Swine Flu And International Travel

Swine Flu and How it Will Affect Travel

There are some stories that cause you to immediately recalibrate the way you look at things, that change your realities in a quite profound way. In the midst of the current global financial crisis, it was always going to take a big story to drag attention away from the turmoil in the markets. The great misfortune is that the story which has done this has turned out to be another bad news story – and one with more very real human casualties. The outbreak of swine flu which arose in Mexico has become a global issue very quickly. It is still far more pronounced in Mexico than anywhere else, but it is something that nations are having to take account of, wherever they are in the world.

The fact that the virus originated in Mexico is, for a start, a hammer blow to the people of Mexico. Most importantly it has had a genuine human cost, for its victims and for the bereaved and concerned families. From the point of view of travel it has already had a major effect, as the popular Spring Break tradition of heading South from the US to the beaches of Cancun and further afield has been given a miss by many students this year. However big or small the actual risk is, there is a perception of risk, and that is enough to make a significant number of people change their plans. Meanwhile, travel the other way can lead to difficulties depending on where your destination is. Depending on the government response to the epidemic, you may face a period of quarantine in the country where you land.

As of now, there are very few prescribed steps being demanded by governments as to whether you should go to Mexico. The decision lies with the individual, although some governments have warned their national citizens against non-essential travel to destinations in Mexico. The World Health Organization has responded that it does not see a need to place any restrictions, and the facts as they stand are that at the moment, deaths from the syndrome are in the double figures worldwide. Any deaths count as too many, of course. But if you have plans to go to Mexico, there is little reason to cancel forthwith. Steps are constantly being taken to prevent its spread and treat its symptoms.

This is a rare case, and in its relative infancy compared to any similar cases. On balance, we still have a bit to find out – but there is little to be gained from closing ranks in our home countries. Mexico is currently experiencing a difficult time as a result of an outbreak that could not be foreseen and there is no reason why this should be exacerbated. By all means check several news sources for specific information on the state of play in the region where you are planning to visit. But do not let it get out of hand – hysteria helps no-one.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Travelnowsimply.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Ahmed Dawn Dot Com site. This article originally published on the above website on May 22, 2009.

Personal Development Is Not A Road To Be Travelled Alone

Give Yourself The Best Chance For Personal Growth

We are all aware of areas of our life where there is scope for personal development. It is a path that none of us can avoid taking at some time in our life, which all of us have some opinions on and some need to address in a mature and considered manner. It is also true that personal growth can be a very daunting pursuit, one which can make great demands both emotionally and physically on the person who undertakes it. For that reason, there will always be people who embark on a journey of self improvement only to find that the demands are too great and then turn their back on it at great personal cost.

In this light it is important to look at how you give yourself the best chance for personal growth. It is not something you can decide right off the bat – “I am going to succeed because I want to” – but requires a game plan that takes into account the potential drawbacks of working towards your own development. The fact is that personal development is hard work, something that requires your attention and a firm commitment to make yourself better in a number of ways. It may cause you to face difficult questions, and raise issues that require a great deal of strength if they are to be dealt with fully. For this reason, personal development plans tend to succeed more fully if they are undertaken with a friend at your side, someone who knows you well and can provide you with a boost when you need it most.

If you embark on a self improvement project, the first few days are often the hardest. You will find that changing your ways is more difficult than just deciding that “this is how things will be”. We have all found ourselves in a rut from time to time, and some of us are comfortable doing things as we have always done them. To change this requires a lot of moral strength, because it is easier and less hassle to stick with what you know. The only way to ensure that you will stick to the path is to have some encouragement, someone to rely on who will tell you to keep going, not to lose sight of why you began your personal improvement project in the first place.

By embarking on the plan with a friend or partner, you will guarantee yourself a level of encouragement and support that can make all the difference in terms of success. All too many people bring a halt to their plan for personal growth because they fall into the trap of believing the little voice that tells them “You cannot do this”. Having a friend there to contradict this voice and tell them “Of course you can do it. I believe in you” makes all the difference. So if you are looking to make a change in your life, tell a friend and encourage them to join you. It will be one of the soundest decisions you ever make – and will have positive results for both of you.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Simplepersonaldevelopment.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to this site. This article originally published on the above website on Mar 6, 2009.

