Planes, Cruises And Hotels: Busting The Biggest Travel Myths

We’ve all heard myths and urban legends about Big Foot, tested illogical home remedies like using hot water to make ice cubes faster and have made conservative choices on Friday the 13th, but how many of us have missed out on a travel adventure due to the fear caused by a few travel rumors? Here are some of the biggest urban legends in travel and the facts that debunk them.Myth 1: Americans Are The Worst TouristsAre Americans really the world’s worst tourists?American’s rank 9th best out of 27 nationalities, according to an annual survey of hotel managers. The truth is Americans were ranked the loudest but also the biggest tippers.Myth 2: Once You Step Onboard Your Money Is No GoodThe truth is that your soda, meals, waters in the dining hall and buffets are paid for, everything else costs including alcohol, alternative dining, internet access and more. The fact is an average cruise traveler spend 50% more than the base fare on additional amenities.Myth 3: Rule 240 = Money BackIf your flight is delayed, the urban legend states that Rule 240 requires the airline to compensate you. This is not exactly true, the rule 240 did at one time exist. It was created by the Civil Aeronautics Board. With deregulation though, Rule 240 has been expunged.Myth 4: Bottled Water Is Your New BFFAt least 25% of bottles water is simply tap water. So if you are weary of Montezuma’s Revenge while abroad, know that there’s a 25% chance the brand you buy will simply be local tap water anyway.Myth 5: Your Hotel Key Card Knows More About You Than You!This again is also not true, your hotel key card doesn’t know everything about you. This rumor was started by Detective Sergeant Kathryn Jorge of the Pasadena Police. She saw a presentation about fraud techniques indicating this as a possibility, and sent an alarming email in response. The police department had to retract the statements of DS Jorge to quell fears.Myth 6: There’s Money In That BibleThis is another myth which people want to be true, the myth is that people believe that there is a crisp $100 tucked into their hotel Bible. But till date there are no reports of such generosity.Possibly, all of these myths depends on the mode of your travel, like many cruise lines don’t include soda in their inclusive meal price so you need to pay for your soda every time you buy it or you might want to go for a soda card plan. Other than that I wish I found that money in the Bible or anywhere in my hotel room, but my bad luck.

Payday Loans, A Viable Option?

What are payday loans?Payday loans are short-term loans that are extended between two pay days. A payday loan is normally provided for 14 days. The borrower, on acceptance of the loan conditions, provides a check favoring the lender as security against the loan. On the due date, the lender deposits this check to recover the loan dues. The due date is generally the next pay day of the borrower. No credit checks are conducted for granting payday loans. Therefore, the FICO score of the borrower is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter whether the borrower has a bad credit history, or has no credit history, or has declared bankruptcy.Qualifications for payday loansTo qualify for a payday loan, the borrower needs to fulfill all of the following conditions. There are no exceptions.o You must be a US citizen.o You must at least 18 years of age.o You must be at a full time job currently and must be at this job for at least three months.o You must either have an active checking account or a savings account.o Your after tax salary should be at least $ 1,000 or you must have a fixed income of $800.Cost of payday loansPayday loans carry a very high cost. Generally the lender fees for a $ 100 payday loan is anywhere between $15 and $25. It should be remembered that this fee is for 14 days as the loan itself is extended for these many days only. If one considers the cost on an annual percentage rate (APR) basis, the average is 391%, which by any standard is exorbitant. By law, it is mandatory for the lender to specify the APR to the borrower. Many lenders do compare the cost of payday loan against other forms of financing; but the common denominator of such a comparison is that all of them are very expensive.When to avail of payday loans?Payday loans should be availed only during emergencies. Considering the fact that the cost of carrying a payday loan is very high, it should be a resource of last resort. If one implements good budgeting techniques and has a good financial plan, the need for borrowing by way of payday loans can be minimized. Moreover, one must ensure that a payday loan is paid on time. Payday loans should not be rolled over or extended as within no time the borrower will find himself or herself in a debt trap where money may have to be borrowed just to repay the interest.Profile of a payday loan borrowero A typical payday loan customer is between 25 and 40 years of age with an annual income anywhere between $ 25,000 and $ 50,000.o According to the US Census report of Year 2000, the results of the payday loan borrowers survey are:22% of those surveyed hold a bachelor’s degree.51% of those surveyed have a retirement savings plan.In excess of two-thirds of those surveyed have a savings account.More than two-thirds of those surveyed have an annual income of at least $ 25,555.Why are Payday loans popular?They are popular for a number of reasons such as:o Credit checks are not required. The personal check that you make payable to the lender acts as security.o Approval is quick. If all the necessary documents are submitted, your loan application maybe approved in minutes.o The paperwork involved is simple. Generally one or two documents would suffice which explains the loan process and your obligations.o The repayment process is without hassles. The check submitted as security is encashed on the next payday by the lender. You could extend the loan to subsequent paydays for a fee. However this is very expensive.o Easy availability. Payday loans are particularly appropriate for emergency situations provided the amount required is small and one is willing to bear the high cost of the loan.In summary, payday loans might be a viable option if you need cash and need it fast. You still should be careful who you are working with to obtain your loan. If you don’t need money right away, there is probably a better solution for you.

