I’ve posted about how much I like this site before, but it deserves another. There are so many cool features to the site, like emailing ‘George’ with all your travel questions. See? http://www.airfarewatchdog.com/travel-qa/14139635/two-tickets-one-bag/
When referring to an airline ticket, a ‘dummy’ return is a fully refundable, unrestricted airline ticket that can be used as proof of a return, even though you will never actually use it.
Why would you need a dummy return ticket? I’m sure there are multiple reasons out there, but here’s why we needed them. One of our production crews recently needed dummy returns to prove they weren’t flying into the Bahamas indefinitely. The plan was to fly into the Bahamas and board a cruise ship the following day. Technically, they only needed a one way ticket to the Bahamas, since they were going to be transported back to the United States via cruise ship. However, to be on the super safe side, we wanted a return ticket to show customs upon arrival (with video equipment in tow) that we were, in fact, just ‘visiting.’
This worked perfectly–without a hitch. Our crew boarded the cruise ship in the Bahamas the following day, and I called to cancel their ‘dummy’ return tickets a few days later and received a complete refund.
Tip: Be sure when booking your ‘dummy’ ticket that it is an unrestricted, fully refundable ticket!
Tip: As long as you call to cancel the ticket almost up to the hour prior to ‘departure,’ you’ll receive a full refund. For example–let’s say you book your dummy return for May 15 at 1:00pm. You must call to cancel this flight before 1:00pm on May 15 to receive the full refund. If you wait until 1:00pm on May 15 or later, you will probably not get a complete refund. The solution? Remember you’re booking a fully refundable ticket, so might as well give yourself enough time to actually return before you cancel your ticket. In my case–our crew flew to the Bahamas on January 24 and boarded the cruise ship back to the US on Jan 25. I booked them a one-way ticket to the Bahamas, and one way (unrestricted, fully refundable) ticket from the Bahamas to the United States with a fake date of Feb 1, allowing myself plenty of time to call and cancel the ticket.
Forget about the price to check bags–don’t we all wish checking bags was easier and safer? Let’s be honest–there really is no such thing as safety anymore when we travel. We can only hope and pray and try to be aware of our surroundings and belongings, using whatever means available to help ensure the prompt arrival of ourselves…and our luggage.
Checking bags is almost a joke today, seeing as ‘carry-on’ baggage now costs an extra fee, so many people are choosing to pay a reduced fee online to check it in ahead of time. Yet there are still those stubborn people (like me) who do not want to check their small, carry-on bag with personal items inside. And have you ever tried to get your ‘carry-on’ bag onto the plane, only to discover the overhead compartments are entirely full and your ‘carry-on’ now must be checked? What a perfect opportunity for the airline (mis)handlers and rings of thieves to get their hands on your precious belongings! I sound so cynical, I know. But more now than ever I see and hear about airlines not only losing people’s bags, but people’s bags being pilfered and expensive items being stolen.
This cool new device won’t track the item itself, but at least it can help with tracking your baggage. G-d knows–it’s probably more effective than the overworked, overwhelmed, and often confused airline representatives that sometimes take forever to get a hold of. I know–I just filed a claim for $4,500.00 worth of stolen equipment from one of our crew members’ bags upon returning from a shoot in a foreign country. It took over 3 weeks to establish initial human contact with the airline. My claim with the insurance company was complete before the airline even emailed me back!
Check this out. It may not be the ‘be-all-end-all,’ but it’s something. http://www.businessinsider.com/this-little-gadget-makes-checking-bags-when-you-fly-less-of-a-nightmare-2013-1
I don’t know about you but I love cruises! Cruises are one of the most exciting and cost effective ways to travel. Plus what’s better than sleeping on a super-sized boat, eating and partying the night away in a little self-contained ‘city’ in the middle of an ocean, all the while knowing ahead of time (approximately) how much you’re going to spend? (That’s rhetorical.)
Instead of searching through individual cruise liner’s websites, go to the Expedia of cruises–icruise.com. They also have a wonderful little phone app. Their website is awesome, but to be honest, the app is so user-friendly and comprehensive for research purposes, that I’d only use the website when I am ready to book the cruise. (Everything is easier to book on a computer, isn’t it?)
