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Travel Tips

Coronavirus-Protection

05 Jun Flying During the Pandemic

What You Need to Know Before Flying During the Pandemic

Travelers are returning to the airways. TSA reported it screened nearly twice as many passengers over the last weekend in May versus the first weekend of the same month. Some airlines are planning to increase capacity for their June schedule. That’s the good news according to a recent analysis of the airline industry.

If you’re planning to travel by air then it’s time to double-check your awareness of, and preparation for, the latest air travel changes and challenges implemented to minimize exposure to coronavirus.

My colleagues and I travel hundreds of thousands of air miles every year. It’s an essential part of our work in the travel risk management and crisis response industry. The following are a few tips and tricks you should know before you lift off on your next flight.

Air: Some travelers wonder if the air on a jet makes it easier, or harder, for COVID-19 to spread. The CDC reports most viruses are not easily spread on flights because of how airplanes circulate and filter the air. Air is circulated up to 6 times per hour and processed through HEPA filters which remove 99.97 percent of particles passing through them.

Jet Hygiene: Airlines are increasing their hygiene protocols to ensure onboard transmissions remain low. Some airlines are using UVC lights to clean surfaces. As an added precaution, you’ll want to bring your own supply of disinfecting wipes to wipe down tray tables, seat arms, windows and walls.

Queues: The greater risk of COVID-19 exposure comes from passing time in ticket lines, security queues, departure gates, jetways, and passenger seats—each of which potentially put you in close proximity with other people and frequently touched surfaces. Streamline your queue time by having all the necessary documents and information at the ready.

Onboard Seating: Physical distancing is tough in a confined space like an airplane. Most airlines have made the middle seat unavailable to help maintain social distancing.

Mask On: Keeping your face properly masked and covered at all times, except when TSA agents need to confirm you identify, is the safest option. Most major U.S. airlines require passengers to wear a face mask or face covering during their flight. It is strictly enforced at boarding and passengers are reminded and encouraged to wear them during the flight.

Double Check: Travelers need to call ahead to get the most up-to-date information, and check for updates regularly. Changes in flight schedules, travel restrictions, airline recommendations and rules—and how they are being enforced—can occur frequently. Your entire trip could be ruined by relying on old and incorrect details, and you may not be allowed to board the plane if you aren’t able to comply with the rules.

Testing: Currently, Dubai-based airline Emirates is conducting on-site rapid tests of passengers for the virus and Austria’s Vienna International Airport has started offering the tests for arriving passengers as well as other customers who want one. Experts suggest this could be the new normal for airlines going forward.

Track and Trace: You may be asked a few questions while making a reservation or during check-in, including: Have you traveled out of the country in the last 14 days? Have you been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus? Have you had any of the following symptoms: fever, dry cough, or difficulty breathing?

Signage: Most airports have placed markers in areas where line-ups occur to reinforce physical distancing as travelers wait in line. Passengers are also scanning their boarding passes—both paper and electronic—rather than exchanging them with TSA officers.

Wash Your Hands: Travelers should wash their hands regularly or use a minimum 60 percent alcohol-based (70 percent isopropyl alcohol) disinfectant before and after using the check-in kiosk, completing the security screening process, and showing your ticket at the gate.

Now, more than ever travelers need to plan for, and be prepared for, contingencies that affect travel. It is important to consider medical and security evacuation services and really understand what they will, and will not, provide. Make sure your health insurance is valid where you will be traveling. It is essential to have timely travel intelligence updates from a professional service. All of this preparation and forethought will enhance your awareness making it easier to avoid inconveniences or pitfalls. You’ll enjoy a better trip.

Courtesy of Harding Bush

Custom Travel Experiences

04 Jun Facts About Federal REAL ID

Facts About Federal REAL ID Driver Licenses and Identification Cards

What is the REAL ID Act?
Beginning October 1, 2021, the federal government will require your driver license or identification card to be REAL ID compliant if you wish to use it as identification to board a domestic fight or enter secure federal facilities that require identification.

