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5 places you must visit if you go to Dallas, Texas

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A great metropolis characterised by its impressive skyscrapers, advances in the technological industry and the strong cultural movement on its streets, Dallas is becoming more and more popular as a holiday destination. In fact, it has become one of the United States’ most visited cities.

If you have everything ready for your next holidays, but don’t know where to go, here are five places that will make you want to visit Dallas.

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  1. Reunion Tower:

Reunion Tower is an imposing building with a height of 561 feet and it is one of the most emblematic monuments in Dallas. It is a compulsory stop for those who want to have a true memory of their visit to the city.

If you really want to admire the beauty of Dallas, without missing a detail, there is no better way than to visit the spectacular observation platform located on the top of the tower. Thanks to its geodesic sphere, you have a 360º view of the city. The tower has touch screens that enrich the experience of those visiting and, for the more curious among you, there a number of powerful telescopes available so that you can see the most important landmarks in more detail.

The amenities include two excellent restaurants that are the perfect complement to an unforgettable experience.

  1. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden:

For those of you who love to be outside and in direct contact with nature, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is the best option.

The amenities include a wide variety of plant species, with the highlights including the azaleas collection that includes around 2,400 varieties, the tropical plant collection and the collection of species and varieties of the Ilex genera.

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is chosen as the location for many family celebrations and cultural festivals due to its peaceful surroundings and the beautiful landscape formed by its well-cared for vegetation.

The centre is also closely related to many educational programmes aimed at people of all ages and has an area dedicated to important botanical research.

  1. Legoland Discovery Center Dallas:

This fantastic centre is located between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth. It is the perfect place for little ones to have some fun, although I would like to point out that the attractions are not only aimed at children and the whole family can enjoy them .

From the Ninjago training camp with ninja missions and laser rays, to the possibility of building your Lego racers and then have a competition with them, lots of adventures are waiting for you in the Legoland Discovery Center.

You can also visit the 4D cinema and enjoy films starring the most popular Lego characters all day long, or you can try out the marvellous experience of pedalling through the air as a wizard’s apprentice in the Merlin’s Apprentice Ride.

I recommend that you stop for a rest in the ¨Lego Coffee Shop¨, where the best snacks are prepared to help you recover your energy.

  1. Sea Life Aquarium Dallas:

Another place you can’t miss if you visit this magnificent city is the Sea Life Aquarium. It is very close to the Legoland Discovery Center and is another leisure facility for the whole family.

You can see more than five thousand marine animals in the aquarium’s exhibition halls. There is also a transparent underwater tunnel that allows visitors to see their favourite animals up close. Don’t miss the variety of interactive activities offered by the aquarium, allowing you to feed the animals or letting you see what goes on behind the scenes.

The Sea Life Aquarium works hard to educate people on species conservation and to teach them the importance of protecting the environment.

On the aquarium’s website, you will find incredible offers including, among others, personal tours and more economic prices.

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  1. Art Museum:

Finally, I would like to recommend a visit to the Dallas Museum of Art. This museum was founded in 1903, and since then it has changed location to the Dallas Arts District.

Since its early days, one of the museum’s main objectives was to create a space to promote local art and for the research and innovation of this field.

Visitors will find over 24,000 works of art, distributed in collections of Mediterranean Art, Southern Asian Art, an incredible collection of objects representing the African culture and distinctive collections from the American continent.

Moreover, the museum has a wide community programme in which anyone interested in art and its various expressions can participate. There is also a large library offering services to both the museum’s own employees and the public.

As you can see, in the city of Dallas you will find fantastic places to visit on your dream holiday. There is no doubt that all the places I have mentioned can be part of the perfect plan to live an unforgettable experience.

See also: 5 things not to do with an ESTA

5 places you can’t miss in Louisiana

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The state of Louisiana, founded in the 17th century and named in honour of King Louis XIV, is among the North American regions that attract most tourists from all over the world.

This state is heir to a multicultural diversity earned over years of being the home to European, African, Asian and Native American communities. Louisiana offers us an incredible journey in time through its picturesque European-style architecture and music arising from the mixture of African and Western rhythms.

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Below, I will talk to you about 5 places that you shouldn’t miss if you visit Louisiana.

The French Quarter:

This seductive place, also known as the ¨Vieux Carré¨ (Old Square), is located in New Orleans and is one of the busiest places in the city.

Many people identify the ¨Vieux Carré¨ as the essence of New Orleans, where the majority of its buildings date back to before 1803 and a large part of the architecture reflects the French and Spanish styles that were fashionable back then.

Its attractions include numerous bars and restaurants where you can try the food, strongly influenced by the city’s Creole roots. Moreover, in this city there are more than enough clubs where jazz and the blues invite us to spend some unforgettable moments. The city’s second-hand shops are also very special since you can purchase unique objects that reflect New Orleans’ unique history.

Your trip to this interesting district has to include a visit to Bourbon Street. Bourbon Street is one of the area’s liveliest streets, housing the most traditional places steeped in the bohemian atmosphere that characterises the city of New Orleans.

Capitol Park Museum:

Since the colonisation of Louisiana by the French until the present, this museum, located in Baton Rouge, relates the history of a territory that has evolved over the years, with a mixture of cultures from all over the world.

The museum houses both temporary and permanent exhibitions of objects belonging to an intense past that bore witness to the cultural background that is so representative of the United States today.

You will find exhibitions that tell of the defence of the black community’s civil rights, the long years of slavery and the subsequent racial discrimination.

Personal objects of many great artists who were born in this state, such as the famous jazzman, Louis Armstrong, are among the invaluable pieces that you can see in this museum.

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The museum also organises many activities that allow us to get first-hand knowledge of the state’s economic and social development, as well as its contributions to the United States.

Jungle Gardens:

The Jungle Garden is located on Avery Island and consists of 170 acres of semitropical gardens, offering visitors a setting dominated by nature.

The Jungle Garden was founded by the naturalist, Edward Avery McIlhenny, who initially created a private bird sanctuary in 1895 known as ¨Bird City¨, for the protection of certain endangered species of birds. Over the years, the garden became bigger, until, in 1935, it opened its doors to the public as the Jungle Gardens.

As well as the birds you can see during your visit, you will also see animals like American caimans, black bears and white-tailed deer.

It is so big that to get around the whole route you need to go by car, although, if you prefer, you can participate in small walks visiting the most important places in the gardens.

There is also a space dedicated to a Buddhist temple. It can be found in a Chinese garden and is frequently visited by people seeking a moment of complete tranquillity and harmony with the environment.

If you are a nature lover and enjoy being in direct contact with nature, you should definitely pay a visit to the Jungle Garden. You can visit any day of the year from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Jackson Square:

You cannot go to New Orleans without visiting this magnificent architectural work of art. Jackson Square was designed by the landscaper, Louis H. Pilié, and was originally called Place d’Armes or Plaza de Armas. It wasn’t until the middle of the 19th century that it was given its new name in honour of President Andrew Jackson.

