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10 Budget Getaways for You This Summer

by Anu Sarma on February 13, 2014 Comments Off on 10 Budget Getaways for You This Summer

It’s that time of the year when you begin making summer vacation plans. Whether you’re travelling as a couple or as a family, heading mountainside or to a beach resort, here are some ideas to help you plan a summer getaway that doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket.

Summer holidays can be much more fun when you are by the seaside. Hawaii with its azure skies, sunny weather and swaying palms remains a perennially favorite holiday spot. The state also has several affordable resorts that provide all the fun of lounging by the sea, without causing massive damage to your wallet. For instance, the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, which recently underwent a multimillion dollar renovation, offers a non-kitschy chic vibe that young travellers can enjoy. All of this is at a price tag that won’t burn your pocket -about $150 a night.

beach vacation

To enjoy some of the most tranquil beach vacations, head off the beaten path to the Inn of Manzanita, just west of Portland, Oregon. At $120, this hotel offers a surprisingly wide range of amenities, and is just about a couple of hundred feet from the Pacific Ocean.

In New York, try the Sunset Beach hotel that overlooks Shelter Island Sound and Crescent Beach. This is a small property, and for just about $ 195 a night, is the best way to summer New York- style for those who can’t afford the Hamptons.
For those whose summer vacation plans do not include the beach, there are a range of popular lake, riverside and mountain destinations. If you’re heading to the Nantucket region, check out the popular, yet intimate 76 Main. This property, which is located in the heart of the city, is a small 20-room hotel that is one of the best kept secrets in popular Nantucket.

If you’re planning to vacation in sunny Florida this summer, give the regular large chain resorts a miss, and check into the Roney Palace in South Beach. For just about $179, this hotel offers guests a beautiful infinity pool that almost blends into the waters of the Atlantic.

For another stellar dream beach vacation, head to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina with its miles of endlessly beautiful sand, and popular boardwalk,. The Westgate Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Resort is the ideal destination for families with children with its large pools, the lazy river, and children’s activity zones.

Few beach destinations are better than those that dot the California coastline. To enjoy a Cali holiday that doesn’t involve the crowded spots of Venice Beach or Malibu, head to Morro Bay, and stay at the Comfort Inn Downtown. Morro Bay is a beachside vacation spot that is off the beaten track for many holidaymakers, which means that you’ll find much of the place to your own.

If you’re planning to do the rounds of amusement parks over the holidays, head to Orlando Florida, where you can stay at the Wyndham Orlando Resort. It is close to all the major theme parks, and is an ideal destination for families looking to enjoy the theme parks of Florida, without burning a major hole in their pockets. Rooms start from just around $70 a night, which is inexpensive considering how expensive park tickets are for families.

For vacation destination ideas for families, you can’t go wrong with Yosemite. With incredible hiking trails and beautiful scenery, all available for a small entrance fee, this is an affordable getaway that families can truly enjoy. There is a selection of hotels for those who don’t fancy packing a tent, and the range will satisfy even the most picky budget traveller. The Ahwahnee Hotel is designed to look like a typical Mountain Lodge, but includes all creature comforts. The Tenaya Lodge is a little more comfortable, and offers plush bedding, Wi-Fi access, and Nintendo game consoles for those who want all modern amenities while enjoying the outdoors.

Take a walk on the wild side in America’s oldest national park, Yellowstone. There are several lodges on the park grounds, but you can make it cheaper by bringing your own bed, and setting up a space at the campground. Camps are fairly comfortable, with functional showers and flushing toilets. However, if you do want to check into a hotel, there is a selection of Holiday Inn and Best Western properties as well as other budget hotels and Yellowstone.
So take your pick, and set out on a holiday that gives you plenty of memories at an affordable cost.

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Anu Sarma10 Budget Getaways for You This Summer

When is an Emergency not an Emergency?

by Anu Sarma on November 28, 2013 Comments Off on When is an Emergency not an Emergency?

When does emergency treatment end up costing you more than it should? When you end up at the ER for all the wrong reasons. A recent piece in the ITIJ details how tourists in the US all too often rush to the emergency room (ER) for injuries and sickness due to a mistaken belief that it is the best place to receive timely medical treatment. I’ve paid a visit to the ER in California with a screaming two-year-old because it was the only place I knew where to go. But it turns out an ER may not be the best, or the cheapest, place to be in these situations. Here’s a guide to finding the best emergency treatment centers for your needs.

medical assistance

ER may not be the best option
The healthcare system in the US is the most expansive, and most complex, out of all the developed nations and visitors to America are often overwhelmed by the prospect of navigating this complicated system. For example, there are over 6,000 hospitals and 600,000 doctors in the country. Where should you go first with a sick child, or a possibly broken toe?

