Blowes Travel & Cruise Centres Inc.'s Blog

You'll notice we aren't using a photo for this story. That's because there's not much good to see. Hurricane Irma is possibly the most destructive natural event ever to strike certain parts of the Caribbean.

What about Travel?

Information is trickling in, but here's the best available information we have today from 3rd party sources about the situation:

  • Tourists are barred indefinitely from the Florida Keys although they have begun to let residents back in.
  • South Florida's airports are operating although they are working back up to full service.
  • Cruises from Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale and Miami are resuming this week – but most with modified and/ or abbreviated itineraries.
  • The islands worst hit include Barbuda (where the entire island's population has now been evacuated to sister Antigua), St. Maarten/ St. Martin, parts of Cuba, St. Thomas, Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, St. Barth's, and the damage in some is overwhelming.St. Maarten and St. Thomas in particular are among the most popular cruise ports in the Eastern Caribbean.It's unknown at this point when any cruise or other tourists may be able to visit.
  • Some cruise lines are canceling Eastern Caribbean itineraries and changing them to Western – or even Southern Caribbean – itineraries for the next few weeks.

Good News

Already, though, there is some good news we want to share, as rays of hope during this terrible time:

  • We have been so heartened by how many cruise lines – in astonishing feats of logistics – quickly re-routed and dedicated ships to transporting people away from danger and hazardous conditions and bringing vital supplies and assistance to communities affected.
  • Similarly, airlines and charter companies made heroic evacuations before the hurricane made landfall, and some have returned with assistance where they can land.
  • We are even starting to see 'assistance tourism' – people choosing to take their holidays in devastated areas to contribute to local economies and help clean up and get communities back to functioning.
  • And even in affected areas, not all hotels, resorts and activities have been destroyed.Some are still functioning or will be soon.

Just a few examples:

  • Our friends at St. Maarten's 12- metre Challenge racing yacht experience report they'll be back in business by December.The heavily damaged airport has restored enough service to land flights with needed supplies and assistance.
  • So, too, Sandals says its Beaches Turks and Caicos property will be restored and 'better than ever' before Christmas.For booked travelers, they offer to"re-accommodate your stay at one of our Beaches Resorts located in Jamaica or to any available Sandals Resort, or reschedule your travel dates for Beaches Turks & Caicos"
  • St. Barth's airport re-opened Thursday morning.

What Can You Do?

The affected areas are facing estimated lost tourism revenues this year in the billions. And in the worst-affected locations where tourism is the largest or only industry, almost all jobs are gone indefinitely until tourists return.

Our hearts go out to everyone affected by Hurricane Irma. And we hope you join us in supporting recovery efforts.

One of the best ways to support recovery in the region is to continue to travel. High season from December to March is vital for the economies of tourism-dependent Caribbean countries.

If you have booked travel plans, check with us or the travel supplier to see if you can complete those plans. The Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association are other excellent sources of information.

And if you are thinking of a sun or beach vacation, let us help you book a trip to the Caribbean. There are many places unaffected or that will be ready by December to provide you with a memorable holiday that also helps economies recover from Hurricane Irma.

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
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TORONTO — You’re not imagining it – you really do pass more wind than usual while flying. But contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with the sub-par airplane food and has everything to do with altitude.

As reported by The Huffington Post, there’s a scientific reason why people often feel bloated and break wind during a flight. It’s because of HAFE, or ‘High Altitude Flatus Expulsion’, a term coined by a pair of researchers in the 1980s to explain why mountain climbers experienced flatulence at high altitudes.

A similar phenomenon is seen among passengers on airplanes. Airplane cabins are pressurized to between 6,000 and 8,000 feet, a dramatic change from sea level that affects your body. As the plane flies higher, the gas in your intestines expands, taking up to 30% more room than usual.

And as biology dictates, all that gas has to go somewhere.

To help curb the stinky problem, experts suggest drinking plenty of water and avoiding salty and fatty foods during your flight. It’s also a good idea to walk around the plane to get the bowels moving.

Seasickness is caused by your body’s inner ear trying to keep up with the balancing act of unfamiliar motion.  Equilibrium is all controlled in the inner ear, and when you are seeing things moving that are “supposed” to be still, it can cause undue stress on your brain and cause nausea to set in.  Sometimes it takes people a few days to get their “sea legs” and nausea goes away completely.