Do I Need a REAL ID Driver License or Identification Card?
Starting October 1, 2021, you will need to show a REAL ID driver license or identification card or other federally approved identification (passport, military ID) at TSA airport checkpoints nationwide or to visit secure federal facilities.
NOTE: Check the TSA website for a complete list of approved identification.

You do not need a REAL ID card if:

  • You know you will not be boarding a domestic fight or visiting a secure federal facility, such as a military base.

OR

  • will use other approved documents as identification.

If you don’t choose a REAL ID card, you will receive a federal non-compliant card with the phrase “Federal Limits Apply.” Those under 18 are not required to have a REAL ID card to fly.

What Does a REAL ID Card Look Like?
REAL ID driver license and identification cards have a star in the top right corner.

Check for the star.

REAL ID-compliant cards are marked with a star at the top of the card. If you’re not sure, contact your state driver’s license agency on how to obtain a REAL ID compliant card.

If I Don’t apply for a REAL ID, Which Card Will I Receive?
You will receive a federal non-compliant driver license or identification card with the phrase “Federal Limits Apply.” Again, Federal requirements go into effect 10/1/2021.

Who is Eligible for a REAL ID Driver License or Identification Card?
U.S. citizens and all legal residents of the United States can apply for a REAL ID driver license or identification card.

If I do not have a REAL ID, can I use a passport for domestic travel?
You’ll need a REAL ID at minimum for domestic travel come October 2021, and your passport can work in place of a REAL ID for domestic travel—but a valid passport will still be required for international travel.

For information by state, including where to obtain a REAL ID, visit the DHS REAL ID website and click your state on the map.

 

chris-at-gtm

02 Jun What is a Travel Designer?

Everybody knows what a Travel Agent is, but when I say “Travel Designer” most people are left scratching their heads and giving me a weird look that says Technically I know what both of those words mean, but I have no idea what you’re talking about. Also, I am hungry.

If I have some food on me I’ll be sure and offer it up, but I’ve always got an answer for “What is a Travel Designer?” Simply put: a Travel Agent will get you where you’re going, but a Travel Designer will not only get you there but make sure you have the time of your life.

Travel is SWELL‘s purpose is to design customized travel and wellness experiences. This is a fancy way of saying, “Tell us what kind of vacation you want and we’ll make it happen.” Travel Designers talk with you, get to know you and your likes and dislikes, and then present to you packages or options that best fit your needs and wants. Because of our connections around the world with hotels, tours, excursion providers, resorts, and so much more, we can get you anywhere in the world you want to go and provide you with a variety of experiences once you get there… experiences you might turn up via research, or you might not. But who wants to do research? The great thing is: we’ve already done all the research for you. And, in the vast majority of cases, we won’t charge you a thing for our services.

 

What is a Travel Designer (or Travel Advisor)?

A travel designer is a professional travel consultant with the resources, connections and expertise to add great value to your travel plans. Travel designers work in partnership with you to select and plan travel experiences that are tailored to your unique wishes and budget. The benefits of using a travel designer are many, and you may find you uncover new perks each time you work with your travel designer.

In contrast, some travel agencies with large call centers are often inbound marketing specialists with little to no actual travel experience. They are encouraged to sell certain properties and cruise departures. Their goal is speed and volume – that means taking your order and moving on to the next customer as quickly as possible. The disadvantages of using a travel agent is that they may not be able to provide guidance or answer questions about the destinations, cruise lines or properties you are interested in. Many times, due to their marketing partnerships they offer “one-size-fits-all” vacation packages.

Why Should I Use a Travel Designer?

Your time away from home with family or friends is your most precious resource. You want to take advantage of an expert to help you invest it wisely. The very best travel agents, like the travel designers of Travel is Swell (and related sister sites) offer great value that adds a richness of experience to your vacations and getaways. Not only will the experience you have on your vacation be enhanced, the planning will also be a much less stressful and time consuming endeavor for you. Through our status as a preferred partner with virtually every luxury travel provider in the world, we are able to offer our clients preferred rates, amenities, upgrades, VIP status and credits that they cannot access on their own, through the Internet or by booking direct.

