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Travel Review Tips by the Avanti Group: The New Hotel Wi-Fi Scam You Haven't Heard of Yet

Travel Review Tips by the Avanti Group: The New Hotel Wi-Fi Scam You Haven't Heard of Yet | The Avanti Group Inc |
You choose a hotel because it advertises free Wi-Fi. But when you log on, you find the connection is agonizingly slow.
"Aha," says the hotel. "You want high-speed, we’ll give you high-speed—for just...
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You choose a hotel because it advertises free Wi-Fi. But when you log on, you find the connection is agonizingly slow. 

"Aha," says the hotel. "You want high-speed, we'll give you high-speed—for just $15 a day more." 

That's the newest hotel-fee scam. I've heard more and more reports of hotels offering free, yet painfully slow Wi-Fi, then charging guests to upgrade to a more practical Wi-Fi speed. So far, I haven't seen any published statistics on the number of hotels that are doing it, which hotels do it, and how much they charge. 

For now, all we can recommend is that you ask a hotel, in advance, if the "free" Wi-Fi is high-speed or if you have to pay a premium for a high-bandwidth connection. Slow, complimentary Wi-Fi may be fast enough for email and other low-bandwidth applications, but it's likely to be a total bust for video streaming and gaming. When you encounter two-tier Wi-Fi, be sure you note that fact when you submit a review to TripAdvisor (our parent company) or your booking engine. 

Here's another approach that might help: Check out Hotel WiFi Test. The site analyzes and displays Wi-Fi speeds at hotels in destinations around the world. This week, Hotel WiFi Test announced that its speed-test results for individual hotels will be displayed directly on major booking sites; this sounds like a good idea, but, as of today, I couldn't find those speed scores on any booking sites. Either I'm losing my online touch or the postings haven't started yet.

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Travel Review Tips by the Avanti Group on how to Not Eat Like a Tourist in New Orleans

Travel Review Tips by the Avanti Group on how to Not Eat Like a Tourist in New Orleans | The Avanti Group Inc |
New Orleans is guilty of feeding some garbage food to tourists and the tourists are guilty of loving it and going all over the internet screaming the authenticity of the overpriced Jambalaya they had on Bourbon Street....
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Before I left for New Orleans I was telling friends and neighbors of my plans.


"Are you going to Eat at Mother's?"


"I bet you can't wait to taste some Jambalaya."


"There's a place on Bourbon where you can get a Hurricane and next door some Sweet Potato Fries just covered in powdered sugar, please have it for me."


No, No, a thousand times no.


New Orleans is guilty of feeding some garbage food to tourists and the tourists are guilty of loving it and going all over the internet screaming the authenticity of the overpriced Jambalaya they had on Bourbon Street. I once wrote about the bad food done in New Orleans name outside of New Orleans. The bad food has also infiltrated the Quarter.


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Travel Review Tips by The Avanti Group: Ten things you need to know about travel insurance fraud

Travel Review Tips by The Avanti Group: Ten things you need to know about travel insurance fraud | The Avanti Group Inc |

1. “A lot of people making fraudulent claims on their travel insurance are first time fraudsters, and don’t realise how serious it is to make a false claim,” says Simon Cook, Head of Special Investigations at claims management and assistance company, CEGA.


2. “Making a false travel insurance claim can result in a criminal record, which would make it very difficult, for instance, to take out any sort of insurance policy in the future - and that includes car and household insurance,” says Simon Cook. “In a worst case scenario, it could lead to a prison sentence.”


3. Top of the list of fraudulent travel insurance claims? “It’s common for someone who has suffered a genuine loss to add a few noughts to the value of that loss - a Sekonda watch might become a Rolex for instance,” says Malcolm Tarling of the Association of British Insurers. “Exaggerated losses, false claims for lost baggage and fictitious medical treatment are among the most common fraudulent claims,” adds Simon Cook.


4. “If a false travel insurance claim is submitted but withdrawn after having second thoughts, it can still lead to a prosecution for fraud,” says Simon Cook.


5. “Insurers will check every detail of a dubious claim; from the authenticity of a doctor’s bill handed out on the other side of the world, to the validity of a witness statement in a foreign language,” says Simon Cook. “Cognitive interviewing techniques, investigation by overseas agents and medical assessments may all be used to assess the honesty of a suspicious claim.”


6. “Fraudulent travel insurance claims put up the cost of everyone’s insurance premiums,” says Simon Cook. “In other words, innocent travellers foot the bill for fraudulent claims.”


7. “An item lost on holiday may be covered by both a household and travel insurance policy - but the full value of the loss cannot be claimed for twice, otherwise it is considered to be committing fraud,” says Simon Cook. “However, it is possible to claim some of the cost of the loss from one policy and some from the other, if full cover is not given by one policy. It is always best for individuals to be honest with their insurers about other relevant policies and to ask for advice if it is needed.”


8. “Some people may be tempted to make a false claim for a laptop or priceless family heirloom “lost” in luggage that has been checked in at the airport, but they shouldn’t bother,” says Simon Cook. “Valuables on planes are not covered by travel insurance unless they are carried as hand luggage.”


9. "The vast majority of customers are honest,” says Aidan Kerr, the Association of British Insurers’ Assistant Director, Head of Fraud. “The more that is done to crackdown on the dishonest, the quicker and more effectively insurers can deal with the claims from the honest majority.”


10. “To help a genuine claim go smoothly, it is vital to tell the insurance company about an emergency situation as soon as it happens and follow their advice on what to do next,” concludes Simon Cook.


With over 40 years’ experience, Sussex-based CEGA Group is one of the leading independent claims and global assistance providers for the insurance market. Travel risk management, claims handling, medical assistance, special investigations, cost containment and air ambulance services are all managed from one location, which means that CEGA is able to provide a fully integrated, cost effective, end-to-end service. The group is the UK’s only travel assistance provider to operate its own air ambulance fleet.


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Travel Review Tips by the Avanti Group: Better Bring Cash than Credit Card When Traveling Abroad

Travel Review Tips by the Avanti Group: Better Bring Cash than Credit Card When Traveling Abroad | The Avanti Group Inc |

Traveling abroad with credit card? You better bring cash


American travelers prepping for their late summer (or increasingly common September) trip to Europe might consider the above items as standard for their pre-departure list. But there's something that they may not have packed, and that item has become quickly the norm as the worldwide trend towards cashless consumer purchases continues to rise.


When it comes to the debatable necessity of smart cards, some travelers(visit: ) heading overseas are receiving mixed messages from their banks. To ensure that his magnetic swipe credit card would work abroad, Daniel Hayes, an English teacher from Fort Myers, Florida, called Chase Bank before his summer trip to Europe.


"They said I could use the credit card anywhere, or at least in 99 percent of places—there was no mention of chip and PIN," Hayes said as he strolled along a shaded canal in Amsterdam's tourist-packed Red Light District. Yet Hayes and his friend, David Thorpe of Cape Canaveral, reported that their ability to use their credit cards while traveling cross the European continent had been inconsistent at best.


Anyone heading abroad will likely notice that smart chip cards are quickly becoming the worldwide standard. According to the Smart Card Alliance, 99.9 percent of European terminals are chip-enabled. The United States significantly lags behind other continents on EMV technology, too: more than 86 percent of terminals in Africa and the Middle East are chip-enabled. In Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, that number is nearly 85 percent.


The phrase "chip and PIN" may draw a blank for American consumers long accustomed to the traditional "swipe and sign" credit cards, in which account information is contained on a magnetic strip on the back of the card. Chip and PIN cards take advantage of EMV "smart chip" technology: data is embedded within a chip, and transactions are verified through a PIN, or Personal Identification Number. Because encrypted chips are hard to counterfeit, smart cards enabled with chip and PIN offer superior security to magnetic strip cards.


Contrary to appearances, American financial institutions have long been aware of the merits of EMV technology. After all, JPMorgan Chase originally developed it. One reason U.S. banks have been slow to launch smart chip cards is their expense: EMV technology remains a pricier option than the status quo of magnetic strip cards.


That's despite an upswing in well-publicized credit card fraud crises that have recently swept the news, including Target's notorious December 2013 security breach. In Target's case, the payment information of more than 40,000 cardholders was compromised when it was "skimmed" from the magnetic stripes on the back of the cards, leaving some experts to question whether EMV technology might have prevented such a debilitating assault on a secure customer data.


