.50 per ride it is an absolutely affordable and fun way to see different parts of the city.
The entire People Mover loop took us about 20 minutes and brought us right back to where we started. We went inside the Renaissance Centre, the world headquarters of General Motors since 1996. The seven building complex includes the 73-storey Marriot Hotel which is the highest hotel in the Western hemisphere. The top of the Marriott is crowned by the Coach Insignia restaurant, which is also the largest rooftop restaurant.
We admired the large GM showroom on the main floor as well as the five-storey Wintergarden, an airy glass enclosed space which provides access to the Riverfront and a great view of Windsor across the river. Now hungry from all our explorations we headed straight to the rooftop to see if we could have dinner at Coach Insignia.
Although the restaurant was packed and we did not have a reservation, we were able to get a seat by the bar and were fascinated by the gorgeous view over the Detroit River, Windsor and the Detroit business district. Belle Isle was visible in the north and the Ambassador Bridge dominated the view in the south. We enjoyed a tasty series of vegetarian appetizers of which the asparagus with sauce hollandaise and the Caesar salad truly stood out.
We spent a fabulous evening at the top of Detroit and enjoyed the slowly sinking sun and the golden glow it cast over the city. Tired and satisfied after a long day of explorations we headed back for a good night’s sleep to the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel. We definitely needed to rest up since tomorrow our discoveries would take us to The Henry Ford Museum and the recently renovated Detroit Institute of Arts.


