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Airports, Hotel/Accommodation, Museums, Travel

My Favorite Things About Travel

November 2, 2015

My Favorite Things About Travel

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There is so much about travel that I love. Emma, Kelly, Rebecca host a travel link-up topic every month and this month it is about your favorite things and I have decided to tell you all about my favorite travel things. Of course, I don’t always think about most of these things when I travel, but some I do and some are lying under the surface of my thoughts. Here are my ten favorite things about travel.

  1. My Passport Holder – I was given this magnetic envelope as a going away present from my last job in New York City before I moved to the Caribbean. While I think it is actually a photo holder, it perfect fits my passport, my international driver’s license, and I usually put my boarding pass under the flap as it is magnetic and I am guaranteed not to lose it! My favorite thing about it is the color and the starfish closure.
  2. Going to the Airport – This is when the trip starts to feel real to me, and I love going to the airport. The potential lines at check-in and security don’t bother me. Arriving at the airport brings a tingle of excitement to me, and I can’t wait to get my boarding pass. I only wish you didn’t have to arrive so early, as all I want to do is get on the plane and go!My Favorite Things About Travel
  3. Airport Lounges – Ever since getting status with Qatar Airways, I have grown to love airport lounges. I know this sounds like I am a travel snob, sorry. But I love being able to get away from the noise of the airport. It helps to start your journey off on the right foot, especially if you are going on a long haul flight.
  4. Movies on planes – I have never been to the movies in the over two years I have lived in Qatar for reasons I won’t go into here. So when I get on a plane, I am ready to binge watch as many movies as I can before we get to the next airport. Of course, I do sleep on planes too, but this doesn’t always go as planned, so I watch movies I have seen some great movies that I might not have considered if I had to pay for them. I do have to be careful to stifle the laughs and get a bit embarrassed if I start tearing up at a movie.IMG_0008_2
  5. Hotel beds – What is it about hotels beds?! Almost always, they are more luxurious than your own bed and may be more comfortable depending on your preference. It could also be that every day someone comes in and makes the bed, which I never do at home!
  6. Taking photos – The travel bug has bitten down on me and hasn’t let go, but so has the travel photography bug. I love trying to get photos from a different angle. If you ever see me on a trip, I may stand in the same place for 10 minutes trying to get just the right settings for a photo. However, you probably won’t see me with my camera around my neck, as I have a huge fear of my camera getting damaged or stolen. Not because I couldn’t get another camera, but all my photos would be gone!
  7. People watching – There is nothing better than sitting in an outdoor cafe and watching people walk by. I sometimes try to guess where they are from. I love seeing them interact with their travel buddies, and usually I can tell whether they are family or friends. I also love to listen to people’s conversations about the food they are eating or the service, if they are speaking English of course. It is always interesting to hear what they are saying and what they do and don’t like.
  8. Getting lost – I am not talking lost lost, but not following directions and just walking and seeing where it leads. This is one of the major reasons I love traveling by myself, as I do not have to have a set agenda. This became very obvious to me when I was in Venice solo. I walk till I get tired and then do a little of #7 or #6 and meander back to where I came from.Capturing Venice photos
  9. Museums – I never tire of museums! My biggest disappointed in Paris was that I couldn’t make it to all the museums. There were just too many to see! Seeing another country’s culture through a museum is one of my favorite things. Usually, you get to learn about their past and then go outside and see the present, possibly the future.
  10. Beaches – This one doesn’t happen as often as it should! I love beaches, and I love vacations that involve them. I haven’t taken tons of them recently, but I am going to try to do so in the future. My trip to Goa was based solely on the fact that there was a beach involved!

I hope you have enjoyed my little indulgence in thinking about my favorite things about travel. What are some of your favorite things about travel? Tell us in the comments!

Be sure to check out the host’s blogs for their favorite things, Kelly, EmmaRebecca, or Frankie. Also, sorry for the strange fonts, I couldn’t fix it.

