Five Reasons You’ll Love Being a Traveling Nurse

In your wildest dreams, could you imagine a job where you get to practice your skills, travel the world, see exotic sites, explore distant cultures, and experience the thrill of adventure every single day? Maybe it sounds too good to be true, but this is the kind of lifestyle that a traveling nurse lives.
Obviously, the life of a travel nurse is not 24/7 tourism. There is work to be done, and difficult situations to face. Despite the challenges of the job, travel nurses experience a whole new level of intensity that a traditional nursing position could never offer. Here are the reasons you’ll love it.
You get to see the world. Is there really a job that lets you travel world? Yes, but there aren’t many of them. Travel caretakers may work in third-world countries, remote regions, or isolated mission hospitals. While many travel caretaker agencies only utilize nurses within the U.S. you may select an agency that sends nurses worldwide. Either way, you’re going to travel somewhere.
You get to experience new cultures. Each area of the country and each region of the world boast its own unique culture. When you move from point A to point B, you will be immersed in a new culture. Cross-cultural experiences are enriching opportunities, allowing you to increase both your personal and professional skills.
You experience variety. Are you the type of person that doesn’t like to be tied down to one place, one job, and one role? Becoming a travel caretaker will put you in a situation where variety is the name of the game.
You receive higher pay. Generally speaking, travel caretaker receive higher pay rates than traditional stationary nurses. There are, of course, a lot of variables that affect the salary issue, including experience, licensing level, area of service, etc. Usually, a travel nursing contract provides for your housing including utilities. In situations where the agency does not provide nursing housing, they usually provide a generous housing stipend.
You develop a strong resume. Employers love to see travel or international experience. You may remain a travel assistant for the remainder of your career, or you may wish to settle down and look for a stationary position. Whatever your choice, you are adding invaluable experience to your resume by traveling. Being a travel assistant is a wise career move in more ways than one.
Travel nursing isn’t for everyone. It comes with adventure. This is precisely the appeal of the job for many nurses. If you have a sense of adventure, being a traveling nurse is probably the right calling for you.
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Why Your Business Needs Corporate Travel Management

Are you a manager or business owner constantly finding yourself sending employees and sales people to conventions, networking events, and seminars all around the country? You are probably finding the process a bit stressful and have already tried different techniques to make things easier. If you have not made much progress in streamlining your corporate travel, it’s understandable. After all, organizing corporate travel can be a challenging task regardless of the size of your corporation. That’s why you should contract a corporate travel management firm. An established firm has the experience and expertise that will make your business travel organization a walk in the park. You would be surprised at how much time and money you can save on your corporate travel operations by allowing a professional to tweak, track, and trim a few things here and there.
If you have been organizing your corporate travel in house, it’s time to allocate your time more effectively and outsource your travel management to a firm. Did you know that you could be saving money on corporate travel expenses in more ways than one? Whether your employees are attending seminars in the US or traveling abroad to expand international markets, you will be able to benefit from the services of a corporate travel manager. From discounts on airline travel and hotels to important expense accounting tricks, a travel management firm has that special sauce that helps your company save.
One of the most attractive advantages to working with a corporate travel management firm is the savings on airfare. If you decide to partner with a large firm who purchases airline tickets in bulk you will easily pay for the management fees using the savings you realize on airfares alone. By working with a travel management service you increase your buying power by orders of magnitude and keep more cash in your expense account. Another way business travel firms can save money for your firm is by connecting your employees ahead of time with several discounted hotels so you don’t just save money on hotel costs, but your employees save time researching hotels. And, as we all know, time is money.
Another excellent benefit of travel management that should not be understated is the tax and corporate accounting advice that is included. A good travel management company will have a unique way of recording and combining travel expenses that allows you to deduct more taxable expenses from your corporate income taxes. If you have not considered, recorded and tracked every single transaction that is accounted for during a corporate voyage (which includes food, drinks, an entertainment expenses) then your company is paying too much in taxes. The key is to write off everything related to every business travel. This is a smart and perfectly legal method that can save your company even more money. You might be thinking about the absolute nightmare of tracking every employee travel expense, but don’t worry, your travel manager will have that figured out too.
Corporate travel management firms these days are incredibly savvy when it comes to technology. Many firms offer a free app that allows each employee to track every single expense as they go about their day on any given trip. The data is uploaded to the app server in real time allowing you to track expenses, compare to other employees and generally keep an eye on which expenses are being billed to the corporate account and why. If you prefer not to see or deal with this information, you can simply request a status report at the end of each month or after each trip and the firm will deliver a summary of all expenses to your smartphone or laptop.
Corporate travel management is crucial for any corporation whether big or small. Keeping track of expenses, obtaining cheap airfares and hotel stays as well as keeping the expense accounting up to par is not a luxury, it is critical for staying competitive and running an efficient business. Most travel management firms will charge a reasonable fee that will pay for itself with a portion of the savings realized. Besides, what is the dollar value that you place on your own time and that of your employees? Any wise business owner or corporate manager knows that time is money.