All in all, our travel designers personalize travel to fit you, rather than fit you into travel. It’s these changes that really take travel to the next level. As a network of luxury travel designers, we focus on creating a greater experience for you – our esteemed client.  Contact us today.


This is Chris. He has almost three decades of experience in the travel industry and you’d be hard-pressed to find a place he hasn’t been. You can contact him at info@travelisswell.com, or by phone at 1-888-963-8986.

 

 

Hurricane-Season

01 Jun Hurricane Safety Tips

A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. A typical cyclone is accompanied by thunderstorms, and in the Northern Hemisphere, a counterclockwise circulation of winds near the earth’s surface.

All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes. Parts of the Southwest United States and the Pacific Coast also experience heavy rains and floods each year from hurricanes spawned off Mexico. The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the peak season from mid-August to late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30.

Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. Hurricane can produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour as well as tornadoes and mircro-bursts. Additionally, hurricanes can create storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall. Floods and flying debris from the excessive winds are often the deadly and destructive results of these weather events. Slow moving hurricanes traveling into mountainous regions tend to produce especially heavy rain. Excessive rain can trigger landslides or mud slides. Flash flooding can occur due to intense rainfall.

Between 1970 and 1999, more people lost their lives from freshwater inland flooding associated with tropical cyclones than from any other weather hazard related to such storms.

Before a Hurricane

  • To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:
  • Know your surroundings.
  • Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. This will help you know how your property will be affected when storm surge or tidal flooding are forecasted.
  • Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
  • Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.

Make plans to secure your property:

  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
  • Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
  • Install a generator for emergencies.
  • If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
  • Consider building a safe room.

Hurricanes cause heavy rains that can cause extensive flood damage in coastal and inland areas. Everyone is at risk and should consider flood insurance protection. Flood insurance is the only way to financially protect your property or business from flood damage. To learn more about your flooding risk and how to protect yourself and your business, visit the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (NFIP) Web site,www.floodsmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419. For more detailed information on how you can protect your property, view NFIP’s printer-friendly handout Avoiding Hurricane Damage.

During a Hurricane

  • If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:
  • Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and
  • keep its doors closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks
  • Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Moor your boat if time permits.
  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.

You should evacuate under the following conditions:

  • If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure – such shelter are particularly hazardous during hurricane no matter how well fastened to the ground.
  • If you live in a high-rise building – hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
  • If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an island waterway.
  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again. 
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
  • Avoid elevators.

After a Hurricane

  • Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
  • If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact FEMA or the American Red Cross.
  • FEMA has established the National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System (NEFRLS), which has been developed to help reunite families who are separated during a disaster. The NEFRLS system will enable displaced individuals the ability to enter personal information into a website database so that they can be located by others during a disaster.
  • The American Red Cross also maintains a database to help you find family. Contact the local American Red Cross chapter where you are staying for information. Do not contact the chapter in the disaster area.
  • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
  • If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
  • For those who have longer-term housing needs, FEMA offers several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing. Apply for assistance or search for information about housing rental resources.
  • Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed¬ out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
  • Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
  • Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
  • Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
  • Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering – the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
  • Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
  • Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.

NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.

Publications

FEMA Publications

If you require more information about any of these topics, the following are resources that may be helpful.

Other Publications

  • Returning Home after a Hurricane or Flood. American Red Cross.
  • Repairing Your Flooded Home. American Red Cross.
  • Avoiding Hurricane Damage. Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration. Detailed information on how you can protect your property.

Related Websites

Find additional information on how to plan and prepare for a hurricane and learn about available resources by visiting the following websites:

Recommended Training

FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI) has developed a training program to encourage community hurricane preparedness. This computer-based course provides basic information about dealing with tropical cyclones and hurricanes. Visit EMI online and select the ‘take this course’ option at the top of the right hand column to take the interactive web-based course.

