Best Summer Vacation Destinations

This summer, get your adventure on! There’s plenty of great deals to be had if you know where to look. To help you get packing, here’s a list of this summer’s best budget travel destinations, courtesy of the travel writers of forbes.com.

San Antonio, Texas

From strolling along the San Antonio River Walk to chasing thrills at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, there’s plenty of fun and food to be had. Whether you’re craving Tex-Mex or authentic Mexican food, San Antonio has it. Also visit San Fernando Cathedral, which hosts nightly light shows at no cost. If you find yourself visiting San Antonio during the weekend, be sure to wander through the farmer’s market at the Pearl Brewery.

Puebla, Mexico

Puebla is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s easy to see why. Architecture lovers could spend days exploring the historical center and marveling at what seems like an endless number of churches.

Despite this being Mexico’s fourth largest city, you’ll hardly see any other tourists. It’s one of those cities where you can just soak in the tranquil atmosphere. The region is known for its mole sauce, so be sure to sample when visiting.

Hawaii

Flights to Hawaii from the mainland are generally pretty cheap, especially in the past few years. Although it isn’t the most inexpensive when you arrive, it’s well worth it because you get the South Pacific feel with the comforts of the United States—and a shorter plane flight. Check out Maui, and the little visited island of Lanai. For golf lovers, the Four Seasons at Lanai is recommended.

St. Helena

Saint Helena is a volcanic tropical island in the South Atlantic Ocean, 2,500 miles east of Rio de Janeiro. While a trek to get there in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, it’s a relatively cheap destination once you arrive.

This off-the-beaten path location offers great hiking, fascinating English mixed with island culture, good food and even the world’s most remote golf course. The airport alone makes it worth a visit as they basically shaved down a mountain to make it possible. St. Helena is probably not on your short list but it should be on your bucket list.

Province of Laguna, the Philippines

The Philippines is already popular because of its white sand beaches in Palawan, Cebu or Boracay; the surfing in Siargao, the mountains in the north but Laguna Province is less well known.

If you have a few days stopover in Manila, make sure to visit the Province of Laguna. It has hot springs as well as San Pablo City, also known as the City of Seven Lakes. Most of these attractions are easily accessed by car rental or taking the local public transportation called tricycle, which costs less than $10.

Agra, India

Home to the Taj Mahal, Agra is on many traveler’s lists. And although it costs around $43 to enter, the surrounding area is relatively inexpensive. It is definitely a well-known destination, so if you want your Taj Mahal shot, be sure to go in the morning. Considered to be the jewel of Islamic art in India, it was built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his wife—possibly one of the most extravagant declarations of love in history.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

There is no city in the world as intoxicating as Buenos Aires. The streets are lined with grand European-style architecture, cozy cafés and endless parks. The staples of life in this budget-friendly city are steak, wine, empanadas and ice cream. Three cheers for the Southern Hemisphere.

South Africa

Prepare to be blown away by the beauty of South Africa. It’s a very diverse place in terms of its nature, people and activities.  One day, you may be hiking up a mountain and the next, diving with sharks in the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll be surprised by the extreme low cost of Uber and transport there. The food is also fairly inexpensive, as well as delicious.

Zanzibar

Zanzibaris are so much fun and friendly. While there are expensive resorts there, you can still find some inexpensive bed and breakfasts and hostels in Stone Town that allow you to be right next to the Indian Ocean, where all the excitement, and restaurants are.

Armenia

Set in the Caucasus Mountains, Armenia is a hidden gem that’s still untouched by mass tourism, and yet has so much to offer: rich history, wineries, impressive landscapes, ancient monasteries and breathtaking mountains as far as your eyes can see. The capital, Yerevan, is a lively city with wide avenues, delicious restaurants, museums and street markets selling local handicrafts.

Outside of the capital is picturesque nature. You can pay a visit to the oldest winery in the world in Areni, stop by stunning monasteries, or check out the oldest cathedral in the world in Etchmiadzin.

Serbia

Serbia is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. It’s one of those places that has such an amazing energy that it leaves you wanting more. In the bustling city of Belgrade, there’s something happening every hour of every day. The streets are filled with amazing restaurants, cute cafés, bars and clubs. The friendly locals are always out and about. You will find people of all ages enjoying the outdoor cafés and drinking rakija (the national drink of Serbia). The restaurants have a great mix of both local and international dishes and are great for trying new dishes. Try the komplet lepinja, cevapi and karađorđeva šnicla. The nightlife in Serbia is one of a kind. There are floating bars and clubs along the Danube riverbank. Parties go on till the early morning hours.