Tips to avoid getting seasick on a  cruise ship

  • Get a cabin in the middle of the ship and as low as you can go.  The forward and aft of the ship will have the most movement as the ship barrels through the water, so the middle of the ship will feel less of these extremes.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Keep something in your stomach.  You might be afraid to eat anything, but just avoid spicy foods and make sure your tank is not on empty.
  • Get as much fresh air as possible on one of the top decks.
  • Look out over the forward part of the ship.  This helps many people get acclimated to the motion of the ship in the water and helps to train the brain to stop the nausea.
  • Keep an eye fixed on the horizon.  Remember, your brain can use the horizon as a point of reference so it is not so confused and triggers the motion sickness.
  • Try to get a room with at least a window as well, as not seeing the water is usually worse than seeing it.

Remedies for avoiding cruise motion sickness

You should always consult with your doctor before trying any medications or special homemade remedies just to make sure that you will not see any adverse reactions.

  • Dramamine.  This is probably the most popular over the counter drug for preventing sea sickness, but it can also make you drowsy.  There is a non-drowsy Dramamine but many people find that it still makes you feel weird.  Still, it’s better than being sea sick.  And after a few days you may find you no longer need it.
  • The Scopolamine Patch.  Some people rave about this patch and it’s supposed to work really well.  You need a prescription for it, and the only side effect most people see is a dry mouth.  But there is plenty to drink on the ship so no worries there.
  • Bonine.  This is another drug a little like Dramamine and should be taken 8 hours before you sail.  Some people recommend taking it the night before your cruise and then again that morning so you will not feel so drowsy.

Home remedies for avoiding cruise motion sickness

  • Ginger.  If you are drinking Ginger Ale, make sure there is actually ginger in it.  Some of the new soft drinks just use ginger flavors.  Some people take ginger pills and others eat ginger snaps.  Either way, it should help.
  • Peppermint candy or tea.  This helps to relieve the nausea so it’s really a remedy for the symptoms of seasickness and not really the cause.
  • Saltine crackers.  Some people swear by them, so hey, it’s worth a shot.
  • Wrist bands.  There are certain wristbands that are supposed to push down on your pressure points to stop you from getting motion sickness.  Some people can even read in a moving car with them on.
  • Eating green apples will also help keep seasickness at bay.

Remember that if you do get really sick on a cruise, there is always a nurse and medical staff on board to assist you. This is where having cruise or travel insurance can really pay off.

 

Certain cruise destinations are better for people who get motion sickenss

If you go on a cruise across the Atlantic, chances are you are going to experience a lot more movement in the water due to the cold fronts and weather changes in the ocean.  So for first time cruisers worries about getting seasick I recommend taking a cruise to the Caribbean where the waters are usually calm.

Newer cruise ships have built in stabilizers

Cruise ships are bigger than ever grossing well over 100,000 in tonnage in more new ships.  The Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas gross over 220,000 in tonnage and are over 1,100 feet long and 200 feet wide in some places.  These ships have special stabilizers that help keep the ship from rocking.

Most of the time you can’t even feel the ships moving, especially when the weather is nice.  On the rare occasion that you have some weather the wave might make the ship move a little, but captains usually try to avoid any kind of weather and find you a nice sunny part of the ocean to enjoy your getaway.

Think about it, these ships could not have ice skating rinks on them with live performances if the ships were rocking back and forth.  On my first cruise I was shocked at how still everything seemed.  Once in a while you might feel some movement, but the technology is getting better all the time, and the bigger the ship the more stable it will be.

 

People who have never traveled alone often describe their first solo trip as an almost religious experience. To take in new surroundings unfiltered by the prejudices, tastes or preferences of a traveling companion can be heady stuff. Traveling alone gives you the chance to indulge yourself fully.

Of course, single travel has its perils too -- such as safety concerns, loneliness and the dreaded single supplement. But a little preparation and common sense can save you money and get you through the rough spots.

 

Why Travel Alone?

