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Monday, March 24, 2014

8 Must Haves for Flights Over 8 Hours




1.     Get Comfortable
The single most important bit of advice I can give travelers who will be on a plane for ten or more hours at a time is that you need to be comfortable.
2.    Choose Your Seat Wisely
Whenever possible, buy (or cash in frequent flyer miles for) a ticket in a premium cabin (first, business, or premium economy) or carefully select your coach seat. You’ll be stuck on the plane for a long time, so you don’t want to be confined in a middle seat. If you’re the type who likes to get up and walk around, snag an aisle.
3.    Wear Comfortable Clothes
If you’re flying long distances, you’ll be on the plane for several meals and at least one sleep cycle. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing or bring pajamas and change into them before you settle in for a nap. Also bring a toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, and change of underwear. You’ll definitely want to freshen up before landing.
4.    Temperature Control
The airline will provide you with a blanket, but you may also want to bring a lightweight sweater in case the cabin is cold. (This is especially true if you’re seated in an exit row, which can get chilly.)
5.    Block Out the World
Your carry-on bag should always contains earplugs, noise-cancelling headphones, and an eye mask. When you want to sleep, you can effectively block out the chatter and lights around you.
6.    Hydrate and Moisturize
Airplane cabins are incredibly dry, so drink beverages, preferably water, throughout the flight. It doesn’t hurt to apply moisturizing lotion to your hands and face.
7.    Exercise
Okay, you won’t be able to do a full cardio routine in the aisle, but you absolutely must get out of your seat every hour or so to walk around. While seated, you can do simple leg and arm lifts to keep your blood circulating.
8.    Work or Play
Prepare for the long flight and be sure your carry-on is loaded with your laptop, tablet or e-reader, books and magazines, or MP3 player.
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spotlight: Tucano – Voyage to the Heart of the Amazon

This 8-day Voyage to the Heart of the Amazon cruise explores some of the most untouched rainforest in all of the Amazon. With the guidance of experienced naturalists, you have the chance to examine creatures almost never seen by other visitors. The trip is rather like being on a time machine in that we are able to visit places that have not changed for millions of years. Truly the trip of a lifetime.
We venture far up the least inhabited river in the Amazon Basin on our expedition vessel, the Motor Yacht Tucano. Weaving in and out of small channels on the Rio Negro, we explore areas very rarely visited and seek out the mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest and in the heart of wild nature. Voyage to the Heart of the Amazon is the most thorough, detailed, and sophisticated trip offered in the entire Amazon.
With the Amazon Odyssey cruise, we embark in Manaus, Brasil and travel on the classic and elegant MOTOR YACHT TUCANO. This Amazon expedition cruise vessel has comfortable cabins with large beds and private baths, and is air-conditioned throughout. With our small groups (Max. 18 pax), trained naturalist guides, and thoughtful itineraries, we offer a genuine, thrilling experience with the REAL Amazon rainforest.
Our expedition cruises in the Amazon offer travelers the best experience available in this natural paradise. We often see creatures that are missed by other travelers. This is because our guides are very knowledgeable, we go much farther away from settled areas than any other group and because we keep the size of our group small.

Our trips are also exploratory. We are able to do this because the Amazon is so big that there are thousands of remote rainforest rivers with virtually no settlement. Every trip is a one of a kind, once in a lifetime experience.

Though not a luxury vessel, the TUCANO is comfortable and is designed to enable us to explore small tributaries and hidden channels where wildlife can be found but where larger vessels cannot go.
Our cruise experience is much more authentic than the typical or luxury Amazon tours. All aspects of the cruise are designed to help us enjoy the best that the Amazon has to offer. We have a small group size, highly trained guides, a talented crew, a comfortable boat, and with 21 years of cruise operations, our activities are thoughtful and detailed.
Another important advantage is that our cruises appeal to travelers who are looking for a fun but also very genuine experience. All these features combined enable us to discover and enjoy an authentic Amazon that eludes almost all other travelers.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Traveling Makes Us Happier!