Transylvania, Romania

Home to myths and some of the world’s most hospitable locals, Transylvania is a budget traveler’s dream destination. The stunning Carpathian Mountains offer the perfect backdrop to one of Europe’s often overlooked regions.

Guests can experience Romania’s roots free of the mass commercialization, and the high prices, that we see in more popular European destinations. From sampling local dishes like ciorbă, mici and palinka, to skiing in Sinaia, you’ll have a wide range of budget-friendly activities to keep you entertained.

George Town, Penang, Malaysia

A mixture of cultures, cuisines and architecture come together to create an atmosphere that on paper shouldn’t work but somehow does. Chinese, Indian, Malay and British influences can be seen at every turn you make in this Penang Island UNESCO World Heritage Site. What makes George Town stand out are the quarters that make up the city, each one boasting a distinct community and history, all linked together by the beautiful street art found throughout. With a diverse population, beautiful culture and amazing food, George Town is a perfect addition to anyone’s travel bucket list.

Moscow, Russia

Moscow, like the rest of Russia, has a stereotype of being a bitterly cold destination. That is true during the winter months, however during the summer, you can expect steady sunshine and clear skies so put on your shades, grab a bliny and wander around the Red Square with ease.

Taipei, Taiwan

The capital of Taiwan is growing in popularity in East Asia but often goes unnoticed by the masses. In comparison to Hong Kong or Tokyo, think of Taipei as the quieter kid on the block. With some of the best food markets in all of Asia, buzzing shopping districts like Xiamen and the stunning nearby Yangminshan National Park, Taipei offers something for everyone. Pro tip: Taipei won’t break the bank but don’t expect it to be as cheap as Vietnam.

No matter where you decide to vacation this summer, whether within the US or abroad, let Hoyt Livery get your whole family to the airport and back home. With family-sized luxury vans with room for everyone’s luggage, Hoyt Livery can get you there safely, comfortably and in style.

Source: forbes.com

Female Safety When Traveling for Business

When women travel for business, whether to a local conference or international destination, there are unique issues and concerns they have to face, and often alone, on the road.

Here are some business travel tips for women to help you stay safe on the road, courtesy of Entrepreneur.com.

Female travelers increasing—and so are safety concerns

This year, the Upside Travel Company reported that nearly 50 percent of all business travel bookings are for women, and that number is steadily rising. With this comes the growing awareness that women face more travel safety risks compared to their male counterparts. According to 2018 survey research by Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and AIG Travel Inc., a disturbing 83 percent of women polled said they’ve experienced a safety issue or concern in the last year while traveling for work, yet only 53 percent of women always or sometimes report these experiences to their travel managers. The research also found that only 18 percent of corporate travel safety policies specifically address female safety needs.

Here are some travel safety basics women should keep in mind on the road.

Know your business trip insurance.

If you’re an employee, ask your employer for its travel insurance program documentation so you know what’s covered for you. If you’re self-employed, research your options for purchasing travel insurance. Sites with updated 2018 recommendations include Consumers Advocate or Travel Insurance Review. Also, be sure to save an electronic version and print a hard copy of the travel insurance benefits, then share your insurance details with a trusted family member.

Stay in a good hotel in a safe area.

When selecting a hotel, choose a well-known and reputable one. Interestingly, some hotels offer women-only floors, so don’t hesitate to ask before you book if that’s a personal preference. MaidenVoyage.com also offers a list of certified female-friendly hotels worldwide. Also, consider booking your flight arrivals for daylight hours so you avoid arriving after dark, especially for international arrivals.

When traveling internationally.

It’s recommended you visit the U.S. Department of State where you’ll find information for every country in the world including visa requirements, safety and security conditions, health and medical considerations, local laws and areas to avoid. It’s also wise to know the location of the closest U.S. embassy or consulate at your destination. Check the option to enroll your trip so you can receive safety alerts and your embassy can contact you in the event of an emergency.

Make copies of your passport and ID.

Whether traveling domestic or international, always make copies of your passport ID page to make it easier to file a report and get a replacement if your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy with a trusted contact at home and carry one with you. Do the same with your trip itinerary in case your smartphone is lost or stolen.

