Changes To Visa Waiver Program, Was The United States Justified?

The 21st of January 2016 saw the United States implementing the Visa Waiver Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, which brought a number of changes to the visa application process for some citizens of the European Union.

The question begs, has terror become so entrenched in people’s minds that they are beginning to look for mental, legal and physical fortifications against the threats that they face?Or were the changes the natural reaction of a freedom-loving nation during exceptionally difficult times?

Were the changes justified?

Coming off the back of the November 2015 Paris attacks and amid a general state of unease across the United States about the possibility of attacks, the new rules are, in a way, quite understandable.  Reports that up to 6,000 people, mostly from France, Britain and Germany, have, so far, travelled to the Middle East to fight on behalf of the jihadists are certainly alarming.

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Perhaps disenchanted by the bleak desert heat, most of these soon find their way back home.Some reports have put the number of jihadists, who are now present in Europe after making their way back from terror training camps, at 5,000. From this context, the decision by US lawmakers to make it mandatory for people who hold dual EU and Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian or Sudanese citizenship, to apply for a visa before travelling to the United States does not appear that kneejerk, after all. Not when there has been so much bloodshed in France, one of the nations that hold the unwanted distinction of having contributed the most to the swelling of the jihadists’ ranks.

Following the changes that were made to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), anyone from a participating country who has been to one or more of the censored countries within the past five yearsis now also required to apply for a visa before travelling to the United States. Again, this appears, at first sight, to be something of an overreaction. However, there is still the fact that many European citizens have fallen prey to the message of the terrorists and, in the name of one thing or other, have found it necessary to travel to the war-torn countries in the Middle East.  After all, what rational reason could someone who is not a journalist or a humanitarian worker have for travelling to Syria or Iraq?

What has changed following the implementation of the new visa regime?

The new requirements affect citizens in 23 of the European Union’s 28 member countries, who, before the changes, had been allowed to travel to the United States for up to 90 days without having to apply for Visas. The requirements were, to obtain clearance through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), an automated system which is used to assess an individual’s eligibility to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.

It would appear as if, faced with the ever present threat of terror, the United States has decided to erect as many safeguards as possible on the path of the would-be jihadist. ESTA(more on esta visa applications can be found at esta-visa.ie) on its own was, perhaps, deemed to be not enough, due to its rather impersonal nature. After all, it is quite easy for any half-competent individual to cheat a computer program.

How does the new visa program work?

Following the changes that were made to the Visa Waiver Program, people who fall within the affected segment are now required to apply for a visa at the US embassy or consulate in their country of residence.

The process involves both an online application and an in-person interview for which a booking has to be made in advance. This is the usualway through which citizens of non-waiver countries travel to the United States. At present, the visa application process costs $160.

It appears as if there was hope among the US lawmakers who passed the contentious piece of legislation, that holding physical interviews would be one way of ensuring that potential attackers are weeded out. The system is designed to make it as difficult as is possible for people who harbour nefarious agendas to step onto United States soil.

Are there waivers to the new rules?

Fortunately, waivers exist for bona fide travellers who urgently need to get to the United States.  Where it is deemed to be in the country’s interests, the Secretary of Homeland Security may, on a case by case basis, set aside the restrictions.

Those for whom the waiver may be applicable include people who work for humanitarian organisations and may have travelled to the affected countries as part of their work. People who travelled to the countries in question for genuine, business related activities may also be exempted from having to apply for a visa at their nearest consulate.

Do the new requirements affect US citizens?

Holders of a United States passport who have travelled to the affected countries or are dual nationals of those countries are not required to get a visa under the Visa Waiver Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act.

The answer is never easy

And to the question on whether or not the United States was justified in introducing changes to the Visa Waiver Program that made it mandatory for people from Iraq, Iran, Syria and Sudan, and for any European who has travelled to these countries within the past five years, to get a visa at a nearby consulate before purchasing a plane ticket?

