3 Great Reasons To Get On Board A Party Bus

You are planning your partner’s 30th birthday party and you want to do something different, something unique. You want to plan something that he and your guests and family will remember for years to come.

Let’s take a look at 3 great reasons why you should host this 30th birthday party on a party bus:

More room for all your friends

You have the option to book a party bus to suit the number of guests you wish to accommodate; so if your party is a small group, get a small bus, but if you’re inviting everyone he’s ever known, there are party buses big enough to handle them all.

You can arrange for the bus to pick every one up at one designated place. Then when the party is over, the professional chauffeur will return everyone back to their pick up point, safe and sound with no need to worry about anyone drinking and driving. No matter the size of the group, there is a party bus available to suit any size party.

Move around and see the sights as you party

Let’s face it, no matter how hard you try, or how much effort you put into entertainment for your party guests at your home or at any other venue, it can get stale and then the party goes dead. All good parties have had this happen and you can avoid that problem by having that 30th birthday party on a party bus!

With a party bus, you, the birthday boy and his guests can party on while the professional chauffeur drives you all around town. Enjoy the bright lights and night life as you enjoy your own party on wheels cruising around. You can even arrange for the party bus to make a stop at the birthday guy’s favorite club or restaurant and treat everyone to dancing and dinner. When that’s done, it’s back on board the bus for more partying.

Delight and impress your friends

With a party bus, your friends and guests will enjoy a fabulous decked out venue with a night club atmosphere that includes surround sound stereo with your choice of music and strobe lights to give it a festive touch. A professional DJ would give it extra pizzazz! You would possibly have previously arranged for refreshments and appetizers just as if you were hosting this party at home and your guests will be delighted as they mingle together and enjoy each other’s company.

Yes, there is room for everyone to sit comfortably with plenty of leg room; space to get up and move around too and maybe even dance if they feel so inclined. Your guests will get so wrapped up in the party going on, they’ll forget they are on a bus!

It will be a smooth ride with a professional chauffeur taking them from point A to point B without having to worry about private cars and designated drivers.

Make his 30th birthday party bash a night to remember!

5 Ways to Travel Solo Without Going It Alone

Solo travel has become a hot topic. Unlike “single(s)” travel, it is a broader group. It can include those who are single, married or have a partner/significant other. It may be a business person looking to add a leisure weekend or extension to a trip for work. Two stumbling blocks to solo travel can be: I. whether it is lonely to vacation as a “party of one” and ii.whether eating alone, especially dinner, is really uncomfortable.

Now having visited 68 countries and all 50 states, I have found 5 good ways to go alone without feeling you are “going it alone”.

1. River Cruise and Small Ship Cruises

I highly recommend river cruises and small ships. They are especially a good fit for a first time solo traveler. However, they are also great for well-traveled solos in two cases. That is where destinations like Cambodian boat villages are not otherwise easy to reach. Secondly, they work well in places where security is an issue.

Here are the key advantages of such river and small ships for solo travelers, they:

  • Give you time alone but a group for tours and meals
  • Can be competitively priced when compared to a piecemeal approach
  • Make unpacking a one-time chore
  • Work well with land packages
  • Often have discounted package pricing including flights

2. Select your own lodging, and take day trips.

Here are the key advantages of this independent approach:

  • Affords you the opportunity to select your own interests and travel style.
  • Provides more opportunity to interact with local residents.
  • Gives you a “day-off” when you need it.
  • Works with a range of budgets.

3. Combine both of the above approaches.

I really favor this approach when I travel. On solo travel for 17 days at New Year’s, I toured Southeast Asia. I started with a private taxi tour in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I then joined a top Mekong River Cruise on to Vietnam. On the last leg, I had five days in a 5-star hotel in Bangkok. In my last stop, I tried all 3 ways of sightseeing: 1. A large bus tour 2. A private guide and 3. Self-directed subway tour.

