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Some new additions to “Chavez’s Friends” on our Blog! Check out our new furry friends here: http://ping.fm/IPtsY
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Happy Holidays from everyone at TWDHF!

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas around here! Check out the new Budget Travel Blog entry about cheap holiday travel and saving money on your trips with Twitter!

And don’t forget to get into the holiday season this year by donating to some amazing causes. Spend a little time giving or working with some of these groups:

Ronald McDonald House
St. Jude Children’s Hospital

Goodwill
Feeding America
Operation Homefront
Make-a-Wish Foundation
Easter Seals
The Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind
Homeless Shelters/Soup Kitchens

You can also look up great things to do all year round at DoSomething.org

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Courtesy of Patrick_Ng via Flickr

Courtesy of Patrick_Ng via Flickr

With the economy the way it is, the state of the world in disarray, and schedules getting busier and busier, sometimes we just need that extra push to live our lives to the fullest. I was on Twitter the other day and started thinking about the things that people take for granted. The stories that we miss because we’re too caught up with the daily grind. I have always been of the belief that you can find adventure in anything if you look for it. So I did some digging and I found a really great list of 101 Things to do Before You Die. The list is Australian, so it might need some help translating over, but reading it over I couldn’t stop laughing.

What if we all made a conscious effort to do something that we hadn’t done before? What if we made ourselves a “Bucket List” so to speak early on in life and worked hard to get through it? We could amass adventures that would rival the epic stories of the great adventure writers.

So everyone, make a list of your own, tell me which ones you like on here, or give me just a few things that you want to do before you kick the bucket. To get you in the mood for adventure, I found the 50 most inspirational travel quotes from a Twitter friend @travel_forum. Check them out

  1. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
  2. “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
  3. “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
  4. “The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson
  5. “All the pathos and irony of leaving one’s youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveler learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time.” – Paul Fussell
  6. “Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac
  7. “He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” – Moorish proverb
  8. “People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.” – Dagobert D. Runes
  9. “A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” – John Steinbeck
  10. “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang
  11. “Your true traveler finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty-his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure.” – Aldous Huxley
  12. “All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.” – Samuel Johnson
  13. “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
  14. “Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese
  15. “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
  16. “A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” – Moslih Eddin Saadi
  17. “When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.” – D. H. Lawrence
  18. “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark
  19. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
  20. “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
  21. “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
  22. “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru
  23. “Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” – Paul Theroux
  24. “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson
  25. “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  26. “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” – Robert Frost
  27. “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
  28. “There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it.” – Charles Dudley Warner
  29. “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
  30. “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener
  31. “The journey not the arrival matters.” – T. S. Eliot
  32. “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill
  33. “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain
  34. “Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy
  35. “Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien
  36. “Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli
  37. “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou
  38. “Too often travel, instead of broadening the mind, merely lengthens the conversation.” – Elizabeth Drew
  39. “Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe”……Anatole France
  40. “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca
  41. “What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon
  42. “I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.” – Lillian Smith
  43. “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley
  44. “Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.” – Freya Stark
  45. “The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” – Rudyard Kipling
  46. “Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.” – Paul Theroux
  47. “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G. K. Chesterton
  48. “When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman
  49. “A wise traveler never despises his own country.” – Carlo Goldoni
  50. “Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

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Try putting together a generic "Packing List" for all of your trips.

Try putting together a generic "Packing List" for all of your trips.

My faithful companion and I have been doing quite a bit of traveling lately. In doing so, I am determined not to let it become a problem in deciding the best things that I need to take with me on a trip. What are the must and the wants? I have been asking fellow travelers and other individuals in the blind disabled community what are their thoughts pertaining to helpful travel needs. There has been some interesting articles pertaining to this also.

