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3 Things You Didn't Know About The 3 Gorges Dam

It's China's 'Great Wall' for the 21st century.  The 3 Gorges Dam spans the legendary Yangtze River for 2.3 km (1.4 miles) and is 185 m (over 600 feet) high.  That makes it 5 times bigger than the Hoover Dam.  Construction set a world record, using 16 million cubic m (21 million cubic yards) of concrete.

You may know about some of the controversies surrounding the dam.  It flooded a 600 km (400 mile) reservoir to 175 feet above sea level.  As a result, a million people were displaced, and architectural, cultural, and archeological sites (including 4000 year old cliff side burials of early Ba peoples) as well as farms and forests have disappeared under water.  The dam has also had an impact on the river ecology upstream and downstream from the dam. It is blamed for damaging fish populations and the functional extinction of the Chinese river dolphin.

But, like the Hoover Dam in the U.S., Egypt's Aswan Dam, the Panama Canal or other extraordinary feats of human engineering of the planet, the 3 Gorges dam in China's Hubei province is an unforgettable travel experience. Controversies aside, it is awe-inspiring to take in the sheer scale and scope of human endeavor.  Yangtze river cruises and most land tours in the region take you to one or more viewing points of the vast dam site.  

So here are three things you might not know about this unparalleled structure:

It Protects the Region from Disastrous Flooding

One of the main reasons to build the 3 Gorges dam was to control flooding.  The Yangtze river has endured catastrophic flooding events over the centuries.  An estimated 300,000 people died in the 20th century alone in floods.  Building the dam was designed to control the flow and protect 15 million Chinese and 1.5 million acres of farmland along the Yangtze from deadly river flooding.

It Generates Power

The Three Gorges Dam is the world's largest electric power generating station by installed capacity: 22, 500 MW. More than 2 dozen water-powered turbines produce 20 times the power of the Hoover Dam.  Unbelievably, this massive dam produces less than 5% of the total energy needs of this country with 1.4 billion people. (Nearly 5 times the U.S. population and 50 times the population of Canada.)

The electricity produced by the Three Gorges Dam reduces China's use of coal for power generation by an estimated 31 million tonnes each year, preventing 100 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from coal.

It Improves the Environment

The dam's regulation of water levels, and its 'shipping elevator' that increases transit time compared to step locks over river elevations, have facilitated more reliable shipping along the Yangtze.   Inland shipping has increased over 5 times since pre-dam days.  Barges are replacing trucks, thereby reducing road congestion and carbon dioxide emissions annually by millions of tonnes… directly improving China's (previously famously unimpressive) air quality.

Since the dam opened in 2012, it has blocked more than 10 million tonnes of waste matter including plastic bags, bottles and other garbage that would have otherwise flowed out to sea (but chemical water pollution is unaffected).  It even has a garbage-ingesting 'tongue' above the dam, a rolling track on top of a garbage barge that pulls in garbage from the water, preventing it from entering the dam and damaging power generators… as well as flowing downstream to Shanghai and the ocean.

So Should you Travel There?

China's 3 Gorges Dam is a story with many shades of gray.  The goals and results of the dam will continue to divide opinion.  But it is now an irreversible part of the landscape of China's fabled jade-green Yangtze river, and a destination every visitor to China should see to contemplate the astonishing things humans can achieve… and at what cost.

(Photo: BestTrip.TV)

 

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It's only 20 miles from Skagway, Alaska's deepwater port on the coast, to the border of Canada's Yukon. But what a 20 miles they are!

The White Pass & Yukon Route railway ride is one of the most dramatic scenic experiences in the Alaska Panhandle. No wonder it's an all-time favorite experience for cruise travelers arriving in the preserved, Wild (North)West town of Skagway. The tracks go right onto the dock, so we stepped off the Regent Seven Seas Mariner right onto the train. And from there, on an incredible climb to the Continental Divide and the border with Canada.

It's an epic journey of breathtaking scenery and Klondike Goldrush tales - in vintage train cars that take you back to the days of prospectors and adventurers.

