Archive for the ‘France Travel Tips’ Category
EXTRA LUGGAGE– It may be possible to purchase the right to check a third bag, at a cost of something like $125. In high capacity travel times however, it may no longer be possible to elect this option, at any price. Again, don’t be stymied at the gate. Check with your airline in advance.
TAG YOUR BAGS…INSIDE AND OUT — It is surprising to note how many people arrive at the airport with no identification on their luggage. Wiser travelers will have at least two external tags securely affixed to each piece of luggage, and one taped inside the cover of each bag for good measure.
WHAT TO WEAR FOR SMOOTHER CHECK-IN — Almost all clothing accessories, including shoes, belts, hats, sweaters, jackets, etc. must be removed and sent through the x-ray machine. Simplify matters for yourself by wearing such items that are relatively easy for you to remove and re-don. On another note, wear at least one garment that has secure button-down or Velcro pockets suitable to keeping your passport, wallet, pen, glasses and other critical items safely on your person. A travel shirt such as Ex Officio, safari pants with good button pockets, and/or a photo journalist style vest or jacket can be very helpful in securing important items.
CARRY-ON LUGGAGE — As of now travelers in the USA are limited to one carry-on bag, plus the equivalent of a purse, laptop bag, or small backpack. You are advised not to test the capacity limits, as your carry-on may be denied boarding, or forced to be checked. Plan and pack accordingly.
HURRY UP and WAIT — Early arrival at the airport for check-in is now more important than ever. You will avoid many problems and much distress simply by arriving at the airport check-in counter a generous two hours or more in advance of your flight departure. In fact, on some recent Singapore Airlines flights, they asked that you check in 3-1/2 hours prior to flight time.
CONNECTING FLIGHTS — When planning connecting flights, allow at least three hours for you and your luggage to change planes, especially when making an inter-airline connection and/or clearing Immigration and Customs .I know that sitting around the airports for that long is no fun but cutting this too close can ruin a great trip before it even begins.
FALL-BACK OPTION — Avoid scheduling the last flight that will connect from your home airport to the major gateway. If your flight is late or cancelled due to weather or mechanical issues, your entire vacation may be placed be in jeopardy. If at all possible, book an earlier flight for a safety cushion.
YOUR PASSPORT if you’re planning on vacationing in another country, you’re going to need a valid passport. If this is your first passport, you’ll need to apply in person at least 5 weeks before your planned departure. You can go to your local county courthouse, a U.S. Passport Agency, a probate court, or certain post offices. For more information, click on: http://www.dmttravel.com. Be sure to make two photocopies of your passport before you go on your trip. Bring one with you and leave the other with a friend.
TRAVELER’S CHECKS try to avoid carrying large sums of cash when you are traveling. Bring only the credit cards you plan on using and pick up some traveler’s checks before you go. If you need to cash a traveler’s check while you’re on vacation, be careful! Banks have been known to charge up to 20 percent of the travelers check’s face value. Try to find a bank that sells the same brand. Your fees will be lower and you can save that extra money for souvenirs.
MEDICAL PREPAREDNESS Prepare a medical kit to take along. Be sure to include any prescription medications, (take a few days extra of your prescription medication, you never know when your trip might be extended) also bring medications for stomachache, earache, pain, and diarrhea. You should also carry a copy of your eyeglass or contact lens prescription, and an extra pair of both.
RESTRICTIONS WITH CARRY-ON BAGGAGE The Transportation Security Administration (a division of US Department of Homeland Security) has recently revised its restrictions on items in carry-on luggage for flights originating in the US. Due to enhanced security measures liquids, gels, lotions and other items of similar consistency will not be permitted in carry-on baggage. These types of items must be packed in your checked baggage. These are some tips to avoid spills inside your suitcase:* Liquids and gels should be in plastic containers, stowed inside clear zippered plastic bags for ease of inspection by TSA officials .For the perfect travel container visit www.dmttravel.com/accessories.html* Squeeze all the air out of any liquid or gel containers to avoid leaks, as products expand in flight.* Pack liquids and gels near the hinge of a suitcase to minimize movement .These are some notable exceptions:* Baby formula and breast milk are allowed in your carry-on baggage or personal items. You can take these through the security checkpoints and aboard your plane. However, you must be traveling with a baby or toddler. All items including formula or breast milk will be inspected.* Liquid prescription medicine with a name that matches the passenger’s ticket, up to 5 oz. of liquid or gel low blood sugar treatment, including juice; and up to 4 oz. of non-prescription liquid medications including saline solution, eye care products and KY jelly are permitted.* Gel-filled bras and similar prosthetics* Gel-filled wheelchair cushions* Life support and life sustaining liquids such as bone marrow, blood products, and transplant organs carried for medical reasons. More details are published on the Transportation Security Administration web site. Make sure to visit http://www.tsa.gov/ for the latest restrictions before packing your carry-on luggage and reaching an airport security check point
.HEALTH INSURANCE WHILE TRAVELING when traveling overseas, check your health insurance. Many policies won’t cover you once you leave the U.S. If you need insurance, there are a number of companies that offer travel coverage plans. Please call me at 888-339-4400 or contact me at email@example.com and we can discuss which plans will meet your personal needs.
