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State Department Travel Information
FlightAware Flight Tracking
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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:
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.
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INSIDE THE WORLD OF SECOND MORTGAGES


A second mortgage is one that is a loan that is taken after a first mortgage, regardless of whether or not the first mortgage has been retired. It is a secured loan that uses the house and the amount equity in the property as it basis. The amount available for the loan is determined by the current value of the property and the amount owed.

In general, second mortgages are assumed in order to pay for debt consolidation, home improvements, tuition, or emergency expenses. They run concurrently with the first mortgage and, in the event of default, must be paid off.

Interest rates for second mortgages vary according to the borrower’s credit rating and the prevailing prime interest rate at the time the mortgage is sought. Underwriting guidelines are a little more lenient for second mortgages, so acquiring one takes less time. Also, these mortgages have lower associated fees and costs, which may balance out a higher interest rate.

Payments are made on a monthly basis, like a first mortgage. It usually is a fixed rate loan with set monthly payments, although variable rate mortgages are available.

A second mortgage typically refers to a secured loan (or mortgage) that is subordinate to another loan against the same property. Second mortgages are subordinate because, if the loan goes into default, the first mortgage gets paid off first before the second mortgage. Thus, second mortgages are riskier for lenders and thus generally come with a higher interest rate than first mortgages.

In real estate, a property can have multiple loans or liens against it. The loan which is registered with county or city registry first is called the first mortgage or first position trust deed. The lien registered second is called the second mortgage. A property can have a third or even fourth mortgage, but those are rarer.

In most cases, a second mortgage takes the form of a home equity loan and the two are synonymous, from a financial standpoint. The difference in terminology is that a mortgage traditionally refers to the legal lien instrument, rather than the debt itself.

Generally, when considering the application for a second mortgage, lenders will look for the following:
-Significant equity in the first mortgage
-Low debt-to-income ratio
-High credit score
-Solid employment history

There are three typical types of second mortgage:
-Traditional loan
-Home equity loan
-Home equity line of credit
-Each of these has its own sets of regulations and requirements, and must be carefully considered before assuming one.

In addition to the abovementioned second mortgages, there are others:
125% second mortgage - If you qualify you can borrow funds, that combined with your first mortgage, in excess of 125% of the value of the property. This type of mortgage is a high-risk proposition, but if the conditions are right, it can be a good decision.

Piggyback second mortgage - This is a second mortgage, which is taken out simultaneously with a primary mortgage (thus piggyback). It is usually used when the borrower cannot raise enough capital for the down payment on the first mortgage, or when the buyer wants to avoid the higher interest rate that comes with a jumbo loan.

No Equity Second Mortgage - Under the right set of circumstances, you may be able to take out a loan on the value of your equity. But once you receive the money, your equity is reduced to zero - no equity.

The term length of a second mortgage varies. Terms can last up to 30 years on second mortgages, though repayment may be required in as little as one year depending on the loan structure.

A second lien holder can foreclose when a homeowner stops making payments to the second mortgage holder, even if there is no equity in the house. The second lien holder can foreclose even if the homeowner is making payments to their first mortgage holder. When a second lien holder forecloses, they do so subject to the first lien. The second lien holder may purchase the primary (first lien) mortgage (which may still be in good standing), but they are not required to do so. Regardless, if the second mortgage holder forecloses, this will result in the homeowner losing their home to foreclosure.

Each of these has its own sets of benefits and problems, and may or may not be the right option for your situation. Sitting down with a sound lending institution provides the greatest flexibility. By exploring all the variations of a second mortgage that are available, and understanding everything involved, you will be able to find the right fit.

MAIN DISADVANTAGES OF SECOND MORTGAGES:
The main disadvantage with second mortgages is that you are risking your home by using one. This is a serious risk: if you can’t pay the loan back, a second mortgage can be catastrophic. Make sure that your intended use of funds is worth the risk you’re taking by using a second mortgage.

Another drawback is that second mortgages have slightly higher rates than senior mortgage rates. This is because the second mortgage won’t be paid until the first one is (in the event of a default). Because the loan is riskier than a plain-vanilla mortgage, the rate is higher. However, the rate may be lower than alternative sources like credit cards.

Finally, you may have to pay hefty second mortgage fees. There are a lot of hoops to jump through and services to pay for. Depending on how much you need and how long you’ll need it, a second mortgage may not work simply because of the fees.
for more information check out Making Home Affordable



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