Barra is the most southerly of the inhabited islands in the Outer Hebrides. 

If you really want to get away from it all, visit the tiny island of Barra for its empty golden beaches, sandy grasslands, wildflowers and rugged interior. Nestling near the bottom of the Western Isles chain, it has been quite rightly called "Barradise". The old b/w movie "Whisky Galore" (known as "Tight Little Island" in the US) was filmed here based on the novel by Compton MacKenzie who adapted the true story of the S.S. Politician which sank off nearby Eriskay with its cargo of whiskey in 1941. Its sequel Rockets Galore made in color a few years later was also shot around the island.

Do you like to take Bike Rides?

An excellent place for cycling, Barra's main road loops twelve miles around the island. At Northbay, an offshoot takes you up the Eoligarry peninsula to Barra's northern tip. The airport is set on a huge sandy beach where planes land from the mainland and neighboring islands.

The population of the island is just over 1100. Many of the islanders still speak Gaelic.

There are plans to build a whiskey distillery on Barra.

During the construction of a road in the 1990s, the discovery of a near-complete pottery beaker dating from 2500BC established that there has been a human presence on Barra since the neolithic era. As well as pottery, a number of stone remains were found, including a neolithic "work platform", which complement the several standing stones scattered around the island. In the hills to the north of Borve, there is a large chambered cairn, sited in a prominent position.

What is the safest legal way to carry an Inflatable PFD with you on a commercial airline?

1. Check the air carrier’s website, including all connecting air carriers of your round trip to see if the airline(s) allows you to bring the CO2 Cylinder on their airplanes. For those that allow it, become familiar if they allow it in carry-on, or checked bags only. About one-half of airlines risk management departments have decided that your CO2 Cylinder is too dangerous to carry on their planes. If you cannot carry them, leave the CO2 Cylinders behind, call ahead to a chandlery at your destination and have them set aside a CO2 Cylinder, or two, for your arrival. Bring your Inflatable PFD leaving the CO2 Cylinders at home.

2. When checking in with your airline, regardless whether checking your bags or carrying them on, you are required to announce that you have a hazardous material, describe the CO2 Cylinders and the Inflatable PFD and explain you are following the airlines requirements as stated on their website (it helps to print off the pages from their websites and have them in hand).  Be sure to unscrew the cylinder (required), put it together with your spare cylinder.

Any compressed gas cylinder is considered a “hazardous material” according to the FAA. Your CO2 Cylinder can explode in a fire injuring passengers, crew, or rescuers. It can inflate the PFD while baggage handlers are moving bags, shifting bags in the cargo hold injuring the baggage handler. And there could be subversive uses of passenger CO2 Cylinders that are carried onto an airplane (versus those on PFD’s under the seats on airplanes that were inspected by the FAA upon installation).

The difficulty is that there are at least three different standards, which are not equal. The Transportation Safety Administration, The Federal Aviation Administration, and each Air Carrier.

  1. TSA STANDARD: Self-Inflating Life Jacket- Up to 2 in life vests and 2 spares. The spares must accompany the life vests and be presented as one unit. Both Carry-On and Checked.
  2. FAA STANDARD: A life jacket containing two nonflammable gas cartridges plus two spare cartridges in carry-on or checked baggage.
  3. CHECK YOUR AIR CARRIER AND CONNECTING AIR CARRIER’S WEBSITE: They may ban CO2 Cylinders; They may allow them in checked baggage only; or, They may allow them as carry-on and checked baggage.
Those who intentionally violate the hazardous material regulations in the U.S. are subject to a criminal penalty of up to $500,000 and/or five years imprisonment.

Safety at Sea Committee Member and Safety At Sea Seminar Moderator, Bruce Brown, shares his tips for travel –

  • I photocopy the TSA Guideline document (TSA STANDARD)
  • I laminate it and keep it in the baggage I am carrying containing the PFD and spare cylinder.
  • I include my cell phone number on the document to allow TSA, FAA or Air Carrier to call me if there is a question.
  • I tell the airline (at the counter to check baggage) that I am carrying an inflatable PFD and spare cylinder. I show them a copy of their website page that allows the CO2 Cylinders. I have checked my bag with the PFD inside and have carried it on.

