Do you carry emergency cash when you go to a foreign country?

When I travel, I rarely have any local currency before arriving in a foreign country. I go to an ATM in the airport and get some. However, I recently heard this from a friend:

As a banker I advise customers to obtain a small amount of currency before leaving as “just in case” or convenience cash. Your bank should be able to provide it to you but it will depend on the bank as will the timing and fees. Try to request at least 3 business days ahead of departure if possible in case your bank doesn’t carry that currency on hand at your location.

The rate you will get at your bank will be OK, but not the best, and you may pay a fee for the transaction as well, again depending on your bank. But it is likely to be better than the rate you would receive at an exchange at the airport. Note that the rates you see on the internet are estimated wholesale rates and are not reflective of what you should expect for a small retail transaction.

The best rates are generally provided by Visa for your card purchases and withdrawals while overseas. Whether your bank charges you a fee for ATM withdrawals from other banks varies; you may have an account or option which waives such fees which would make foreign ATM withdrawals your best option.

Do you carry emergency cash when you go to a foreign country?

93 confirmed cases of Zika virus in Florida

As of 4/22/16 there were 93 confirmed cases in Florida, all from returning travelers. Zika used to be found only in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Now there are travel warnings for most of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. The CDC list is at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information

Zika is transmitted through mosquitoes and there is also evidence that the Zika virus can be sexually transmitted from a man to their partner(s). Most of those infected with Zika virus (80%) are without symptoms. Symptomatic disease is usually mild and symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).

Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant are advised to postpone travel to areas with Zika virus transmission due to harm the virus may cause to an unborn baby. All travelers should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites, such as those found at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/index.html, if going to any of these high risk areas.

5 day Seattle travel plan

Surrounded by water and evergreen forests, with snow-topped mountains in the background, the Emerald City may not be as visited as some destinations on the West Coast, but if you want a balance between city and scenery, buzzing and relaxed, Seattle is a great place to start. The birthplace of Starbucks, you can expect great coffee on every corner, delicious fresh seafood, a lively music scene and laid back kayaking or hiking to get away from it all.

Day 1: Awarded the best walking and cycling city in the United States by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC), Seattle is a great city to go out and explore on foot. Start at Pike Place Market, one of Seattle’s most iconic sites. If you go early, you’ll avoid the crowds and marvel as the many flower sellers and fishmongers set up their stalls.

Try the Athenian Inn or popular Lowell’s to get a tasty breakfast before you continue to explore, and then head down First Avenue towards Pioneer Square to take in Seattle’s famous historic architecture, awesome shops and a ton of high quality Native Indian art galleries. Check out Uwajimaya, 600 Fifth Ave. S., Seattle’s premier supermarket for a taste of Asian fusion.

Day 2: If all that walking’s given you sore feet, then be sure to slip a pair of insoles into your walking shoes and get ready to explore Seattle’s skyline. Prepare to be blown away as you’re whisked up 520 feet to the observation deck of the famous Space Needle. Take your time on top of the world and maybe even dine in SkyCity’s luxurious restaurant.

Make sure to check out the top rated Chihuly Garden and Glass, created by Northwest artist, Dale Chihuly to complete your mindblowing day. Depending on the time of year and the schedule, check out a Seattle Seahawks game if they’re playing at home in the evening.

Day 3: Now that you’ve had a pretty good feel for the city, it’s time to check out Mt. Rainier, often referred to as Washington’s crown jewel. This still active volcano is teeming with wildlife, waterfalls, glaciers and forests, and is truly an unforgettable experience, as you can spot wild deer, bear and even elks.

Great hiking abounds around Mt. Rainer and you can start with a short trail loop, like the Nisqually Vista Trail. Be sure to pack extra rain gear, as this city is famous for its constant drizzle, and if you need to get more insoles for your hardworking feet, try out the Pedag brand for ultimate comfort. If you’ve got any energy left, check out one of Seattle’s world famous live music venues, such as Café Racer, or Columbia City Theater.

Day 4: If you’re a fan of kayaking, then the San Juan Islands offer a beautiful backdrop to spend a day spotting for orcas and enjoying the Puget Sound’s breathtaking scenery. If you prefer to explore the islands on foot, or maybe even spend a night there, check out the times of the Washington State Ferries and leave the city far behind as you enjoy the best that nature has to offer.

