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:
HOW MORTGAGE RATES ARE DECIDED
In deciding mortgage rates mortgage lenders don't have prospective homebuyers' best interests at heart. Loans, after all, are products and mortgage lenders are salespeople pushing those products, whether they're right for a specific homebuyer or not. Lenders typically earn a one percent commission on each mortgage or mortgage refinancing they successfully process as well as additional points, called overages, if they can convince homebuyers to go with a loan higher than average current mortgage rates.
It's not unheard of for unscrupulous lenders to delay processing a loan if current mortgage rates are rising and the end of a 60-day interest lock-in rate is fast approaching. While mortgage brokers themselves aren't directly regulated by a federal agency, the Federal Trade Commission has taken action in the past against companies routinely engaging in this questionable practice.
Lenders use APRs (Annual Percentage Rates) when they promote mortgages or mortgage refinancing in order to give prospective homeowners an accurate estimation of the loan's annual cost to them.
However, every lender calculates the APR in a slightly different way. One lender may include application fees in the APR calculations, while another lender may not. Additionally, APRs differ according to the size of the loan, whether interest will be assessed at a fixed or variable rate, and insurance required. Homeowners may end up paying different amounts on two loans both advertised at an APR of 3.5 percent.
Mortgage rates have a tendency to get lifted on Friday regardless of whether the market calls for it or not. Avoid locking your rates on any Friday. Mortgage rates are loosely tied to other fixed rate investments like Treasury bonds. US Treasury bonds are believed by the markets to be “as good as gold” or risk free to say it another way. So when investor fear putting their money anywhere else (ie. stocks, commodities, etc.) yet still want to earn a return however meager, they buy Treasury bonds.
If the demand for bonds is high, the rate the bond pays drops. If the rate bonds pay drops, so does the rate mortgage backed securities pay…and even thought it’s not quite that simple, mortgage rates come down.
The reason Friday seems to be a day the bankers “forget” the market is because they don’t know what the weekend will bring. If there is “good” economic news made over the weekend like a good jobs report or exports are up, investor will want to dump the bonds and move to stocks or commodities. This will mean rates will have to be raised and it’s seems they all think that it is better protection if they do that on the previous Friday.
Say we turn on the news to find out that there is an oil spill, tsunami, or earthquake that just occurred. This will impact mortgage rates almost immediately.
What will happen as you’ve probably already guessed is rates will improve. When investor move their money out of risky investments and into US Treasury bonds this is call a “flight to quality” or a “flight to safety”. Look for any big negative news story to trigger a flight to quality and take advantage if you can. Many investor like to wait out the negative events by sitting on the sidelines…and moving their funds from stocks to bonds is how they do that.
Locking before versus after a “flight to quality” could be costly. I’ve seen a half a percent in the rate difference in the past. Nobody likes disasters but you will have this mortgage for many years and a .5% rate drop could save you $10,000′s in needless interest if you simply stay abreast of current events and know the trends.
So if you get an urgent phone call from your loan officer begging you to lock in a rate right now, click over to Bloomberg or CNBC and find out what the stock market is doing. You may find more often then not, stocks are on the upswing. He maybe trying to get you to lock the worst possible time.
On the flip side, if you tune into the stock market (which you should be doing daily if you have an unlocked loan in process) keep your eye out for the opposite occurring. Say the DOW is falling like a rock your loan officer will not call you! You will have to call him.
more on rates