Thank you and safe travels.

  1. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the second largest country in Africa. It borders nine countries: Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
  2. The people of the DRC represent over 200 ethnic groups, with nearly 250 languages and dialects spoken throughout the country. Kinshasa, the capital, is the second largest French-speaking city in the world.
  3. Since the 1960s, the Congolese have endured over two decades of armed conflict with over 5.4 million people dead due to war-related causes, making it the deadliest conflict since World War II.
  4. Congolese armed groups and elements of the army have a long, brutal history of recruiting child soldiers. The United Nations report at least 1,000 cases of child soldier recruitment between January 2012 and August 2013.
  5. The oldest national park in Africa is the Congo’s Virunga National Park. It is home to rare mountain gorillas, lions, and elephants. The park is currently under threat by the UK oil company, Soco, which has begun oil exploration there. 
  6. In the DRC, only 1.8% of existing roads are tarred and less than 10% of the population has access to electricity today. Recently there have been pushes to improve, including the announcement of a $1 billion package from the World Bank for infrastructure.
  7. The Democratic Republic of the Congo hosts the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping mission in the world, with over 21,000 soldiers from approximately 50 different countries.
  8. Due mainly to the ongoing instability in the eastern part of the country, about 450,000 refugees from the DRC remain in neighboring countries, particularly Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
  9. The DRC is among the most resource-rich countries on the planet, with an abundance of gold, tantalum, tungsten, and tin – all minerals used in electronics such as cell phones and laptops – yet it continues to have an extremely poor population.
  10. Tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold have been dubbed “conflict minerals.” Armed groups use the profits from sales for campaigns of violence. Some companies are becoming more accountable by tracing their supply chains.
  11. Former NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutombo was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 1997, he founded a humanitarian foundation to improve the health, education and quality of life for the people in the DRC.


Beyond the Beach


Article By Travel Weekly: 
According to a recent AAA survey, 42 percent of Americans are planning to take a vacation this year, with most planning trips to warm-weather destinations in the United States and abroad. The same study listed experiential travel as one of today’s top trends, while Virtuoso revealed in a separate study that “active or adventure trips” and “beach resort stays” ranked first and second in a roundup of the top trends in family travel—so it’s really no surprise that travelers are increasingly thinking beyond the sun and sand when booking beach vacations. 

The ongoing popularity of beach escapes, paired with the rise in demand for active or experience-based trips, means dramatic changes when it comes to how agents serve their beach-bound clients. According to Steve Jermanok, founder of Active Travels, part of Larjay Travel, in Newtown, Massachusetts, many travelers are looking for more than just time on the sand. “What’s happening now is that a beach is a relaxation component after more adventurous kinds of travel,” he says. 

In Jermanok’s case, that can even include “beach and adventure” combinations in destinations as far flung as Zanzibar. “It’s pretty much all over the world,” he says. “Clients don’t seem to just want to stay on the beach the whole time any more. A lot of people want a more active, adventurous and authentic vacation. It depends on the individual of course, but more and more, we see the beach as just one component of a trip.”

The desire to go beyond the beach is good news for travel agents, according to Ethel Hansen Davy, a travel agent at Premiere Travel Group, a Uniglobe agency in Toronto. “It’s very lucrative to sell off-the-resort day excursions,” she says. “Now we can combine four days on-resort with a five-day excursion. The way we sell travel now, we can pull from all different kinds of suppliers and put it all together to meet the needs of our clients.”

Jermanok is also happy with the current trends. “To me, it’s much more exciting as a travel agent, because then I can design a package that’s much more multifaceted and diverse.”

Independence Day
Article Credit USA TODAY - By Award winning - Nancy Trejos

A record number of U.S. travelers will venture beyond their homes by 50 miles or more this Fourth of July, according to a forecast released Thursday from auto club AAA.

