Planning That Trip Of A Lifetime? Handy Travel Tips And Hints

In this age of discount airlines and never-ending travel deals, the idea of a trip of lifetime may seem a little novel, but it’s still the dream of thousands of people. Nowadays though, you don’t have to wait until retirement to head off into the sunset.If you’re thinking of organising a trip that takes you from one end of the world to the other, it’s best to plan ahead before you get up and go. After all, when you’re lazing back on a sun-drenched beach in Tahiti, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you paid your credit card bill before you left home. (You may get a nasty surprise at the hotel reception and a declined card.)Here are some handy travel tips and timely reminders.Seasonal differencesWhen it’s fall and winter in the northern hemisphere, it’s the complete opposite in the southern hemisphere – spring and summer. If you’re planning to spend time in different zones, you’ll need to pack different weights of clothing and footwear.Security updatesThere are strict new security measures and luggage requirements both carry on and checked luggage with global airlines. Check your local sites for specific advice and understand what you can take on board and check in. Many previously “innocent” items are now prohibited.To lock…or not If you’re flying to the US, there are new procedures in place for your carry on and checked luggage. If your bag is locked, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may open it and screen the contents. TSA is not liable for damage caused to locked bags, but you can prevent this by using a TSA-recognized locking mechanism. These “special” locks can be opened by TSA using tools provided by participating industry members and can be bought at popular retail outlets.Check your house and contents insuranceIf you’re travelling for several weeks, get a house sitter or someone to check on your property regularly. Some home insurance policies may not be valid if your property is left unoccupied. I found hsbc home and contents cover that gives you 60 days coverage if you go away. Take a look for yourself.Cashed up? You can’t get far without money, so organise some traveller’s cheques and local currency. You could take a Cash Passport plastic card with you as a handy alternative to cheques. It gives access to local currency from any Visa-linked ATM overseas. You load it up with a deposit in one of four popular currencies: US dollars, Euros, Sterling or Aussie dollars.Credit cards are widely accepted in most places, but make sure you have paid your bill before you leave home and top up the balance with additional funds. Put your card bill on direct debit to your savings or cheque account so the balance is paid off each month.ATMs are not everywhere While ATM cards are widely accepted around the world, not all ATM cards may work overseas. If you are going off the beaten track, there’s every chance you won’t find a handy ATM in a shopping mall as you trek to marvel at those thousand year-old temple ruins. Take some local cash for small purchases, meals and taxi fares.Tasty adviceIf you have a long wait, miss a connection or arrive in the middle of the night at your destination, carry high-protein snacks or granola bars to keep up your energy levels. It might be hours before your next meal. An ipod is also a good companion to have in between flights. Just plug in and chill out.Travel insurance for peace of mind What if something went wrong and you needed to be airlifted home? That would make a dent in your savings. No one likes to think about something going wrong, annual travel insurance offers some sort of security. Searching online, I came across hsbc travel insurance cover that you can use for both a single trip or on an annual basis. The great advantage is it offers a 24 hour multi lingual service, medical referral and travel emergency help. You don’t want to be stuck in pain with no one understanding your screams!Make copies of your documents and plans It’s a smart idea to make copies of your passport details, insurance policy, travellers’ cheques, visas and credit card numbers. Carry one copy separately from the originals and leave a copy with someone at home.There’s a big world out there. Bon voyage.

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401K and Real Estate Investing-An Overview

Is it possible to combine your 401k and real estate investing? Wouldn’t it be great to invest in real estate with a maximum amount of pre-tax dollars, realize the huge gains possible only with real estate investing, and then re-invest those dollars in your tax-free 401k?Of course it would, and there are ways for the savvy investor to combine their 401k and real estate investing.First, you could borrow funds from your 401k. This is not necessarily the best way to combine your 401k and real estate investing, but it might be worth looking into if you have no other available funds for investing. Realize that there are limits on the amount you can borrow, and the interest you pay won’t be deductible, as it would with a typical mortgage. Choose this option only after doing your homework.The second method of combining your 401k and real estate investing is the IRA roll-over. If your 401k allows you the benefit of rolling over into an Individual Retirement Account, this may be the best way for you to go. Select a specific type of IRA- called a “Self-Directed IRA” to roll your funds into.The Self-Directed IRA is a very powerful investment vehicle that allows you to direct exactly how your money is invested, within certain limits. For instance, you could direct that the money be invested in a REIT (real estate investment trust), an apartment complex, or a strip mall. When you sell and realize a profit, the increase in the IRA is tax-deferred. This is a huge benefit, and you should really consider this method of combining your 401k and real estate investing.One downside to the roll-over – you would be giving up the employer contribution portion of your 401K deposits, if any. Another reason why you should weigh this option carefully before deciding to use it to combine your 401k and real estate investing.Finally, and the simplest method of combining your 401k and real estate investing, is to ask your 401k account manager if they allow the funds to be invested in REIT’s directly. Some do, and this is a low risk, high return strategy for a lot of investors.Whatever you do, don’t make a hasty decision to combine your 401k and real estate investing. Each of the above methods has a different risk/reward ratio, and you should familiarize yourself with them first, before risking your hard-earned money.

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How to Change Status From Student F1 Visa to H1B Visa?

F1 Visa is non-immigrant student’s visa. To attend college and universities in U.S.A., international students would need F1 Visa to enter U.S.A.

H1B Visa is non-immigrant temporary work visa. Employers in U.S.A. can hire foreign workers who meet minimum requirements set by United Stated Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Minimum Requirements are further divided into two categories

  • Employer Job Requirements
  • Employee Requirements

Employer’s job requirements should must Bachelors degree or higher. Employee should have completed at least Bachelor degree in U.S. or equivalent foreign degree.

Students can apply for specialty occupations. If student is hired, employer will typically apply for H1B Visa. Application process for the employer will be usually handled by Employer’s Immigration attorney.

Before applying for H1B Visa, one has to ensure H1B quota is still available. USCIS have total of 65,000 H1B Cap under General category and 20,000 exclusive for students who obtained Masters or higher degree from U.S. Universities.

USCIS accepts H1B visa application starting April 1st every year for the next Fiscal Year. It will take 15 days to few months for USCIS to approve the H1B Visa application. Fiscal year for USCIS started October 1 of each year and runs till September 30 of next year.

Student can start working for the employer with approved Employment Authorization Card. Visa application can be then submitted to USCIS. After H1B approval, F1 status will change to H1B from the start date in approval document.

In most cases, it’s not required to get H1B Visa stamping to start working, if the student is already residing in U.S.A.

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