Money still can’t buy happiness, but traveling can! It’s always been pretty obvious that travel makes us happy, but one needs money to buy wondrous, inspiring travel experiences. Ergo, money can buy happiness.
Winnie So, writer for the CNN, found that travel can actually make us happier, because it promises us the self-discovery needed to reach the pinnacle of Abraham Maslow’s view of the human hierarchy of needs. Travel makes us happy, because it offers us the opportunity to step outside our well-worn, self-constructed, plebian realities and provides a platform to explore and practice our ideal visions for ourselves -- who we might be if we weren’t married to our fears and anxieties about safety, security and status. 
Next time you’re debating purchasing a new pair of diamond earings versus a trip around the world, you might want to reflect back at what Winnie So had to say. If traveling can make us happier, then we sure think it’s what we should be spending our money on!
*Originally published in The Boston Globe, for the full story you can click here.
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Friday, March 7, 2014

Spotlight: Marguerite-Vietnam, Cambodia & the Riches of the Mekong


Your journey begins with Vietnam’s bustling capital, Hanoi, followed by an excursion to fabled Ha Long Bay. Said to be the lair of dragons, the Bay’s limestone outcroppings provide a breathtaking setting for an overnight sojourn. The next day, a short flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia, brings you to the gateway of the largest ancient city in the world. Explore Angkor Archeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site laden with magnificent temples that once heralded the grandeur of the Khmer empire. Nearby, Tonle Sap Lake provides the launching point for your graceful Mekong River adventure. Cruise from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City (My Tho Port), with calls at Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Tralach, Oudong, Chong Koh, Phnom Penh, Tan Chau, Sa Dec, Xeo Quyt and Cai Be. Experience life on the river from small rural villages to booming capitals, visiting temples floating markets and much more along the way during your unforgettable Mekong River odyssey.

The 92-passenger MS Marguerite was specifically built to provide the most luxurious and immersive experience on South East Asia’s legendary Mekong River. With a design that combines colonial elegance with local artifacts and regional Mekong touches, MS Marguerite is the perfect setting for an unforgettable river odyssey.
The 92-passenger MS Marguerite  provides an exquisite setting for a Mekong river odyssey. Staterooms, Jr. Suites and Suites range in size from 226-452 sq. ft., with more than 82 percent featuring outside balconies.

 Stateroom amenities include sitting areas, individually controlled air-conditioning, minibar, safety deposit box, shower, separate tub (Jr. Suites/Suites); bathrobes, slippers, and hairdryer. Inviting public areas include a restaurant serving Asian and Western specialties; Saigon Lounge; Panoramic Lounge/Library; Gift Shop; Fitness Center, Spa
and a Sun Deck with an outdoor swimming pool.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Tale of the World’s First Travel Blog, Born 20 years Ago Today (January 6, 2014)