Leverage technology and apps.

Lastly, take advantage of the latest technology to stay in the know. Apps like TripIt show neighborhood-specific safety scores, including relevant categories like: women’s safety, physical harm, health and medical, theft and more.

Pack smart and don’t stand out.

It’s always wise to pack modest clothing and avoid packing or wearing expensive jewelry, bags, shoes or other accessories. You don’t want to stand out as having valuables that someone would want to steal. It’s also smart to pack shoes designed for comfort and mobility, so you can move quickly if needed.

Also, consider packing a decoy wallet with a small amount of cash and expired credit cards. If someone rifles through your bag, that’s the one they’ll take. Then wear a hidden money belt with your “real” wallet contents.

Other important items to pack include: chargers for your digital devices, a travel plug adapter if you’re traveling internationally, at least a two-week supply of any medication you’re taking and any special medical ID bracelet or tags.

Be strategic when checking in.

When checking in to your hotel, ask the clerk to write your room number on a piece of paper or on the key sleeve, rather than saying it out loud. Also request a room near the stairs or elevator so you don’t have to walk through empty corridors at night, and don’t stay in a room on the first floor or near exit stairways since they are more accessible and prone to theft.

When you arrive to your room, check to make sure it has a peephole, deadbolt and working locks on the windows, adjoining door and balcony door. If there are any issues, request a new room that’s secure.

If there’s ever a knock on your room door, call reception to confirm the identity of anyone there, and if the door to your room is ever open or unlocked when you return, don’t enter. Go back to the front desk and inform them of the security issue.

Play it safe on the street.

If you need to use your mobile phone in public, try to stand still with your back to a wall or window, since walking and talking will limit your awareness and make you an easier target. Also, keep your head up while walking, stand/walk confidently, never look lost, and don’t walk alone or visit an ATM at night.

As always, follow your intuition: if you feel a bad vibe from somewhere or someone, listen to your gut instinct and remove yourself from the situation.

Be smart with your smartphone.

Travel with clean digital devices that have limited banking information, sensitive data, personal photographs or compromising information, and always be aware of potential avenues for cyberattacks, such as using the free Wi-Fi in public locations.

Also avoid posting information about upcoming travel dates, and don’t publish your whereabouts in real-time online. You can share details after you are safely back home.

Source: Entrepreneur.com

Expert Tips for Traveling Abroad

If you plan on flying out of the country, these industry expert tips will teach you what to do in advance, help you reduce stress and stay safe when traveling abroad, courtesy of travelzoo.com.

Your Health and Safety

Check in with your doctor. If you’re on prescription or other regular medication, make sure you have enough to last your trip and even consider packing extra. Check in with your primary care doctor to make sure you’ve renewed all essential prescriptions. Also, ask your medical insurance provider if your policy applies overseas for emergencies. If it doesn’t, consider supplemental insurance.

Register with your embassy. It’s a good idea to let your embassy know where you’re traveling, so if there’s a problem in the country, it will make it easier for your government to contact you, your family, and get you to safety.

Plan on Sightseeing

International travel is a rare treat, so take some time in advance to research the city you’re going to on the Internet, or better yet, order a guidebook on the area. Guidebooks usually include interesting facts, annual events, and maps. Also download apps before you travel. Avoid downloading charges from your wireless carrier and get your apps before you leave.

Buy tickets now for places you know you want to visit or see. By buying in advance you’ll be able to skip more lines, and find more deals targeted toward you.

Research events that will be taking place while you’re there. This will help you make sure that you’re not missing the best events going on in the city — fun things like festivals, ceremonies, and natural events. Also be sure to research a few national dishes to try. You don’t want to leave the country without experiencing some of the culinary delights it’s known for.

Luggage and Packing

To check or not to check? If you can swing it, opt for carry-on only — you’ll get on and off the plane faster, and reduce the chance of lost or stolen luggage.

Bring extra copies of your passport. If your passport gets stolen or lost you want to be sure that you can still get back into the country, or be able to prove your citizenship, so bring multiple copies of your passport and leave them in several places when traveling. For extra backup, leave a copy of your passport at home or with someone you trust. Consider making an electronic copy you can store in your email account as well.