This blended approach puts you in the driver’s seat and:

  • Will let you set your own course while being free to pick and choose
  • Gives you a part-time group of travel mates but also time alone
  • Makes it possible to follow a budget (or splurges) tailored to what works for you

4. Sign up ahead for a class abroad.

This has become very popular now for cooking classes in France and Italy. However, for decades, language classes abroad have lured students for short-term or full summer programs. Add to that options for photography classes, skiing and scuba diving.

Here are the key benefits to this approach:

  • Provides you with a ready-made group
  • Gives you a local contact to hear what not to miss off the tourist path
  • Make it possible to connect with classmates for meals or sightseeing
  • Results in providing local contacts in an emergency

5. Join a volunteer group or exchange program.

I have done this twice. My first trip out of the US was at 18 joining 5 other girls on a summer YMCA project in Trinidad and Tobago. It was the best way to learn about day-to-day life in another country and participate in community activities.

The benefits were endless. They included:

  • Meeting local residents outside of the typical tourist path
  • Seeing distant and often more unusual destinations
  • Providing volunteer efforts to communities than may have experienced natural disasters or other hardships.

If you are new to solo travel, take a look at each of these options. You will be surprised how fast solo travel gives you the chance to make new life-long friends from around the world so that you feel you are solo to more.

5 Great Tips to Stop Travel Anxiety

While most of us enjoy holidays and traveling, many find the associated travel anxiety tough to bear. Travel anxiety isn’t a disease but it is rather the fear of the unknown. Fear of travel is usually caused by several factors. Some people may worry about their house and pets when they are away while others might have had unpleasant traveling experiences during their previous trips. Others are afraid of flying. Some fret that the trip will turn out to be a disaster and worry about all of the details. All of these are examples of worries related to travel that can lead to varying degrees of uneasiness. Regardless of the causes or intensity of your anxiety, it can really compromise the pleasure and excitement of your trip.

Although, travel anxiety is common in both experienced and novice travelers, most travelers have positive traveling stories to tell. Probably, they learned how to manage their anxieties and have regained the joy of travel. It is not too late; you can also overcome travel anxiety by following a little advice. The following 5 tips to stop travel anxiety could prove invaluable to you in planning your next holiday.

5 Tips to Stop Travel Anxiety

1. Spend time making Preparations Prior To Your Trip

From past experiences, to think of the details and annoyances that bothers you about traveling. For example, you think that your house will be in a mess once you step out of the door hire a house cleaner to clean your home prior to your return. If flight travels frightens you, you can equip yourself with your iPod or your favorite book to keep you busy while you’re traveling. Simply make a list of those things you think you’ll require in your trip and those things you won’t want to be left running while you are away. The time spent organizing, planning and taking care of all the details well in advance will help to stop travel anxiety.

2. Don’t Procrastinate

Some people are well aware of their travel anxieties and they’ll often avoid taking care of the details; eg. booking a ticket, packing, etc. They will make excuses, avoid and procrastinate due to previous poor experiences with traveling. Just because you have travel anxiety doesn’t mean that avoidance will eradicate your fears. If you really want to take control over travel anxiety, get yourself involved in the action by preparing early and taking care of all necessary details. Keep in mind, travel fears are just made up fears and they are never real.

3. Learn How to Cope Up With Flight Phobia

For those people who worry about flying, you may wan to dig a little deeper to find the root of this fear. Get to know exactly what frightens you. Are you are acrophobic or claustrophobic? Perhaps the mechanical sounds bother you or air turbulence puts the fright into you. All of these fears are irrational meaning you can counter them with rationality. Airlines have strict safety measures on board. Once you are aboard, try to listen to attendant instructions to calm your nerves. Also, use anything that you like such as music to disrupt your thoughts while you are traveling.

4. Meditate

To effectively manage their travel anxiety, many individuals use meditation to gain control. Meditation makes use of a kind of self-hypnosis, so you can calm your nerves and mind down. Various self-hypnosis scripts designed specifically to ease travel anxiety can be found online. Meditate on these scripts and your mind will be at ease during your time of travel. The scripts are great tools of converting people’s subconscious minds into a friend rather than a foe. Instead of having a subconscious mind that is deep-seated in travel anxiety, you’ll have a subconscious mind that is confident and not frightened of flights.

