Saturday, March 31, 2012

Longest Flights and How to Survive Them

Dubai to LA
So I found this article on the top 11 longest flights and I wanted to share. We want to go to Thailand someday and I can’t imagine being on a flight THAT long! But sometimes that’s what you got to do to get where you want to go. The 2 longest flights I have been on was a 14 hours flight from Norway to Newark (we had to turn around about an hour and a half into the flight for a medical emergency and then had to wait on the airplane to make sure the heavy landing did cause any problems) and then from Frankfurt to Houston, I think it was like 10 hours. Here is the list of the longest commercial flights.

11. New York to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific (Tie)
Miles: 8,059, Scheduled Duration: 16 Hours, Cost $644
10. Houston to Brisbane on Qantas (Tie)
Miles: 8,584, Scheduled Duration: 16 Hours, Cost $1962
9. Johannesburg to New York on South African Airways (Tie)
Miles: 7,970, Scheduled Duration: 16 Hours, Cost $1200 - $1700
8. Newark to Hong Kong on United Airlines (Tie)
Miles: 8,065, Scheduled Duration: 16 Hours, Cost $1500 - $1900
7. Atlanta to Johannesburg on Delta Airlines (Tie)
Miles: 8,433, Scheduled Duration: 16 Hours 15 Minutes, Cost $1300
6. Doha to Houston on Qatar Airways (Tie)
Miles: 8,047, Scheduled Duration: 16 Hours 15 Minutes, Cost $1850
5. Dubai to Houston on Emirates Airways
Miles: 8,164, Scheduled Duration: 16 Hours 20 Minutes, Cost $1400 - $2300
4. Dubai to Los Angeles on Emirates Airways
Miles: 8,335, Scheduled Duration: 16 Hours 30 Minutes, Cost $1800 - $2400
3. Los Angeles to Bangkok on Thai Airways
Miles: 8,260, Scheduled Duration: 17 Hours 30 Minutes, Cost $1500 - $1900
2. Newark to Singapore on Singapore Airlines
Miles: 10,371, Scheduled Duration: 18 Hours, Cost $6000 - $8000
1. Los Angeles to Singapore, Singapore Airlines
Miles: 9,500, Scheduled Duration: 18 Hours 30 Minutes, Cost $6000 - $8000

LA to Singapore

For ways to prepare for long flights like those listed above, here is a helpful list prepared by Joel Fineman:

10. Charge up your portable electronics
For many flyers, portable electronics (and the batteries that sustain them) act as lifelines. Staring into small colorful screens can calm nervous travelers and keep children occupied. But your gadgets are no good unless they can survive the flight's entire duration, which requires ample battery power. Although the top carriers provide passengers with personal entertainment systems loaded with hundreds of films, television programming, and games, this option may not satisfy everyone. If you're a tech addict, charge all of your own devices before you board.

9. Carry layers
You may not be headed to some place cold, but you should bring layers on long flights. Onboard temperatures can vary, so the ability to shed or to don clothes mid-flight is useful. Plus, you can use large sweaters and coats as blankets and pillows. (I always have a jacket or hoodie with me no matter where I am headed.)

8. Prepare for kids
Taking charge of other people's screaming and kicking children is not your job. But sometimes, polite parental assistance can do wonders. Bring a small, cheap toy along and hand it to the bored, frustrated toddler. Or promise the youngster behind you a cash reward at the end of the flight if he refrains from kicking your seat. With crying babies, you're just out of luck. But a good set of ear plugs should do the trick.

7. Bring your medication
You have no control over what pet dander, perfumes, or other airborne irritants your fellow passengers bring on board. If you have allergies, be prepared by either medicating before take-off or having your meds easily accessible in flight. The same goes for those with other conditions-such as migraines-which you might experience on an aircraft. Remember: There's no pharmacy on board. Also, carry any prescribed meds in their original containers in case TSA officials question you about them. (I always bring my meds in my carry-on; don’t want the airline losing your luggage with your medication in the luggage!)

6. Wear appropriate shoes
Feet tend to swell at high elevations, making shoes uncomfortable. There are several ways to relieve the pressure: Wear relaxed-fit or slip-on shoes, hydrate before and during the flight, walk down the aisles, and don't cross your legs. Removing your shoes for trips to the lavatory should not be one of these tactics. This will expose your possibly stinky feet not only to bacteria on the floor, but also to fellow travelers.