Meet the train conductor and hear his stories of this fabled train - one of the world's most scenic and historic rail journeys.

Start your Trip!

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Italy's iconic scooter is the very symbol of stylish, romantic getaways in Europe.

Vespas originated in Tuscany, and on a trip to the Tuscan seaside city of Livorno, BestTrip.TV discovered a local who collects, restores, and displays a collection of colorful vintage Vespas. You can't miss this tour of his showroom and workshop!

Travel 'Game-Changer' for Sports Mega-Fans

How far are you willing to go to support your team and get your professional sports fix? Do you plan your free time around your team's schedule, paint your face, wear your team's jersey, or drive crazy distances to see the game live?

There are a lot of ways to support your team, but we've found the ultimate mega-fan travel experience.

Chicago-based Big Game Air provides same-day round-trip travel on private jets to major sporting events across the USA.

Its tarmac-to-stadium transfers and same-day returns mean no luggage, no hassle, no parking, no hotels, just a day rather than an extended long weekend of navigating crowds, and all the adrenaline of being at the game – plus all the perks of private aviation.

Like many innovations, the idea arose to solve a problem: one of the company founders didn't want to miss a big game – but also didn't want to leave his wife and newborn overnight. With help from his co-founder, they put their aviation and hospitality backgrounds to work, roped in some buddies, booked a private jet, left in the morning for the game… and arrived home 12 hours later - with a new luxury sports travel business plan.

Pardon the pun, but we think this is a 'game changer' for sports experiences and sports travel.

If you can get yourself a game ticket, they can get you there in style.

  • Fans can purchase individual seats on 8-30 seat flights scheduled to the highest-demand games throughout the year - up to 24 hours in advance of the game date. (So if you score a last-minute ticket, you can still make the game).
  • There are no membership fees required (unlike some other private jet programs).
  • Ground transportation is included to and from the sporting event.
  • You'll have all the amenities and conveniences of private air travel, plus
  • Group and charter options, including:
  • Ways to really celebrate a corporate team win, a bachelor party, or any other group event with add-on perks including custom jet hangar parties, tailgate parties in the sporting destination, professional athlete- or celebrity-hosted flights and premium onboard catering.

In its first year, Big Game Air flights flies from Chicago, New York, Columbus, and Detroit; in 2018, the company adds Dallas and Atlanta as originating cities; and in 2019, you can depart from Los Angeles and San Francisco to join your team's big day.

Flights are already scheduled to marquee sports events like the SuperBowl and major NFL games, College Football championships, NHL, the Masters Tournament, the Kentucky Derby, as well as major game dates on the calendar that run the gamut of team sport in the USA.

The company subcontracts a fleet of private jets, making the ultimate game day trip more affordable than other private options. Flights still cost in the $1200 – 2200 USD range for a round trip, so it's not the cheapest way to get to the game. (But it still might be less expensive than your seats at center field).

For time-pressed executives and groups of friends willing to splash out on their sports adventure, Big Game Air seems like a big win for big fans on game day.

Start your Trip!

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Bringing the right bags on board

Starting on May 25, 2015 at Toronto-Pearson (YYZ) and expanding progressively to other airports throughout the month of June, Air Canada will have staff at both check-in and security checkpoints to quickly confirm and tag carry-on bags that meet Air Canada's existing carry-on dimensions as "approved." This will make it easier and safer to stow personal items on board, may help reduce wait times at security, and will help avoid flight delays caused by larger bags being checked at the gate.

If a customer's carry-on baggage needs to be checked Air Canada will be happy to help with that at check in. If your customer gets to security and needs to check a bag that exceeds allowable size limits, not to worry. Your customer will receive a special card that will get them quickly back to a check-in agent, and then on to their departure gate.

Air Canada carry-on policy allows customers to bring on-board one standard article, such as a roller bag, and one personal article, such as a briefcase or laptop bag. Dimensions must not exceed:

  • Standard article: 23 x 40 x 55 centimetres, including handles and wheels,
  • Personal article:16 x 33 x 43 centimetres.

