Archive for the ‘Travel News’ Category

french_flag_arc_de_triompheIf you recall we did an article about passengers may having to pay to use the toilet with certain airlines. Now it seems as though it may be difficult to use the facility in another locale when nature calls! Read on to look at the challenges you may have in France.

Using a toilet may sound like the simplest of tasks, but if you aren’t used to France’s plumbing it can be an experience. The public toilets in France are often broken down and sometimes a little scary. You need to know how to flush, how much it will cost you and other secrets to using the restroom.

Here is your toilet guide information on how to answer natures call:

  1. Find a bathroom. This isn’t always that easy, as public restrooms aren’t necessarily plentiful. Shopping centers or malls usually have a public restroom, as do some popular outdoor areas. Parks tend to have the public restroom pods. Worst case scenario, pop into a cafe, order a coffee and use their facilities. If you’re bold, march into a busy one and go straight back to the bathroom, then leave and save yourself a couple euros. Look for signs saying, “toilettes” or “W.C.”
  2. Look over the bathroom once you enter. While it is much less common these days, some have a glorified hole in the floor. You are supposed to squat and hover how would you handle this with arthritis and nature is calling? I guess the answer would be excitable!! This is one that I wouldn’t recommend.
  3. Flush. The flushing mechanisms on French toilets are almost never on the back. Sometimes there is a chain pully from above, sometimes a foot petal on the ground. Sometimes there is a button on top, sometimes two (pushing both will make the toilet keep flushing). Often, there is a large, rectangular bar on the back wall. Push or pull whatever you find.
  4. If you encounter an outdoor public pod-style restroom, they are a bit of their own category, and can be rather intimidating and confusing. Simply step up and look to see whether it’s occupied (red or green dot by the door). Put in your change, and wait for the door to automatically open. Step in, and the door automatically closes. Some individuals like to take a book or magazine with them when nature calls. But if you use this particular facility if you are there 15 minutes or more, the door WILL open. No book or magazine for this one!! These seem dirty, but they actually are disinfected after each use.
  5. Always have small change on you. Many restrooms are pay, sometimes manned by an attendant and sometimes accepting change to enter. The outdoor restroom pods require exact change, so have 5- and 10-centime pieces.
  6. Don’t be surprised by unisex bathrooms, or men’s and women’s rooms with a common lobby. The French are not nearly as hung up about separate restrooms as, say, the Americans.
  7. Before you enter, check to see if toilet paper is outside the stall. Sometimes, there are dispensers in the sink and mirror area, but no paper inside the stall.
  8. If you are visiting busy fast food restaurants, SAVE YOUR RECEIPT. It usually contains a code to get into the restroom there.
  9. Don’t be surprised if the outdoor pod-style public bathroom is broken down. Go to the next park

Wishing you the best with this nature call because really it is a travel experience!!

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”
– Michael J. Fox


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Be sure to check out the new blog posts on our other blog: Budget Travel: When You Want To, But Don’t Always Have the Cash To by Chicago freelance writer Meg Hoppe.

Hoppe talks about some great ways to get all of your summer fun in without compromise and without paying  a huge price. She also gives us some great advice when buying a home one the foreclosure market. Something to definitely read up on.

Follow her on Twitter @CallMeHoppe of us @TWDHF

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Everyone looks for travel bargains, and perhaps a few will pan out for you. But all of us know that there are unscrupulous businesses and individuals in this real world. Here are some suggestions to assist you in dodging some of these scams.

free-moneyPre-payment usually is required for travel products. That is why scam artists often concentrate on travelers. The Internet provides growth opportunities for such illegal and unethical activity.

Watch out for these top 10 travel scams when planning or on your vacation!

1. Advance Payment is Required Without a Written Contract
Travel payments often are made before a trip, but you are entitled to a written contract stating the product(s) for which you are paying. This is true whether it’s a deposit or payment-in-full. Scammers often attempt to gain your trust with friendly phone pitches that result in credit card transactions. Reputable vendors will always spell out their offers in writing.

2. Transactions by Courier Service Rather than Post Office
Anyone who insists on transacting travel business using only a courier service should be treated with suspicion. It’s quite possible they’re trying to avoid mail fraud statutes.