Lonely Planet Guides Vs Travel Blogs – Which Is Better?

If you find traveling the world to be a rejuvenating experience, you don’t have to strain your budget to stay young and kicking on the travel circuit.

I’m sure you’ll agree, It’s a lovely planet we live in, and Lonely Planet guides can show you the best treats, eats and retreats which some luxury tours choose to overlook as they sometimes only show you only the glossy, well worn parts of the country that you have chosen to visit, and leave you with the feeling of a somewhat ‘plastic’ holiday experience

If you are planning a backpacking trip of your own, then the correct use of Lonely Planet guides and various travel blogs are a great way to familiar yourself with your chosen travel destination before you ever leave home. They are a great option since they include some of the best kept travel secrets, helping you to travel further & longer with confidence.

Just because you want to travel doesn’t necessarily mean that you have burn a whole pile of cash to get an amazing traveling experience.

Backpacking from place to place can give you the chance to meet locals, as well as other travelers, and learn more about the planet we live in and the diversities of other cultures.

The famous Lonely Planet Guides have provided tourists with useful and practical information for many years.

Created after its founders splendid honeymoon during which they traveled across two continents and an ocean with borrowed money.

I always liked how the Lonely Planet guides are packed full of practical travel information and advice about the places I want to visit, however, I sometimes have found the guides to be outdated on more than one occasion.

The Guides are laid out beautifully with helpful maps & various photographs from local attractions.

Combine the photos with descriptions of cities & countries from around the globe and you have a great book that will inspire you to plan your next travel adventure.

What I enjoy most about the Lonely Planet Books is they can help to generate fresh ideas of new places to travel and things worth doing when I’m in need of some travel inspiration.

The books are full of lists. Top 10 Countries, Top 10 Regions, Top 10 Cities and so on.

I don’t know if I agree with the top 10 in each of these categories, and you might not either, but that is not the point.

Use the book to inspire you to travel to new places you haven’t yet been, and to generate ideas and travel inspiration.

Even if you don’t travel to the locations listed in the Lonely Planet Travel Guides, they will help you create awareness of what’s out there, and of the places that are available for you to explore.

If you enjoy traveling, you will enjoy looking through the Lonely Planet Travel Guides for fresh new backpacking ideas.

In 2007 approximately seventy five percent of the Lonely Planet was acquired by BBC Worldwide who resolved to continue creating travel guides as they have always been created in the past, providing trustworthy advice to independent travelers and backpackers.

Each year approximately 500 new Lonely Planet guides are published for travelers.

You can either purchase them from bookstores all over the world, or online directly from the company’s official website.

In addition, you can even download the guides now as an audio book.

Wandering from one distant place to another, allows you to experience the diversity of the world’s cultures, and the world-renowned Lonely Planet Guides have been helping tourists with their itineraries since it’s founders went on their own life-changing adventure, spending borrowed money and savings on an unforgettable travel experience across two continents.

Lonely Planet Publications is one of the world’s largest travel guidebook publishers, founded by Tony and Maureen Wheeler, who cashed in on their wanderlust.

Tony came up with the company name, having misheard the phrase ‘lovely planet’ in Joe Cocker and Leon Russell’s song, ‘Space Captain.’

Backpackers, travelers on the move, and jet setters who love to travel the world can find a bunch of relevant information on travel blogs especially information that may not be available in a standard printed travel book or guide.