Please remember that carry-on bags which exceed Air Canada's policy for size and number will need to be checked, and standard fees will apply.

For more information please click here.

Travel Tip: What You Need to Travel to Indonesia Read on to learn more on how to travel to Indonesia. read more

Like most things in life, traveling involves some risk.

For the most part your risk is generally very minimal and there are measures you can take to all but eliminate it, along with your stress while you fly.

Here are the steps to take on your next trip.

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Valuables 
Don’t bring anything super valuable or difficult to replace, like a family heirloom. If for whatever reason the nature of your travel requires you to bring expensive jewelry, clothing or equipment, consider covering their replacement value under a policy in addition to the automatic, very limited coverage provided by the airlines.

Buy this protection through either your own insurance or at the ticket counter. Anything you really care about - wear.

Packing 
Before packing your bags, check all the zippers and locks for signs of wear and tear from previous trips. Replace or fix anything that is broken.

Don’t overpack your bag. Even if the bag is brand new, overstuffed luggage is liable to pop open while being transported (re: manhandled) from the terminal to the plane.

Keep your stuff organized and all in one place. If you know exactly where everything should be, you’ll notice much faster if something is missing.

Remember, just because you’re using a lock doesn’t mean people can’t get into your luggage. A pen can get access to your stuff without you ever knowing about it. Make an inventory of the items packed in each bag.

Identification 
Fill out a luggage tag (they give them out at check-in) and the slip-in pocket cards with your contact information. Keep this information up to date.

Keep a copy of your contact info in all your stuff - backpack, tote bag, purse, etc. If you’re bringing a camera, make your first shot that of your information. In the event it’s lost and then found by a good Samaritan it’ll be easier to return.

If you’re traveling abroad, make a photocopy of your passport and store it separately from the actual version. Make sure your passport is signed and the emergency contact information is filled out.

Airport 
Though your chances of encountering terrorist-related danger is very low, it’s important to be aware of these and other potential risks. The only thing worse than having something taken out of your bag is having something put into it without your knowledge.

In many countries if you’re found with drugs or other illegal paraphernalia on your person, you can face serious repercussions, in which case your national government might have little power to help you.

The U.S. Department of State recommends that you “schedule direct flights if possible, and avoid stops in high-risk airports or areas.” Be wary of strangers. Do not accept packages from anyone and keep an eye out for abandoned packages or luggage, or any other suspicious items or activity. Report them to the airport authorities.

Don’t wear anything too flashy. “Try to minimalize the time spent in the public area of the airport, which is a less protected area. Move quickly from the check-in counter to the secured areas.”

If you have to hang out at the airport for a while, keep all of your stuff close to you. If you think you might fall asleep, sit on your stuff or tie it to you.

Carry-On 
The three things you should always bring on an airplane are your ID, credit card(s) and prescription medications (if needed). Remember you’ll need your credit card if you want to purchase any food, drinks or additional in-flight entertainment. Also keep with you a phone or list of important numbers.

Once you’re on the plane, bury your wallet and cash deep in your carry-on; you won’t need it and it’ll be harder to get to.

Pack a smaller bag inside of your carry-on. In the event you board the plane late and are forced to check your carry-on bag you can remove things of value and put them into the small bag to keep with you during the flight.

Even better, make sure your carry-on can fit under the seat in front of you. It might be less comfortable than storing it overhead but you will never be forced to gate check it.

Fly on airlines that have and enforce restrictive cabin baggage policies. Try to keep your stuff close to you instead of storing it 10 seats down the aisle. If you go to the bathroom mid flight, don’t leave your wallet, iPod and other valuables unattended and untethered in your seat.

Remember: you are less of a risk from staff stealing from you than fellow passengers.The general rule here is “start out by trusting everyone, but don’t make it easy for anyone.”

It might seem easier to learn the Japanese language than to figure out the subway system but don't fear - what may seem intimidating isn't too bad once you get some basic local knowledge on the train system. 

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First, make sure you do some planning in advance. Look over and print out the English Route Map from Tokyo Metro. This website also has plenty of other great info - subway mannersairport accessmetro transfer planning & fare calculationdiscount tickets, and more.