Here are some of my suggestions:

For Disabled Travelers
–If you are a white cane traveler bringing an extra cane, in case your cane breaks
–A hand held talking scanner or portable reader; this as you know can be very helpful in reading menus, labels etc
–A talking GPS (global positioning system)
–Brailed labeled and or talking color identifier for clothes
–Digital recorder for taking notes

Clothing
You have to be really smart when you pack your clothes. Try picking out clothes that all fit a general color scheme. This way, you can match more than one item together and you can have a more diverse range of outfits. Additionally, pick clothes that can serve double duty. Meaning, look at items that you can dress up with the right jewelry or dress down; for example: swim trunks can also serve as men’s shorts.

Toiletry Kit
In a waterproof bag, make sure you check, bring travel sized [small] sizes of the essentials. If you’re going on a longer trip, still only buy small sizes of everything. You can always stock up once you get to your destination.

Wrinkle-Release Spray
Spray your clothes and let them hang the night before you need them for best results, and be sure to check the care instructions on your garments before use. These sprays work best for casual clothes–if you have a big meeting or need a crisp suit, you’ll still need to get out the steamer!

Back-Up Travel Documents
If you make copies of your important travel documents once, passport, green card, etc.) you can store a set permanently in a pocket of your carry-on. Having copies available will save you a world of pain if you lose your identification, particularly when overseas.

Customer Service Numbers
Keep a set of customer service and emergency contact numbers in your wallet (print them on a business card for easiest storage) in case you find yourself with a dead battery and a delayed or canceled flight

Back Up Charger
Sometimes, one charger just won’t cut it. If having power for your gadgets and necessities is essential, carry both a plug-in charger and one that operates solely on batteries.Suitcases

I hope that these suggestions will assist you with your business as well as leisure travels. Wishing you a stream line and efficient travel experience!!

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”
– Jack Kerouac

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In order to plan a great travel experience, it is necessary to plan ahead as much as possible. I enjoy reading articles that will assist me in enjoying my next adventure with as few mishaps as I need to encounter. I like to see what advice fellow travelers have, research out locations, price different activities and plan my trip out as much as possible.

Last summer, I had a great time in New York and I plan on going again sometime this fall. Despite what some people might think, it’s possible to have a great time on a decent budget in the city that never sleeps. There’s also a wealth of information out there, numbers, websites, and tips for the weary New York traveler that I thought I would share:

Having your Hotel’s Local Phone Number- I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve gotten into a cab, given the address to my hotel only to sit there while he or she circles the same few blocks trying to “find” my hotel. It’s so helpful to have your hotel’s number on hand for this reason and so many others. If your flight is delayed and you want to let them know you’ll be arriving late, you’ll be able to easily let them know so they don’t give away your room. If you’re heading back to your hotel after a late night out and can’t remember the exact address, a quick phone call will make it easy to get home safely.

Airline Phone Number- Whether you need to change your ticket or want to see if your flight has been cancelled or delayed due to bad weather, calling the airline directly is your best bet.

Dial 311-New York City has a fantastic free information service: 311. Government information and non-emergency assistance is a quick phone call away and all calls are answered by a live person, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Translation services into over 170 languages are available via 311. For calls made from outside of New York City’s five boroughs, you can access the same free information (with 24 hour live operators) by calling (212) NEW-YORK (212-639-9675).

NYC Car Service Phone Number- Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to hail a taxi, so having a car service number can be a tremendous help. When you’re stuck with lots of bags from a serious shopping trip, out in the boroughs looking for a ride back to Manhattan or trying to get to the airport, a quick call to a car service can get you a ride to your destination with little hassle.

NYC & Company Visitor Information Phone Number- If you’ve got a tourism related question, call 212-484-1222 to speak to a Visitor Information Counselor Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. They can help you with questions about attractions, tours or anything else related to New York City tourism.

Phone Numbers for Restaurants Where You Want to Eat- Even if you already have reservations, it’s a good idea to call and confirm them the day before. If you don’t reservations, it can be a good idea to call to see if they have suggestions about good times to get a table or if they have any same-day reservations available.

Travel Agent’s Phone Number-It’s not surprising that even the best laid plans can sometimes run into a snag. Having the phone number for your travel agent will make it easier to rectify any problems you might run into, whether it’s delayed flights, an overbooked hotel or a rained-out tour, your travel agent will be able to fix things more easily the sooner you let him/her know you’ve run into a problem.

