Avoiding common travel fees

Anyone planning to travel – for either business or pleasure purposes – will have to pay for the privilege in some way. Airfare, rental cars, lodging, dining and other incidental expenses all add up. There’s also no reason why you have to pay more than is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, travelers often find themselves burdened with certain extra fees and surcharges, and these can put a serious, but avoidable, dent in one’s wallet.

While preparing for their next vacation or corporate trip, travelers should take the time to identify common situations in which unwanted fees can arise, and determine whether they can be avoided or reduced.

Credit card and ATM fees
According to Fox News, using credit cards abroad can lead to fees as high as 3 percent per transaction. The specific fees vary by provider, and some card companies or banks offer cards that don’t come with such surcharges. Consulting your creditor or financial institution immediately to review the terms of your fees is highly recommended. Additionally, ABC News reports that ATM withdrawals in foreign countries may come with fees as high as $5 per transaction.

You can avoid this by withdrawing cash in advance and using it for the majority of your transactions, or seeking out an institution that has low or no fees.

Rental car surcharges
Fox News states that some cities levy substantial taxes and fees for renting cars at their airports, sometimes as much as $8 per day, and they can sometimes be hard to find in the fine print of the rental agreement. The best way to circumvent this fee is to choose an agency location within the city you’re visiting, rather than the airport, to pick up the vehicle – somewhat less convenient, but almost certainly cheaper.

Currency exchanges
According to ABC News, the rates paid to exchange currency vary depending on where you go – and some common choices for travelers can be unnecessarily expensive. The news source points out airports and hotels as having particularly unenviable charges, and even using one’s local bank can be expensive. It may be wise to consider exchanging your money for foreign currency at a local bank within the country you’re visiting, or doing advance research and determining whether ATM withdrawals are more ideal.

As always, be sure to bring international calling cards to avoid unnecessary fees when calling friends and loved ones back home.

 

Posted in Business, Calling Cards, Travel | Leave a comment

Save money when traveling for charitable reasons

Efforts made on behalf of a charitable organization take many forms. Sometimes, this includes travel – perhaps you need to fly across the country to speak at a seminar, or visit another nation to work for an organization like Habitat for Humanity. As is true of all travel, the costs eventually add up, and can be a pain in the wallet. Fortunately, though, the thing about charitable expenses of any kind is that they can be written off.

According to Fox Business, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) permits a number of deductions and write-offs related to costs you accrue while working for a charity nonprofit. The regulations involved are detailed in full in IRS Publication 526. Reviewing these requirements in detail will be valuable, but several major aspects have to be particularly emphasized.

Verify organizational status
You’ll first need to confirm with the IRS that the organization you work for has been deemed eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions by the regulatory body, and that it’s regularly submitted all necessary forms to maintain its tax-exempt status. The IRS’ Exempt Organizations Select Check database allows you to do this, and is available online.

Plan your trip based on what you can write off
You can deduct four primary expenses on charitable trips – meals, lodging, mileage of any personal car you drive (at a rate of 14 cents per mile) and any transportation cost. However, you also have to consider how these costs are applied. For example, if you wanted to wine-and-dine a potential major contributor to your organization to court their support, this wouldn’t count as volunteer work.

Other expenses that can be deducted if you aren’t reimbursed directly by the organization include materials bought to serve a charitable purpose. These might include raw materials to build homes for displaced citizens, or books you buy to teach children how to read.

Business travelers should remember to keep an international calling card on them while on the road, to make sure they can always contact co-workers and family.

 

Posted in Calling Cards | Leave a comment

Safety is paramount when traveling alone

Traditionally, vacation travel is often a shared experience. Family getaways, honeymoons or other romantic trips and group expeditions all involve understanding and adapting to the needs and wants of others, as well as yourself. However, traveling alone has become somewhat prevalent in recent years. The trend of backpacking, typically undertaken by younger people, is a good example of this.

There’s nothing wrong with this – a solo vacation can be enjoyable if done right. That said, you’ll have to take certain things into consideration that might not be as important if you are traveling as part of a group, with your family or alongside a significant other. Safety is, undoubtedly, the most essential one of these.

