Traveling in Retirement – What to Take With You On the Road

One of the greatest discoveries as you enter into retirement is that now you have the time to travel. Possibly you have traveled during your work life. But much of this travel may have been work-related, and what was not travel for work, may have been rushed and stressful, or worse, an “on the bus, off the bus” group trip. None of these forms of travel would have given you much of an idea of how glorious and engaging travel can be when it is not work-related, rushed and stressful, or tethered to a group.

Now, as you enter a period when your travels may be more extensive, your questions may become more pressing. You have your bucket lists of travels to accomplish, and you know that it is essential to undertake your travel adventures while you are still energetic and agile. Of course your questions will likely start with: “Where shall I go?” Next you may ask: “Shall I travel independently or in a group?” Then you will inquire: “How shall I plan my trip so it will be an enjoyable and memorable experience?” And probably your next query will be: “What shall I take with me?”

Each of these questions leads to its own set of issues and considerations, all worthy of discussion. This article will focus on what to take along with you on the road. Although what to take with you may seem to be a relatively minor concern compared to the others, it actually will have a high degree of impact on the ultimate enjoyment and success of your trip. Becoming expert at preparing well for travel will yield high benefits and ensure that you enjoy your trip fully while you are taking it. Determine to become expert at this, and you will become a happy traveler. If travel is about to become an important part of your way of life, you need to get really excellent at doing it.

A good way to think about what to take with you on a trip is to enlist your own well-developed expertise about how to live a comfortable life in your own home. It is typical to furnish a home in terms of functions, establishing an orderly and comfortable environment where you have a way to meet needs and accomplish the basic tasks that you encounter in your day-to-day life.

At home, you have readily available not only clothes for getting dressed in the morning, but also outfits that serve you in other important functions– taking a vigorous walk, dressing up to go to the theater, staying warm when you take a boat ride on a chilly evening. If you need to clear your head from congestion, you have only to walk to your medicine cabinet to find your antihistamines. When you are thirsty, you head to the refrigerator door for ice water to stay hydrated. On days that are too pretty to eat inside, you pull out a table cloth and your picnic gear, and head to a park or out to the table in your backyard.

At home, not only do you have everything that you need, when you need it, but you also know exactly where to find it. Shirts are hanging in the closet and pants are on the shelf. Socks and underwear are in the drawer and shoes are on your shoe rack. Plates are in cabinets, utensils are in drawers, antihistamines are in the medicine cabinet. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

If everything seems so easy at home because you have gathered together and organized your belongings based on function, the same is also true for traveling comfortably. Start with what you will want to be able to do, listing the functions you will need to carry out over the course of your trip. Then determine what you need to take with you to support each function, and where you will keep it so you will know exactly where to find it when you need it. Think function, not packing list, and you will find that you already know very well how to do this.

Functions you will need to carry out as you travel include being prepared to:

Dress comfortably, for cool and warm days, sunny and rainy weather.
Walk many miles a day, including up and down hills, and possibly across cobblestones.
Navigate your trip, with maps, essential information, and a detailed trip plan.
Manage your money, credit cards and passports safely.
Access critical trip documents, including passports, plane and train tickets, confirmations, addresses and phone numbers, taxis and drivers, and dinner reservations.
Communicate and stay connected.
Use and recharge electronics, converting to the power system in the country you will be visiting.
Stay healthy for the duration of your trip, ready to handle a variety of possible physical challenges without lost days.

Taking each of these functions individually, here are some guidelines about what should earn a place in your suitcases, keeping in mind that everything you take along you will need to carry or drag, on and off trains, up and down stairs, and sometimes across cobblestones. If your destination happens to be Costa Rica, you may even find yourself hauling your bags down steep muddy banks to board boats that take you up a river or across a lake.

Be prepared to dress comfortably for cool and warm, sunny and rainy weather
Avoid taking either too many or too few clothes. While on your trip, you will want to feel good about how you look. So take some of your favorites. Don’t bother to stick with neutrals unless these are your personal taste and style. Take along the colors you like, but have in mind multiple ways they can be worn together and layered with each other.

A good rule of thumb is to divide the number of days you will be traveling by three, and take that many outfits, all ones that you like to wear. Of course, you can consolidate further by counting a skirt or a pair of pants as part of multiple outfits. For women, take along a few scarves and necklaces to mix it up a bit. Or, even better, plan to purchase these during your trip.

Put blouses and shirts in a packing envelope so you can transfer them to a drawer or closet shelf as a unit, and disturb only those items that you actually wear. This way part of your repacking will already be out of the way when it comes time to move on to the next stop. Roll skirts and pants and pack them to they form a single clearly displayed layer in your suitcase. This will enable you to locate and remove your selections while leaving the rest undisturbed, again saving you repacking time.

Take along any additional pieces you will need to dress in layers and be comfortable in both warm and cool weather. Certainly, carry along a sun hat and an umbrella. Every day on a trip is precious time. You will not want to be sidelined by sun or rain. Select clothing that does not wrinkle or that will not show wrinkles, with a preference for textured or blended cottons, not synthetics.

Pack enough underwear for a week, in a zippered pouch of course, and plan to do a mid-trip wash. Even if you do not have a washing machine in any of your accommodations, it is a simple task to fill the bathtub with water and liquid soap or shampoo, and wash your clothes that way, hanging them to dry around your room. To be prepared for this function of doing the wash, take along a small container of liquid soap and a stretchable clothes line designed to be used without clothes pins. Keep these laundry items together in their own zip-lock bag so you can readily put your hands on them.