In its early days, this historic square was the location of military parades and public executions. Over the years, it has become the scene of cultural events such as music and visual arts. Many establishments like restaurants and shops surround the square, adding to its charm.

Although it is a short but interesting visit, Jackson Square can be the starting point for you to go on to see emblematic buildings in the city, like the Saint Louis Cathedral and the Presbytère.

Jackson Square is a compulsory stop for anyone who wants to learn a little more of New Orleans’ exciting history.

The National WWII Museum:

We can find this interesting museum in the centre of the city of New Orleans. It is largely dedicated to telling the story of the United States’ participation in the Second World War.

The museum has five enormous rooms where multiple exhibitions are presented with testimonies, objects, photographs and film projections showing the reality of those who participated in this important event.

Another of the museum’s attractions is that you can see inside planes and boats used by the United States during the war.

If you decide to pay a visit to the museum, please note that it opens every day between 09:00 am and 5:00 pm, except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Mardi Gras Day.

If you are just passing through Louisiana, or you are planning your next holidays, these five places are brilliant options to include in your list of compulsory visits. Each of them will guarantee you unforgettable moments.

See also: Best beaches in Miami to celebrate

 

Best beaches in Miami to celebrate

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If you are looking for a warm climate during the winter season, clean beaches with blue waters, water sports, fun activities, and splendid food then Miami is just a picture perfect location for you. Travelers who are looking for elegant and adventurous holidays in the midst of stunning nature they come to Miami from all across the world.

 

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Miami offers plenty of tourist attractions and events for all age groups. It is true that among all other attractions, the beaches in Miami are the finest zones that attract a lot of tourists. Pristine beaches are the finest tourist attractions that you get in Miami. Miami Beach: Your gateway to a place to adventure

Miami Beach is one of the most happening beaches in the city, and it is filled with a plethora of tourist’s attractions that can make your holidays special.

 

This stunning beach is situated in south Florida but is connected with Miami with bridges. Here you can enjoy the company of freely living monkeys at monkey jungle which is over 30 acres of area.  It opens from 9.30 pm and shuts down at 5 pm every day. Miami’s children museum is one of the best places to visit with kids in Miami Beach. Parrot Jungle is a marvelous place to learn about exotic animals and birds.  Trampoline zone, rope course, outdoor skydiving simulator are new attractions of a jungle that fascinates the visitors.  South Beach is a part of Miami Beach and is one of the trendiest locations of Miami.

 

Whether you want to enjoy the hot clubs and sugar sand beaches or go shopping south beach is good for all the activities you can dream of.  Ancient Spanish Monastery is an outstanding architectural piece from the 12th century that can take you back in time. You can visit this monastery between 10 am to 4.30 pm with an entry fee of 10 dollars for adults and 6 dollars for kids. Since many tourists are bent on visiting Miami with their children and family members of all ages, they really find it to be very interesting when they visit Miami beaches.

 

Surfside Beach

 

Surfside is a beachside town with a small population. The Surfside each is a perfect destination for those who are looking out for an isolated and calm beach, unlike Miami Beach.  Cleanliness, scenic beauty, clear water, beautiful sand, tranquillity make the Surfside beach heaven for those who love the quietness and want to stay away from the hustle bustle of the city during holidays. If you love beachside sunset and sunrise, then the Surfside beach is the right place to be at. Wake up little early and take a wall with the rising sun on the Surfside beach and you won’t forget the astounding experience in your lifetime.  Biking and walking path is ideal for those who want to run or just take a bike ride on the beach side. You will find some luxury hotels, restaurants, and even places to shop near the beach. You can pre-book your Miami Beach and hotel packages before you check in the beachside as a venue.

 

Crandon Park beach

 

Long back the beach was used as a coconut plantation, and it was, in fact, the largest coconut plantation in the county until 1940. But then the family that owned the plantation donated a part of its land for Public Park, and that’s how the park took shape.  Today,  you can find a golf course, natures center, tennis center,  picnic areas with grills, stand up paddle boats, squad bikes kayaks,  beach cabanas and what not only at Crandon Park beach.  Whether you just want to relax in the midst of nature or get familiar with some wildlife, or party like an animal, play your favorite game or enjoy water sports, you’ll get all you want at one place. It is important to check out the Miami beaches and the associated climate before you go and start enjoying your holiday packages there.

 

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Bill bags cape Florida state park

 

This park is surrounded by beaches that our favorite local and tourist spots, in fact, some of the parks are in the top 10 lists of the country as well. There are many other attractions for the tourists as well like Lighthouse that was built in 1825 is one of the oldest structures that can take you back in history.   You can also enjoy windsurfing, cycling, inline skating, fishing, kayaking, camping, picnics at Bill bags cape Florida state park. This park is the finest one that tourists can avail except during the major national holidays.

 

21st 45th street beach

 

It is a beach that is known for celebrities who come here to take a walk or spend a day. Beach is, in fact, picturesque locations that are ideal for filming and photography for filling your social media account and gain some popularity among your friends and family. The beach is also home to some of the exclusive hotels and clubs. The wooden pedestrian walks away from the beach are also notable.  You can also find snack shacks; huge parking area and showers at the beach that make it even more comfortable location. The

21st 45th street beach is also easy to reach than other beaches in the county.  The beach is a popular location for water sports lover and adventure seekers.

 

See also: 10 Ordinary Things Not To Bring With You On The Airplane

 

You can visit Miami in between the months from March to May to enjoy the sunshine at the cool beaches.  The weather at this time is warm, and sometimes you can face unexpected showers, but there’s nothing that might cause you any kind of trouble.  Whether you want to go for an outing with family, chill with friends or enjoy at a romantic destination with your partner beaches in Miami will give what you want in a much better way. Packing your bags to visit the beaches have never been this easy. You can connect with high quality and professional tour operators who can give you the ultimate thrill of spending your holiday in a lovely destination like Miami.

 

10 best places in Boston to make your holiday a special one

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Boston carries the history of more than 500 years and is known as the place where the spirit of American independence was born. It is a beautiful amalgamation of history and modernity. You can find historical monuments and present day clubs standing side by side only in Boston.    If you love the places that can take you back in time, if walking in the lobby of centuries-old buildings give you the goosebumps and spending some time in the midst of nature is your thing then Boston is just for you.

Boston offers variety: Come and explore

It is a city that has something to offer for everyone whether you are a person who wants to spend a holiday in peace and tranquility or whether you are a party animal you can get the ticket of Boston for your next holidays.   It is even better for you if you want to write a piece of your blog that is full of enthralling information or you want to flood your social media with some of the best-captured pictures. Right from historical places, to cityscapes, beaches and some of the best-known places that are much popular to the travelers all around the year, Boston offers you a chequered pattern when it comes to analyzing the details of your tour. If you are planning to visit Boston then here are 10 best places to visit in Boston.