Option after option is available here, along with great discounts and last minute specials, travel insurance recommendations, port excursions, local hotels, and so much more. Check it out!
Three little letters with such big meaning…SVG. That stands for St. Vincent & The Grenadines. After spending 10 days in this magical place, I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. SVG has left an indelible mark on my heart. The genuineness and kindness of Vincentians are unlike any other culture I’ve ever encountered. Go now if you can…before this little known treasure becomes too popular.
To many, the epitome of an island getaway means three things: Turquoise water, silky white sand and primo relaxation. And with alluring all-inclusive vacations to wildly popular Caribbean hot spots like St. Lucia and Barbados springing up by the dozen, it’s never been easier to get your beachy fix. But with ease comes crowds. Lots of them. If you’re willing to go the extra mile, you might just stumble upon the Caribbean’s best kept secret: St. Vincent & The Grenadines. Or as locals say, SVG.
Though this string of 32 Windward Islands and Cays spans approximately 150 square miles, only 8 or 9 (a debatable #) are inhabited. The result? Your very own tropical paradise. And the best part? You don’t necessarily have to venture off the beaten path to be privy to undiscovered treasures. Some of the islands most exclusive beaches, authentic food, unique hotels, and historical gems are hiding in plain sight. From an isolated swimming pool in a 19th century tunnel, to a maritime community whose boat building history revolutionized Eastern Caribbean life. From completely off-the-map rum shops & food stands in simple back road villages, to the luxury (you only dream about) of renting an entire private island.
Sounds a bit like a fairy tale, just begging to be repeated over and over and over again. But the people of SVG worked hard to achieve independence in 1979, and far be it for them to give it all back. To tourists, no less. This might partially explain why travel magazines and Google haven’t fully (though more and more are popping up lately) caught on yet. Well, that, and it’s kind of a pain in the butt to access, with no direct flights from the United States. Not that I’m complaining—That is, after all, exactly the reason you should go. Now! Better hurry up though—despite the consensus for St. Vincent and The Grenadine Islands to remain unspoiled, unadulterated and theirs, there’s a brand new, 240 million dollar international airport estimated for completion in 2013.
Construction Pictures: Preparing for the new international airport. Part of SVG’s charm is that it’s way more difficult (& expensive) to reach than other highly touristy Caribbean islands, but I still cannot wait for this airport to open so I can return more often!
*Out of all the places I visited in SVG, I would recommend you see/do/try these if you have limited time…in no particular order of preference.
1. Spend a night (or two or three) at Buccament Bay Resort in St. Vincent. Rather than sticking out like a sore thumb, this gorgeous, ultra luxury resort does an impeccable job of blending seamlessly into the natural environment that surrounds it. It’s not cheap. But it’s totally worth it. www.buccamentbay.com
2. Take the Bequia Express passenger/cargo ferry from St. Vincent to Bequia (pronounced ‘Beck-way’). There is a faster ferry (passengers only, Jaden Sun http://jadeninc.com/) which gets you to Bequia in about 30 minutes. But if you’re not rushing, and trust me you shouldn’t be, spend an hour aboard the boat all the locals take inter-island. Be prepared for some rocking if the waters are rough. Grab a local Hairoun (beer), sit back, and just people & island watch. http://www.bequiaexpress.com/
3. Take a ‘taxi’ tour around Bequia – i.e. a pickup truck with a canopied, cushioned back, sitting area. I’m partial to one taxi in particular named De Best. Owned & operated by an honest, super kind, and talented driver named Lubin Olivierre, this is a can’t miss. The island is small so you can probably drive around it during the course of one day. Of course, the more time you have on Bequia to spend, the better. Upon departure you (ladies) receive a hand-picked bunch of flowers from Lubin. You can contact him at: friendshipgapt vincysurf com
4. Eat Black Cake or Vincy rum cake. Thick, rich, dense, moist, heavenly. This was given to me by a native Vincentian, Vynnette Frederick. Her mother made it for her brother’s wedding the day before we met, and she just happened to have some leftover (lucky me). Everything in St. Vincent is homemade, so if you cannot find someone to bring you some of their mother’s, I’m sure you can find it in a local restaurant.
