Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Family Vacation Verse

Exploring Uncharted Territory: Your Family Vacation

Picture it – your minivan is stopped at a rest area. Your partner sits at the wheel while you are buried under a mess of unfolded maps. You feel tense as you debate over directions while your jumpy kids in the back seat are spreading chocolate over each other. Aah, the joys of a family vacation.

Don't despair, not every trip has to be like that. By making plans in advance, you can help ease tensions on the trip and turn it into a family adventure filled with wonderful memories for everyone. Before getting started, consider these quick travel tips.

Where are we?

Try to map out your trip in advance or at least be prepared with a road atlas in the car. Michelin's 2003 North America Road Atlas is spiral bound and compact, which means it lies flat for easier navigating and folds over easily so it can be tucked away in the glove compartment. A great innovation is that maps are organized by geographic region, not by the alphabet … according to the way you actually drive.

Are we there yet?

Let your children also have their own map so they can follow along with you. Use a road atlas to teach your children how to use maps and help them learn to answer that gnawing question, "Are we there yet?" Make a game out of it and try to see who can calculate the distance the fastest.

I have to go!

Plan exciting pit stops along the way to give everyone a chance to stretch their legs and use a restroom. Choose interesting locations and tourist attractions such as the world's largest coffee pot in Saskatchewan, magnetic hill in New Brunswick or a haunted lighthouse in Ontario. Make these stops part of the fond memories of your family trip.

I'm bored!

Entertaining car-based activities for the kids will help make the journey more pleasant for everyone. There are a variety of great board games available in compact sizes, which use magnets to ensure pieces stay on the board. Other options include reading out loud, singing or listening to audio books. Consider the classic games of "I Spy", a scavenger hunt or even counting cows, horses and other unique items you identify.

I'm hungry!

To avoid grumbling stomachs keep some snacks handy such as fruit, granola bars or juice boxes to keep everyone satisfied while you search for the next rest stop.

Spending time together on a road trip is a great way to have quality time with your family. Don't let it ruin your trip. Instead make it part of the adventure and the wonderful memories. Not only will some advance planning make your trip a lot more pleasant, it may keep everyone talking to one another!

News Canada provides a wide selection of current, ready-to-use copyright free news stories and ideas for Television, Print, Radio, and the Web.

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Health & Beauty Skin Dehydrated Ode

Health & Beauty: Oily Skin Can Get Dehydrated Too

All skin types - normal, dry, and oily - needs to be moisturized in summer. Your face may appear to have a shine without a morning lotion, "but what you may be witnessing," says Jacquie Hutchinson, national product trainer for Almay, "is a false sense of security."

The skin, she says, has the life-sustaining role of protecting our veins, arteries, blood and organs from exposure to the environment. "It is such an important role that even with the first sign of dehydration, the oil glands immediately pump out more oil to protect from potential damage. Non-moisturized, dehydrated skin therefore can easily look oily and as a result it ruins that flawless, matte look you are trying to achieve.

"Instead, all skin types should be moisturized at least twice a day, but if you like, tuck-away the heavier cream for winter use and apply a lighter lotion in summer."

Sunscreen Reminder

Skincare specialists virtually agree that daytime products for your face should include a sunscreen, all year-round.

"Our company's hypo-allergenic line up recommends kinetin for youthful, regeneration of the skin," Hutchinson said. "Kinetin is an anti-aging discovery found in green leafy plants and for daytime use, it is combined with UVA/UVB protection and offered in Almay's line of moisturizers, foundations, concealers and lipsticks.

"Kinetin, has healing benefits too," she said. "Clinical testing indicates an efficacious ability to help reverse and repair sun damaged skin and to protect from sunspots, lines, and dry patches. Unlike retinol-based formulas, Kinetin skincare requires no "sun-avoidance" program and recently, our two Kinetin products with SPF were awarded accreditation from the Canadian Dermatological Association."

For those of us concerned about applying too much product on oily or normal skin during the humid days of summer, specialists do suggest "the easiest solution is to get skin protecting and enhancing benefits, all in one."

News Canada provides a wide selection of current, ready-to-use copyright free news stories and ideas for Television, Print, Radio, and the Web.