Tour Operator Phone Numbers- If you’ve pre-booked tours or events on your own, it’s a great idea to store these numbers in your phone as well. It’s easier to let someone know you’re lost or running late if you can call them directly.

Traveler’s Aid Phone Number- Should you need travel assistance and don’t have somewhere else to turn, give Traveler’s Aid’s JFK agency a call at 718-656-4870. If you lose your ticket, find yourself at the wrong airport or run into another travel snafu, Traveler’s Aid may be able to offer you assistance.

New York Area Consulate Emergency Phone Number- For international travelers, it can be helpful to have the number of the nearest consulate available. Should you lose your passport, run into legal problems or need other assistance, the Consulate office of your home country can often provide help.

Securing Discount Broadway Tickets- Broadway discount tickets purchased at a TKTS Booth are typically 25-50% off full-price, meaning you’ll pay about $50-$75 per ticket. Standing Room Only and Rush Broadway discount tickets will cost approximately $25. Broadway discount tickets purchased through Broadway discount ticket newsletters and websites are typically 25-50% off full-price, meaning you’ll pay about $50-$75 per ticket.

Your best to get these tickets is to sign up for on discount Broadway ticket newsletters and websites — these sites offer discounts on advance sales for many Broadway shows. You should also check the websites for Broadway shows that you’re interested in seeing — they often have email newsletters and special offers available.

Where can I get same-day Broadway discount tickets- There are two TKTS Booths in Manhattan offering discount Broadway tickets. Standing Room Only (SRO) and Rush Tickets are available the same day of a performance, typically for around $25 at the box office.

What Broadway discount tickets are available for students-Many Rush Tickets are available only for students with ID. What Broadway discount tickets are available for Seniors? Some Rush Tickets are available to seniors as well as students with ID.

Broadway Discount Ticket Sources
TKTS Booth Discount Tickets
Online Broadway Discount Tickets
Standing Room Only and Rush Discount Tickets

Wishing you a fantabulous travel experience!!

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Others
stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts and we
are never the same.”

-Anonymous

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I am wondering if I have a fetish for toilets. Remember the article we did about toilet in France? Well here I am minding own business and voilá out jumps a Russian and Eastern toilet article! Well after reading the article you know I had to share it with you.

bathroom_joburg_vacantToilets in Russia and Parts of Eastern Europe:
Toilets in Russia and in some parts of Eastern Europe are a bit different from what we expect here in the United States or Western Europe. While serviceable public toilets are becoming more easily found, especially in well-populated areas, you will still encounter some old-style public toilets in Russia and former Soviet countries. Don’t be alarmed – the use of these toilets can be navigated, but be prepared. I think for me I would be alarmed!

Pay Toilets in Russia and Eastern Europe:
Public toilets, such as those in train stations or large shopping centers, may require a small fee for their use. The fee is usually prominently displayed and will amount to a few cents’ worth of the national currency. If you’re out and about, it may be possible to avoid the use of pay toilets. However, sometimes you’ll find yourself in a situation while traveling in Eastern Europe when a pay toilet is the only accessible restroom. Keep some change handy for these instances.

Carry Toilet Paper when Traveling in Russia and Eastern Europe:
Public toilets often do not equip each toilet stall with toilet paper in Russia. Sometimes toilet paper is available outside the stalls. Sometimes there is none to be had. You can purchase small, travel-sized rolls from hygiene-product travel sections in supermarkets or convenience stores. Travel packages of tissues may substitute in a pinch as well.

Russia’s Dreaded Squat Toilets:
No one likes to enter a stall only to be met with the sight of a hole in the ground flanked with feet-shaped tread. Even more bizarre is the regular toilet that has been equipped with raised platforms so it is impossible to use the toilet in the normal way – one must squat over the bowl or teeter precariously in front of it… [Beatrice suggestion to Beatrice’s readers? Exit promptly!] …there is usually a more serviceable toilet nearby.