No chip? No burger and chips


One country that has fully embraced the Chip and PIN system is the Netherlands. While local businesses tend to take cash, they are less likely to welcome traditional magnetic stripe credit cards. For the Dutch, PIN-enabled cards are such a part of life that a relatively new verb has firmly entered the lexicon: "pinnen" means to pay by PIN-enabled card.


On a Thursday evening in Amsterdam this summer, customers ordered exotic-sounding pumpkin and beef burgers at the Jordaan neighborhood's popular burger joint De Burgermeester. Most paid with chip and PIN cards; a few paid with cash. Sorry, the cashier apologized in perfect English, no "American cards" taken. In the same neighborhood, De Pizzabakkers, a popular local pizza chain, declined to take cash at all: waiters circulated with hand-held portable electronic card readers. At the end of their meals, diners paid table-side by inserting—not swiping—their cards and entering a PIN. Tourists desiring to leave a tip at either Amsterdam establishment must still bring cash—the card readers aren't set up to add tips.


Where should travelers headed across the Atlantic expect to find chip-and-PIN cards required, yet without an alternative to pay with cash?


Automated points of sale remain the most likely culprits: think ticket machines at parking lots, rental kiosks, and public transportation hubs such as subway, train and bus stations. In Amsterdam's bustling Centraal Station, for example, this forlorn sight is familiar: the tourist struggling to buy train tickets from an automated ticket machine. While fluent English-speaking agents offer assistance at the ticket counter, many frustrated travelers end up heading to the ATM to withdraw cash before returning to wait in line: the ticket counters accept cash, but not magnetic stripe cards. Continue reading:

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Travel Review Tips by The Avanti Group: Holiday villa fraud that's hit countless British families

Travel Review Tips by The Avanti Group: Holiday villa fraud that's hit countless British families | The Avanti Group Inc |
Chris and Annia Pegg were devastated when they discovered they had deposited their £1,650 holiday fund for a trip to the South of France into a fraudster's bank account.
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You arrive at that dream villa to find the owner's never heard of you - and you sent your cash to a chillingly plausible conman


For Chris and Annia Pegg, a two-week break in the South of France every summer is the perfect way to unwind. The couple and their two little girls take a scenic drive down through the French countryside before arriving at their rented gite.


‘We choose locations with their own pool where the children can play and we can just get away from it all,’ says Chris, 42, an IT manager from Tamworth, Staffs.


This January, the couple and their daughters, Jessica, nine, and Emily, seven, were more in need of a quiet break than ever.


‘My father-in-law had been diagnosed with cancer, so it had been a rather stressful few months,’ Chris explains.


Just after Christmas, Annia, 39, a teaching assistant, went onto the Owners Direct website to search for a property.


The family — like more than 500,000 Britons who booked their holiday through it last year — love the site for the sheer variety that it offers.


Owners Direct, which was launched in 1997, works like an online travel brochure. Thousands of properties are advertised on the site, from cheap, cheerful apartments to luxury houses costing several thousands a week. 


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Tips for Picking the Right Travel Adventure Review by the Avanti Group

Tips for Picking the Right Travel Adventure Review by the Avanti Group | The Avanti Group Inc |

Who has time to plan that perfect adventure? Wouldn’t it be great to just show up and have someone else sweat all the details? 


You can do exactly that these days but this is key: You have to choose the right company for your vacation style, otherwise you could be miserable.  Choose wisely, and you’ll have the trip of a lifetime—and you won’t have to bust the budget to do it.


First think about the way you like to travel and your budget.  Do you want to get out of your comfort zone a bit, staying in back country lodges with a company like Wildland Adventures where the focus is on cultural interaction?


Do you want to travel in a small group?  Many companies now will arrange private trips for as few as a dozen people. Or would you rather travel in a bus with 40 people, as I did recently with Adventures by Disney.


Are you visiting a place for the first time and want to see the major attractions or do you want to get to less touristy areas?  


Do you want to spend your time hiking and biking, as I did with my daughter on a Backroads trip to the Amalfi Coast or would you rather sit back in a bus or train and watch the scenery go by, like on Colette Vacations.  Maybe your focus is on education, like with not for profit Road  Scholars, designed for older travelers, as well as those traveling with grandkids.  Maybe you’re going to some far flung destination you don’t feel comfortable traveling on your own.


If kids are part of the equation, look for special family itineraries, including those from Abercrombie & Kent, Tauck Bridges and Thomson Family Adventures, which has added some trips for those with older teens, as well as a cultural connection for families in Cuba.  Abercrombie and Kent can take your family to China or India, if you have the bucks. These companies will try to match you to a departure with similar aged kids.


See if there are any special deals or discounts for when and where you want to travel.


Here’s what else you need to ask:


--What is the maximum number of people on the trip?  What is the minimum number they need to run the trip you want?


--What is the daily itinerary?  Do you want to be going from 7 to 7 every day, changing hotels several times?  Is there time to kick back?


--What is the guide to guest ratio? If it is a family trip, is there an extra designated kids’ activity guide? Are there local guides at each destination?  Are the guides trained in first aid?


--How long has the company been in business in the region you’ve been visiting?  Is there a 24-hour emergency number?


--What kind of hotels will you be staying at?  You can Google them and check out online reviews.  Will you be comfortable if a lodge doesn’t have air conditioning or do you want brands you know and trust?


So, are you ready to pack?




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Travelling Review The Avanti Group Way: TSA's tips for traveling with your pet

Travelling Review The Avanti Group Way: TSA's tips for traveling with your pet | The Avanti Group Inc |
TSA offers tips for making air travel with your pet easier.
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These days you can bring your small dog or cat with you in the passenger area of the plane when you fly. The TSA has special security procedures. They are offering the following tips for making travel with your pet easier.


Before you go:


Acclimate your pet to the experience of traveling by familiarizing him with the travel carrier before your trip.Know the temperament of your pet and be sure you can maintain control of her in the busy airport.Prior to going through security, visit the pet potty area at the north and south ends of the airport. There is an area near the Concourse "B" exit across from Hudson News.


At the airport


Avoid bringing your pet to an area of an airport where a working K9 is operating with his handler.Bring your pet to the security checkpoint in a hand-held carrier. Remove him from the carrier just prior to the beginning of the screening process.Don't put your pet into the x-ray tunnel, which is used to screen your personal property and carry-on luggage. Place the empty travel carrier on the belt.Your pet should be carried during the screening process, or he can walk on a leash.A TSA officer will give your hands an explosive trace detection swab to be sure there is no explosive residue on your hands.Once the screening process is complete, put your pet back in the carrier, away from the security checkpoint area.


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Travelling Tokyo The Avanti Group Way: Travel Tips From Anthony Bourdain

Travelling Tokyo The Avanti Group Way: Travel Tips From Anthony Bourdain | The Avanti Group Inc |
Anthony Bourdain on the best summer vacation, how to get around Vietnam, and listening to vacation advice from a 7-year-old.
Blake Treece's insight:

What if you found yourself next to CNN's rockstar travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain at a party? Obviously, you ask him where you should go on vacation this summer and shake him down for travel advice. We took a sip of vodka, summoned the courage, and did just that.


If you had time for one trip this summer, where would you go?

It's always life-changing to go to Japan for the first time. It's like life before acid and life after acid. Summer might not be the ideal time to visit there though; it's hot and Tokyo is a city full of people. I would also recommend South Vietnam, Nha Trang. A beach in Vietnam would be nice. Chances are it's very different from the everyday experiences that you are used to. Personally I just fell in love with that part of the world.


How do you get around in South Vietnam?

First and foremost, rent a scooter. That's the way to see Vietnam, no question. There is just this flow of thousands of people navigating the provinces on scooters and that's a magical thing to see and to be a part of. You want to be as close to the action as possible. You don't want to see Vietnam from a bus or inside an air conditioned car.


Where was your last visit to?

I just came from Shanghai and it was amazing. You can see the future and it doesn't include us. Just modern building and high-speed rail everywhere. We were up the Congo River where there were no toilets, but everywhere you go there is full signal on your iPhone.


You won a Peabody Award for your Parts Unknown episode visiting Israel and the Gaza. What did that trip mean to you?

I knew it was going to be a difficult show. I didn't want to mess it up. I wanted to be honest about what I saw and what I felt. I worked very, very hard, along with the production crew, to get it right. I'm proud with the result.


What did your family feel about the accomplishment?

Nobody's really impressed by what I do in my family. My wife was in the restaurant business as well and she knows what I was going through about 30 years ago, and chances are whatever I'm doing with the show is a hell of a lot easier than standing on my feet 12 hours a day in a kitchen being a line chef.