All of this pre-organization of your clothing will make unpacking and repacking go quickly, so you will have more time to be where you are.

Be prepared to walk many miles a day, including up and down hills
Traveling can tire out your feet fairly quickly. You will be walking farther, and over more varied and challenging surfaces, than is your custom at home. Take along multiple pairs of comfortable walking shoes to keep your feet happy for the duration of your trip, and swap out your shoes regularly. Happy feet make for a happy trip.

Spend the money necessary to purchase very comfortable shoes, with memory foam to ensure an equal distribution of pressure to the feet, and an anatomically-shaped foot bed to eliminate pressure and friction. And make sure that at least one pair of the shoes you take has a closed-back heel and fastens securely with ties or Velcro closures. When you are walking up and down steep hills and steps, slip-ons can become treacherous.

Be prepared to navigate your way through your days smoothly
Carry with you a full set of Day Pages with the day-by-day details of your trip. These will be your “ace in the hole” – an essential ingredient to your having a smooth, stress-free journey. They will give structure to your travels, and optimize how you navigate through each day, always knowing what’s coming next, with all the addresses, telephone numbers and closing times you will need, together in one place.

A good set of Day Pages includes orienteering instructions so that in each new destination you can immediately begin learning your way around. These include small Google-map walk-arounds, starting at the door of your hotel. Their purpose is to help you get your bearings quickly, including where to find your own neighborhood bakery, wine shop, fresh market, deli, and café, as well as the nearest ATM.

Be prepared to handle your money, credit cards and passport safely
Money handling is an important function while traveling. You need to have a system for keeping your money, credit cards, and passport safe, while also having convenient access to them. When traveling in another country, exchange enough cash in advance of your trip to get you started when you arrive. Then use ATM machines to replenish your cash supply as needed. Plan to use the ATM machines and debit cards that minimize foreign exchange fees, with bank ATM machines being the best option.

Call all debit and credit card companies before you leave to give them notice that you will be traveling so they will not deny your transactions. Make copies of your cards and passports, front and back, so you can immediately report any theft or loss. Keep these paper copies in a separate place from your cards.

Be prepared to access all critical trip documents
You will need to be able to access your critical trip documents quickly–to be prepared to locate and board your train and present your tickets to the conductor as required, to call ahead to your hotel and give its address to your taxi driver, and for all the many additional critical connecting points of your trip. This means you will need all of your trip documents where you can find them without delay, including passports and insurance papers, plane and train tickets, hotel and tour confirmations, addresses and phone numbers, taxis and drivers, dinner and concert reservations.

To keep your travel documents completely organized, purchase a zippered passport wallet and always return your passport to it throughout your trip – no exceptions. Use clear plastic sleeves for itinerary and accommodation information, keeping the next needed information visible through the front, for easy access even in the rain.

Use an accordion folder for train tickets, vouchers, confirmations and reservations. Designate a separate portfolio for each destination’s upcoming Day Pages, and another one for days that have been completed. Take along an empty coupon holder for receipts, and a small journal to keep track of them. The key is to get organized and stay organized. This will considerably reduce stress during your trip.

Be prepared to communicate and stay connected with the right phones
It has become easier to communicate abroad now. Country SIM cards are readily available to be installed in your iPhone. Or, as an alternative, you will be able to purchase an inexpensive pay-as-you-go cell phone, complete with a country SIM card and generally some complimentary minutes. “Topping off” your cell phone minutes as needed is a simple matter of stopping by a newsstand. If you plan to use your smart phone and install a country SIM card at your destination, be sure to unlock it before you leave on your trip.

Sorting out your communications during your trip is essential so you can stay connected when you get separated from your travel companions or decide to head in different directions. Also you will need to call ahead to hotels, make reservations for restaurants and tours, and call taxis when you need them.

To keep track of all your communications paraphernalia, including charging cables and portable power banks, designate one zippered pouch or large zip-lock bag for this use only. These are items that easily can get lost in a suitcase, or left behind in a hotel room. Before leaving each location, check your designated communications pouch to make sure everything is there in its place before you go.

Be prepared to use and recharge electronics
Designate another zippered pouch for everything else you are carrying that pertains to electronics. Into this pouch put all of the power adapters, converters, charging cables, extension cords and multi-socket extension plugs that you will need to keep your electronics functioning throughout your trip. Keep all of these wires neat and compact with rubber bands. And, again, check your electronics pouch before you leave each hotel to ensure that nothing essential gets left behind.

Be prepared to stay healthy for the duration of your trip
Another zippered pouch should be reserved for everything you will need to stay healthy, inside and out. Put in your prescription drugs and supplements. Also carry a supply of cold medicine, Tums, pain medicine, and any other types of medication you could possibly end up needing. Take foot powder for sore feet, Band-Aids and Neosporin for various mishaps, and lotion to protect your skin. Depending on your destination, also pack bug spray and/or sunscreen. Last, but not least, take along a bottle of melatonin to overcome jet lag and to control sleep irregularities caused by time changes or other unfamiliar sleep disturbances. Consolidate these items in zip-lock bags to cut down on packaging and conserve space.

Traveling can be strenuous. You may develop blisters, various aches and pains, or even sniffles. By taking along a selection of items to handle various contingencies, just in case you need them, you will be ready to prevent small complaints from slowing you down.