AIRLINES’ SEAT POCKETS before you stick your hand into the seat pocket in front of you, think about what the last few passengers may have left in there. They are the dumping ground for everything from rotten food to used diapers. It may surprise you to learn that aircraft are given a deep cleaning only once a month. How is still the question? Planes are lightly cleaned between flights (obvious trash picked up, crumbs brushed off) and cleaned overnight (toilets, galley, seatback pockets emptied, floors vacuumed). So before you put your hand in someone’s used Kleenex, think twice before reaching into the seat pocket – and don’t even ask me about the pillows and blankets.
GETTING THE BEST SEAT ON THE PLANE why do airlines only reserve seats for you if you remember to ask? By the time you remember, the good ones are gone. To get the better coach seats, you want to avoid the restrooms and galleys because they’re busy with lots of traffic. The seats in the last row and in front of exits often don’t recline, Middle seats are cramped. Bulkheads have more leg room, because no one reclines into your lap, Window seats have a view but less head room or aisle access. Show up when the counter opens to get the desirable exit row.
TRAVEL AGENTS VS. ONLINE BOOKING who can take care of refunds and changes when you have booked your trip online? Don’t be surprised when the answer is no one. All that time spent online is doubled when you have to get on the phone and make a change. Forget the refund, as online specials are usually non-refundable. Need help overseas? I cringe for you. Internet specials are great until you have a problem or need to make changes. That is where travel agents are lifesavers, especially if you are out of the country. Definitely go online to do research. Compare prices and look at hotel photos and airline seating charts. But for an expensive or complicated itinerary, use a travel agent. And pack their cell phone number.
YOUR CREDIT CARD IS REFUSED OVERSEAS you having dinner at the Eiffel Tower when your credit card is refused. Furious, you spend an hour calling home to discover your card was shut down due to suspicious activity- someone has been using it in France! Since no one called the credit card company back when they left you a message at your home, the account was frozen for your protection. It was not for your protection. You have limited liability. It was the credit card company covering their rear and they do it all the time. To avoid this, call your credit card companies and inform them of your travel dates & destinations, take travelers checks and travel with more than one card.
PROTECTING YOUR PASSPORT Now that you have your passport for travel to the Caribbean and Mexico you need to take steps to avoid it being lost or stolen. Immediately make several copies. Leave one copy at home, put two copies in your carry on bag, and leave one copy with someone who could fax it to you if yours is lost or stolen. In case yours disappears, a copy of your passport will significantly speed up the time it takes to get a replacement, especially overseas. I prefer hard copies but some people scan their passports to file on their laptop. In your hotel, put your passport in the hotel safe with the majority of your credit cards and carry one of the copies with you for shopping and money changing.
SHIPPING TIPS if you use a credit card for a purchase or service overseas, keep your receipts and double check your bill. There are thousands of mistakes on international credit card purchases, but unfortunately, there’s very little recourse. One common problem is receiving defective merchandise that has been shipped. The law only protects you if it was shipped within your home state or if you lived within one hundred miles of the mailing address. Therefore, don’t ship without good insurance. And what about the merchant who adds extra zeroes or moves the decimal point to increase the charge? This happens all the time. You must notify your credit card company in writing within 60 days. You’ll also need to send a copy to the appropriate federal agencies as well, and believe it or not, the Director of Tourism of the offending country. Often the promise of bad publicity from an American tourist can nudge the merchant to withdraw.
DECLARE YOUR ITEMS you are required by U.S. Law to declare all items acquired in other countries. That includes repairs to items you took with you and any gifts you may have received. You’ll fill out a customs declaration form when reentering the United States. Keep a record of what you acquire abroad and keep your receipts. Take the necessary time to register any foreign-made jewelry or electronic equipment at the customs office before you leave, to prove you didn’t buy them on the trip. Appraisals, receipts, insurance policies, and permanently affixed numbers are proof of prior ownership. If you fail to register these items, you may be required to pay a duty on them when you return home. The most important thing you can do is be informed. Believe me, this is the one situation where honesty is the best policy!
Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling Shah was forced into exile. Conservative clerical forces subsequently crushed Americanizing, yet also liberal/left-wing, influences. Iranian student protesters seized the US Embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979 and held it until 20 January 1981. From 1980 to 1988, Iran fought a bloody, indecisive war with Iraq over disputed territory. Key current issues affecting the country include the pace of accepting outside modernizing influences and reconciliation between clerical control of the regime and popular government participation and widespread demands for reform. Unemployment among the youth is also an issue.
