Friday, September 14, 2012

New Trekking Pole Regulations in Peru

Friend of mine is heading to Peru next month. Her itinerary will take her to the Amazon (our trip got her initial interest up) and Machu Picchu. She's been in touch with her tour company about trekking poles to use when in Machu Picchu.

Here is the reply:

Previously plastic and wooden tips were allowed but the rules have now been
changed. No poles or sticks are allowed unless you need them for a genuine
medical reason. 

This applies to both  Machu Picchu and Sacsayhuaman in Cusco.

Strategy For Extra Room on a Plane

If you are traveling with someone else and your flight offers a 3 - 3 or 2 - 3 - 2 configuration, book the window/aisle seat on a 3 - 3 or the two aisle seats on the 2 - 3 - 2 seating arrangement. Since middle seats are the last seats to be chosen, if the flight is not full you have the chance of getting an empty seat between you and your companion.

I recently used this technique on flights to Lima, Peru. We lucked out on both our domestic and international flights going south. Almost had it on the international flight back but seating confusion with other passengers put one of them between us.

Still, it was nice to know it works some of the time.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Correct Entry Visas Are Your Responsibility

In the end, having the correct entry visa for the countries you will be visiting is the traveler's responsibility. Many people -- ourselves included -- have used visa services to obtain what we need before departing. I have to admit, while I've looked at my passport and the visa when it was returned, I never really thought much about whether or not we really had the right visa.

How do you know if you've got the right visa? Some times it should be easy. For instance, a traveler was planning on a 9 night cruise from Singapore to Shanghai and had applied for his visa in the US. He correctly filled out the form requesting a multiple-entry, 6-month visa. Included with his form was the correct information about his date of departure -- March 11, 2011. When he went to board the ship, he was denied boarding because the visa stated he had to be in China BEFORE March 8. Specifically the visa stated ENTRIES 01 and ENTER BEFORE 08MAR2011. For whatever reason, the Chinese Consulate has issued him a 90-day-validity visa - one that is good for a single entry for a 90-day visit. In this case, close examination of the visa when received might have set off warning bells and there might have been an opportunity to get it corrected.

Another traveler was flying from the US to Minsk, Belarus via Moscow, Russia. The correct visa for Belarus was obtained. The traveler had no trouble boarding his domestic flight to JFK but was refused boarding by Aeroflot in NY because he did not have a Russian visa. Afterwards, trying to find out what went wrong, he learned that if he did not have to change terminals in Moscow he did not need a Russian visa. However, his flight arrangements involved a terminal change and therefore he did need a Russian visa. How is a US traveler supposed to know he'd be changing terminals in Moscow? Moral of this story -- if your flights take you through Moscow, play it safe and get a Russian visa.

Then there was the traveler who was going from southern Burkina Faso into northwestern Benin. When the traveler mentioned to his tour company that he would arrange his visas to those countries when getting his Togo visa he was told he did not need to get a visa for Benin. Instead he was told that he could get his Benin visa at the border when they cross. However, the visa he obtained at the border was only a 48-hour visa. He had to make a trip to the capital, a trip that took more than 48-hours, to get it extended. Besides paying for the extension and the penalty fees, he lost two days of his travel in that country. In this case, the tour company he used was a British company and their experience was with citizens of the United Kingdom. While the traveler did have a guidebook that clearly stated the policy for US citizens, he felt assured that he would have no problem at the border.

Only the embassy or consulate of a country can provide reliable information about entry visas. Visit the website of the countries you will be visiting or contact the embassy or consulate directly. Remember that, in the end, the responsibility is yours.