Some additional advice
Any comfortable home needs storage space. This is also true when your home is your suitcase. During your trip, your storage space definitely should not be in the suitcases you are carrying with you day after day. Do keep everything you need with you. But lighten your load whenever you can. Yes, this will cost money, but not as much as you might think. And you are worth it!

Designate a zippered pouch for mailing supplies – at a minimum packing tape and address labels. Then, periodically, as your suitcases begin to take on weight, mail home a box. Purchase the box at the local post office and get one large enough to do yourself some good. Into this box put anything you will no longer need during your trip – past Day Pages, brochures and booklets, shoes that didn’t turn out to be comfortable, books you’ve finished reading, treasures and gifts you have purchased along the way. Tape this all up and address it to yourself.

This advantage to give yourself when traveling is well worth the cost and bother. Each time you lighten your load, you will feel your burdens lifting. And, of course, you will free up room for additional treasures that you may discover along your way.

When an Offshore Bank Fails

Introduction – What we are going to do is describe the legal and mechanical process relating to offshore bank failures. We will discuss what leads up to them, what happens if they fail, and how do the depositors get their money back. The terms and scenarios we depict are generally what happens in the world of offshore banking. In some jurisdictions the terminology and procedures may be slightly different but the general way things proceed will be in line with the scenarios depicted in this article.

Offshore Banks – A brief definition of this term is in order. These are banks that are located in various countries around the world many being in Caribbean Island Nations. These banks have a license that enables them to only do business with people and entities (trusts and corporations) that are not from that country. The offshore jurisdiction does not trust the offshore bank to accept deposits from its citizens or corporation filed in that country. This right away should tell a moderately astute investor that he or she is perhaps not exercising the correct amount of caution when it comes to selecting a bank and an offshore jurisdiction. So the first warning sign is be careful of offshore banking licenses. A bank can be in an offshore jurisdiction and not have an offshore banking license, instead be a regularly licensed bank. Offshore bank licenses can be had in some jurisdictions with as little as a $50,000 deposit with the country issuing the license. Usually this amount is never more than $500,000 and many countries require less. As a point of comparison a regular bank operating in Panama is required to post $10,000,000 cash deposit and the owners go through a rigorous background investigation.

Bank Failure – This is a term relating to the offshore bank being unable to fulfill the demand for funds from their depositors. This can occur for a number of reasons, some bad and some not so bad. The offshore bank may have been found to be below its protective ratios and the government bank auditors or financial ministry may decide to shut the bank down in terms of money going out for a limited period of time to see if the bank can return their ratios quickly to an acceptable level. In the event the ratios return to an acceptable level the bank operation resumes normally and the depositors may not even know anything occurred.

Complaints – The way offshore bank failures generally start is with complaints to the licensing authority of the country where the bank is located stating that requests to withdraw funds are not being met by the bank. To document this the account holder generally retains legal counsel in the country where the offshore bank is located and files a formal demand for the funds to bank with a very short deadline. When this demand is not met the law firm will file a formal complaint to the offshore bank licensing authority who will generally conduct an investigation. They may have their own auditors or hire an independent team of auditors to go through the offshore bank records. They will look to see if there are any loans on the books that do not meet the guidelines for lending such as writing uncollateralized loans is usually considered an offense. Loans to the principals of the bank are another red flag. Real estate acquisitions like mansions on the island where the offshore bank is located for the bank executives to live in is another red flag as well. Usually without loans the bank would not fail to meet its ratios. When these loans go bad and there is no collateral to go after then the banks get into trouble. The complaint process is possibly the only way the government is going to know their offshore bank is in trouble and by then it may be too late, but it may not be too late. Remember we are talking about offshore banks here, not regularly licensed regular banks which are audited and watched way more closely by the government and usually by a different government agency than the agency supervising offshore banks. We as a Panama Law firm do not introduce clients to offshore banks which should tell you something.

Loss of Correspondent Bank – Sometimes the offshore bank has just lost one or more of its correspondent banks and can not execute wire transfers until it replaces the correspondent with another correspondent bank which may take several weeks. When the complaints hit the government they will investigate, see that the funds are in place and allow the offshore bank a reasonable period of time to secure another correspondent bank, checking with them for progress reports. This is a not so bad problem that will only serve to scare and inconvenience the depositors.

Offshore Bank Receivership – This is a process whereby the government agency that licenses the offshore bank takes over the offshore bank to control its operation with an eye towards saving the bank. Sometimes they are successful and well sometimes not. Often a team of professionals from a large auditing or accounting firm are brought in. Receivership practices can frequently mean that a percentage of your funds will be unavailable for withdrawal for sometime. This is to prevent a run on the offshore bank which would for sure topple it and thus cost the depositors substantial losses. You may be only able to take out say 25% of your funds. What can often happen is the depositors lose faith and take as much money out as they can and avoid putting in any more money. This usually results in the offshore bank failing totally and being shut down.

Suing the Offshore Bank – What often happens in these offshore bank receivership scenarios is some depositors get scared and act jumpy and sue the bank. The lawsuits generally involve having the court encumber or tie up an amount equal to their deposit. To accomplish this the depositors generally have to resort to deceit or twisting the truth minimally, to make the court think they were not ordinary depositors or the amount in question consisted of funds to be handled in a special exceptional manner. The way the depositors are playing their hand is get the court to hold my money before the bank goes down completely and then my funds get mixed in with all the depositors in the fracas. If one files such a lawsuit they are generally excluded from filing claims as regular creditors (depositors) of the bank in the event of a liquidation and if they lose their lawsuit (an expected occurrence if based on fraud or deceit) they can lose all. Usually several depositors will file such lawsuits if there is any official action taken against the offshore bank and this could push the offshore bank into greater difficulty and if there is a bank liquidation it will be a most complex one with a lot of depositors funds eaten up in legal fees.

