Backpacking, Is It The Best Way to Travel Abroad?

People love to travel. Travelling the world appeals to people from all walks of life.

There is the right kind of travel out there to suit all budgets, from high dollar luxury resorts in the Maldives to $5 per night rooms for Backpackers in Bangkok.

For most though, their travel budget lies somewhere in the middle, between luxury resorts and travelling on a dime.

Backpacking these days has never been more affordable, with budget airlines competing to get bums on seats and the internet making it so easy to find and compare hotels and youth hostels online.

Asia has long been a favourite for backpackers and budget travellers. SE Asia in particular, offers almost any kind of travel experience you desire. including luxury beach-side resorts or budget $15 per night beach bungalows – Thailand’s Islands such as Koh Samui are famous for.

From Bangkok, Thailand’s major hub – you can fly to just about any city in Asia that has an airport.

With a multitude of budget airlines flying out of Bangkok, you can get some great value fairs from anywhere to Siem Reap in Cambodia or Hanoi in Vietnam or even to less travelled Borneo.

Its always a good idea to have a travel gear checklist on hand to make sure you’re taking the right kind of travel backpack, clothing, shoes and even first aid kit and medication for your sabbatical.

When Backpacking in South East Asia, a sturdy travel backpack is recommended, along with a good quality pair of travel pants, such as cargo pants with lots of pockets that zip or button up to keep your valuables safe while on the road.

You don’t need to worry about packing too much when going to Asia, in fact its best to travel light. Make sure you take a few pairs of pants, some swimming bathers, a few t-shirts, a sturdy pair of travel shoes and that should be a good start.

8 Ways to Travel Like Star Trek’s Captain James T Kirk

He had the world’s best comfy chair and big screen TV but he still didn’t choose just to stay home and watch re-runs. What can we learn about travel from Captain James T. Kirk?

Explore

Explorers sometimes go off the edge of the map where it says “here be monsters” or at least visit places not mentioned in the Lonely Planet Guide. Captain Kirk was an explorer.

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Now that’s a mission statement. Did it always work out great? No. Did it mean that they had to give up access to great Mexican food and every once and a while have a chicken sandwich and coffee with tribbles all over them? Yes.

Meet the Locals

Captain Kirk had his loyal traveling companions and brought food with him just like mom used to replicate, but the best part of his travels often came from his interaction with the locals. If we travel to learn more about other cultures we can do that more from interacting with people who live there than we can from just hearing about it from a guide or reading about it from a guidebook. Even without a Universal Translator (although the iPhone is getting closer) we can learn enough words of the local language to at least greet people.

Respect Local Cultures and Customs

“We don’t do it that way at home” is a dangerous line. We travel to see places and people that are different but differences can be challenging at times. Captain Kirk had a rule called the Prime Directive (Starfleet’s General Order #1) which said that:

As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Star Fleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture.

It did not mean that they agreed with the rules, the norms or even what that society held sacred. But it meant that they respected the people (beings) enough to treat there customs with respect. I will come into contact with beliefs that I disagree with when I leave home, but treating people with whom I disagree with respect is not unfaithful to my beliefs.

How Much Money Do You Need To Travel Around The World? Planning A Trip Around The World

If you want to know how much money you will need to travel around the world, then I encourage you to keep reading because this article covers everything; from traveling styles to analyzing your finances and discovering tips on how to find the best discounts. After reading this article, you will know everything you need to know to plan and make a proper budget that will allow you to travel around the world.

The first things you need to know are the traveling styles. Then you can pick the one that you most closely identify with. There is a wide variety of styles that fit into different budgets. The most common ones are the pot-noodle backpacker, the flashpacker and the tailor-made traveler. The pot-noodle backpacker is the type of traveler that will always look for the cheapest transportations and will stay on free dorms or with someone else, even camping outside. This traveller’s goal is to spend as little as possible. The flashpacker is the type of traveler who is looking for a better experience and tries to find comfortable places to stay. The next type is the traveller who never has to ask, ” How much money do you need to travel around the world?” This is the tailor-made traveler, the type of traveler who stays in nice 5 star hotels and doesn’t have much time, spends as much money as possible involved in elaborate, often expensive activities. This traveller will have everything booked by the time they start their trip.

The next thing you need to do while planning your trip is to work out the details of your finances. If you want to know how much money you will need to travel around the world, then you must know how much money you have available to spend on this trip. First, make a year-long earnings estimate so you know how much money is available. Then, save money, as much as you can, so you can be ready for any inconvenience. On top of all that, try to pay off as many debts as possible or pay upfront a part of a debt that could lead you to serious trouble when you get back from your trip.