You're traveling for the show so often, what do you find yourself doing during your hiatus?

I have to say though that my wife and daughter, who is 7, are my favorite people to travel with. I probably take a month off every year and it's all about what the 7-year-old wants. I let her decide. My brain turns off. Beach? Fine. Hotdogs? Sure. If she doesn't want to get out of her pajamas I'm okay with that too.


What cartoons do you enjoy most?

I'm amazingly up-to-date on Adventure Time, Regular Show, Sanjay and Craig. I'm a big fan of Sam and Cat, especially the illegal toddler climbing episode.


Your imprint is going to publish a biography from Shep Gordon. He's got so many great tales as a manager, are there any that you're making him put in the book?

I just want to let Shep be Shep. When you're talking about a guy like that there is no shortage of amazing stories.


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Travelling Tokyo the Avanti Group Way: The ultimate American road trip with Daniella Moyles

Travelling Tokyo the Avanti Group Way: The ultimate American road trip with Daniella Moyles | The Avanti Group Inc |

She lives to travel, but this adventure would be her greatest yet. Irish Model Daniella Moyles did the ultimate American Road Trip ( And she took her homebird boyfriend, Dara – and us – along for the ride.


I love to travel( There are between 189 and 196 countries on the Earth, depending on which source you read and, as it stands, I have explored only 30 of those. I have a world map on my bedroom wall with a pin in every location, and each small pin represents some very big memories...


That map excites me every morning, imagining all the places I have yet to see, and all the people I have yet to meet. Sometimes, I'll wake up daydreaming about Tokyo, creating what the city feels like or smells like at that exact moment. Other times, it will be the monks in Nepal or the African plains or the Eskimos from eastern Siberia to Alaska. I think it is this awareness of the world that keeps me locked in a perpetual state of wanderlust.


The travels I've embarked on since I was old enough to explore the world on my own have been off the beaten track. It all started with a summer spent living in Sagres, a small surfing village so far to the south-west of Portugal it felt like you might fall off the continent. Since then, I've seen and learnt some unforgettable things. I've sat in a volcanic spring in the middle of an Icelandic lava field, covered head to toe in silica mud; talked to Israelis and Palestinians on either side of the wall that divides them; whale-watched at sunset from the easternmost point of Australia; helped local fishermen catch my dinner in Santorini, Greece; contracted dengue fever at an elephant sanctuary in Chaing Mai, northern Thailand; felt the haunting air that still hangs over Auschwitz in Poland; powered a Mustang on the 101 all the way from San Diego to San Francisco along the Pacific coast, and I can tell you, without any doubt, that Ethiopian Air has the most comfortable pillows in all of aviation.


My boyfriend Dara and I have been together for over two years. I fell for his many charming, kind, funny qualities. It happened easily. We were well suited in so many ways, excluding our aspirations for travel – the only topic on which we were polar opposites. Not something that made it onto his priority list, his tales of roaming extended to a post-Leaving Cert J-1 three years previously, while, outrageous as this sounds, I climbed Kilimanjaro and visited the Good Hope orphanage in Tanzania between our first and second dates. We were a peculiar pairing in that respect. It took two years of weekend city breaks and a couple of short sun holidays, each time moving a little further away with a little less planning, to finally pop the big question: can we go on an adventure?


To ease him into the idea, I decided against proposing a camping trip in a South American rainforest or a backpacking holiday through India. I thought a bucket-list regular might tweak his interest and revive fond J-1 memories to aid my efforts. This was a trip I had always wanted to take. A road trip across America, west coast to east coast, with everything the dirty south could offer in between. I had a list of inspirational travel quotes ready to fire were I to encounter any resistance on his part, but there was none. He loved the idea. He loved it, despite the fact that I presented it to him only a couple of weeks before the suggested departure date. Spontaneity never looked so good. On April 17, we left for California, with one-way tickets and a vague route plan.


We arrived into Los Angeles late and spent our first night at a Travelodge near LAX. It was an Eighties time capsule, mahogany everything with a side of neon. Both of us had spent time in Los Angeles before, so we were keen to move on to unseen pastures. I woke way too early the next morning with butterflies in my belly and thoughts of breakfast.


Aside from the travelling, I'm an avid cafe-hunter, breakfast being the only meal I really care about. After a catch-up with some friends from LA over an omelette in Foodlab on Santa Monica Boulevard, we stocked the rental car high with luggage and junk food, and set out for Palm Springs. First stop, the Coachella festival.


We won't talk about the roulette saga that ensued. I'll just say Las Vegas 1:Dara 0. The next day was mostly spent people-watching at Gabi Mon Ami, the best spot for it on the Strip, before a quick flight to Houston, Texas, skipping a desolate day-long drive through New Mexico.


Everything really is bigger in Texas. Houston is enormous, sprawling and impossible to navigate without a car. The food portions are huge but heavenly, and every dish is accompanied with biscuit or grits. I was dying to try a bowl of gumbo with a beer, so that was the first port of call, at The Hay Merchant on Westheimer Road. We followed this with a casual trip to Nasa!


The Johnson Space Centre is located in Houston and open to the public. The space programme was pulled by the Obama administration in 2010, but they are currently working on the Orion spacecraft, which will send astronauts to Mars around the year 2020. We got to see the work-in-progress Orion craft and a real, colossal space shuttle, as well as visiting the disused mission control centre that manned the 1969 moon landing – too much excitement for both of us.


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Travelling Tokyo The Avanti Group Way: Doc Holiday Travel Advice for the Perfect Honeymoon

Travelling Tokyo The Avanti Group Way: Doc Holiday Travel Advice for the Perfect Honeymoon | The Avanti Group Inc |

DOC Holiday offers weekly travel advice on your travel dilemmas.

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Doc Holiday: Travel advice(

 ) for the perfect honeymoon, using Facetime and Viber on Wi-Fi overseas, and more


DOC Holiday offers weekly travel advice on your travel dilemmas.


WE GOT married a month ago. My job was to organize the wedding and new husband’s job was to plan the honeymoon. We want to travel in the NSW September school holidays as I’m a teacher and our budget is $7000 for 12 nights. Our honeymoon criteria is hot, beautiful beach, air con, not too many children, reasonably priced food and not Thailand, Malaysia or Bali.


Doc: With a tight budget you’ll get more bang for your buck if you stay close to home, here are some suggestions:


The Cook Islands has year-round perfect climate, unspoilt white beaches and lagoons teeming with fish to check out while you’re snorkelling.


There are 15 islands in the group with Rarotonga and Aitutaki being the largest. Aitutaki is often compared to the Tahitian island of Bora Bora, because of its beautiful beaches and lagoons.


Air New Zealand offers direct flights from Sydney, and Escape Travel ( has a Rarotonga and Aitutaki combo package, including bonus honeymooner gifts.


Boracay is a gorgeous island in the Philippines about 300km south of Manila, and simple to get to with a short flight before a 20-minute boat transfer.


Often overlooked, this island features more than 30 beaches and sparkling turquoise water.


It’s a small romantic island, where you can enjoy snorkelling, golf, kayaking and horse riding.


If you go, hire a scooter and explore the bat caves and forest of dead mangrove trees.


Try an ocean-view room at the Shangri-La Boracay Resort.


Langkawi is another stunning island ideal for a honeymoon. The largest of 99 tropical islands in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Malaysia, it too features exquisite beaches and landscapes.


Here you can get around by hire car, scooter or bike, or explore waterfalls and bush trails on foot.


There are small villages to see and big shopping malls if you need some retail therapy.


Try the Andaman Langkawi which has South-East Asia’s first coral nursery and is on Datai Bay, recognised as the ninth best beach in the world by National Geographic magazine.


Or stay in a suite at Langkawi Lagoon Resort.


Fiji is another that will guarantee tropical sunsets, warm weather, lovely beaches and romantic times.


Check out the quieter islands like the Mamanuca group or Taveuni. The Taveuni Resort is spectacular. It has more than 4ha of tropical gardens and only accommodates 12 couples.


Each house is private and offers extensive views over the ocean.


A nice touch is that most of the fish on the menu have been caught by the staff.


Malolo Island Resort is an intimate island, part of the Mamanuca Group.


It’s family owned, has 49 air-conditioned bures, three dining venues, pool and spa.


Read the full article here…

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Better Business Bureau: Many travel clubs are bad deals

Better Business Bureau: Many travel clubs are bad deals | The Avanti Group Inc |
The end of school marks the start of the summer travel season. With the cost of travel rising, consumers are susceptible to vacation travel fraud....
Blake Treece's insight:

The end of school marks the start of the summer travel season. With the cost of travel rising, consumers are susceptible to vacation travel fraud.