Offshore Bank Liquidation – This is of course the sword of gloom in the world of offshore banking. For things to reach this level the government had to have felt that the offshore bank is not salvageable. Generally a bunch of depositors filing lawsuits and jamming up the court system of some island jurisdiction is going to encourage the government there to liquidate the offshore bank in hopes of freeing up their courts. Imagine an offshore tax haven island court system. A small building with one to three courtrooms and maybe three or four judges. These courts hear divorce, child custody, personal injury as in auto accidents, bankruptcy, collection cases, resident disputes with building contractors, traffic court cases, and criminal cases. The court is there to enable the island jurisdiction to function as an independent governing state. It is not going to jam up its courts increasing the wait times for its citizens that are trying to deal with vital matters like child custody where one of the parents is an abusive drunk hurting the children. When the offshore bank gets put into liquidation generally the court cases can be disposed of quickly or even by summary dismissal. The government knows that the people behind these lawsuits are trying to get more money than they would if they just waited for the liquidation to proceed and are not amused by their litigious behavior.

The Offshore Bank Liquidation Process – So now the bank is in liquidation. What does this mean? Basically a liquidator will be appointed to determine what assets the bank has, liquidate what can be profitably liquidated and then see how much money is left. The remaining money will be divided up amongst the depositors fairly depending on how much they had on deposit in the offshore bank. They will get a percentage of their deposit back. What would be a good return in a liquidation, 75%. What would be a bad return well there was a liquidation in Latvia a few years ago where the depositors got 2%. What is a typical return? There is no number but it should be 33% to 60% unless the bank has been really mismanaged.

The Offshore Bank Liquidator – This is generally a person with an accounting, legal or banking background. They can understand the books of the offshore bank and the laws pertaining to the offshore bank and the liquidation. If the offshore bank had secured loans that went bad (payments not be made according to written loan documents) they will analyze the worth of going after the collateral. If there was a farm in Argentina posted as collateral for a three million dollar loan he may order an appraisal of the farm to see if it really worth that much. If the value of the farm is more than the legal expense of securing and liquidating the asset the liquidator should go ahead and liquidate it. This process may take a year or longer. If a loan was made to a trucking company in Belgium for a fleet of trucks the same liquidation process may occur. This sort of liquidation may take even two or three years depending on what type of liquidation processes may need to be followed. The borrower may file bankruptcy making the liquidation of the secured assets difficult and time consuming in some countries. The bankruptcy court might let the borrower continue making payments and keep the asset which can make for a rather problematic liquidation because now the loan must be sold to reduce it to a net value. Generally such a loan is going to go for a deep discount at best. The liquidator may have to sell the banks real estate, computers, office equipment and furniture, cars, boats, planes etc. All this is time consuming and the assets should be sold at an auction to keep things fair avoiding accusations of selling under the market for kickbacks. There is an inherent conflict of interest in the liquidation process. The bank liquidator generally gets paid handsomely. Think perhaps $150 to $300 an hour or maybe $10,000 to $30,000 per month. It is in his best interest to keep things going for as long as possible. The lawyers the bank liquidator uses are also under this same conflict of interest. How honest and upright these people are going to be is something for which there is no rule but there is generally a control element in the form of a creditors committee. In an honest liquidation the liquidator may elect to distribute the readily available assets the offshore bank has right away. These assets would be the actual cash deposits. This is an encouraging sign to the creditors. Money would usually be held back to allow the liquidation to proceed further allowing for legal expenses etc. Then as real estate and other assets are sold further distributions would be made. Not all liquidations are done so directly.

The Ugly Side of Offshore Bank Liquidations – Sometimes the offshore bank assets are deposited by the liquidator in another bank. Whether or not this is in an interest bearing account is always a good question. If there is $12,000,000 in cash in a bank the interest at 4% a year is a serious amount of money that will tempt people. Legal fees can be padded and kickbacks made to the liquidator from the law firm located on the island jurisdiction the offshore bank is in. Some of these islands where these offshore banks are have less than 100,000 people living in the country. You are foreigners and don’t expect such honest treatment in these tourist island jurisdictions. They may view these offshore bank liquidations as a feast for the locals courtesy of all the rich foreigners. Excessive travel can be run up by the liquidator. He can travel abroad going first class all the way even bringing the lawyers along, all on the clock. The liquidator can reach crooked settlements with people who posted collateral for loans with the offshore bank. Depositors of the offshore bank can file lawsuits for special treatment and the liquidator can settle with them in a crooked manner for an illegal kickback and then they get all their back while you only get a fraction back. Real estate owned by the offshore bank can be sold under market value for a kickback to a friend or relative of the liquidator. Same can be done with cars, computers etc. The liquidator can elect to chase assets not worth chasing to continue his high paying job some years longer than it should require. Remember offshore bank liquidations do not come along every day and the liquidator has no idea where his next job is going to come from. There is a check and balance usually in the bank liquidation process which is described below.