Today marks the 20th anniversary of a milestone few people recall. Like other anniversaries falling on this day — the Invasion of Cayenne during the Napoleonic Wars, for example, or the birthday of physician Percivall Pott in 1714 — it has been bulldozed beneath the heavy blade of history. A specific study of January 6th, 1994 reveals only one noteworthy event: Nancy Kerrigan being clubbed on the knee at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. But it was on that same day in 1994 that I walked into the Tourism Bureau in Oaxaca, Mexico, and attempted a maddening but ultimately successful feat: uploading the first travel blog post ever made on the Internet.
A bit of backstory here.
By early 1993, I’d been a travel journalist for about 10 years. My assignments had taken me far and wide — but despite the thousands of miles I’d covered, I didn’t feel like a real traveler. Flying in and out of international airports was bland and effortless. I didn’t deserve to be in the places I was arriving. It felt like I was somehow cheating. So I dreamed up a way to raise the stakes. I would hoist on a backpack, lock the door of my Oakland flat, and circle the globe by land and sea — never setting foot on an airplane. Such a journey, I imagined, would rekindle the spark that inspired me to become a travel writer in the first place: a lifelong curiosity about the diversity, mystery and sheer immensity of my home planet. My agent was able to sell the proposal, and I signed a contract to write a book about my trip. It would be called The Size of the World.
A few weeks before my departure in late December, 1993, I got an unexpected call from an editor at O’Reilly Media in Sebastopol, California. O’Reilly was (and is) a publisher of computer books. It also dipped into the world of travel writing; my work already had appeared in some of its Travelers’ Tales anthologies. I expected a vague request that I “keep my eyes open” and write a few good stories. What the editor had in mind was far more ambitious. O’Reilly, he told me, had launched a pioneering site on Internet: a mushrooming electromagnetic labyrinth of online singles clubs, Grateful Dead forums and other hyper-specific peer-interest groups that were beginning to define, for better or worse, the polis of the future. The name of O’Reilly’s website was the Global Network Navigator (GNN). Its online “Travelers’ Center,” the editor assured me, would be the hottest thing since Lomotil.
A recently-released program called Mosaic was revolutionizing what might be possible on the World Wide Web. “What we hope you’ll do,” the editor said, “is write columns for us — from the road. We’ll publish them live, on the GNN, where people can read them as you travel.” The Travelers’ Center, he told me, would include a feature that sounded miraculous: A map would be displayed on their website, with dots showing the locations from where I’d sent back posts. People would simply click on those dots — and see the story I’d written from that location!
It would be lots of work, but they sold me on the idea. Still, there was something paradoxical about the gig. Here I was, setting off to discover in the most visceral way possible the enormity of the planet. But while my body was circling the Earth in real time, my brain would be telecommuting at light speed. But how would I do it? Today, of course, there are hundreds of ultra-light devices to choose from. In 1993, finding a laptop that didn’t weigh as much as a watermelon was tricky. I used a Hewlett Packard OmniBook 300. Along with miraculous features like a pop-out mouse and a weight of 2.9 pounds, it had one virtue that, even now, seems cool. If the rechargeable cell died in the middle of the Sahara (which it would), the OmniBook could be powered by four AA batteries.
In mid-December, the GNN editor came by to see me off. As he was leaving my flat, he paused. “I almost forgot,” he said. “Have you got a name for this Internet series of yours?”
I did. “Let’s call it Big World.”
And so it was. We didn’t call it a “blog” at the time, because no one did. The word wouldn’t be invented for another five years.
Ten days after leaving Oakland, I arrived in Oaxaca. It’s a beautiful city. I took some time to relax, order a hot chocolate, and pull out the OmniBook. My 1,600-word dispatch was called “One Hundred Nanoseconds of Solitude.” Written in Oaxaca’s rustic zocalo, and uploaded for three hours on a glacially slow fax-modem, it was the beginning of an art form, or obligation, or plague. During the next nine months, I slogged and blogged my way around the world. My overland voyage took me nearly 30,000 miles through 27 countries before I returned to Oakland, crossing the Pacific aboard the Hapag-Lloyd container ship Bremen Express. Sending dispatches was never easy. I often spent days trying to figure out where and how to upload files. Local tech experts — or curious eggheads in funky telecom offices — would help me figure out how to finesse finicky modem lines and obsolete phone systems. Everyone was excited by the project… though many thought it made more sense to send postcards.
The main bottleneck, of course, was transmission speed. In June, 1994, I’d reached South Asia. Working with the brilliant Sanjib Bhandari (then known as “The Bill Gates of Nepal”), we scanned and uploaded the first image ever sent by Internet from Kathmandu: a postcard of elephant-headed Ganesha, the Hindu god of good beginnings. Sending the picture to WIRED took the technicians at Bhandari’s computer center nearly 14 hours. During my overland trip I wrote 19 posts in all — reporting from Mali and Morocco, Turkey, and Tibet, even from a container ship on the North Atlantic. Thousands of readers (that was a lot in 1994!) logged on to the Travelers’ Center to follow my adventures. Three stories also appeared in WIRED. But few people imagined that my online travel diary anticipated what would become, a years later, a global obsession. Although there are many lists of the “100 Best Travel Bloggers,” there’s no credible estimate of how many travel bloggers exist worldwide — though I imagine, at this point, it’s a huge percentage of all recreational travelers.
I still blog from the road sometimes, as well— most recently while traveling in Cuba. But my fantasy at this point is to recreate the journey I took 20 years ago — without leaving home at all. I hope to follow my 1993/1994 route virtually, using the Internet and social networking tools to find some of the people I’d met 20 years ago and discover how their lives have changed. Like Senegalese journalist Babacar Fall, whom I profiled in WIRED 2.06; the three vivacious teenage women who gave me shelter in Ankara, Turkey; and precocious Luisa Limon, in Oaxaca, who was 8 years old in 1994.
The Size of the World was released in 1995. A review in Publishers Weekly called it “a travel book like no other,” and a lot of other nice things. But ironically, the process of my trip — going around the world without airplanes — overshadowed what turned out to be a far more significant achievement. Someday, maybe, that first travel blog will get the celebration it deserves. Until then I’ll just kick back each January 6th and raise a glass to New Mexico statehood (1/6/1912) with Nancy Kerrigan.