There is no doubt that the threat of terror is real and the number of would be jihadists who have been moving between Europe and the war-ravaged Middle East is rather alarming. However, as to whether or not fortifications could ever solve the problem that defines the 21st Century, that remains to be seen. After all, terror is, besides being about the physical implications of being attacked, also a state of mind, and the moment that one lets its take root is the moment when it becomes real.

Bed and Breakfast

Choose a B&B than other types of accommodation is often a choice dictated by the need to relax in a comfortable place, like a real home, not chaotic as is usually the case in hotels and often in close contact with the history of place you want to visit.

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Among the Bed and Breakfast that respect fully these features we must mention Al Battistero d’Oro, a Bed and Breakfast in the heart of Parma, thanks to which you can admire the old town just outside the property. The Bed and Breakfast, housed in a manor house built to the aesthetic and functional standards of the time with a large internal courtyard, features precious furnishings that come to us as a legacy of previous generations and give the room an elegant appearance and very chic. The rooms, only two in all, overlooking both the inner courtyard and have exposed beams on the ceiling and characteristic tiled floors. Guests will also have the chance to sample directly in teas and tea room using the kettle made available to them.

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Other Bed and Breakfast definitely worth mentioning is Altrocanto, a structure located in the heart of Abruzzo, precisely in Farindola, in the Gran Sasso National Park Monti della Laga. The bed and breakfast, originally built as a furnace and then transformed in 1920 into a house, has become a pleasant and comfortable home trying to preserve the natural materials with which it was built. This is when the electricity comes thanks to photovoltaic panels while the boiler is in biomass, and finally the rain water is used to water the garden and avoid wastage. The 5 rooms, deliberately furnished like a home and not with furniture hotel standards, are very spacious and bright. Guests have access to a lounge with a fireplace, a flower garden and many corners to relax and read in peace.

 

Discover Thailand with a Royal Enfield

So you’ve been thinking about doing a motorcycle tour for a while now and have settled on Thailand. Great choice! This charming country offers a large array of choice regarding places to go, cultural diversity and landscapes – many things which you can do when riding a bike.

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Why have a Royal Enfield?

Your bike will be your most loyal companion during the trip so make sure you choose it well. Not only it has to be a reliable brand, but it also has to have an engine with the capacity which would suit your needs. If you are looking to ride only around the city, a 250 cc motorcycle will be enough. If you are going to do more kind of a big trip for a few days, we suggest to take a 500 or a 750 cc.

Here are a few reasons why we suggest to take a Royal Enfield aboard with you in Thailand:

  • Exclusivity: The brand has just arrived in Thailand – which means that you would be amongst the first persons to ride this bike in the country! How cool?
  • History: The brand’s background is so unique that it makes it so special. Originally manufactured in United Kingdom, the “Bullet” model was used on the battlefields during World War Two. In 1956, production shifted to Madras in South India. Stemming from both British and Indian roots, this bike is nothing but unique and authentic.
  • Technicality: Royal Enfield bikes have no electronic component, which make it easy to repair if anything happens. It’s especially the case in remote areas such as villages in the north of the country.
  • Style: This one is more a matter of personal taste. But how cool do you look on a classic bike? If you are into vintage and retro-like looks, go for it!

Which driving techniques should you adopt?

The way people ride in the country can be shocking to someone who is not used to it – and for motorbike tours in Thailand can be dangerous if you don’t take enough precautions. Follow our tips and everything will go well.

  • Learn before going. If you have never driven a motorcycle before, Thailand is not the best place to start, as intense traffic can be another source of stress on the bike.
  • Observe a lot how people drive. Rules are surely very different than in your own country – but they still exist! Just pay attention at how things work.
  • Know where you are and where you are heading to. Having a good idea of your itinerary will give you extra confidence on the road. Hence you will avoid mistakes and also gain time!
  • Wear your helmet. This can sound obvious, but when arriving in a country where a lot of riders don’t have any, many people forget about safety. So don’t! Your own safety always comes first.

Remember that if you treat your bike with respect, it will take you as far as you wish to. Now saddle up for the big ride!

