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:
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
A JUMBO MORTGAGE
A residential mortgage that is larger than $650,000 is referred to as a super jumbo mortgage. It is greater than a jumbo mortgage, the term used to define loans above $417,000. These financial numbers are established by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two largest secondary market lenders, and are based on the national averages for loan amounts, and these bottom line numbers change regularly. When it is necessary to acquire a loan at or above the jumbo and super jumbo levels, other agencies become involved to cover the full amount. This is necessary to cover residential loans that are in excess of one or two million.
Because risk to the lender increases as the mortgage amount increases, the interest rates for these mortgages is higher than with conventional loans. The rates are also affected by the property type and the mortgage amount.
Since the amount of a super jumbo loan is so great, the number of insurers and investors diminishes. This shrinking of available investors has led to increasing use of specialized lenders who concentrate in this field of investment with greater compensation demands beyond the capabilities of conventional lenders.
Insurers for jumbo and super jumbo mortgages are also fewer. As such, the rates tend to be higher. All of these increases are passed along to the borrower.
Finally, rates are higher because the pool of buyers for residential properties in this range is also smaller. More time and effort is necessary to sell and re-sell the property.
Super jumbo mortgages are usually short-term adjustable rate mortgages. Option ARM’s are also available as well as thirty-year fixed rate mortgages, though they are not as common. Hybrid variable rate mortgages can also be acquired with fixed rate payment intervals three to ten years.
Since traditional banks are not equipped for handling this kind of loan, mortgage lending companies handle the arranging of financing using a combination of investment banks and capital from private mortgage sources.
Jumbo and super jumbo interest rates can be as much as half a percentage point higher than a conventional loan. To avoid this penalty, many borrowers will work with lenders and take out two mortgages at the same, with each one covering part of the total loan amount. One will be designed to cover the larger part of the borrowed amount and is considered a first mortgage. The other is considered a second mortgage, and will cover the remainder of the amount.
A 30 year jumbo mortgage is exactly what its name implies, which is a very large amount of money borrowed for the term of 30 years. When you are taking out a jumbo mortgage you are borrowing more than the amount normally allowed by the GSE. The GSE, or Government Sponsored Enterprises, is responsible for maintaining housing loan availability for consumers. The GSE sets a cap on the amount for mortgages and anything over that is considered to be a jumbo mortgage.
Not all lenders offer jumbo mortgages but there are many out there that will. The process of getting a 30 year jumbo mortgage is essentially the same as it would be for a conventional mortgage. The lender is going to be checking your credit history and score as well as your employment history and current debt load. You will need a sizable down payment, as getting a jumbo mortgage without one is unheard of. There will also be fees associated with the 30 year jumbo mortgage that you must be prepared to pay up front at closing.
Because the cost of the home you are purchasing is so high, should you decide to sell you will find it’s not going to happen as quickly as a more modestly priced one might. For this reason you need to be very sure of your ability to pay this 30 year jumbo mortgage’s monthly payments so that you don’t default on your loan. Your lender of course will see at the start if you are able, but we can’t always control the unforeseen in the future. Though your income and ability to pay are fine now, you must consider that this is, after all over the term of 30 years.
If the home you want to buy is indeed over the cap of the GSE then you are looking at a 30 year jumbo mortgage. Time to look ahead at whether this is the direction in which you want to go and feel you are able to do so. If so, you need to do some preliminary planning. Speak with your loan officer about how much of a down payment will be required and what your closing costs will be. Remember, as you are planning ahead for a 30 year jumbo mortgage to also consider the costs of homeowner’s insurance and property taxes.
The 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage is an attractive loan option to some, but utterly unaffordable to others. The term “jumbo mortgage” has a meaning specific to an upper-limit that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest market lenders in the United States, are willing to purchase from the original lender on the secondary market.
The industry standards for conforming loans (those that adhere to the parameters as outlined by government-sponsored enterprises in the United States) are overshot in the case of a 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage, meaning that the maximum these secondary lenders will purchase has been exceeded.
To break down the definition of a 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage, you must understand two different concepts. The first is the concept of a 30 year fixed rate; the second, the idea of a jumbo mortgage.
For starters, the interest rate in a 30 year fixed plan is always the same, from the first to the last year of mortgage repayment. Unlike floating or variable mortgages, the amount of interest an individual or family is responsible for never changes.
A jumbo mortgage (or jumbo loan) is a mortgage that exceeds the $417,000 limit in most portions of the United States, although some high-cost areas in the continental states have a limit of $729,750.
When it is determined that an individual or family can afford the cost and interest payments of a larger mortgage, investment firms and banks will often allow them a jumbo mortgage. These mortgages generally have interest rates around 6.5%, although rates near 8% have not been uncommon and as of 2009, such rates have sunk well below the 5% mark.
When interest rates drop, insurance companies and banks are often more willing to lend the money toward such an investment. A 30 year fixed rate, as mentioned above, simply means that the interest rate paid during the term of the loan will not change. 30 year fixed rates protect buyers from rate fluctuations, and simplify the payment process.
Many people can benefit from a 30 year fixed rate mortgage, and jumbo mortgages are often more than affordable for families who know they will have the finances to purchase a home in the higher price range. A 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage is best suited to those who can afford the higher interest rate, and for those who plan on owning the home for an extended period of time.
When all is said and done, pursuing a jumbo mortgage is not a risk for many people, and indeed can result in a great purchase at an attractive price. The 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage is suited to the long term tastes of many looking to buy while rates are still low.