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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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HOW TO CONTEST A FORECLOSURE

How you contest a foreclosure depends  on where you live because each state has it's own laws and rules regarding real-estate. If your state requires the foreclosing party to sue you (judicial foreclosure), then it may be a little easier (and less expensive) to jump into the existing lawsuit. If your state allows foreclosures to proceed without court supervision (nonjudicial foreclosure), then you’ll have to bring your own lawsuit-a challenging and expensive process.

The right of redemption is an equitable right, foreclosure is an action in equity. To keep the right of redemption, the debtor may be able to petition the court for an injunction. If repossession is imminent the debtor must seek a temporary restraining order. However, the debtor may have to post a bond in the amount of the debt. This protects the creditor if the attempt to stop foreclosure is simply an attempt to escape the debt.

A debtor may also challenge the validity of the debt in a claim against the bank to stop the foreclosure and sue for damages. In a foreclosure proceeding, the lender also bears the burden of proving they have standing to foreclose.

If you are motivated to contest the foreclosure because you want to keep your home indefinitely, then hiring an attorney to explain not only the stated laws but also the specific documents that are necessary for your jurisdiction is the best course of action.

Foreclosures are broken into two categories, judicial and non-judicial. While the end result  is usually the same, an auction of the home, the judicial foreclosure involves the court, but the non-judicial does not. In addition, a judicial foreclosure will take longer to complete, as it must be processed through the court system for the jurisdiction where the house is located. As the process unfolds, it is the responsibility of the bank or lender to petition the court to rectify the status of non-payment. This court action is known as lis pendens, which translates literally to "litigation is pending."

In judicial foreclosure states, the foreclosing party must bring a lawsuit to get the foreclosure started. In the process you will be notified of the foreclosure lawsuit when papers called a summons and complaint are delivered to (served on) you. They will advise you of the law­suit and give you a period of time within which you must respond if you choose to contest it. Also, the foreclosing party will have the burden of proving to the judge that the foreclosure is justified under the terms of the mortgage.

You can respond or not; it's your choice. Either way you do respond, the mortgage holder will be required to prove that the foreclosure is legal (although if you don’t respond, the chances are excellent that the foreclosure will go through). The proof will typically consist of a thick bundle of documents containing various papers that you signed when obtaining or refinancing your mortgage. There will also be notices, signed agreements, internal accountings of payments both made and missed, and written statements under oath (called declarations or, if sworn before a notary public, affidavits) from lender and mortgage servicer officials who have knowledge of:
-your missed payments
-the lender’s compliance with your state’s laws regarding foreclosure procedures, and
-the circumstances through which your lender came to own the mortgage.

Surprisingly, as a general rule, if you don’t point out errors or omissions in the paperwork, the court will accept the papers as evidence that will support a foreclosure judgment and order for sale.

If you choose to respond, you will have the chance to inform a judge just why you think the papers are wrong and that foreclosure should not be approved. To contest the foreclosure, you can file a simple form, called an answer in most places. In it, you state your factual and legal arguments for opposing the foreclosure. In this form you must include all the reasons and facts that pertain to you mortgage.

If you have evidence of your own regarding these issues, you also can file your own sworn statements. For example, if the lender claims that you missed five payments, but you can prove (typically with canceled checks) that you missed only one, you would submit a statement under oath to that effect and attach your canceled checks.

The court clerk will set a date for a hearing, at which the judge will hear arguments on the paperwork submitted by both sides. After the hearing, the judge may:
-make a decision based solely on the paperwork
-postpone the hearing for a month or two to give the ­parties more time to gather more information. For example, if the paperwork filed by the foreclosing party doesn’t show authorization to bring the foreclosure lawsuit, the judge may continue the hearing for a month so that the foreclosing party can bring in additional documentation, or

-decide that the information in the paperwork is inadequate and schedule an “evidentiary” hearing a month or two later at which the parties will present their cases through live witnesses who can be questioned by the judge and cross-examined by the other side. For example, if there is conflict over missed payments, both you and an official from the mortgage servicer would testify, and the judge would decide which of you is most likely telling the truth.

After any later hearings, the judge will either order the foreclosure to go ahead (and in many states, set the sale date), or dismiss the case, sending the lender back to the drawing board. Thi will conclude the foreclosure process for your case.

Redemption periods have been written into the state codes for a great number of jurisdictions that provide judicial foreclosures. Such a period can be anywhere from six months to a year in length and provides you with additional time to gather the necessary funds to ensure continued ownership of your home. In fact, even after negotiations with the bank have failed or,  further still, the house has been sold at auction, the redemption period provides one final opportunity to get the house back. Even in the eleventh hour of the redemption period, if you are able to secure the funds, you will legally be eligible to regain ownership of the home--and at auction price. more on foreclosures




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