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BERLIN — Government travel advisories are common for war-torn, disease-ravaged nations, but a growing number of countries are warning their citizens about taking trips to the United States.

The United Arab Emirates, Bahamas, France, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Germany are among those urging caution to U.S.-bound travelers. The concerns include mass shootings, police violence, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT attitudes and the Zika virus.

While it is too soon to determine if the warnings are hurting U.S. tourism, the warnings tarnish the image the U.S. promotes abroad of a country that prides itself on being a welcoming society and bastion of democracy.

Donald Trump hails immigration ban as passengers turned back from US-bound flights

US President Donald Trump on Friday put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travellers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries, saying the moves would help protect Americans from terrorist attacks.

“The needs of refugees and migrants worldwide have never been greater and the US resettlement program is one of the most important in the world,” the two Geneva-based agencies said in a joint statement.

Mr Trump stopped the entry of travellers from Syria and the six other nations — Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen — for at least 90 days, saying his administration needed time to develop more stringent screening processes for refugees, immigrants and visitors.

That is the contention of Hawaii Attorney-General Doug Chin.

What’s different about ban 2.0?


Donald Trump has signed a new US travel ban, the key difference being Iraq is no longer on the list — but what else is different from the first executive order?

Hawaii became the first state to challenge the US President’s revised travel ban and a hearing is scheduled for next week.

The new executive order prohibits foreign nationals of six predominantly Muslim nations from entering the US for 90 days.

Among the changes from the first order, travellers from Iraq are no longer banned. Neither are those who have visas or hold a US Green Card.

The executive order is slated to take effect on March 16 and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says, “President Trump is exercising his rightful authority to keep our people safe”.

The state of Hawaii begs to differ: “This second executive order is infected with the same legal problems as the first Order — undermining bedrock constitutional and statutory guarantees.”

Mr Trump’s first ban sparked chaos and protests at airports across the country.

Demonstrators gather outside Los Angeles International Airport holding posters and megaphonesPHOTO: Huge crowds gathered at LAX to protest Donald Trump’s travel first ban. (AP: Ryan Kang)

As the legal skirmish for the revised order gets underway, it seems those from banned countries are not the only ones who may give the US a miss in coming months.

Several Australians have told me they have put their US travel plans on hold. And Australians are not the only ones.

Travel analyst ForwardKeys, a company that predicts travel patterns, says the travel ban has hurt bookings.

“Travel to the USA suffers 6.5 per cent Trump slump,” proclaims the company’s website.

Mem Fox gets a US apology


Australian children’s author Mem Fox doubts she will visit the US again after she was wrongly detained by immigration officials.

Of course, millions will still visit the US, but the changes seem to have made entering the country just that bit harder.

When I arrived in the US at the end of February, I was reminded international travel sometimes ranks up there with root canal surgery as a painful exercise.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), had lengthy queues of passengers winding their way through customs.

I exited with a sigh of relief — only to discover the lines for connecting flights.

“Holy Mother of God,” breathed an Australian next to me. “Another queue.”

I had the benefit of travelling on a US passport, but it was still tough.

Travel crackdown could hurt Americans the most

A few days later, in tourist mecca New York, I found signature stores in Manhattan decked out in red, white and blue. Freedom Tower downtown shimmered in the sun. The city was at its vibrant, sassy, bossy best.

But the Big Apple is bracing for the economic impact of fewer foreign visitors. Tourism agency NYC & Company forecasts 300,000 fewer international visitors than in 2016 — the first drop in seven years.

Predicting the rise or fall of Trump


The markets can be “read like tea leaves” to predict how long President Trump may last in the top job, writes David Taylor.

The US Travel Association last week chimed in, saying the President’s immigration policies are hurting tourism.

The White House disputed this. But an estimated 18 million Americans work in industries connected to tourism.

While the President has taken credit for returning thousands of manufacturing jobs to the US at companies such as Carrier, a major tourism downturn could cost the US economy billions of dollars and wipe out tens of thousands of jobs. There is growing alarm.

As the latest travel ban was debated, it was perhaps ironic that a crackdown by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) indicated it might be Americans, rather than foreigners, who are the biggest risk.

As I hopscotched between airports, I noticed overall airport security was more vigilant than usual. The random “pat-down” I received at Denver International Airport was more robust than I had remembered.

I was experiencing first-hand (so to speak) the TSA’s new standardised pat-down procedures. The new protocol is more thorough and includes “sensitive” areas.

The cancellations came quickly and in rapid succession. Within days of President Trump’s first executive order restricting travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, a number of European travel groups pulled their plans, amounting to a loss of 2,000 overnight stays for Hostelling International USA.

The ban would complicate travel for citizens of the countries cited — among them Iran, Syria and Libya. But Canadians and Europeans and others were dropping their plans, too. As group organizers put it, people suddenly had an unsettling sense that the United States wasn’t as welcoming a place as it once was.

The result was a wave of withdrawals. “Getting those cancellations all at once, that was startling,” said Russ Hedge, chief executive of HI USA, which oversees 52 hostels across the country. “We’ve never seen something like that.”