A total of 44.2 million people will take to the roads, skies, rails and waterways to celebrate Independence Day, AAA says.

That’s an increase of 1.25 million travelers over last year, making it the most traveled Independence Day weekend since AAA has been counting. That is a 2.9 percent increase over last year this time.

“Combined, strong employment, rising incomes and higher consumer confidence bode well for the travel industry, in particular this Independence Day weekend,” Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of Travel and Publishing, said in a written statement.

AAA defines this year’s Independence Day holiday travel period as Friday, June 30, to Tuesday, July 4.

More people will drive to their destinations—37.5 million people, an increase of 2.9 percent over last year.

That spike is helped by cheaper gas prices. The national average price for gas is $0.04 less than this time last year. The national average price for a gallon of gas is $2.28, a historic low for the summer travel season.

Daily car rental rates are also lower, averaging $65. That is 14 percent less than last Independence Day.

Planes will be more full this holiday weekend, with 3.44 million passengers, an increase of 4.6 percent over last year.

Travelers can expect lower airfares. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic routes will be 10 percent less this year. The average round trip-ticket is $186.

Cruises, trains and buses will attract another 3.27 million travelers, AAA says. That is a 1.4 percent spike over last year.

Hotel rates remain steady, with the average AAA Three Diamond Rated hotel costing $185 per night.

The 20 most popular hotels in Orlando

The most visited destination this year is Orlando. The top 10 destinations are:

  1. Orlando
  2. Vancouver
  3. Cancun
  4. Seattle
  5. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  6. Honolulu
  7. Anaheim
  8. Anchorage
  9. Las Vegas
  10. Montego Bay

By Stacey Leasca - Travel and Leasure

It's the third airplane sting in three months.As if flying weren’t stressful enough, between the long check-in lines, security, and the inevitable crying baby sitting next to you, now passengers apparently need to worry about scorpions on planes as well.

As NBC reported, on Monday evening a passenger onboard an AeroMexico flight from Mexico City to Chicago O'Hare International Airport was sickened after he was stung by a scorpion that managed to find its way onto the aircraft.

According to Chicago fire officials, the 32-year-old man was stung by a scorpion in the right elbow, but refused treatment and was not transported by ambulance from the scene.

“There was a call for a medical personnel because there was an emergency on board,” passenger Monica Amborn told NBC. “We didn’t really know what it was."

For its part, AeroMexico simply said in a statement that the male passenger was seen by paramedics upon arrival and showed no adverse reaction to the sting. It added, “Aeromexico is committed with its passengers and crew safety as it is our top priority in every operation.”

While this may seem like an incredibly frightening fluke incident, it’s actually not the first time a passenger has been stung by a scorpion while flying.

In early May, a scorpion was also discovered on a United Airlines flight from Houston to Ecuador. Paramedics were called to the scene to evaluate the passenger, who said he saw the tiny creature, according to the Associated Press. The passenger was cleared and the flight took off three hours after it was scheduled to depart.

And in April, another United passenger claims a scorpion fell from the overhead bin onto his head during a trip from Houston to Calgary. Richard Bell, the passenger, explained to CBC: “While I was eating, something fell in my hair from the overhead above me. I picked it up, and it was a scorpion."

When he picked the scorpion up, it stung him. Bell told Global News Canada that it “felt like a wasp sting.”

So yeah, maybe that aforementioned crying baby isn’t so bad after all.

1. Location: Where is the Indian Ocean?

The Indian Ocean is located between Africa and Austral-Asia and the Southern Ocean.

There are many islands in the Indian Oceans, among the most well-known are:

  • Mauritius
  • Reunion
  • Seychelles
  • Madagascar
  • The Comores (Spain)
  • Maldives (Portugal)
  • Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon

2. Name: Why 'Indian' ocean? 

The name originates from the location around the Indian penisula. The Indian Ocean is actually the youngest of the major oceans.