5. Get rid of the Unknowns

Illuminate your travel shadows by doing a research prior to your trip of things you’ll expect to encounter once you’re at your destination. Apart from visiting various travel blogs, you can also use travel guides to become well-informed with your destination point. Go online and checkout your accommodation so you will know what to expect. Have your looked into travel from the airport to the hotel? What about meals and special dietary requirements? The little unknowns add up and will add to your travel anxiety.

Besides the 5 tips to strop travel anxiety strategies listed above also ensure that you maintain proper communication using Facebook, MySpace, etc. Keeping the communication channels open with loved ones back home will keep you connected.

Observing the 5 tips listed above is a great way to start you on the path of happy travels. Best of luck!

What You Should Know About a Party Bus

A party bus can go by many names. You might hear it being called a luxury bus, party van, limousine bus, limo bus or even a party ride. In essence a party bus is a large vehicle that has been converted from a more conventional motor coach or bus. It has generally been modified and then designed to be able to carry more than a dozen people for purposes that are recreational and might involve some sort of celebration. In the main, the bus will typically be driven by a professional driver who is in the employ of the company that owns the bus.

Types and Sizes of a Party Bus

Party buses come in a variety of sizes. Some are small and will only carry 10 people while others are much larger and have a seating capacity for 69 people. In some instances these buses have been made from a converted mini bus or van chassis while in other cases the chassis will have been converted from a motor coach or urban coach.

A bus may have a variety of amenities that can include things like different floor plans, equipment to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, toilet facilities, strobe lights, disco lights, laser lights, smoke machines, back up cameras, luggage partitions, audio and video equipment, passenger entry doors that are air actuated, stripper poles, seats and fabric that have been upgraded, power windows and door locks, fast idle controllers, electrical systems that have been upgraded and even more.

Why Hire a Party Bus?

Mainly it will be used for things like city tours, birthdays, a night out on the town, casino trips, bachelorette and bachelor parties, proms and weddings. That said, you will also find that they are sometimes used for events such as week-long tours or even just a day trip. Most of the time, this is a type of vehicle that is for hire. It provides an alternative that is more accessible than taxis or limos.

No matter what your event is, you can make it stand out with the sleek and stylish party bus at your service. The drivers and staff of the companies know that your plans can change at the last minute and they are always professional and can help you with these changes with courteous accommodation.

Private outings are a great reason to hire one. No matter where you are planning on going, your group will arrive in style. They can be had for small tour groups as well as for large ones. You will be able to relax and enjoy the day without having to worry about the stress of traffic and dealing with maps and other driving annoyances.

You can hire a party bus for a single day or for a set period of time and then use the bus for casino trips, concerts, theater events, athletic events, dining, shopping, sightseeing and even more! Whatever your event might be, it can get you there safely and comfortably.

Selecting a Corporate Online Booking Tool For Your Travel Program

Online booking of travel is one of the earliest business applications to come out of the internet explosion and is clearly one of the most successful. There are so many options when it comes to booking travel online, it is a wonder how anyone can keep them all straight. There are new booking tools coming online all the time. What makes one different from another, and when should I use one versus another? There are two different kinds of travel, and two different kinds of sites to consider. Leisure travel bookings have certainly done very well on the internet, but this article will focus on the many options for corporate booking online and what you should look for if given the task of finding the right solution for your company.

First of all, you certainly have the option of going directly to an airline website to complete your reservation. This is a great way to do it in certain circumstances. You may be familiar with the flight you need and know exactly what the fare should be from previous experience. Also, the airline websites sometimes offer mileage bonuses for booking online, and there is no fee in most cases for booking directly on the airline site. Sounds great, right? But actually there are many shortcomings by going directly with the airline websites. You are likely getting the lowest fare available for that airline, but you will usually have better options if you look at many airlines simultaneously. By going with a solution that looks at all airlines at once, you’ll guard against a traveler using their preferred airline for the mileage benefits without regard for price. What you will pay in booking fees with one of these solutions will likely be more than made up for by the lower fares you will find on multiple airline searches. Booking sites like Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia are examples of this kind of travel search engine.