From hostels to major hotel chains such as Marriott, tour group operators to outfits that cater to business travelers, the toll of Trump’s proposals on the nation’s tourism industry has been swift. Some say long-term damage has been done.

And it could be compounded by recent reports of Trump administration plans to implement “extreme vetting” of foreign travelers. Visitors — including those from allies such as France and Germany — could be pressed to turn over mobile phone contacts, social media passwords and financial records, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

“The travel ban is only a negative at this point,” said Michael Bellisario, an analyst for the investment bank Robert W. Baird & Co. “It hurts travel, regardless of whether we’re talking about one of the six banned countries or not,” he said, referring to the second, revised entry ban.

Demand for flights to the United States has fallen in nearly every country since January, ­according to Hopper, a travel-booking app that analyzes more than 10 billion daily airfare price quotes to derive its data. Searches for U.S. flights from China and Iraq have dropped 40 percent since Trump’s inauguration, while demand in Ireland and New Zealand is down about 35 percent. (One exception: Russia, where searches for flights to the United States have surged 60 percent since January.)

The result could be an estimated 4.3 million fewer people coming to the United States this year, resulting in $7.4 billion in lost revenue, according to Tourism Economics, a Philadelphia-based analytics firm. Next year, the fallout is expected to be even larger, with 6.3 million fewer tourists and $10.8 billion in losses. Miami is expected to be hit hardest, followed by San Francisco and New York, the firm said.

The administration’s travel ban deals a blow to an industry that has only recently recovered from a $600 billion loss following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“In the aftermath of 9/11, at first people didn’t feel safe coming here, and then they didn’t feel welcome,” said Jonathan Grella, an executive vice president at the U.S. Travel Association. “Our industry still refers to that as ‘the lost decade.’ There is a very real risk that that could happen again.”

Great Activities for Nature Lovers

Posted on May 24, 2017

Take a moment to close your eyes and consider the sights, sounds, and smells that you imagine when you think about being in nature. Perhaps you see a tiny trail meander through a dense forest or smell blossoming wildflowers as you summit a mountain peak. Maybe you feel the fresh ocean breeze blow through your hair as you dip your toes in the sand or hear the rush of a flowing waterfall as you paddle around the bend. By definition, a “nature lover” is someone who thrives on spending time in the outdoors and observing wild animals and plants. But there’s more to spending time in nature than just stepping outside. Nature teaches us how to adapt to new conditions, reminds us that the earth is always changing, and shows us the beauty in simplicity. It helps us disconnect from the stresses of daily life and focus on finding peace and purpose in a chaotic world. Mother Nature teaches us something new every day, and there are countless ways to soak in the spirit of the outdoors. So no matter where you live or how you define yourself, these are some of the best activities to get in touch with nature.

 

Hiking
One of the easiest and most accessible ways to get a dose of nature is by setting out on a good old fashioned hike. Hiking generally doesn’t require any fancy equipment or special skills; just a sturdy pair of boots, a map, and a thirst for adventure. This versatile activity can be as relaxing or as strenuous as you make it. For a list of hiking trail suggestions in your area, consider doing a little advance research on Trails.com or EveryTrail.com.
Rock-Climbing

Backcountry Camping
Why limit yourself to just a day hike when you can have a full weekend (or longer) adventure? Backcountry camping involves packing your tent, sleeping gear, food, and water on your back to set up camp in a remote location. If you’re an experienced hiker and camper, this is an excellent way to test your survival skills and explore the untamed wilderness. Many parks require backpackers to obtain permits, so make sure to register and map your route before stepping on the trail.

Mountain and Road Biking
Unlike long hikes through the woods, biking allows you to cover more ground and travel farther while still being immersed in nature. Mountain biking typically involves riding up and down steep slopes, between trees, and over rocks. If this sounds too intense or your tires aren’t suited for rugged terrain, consider taking a road bike or a hybrid on paved trails through forest preserves or along country roads.

Mountain-Biking

Kayaking and Canoeing
Whether you live near a lake, river, or a bay, head to the water to feel flowing waves underneath you in a kayak or canoe. Many public and private bodies of water offer kayak and canoe rentals if you don’t have your own and just want to try it out. Similar to hiking, these water activities can be as intense or as tranquil as you like. Beginners should stick to slow-moving waterways, while advanced paddlers can explore the adrenaline-pumping excitement of whitewater. Paddling.net is a great resource for trail routes, organized trips, and buying guides.

Rock Climbing
Although rock climbing is a technical sport that requires a fair amount of training and practice, it’s also one of the best ways to really get in touch with the natural environment. Climbing challenges your mind, tests your personal stamina, and encourages you to work with the forces of nature to accomplish your goals. You’ll definitely want to take a few rock climbing courses, preferably outdoors, and hire a guide before attempting to set your own anchors and climb your own routes. RockClimbing.com and Mountain Project have some excellent information about finding climbing routes around the world.Hiking-(Nature-Activities)

Snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing
When the temperatures drop and the snowflakes start falling, it’s time to pull on a few layers and explore the realm of winter sports. If you find the world’s top downhill ski and snowboard resorts to be too expensive, crowded, and commercialized, give snowshoeing and cross country skiing a try. These winter activities allow nature lovers to enjoy the peace of a fresh snowfall while exploring favorite forests in a whole new way.