People of Iran
Humans have inhabited the area that makes up modern Iran since the stone age. The ancient Persians arrived about 1500 BC, one branch of the great movement of people that also brought northern India and most of Europe their modern populations. The name Iran is from the same root as “Aryan” which, until Hitler perverted it, was just an ancient name for those invading peoples. Persian (or Farsi) is an Indo-European language; ancient Persian was related to Sanskrit, ancient Greek, and all the others in that family. Modern Farsi is closely related to Dari, one of the two main languages of Afghanistan, and to Tajik, a major language of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Persians are ethnically and linguistically unrelated to their neighbors on the West, the Arabs and Turks.
However, Iran has many people other than ethnic Persians. The Northwestern region, Azerbaijan, is largely populated by Azeris, who are ethnically and linguistically close to Turks. Other regions are mostly Kurds or Baluchis, two other Indo-European groups. There are also Armenians, Turkomans, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Arabs, and a small community of sephardic Jews. Afghans have come to Iran for work and education for centuries, and recently many have come as refugees,
There are also two substantial communities of people of Iranian descent in India and Pakistan — Parsis who have been there for over 1000 years, and Iranis who arrived in the 19th and 20th centuries — both Zoroastrians who fled religious persecution in Muslim Iran.
History or iran
Throughout history, Persia has generally been an empire, one whose fortunes varied enormously. In ancient times, Persia controlled most of what we now call the Middle East, and came close to conquering Greece. A few centuries later, Alexander of Macedonia conquered (among other things) the entire Persian Empire. Later, Persia was conquered by the Arabs in the wild expansion of Islam in the centuries immediately after the Prophet; Persian and other languages of the region are still written with the Arabic alphabet. About 1250, Persia was overrun by the Mongols. Marco Polo passed through just after that, learned Persian, and wrote extensively of the region.
At other times, Persia conquered many of her neighbors. Her empire often included much of what we now call Central Asia (Polo counted Bokhara and Samarkand as Persian cities), and sometimes various other areas. A few generations after the Mongols took Persia. the dynasty they founded there took all of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and most of India. The Indian term “Moghul” for some of their rulers is from “Mongol”, via Persia. Even in periods when she did not rule them, Persia has always exerted a large cultural influence on her neighbors, especially Afghanistan and Central Asia.
The Safavid dynasty re-united Persia as an independent state in 1501, established Shi’a Islam as the official religion, and ushered in a golden age of Persian culture. They were overthrown in 1736 by Nadir Shah, the last great Asian conqueror, who expanded the Empire to again include Afghanistan and much of India. His short-lived dynasty and its successor lasted until 1795. Then the Qajar dynasty ruled 1795-1925, a period of heavy pressure from foreign powers, notably Britain and Russia who jointly occupied Iran during World War I. In 1906, Qajar rule became a constitutional monarchy and the Majlis (Persian for parliament) was established.
Iran before its revolutions in 1978
In 1925, a military coup by Reza Shah established a new “Pahlavi” dynasty, named for the most ancient Persian dynasty around 500 BC. His rule was quite nationalistic; he changed the country’s name from “Persia” to “Iran” and built a strong military. It was also quite authoritarian; he built a powerful secret police and a propaganda apparatus, and did not hesitate to crush dissent. He also made considerable efforts toward modernisation, and came into conflict with conservatives over some of it. When World War II came, he refused Allied demands for guarantees that Iran would resist if German forces got that far. Iran was then invaded by Anglo-Indian forces from the South and Russians from the North, and a railway built (largely by US army engineers) to bring supplies from the Gulf across Iran to beleagured Russia. Reza Shah went off to exile in South Africa, abdicating on the steps of the airplane in favour of his son.
The son, Mohammad Shah, continued his father’s nationalistic, authoritarian and modernising tendencies. However, coming to power in 1941, he had a problem; he needed powerful friends, but who? Given the history, no sane Iranian ruler would choose Britain or Russia. Being pro-German had not worked out well for dad and, in 1941, France did not count for much. That left the Americans, and he became one of America’s most important allies in the region, seen as a “bulwark against Communism”, a constitutional monarch, in some ways a progressive ruler — modernising, sometimes comparing himself to Kemal Ataturk who led Turkey’s modernisation — and a protector of US and other Western interests. He was one of very few Middle Eastern rulers to extend diplomatic recognition to Israel and helped prevent Iranian nationalisation of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. On the other hand, he was quite capable of putting Iranian interests before Western ones, as when he was one of the key players in creating OPEC.
