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Holiday Travel on a Budget

by Aleia 12. November 2012



Traveling Without Breaking the Bank


Traveling can become costly any time of the year, but it always feels particularly expensive around the holidays.  If you are wanting to save a couple bucks on travel to put towards your gift budget here are some tips that might help you get through holiday traveling. 


Holiday Travel By Air

  • If at all possible travel on the actual date of the holiday, it is much less expensive (less crowded too!) if you travel on Thanksgiving day rather than the day before or after.  If you can’t travel on the actual date it’s best to avoid the two days before and the two after a major holiday as the airports are at their busiest and their prices reflect that.
  •  The least expensive days to fly tend to be Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.
  • Buying airline tickets in advance can be very cost effective but make sure that you don’t book too early as airlines don’t re-assess cost for tickets in relations to supply/demand/cost until roughly 3 months prior to travel date. 
  • Consider alternate airports.  Smaller airports might have better airfare and be less crowded, especially during the holiday season.  It is a good idea to check what airports are close to both your arrival and departure cities. 
  •  A good tool to search airports by distance to city is:
  •  There are two dangerous traps to fall in to price-wise:  booking online and booking connecting flights.  Both of these seem like a cost-effective move but can easily turn into an expensive option.  Non-stop flights may sometimes be more expensive initially but it’s much less expensive than having to re-book because of flight days that could cause you an expensive and unexpected overnight stay.  Also, when flights become over-booked people who have used online budget sites to book flights tend to be the first people pushed onto a later flight rather than people who have booked through a travel agent or airline, this delay can cause missed connections or cause re-ticketing fees which add up.

Holiday Accommodations

  • Don’t be afraid to attempt to negotiate rates with hotels.  Many hotels will lower rates, give free upgrades, or even perks that can make your stay more comfortable.  Check the online rates but always make sure to contact the hotel as well and see what options you have.
  • Over the holidays business hotels tend to have lower prices and are less hectic since they tend to depend on business travel which slows during the holiday season.
  • If you have a particular preference for a hotel chain or destination follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or other social networking sites, you might score a promotion that’s only offered through those sites. 
  • If you aren’t traveling to visit family but are instead taking a family vacation or planning on spending the holidays with a group of friends, shop around before making a decision about your destination.  Due to the current economy many hotels and resorts are offering special deals that may include free nights, large discounts, special holiday services, or even nannies

Random Budget Tips

  • If you’re spending the holidays without family “party cities” such as Las Vegas or New Orleans during the weeks prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to be much less expensive to fly to and stay at.
  • Look online for a travel cost calculator to give you an idea for the budget you’re looking at so you can plan accordingly.
  • Bring an empty water bottle and after security you can keep re-filling it rather than paying airport prices.
  •  Packing a couple granola bars or a bag of trail mix in your carry-on could end up saving you a good deal of money if there is a flight delay rather than purchasing snacks in-flight.
  •  Don’t forget to look into  traveling by train.  While it may be a longer time spent on travel then you were originally planning it tends to be less expensive and less stressful if you are traveling with small children or elderly family members.  The extra room and freedom of movement can be worth the extra time it takes to get to your destination.
  • The most important thing is to be flexible and to plan ahead.  Flying  a day later or earlier can make for a less expensive trip and the willingness to consider staying at a different resort might land you a free meal plan for your whole party, shop around a bit and try to stay open-minded and you might be surprised how inexpensive your dream vacation is. 

Meet Amanda

by Admin 7. November 2012


Amanda, originally from the UK but now residing in New York, is one of the many qualified nurses that work for and help make our company what it is.  She has lived in Switzerland, Barcelona, and France and has traveled extensively through both her personal and professional life.  She has over 25 years of nursing experience and still loves every minute of the work she does.  Amanda is uniquely qualified to work for a career as a medical escort due to previous experience working as a flight attendant as well as her many years in the nursing field. 

Many of our nurses enjoy the chance to travel abroad and gain experience they would not normally get in other careers.  Amanda says her favorite place to visit is Jordan because the people are very friendly and the Black Sea and Petra are amazing.  She says some of the best advice she could give to someone travelling is to” go with your gut feeling on a trip, to be curious but aware.” 

During a trip she spends a lot of time getting to know her patient and planning for the travel ahead, making sure she knows as much as she can and making sure she has contingency plans in place.  But during her downtime on trips waiting for flights she enjoys exploring the cities she finds herself in.  She always tries to find time to rent a bike and explore or grab a meal at a local “funky” restaurant. 