Most people are familiar with these websites for leisure travel, but there are also business travel divisions of these companies with excellent alternate websites specifically designed for business travel use. What can you expect from a business travel site that differs from the leisure sites? You will get multiple traveler profile information stored on the site, as well as corporate reporting capability. You will see the ability for a travel coordinator to book travel for someone else, using a variety of credit cards. There will be some additional business friendly options, including options to book a car and/or hotel along with the air reservation. One of the best reasons to utilize an online system like this is that you can take care of the entire business trip in one shot instead of visiting multiple sites or making additional phone calls. So what exactly should you be looking for in a corporate travel online system? Let me give you my thoughts on the biggest issues.

Can it be customized?  This is a must for any company that really wants to get a handle on the travel program. There should be the ability to input corporate contracts for negotiated airfare (with detail down to the market or fare class level). This is also crucial for car contracts and individual and chain-wide hotel contracts. The reason this is so important is two-fold. First, your travelers need access to the absolute lowest fares and rates possible. Equally important but often overlooked, is the fact that in order to keep your current contracts, you need to perform to certain standards. If you need to drive 35% of your business to American Airlines, for example, you need to ensure that your online booking tool will help drive volume in the appropriate direction. This also holds true for the number of room nights you have agreed to with your hotel partners. Some of the newest online tools will automatically drive the volume to the right places based upon your input. While many are not this sophisticated, there are still ways to remind travelers of their corporate obligations as they are booking through pop-up reminders, banner headlines, etc.

Can it be integrated and branded?  For many companies this is an important way to drive adoption of the tool.  If you can brand the site with your logo and other design options, your travelers will be more likely to use the product.  Brand identity is important both inside and outside your organization.  Also, if you have a corporate intranet that travelers are used to using on a daily basis, you should be able to integrate the system using a Single Sign On application so users can access travel booking internally without having to remember another password for another system.

What kind of reporting can be generated?  If the whole idea of an online system is to better track traveler activity and spending, you need to be sure the available reporting meets your needs.  Many corporate systems may offer some baseline reporting, but it probably won’t be anything close to what you are used to, especially if you’re working with a Travel Management Company that customizes their reports to your specifications.  Make sure you have access to the information you need as it’s being generated.

What kind of backup support it offered?  This is perhaps the most critical issue you’ll come up against.  The larger online systems like Travelocity and Expedia have call centers to back you up in emergencies.  But do you need a better level of service in these situations?  There are many reasons to utilize a Travel Management Company’s online system instead of going with a larger, better marketed company.  If you partner with a TMC that offers an online system, you can get the support you need not only for complex reservations and emergency situations, but you’ll also get better support in programming your system.  Which brings us to another area of importance.

Who is responsible for programming the site?  Travel program changes happen all the time.  You’ll have travelers coming in to the company and leaving.  Your contracts, if you have them, will be renewed and canceled.  Your company policy will change, and it’s different for different level of employee.  In all these changes, your online booking system will also change.  When these changes happen, who is responsible for updating your system?  If it’s left up to you, do you have anyone that is trained in how to make the changes you need?  If it is the TMC’s responsibility, how quickly can they implement the changes?  And remember, an online booking site is only as good as it is programmed, no matter which way you go.  So who takes responsibility for programming errors?

Who takes care of training users?  Just as a system is only as good as it’s programmed, travelers can only benefit from the system insofar as they’re properly trained.  Most of your travelers are likely familiar with online booking either for personal travel or in previous business travel, so it shouldn’t be difficult to train them on a basic level.  However, each site that you investigate will have different strengths and weaknesses that travelers need to know about.  Online training can be effective, but personal training is even better.  Is your representation at the company local or willing to send a trainer to your location(s) for more in-depth training?  This goes for both end user travelers, travel coordinators booking for others, and anyone that needs to know programming of your site.

