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Hot Tip of The Day

Pack Your Music Next Time You Travel

Never travel without your zone. An MP3 player can take you away from the stress of the moment to a place where there are no line ups, delays or lost luggage - only that country, jazz or Elvis tune you can't get enough of...

MP3 players are available now for less than $30US for a 1 GB player (about 250 songs). If you want more music, a 30GB Zune (approx $190) or the Apple 80GB iPod with video (approx $260US) can hold more songs than most of us even know. All the major music download sites (Limewire, Ares, iTunes, etc) let you quickly (and cheaply) find your favorite rockin' tunes.

There's nothing better than trading the stress of downtown traffic or a crowded airport for that special brand of relaxation only Sister Christian can deliver.

~ Mia, New Hampshire

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Navigating the highways of life - GPS devices

There's nothing more exciting than traveling somewhere you've never been. But driving through an unknown locale can be as stressful as navigating an alien landscape.

A navigational GPS (Global Positioning System) from Garmin, TomTom or Mio can be your guide within North America. Mount them directly on your dashboard and you'll have a voice telling you exactly how to get from point A to point B. With some, you can even pick the accent and gender of the voice.

They're pre-loaded with maps of Canada and US and can get you from Toronto to Albuquerque via satellite connectivity with no wise cracks about your driving skills.

Expect to spend at least $150 at any major local electronics retailer (Staples, Best Buy, Source). Spending more gets you added bells and whistles on the core mapping technology (like MP3, language variety, traffic alerts, etc) but most users are fine with a basic model.

~ Stacy, New Jersey

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Save those memories – camera buying tips

If you're planning a getaway, cap off your camera expenses at $300 for quality as good as professional.

  • Print quality: A 4 MP (Megapixel) camera prints top-notch 5x7" prints, a 5-6 MP prints hi-res 8x10's. More than 6 MP can be overkill unless you are looking for poster-sized prints.
  • Optical zoom: For close-ups (3x is the standard) and forget digital zoom. You'll end up with a grainy image.
  • Best mode: You can always scale down, but you can't enhance a low-resolution image to make it sharper.
  • Memory card: Combine with 5 MP camera and you'll have hundreds of photos to share when you get home.

~ GG Staff

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Smart beach packing

Always pack your bathing suit in your carry-on so you're ready to hit the beach when you arrive.

~ Sam, New York

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Beating the crowds

When you go to Disney or Universal Studios, head to the back of the park first and work your way to the front. You'll get to the best rides before the crowds (because they're going the other direction) and you'll completely miss the lineups.

~ Holly, Arlington

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Book Your Own Shore Excursions

Cruise line tour operators offer a great snapshot of ports of call, but many are over-priced. Grab yourself a guidebook and research your destination before you arrive. Most tours can be booked the day of arrival at the pier, but some need to be booked ahead of time.


Just watch your timing. A tour operator endorsed by the cruise line is obligated to get you back before your ship sails - a cab driver *you* hire isn't. And cruise ships wait for no one.

~ Angela, Columbus, Ohio

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Navigating a Path Through Customs

You've spent a week trolling the markets of Casbah, but will you have a problem bringing your bounty back through customs? Not understanding customs can be a Air TravelAir Travelnasty surprise for you and your checkbook at the end of a fabulous trip.

Each time you enter a new country or return to your place of residence you need to clear customs. No one is exempt - airline attendants and pilots are subject to the same rules each time they land in a different country.

Contrary to popular belief, customs agents don't exist solely to harass travelers. Their real job is to ensure no one's bringing illegal or potentially harmful items into the country.

When you arrive at the customs counter you'll be asked if you have anything to declare. In other words, did you buy or receive anything in the country you visited? Customs officials are especially interested in plants (including fruits and vegetables), animals, alcohol, weapons and automobiles. Any item crossing the border must comply with that country's regulations or they'll be confiscated.

Customs officials are also interested in the smaller and more seemingly benign items, like jewelry, furniture, electronics or anything else they can slap a duty fee on. That silver turquoise ring may have caught your eye, but it be subject to a 100% duty fee - which means you already paid once from the vendor when you bought it, but you'll pay the full fee again to clear it through customs.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection can help you with more specific questions.

The good news is that you're eligible for an exemption, depending on how long you've been out of the country. In most cases, you'll be allowed an $800 spending allowance. If you're visiting a U.S. insular possession, such as the U.S. Virgin Islands, the duty free exemption goes up to $1600, which can be applied to any purchase except alcohol and tobacco products.

~ GG Staff

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