*Article originally published on www.wired.com by Jeff Greenwald, see it here.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Where Would You Travel If You Could?



With the world becoming smaller and smaller thanks to technology, travel doesn’t seem as elusive as it once did. Now, we are constrained by jobs, money and finding the time to travel. However, the world is a big place, and we are here to help show it to you! With so many different places to see- where would you go if you could go anywhere? Per the New York Times, we are going to highlight a few places around the world that have gained some notoriety. Enjoy!

At the beginning of each year, the Times Travel section suggests the best places of the globe to visit. Here are some highlights from the 2014 edition.

Downtown Los Angeles
Gone is the musty, lifeless, only-open-for-Kings-hockey-games reputation of downtown Los Angeles. While the museums in this corner of the city are thriving (the Lost Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art is nearby), the growing dynamism of downtown is the food scene.

Ecuador
Ecuador is famed as the home of the Galapagos, the beloved islands off the coast that feature mind-boggling wildlife—but the mainland is not slouch either. One of the most biodiverse countries in the world, Ecuador has over 1,600 species of birds, 4,00 kinds of orchids, one of the largest condor shelters on the planet—and one-fifth of the country (including the Galapagos) is protected.

Nashville, Tenn.
Country music lovers have long made the pilgrimage to Nashville, but now the city has fast gained cachet among rock fans and foodies. The city’s vibrant scene is home to the Black Keys, Kings of Leon, Jeff the Brotherhood and Diarrhea Planet, who all play in town occasionally. And a youthquake is transforming scruffy neighborhoods like 12South and East Nashville into hipster hubs.

Dubai
Five years ago, one of the planet’s most ambitious cities appeared to be dying. Crushed with debt, Dubai found its megaprojects and skyscraper scuttled or scrapped. The city went from juggernaut to joke, But now, it’s back. Economically surging, Dubai has won its bid to host World Expo 2020 and has unveiled its Tourism Vision, also for 2020, a plan to attract 20 million tourists—double the current crowd.

To read the full New York Times article, click here.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Spotlight: Pegasus-Cruises in the Garden of Eden


We are so excited about this cruise. If you have ever dreamed of cruising through the magnificent Seychelles, look no further. Guests will have the chance to hop from island to island in perfect harmony with this unspoilt paradise and visit islands, which will capture your senses. Guests are surrounded by amazing fauna and flora and have to opportunity to snorkel or dive and watch an amazing underwater world. Walk into centuries old rain forests with unique species of wild life- catch sight of the rare black parrots that inhabit the islands, the world famous Coco de Mer palm trees or giant land tortoises.

The twin-hulled, 45 meter Pegasus was built in 1990 and completely refitted in 1997 after interior renovations in 2002, and again in 2007. The Pegasus now accommodates up to 46 guests in a relaxed, congenial atmosphere. On board, guests will enjoy magnificent sea views as they stroll the 2,5500 sq. ft. open deck. Alternatively, they may wish to relax with friends in the handsomely appointed lounge, browse the well-stocked library, or enjoy ocean view dining in the convivial and spacious restaurant area. The Pegasus also comes equipped with a platform on the stern, which allows for swimming when weather and anchorage permits.

Guests will find and abundance of space on board, allowing them to enjoy the intimacy of a small ship cruise without experiencing overcrowding. With many public areas and comfortable cabins, there will be no room for disappointment. Life aboard the Pegasus is both relaxing and elegant. On board activities will center around the indoor/outdoor lounge and its American bar on the Upper Deck and the adjoining dining area is surrounded by large windows that provide breathtaking views. The spacious Sun Deck is also an excellent area to unwind after a particularly long day of exploring the magnificent islands.


If you would like to learn more, please visit our website: http://www.wlcvacations.com/shipdeck_Pegasus_600-179.html, or call U.S. toll-free 877-579-7447.
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