Why We Spend Unnecessarily and What to Do About It

Why People Spend More Than They Earn

First Published: ADawnJournal.com July 21, 2010

Remember “the number one personal finance tip of all time” I mentioned in Ten Timeless Personal Finance Tips By Financial Author A. Dawn article? That is, you need to spend less than you earn. To spend less, you need to know why we spend more than we earn. If you can grasp the basics of the “spending more than earn” scenario, it will be a lot easier for you to save money by spending less. Let’s look at the most important factors that cause us to spend more.

Lack of Information – The majority of the population have no idea where their money is going exactly. We often ignore small spending here and there; but at the end of the month all these tiny expenses add up and turn into something big and beyond our control. To handle this, you need to keep track of your spending. I don’t believe that dollar-for-dollar budgeting works. However, you need to keep track of your spending to see the patterns in your spending behaviour and take steps to cut down on unnecessary expenses. Here is an article to help you find personal finance software to track your spending: Personal Finance Software Review by Financial Author A. Dawn

Lifestyle Habit – Keeping up with the Jones, competing with colleagues, a tendency for showing off riches to the world, acting rich and successful but not able to survive without steady paycheques, feeling a sense of power while spending money, being jealous at other people’s stuff and trying to match their possessions, an inability to say NO to others when they ask for something (although you’re not in a position to afford it), not treating credit card spending like real money, not being true to yourself, and much much more – all these are variations of lifestyle habits. Let’s be honest here – If you aren’t able to save money because of one of these reasons or a similar one, it can be a serious problem and has to be dealt with seriously. I doubt that reading articles online will be any good resolving this. If you think you have this problem, I would suggest you read a few books, and based on the severity of your problem you may need to consult a qualified financial professional. Books I recommend:

The Simple Living Guide
Your Money or Your Life by Dominguez and Robin
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley & William Danko

Instant Gratification – Here is an excerpt from my book Invest Now which is very suitable: “Every day, we face tempting opportunities to spend money. A sea of indulgences can distract you from investing for your future. “Buy now!” “Pay after one year!” “Don’t pay interest for six months!” Everyone everywhere is urging you to spend, spend, spend. I’ve even seen a “Vacation now, pay later!” advertisement on the subway. But every dollar you spend now is a dollar in lost investment opportunities that could have grown a lot more in the long run”. We are bombarded every second to buy into some “now and pay later” scheme. We want what we don’t need when we want it, and are willing to drag on paying interest to fulfill our instant gratification mentality year after year. What we don’t realise is that a $100 item is costing us $150 at the end of the interest paying term and it is prohibiting us from investing for our future – because we are paying interest on many other similar things and becoming money constrained. How should you handle instant gratification syndrome? Here are a few simple tips: try to pay for everything in cash; learn to delay major money sucking purchases, your urge will likely wither away if you can delay a few days; if you are at a store and can’t stop yourself from purchasing something you don’t need and/or is out of your budget, try counting 1 to 10, or take a few deep breaths, or try walking around the store. Once you try one of these; most likely your strong desire will go away.

Not Having Any Goals in Life – We tend to spend recklessly if there is nothing to look for in the future. Setting up goals for different stages in life is a smart way to save money and accomplish goals. These goals can be broken down into smaller parts. For example, instead of saving for a $20,000 down payment for a condo, it’s a lot easier to save $5000 each year for 4 years. Also, have set plans about your life such as buying a house by 30, paying half of the mortgage by 40, retiring at around 50, and so on. Each time you purchase something, think before paying for that item. Take a moment to think whether this purchase will help you achieve your goals or will take you away from your goals.

Whether your spending habit is causing you debt problems or keeping you from achieving your future goals, take a deep look at the causes and eliminate them to start saving for your life. No one else will care for your future and money like you do, and only you can take the necessary steps to secure your financial future.