Offshore Bank Liquidation Creditors Committee – A creditor of the offshore bank is generally a depositor but it could be the electric company or the phone company. Generally, the employees are considered priority creditors when it comes to their wages and they get paid off first and fast. The depositor is owed money by the offshore bank based on their deposits, thus he or she is a creditor as far as the offshore bank liquidation is concerned. An offshore bank liquidation is sort of like a bankruptcy proceeding. In an offshore bank liquidation a creditors committee is formed which is something done in many bankruptcy proceedings. The creditors committee could possibly have been formed before the liquidator came into office and they appoint the liquidator with or without the approval of the court, rules vary some depending on the offshore jurisdiction involved. The creditors committee generally is voted into existence by the creditors, the creditors with the most dollars on deposit having the most votes is one way to look at it. All creditors are generally not treated equal. The creditors committee members are all on the same side and that side is interested in getting as much money back as they can. Decisions as to how to spend money chasing assets or potential assets are usually made by the liquidator but the creditors committee can exert control over the liquidator even replacing the liquidator in extreme circumstances. Some bank liquidations have taken place without creditor committees in place. These are generally less than above board liquidations.

Creditor Claims in Offshore Bank Liquidations – When the liquidator is in office the depositors are generally required to file claims. The claims process involves filing identity documents with the liquidator and identifying your account and how much money was in it. Offshore bank liquidations are conducted in open court and these claims wind up as exhibits in the public domain. What I am saying is bank secrecy is not in place once the bank is in liquidation. What one can expect to see is a fair number of depositors failing to file claims because of various reasons often relating to bank secrecy. Of course this means a greater recovery for those who do file the claims while the other folks walk away with a total loss of their funds by choice.

What to do if you are in an Offshore Bank Liquidation – If you are already involved in a bank liquidation you made a mistake and you are going to get hurt. How badly hurt is the question so you should be trying to mitigate your damages. If a creditors committee is forming try to get involved actively, even try to sit on the committee. If the liquidator has not yet been appointed do get involved in that process. Try to find ways to meet other depositors. Call lawyers on the island and ask them to represent a group of creditors collectively. Rest assured other depositors will be calling lawyers on the island and the lawyer can be a contact point to form a creditors committee. The idea may not occur to a lot of these lawyers so help them out a bit. If you can get a creditors committee in place and have it appoint a liquidator you will probably have a honest liquidation, probably. That having been said one must still leave room for the offshore bank itself having been intrinsically dishonest and the bank owners have since ran away with the funds. When you read the offshore bank liquidation horror stories you see that the money trail goes from country to country, bank to bank and then it ends up with a large cash withdrawal which is usually the end of the trail. The offshore jurisdiction may fail to ever prosecute them or file charges which of course make one wonder what was going on. So the key here is to get involved actively. It is real important to open communications with other creditors and get organized.

How to Avoid Being in Offshore Bank Liquidations – The answer is of course simple, avoid offshore banks. Stick to banks with full banking licenses that can conduct banking business with the residents of the country as well as with entities not located in the country.

Offshore Bank Alternatives – The best alternative to these tax haven island offshore jurisdictions is Panama. Panama is a solid offshore tax haven jurisdiction that does not tax offshore derived income and has no capital gains tax or tax on stock market gains. Panama has fully anonymous bearer share corporations where the owners are not recorded in any registry or database. Panama has anonymous foundations which are able to have generally non-freezable bank accounts. Panama has no tax treaties with any country so fishing expeditions are not going to happen. Panama has the tightest bank secrecy laws in the world and when coupled with an anonymous bearer share corporation it becomes the most secure and private structure one could have in the world today. Panama has 400,000 corporations registered there as well as many of the merchant marine vessels and cruise ships in the world. Panama has about 150 banks many of which are large multi-billion dollar international conglomerates, yet the banking operation in Panama is a separate bank corporation operating under Panama bank secrecy laws. Panama has not had a bank failure in over five years. Panama has had only a few bank failures in its history whereas Switzerland had over 15 bank failures during the years 1999 to 2000. Panama tightly regulates its banks. Every Panama Bank must submit monthly auditing reports to Panama’s Banking Superintendent, which is under direct supervision by the Banco Nacional de Panama (BNP), the National Bank of Panama. A list of prominent international banks in Panama includes: Citibank, HSBC, Dresdner Bank, Bank of Tokyo, Bank of Boston, Banco Nacional de Paris, International Commercial Bank of China, Societe Generale, Banque Sudameris, BBVA, Banco Uno, Banco General, PriBanco, Banco del Istmo, Global Bank, MultiCredit Bank, PanaBank, ABN Amro, Banco Aliado, Banco Continental, BancoLat, BIPAN, Lloyds TLB Bank, and the Bank of Nova Scotia. Many of the Panama banks own office building skyscrapers 40+ stories tall with their name on the building. These are not grocery store sized banks found in the island jurisdictions. The Panama Stock Exchange has an average trading volume of $900,000,000.

Panama is free of hurricanes, volcanoes, tornadoes, and earthquakes which is why the Panama Canal was built there. Panama uses the US dollar as their national currency. Panama has modern telephones, cell phones and internet being a country having been built by the Americans which left Panama in 2000. Panama has a treaty with the USA calling for the USA to protect the Panama Canal if it was threatened. This means the peace and security of the Republic of Panama is protected by the USA which could have jet fighters there in minutes. Panama is the new Switzerland of the world.

Promotional Products for Travel and Leisure

Choosing promotional products can be tricky for your business. The key however, is to make them as relevant to your business as possible. The next step would be to personalise them to make them not only attractive, but also to define them as representing your company. This can be achieved with a range of printing and design work, aimed to market the product to your target audience.

If your business is involved in the travel and leisure industry, then it goes without saying that you should be searching for relevant products. Thankfully, the market is awash with all kinds of promotional products geared up for every line of industry, large or small.