Listen to Local Officials

Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.

couple-relaxing-at-sandals-resort

28 May Sandals and Beaches Resorts Introducing Layaway Plan

Sandals Resorts International has become the latest travel entity to join the layaway option. Sandals is introducing Layaway & Playaway, a payment plan similar to store layaway options that enable travelers to spread the cost of a trip to Sandals or Beaches vacation over time. There are no fees and no interest payments with the Sandals plan, which can be used at any of the 18 Sandals and Beaches resorts across the Caribbean.

How does it work?

Almost exactly the same as retail stores.  Travelers must make a minimum deposit of $49 per person when booking and then select a payment plan in which the payments can be made in installments – as few as three or as many as 24.  Book with a credit card and Sandals keeps the card on file and charges you automatically every 30 days no matter which plan you choose. Final payment must be paid in full 45 days prior to travel. Please call 1-888-963-8986 to learn more about the Layaway plan offered by Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts.

Hurricane-Season

18 May Hurricane Safe Destinations

Hurricane season is upon us and anyone who has scheduled a late-summer vacation in the Southeast over the past few years knows how a hurricane can wreck havoc with your vacation plans, regardless of where you’re traveling. For 2020, we have complied a list of hurricane-safe destinations for you and your family to enjoy. Whiles most of these destinations are not a sure things, they have been among the safest of the past several years. Don’t let the hurricane season spoil your travel plans this year!

Hurricane-Safe Destinations ~ Pick Your Travel Destination Well

OUR RECOMMENDED DESTINATIONS & VACATION EXPERIENCES

ritz-carlton-yacht-collection

GO ON A CRUISE:

The good thing about cruises is that they can usually sail around the worst of a storm. And today’s ships are extraordinarily safe and with the advanced weather tracking available today, bad weather is something they can avoid. The downside is that the cruise line always reserves the right to reschedule port calls and change itineraries for weather-related reasons and therefore you may not get to visit the places you had hoped to.

The big advantage of sailing during hurricane season is that prices tend to drop to their lowest point of the year.  Your best deals are during the fall months — late August to mid December, so it’s an attractive time to buy a cruise. And the reality is that statistically speaking the chances that your particular voyage is going to be affected by a hurricane are very slim. But it does happen, from time to time. The thing to bear in mind is that it is a possibility and to approach the cruise with the right attitude.

POPULAR CRUISE DESTINATIONS:

  • Caribbean
  • Mexico
  • Europe
  • United States
  • Australia and the South Pacific
  • Africa, Asia, South America & Indian Ocean Islands

Explore the Caribbean

THE CARIBBEAN:

When planning a trip to the Caribbean during hurricane season, it is good to know that hurricanes are less likely the further south you go. The islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and St. Vincent, including the islands below them, are the least hit by hurricanes. However, as Grenada discovered in 2004 with Hurricane Ivan, never say never and keep in mind that hurricanes are unpredictable. If you still prefer to travel to the usual destinations, we recommend look for hotels and resorts that offers hurricane guarantees or something similar

Antigua
Antigua’s secluded white beaches – among the most pristine in all the Caribbean – provide the ideal setting for a tropical paradise. The azure seas surrounding all sides of the island beckon you to the beaches, all 365 of them.

Aruba
Hurricane-free year round, the beaches and hotels of Aruba welcome those who travel for romance.

Barbados
Barbados offers all the things a Caribbean vacationer needs in a tropical paradise – coral shore beaches, crystal clear waters, a climate that’s sure to delight, and for water sports enthusiasts, a dream come true.

Bonaire
Included in the “ABC” islands, along with Aruba and Curacao, Bonaire is a small island located in the southern Caribbean known for its pioneering role in the preservation of nature, in particular the preservation of the marine environment, and for its excellent scuba diving, snorkeling, and windsurfing, among other things.

Curacao
On Curacao, there’s never a shortage of exciting things to do – with sailing or fishing, kayaking or windsurfing, shopping or dining, the options feel practically endless.