3. Transaction Can Only Be Carried Out by Telephone
There are reputable travel firms that do business only on the Web, but if you encounter a vendor that will only book by telephone, ask questions: Why is that your policy? Will I get a written contract to examine before I make my payment? What is your office address? Frequently, you’ll get evasive answers–a signal it’s time to hang up the phone.

4. Offer is for a “Limited Time Only”
We’re not talking about airfare sales and other special offers here. They expire, and sometimes you must move quickly to meet the deadline. But an offer of deep discounts that must be booked immediately is suspicious. Triple your suspicion level if you must pay immediately for a departure date at least 60 days in the future, because that’s the time limit for disputing credit card charges at many banks.

5. Different Names for Travel Provider and Seller
Why would these names be different? Frequently, a telemarketer or some other agent has been employed to make the sale. It’s very likely this go-between is far more interested in pleasing the vendor than the consumer. They get paid for closing deals, not for customer satisfaction. It’s also possible the names are different to avoid responsibility for the product. Either way, it’s not good news.

6. Hotel Names, Airlines or Other Vendors Not Disclosed in Writing
Online auctions like Priceline and Hotwire do not disclose vendors until after your bid is accepted. That’s part of the risk you take in saving money with those services. However, if you’re booking a trip in a conventional way, there is no reason whatsoever for withholding this information if hotel, airline, or car rental information is not disclosed, and the discussion and shop elsewhere.

7. A price Far Below Market Value
This one must be applied on a case-by-case basis. There are rare mistake fares that should be booked, but $199 for a one-week vacation in the Caribbean clearly is not going to be profitable for the vendor. Why make the offer? Perhaps you’re a prime target for a high-pressure sales pitch. Maybe the fine print says $199 is a base price from which add-ons will be assessed after you’ve paid. No vendor wants to lose money without gaining some other advantage in the process.

8. Offers to Make You a “Travel Agent”
Scam artists offer to certify you as a “travel agent” and gain access to all sorts of free trips. It’s true some travel agents get these perks, but the offers go to established people who are strategically chosen. No one is required to offer any travel agent a free trip. Some of these offers send you course materials, others just require a “fee” for “certification.” Both are a complete waste of money. If you want facts on becoming a travel agent, consult professional organizations like ASTA.

9. Hints of “Split Pricing”
Split pricing is the practice of offering below-market pricing and then adding charges for items that appeared to be included in the first quote. Reputable firms will offer vacations “starting at” a certain price, and show you all the upgrades. Scammers bury their pricing structure in the fine print. Don’t find out too late that your bargain tropical vacation involves a hotel 10 miles from the beach or your ski chalet is 30 miles from the slopes.

10. Frequent Use of Words Such as “Complimentary” and “Free”
Offers peppered with these words frequently are trying to distract you from some other reality. Your job is to find that hidden agenda or perhaps just reject the offer immediately. Let’s face it: Very few people on this earth offer complimentary items without some string attached. That string might be a time-share sales pitch or the obligation to buy something. Don’t let that obligation damage your travel budget or rob you of precious vacation time.

Have a safe travel experience!!

“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.”
-George Orwell

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Despite the fact that US Airlines said it wasn’t going to happen, BBC News is reporting that European discount airline Ryanair is considering converting its on-board toilets to coin-operated restrooms. Passengers would pay one British pound (approx $1.38 USD) to use the toilet.

Chief Executive Michael O’Leary told the BBC that the Dublin-based carrier was looking at maybe installing a “coin slot on the toilet door” while Ryanair’s PR Chief Steven McNamara later stated, “I don’t think it’s going to happen in the foreseeable future”.

“Will it happen in the long-term, I’m not really sure” he said.

My question in all of this is really, is this just a ploy that Ryanair is using to get some public reaction. A reaction, which in my opinion will be quick and decisive. Or, is this simply something has been pushed along on boardroom agendas to pacify the Chief Executive but not really given any thought.

Some people might view this new idea as a way to make a fast buck. Since Ryanair is planning to close all of its airport check-in desks by the end of the year to reduce the cost of its flights, this assumption is gaining wind fast. Ryanair has been known to offer low, basic ticket prices, and charge extra for items such as checking in at the airport, or for additional luggage. While this might now always differ from other airlines, Ryanair is giving off the idea that they are looking for a fast buck and not their passengers’ comfort.

If this idea is put into practice on Ryanair and other airlines pick up the practice, what would you do? Is this an on-flight luxury that you’re willing to pay for, or would you have something to say about having to pay?