Day 5: The chances are that on your last day, you’ll be feeling more like doing some quieter activities than more hiking or exercising, so take in the famous Museum of Flight, 9404 E. Marginal Way S. Even if you’re not interested in flying, this fascinating six-story-tall gallery is sure to capture your attention. If you’re not a museum person, you could take a taxi or drive to Columbia City, a quirky, historical neighborhood, off the tourist trail. Grab a beer, get a coffee and just enjoy a chilled afternoon of relaxing and tasting delicious foods.

Seattle has something for everybody, from nature lovers to historians and art, culture, music and seafood fans. Five days in the Pacific Northwest will leave you with a taste for more.

Flying into bad weather is asking for trouble (weather waiver)

Here is a reader submitted story and some advice on rescheduling business trips to avoid bad weather.

On a business trip from Tampa to NYC. Here was my day:

1 pm flight delayed a half hour leaving Tampa to JFK. No big deal.

Flight makes it to JFK airspace on schedule! Hooray! Pilot tells us we have to enter a holding pattern, but they prepared for this and have plenty of fuel.

90 minutes of holding, we begin our approach. Pilot suddenly makes an announcement that JFK has an equipment failure and we need to go back into holding pattern. Our plane no longer has enough fuel, we are diverted to Albany.

We refuel in Albany and push back, but then receive word that JFK is on a ground halt due to weather. Three hour delay in Albany.

We finally board the plane and push back again, but apparently Albany is a very understaffed airport and there is only one crew to de-ice the plane. It takes an additional 2 hours to prep the plane.

At this point, the pilot informs us they have been shift timed out and flight to JFK is cancelled.

As I type, Delta is coordinating buses to take us on a 3 hour trip to JFK. This is the stuff of travel nightmares.

These days, if airlines post a weather waiver for my cities and dates I just assume my flights will be monumentally mucked up. If at all possible I’ll try to move around to avoid the weather. FAR 117 (pilot duty time restrictions) and extended ground delay rules have forced airlines to be much more proactive with their response to foul weather. So we see more cancellations before and during storms but, arguably, faster/better service recovery on the other side.

It didn’t use to be this way… time was you almost had to wait around for your flight to be canceled before you could do anything with your ticket. Now, I can change, cancel and refund travel days in advance of a big storm without even having to talk to an agent.

Moral of the story… if my flight is predicted to fall inside a winter storm (or weather waiver) I’ll try to get out early, wait out the storm at my origin, or bag the trip entirely. Trying to go in the midst of it is asking for trouble.

What to Expect from This Giant’s Causeway Tour

A visit to Northern Ireland would not be complete without a trip to the Unesco World Heritage Site, The Giant’s Causeway. Flanked by a rugged coastline and stretching out into a tumultuous Atlantic Ocean, the causeway is an awe inspiring site. Formed by 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, it is over 62 million years old. Science tells us that it was formed during a volcanic eruption, but those of a more romantic nature prefer to believe the mythical tale that the causeway was laid by the Giant, Finn McCool.

If you choose to take the award winning Giant’s Causeway Tour, organised by Allen’s Tours, here is a little of what you can expect from your day. The tour begins at 9:30 am in Belfast. You can choose to depart from one of the convenient pick-up points dotted around the city. Alternatively, it is possible to pre book a complimentary shuttle pick-up from your hotel or guest house.

Once on board your bus, sit back and relax knowing that you’re safe in the hands of your knowledgeable driver and tour guide. As you make your way out of the city of Belfast, prepare to enter another realm as you experience some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

“I wish I was in Carrickfergus,
Where the castle looks out to the sea.”

The lyrics of this famous Irish folk song couldn’t be more appropriate as you make the first stop on your journey. The gateway to the beautiful Causeway Coast, Carrickfergus is home to a stunning Norman castle that you are free to explore. Take the opportunity to step back in time and stroll around the castle walls or climb the winding stairwells and take in the magnificent views across the harbour.