Tips To Plan A Cheaper Vacation In An Exotic Location

It is interesting to notice that so many families that do not have a lot of money can afford vacations in truly exotic locations like Hawaii and other corners of the world. There is this general belief that Hawaii and many other places are very expensive. That is not actually the case. While we can say that prices are higher than in other places, if you are smart and you plan your vacation properly, it is a certainty that you are going to end up with a much cheaper price tag than what you initially thought. In fact, proper planning can make prices lower by over 50%, which practically makes the exotic locations affordable. You can go scuba diving through waikikiscuba.com, get married in Oahu and much more. Just think about the following.

Book Your Trip Way In Advance

Most people start planning their holiday when the departure date is close. This is a really bad approach to the situation. The best way to be sure that you are going to end up with a truly exotic experience is to plan everything as in advance as possible. Have patience and do be sure you will start planning as in advance as possible. An optimum time frame is of around 6 months until the departure date. When you manage to maintain this timeline it is a certainty that you are going to find deals that are so much better than what you initially thought.

Booking the trip in advance means that you can take advantage of the serious discounts that the travel agents can offer. At the same time, you would be able to find some deals that require a little digging. Time sensitive discounts are available but if you do not have enough time to look for them, how can you find them?

Consider Available Alternatives

Most people that travel look for hotels. This is not the only option that is available when you go to an exotic location like Hawaii. You can always look at alternative accommodation on the internet. Just try not to solely think about hotels. There are many places where you could stay at and the prices can easily go down by around 50%. While so many just think about the hotels, smart travellers are looking at absolutely all the available opportunities in order to locate some pretty great deals.

Think About Extra Expenses

One of the main reasons why people tend to think that prices are high is what is going to be paid when the vacation happens. Even with this you can be patient and you can easily look at available opportunities through research. What you have to do is research the various interesting places to eat and cheap deals on tourist attractions. The internet is practically filled with such deals.

On the whole, the best thing that you can do is to be sure that you will research as much information about the options available. This helps you to save a lot of money.

 

 

Exploring the Beautiful Peloponnese Coastline

If you are looking to explore a dramatic coastline, then it doesn’t get much better than sailing the waters along the eastern Peloponnese coast. Although sparsely populated, the region boasts several small harbours along a sixty mile stretch from Astros to Cape Malea which is as unspoilt as it gets with its glorious provinces of Arcadia and Lakonia. There’s a great choice of either skippered or bareboat yacht charter deals in Greece, both of which offer you the chance to visit this glorious part of the world at your leisure.

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Two islands in the area that are worth visiting are Elafonisos and Kithera, but the eastern coast has a lot to offer with splendid anchorages and tranquil villages that remain very unspoilt by modern times. It is the ideal area to sail if you are looking to spend some quality time in a quieter yet exquisitely Greek environment. There’s a lot to take in along the coast which includes stopovers at places like Sabatiki where you’ll find some very good tavernas serving freshly caught fish and other traditional culinary delights all washed down with some splendid locally produced wines.

It’s where tavernas set tables up on the beach when the sun goes down so that diners can enjoy their meal in spectacular surroundings. Another “must” is to spend a little time in Plaka harbour where the location is impressive to say the least. The harbour nestles below a magnificent rock face and there’s an exquisitely long sandy beach that offers great swimming there too.

Leonidhion an Inland Paradise

The region’s capital is the port of Leonidhion, which is located four kilometres inland in a glorious valley. It’s an Arcadian town that boasts fabulous stone houses and an amazing landscape that’s totally as it was in days long past. This is one destination that has to be visited when sailing along this part of the Peloponnese coastline. However, another wonderful place is Kiparissi which is located in a rather spectacular bay which offers sheltered mooring from most breezes except those that come from the north-east. The magnificent steep mountains that surround the bay provide shelter to boats that anchor there which makes diving in the crystal clear waters a must.

