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.
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:
TOP 5 REASONS TO REFINANCE YOUR MORTGAGE
There are so many reasons why most people refinance their loans. Here are the Top-5 reasons why they do and why you should too:
1. Lower the monthly payment. You can lower your monthly expense by stretching out your mortgage repayment over a longer term and / or by dropping your interest rate. If that’s your goal, investigate 40-year mortgages, interest-only payments and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). Each of these mortgages comes with trade-offs, so get additional refinance information about their pros and cons before proceeding.
2. Lower the interest rate. Refinancing to a home loan with a lower mortgage rate can reduce your monthly payment and the amount of interest you pay. If you plan to keep your home for many years, consider 15- or 30-year fixed home loans; otherwise, you'll find that ARMs and hybrid ARMs, which are fixed for 3-10 years before they begin adjusting, carry the lowest mortgage rates.
3. Pay the mortgage off faster. Switching to a 15-year mortgage gets you a couple of advantages. Mortgage rates on 15-year loans are about half a percent lower than rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans. Your home equity goes up and your interest expense goes down. The trade-off is that your mortgage payment is higher; make sure you can afford it before committing to this loan.
4. Convert an ARM to a fixed-rate mortgage. If you plan to keep your home for a long time, taking a fixed loan with a higher rate than your current ARM may make sense in the long run. It keeps you safe from inflation and makes budgeting easier. In this case, 15-year and 30-year fixed mortgages are the most appropriate.
5. Trade home equity for cash. If you want cash to renovate your home, pay college tuition, consolidate debt, or for any other reason, cash-out refinances and home equity loans were made for you. Use the home equity loan if you like the mortgage you have, and the cash-out refi if you don’t.
you might be able to improve the terms of your mortgage by refinancing, and it isn’t that hard to do. If you’re considering taking advantage of lower rates, swapping a fixed-rate mortgage for your adjustable loan (or vice versa) or cashing out some of your home equity, these five steps can help you navigate the refinance process.
Determine if you should refinance. Refinancing is one of those things that shouldn’t necessarily do just because you can. Your decision depends on your objective, your timeframe, and your profile. First, you need to know what you’re dealing with - your current rate, program and payoff. Then use a refinance calculator to see how your loan stacks up against refinance mortgages
Find a lender. There are several ways to find mortgage lenders. The old-school way is to get out the yellow pages and start dialing. A more efficient method is to get quotes from lenders online, then interview two or three of the most competitive. You’ll want to be comfortable with the person who helps you choose and apply for your mortgage refinance.
Choose a refinance program. Chances are good that more than one refinance program will work for you.a The 15-year fixed loans accelerate your payoff and come with lower rates but higher payments than 30-year loans. 30-year fixed rate mortgages are safe and make budgeting the easiest. And hybrid ARMs come with the lowest rates, which arae fixed for 3, 5, 7 or 10 years. In addition, homeowners with little equity may want to explore government refinance mortgages and streamline refinance programs.
Apply for your refinance. You’ll have to complete an application with a mortgage loan officer or broker and probably document your income and assets. Unless your refinance is a streamline program, your home will be appraised. This is where it pays to have an experienced professional working with you to get your refinance approved - good ones head off most of the eleventh-hour surprises and help you close your loan smoothly.
Lock in your refinance rate. Mortgage rates move with financial markets and can change several times a day. If you want to lock in a target rate, you may have to move quickly.