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Countries love to put dead people and big monuments on their currency; it's just a thing, Costa Rica's badass shark bills being an excellent exception. That said, we fully admit to flipping over bills in the hopes that something fresher, newer will be featured. Hong Kong (a "Special Administrative Region," not really a country) currently takes that prize, as we just today noticed that the rear of some of the 500 HKD bills ($64.45 USD) feature Chek Lap Kok/Hong Kong International Airport.
It only makes sense for Hong Kong to place HKIA so prominently; they built a whole island to house the freaking thing and the documentary on it"Extreme Engineering: Building Hong Kong's Airport"is a must-Netflix show. And don't get us started on the infamous aviation heritage of HK. Two words: Kai Tak.
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Our friends to the North have decided to scrap the penny. Yes, Canada will no longer have a one cent piece as legal tender. The clock is ticking on the little maple leaf copper coin and its ability to buy anything when traveling in Canada, but we don't think it will majorly change how you travel.
The Canadian government has decided that it is far too costly to continue to produce the fractional monetary unit and will ceased minting this month. If you have a jar filled with 'loonies' and pennies, don't freakout as you have until the end of the year to spend them on Royal Canadian Mounted Police souvenirs and the like. Distribution to financial institutions will end in the fall when the decision makers will begin the end of circulation.
Airplanes / Boeing / Big Bucks / Money / MegaMillions / → All Tags
We didn’t call out sick this morning, and that basically confirms one thing—we didn’t win the MegaMillions lottery over the weekend. It might not have been our lucky day, but it was certainly a wonderful weekend for three lucky winners scattered across the country in spots like Maryland, Illinois, and Kansas. We haven’t looked through the family tree yet to determine if we’ve got any long lost aunts or uncles, but we do have a suggestion for those looking to cash in some of their winnings—a private plane.
Boeing has just released some new information and pictures that show off a new version of the Boeing Business Jet. Our suggestion is to immediately place a down payment on this variation of a Boeing 737-700, and then work out all the financing and other details later. Just imagine cruising around—it has a range of around 5,600 nautical miles—with your family and friends. We’re pretty sure you can customize the thing anyway you want, but after looking through some of the photos and renderings of one option—we’ll just have what they're having.
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It's a record breaker! The MegaMillions lottery potalready huge at $540 millionwas raised at noon today to total $640 Million Dollars. These are the final few hours to line up at some skanky convenience mart and pick your numbers as the winning digits get announced TONIGHT.
Megamillions is played in twelve states: California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington, and hopefuls who purchase a ticket stand a 1-in-176 million chance of winning the big payoff.
Now imagine for a moment that the winner is you and you opt for the lump sum payout. After taxes, that leaves you with around $300 million burning a hole in your bank vault. Where would you take your first blow-out trip? Would you hop around to locations of James Bond villain tropical headquarters or opt for a year of private jet sharing? How about both? How about taking us along?
Let your imagination run wild and tell us your super-millionaire travel dreams in the comments!
It's pretty fair to say that the era of the hidden money pouch is over. Sure, there'll always be the grandparents on an 11-night bus tour who faithfully shove the beige pouches down their shirts, and the high schooler on a first trip to Europe whose mom raided the Eagle Creek travel products aisle at Target, butthank godtraveller's cheques are passé and ATMs are all over the place.
To speak of our own travels, the way we carry foreign cash has dramatically evolved. In the early 2000s, while traveling extensively around Europe, we would exchange our money in the US via snail mail with American Express. All of that would then travel with us over the ocean and, for each different city we visited, we'd remove from a main wallet only as much as we wanted to spend there. Most transactions were done in cash, with a credit card back-up for hotel rooms and big dinners. Only once did we have to visit Western Union for a top-up.
Credit Cards / British Airways / Avios / Frequent Flyer Miles / Travel Tech / Money / Europe Travel / Shopping Travel / → All Tags
YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!! Finally finally finally US credit card companies are getting wise to the need for cardholders to have EMV-enabled cards, which you may better recognize as the ones with the embedded chip on the left side.
We've been following the progress of this since earlier this year when both Wells Fargo and Chase began issuing limited amounts to their highest spending, heaviest traveling cardmembers. Now the technology has finally trickled down to the level of Chase's British Airways Visa Signature.
This card, thanks to generous past sign-up bonuses and the fact it has no foreign transaction fees, is now carried by many American frequent flyers who will no doubt benefit from being able to shop like the rest of Europewith the chip-and-pin instead of a swipe-and-sign. Like us, who've felt the sting of being turned down because a register was no longer equipped for our archaic VISA (example: Amsterdam Schiphol train station).