Nevis
Intoxicating natural beauty, sunny skies, warm waters, and sparsely peopled beaches combine in the sister islands of St Kitts & Nevis to make them one of the most seductive spots in the Caribbean.

St Kitts
An uncrowded, unspoiled respite in the Caribbean, St. Kitts offers its natural beauty like a welcome mat for first-time and returning visitors alike. The island boasts pristine and gleaming shores surrounded by sparkling cobalt waters, plus many other facets to this impressive jewel of an island.

St Lucia
Rich in cultural history and natural beauty, the island nation of St Lucia offers a touch of everything you want in a Caribbean vacation. An unspoiled, tropical gem nestled in a chain of islands known as the Lesser Antilles, St Lucia traces its colorful history to long before colonial times, yet it has a legacy of over 400 years of European influence.

St Maarten/St Martin
Like well-suited counterparts, this striking dreamland offers two very distinct ad equally fabulous destinations on one island. The Dutch St. Maarten is a bustling haven, where surfers and divers head towards electrifying nightlife when the sun sets.    The French St. Martin provides a more low-key ambiance, where serene bays set the tone for relaxing feasts and peaceful strolls along moonlit shores.

Trinidad & Tobago
Trinidad & Tobago – two islands, one country. Two vacations in one – could you ask for a better deal? Lying just off the South American coast, this is the most culturally diverse of its peers, with a landscape and natural history as rich and varied as the rainbow faces of its many distinct heritages.

Explore Mexico

MEXICO – (Central & West Coast):

Enjoy a Mexican beach getaway to fabulous resorts in Acapulco, Los Cabos, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. Experience great beaches and visit ancient cultures. Lounge on the beach and enjoy the pulsating Mexican nightlife. If you still prefer to travel to the usual destinations, we recommend look for hotels and resorts that offers hurricane guarantees or something similar.

Acapulco
The gorgeous beaches, romantic sunsets, and glamorous nightlife that attracted Hollywood’s hottest celebrities in the 1950’s are still very much a part of Acapulco today. This “Queen of Mexican Beach Resorts” is set around a crescent-shaped bay and framed by verdant mountains that plunge into warm, sapphire waters.

Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo
On the Gold Coast, the dynamic resort center of Ixtapa and the quaint fishing pueblo of Zihuatanejo are contrasting twins. One is bold, beautiful and full of action, and the other is a quiet wallflower, living a simple life on the outer edge of her sister’s spotlight. Ixtapa is the most modern resort on Mexico’s west coast, with half of its land protected as an ecological reserve.

Mazatlan
While other beach resorts in Mexico work hard to dazzle visitors with mega-resort excitement, the equation for a great vacation in Mazatlan is a simple one of fun, plus food, plus lots of world-class fishing. Mexico’s largest West Coast port and the second largest coastal city combines affordable accommodations with seaside charm and plenty of ways to have fun in the sun.

Mexico City
Mexico City’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Aztec ruins, the continent’s largest cathedral, and historic architecture make Mexico City an interesting place to visit. Mexico City is also a dangerous place to visit and security should be a major concern of anyone who visits the Mexican capital.

Puerto Vallarta
Spectacular beaches, great tanning weather and a fun city combine to make Puerto Vallarta an attractive destination. Its Bay of Banderas is the place to be, but touring the nearby jungles on horseback is also an attractive option. In addition, Puerto Vallarta is an area of Mexico that has attracted many talented artists and is known as one of the country’s centers for the fine arts.

Los Cabos
To many travelers, Cabo has become the “place to be” in Mexico. Good beaches, great shoreline, golf, fishing, and wild nightlife combine to make the Cabo area an attractive destination for a variety of travelers.

CENTRAL AMERICA:

Enjoy a different kind of vacation experience…Central American style! Lounge on the beach, visit ancient archaeological ruins and enjoy the pulsating island nightlife. Adventurous travelers will want to participate in one of the fabulous Eco-tours offered.