A Short History of Roof Gardens

Wherever it might be roof top gardeners are a breed apart. With space at a premium I’ve seen meadows growing in eaves and roses trailing into the sky. In the most exposed spaces I’ve seen mature trees thriving and come across orchards and allotments in sheltered city gardens.Its never easy growing up in the sky but you’ll be amazed what can be achieved with a little planning and a close understanding of what you have got to deal with. It’s harder than gardening on a ground level but boy is it more inspirational!Over half of new homes being built today are apartments so roof gardens and terraces are becoming more and more popular and vital to the green environment. If you think it’s too much effort and need a financial motive then research tells us that a great roof space, smallest balcony or terrace can add 8% to the sales price of a house and 25% to the turnover of a restaurant!In this article I’d like to just show you where we started creating roof gardens because many people believe it’s quite a modern phenomenon.The hanging gardens of Babylon were probably the most famous roof gardens of all time. One of the Seven Wonders of the World probably constructed during the rebuilding of Babylon by Nebuchadrezzar II to console his wife Amytis who missed the greenery of her homeland, Media. We only have mention of the gardens from writings made 200 years after their destruction probably by Xerxes I around 482BC. It is described as having lofty stone terraces, closely reproduced mountain scenery with planting to create the mountain surroundings of Media. Siculus (Greek historian 1st Century AD) describes them as being 100 feet long by 100 feet wide and built in tiers to resemble a theatre. Vaults carried the weight of the plants with the highest at 70 feet. Gardening on a grand scale but still with a mind for weight limits!The next significant point in roof gardens were the Roman roof gardens of Pompei. We don’t know much about them but the eruption of Mount Versuvius in AD 79 preserved almost perfectly a building with what we would define as roof garden terraces. The Villa of the Mysteries just outside the northwest gate of Pompei has a U shaped terrace along its north western and southern perimeters where plants were planted directly into soil. The terrace is supported by a colonnade on all three sides. This became a tomb for those escaping the falling ash. By careful excavation including pouring plaster into the root spaces the plants that were used have been identified.There are other gardens of the middles ages such as those at Mont-Saint-Michel in France, The Medeci garden at Careggi in Italy and the Aztec City of Tenochtitlan razed by Cortes in 1521. One of the most notable roof gardens of the 17th and 18th Centuries was the Kremlin Place in Moscow, razed in 1773 to make way for the Kremlin we know today. Gardens were a great luxury for the Russian nobility and in the 17th century an extensive two level hanging garden was installed with an amazing 10 acres on the upper level with two terraces descending almost to the edge of the Moscow River. Again built on vaults, surrounded by stone walls and featuring a 90 square metre pond supplied by water lifted from the river. The lower garden was built in 1681 with another pond. Plants were in boxes with an emphasis on trees, shrubs and vines with paintings giving an illusion of visually expanding the space.From the turn of the 20th Century one of the most successful movements and where the term roof garden was coined were for the theatre roof gardens of the US in places such as the American Theatre in New York City seen here.The New York conductor Rudpolph Aronson built the first having been inspired by the theatres of Paris and the high cost of land! The Casino Theatre he built was the first to specifically include a stage on the roof for Summer performances. The most imaginative garden theatre was Oscar Hammerstein’s Olympia Music Hall built in 1895 completely enclosed in glass with a constant stream of water pumped to the outer edge of the roof to cool visitors and mask the sound of the street. Even then they were still using the rocky mountainside look and included simulated lakes with live swans gliding along the surface. The introduction of air conditioning and changing tastes meant these theatres closed down in the 1920s and one by one were demolished.Now two gardens built before World War II have inspired roof garden designers over the years and continue to do so. These are the Derry & Toms garden in Kensington and The Rockefeller Garden in New York. Some would also say the Union Square garden in San Francisco is influential and indeed this has recently been re-designed to much praise.The Derry & Toms roof garden opened in 1938 as part of the famous department store. It hosted events with nobility and royalty until the store went out of business in 1978. Now part of the House of Fraser group it was restored and has a new lease of life. The original garden had more than 500 trees and shrubs. This has declined as poor maintenance, age and drought have taken their toll and the planting has been simplified but is still a great example of what you can grow. There are three principal areas of Spanish gardens, Tudor gardens and English Woodland. The garden has been greatly changed for modern requirements of elevators etc. and the once prolific summer bedding replaced with lawns.Some of the Rockefeller Centre buildings were designed by the same architect as Derry & Toms – Ralph Hancock. He was also a fellow of the RHS. The gardens are much simpler though with central parterres of lawn, trimmed hedges of privet, fountains and ponds just 2 inches deep. These were completed just before the Derry & Toms gardens. More elaborate Mediterranean gardens were designed by the chief horticulturalist for the site. What is most impressive is that 3000 tons of topsoil was brought up in the elevators!From the early days of gardens designed for individuals and as public spaces roof gardens are now springing up everywhere and an apartment without its own outdoor space is rare. But we owe our smart London roof gardens to a long history of innovators leading the way to greening our cities.