The Better Business Bureau is warning vacationers to beware of travel clubs. Complaints to the BBB show that many travel clubs promise huge discounts on hotels, airfare and cruises, but fail to deliver these discounts to members despite the high cost of joining.


“Consumers are looking for vacation bargains,” said BBB President Tom Bartholomy. “Unfortunately, they are being seduced by slick presentations from high-pressure sales people who promise great deals that do not exist.”


In the last three years, hundreds of consumers nationwide have filed complaints with the BBB against travel clubs in the U.S. The complainants allege that they are lured — either in person, by telephone or through email — to a high-pressure sales presentation with the promise of receiving free airline tickets, gas cards or tickets to shows. During the presentation, consumers are told they would be able to get great deals on travel if they joined the travel club for a membership fee of as much as $8,000.


Many consumers who bought travel club memberships have found that they can book the same travel at the same prices on their own. Consumers who complained that the travel club discounts are not as advertised have found it difficult, if not impossible, to get their travel club membership fees refunded.


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The Avanti Group Inc - Ultimate Travel Guide Tokyo Hong Kong Malaysia scams to get card numbers

The Avanti Group Inc - Ultimate Travel Guide Tokyo Hong Kong Malaysia scams to get card numbers | The Avanti Group Inc |
The Watchdog is still in vacation mode. I just got back from a family trip to Florida. We had a blast.This is the time of year when your mind may be on vacations, too. If you're looking ahead to a...
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The Watchdog is still in vacation mode. I just got back from a family trip to Florida. We had a blast.


This is the time of year when your mind may be on vacations, too. If you're looking ahead to a lazy summer trip, don't relax too much because unfortunately, scammers will hound you while you plan and even follow you on the road, too.


The state attorney general's office recently warned about travel scams, a few of which were news to me. One involves pizza deliveries, of all things.


Who hasn't had a craving for pizza after checking into a hotel in an unfamiliar city where you don't want to hunt for a decent place to chow down. You pick up the menu that's conveniently been slipped under your door and order away.


The scam is that the menus have a phone number that connect with an identity thief, not a pizza parlor. You won't get your large pie, and the thief will live large by running up charges on the credit card you provided for payment.


The attorney general's office recommends contacting the hotel's front desk or concierge for take-out suggestions. You also can look on your smartphone or in the phone book.


Speaking of phones, if your hotel room phone rings in the middle of the night and the caller identifies himself as the front desk needing to verify your credit card, hang up.


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Ultimate Travel Guide Tokyo Hong Kong Malaysia: Tips for Keeping Your Travels Identity Theft Free

Ultimate Travel Guide Tokyo Hong Kong Malaysia: Tips for Keeping Your Travels Identity Theft Free | The Avanti Group Inc |
Business trips are stressful enough without a side of identity fraud.
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The Avanti Group Inc


There's no question that business travel can help your company take off. But unless you take care with your credit cards while on the road, your identity could go off on its own trip. In fact, there was a new victim of identity fraud every two seconds last year, according to the 2014 Identity Fraud Report by Javelin Strategy & Research, and one in three consumers who received notice of a data breach became a victim of fraud.


One need only look at recent news reports for proof, from the massive Target hacking to one that hit a little closer for traveling 'treps, the breach at hotel operator White Lodging (which manages 168 properties for brands such as Marriott).


But there's no need to cancel that next trip. Follow this home-and-away plan to keep your identity with you, where it belongs.


Before you leave:

Keep in touch with your credit card companies. "We look for any changes in spending patterns," says Brent Reinhard, general manager of Ink from Chase. So add this to your pre-travel to-do list: Call your issuers and let them know when you'll be gone and where you're going. If you do get fraud-related inquiries from your issuer, respond promptly--either to say "no, not me" so they can shut the card down or to let them know that all those charges you racked up while wooing clients are, unfortunately, yours.


But be warned: If you receive a call from your card issuer, listen closely to make sure you're not speaking to a hacker. Phishing scams are prevalent right now. If someone asks for personal information, be suspicious. "If we call to ask you about a transaction, we don't ask for your account number or for personal information," Reinhard says.


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Travel Review Tips by the Avanti Group: A Financial Checklist for Traveling Abroad

Travel Review Tips by the Avanti Group: A Financial Checklist for Traveling Abroad | The Avanti Group Inc |

Before heading overseas, travelers plan what to see and do, but they often forget about the financial planning involved with a trip until it’s too late.


Besides basic preparations, like making copies of your bank account and credit card information, there are a number of financial measures that can potentially save you from myriad problems while abroad.


If you don’t want to pay for your mistakes financially, or with precious time when you’d rather be sightseeing, make sure to go through this financial travel checklist before boarding the plane.


1. Notify your financial institutions.


The money in your bank account has no significance if your account is frozen. Even the slightest deviation from your normal spending pattern can raise a red flag for a fraud department, which may result in your account becoming frozen or your credit card denied.


Prevent this from happening by informing your bank and credit card companies about the location of your travels and the duration of your stay in the foreign country.


2. Set up online accounts.


An online bank account will give you added convenience and security over your funds while traveling overseas. With an online account, you can easily check your balances, transfer and deposit funds, and stay on top of recent transactions.


Setting up automatic payments can also help you pay bills on time and meet your financial duties while thousands of miles from home.


3. Have multiple forms of payment.


Although the ideal form of payment depends on your travel destination and spending habits, it’s a good idea to carry a variety of payment methods such as cash, debit cards and credit cards.


It’s also wise to have multiple bank accounts and credit cards – especially ones that are accepted internationally, such as Visa and MasterCard for credit cards, and Chase and HSBC for banks.


Even if you’re set on using one spending method for the majority of the trip, you should still carry the extra card with you. Also, it is crucial that you have the card you used to book the trip with you at all times, even if you don’t intend on using it for foreign transactions.


4. Check the exchange rates.


When traveling abroad, you should familiarize yourself with foreign currency and exchange rates to understand the value of a dollar. You can use an app, like Currency, to find out the latest exchange rates. Note that in addition to exchange rate conversion fees, you may encounter foreign exchange fees when converting money abroad.


5. Sign up for a travel rewards credit card with no foreign transaction fees.


To find the right travel rewards card for you, first analyze your spending habits and travel pattern. Signing up for the right travel rewards credit card will get you a wide range of benefits and perks while traveling – including no foreign transaction fees, which can be beneficial for travelers who use credit cards as their main form of payment overseas. You can also rack up rewards points and miles for travel rewards or cash back.


6. Get an ATM card from an online bank.


Signing up for a no-fee ATM card will give you the freedom to withdraw money without having to worry about racking up fees. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to change banks to avoid ATM fees overseas, as many banks will waive them for certain checking account holders.


7. Cash is king.


For Americans, U.S. dollars can be the most cost-effective form of payment, as you automatically save on any fees you would have to pay at a financial institution. Most vendors will also give you a fair exchange rate on the conversion from dollars to their local currency.


Exchanging money at the airport may be convenient, but you’ll pay for it with fees and expensive exchange rates. A better idea would be to withdraw the foreign currency through your bank or at an ATM machine upon arrival.


And remember: No one turns down cash. Traveling with a couple hundred dollars worth of emergency cash is a smart decision in the event you can't access money. Just make sure to carry cash in small denominations, as it can be dangerous to flash large amounts of money in public.


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Travel Review Tips by the Avanti Group on How to Take the Best Selfie Ever

Travel Review Tips by the Avanti Group on How to Take the Best Selfie Ever | The Avanti Group Inc |

Travel Tips: Best Selfie Ever


When we travel, we are creating precious memories. And what better way to hold on to these memories than with pictures?


But taking pictures of yourself isn't always the easiest thing to do. Have you ever been on the road and asked somebody to take a picture of you? But then... where are you?


Why aren't you in focus?



Why is your head cut off?!



This needs to end! And this is why the selfie exists. Take matters into your own hands with my tips on how to ensure that your selfies are always picture perfect.


Masione Smartphone Extendable Rod


This puppy is your solution to all smartphone selfies. It is made to fit all smartphone sizes, from the iPhone to something smaller or larger. The key is that in order for the rod to work, the device needs to have a super flat surface.


Do you need more distance? Simply extend the rod.


Do you need more of an angle? Just rotate it however you like.




Pro Tip: Download a self-timer camera app so you can take the pictures without having to click the screen. Just type in "self-timer camera" and you will get a bunch of free or paid options.