First hand information about a possible travel location can come in very handy for the regular traveler, especially if it concerns local travel, hotel and food information, local weather information and travel maps etc.

Don’t depend on a single source for travel information. Flick through the Lonely Planet Guides, find a good Travel Blog with relevant & accurate information & even use Google to find helpful useful travel advice & tips.

Is There a Travel Consultant on Your Team?

OK, I have to admit… I book my own travel. I’ve been vacillating back and forth for months and months on whether to add a travel agent (aka travel consultant) to my team of experts that help make my life easier and I just haven’t done it yet. Now don’t get too impressed that I have a ‘team of experts’ – the list is short. It includes the lawn guy who’s also now the pest control guy, the maid, my hair stylist, my all-important driver to and from the airport, and that’s about it. But they’re all people who can save me time, save me money and can make recommendations based on their experience with me and my preferences. Hmmm… sounds like a travel consultant also.

So to help me make my decision, I thought I’d pretend that you’re asking me questions and I’m giving you the answers. It makes the writing so more interesting than just talking to myself.

Q: So why in these days on online booking of everything should I use the services of a travel consultant?

A: Online booking of travel may be the best way to go if you have a simple flight to book, have no long list of special needs, and know what you’re doing. I like to go to Travelocity or Expedia and search out my options and prices, but then I book my ticket on the airline’s direct site. I just trust that if I have any issue with my ticket that their airline will be more helpful to me.

I’ve only ever booked a ticket on one of these online sites when I needed a flight that had one airline on the outbound and another airline on the return.

Because I routinely fly to the same city, I just jump on that airline’s site and can have a ticket booked within seconds. But when my husband and I are both flying and we’re originating in different, then a travel consultant makes much more sense. I spend an excessive amount of time searching multiple airline sites trying to get us to arrive and depart at somewhat the same time.

If you have special needs (allergic to peanuts, pets, people, etc.), then a travel consultant can help ensure that your seats and/or flights are suitable for you. If you’re traveling internationally and are concerned with connecting flights, tight connections, passport or health requirements, go to the expert on your team.

Q: What can a travel consultant really do that I can’t do myself?

A: Besides what I just mentioned above, they can also:

Scout out lower prices than you may be able to find.

Help you with recommendations and prices on cruise bookings and most other forms of travel packages (guided tours, all-inclusive resorts, safaris, etc.) based on YOUR needs and desires.

Keep you in the know about luggage fees, luggage limits, TSA, travel rules in other countries, best times to travel based on weather and more.

Help resolve travel issues (cancelled flights, oversold hotels) and complex travel itineraries.

All with personal service and expert knowledge.

Q: What does a travel consultant charge to use their services?

A: The fee depends on the consultant. While some of the more luxury agencies have higher fees, the average fee is quite marginal. Some travel consultants will even drop the fee or offer a discount once you have finalized your trip with them. Plus, you can always ask an consultant upfront what their fees are and decide for yourself if it’s worth it. Your time is valuable also… so consider the value of the hours that you’re searching for your own travel and the fee for the travel consultant then looks very reasonable.

Q: So what are the requirements for a travel consultant to become part of your ‘team of experts’?

A: Just a few minor requirements to fulfill:

  • They recognize who I am when I call and say “Hi, it’s Carol.” I do not want an agency where I speak to someone different each time I call.
  • They know my preferences and my type of travel. When I say “Bruce and I both want to get to New York City around 6pm on a Thursday,” they’ll know to put me on Continental, him on Delta, and get us both aisle seats (exit row for me, any row with a power outlet for him).
  • They know our 1,000 places to see before we die, know where we’ve already been, and call us when they see a great deal to a place we’ve yet to go.
  • They book our cruises and our hotels and airfare. No more cruise-only people that leave the rest up to us.
  • They provide recommendations for places to see, things to do, restaurants, etc. because they’ve already been there!
  • If they’re not an expert in a certain area, such as finding us a house to rent in Santorini, they’ll find someone who is.
  • They offer reasonable fees and throw in a freebie now and then because we use them so much (is that too much to ask??).

Q: So are you still going to book all of your own travel?

A: Heck no! I’ll take resumes starting today from any travel consultant who can meet my requirements! — I’m interviewing!

