Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to Keep Your Passport and Money Safe

When you are traveling abroad it is important to keep your personal items safe. Some people will tell you to always keep a close eye on your personal belongings and to use a hotel safe when possible. I would suggest that you take some further steps to ensure the protection of your most important items, namely your passport, credit cards and cash.

Fake wallet

When I'm traveling I always carry a fake wallet in my back pocket. In the wallet, I put a small amount of cash, a few expired credit cards, and various other cards like an old library card or a grocery store discount card. The cash is minimal and it doesn't matter if I lose the cards as they do not hold value themselves. The idea here is that if someone is to rob me they will go for my back pocket first. Upon seeing the cash and cards, they will assume that this is all I have on me.

Money belt

Instead of keeping my important items in my wallet or in any of my pockets, I use a concealed money belt which I wear underneath my shirt. Inside the money belt, I keep my passport, credit cards and cash. Be careful when you retrieve items from your money belt, however. Never do so in a crowded place or in an area where someone can easily see what you are doing. Instead, duck into a restaurant or a shop and retrieve whatever money or credit card you may need at the time.

Secret Pocket

Another option I have used is a secret pocket in a pair of shorts or pants. You can buy shorts and pants that have pre-sewn secret pockets or you could go to a tailor yourself and have one custom made. Secret pockets are extremely secure, but they can be inconvenient if you need to access your money or credit cards. I would recommend using a money belt for cash and credit cards and then using a secret pocket for your passport or any other important identification information that you will rarely need to present.

Additional tips

Never put your passport, credit cards, or cash in a backpack. Pickpockets and thieves are exceptionally skillful and even if you are wearing a backpack, they may be able to remove items without you noticing. Also, keep in mind that while the above tips are helpful, the biggest asset you have in protecting your personal items is your own common sense. Always be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts. If a place seems unsafe, leave. You should know local emergency numbers and you should be able to speak a few words of the local language if you are in a foreign land. If you keep these tips in mind and heed the advice above, your trip should be safe and enjoyable.

For more personal travel safety advice, visit mytravelsafety.net.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

New Style Preview : Unisex Thai Fisherman Cotton Pants

In April, Friends of the Reef is introducing a few new styles: Our Unisex Thai Fisherman Cotton Pants is super comfortable, light and perfect for the beach, lounging around or practicing yoga. Offered in soft 100% white or black cotton, in one size fits all.



See our to wear them in this short video:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Isla Mujeres New Club Playa Mexico

If you're planning to come to Isla Mujeres on your next vacation, spend a day or more at the newly opened Club Playa Mexico. You will enjoy great food, a nice quiet beach and very clean facilities. Don't forget to try Jose's Margarita, some say it is the best in Yucatan!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Protecting Coral Reefs - A Guide For Scuba Divers

Are recreational divers capable of causing substantial damage to coral reefs? The answer is clearly a resounding YES. There is now overwhelming scientific evidence that scuba divers and snorkelers directly and indirectly damage coral colonies and other reef life through a variety of inadvertent and/or deliberate behaviors.

Inexperienced or insufficiently trained reef explorers often damage corals (and themselves) through inadvertent bodily contact, by allowing spare regulators and gauge consoles to hang unsecured, or by deliberately standing on, touching or even harvesting corals.

Divers and snorkelers also may cause sedimentation damage to corals by swimming too close to the bottom or dragging their legs - practices that cause the fins to raise clouds of sand that then settle on living nearby polyps.

Such inadvertent, skill-related problems have been recognized for some time, and properly trained SCUBA divers have been specifically instructed against physical contact with reefs, and taught how to minimize this sort of problem by proper positioning, swimming movements, gear arrangement, and buoyancy control.
Unfortunately for reefs however, the problem of diver damage, rather than being alleviated through proper education and training, has actually been exacerbated in recent years by a profit-motivated headlong rush to put anyone and everyone on a reef as painlessly and quickly as possible.

The result is that a very large number of the divers visiting reefs today have received far from sufficient training or practical experience needed to be "reef-friendly" underwater visitors. Rather, many have received minimal "resort course" training and are essentially using SCUBA for the first time. Despite the best of intentions and the personal escort of an instructor, these visitors simply lack the knowledge, training, and skills to stay off the reef or otherwise negatively impact coral reef ecosystems.