Travel and leisure encompasses a vast array of products, so you will certainly not be lacking for choice. The one problem will be selecting individual products from such a large list. Even so, having such a range can only be a positive thing.

If your business caters for a type of sport, then you’ll find an excellent amount of products and will be pleasantly surprised by what you can make your own and personalise. Just for golf alone, you can purchase tees, golf balls, gloves, ball markers, club covers, pencils, caps, socks and more still.

Other fantastic options in terms of more general travel and leisure would be luggage tags, bank card holders, travel toothbrush, drawstring bags, beach balls, water bottles, travel games, first aid kits, pool inflatables, travel cushions and pocket fans. The list just goes on and on. Take bottles for instance – this is a single item but one that has a hundred variants, shapes, colours and sizes. It is some task to narrow it down to one particular item, but one that will be worth it in the long run.

The vast amount of goods available out there for travel and leisure makes it a very competitive market and so choose wisely before you buy and not act on impulses alone. The cost varies greatly between each item and you want to try and get the best value for money as possible, without losing too much in terms of quality.

By using the best travel and leisure promotional products, displaying them well and having them printed with your company details, you stand a great chance for a successful campaign. Products like those described are a fantastic marketing tool for getting the word out there about your business.

Travel and the Economy

In spite of the global melt down and the economic crisis facing many an industry, there is one industry that is still thriving. The travel industry. Recession or no recession, people have to travel and they do. Not only domestically but also internationally. Not only for personal purposes but also for business and for tourism also. We can almost say that the stress of the economic depression is making people travel and relax!

There is a saying that goes: “One man’s meat is another man’s poison”. And, on the same analogy, one individual’s idea of relaxation might be a villa in the South of France overlooking the beach and the sea, surrounded by “Abigails and Andrews” whereas that of another may be a tent in a remote spot on the same beach.

Just like in housing, where houses are being foreclosed and going for a song and it is a “buyers market”, the travel business is also on cloud nine and the offers for a memorable vacation in some of the exotic places on the planet surround the potential traveler. Travel agents the world over are trying their best to get people to travel. It is now time to take advantage of these offers and have a rollicking holiday in a new place.

But do you choose a place and do your budget or do you do your budget and choose a destination. The second is the wiser course as the first may turn out to be unaffordable. But there are such o lot of offers that you can even choose a place and then do your budget. Just see to it that it does not get you in the red, financially.

Once you have made up your mind to go somewhere for a vacation, immediately a number of questions popup. Is your passport current? What are the places that you are going to visit at your destination? What kind of accommodation are you going to live in? An independent house, a condo or a hotel room? What about transportation? You have to choose a location that is fairly easily accessible from the place of your stay. Try finding a resort that has its own transportation to the local attractions.

Travel and Leisure Subscription

The time you spend on your vacation should be top quality time. Our holidays are the only times we have for living our dreams to the fullest possibility we are able to reach. That is the reason why the choice of your vacation spot should be made with extreme care. All travel advertisements have something exciting to say about the resorts and the cities that they are promoting but there are three pitfalls you have to watch out for when planning the perfect holiday for yourself.

First, you need to be sure that you are going to get precisely what you have been promised by the media hype. Secondly, you have to avoid spur of the moment enthusiasm which may have you opting for a vacation spot that you won’t actually enjoy when you get there, and thirdly, you have to choose the best rates you can avail of in order to maximize the value of your money. In this matter, however, “cheap” doesn’t always mean “good.” There are low rates for which you will be getting no value for your money. On the other hand, there are higher travel and vacation accommodations that are well worth every cent you will be paying.

The good news is that Travel and Leisure subscription is one well-known, because reliable source of any and all facts that you would want to know about vacation spots. If you don’t have a Travel and Leisure subscription yet then you should postpone planning out your vacation until you get your hands on a copy or sign up for a subscription. This travel guide contains the most complete listing of the best known resorts, pleasure palaces and tourist destinations in the world.

What is your priority consideration for your vacation? Is it adventure or culture? Would you like to spend most of the time in a sun-drenched beach or touring national monuments and cultural attractions? Are you agog to see celebrities or just dying to get away from city life? Is affordability of cost you first priority when planning a vacation? Whatever shape your dream vacation comes in, Travel and Leisure subscriptions are your means to finding the spot and touring accommodations to realize it.

The magazine features the latest tourism news and updates from the best vacation spots in the world. The information you will be reading on Travel and Leisure is almost available in real time. You can read about statistics that will inform you about the best and worst airports in the world, the top hotels and accommodations in the country of your choice plus tips on travelling, which are actually published comments and suggestions of their previous customers. If you are a first timer, you will find invaluable advice in the magazine for making your holiday trips safe and easy.

On top of that, you can avail of fantastic discounts, win sweepstakes and avail of promotions from Travel and Leisure subscriptions as well as from the many tourist service outfits worldwide that are affiliated with the magazine. So even before your think of travelling, get your Travel and Leisure subscription first.

Optimizing Your Travel and Tourism Website

The internet has proven to be an interesting tool for travellers. It has now become extremely easy for internet users to plan and organize business and leisure holidays at a click of a mouse. The internet gives users the freedom to compare rates, get unbiased reviews and make informed decisions on holidays without worrying about being fleeced in foreign countries.

Booking hotels, flight tickets and even visa applications are now easily done through the web. The travel industry can take tremendous advantage of this setting to offer to their audiences a wide choice via engaging websites.