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Travellers Health Poem

Travellers: Make Your Health Policy Work For You

The purchase of travel health insurance is a sensible idea for anyone taking trips outside Canada. If you get sick unexpectedly or have an accident while you are away, the health services in other countries are generally much more costly than those which OHIP covers. When buying your insurance however, it is important to take all the time needed to fully understand the coverage as well as the limitations of the policy. Be sure to determine your own needs first, say industry specialists, then read the policy thoroughly to be sure those needs are covered.

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) reminds the travelling consumer that it is not enough to simply buy travel health insurance; travellers must also know how the policy works and how to use it. FSCO is an agency of the Ministry of Finance that regulates Ontario's insurance industry. Its suggestions in this regard are based on records of what went wrong for others.

It is important for example, to compare the policies offered by different companies, not just for price, but also for the amount of coverage, pre-existing conditions, deductibles, limitations and exclusions. Your health, age, the medication you take, the length of your trip and the destination are all factors that affect the price of a policy and the types of medical costs your insurer will cover. In some cases you may have to find an insurer willing to write a policy tailored to your circumstances.

To better compare each policy before purchase, take a look at the Travel Health Insurance Policy Checklist, posted on the FSCO Web site. Here's a sample:
- Compare the maximum each policy will pay above Ontario health plan limits.
- Look for age limits or medical criteria that might apply to you.
- Compare how the policies define terms such as pre-existing condition, or a medical exclusion. Do they affect your coverage?
- Compare deductibles and/or co-payment clauses to understand your own obligation.
- Compare payment procedures. Do you pay for the medical services first, followed by a reimbursement, or is the payment made directly from the insurer to the facility?
- Check if policies require you to use "preferred" doctors and hospitals.
- Are you covered for participation in the sports and activities you have planned, or are they excluded?
- Can you buy extra coverage if you extend your trip?
- What is the full package cost of each policy?

Don't forget, says FSCO, you may already have sufficient coverage from your credit card company or employee benefits plan. Don't buy more insurance if you are covered. Additional information on this subject is available online at www.fsco.gov.on.ca.

News Canada provides a wide selection of current, ready-to-use copyright free news stories and ideas for Television, Print, Radio, and the Web.

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Travel Health Insurance Serenade

Travel Health Insurance: Reimbursement Depends On Following The Rules

Travelling, whether for business or pleasure, involves risk. A personal emergency may necessitate an early return, or you may need hospital treatment or air evacuation due to a medical problem. Travellers should be aware that the Ontario government health plan (OHIP) is rarely enough when it comes to medical treatment outside the country, so without supplementary insurance during an emergency, you could be exposed to considerable financial obligations.

Travel health insurance policies vary considerably, says the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), an agency of the Ministry of Finance that regulates Ontario's insurance industry. FSCO reminds us to pay special attention to the definitions, pre-existing condition clauses, deductibles, as well as the limitations and exclusions sections of the policies. Ask for clear explanations of each and once you are satisfied, make your insurance purchase. But even then, says FSCO, there is a bit more work for you to do — as follows:
- Read the policy: Before leaving on your trip, read and become familiar with your policy and the coverage. It is your responsibility to know what you have purchased.
- Take it with you: Include the policy with your travel documents. Keep both the emergency contact phone number available, as well as the number for your insurance company. Compile and include a list of current medications.
- Get authorization (if possible): If a medical problem arises, the toll-free phone number provided will connect you to an emergency service centre. Be ready to supply all the facts and information and ask for clarification if you do not fully understand. Service centres manage and monitor your treatment and make the medical referrals. Before you go ahead with treatment however, be sure the service centre has obtained authorization from your home-based insurance company. If not, you may be personally obligated for medical services not approved.
- Follow the payment process: Under some policies, you pay the hospital and are reimbursed later by the insurance company. Other policies provide payment directly to the medical facility or practitioner. The policy will tell you which procedure to follow.

More information on travel health insurance is available online at www.fsco.gov.on.ca.

News Canada provides a wide selection of current, ready-to-use copyright free news stories and ideas for Television, Print, Radio, and the Web.

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Travel Health Insurance Opus

Travel Health Insurance: Know Your Coverage Before An Emergency Occurs

Buying travel health insurance is an important step for sufficient medical coverage while outside Canada, but it is only the first step. To make your policy work, say industry regulators, there has to be a co-operative relationship between the policyholder and the company.