From Kipirissi on to Gherakas, you’ll find some very beautiful anchorages that are ideal stopovers when the weather is nice, but it’s Gherakas itself which is a definite “must visit” place. There’s a fjord that opens out to an extremely shallow salt water lagoon and along its shores you’ll find traditional tavernas serving delicious local delicacies. However, the lagoon is exceptionally shallow which means care has to be taken, but a seasoned skipper would know these waters all too well.

Monemvasia, a Town Where Time Stands Still

Further along the coast is the delightful town of Monemvasia, a place where time really has stood still. The atmosphere is unique and wandering the narrow lanes is an experience not to be missed. The next stop is quite a distance away, but the coastline is so glorious that it makes the journey very worthwhile until you reach the cape. After this crossing the straits to the islands of Elafonisos and Kithera is another step in the adventure exploring this glorious region.

The waters in the straits off Cape Malea tend to be a little rough because of the strong winds found here, but the voyage is well worth the effort because both islands have so much to offer visitors to their shores. There are some glorious fishing harbours and beautiful bays that offer sheltered anchorages where swimming off the deck of a chartered yacht in Greece is such a delight before settling down to an exquisite lunch at one of the many tavernas that line delightful fishing harbours dotted around the coastlines.

 

How to Create a Travel Video with Movavi Video Suite

Instead of simply uploading the videos that you record on a trip as is, why not come up with something a bit more special? All that it takes is a little bit of editing and you could create your very own travel video – which would be perfect if you want to share your trip with your friends and family.

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While you may not exactly be experienced in creating or editing videos, the only thing you need to get started is Movavi Video Suite (www.movavi.com/suite/index.html). It has everything you could possibly need to create a travel video, and more importantly it is ever so easy to use.

To get started you should load the videos that you intend to incorporate in your travel video into Movavi Video Suite from your digital camera or mobile device. If you like you can also include any photos (as a slideshow), or capture video footage from your screen, a webcam, or by digitizing VHS tapes.

Once the footage is loaded into Movavi Video Suite, all you need to do is apply its features to process and edit it. In no particular order you could:

  • Trim out any unnecessary footage so that only the relevant bits remain.
  • Merge clips together and arrange the sequence that they appear in.
  • Enhance the video quality either manually or automatically and also correct any issues such as blurry, pixelated or interlaced video segments.
  • Add text and alter its appearance to create unique captions, watermarks, or titles.
  • Apply special effects and filters to transform the visual style of your video.
  • Include additional audio tracks as background music or a voiceover.
  • Place animated transitions between segments of video to link them together.

As you can see not only will Movavi Video Suite let you compile a great travel video, but it will also give you the tools you need to give it some flair. By spending a few minutes experimenting with each of these features you should be able to figure out how they work and start to apply them to your travel video soon after that.

Use a Stockholm Pass to Visit the Nobel Museum

There are many wonderful places to visit in Stockholm, but paying for admission to all of them can get expensive if you’re trying to squeeze in as many sights as you can during your holiday. However, if you buy a Stockholm Pass you will save money on admission to many historic sites and museums such as the Nobel.

Museum History

The Nobel Museum features information about winners of the Nobel Prize and about the man it was named for, Alfred Nobel. Nobel was a chemist and engineer who left an endowment of 31 million SEK to reward outstanding achievements in certain categories. A Nobel Prize is awarded annually in the fields of medicine, chemistry, physics, economics, literature, and peace.

Some of the past Nobel winners include Samuel Beckett and Saul Bellow for literature, Madame Curie for chemistry, Albert Einstein for physics, and John Hume and David Trimble for peace. Although the prize has been given out every year since 1901, there were disruptions for the first and second world wars. Prize money usually given to recipients of the Nobel was given to special funds in their respective categories during these disruptions.

The museum opened in 2001, which was the 100th anniversary of the prize. There have been 900 people or organisations who have won Nobel Prizes and their stories can be seen in the museum via short films made about them. As you tour the museum, you will walk through a timeline showing each year’s winners and what achievement led to them being awarded Nobel Prizes.

