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USELFUL LINKS:
State Department Travel Information
FlightAware Flight Tracking
Hotels.com
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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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WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAN DO FOR HOMEOWNERS

Unlike driving a car, you can legally own a home without homeowners insurance. However, if you finance your home with a mortgage, your lender most likely will require you to have home insurance coverage to protect your home in case of damage cause by unforeseen circumstances, such as fires or natural disasters.

If you live in an area that is prone to flooding or earthquakes, your lender may also require you to purchase flood insurance or earthquake insurance.

If you purchase a condominium or co-op, your board may require you to buy condominium insurance or home insurance. Be sure to check with your board to see what type of policy is required.

After you pay off your mortgage, you aren't required to have home insurance. However, you should keep your home insurance policy active to avoid risking what you've invested in your home.

Homeowners insurance compensates you for losses to your home and your possessions inside it, so purchasing a homeowners insurance policy provides added security for your investment. Homeowners insurance also protects you if you're legally liable for someone's injuries on your property, as well as from financial losses caused by storms, fire, theft and other events outlined in your policy.

Different companies offer different homeowners insurance coverages, so choosing the right policy means finding the right mix of coverages to meet your needs.

Generally, a standard homeowners insurance policy protects the following:
-The physical structure of your home
-Structures on your property (storage sheds, pools, boathouses, etc.)
-Your personal property and belongings inside your home, up to specified limits
-Your liability or legal responsibility for any injuries and property damage you or your family members cause to other people
-Injuries to your household pets while inside your home
-Additional living expenses if a fire or other insured disaster leaves you temporarily unable to live in your home.

Often, for an additional fee, you can select optional homeowners insurance coverages, including:
-Higher limits of liability for property damage or bodily injury
-Replacement cost for personal property
-Protection for valuables (jewelry, watches, fur, etc.)
-Additional coverage for electronics or computer equipment.

PROGRESSIVE
To make shopping for the right homeowners insurance policy easier, take an inventory of what you own to decide what level of coverage makes you comfortable. Once you know your coverage level, get a homeowners insurance quote and choose the policy that's right for you.

What about townhouses?
If you own a townhouse, you can insure it with a homeowners insurance policy or an association master policy, depending on your situation. Some townhouse associations have master policies, in which case you should purchase a tenant homeowners insurance policy to insure your personal property. Other townhouse associations do not have master policies, which is when you should purchase a homeowners insurance policy for your unit. Check with your association to determine which type of policy you should purchase for your townhouse.

You generally have three options to choose from when deciding how much home insurance you need, and each of these options provides a different level of coverage for your home:

Actual Cash Value - Pays for the cost to replace damaged property while factoring in depreciation amounts. For home insurance policies, Actual Cash Value applies unless a policy states that Replacement Cost or Guaranteed Replacement Cost has been chosen.
Replacement Cost - Pays for the cost to replace damaged property without factoring in deductions for depreciation, but payment is limited to a maximum dollar amount.
Guaranteed Replacement Cost - Pays the full cost of replacing damaged property, with no deduction for depreciation and no dollar limit. Guaranteed Replacement Cost is not available in all states, and most companies limit the coverage to 120 percent of the cost to rebuild your home. Allowing for this amount protects you in cases of increased construction costs or other building-related fees due to inflation.

You can determine a rough estimate of what it would cost to rebuild your home by following this equation:
Local building costs per square foot x Total square footage of your home = Cost to rebuild your home.

Your local builders association or a real estate appraiser can provide you with local building costs for your estimate.

What factors can affect homeowners insurance premiums?
The following factors can affect your homeowners insurance premium:

Home Features and Characteristics - Your home's age, type of structure, wiring, roof, garage, etc., can affect your homeowners insurance premium. Older homes can often cost more to insure, and those costs can differ depending on whether your home is brick, frame, stone or has synthetic siding.
Location - Where your home is located can change your homeowners insurance premium. For instance, your home insurance rate can be affected if your home is in close proximity to a fire station; is exposed to extreme weather, such as hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes; or is in a neighborhood more prone to theft.
Protective Devices - Burglar alarm systems, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems and deadbolt locks can lower your homeowners insurance premium.
Personal Factors - What you do can affect your homeowners insurance premium, too. For instance, smokers may pay more for home insurance than nonsmokers. A good credit history also can lower what you pay for home insurance.
Claims History - If you have a history of claims on a homeowners insurance policy, you may pay a higher premium.




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