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USELFUL LINKS:
State Department Travel Information
FlightAware Flight Tracking
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Important news before you travel:

If you are in the United States you should be aware of certain Travel Advisories which are given to citizens who choose to travel abroad. These advisories can affect you and may even change your travel plans. So before you go to the airport you should always check to see if your destination country is on the List of the United States Government Travel Advisories.

For more information: Check out the link below which will send you to the US Governments official website.


https://travel.state.gov
TIPS ON MAKING HOTEL RESERVATIONS:


When traveling for business or fun, there’s nothing worse than thinking you have a reservation and learning your hotel reservations been lost, your room has one bed and not two bedrooms, or you thought your check-in time was noon, only to find out it is really 3:00pm. To help avoid these things from happening, there are a few helpful hotel reservation tips seasoned travelers recommend:

Always use a credit card when making a hotel reservation. A credit cards offers the guest some level of protection should the hotel stay go awry. Any disputes a guest may have with the hotel, or with the billing can more easily be rectified through the credit card company. The card company will act as a mediator once their client can show effort to resolve the dispute. Additionally, if a dispute cannot be resolved, the credit card company has the authority to remove the charge from a client’s bill. If cash were paid, a hotel guest would have no recourse. Note: If you don’t use your own credit card to secure a reservation, be aware that the person whose name is on the card will be responsible for showing the card and signing at check in. If the card does not belong to the person staying at the hotel, notify the desk before leaving home (prior to arrival) and ask what their identification procedure is. They may accept a letter from the credit card holder authorizing use, and a copy of both the front and back of the card.

Ask for deals/discounts at each hotel. Many hotels offer corporate, AAA, senior, or even mid-week/off-season discounts. If one is not offered - ask about them. Many hotels now offer ‘rewards’ programs and some hotels reduce rates by $50 or more, for simply signing up for their program. If making reservations online, look for internet-only rates and shop various websites to find the best deals. Travel agents can often secure unadvertised specials or late check-in opportunities which can translate into huge savings.

When making reservations speak clearly and repeat spelling of all names. There have been many reservations lost because of inaccurate spelling and guests have been told they did not have rooms when a hotel or an entire city was booked to capacity. If any special requests are made, verify them and if possible get them in writing. Also make sure to get the name of the employee. Verify everything spell names and verify information/requests etc. Double check reservations prior to leaving for hotel and make sure names of all hotel employees you’ve spoken to are taken.

When reservations are made, changed and cancelled-confirmation numbers are given. Make sure all numbers are kept in a safe place until credit cards are billed and all charges are verified. Cancellation and confirmation numbers are often the difference between being charged for a hotel reservation that was cancelled, the possibility of a free upgrade when the hotel overbooks and you can prove when your reservation was made, and being stranded away from home without a room for the night.
Discuss hotel policies prior to making reservations, and verify them at check-in. Some hotels require credit cards at check in for any hotel charges, such as telephone usage, room service, meals in the hotel, or even take -out arranged through the hotel with area restaurants, etc. If a credit card is not available, a cash/check deposit maybe required for any services/fees that may accrue during the hotel stay. Determine when check-in/check-out times are, when cancellation policies go into affect and verify occupancy limits if staying in a room with multiple occupants.

Remember these hotel reservation tips when scheduling your travel plans. Whether by internet, through a travel agent, or by telephone, it pays to research the hotel and be meticulous when making arrangements. A little pre-planning when making reservations can save major headaches when traveling away from home.
AIRPORT TIPS YOU CAN USE

To make your way to a flight on time and to get throught security as quickly as possible you can try the following tips:

1) Sign up. The TSA's PreCheck, a trusted traveler program, has spread to more cities across the U.S. and is now available at some 40 airports. Members of the program are pre-screened and can then whiz through security, sometimes without having to take off their shoes or remove laptops from cases. The U.S. Customs Department's Global Entry program is another shortcut for frequent international travelers, especially as the federal government contracts and customs lines potentially get longer.

Critical Security Checkpoints:
To make clearing security as easy as possible...
-Review the guidelines for liquids and gels on your Flight carriers Carry-On Baggage page before your flight.
-Have your government-issued photo identification and boarding pass ready for inspection.
-Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off, since all footwear must be x-rayed.
-Remember to place all coats and jackets in a bin for x-ray screening.
-Make your laptop easily accessible for inspection.
-Avoid wearing anything metal or place these items in your carry-on baggage for screening

2) Check flight status. Although this is obvious, many people often fail to do this one simple but critical thing.

I recommend doing the same before abandoning your ride or your car just before you head to the terminal; flight status updates change by the minute, so a last-second check is always a good idea.

Most airlines will text you flight status updates if you sign up on their Web sites, and sites like Flightaware.com do the same by text, on the Web and through smartphone apps.

4) Check in online. Especially if you are not checking bags, this can save you a heap of time. I have found that when checking bags, having the pre-printed boarding pass in your hand doesn't help all that much, and check-in agents often reissue another boarding pass when you check in your bags -- but it sure doesn't hurt.

5) Before you leave for the airport, put your ID, credit card and boarding pass (if applicable) in an easily accessible part of your wallet or bag. There are two reasons for this: one, by going through this exercise, you make sure that you don't leave home without these crucial items. Two, you don't waste your (and other people's) time fumbling around for them at the moment you need them.