5. Maintain your personal bubble
Admittedly, personal space on a plane is minimal, so do your best to hold onto as much distance as possible. Honing in on a book is the old-school way; however, using noise-canceling headphones to plug into the onboard entertainment system or your own device always does the trick. (And don’t touch anyone! You don’t want to get sick while on the flight and you have no way to get to cold medicine!)

4. Sleep to sync up with the new time zone
When you're on a plane for 10-plus hours and hopping time zones, you're going to fall asleep. Try scheduling six to eight hours of rest that align with your destination's nighttime. Ignore meal service, block out sounds, and turn off the entertainment system. Avoiding caffeine and other stimulants can help you catch some zzzs. Sleeping will make the flight seem shorter and help you feel more refreshed upon arrival.

3. Snag your ideal seat
Ideal seat selection requires early booking and insight. The former is up to you. For the latter, we can direct you to some helpful resources. Use to pick the best available seat before you purchase your ticket. You can search by route or by airline and flight number. Additionally, you can set email alerts via to notify you when your requested seat type becomes available. (On one of our flights we had picked our seats WAY in advance and were all ready to go. I just happened to check them a few months later and they had changed our flight times and doing that made us lose our seats! I was really mad because now we were sitting pretty much in the back of the plain…and I hate that!)

2. Pack snacks
Nothing can rile you up more than hunger. To keep you satisfied (and calm) in-flight, take precautionary steps before you board. You already know the airline's cuisine may be poor, so come prepared. Bring substantial, no-mess snacks (e.g. bagels) and a travel-size bottle of hot sauce to add flavor (or subdue it). Also, consider the menu of available pre-order meals to make sure the airline can meet your dietary restrictions and preferences.

1. Be nice to your flight attendants
On a long flight, you can be stressed out, exhausted, and just plain out-of-it. But that's not an excuse to be rude to your flight attendants. These men and women can make or break your flying experience, and if you're stuck on a plane for the good part of a day, you want them on your side. Do your best to make nice with attendants as soon as you board the plane. Benefits can include anything from a polite answer to your questions (i.e. "How much longer?") to a complimentary beverage or a seat change. (Sometimes these people can be pretty awful but I always try to keep in mind that they have probably been dealing with dumb people all day and are bit stressed…try to be nice!)

Photos thanks to:
Pic 1: Joi and Carol M. Highsmith/Flickr and Wikimedia Commons
Pic 2: John Sullivan/Wikimedia Common/and the Singapore Tourism Board

Monday, March 26, 2012

Places to Retire Abroad!

As you know I love to travel! So when I found this article by Kathleen Peddicord on the 18 best places to retire I knew I would be posting about it. Her first 10 were in the America's...I'm not too into Central America so I'll skim over those and go straight to what she says about Europe and Asia :)

The Americas
1. Panama
2. Belize
3. Colombia
4. Uruguay
5. Ecuador
6. Nicaragua
7. Roatan, Honduras
8. Argentina
9. Mexico
10. Chile


11. France. France is a land of superlatives. Its capital has been called the most beautiful, most romantic, and most touristic city on earth. It also boasts some of the world's best wines, cheeses, restaurants, shopping, castles, gardens, parks, beaches, museums, cafes, galleries, vineyards, and architecture. The typical concern for anyone who has ever dreamed of a new life in France is that it's too expensive for the average retiree to consider seriously. Not so. Paris isn't cheap. But elsewhere in France you can find realistic options, even if your retirement budget is modest. Perhaps the most retirement friendly region in this country is in the southwest, north of Spain, where small country towns offer a way of life that is quintessentially French and also very affordable. 

12. Italy. The cost of living in Rome, Florence, Venice, and Tuscany might be beyond the limits of your retirement budget. But that doesn't mean you should take Italy off your list entirely if this is the country that stirs your imagination and speaks to your soul. A retiree on a budget interested in Italy could look at Abruzzo. From this beautiful Old World base, within a half-day's drive of both the coast and the mountains, you could plan excursions to Italy's better-known and more expensive outposts as often as you liked.

13. Ireland. Americans have long dreamed of retirement on the Emerald Isle and with good reason. Ireland is safe, peaceful, relaxed, welcoming, friendly, hospitable, and English-speaking, making it an ideal retirement choice for many. Ireland today is also more affordable than it has been in more than a decade, and its property market has fallen off a cliff. Real estate prices are down 50 percent or more in many markets and are still falling. If you, like so many others, have dreamed of wiling away your retirement years on your own little piece of the Auld Sod, this could be the best time in your lifetime to think about making that purchase.