Many of the impacts to coral reef ecosystems by sport divers and snorkelers can be greatly alleviated through proper diver training combined with adherence to a few simple "reef friendly" dive practices recommended by leading marine conservation authorities. A summary of these are as follows:

DO:
1. Learn and observe all local, state and federal regulations regarding natural resource use and protection in any reef area you plan to visit
2. Ensure that you and your buddy have all equipment securely and closely attached to your persons
3. Stay far enough above the bottom so as to not raise clouds of sand with your fins
4. Patronize dive operators who respect and follow these guidelines

DO NOT:
1. Allow your body or equipment to physically contact the reef or its inhabitants
2. Throw or discharge anything into the waters or substrates around the reef environment
3. Remove any part of the reef environment
4. Attempt to feed, touch, chase, or otherwise harass reef fishes and/or other coral reef marine life
You are encouraged to explore and enjoy coral reefs as often as you wish, but do so with respect for these threatened and invaluable marine ecosystems. Being a responsible, reef-friendly diver is not difficult - all it takes is a bit of knowledge and a willingness to do your part.

For more information on how divers and snorkelers can help with protecting coral reefs, please visit us at: Dive Coral Reefs, and Reef Friendly Snorkeling

Friday, February 4, 2011

Free Camisole with Purchase

This month at Friends of the Reef, we are giving away our Nautical Camisole with any purchase of $75 or more. It's easy, just go to www.FriendsoftheReef.com, choose your favorite styles, and enter FREEGIFT coupon code at check out to get your free gift.

Friends of the Reef Nautical Camisole in Red

Friends of the Reef Nautical Camisole in Navy

Monday, January 24, 2011

10 Travel Packing Tips For Carry-On Only Traveling

1. Find Out The Largest-Size Carry-On Luggage You're Aloud and Buy It
Although you want to significantly cut down on the amount of luggage you take, you should still take advantage of the maximum size carry on luggage you can take. Find out what the average carry on allowance is and buy an new bag to fit those dimensions. 

2. Wear Your Heaviest/Bulkiest Items
Ok, so it's an obvious point, but if you're taking some bulky items, such as a thick coat, or walking boots, wear them on the plane and free up as much valuable space in your carry on luggage as possible. 

3. Create A Packing List -- And Ruthlessly Edit It
This is something you can perfect over time. Basically, every time you go abroad create a packing list. Then, when you come home and unpack make a note of everything you didn't use. Then cross them off the list for next time! 

4. Plan To Buy Things At Your Destination
Remember, most destinations will have places you can buy the basics you need to get you by. Need a smarter shirt for an unplanned trip to a fancy restaurant, just buy one at a local store. You'll also be able to discard these items if you need to before you leave. 

5. Decant Toiletries Into Smaller Bottles
For your essential toiletries, do away with the bumper family size bottles and decant rations into smaller bottles. Not only will you save space, but also a lot of weight. And remember the point above -- if you run out you can always buy some more. 

6. Roll Your Clothes
It's an old trick but an effective one. Rolling your clothes makes them easier to pack down into the corners of your carry on, plus it can help you avoid the creases created by folding. 

7. Wear Clothing With Lots Of Pockets
Remember, you don't need to carry everything in your luggage. Wearing clothing with extra pockets, such as cargo pants, or those vests that professional photographers wear, you can carry many smaller items and leave space for the bigger stuff in your luggage. 

8. Buy Speciality Travel Clothing That Converts
Now you can buy items of clothing specifically designed for travelers. Usually travel clothing has features such as being light-weight, breathable and none-creasing and quick drying, but you can also find clothing that is convertible. Trousers that turn into shorts, or long sleeved items that become short sleeved. By making your clothing work twice as hard, you can save twice as much space. 

9. Buy Speciality Travel Products Designed To Be Compact
Aswell as clothing designed for traveling, you can find all manner of accessories that have been designed for traveling and to be compact. For example a travel towel can be a quarter of the size of a traditional towel. 

10. Ask Others Their Tips
If you see someone breezing through check in with just one bag, stop them and ask them how they do it. Most people love to show off how clever and travel-savvy they are, so they'll be happy to share their wisdom with you!

These handy tips have been taken from the full 225-page Packing Secrets -- The Ultimate Packing Guide For Travelers. This guide was created by interviewing 100s of travelers, from business travelers to family vacationers. You can discover more using this link: http://www.packingsecrets.com

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How safe is Mexico for Women Travelers?