Keep people who know you informed
According to Women24, you should always make sure that even though you’re alone, someone – whether it’s a friend, family member, significant other or boss – knows where you are. This doesn’t mean encouraging him or her to be alarmist about not hearing from you constantly, but you should still determine a length of time without contact that’d be cause for concern.

Also, have emergency contact info readily available on your person. Make sure it’s stored in your cellphone, kept on your person in another form and also at the place you’re staying. Prepared travelers should also make sure to always have an international calling card on them; this ensures they have a way to make calls no matter where they are.

Avoid strangers and appear confident
While it might seem like something you’re more likely to tell a kid, you still need to be judicious at the least when traveling alone. Striking up a conversation with a stranger in a public place is one thing – going somewhere unfamiliar with one is another. Use common sense and avoid any setting in which you feel uncomfortable. Also, when you are in situations with people you’ve just met, do your best to remain cool, calm and collected to avoid drawing unwanted attention to yourself.

 

 

Posted in Calling Cards | Leave a comment

Three family-friendly vacation attractions

Planning a family vacation that your children will love involves taking plenty of considerations into account. The most important of all these will undoubtedly be the moment when your sons or daughters (or perhaps all of your kids, simultaneously) ask you, “Where can we go?”
This isn’t always the easiest question to answer – after all, there are many different things you have to think about when picking either attractions to visit on vacation or the destination itself. Safety is of course paramount. Once that hurdle’s cleared, you also have to consider cost, whether or not it’ll be crowded, how much fun it’ll actually be for your kids and – least important but still worth thinking about – how much you and your spouse will enjoy it.

Take a look at three potential picks for vacation attractions that both you and your young ones are bound to enjoy.

Balboa Park in San Diego
San Diego is an ideal California spot for a more laid-back vacation, certainly compared to the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Balboa Park, which encompasses almost two dozen different museums, institutions and varied attractions, is arguably one of the area’s best choices for family fun. No matter what you and your kids are into – be it sports, classic cars, wild animals, science, history or plenty of other things – it’s all but guaranteed to be found here somehow. There are also plenty of performing arts venues, including the San Diego Youth Symphony and the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater.

Discovery Place in Charlotte, North Carolina
While learning isn’t necessarily what your kids hoped to do on a vacation, Discovery Place makes it enjoyable. Highlights of this multifaceted museum include IMAX films that showcase nature’s wonders in an exciting, refreshing way, hands-on lab exhibits and features specifically for younger children. For the immature kid in all of us, more than a few features focus on the more charmingly crude aspects of nature, such as the Animal GROSS-ology exhibit.

Virginia City, Nevada
Located only 40 miles from Lake Tahoe – a popular vacation destination – Virginia City bills itself as a way to take a day-trip back in time with an authentic Old West experience. It earned its reputation as a highly profitable mining town in the late 19th century, and many of its old buildings and attractions are perfectly preserved. Kids will enjoy taking stagecoach and locomotive rides, while parents can kick back with a drink in a real Wild West saloon.

Wherever your vacation takes you, never leave without an international calling card; it can save you tons of money on long distance calls!

 

Posted in Calling Cards, Travel | Leave a comment

Concerns for traveling with – or without – pets this summer

Getting ready for a summer vacation means many things. These range from booking your transportation and lodging arrangements to ensuring you have a prepaid phone card to save on long-distance calls. However, for the millions of proud dog owners in the world, another major question will come to mind: “What will I do with my dog while I’m away?” Alternatively, those who can’t bear to be without their canine companions will be wondering how they can manage their pets’ needs while on their getaways.

The desire to go on vacation has affected dog owners in a variety of ways, as noted in a survey by DogVacay.com, a home boarding service for pets. According to Time magazine, the research, conducted by Harris Interactive among 1,423 adult pet owners, 75 percent of them are wary of entrusting pet safety to airline cargo holds and 73 percent don’t like leaving animals in kennels.

Aaron Hirschhorn, CEO and co-founder of DogVacay, states that while people sometimes want to travel with no pets in tow, they often feel guilty about doing so. “People still want to travel and live their lives,” he said, according to the news source. “This is like traveling without your child and there’s a lot of anxiety around finding a babysitter or dogsitter.” As such, 48 percent of survey respondents said that they travel considerably less to minimize the hassles involved.

With all that said, it’s certainly not impossible to travel with a pet – it simply requires more preparation.