Kenya Tour And Vacation Travel: Your Ultimate Tourist Guide

Sunday, August 5, 2012 0 comments

Airport Nairobi
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is approximately half an hour’s drive from Nairobi City centre. Taxis are readily available but establish the fare before getting into the vehicle as there are many drivers who will approach you for business. The JKI Airport is a busy hub for both the Kenyan tour and vacation travel and the East and horn of Africa region.
The state-controlled Kenatco taxis work on a fixed rate using reliable and clean vehicles. Other taxis tend to vary: some appear to be old wrecks and as they do not come under the control of the municipal councils, you may find they are not insured. Always check first. Most Kenya tourist hotels have their own minibus transport for your Kenyan tour, which can be arranged through reception.
Mombasa Airport
The new Moi International Airport on the Kenya coast is approximately 10 minutes from the city centre, although most of the Kenya tourist hotels are situated to the north and south coastal regions. Allow an extra half-an-hour to your journey to the south coast because of the Likoni ferry crossing. The traffic Jam at the ferry has been a pain to many travelers on their Kenyan tour, especially during departures. Most visitors on their Kenyan beach vacation prefer to arrive and depart from Moi International airport.
Important airport fees
For international departures there is an airport tax to pay of $20 and Kshs 200 for internal flights which is normally included in the price of your ticket. This is mandatory for either Kenya vacation and business travelers.
Kenya Car hire company
Most international car hire companies are represented in Kenya in addition to some of the enterprising locals. Some rates may vary on a daily or weekly basis depending on type of vehicle ranging from four wheel drives to small saloons. Vehicles travel on the left-hand side of the road-and most cars are right-hand drive. A current driving license with photograph is accepted for up to three month’s stay. Self-driven Four wheel cars are also on hire for the do-it –yourselfer Kenyan beach, wildlife or safari vacationer.
Public transport in Kenya
City buses operate in Nairobi and Mombasa at reasonably low rates. However, avoid peak hours as most transport is crammed full. Fares are paid to the conductor.
Trains transport in Kenya
There is a rail service from Nairobi to Mombasa and Kisumu where first and second class accommodation is available. The train is especially a favourite of the 6-14 day Kenyan vacationer who wants to sample a lot of the country offering.
Kenya Communications and Postal Services
Post offices are identified by the words posta Kenya and mail posting boxes are red. Usually you can buy stamps at post offices, stationers, souvenir shops and hotels. Post office hours of business are from 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday and from 9am until 12noon on Saturday at main post offices.
Telephone services in Kenya
Telkom Kenya provides advanced telecommunication services that include voice data, internet,
and multi media, whilst cellular mobile services are provided by Safaricom (0720/0721/0722/0723) and Kencell communications (0733,0734).
Faxes, telexes and emails can be sent from your hotel via the operator. International calls can sometimes be dialed direct or operator assisted by dialing 0195 or 0196. Telkom Kenya also runs a few international public assisted call offices in selected areas in major towns.
Public payphones are fully automated. Simply pick up the handset and follow the digitalized prompts on the screen to make your call. Card and coin phones are available. Phone cards of different denominations may be bought from Post Offices or international call offices in major town. You can also make use of hotel phones but the charges are usually 100% more. Local dialed calls cost a minimum of Kshs 5, so have plenty of change on your Kenyan vacation travel.
As from 4th July 2003, all Nairobi area codes changed so check if the number you are calling is still operational.
Kenyan Currency
Kenya’s unit of currency is the shilling (Sh/s) (slang: Bob), written 1/-, 2/50 etc. Divided into 100 cents (c). There are copper coins of 50 c and 1/- and silver and copper coins of 5/-, 10/-, 20/- and 40/-. Bank notes are available in denominations of 5/-, 10/-, 20/-, 50/-, 100/-, 200/-, and 1000/-.
Currency restrictions
There are no restrictions on the movement of currency into or out of Kenya for currency transactions.
Banking Hours
Banks in Nairobi and other large towns open from 9am-3pm Monday to Friday and 9am-11a on the first and last Saturday of each month. 24 hr access to your account can be facilitated by ATMs country wide.
Banks in Mombasa and the coastal areas, open and close half an hour earlier. Some banks at the international airports open round the clock every day as do the new foreign exchange bureaux. This is to ensure that the Kenya Traveler accesses currency at point of arrival.
Credit cards accepted in Kenya
All the major international credit cards are accepted in Kenya and most ATMs can accept any international VISA and MASTERCARD credit cards.
Standard chartered bank’s computer network allows access to over 60 ‘Moneylink’ ATMs situated at all its branches, major shopping malls, gas stations and other strategic locations countrywide. Holders of VISA cards can also link up to their home bank or credit card account through money link ATMs around the clock.
KCB have 55 visa and visa electron compliant ATMs available 24 hrs nationwide accepting international credit cards.
Travelers’ cheques in Kenya are also readily recognizable and accepted at most places.
All regions in Kenya are supplied with 240 volts AC. Some safari, wildlife and beach lodges have independent power generators which may carry. The plug in use through out Kenya is of the three square pin, 13amp type.
Security in Kenya
As in other countries, it is always advisable for a traveler to hand in their passport, traveler’s cheques, excess money and any other valuables at hotel reception desks for placing in their safe for security. Alternatively, where available, you will find a safety deposit box in your hotel room.
It is a sensible precaution not to walk alone in isolated towns or beach areas, particularly after dark. Ask for advice from your hotel manager or tour representative if you are with a package holiday company.
Kenya Hotels Bill payment
Most Kenyan hotels expect vacation and business travelers to pay in convertible foreign currency such as US dollars. However, in some Kenyan tour lodges and hotels, tourists may have the option to pay in Kenya Shillings or credit card if this method is preferred.
Tipping is not mandatory but not forbidden as in some other African countries. Tipping is entirely at your discretion and most hotels and restaurants include a 10% service charge to the bill.
Clean safe Water
Nairobi and Mombasa hotels are virtually 100% safe for drinking water for Kenyan vacationers. However, if in doubt, a variety of bottled water is available in most places. Most isolated lodges keep filtered water in jars or flasks which is a direct warning that tap water is not safe, even for brushing teeth.
Water Conservation
Shortage of water due to inadequate rainfall means that you should ensure that you try and conserve water as much as possible. Responsible travel calls for sustainable and conservative use of water and energy resources in your Kenyan tour.
Kenyan Visa requirements
Most incoming Kenya tourists whether for business or pleasure, now require a visa irrespective of nationality. Multiple and single entry visas are available. The single entry fee is US$ 50 (Correct at time of writing this article) or the equivalent in local currency and can be obtained upon arrival at the airport.
Visa applications can be made at any Kenya High Commission or Embassy prior to traveling. For more information contact your nearest Kenya High Commission or Kenya Embassy.