14. Spain. Spain is known among expats for its Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines, especially its infamous (and unfortunately over-developed) Costa del Sol. But there's more to this country than its costas. Barcelona, for example, is a world-class city on the ocean, perfect if you're looking for a cosmopolitan life near the water. Real estate prices in this country have fallen tremendously since the highs of four or five years ago. If retirement in Spain appeals to you, this could be the time to search for a great deal on Spanish retirement digs.

15. Croatia. Croatia, a country with an extraordinarily complicated history and an extremely open-minded, forward-looking population, is at another turning point in its long history. Countries at turning points are interesting places to be. I recommend the country's Istrian Peninsula, which serves up some of the most delightful scenery on the planet. The land seems to rise up to embrace you, and everywhere you look, something nice is growing like olives, grapes, figs, tomatoes, pumpkins, blackberries, and wildflowers. Even the buildings seem to be part of the earth, built of its white stone and red clay. This sun-soaked region offers one of the most appealing lifestyle options in Europe today. (I would LOVE to live here!!!)


16. Thailand. Thailand boasts both really cheap and developed and comfortable lifestyle choices. It is also noteworthy as being one of the few countries in this part of the world that offers formal options for long-term and retirement visas. Hua Hin is one of the few classic retirement havens in Southeast Asia, complete with golf courses, factory outlets, and gated communities. Foreigners make up approximately 15 percent of that population, and most of them are retired. With 12 golf courses in operation and another 3 under construction, this is definitely the place to go if you're a golfing enthusiast. Hua Hin is a place where, if you were so inclined, you could live a North American lifestyle and never have to involve yourself more than superficially with the local Thai culture. This could be a plus or a minus for you, but it is worth noting when discussing options in this typically exotic part of the world. (Another place I am interested in!)

17. Vietnam. While Thailand is well-established as an interesting option for expats and foreign retirees, Vietnam is an emerging choice, which could get a lot more attention in the coming few years. Nha Trang offers an interesting coastal retirement option for adventuresome retirees. Nha Trang's total population of more than 200,000 includes an expat population of about 1,000 people, meaning foreigners here are still pioneers. You'll find no organized activities for foreigners, such as expat clubs or softball leagues. The lack of a big foreign population makes it easier to have meaningful interactions with the locals. The major attraction in Nha Trang is its cost of living, which can amount to much less than $1,000 per month for a retired couple. If you're a budget-minded retiree with an interest in Asia, this town should be on top on your list.

18. Malaysia. After Thailand, Malaysia is the easiest country to navigate in this part of the world. The country's capital, Kuala Lumpur, is a city of contrasts. The shining stainless steel Petronas Towers, two of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, anchor a startlingly beautiful skyline that is truly unique to this city. Modern, air-conditioned malls flourish, selling everything from beautifully handcrafted batik clothing to genuine Rolex watches and Tiffany jewelry. In the shadows of these ultra-modern buildings, the ancient Malay village of Kampung Baru still thrives, with free-roaming roosters and a slow pace of life generally found in rural villages. Less than a 20-minute walk from the city center, you can find yourself conversing with monkeys in the city-jungle surrounding one of the highest telecommunications towers in the world. A walk of less than 30 minutes leads you to Chinatown and Little India, where merchants offer their wares, foods, and culture in happy neighborhoods that showcase the amazing diversity of the city.
Unlike some places in Asia, foreigners are genuinely welcomed in Kuala Lumpur. Language isn't a problem, as almost everyone speaks adequate English. Immigration is easy, and it is possible to stay for an extended period with a simple tourist visa. Although Kuala Lumpur is more expensive than rural Malaysia, it can be marvelously inexpensive by Western standards. You can realistically expect to cut your living expenses by a third and still enjoy a lifestyle comparable to what you are accustomed to now.

Here is the original article.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

How to Pack Light

Packing light can really help you when it comes to traveling and getting trough security quickly. And now that airlines charge you for the bags you check it makes you think, "do I really need to take that?" If I am traveling for a week or more I am definitely taking a large bag and checking it. But I make sure to carry everything I really need in my carry-on (one of my biggest fears is the airline loosing my bag).

