Our Trips

Colombia Travel Tips

Did you know that Colombia is getting closer to the U.S. every day? Traveling to the country has never been easier. Over 200 flights per week leave the U.S. towards Colombia making it possible for American travelers to reach Colombia in the blink of an eye. With 884 weekly international flights operated by 22 different airlines, Colombia is now directly connected with 24 countries and is closer than ever. Also, on October 2nd, 2014, the decree 1903 from the National Directorate of Taxes and Customs (DIAN) came into effect and will regulate the reimbursement of the sales tax (VAT) on the purchase of goods encumbered in the country to all non-resident tourists. If you are traveling to Colombia make sure to get reimbursed for the sales tax!

 

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Our Trips, Travel Tips Leave a comment

Venezuela Holidays: When to Travel, What You Don’t Want to Miss

Venezuela holidays are exciting adventures like no other! If you’re planning a trip to the country, get ready for the experience of a lifetime.

When to Travel

Venezuela holidays are great any time of the year, but some months are considered a bit better for travel. The period of May to October is recommended as the best time to visit the country, as tourists miss the dry season and the coolest months of the year. The average temperatures during January and February are lower than the rest of the year, making conditions less than ideal to explore this tropical country. The dry season in Caracas lasts from December to April and October to May in the Andes, which unlike many other areas of the world is not the optimal time for a visit, as the country is most enjoyable after the rain, when the humidity is low and the rivers are full of freshly fallen water.

Highlights of Venezuela Holidays

Venezuela is full of fun and exciting things to do. Whether you’re looking to have a city experience, take in some of the country’s natural wonders, or both, check out some of the top places to visit on Venezuela holidays:

  • Caracas: The capital of Venezuela is a bustling city, filled with things to do. Visit the El Silencio area of downtown for a look at some of the city’s stunning historical architecture, including O’Leary Square and Miranda Square. Check out the Parque Central area, the more modern, artistic part of the city, which is home to museums, galleries, a concert hall, shops, restaurants, and cafes.
  • Canaima National Park: Considered one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders, Canaima National Park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, due to its tepuis. These raised plateaus with vertical walls and flat tops are millions of years old and a beautiful site to see. An estimated 65% of the park is covered by tepuis, with Mount Roraima as the tallest and Auyantepui as the home to Angel Falls, the world’s tallest waterfall, standing approximately 980 meters high. The park is home to a very diverse assortment of wildlife, plants, and birds, including a number of endangered species.
  • Merida: Nestled deep in the Andes, this village offers more authentic Venezuelan experience. There’s plenty of things to do, as the city is home to Universidad de los Andes, one of the country’s major universities, but the remote, serenity of the area is entirely different from Caracas. Enjoy the views of the Andes on all sides and the fresh mountain air, while visiting sights like Catedral Metropolitana, Los Nevados, and Museo Arqueologico.

Venezuela holidays are exciting, offer travelers sites and experiences that cannot be duplicated anywhere else in the world!

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Recommendations, Travel Tips 4 Comments

Venezuela Caracas City

When visiting Venezuela Caracas is often overlooked by travelers in favor of heading straight to some of the country’s noteworthy natural wonders. While Venezuela is home to some of the world’s most beautiful natural sites, Caracas is a stop that should be added to any itinerary.

Things to Do in Venezuela Caracas City

This bustling metropolitan area is actually the capital city of Venezuela and home to approximately four million residents. It boasts stunning historical architecture, especially in the El Silencio area, museums, art galleries, shopping, theater, and so much more. Some of the most popular sites in the city include:

  • Cathedral: Located on the eastern side of the Plaza Bolivar, this beautiful, elaborate church is a site not to be missed. The structure took 48 years to be completed and contains the Bolivar family chapel. Admission to the Cathedral is free.
  • Parque Central Area: As one of the more modern areas of the city, you’ll be surrounded by large, impressive buildings. Parque Central is an artistic part of the city, home to museums, art galleries, a concert hall, shops, restaurants, and cafes.
  • National Pantheon: Originally built as a church, this structure now serves as a resting place for national heroes, including the famed Simon Bolivar. The vault of the building is adorned with 1930s paintings of scenes from Bolivar’s life and a huge chandelier hangs in his honor, which was mounted on what would have been his 100th birthday, in 1883.
  • The Plaza Bolivar: Serving as the center of activity in the old town area, the Plaza Bolivar is an essential stop not to be missed.
  • National Capitol: The home of the country’s Legislative Power is a beautiful site to see. The Capitol includes the Legislative Palace and the Federal Palace buildings. The great fountain on the grounds serves as a picture perfect spot for visitors.
  • La Estancia: Although this 220 year old coffee house has been renovated, history still surrounds it. The property includes an art museum, displaying pieces by local artists. On the weekends, people bring picnic baskets and gather on the patio for free concerts.