Benefits of Self Planned Travel

The advent of the internet has really speed up and made self-planned travel more pervasive and easier. These days, travel destination, airlines, hotels, car-rental companies and others advertise their product more aggressively and allow the individual travelers to self-plan their own travels. It is an exciting new way to travel that appeals to more and more people.

The most obvious benefit here is the flexibility in the self-planned travel holidays. With this form of travel, you can customize the self-planned travel right down to the last minute details. Things and sights that travel agents avoid can now be included in the program, allowing travelers to be more targeted in their travel objectives. Travelers can take up more unconventional destinations and activities and include these into their plans. The weirdest combinations are now possible. You can plan a wine tasting tour together with a skiing tour now. Many people interested in this form of self-planned travels, see this flexibility as a great asset.

Secondly, with the internet, choices become more varied for the self-planned traveler. Through the internet, travelers actually can have more options for flights, hotel, transport, activities and so forth. Very often, these companies are willing to offer personalize service to secure the business of these form of travelers.

The varied choices in travel products and services also mean that there is a high chance of getting the lowest price for the products or service. For example, airlines charge different rates to fly to the same destinations. For the budget conscious self-plan traveler, this lower price range is an important factor. And very often, the travel companies know this price competition is around and are willing to lower their prices or offer special discounts to travelers, resulting in travelers getting higher class products at lower cost.

Very often, self-planned travel involve a fair bit of self-drive vacationing. This offers the travelers a great way to alter or change their travel plans at will. If a town appears interesting and full of excitement, travelers might just extend their stay. If someone mention that just a couple of hundred miles down the road is an exciting place of interest, the travelers might just change their original plan and head for this new place of interest. This form of positive change makes the entire self-planned travel program more meaningful.

Next,the group size of the self-planned travel can now be up to the traveling group. There is no more such thing as a minimum size group to travel. Small groups are also very possible for people to travel in.

Another key benefit is the improved cultural exchange between the self-planned travelers and the locals. In group tours, extended mingling with the locals are often difficult as time is limited. People are always rushing from destination to destination. But in a self-planned travel program, travelers can afford to spend more time interacting with the local population, thus gaining more insight into the community. Self-planned travels are often repeated because strong ties are established in previous trips.

Traveling in this form of self-planned travel is indeed gaining popularity as the benefits are substantial, especially with the flexibility, ease of planning and also the cultural exchange. But before anyone head into any self-planned travel, it is important to consider some detail planning first.

Five Reasons You’ll Love Being a Traveling Nurse

In your wildest dreams, could you imagine a job where you get to practice your skills, travel the world, see exotic sites, explore distant cultures, and experience the thrill of adventure every single day? Maybe it sounds too good to be true, but this is the kind of lifestyle that a traveling nurse lives.

Obviously, the life of a travel nurse is not 24/7 tourism. There is work to be done, and difficult situations to face. Despite the challenges of the job, travel nurses experience a whole new level of intensity that a traditional nursing position could never offer. Here are the reasons you’ll love it.

You get to see the world. Is there really a job that lets you travel world? Yes, but there aren’t many of them. Travel caretakers may work in third-world countries, remote regions, or isolated mission hospitals. While many travel caretaker agencies only utilize nurses within the U.S. you may select an agency that sends nurses worldwide. Either way, you’re going to travel somewhere.

You get to experience new cultures. Each area of the country and each region of the world boast its own unique culture. When you move from point A to point B, you will be immersed in a new culture. Cross-cultural experiences are enriching opportunities, allowing you to increase both your personal and professional skills.

You experience variety. Are you the type of person that doesn’t like to be tied down to one place, one job, and one role? Becoming a travel caretaker will put you in a situation where variety is the name of the game.

You receive higher pay. Generally speaking, travel caretaker receive higher pay rates than traditional stationary nurses. There are, of course, a lot of variables that affect the salary issue, including experience, licensing level, area of service, etc. Usually, a travel nursing contract provides for your housing including utilities. In situations where the agency does not provide nursing housing, they usually provide a generous housing stipend.

You develop a strong resume. Employers love to see travel or international experience. You may remain a travel assistant for the remainder of your career, or you may wish to settle down and look for a stationary position. Whatever your choice, you are adding invaluable experience to your resume by traveling. Being a travel assistant is a wise career move in more ways than one.