Indeed, the range of medical treatment around the world is so broad and varied, home-based insurance companies will provide booklets outlining what they will, and will not cover. Therefore, an equally important step at the time of purchase is for the traveller to become as familiar as possible with the basic guidelines of the policy before an emergency occurs. Decisions on the reimbursement of expenses are not likely to be the first thing on your mind in an urgent situation.

So how do we ensure financial coverage during a medical emergency? Here are a few guidelines offered by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO). FSCO is an agency of the Ministry of Finance that regulates Ontario's insurance industry.

Obtain authorization

As soon as possible, says FSCO, call the emergency service centre telephone number provided with your policy. The service centre's role is to manage your medical care and make the claim process fast and efficient. The centre provides claim administrators, on site doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to arrange care and monitor treatment. To ensure coverage, if possible, don't proceed with any medical treatment without full authorization.

You can assist the claims process more efficiently, if you:
• Supply all the facts and information accurately.
• Keep a log of the contacts at both the service centre and your insurance company, including the names of people assisting you, the date of the contact, and what was discussed.
• Keep a detailed record of all medical transactions. Get receipts for the medical care including tests, treatments, and prescriptions. Receipts are a must when making a claim. Also, observe the time limits of your policy.
• Complete the forms supplied and enclose all original bills signed by the attending physician, plus receipts and supporting claim documentation. Be sure to include your policy identification number, health card number and date of birth. Keep copies of all documentation submitted to the company.

More information on travel health insurance is available online at www.fsco.gov.on.ca.

News Canada provides a wide selection of current, ready-to-use copyright free news stories and ideas for Television, Print, Radio, and the Web.

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Llyn Peninsula Travel Verse

Discover the Llyn Peninsula

Stretching from the peak of Snowdon to Bardsey Island (or Ynys Enlli - the Island of the Tides), the Llyn Peninsula is a unique and beautiful part of North Wales, renown for its natural charm and mild climate.

So spectacular is its coastline that many thousands of acres have been protected by the National Trust, and vast tracts of land have been designated Areas of Special Scientific Interest. It is a haven for wild flowers and its indigenous wildlife attracts naturalists from far and wide - it even boasts its very own breed of sheep (Llyn Sheep).

From the 5th century until the Middle Ages, numerous saints and pilgrims followed the holy route along the Llyn's north coast, and it is steeped in early Celtic Christian history (according to legend there are 20,000 saints buried on Bardsey). Quaint country churches can be found dotted throughout the region - an excellent example is St Mary's at Bryncroes, where St Mary's Well was an important stop on the pilgrim's route.

Nant Gwrtheyrn, a once deserted quarrying village, now houses the National Centre for Welsh Language & Culture. It is also here that you can take a pleasant amble through an area teeming with Mabinogion folklore and natural history.

The remote fishing village of Aberdaron can be found towards the tip of the Peninsula. Traditionally, it was the last stopping place for pilgrims on their way to Bardsey. Its delightful beach has won awards and is always highly popular with families.

For the more adventurous, the areas magnificent coastline is ideal for sailing (it is known as the 'Cowes of the North') and other water sports. There are also plenty of facilities for golf, tennis, walking, fishing and horseriding.

There is an attractive sailing harbour at Porthmadog, which was a lively shipping port for the Welsh slate industry until the early twentieth century. While just outside the town is Morfa Bychan, where visitors are always delighted to discover the never-ending sandy beach at Blackrock Sands - one of Britain's finest!

For families who fancy a spot of fun, Bodvel Hall Adventure Park at Boduan (near Pwllheli) lets the kids burn up some energy while the adults are able to relax in its wonderful grounds. On the other hand, Criccieth is the ideal coastal resort for visitors who prefer to sit back and relax.

In the village of Llanystumdwy is an excellent museum which celebrates the life of Lloyd George, the areas most famous son and one time Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Inland Llyn is well worth exploring for its lush valleys, crystal clear lakes and imposing mountains. The region is rich in mineral deposits and tourists can enjoy a visit to the Victorian copper mines at Beddgelert.

When you visit the Llyn Peninsuala, you would be forgiven for thinking that you had stepped through a time warp and had drifted back to a far less stressful period in history. Its tranquil beauty, its thriving use of the ancient Welsh language and its stupendous scenery make it a unique and fascinating part of Wales.