 

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  1. Freedom Trail: freedom trail is known to be the most popular spots of tourists. This trail is a collection of many historic buildings like churches, museums, monuments and each one of it has a story to tell.  America’s oldest public park, Massachusetts house, park street church, granary burring ground, kings chapel and burying ground, Benjamin Franklin statue in Latin school of Boston, south meeting house, old state house, Boston massacre site are some of the important sites of this freedom trail.  Many of these buildings are century old and peace of great architectural work like what you will not find anywhere in the world. Those who love monuments and history can take a guided tour of this unique freedom trail.
  2. Faneuil Hall: Faneuil Hall is a part of the freedom trail. It was built by one of the merchants who later gave it as a gift to the city. This hall is divided into four parts Faneuil Hall, south and north market ad Quincy market. Boston city streets provide a huge amalgamation of different cultures and professions. You can find roadside singers, dancers, eateries, jugglers, magicians who will enthrall the audience and tourists with their tricks.    You can also find some of the best eating places out here.
  3. Fenway Park: Many places from history must have changed by now, but it is one such places that look exactly the same when it was built over a century ago in 1912. You can take a one hour guided tour at Fenway that is available in multiple languages.  It is a place which has witnessed many historic matches of various sports. Many stars and presidents and important people from history have walked on the grounds of this park. It is all about knowing the pages of history and also to know more about what memories they have with the park. You can also spend some of your lovely moments in the park.

 

What about the garden and the boats?

  1. Boston Common and Public Garden Swan Boats: it is a garden from the Victorian era, and it is very popular among the locals and attracts tourists from across the world.  Swan boat ride is the most loved attraction of the park.  The public garden is also available for marriages. It is best to visit this park during summers to enjoy it thoroughly as winters in Boston are a bit harsh. But if you love ice skating, you can visit during winters.  You can also enjoy watching real swans in summers. If you have kids, you would love them to be a part of duckling parade.    In short, when it comes to enjoying your tourist life in Boston, you will surely be spoilt for choices.
  2. Beacon Hill: there is a lot to explore for visitors in bacon hill as there is a lot of history as well as a lot of modern-day entertainment options. The Nichols House Museum, Charles Street of Beacon Hill, the Bull and Finch, the state house, Black Heritage Trail, pre-Civil War homes, businesses, schools, and churches are some of the popular tourist’s spots here.  The nightlife of bacon hill is also no less for party lovers.  Whether you love shopping or eating, you’ll find something here that will keep you entertained.
  3. Boston Museum of Fine Arts: It is one of the most renowned museums in the country. It proudly holds many things from history like paintings, ancient Egyptian treasures, Asian and Persian fine arts, works from ancient Greece and the Middle East. Furniture decorative arts, folk art from different eras. Pre-Columbian arts and a Buddhist Bodhisattva.
  4. Science Museum: The museum is another important spot for tourists. 65-million-year-old fossil, electricity dome, the Butterfly Garden with free-flying butterflies, planetarium, a conservatory of exotic plants and a live animal center are just some of the attractions in the science museum. It is quite informing and entertaining for children.

 

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  1. Old North Church and the North End: These are again places with historic importance as well as the places where you can shop, eat or go clubbing. It is a very popular place in Boston among tourists.
  2. Harvard Square and Harvard Art Museums: The guided tour is also available here that is given by the students. The place is flooding with book stores and restaurants. If you love ice creams than you will definitely find your favorite flavor in the best form only here.
  3. New England Aquarium: If you love aquatic line then New England Aquarium is a must visit place for families with the kids. You will need one full day to enjoy this place completely.

 

See also: 5 things not to do with an ESTA

 

It is very important that you contact a tour planner or go through some of the travel magazines before you start exploring numerous segments of Boston. In addition to that, always follow the traffic guidelines and the rules and regulations mentioned for the travelers in Boston.

North America’s Top Camping Sites

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In North America you can find a plethora of super urban cities and settlements and also a host of natural attractions like exciting natural parks, hiking and trekking areas, and some of the best picturesque and thrilling camping sites. No wonder this is why different national parks and other natural settings get so many travelers and tourists from different parts across the world to visit their camping sites.

 

If you are a nature lover with its inexplicable abundance then North America with its wide superfluity of choices of camping sites is just the place for you. Here we shall make a list of the popular camping sites that you can check out for your upcoming vacation plans.

 

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Yosemite National Park – The Yosemite National Park is situated near the western Sierra Nevada in the region of central California. It is bounded by the Sierra National Forest on the southeast and by the Stanislaus National Forest on its northwest. The park covers an area that is spread across four counties. It has also been declared to be one of the World Heritage sites. The park is famous for its beautiful waterfalls, exquisite clear streams, interesting granite cliffs, the glorious natural lakes, meadows, mountains, and glaciers. This is a park that contains a wide variety of biological species. Nearly 95% of the park is reserved as untouched wilderness. The vegetation mass can be divided into five major subzones.

 

Joshua Tree National Park – This is another prominent American national reserve that is again situated near to California. It is situated on the eastern side of Los Angeles and is in the nearby vicinity of the Palm Springs and San Bernardino. The park is well known for its reserve of the Joshua trees that is a native species to the location of Mojave Desert. The park was declared as a national park in the year 1994. The national park is spread across an area of 790,636 acres making it a little bigger than the Rhode Island state. The park is a home to different varieties of flora and fauna that can offer a spectacularly exciting experience.

 

Glacier National Park – Based on the United States – Canada border, the Glacier national park is one of the most prominent national parks of North America. The park is spread across an area of 1 million acres and encompasses certain sections of the Rocky Mountains. This park was initially inhabited by the native ethnic Americans. Later the region was dominated by the European explorers. The mountains of this park were said to have begun their formation well over 170 millions of years ago. This region is the home to a vast number of native animal and plant species. The moose, grizzly bears, wolverines, mountain goats, and the Canadian lynxes also inhabit these forests and valley lands.

 

Acadia National Park – This national park of America is situated in the US state of Maine. The park within its sanctity preserves nearly half of the Mount Desert Island along with a number of smaller adjacent islands and also a section of the Schoodic Peninsula. This park was originally called Sieur de Monts. Later it was called the Lafayette National Park in the year 1919. The name Acadia was given finally in the year 1929. A recent survey points out that nearly 3.5 million visitors and travelers came to see the park in the year 2017. The park includes natural elements like the long stretching oceanic coastline, mountains, and woodlands of deciduous and coniferous trees, ponds, lakes, and wetlands.

