Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tips and Tricks for Collecting Air Miles

"Air miles are not only collected when you fly"
In this day and age people are always looking for tips and tricks as to how they can save some extra money and get the best deals wherever possible. Saving air miles is a great way to lower the cost of flights and reward you and your family with a much needed holiday. In spite of popular belief, air miles are not only collected when you fly. There are a great many ways in which you can collect air miles and then redeem them for flights at your leisure. Anyone can save air miles and there are a great many ways in which you can increase your rewards and cash in on simple offers which will increase the number of miles you collect.

Instead of simply joining the air mile frequent flyer reward program of every airline, it is much more effective to enrol in an alliance which will allow you to accumulate points from several airlines into one place and reach your required goals much faster. Takes some time to find out which airlines are part of what alliance and think about which ones you are more likely to use in the future. This will increase your earning potential and you will see the air miles accumulate much more quickly. Once you have enrolled in the alliance you can contact customer services to transfer your past air mile balances from each individual account into the one master account in order to earn more miles faster.

Credit Cards
This is one of the most common ways in which you can collect air miles. Many airlines and credit card companies are offering deals which allow you to collect air miles with every dollar that you spend. In order to increase your air miles using this method you should buy large expensive items on credit card and pay them off using a different account. Any large payments such as house or car payments can be paid through credit card to produce a huge chunk of air miles each month. By simply using your credit card in any situation where you can, you will see your air miles balance increase dramatically each month allowing you to claim the rewards much more quickly.

Club cards and Online Shopping
There are many websites and store cards that you can sign up to which offer air mile rewards as a loyalty program for their shops. You can join estore facilities which allow you to gain air miles when you spend certain amount of money on their products. You can find out what shops and websites are affiliated with your program by looking at the specific information you are given with your alliance enrollment.

Add the Household
For most air mile reward programs you are able to sign up the entire household for one account. This increases your accumulation as you receive miles whenever any registered member flies or use their credit cards. This helps to increase the amount of points you receive and allows you all to partake in the rewards.

About the Author: Naomi Chamberlain writes for Discounts.ca who provide a range of store coupons and vouchers. Current brands on the website include Apple, Dell, Expedia and Amazon.

Friday, December 23, 2011

3 Melancholy London Sights

This list features three of London's arguably more morbid attractions, sights that have a strong connection to an individual's end of days. Yes, death is at the heart of each entry and while that might sound a little grisly, it isn't necessarily so. Besides, I'm sure you've already ventured through the infamous London Dungeon and witnessed enough terror and torture from ages past? This trio of places is more about reflection on the act of departing this mortal coil.

Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery in London
Photo Credit: Thegirlwho
The most well known of the three entries Highgate Cemetery, is situated in Highgate beside Waterlow Park. Swain's Lane runs right through the middle of it and divides it in to two parts known simply as the West and East cemetery. It opened in 1839 and was designed by Stephen Geary. It was created essentially to create more graves because the inner city cemeteries were struggling for space as the burgeoning population required more and more room for burials.

The cemetery, seen as a desirable location to be placed to rest, quickly became fashionable and the graveyard flourished with the Victorians creating beautifully crafted Gothic tombs. And it really is a place of natural beauty with trees and flowers planted, but allowed to grow without human intervention. As such Highgate cemetery is given a Grade 1 listing on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. This means that although one can tour the East Cemetery freely, the West section can only be viewed now as part of a guided tour.

Sir Richard Francis Burton's Bedouin Tomb

Sir Richard Francis Burton's Tomb
Photo Credit: Svarochek
Our second entry is a single tomb, that of Sir Richard Francis Burton. Burton was a British explorer best known for his excursions to the continents of Asia, Arica and America. He truly was a remarkable man, among a life full of adventure and achievements are many examples of his desire to learn and educate in relation to cultures from all over the globe. These include travelling to Mecca in disguise, publishing the Kama Sutra in English and translating word for word, One Thousand And One Nights. It is also thought he spoke as many as 29 languages.

Burton's tomb fittingly reflects his life. It is built of stone but shaped like a Bedouin tent, though this common description is not entirely accurate. The tomb is actually modelled on a tent that Burton had made for his travels with his wife Isabel to Syria. Apparently it's most important attribute was that Burton could stand upright when inside. The tomb is located in Mortlake, South West London, and both Burton and Isabel now rest there. It is extraordinary and befits the man whom it now houses perfectly.