Where To Go This Summer

Unites States, Canada, Morocco, or Tunisia?

It is getting towards that time, as the days grow longer and the temperatures rise, that people begin to think about taking a snap summer holiday. People who book in advance will of course have made their decision by now and be saving their spending money, but those of us who are never sure we will get the time off work will be working off a bit more of an instinctive reaction, to go somewhere that sounds good. Whatever your budget – and whatever your tastes – there are great summer holidays to be had even at such short notice.

It all depends on your starting point, to some extent. Naturally if you are starting in Canada, a summer holiday in the United States will not break the bank, but it might lack a little bit in terms of originality. Mexico is currently in the grip of something of a bio-hazard crisis and will probably be dealing with that throughout the summer, so the best tip is to head further south. Many people have spoken of the beauty of Andean Perú, and with good reason. It is a country that carries some of the most spectacular scenery in all of South America, and of course it is absolutely soaked in history. Macchu Picchu is one spot that has a worldwide reputation, but on the way there you will have the opportunity to see many others. The price for a basic hotel for one night averages out at close to thirty Canadian dollars.

If you are a bit more adventurous – or based on the other side of the Atlantic, then there are many delights to be had on the North Coast of Africa. Among them are Morocco – a real magnet for sun worshippers – and Tunisia. While these countries may suffer from the prevailing but deeply inaccurate reputation of being hotbeds of religious extremism, the reality is far from that. In actual fact both are highly modern, secular societies and are well equipped to serve the international traveler’s needs. Hotel rooms here are even more affordable than in Perú, and the scenery is pretty amazing in both countries. For the gastronome in you, the taste of the regional cuisine is something to experience time and again – whether you are a meat-eater or an avowed vegetarian.

Tunisia is the less expensive of the two – as Morocco has gained a reputation for being a real estate haven prices have climbed a little. But if you are feeling adventurous, splitting your holiday between the two could be the best idea of all. Both countries have plenty to offer, and it would be a shame to miss out on any of it – so by making Tunisia your base but planning a short hop to Morocco you can spend a little bit less while not depriving yourself of any of the fun. And yes, there are beaches galore in both countries, if you really cannot bear to do any more sight-seeing. It’s your loss, that’s all.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Travelnowsimply.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Entrepreneur Journey site. This article originally published on the above website on May 8, 2009.

Companion Flies to Hawaii only for $121 |Cheap Flight to Hawaii

Alaska Airlines MBNA World Elite MasterCard Annual Fee Goes Up

Alaska Airlines recently increased its World Elite MasterCard and Platinum Plus MasterCard annual fees to $75 and $99. However, these cards still provide a lot more value than their annual fees.

These cards come with a bonus 20,000 and 30,000 Mileage Plan miles after spending $1,000 within the first three months. 30,000 miles are good enough to fly one-way business class (for example, Vancouver to New York) short distance or one-way economy class long distance (for example, Toronto to Iceland) on Alaska Airlines partner members.

And then Alaska Airlines MBNA World Elite and Platinum Plus MasterCard let your companion fly for $121 US only when you pay full fare for yourself.

You can fly anywhere Alaska Airlines flies and one popular destination is Hawaii, which could cost around $1000 to $1200 for your companion. The only drawback is that companion fare can be used only on Alaska Airlines and they serve only Western Canadian cities such as Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna, Vancouver, and Victoria.

Fly Companion to Hawaii for $121 | Alaska Airlines

Companion fare can easily pay off the cost of the annual fees for these cards: $75 and $99 for Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus & World Elite Mastercard every year.

In the first year, you will have to meet the minimum $1000 spent requirement within the first three months and then the companion fare will be awarded to the primary account holder’s Mileage Plan account after two billing cycles.

Starting the 2nd year, companion fare will be awarded after the anniversary date + within 2 billing cycles.

The anniversary date is not the date when you opened your account, but when you opened the account + an additional 6 to 8 weeks.

As you can see, these two Alaska Airlines cards still provide value if you use them tactically.