Travel nursing isn’t for everyone. It comes with adventure. This is precisely the appeal of the job for many nurses. If you have a sense of adventure, being a traveling nurse is probably the right calling for you.

Impact of Cloud Computing on Travel Industry

Introduction

The last decade has seen major changes in the travel distribution landscape. First, it was the Internet that started a revolution and forever changed how the travel industry operates. This online boom followed by subsequent economic slowdown has created new dynamics in travel distribution. The proliferation of smart phones and social media has resulted in further creating both chaos as well as new opportunities. While opening up new avenues for growth, these developments have also created new operational challenges.

Challenges faced by travel distribution industry

Dynamic Demand

One key nature of the travel industry is that the demand for travel is highly seasonal and cyclic. This creates a challenge for any operations manager in terms of capacity planning and right sizing of the IT support infrastructure. Planning for peak size can result in underutilization and lead to higher marginal cost. On the other hand, not planning for peak load runs the risk of lost transaction opportunities, unsatisfied customers and finally business losses. This is one of the primary reasons why most travel distribution players end up having higher IT infrastructure cost and lower operating margins.

Increased Search Volume

Increased number of travel portals along with a changing pattern of travel booking behavior of the travelers, has resulted in a huge surge in ‘look to book’ ratio. This increased number of availability request per booking now runs into thousands from a mere single digit number few years back, putting an enormous pressure on existing IT infrastructure. According to Pegasus Solutions, global processor of hotel transactions through the GDS and ADS channels, the look-to-book ratio soared to around +60% over 2009 levels and is expected to rise further. Today’s common look-to-book ratio is almost at a 2,500 -3,000 to 1, -primarily due to growth of online reservation and the changing consumer behavior who is now looking ‘value for money’ deals. For this, travel shoppers use multiple avenues such as search engines, referral sites, websites, mobile applications, and social media.

Business Disruptions

Just prior to the recession, online travel booking soared to all time highs attracting further investments in IT infrastructure in demand anticipation. However, discretionary travel was one of the first spends that was cut down during the slowdown. This caused a severe strain on financials and travel companies had to rethink their models yet again.

Increase in number of sales channels

Popularity of smart phones has persuaded travel players to embrace mobility as a medium to manage bookings and provide other experiences to increase customer stickiness. At the same time, social media sites have also become very popular and travel portals are trying to utilize this trend by integrating different social media components with their sites. Of course, more number of channels also increases complexities in product management.

Cloud computing from a travel distribution perspective

The Cloud helps enterprises to have a dynamically scalable abstracted computing infrastructure that is available on-demand and on a pay-per-use basis. This model not only saves the IT teams from investing heavily on infrastructure, but also shields them from the intricacies involved in infrastructure setup and management. Presently, apart from providing the on-demand IT infrastructure, cloud service providers typically provide interfaces for other related IT management services. To understand the application of Cloud computing to the travel industry, availability searching or shopping is probably the best example; it is by and large the biggest resource consumer in a typical travel process. In today’s circumstances, travel enterprises who run their entire travel application on a single infrastructure platform put unnecessary stress on operational budgets. One of the probable solutions to this problem is to decouple the availability search functionality from the traditional CRS system transfer it on an infrastructure that can support flexible demand. At the onset, it seems to be a complex and upheaval task, as it creates operational challenges such as latency. However, these challenges can be handled through a cloud based solution which offers higher scalability by using modern architecture patterns. On the other hand, mobility is witnessing an unprecedented growth in demand – this is another area where a cloud strategy can bring in competitive advantages for travel organizations. The key challenges that travel enterprises are facing today regarding mobile and social media channels are manifold, viz.,

  • With the advancements of mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad, Android, Symbian, and Blackberry, travel enterprises need to invest in leveraging these to further their distribution and fulfillment channels.
  • Mobility, being a rapidly evolving technology, is difficult to predict in terms of short term as well as long term demand. Due to this, travel enterprises are facing a challenge in scoping the required infrastructure for supporting mobility channel.
  • Travel enterprises need to create a business model to measure increase in revenue and profit against the costs incurred on mobility & social media investments.