Are Public Toilets Clean or Dirty in Eastern Europe and Russia:
In nicer Eastern European shopping centers, restaurants, and cafes, you’ll be pleased to find some very clean, equipped toilets. In airports or train stations, and even in some universities, the state of disrepair and lack of maintenance of the toilets will leave you breathless – literally. These may be your only choice. Carry waterless hand sanitizer.

Russian Toilet Paper – Toilet Paper in Eastern Europe:
“Sandpaper”-like toilet paper is still in use in some toilets in Russia and Eastern Europe. Yes, the soft stuff is available for general purchase. The gray-to-brownish Soviet-issue toilet paper is as bad as the stereotype – to varying degrees. If you stay at a friend’s house, and they are still using it, try introducing them to the cotton toilet paper. They will probably think you’re funny for lavishing luxury on your posterior.

Toilets in Private Residences in Russia and East Europe:
Some toilets in Russia and Eastern Europe are given their own room, separate from the bathing/sink area. This will require you to exit the “toilet room” and enter the actual “bath” room to wash your hands. No one thinks this is weird.

Flushing Toilets in Russia – How to Flush an Eastern European Toilet:
Some toilets in Eastern Europe will flush the way you’re probably used to – there will be a lever on one side of the tank. Other Russian toilets will have a ball or a button on the tank. Pull or press to flush the toilet. Some toilets will not have enough power to flush toilet paper – there may be a sign over a trash basket asking that no toilet paper be flushed.

Well you know readers that this will be a memorable toilet travel experience!!

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Now, I am not a kill joy, but my grandchildren understand only Disney World. Don’t get me wrong I like Minnie, Mickey and my favorite Donald Duck! I am sure it has to be his sexy quack that really turns me on! Excuse me I regress to my childhood remembering my Donald Duck lunch box.

Well, I foolishly tried to explain there were other sites there as well. My little darlings would have none of that. The only redeeming part of Florida is Disney World. But, for the rest of us, here are some great sites to see in Florida once you’ve expended all your energy for Flash Mountain.

Best Miami Attractions for Kids

Biscayne National Park

Courtesy of: QT Luong

Courtesy of: QT Luong

While enjoying the natural parks in Miami, don’t forget about the one located under water! Kids of swimming age will find a bounty of treasures in this 181,500-acre wonderland, located just off the Miami coast. You can explore the vibrant coral reefs in a myriad of ways, including glass-bottom boat tours, snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, fishing, and more. There is more fun to be had on land, on hiking trails or while camping on Elliot Key, or the more rustic Boca Chita Key. Visit the Convoy Point / Dante Fascell Visitor Center in Homestead to start your adventure.

Crandon Park BeachCrandon
Crandon Beach has been ranked one of the Top 10 Beaches in the U.S. A short stroll along the promenade takes you to the Amusement Center – a hub of activity including a carousel, outdoor roller rink, splash fountain, and playground. The park also features concession stands, picnic areas, various nature trails and tours, and kayaks and cabanas to rent.

Everglades National Park

Courtesy of: Jim Richardson & National Geographic

Courtesy of: Jim Richardson & National Geographic

Make reservations ahead for a two-hour tram tour starting at the Shark Valley Visitor Center. This is the most family-friendly of the visitor centers and the one closest to Miami. You will see plenty of alligators, birds, and other wildlife. The Bobcat Boardwalk is an easy ¼ mile trail that kids will enjoy walking.

Gold Coast Railroad Museumthe-gold-coast-railroad
The museum is home to several historic train cars, including the Ferdinand Magellan, built by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and used by several Presidents after him. Short train rides are offered on several types of trains, depending on the day. There is also an extensive model train exhibit, and a huge toy train set that children can play with.

Historical Museum of Southern Florida
Learn about South Florida and Caribbean history at this lovely museum in Downtown Miami

Miami Children’s Museum
Younger children will marvel at the plethora of interactive exhibits, and be delighted that they can touch and move anything they want.

Wishing you a marvelous travel experience at Disney World and beyond!!

“In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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