XShot Pocket Camera Extender


This camera extender is designed especially for digital cameras. All you have to do is screw the camera onto the rod and you're all set. It works exactly the same way as the smartphone camera extender, except this rod has a lot more length and it already comes with a self timer function!


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Travel Review Tips by the Avanti Group on How Unethical Behavior Becomes Habit

Travel Review Tips by the Avanti Group on How Unethical Behavior Becomes Habit | The Avanti Group Inc |
The road to hell descends gradually.
Blake Treece's insight:

When a former client’s secretary was arrested for embezzlement years before his own crimes were uncovered, Bernie Madoff commented to his own secretary, “Well, you know what happens is, it starts out with you taking a little bit, maybe a few hundred, a few thousand. You get comfortable with that, and before you know it, it snowballs into something big.”


We now know that Madoff’s Ponzi scheme started when he engaged in misreporting to cover relatively small financial losses. Over a 15-year period, the scam grew steadily, eventually ballooning to $65 billion, even as regulators and investors failed to notice the warning signs.


Many of the biggest business scandals of recent years — including the News of the World phone hacking scandal, billions in rogue trading losses at UBS, and the collapse of Enron — have followed a similar pattern: The ethical behavior of those involved eroded over time.


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Travel Review Tips by the Avanti Group on 40 Travel Scams to Avoid

Travel Review Tips by the Avanti Group on 40 Travel Scams to Avoid | The Avanti Group Inc |

When you're a tourist, unfamiliar with your surroundings and vulnerable to needing help or information, you tend to be more trusting of locals and less likely to question what you're being told.

When you cannot speak the language you're even more at risk.

Most scammers are smart and can spot a tourist a mile away - knowing you are more than likely carrying large amounts of cash and credit on you.

This list of common tourist scams put together by will help you avoid common scam situations, and help you become more alert and aware before you fall victim.

You'll notice some scams are more obvious and you'll instinctively know you have been targeted. But other are a little more devious, leaving you to believe you're at fault for either losing or miscalculating.


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8 Tips to Finding a Good Restaurant While Traveling

8 Tips to Finding a Good Restaurant While Traveling | The Avanti Group Inc |

Memorable meals can make a trip, but locating a good restaurant in an unfamiliar place can be tricky -- especially when hunger has already set in. To find the best tastes in a new town, follow these tips to know whom to ask and where to look. Bon appétit!


1. Plan ahead and book a culinary walking tour: Consider booking a culinary walking tour, becoming more popular in cities worldwide, for an early part of the trip. This is a great way to sample many dishes, get a lay of the land and then decide what places you'd want to come back to or what kind of regional foods you'd want to have again. Better yet, you'll get to know your guide along the way, and you'll be able to pick his or her brain for even more tailored recommendations. A popular stop in the Bay Area is guided excursions to Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto, my hometown of Chicago has several pizza tours (pace yourselves!), and in Europe organized outings range from sampling the snails of France to seafood and olives in Greece. For people traveling in countries in which they don't speak or read the language, this can be a good introduction to menus -- plus proper mealtime etiquette in that locale.


2. Read local publications and posts from local food bloggers: Add some fun research to your trip planning by reading up before you go. A treasure trove of posts from local food bloggers and reporters is a quick Google search away, and the writers' bread and butter is finding the hot spots and spilling secrets on the hidden gems. It's easy to save all the addresses to a Google Map or print one out and highlight the intersections worth visiting. Some regional magazines or newspapers even have yearly dining lists that take a lot of the guesswork out of a visit.


3. Ask real people: Getting recommendations from the hotel concierge can be a decent fallback plan, but some of the best restaurant picks we've gotten are from other people we've meet along the way in our travels. Cab drivers can be a wealth of knowledge of all-night eats, and employees at popular tourist spots could have a scoop on what's good nearby for lunch (without the long lines or the high costs). And asking people you meet can be a good icebreaker for even more tips and suggestions for your visit. Before you go, you can post on Facebook and Twitter to see if anyone in your circle has must-visit spots to share as well.


4. Download essential apps: Before you get on the plane or hop in the car, make sure you've downloaded the Travelzoo app for dinner and drink deals on the go at our favorite spots. In addition, utilize user-generated-content apps like Yelp and TripAdvisor to dig deeper for specific information: when's the best time to get a table? What's the one appetizer everyone raves about? Do they take reservations (for later in the trip)? Foursquare is another app worth downloading, with tips from the people who frequent these places most.


5. Search out regional options: Deal Expert Sara Kriegel, based in London, seeks out restaurants that solely serve regional cuisine in her travels. Her reasoning: it's important to try the food of the area, not just things she could get at home in England. Also, sticking to the basics and picking a place using the foods indigenous to the area is a safe bet. If you're in Shanghai and there's one pizza place that's busy on a block full of traditional restaurants, it could only be popular because it's a novelty.


6. Avoid eating near the biggest tourist attractions in town: Restaurants near the biggest tourist attractions may rely more on location than on good, interesting cuisine. Deal Expert Kelsey Rexroat gives this advice, "Usually places in neighborhoods are a better bet than the main tourist drags. If they're harassing you to come inside or have flyers everywhere, it's likely too touristy to be good."


7. Look for lines of locals: If people are willing to wait to dine at a certain eatery, that says a lot. We're not advocating wasting precious vacation time waiting long times to be seated for every meal, but once you find a spot that looks hot, do your research to find a better time to come back, or even better, see if they take a reservation.


8. Got kids in tow? Take this tip from Deal Expert Angela Shannon: "I walk in and ask if they have a table for us, and if it's available now. If the host looks perturbed or unsure or put off by my kids, clearly it's not a place for us; or if it looks too stuffy or filled with only couples or adults, I know it would ruin the night for the other guests and I go elsewhere. Dead giveaway to me is looking for strollers out front. Clearly we'll be welcome at a restaurant like that."


For more full service and providing excellent “white glove” service, just visit The Avanti Group Inc. site @ In our company, you will notice the personal touch behind meticulous planning. 

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Travelling Review The Avanti Group Way: Tips From Pros – Best Apps

Travelling Review The Avanti Group Way: Tips From Pros – Best Apps | The Avanti Group Inc |

Fortunately, there's this medium called Instagram, which allows us to post photos at a portion of the size. There's no reason for me not to improve my photos when they're thumb-sized. Especially when there are numerous apps that can easily boost an I...

Blake Treece's insight:

Tips From the Travel Pros: Best Apps for Your Instagram Photos


I had framed it as a "rookie wanting to pitch with the All-Stars" when I first explored professional travel(

 ) bloggers.


You mean people actually make a career out of traveling? Wait, what? How?


I was serious about learning more. I interviewed 10 very popular and respected travel bloggers for "How to Blog Like An Expert" Part 1 and Part 2.


I made the decision to leap into travel blogging full-time in June, and launched a new blog in July. I bought a Canon 70D...


I have to learn photography. I am shamelessly and overtly obsessed with travel photography. This is not a secret.


I'll be meeting with print journalist Flash Parker for a lesson this week. Wish me luck!


However, capturing people and places -- capturing an entire story within a still moment -- is an art and a skill. Let's be honest, guys: A blog takes up a whole lotta work and time. With so many demands on the blogger agenda, I won't become a photographer overnight.


Insert "crying" emoji.


Fortunately, there's this medium called Instagram, which allows us to post photos at a portion of the size. *Cheeky cheeky,* there's no reason for me not to improve my photos when they're thumb-sized. Especially when there are numerous apps that can easily boost an Instagram photo's quality.


So I did what I think anyone should do when committed to self-improvement: I reached out to some of the pros.


Originally, I thought that if I reached out to 10 people for their suggestions, I would get feedback on 10 new apps to try. I shouldn't have been surprised that most professional Instagrammers use the same apps.


Here it is, fellow travelers -- the Instagram apps used by the experts

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Travelling Review The Avanti Group Way - 5 Tips For Keeping Clothes Fresh While Traveling

Travelling Review The Avanti Group Way - 5 Tips For Keeping Clothes Fresh While Traveling | The Avanti Group Inc |

If there are two things we’re known for, it’s an eye for really good (if sometimes outrageous) fashion and traveling the world in pursuit of it. While we’ve learned the finer points of efficient security clearance, in-transit gourmet (or close to it) options, and hotel room beauty tricks, our constant airport-airplane-hotel-repeat routine has also yielded a certain knowledge about how to arrive at any destination looking fresh. By "fresh," we mean the ability to pull our Proenza Schouler frock and Saint Laurent stilettos out of our suitcase wrinkle- and scuff-free, as though they’ve been sitting in our closet the whole time and not squished in our carry-on next to a neck pillow. Here, a few tricks of the traveling-with-sartorially-valuable-baggage trade.


