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Peter Greene's Top 10+ as announced on Monday, 6/6/2011
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Next show is Monday - August 1, 2011
My 2 week Athens-Rhodes-Santorini-London vacation with my adult "kids" and how I did it!
Web resources, experiences, tips and pitfalls!
- Travel.State.Gov [I used the STEP online registration for my trip and received info about the areas that we travelled] - a service of the Bureau of Consular Affairs by the U.S. Dept. of State. Find important information about travel safety for every country of the world, and you can register when you plan your trip in their "Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)". The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency. STEP also allows Americans residing abroad to get routine information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
- Booking.com [a Priceline company] - travel resource to help book/reserve your travel; system is not without flaws. You can choose to have free cancellation or save a few dollars with no cancellation rights - I would choose free cancellation - you never know what the future holds! Trying to talk to or communicate with a person is pretty much fruitless. Make sure you are clear with your selections. I have had bookings through their system with "pre-paids that are not refundable and cut in stone" [and most likely will never use this chain ever again in my travels] and ones "that are refundable but took money way in advance by mistake" [they are a small, single owner non-corporate hotel and would love to go back and visit again & again]. Booking.com even acknowledged flaws and errors. Personal Profile system is inconsistent as well so make sure you have papertrail. Other resources to use: "TripAdvisor", "TravelEye" (a Travel Search Engine), "Frommers", "Venere", "Hotels", "Expedia", "Orbitz" and "Priceline".
- ebookers.com - easy, useful and inexpensive way to book international flights and travel; also visit "SkyScanner", "EasyJet", "RyanAir" and then direct booking with the airlines themselves like "Aegean Airlines" [I had a problem with 1 of my Aegean purchases and my Visa card - explained below but was able to still get the best fare using eBookers]. I booked flights with eBookers, EasyJet, Aegean and United (I used United Frequent Flyer miles - it still costs money to fly but a lot less and your choices may be restricted).
- CarHire3000.com [based in U.K.] - I used them to get a great rate on my car rental for Rhodes and Santorini; also try "Auto Europe" and "EuropCar".
- GreekTravel.com - a travel guide to Greece by Matt Barrett. Got a referral discount to a hotel I stayed at in Athens that would not normally get if used booking.com or other travel reservation systems - so that saved about $50 on a 3-day stay. So look for other dedicated guides where you decide to travel to and see if there are referral discounts available. Other resources and guides using a wide variety of Web domain names such as: "In2Greece", "Greeka", "Greek-Tourism", "RhodesGuide" (about the island of Rhodes), "Travel-to-Santorini" (about the island of Santorini) and remember you can also search and watch videos on "YouTube".
- Google Earth - invaluable tool for understanding the relationship/distance between areas that you plan to travel as well as getting driving directions and other useful local information. I used it for viewing and understanding locations of airports to hotels, hotels to beaches, hotels to tourist attractions, hotel location to ports (for taking a "ferry" from Rhodes to Santorini) and so on. Probably the top online tool to use when initially planning your trip as well as throughout the planning before you committ to hotels and where you plan to stay and visit. And, don't forget to use "Wikipedia" too for lots of information!
- Frommers.com and "LonelyPlanet" [I bought inexpensive used version of their books to take along on Amazon and eBay - one about Greece and the other about the Greek Islands - each book cost me about $5.00 instead of around $20] - more specifically using their forums and online community to read reviews and ask questions about your trip or read about what people offer as advice to others. Gives you invaluable insight into what may well help you plan a better more enjoyable trip. Also make sure you read hotel reviews on the other resource I listed above. For exmaple, I never would have known about the changing of the (Parliament) guard in downtown Athens and to stay in a hotel near "Syntagma Square".
- PADI.com - international scuba diving prganization. You can do scuba diving all over the world.
- ChooseMyPlate.gov - a new (just announced 6-2-2011) federal government resource/tool to fight America's obesity epidemic - an official U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Web site. Say good-bye to the old Food Pyramid!
- LoonWatch.org - imagine a northern lake without the haunting calls and awe-inspiring presence of the Common Loon. LoonWatch, its Advisory Council, and volunteers are all working toward common goals of loon conservation and protection. For more information about the program, contact the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute at Northland College, (715) 682-1220, or email email@example.com.
- Other useful tips: Call your Visa/MasterCard company to let them know when you plan to travel so you can use your credit/debit card. Also let your bank or financial institution know [I used the "University of Wisconsin Credit Union VISA/debit card and paid a 1% transaction fee each time I used an ATM versus a typical 3% credit card transaction fee]. Also if you plan to use or make online purchases using "PayPal" make sure you change your travel setting in your online profile otherwise they will block it [I didn't know about this and was stuck in an endless loop trying to complete a computer equipment purchase on eBay; PayPal wouldn't let me pay for the item - they blocked me but I figured a way around it - I share how when I am on the show]. And, if you make purchases online in the U.S. but with foreign airlines - make sure you call your credit card company and tell them that you plan to reserve travel (air, ferries, etc...) because they just may decline your transaction and some of the systems don't "handshake too well" - I'll explain this on the show too! Be prepared for "US Customs" re-entry by being patient! We used 4 international passport control zones/airports/customs and probably the best one was London-Heathrow. The US Homeland Security/Customs needs to learn from them. Our system is embrassing!
*** Below are last month's choices ****
- FourSquare.com- another social media resource; a way for you & your friends to explore your city; but you'll need a cell phone.
- OnlineSocialMedia.net - want to [try to] keep up with everything online? Try this Web resource for social media news.
- Your-Story.org - need to get the news out about your products or services? Find or submit multiple press releases for free.
- FactCheck.org - [project of the "annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org"]; checks on the truth of political campaigns. Also visit: "PoliticalFacts" and "Politifact".
- MyDeco.com - redesign your home's interior using their free 3D design tool.
- TravelInsuranceReview.net - travel insurance resource that helps explain what this typically covers and costs.
- Moolanomy.com - a financial information resource that covers a variety of related topics.
- alaTest.com - All About Reviews; on consumer electronics - alaTest collects reviews from consumers and experts to help you find the best products on the market.
- NetbookReviews.com - a resource to help you on your journey to selecting the best netbook for you. Also visit "c/net's Netbook site".
- Artisteer.com- a very unique Website design automation program that instantly creates your own custom looking website templates and blog themes. Works with Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, Blogger and more. Along with Webhosting companies using Netenberg.com's product called Fantastico - the look and style of the World Wide Web is rapidly changing!
- Quick access to a way to check your Web pages to see if they comply with proper coding - W3C - CSS Validation Checker for Webpages.
Peter's schedule for appearing as a guest on Larry Meiller's show can seen by clicking here.
You can listen to Peter on WPR (Wisconsin Public Radio) - 970AM WHA Radio in Madison, WI
monthly! It is broadcast live over the WPR radio network from the 7th floor of Vilas Hall, and is "Web casted" live via Real Audio - you'll need the "Real Audio player". The show is 90 minutes in length and covers the latest in PC computer technology
, the Internet and the World Wide Web; show is a question & answer format. I have supported Wisconsin Public Radio for 23 years with a monthly radio
show on computer technology. The show is produced by Jim Packard and hosted by Larry Meiller.