How to Get the Best Possible Beach Vacation Home

 by: Terry Roberts

There is nothing more relaxing than having a week or two to spend at the beach. Vacation homes are a wonderful change from staying at a large or impersonal motel or hotel, plus they have the added convenience of being close to or even right on the water, having all the amenities of a house, as well as being much larger than a hotel room or even a suite would be.

Many of the beach vacation homes available offer all the features of a hotel vacation. If you are considering a rental and are going through an agency or property management company, it is usually possible to have a rental car provided for you upon arrival. In addition, many companies and agencies can also offer bonded and professional cleaning staff, chefs and even tour guides that will personalize your beach vacation and really make it a holiday for everyone in the family.

If you would prefer to just be able to relax and enjoy the warm weather, beach vacation homes can offer a quiet, stress-free holiday environment. To ensure that you get the best possible rental property, be sure to check the following:

* Ensure that you know the full amount of the rental and any additional expenses that may be included. Most beach vacation homes, especially those that are right on the beach or at the water will book up at least one season in advance. Holiday times such as summer vacation, spring break and even Christmas holidays may be booked several seasons in advance.

* Before sending a deposit or providing a credit card number for a deposit or reservation, fully understand the cancellation policy or any insurance that you may need to have on the property.

* Whether you are renting beach vacation homes from an individual or a company, be sure to get everything in writing before supplying a deposit or credit card information, especially if you have not rented through the company or from the individual before. A verbal agreement is not binding or legally valid in a court but a written, signed contract is a legal document.

* Finally, check the area in which the beach vacation home is located. While property right on the beach is great in quiet or secluded places, on busy beaches it can be a bit more stressful and noisy, especially if you are wanting a quiet vacation spot.

Doing some advanced research on beach vacation homes is simple through the internet or making a few phone calls. Planning your vacation is half the fun and knowing what you want and finding just the right beach vacation homes makes the holiday perfect for the whole family.

Travelling with Your Camera

 by: Suzanne VanDegrift

Think positive! The year's not half over, there's still half to go. That is when it comes to Photography Events and Festivals.

At least once a year, all across the country, smalltown America comes together to show their spirit by holding family-friendly festivals. These events are generally held on a weekend and feature local art, music and culture. And then there are the week long functions, such as the Yamhill Fair and Rodeo, which is held Sunday to Sunday in McMinville, Oregon. Not only will you FIND local art and cultural here, but you'll want to have your camera handy for those awesome rodeo riders and prizewinning flower entries.

But the Photography Events I'm going to acquaint you with now are the ones held in metropolitan areas throughout the world. These functions draw both local and internationally acclaimed artists. There are several well known events planned for the second half of 2007. Some of these festivals are being held in various cities throughout the United States, one in Canada and two in France. If you've dreamed of combining a vacation with your love of photography, this may be your chance to do just that. Choose a destination, pack your suitcases and camera bags and head out for the experience of a photographers lifetime.

First on the calendar is the Les Rencontres D'Arles Photographie held in France. Although this has already begun, it runs until September 16. If you are fortunate enough to travel to this phenomenal show, you will encounter 50 magnificent expositions.

Next on our calendar is the Foto Septiembre USA, held every year September 1 - 30 in San Antonio and other Texas cities. This is an International Photography Festival which is a popular destination for both artists and photography enthusiasts. Not only do they provide a forum which allows artist to exhibit their craft, but they also operate through a website and publication. This provides exhibitors, sponsors and advertisers the additional valuable support of internet exposure.

Next we head north to our Canadian neighbors in Montreal. The Le Mois de la Photo has been held every year since its inception in 1989 to celebrate the 150Th anniversary of photography. It is dedicated to Fine Art Photography and will feature 30 exhibits in galleries and museums throughout the city. The goal of this event has always been to educate the general public about photography as an art form. This year's guest curator will be art historian Marie Fraser whose theme will be The Narrativity of The Image, which should prove to be a captivating topic.

Next we're headed south to Georgia for Atlanta Celebrates Photography, ACP9, held in October. This is a citywide festival which is in its 9Th year. It has art exhibits in diverse locations throughout the city. You will enjoy lectures by international and local artists, a pushpin show, a film series and the public art program.

On to The Big Apple and the PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo 2007 being presented October 18 - 20. This is being called the premier event for forward- looking imaging solutions and photographic education. It also promises to bring leaders, pioneers, and rising new stars together for unprecedented networking events.

Paris Photo which is considered by many to be the leading fair for still photography will be held this year on November 15-18. It will offer photo enthusiasts some 100 galleries and publishers from all over the world. In addition to the exhibits, there will be book signings, prize award ceremonies and lectures. What could be better than to be in the City of Lights with your camera and other photographic devotees.

We wrap up the year in Florida at the Photo Miami scheduled for December 5-9. This International Contemporary Art Fair will be held in the Wynwood Art District of Miami. It focuses on Photo-based art, video and new media.

Any one of these Photography Festivals would be a once-in-a-lifetime trip whether you're a hobby photographer or photograph for living. Dust off you your camera bags and hit the road.

The Art of Buying Travel Luggage

The Art of Buying Travel Luggage by: Catherine Olivia

Not all luggage is created equal. There is a wide variety of prices and quality between manufacturers. Before you purchase luggage you should consider what your actual luggage usage will be. There is no need for you to purchase the most expensive luggage if you only travel once or twice a year or if you never plan to fly.

Most people probably remember the old Samsonite commercial with gorillas throwing the luggage around their cage. While this was hilarious it was close to the truth. Checked luggage takes a beating. If you never plan to fly you don't need super expensive luggage. Of course, we'd never recommend buying the cheapest either. You will still need luggage that will hold up under some abuse. We'd also recommend you pay close attention to how luggage is priced. Most manufacturers highly over inflate the price of their luggage then bring the prices down claiming they are on sale or are deeply discounted. Don't believe this. This is what the jewelry industry does. When you're looking at luggage always start with the final price. One thing you'll find is hundreds of different brands of luggage. From the expensive high end Ricardo luggage which has a built in digital scale, to lesser priced American Flyer luggage and many in between. Some luggage manufacturers try to reach a young audience with their styles and patterns. JanSport luggage does this. Some companies make children's luggage with smaller sizes and adorable prints. Liz Claiborne luggage is sophisticated and stylish for the fashionable woman traveler. You're lucky if your luggage is only beat up and not lost. What about lost airline luggage? Do you have any idea what happens to it? Did you know that you can buy articles from lost airline luggage? Were you aware that if you don't want to both with your luggage at all when you travel you can use a luggage delivery service? It isn't cheap, but you can have your luggage picked up from your home and have it waiting for you at your destination. Again, be aware of prices. Some have up front pricing. Some are a bit more difficult to figure out. Some charge extra for Saturday delivery and add pick up and fuel surcharges to the price. Make sure that you are fully aware of all charges when it comes to a luggage delivery service, and be aware that they generally quote one-way prices only. The choice of luggage can make or break your vacation. The last thing you need to have happen is to have a zipper break, or a seam split or have a handle break as you're walking out the door to the airport. Experts will say don't overload your suitcase. This causes undue stress on zippers and seams. Examine your suitcase when you take it off the airline carousel. Check it to make sure there has been no damage done to your luggage. If there is obvious damage done to your luggage immediately take it to the airline customer service center to report it.