5. Smile. Look for smiles. They’re everywhere! If you smile they’ll smile. They smile even if you don’t smile. Don’t be afraid. Smiles are genuine and abundant here. The Vincy people don’t want anything from you with their smile. They just want a smile.
6. Spend some time at The Old Fort. Run by local ‘celebrity’ (he’d probably chuckle if he knew I referred to him as that) Quirin Schaedle (pronounced Kee-ran Shed-lee), or as everyone on Bequia calls him, ‘King-King,’ this gem sits high on a hill overlooking several neighboring islands. Your stay here comes complete with in-house donkeys and turtles. http://theoldfort.com
7. Visit Black Point Tunnel. Blasting through volcanic rock, the 300+ ft long Black Point Tunnel was built by African and Carib slaves under British rule in the early 1800’s to better facilitate the transport of sugar. To protect the sugar, shelf-like compartments (still visible today) were carved into the tunnel until low tide returned. Make sure you walk through the entire tunnel (it’s not that long), because there’s a cool (secret) swimming hole on the other side. There’s also a beautiful black sand beach nearby. *Swimming is not advised there however. http://www.discoversvg.com/index.php/fr/stvincent/around-st-vincent/windward-coast/236
8. Eat fresh, fresh, fresh, fish at Toko’s Step Down Bar. This hole-in-the-wall food joint sits in the old fisherman’s village known as Paget Farm on the Western coast of Bequia. You have to step down to get inside, hence the name. (Funny enough–across the street is an unrelated step-UP bar.) Chef/owner Toko is a force to be reckoned with! Don’t bother with a menu because there isn’t one. Just ask for the special of the day and enjoy the scenery–locals hanging out, playing Dominoes, dancing, singing, and drinking a whole lotta rum while Toko and his daughter prepare some of the best fish you’ll ever eat. I had fried shark, conch, and a different type of salmon (not pink) with a side of the most famous fruit in SVG–roasted breadfruit. 9. Water Taxi over & have Brunch at Young Island Resort. It’s just a 5 minute water taxi ride from St. Vincent to Young Island. You can see the island from the dock. Be sure to make reservations ahead of time for a weekend brunch. In order to get taxi service to Young Island, you’ll need to phone the resort first and tell them your name. The brunch is full of Vincy deliciousness and served buffet style on a counter full of live, hand-picked & elegantly placed plant leaves. Tell Bianca I said hello. http://youngisland.com/
*I only went to St. Vincent, Bequia and Young Island. Therefore I can only attest to those three islands.
This may be over 2 years old, but it’s still so on point that I had to share!
If you ever sleep in a hotel you will want to read this.
Flying into Barbados from the United States I had a 4 hour layover before a connecting flight to St. Vincent. For $27.00 I chose to hang in the Airport Lounge. This is one of the best bangs for my buck and I highly recommend it!
- Unlimited Drinks: Hard liquor, beer, wine, soda, water, coffee & tea
-Unlimited Food: Snacks, little sandwiches, cookies, peanuts etc
- Air conditioning(I know that sounds weird, but in the Caribbean A/C isn’t always easy to find)
-TVs, comfy chairs, tables, a bar, sofas
On my return flight through Barbados back to the U.S., my layover was only about 1.5 hours, so I didn’t bother with the lounge. Instead I chose the food court, where lunch cost me about $22.00. That didn’t include any alcohol and I couldn’t even access the WIFI.
Conclusion? The lounge is totally worth it if you have a couple of hours to spare.
There seems to be a lot of haze surrounding International SIM cards. At least there was for me when I first discovered them. What are they? How do they work? Why should I get one? Which company should I buy from? Do I buy it in the United States before I travel? Or when I am abroad? Do I purchase one that works in one country or multiple? I wish I had all these answers, but I’m not a SIM card expert, so I recommend you research online or ask a friend to best describe it. What I can advise is on what purpose it has served for me, and why it is a great option for traveling cell-aholics, like me. Purchasing and utilizing an International SIM card while traveling overseas might not be the easiest solution, but it’s often much more cost effective.