Liberia, Costa Rica
(Costa Rica’s western region)Liberia is the capital of the Guanacaste province and is fast becoming the new gateway to the sunny Guanacaste beaches. Over the past couple of years it has become more and more popular with tourists, just recently a new international airport in Liberia has opened up and many American airline carriers are now flying into Liberia. Liberia is very close to popular Tamarindo and its surrounding beaches and it is also becoming the preferred city to fly into if you are going to the new resorts in the Papagayo Gulf, only 30-40 minutes away. It is also very close to some popular and beautiful national parks. Parque Nacional Santa Rosa, Parque Nacional Rincon de la Vieja and Parque Nacional Guanasate are just to the north and are worth visiting.

UNITED STATES:

California
Enjoy a Los Angeles getaway and include multi-day Disneyland® Resort Park Hopper® Bonus Tickets, or Universal Studios® Hollywood. Thrill to Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland® Park plus other exciting theme park attractions and entertainment. Or travel to San Francisco and experience the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown.

Hawaii
Hawaii is enchanting. Its beauty will stun you. Its floral scents will surround you. Its culture will fascinate you. Its legends will intrigue you. Its world-class resorts will pamper you, and you’ll be treated as honored guests, as the “Spirit of Aloha” embraces you.  There are several Hawaii vacation packages, and hotels to choose from.  Day or night, flexible vacations options are available.

Las Vegas
Everywhere you look, from the Las Vegas Strip to the dazzling Freemont Street Experience, there’s an incredible variety of things to see and do. Take a roller coaster ride around Manhattan skyscrapers.  Trek through space at warp speed. Visit the world’s tallest Coke bottle, or the tallest observation tower in the United States. Take a chance with Lady Luck. Dine from buffet to gourmet. Swing into championship golf. Or relax beside a refreshing pool. These are just some of the many incredible experiences waiting for you in this remarkable desert playground.   Las Vegas is one of our top 5 hurricane-safe travel destinations.

EUROPE:

Explore Italy, Ireland and the rest of Europe. Experience one of our European vacations our European tours. From our independent travel packages to European escorted tours, we feature only the best companies offering European travel and vacation packages.   The dream of European travel is easily turned into reality with our broad range of vacation packages across a continent of distinctive cultures.

AUSTRALIA & SOUTH PACIFIC:

We invite you to experience the splendid diversity of Australia and South Pacific; from breathtaking beauty of the Great Barrier Reef to the vastness of the rugged Outback,  to the beautiful islands of Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, and Cook Islands – the most romantic destinations in the world.

Explore Asia

AFRICA, ASIA, SOUTH AMERICA & INDIAN OCEAN ISLANDS:

Explore our destination page for exceptional vacation experiences to these fine destinations. Your Elite Travel Consultant can customize virtually any itinerary to fit your specific needs.

Courtesy of our sister site Elite Travel Consulting.com

Las Vegas Vacations

11 May Experience Las Vegas

Experience Las Vegas

The entertainment capital of the world. Plan your Las Vegas vacation, odds are you won’t forget it.

Las Vegas isn’t a place you visit. It’s a place you do. And there’s lots to do. Usually when a destination says it has something for everyone, it has one something that’s really not that interesting for anyone. Las Vegas is the exception. You can make a Las Vegas getaway anything you want, because everything you could want is here. World-class spas, haute couture shopping and restaurants from celebrity chefs. Mountain hikes, thrill rides and all-night parties. Famous casinos and even more famous entertainers. Romance. Family. Adrenaline. There’s a thousand different vacations here; you just have to pick one.​

Old School Vegas
If you’re looking for old School Vegas, you’ll find it on Fremont Street. The heart of downtown’s casino district is great for inexpensive drinks, tables, and great people watching. Take a guided tour of the city and be sure to stop by the Mob Museum for a little history. Then head up to the Neon Boneyard, a collection of more than 150 of Vegas’ classic neon signs from the 1930s to present day.