Back on board and it is time to head north. Look to your right and the Irish Sea stretches eastwards to Scotland. Look to the left and the Nine Glens of Antrim are laid out in all their emerald beauty. As you travel along the winding coastline the gorgeous views change constantly, quaint villages, historic castles, seascapes, waterfalls, bridges and stunning glens take the breath away.

Moving along the coast you may feel the scenery becomes more familiar. This could well be the case if you watch the TV serial Game of Thrones. Used as a backdrop for some of its scenes, the tiny village of Ballintoy is famous for another reason too. Stopping in the village, you will be given the opportunity to cross the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. The infamous rope bridge spans the gap between the mainland at Ballintoy and the tiny island of Carrickarede. Not for the faint hearted, it requires some daring to make the trip across this bridge. For those who would prefer to keep their feet on terra firma, there is the opportunity to take in the lovely views and fresh sea air.

A short drive down the road and it is time for lunch at “The Giant’s Causeway Cafe”. Lunch is not included in the price of the tour and with only 30 minutes to stop and grab a bite, it may be worth considering taking a picnic to eat at a more leisurely pace.

With one more stop before your destination, those who enjoy a tipple will appreciate the next part of the excursion. Established in 1608 The Bushmills Whiskey Distillery is the oldest working distillery in Ireland. Priding itself on its local roots, generations of families have worked here producing fine Irish whiskey. As well as the opportunity to tour the distillery, there is the chance to sample the wares in the tasting room before buying your very own drop of Ireland in a bottle.

The afternoon is spent at the outdoor museum, The Giant’s Causeway. Once there you can choose to pick up a hand held audio guide and explore at your own pace. Alternatively, you can take a tour with one of the rangers who will explain the history of the causeway. The indoor Visitors’ Centre allows you to discover more about the mythology and science of the area through interactive displays. Other facilities include a gift shop, toilets and a coffee shop.

Whichever way you choose to explore, there really is something for everyone. An area of outstanding natural beauty, you can investigate the basalt polygons that rise from the ground, follow the coastal paths in search of flora and fauna or spot the many varieties of birds and wildlife. For the true believers search instead for Finn McCool’s Cave, the Giant’s Boot or the Wishing Chair.

The end of the day and time to climb on board the bus for the return trip to Belfast. But just when you thought Allen’s Belfast Bus Tours had shown you all there was to see, they have one more surprise stop.

The ruins of Dunluce Castle perch precariously on the cliffs of Antrim overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Joined to the mainland by an arched walkway and built above a secret cave, it is hauntingly beautiful. Woven into its long history are tales of mermaids, smugglers and piracy. A fairy tale castle, it provides the perfect backdrop for those keen to catch a romantic image of Irish history.

While the sun sets on what is hoped was a perfect day, it is time to head homeward to Belfast. As night falls you just have time for a nap before reaching your destination. Perhaps if you are really lucky you will dream of castles, mermaids and returning to The Giant’s Causeway, one day very soon.

GPSmyCity – win a free promo code by telling us which city you most want to visit

GPSmyCity is offering travel-plan-idea.com readers up to 20 free promo codes.

The app, which usually costs 4.99, comes in iOS and Android flavors. Each GPSmyCity app works for one city (over 470 cities around the world). Each app contains from a few to over a dozen self-guided walking tours for a single city, allowing visitors to explore on foot the best of the city at their own pace.

Here’s how to win the free promo code. Visit http://www.gpsmycity.com/gps-tour-guides/ and find the city that you most want to experience. Leave a comment below that says which city you want to experience and why. Make sure you fill in the email field so we can send you the free promo code. In early 2016 we will email everyone a code so they can get some cool walking tours for the city they chose.

I’ll go first. I want to experience Atlanta. The Atlanta app has 13 walking tours and I’m guessing I haven’t done any of them even though I have spent a lot of time in Atlanta. It’s time for me to get to know the city.

So leave a comment below, fill out the email part, tell us which city you want, and wait for your free code.

5 day San Francisco travel plan including Alcatraz, Napa, and Redwoods

While the Golden Gate city of San Francisco is large and bustling, you can still get the full San Francisco experience in just 5 days if you manage your time well. Check out this suggested five-day itinerary that will have you experiencing the whole city from Alcatraz to Redwoods, and the surrounding Napa area before you depart.