3. Size: How big is the Indian Ocean? 

The Indian Ocean is the world’s third largest ocean and covers 20% of the Earth’s surface, after the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. In size the Indian Ocean is comparable with roughly 5.5 times the size of the USA.

4.    Width: The greatest width of the ocean is between western Australia and eastern coast of Africa: 1,000km or 620miles.

5. Depth: How deep is the Indian Ocean? 

The lowest point is in the Java Trench which is about 7,258 metres (23,812ft.) deep. The average depth is about 3,890 metres (12,762 ft.).

6. Temperature: How warm are the waters of the Indian Ocean?

The temperatures of the Indian Ocean depend on the location and on the ocean's currents. The nearer to the Equator the warm the water tends to be. The temperature of 28 degrees Celsius/82 degrees Fahrenheit or higher is reached in coastal regions near the equator. 

On average the Indian Ocean has a minimum temperature of around 22 degrees Celsius. However in the southern regions, nearer to the polar regions the temperatures drop drastically below 40 degrees latitude south.

7. Important Waterways: Suez Canal in Egypt, the Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia are the two most well known waterways in the Indian Ocean. The man-made Suez Canal connects to the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea.

8. Indian Ocean Seaports:  Among the major seaports of the Indian Ocean, remember these major ports:

  • Singapore has the busiest container port on the Indian Ocean.
  • Mumbai and Chennai ports in India
  • Aden (Yemen)
  • Jakarta (Indonesia)
  • Mombasa (Kenya)
  • Durban (South Africa), the largest and busiest port in Africa

9. Indian Ocean Facts: 
Some big coastal cities situated along the Indian Ocean are:

  • Mumbai (India)
  • Colombo (Sri Lanka)
  • Singapore (Singapore)
  • Perth (Australia)
  • Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania)
  • Durban (South Africa)

10. Indian Ocean Sealife: The Indian Ocean provides home to many endangered sea species such as turtles, seals and dugongs (also called sea cows). 

Top 5 Colonial Zone Attractions

The Dominican Republic has always been one of the top destinations in the Caribbean. The beaches of Punta Cana, Bavaro and Cabarete receive millions of visitors every year. Recently though, the UNESCO Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo has also been drawing lots of visitors who are eager to explore this historic and charming Colonial city.

The Colonial Zone, or “Zona Colonial”, is a treasure trove of Spanish Colonial architecture. Many of the 16th century palaces today house museums, stunning restaurants, private homes and government offices. But the Colonial Zone is also a vibrant and bustling neighborhood with a unique culture that is fun to explore.

Let’s take a look at our Top 5 attractions in the Colonial Zone, and don’t forget to just relax and people watch along the way!

1. Plaza de España and the Alcazar de Colon

Our first stop, the Alcazar de Colon, is located at the east end of the enormous Plaza de España, overlooking the Ozama River. Built in the 16th century, it was initially the home of Diego Colon, the son of Christopher Columbus. This building is a must-see!
When arriving and leaving the Alcazar de Colon, it is impossible to miss the famed Plaza de España and its numerous restaurants and cafes. If you are lucky, some cultural event might be underway. Another idea – come back on a weekend evening and enjoy live Dominican music while sitting at one of the restaurant’s outdoor terraces.

2. Casas Reales

The Museo de las Casas Reales or “Royal Houses” is home to a collection that documents Santo Domingo’s history. From Taino Indian artifacts to Spanish Colonial art and furniture.

Perhaps even more impressive is the courtyard. Here, you will get a feel for traditional Spanish Colonial architecture, which often centers around an open, sunny courtyard with trees and a garden. This type of structure was, and still is, ideal for warmer climates as the courtyard was always nice and cool.

3. Cathedral and Parque Colon

The true heart of the Colonial Zone lies at the picturesque Parque Colon and the Cathedral. This area is always active, with thousands of people passing by each day. Business people, tourists, expats, artists and locals share the benches and cafes in this charming park. No matter where you sit, though, you will always have a spectacular view of the cathedral. This is the first cathedral constructed in the New World. It features a variety of architectural styles, including Gothic. It does, however, lack a tower. There are some beautiful Baroque paintings and sculpture inside and it is always nice and cool, so stay for awhile and look around. Situated at the south end of Parque Colon, the main entrance is actually on Calle Arzobispo Meriño.