High-Energy Excitement
If you want the latest and greatest, high-end shopping and hottest restaurants, try some of the newer areas like City Center or the promenade between Linq and Flamingo. Enjoy a cocktail while you take a ride on the High Roller, the world’s tallest observation wheel; a sunset or nighttime ride is a must to see the city at its most glittering. Between raucous dayclubs (think pool party plus nightclub) and some of the hottest nightclubs in the world, you can party 24 hours a day.

Entertainment
Since its Rat Pack Days, Vegas has been synonymous with legendary entertainment. That tradition continues today with Cirque du Soleil spectaculars, Broadway-caliber musicals like Rock of Ages and concert headliners including Celine Dion, Elton John and Britney Spears. And despite the city’s racy reputation, there’s no shortage of family-friendly shows that will delight all ages.

Plan a Trip to Las Vegas | Find Things to Do in Las Vegas

Coronavirus-Protection

05 Apr COVID-19 Small Business Coronavirus Relief Options

Our nation’s small businesses are facing an unprecedented economic disruption due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. On Friday, March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the CARES Act, which contains $376 billion in relief for American workers and small businesses.

Funding Options

In addition to traditional SBA funding programs, the CARES Act established several new temporary programs to address the COVID-19 outbreak. These temporary programs include:

Paycheck Protection Program

This loan program provides loan forgiveness for retaining employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program.

How it Works:

The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.

Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020. The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.

The Interim Final Rule for Applicable Affiliation Rules for the Paycheck Protection Program information is being posted in advance of publication in the Federal Register. The official version will appear in the Federal Register.

Who Can Apply
This program is for any small business with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private non-profit organization or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by coronavirus/COVID-19.

Businesses in certain industries may have more than 500 employees if they meet the SBA’s size standards for those industries.

Small businesses in the hospitality and food industry with more than one location could also be eligible if their individual locations employ less than 500 workers.

Loan Details and Forgiveness
The loan will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (due to likely high subscription, at least 75% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll). Loan payments will also be deferred for six months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.

  • Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.
  • This loan has a maturity of 2 years and an interest rate of 1%.
  • If you wish to begin preparing your application, you can download a copy of the PPP borrower application form to see the information that will be requested from you when you apply with a lender.

EIDL Loan Advance

This loan advance will provide up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties.

How it Works:

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available following a successful application. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.

Eligibility
The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan provides vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This program is for any small business with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private non-profit organization or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by COVID-19.

Businesses in certain industries may have more than 500 employees if they meet the SBA’s size standards for those industries.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance funds will be made available within days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid.

SBA Express Bridge Loans

Enables small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.

How it Works:

Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loans or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan. If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for decision and disbursement on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, they may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan.

Terms Include:

  • Up to $25,000
  • Fast turnaround
  • Will be repaid in full or in part by proceeds from the EIDL loan

SBA Debt Relief

The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How it Works:

As part of SBA’s debt relief efforts, The SBA will automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of current 7(a), 504, and microloans for a period of six months.  The SBA will also automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of new 7(a), 504, and microloans issued prior to September 27, 2020.

Additional Debt Relief

For current SBA Serviced Disaster (Home and Business) Loans: If your disaster loan was in “regular servicing” status on March 1, 2020, the SBA is providing automatic deferments through December 31, 2020.

What does an “automatic deferral” mean to borrowers?

  • Interest will continue to accrue on the loan.
  • 1201 monthly payment notices will continue to be mailed out which will reflect the loan is deferred and no payment is due.
  • The deferment will NOT cancel any established Preauthorized Debit (PAD) or recurring payments on your loan. Borrowers that have established a PAD through Pay.Gov or an OnLine Bill Pay Service are responsible for canceling these recurring payments. Borrowers that had SBA establish a PAD through Pay.gov will have to contact their SBA servicing office to cancel the PAD.
  • Borrowers preferring to continue making regular payments during the deferment period may continue remitting payments during the deferment period. SBA will apply those payments normally as if there was no deferment.
  • After this automatic deferment period, borrowers will be required to resume making regular principal and interest payments. Borrowers that cancelled recurring payments will need to reestablish the recurring payment.