You can also cheek with the front desk of your hotel or any other tourist information information desk - they can point you in the right direction and usually have maps available for free.

The Tokyo Traveler has 6 basic steps to help make your train travel easy. Here is an outline, but check out the site for detailed information regarding each step.

Step 1 - Determine the Fare to Your Destination

Step 2 - Purchase a Ticket

Step 3 - Proceed through the Fare Gate

Step 4 - Locate your Track

Step 5 - Exit at your Destination

Step 6 - Locate the correct Station Exit

Try to avoid taking the trains around rush hour, at least at first. Though it might be one of those perfect Japanese experiences.

The Tokyo Traveler also has some great Tips & Tricks for making subway travel even easier. They recommend a Prepaid SubWay Card, either a Suica or Pasmoboth available for a deposit of Y500 (all but Y210 is returned to you).

You can also get a One-Day Open Ticket for Y710 (about $7 USD).

Bonus!

Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Contact one of our experienced travel consultants to see what it takes to get you to Tokyo. We can help plan the perfect trip for your interests and budget. Why wait?

Who wants to deal with the groggy, foggy slow-motion sensation that is Jet Lag while traveling abroad? Unfortunately, the farther we explore the more likely we are to experience jet lag's symptoms and thus lose precious globe-trotting time recovering. It can take up to three or four days to overcome jet lag naturally. Here are some tips to neutralize some of jet lag's effects quickly and effectively.

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Begin to reset your internal clock several days before you leave. 
Make sure the days leading up to your trip you get a quality night’s sleep. If you’re traveling east, start to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier; if you’re headed west, go to bed later and try to wake up later. Flying east is trickier because as the human body cycle is actually slightly longer than 24 hours, it’s more difficult to shift your body clock earlier. Traveling west you can expect 30%-50% less recovery time.

Reset your watch to the time of your destination. 
As you board your plane, get on local destination time. If it will be nighttime when you arrive, stay awake on your flight. If you’re arriving during the day, try to get some sleep on the plane. Bring earplugs and an eye mask. Power through Day One of your trip.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol. They will mess with your sleep cycle.

Instead, drink plenty of water. Water will keep you hydrated and healthy on long flights and help keep your head clear and free from headaches.

Also take vitamins like Vitamin C to boost your immune system and B vitamins for more energy.

Stretch. Keep your body limber to improve circulation and prevent muscles from stiffening. Stretching also offsets fatigue.

Get in the sun! The sun’s rays will wake you up and keep you alert.

If you’re going on a short trip - a business meeting or weekend vacation - don’t bother. You’re not going to catch up in time so just enjoy yourself.

When you arrive, avoid heavy meals and exercise before bed. Eat lightly for a few days.

Inflight sleeping pills. While there is no fool-proof cocktail for maintaining a quality sleep schedule on a plane, many swear by certain sleeping pills such as the hormoneMelatonin and the prescription medications Ambien and Nuvigil. Respectively, the prescriptions knock you out and keep you awake; they don’t cure jet lag but give you more function over your body as it adapts. Melatonin both induces sleep and improves its quality. Talk to your doctor about these options if you think you need them.

Give yourself a day to recover when you get home. If you’re flying back in on a Sunday, don’t make yourself go to work on Monday.

Stay positive! Everyone goes through this and having a good attitude will help you get over jet lag faster.

Essential. Affordable. Economical. You can use the Budapest Card throughout the city for more than 150 discounts at different sights, museums, spas, restaurants, transports, programs and more!

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Here is a list of discounts that come with the Card. It even comes with a Travel Accident Insurance.

Starting in April 2011 are the new Budapest Cards which you can purchases according to time increments: 24 hrs, 48hrs (6300 HUF, about $29UDS/$30CAD), 72hrs (7500 HUF, about $33USD/$35CAD), and a new 'Walking' 48hrs.

Check out the Free Walking Tours.

Here is information about where you can obtain a card - there are over 250 locations in the city.

You can also order it online for free.