Get Paid to Travel – Five Careers in Travel That Pay

Want to get paid to travel? There are dozens of careers in travel that are not only rewarding, but also pay well.

Some of these opportunities involve finding a salaried or hourly wage-paying job, like becoming a traveling nurse, an airline hostess or pilot, a traveling chef, a cruise ship worker, yacht crew member, a massage therapist or hospitality worker at a resort.

There are several other travel careers that are easy to enter, let you go wherever you please, make money as you go, and even earn royalties for years from the work you do today.

Not only that, but you have the choice whether you want to make this your full-time occupation, or only a part-time travel job, when you have the time and desire to see the world, and make money doing it.

Get Paid to Travel Career #1: Lead Tours for Fun and Profit

Do you have an interest like yoga, wine tasting, cooking (or simply eating), writing poetry, painting, coffee, art history, or snorkeling? If you have a hobby, an academic interest, or particular expertise, you can find people with similar interests to pay you to take them on vacations with you.

Know something about wine? Lead a tour of wine country in Argentina, Italy, South Africa, even Morocco or China.

Get paid to lead tours to your favorite places in the world, or to the places you have always wanted to go.

Though you do not need to become a travel agent to lead tours for profit, you can make more money if you do have the ability to book the airfares, cruises, and accommodations of your clients yourself.

Get Paid to Travel Career #2: Make Travel Videos

Video sharing sites like YouTube are very popular, and resorts will pay you to create videos for them in the hopes of getting more business.

There is very little barrier to entry in this field, and not much competition. In fact, you can get started with a Flip recorder, or even the video camera on your phone. If you have $400 or $500 to invest in a quality digital video camera, you can make even more profit by creating travel videos to sell on Amazon.

You will need a laptop and some video editing software – and the desire to have complimentary stays at some of the world’s best resorts while they pay you to work!

Get Paid to Travel Career #3: Write Travel Articles

If you can write a postcard, then travel writing may be the career for you. Many publications look for short reviews of restaurants and hotels from new writers. Then, as you become more established, you can get paid more for longer articles.

Better yet, often resorts, hotels, restaurants, and other travel-related businesses will offer you their services at no charge in return for a review.

In most cases, you can republish the same article a number of times, drawing a check each time the article is printed in a different publication.

You might at some point want to write a travel guidebook, for which you could earn royalties. You can also publish your articles on web travel directories that share advertising revenues with writers.

Get Paid to Travel Career #4: Sell Your Travel Photos

There are several ways to make money with a career in travel photography.

You can combine travel writing and photography to earn more by submitting photos with your articles.

Also, you can upload your photos to online stock photography sites, and every time someone buys your photo from the agency, you earn a commission.

Even if you don’t have your own website, you can sell your travel photos online in a number of ways. You can sell prints of all sizes, posters, postcards, calendars, screen savers, even t-shirts and coffee mugs with your images on them.

You can also sell your work as fine art from the walls of coffee shops, restaurants, and galleries.

Get Paid to Travel Career #5: Start a Travel Publication

With your own website and newsletter, you can combine as many of the above methods as you want. You can publish only the content you create – articles, photos, and videos – or you can invite others to submit their work to your site, too.

Having a quality website gives you instant credibility and immediately establishes you as an expert in your field, whether it’s luxury travel, cruises, coffee, yoga, wine, or any other interest.

You can make money through advertising, promoting your tour business, selling your photos, and by referrals to hotels and other travel businesses.

These five careers in travel can not only help you get complimentary stays in resorts all over the world, but they also allow you to actually get paid to travel.

Peru Travel: Qeswachaka Festival and Alternative Inca Trails in Peru

Many people travel to Peru to hike the famous Inca Trail. There’s an undeniable allure to the idea of treading the same path once used by the ancient Incas as they traveled to the great citadel of Machu Picchu. However, the Inca Trail is not the only impressive remnant of the Inca Empire. In addition to the well-known Inca Trail path to Machu Picchu, the Incas built a vast and elaborate system of roads hundreds of kilometers long that traversed the entire Inca Empire.