Paula is a freelance writer who has contributed features to numerous publications on subjects such as literature, culture, history and humanitarian issues. She lives in North Wales and is currently the editor of two popular online guides: http://poetry.allinfo-about.com and http://englishculture.allinfoabout.com.

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Travel Commandments Ode

Ten "Travel" Commandments

I. Thou shalt pack HALF the clothes you want.

II. Thou shalt take TWICE the money you will need.

III. Thou shalt pack an abundance of Patience.

IV. Thou shalt NOT count calories, especially on cruises.

V. Your extra large luggage shalt have wheels.

VI. Thou shalt NOT feel guilty if you don’t write and mail postcards until after you return home.

VII. Thou shalt pack a little Caution.

VIII. Thou shalt practice using your new camera BEFORE you depart on your vacation.

IX. Thou shalt NOT pack uncomfortable shoes, no matter how attractive they might be.

X. Thou shalt have wonderful experiences that will flow into wonderful memories!

Now we can travel like pros!!!

The Ten “Travel” Commandments are from our guidebook, LET’S TRAVEL LIKE PROS.

Marli Davis, M.A.S.S., has always felt that she was “born to travel.” In keeping with this insatiable interest, she has traveled domestically and internationally, casually (i.e., camping) and traditionally. Best of all, she can be packed and ready to go anywhere in the world in less than an hour! Here are her secrets. Ms. Davis also brings to this effort many years of professional experience. In the world of academia, she was a university Adjunct Professor of English and, in the corporate world, a Senior Editor and Writer, QA Engineer, Team Leader of Training, Manager of Configuration Management, and Director of Quality. http://www.mcjglobal.com.

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Borneo Exotic Island Travel Opus

Borneo - Exotic Island Paradise

SABAH is Malaysia's premier nature adventure destination situated in the northern tip of Borneo Island, the third largest island in the world. Sabah is popular for its wildlife conservation attractions, rain forest, surrounding nature and islands, beach resorts, tropical white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and its warm and friendly people. If you are thinking of visiting Borneo, these places of interest and activities will whet your appetite!

Mount Kinabalu

Let me begin with my favorite place and definitely not to be missed if you are visiting Borneo, Mt. Kinabalu (4,093m). It is the summit of Borneo and the tallest mountain in South East Asia. This mountain is sacred to the locals. Thousands from around the world have trekked to its peak. At the feet of this mountain is Kinabalu National Park, a botanical paradise where rare plants are found: rare orchids, nepenthes pitcher plants and the rafflesia, the largest flower in the world.

Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

If you haven’t heard yet, the most popular native of Borneo is the Orang Utan. The world-famous Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre enables visitors to come in close contact with these amazing animals. This sanctuary allows visitors to witness an exciting conservation programme in action. Set in 43 square km of beautiful rainforest, the sanctuary helps once captive Orang Utans learn to fend for themselves in the wild. Watch how these orphaned Orang Utans being taught to climb, and then go to a platform where you can witness them coming in from within the forest for their daily meals of milk and bananas.

Danum Valley Rain Forest

If nature is close to your heart, then this next destination I am going to introduce you is a must visit, Danum Valley. Danum Valley is nestled deep in the rain forest of Borneo where nature is at its most pristine. As you travel deeper and deeper into the jungle, you will suddenly come across a magical paradise of the Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL), erected overlooking the magnificent setting of the Segama River and flanked by tall hill ranges. BRL is an impressive resort, designed by naturalists and built on stilts using traditional timber materials, and has the comfort of a 3-Star Hotel. I totally recommend Danum Valley to those who yearn to see wildlife in a primeval Borneo rainforest - the rare Sumatran rhino, proboscis monkeys, Orang Utan, elephants and over 275 species of birds.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Island Park

When you think you have enough of sightseeing and you want to take a day’s break idling around to charge your energy, then I suggest you take a 30-minute boat trip to Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. The park is made up of five beautiful islands and is a well-known sanctuary where peace and tranquility prevails. The tropical white sandy beaches are ideal for relaxing and tanning. The crystal clear water is fantastic if you fancy snorkeling or watching the sea lives and corals. The park is also a great spot for a BBQ picnic under the long hours of golden sunshine. Other activities include windsurfing, fishing, parasailing, kayaking and bird watching.