The Necropolis Railway

Necropolis Terminus

Photo Credit: Self
In the mid 1800s the Brookwood Cemetery was located 25 miles outside London. The only convenient method of getting bodies from the centre of the city to their final resting place was by train. In 1854 the Necropolis terminus was opened and the deceased and their mourners would travel to the cemetery together. However during the renovation of Waterloo station, to which the Necropolis terminus was attached, the dedicated station was demolished.

This led to a new station being built at 121 Westminster Bridge Road and this provided transport to cemetery as before. Unfortunately in April 1941 a bomb destroyed the building and it was never rebuilt. The facade and entrance of the building remain however and although the stone carved words London Necropolis have been covered and hidden it is very much as it was when in use. It remains a point of interest for anyone with a penchant for the macabre.

Copywriter David James writes on offbeat topics for the online gifts company Find Me A Gift, the online store for unique and affordable gift ideas for any occasion.

Sail On – Top Tips For Sailing Holidays

Want flexibility? Choose sailing!
Ever since I heard the Commodores singing Sail On, I’ve dreamed of chartering my own boat and sailing the seven seas as they say.  OK, so Lionel Richie didn’t strictly have sailing on his mind but that’s the image it conjured up for me – and still does.

For the sailing aficionados or the merely curious, a sailing vacation is one of the most flexible vacations available.  Forget the itineraries, devise your own timetable and if you want to vary it while you’re out there, that’s just fine.

The independence of a sailing vacation holds a unique allure for many, and for those with sailing experience, bareboat charters offer some of the most attractive options.

Experienced or not, there are certain things to consider before you book your vacation:-

The qualifications required for a bareboat charter vary depending on where you’re heading for.  To arrange a bareboat charter in the Caribbean, experience often counts more than actual qualifications.  Fancy the far reaches of the Mediterranean and the culture of Greece? The Greek authorities will want to see your sailing certificate and your ‘first mate’ is also likely to be asked to sign a declaration as to his or her level of experience.

Useful Tip: Before you even think of setting sail, agree to some form of ‘hierarchy’ with your crew.  In the very unlikely event you encounter any difficulties which require a clear decision, the last thing you want is a mutiny!

When Should You Go?
The time of year you choose for your vacation has a significant effect on both price and destination. If budget is your prime consideration, then the decision on when to go may be out of your hands.

Useful Tip: It can actually be cheaper to charter a bareboat just before the Christmas and New Year holidays.  Most people planning vacations in December aim to celebrate the festive season in an exotic location. Why not celebrate in advance and be home in time to spend Christmas with the rest of the family?
Warning: Hurricane season in the Caribbean will often see a steep drop in prices for chartering boats.  I can’t imagine why!

Book Well in Advance
It may sound obvious but many charters are booked up to a year in advance.  If you’re serious make your reservation now and be flexible on lead time. Secure the destination and boat that you really want.

Useful Tip: If you have to take school holidays into consideration, it’s even more important to book with as much advance notice as possible. If you’re thinking of Florida, the Bahamas or the Caribbean, June and July are your best options as the heat is still bearable.

Know What You Are Paying For
Check and check again with the tour company so you know exactly what’s included in the price of the charter.  It can vary with each tour operator. As well as basics, you may find snorkeling equipment, towels and first aid kits included in the price. Check the inventory and don’t take any chances – take out full travel insurance.

Useful Tip: Don’t forget your sunscreen!
Planning your charter is lots of fun but don’t overlook the important stuff in your haste to confirm it.

Once you have an idea of budget and times you can go, the exciting part begins, choosing your destination!  You’re spoil for choice, from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, the Mediterranean to the Far East.  Whether whale watching, ancient history, lazy days on sparkling white sands or warm water snorkeling is your thing, all bases are covered.

Are you more of a landlubber than a seafarer and slightly daunted by everything we’ve mentioned?   Look at options for yacht rental that include hiring a crew. Relax in the knowledge that technical matters are in safe hands and you’ll soon find your sea legs.

P.S, don’t forget your Commodores soundtrack.

Penelope loves to sail and has a passion for travelling the world... and of course playing the Commodores along the way

Monday, December 19, 2011

The World's Coldest Places to Live

The vast majority of people live in areas of the world that do not suffer from particularly extreme temperatures that can make day-to-day living a chore. The most heavily populated cities around the world usually experience fairly mild winters and fairly warm summers that aren’t anything so hot that living can become a struggle.