The Emergency Room is, as the name suggests, for urgent emergency and life threatening cases only. The ER should be reserved for the treatment of urgent and serious conditions such as heart attack, stroke, unconsciousness, or other trauma cases. Yet many tourists go to the ER with non-urgent problems because they don’t know where else to turn up. For example, flu symptoms, sprains and strains, blisters and minor burns would be better treated elsewhere.

But where is “elsewhere”? The ER is possibly the only facility that everyone – tourist and locals alike – is aware of. But other medical facilities, such as physicians’ offices, retail clinics and urgent care centers, are more appropriate for non-emergency cases.

Alternative emergency treatment centers
Urgent care centers, of which there are over 8,000 in the US, treat serious health conditions when you need attention quickly. Treated conditions include stomach viruses, fractures and sprains, cuts, flu symptoms, and fevers. Most urgent care centers accept major insurance cover and you don’t need to make an appointment. Just turn up, like you would at the ER. The difference is the treatment is much less expensive than in the ER and the staff are not likely to complain if you come in with a non life-threatening injury or illness. You will also wait for a shorter amount of time.

Retail health clinics are another option for tourists with medical concerns. These are also known as convenient care clinics and are located in shopping malls, pharmacies, and stores. These clinics have nurse practitioners and doctors’ assistants and you can go to these clinics for minor and non-urgent conditions and injuries like skin conditions, earache, sore throat, and minor infections. You will be in and out of these clinics quickly, and won’t have to endure the hours of waiting in an uncomfortable ER waiting room.

Saving money and time
These alternatives offer distinct advantages over a trip to the ER. According to UnitedHealthcare the average total cost of a trip to the Emergency Room in 2010 was almost $1,300. In contrast, a trip to the urgent care facility, doctor’s office, and retail health clinic cost $175, $105, and $73, respectively. As well as saving you money on the cost of healthcare, you will probably not have to wait as long as in the ER – this is important when you consider the levels of stress an illness or injury bring. Data from the American College of Emergency Physicians shows ER patients waited an average of four hours. On the other hand, 80 per cent of all visits to urgent care clinics were finalized within one hour or less, according to the Urgent Care Association of America.

Who wants to spend hours, and thousands of dollars, on a night in the ER when you could be effectively treated elsewhere? Remember, you have choice when you visit the US and need to be seen by a medical professional. Use that choice wisely.

Click here for information on health insurance in the USA

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Anu SarmaWhen is an Emergency not an Emergency?

How to Survive Travel Emergencies

by Anu Sarma on July 26, 2013 Comments Off on How to Survive Travel Emergencies

Many travelers don’t realise the importance of being prepared for emergencies, until they find themselves in difficult situations. Many people are organized enough and take care of bookings well in advance, take advantage of late deal offers etc. But no matter how prepared you are, from leaving home to reaching your destination, you can still be caught unaware by unexpected emergencies on your travels.


Let’s see how you can deal with such travel emergencies:
1.Travel insurance: A good travel insurance will cover a variety of situations and travel emergencies including canceled flights, accommodation issues, lost baggage etc. It will also provide medical coverage for you if you need any treatment abroad. Almost everyone can get insurance, even if one has pre existing medical conditions. So, don’t forget your travel insurance while traveling.
2. Keep back- ups: Almost all of us have a habit of checking our passports and other travel documents before our departure. Being abroad without important travel documents can easily transform your relaxing break into a nightmare. Avoid such unfortunate situations by keeping a back up of all these documents. Scan your passport, insurance information, tickets and other necessary details and keep them in a secure place.
3. Track expenses: If your plan changes like staying an extra night due to a flight cancellation or any other emergency, do not forget to keep track of your expenses. Get receipts of refreshments, meals, transportation etc to make claims from your insurance company. Tracking expenses is a vital tip to surviving travel emergencies that also helps to get your money back.
4. Consult your embassy: The US embassy can provide a lot of support, in case you find yourself in trouble. If you cannot access money abroad or lose your passport, you should consult your embassy immediately. They can help you with other issues too.
5. Know your rights: If your flight is an EU based flight and it gets delayed by over five hours, then you are entitled to cancel your reservation with full refund on your ticket cost or re book another flight. So, make sure you know what you are entitled to when you make your flight bookings.
6. Stay calm: Try to be calm and relaxed in every situation. Once you know how to handle stress, you’ll find it easier to deal with any situation.