Getting to Venezuela  Caracas Transportation

When visiting Venezuela Caracas is an easy place to get to for most travelers. Simon Bolivar International airport is located in the town of Maiquetia, which is approximately 25 kilometers from central Caracas. Many major airlines fly into the airport and non-stop flights are offered from countless cities across the world. If you choose to use a taxi to get from the airport, you’re advised to use an official airport black Ford Explorer cab. Many unlicensed taxis offer shuttle service for a presumably cheaper fare. While it’s not advisable to take this transportation option, if you do, don’t share a ride with anyone else and negotiate the price before driving away from the airport.

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Recommendations, Travel Tips 4 Comments

The Cost of Living in Chile

Although the cost of living in Chile is expensive compared with most other countries in South America, residency comes with many benefits. International Living notes that Chile offers residents all the comforts of modern living, beautiful scenery, and the lowest level of corruption in Latin America. The country also has the strongest economy, a stable government, and the lowest level of poverty in South America.

Cost of Living in Chile

Numbeo offers the breakdown below as the average cost of living in Chile.

Average prices in Chile are approximately 38 percent cheaper than in New York City (NYC). Compared with NYC, rent in Chile is estimated to be more than 80 percent cheaper, groceries are 45 percent less, and restaurants 50 percent less.

The following average prices of goods and services in Chile are estimated in U.S. dollars:

Food and Drink

  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant — $6.94
  • Three-course meal for two at a mid-priced restaurant — $37.76
  • Milk (one liter) — $1.29
  • Loaf of fresh white bread — $1.29
  • Bottle of wine (mid-range) — $5.95
  • Domestic Beer (one 0.5oz bottle) — $1.39

Transportation

  • One-way public transit fare — $1.21
  • Monthly public transit pass — $47.59
  • Taxi fee (per kilometer) —$1.98
  • Gasoline (one liter) — $1.59

Monthly Utilities

  • Electric, Heat, Water, and Garbage (for an 82 square meter apartment) — $126.95
  • Internet — $39.66

Monthly Rent

  • One bedroom apartment in an urban area — $415.00
  • Three bedroom apartment in an urban area — $793.10
  • One bedroom apartment in a suburban area — $396.55
  • Three bedroom apartment in a suburban area — $693.96

Real Estate Prices

  • Price per square meter in an urban area — $1,800.00
  • Price per square meter in a suburban area — $1891.38
  • Average mortgage rate — 5 percent

Leisure Activities

  • Monthly Fitness Club Membership — $55.00
  • Movie Ticket — $7.73

Apparel

  • Brand name jeans (Levis or similar) — $60.00
  • Casual dress (purchased from a chain store) — $50.00
  • Brand name athletic footwear — $79.31
  • Men’s dress shoes — $94.00

Living in Chile

According to InterNations, more than 17 million people live in Chile. Approximately 89 percent of residents live in the country’s cities and larger towns, like Santiago, Puente Alto, Valparaiso, Antofagasta, and Viña del Mar. In fact, approximately half the population of Chile lives in Santiago, the country’s capital city. Spanish is the official language of Chile. The country is known for having the best medical care in all of Latin America. Chile is also a very safe country, with violent crime rates lower than those of the U.S.

So while the cost of living in Chile may seem high compared to other countries in South America, consider the many advantages it has to offer. These benefits may serve as a suitable trade-off for the high price tag.

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Travel Tips Leave a comment

Is Venezuela Safe?

When choosing a vacation destination, many travelers ask is Venezuela safe enough to visit? While it’s true that the country has one of the highest crime rates in the world, it is very possible to have a fun, safe trip. Prior to embarking on your journey you must learn how to be a savvy tourist and how to protect yourself, your family and your belongings.

Flying into the Country

When asking the question, “is Venezuela safe?” many travelers don’t think twice about the risks they may face at the airport, as this isn’t typically a high crime spot in most places of the world. However, the main airport in the country, Simon Bolivar International Airport, otherwise known as Maiquetía International Airport, isn’t a place to let your guard down. The U.S. Department of State says travel to and from the airport can be dangerous. The U.S. Embassy has received many reports of crimes completed by individuals in what appear to be official looking uniforms or credentials involved in these crimes, which have included “express kidnapping,” extorting money from travelers, or unjust searches for illegal drugs or money.

Places to Avoid

The Canadian government warns any travelers who are wondering “is Venezuela safe?” to stay away from the following areas of the country at all times:

  • Near the Columbian Border: Avoid areas 80 miles within the Columbian border, due to a high threat of kidnapping. The most dangerous areas include remote areas, including the states of Zulia, Táchira, Barinas, Bolívar, Apure, Amazonas, Anzoátegui and Sucre.
  • Sabana Grande and Plaza Venezuela: These areas in central Caracas are known for violent robberies.

