Monday, June 22, 2009

CHECK BEFORE STARTING TRAVEL

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Your Vacation First Aid Kit

Your vacation supplies must include a first-aid kit.

Have it available while traveling and take it with you whenever you go walking, hiking, or any activity that takes you away from civilization.

You can use just about any type of container for your first-aid kit. It's best if the container is lightweight, like plastic, and has a good lid. A handle can be useful also. A small toolbox, lunchbox, fishing tackle box or even kitchen Tupperware would work.

Here is a list of things to consider including in your vacation first-aid kit. This is not a comprehensive list and you may have other items to add.

You should have some sterile gauze with adhesive tape and scissors to cut them. Make sure the scissors are sharp. Also multiple sizes of band-aids. Tip: Sanitary napkins are sterile and make good compresses to stop bleeding.

To clean cuts and wounds include antibiotic cream, hydrogen peroxide and antiseptic wipes.

Consider including aspirin and acetaminophen, instant cold packs, calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream.

Also, antacid, insect repellent, motion sickness medication, anti-diarrhea medication, sunscreen, cold and flu tablets

If anyone is taking prescription medicine be sure to bring enough for the whole trip.

The first-aid kit is a good place to store a list of emergency numbers along with your medical insurance information.

It's always a good idea to have a first-aid manual on hand and review it before you leave. This way you will be much more prepared should a situation arise where you need it. This is a great opportunity for children to learn a little about first-aid so review the manual with them too.

Other miscellaneous items that could be helpful are thermometer, latex gloves, tweezers and flashlight with spare batteries.

Keep your vacation first-aid kit easily accessible at all times but away from small children.

Your Travel and Holiday Money Options

With summer finally getting into full swing, many of us will be looking forward to travelling abroad for a well earned holiday. Of course, you'll need access to cash while you're away, so what are the best and safest ways of arranging your travel money?

1) Local Currency

It's a good idea to take a small amount of local currency with you whenever you travel, if only enough to last you for your first few hours. You'll probably need to arrange travel from the airport to your hotel for example, and local currency is the easiest way to pay for these initial expenses. The exchange rates charged at airports are notoriously expensive, so buy some currency before you leave and you'll get a much better deal.

The drawback to carrying currency is that if it gets lost or stolen, it can't be replaced. For this reason it's best to use another form of travel money for most of your funds.

2) Travellers Cheques

These are the traditional way of carrying money abroad. When you buy the cheques, which can be in Sterling, Euros or US Dollars, you have to sign the stub of each cheque in the presence of the teller. Once abroad, you can convert the cheques into local currency by signing the other half of the cheque at a currency exchange, where the teller will compare the two signatures and also inspect your passport.

This system is more secure than cash as each cheque is uniquely numbered, so if a cheque goes missing it can be quickly cancelled and replaced by the cheque issuer. There is a drawback in that you have to cash the cheques at a currency exchange, and you might not find one offering a good exchange rate.

3) Credit Cards

Credit cards are accepted virtually the world over, and may seem a good way of paying your way while abroad. As well as using them for shopping, they can be used to pay restaurant bills and even to withdraw cash. Before choosing this as your travel money option though, check your card's small print to see what interest rate is charged on overseas use - it will probably be higher than the standard rate of your card, and you'll probably have to pay exchange charges too.

4) Cash Machines

There are now several international cash machine networks in operation, for example the Cirrus network, and it's likely that your cash card can be used internationally, especially in Europe and the USA. This is a good way of financing your holiday spending, as you can draw out what you need while keeping the rest of your money safe in your normal bank account. The downside is that you may have to pay a fee for each withdrawal, and the exchange rate you're charged may not be the best available.

5) Prepaid Cards

These are a relatively new kind of plastic card, which are used in much the same way as credit or debit cards, with the big difference that you have to 'load' the card with funds before you can spend with it. They are a secure way of carrying money, as the card is replaceable if lost, and as it can only be used in conjunction with a PIN number then even if stolen it's difficult for a thief to make use of it. There will, however, still be exchange commissions payable when you use the card, and also usually a flat fee for cash withdrawals.

The main thing to bear in mind with travel money is that while each of the above options is useful, not all are suitable for use everywhere in the world. The best advice is not to rely on a single kind of travel money, but to take a sensible mixture of cash, local currency, and plastic or cheques, to make sure you can always get local currency when you need it. Enjoy your holiday!

Your Health While Flying

Flying is a routine activity for millions of Americans, and raises no health considerations for the great majority of them. However, there are certain things you can do to ensure that your flight is as comfortable as possible. Changes in pressure can temporarily block the Eustachian tube, causing your ears to 'pop' or to experience a sensation of fullness. To equalize the pressure, swallow frequently; chewing gum sometimes helps. Yawning is also effective. Avoid sleeping during descent; you may not swallow often enough to keep ahead of the pressure change. If yawning or swallowing doesn't help, use the 'valsalva maneuver':

* Pinch your nostrils shut, then breathe in a mouthful of air.

* Using only your cheek and throat muscles, force air into the back of your nose as if you were trying to blow your thumb and finger off your nostrils.

* Be very gentle and blow in short successive attempts. When you hear or feel a pop in your ears, you have succeeded. Never force air from your lungs or abdomen (diaphragm); this can create pressures that are too intense.