Give Your Audience a Peak into what’s Out there

By using interesting design tools and interfaces you can easily create an appealing website for you visitors and give them an opportunity to travel, through your website. Integrating images into your web design is crucial to the success of any travel portal. The use of appealing images is a simple and the most straightforward way to entice visitors to your travel website.

Getting Professional Help

As a travel website it is strongly recommended that you get professional help to apply some interesting effects to your photos to create the best visual appeal. While this may go against most conventional design rules, considering the nature of your website, you could always incorporate some flash photo slideshows which further add to the appeal of the products you are promoting.

Blending Static and Dynamic Design Structures

A quintessential travel website consists of some static structure that is complimented with Flash effects to attract the attention of the target audience. You can also make good use of these dynamic tools to promote specific products and holiday packages on your portal. With modern design technology, you can leverage the use of 3D effects, animations and other graphic elements to exhibit your USP.

Give your target audience an opportunity to go through a mind-blowing journey through the Swiss Alps, the Canadian Rockies or the glaciers of Alaska by making use of these effects and visually enticing the audience.

Incorporate Call to Action Buttons

Do not forget to integrate a call to action feature into your website. Buttons such as ‘Book Now!’ and ‘Compare Prices Now!’ will encourage audience members to take actions you intend them to; allowing you to further exemplify the benefits of your products and packages.

Clarity in Information

While you design the content for your travel portal, you need to put yourself into the shoes of your audience and recognize their needs. Most travellers are looking for something new and exciting. Travellers want to make the most of every opportunity to learn new things, and expose themselves to different cultures.

The information that you provide must be able to communicate these facets of travel. Talk about the various activities, things to see, do, and look out for on your time there. Work towards building the excitement of the place you are promoting.

Travel and Leisure Magazines to Inspire the Adventurer in You

Browse through the magazine racks of any bookstore and you’ll find the number of travel and leisure magazines offered endless. Whether you’re looking for inspiration for your next trip, wanting some top tips to plan a vacation or simply a new activity to keep you busy during time off at home, travel and leisure magazines are the perfect place to start your search. Here’s a round up of some of the best available:

Time Out Magazine
Fast becoming the leading authority on the world’s best cities, from LA to Buenos Aires, Cape Town to Copenhagen, Time Out now has 18 travel and 23 city magazines offering up to date information on the best places to stay, eat and be entertained in the world’s most fabulous cities. Even if you live in one of its featured cities, you can bet Time Out will come up with a new location or activity you never knew existed in your local area. Prepare to be amazed!

Outside
A travel and leisure magazine which has been keeping adventurers informed since 1977, Outside is for men and women who lead active lifestyles all year round. With glossy and colorful photography, prepare to be inspired to take to the outdoors and try something new, from rock-climbing to snowboarding, sailing to mountaineering.

National Geographic Adventure
The latest magazine in the National Geographic collection, this one is aimed at active men and women who seek new and exciting ways to explore and experience the globe. The photographs will inspire you to travel to destinations you would never have thought of visiting, alongside an excellent mix of features and articles, covering adventure stories, travel destinations, sports and outdoor activities.

Trailer Life
The writers of this travel and lifestyle magazine guarantee to provide you with information to “follow the road to adventure.” Aimed at owners of RVs, campers and motor homes who spend a few weeks a year or their whole life on the road, this glossy magazine is packed with information on national parks, camp sites, product tests, cooking tips and vehicle maintenance. Definitely one for RV owners who love life on the open road and are ingrained with a spirit of adventure.

Spa
For those of us who get our stress relief from relaxation rather than adrenaline packed adventures, Spa Magazine offers the secrets to the latest advances in beauty, healthy living and relaxation as well as a peek behind the doors of the most luxury and private retreats and information on the world’s best spas. If you’re planning a spa vacation, this is the place to find top tips on the most relaxing locations to unwind, detox and recharge your batteries without having to break the bank in the process!

The Idea of Travel and Leisure

It is a big treat to travel not for any business or work-related reasons but simply for leisure and pleasure. For those who are new to this kind of thrill, there are a thousand ways to plan an itinerary given that one has the right knowledge and the right financial budget. The main essence of travel and leisure is not to simply travel and see places but to bring the concept of traveling to new heights by allowing oneself leisurely experiences while exploring the sights and sounds of the entire area. To determine the right fitted itinerary for your specific needs, a great consideration should be placed on the questions that most travelers ask. Will I be traveling alone or with a companion? What do I need to know if I plan to take the whole family for a leisurely vacation?

Traveling Solo

Most of the practical neophytes opt to go for a pre-planned itinerary that contains a complete set of services including the two-way travel ticket, the accommodation, the course of trips and tours, and other add-on services and perks that some travel agency offers. Going for a cruise type of solitary vacation is getting popular nowadays especially that the romantic promises of an immense horizon and endless waterworld-type of environment is too much to resist for people who escapes from the busy buzz of the urban jungle. Try the Caribbean or Norwegian cruise that would certainly break the monotony of your cyclical and routine-based existence. When you travel alone, try to bring a book, an ipod, or maybe something that would keep your hands busy such as art and painting materials or a writing implement to preoccupy your mind. There are also hotels and resorts that have customized their accommodations for those who want to spend their time alone and relax without worries.