Airports, Passport, Travel

Why I Got Global Entry

October 7, 2015

Why I Got Global Entry

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Before I moved abroad, it would have never occurred to me to get Global Entry. I couldn’t afford to travel and the $100 fee was too much for me to consider, since I had only traveled outside the country three times in the last five years (all to the same place!) So it didn’t occur to me at first to get it. It was at the urging of my Mom that I decided to get it.

The appeal wasn’t just the promise of short lines a U.S. Immigration and Customs, but also the ability to save passport pages. You may not think this is a big deal if you only travel overseas once a year, but when you live in another country, the entry and visa stamps add up fast. Every time I was coming back to the U.S., I was getting two stamps. Fortunately, Qatar has a similar system called e-gate and I wasn’t getting stamps in Qatar. Since I have moved to Qatar, I have been on 12 trips to other countries and I have been back to the U.S. four times. Plus, my residence permit takes up a whole page in my passport. My passport was rapidly filling up. This alone was reason enough for me to get Global Entry. I am saving pages in my passport! Of course, now I have the passport with extra pages already built it.

Of course, the faster entry into the U.S. is also helpful. The line in Dallas, where I normally fly into, isn’t too bad because they have installed electronic immigration stations for U.S. citizens. Where it is nice, is waiting to clear customs as you have your own line. I haven’t gotten to test the TSA Pre-Check feature because your airline has to participate and Qatar Airways does not. The TSA Pre-Check security gate is also nowhere near the Qatar Airways check-in counters at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and I am not walking down to another line for it since I am Gold with Qatar Airways and usually get to go through the First/Business security line.

Should you get Global Entry? If you travel internationally at least once a year, every year for the five years the membership is good for, I say yes. Some other travel experts disagree saying that if you check a bag then you are stuck waiting for the bag but do still have to go through customs. Having Global Entry could save you time there. As I mentioned, you still save all those U.S. stamps in your passport and that is worth a lot if your passport is low on pages and not expiring any time soon. Ultimately, you have to weigh the costs and benefits for yourself. The application is long and you will have to wait a few months to get an appointment, but then it is very easy to use.

Do you have Global Entry? What do you think?

Airports, India, Travel

5 Things About the Goa Airport You Should Know

October 5, 2015

Five things about the Goa Airport1. No photos – As I was landing, they made several announcements, and one was not to take photos of the Goa International Airport. This is because the India military also operates out of the airport and am I sure they don’t want you selling photos of the airport to anyone!

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2.You get doused with insecticide – Ok, so they don’t just do this in Goa, but I have been told they do it in all India airports. Along with the same announcement they made about the photos, I had about 30 seconds to cover my mouth and nose in order to prevent myself from inhaling tons of insecticide. While many of us probably don’t want to go through this, you don’t have a choice when going to India. I was concerned it would bother my asthma, but it didn’t. Oh, and they spray you again when you leave!

3. Print your booking confirmation or have your tickets before you get to the Goa Airport – They were checking everyone’s booking and tickets before they let you enter the airport, which, of course, I didn’t have. They did have the Qatar Airways’ manifest, but it would have been faster (at 2 am) to have it on hand. I am assuming this is due to it being a military airport.

4. No ATM! – I quickly discovered that there is no ATM in the arrivals area. While the hotel was picking me up, I had no rupees at all and felt uneasy about not having any money.

5. Stamps, Stamps and More Stamps – As I was leaving, I realized they like to stamp everything. There was the normal stamping of your passport, but the agent at check-in kept telling me to make sure to get my carry-on baggage tags stamped. I had no idea what that was all about, but I soon learned. After your bags clear security, they stamp the baggage tags and your boarding pass. You need have your boarding pass and passport while going through security and not in your carry on, like me. They then stamp your boarding pass. At some other point, they stamped my boarding pass again, but I was so tired I can’t remember when or where.