Bring snacks. Traveling abroad is fun, but eating in a foreign country can sometimes become a challenge. Bring small snacks for long flights to hold you over until you find that perfect restaurant or food cart.

Cash and Cards

Learn monetary conversion in advance. Make sure you do your math before you travel to get a sense of where the conversion rate is at.

Convert money at a bank or ATM. Once there, the conversion centers in the airport or around the city tend to be huge rip-offs, so go to a bank or ATM in the city you’re visiting. You won’t get charged as many fees and the conversion will be exact.

While at the bank, withdraw some cash; not every place takes credit cards, such as trains or bus stations.

Make sure your credit card will work. European banks have switched almost completely to the more secure chip-and-PIN technology, and fewer businesses abroad are accepting the outdated magnetic-strip cards.

Also let your bank and credit card provider know you’re traveling. Fraud alerts are triggered by unusual transactions, such as spending $1,000 in Germany, for example, so let your bank and card company know you’ll be traveling in advance, so they don’t shut down your card when you’re on the road.

Check the country’s entrance/exit fees. Also note that some countries require travelers to pay a fee to enter or exit the country. These fees are not included in the price of your airline ticket, and can range from $25 to $200.

Get Technical

Bring a phone charger adapter. Different countries have different size electrical outlets and voltages, so if you want to use your favorite hairdryer or charge your phone, make sure you have an adaptor.

To avoid expensive roaming charges, activate your phone’s global capabilities. There’s usually a charge for doing so, but it’s much less than the roaming charges you could incur.

Source: Travelzoo.com

What to Know about the Global Entry Program

If you travel abroad regularly, you may want to consider applying for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program, which allows eligible flyers to take expedited lines at the airport when returning to the U.S. Here’s how Global Entry works, courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Global Entry Program:

What It Is

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Global Entry program allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the U.S. through automatic kiosks at select airports.

At airports, program members proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.

While Global Entry’s goal is to speed travelers through the process, members may still be selected for further examination when entering the United States. Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in the appropriate enforcement action and termination of the traveler’s membership privileges.

How to Sign Up

Travelers must be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment.

To begin, create a Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) account. Once you log in, complete the application. A $100 non-refundable fee is required with each completed application. American Express members can get a fee credit if they use their card when filling out the application.

Customs will then review your application. This will include a thorough background check involving law enforcement, customs, immigration, agriculture, and terrorist databases as well as biometric fingerprint checks.

Once you’re conditionally approved, your TTP account will instruct you to schedule an interview with a Customs agent at a Global Entry Enrollment Center.

For the Global Entry interview, bring a valid passport and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license or ID card. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you must present your machine-readable permanent resident card (green card).

Who is Eligible for Global Entry?

Americans as well as citizens from the following 11 nations and territories are eligible for Global Entry: Argentina, Colombia, India, Germany, Mexico, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

Canadian citizens and residents are eligible for Global Entry benefits through membership in their country’s NEXUS program.

If you have been convicted of a crime, or have criminal charges pending or are under investigation, you may not be eligible for Global Entry. If you are denied for the program and you feel the decision was in error, you can provide additional documentation to the CBP Trusted Traveler Ombudsman to request reconsideration.

Just send an email to the CBP Trusted Traveler Ombudsman at: cbpvc@cbp.dhs.gov, “Attention: CBP Ombudsman.”

Global Entry Cards

If approved, you will be issued a radio frequency identification (RFID) Global Entry card. To activate your card, log into your TTP account and click on the “Activate Membership Card” button.

While the cards are accepted at U.S. land and sea ports of entry, Customs can process you without one, as long as you have your ID and other travel information. The cards are only required for expedited entry at the SENTRI and NEXUS lanes coming into the United States.

The cards are not accepted at Global Entry kiosks. Those require passports or green cards.

Can Family Members Travel via Global Entry?

Yes, if those family members have their own Global Entry memberships. Minor children 18 years or younger are required to have parental or legal guardianship permission to sign up for the program.

Each family member that you wish to add to the program must create a TTP Account and fill out a separate application.

Head-of-the-Line Privilege

The head of the line privilege is a perk available only at U.S. airports with Global Entry kiosks. The head-of-the-line privilege is reserved for program members if the kiosks are not working for some reason. The privilege can also be instituted if a member gets referred to a CBP officer, and at the exit points.

For more information on the Global Entry program, visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.