 

Big Bend National Park – This famous national park of North America is based in Texas. The park is a significant national feature as is considered to be the biggest projected and reserved area in the region of Chihuahua Desert. This national park is the habitat of more than 1200 species of plants and also harbors more than 450 species and varieties of birds. You can also 75 specifies of animal and a total of 56 reptiles. This park is also a rich geological labyrinth where you can get dinosaur bones, sea fossils and also volcanic dikes. The park runs along the Rio Grande that serves to be a boundary between US and Mexico. This is why visitors to this park have to adhere to a good number of rules.

 

Yellowstone National park – It is yet again one of the most famous national parks that can be found in North America. In fact, situated in Wyoming, the Yellowstone National Park is one of the first ever national parks of the US and also the world largely. The park is renowned for its wildlife diversity and other geothermal features. The Old Faithful geyser is one of the chief attractions. The park has a diverse ecosystem however it is the subalpine forests that are the most prominent ecosystem layer. Yellowstone National park also has other attractions like the canyons, the natural lakes and rivers and also the mountain ranges. Yellowstone Lake is one of the central attractions of the park that is centered on the biggest super volcano of the country – Yellowstone Caldera.

 

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Great Smoky Mountains – The mountain range originates from the North Carolina – Tennessee border and they are a sub-range to the famous and iconic Appalachian Mountains. The locals even refer to the range as ‘Smokies”. The park was established in the year 1934. Millions of tourists come to visit this park every year. This national park is included within the International Biosphere Reserve. The park is the natural habitat of the oldest forests of the Mississippi River Region. This place is also known to have the largest population of black bear and also the most diverse of the salamander.

 

Arches national park – Located in eastern Utah in North America, this is a national park that is just adjacent in its position to the Colorado River. The park boasts of 2000 and more natural sandstone arches that will also include the famous Delicate Arch. The park is also the home to many other geological formations and other significant resources. The park, in fact, boasts of the highest number of natural arches in the whole world. The park receives less than 10 inches of rainfall every year on an average. The park receives an estimation of 1.8 million tourists every year. It was originally called a national monument. However, the idea was revised and in 1971 it was designated as a national park.

 

The Adirondack Mountains and park – The Adirondack Mountains and the encircled park (that is encompassed by the mountains) is a massif situated in the northeastern part of New York. The boundaries of the park and the mountains correspond. The mountains give rise to a rough circular dome that is about 260 km in its diameter. This is one of the most interesting sites for camping in North America. The place has a heavy forest that includes a large variety of vegetation, species of trees and different types of animals, birds, and reptiles. There are marshes, swamps, and bogs that contain painted turtles spotted salamanders and a host of other animals.

 

Olympic National Park – This is a national park in North America that is situated in Washington. The park is based on the famous Olympic peninsula. The park consists of four different geographic regions – the Pacific coastline, the temperate rainforests, the alpine areas and the eastern side forest which is comparatively a drier area. The park within its frame boasts of three different ecosystems that will include the wildflower meadows, the subalpine forests and the rugged Pacific coast. The park has been declared by UNESCO to be an International Biosphere Reserve. In the year 1981, it was also declared to be a World Heritage Site.

 

Zion National Park – Located near Springdale in the southwestern region of Utah the Zion National Park is one of the most prominent national parks of North America. Zion Canyon is one of the significant features of this park. The walls of this canyon are reddish-tan hued. The park has unique geography being cradled between the Great Basin, The Colorado Plateau, and the Mojave Desert. It has different ecosystems and life zones that contain a wide diversity of animals and plants. There are over 289 types of birds, 75 species of mammals and 32 varieties of reptiles in the park. The different ecosystems of the park consist of the woodlands, the desert, the coniferous forests and the riparian. Within the Zion National Park, you can see beautiful mountains, magnum opus canyons, flowing rivers, and pristine natural arches. It is one of the best places for camping in North America. This is one of the most popular destinations when it comes to attract tourists and travelers from all over the world. This park receives millions of visitors every year.

 

Badlands National Park – The list of the national parks and natural reserves for camping in North America is never complete if we do not consider the name of Badlands National Park in South Dakota. To be precise it is based in the southwestern part of South Dakota. The park is the homeland of one of the biggest unscathed mixed-grass prairie in the US. It contains eroded buttes and the pinnacles. This is the habitat where one of the most endangered mammals of the world – the black-footed ferret has been reintroduced and is being fostered for a bigger population.

 

Crater Lake National Park – The Crater Lake is considered to be the fifth oldest national reserves and parks in North America. It is the only national park that is located in the southern region of Oregon. The caldera of Crater Lake is one of the chief attractions of this park. The Mount Mazama which is a destroyed volcano is also one of the attractions of the place. The park is encircled with hills and beautiful forests. It is one of the best places for camping and trekking. The Crater Lake is the second deepest lake in North America and it holds the ninth position for the same parameters when evaluated across the world. The lake has a striking blue color that attracts millions of visitors every year.

 

The Mount Rainier National Park – This national park is one of the prime attractions of camping in North America. This national park is based in the southeastern region of the Pierce County in Washington. The park was inaugurated and opened to all in the year 1899. It was opened as the fifth national park of the US. The Cascade Range is the highest point in Mount Rainier national park. The park has various attractions like rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and mountains. It is the home to a wide diversity of flora and fauna and it attracts a large gamut of visitors from all over the world every year.

 

See also: 5 things not to do with an ESTA

 

The above mentioned national parks are just a few of the national parks and reserves that can be found in different parts of North America. The continent of North America is a large one and it has diverse natural resources and ecosystems throughout its length and breadth. Hence this is a continent where you can find a large variety of camping sites and attractions that can cater to different types of people with different requirements and likings.

 

Before you think of moving out for a camping trail first make a clear understanding of the type of place that you wish to see. Mind the weather conditions too. This will help you to have a fruitful and a safe camping experience in the place. Additionally, you must also do detailed research about the prohibitions and the other rules and regulations that you need to follow once you are in that place.

 

eTA and ESTA- an Easy Way to Visit North America

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Travelling around the world is interesting and intriguing. We get to see the world and experience the differences that create a rainbow joining the poles so apart from each other. Earlier times travelling the world was not that much hard as the geographical barriers were convenient enough to cross with the newly invented ships and railroad. Paperwork was also a lot less compared to now. But as time went by and times changed, the security around geographical boundaries became tighter.

Paperwork increased and the concept of visa was slowly built up upon. Each and every country had different requirements that needed to be met prior to issuing the visa for that country. North America was a favorite with tourists for its raw beauty but the long process of procuring a visa often drew many away from travelling to the country and experiencing its culture. And the visa for every country differed. So application for making visas was also developed upon. Also, the visas were categorized as issued as required.

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The Concept of Visa

Visa is a permit to visit a country that you don’t have citizenship of. To enter the geographical boundaries of a nation that is not your motherland you need to fill out an application form stating your purpose of visit and the time you require to stay over there. Along with this, you need to assure the authorities that you have no past criminal records whatsoever or any kind of court cases pending against you. After a thorough background check is done and the details that you have provided are verified the visa application is forwarded for further checks. The visa is issued once all the checks are complete.