Disregarding Scandinavia for a moment, one of the most expensive cities you can visit in Europe is Zurich, Switzerland. This is the land of $8 lattes, pay-to-pee portapotties and four-star hotels asking four digits a night. In other words, it's not exactly for the budget traveler...until we drop the secret that direct flights to ZRH from the US often feature in those crazily discounted airfare sales. Getting a roundtrip for $350 sure defrays the cost of eating pretty little Swiss sweets every day.
Luckily for Zurich (and the rest of Switzerland, really), the scenery and atmosphere is so appealing and so intoxicating that it's easy to be distracted from your fast-emptying wallet. That $8 latte? Get it and walk down the River Limmat, and you'll look up from your caffeine to the scene pictured above. $8 doesn't seem so bad all of a sudden.
What we're saying is: when faced with excellent travel deals to expensive destinations, don't write off the idea immediately. Instead, plan. Your travel budget will be lower, so prepare for a higher daily budget. Andthis is hugedo not complain about the inflated price of McDonald's. TACKY, especially when someplace like this is likely just around the corner.
So this is interesting. Virgin Group head honcho Richard Branson has contributed to a massive $85 million round of funding for microblogging site Tumblr. The New York Times broke the news first thing this morning, and it's already coursing through the interwebs like the hot gossip it is.
The money will go towards scaling up Tumblr and improving features for its 30 million blogs.
The USA is pretty tech-advanced, right? We've got Apple, Silicon Valley, domestic airlines with fleetwide WiFi; it all sounds like America has it great...until you get to Europe and try to pay for anything with a credit card. Rejected! Why? Because Europe has fancier cards embedded with a computer chip, connected to a pin, which then don't get swiped, but inserted into machines to pay for things. These cardsappropriately named "chip-and-pin"are making things very difficult for US travelers.
While it's true that Europe suffers from more credit card fraud than the US, hence the extra security measures of the chip-and-pin, that doesn't mean that we should be left out of the fun and technology. Actually, we're left out of far more than that.
Paris' Velib bike rental kiosks famously don't accept any of the "old swipey" cards; they're chip-and-pin only. Corner stores have taped over the swipe portion of their card machines. We spent 15 minutes teaching a cash register girl at the Isle of Man airport what a swipey card was and how to properly charge us for our stupid postcards and pop. Then, just this past weekend, while attempting to buy a train ticket from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Centraal, we were alarmed to find that neither the machines nor the human-staffed ticket counters accepted swipey cards. Stuck without Euros, we considered bartering with travelers who did have chip-and-pin cards.
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Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport is starting a program where Texas sales tax can be made optional to those visiting from overseas. Sure the tax needs to be paid up front, but afterwards they’re making it pretty easy to get a little percentage back on that Tony Romo jersey or bottle of BBQ sauce.
Apparently it’s one of the first big airports in the country to do this, and it’s all available through a little kiosk in the North Ticketing Hall inside Terminal D. TaxFree Shopping is the one running this new system, so be on the lookout for their sign if you want a little bit of money back. Sure you’ll need to show receipts for what you bought, but the refund here is instant—and via cash, PayPal or check—so there’s no waiting period or need to deal with overly confusing paperwork or mailing stuff in.
Travel Fees / Travel News / Money / Tourism / Tourists / → All Tags
Beginning today, travelers to the United States from 36 nations will face paying an extra $14 at the border, thanks to the Travel Promotion Act. It goes into effect today as you can guess, and the $14 fee's purpose is—to put it plainly—to take money from tourists for encouraging tourism. $4 will cover the operating costs of registering the travelers for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, and the $10 chunk will then be turned right into a fund for promoting tourism to the United States.
The 36 nations are those that fall under the US' visa waiver program, which allows visits to the US of up to 90 days without the necessity of a seeking a visa (so long as you don't seek work). The foreign travelers who pay the $14 fee are covered for two years as the fees is not per-trip.
To find out if you'll be subject to forking over the extra dollars next time you visit the good old US of A, here is a complete list of the 36 countries:
Travel Fees / Travel News / Money / Tourism / Tourists / → All Tags
Earlier this summer, the US Government raised passport fees substantially, causing US citizens to reach deeper into their pockets for the ability to travel abroad. With that done, the fall focus will be on wringing a little extra cash from foreign visitors to the US with the new Travel Promotion Act. This act, which goes into effect on Wednesday, September 15, is essentially a $14 fee for entering the country, levied on the heads of travelers from 36 nations.
The 36 nations are those that fall under the US' visa waiver program, which allows visits to the US of up to 90 days without the necessity of a seeking a visa (so long as you don't seek work). Wikipedia has a nice map of these countries here, which includes most of Europe plus Australia/New Zealand and even Japan. So if you're from one of the countries marked in red on the map, you can now expect to plonk down the extra dollar bills.