Pickpockets are a huge problem in subway stations and crowded buses, so it’s not advisable to use these methods of transportation. Avoid displaying any signs of wealth, including wearing flashy jewelry or carrying a mobile phone. If you need to go to an ABM (automatic banking machine), only do so during the daytime and in shopping malls or busy residential areas.

Transportation

Many travelers choose to rent a car upon arrival in Venezuela. If you take this option, it’s important to avoid traveling at night, as it’s not safe for many reasons, including crime, road damage, and wandering livestock. During your journey you may pass through a Bolivarian National Guard or police checkpoint, where you will be required to stop. There have been reports of illegal roadblocks set up by bandits who stop and rob vehicles.

If traveling by taxi, always use a licensed taxi and never an unlicensed one. Although crimes have been reported from both, licensed taxis are generally safe. Criminals often pose as unlicensed taxi drivers, and then rob passengers when they get in the car.

So the answer to the “is Venezuela safe,” question is yes, if proper precautions are taken prior to embarking on your journey.

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Travel Tips Leave a comment

Santiago Metro: An underground museum

If you are visiting Santiago, the Chilean capital, take sometime to use it’s underground metro.  The Chilean government implemented the MetroArte project which consists of 33 art pieces spread over different terminals. Through them the Santiago Metro has acquired its own identity which in turn has earned a spot in the Lonely Planet (placing the Universidad de Chile Metro station as one of ten ‘must see’ stations to visit in the world). The Universidad de Chile station is an authentic museum which gives the feeling of being in an art gallery with works of different styles, from Soviet art to murals. The “Memoria Visual de una nación” mural is the work of national artist Mario Toral and reviews the history of Chile. In addition to the Universidad de Chile station, stop by the Santa Lucia station which features traditional Portuguese mosaics as well as The Parque Bustamante station which features the “Vida y Trabajo” (Life and Work) mural by renowned Chilean artist Alejandro González.

Source: Turismo Chile Newsletter.

 

 

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Curiosities, Latest News, Recommendations, Travel Tips 2 Comments

Pack for a Purpose and put your luggage to work for a good cause

Interested in putting your luggage to work for a good cause? Why not positively impact communities in South America by bringing meaningful contributions to the destinations you visit?  All it takes is extra room in your luggage (2.27 kilograms) and a willingness to bring in what’s needed. PackForaPurpose.org. is a brilliant organization that pairs travelers with destinations that need supplies. “You can make a big impact on children around the world.”

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Latest News, Travel Tips 5 Comments

Why is travel insurance important?

 

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died yesterday, March 5, 2013. If you are traveling through Venezuela right now your trip/itinerary will probably be affected. This is just one of many reasons why it is important to purchase travel insurance before traveling. It will protect you against the unexpected.

Reasons to buy travel insurance
1. Your flight has been cancelled.
2. Your bags are lost and your medication is in it. You need to have an emergency prescription filled.
3. Your passport and wallet are stolen, and you need emergency cash and a replacement passport.
4. You’re involved in an accident and adequate medical treatment is not available. You need medical evacuation.
5. You need to cancel your trip due to illness.
6. Your cruise line, airline or tour operator goes bankrupt. You need your non-refundable expenses covered and to get to your destination.
7. You have a medical emergency in a foreign country.
8. A terrorist incident occurs in the city where you’re planning to visit and you want to cancel your trip.
9. A hurricane forces you to evacuate your resort, hotel or cruise.

For those looking for good insurance companies I recommend this article: Frommers.com’s Top 8 Travel Insurance Providers. It gives you great tips on how to pick the best policy.  We recommend (and use) the The Travel Insurance Center.

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Latest News, Recommendations, Travel Tips 6 Comments

How to pack a suitcase

Ever wonder how to pack a suitcase like a pro? In article from Real Simple magazine experts reveal their trusted, time-honored solutions. Try out these tips on your next vacation and let me know what you think. You can also check-out more travel tips on the TIC Pinterest page.

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Curiosities, Latest News, Recommendations, Travel Tips Leave a comment

New Online Reciprocity Fee Procedure in Argentina

For those traveling to Argentina, please take note that Argentina has recently changed the procedure for paying reciprocity fees for entry into Argentina.
Citizens of the United States of America,Canada, and Australia coming into Argentina from any entry point  (land, sea or plane) must now pay the reciprocity fee online at either migraciones.gov.ar or provinciapagos.com.ar.
United States: $160 (valid for 10 years)
Canada: $75 (valid for one single entry)
Australia: $100 (valid for a year — and multiple entries for that year)
Happy Travels!
Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Curiosities, Latest News, Our Trips, Travel Tips 2 Comments