Her favorite part of the job is that it is so interesting and varied.  One minute she can be making dinner for her husband and two children and the next she can be preparing to fly to Estonia.  She says it adds adventure to her life, that there is a mystery and surprise around every corner.  She is very thankful that her family and especially her husband support her and rather enjoy a couple days of independence.  When she is not flying she is home with her family or playing squash with her friends.

When asked about what she would like to tell future clients, Amanda says the most important thing for patients to realize is that we are not an insurance company, that we are a separate entity whose job is to make sure that a patient gets transported in a safe manner that does not cause anxiety or pain. 

All of us at Commercial Medical Escorts are proud of our medical staff and so thankful that we have wonderful people such as Amanda to rely on.  Thank you for all of your hard work Amanda!


(Medical Escorts Blake Yturralde and Amanda Smrcka with patient in the Air India VIP Lounge at JFK airport.)

Tips for Traveling to Nairobi, Kenya

by Aleia 1. November 2012

Nairobi is the largest city in Kenya and has roughly 3-4 million people. The official languages are Kiswahili and English so while English-speakers may have an easier time getting around, it is still always best to know a few phrases in the local language.


  •   You will need both your passport and a visa in order to travel in Kenya.  For a single entry visa it is normally $50USD and these can be obtained prior to travel or once in the Kenyan airport,  although it is suggested that you acquire one before traveling so there are no mix-ups. 
  •  Citizens of certain countries are not required to have a visa for entry, for a complete list of these please visit the following link:
  •   As a rule most international credit cards are charged fees so that is something to keep in mind when entering the country.

When to Travel:

  •  The high season is November to February and is the most popular with tourists. If you are traveling on a budget you might like to travel during the rainy season (Marc h to May/ October to December) as the flights and hotels are less expensive.
  •  Taking weather into account the summer tends to be sunny and warm, but not intensely hot and winters are mild and cool, and can become very chilly in the evenings. When planning a trip it is important to keep this in mind.


  •   DO NOT accept advice on accommodations from taxi drivers.
  •  Traffic in Nairobi is notoriously bad so any activity or meeting that there is a time limit on should include long traffic waits during the planning phase.
  •  Taxis are the safest way to get around the city but always ask for a price before departing, many taxi drivers will take advantage of tourists. Taxis here are marked with a yellow line on the  side.
  •  The buses are usually reliable and everyone should travel in a Matatu (mini-bus or shuttle) at least once. Matatus are normally obtained on River Road which can be a dangerous place so it is wise to have a taxi pick you up/drop you off there.
  •  DO NOT walk around after nightfall.


  • The number for emergency services is:999
  • The number for less urgent Police matters is: 240000
  • 24hr Tourist Safety Hotline 02-604767
  • Current travel along the Kenya/Somalia border and within 60 miles of it is discouraged.
  • Always be aware that theft is relatively commonplace. Do not carry around large amounts of cash and be aware that they have a mobile case movement that is very popular in the area, one of which is the M-Pesa.
  • Many young children will enthusiastically speak to you and can be excited to see travelers but avoid any children over approximately 10 years old because there is a chance they are pick-pockets.
  •  It is important to try and get vaccinated roughly 6 weeks before travel to any African country most specifically: Tetanus, Dyptheria, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A & B, Yellow Fever, Rabies, and Meningitis.
  •  BRING bug spray (preferably one with DEET) and make sure to spray any exposed areas and your lodgings on a regular basis.
  • DO NOT smoke in the streets, it is illegal. There are designated smoking areas available.
  • The Nairobi Hospital is a private hospital located at Argwings  Kodhek  Rd,, P.O. Box 30026, Nairobi, G.P.O 00100 Kenya.  They have a 24-hour Accident and Emergency Centre and are fully staffed for all medical emergencies.
  • When traveling it is important to buy Travel Insurance because most insurance companies do not take care of costs accrued during international travel.  Being prepared for all eventualities is the best way to avoid potential problems during traveling.

Things to Do:

  •  Nairobi has a thriving nightlife with many clubs, bars, and hotels to choose from.
  • If you are adventurous when it comes to cuisine be sure to check out The Carnivore Restaurant where you can try ostrich, zebra, and ox balls. Also for sale is traditional Kenyan barbequed meat.
  • Nairobi is considered the safari capital of the world and has many amazing safari options to choose from.
  • Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is an amazing place to visit especially for animal-lovers.
  • 14 Falls is a beautiful place to visit with a park to wander in.
  •  Maasai Market is a great flea market/bazaar to visit, it can be found somewhere in the city most days of the week and is excellent place to hone your bartering skills. When carrying cash always try to have change on hand to make bartering easier.


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