Let me know what you think below!

Wishing you a toilet free flight and wonderful travel experience!

Airplane Bathroom Sign

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Lotteries are everywhere!

I found The Spanish lottery information so interesting I wanted to share the basic details with you.

You can play the Spanish lottery from anywhere in the world – just make sure the company you use to buy your tickets is legit. The unique ‘decimos’ system makes it a fun and social game too.

spanish-lotteryJust a touch of history about the Spanish lottery:
The Spanish Christmas lottery, El Gordo or ‘The Fat One’, is the biggest lottery in the world and also one of the oldest, having started in 1812. While the first prize in 2005 was ‘only’ 3€ million, El Gordo has the biggest prize pool of any lottery in the world, last year totaling over two billion Euros!

How the El Gordo Spanish Christmas Lottery Works:

The Spanish Christmas Lottery works differently to most lotteries in the world. A whole ticket “billete” is very expensive, costing 200€ in 2005. However, these tickets are split up into ten “decimos” (tenths) costing 20€ each. When buying your tickets you have the choice of buying a single decimo, a whole ticket, or a fraction of your choice. If you don’t buy the whole ticket, someone else will buy the rest of your ticket. If you buy two decimos, someone else buys three and another buys five and your ticket wins 1,000€, then you will win 200€, 300€ and 500€ respectively. Got that? Good.

It is common for a group of people to buy a whole ticket (ten decimos) together. This group could be a family, some work colleagues or even the regulars at a local bar. In this way El Gordo becomes a social event as people ‘play together’ under the same ticket. In some bars you may see in the window “Jugamos con el numero…” (“We’re playing with number…”) to indicate that they are playing El Gordo this year and as an invitation to join in the fun.

As the wealth is often spread out among a group of people rather than a single person, a win in a small community can have a profound effect on the local economy. The word the Spanish use for winning the lottery is ‘touch’ (‘tocar’) so they may say “Esperamos que toce aquí” (“We hope it touches here”).

The Draw
El Gordo is drawn every December 22. The process is long (taking in excess of three hours) so you will likely see people sat by their radios for much of the day, waiting for the results.

Loteria del Niño
A second draw takes place on January 5. You will need to buy new tickets for this draw.

Have a great lottery travel experience and just remember: If you pull the winning ticket, we’ve always been friends!

“The will is never free it is always attached to an
object, a purpose. It is simply the engine in the car
it can’t steer.”

-Joyce Cary

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Do you remember when traveling was just for relaxation? For a business trip, it was your briefcase with your presentation for a new client? Getting to your hotel room, relaxing, and maybe going for a walk around the town for relaxation?

But now…
Travel Gadgets- Electronics and accessories for the business and leisure travelers. From computers, cell phones, PDA’s, chargers, and portable travel exercise apparatuses we have to ask ourselves where the line is drawn to separate business from leisure. When I notice someone talking on their cell phone, while clicking away on their laptop, with their 5 other new devices I cannot help but think that even James Bond would be jealous. 007 himself didn’t even have the up-to-date equipment that I see some people, 15 years my junior using.

Check out these two links and see how far we have really traveled with our must haves.

Have a comfortable travel experience!

“To understand the heard and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.”
-Kahil Gibran

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Hello, this is Beatrice, and welcome to my blog. TWDHF is a television program is a show is for disabled individuals, baby boomers and anyone else who likes traveling! It is important for people to know that our television program is about enjoying life. Come travel with us for awhile to rest your mind. What makes us unique is that I, the host of the show, use a leader dog named Obama. TWDHF will be interviewing governors, writers, the latest trends, spas, and beds and breakfasts.  My program has something for everyone, from the luxurious programs to the experiences on a shoe string budget.

I look forward to assisting you with all of your traveling inquiries. And for those who aren’t able, I consider it an honor to be your ears, eyes and legs until you’re able to embark on this exciting adventure yourself.

I like would to hear ideas from readers everywhere regarding experiences from your own outings or outings and fun interviews that you would like featured on my television program.  So leave a comment here on the blog or on my page.

Traveling is more than just going somewhere out of your city and your state; it’s a state of mind. Be a tourist in your own city and your own mind because your adventures are just as important.

This is Beatrice Leonard signing out for now. Have a fantabulous traveling experience.

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