The Inca construction, however, didn’t stop at roads. In addition to building paths, the Incas were master bridge builders, and these bridges were an integral part of the road system. Q’eswachaka, commonly known as the Inca Rope Bridge, is the last of these bridges still in use, and is located just outside of Cusco in the Quehue District. Though originally destroyed in an attempt to halt Pizarro’s attack on Cusco during the Spanish invasion, it was reconstructed and continues to remain in use to this day. The bridge spans the raging Apurimac River as it cuts through the breathtaking Apurimac Valley.

Q’eswachaka is made of fibers woven together to create a strong rope, and small slats of wood are used to reinforce the footpath. Part of the reason the bridge has lasted almost 600 years, however, is that every year, the people of four local Quechua communities come together to replace the old bridge with a new one. The Q’eswachaka Festival, four days of work and celebration, marks this occasion. This ancient tradition has been carried out annually since the days of the Incas, and continues to be an important connection to tradition and culture in the high Andes.

Every year, the four communities enthusiastically come together for the process of rebuilding the bridge- an important and ceremonial tradition. Certain members of the community hold the role of engineer, while others serve as weavers. One male holds the important position of “Chakaruwak”, meaning he is a specialist in braiding and construction. In order for the sacred art to be carried on from generation to generation and to keep the spirit of the bridge alive, fathers teach their sons the process, just as their fathers did before them.

Before the festival begins, community members collect the building material, primarily consisting of grass and natural fibers. These fibers will be woven into the cables used in the bridge’s construction. Before the festival and bridge building can begin, however, the spiritual leader of the community must ask the apus, or the mountain spirits, for permission to begin the process, and make offerings of coca leaves and corn to Pachamama, Mother Earth. After this offering, the weaving of the cables begins. In the afternoon, the men divide into two groups, one each side of the bridge, and begin braiding the cables towards each other.

On the second day, the engineers begin by untying the old ropes, which are attached to stone nails, and attach the new ropes to the nails. This is a time consuming and intricate process, but finally the base and handrails of the new bridge are in place.

On the third day of the festival, construction finishes on the handrails and footpath, and when the construction has finished, the bridge is officially opened to the tune of music accompanied by traditional dances.

The festival reaches its climax on the fourth day, which is a day of celebration. The communities once again come together to celebrate the completion of the bridge through song, indigenous dances, and eating traditional foods. This final day serves as a culmination of all the hard work, and a celebration of the lasting traditions that have allowed these communities to keep their vibrant culture alive.

This year, the Q’eswachaka Festival falls during the second week of June, with the principal day of the festival on the second Sunday of the month. The bridge reconstruction and subsequent festival will take place once again, as it does every year, as the local communities gather to honor both Pachamama and their ancestors, and celebrate their community and heritage.

Southern California Travel – Top Five Places of Things to See and Do When in Southern California

When you travel to Southern California, it’s always wise to keep a checklist of the top places to see and things to do. To better help you plan your next invigorating escape to this amazing destination, here are my picks for top five places and things to see and do when in the Sunshine State.

Hollywood Boulevard: Don’t miss the Walk of Stars, where the most famous actors, actresses, film producers and directors have their very own star decorating this walkway. Other notable sites include the world famous Whiskey A Go Go – where Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix performed – the Viper Room, and hundreds of stores and shops that line this amazing, historical street; a must-see when you travel to Southern California.

Pacific Coast Highway: Is a few hundred mile stretch of highway that is one of the most famous and historical highways in the United States. The views that you will see when driving along the Pacific Coast Highway are second-to-none. Stop off at any of the dozens of beaches along the way to lie in the white sand and watch the tide roll in.

San Diego Zoo: One of the largest and most amazing zoos in the entire world awaits you with more animals and exhibits than you will find almost anywhere else in the world. Make sure that you have a park map, sunscreen and some bottled water handy, as this park demands one or two days to really take it all in and see all of the sights.

Santa Monica Pier: This pier sits alongside Boston’s and New York City’s as one of the most famous piers in the entire country. The best time to visit it is at night, when the shops and the trademark Ferris wheel are all lit up brilliantly. One can easily spend hours of time walking from vendor to vendor, people watching, strolling along the beach, or visiting the many different attractions.