Hopefully, you will not have to face any such situations, but in case you find yourself in any emergency while traveling, these tips can come to your aid.

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Anu SarmaHow to Survive Travel Emergencies

Best Ethnic Restaurants in New York City

by Anu Sarma on July 24, 2013 Comments Off on Best Ethnic Restaurants in New York City

In recent years, the city of New York has been the most sought after destination for international students seeking fine education. There are as many as ten internationally ranked universities in the New York area itself, Columbia University, Cornell University and New York University to name a few. Often known as the melting pot of the U.S., New York is an interesting and exciting dining destination for visitors. Students who come here from different parts of the world are excited to step out of their comfort zones and try out varied cuisines. Where ethnic food is concerned, there is no dearth of restaurants in New York, offering some of the world’s choicest cuisines.


These are some of the best ethnic restaurants in New York:
1. Periyali: Periyali is a Greek ethnic restaurant in New York that one must not miss out on. It is a great outdoor place with a welcoming atmosphere to enjoy your food. The authentic Greek dishes will keep you coming back for more.
2. Babbo: Babbo offers traditional Italian cuisine in an elegant setting. There is classic simplicity in its décor as well as the menu selection with a variety of delicious pastas and flavored meats.
3. Nobu: The Nobu restaurant is the best place for sushi lovers. Nobu captures the beautiful Japanese countryside with its natural décor and relaxing ambience. Lobster with wasabi pepper sauce and black cod with miso are the specialties on the menu.
4. Bistro Les Amis: This cheerful French bistro is a hidden gem in New York with its comfortable environs and sidewalk seating. With its typical French fare from the classic French onion soup, breads, omelettes and coffee, this restaurant truly lives up to its name with its delicious food and impeccable service.
5. Grand Sichuan: Grand Sichuan is a great restaurant located in the heart of Times Square, known for its authentic Sichuan cuisine. The food is wonderful and spicy with all time favorites like hot and sour soup, scallion pancakes, dan dan noodles and much more. With its comfortable and casual atmosphere, Grand Sichuan is perfect for a night out.
The city of New York is full of amazing places to eat and explore. To its visitors, the city offers great surprises and new experiences to last a lifetime. Discover some of its amazing ethnic restaurants and make the most of your time in this beautiful city.

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Anu SarmaBest Ethnic Restaurants in New York City

How to overcome anxiety abroad

by Anu Sarma on July 22, 2013 Comments Off on How to overcome anxiety abroad

When was the last time you panicked and needed to fight anxiety? It’s a sensation that’s definitely becoming more common. But when you are in a foreign country, anxiety can occur for many reasons, but what do you do then? Here’s a quick guide to fight anxiety abroad:

1. Breathe: It sounds far too simple, but taking control of breathing really does ease anxiety. It is known as an intervention of the mind, and it involves reassuring oneself that anxiety is normal in such situations, and focusing on restoring a normal, functional breathing rate would be beneficial. Concentrating on breathing will detach you from your symptoms and will help you to fight anxiety. It also breaks the panic cycle and slows the heart rate to make you feel better.

2. Socialize with people: While you are away from home with your family and friends miles behind, you have to create a second home abroad. Try to socialize with people and make friends. The more friends you’ll make, lesser would be your stress and anxiety levels.

3. Positive thinking: You should allow positive thoughts to come into your mind and let the negative things melt away. Whenever you feel anxious just try to remember the positive things about as to why you came here and remember the long term goals you want to achieve by studying abroad. With positivity in your mind, all anxiety would be instantly gone.

4. Explore: Apart from studying abroad, you can also explore the nearby places. Through this, you’ll get to know more about the culture and history of the place and also will create a good bonding if you are taking your friends along. While exploring different locations, you can also become familiar with the local cuisine.


5. Talk to family and friends: With the advent of mobile technology, we can be in touch with anybody, any time and at any place. You can talk to your friends or call up your family to ease your anxiety. This would really help to melt away all your worries. Stay connected with your friends and family over social networking sites or smartphone apps.

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Anu SarmaHow to overcome anxiety abroad