Day 1: Upon arrival, the first thing to do is go out and explore, like any tourist. Take a bus tour and get a flash view of the city. The best place to start off is Union Square, as most of the bus tours start and end here. Head out to visit some of the more historic places, like the Alcatraz prison, made famous by blockbuster action film, The Rock. It’s recommendable to book your Alcatraz tour at least three days in advance, as they sell out quite quickly. Spend the rest of your day walking up and down the steep streets, or catch one of San Fran’s famous trams. Sample the local cuisine. With around 4,500 restaurants across the city, you’re sure to have a memorable culinary experience here.

Day 2: On your second day, take a trip to the Redwood National Park. Redwoods is an amazing place to experience the huge majestic trees that form this magnificent forest, and its stunning scenery will leave you breathless. The cycling trails in Redwood are unrivaled and there’s something for every level of cyclist here. If you like riding fixies and want an easy, fairly flat trail, try the Gold Bluffs Beach Coastal Trail. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, take a mountain bike and tackle the Little Bald Hills trail.

Day 3: Check out the Golden Gate Bridge – Rent a car, take a tour, walk, or if your legs will still allow, you can bike across this famous landmark that is an engineering work of art. You can even take a helicopter tour and enjoy the amazing view from the skies. Make sure you check out the weather forecast first for visibility, as San Francisco is a famously foggy city.

Day 4: Bike through Napa Valley – Made famous by its delicious wine and pleasant countryside, California’s Napa Valley makes an excellent place to bike around and you can find bikes for sale or rent throughout the city and surrounding area. The Napa Valley also has an array of top-rated restaurants, more than 500 wineries, and tons of great local Napa cycling routes that you can explore. Yountville, located in the heart of Napa’s agricultural reserve, is an ideal place to start your Napa Valley bike ride.

Day 5: Hit up Chinatown – Complete your tour of this West Coast city with a taste of the East. With San Francisco hosting the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, this is a definite must-do. With an endless array of cheap souvenirs and street food to sample, there’s also a fortune cookie factory, located on the corner of Washington Street and Ross that you can visit to try out the delicious treats famous for their wise sayings and premonitions.

San Francisco has something for everybody, from nature lovers to historians and art and food fans. Five days in this wonderful part of everybody’s favorite state are sure to be the most memorable of your life.

Author: Michael Peggs is the founder of digital marketing agency Marccx Media, where they specialize in SEO and Content Marketing. Before Marcxx, Peggs worked at Google in business development, forming digital media and advertising partnerships. He is also a blogger and podcaster, hosting the iTunes Top 10 New & Noteworthy podcast You University – The Personal Branding Podcast.

Rookie mistake – canceled old reservation before making the new one

So tomorrow I leave for a conference in Indianapolis. A few days ago, my wife said it would be fun if she came with me and we brought the dogs. The stupid Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis, where the conference is (and where my reservations are) is not dog friendly. But there’s a La Quinta half a mile away and they are dog friendly.

So I cancel the Hyatt and go to book La Quinta. No availability, but you knew that from the post title. We decided it would be too much work to start searching for hotels very close to the conference hotel and that were dog friendly.

I call the Hyatt to uncancel – no can do even though fewer than 5 minutes have passed. How much to book a room? About 400 bucks. My conference rate was 150 so I’m going to feel this in my pocket book.

Luckily I was able to get another room at the conference rate, but it’s a room with a view so I have to pay 170/night. Not as good as 150/night but way better than 400/night.

Of course the worst part will be leaving my wife and furkids home but at least I learned my lesson. Make the new reservation before you cancel the old one. I knew that – just needed a reminder.

Tips to Make Your Next Trip More Adventurous and Memorable

Going out on a trip is fun and make it more memorable by being more adventurous. We only live once. As cliche as it may sound, we need to make the most of it. Go out of your comfort zone – have fun, be bolder, and adventurous.

Here’s how you can achieve that adventurous and memorable trip!

Go to places you’ve never been to.

Most people prefer going to places where they feel familiar and comfortable. For example, Paris is beautiful and special, yes, but do you need to go to Paris every time you are out for vacation? Why not try something new? Go to a place you’ve never been to.