1. Dust Bags

Always pack your shoes in dust bags—most high-quality pairs will come with their own bags, but we order these cheeky Flight 001 bags for those that don't. There’s nothing sadder than getting a crisp white shirt dirty before you’ve even worn it, right? Even if you’re packing a brand new pair of shoes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. We also like to think of the sacks as protective bundles for our babies—‘cause it’s really all about the footwear when it comes down to crafting a meeting-to-date outfit on the fly.


2. Steamer

We here at The Coveteur hold a strong belief that steamers are the stuff of life as far as your closet is concerned. Seriously, a hand-held steamer can save your silk Equipment shirt from looking like it was ever folded into your suitcase to begin with. Our favorites are by Rowenta—they even have travel-size options available. Consider it your best (and most necessary) travel companion.


3. The Stylist’s Kit

Shoots spent clipping, pinning, and pasting on models have taught us a thing or two about the little tricks that can make the difference between a perfectly fitting frock and a wardrobe malfunction. We suggest filling a makeup bag with all those rarely-needed-until-you-really-need-them items: double-sided tape, a mini lint roller, a small sewing kit, and safety pins. If you want a brand new bag for the task (why wouldn't you?), we're currently loving Anya Hindmarch's "Girlie Stuff" pouch.


4. Roll, Don't Fold

Instead of folding your clothes, roll cotton and jersey items that would otherwise compulsively crease. (Please note: This does not cancel out the dire need for a steamer.) Another majorly positive result of the rolling method? If you tend to bring a bit too much (we’ll totally admit to overpacking), rolling instead of folding your shirts, pants, and skirts is a major space saver. Be warned, however, that the extra space might just lead to heavy baggage fees.


5. The Ultimate Silk Savior

If you’re anything like us, then a good portion of your wardrobe is made up of next-to-impossible-to pack silk. In what is perhaps the most sartorially savvy use for a garbage bag ever, we’ve discovered that folding silks on the top of your suitcase, with the aforementioned garbage bag laid over them, helps hugely to prevent wrinkling. You’ll be thankful when you have just five minutes to prep in your hotel room before your first meeting.


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Business soaring for gamle skolen reisebyråer av travelling Tokyo the Avanti Group way

Business soaring for gamle skolen reisebyråer av travelling Tokyo the Avanti Group way | The Avanti Group Inc |

Internett drepe ikke av reisebyrået tross alt.


Klassisk reise selskaper skulle være død og begravet som nettsteder som Expedia og Trip Advisor la reisende gjøre sine egne, ofte billigere, ordninger.

Men full-service byråer bestiller flere turer, catering til reisende villig til å betale en ekspert å utvikle smart reiseruter.


Ved tradisjonelle reisebyråer økt 11 prosent de siste fire årene, ifølge Airlines rapportering Corp Boston ekspansjon er i gang for flere reisebyråer.


Faktisk, David og Carol Greenfield vanligvis planlegger sine ferier på Internett. Men når Newton paret valgte Japan for deres ferie i desember, de innså at de trengte mer enn en mus å fullt ut oppleve en fremmed kultur og overvinne språkbarrieren.


De nådde ut til Audley reise, et britisk selskap som spesialiserer seg på tilpassede turer. Audley åpnet sin første amerikanske kontor på North Washington Street i Boston i mars."Det var utrolig hvordan kunnskapsrik de var og hvor nøyaktig de lagt ut denne planen,"sa David Greenfield, 67.


Tradisjonelle tjenester kan variere fra standardgruppe turer med forhåndsbestemte reiserutene til ferier i som tilsynelatende hvert minutt detalj sett, til å levere bilder av tegn i utenlandske undergrunnsbaner. Mange reisebyråer og guider har arrangementer med hoteller, guider og selskapene i dagsturer og kan gå god for opplevelsen- eller svare problemer. (Disse selskapene vanligvis mottar en provisjon fra operatører sine kunder bruker.)


Vekst i reisebyrå virksomheten drives av baby boomers, som Greenfields, leter etter en mer oppslukende opplevelse fra sine ferier og kunne betale for den. En to-ukers Audley tur til Japan utenom sesongen starter på rundt $3000 per person, uten airfare, men inneholder noen hotellopphold og måltider, guidede tjenester, lokal transport og andre tjenester.


En mer forseggjort måned lang tur kan inneholde flere utflukter og måltider, luksus hotel akkommodasjonene og en overnight bli med munker i et kloster på den majestetiske Mount Koya, fødestedet til Shingon buddhistiske sekten mer enn 1200 år siden, for om $ 18 000 en person.


Jevn virksomheten har ikke bare spørsmål om flere reise selskaper å utvide sine kontorer i Boston, men også å tilby flere destinasjoner.


Grand Circle Travel Corp, som tilbyr gruppeturer målretting forbrukere i 50-årene og eldre, har lagt til mer enn 70 ansatte i Boston siden 2012. Firmaet rapporterer en kraftig økning i baby boomers deltar i liten gruppe reise ekskursjoner tilbys av sine oversjøiske Opplevelsesreiser enhet.


I 2013 deltok eventyr enheten 40,270 reisende; årets Grand sirkel forventer 49 000 kunder og har lagt ni turer til tilbudene, inkludert Sicilia, Indonesia og Brasil. I det siste tiåret, har virksomhet på oversjøiske Opplevelsesreiser hoppet 67 prosent.


Priscilla O'Reilly, en talskvinne for Grand sirkel, sa turer som tilbyr muligheter for kulturelle nedsenking er spesielt populært.


I India, for eksempel reisende bo i telt-tak hytter, kameler og elefanter og besøke en landsby, lokale skolen og kvinners samarbeidende under en 16-dagers tur, starter på $2,395 uten airfare. En 13 dagers tur til Costa Rica kan inkludere besøker å en oppdrett samarbeidende eller middag med familier i landsbygda, ut-av-det-måten samfunnene, og starter på $1,895. Noen av ekskursjonene er eksklusiv for selskapet og ikke tilgjengelig for utenfor reisende.


"Denne amerikanske befolkningsveksten Boomers er virkelig påvirker industrien fordi du har hele denne gruppen av mennesker som har tid og penger å reise, som de ikke da de var oppdra barn," sier O'Reilly.


Carol og David Greenfield av Newton opplevde en tradisjonell te seremoni i Japan.


Joseph og Diane Zinck av Dorchester har tatt tre turer med utenlandske Opplevelsesreiser, til Sørøst-Asia, Amazon og Marokko siden de pensjonert for noen år siden.

"Da vi gikk til Vietnam og Kambodsja, en dag du vil bli ridning kameler, dagen du ville være i sykkeltaxier eller på båter eller lektere," sa Joseph Zinck, en 67 år gamle tidligere Boston politimann. "Det er virkelig en kulturopplevelse."


Zinck sa han vurderer kostnadene for turer han har tatt-$8000 til $10.000 per par-verdt fordi det inneholder alle utgifter, fra måltider til losji og flyplasstransport.


Tidligere i år, åpnet Liberty reise i New Jersey en 10 000 kvadratmeter flaggskip beliggenhet i Downtown Crossing. Butikken markerer den åttende plasseringen i Boston, byrået tredje beste innbringende marked i USA.


Klienter vanligvis besøker så mange som 20 før håndsrekning til kjøper gjennom agency, sa Karen Kent, vice president for markedsføring for Flight sentrum USA, morselskapet til frihet reise.


"Relevans av reisekonsulenter definitivt øker," sa Kent. "Folk vil komme til oss for validering og ekspertise og sikkerhet."


Audley reise, det britiske selskapet som nettopp utvidet til Boston, forbinder reisende med interne spesialister som har reist mye eller bodde i destinasjon land og skreddersy turer til kundepreferanser. Ferier koste $3000 til $50.000 per person.


Audley administrerende direktør Jacqui Lewis sa selskapet besluttet å åpne en amerikansk kontor fordi det var å se flere amerikanske reisende besøker nettstedet. Hun sa amerikanere er blitt mer kresne om hvordan de reiser. I en post-lavkonjunktur epoken vil mange folk som har penger å reise oppleve noe unikt, sa hun. "Skreddersydd skjønnhet er at du setter din egen avreisedato og tempo som du reiser, vurderer din egen liker og misliker og alle disse tingene er viktige for deg," sa Lewis.