Sea World: One of the largest and most exclusive water parks in the world is the place to go if you want to catch one heck of show. Learn about exotic large fishes, and see some pretty fabulous shows. If you get lucky, you can even pet the bottlenose dolphins or offer them a tasty, fishy treat.

Durga Puja: The Queen of All Festivals

India is a land of festivals. Being a secular country, there is no dearth of things to celebrate in this land of wonders. From Christmas to Eid ul Zoha, Independence Day to the Cricket World Cup, there is hardly anything that Indians do not like celebrating. Simply point us towards an occasion and we are all for it. But hidden amongst this long list of celebrations is a gem in the form of Durga Puja, something celebrated in its full glory in the Bengali community.

So, what exactly IS the Durga Puja?

Well, for the sake of clarity, Puja refers to a religious festival. However, for us Bengalis, Durga Puja is less of a ‘Puja’ and more of the embodiment of the spirit of festiveness. What exactly does that mean? Well, let us go back a few millenniums to answer that question.

The tradition of invoking the goddess Durga (or the mother, known as ‘Ma’) is first considered to have been done by Lord Ram before he went forth to battle Ravana, as documented in the epic Ramayana. However, the tradition lay dormant till about the late 1500s, when the landlords in Bengal took it up. It was finally given its final form in the 18th century as Baroyaari (or 12 friends’) puja, a term which finally came to refer to community sponsored Durga Pujas held in Kolkata.

Essentially, all parts of India celebrates this period, but in the form of Navratri. It constitutes of 9 days’ worth of fasting, which ends with Dussehra, a day where an effigy of Ravana is burned as a way to show that evils are always championed by good as Lord Ram had championed above Ravana.

In Bengal, however, the meaning of these 10 days are quite different.

My earliest memories of Durga Puja are that of waking up in the middle of the night to listen to Mahalaya on the radio. It is a programme that has been airing on the first day of the Bengali month Ashwin for more than 7 decades and 4 generations of Bengalis, forcing them to wake up at 4 am, something I still do religiously every year on that particular day. Although the magic of the scent, the half awoken self and knowing Ma is coming has somewhat diminished with the years, the idea of something so collectively powerful that it makes a whole community look forward to it still holds a great deal of charm nonetheless.

We treat Ma Durga as something more than just the goddess. While it is true that she embodies the raw power (or Shakti) that overcame evil by slaying the evil demon Mahisasur (hence the term Mahisasur-mardini), she is much MUCH more than just that. The ten days that start with Mahalaya signify her annual visit to her paternal home in Bengal with 4 of her children. As such Ma is, at the same time, a mother, a wife, a goddess, and most importantly, a member of our family. We pamper her, we respect her, we love her and we adore her. She is more than just a divinity.

To us Bengalis, she embodies our truest nature. No matter where a Bengali might be, come Durga Puja, he/she feels a connection to his/her family.

THIS is what it means to celebrate Pujo (a colloquial term for Durga Puja).

Frankly, it cannot be compared to anything else in the world. But, remember the togetherness one gets when visiting the family, or the warmth during Christmas, or the feeling you get when you visit your family after a year away? That is what Pujo means to a Bengali. It is more than celebrating a religious festival. The idea of Pujo is bringing everyone together. And what better way can there be than a mother facilitating all that? We eat, we cry, we talk, be happy and celebrate something that is practically unheard of anywhere else in the world. It does not matter what you religion is. Whether a Muslim, a Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Jain or anything in between (including atheists), if you are a Bengali at heart, Durga Puja is for you. From visiting the tens of thousands of makeshift podiums (or pandals) for hoisting Ma Durga to having a cup of tea in the middle of the night (under a tree in the local shop because it seems to inevitably rain during Puja nights these days, especially if you are out at 2 am) to dancing during the idol immersion ceremony (called Bhashan), Durga Puja is something that you have to experience at least once in your life.