If your cellular phone provider offers International service options, the easiest and most common thing to do is to turn that service on. However per minute charges can be outrageous! That’s where the SIM card comes in. Yes you must purchase the SIM card (some are as cheap as $5.00 and go up to G*d only knows where), but your per minute charge can be substantially lower.
I recently purchased an International SIM card from Telestial for $29.00. It arrived with $5.00 of credit and offered me approximately $1.49/minute calling. It cost .10 cents to receive a text and .69 cents to send one. Of course, per minute calling charges and text messages, as well as data (if you choose to enable this feature), vary according to Country. Now I admit– my cell phone company doesn’t offer International options, so I had no choice but to buy this card if I wanted to stay connected and have use of a cell phone. And I am glad I did. While I was making and receiving calls for $1.49/minute, my associates were paying at least $1.00 more per minute. That can add up fast!
Another feature I received for free, which some may see as bothersome, was a new United States telephone #, as well as a UK phone #. To keep things simple, I could have chosen to forward my ‘real’ United States cell phone number to the United States number given to me by Telestial. But to be honest, I didn’t want just anyone calling me while I was abroad. So I gave out my ‘new’ temporary United States cell phone number to only those that would have needed it. (Anyone else that wanted to reach me did so by email.) I never used the UK phone #, but had I chosen to give that out to my friends and associates to text me on, all my incoming text messages would have been free. It sounds silly for those of us that live in the U.S. to pay International texting fees, but it was an option nevertheless.
Overall I would recommend this option if you simply need to stay connected to your cell phone and don’t want to spend a fortune.
Caveat: If you enable data you will be charged a hefty amount. I paid between $15.00-$20.00 for 1 MB and all I did was download a bunch of emails. I didn’t even OPEN the emails! The second I enabled data, my phone pulled in so much crap that I got charged about $50.00 in under 1 minute! Needless to say—I rapidly switched that feature off and decided to wait until I returned to my hotel each night where I could access email via the free WIFI.
You’re traveling. From hotel to hotel to hotel. You might be accumulating things along the way. Want to know how much your luggage weighs before you leave the hotel for the airport? Use the scale in the fitness center!
Of course this won’t always be 100% accurate, but it often gets close enough. If your bag is overweight according to the restrictions of the airline you are flying, you can always transfer stuff to another bag ahead of time. And just in case you’re not sure (because the fitness center scale might be slightly off), shift the contents of your suitcase around to leave the heaviest items on top. That way, when you arrive at the airport to find your suitcase is too heavy (unless you want to pay an extra fee), you won’t have to rifle through all your personal belongings in order to grab what needs to be removed.
Ever been on your way to the airport and get a last minute notification that your flight is cancelled? Extreme frustration sets in, followed by a mad rush to contact the airline, find out what happened and when the next flight leaves.
This happened to a client of mine recently. She arrived at the airport to find out, via email, that her flight is cancelled. Waiting in a long, check-in line, she wasn’t able to rapidly reach the counter to re-book another flight. When she finally got to the teller, it turned out all other flights later that day were booked. She was comped a hotel room for the night and put on an early morning flight the next day.
Out of morbid curiosity, and slight disbelief, I Immediately jumped online and scanned a host of third-party travel sites to see what might be available. After searching across multiple sites, to my great surprise, I found one leaving in 4.5 hours on orbitz.com. It was a terrible flight– with 2 stops and a total travel duration of about 15 hours (when ideally it should have been 1 stop and about 6-7 hours). But nevertheless, it was there! Expedia, Kayak (two of my usual favorites) and even the AIRLINE WEBSITES THEMSELVES didn’t show any flights within the next 6 hours.
Note: While you can normally book the flight directly through Orbitz’ website, since departure was less than 6 hours away, they told me I had to contact the airline directly to book it. But at least they showed me the flight was available. Go Orbitz!