Cloud based flexible and on-demand infrastructure enables a travel enterprise to offer mobility and social media channels without incurring any fixed cost. Using a cloud infrastructure, a travel enterprise can start in a small way and grow into these evolving markets with a lower risk and financial strain.

Key concerns in adopting cloud based system

Availability of a Service

Organizations worry about whether utility computing services will have adequate availability, and this makes them wary of Cloud Computing. But in reality, cloud infrastructure providers such as Amazon and Google have much lower outage compared to any internal IT system.

Data lock-in

The primary way to access the cloud platforms is through proprietary APIs. Thus, enterprises feel that they cannot easily extract their data and programs from one site to run on another. But in reality, all major service providers have an obligation in their contract to return the data to the enterprise. These service providers also have data access APIs that can be used to extract data in standard formats.

Data Confidentiality and Statutory Requirements

Many enterprises believe that their data will not be secure in the cloud, since current cloud offerings are essentially public networks. However in reality most of these cloud service providers have better data protection and security mechanism than most IT organizations. They achieve this through the usage of audit trail, encrypted storage, and network middle-boxes. Service providers also comply with various statutory and audit requirements related to enterprise and personal data security and usage.

Integration with external systems

Since travel distribution systems interact with multiple external applications, travel enterprises always have a concern about integrating the cloud based system with other external systems. However, all major cloud service providers have web service interfaces that can be utilized to integrate the cloud based system with other external systems.

Solution for the ‘long tail’

As we know, the travel industry comprises of many small to mid-sized companies. A large majority of which are very entrepreneurial and niche in terms of the products and services they offer. Companies in this ‘long tail’ have little or limited IT knowledge or support and rely on numerous third parties for IT. Such companies always find it difficult to balance their IT spending between IT upgrades and innovating on their solutions, and this tends to become a barrier for business growth. Even today, many small time travel enterprises do not even have an IT system, because they cannot afford to setup an IT operation in-house. Economics of Cloud environment can change this basic premise and make it both affordable and beneficial for travel enterprises of any size who can use this service to derive a competitive advantage. Such an environment brings tremendous advantages to such companies because it also helps them to manage their cash flow better. At the other end of the horizon, start-ups are finding it easier to build and offer products like CRSs, tour operating systems, distribution systems or basic inventory systems on a SaaS model, which is a stronger value proposition and provides a competitive edge to their offerings.

Business outcomes of using cloud based systems

From the above discussion we can conclude that travel enterprise can achieve business growth by leveraging the power of cloud computing:

  • A cloud-based solution reduces the total cost of IT ownership for the travel enterprises and offers performance, reliability, security, and flexible scalability advantages
  • Travel enterprises are able to increase customer base due to higher availability, low congestion, and additional sales channels
  • Competitive advantage to the small and mid-sized enterprise in the form of lower fixed or upfront capital cost
  • Improved operational efficiency due to low marginal cost
  • Ability to manage risks better by reducing fixed investment on any new initiative

At Your Own Risk – 10 Countries Where Travel Insurance Won’t Be Able To Help You

The foreign and commonwealth office draws up an extensive list of countries that should not be traveled to quite regularly and it is from that our, and other global travel insurance providers’, underwriters decide which countries travel insurance should be provided for. We look at the government travel advice and decide from that whether or not we can provide insurance to travelers.

Although global travel insurance does, by its nature, cover the majority of the world, the current climate ensures that there are some places where the likelihood of incident means that UK travel insurance providers are unable to offer protection. Thankfully, the list is clear of the majority of popular holiday destinations, and you’re unlikely to have your big holiday plans affected. The most likely group to have their travel plans altered by the foreign office’s travel advice are business travelers.

The foreign office’s travel advice is not to travel to the following countries, even if it means losing business – the risk from the war-zones listed below is just too great to make the reward worth the danger:

Here’s our top 10 countries to avoid traveling to, and the reasons for the high risk factor! The risk is far from conclusive (the foreign office’s travel advice lists many more countries), but to me, these are the ones that all travelers should avoid like the plague:

10) Liberia

Economic hardship in Liberia is currently making outbreaks of violence common, and foreigners (especially westerners) are at risk targets due to their affluence. This extra likelihood of incident ensures that no UK travel insurance provider would risk offering you cover if you choose to visit Liberia

9) Nepal

Occasional acts of terrorism and political violence in urban areas make Nepal off-limits for those who want to get travel insurance. In September this year, three nearly simultaneous bombs went off in the capital of Kathmandu, killing 3 and injuring many innocent bystanders.