Categories of Visa

There are many different categories of visa to sort out the priority of the visa and to keep a track of migration as well as visitors. Also, the categories help both the country and the foreign land to keep an eye on the flow of people and eliminate any possible threats. Following are the visa categories available for issuance.

  1. Work Visa
  2. Student Visa
  3. Tourist Visa
  4. Dependent Visa
  5. Immigrant Visa

These visas are further divided into various sub categories. Each country has its own list of visa subcategories. Visiting North America for a foreigner can be quite tedious due to its huge visa requirements. To lessen the burden of issuing a visa for every small trip meant to last only a few days, electronic authorization was developed. This authorization was only given to the citizens of that country who checked under the Visa Waiver list. This made it easy for both the authorities handling the inflow and outflow of tourists and the tourists visiting the country.

Touring North America

Travelling to North America has become quite easy now as many different varieties of visa are available. Obtaining a visa can be a bit difficult for those citizens whose mother country does not have a bilateral agreement with North America. On the other hand, if you are from countries like Great Britain, France and Spain then you can visit the continent without a visa provided your tenure of the visit is no more than 90 days or one and a half month. Having a travel visa for North America also gives you a free pass to travel to Canada on minimum paperwork. North America is a huge continent and there is no end of tourist places to go and visit. You can also pay a visit to Mexico although some other extra formalities might be needed to be filled out.

Making an application for a visa is now even easier with the digital world progressing at a fast rate. There are ways to enter North America without a visa as well if you are well acquainted with the visa waiver procedures and you fulfil the requirements for the same. eTa and ESTA are two electronic mediums through which you can visit North America and Canada respectively without a visa. Let us have a clearer look at eTa and ESTA as these two are often confused as another type of visiting visa.

Check here the requirements for obtaining an ESTA Authorization.

What is eTa?

  • eTA is for Canadian entry and is an electronic medium of authorization that gives you a clearance to board a flight and enter the country without a visa provided you fall under the Visa Waiver Programme.
  • It has a validity of five years from the time of its issuance and is not at all connected to the number of days that you are allowed to stay in the country without a visa.
  • eTA normally makes the long difficult process of obtaining a visa easier and if you want to visit the country for a few days you can easily use this authorization to enter the country and go around. For a few day tour plans, you would now no longer need to apply for a visa and go through mind-numbing extra-long procedures.
  • eTA basically means Electronic Travel Authorization. It is a basic transit pass that helps you to catch your flight from a Canadian airport without a visa. But then also you will need to provide all the required documents at the immigration check center.
  • If you have already been to the country before on an eTA then you need to show the required proofs and a valid passport. Having a permit also speeds up the process and increases the chances of you getting a re-entry to the country.
  • Only the travelers who are availing the services of flights need an eTA. Travelers who are securing entry into the country through a bust, ship or train do not need to produce an eTA.
  • Also, if you belong to the U.S. you do not need to possess an eTA. Canadian citizens also do not need to apply for this transit authorization.
  • Those who belong from the Visa Waiver program can apply for the flight clearance but those belonging from other countries that do not fall under the visa waiver list need to have a visa if your travel route is via Canada.

What is ESTA?

  • ESTA is an electronic authorization or flight clearance for visiting as well for transit through USA air and sea ports.
  • You can apply for this clearance if your native country has bilateral agreements and falls under the checklist of the Visa Waiver Program.
  • Having an ESTA helps to get easy passage through North America although the passage and entry are very strictly regulated by the border security officials and the other concerned authorities.
  • While applying for ESTA under the Visa Waiver Program it is of utmost importance that you do not hold a travel visa.
  • You have to provide all the proofs and also employment records if needed to gain entry via ESTA.
  • The full form for ESTA is Electronic System for Travel Authorization. You can easily apply online from your home, office, or even a coffee shop.
  • Ensure that you have a valid passport. You must be a citizen of a country that comes under the Visa Waiver Program.
  • The ESTA allows you a stay for lesser than 90 days for either travel or business purposes. But to enter the country you must have complete and original documents to show to the authorities.
  • Immediate approvals for Australian travelers were already available but for security reasons, they have been withdrawn and now the Australian citizens visiting the USA for a shorter period of time have to apply for an ESTA Authorization at least 72 hours in advance. If this application is not done and processed on time the airlines can deny the flyer from boarding the flight.

Applying for eTA and ESTA

If you have plans visiting both USA and Canada then we invite you to apply for ESTA and for eTA – the Canadian online travel permit. Each of them is valid separately and permits entrance

eTA Application:

  • The eTA application form is quick and simple to fill. All you’ll need are your personal details and contact information along with proof of identity and scanned copy of the documents.
  • If your application is taking time to get processed then do not fret as it might sometime take some days to verify and process all the information.
  • It is advised that you pre-book your eTA first before you book your flight ticket as a potential delay may also detain you from boarding your flight and thus causing you a huge financial loss. And of course, will disrupt your plans.
  • You can fill up the application one by one if you are visiting with a group of people.
  • Be careful while entering your passport number as entering a wrong passport number might result in cancellation of your trip and transit pass.
  • Once your application is processed you will receive the eTA on the e-mail address you had provided earlier while filling out the form.
  • The check-in at the airport ensures that you have the correct passport and all the identity proofs with you. In case you had to provide additional documents carry the original of those documents as well.

See also: 10 Ordinary Things not to Bring with You on the Airplane

ESTA Application:

  • ESTA application is also made online. The application form is pretty straightforward and you will need to put in only the amount of information asked for.
  • While filling up the forms you will need to fill out the answers to some questions asked.
  • You will be contacted through your e-mail or your contact number to inform you about your ESTA approval.
  • Only citizens of those countries falling under Visa Waiver can apply for this type of travel permit.
  • While checking-in, you will be required to provide all the related documents along with your valid passport. Remember to carry any additional documentation that you had uploaded while applying for your ESTA Authorization.

Although these mediums have lessened the load on issuing a visa, these two authorizations have some boundaries and these boundaries are strictly regulated. Although the permission is received almost immediately after application, lack of proper documentation can result in cancellation.

Now that you have a clearer idea of eTA and ESTA you are free to go on a North American tour anytime you want. It not only makes the procedure of your travel easier but also ensures that you get all the facilities that a person with a visa does. Also, it is important that you already have a return ticket after you get the clearance for boarding the flight without a visa. Enjoy a happy tour to North America and continue onwards to the dream country of Canada with your eTA and ESTA.

 

 

5 things not to do with an ESTA

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For various reasons including changes in political landscape, economic factors and security related issues, the norms for traveling to foreign countries and immigration can change. In the last decade, the visa and immigration rules for foreign nationals traveling to the USA have changed quite a lot. Based on factors like nationality, income level, job type and purpose of travel- you need to apply for different types of Visas to travel to the USA. In certain situations, you may actually enter US territory without having a Visa. While this provision has certain limitations, the ESTA has come across as an alternative for citizens of specific countries to travel to the USA without having Visa for a specified period.