4. Calle El Conde

Perhaps the most unique, modern feature of the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo is the pedestrian street “El Conde” that runs from Parque Duarte at one end all the way to Parque Independencia. El Conde is lined with shops, cafes and businesses.
For the most part, these are places that the locals visit. There are, of course, many souvenir shops, “art” sellers and cafes where tourists can relax, but the shops are typically lower to middle-end and not international quality. But that’s ok because walking along El Conde away from Parque Duarte you will experience a more genuine Dominican culture. At the far end, just across from Parque Independencia, you will find the famous Cafe Grands, where you can relax with a tasty and healthy natural papaya or passion fruit juice, or perhaps try some authentic Dominican food. You will never forget your first voyage down El Conde!

5. Calle Las Damas

On a more historic note, you must also visit the very first paved street in the Americas – Calle Las Damas. The name “Las Damas” or “The Ladies” originates from the 16th century custom of wealthy woman in Santo Domingo taking evening strolls down the street. Today, many of the Colonial Zone’s principal buildings are located on Calle Las Damas: Fortaleza Ozama, the National Library and the National Pantheon, as well as several exclusive homes and hotels. There is also a very charming square called Plaza Toledo that fronts on Calle Las Damas. It is shady and has several benches, so take a break here and enjoy the unforgettable views.

Is This You?

You arrive at the airport and get the bad news! It is never a good time if it happens. There are some things you should know in order to maximize your compensation.

Airlines will typically offer a guaranteed seat on any flight to the highest level members of their frequent flyer program. That means they are going to be asking for volunteers willing to give up a seat. So that may be you? 

The offers vary by airline. If you are a volunteer, it will be free tickets or a voucher for a dollar amount like a gift certificate. But many airlines restrict the way you can redeem those vouchers. So if it's a choice between a voucher and a certificate for future travel, we would suggest to take the certificate.

If you are involuntarily bumped from a flight, they are required to give you cold, hard cash if you ask. It will be up to 400% of what you paid for your ticket, with a hard cap of $1,200. That's if you are forced off the flight to accommodate a frequent flier. 

That's when it's a case of show me the money Mr. and Mrs. airline! 

Read more about your rights as an airline passenger at the Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the US Department of Transportation.

So it's about time
Barbados is the eastern-most Caribbean island. It is located in the eastern Caribbean. The island, which is less that one million years old,  was created by the collision of the Atlantic crustal and Caribbean plates, along with a volcanic eruption. Later coral formed, accumulating to approximately 300 feet. It is geologically unique, being actually two land masses that merged together over the years. 

Barbados weather is generally warm and very sunny all year round with an average daytime high of 30°C / 86°F. In fact, Barbados has over 3,000 hours of sunshine each year.

The prevailing northeast trade-winds blow steadily so that although it is bright and sunny, it is not unbearably hot. The nights are usually slightly cooler.

The rain typically comes in quick showers. The dry season lasts from January to June.

Brief History
In 1625 English sailors landed on the island of Barbados. They found an uninhabited island and claimed it for Britain. The place where the sailors landed is the town of Holetown today. The first settlers from England arrived two years later in 1627. They established a local House of Assembly which largely ruled the British colony.The main industry was sugar. The island became divided into huge estates called plantation. Slaves were imported from Africa to work the sugar fields until slavery was abolished in the British empire in 1834. Even without slavery, the British still ruled the land. In the 1930's the descendants of the slaves started to fight for their political rights. One of their leaders was Sir Grantley Adams who founded the Barbados Labor Party and would become the first Prime Minister of Barbados. The first general election was in 1951. Ten years later in 1961, Barbados became an independent country. 

The people of Barbados decided that they wanted to be part of the British Commonwealth again and November 30, 1966 it rejoined Britain as an independent state.