8)Haiti

Haiti is considered off limits to many travelers on account of the high risk of kidnappings and civil unrest that is prominent. At the time of writing, there have been 12 kidnappings of American travelers in 2007 – mostly criminal in nature. In the past, these kidnappings have ended in physical and sexual assaults and shootings. The potential for spontaneous protests and demonstrations has also been known to result in unexpected violence, day or night. It’s no surprise that the government’s travel advice is not to travel here!

7)Yemen

Due to the high levels of terrorist activity in Yemen, westerners are advised to steer clear of Yemen. If this is not possible, then all travelers are encouraged to stay vigilant and to keep a low profile to avoid attacks or kidnapping. The situation is so grave that the US Embassy often restricts American citizens from certain hotels, restaurants and shopping areas.

6)Israel

The Gaza Strip and West Bank has seen immense violence in recent months between Israeli and Palestinian factions, and shootings, kidnappings and violence demonstrations have occurred in each. The region’s continued instability makes travel to Israel widely recommended against – the risk of abduction or worse makes travel insurance impossible to obtain.

5)Democratic Republic of Congo

The democratic republic of Congo remains one of the most dangerous places to travel in Africa, where violence, neglect and corruption has left the country distinctly damaged. Fighting erupted in the streets of Kinshasa in March this year, and the situation remains volatile despite the immediate threat of violence calming down. Travel outside of Kinshasa is difficult and dangerous with security, especially in the north and easy, being unstable. Any traveler brave enough to travel to the Congo should be extremely cautious, avoid the North Kivu district which is the backdrop to armed conflict between government troops and army rebels, avoid crowds and keep a close eye on local media.

4)Burma (Myanmar)

While the human rights situation makes Myanmar an ethically uneasy place to visit, currently there is a lot of personal risk involved as well. Throughout September, the anti-government protests sparked a violent crackdown from the authorities and made international headlines. Although the dusk-til-dawn curfew imposed in some of the towns has been lifted, it still remains an uncertain time to visit the country and you’re unlikely to find any global travel insurance company who will insure you.

3)Colombia

Colombia remains one of the most dangerous places to travel in the world thanks to the crime the country suffers from. The illicit drug trade in urban areas such as Cali and Buenaventura means that there is often a high risk of violence, while the more rural areas expose visitors to the country at risk from narcoterrorist groups who will often kidnap civilians to use for ransom or to gain media attention. Naturally UK travel insurance companies are loathe to insure travellers who choose to ignore these warning and travel to Colombia anyway.

2)Afghanistan

With the war on terror in Afghanistan still fresh in the mind, it’s no surprise that the country remains a big no-go area. Western tourists are obvious kidnap and assassination targets, as many of the disbanded Taliban and Al-Qa’ida forces remain at large and hostile to the new regieme. Additionally, the country remains unsafe due to tribal groups, explosive devices, landmines, military operations and acts of terrorism. Unsurprisingly, the government’s travel advice is to avoid traveling here at all costs!

1)Iraq

Given the high profile nature of western kidnappings by various insurgent groups, and the regular acts of terrorism and hostility to Western troops, it is no surprise that no travel insurance companies will insure travelers to the troubled country. The instability is caused by various groups – Ba’ath regime remnants, transnational terrorists and criminal elements have been known to attack convoys en-route to venues, hotels, restaurants, checkpoints and police stations.

While holidaymakers are unlikely to be affected by these less touristy locations, their riskiness means that business travelers will have to forgo their travel insurance if they are unable to cancel their trips.

7 Best Online Travel Communities

True, Tripadvisor, Frommer’s and the Lonely Planet are some of the best online travel communities going, but they’re far from the only ones amongst the greats. So go on, expand your travel community horizons and check out our 7 Best Off The Radar Travel Communities:

1. Travelistic

From YouTube to Hulu to Yahoo, were a video obsessed bunch. Travelistic has cleverly taken this to head and created a travel community wholly centred around video.