Traveling with a Loved One

The concept of leisure and travel especially for honeymooners requires a focused planning especially in the creation of an itinerary of activities. To make it easier for couples and lovers, there are resorts and hotels that provide holistic services from wellness activities to superbly executed food and dining services. For a leisurely experience, couples mostly engage in activities that are not usually possible when they are on their usual ground. Some of these activities are scuba diving, parasailing, skiing, island hopping, mountain trekking, and even game hunting. In sharing a leisurely but quiet togetherness, couples could simply pamper themselves by getting a spa massage with soothing music on the background or by engaging in yoga and tai chi sessions to maintain the harmony of mind and body.

Traveling with the whole family

This is a tricky vacation getaway especially if you are bringing a baby or a toddler on your trip. Some wealthy families think leisure and travel hiring a nanny to look after the baby but some believe that carefully planning the whole vacation spree will eliminate most of your headaches when the actual trip already begins. One advice is to only bring the things that are necessary to at least minimize the bulk of luggage that you will be dragging with you. There are hotels and even restaurants that cater for a bigger number of customers and clients. Make sure to check out these places before barking on a family journey.

Going Travelling? Be Smart and Safe With Money

Going travelling is an incredible experience to have at any time in your life. Whether you are a teenager heading off round the world before you go to University or retirement has prompted you to go and see corners of the globe that you have never seen before apart from on the television. Travelling will broaden your mind and provide you with lasting memories. However, what you don’t want to remember are any money difficulties, so by being a little bit savvy and thinking ahead you can ensure at least the money side of your travelling adventures goes without a hitch.

Let’s start from the very beginning with what may seem like a very obvious piece of advice. Tell your bank that you are leaving the country. Why? Well, if you don’t then you run the risk of your account being frozen. If the bank doesn’t know that you are away travelling and having the time of your life then they will identify the international activity on your account as abnormal and suspicious and stop any withdrawals from being made. Take it from me that it’s a bit of a downer when you are stuck in a foreign country with no access to your money and no cash in your pocket.

This takes me nicely on to the subject of cash. Yes, do take some. Take a nice fat chunk of cash as it is useful even in this age of using plastic cards to pay for everything. You will always need cash for making small purchases, paying taxi drivers and bribing people (only joking!) Whatever you do though, do not change your money at the airport as it costs a fortune. They are known for having the highest exchange rates around. If you have no other choice then order it from the airport currency exchange a few hours before hand.

Now we come to the powerful plastic cards. Many people take credit cards abroad but here is a little tip. Why not try a pre-paid debit card instead? There are an increasing amount of companies offering this service and a pre-paid debit card is pretty handy to have for several reasons. You can top the card up with cash or from funds in your regular account and then use it like an ordinary card. Unlike a credit card you can’t spend more than what you have available on the card so it is great for sticking to a budget. The safety aspect is also useful when travelling. It is not connected to your bank account so if it is lost or stolen then there is no chance of the money in your UK account being endangered.

Thinking well ahead, there could well be a time on your travels where you need an international money transfer. Perhaps you need to send money back home to a loved one or they may need to send you some money in the event of an emergency. If you decide to do this through your bank you could run into many difficulties on the way ranging from the practicalities of trying to send money from your own bank but in a foreign country to the rates that are charged by the bank for a transfer either to or from the UK. One answer to this is to set up an online payment account before you go. These often have no fees attached to them and even better than that the money is transferred instantly. No bank details are required from either party and with all the latest up to date technology in place such as 128-bit encryption and firewalls you can rest easy that your transfer is safe as well as cheap!

The Best Deals of Travel and Leisure Magazine

Constant travelers who want to score the best deals in every continent that they step into should never do without a copy of travel and leisure magazine. This magazine which is well known as travel + leisure magazine provides the A lists of the best hotels, restaurants, wellness clubs, cruise ships, events and festivals, resorts and beaches, food and drinks, and other significant facts that are essential to the well-being of one’s travel itinerary. The travel and leisure magazine is a top rated, professional travel companion that would make sure you do not lose your way in every travel decision that you make.

The travel and leisure magazine used to be a compiled journal of travel photographs which placed emphasis on leisure travel and often features contributions from novelists, poets, travel columnists, artists, and avid travelers who are eager to share their acquired wisdom and serve as a helpful guide especially for those who are still neophyte in the realm of travel. The magazine publishes in a monthly basis and has several international editions such as China, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, and South East Asia though most of them were already defunct.

The magazine is famous for their World’s Best Awards which is announced every August and has been practiced since 1995. This is an award body created on a basis of an annual survey from magazine readers who gave out their quantitative rating of world’s best travel destination and accommodation. For the 2010′s survey of the World’s Best Awards, the travel and leisure magazine offers a chance to those who will take the survey of winning a $10,000 dream trip. This award has various categories namely hotels, islands, cities, airlines and cruises, wellness and spas and business hotels. These categories are featured on all continents that the travel and leisure magazine encompass such as US and Canada, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, Europe, Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, and South Pacific. Last 2009, the Bushman’s Kloof atop the Cedarberg Mountains in Western Cape, South Africa emerged as the record holder of the number one spot in the survey with an overall score of 98.67.

Aside from the World’s Best Awards, the travel and leisure magazine also has what they call T+L 500 Best Hotels and America’s Favorite Cities where subscribers and magazine readers rank cities in the U.S. based on several categories. The categories are very informative because it covers almost all the things that one needs to know in famous cities such as their culture, hotels, nightlife, shopping malls, food and dining places, and airports.

The travel and leisure magazine also provides educational articles that are full of ideas not just about traveling but also informative discussions such as books and movies, charity programs, sports and fitness, gadgets, arts and culture, and basic photography lessons.