Stockholm Pass Advantages

If you purchase a Stockholm Pass, you can enter the museum with just your pass and be treated to a free guided tour. The Nobel Museum is one of over 60 attractions to which you can be admitted while visiting Stockholm. Along with museums, historic castles, and other attractions, you can also take bus or riverboat tours of the city and surrounding areas.

Among some of the other attractions you will be admitted to with just your pass is the Skyview, which is a glass globe you ride in as it ascends a tall building to give you a view of the city. You can go to the Storkyrkan Cathedral located in Old Town or, if you enjoy photographic art, you can visit Fotografiskas to see the exhibits and eat in their popular restaurant. The guidebook that you will get along with the pass will explain about the hours of operation and how to use it.

When you purchase a Stockholm Pass, you can opt for a Travelcard to accompany it. The Travelcard can be used separately from the Stockholm Pass and it allows you to take public transportation for free for 24 to 72 hours.

You can take the bus, subway, trams, commuter trains, or riverboats around to see the sights listed in Stockholm Pass guidebook. Getting a Stockholm Pass is a great way to visit attractions like the Nobel exhibits and you will save money on admissions by buying one.

Hire Freelance Travel Writers

Everyone wishes to explore to places and know much more about some exotic things. It would be quite common for most of the normal people. But, when coming to some typical persons like writers with a passion of travelling often look out for a place, share all their experiences and views regarding that place. A Travel writer is someone who adores associating with travel, render suggestions and assistance to other travellers and motivate the readers to travel and explore more things.

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We can find numerous travel blogs and websites on the web were you can see copious articles regarding the travel locations and experiences of various travellers. With an intention of educating the readers and visitors of a blog or a website, the travel writers or the freelance content writers provide much more interesting stuff regarding various places. If you’re planning to start a new travel blog wherein you wish to include content related to travelling locations and much more, you need to hire freelance travel writers.

But, it is quite necessary for a company to follow some steps before hiring freelance blog writers online. If you’re looking for a best freelance travel writer, you can check out the below article to understand the process of hiring freelance blog writers online in order to fill freelance content writer jobs in your company.

  1. Know the Needs for your Travel Blog

Prior to hiring a freelance travel writer for your blog, you need to know your needs and requirements of your travel blog or website. You need to determine the basic need of hiring a freelance blog writer. If you wish to share your travel content on your Facebook page or a company blog, you need to hire a content writer who writes quality content regarding your incredible travel locations across the world.

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  1. Selecting the Apt Travel Writers

Once you have some travel writers in the list, you can shortlist them by selecting the precise writer based on your requirement and their abilities and skills of exploring across the world and writing quality content. You can check the ability of a writer by checking their sample writings about their travel places or look at their travel blogs and give a glance at their content. You can check the mode of their writing and decide whether it best suits your travel blog. Later, shortlist the writers by conducting a personal interview and know much about the writer in person.

  1. Hiring a Perfect Travel Writer

While interviewing a travel writer, your questions must include the following:

  • Objectives& aims of the writer (Short-term & Long-term goals)
  • Process of content creation
  • Ability to explore various locations
  • Interests & Hobbies
  • Payment terms
  1. 4. Buildpositiverapport with your Travel Writer

When you hire a freelance blog writer for your company or an organization, you must ensure that you maintain essential and positive rapport with that particular travel writer. This is because the freelance content writer will be able to discuss more about their writings. This way you could render some suggestions and understand their perspective of writing about travel locations.

This way you can hire a freelance travel writer online for writing quality content on your travel blog or website.

5 secret places to discover in Hawaii

So you’ve booked your flight and accommodation, got Direct Travel Insurance and packed your holiday suitcase… it’s now time to visit one of the most idyllic locations in the world; Hawaii. Even better, we have five great and largely undiscovered places for you to visit on your holiday and make your own. Experience a stunning visitor destination like no other with these five secret gems…

The Ha’iku Stairs

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Translating into the ‘stairway to heaven’ this steep and winding climb is found on the island of Oahu, and meanders into the clouds itself, allowing you to leave the world behind and see awe-inspiring views as you ascend. This isn’t an official tourist path and you’ll find no guides – but you will meet plenty of other intrepid explorers who are keen to find their own bit of natural heaven!