In my carry-on I bring:

  • toothpaste & brush
  • all my make-up (I don't want to spend $100's replacing it)
  • hair straightener (again, don't want to spend $$$ replacing it)
  • one pair of clothes
  • few pairs of undergarments and socks
  • swimsuit (if I'm traveling to a tropical destination) 
  • all the electronics we have (cameras, recorders, iPads, etc.) 

Traveling for a long weekend can prove to be a little more difficult when only trying to travel with carry-on luggage. But now there are also so many cool new jackets that can second as your suitcase or even your carry-on. Check out these from Scottvest

for more info on how to pack and what to pack check out OneBag.

Happy Traveling! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Traveling on a Budget

Traveling on a budget can some times be hard; when you're on a vacation you want to splurge, relax and not have a care in the world. But you also don't want to come home with a bill the size of a small mountain either. Here are some tips on how to travel on a budget.

Rent a home/condo
There are so many other options when it comes to a place to stay other then the major hotel chains. For our next trip to the Hawaiian Islands we plan to use HomeAway or some of the condos listed on Trip Adviser. We saw a deal just the other day for a studio condo in Maui; they had a July special for $50 a night! Yeah, its only enough space for two people but you cant deny how awesomely cheap that is!!!

Saver tip: Don't rent any sort of sporting equipment from your hotel, they are going to over charge you! Rent it from the local surf or ski shop.

Hawaiian Style Cafe...yum!
Eat where the locals eat
When we went on our last vacation (the Big Island aka Hawaii) we ate at this awesome local restaurant called Hawaiian Style Cafe. Their servings were big enough for 2 people to share and the prices were really reasonable. Research these places before you go and map them out, it will be worth it! Again, use a search site like Trip Adviser or Yelp to find local hang outs. These websites will also let you  know how expensive the venues are.

Saver tip: If you're traveling to Hawaii you can pick any fruit you find on the island. We were told anything you find you can eat. And we happened to find pineapple, guava, limes, and passion fruit and we ate them all! YUM!

fresh out of the ground
Pack some snacks
This can be a real wallet saver! When I studies abroad I packed the instant oatmeal packs, peanut butter, and granola bars for my stay. I still continue to pack some small snack items when I go. A) you never know when you might need them and B) some times that's all you need to get you going in the morning. A granola bar form your local grocery store vs. the $15 per head breakfast the hotel is offering...granola wins!

Plan your vacation during the off season
This can really help you get those great deals! Most airlines and hotels will have sales to destinations during the off season. So instead of traveling to Paris in spring try the winter, or instead of going to Hawaii in the summer try November - March, the weather is better and you might see more marine life since the humpbacks are there from December to March. 

Enjoy what the destination has to offer
When we went to Hawaii we were able to enjoy beaches and waterfalls for free! Look for state or national parks that can offer you some amazing sights for little or no charge. Do some research before you leave and you're bound to find something fun for free.

Saver tip: Check out Groupon and living social for local deals for your destination. We did this when went to Las Vegas and saved $50 a person for night club/party bus tour.

Kekaha Kai State Park --- FREE

Pololu Trail --- FREE

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Travel Insurance: To Buy or not to Buy

So about a year ago when we started planning our trip to Hawaii I started seeing friends on facebook and people at work talk about getting jury duty and hoping it wouldn't mess up their travel and/or wedding plans. It really got me thinking. Also, we were going to be traveling to an island with a valcanon on it and part of its coat line was hit by the tsunami that hit Japan.
photo credit 
I had always thought that travel insurance was kind of a scam; just another way for them to make money off of you. Whit this in mind, I went ahead and asked my travel agent about it. She gave me the full coverage price for 2 people and it was going to be ~$300 per person!!! ($600 is a big deal when you're planning/budgeting for a vacation). And then she gave me option 2 ... 80% coverage should we for some reason have to cancel our trip for only $154 for the BOTH of us! That I could live with. When she emailed me the paper work I began to look at it and it covers so much more! Which made me kind of relieved. Below is the list of things our insurance covered.

  • Lost Baggage (very important!)
  • Baggage Delay ($300 a day)
  • Missed Connection ($800 for any fees the airlines try to slap on you)
  • Emergency Medical Transportation
  • Emergence Medical and Dental
  • Trip Cancellation Protection
  • Trip Delay
  • Trip Interruption (should you need to rush home for something)

All of these things make sense and it made me feel so much better about having all our bases covered. Look at your vacation like an investment, would you protect your investments? Yes! So why not protect your vacation, your personal belongings, and family while you are an adventure!  Here is a link to good travel tips from my favorite financial guru.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...