Furthermore, after you make a budget, you must start finding discounts or places to stay that offer a reasonable price, and promotions such as free breakfast or dinner. The best way to look for discounts and places to stay is on the internet. There are literally hundreds of places listed on the search engines that will offer reasonable prices and good promotions. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to get help from the professionals. Contact a travel agency, and they will come up with an estimate that will help you get the cheapest prices, from transportation to accommodations.

Travel Tips That Everyone Should Know About

Traveling is very exciting but planning the trip doesn’t tend to be as much fun. Arranging the logistics of any trip can be complex and mentally intimidating. By educating yourself with these travel tips, you can make the planning process as painless as possible.

Educate yourself on the current political and social situations of a country before you visit it. Check online for information and updates about anything happening overseas that could affect your travel plans. By checking the website, you will avoid running into any dangerous situations while abroad.

It’s a good idea to get National Park passes if you often visit National Parks. They only cost $50 and remain good for use that year at any national park.

When you travel, don’t forget to pack a plastic contact case. These can serve as compact and light weight containers for liquids like moisturizers.

To make the most of your precious travel time, don’t forget to consider how the weather may influence and affect your travel plans. Check the forecast for your destination. There is nothing worse on your vacation than having to retreat from the weather when you least expect it.

To avoid jet lag, try to stay up until about 8pm local time. Resist the urge to fall asleep too early because this will only prolong the disorientation of jet lag. The sooner you can adjust to local time, the sooner your jet lag will disappear.

Plan for comfort by choosing seats you’ll enjoy on your plane flights. While not true of all carriers, most airlines will allow you to specify where in the plane you would like to be seated. After booking a flight, always watch the booking site to see if this option becomes available. You are sure to be happier with a seat of your choice, rather than having to take any seat that is left.

If you are leaving the country, make sure you have the visas you should have. Getting a visa doesn’t mean that you can just enter a country as there are various visas; it is important to do your research. To figure out which visa you need, consult your travel agent or even the country’s embassy website.

Keep track of your important belongings when traveling. If you are carrying a purse, be sure to have it tucked neatly under your arm. Do not carry a bag with easy access to any of the pockets. When buying a travel bag, keep this in mind.

5 Great Car Audio Technologies

Even if you don’t follow car audio technologies religiously, you will have noticed in the past year or so a revolution in car audio technology, which has transformed the mundane car audio system into a full on home entertainment system but in the car.

Our number one favourite car audio technology is the digital media stereo – a system that is a favourite to replace the good old car Cd/Mp3 player. In the last few years, we have all gone digital, replacing our CD players with iPods as we jog, now the car cd player is similarly to be replaced with digital media stereos that solely connect to Mp3 players and other digital media players (i.e sd cards). Although, we will dearly miss the CD player, the digital media stereo has the advantage of docking space for your iPod and a bigger screen.

In second place are navigation and stereo combinations, which combine the practical elements of sat-nav and an entertainment system all in one unit. The combination system has become really popular over the last few years as it means you can access all you need to from one device rather than several.

Our third love is Dual Zone technology – a useful feature that splits the car into two zones (front and back) whereby passengers can choose their own entertainment. Found to be often a valuable feature for families, the Dual Zone feature enable passengers at the front to listen to their own music, whilst the back passengers listen to music or watch a film through the attached headrest screens.

Number four on our list is Bluetooth, the technology that allows you to connect your smart phone or iPhone to your stereo. Stream music, take and receive calls all on your stereo whilst on the go. For busy people everywhere, this device is a saviour as they no longer have to fiddle with hands free. With in-built Bluetooth technology, they can instead connect quickly and easily with their loved ones and colleagues.

Our number five car audio love is the iPod Solution kits. Although not at the height of technology, they do enable older stereos to be able to play music from Mp3 players and iPods. Not everyone wants to change their car stereo, but they may still want the latest technology, so these solution kits have developed for that audience. It’s an apt technology for those who just want to connect up to the latest technology without many features, gadgets or gizmos.

The History of Wireless Phone Technology – 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G

When we say ‘wireless phones’ today, we are no longer talking about those cordless, land line, home phone. Instead the term ‘wireless’ pertains to mobile of cellular devices. With this great technology, there are no wires, no cords, no limit (well, just for cellular signals, that is). Cellular signals are sent via radio waves so there is obviously no need for wires and cables for it to operate.

The technology or concept of wireless technology is not recent. In fact, the story of wireless phones are dated way back to the middle of the 20th century. Those are the days mobile phones are bulky and are usually found in cars. Since they are big and huge, they are not considered to be portable handset, although they are mobile they are still not that ‘mobile’.

The first ever wireless phones were used and probably manufactured in Japan as early as 1979. Today, we keep hearing the 4G technology in wireless, during those times, it still 1G generatin.

