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 TO GET A LOAN ON YOUR HOME'S EQUITY
If you are in the market for credit, a home equity plan is one of several options that might be right for you. Before making a decision, however, you should weigh carefully the costs of a home equity line against the benefi ts. Shop for the credit terms that best meet your borrowing needs without posing undue fi nancial risks. And remember, failure to repay the amounts you’ve borrowed, plus interest, could mean the loss of your home.
If you’re interested in borrowing against your home’s available equity to pay for other expenses, you have choices. One option would be to refinance and get cash out. Another option would be to take out a home equity loan or line of credit. Here are some of the key differences between a: cash-out refinance and a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (or HELOC)
A home equity line of credit (often called HELOC and pronounced Hee-lock) is a loan in which the lender agrees to lend a maximum amount within an agreed period (called a term), where the collateral is the borrower's equity in his/her house (akin to a second mortgage). Because a home often is a consumer's most valuable asset, many homeowners use home equity credit lines only for major items, such as education, home improvements, or medical bills, and choose not to use them for day-to-day expenses.
Home Equity Loan terms
Cash-out refinance: completely replaces your existing first: mortgage. This restarts the: term of the loan (meaning it can change your interest rate and type of mortgage, as well as reset the term of the loan). It also results in a new payment: amortization schedule, which shows the monthly payments you’d need to make in order to pay off the mortgage principal and interest by the end of the loan term.
Home equity loan or line of credit: is taken out in addition to your existing first mortgage; it doesn’t replace it. It will have its own term and repayment schedule, separate from your first mortgage, and is considered a second mortgage.
How you receive your funds
Cash-out refinance: you receive a lump sum when you close your refinance. The loan proceeds are first used to pay off your existing mortgage(s), and any remaining funds are yours to use.
Home equity loan: you receive a lump sum when your loan closes.
Home equity line of credit: you’ll receive access to a line of credit that you can draw from as needed during the permitted draw period. Although the size of the credit line can change at the lender’s discretion, you’re typically allowed to borrow as little or as much as you like, up to the maximum limit of your credit line.
Cash-out refinance: can typically offer a lower interest rate than other types of equity loans.
Home equity loans: are fixed-rate loans. Throughout the life of the loan, you’re protected from payment fluctuations as the interest rate remains fixed. Rates for home equity loans can often be higher than for other types of equity loans.
Home equity lines of credit: are usually adjustable-rate loans that change with an index (usually The Wall Street Journal Prime Rate). Your lender may also offer you a fixed-rate loan option. Bank of America home equity lines of credit include this fixed-rate conversion option. This would allow you to convert all or just a portion of the principal you owe on a home equity line of credit to a fixed rate. Home equity lines of credit typically carry lower interest rates than home equity loans, although if the rate on a HELOC is adjustable, the payment could increase significantly in the future.
Cash-out refinance: will incur closing costs similar to your original mortgage.
Home equity loans and lines of credit: usually have no, or relatively small, closing costs.
If you think that borrowing from your available home equity could be a good financial option for you, talk with your lender about cash-out refinancing, home equity loans, and home equity lines of credit. Based on your personal situation and financial needs, they can provide the information you need to choose the best option for your situation.
Benefits of Home Equity Loans
-Payment choice: Choose between principal and interest or interest-only payments.
-Ongoing accessibility: Access available funds now and in the future to pay for home improvements and other recurring expenses, without reapplying.
-Flexibility: Adapt to changing interest rates without refinancing-convert all or part of the line balance into a fixed-rate advance, for predictable monthly payments.
-Potential tax benefits: Unlike personal loans or credit cards, the interest on your home equity financing may be tax deductible.
-Relationship discounts: You may be eligible for relationship discounts up to 0.375% with a qualified Wells Fargo deposit account and automatic payments.
The interest rate on a home equity line of credit is variable, so your monthly interest-only payment may change according to the market rate unless you convert to a fixed-rate advance.
While an interest-only plan may provide a lower monthly payment, your principal balance is reduced only when you make voluntary principal payments during the interest-only period. At the end of the fixed-rate advance (FRA) term, any unpaid FRA balance reverts to the variable rate in effect on the home equity line of credit at that time. more on Heloc