Golfing Holidays

If golf is your sport, then try the numerous high quality golf courses in Sabah. One of the courses as described by its designer - “I had to create a masterpiece by combining the natural splendor of the mountains and the seas, with ingenious architecture, and create a first class championship course to provide an enjoyable, yet challenging game for top professional golfers and amateurs alike" - Graham Marsh. Enough words said for the quality of golf courses here.

White-Water Rafting

For the true adventure seeker looking for an adrenaline-pumping activity, Sabah offers some of the most exhilarating thrills in the world. My scariest experience, only because I am not a good swimmer, is white-water rafting down the Padas River (a grade-3 river). Whilst trying to negotiate the rapids along this raging river for a distance of about 5 kilometers, do enjoy the breathtaking view that the surrounding rain forest does offer. However, be warned, don’t take your eyes off the rapids and waves too long!

Scuba Diving

Off the North Eastern coast of Borneo lies a tiny jewel of an island, Sipadan, with a marine ecosystem so perfect and unique that it is world renowned as one of the best dive spots in the world. Sipadan Island rises as a pristine Coral Sea mount, 650 meters from the floor of the Sulawesi Sea. This pinnacle off the eastern coast of Borneo is an oceanic magnet for marine life. As soon as you enter the crystal clear waters of Sipadan Island, you’ll understand why you have endured a journey that has taken you halfway around the world. As you begin to descend into this tropical water, you'll also understand why the World Wildlife Fund says, "No other spot on the planet has more marine life than this island."

Walter Rajah is owner of Exploration Borneo Tours. Visit his site at http://www.explorationborneo.com for more information and images of Borneo – The Exotic Island Paradise. Check out all the travel packages to Borneo and subscribe to EBT Travel Newsletter for the latest events, travel news, Borneo articles and cheap deals!

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Vegas Lifetime Ride Poem

ORIGVegas and the Ride of a Lifetime

Most people envision Las Vegas as one big casino. Admittedly I was one of them, until I undertook the ride of a lifetime. Imagine soaring hundreds of feet above canyons of red and orange, walking over rocks that been sculpted by mother nature herself and floating down a river of dreams. These are the images that I will carry with me forever when I think of Las Vegas, Nevada.

After taking a break from about twelve hours of straight gambling, my father and I looked at each other and thought there must be more to Vegas than jangling slot machines and endless booze. So we asked our friendly concierge, at the Mandalay Bay Resort, for some suggestions and he arranged for the champagne lunch helicopter tour to the Grand Canyon.

Wonderful we thought, it looked good in the movies, might as well give it a shot. Neither of us was prepared for the adventure that we were about to take.

The helicopter company sent a limo to pick us up at the hotel. The ride lasted about five minutes then we were dropped off at the helicopter launch. Fellow passengers from all over the world chatted and waited for our journey to begin.

Moments later we took off for one of the waiting helicopters, with our pilot leading the way. Attractive and intelligent, in a boy next door kind of way, he quickly showed us how father and I ended up in a helicopter of our own because several of the other passengers decided to just fly over the canyon. The tour we chose actually had us landing on the bottom.

We soared for about a half an hour over a canvas which included every color imaginable painted by dessert, mountains and the Colorado river. Within thirty minutes of smooth flying we were over the canyon and able to see the landing pad, set in the middle of tumbleweed, mountains and cacti. As we disembarked the pilot helped us climb down the stone and dirt pathway to a little boat dock, where we met a family from Britain that would be our companions on our champagne lunch down the Colorado river.

The boat captain was a tiny oriental man with sparkling eyes and a rich sense of humor. He handed out our picnic baskets and regaled us with stories of how the Grand Canyon was created. He also had the sense to stop periodically and help us get the most amazing shots of the canyon. He seemed to know every rock and ridge and was able to point out eagles and faces carved into the rock by millions of years of erosion.

At the end of our Las Vegas helicopter tour we flew back to the original launch and took our limo back to the hotel, content, awestruck and absolutely certain that we would return to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and our Las Vegas helicopter tour.

Caterina Christakos is an international travel writer. For more free articles on Las Vegas go to http://www.lasvegashotelandcasinoreview.com.

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