Solo travel can be the ultimate in self-indulgence; you can rest when you want and pour it on when you're feeling ambitious. Another benefit is that your mistakes are your own, and your triumphs all the more exciting. There's no worrying that your insistence on trekking all the way across town to a museum that was closed ruined your partner's day; it's your own day to salvage or chalk up to a learning experience.

Also, you can do exactly what you want to do -- all the time. Always wanted to try surfing? Sign up for a class and go for it; there's no one sitting on the beach bored while you have the time of your life. Have no desire to see Niagara Falls? Just drive right by.

 

Safety First

Perhaps the foremost concern of the solo or single traveler is safety. Without a companion to watch your back, you are more vulnerable to criminals and scam artists, as well as simple health worries. But the saying "safety in numbers" isn't necessarily true -- a solo traveler can blend in more easily than a group, and not drawing attention to yourself as a tourist is one way to stay secure. Here are a few tips:

  • Know how long it takes and how much it costs to get from the airport to your hotel or to the city center. Solo travelers are more likely to be "taken for a ride," so ask the taxi driver how much it will cost before you leave. If it's considerably different from what you know to be true, take a different cab.
  • Find out if hotels at your destination are open late, so you don't end up sleeping in your car or worse.
  • Be your own best counsel; if it doesn't feel right, don't do it.
  • Carry good identification, in more than one place.
  • Keep to open and public places, especially at night.
  • Exude confidence and walk purposefully.
  • Avoid appearing like a tourist. Ditch the Disney T-shirt and don't walk around with your face in a guidebook. (See 10 Things You Should Never Wear Abroad for more thoughts on this one.)
  • Don't draw attention to yourself by wearing flashy clothes or jewelry.
  • Lie a little. Not only can you invent your own persona or history, but you can also make your life easier with little white lies. When asking directions, don't let on that you are alone: "Can you direct me to the museum? I have to meet a friend."
  • Check your maps and transportation schedules before leaving your hotel/train/rental car/tourist office. A solo traveler poring over maps can be a mark for unsavory types.
  • Leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or family member at home, and stay in touch regularly via phone or e-mail.
  • For U.S. citizens traveling internationally, consider signing up for the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which could help the State Department assist you in case of emergency. If you're from outside the States, see if your home country has a similar program.

 

Essential Hotel Safety Tips

One of the best reasons to travel alone is to meet new people, but this also makes you more vulnerable. It's okay to hang out, travel and share with new friends, but you might not want to ask them to hold your money. Scam artists can often be the most charming companions you'll find; you want to be open-minded, but keep your guard up enough to ensure your safety.

 

Avoiding the Single Supplement

Frequent solo travelers are all too familiar with the single supplement, which tour operators, cruise lines and hotels tack onto your bill to make up for the fact that they're not making money off a second occupant. The supplement can range anywhere from 25 to 100 percent of the trip cost, meaning that you could end up paying twice as much as someone traveling with a partner.

There are several ways to get around the single supplement. You can avoid it altogether by booking with a tour operator that offers roommate matching, such as G Adventures, Intrepid Travel, Road Scholar (formerly known as Elderhostel) and Holland America Line. By finding you a roommate, they maximize their own profit off each room and save you the single supplement. The catch is, of course, that you'll have to share a room with a stranger. If you're concerned, contact the tour operator and see what kind of procedures they use to match roommates. Some pair people off at random, while others will make an effort to put complementary personalities together.

Several cruise lines offer single staterooms on select ships, including Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line and P&O Cruises.

 

15 Mistakes to Avoid When Traveling Solo

If you're flexible and ready to go at a moment's notice, you could save money by booking at the last minute. Tour operators who are eager to sell out their last few places may be willing to reduce their usual single supplement. Abercrombie & Kent and Road Scholar are two companies that regularly offer discounted or waived single supplements.

It's not for everyone, but you may also want to consider staying in a hostel, which charges per bed rather than per room. Hostelling International properties tend to be reliably clean and secure, and they're open to travelers of all ages.

To keep track of the latest single travel deals, sign up for solo travel newsletters and regularly visit sites that cater to singles

 - Reprinted from independenttrraveller.com
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Transat Holidays Offers a Hurricane Policy

Transat Holidays and Nolitours now offer their clients true peace of mind that they are protected should a hurricane affect your destination city in Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean or Central or South America.