Right about the same time, in Northern Europe, NMT, or Nordic Mobile Telephone are also developing the same kind of wireless technology in phones. Just like today where Finland is almost synonymous with a popular cellphone brand, it was NMT in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland where the first wireless phones were used in the Northern are of Europe.

A few years later, America made their scene in the wireless phone technology with Motorola mobiles. Their first cellular or mobile phones were used in 1983.

After America, the rest of the world followed suit – Mexico, United Kingdom, Canada etc.

Then in 1991, the second generation of wireless telephony started. Second generation, commonly known then as 2G, and it was introduced this time by Finland.

It was during this time that the GSM standard or technology was used. With GSM, new type of competition emerge between the wireless company giants with each providing their own great services.

WiMax Technology VS Wifi Technology: What’s the Diff?

Many people around the world are curious on WiMax technology and what it can offer. WiMax is a type of Internet connectivity protocol that is slowly gaining attention today. So what is WiMax technology? WiMax is a new and innovative way of getting connected to the Internet. It is a wireless telecommunications protocol that connects mobile devices to the World Wide Web from any place, at any time. It gives people the ability to be online from anywhere: From the city, to the jungle. As long as you have the proper devices needed and are signed up for the service, sky is the limit when it comes to your connectivity. WiMax can offer up to 40 Mbits per second and is being worked on today so that I can carry speeds of up to 1 Gbits per second. It is said to be the taste of the future when it comes to connecting to the Internet. It is the perfect complement to any mobile device.

Many people misconstrue WiMax technology for Wifi. Wifi, or wireless fidelity, may seem the same as WiMax from the surface. That’s probably because they both work with wireless connectivity. But the truth is that their similarities end there. You see, unlike Wifi technology, WiMax technology is boundless. If you have ever tried connecting via Wifi, you would know that it has limitations. For one, you have to be within the range of the Wifi signal. Secondly, you would know that it is fully dependent on a connected or wired Internet connection. Third, it can be slower, especially when compared to just jacking up directly to a cable or DSL connection. WiMax has none of these problems. WiMax, as mentioned about, provides wide-scale connectivity. When using it, you are not bound to a limited range. You will always have a WiMax signal. With Wifi, the farther you stray from the source signal, the weaker you connection will get.

WiMax technology is also self-reliant. Unlike Wifi, which basically gets its Internet connectivity from a connected source, WiMax is a stand-alone service provider. Wifi technology is basically comprises of a wireless router and a cable or wire-connected source. Without the wired connection, there will be a wireless signal, but no Internet connection. WiMax operates on its own and is not at all dependent on an external source. As long as the signal is alive, you will be connected to the net.

Since WiMax is independent of any landed connection, its speeds are better than Wifi. Current WiMax services reach speeds of up to 40 Mbits per second. It is currently being worked so that it can offer subscribers up to 1 Gbits per second speeds. Comparatively, WiMax technology matches up with the speeds of DSL and cable connections. But with WiMax, you get the benefit of not having to use wires. Right now, Wifi is the more popular protocol. But in the near future, WiMax is sure to take of the court. It’s the future of Internet connectivity.

Voice Activated Technology

Over the last couple of years many software manufacturers have been working on voice activated technology. We all remember 2001 a Space Odyssey with HAL the computer. I was fascinated by the ability to talk to a computer and have that artificial mind talk back to us. The next time I encountered computers was while watching Star Trek. We could talk to a machine and with only our voice command it to take us to the Bridge or make an entire meal appear out of thin air. It all seemed like a great idea at the time but no one believed that you would ever really be able to experience this wonder, at least not in our lifetimes.

However, today we are a lot closer to those fantasies. I’m dictating this article with voice activated software. In theory, I will be saving hours in the future preparing upcoming articles with this new technology. For now I am on a learning curve along with my trusty laptop.

I tried the earlier versions of voice activated software a few years ago and found it frustrating from an accuracy standpoint as well as difficult manipulating the document I was working on. This latest version is much better at navigating around the computer and it is also faster and somewhat more accurate. Saying the word ‘save’ and watching the screen as the computer hears your command and you actually begin to save the document has an odd combination of wonder and exhilaration.

However, there is a price to pay for this thrill. Learning a variety of new commands and in some cases dealing with the computer as it misinterprets what you’re saying delivers a level of frustration different from current technological anxiety. After all this is the answer we have been waiting for, the final step to make computers accessible to all including the infamous two fingered typist. On the plus side when you speak a complete sentence and watch the computer type it out in front of your eyes with no mistakes it is somewhat hard to believe.