Apply today and get your ESTA travel permit by email.

Nuances of ESTA you need to know

Intended to replace the I-94W green form, the ESTA was introduced by the Department of Homeland Security in the USA after the 9/11 attacks. Its objective is filtering entry of foreign nationals who can pose security threat to the USA.

ESTA is the abbreviation of Electronic System for Travel Authorization. This is a digital and automated framework used for assessing eligibility of applicants under VWP category countries for getting entry into the USA for a temporary period. 2009 onwards, the citizens of countries covered by the much touted Visa Waiver Program need ESTA clearance to enter the USA under certain situations. Once the ESTA application gets approved, it stays valid for a 2 year period. It is possible for the applicants to come to USA several times within that duration but they cannot stay for more than 90 days at one stretch. ESTA is required when the VWP country citizens enter the USA through air or water routes. It is not required for those who choose land routes.

The need for ESTA

The VWP country citizens may opt for ESTA under certain situations:

  • When they need to visit the USA for any business related needs and may have to stay in US states for a month or more.
  • If they want to enroll in short term courses in any US university.
  • If they need to do any internship in an institute or college in the USA.
  • If they want to travel in the USA and want to visit relatives etc.
  • When any of these requirements crop up on short notice.
  • If you need to undergo a short term medical treatment in the USA and that requires hospitalization for several weeks.

Learn the advantages of ESTA

There are quite a few benefits of applying for ESTA for the people living in the VWP countries.

  • ESTA gets approved much faster than any kind of US VISA. In most cases, applicants get Clarence in a few minutes online and application status is cleared in 72 hours maximum. This is much faster than Visa application which may take months.
  • ESTA approval does not require you going anywhere and it can be done online.
  • Once ESTA is approved, it is possible to pay several visits to the USA in next 2 years.

Check here if you are eligible for ESTA.

Important facts on ESTA you must know

There exist doubts and misconceptions about the ESTA even though it was made compulsory for VWP country citizens. These are:

  • Do not think ESTA is equivalent of a VISA-It would be wrong to think of ESTA as a substitute for a proper US Visa. A Visa enables you to work or study in the USA in legitimate way or apply for citizenship. With ESTA you simply get the chance to visit the USA for a limited period. It lets you stay in the USA for a period not exceeding 90 days at one time.
  • ESTA does not work without passport- Your passport must be proper to get clearance for ESTA. It is based on the information mentioned in your passport, the approval for ESTA is given. In fact, the two year validity of ESTA is short terminated if the applicant’s passport validity expires within that period. If the information in your passport is changed for any reason and you have ESTA approval, you have to re apply for it.
  • ESTA application submission can yield any of the 3 responses- when you apply for ESTA online, there can be any of the three responses. You may receive approval soon (Authorization Approved), or you may need to wait to get clearance (Authorization pending) and or face denial (Travel Not Authorized). In the last case, you cannot opt for ESTA to travel to the USA.
  • ESTA is required by all applicants- The citizens of VWP countries will need to apply for ESTA, it does not matter what the age or gender is. Even the kids are covered though their parents can apply on their behalf.
  • ESTA does not guarantee entry to US states- While approval for ESTA lets the people of VWP nations travel to the USA, a final screening awaits them. After arriving to the USA by ship or flight, each ESTA cleared foreign national is screened by the S. Customs and Border Protection department. The US customs department has the right to deny entry to people they find unsuitable even if they have ESTA approval at this point.
  • ESTA denial does not mean ‘no entry’ to the USA- A lot of people feel let down when their ESTA application is turned down. If you receive denial upon applying online for ESTA, it does not mean you are barred from visiting the USA forever! You can still very well apply for an US Visa by visiting the US embassy.

See also: What to Do If You Need Medical Care While Visiting the United States

Things you should not do when opting for ESTA

There are a number of things that you should not do when opting for ESTA. These mistakes can reduce your chance of getting approval and may lead to troubles later. These are:

  • Overlooking the passport issues – It is always necessary that you cross check the passport details both before applying for ESTA and before traveling with ESTA. It may so happen that your passport details got changed after obtaining ESTA approval. In that case, you may be denied entry to USA even with valid ESTA! This can happen when the US customs department spots discrepancy in your ESTA information and that of the passport. The passport has to be digital or machine readable too. It is also necessary that you check the passport expiry date before traveling to the USA with ESTA. You may stay for 90 days with ESTA in the USA but if your passport expires before 90 days you can’t stay after that date. If the visit is for an urgent purpose, you have to be careful on this aspect.
  • Opting for long term career opportunities- The USA has some of the top educational institutions and universities and they lure millions of students. However, it would be wrong if you use ESTA to visit the USA for study. Only short term courses can be covered by ESTA. For anything more than 90 days, you will need a Visa.
  • Overlooking ESTA for visiting a different country through the USA- The citizens of VWP nations need to apply for ESTA even if they use US airports for visiting different countries.
  • Applying for ESTA without much time in hand- It is true that application for ESTA does not take much time and most applicants get clearance. However, you should not apply at the eleventh hour! You have to think of all possibilities to be on safe side. What if the application is rejected for any reason and you have little time to apply for an US Visa? That is why it is prudent that you apply for ESTA at least 2 months before you travel date to the US destination. That leaves you with enough time to apply for standard Visa if ESTA is rejected.

Not keeping documents ready and lack of confidence- Even after you obtain clearance for ESTA, there is a final round that you need to clear to get entry to the US territory. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection department will screen you to determine any security risk after you arrive at any US airport with ESTA. This is a crucial stage and you have to be careful. Certain mistakes may make the customs agents deem you with suspicion and that may mar your prospect of getting final clearance! Lack of confidence and inability to answer their questions with clarity may lead to denial of entry. It is necessary that you answer all queries without showing nervousness or fumbling- to begin with. It is better that you keep documents along with to show as evidence of your answers. This can be necessary when you are planning to visit some relatives or friends in the USA. Documents pertaining to any medical treatment or course also need to be kept ready at this phase.  With confidence and preparation, this can be cleared without much hassle.

10 Ordinary Things Not To Bring With You On The Airplane

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Security is becoming very stringent all over the world due to terror threats and this situation has raised the security and safety grades of national and international flights all over the world. In the U. S., the safety of flights is taken more seriously than any other country. Many common items are banned in the U.S. airlines flights.  No one wants to miss a flight but it happens quite often, especially for first-time flyers. Flights are missed even after reaching the airport on time and embarrassing situations are created because people are not aware of security rules and they end up carrying things with them that are confiscated at the airport security checkpoint. This causes unnecessary problems other than delayed or missed flights.