If you have questions about your current loan and whether or not your loan is automatically deferred, please contact your Loan Servicing Office directly using the following information:

Birmingham Disaster Loan Servicing Center:
Phone: 800-736-6048
Email: BirminghamDLSC@sba.gov
El Paso Disaster Loan Servicing Center:
Phone: 800-487-6019
Email: ElPasoDLSC@sba.gov

Please visit https://www.sba.gov for more details

Help with Coronavirus

04 Apr Coronavirus Safety Tips

The American Red Cross continues to closely monitor the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and follow the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We understand this is a stressful time and people want to know what they can do now to protect themselves and their families. Below are some everyday steps that people in the U.S. can take now. In addition, stay informed about what’s happening in your community and always follow the directions of state and local authorities.

HELP SLOW THE SPREAD OF COVID-19

Follow these steps to help keep you and others safe:

  • Stay home if you can and avoid any non-essential travel. Avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people.
  • Practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet — about two arm lengths — away from others if you must go out in public. Stay connected with loved ones through video and phone calls, texts and social media. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect household surfaces daily and high-touch surfaces frequently throughout the day. High-touch surfaces include phones, remote controls, counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables. Follow CDC guidance.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth, and throw used tissues in a lined trash can. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow — not your hands. Wash your hands immediately.

WHO IS AT A HIGHER RISK?

According to the CDC, early information shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. This includes older adults and people of any age who:

  • Have serious underlying medical conditions, such as heart, lung or liver disease; diabetes; moderate to severe asthma; severe obesity; and renal failure.
  • Have a weakened immune system, including those undergoing cancer treatment.

People who are pregnant should also be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness; however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk.

If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19, it is critical for you to take actions to avoid getting sick:

  • Stay home, avoid close contact with others and follow the other steps above.
  • Call your health care provider if you have concerns or to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications in case you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time.
  • Call a medical professional as soon as COVID-19 symptoms start, if you are at higher risk.

IF YOU ARE SICK

According to the CDC, COVID-19 symptoms include fever, shortness of breath and a cough. Keep track of your symptoms, which may appear two to 14 days after exposure, and call to seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen, such as difficulty breathing.

Mild Illness
Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. If you think you are sick:

  • Stay home and call your doctor for medical advice if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop symptoms.
  • Older adults and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions should call a health care provider as soon as symptoms start.
  • Separate yourself from other people in your home. On your own, clean and disinfect all surfaces daily and high-touch surfaces frequently throughout the day in your sick room and designated bathroom. Have a healthy household member do the same for surfaces in other parts of the home.
  • Wear a face mask if you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a health care provider’s office.

Emergency Warning Signs
If your symptoms become severe, call to get medical attention immediately. Warning signs include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

This list is not all inclusive. Consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning. Review CDC guidance for more information.

FINDING UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION

Visit redcross.org/coronavirus for more information on COVID-19 safety. For the latest information, please visit the CDC website at cdc.gov/covid19.

Courtesy of Red Cross.

Packing-for-Travel

03 Apr Time To Hit The Pause Button

Time To Hit The Pause Button

What a couple of weeks it’s been. There seems to be no corner of the earth unaffected by the recent COVID-19 events, and it is humbling to see communities here and around the globe coming together to support one another.

The compassion and support you, our clients and friends, have given to these communities – and yours – has defined their very existence. From our self-sustaining complex here at home, our dedicated team is working diligently to learn what we can do to help members of our community in every possible way. But most important, we have a moment now to pause and reflect.

It’s a challenging time right now, so we are looking to the future, to this year and to the next, to the point where the world is ready to host our wonderful travelers once more. We hope you and your family are healthy and safe amidst COVID-19, and we look forward to a time when we can all explore freely again.  Travel is paused, but we’ll see you soon!