But how does this new technology apply to marketing? Marketing is a lot of thinking and writing and rewriting. No one sits down to write a marketing plan in one pass or create the perfect copy for their website, an ad or brochure with the initial draft. So, in theory, if technology helped you to do some of the things that you normally don’t spend enough time on then perhaps you would be able to create those valuable marketing materials in a shorter period of time and get them out to your customers more efficiently.

We all have good intentions when it comes to answering e-mail, sending the follow-up thank you letter in a timely manner and creating proposals all requiring a fair bit of time parked in front of the computer.

Home Improvement – Don’t Exceed Comps In Your Area

For most homeowners, the pride of ownership includes a consistent home improvement effort. While this makes sense, be careful you don’t improve the property so much that you can’t recover the costs when it is sold.

Home Improvement

You’ve picked up a heck of a deal on a home in a nice neighborhood. The purchase price was $200,000 and you put twenty five percent down [$50,000]. The comparable homes, “comps”, in the neighborhood appraised for $300,000. Yes, your home is a bit run down, but that’s why they have Home Depot and weekends! You’ll just fix the ugly ducking up and pocket a quick $100,000 in equity when all your projects are done. What a country!

This situation definitely has potential. The value of the home is so low when compared to the comps that a relatively quick equity grab certainly looks possible if the home can be fixed up. Off to Home Depot we go…

Let’s do an evaluation of our ugly ducking. Put another way, what needs to be done to get it on par with the other ducks in the neighborhood? Okay, we need new doors, new windows and landscaping in a very big way. The drive way looks like a toxic dump sat on it and we aren’t even going to get into the peeling, ugly paint on the home. Pricing everything, deciding to use homeowner labor as much as possible and so on, we find it is going to run roughly $50,000 to makeover our ugly duckling. It’s going to be a lot of work, but that’s what weekends are for. We should still come out with a $50,000 gain and $100,000 in total equity considering our $50,000 down payment.

Budgets and Temptation

The problem with the above scenario is it is very hard to stick to a budget. If you’ve owned a home, you’re already familiar with this problem. If you are buying a home for the first time, watch out!

With homeownership, the structure you own quickly evolves into “my home.” Once this occurs, you tend to view the quality of your home as a statement to the world and you want to show the world your best. Instead of buying moderately priced cabinets for the kitchen, you buy custom pieces that would make Bill Gates envious. Counter tops soon become marble counter tops. Refinishing the driveway evolves into putting in an entirely new one with brick inlays. And so it goes.

New Tax Breaks for Energy Efficient Home Improvements

If you would like to make your existing home more energy efficient and get some help paying for the improvements, you need to know about the Energy Tax Incentives Act of 2005. The new law provides a $500 lifetime credit against your federal income tax for the cost of certain energy-saving home improvements that you make to your home after December 31, 2005 and before January 1, 2008. Up to $200 of the tax credit may be applied to windows.

As you may know, a tax credit is far more favorable than a deduction of the same amount. Deductions only reduce the amount of income that is subject to tax. A tax credit, on the other hand, is a dollar for dollar reduction of the tax due when you file your income tax return. So, if you are in the 28% income tax bracket, the new $500 credit is equivalent to a tax deduction of nearly $1800!

Here are highlights of the new provisions:

There is an overall lifetime cap on the credit of $500, and a maximum of $200 of the credit may be applied to qualified window expenditures. Subject to those limitations, you may receive a credit for the sum of the following:

Building Envelope Components. Ten (10%) percent of your expenditures for so called “building envelope components” will qualify for the tax credit. Building envelope components include the following:
any insulation material or system which is specifically and primarily designed to reduce the heat loss or gain of a dwelling unit when installed in or on such dwelling unit,
exterior windows (including skylights),
exterior doors, and
any metal roof installed on a dwelling unit, but only if such roof has appropriate pigmented coatings which are specifically and primarily designed to reduce the heat gain of such dwelling unit.
To qualify for the credit, the building envelope components must be installed in or on a dwelling unit (including a manufactured home) located in the United States that is owned by you and used by you as your principal residence. Installation of envelope components in a second or vacation home or rental property therefore will not qualify for the new tax break.

Only new components are eligible for the credit and the components must reasonably be expected to remain in use for at least 5 years.

Energy efficient property expenditures. Amounts paid for “residential energy property expenditures” will also qualify for the credit up to the following specific limits:

Up to $50 for any advanced main air circulating fan;
Up to $150 for any qualified natural gas, propane or oil furnace or hot water boiler;
Up to $300 for any item of “energy-efficient building property.” This includes certain qualifying electrical heat water pumps, electric heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps, central air conditioners and natural gas, propane or oil water heaters.
Expenditures for labor costs for onsite preparation, assembly or original installation may be included. Improvements must be installed in or in connection with a dwelling unit located in the United States that is owned by you and used by you as your principal residence.