Apply today and get your ESTA document by email!

If you are flying with any US airlines then you must know that they have beefed up their security checks at the airport and many new rules have been put into place.  The safety and security of the flights and the passengers is the first priority of the TSA (Transport and Security Administration). With frequent terror threats, TSA has increased the check-in time and a very strict open check-in process is followed at the security check. If you are caught with any item that is not allowed, you might find yourself in trouble and your item may also be confiscated. Therefore, to avoid any trouble you should acquaint yourself with the list of items that are allowed and those that are banned on flights.

The first thing that all passengers should know is that there are two types of baggage allowed on every flight. The first is check-in baggage that is deposited at the airlines counter when you check-in for your flight. This is the heavy suitcases that go into the cargo area of the airplane. The other type of luggage is what you are allowed to carry with you in the seating area of the aircraft. This is known as cabin baggage. Cabin baggage is smaller in size and lighter in weight and can be easily carried with you.

There are certain items that cannot be kept in the hand baggage but are allowed in check-in bags and there are certain items that are not allowed in both.  To resolve your confusion, here is a list of items that can be carried in your luggage and that can’t be carried at all both in checked-in luggage and cabin bag.

So, let’s get started with 10 things that are not allowed in both the checked bag and cabin bags:

  1. Explosives and replicas of explosives: Explosives are considered a threat to aircraft and are not allowed in the flights. You must remember that even the replicas of these items (even if they are toys) are not allowed in the flights. If you carry such items or replica of such items unknowingly, airlines will not accept any excuse and might call the explosive experts or the police and the bomb squad. This situation will lead to emergency and costly evacuations, delays and missed flights. Some of the dangerous items that you cannot carry on the flight with you are fireworks, gunpowder, and flare guns.
  1. Flammable liquids and solids: Flammable liquids or solids are restricted in flights and they cannot be carried in checked-in baggage or cabin bags because they can cause fatal accidents and endanger the safety and security of the passengers and the crew members. Most of these products are banned from carrying but there are exceptional cases where a limited amount of items likes aerosol toiletries, such as hair spray, hair mousse, antiperspirant can be carried on the flights but only in checked-in baggage. Following is a list of flammable liquids and solids that cannot be carried in the flights and are completely banned:
  • Fuel
  • Paint
  • Gas torches
  • Torch Lighters
  • Flammable glues
  • Thinners
  • Solvents
  1. Household items: There are many household items that are considered hazardous or dangerous to be carried on the US flights, and they cannot be carried in either checked-in or cabin baggage. Some of these items are:
  • Bleach
  • Spray Starch
  • Insecticides
  • Drain cleaners
  • Aerosols
  • Bathroom cleaners
  • Grill lighters, matchbox, lighter fluid- allowed in carrying bags
  • Paintball gums
  • Any kind of poisons
  • Infectious materials
  • Corrosives
  • Organics
  • Radio-active materials
  • Magnetic items

The rules related to some of the above-mentioned items may vary, therefore, you should check with your airline if you want to take any such item with you.

Check here if your passport is eligible to apply for ESTA travel permit.

  1. Marijuana: Laws related to marijuana vary from state to state. Some states in the US allow the limited use of marijuana after the age of 21 while others don’t. But rules related to marijuana are the same for maximum flights and it is clearly not allowed to bring marijuana on flights. In fact, you can’t carry it past the TSA security check screening point, and you also cannot carry it in either carry bag or checked-in bag. You should also know that you may be prevented from boarding your flight if you are intoxicated because you won’t be able to react properly during an emergency, and you will become a hazard for both crew members and other passengers. It is not allowed even if it is for medical purpose and prescribed by the doctor. The smoking zone also prevents the use of marijuana.
  1. Self-heating meals / ready to eat meals: Due to the self-heating element, such meals are not allowed in most of the U.S. flights. The rules may vary for different airlines. Some airlines may allow them in the cabin baggage and others in checked-in bags and some don’t allow these meals at all. Liquid or gel items more than 3.4 oz are also not allowed. Before taking any such item, you must cross check with the airline authorities and get a clear picture of their policies related to food and self-heating meals.
  1. Sole insoles that contain gel: Gel sole insoles are banned because they are said to have more than 3 ounces of liquid and they can leak if punctured. Along with gel insoles, other gel items that are banned are gel candles and child soothers. All such gel items will be confiscated at the check pint.
  1. Grenade shaped items: Any toy or bottle or even a perfume bottle that looks like a grenade should be left behind at home as they are not allowed in flights. Any such thing can be confiscated and you can put yourself in unnecessary trouble.
  1. Peroxide: No matter how much you love using it in the day to day life but it is a complete no-no in the flights. You can buy peroxide locally once you reach your destination as they are easily available in most of the countries.
  1. Brie cheese: Brie cheese is considered to be a liquid and will be taken away at the airport security checkpoint. Thus, instead of losing your favourite cheese you should make the arrangement of getting it couriered to your destination.
  1. Protein powder: The TSA does not allow protein powder on board and no logic or reason will work with them. In fact, other powdered substances like instant coffee, powdered milk or spices are also not allowed on board.

See also: How the Recent Brexit is Affecting Your Travel to the USA

10 Things Allowed in Checked-in Baggage but Not Allowed in Cabin Bags

  1. Defence sprays

You cannot carry pepper spray or mace with you in your pocket or carry bag into the cabin of the plane, but you can have it in your checked-in baggage. However, do remember not to carry more than 4 ounces.  It is always better to tell your airlines at the checkpoint if you are carrying pepper spray in your checked-in baggage when you reach the checkpoint. If you walk through security with the pepper spray canister, metal detectors or the screening method will detect them. Secondly, if you look suspicious to the authorities, you will be questioned and your pepper spray canister will get confiscated, and this can also lead to you missing the flight. If you want a pepper spray for your safety while travelling, you should buy a new one after reaching your destination or courier it to your destination before you reach there.  Sprays that are not allowed in the flights are:

  • Pepper spray
  • Mace
  1. Electronic cigarettes/ vapour cigarettes: Both E-cigarettes and vapour cigarettes generate an excessive amount of nicotine and they are not allowed in cabin bags by some airlines. However, some airlines do allow them so check with them. Few flights allow you to carry them in your cabin bag but they have a strict no-smoking rule on the flight. In fact, flights will not let you board if you have attempted to smoke or smoked your E-cigarettes in previous fights. Therefore, to keep yourself away from such embarrassing situations, you must not try to smoke these cigarettes inside the premises of the airport.
  1. Household items: Household items that are not allowed in carry-on bags but allowed in checked-in baggage are:
  • Metal knives of any length
  • Box cutters
  • Razors
  • Ice picks
  1. Samsung Galaxy Note 7: US airline passengers are not allowed to use or charge their Samsung Galaxy Note 7 on planes because the batteries of the Note 7 can catch fire and explode. Other than US airlines, Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia, and Indian Airlines have also banned the use and charging of the Note 7. Some airlines have also banned the charging of mobile phones even in switched off mode.  You are not allowed to use or charge Samsung Galaxy Note 7 but you can carry them in your checked-in baggage.
  1. English Christmas crackers: These crackers create the sound of bang while splitting apart that can confuse travelers and hence they are not allowed in your cabin baggage, but you can pack them in your check-in baggage.
  1. Snow globes: If your snow globe has less than 100 ml of liquid then you may carry it in your check-in bag but because there is no way to measure the liquid, there is a possibility that you might have to give it up at the airport if you are questioned.
  1. Throwing stars: These stars are considered as weapons and are not allowed in cabin bags. In fact, any kind of martial art weapons are not allowed in flights. Some flights may not allow them in check-in baggage either. Therefore, it will be a good idea to ask your airline about the rules and regulations related to throwing stars or any martial art weapons.
  1. Sports equipment: Except for sports parachutes most equipment related to sports are banned in US flights. Some of these may include:
  • Bats
  • Rackets
  • Darts game
  • Hiking stick
  • Ice skates
  • Fishing rod
  • Diving equipment
  • Crossbows and arrows
  • Swords
  • Javelins
  • Golf clubs
  • Canoes and paddles
  1. Professional equipment: If you are a plumber or mechanic who needs a lot of equipment in the day to day life and you want to carry it in your flight then you must pack this equipment in your check-in baggage, but only after cross-checking with your airline whether these items are allowed or not. Some of the equipment definitely not allowed in the hand luggage are:
  • Cutting tools bigger than 6 cm
  • Drill and drill accessories
  • Cutting mats
  • Saws
  • Hammers
  • Aerosol paint
  • Paint thinner
  • Blade and screwdrivers

10: Guns: They are weapons and are hence not allowed in the handbag. Only empty licenced guns are permitted in your checked-in baggage, but they should be locked in a hard container. There may be an additional fee for carrying a gun in your luggage. Hence, you must check with your airlines regarding the rules and regulations of carrying guns in flights. It is important to check these regulations because the laws related to guns may vary from one US state to another.

If you are traveling anytime soon within the US or to the US, the information in this article will ensure that you do not get into any trouble due to ignorance.

Social Media

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If you are going to the US you use ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) to support your application. It requires personal information to see if you are eligible to travel. The online application collects biographic information and answers to important questions. Under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), it doesn’t guarantee you admission but it speeds up the process at the port of entry.

 

Social media and ESTA

 

Over the past week, the US government has introduced new ways of obtaining personal information. The online application now asks for your social media account names. It includes Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have said that they won’t deny entry to people who didn’t provide this information. Although this is currently still optional, it is only a matter of time before this is mandatory.

 

They have been consulting on this since summer and there has been a lot of criticism. Given that it has now appeared on the online form, opponents are furious. Currently there are no clear data protection guidelines on what is a mass invasion of privacy. Social media groups argue that it is a threat to freedom of expression. Various democratic think tanks suggested it would give government agencies too much power.

 

Why do they need your social media account names?

 

The government’s intentions are clear. They are collecting social media to track data about opinions, beliefs, identity and community. Certain people will be inevitable targets with Muslim communities being affected more than others. Although people currently have a choice to hand over the information, this programme is just the beginning.

 

Who is going to argue human rights with an intimidating airport officials? After several hours on an aeroplane, your priority is to get through the official process as quick as possible. Toiletries and medicines in clear bags, shoes, belts, full body scans. Security leaves you feeling dishevelled and without dignity at the best of times. So you’ll do and say anything to make the process as smooth as possible.

 

They have justified this new policy as a way of identify potential threats. They are looking to identify and deny entry to people who have links to terrorism.  The more information they have about an individual, the better the chances of catching extremists. They already scan limited amounts of social media posts but this would huge.

 

Who else will follow suit?

 

People need to travel for business, family and pleasure and in 2015 alone, the US had 77.5 million foreign visitors. The quantity of social media information the government will collect is staggering. Commentators suggest that it will be one of the largest government controlled databases of its kind.

 

Whether you agree with the US government’s policy or not, we all worry about non-official use of our data. The US is a supposed democratic and a ‘free’ society. But if it can demand our Facebook friends list to decide whether we are a security risk, what happens if this happens elsewhere? For instance, you might need to travel to a country where homosexuality is illegal. If officials spot a pattern of supporting gay rights, regardless of your sexuality, it could put your safety at risk.

 

US & Cuba

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Historic tensions between the US and Cuba have made travel between the two countries problematic. It’s not going to get any easier either. The new president-elect, Donald Trump is no fan of their communist regime. But with Fidel Castro’s death at the end of November, there may be some change in attitude.


Many exiled Cubans in the States will perhaps be closer to the dream of returning home. In parts of Miami people have been celebrating. Some of the families there have lived outside their home land for decades but have not lost hope. Castro’s death won’t have an immediate effect with regards to their freedom and rights but it is significant.

Against this news, it is timely to look at the process should a Cuban national want to visit the United States. In recent years there has been a softening in attitudes but it remains controversial. Cuban officials have generally had visa applications rejected but Obama has been more sympathetic. For instance, in 2012 they granted Castro’s daughter a visa, causing some outrage.

The US runs a visa waiver scheme which is available to nationals from a list of selected countries. If you don’t have a visa for entry, but you’re from certain parts of Europe or Australasia, you can apply for ESTA online approval. Cuba is not on that list and despite legislation softening, people will find it hard to get approval. In October 2016 new regulations made changes to ease US-Cuba travel restrictions.  US immigration now says that Cubans are eligible for most standard US visas. But this isn’t reciprocated by the Cuban government.

When you look at how many visa applications the US government rejects, it explains why Cuba has such a problem with reciprocation. In 2008 45.2% were rejected, followed by 66.2% in 2014, with a jump to 76.03% in 2015. People may be eligible but they are being rejected and it’s a massive increase in a relatively short period. The reason for this high rejection rate is the ability – or lack thereof – to prove intent. The prospective traveller has to reassure immigration that they will leave the US when they say they will. This is why they need information about the applicant’s personal circumstances and reasons for travel.

This discriminates against younger applicants. The fear is that once these young people are on American soil, they will deploy the ‘wet feet, dry feet’ argument to stay. The Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) says that Cubans who reach US shores can apply for permanent residence. And given that most people are successful, immigration officials are keen to ensure this method isn’t used.

As we have seen across the globe, immigration remains subject to political whim. Despite Obama’s liberal stance, Cuban visa rejections rose. The death of the Cuban revolutionary figurehead may help the country further their trade interests with neighbouring states. But trade requires travel and this will require further easing of US visa requirements. However, although President-Elect Trump cannot be predicted, his attitude to immigration is well established. We can only hope for the best for people wanting to travel.