Pahoa’s Curtain of Fire

Head to Pahao for a glimpse of the most active volcano in the world, which spews magma in a moving wall and releases a fiery curtain of vented gases and lava. You’ll find it in Hawaii volcanoes national park, and it really is a mighty glimpse into nature at its most incredible and raw.

The seven sacred pools

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Found in Haleakala National Park system, these pools are open to the public and include swimming, cliff jumping, hiking, guided tours and more. Prepare for crowds at the weekend, or come early for a quiet spot. There is also camping nearby and refreshments available, so you can make a day of it at this stunning natural beauty spot.

The world’s biggest plant maze
This really is something different – over two miles of weaving paths surrounded by two acres of towering native plants that make up the world’s biggest natural maze. Various paths through are available, and there are eight stations to visit. A visit takes around an hour, and the quickest completion time to date is seven minutes. Can you beat it?

Papakolea Beach
Everyone goes to Hawaii for the wonderful beaches and this is no exception. It offers the clearest blue waters of the Pacific, towering and graceful cliffs and incredible green, speckled sand! It is in fact the only beach in the USA with green sand and only accessible via a four-wheel drive or long hike. However, it is largely deserted and situated at the bottom of Mauna Loa, the biggest volcano in the world, which has provided the chemical reactions that form the incredibly coloured sand.

If you’re looking for a secret spot blessed with plenty of seclusion, then this is it! Pack for the journey, bring lunch and refreshments, and enjoy that blissful sense of escape from the rest of the world, in one of the most beautiful locations in the world.

Helicopter Rides  

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Helicopter Rides

Imagine having the ability to see the most beautiful sights of your city in a way that you’ve never experienced before. Helicopter rides have quickly become one of the most popular adventures and now you have the opportunity to take advantage of this exciting activity as well. There are many companies that give individuals the ability to buy single tickets to see all of the best tourist attractions and to take in breath-taking scenery from a bird’s eye view.

Affordable Fun

It can be difficult to find an activity that is equally as fun as it is affordable, due to the fact that most attractions can be hefty in price. With helicopter rides you can typically find deals where you can buy 2 or more tickets for a discounted price, in comparison to a single ticket. Overall, it’s a relatively affordable activity that is appropriate for your entire family. You may also be able to find discount codes and a coupon, depending on what company is offering the helicopter rides.

Romantic Adventure

If you’ve been trying to think of the best way that you can impress your significant other with a date that they’ve never been on before, it’s quite likely that they’ve never dreamed of a helicopter ride. It is a great way to make the best impression possible to show someone how much they mean to you. You can choose whether you want to take the helicopter ride during the day or at night, for the added ambience of the romantic city lights.

Safe and Secure

All of the pilots that are licensed to fly commercial helicopters have undergone an ample amount of schooling and on-the-job training to ensure they are the most skilled pilots that you will be able to meet. This is one of the most important parts of owning a company that offers helicopter rides, as your customers will want to make sure they are in good hands. All of the pilots will be incredibly knowledgeable about their flight paths, the areas they are venturing into, and all of the safety regulations of the aircraft.

Educational and Interesting

At times you can also find helicopter rides that are guided tours, telling you about little areas of your city that you never knew existed before. It can also be a phenomenal activity for people that are visiting out of town and are tired of the typical tourist attractions in the area they are visiting. You will be able to get a clear view of stunning attractions and learn an ample amount of information about them with the help of your pilots or the tour guide.

Helicopter rides are exciting, memorable, and fun for anyone who isn’t afraid of heights. You’ll have the ability to choose from a variety of flight times, depending on your budget, and where you’ll want to visit while you’re in the air. At times, you can even find packages that include champagne, tea, and snacks for the passengers to enjoy while they soak in all of the beautiful sights around them.