There are extremely hot places to live as you can imagine. Places like Death Valley in the USA, parts of Africa such as Libya and most desert regions. There are some extremely cold places too, where it feels like the air conditioning has been stuck on overdrive. We’re not talking fairly cold parts of the UK such as Scotland, but some truly freezing conditions that some people have to endure. These are the coldest places in the world you can live in:

Vostok, Antarctica – This Russian research station in Antarctica houses a select few scientists who spend stints out in the freezing cold in the name of learning. Temperatures reach a boggling -128.6(F) and that’s without the wind chill. You truly have to be gifted if you are to enjoy your time in an environment as cold and as hostile as this.

Oymyakon, Russia – We all know that Russia is a vast country with much of it remaining icy all year round. The northern parts of Russia and Siberia are subject to some of the harshest conditions on the planet, and you’d think living here was nigh on impossible for most mortals. Recorded temperatures of -96(F) have been reported, and local residents see this as ‘normal.’

Northice, Greenland – If you look on a map or atlas, you’re sure to see Greenland represented as a white country due to the amount of ice. There are very few inhabitants of this country and life is tough as the amenities are few and far between. There are only 13 towns with more than 1000 people living in them, so I imagine these communities are used to the cold and surely no air conditioning systems will be insight, unless they offer heating too! Common temperatures of -87(F) can be expected.

Yukon, Canada – Most of Canada has pretty cold temperatures, but Yukon reaches out towards the north of the country making it even colder. It’s a popular tourist stop for winter holidays as you’re promised to see some great scenery and wildlife including some famous polar bears across the wildlife reserves. Temperatures can reach -81(F) though, so wrap up warm!

Steve loves the cold weather and attempts to replicate in the UK with powerful aircon in his home and office. It was supplied by Air Options, a leading commercial air conditioning company.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Adventures in the Caribbean

A vacation in the Caribbean can be relaxing and therapeutic. Bring your favorite novel, sun screen and a towel and you’ll be happy for the week! The pristine white sand beaches offer respire from harrowing daily life, but if your Caribbean desires go beyond the cabana, read on. The adventure that can await you amongst the lush isles and peninsulas of the Caribbean are boundless!

If you like the thought of balmy wind in your hair and the view from five hundred feet up in the air, then parasailing is for you! Securely strapped to a huge parachute-type kite, a boat tows you around the coast of St. John, St. Thomas and many resort towns in Mexico. The cost is around $80 per person and the airtime will be around ten minutes. The weightless feeling of flight will give you an eagle’s eye view and some unique photos for the scrapbook!

Ten minutes of airtime, parasailing in the Caribbean
Delve below the waves to gain yet another perspective of the Caribbean. You can find the best diving sites off Belize, Grand Cayman and Roatan, Honduras. From beginner dives to deep water, two tank endeavors, there is endless wonder and natural beauty below the water’s surface. Don your wetsuit and come face to face with brightly spangled fish, undulating coral and glowing anemones. Around $150 per person (with Scuba gear included) will buy you a day under water!

In Jamaica, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico you can bomb around the island on a four wheeler! Sometimes the ride gets a little muddy, but the experience of the authentic Caribbean jungle is one for the grandkids. From Mayan ruins in Mexico to thatched villages in Dominica, the landscape will be verdant and tropical. Navigate riverbeds, and steep hills, all under the cover of the jungle canopy. Cost will be between $50-$75 for about 2 hours on your ATV.

Horseback Riding
Is there anything more quintessentially glamorous than riding a horse through the Caribbean surf? Taking a tour atop a gentle giant through the rainforest, along beautiful beaches and under waterfalls is one of the most exhilarating and romantic activities you can do on your vacation. Cozumel, Mexico or Costa Rica would be the perfect destination for a leisurely stroll on horseback. Cost ranges from $50-$100 per person for about a 2 hours ride.

Take a romantic beach stroll on horseback through the Caribbean surf
The ultimate thrill, skydiving in the Caribbean is a singular adventure. No where else is the water so pure blue, the patchwork of islands, reefs and beaches below so magnificent. From ten thousand feet you will experience a rush like no other! Jump tandem if you just want to enjoy the ride, or if you have the time and money to dedicate to a day of training, jump solo! Around $200 per jump, not only will you be treated to a scenic plane ride up to the desired altitude, but you will jump out of a perfectly good airplane!