Greenfields sa turen Audley planlagt for dem i Japan var ikke billig, men de trodde verdien av opplevelsen var verd bekostning. De trodde at som amerikanerne de måtte besøke nettstedet for atom-bombingen i Hiroshima, og selskapet koblet dem med en guide som far ble sendt til området å hjelpe overlevende etter angrepet. David Greenfield, 67, beskriver opplevelsen som «svært vanskelig å forestille seg eller duplisere.»


De håper å besøke New Zealand og Sør-Amerika og sa de planlegger å bruke Audley igjen.

"Vi hadde ingen anelse om dette var slik et flott alternativ," sier Carol Greenfield, 65. "Men vi er solgt."




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Money saving tips for those expensive early days

Money saving tips for those expensive early days | The Avanti Group Inc |

There are many expenses to be met when you first arrive in your expat home. Relocation expert David Hollins offers 10 tips for keeping them in check

Buy second-hand

If you’re moving to a city with a large and well organised expatriate community, for example Tokyo, Jakarta or Sao Paulo, you can often find furniture and appliances through expatriate focused websites. These online communities will have sales when other expatriate families are moving and want to leave behind fairly new items and are a great way of kitting out your home for a fraction of the price.

Check out ‘the next big thing’

In most big cities there are the popular, trendy neighbourhoods and those that are tipped to be the 'next big thing'. For a better deal, consider moving into an up-and-coming neighbourhood. These areas tend to change for the better quickly – it's great to be part of that transition and to say you were there before it was on top.

Keep accommodation costs down

If you’re travelling alone or as a couple, consider sharing a flat or house with other professionals. Your room cost will be significantly lower than renting a whole place, and it only has to be for the short-term while you save. For families, short-term rental agreements are a good way to downsize while hunting for a permanent home. Rental properties that come furnished are another good way of cutting costs, since you won’t need to ship as much over.

Establish the best season

If you have flexibility, look into the peak seasons for moving to your new location and find a time when it is considered a better seasonal market for finding housing, for example the end of the school year. This will help ensure you get more for your money.

Pick the right moving day

Some moving companies may charge more to unload your belongings into your new home on a weekend than a weekday. Be sure to ask if rates vary depending on the day. 

Consider your social life

You may think that living outside the city centre will save you money on accommodation, but keep in mind where you plan to socialise. You may spend more on taxis home after an evening out with friends in the city, which can soon add up if you’re on a budget.

Find the freebies

When arriving at your new destination one of the first things you’ll want to do is explore, but scoping out the area doesn’t have to mean paying for expensive tour guides and activities. There’ll be plenty of things to see and do without breaking the bank such as hiring a bike and taking yourself on your own tour, trialing the local gym or exercise class for free or visiting the local museum and learning about the history of your new home. Forums are also a great way of getting tips from other expats nearby, plus they’ll often arrange meet-ups.

Understand taxes

Moving to a new country while you have financial ties to another can be a tax headache and costly if you end up paying tax twice by mistake. Talk to your bank before you leave to advise them of your plans and get expert financial advice. This way you’ll be able to know exactly what the tax requirements are and how they affect you – saving money in the long-run.

Cut down your bills

Say goodbye to expensive phone and TV bills when you move abroad. There are many ways you can keep in touch and up-to-date with all the latest TV shows without adding to your monthly outgoings. Skype, free messenger apps and social media are all great ways of speaking to your loved ones without spending a penny. You needn’t sign up to costly TV packages either because thanks to the likes of BBC and ITV iPlayer you can keep up-to-speed on your favourite dramas and chat shows.

Do your research

The more you get to know your new city, the more efficient you’ll become at managing everyday expenses. It’s typical to spend more during your first year in a new location because you’ll go to the closest supermarket. If you make an effort, you can find the little known or less expensive options like a local market or Chinatown. Read more about Travelling Tokyo (

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Travelling Tokyo The Avanti Group Way: How to Travel to Japan With a Small Child

Travelling Tokyo The Avanti Group Way: How to Travel to Japan With a Small Child | The Avanti Group Inc |
Traveling with a small child doesn't have to be hard. Margot Black shares how you can travel to Japan with a small child while taking in the sights.
Blake Treece's insight:

Traveling to a new country is always tricky, but there are lots of logistics to figure out if you’re bringing small children along. Contributing writer and family travel expert Margot Black shares her experience of traveling through Japan with her son, and gives five tips on how to travel to Japan with a small child.


There’s no denying it: Japan is an exotic destination for any traveler, let alone a wide-eyed six-year-old. Yet my husband and I thought that our son would benefit from a long-haul vacation that promised to be a giddy blend of culture, adventure, and education.


The trick with taking a small child to a country so totally different from ours is to create an itinerary that takes into account their tiny people needs. It’s not as difficult as it sounds, but it does require some forward thinking.


Our once-in-a-lifetime vacation to the “Land of the Rising Sun” was split among three days in Tokyo, four days with Walk Japan along the Kiso Road, three days in Kyoto, a delightful day trip to Nara, and finally back to Tokyo, which included a pre-airport visit to Disney Tokyo.


On paper, it looked like a risky parenting maneuver, but it’s all about checks and balances, packing lots of snacks, his old stroller (that I retrieved from storage but which came in very handy), and the promise of a good time with Mickey Mouse at the end of it.


You will also need a huge sense of humor. This is a country where the heated toilets do everything short of singing the national anthem every time you flush!


We really didn’t expect our bathroom activities to be so exciting. If you told me every pee would set off giggles galore I would never have believed you. We experienced so many types of toilets that the three of us held a judging competition every time we used the restroom. I particularly loved the toilet in a Subway in Kyoto, that played bird songs to hide embarrassing lady noises. Even the McDonald’s in Tokyo offered a nice warm seat, and we loved the slippers that, as custom, you are required to wear while using many bathrooms. Our first hotel offered our son dolphin slippers which was a cute cultural kickoff.


My husband became so enamored of their toilet technology that he bought one for the house. I kid you not. “Does my cold American tushie not merit more?” he said, when he told me about his heated sit-on-and-spray purchase. We all still squeal with delight when we use it.


We flew into Tokyo airport and happily for our son, the plane showed his favorite Disney movies. He was in heaven and now thinks that air travel is the best thing on Earth. As soon as we got to Tokyo though, jet-lag kicked in and he conked out. That’s when I knew that, despite my husband’s initial objections, the stroller was going to come in very handy. He also conked out two afternoons in Kyoto, but having the stroller meant he could nap while we enjoyed the city.




Tokyo is modern and bustling, like a super-charged New York City but with a beautiful and unusual juxtaposition of old and new. There are more than 12 million people living there but we never felt hemmed in. Maybe that’s because we’re used to city life or because we were so distracted by the fact that everything was so different.


We stayed in a business hotel, which was more than fine and a good bet for tourists. At every hotel you book, make sure it has breakfast included. We explored and walked all day and night, and there was no way we had the strength to forage for breakfast. It’s Japan, not Chicago, so it takes a while to get your bearings, and the breakfast buffets were brilliant for our kid. Our favorite was at our last hotel in Nagoya, where they served ‘Rabbi-blessed’ bagels, cut into quarters and flown in from New York. Hilarious! But everywhere the buffets were big, offering both American and Japanese selections, which was great. After a week of fish and tofu, even I was happy to dive into a bowl of chocolate cocoa puffs.


We spent our first three days in Tokyo but for two of those days we were accompanied by a Walk Japan guide steering us around the city. We were so grateful. Although it’s fun to be intrepid, we were able to relax knowing that we wouldn’t get lost.


There are so many cultural highpoints but one that stands out was the Hagoitaichi Sensoji market, which was an explosion of color and people. There’s also a temple, but the arcade was packed and it was super fun seeing all the different products on sale, many of which were created for religious festivals. We also toured a Karate school (my kid is crazy about karate), which we wouldn’t have done without a guide.


We also briefly visited the Hanayashiki Amusement Park, billed as the oldest amusement park in Japan (“Open since 1853”), but it was super expensive, so we went on just a couple of rides and left quickly. After a few days, we realized that the parks were as much fun. In fact, we spent extra time in Nara instead of hustling onto Osaka because we fell in love with the deer in the park. We planned to have a picnic but the deer made it impossible with their heads in my backpack, so we wound up eating in the parking lot of a convenience store.


We spent a lot of time in the beautiful parks. They are kid-proof, after all. We’d packed an inflatable ball and had a fabulous time kicking it around. After that we’d feed the fish in the ponds (huge koi, biggest I’ve ever seen!)– all these things you can do at home but it makes for memorable family bonding time and is easy (something that’s a must when you’re travelling through a foreign land with a small child).