Check the airport parking situation online. Knowing ahead of time where to park, which lots are open and how far they are from the terminal can save you a lot of anxiety on your drive in, as well as keep you safer as you navigate tortuous and almost always poorly marked airport ring roads. Additionally, during peak travel periods, lots fill up quickly, so you will want an alternate parking plan.

When you are ready to board always take inventory of what you will need to do when you get to the front of the security line. Do a quick mental review of everything you are wearing that you will need to remove (such as shoes, jewelry, watch, jacket), and what you have inside your carry-on bag that might need to be taken out (liquids, electronics). When you get to the front of the line, blast through your mental inventory and make it happen. Done well, you can go from fully clad for winter weather, with laptops and iPads in your bag, to a T-shirt, pants and socks, and all your sensitive electronics in their own bins, in seconds.

Using these tips will get you through the airport, on your flight and towards your destination as quickly as possible.

more traveler informaiton tips available at the TSA website:
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LOS ANGELES THE CITY OF ANGELS


Los Angeles is a beautiful place to visit and has millions of visitors each year. The Los Angeles area stretches 40 miles (64 kilometers), from 5,000-foot (1,500-meter) mountains to the Pacific, and claims 467 square miles (1,209 square kilometers). That's 20 Manhattan Islands, or ten San Franciscos, or two Chicagos. Within a three-hour drive you can ski, hike alpine wilderness, fly cast, or surf.

Even bigger is the Angeleno concept of L.A., which annexes adjoining self-governing municipalities. Thus Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Culver City, and Malibu are seen as nice neighborhoods belonging to the Big Pueblo. Ditto Burbank and the San Fernando Valley, where the ditsy dialect known as Valley Girl arose.

Some of the things you can see and do while in LA:

The amazing Los Angeles nightlife offers endless entertainment options, whether it’s a quiet drink with that special someone or dancing the night away with thousands of fellow party people. Downtown LA's vibrant nightlife includes L.A. LIVE and numerous bars and nightclubs. In Hollywood you can go out and dress to impress at Drai’s and The Colony. Universal CityWalk Hollywood has everything from the Hard Rock Cafe to the dueling pianos of Howl at the Moon. LA bartenders create some of the best cocktails in the country at top bars, restaurants and hotels. Laugh it up at the Hollywood Improv Comedy Club or the Laugh Factory.

Want to see LA from the air? Take a Celebrity Helicopter Tours:
Stunt helicopter pilot Robin Petgrave's (Broken Arrow, The Circuit) popular tours fly a maximum of three up the coastline, over Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, Brentwood, Hollywood, and the sparkling Hollywood Reservoir. See Aaron Spelling's 21-car garage, and Eddie Murphy's new 77,000-square-foot mansion from the air-without privacy gates or hedges, says Petgrave. In an ironic twist: proceeds go towards a worthy cause-a Compton-based children's flight program. www.celebheli.com

The Getty Center Los Angeles
"LA's fabulous outdoor living room that happens to have some old art."-Matthew Flynn, co-author, Fodor's L.A. Perched high above Los Angeles, Richard Meier's architectural triumph of travertine and white granite contains European and American art, sculpture, and manuscripts. Better still, go for the hilltop vistas of mountains, ocean, the span of the city, and the white Hollywood sign. Happenings include a summer outdoor concert series. Admission is free, though parking is $8. 1200 Getty Center Dr.; tel. +1 310 440 7300; www.getty.edu

Hollywood
"Often considered intimidating, this city is an amalgamation of everything from the indie hipster to the obnoxious socialite."-Rebecca Brown. Don't miss the Walk of Fame (hand and footprints of the stars), Grauman's Chinese Theater (over-the-top pagoda), the Egyptian Theater (art deco behemoth now hosting classy retrospectives), El Capitan Theatre (Disney screening venue with ornate, authentic detail), and the Erotic Museum (small but interesting).

Huntington Library
Stately museum housing American and European paintings and decorative art. The highlight is outside: 120 acres of exquisitely manicured gardens, including an extensive desert garden with countless otherworldly aloe plants, a sprawling Japanese garden with arched bridges and bonsai trees, wild Australian parkland, and a children's garden. Massive new Chinese garden opened in 2008. 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino; tel. +1 626 405 2100; www.huntington.org

Malibu
"Ultimate insider's beach community. Billionaires and beach bums sharing sand."-Matthew Flynn. 21 miles of precarious coastline. The marshy Malibu Lagoon State Beach is ideal for bird-watching or surfer-watching; the Malibu Pier makes for a rustic fisherman's sunset perch; and Zuma Beach is paradise for sunbathers and volleyball players.

Fact:
Nicknamed the City of Angels, Los Angeles is a global city, with strengths in business, international trade, entertainment, culture, media, fashion, science, sports, technology, education, medicine and research and has been ranked sixth in the Global Cities Index and 9th Global Economic Power Index. The city is home to renowned institutions covering a broad range of professional and cultural fields and is one of the most substantial economic engines within the United States. T

he Los Angeles combined statistical area (CSA) has a gross metropolitan product (GMP) of $831 billion (as of 2008), making it the third-largest in the world, after the Greater Tokyo and New York metropolitan areas. Los Angeles includes Hollywood and leads the world in the creation of television productions, video games, and recorded music; it is also one of the leaders in motion picture production. Additionally, Los Angeles hosted the Summer Olympic Games in 1932 and 1984.




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