While in some ways progressive, the Shah was also very much the oriental despot. When the Soviets left Northwestern Iran after the war, they left behind something that claimed to be an independent government of Azerbaijan, of course communist. The first major conflict of the Cold War came as the Shah, advised by the CIA, brought in troops who crushed that government and the communist party (Tudeh in Persian). Throughout his reign, his Savak secret police stomped hard on any opposition. His regime was also massively corrupt, with his relatives and various others getting hugely rich while much of the country was very poor. On the other hand, he did build infrastructure and start various projects to benefit the poor, including a program that sent new university graduates into the countryside as teachers.
In theory, Iran under the Shah was still a constitutional monarchy. Mohammed Mosaddeq became Prime Minister in 1951 and instituted reforms that included nationalising the oil companies and a land reform program. He was overthrown in a 1953 coup backed by the CIA, the British (who had large oil interests at stake), and the Shah. The Shah and the new Prime Minister reversed the oil nationalisation, but continued with a land reform program. However, as well as giving land to the peasants, it worked out that the Shah’s family and others with connections got a lot. The Ayatollah Khomeni went into exile at this time, originally because of his objections to land reform taking land from the mosques.
The Islamic revolution of Iran in wonter of 1978
In 1979, the Shah was overthrown and went off into exile, dying a few years later. The revolution involved many groups — Tudeh, Mosaddeq-style secular reformers, and various Islamic factions — but came to be led and dominated by a conservative Islamic faction under Ayatollah Khomeni. Partly in reaction to the Shah’s policies, they were also strongly anti-Western and in particular anti-American.
The main divisions of Islam are Shia’a and Sunni. The split goes back to a time just after the Prophet’s death; would the movement be controlled by some of his leading followers (Sunni), or by his family, in particular by his son-in-law Ali (Shia’a)? There was a long, complex and bloody struggle over this. Today, Iran is the only major country that is predominantly and officially Shia’a, though there are Shia’a minorities elsewhere and a Sunni minority in Iran. The Iranian government supports the Shia’a Hezbollah movement further West, and is therefore accused by America of fomenting terrorism.
One of the major events of Shi’a religious life is the Day of Ashura on the 10th of the month of Moharram; “ashura” means “10th”. It commemorates the death of Ali’s son Hussein at the Battle of Karbala in 61 AH (680 AD). This is not a joyful celebration, but a very sober day of atonement. Travellers should not play music or act remarkably cheerful in public at this time. Ashura is more-or-less the opposite of the Christian “Jesus died for your sins; you are forgiven”, closer to “Hussein is dead and you did not save him; you must atone.” Traditional activities include parades in which people beat themselves with whips, chains, even swords (safe if you are careful, and scalp wounds bleed beautifully). Some governments, including the Shah’s and the Khameni regime in Iran, have forbidden the more extreme variants of this. Some terrorist groups also exploit the religious fervor of the day; Hezbollah’s 1983 suicide bomber attack on the US embassy in Lebanon took place on Ashura.
Climate , weather and when to travel to iran
Iran has a diverse climate. In the northwest, winters are cold with heavy snowfall and subfreezing temperatures during December and January. Spring and fall are relatively mild, while summers are dry and hot. In the south, winters are mild and the summers are very hot, having average daily temperatures in July exceeding 38° C (100° F) and can hit 50° C in parts of the desert. On the Khuzestan plain, summer heat is accompanied by high humidity.
In general, Iran has an arid climate in which most of the relatively scant annual precipitation falls from October through April. In most of the country, yearly precipitation averages 25 centimeters or less. The major exceptions are the higher mountain valleys of the Zagros and the Caspian coastal plain, where precipitation averages at least 50 centimeters annually. In the western part of the Caspian, rainfall exceeds 100 centimeters annually and is distributed relatively evenly throughout the year.
Example Travel Itinerary and Tours to iran
Rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts. The highest point is Mount Damavand (5,671 meters). Desert: Two great deserts extend over much of central Iran: the Dasht-e Lut is covered largely with sand and rocks, and the Dasht-e Kavir is covered mainly with salt. Both deserts are inhospitable and virtually uninhabited. Mountain: The Zagros range stretches from the border with the Republic of Armenia in the north-west to the Persian Gulf, and then eastward into Baluchistan. Zagros is extremely hard, difficult to access, and populated largely by pastoral nomads. The Alborz mountain range, narrower than the Zagros, runs along the southern shore of the Caspian to meet the border ranges of Khorasan to the east. Forest: Approximately 11 percent of Iran is forested, most extensively in the Caspian region. Here one finds the broad-leafed, vigorous deciduous trees, usually oak, beech, linden, elm, walnut, ash, and hornbeam, as well as a few broad-leafed evergreens. Thorny shrubs and fern also abound.The narrow Caspian coastal plain, in contrast, is covered with rich brown forest soil.