Oh, and did I mention scrumptious luchi and khichudi as lunch during Ashtami and the gorgeous ladies who grace the pandals? Pujo is worth it… believe you me.

And once Pujo is done, while we are all sad, we pray for Ma to return safely to her heavenly abode atop the Himalayas. Thus begins the wait for the next Puja. Another year to spend before our dear mother comes back. Because Pujo never ends, it simply gets shifted by another year. After all, Ma is like the mother who wants you to be happy even when she is gone.

Come, be a part of this wonderful festival of togetherness.

Travel Nursing Jobs As a Career Option

If you are thinking of becoming a travel nurse then it is a viable career option as you will have more salary than the permanent and para diem nurses. If we look back then it is in the year1920 when traveling nursing jobs came into existence after the shortage for nurses was felt. It is the most popular career in USA as the demand for travel nurses is mounting owing to less number of nurses in specific regions. There are around 25,500 travel nurses in USA and about 340 US travel nurse companies. Travel nursing jobs are the short term nursing jobs (4 to 52 weeks) in which the nurses have to travel to different parts of the country. The contract that is outside the country is of longer period like one to two years.

Travel nursing job gives you the wonderful experience of meeting new people and enjoying different seasons and states of the country. Depending upon the project you can choose the period of stay in the travel nursing job. Like some nurses prefer to stay for one month other for one year.

How to become a traveling nurse?
To become a travel nurse one will have to complete the education from the affiliated nursing school to get the Registered Nurse degree. You can go for any of the following types of education

  • Four years BSN degree
  • Two years ADN program
  • Three years diploma

Along with this one must have the clinical experience of one year as a licensed nurse in the area of his or her specialization to get into traveling nursing jobs. It is recommended that you must get two to three years of experience for the International travel nursing jobs. The requirement of experience vary with the specialization. Like LPN/LVN requires three years of experience where as for Psychiatric nurse job, Med-Surg and Rehab you need the experience of two years to get travel nursing jobs. Also clearing NCLEX-RN exam is must in USA. Along with this you will have to get the license of that particular state. You travel nursing company will help you in getting that.

Apart from the education and experience you must have a charming personality, easy to adapt nature and good communication skills.

Traveling nurse jobs is obtained through the travel agency or travel nursing companies that are tied up with the hospitals. Travel nursing companies not only help you in finding the travel nursing jobs but will also help you with the relocation, housing and registration with local authorities. But you will have to be very careful while choosing the travel nurse company as the services provided vary a lot from company to company. So always ask for the entire services that travel nurse agency or company is going to provide while giving the travel nursing job to you. Do ask for clinical support, type of health insurance and 401(k), type of housing, salary and associated benefits, work assignments and loyalty programs.

You can tell your requirement of travel nurse job to your travel nurse company so that can find the best suitable match. You can start your travel nurse jobs after accepting and processing of your job offer. This can take one week to one month’s time.

Benefits of Traveling Nurse Jobs
First of all travel nurse salary is more than the registered nurse working in the same hospital. Apart from this travel nurse will get the housing facility while on work by the travel agencies with basic furnishings of washer dryers, dishwashers etc. Housing stipend is given to the nurses who choose to live independently of travel agency. The amount of stipend is more than the actual wages or it can be substantial.

Along with this the travel allowances are also paid by the travel agencies that but the coverage of the travel cost vary. So you must inquire about this things before getting travel nursing job. Tax advantages are also given if the nurse maintain tax home while working in the traveling nurse job.

Salary
Travel nursing pay vary a lot and generally changes with the location, hospital need, housing cost of the area and negotiation ability of the traveler. Like you will find more travel nurse salary if you are given travel nursing jobs in north or west America than the southern American States. The RN travel nurse salary can be $40 per hour whereas surgical technologists, respiratory therapist and LPN will get pay close to $28 per hour. Some of the hospitals and travel agencies also give bonus that can reach to $6,000 and given at the end of the assignment.

You can also begin your traveling nurse job with your friend or family. So no need to worry about anything to begin the adventurous career as a travel nurse.