Babies are especially troubled by these pressure changes during descent. Having them feed from a bottle or suck on a pacifier will often provide relief. Avoid flying if you have recently had abdominal, eye or oral surgery, including a root canal. The pressure changes that occur during climb and descent can result in discomfort.

If you have an upper respiratory or sinus infection, you may also experience discomfort resulting from pressure changes. Postpone your trip if possible. (Check to see if your fare has cancellation or change penalties.) A final tip on pressure changes: they cause your feet to swell. Try not to wear new or tight shoes while flying.

Alcohol and coffee both have a drying effect on the body. Airliner cabin air is relatively dry to begin with, and the combination can increase your chances of contracting a respiratory infection. If you wear contact lenses, the low cabin humidity and/or consumption of alcohol or coffee can reduce your tear volume, leading to discomfort if you don't blink often enough. Lens wearers should clean their lenses thoroughly before the flight, use lubricating eye drops during the flight, read in intervals, and take the lenses out if they nap. (This may not apply to extended wear lenses; consult your practitioner.)

If you take prescription medications, bring enough to last through your trip. Take along a copy of the prescription, or your doctor's name and telephone number, in case the medication is lost or stolen. The medicine should be in the original prescription bottle in order to avoid questions at security or Customs inspections. Carry it in a pocket or a carry-on bag; don't pack it in a checked bag, in case the bag is lost.

You can minimize the effects of jet lag in several ways:

* Get several good nights' sleep before your trip.

* Try to take a flight that arrives at night, so you can go straight to bed.

* Sleep on the plane (although not during descent).

* During the flight do isometric exercises, eat lightly, and drink little or no alcohol.

Try to use a rest room in the airport terminal before departure. On some flights the cabin
crew begins beverage service shortly after the "Fasten Seat Belts" sign is turned off, and the serving cart may block access to the lavatories.

Yes, You Too Can Take A Vacation

Surveys are interesting. I took note of this one done recently by American Express because it backed up some data I learned at the (National Association of Female Executives) NAFE National Conference in May. According to the survey, 40% of the smallest business owners - those with less than $200,000 in annual revenues - are planning no vacation whatsoever this summer. But even business owners with higher revenues aren't doing much better - only 75% of them expect to get away from the business this summer.

As we were told at the NAFE Conference, even those business owners who do get away from the office, won't truly get away. Rather, one in three will link their vacation time to a business trip and 50% will still check in with the office at least once a day.

Why can't business owners let go? What are the concerns that keep them tied to the business? According to the survey:

* An important client or customer will not receive appropriate service
* The business will miss out on a new opportunity
* There is no other competent person to leave in charge
* The individuals left in charge will make the wrong decisions
* An operational or equipment breakdown will occur without anyone to solve the problem

Such concerns are not surprising. It is hard for a business owner to take any type of vacation worry-free. But with planning, preparation and good leadership you can boost the enjoyment level of your time off to come back refreshed and ready to tackle new challenges and opportunities. Here are 8 steps to prevent vacation angst.

1. Make a plan - To avoid surprises, create a list of scenarios on your current projects and brief your staff on the possibilities and your major concerns about each client. Assign specific staff to each client/account so there is someone that clients can speak to who understands their concerns when you aren't there.

2. Brief your key clients or customers - Offer them advance notice of any extended absence you are planning. There's no reason to keep your vacation schedule a secret. Introduce them to your deputy and convey your confidence in their ability to handle any issues that may arise. If appropriate, consider letting them know how to reach you should a true emergency arise - not that one will because of all your pre-planning.

3. Leadership is being a delegator not a dictator - If you never delegate important tasks to others, you can't expect them to be ready to fill your shoes when you want to take time off. To create a saner situation and build confidence that good things will happen when you aren't there, learn to delegate responsibilities - divvy up those pieces that must still happen in your absence and postpone those that can wait for your return.

4. Strategically schedule your vacation time - Most businesses have a slow season or times of the year when the pace is slower, or at least a bit less crazy. Plan your vacations to coincide with those lulls.

5. Mini-Vacations - If you just can't let go of the business for a whole week or two, or you can't bear to be too far away from the office, try taking a few days out of town, or extend a weekend somewhere else. Even a brief escape from routine with a change of scenery can do wonders for your perspective and re-energize you.

6. Disconnect entirely - When you do take a vacation: turn off your cell phone, don't bring the laptop, don't check your email, don't bring work with you and avoid the temptation to call or visit the office to "check up" on what's happening. If there's an emergency they can't handle, they will find you.

7. Take time off to sharpen skills - If you just can't justify taking time off to kick back and relax, then take time off to learn something new - business or personal. Taking continuing education courses at a local college or business school is a low-cost and effective way to break from your office routine, be with new people and try new things. Some programs are 3-5 days off-site if that fits your schedule better.

8. Keep your priorities straight - When you go through the exercise of listing the things you really care about, is your business really #1, 2, and 3? Outside of work, your priorities might be connecting with family and friends, spending time with kids, cultivating personal interests, staying healthy or pursuing an avocation. To regain balance in your life, you need to keep work, family and personal time in perspective. Those other priorities help you find more enjoyment in your time away from the business.

Let me know if these tips help you take a well-deserved vacation (or two) this summer.
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