Women are seeking fun girlfriend getaways or inspiring solo travel more and more these days but our closest international destination is getting a bad rep for drug cartel wars and crime. Safety is a legitimate concern anywhere you go but this could be especially daunting if you are not familiar with the geography of the country.

Lucky for us, Mexico is still very much an open option for enjoying a blissful beach getaway with your best girl friend or a cultural culinary trip in a colonial gem of a town. There is so much diversity here and a memorable trip is just waiting to happen if only you know where to go.

Lets look at what the fuss is all about, where its happening and what this means to you as a traveler.

I'm sure you've heard the headlines this past year about Mexico being in the midst of a major drug war. Army soldiers patrol streets in border towns. Journalists have been murdered. Cartel members shoot at each other in the streets and supermarkets. People get kidnapped. It is certainly ugly in the border cities otherwise known as the frontera. But did you know most of Mexico is as safe as ever?

The travel warnings issued by our government are actually advising against visiting very specific places where drug cartels are waging their war. Unfortunately, after hearing "warning" and "Mexico," many Americans perceive the advisory for the country as a whole, which it definitely is not the case. The State Department listed several cities as not advisable to visit, including Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros. The worst of the bunch being Ciudad Juarez which is across the border from El Paso, Texas.

The news media have focused their news reports on the negative rather the reporting the reality. Mexico is still a very safe country, with the exception of Juarez and the other border towns. The rest of the country enjoys low crime rates in comparison to any large U.S. city.

So where should you go and how safe are these places? Below is a list I have compiled of fantastic destinations within Mexico, that you wont hear about in the news (they are too busy drumming in the bad news). 

CANCUN AND THE MAYAN RIVIERA
Cancun is the most popular beach resort in Mexico by far and for good reason. Their beaches are stunning, the resorts amazing, the attractions are many and on safety scale....It is extremely safe. Exercising common sense is the most important thing here or any destination for that matter. For example, don't stray from the tourist areas, don't drink too much, avoid walking alone at night, only take public transportation or drive on the highways during daylight, don't deck yourself out in expensive jewelry. It just common sense ladies! 

MERIDA AND THE YUCATAN
When people think about the Yucatan region of Mexico, they usually think about the Mayan archeological site of Chichen Itza, but Merida is a beautiful colonial city that can serve as home base for exploring other Mayan ruins, cenotes, haciendas and cathedrals. It is an extremely charming city with well organized tours for its visitors. Beyond that, it is known as the safest and most peaceful in Mexico. Many American and Canadian expats have taken notice and are retiring here for this reason. 

CENTRAL MEXICO COLONIAL CITIES
San Miguel de Allende has been a popular destination for wealthy Americans for several decades now. This is a bohemian town in the mountains known for its slow paced life, cobbled stones streets, beautiful architecture and many art galleries. The nearby cities of Guanjuato, Queretaro and Zacatecas are other colonials town that are as safe as they are charming. 

OAXACA
Oaxaca has much to offer its visitors. It has a thriving art scene and boasts some of the best food in the country. There are the nearby ruins of Monte Alban and artisan towns like Teotitlan del valle, which are very beautiful and safe. Oaxaca also has amazing beaches and resort towns like Huatulco and Puerto Escondido. 

PUERTO VALLARTA
Think beautiful colonial city by the beach. This wonderful former fishing village on a hill side is now filled with swanky hotels, restaurants, art galleries and bars. Puerto Vallarta is safe but exercising common sense here is advised. Do stay in tourist areas and dont walk alone at night. 

LOS CABOS
The region is very safe, with good highways and bustling down towns. Many Americans visit here each year while others have even made it their home. Fancy resorts have sprawled through its stretch of beaches offering all inclusive vacations. There is also a popular artsy town called Todos Santos about 45 minutes away from the popular destination of Cabo San Lucas.

If you are considering a trip soon, the best thing to do is determine what kind of vacation you are seeking. Mexico is an expansive country with many regions and varied destinations to suit every interest. It is a matter of knowing a bit of geography and packing in a sense of adventure mixed in with some common sense. Buen Viaje!

Claudette Elizondo is founder of MexicaChica Getaways, a group travel company for women. Her company offers week long, luxury learning vacations focused on art, culinary and Spanish immersion trips. This American expat now enjoys life in Merida, Yucatan Mexico along with her husband Lars and her young children, Sophia and Paulo. Please visit http://www.mexicachica.com to learn more. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Claudette_Elizondo