Noella Schink is a writer from Portland, Maine, but she loves to visit the Caribbean. She recommends a luxury hotel on the beach after a day of adventure above or below the waves!

Images provided by the author, from shutterstock and are licensed for web use. All respective rights and credit to the image owners.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Places to visit other than New York in and around the USA

When people visit New York, they tend to stick to the popular tourist attractions such as Times Square, the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty.” However New York is not all pollution, built up areas and hustle and bustle. Some areas of the state are extremely beautiful and many are shocked to find that a sense of nature and a taste of the real out doors are just around the corner. Below are a few of some of the impressive areas that you experience if you just step out of the city.

Letchworth state park

First on the list is the Letchworth state park. The park is approximately 17 miles long and covers 14,350 acres. The Genesee River flows through the park and is often described at the great grand canyon of the East. The river forms three distinct waterfalls, the upper, middle and lower between cliffs as high as 600 feet.

Upper Falls at Letchworth State Park (1)
Letchworth State Park has been named as one of the top 100 camping sites in the nation on multiple occasions. Open year round there is plenty to do in Letchworth State Park, whether it is exploring the 66 hiking trails, going for a horseback ride, or cross-country skiing.

The Park had been named as one of the top camping sites in the Nation and there is always something to do whether it’s snowboarding or hiking. The historic, restored Glen Iris Inn, Letchworth's former home is located on the top of a cliff overlooking Middle Falls, offers in-season meals and overnight accommodations. It is open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Other features of the park include pavilions, picnic tables, a playground, pool, cabins, campsites for tents, trailer sites with dumping stations, and horse-riding trails. The park is the present-day site of the grave of Mary Jemison., who is buried on the grounds of a Seneca Council House relocated there by Letchworth and rededicated in 1872.

Niagara Falls
Although it is quite a distance from New York, Niagara Falls is well worth a trip if you are visiting New York City. These gorgeous waterfalls straddle the United States-Canada border and are the most powerful waterfalls in North America, boasting an average flow rate of 1,500,000 US gallons per second.

Niagara Falls was formed at the end of the last ice age by a receding glacier and is composed of two prominent sections: the American Falls on the American side and the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. Tourism to Niagara falls became popular in the 18th century, even boasting a visit by Napoleon Bonaparte's brother Jerome, and sister-in-law Elizabeth, in 1804.

While never lacking, tourism to the Falls increased after the Marilyn Monroe film "Niagara" was released in 1953. More recently "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" was filmed in Niagara Falls. The majority of visitors come to Niagara Falls during the summer, and at night the Falls are illuminated by lights for several hours. If you want to get up close and personal with the Falls, the Maid of the Mist excursion boat has been taking tourists right up to the rapids at the base of the Falls since 1846.

Corning Museum of Glass

Situated in the Finger Lakes region in the city of Corning, New York, the Corning Museum of Glass is home to the largest comprehensive collection of glass objects and artwork in the world with more than 45,000 objects in the permanent collection.

"Cube Layers" at the Corning Museum of Glass (2) 
Corning Glass Works founded the Corning Museum of Glass in 1950. Corning Glass Works, which was founded in 1851, is a world leader in glass technology. The Corning Museum of Glass was designed as an educational institution focusing on the science and history of glass.

The Museum features the Glass Innovation Center which lets you examine the science behind glass through a variety of exhibits including fiber optics, disappearing LCD glass, and missile nose cones. A Hot Glass Show demonstrates the ancient art of glass blowing.

Thousand Islands

Why not leave the states, do some research on car hire Montreal for example and visit Canada. Right on the border of the United States and Canada border in the St. Lawrence River, the amazingly scenic Thousand Islands stretch for fifty miles. With the Canadian islands in the province of Ontario, and the U.S islands in the State of New York, the name is a bit of a no brainer as there are 1,793 islands in all. The Thousand Islands began gaining popularity in the late 19th century as many socialites from New York and Boston took to vacationing there and it is rumored that the Thousand Islands are the birth place of Thousand Island dressing.

(1) Full photo credit goes to Chris Waits - www.flickr.com/people/chriswaits/
(2) Full photo credit to Chris Dlugosz - www.flickr.com/people/chrisdlugosz/

Friday, December 2, 2011

Skyscanner Infographic

Skyscanner reached out and offered a great infographic on the difference between flying Pan Am (then) and Ryanair (now):
fly back in time

Via cheap flights specialists - Skyscanner.net | Grab the code to embed this on your site