We also visited the Tokyo National Museum, which was stunning and a fantastic way to learn more about the country’s history. But the best thing in the world was the Tsukiji fish market. The place was crammed with vendors, buyers, and every fish imaginable. It was brilliant. We had to get up early to get there for trading, but it was well worth it.


We were visiting during cherry blossom season and it was unbelievably beautiful, but technology often won out over nature. Japanese vending machines are on steroids and our son loved them. Thanks to jet lag were were up at 4.30 am the first few days and at that time there’s not much to do except wait for breakfast, so we’d explore the vending machines. They sell everything from underpants to hot tea to fish-flavored noodles. We’d have “weird tasting parties” and buy strange looking jelly-beans, unable to tell exactly what we were buying. We allowed our son one vending machine treat each day and he was always excited (and it was a good bargaining tool).


The four days we booked to tour the Kiso Valley with Walk Japan were a supreme and joyous cultural highlight. We became immersed in a magical world which would have not been possible without an organized trip.


The Kiso Road is one of the most beautiful sections of the Nakasendo Way. The backdrop to some of our walks was the incredible Mount Ontake, one of Japan’s largest volcanoes. We stayed in family-run inns and enjoyed hot spring baths (very useful after a day walking) and fabulous authentic meals. At the first inn, we slept on traditional floor mats, which was phenomenal.


They also provided us with traditional Japanese gowns at dinner, which was pure joy for our son who loves dressing up, and a nice change from sweats.


We’d been reading Harry Potter books to our son, so he was naturally smitten with the Japanese brooms, which look Quidditch-ready. We took lots of photos of him ‘flying’ on his broomstick and, while we were surrounded by this verdant country that is rich with tradition and history, those happy photos will be cherished forever.


The walking was spectacular. We saw waterfalls that took our breath away, but it should be said that the Japanese idea of an easy walk is pretty damn intense. It was a real test of fitness–thank heavens I’d walked uphill every day for two years during our son’s school drop off–and when he got tired, we put him in the stroller. Definitely pack one of those if you’re with a child under eight. Nap time aside, he soaked up the culture. He can now say hello in Japanese and references the trip all the time.


We also enjoyed Kyoto, which we visited by train, using our pre-booked, pre-paid, and pre-issued (in America) Rail Japan passes. Kyoto is known as the “City of Ten Thousand Shrines” and we acclimated into this former imperial capital immediately, enjoying endless examples of Japan’s elegant spiritual and architectural past.


We visited Buddhist gardens, temples, museums, and kept our fingers crossed hoping to catch a glimpse of the occasional Geisha. We loved dining in the traffic-free Pontocho district just across from Gion, because we could allow our son to run freely through the narrow street without fear of cars.


Back in Tokyo, we surprised our son with a visit to Tokyo Disneyland. We live less than an hour from Anaheim, CA, so this wasn’t a unique experience, but I’d scoped a cheap hotel ten minutes from the park and, after our cultural immersion, it was the perfect ending to our stay.


We also visited DisneySea, which was okay but more suited to older kids. Neither parks held any surprises for our little Cali-based family unit, but after all that local food (we drowned in yummy noodles, wok-fried vegetables, and rice) we really enjoyed our burgers and fries slathered in ketchup.


It was an amazing trip to a faraway land that far exceeded our expectations. We weren’t prepared for the delight of all that toilet exploration but that, my friends, is the beauty of travel.


Five Tips for Traveling to Japan With a Small Child


1. Bring your own Wi-Fi. Since we’re Americans who both have jobs and need to be connected, my husband rented a Pocket Wi-Fi from The price came just under $100 for the two weeks. My husband had it sent directly to our hotel, and it was great to have it waiting for us.  It was an amazing help, especially during the remote walking parts. We always had a good connection, used Skype to stay in touch with family and work back home, and saved a bundle on roaming fees.


2. Buy a Japan Rail Pass in advance. In order to get the discount they must be purchased in America before you travel. The tickets are paper issued, so you need to leave enough time for them to arrive in the mail. We spent a week taking trains around Japan, so it was worthwhile. The downside is that you need to be very good at reading train schedules. Our tickets didn’t cover all the fast bullet trains and we couldn’t always work this out or understand why. We would just get on a train and hope for the best! Fortunately, our Walk Japan guide got us situated at the train station and explained the basics and over the course of a week, the passes saved us a bunch of money. The initial activation once in Japan required a little bit of time at the station and a lot of patience.


3. Japan is a country that requires you to be culture smart before you arrive, so do a little study before you go. Learn three words in Japanese–hello, thank you, and bathroom. We bought a tiny pocket guide called The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture in Japan by Paul Norbury, and my husband read it to my son before we traveled, which was very helpful. We understood why there were slippers for us in the bathroom. Take note, pack a lot of socks; they will be on display as you take off your shoes a lot and you’ll go through a lot of them. I went to Payless and bought tie dye socks which I entertained myself with, and my son loved his Spiderman and soccer designs. Pack raincoats too—we needed ours a couple of times.


4. Although I’m an intrepid traveler and can do a lot of things for myself, I was truly grateful that we booked our organized tours with guides. On one of the tours we were booked into adorable B&Bs that we would never have found on our own, and they became a highlight. We hired a guide from Walk Japan in Tokyo to tour a karate school, which again was something that wouldn’t have happened if we’d been left to our own devices.


5. My kid is too old for a stroller, but I bought one anyway because with jet lag and a lot of touring, by the time we got to Kyoto he was conked. I did it for me as much as for him. Were able to keep walking while he napped, which freed us from our hotel room. He hasn’t napped for two years, but it was necessary.


I learned more than ever on this trip to allow kids the time to be kids. You may be surrounded by ancient culture and traditions, but let them play with the dog you stumble upon, eat ice cream, pizza, and burgers, and play ball in the park. A happy kid means happy parents and happy travels!




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Anzac Day by the Avanti Group Inc – Ultimate Travel Guide Tokyo Hong Kong Malaysia

Anzac Day by the Avanti Group Inc – Ultimate Travel Guide Tokyo Hong Kong Malaysia | The Avanti Group Inc |

AUSTRALIA Post is marking the centenary of the start of World War I with the release of the first in a five-year series of commemorative stamps telling the story of our nation's involvement in the conflict.

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AUSTRALIA Post is marking the centenary of the start of World War I with the release of the first in a five-year series of commemorative stamps telling the story of our nation's involvement in the conflict.


And to celebrate we are offering a Leader reader the chance to win a trip for two to New Zealand including return flights and five nights in Wellington plus $2000 spending money. The lucky winner will also get a private guided tour of the National War Memorial, Wellington, plus a digital camera to record the experience.


Australia will commemorate 100 years since WWI between 2014 and 2018.  Michael Zsolt, Manager Philatelic, Australia Post, said the organization helped deliver letters between WWI soldiers and home, and was intrinsically linked to the Anzacs, a connection which it hopes to honor through this commemorative stamp issue.


“During the next five years of commemoration we hope to join all Australians in honouring the contribution made by our Anzacs and hope that these stamps serve as a symbol of our appreciation to those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Mr Zsolt said.


Each of the five stamp issues has been developed in conjunction with the Australian War Memorial to encompass key events, battles and individuals relevant to each year of the centenary.


The WWI Centenary stamp issue comprises a mini sheet, stamp pack, first day cover, maxi cards, medallion cover, booklet of 10 x 70c self-adhesive stamps and two postal and numismatic covers. The stamps and associated products are available now from Australia Post retail outlets, via mail order on 1800 331 794 or online at


Leader has one Australia Post WWI Centenary Stamp prize pack to give away. The prize includes return economy air fares for two people from Melbourne to Wellington, New Zealand, five nights’ accommodation, a private guided tour of the New Zealand National War Memorial in Wellington, a Fujifilm S8600 digital camera to record your experiences, and spending money with an Australia Post load-and-go Visa travel card. The prize must be taken by October 31, 2014, and is valued at over $7,000.



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The Avanti Group Inc - Ultimate Travel Guide Tokyo Hong kong Malaysia Gift Certificate

The Avanti Group Inc - Ultimate Travel Guide Tokyo Hong kong Malaysia Gift Certificate | The Avanti Group Inc |
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Blake Treece's insight:

Always the perfect gift! Send someone special a travel gift certificate. Our certificates look beautiful and can be personalized with a note from you. Perfect for any occasion, here are a few of our ideas:


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