Log on and you’ll find over 10,000 user submitted travel videos, to view, comment on and inspire your future travels. Want to visit the Great Wall? Journey to the top of Everest? You can do it all on Travelistic, without ever leaving home.

2. Igougo

A masterful all in one travel community, where you can plan your trip, compare flights and hotels and share your travel experiences with the world.

Just type in a destination and you’ll be instantly connected to a plethora of photos, reviews and users who have traveled or reside there. When you’re ready to go, create your very own trip journal and give back to the community by sharing your own travel experiences.

3. Trip It

Less of a travel community and more a travel service, Trip It is perfect for the organization nut in all of us. Just enter your flights, hotel stays and destinations and let trip it create an optimized travel itinerary for you in seconds. Never miss another plane or train again.

For those who truly want it all, upgrade to the pro version and Trip It will automatically alert you if there are changes or delays in your travel plans. That means less time at the airport, and more time at the beach.

4. Dopplr

Create a map with the dates and location of your travels; share it with the Dopplr community, check out other’s maps, then meet up with those whose travel plans overlap with your own. If you’d like to keep your location a secret from some (mom, dad, a raging x), don’t worry, you can control who can and can’t see where you are.

Along the way you’ll get a wealth of location specific travel information, so you’ll always know where to stay, where to eat, and what to do. Taking the thinking out of traveling, we like that.

5. Travbuddy

Travbuddy’s got all the ingredients that make for a killer online travel community; helpful forums, honest reviews, stunning travel photos and a dedicated membership 1.5 million strong.

Travbuddy ups the ante by giving you your very trip blog, allowing you to easily post your stories, pictures and reviews as you go. There’s even a built in mapping feature that builds a map of your travels as you venture across the earth.

Wherever, you’re headed, this is one buddy you don’t want to leave behind.

6.Travelers Point

Besides being a great place to plan, book and share your next trip, Travelers Point has hands down one of the best travel resources on the web; wiki travel guides.

These 100% user created and edited travel guides, give you the collective wisdom and travel experiences of over 250,000 members, right at your finger tips. From country and city guides, to travel health and safety information, you’ll find everything you need to get in the know, before you go.

7. Travel DODO

Travel DODO takes travel reviews and puts them into a fun, easily digestible format, Travel Do’s, and Travel Don’t.

Want to find out which restaurants, hotels and attractions are best avoided in France? Just click on the location on the interactive map, and you’ll be given a list of places to cross off your list (travel don’t), so you spend your valuable vacation time wiser.

Frankly, you’d be a DODO, not to check up here before you GOGO.

Eco Travel World Wide

Although the words Eco travel have been popping up a lot more over the past few years, its definition is often misunderstood or not known at all. Possibly you have also heard the word Eco tourism and they are used interchangeably because of their common definition. So what do they mean? Eco travel is planning a responsible vacation to places that conserve the environment. They also contribute to the well being of their community while practicing ethical policies.

The amount of interest in Eco friendly travel has soared, as people become more and more aware of environmental issues. Recycling and reducing vehicle emissions. Lowering the use of energy all makes a difference. Now your Eco travel vacation can also make a difference.

There are different things to look for to know if the vacation your are planning is environmentally and socially friendly. Let’s say for an example you went to a resort. You would check if they use environmentally friendly, recycled products? Are they committed to preserving their wild and marine life and the environment? Increase knowledge of local community and benefits socioeconomically and affordability? Not using wasteful products to make the area more attractive? Do the profits go back into the community? Do they employ local people and pay them fair wages, which is referred to as fair trade? These are all things to consider before deciding on your destination

Government and local communities are starting to work together to conserve their environment while providing much need employment in the area. There are many programs now available to help people in the tourism industry and program directors increase their knowledge of Eco travel, Eco tourism. Consumers that are ethically aware of fair trade have drastically increased sales in the tourism industry by over 50% on any given holiday.

There are now a wide variety of areas in different Countries that offer Eco travel vacations. The industry has grown so much over the past few years that it has become difficult to choose which one. From Costa Rico to Hawaii to Antarctica the choices are endless. Be aware of conservation of our environment and make Eco travel part of your next vacation.