Cross-Country-Skiing

Gardening
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to travel beyond your own backyard to experience the serene beauty of nature every day. If your personality is less adventurous or your mobility restricted, consider planting a garden to grow your own vegetables, fruits, herbs, or flowers. There’s something truly satisfying about mixing up a salad with fresh ingredients you grew yourself. One of the best parts about spending time in nature is that it doesn’t have to break your budget and anyone can do it.

If your small business does a lot of shipping to its customers, the recently announced changes from the United States Postal Service, which has raised rates and is ending Saturday delivery service for everything but packages starting in August 2013, will impact your bottom line. Justin Amendola, Pitney Bowes’ shipping expert, shares tips on how we as small business owners could keep our shipping costs under control.

Here are 5 ways to manage higher shipping costs.

Cleanse your mailing lists.

With the cost of each mailing and shipping rising, it only makes sense to take time to review your existing lists and remove the wrong and outdated addresses.  Doing so can immediately save money. More than 30 million Americans move and 11% of all ZIP Codes change every year.  Bad addresses result in shipping delays, costly returns, and high customer dissatisfaction.

Start using an online shipping solution

If you bring your shipping in-house, you will automatically qualify for what the USPS calls commercial-based rates, which are much less than retail, which you pay at the window. Amendola says reduced rates are available to customers who use PC or online postage solutions, such as pbSmartPostageTM, permit imprints, or any of the leading digital mailing systems.  A business can easily print shipping labels and manage shipments anytime. It also saves hours each month that you spend waiting in line at the Post Office.

Rate shop

Rate shop your parcels among all available carriers and delivery methods. If your package weighs less than 13 ounces, you can use first class mail, as this is still the lowest cost delivery method available for lightweight packages.

Use flat rate pricing

Priority mail is almost always cheapest for packages over 14 ounces to about 3 pounds. With commercial rates, your business can save 19% for Priority Mail® and up to 36% for Express Mail®.  A 10-pound Priority Mail shipment that once cost $36.50, for example, can be sent for as little as $5.80.

Consider ground shipping

Parcel Post is no longer available. Parcel Select is now your best option for medium to large packages. This is a service from USPS launched last year that is designed for large and medium sized shippers looking for an economical ground delivery service.  Standard Post is another option, but you’ll pay up to 21% more. Parcel Select® offers good pricing on ground delivery from the USPS.

Hello world!

Posted on May 18, 2017

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expore the world and enjoy every travel experience

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Vacation

Posted on April 26, 2017

Every vacation can be a rare opportunity.

When you travel to a new place for a vacation, it may be the only time you ever visit there, so it’s best to find ways to get the most out of your vacation.

Every vacation is a chance to get away from all the responsibilities life has been unloading on you, so enjoy your vacation and make the most out of it by planning ahead and following these tips to make your trip as amazing as it can ever be.

how to get the most out of your vacation

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Vacation

Don’t Overdo Your Itinerary

While you want to get as much as you can in your cruise or any kind of travel adventure, over scheduling your vacation can lead to exhaustion instead of fun and satisfaction. When you overdo your itinerary, chances are you wouldn’t enjoy the every thing you see and do, as you are always in a hurry.

Plan each day carefully in a way that you get the most out of your day while enjoying each item on your itinerary you have planned, that way you won’t be too exhausted so you can still relax in the evening.

Don’t Be Too Dependent on Reviews

Sometimes, reviews can be overrated. You’ll see a restaurant with a sterling rating and when you get there, you will find that the place isn’t unique after all. If you are looking for places to stay like hotels, resorts, or restaurants, consider reading reviews on different sites, to make your research more accurate.

You may also want to ask for personal reviews from those who have already been where you’re going, so you’re most likely to get more honest feedback.

Hire a Guide

Though it would be fun and more challenging traveling without somebody to guide you, sometimes, hiring a guide can make your travel even more engaging, especially if you go to places where there are historical sites or wildlife. A guide can give you information on what these sites are, where to find wild animals and other areas that are worth exploring.

Go to Less Traveled Areas

There surely is so much more wonder in less traveled paths. Don’t just go to where the crowds go. Take some time to research. Ask around. For sure you will find even more beautiful spots that are visited by a few people, and finding these can make an even greater vacation experience.

Take Photos, but Savor the Moment First

We live in a time when taking a photo right away is almost a must for preserving memories. However, it was found that spending too much time taking snapshots may hinder the actual moment. Take photos, but before that, make sure to revel in the scenic beauty of the land you are visiting.

Soak up the atmosphere. Enjoy nature. Then you can start taking pictures. We certainly want to capture every moment, but if we keep on taking photos, we might not capture the real moment.

expore the world and enjoy every travel experience

Explore the World

Every vacation is rare, and so is the chance to explore the many hidden wonders of the world. Ask around. Take the less-traveled path. Savor every moment. Follow these simple yet grand ways and get the most out of your vacation.