There are four options to choose from. Some conditions apply, of course, so read all the details in this document.

If you’re not convinced, here are 10 reasons why backpacks suck.

 

1. You have to carry them

Come on guys, it’s the 21st century and wheels were invented for a very good reason. Let’s use the incredible invention of the wheel and stop carrying heavy things!

 

2. They’re awkward to carry and they hurt

I’m sure Action Man doesn’t have any problem swinging his backpack onto his back but I do. I really do.

 

3. You barely ever need to carry your luggage

Admittedly, there are times when you need to carry your luggage but these times are few and far between. Everyone likes to think they’re going on an adventure and getting off the beaten track but 9 times out of 10 you’ll be able to wheel a suitcase everywhere.

 

4. Creased clothes

I have never mastered the art of packing a backpack and not getting totally crumpled clothes. I always roll my clothes and I often use packing cubes. Everything is fine for 2-3 days but anything longer than this and I have a chaotic pile of crumpled clothes.

 

5. Day packs

While I hate backpacks, I am a fan of the day pack. Basically, just a mini backpack you use for days out. If you’re going trekking for a couple of days, you’d take a small day pack rather than the large backpack.

Travelling with a backpack

6. It’s difficult to find stuff in them

If you have a top opening backpack then you can say goodbye to anything that slips to the bottom. You won’t be seeing that for a long time.

 

7. They’re difficult to organise

Lots of backpacks have one large, main compartment which makes it difficult to organise anything and your belongings get muddled and lost.

 

8. Things get broken

The soft fabric of a backpack won’t protect your belongings against the bag being thrown around. I’m not suggesting anyone travels with a china tea set but you won’t want anything breakable in there.

Paddington Bear

If it’s good enough for Paddington… 

9. Odd Sized Baggage

Backpacks usually have to go to a special ‘Odd Sized Baggage’ conveyor belt at the airport to avoid the straps getting caught in any machinery. This can often take longer and be located in a weird place. It’s not the end of the world but it’s an extra stress and hassle if you’re running late.

 

10. They’re not waterproof or easy to clean

Hard-shelled suitcases are both waterproof and easy to clean. Some people like having a dirty backpack because it makes them look like ‘a real traveller’. I don’t.

 

My tips for backpacking with a suitcase

If you’re convinced that backpacks suck and you’d like to go travelling with a suitcase, there are a few things you need to remember.

 

You still need to pack light

I never travel with a bag I can’t lift. This is mainly because I don’t want to be that girl who has to pitifully ask a man to carry my bag for me. I’m not going to get all feminist on you but, ladies, if you can’t carry your own bag, it’s too heavy.

You still need a small, lightweight case that you can easily carry up a flight of stairs.

 

Caribee Fast TrackConsider a wheeled backpack

I’m a massive fan of the Caribee Fast Track Wheeled Backpack. I can’t recommend this bag enough if you’re not quite ready to hang up your backpack but you realise backpacks suck 

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Airline baggage limits can result in big fees for over-packing passengers, but two travellers en route to Singapore from Sydney had a quick fix to avoid paying for an overweight bag.

Facing a $130 fee for exceeding the weight limit, the pair from San Francisco layered themselves in as many of their clothes as possible. A photo of the 2 was posted on Reddit by the user 'stou' who was also travelling on the flight.

"These 2 guys were flying to Singapore from Sydney and their carry-on was over the "free" weight limit so the airline, Scoot, wanted to charge them $130," the post read. "Apparently when they started putting on the clothes the airline agent told them something along the lines of, 'I am going to come to the gate and make sure you are still wearing everything'."

The strategy appeared to work for them, and for others who responded to the Reddit post.

"This happened to me at CDG in Paris,” wrote one respondent. “I was over by a few pounds on my carry-on so I started taking stuff out and putting them on. I even asked the lady if that was okay and she didn't care as long as it wasn't in the carryon bag. After I was under the allowed weight she gave me my ticket and I walked 10 feet away and put everything back in my bag."