Get a globe, randomly pick a destination and fly there (if your budget permits). How awesome would that be! Places like South Africa, Brazil, Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and others will give you adventures you will treasure for the rest of your life.

Explore like you are searching for something.

Do not just refer to travel guides or Google Maps when you are deciding where to go. Let your instinct take you places. If you are in the far flung places in Thailand, or Vietnam, you can talk to locals and ask which places are best to visit. If you are in New Zealand, there are many car hire in Queenstown to book, so you can easily go to remote nature parks. Allow yourself to explore the beauty of the country or city you decided to visit.

Try outdoor activities.

Are you the type who always stays in the hotel or just go to restaurants and other establishments? For a change why don’t you try various outdoor activities? Try bungee jumping, cliff diving, parasailing, and scuba diving or go wall climbing! Doing those activities will definitely make the trip more special and memorable. Do not be afraid to go wild. It is nice to feel closer to nature through those activities. For once, leave your smartphones, tablets, laptops and other gadgets behind and just enjoy the moment doing outdoor activities.

Leave your work and your worries at home.

Leave your worries at home. When you go out for your next adventure, you must make sure you will not think about work. Do not open your email while you are away because it is definitely a major spoiler of fun. Also, be sure to forget your problems or any worries. You are out to enjoy and relax so stick to that agenda.

Be with your favorite people.

Lastly, go to this next adventure with your most favorite people in the world. Anything will be special when you are sharing it with your dearest friends and loved ones. So make sure to bring them with you on your trip.

Live life to the fullest. Make your next trip more adventurous and memorable using the tips we discussed in this post. But, do not be reckless. You must know the boundaries between being adventurous and being reckless. What you need is clean, exciting and spontaneous kind of fun to make it more special and one of a kind.

5 ways you can unwind during a business trip

After a hectic day of meetings, travel and work functions, being able to “switch off” during a business trip is a skill in itself. Down-time might be minimal, so you need to escape the grind when you can. Feeling physically and mentally refreshed for the next day’s activities is vital. Here are five ways you can unwind during a business trip.

Pamper yourself

You mightn’t be able to fit in the four hour deluxe spa package that you probably deserve, but a relaxing 30 minute massage or dip in the hotel Jacuzzi could be just what the doctor ordered. All work and no play makes Jack (and Jill) a tightly wound employee. Many motels and resorts boast their own day spa facilities on-site, so why not join the pamper program?

Take a stroll

Whether your business trip takes you to the centre of a big city or a location way out in the middle of nowhere, there’s nothing like a leisurely stroll to clear the mind and stretch out those tense muscles. It’s also a good excuse to engage in a little sightseeing. Get out there and make the most of your surrounds. You never know what you might stumble upon. It certainly beats lying in your hotel room and staring at the ceiling all evening.

Watch TV

An oldie but a goodie, this tip will help take your mind off the day’s work-related events and provide a genuine entertainment option in the process. It might seem contradictory to the advice given above, but it’s good to keep your options open – and there’s no reason you can’t follow all of our tips!

Even the most rundown of hotels has a working television with a decent selection of channels. Sit, back, relax and escape reality for a while! It’s the perfect accompaniment to room service snacks. Speaking of food …

Eat well

It might be tempting to grab the quickest and easiest meal option during a business trip, but it pays to be selective. The ritual of sitting down and tucking into a nice meal – either alone or with company – nourishes the soul and keeps those tastebuds happy! Resorts/hotels such as Kings Park Accommodation, offer delicious, home-style dining – perfect for when you spend extensive periods on the road.

Shopping

Gifts for the kids, a nice present for your partner, a purchase or two for yourself – whatever your end goal, shopping is a fantastic way to unwind during a business trip. If it’s been nothing but work, work, work, then shopping can provide the ideal distraction. Plus it’s a great way to reward yourself for all that hard work. Retail therapy saves the day yet again!

Business trips don’t have to be a chore. No matter how hectic your schedule is, there is always time to unwind. Follow the tips above and you will gain the most out of your next work excursion.

How do you like to make the most of your downtime on a business trip? Share your suggestions below.