If flying with a dog or cat, The New York Times recommends preparing them for the experience by placing their carriers on the floor of a car and driving around with them, so they won’t be overly alarmed by the movements and vibrations. It’s also essential to have the right carrier, as all airlines have different requirements regarding the dimensions of these products. American Airlines, for example, won’t allow carriers larger than 19 inches long by 13 inches wide by 9 inches high. Additionally, the cat or dog must be able to comfortably stand, turn around and lie down while inside.

The news source also stated that in recent years, services such as pet-only airlines and luxury kennels have cropped up to meet the needs of traveling pets and their owners. The former is less prevalent and only services certain destinations. It may be wiser to choose the latter option – these fancier kennels offer amenities such as wading pools, cameras that allow owners to check in on their four-footed friends, regular treats and various other perks.

 

Posted in Calling Cards, Travel | Leave a comment

Tips for an ideal family vacation

Family vacations can serve as much-needed escapes from the intense hustle and bustle of a daily routine. If done right, you may end up having experiences you remember for a lifetime. However, planning is of the utmost importance. After all, you aren’t simply packing and making arrangements for yourself and a significant other – you’ll be bringing along your children and possibly other relatives. This involves juggling the concerns of people who are all likely to have different needs and wants out of a vacation, as well as managing the more practical realities of travel, such as budgeting and transportation.

With a little creativity and planning, you can address all of these issues without being restrictive or making the occasion any less fun.

Transport yourself if possible
Obviously, this probably won’t be feasible if you and your family are visiting another country. If that isn’t the case and it’s possible to travel in your own vehicle or vehicles, doing so is highly recommended, according to Rappler. This will of course save you some money by circumventing the cost of a flight or train trip. Perhaps even more importantly, it means you can set your own pace, taking bathroom and food breaks as needed. While this might make for a longer journey, kids are likely to appreciate it.

Be fair but firm with children
​According to the Huffington Post, it behooves parents to talk to their kids before a trip and discuss appropriate behavior. It’s important that they have fun, but staying safe and being polite in public is also vital. This also extends to allowances – give a set amount of spending money at the vacation’s start.

Additionally, because rain and other unenviable weather is always a possibility, the source also recommends having plans for being stuck inside. These could range from board games to a well-placed flashlight and a good instinct for ghost stories – whatever will be most enjoyable for your kids.

Wherever in the world your family vacation takes you, never leave without an international calling card; it can save you tons of money on long distance calls!

 

Posted in Calling Cards | Leave a comment

Being sustainable when you travel

In recent years, being sustainable and environmentally friendly has become important to many people, and has been a dominant social issue. Plenty of businesses, homeowners, organizations and governments are looking to recycle more, reduce their carbon footprints and increase energy efficiency.

If you’ve become interested in making your daily life as eco-friendly as possible, you’ll want this to extend to your travel practices. It’s possible to do so in nearly every aspect of your travel arrangements, ranging from transportation and lodging to meals, activities and other day-to-day details.

Being an efficient vacation traveler
No matter how you’re traveling, you can find ways to save energy. According to RYOT, certain commercial jets are known for their energy efficiency, including the Airbus 345 and Boeing 777, and pending upgrades to the Boeing 787 will ensure that its fuel use will undercut that of comparable planes by 27 percent.

If you aren’t flying, long-distance trains will serve as an energy-efficient option, and if renting a car, pick a hybrid if one is available and affordable. Additionally, The Safety Report recommends that whenever possible; take advantage of public transportation, bicycles and your own two feet to get around.

Responsible lodging practices
While you aren’t specifically paying for the electricity and resources you use in a hotel, there’s no reason not to reduce your footprint where you can. RYOT advises keeping the lights and air conditioning off whenever possible and requesting that your linens not be changed daily.

Dining and daily activities
One major aspect of the sustainability movement is buying and eating locally produced foods. If possible, find and patronize farmer’s markets, local restaurants that use native ingredients and similar outlets for your meals. You’ll be supporting local businesses and gaining a better cultural understanding of the place you’re visiting than you would if you stuck to conventional eateries.

No matter how and where you travel to, don’t forget calling cards, as this gives you the chance to call home no matter where you are.

 

Posted in Calling Cards | Leave a comment