- reprinted from OpenJaw.com

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While you might put travel agent right up there with VCR repair man and video store clerk on the list of jobs that have gone the way of the Yellow Pages, there's a reason you still see them wedged into strip malls between your dry cleaner and the new VaporZone. Turns out that -- even in a world where everybody coordinates their own vacation plans -- travel agents account for about one-third of the travel industry's revenue. Seriously, in 2014. Who knew.

Not only can they do things the internet can't, but they also still collect a lot of their fees from vendors, which means... best part, they don't even charge you! Which is why we've compiled these 10 reasons you might want to go old-school and let a travel agent plan your next trip.

 

1. They know whether you're actually getting a good deal.
Since 90 percent of the airline tickets you buy are for a domestic flight to see your parents, your knowledge of the relative value of a flight to London is, how shall we say, limited. A travel agent, however, books, like, 74 of those a day and will know immediately if the $600 whatever website told you is a "smoldering price" is actually reasonable.

2. Travel agents know where to go in a city, or know someone who does.
If you don't happen to be headed to one of Thrillist's 30 cities, it helps to have a reputable resource available who knows the best restaurants, dive bars, or cockfighting arenas without having to sift through a thousand ridiculous reviews about how the waitress didn't bring the table enough bread. Since they book trips all the time, TA's know this stuff like the back of their hands. And if they don't, they're one call away from getting you an answer.

3. They've got your back when it comes to flight delays/cancellations.
Try calling a website when your flight gets cancelled and the line to rebook stretches through the terminal. Even if you get through to the airline directly, they still don't have a clue who you are. Call your travel agent, though, and they'll get you squared away on another flight while you get squared away at the airport bar.

4. They can actually get you seats together, on the same flight, for the same price.
Rather than spend a week on a group text trying to coordinate your big Splashin' Safari Water Park Summer vacay, only to book your flights separately online and find you're all sitting next to different people who clip their toenails (and paid different fares), a travel agent can get your entire group the same ticket price, with seats together, on the same flight.

5. They can get you VIP status without being a VIP.
Restaurant supposedly booked for months? Yeah, that's no issue for a travel agent. Need a table at the hottest club in Sioux Falls? They've got more promoters on speed dial than a South Beach swimsuit model. Thanks to the relationships they maintain across the tourism industry, they can also score you tix to special tours, private tastings, and other events the Internet doesn't even know about. Or, if it does, has hidden so deep it'll take you hours to find out about them.

6. And speaking of hours on the Internet, TAs do all the research for you.
Websites don't seem to understand that when you say "search nearby airports," it doesn't mean "I'm totally fine with being the guy who asks my roommate for a ride to an airport 75 miles away so I can save $45". Travel Agents know your airport preferences, and won't tease you with cheap flights that involve leaving and returning to airports that're in different states. Unless you want them to.

7. They get better prices, first
That $49 one-way flight your email update indicated was a "fresh new deal" was actually available to your travel agent last week, because they have better relationships with airlines and wholesalers. Which also means their prices are... ready for this... usually better than online. Especially for complicated or premium fares.

8. They do more than book flights.
That African safari looks like a great time, but you do realize it requires a lot more legwork than just pressing "Buy Now" on the roundtrip ticket to Kinshasa, right? In addition to visas, you'll likely require a series of semi-crippling inoculations before you go, too. Unsure where to go for either visas or shots? Well, lo and behold, guess who can set both of those up for you?

9. They have Southwest's prices too.
Fun as it is planning your flight, calculating baggage, seat selection, and water fees, then repeating the whole process on Southwest.com to seeing if it's cheaper, a travel agent can do the comparison shopping for you. And he or she can do it with any other airline that doesn't play the online search engine game.

10. No-hassle 24-hour changes
"Non-refundable" on your online reservation -- be it a flight, hotel reservation, Duck Tour, whatever -- usually means you have 24 hours to make changes without penalty. Most people don't realize this. Yes, even a "non-refundable" airline ticket can be changed. The only catch, you have to actually call and deal directly with the airline. Or, instead of spending hours on hold listening to "all agents are currently busy", you can let your travel agent happily fix the ticket. Your call.

- By: Matt Meltzer, The Huffington Post: www.huffingtonpost.com

 

So call one of our award-winning agents today
- like Agnes in Stratford - to plan your next trip!
Because Blowes knows!