When is a Crime Not a Crime?

If you buy something advertised to do specific things and then find out that it is completely different to your expectations that would not necessarily be a crime. But if the advertisement targets a specific need, such as a cure for something, but it did not cure it that would that be a crime. It is misrepresentation and many suffer the consequences of such frauds every day.

Thieving is an easily recognizable crime. But what if something was stolen a long time ago? Is it still a crime? Yes, and the perpetrators face penalties if caught. The same applies to murder, rape, or any other crime against society. Those associated with crime or who assist criminals in any way may be equally as guilty unless they know nothing of it.

Protecting criminals is aiding and abetting. Earning money from crime, whether it was committed by them or not, and covering up the deed while denying knowledge of it is likewise a crime.

There are few if any exceptions to these laws.

War crimes, however, could once go unpunished because of circumstances. Some heads of State could be exempt under certain conditions. For example if crimes against individuals or countries during war are not attributable to the sitting Head of State and if he or she is not aware of the crime there is a case for exemption.

This has been brought to the fore during the Iraq war whereby torture and such performed by military personnel saw soldiers jailed or punished but the President of the United State and his Secretary for Defense are innocent or outside of the legal process.

Crime has an extensive reach, however, and even history cannot erase such acts from their consequences. Whilst the criminals may die their established businesses may be run by their heirs. Under those circumstances no crime has an expiry date when it continues to affect people. So a crime, once identified as such, is always a crime…

The UK government lists property crime, violent crimes and anti-social behavior under business crime on its site www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk/business/businesscrimeminisite01.htm. It states that property crime involves commercial robbers, fraud and forgery, and theft by employees, among other things. Violent crime includes assault and harassment. Anti-social behavior, according to this authority, includes harassment, alarm or distress to customers or staff, low level harassment or intimidation, including racial intimidation.

Aside from business crime there is social crime and that has a wider reach even than that of business crime.

South Africa.info carries a report on this type of behavior under the heading Social Development, sub headed Tackling the social causes of crime. They note that social crimes are difficult to investigate because “the relationships between the victims and the perpetrators, where levels of intimidation and family pressure are very high,” Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula told journalists in Pretoria recently.

Unfortunately this is the case in many criminal investigations where a ‘them versus us’ hinders the law that seeks to protect the community. Human nature, fear and intimidation by criminals ensure they receive this kind of support.

With a crime in place for centuries it is even harder as many feel it is not affecting them one way or another. Others are ignorant and may never discover the truth. As a writer, however. my obligation is to expose that which affects us whatever the cost. The greater the crime the more urgent it is to bring it to the fore.

My research uncovered just such a crime that embraces all of the above. It involves what is probably the biggest business on earth and sees billions of dollars pass into its coffers every year. It has a Head of State and, along with its partners in crime, its robbery, fraud, forgery and theft activities are enormous but are covered up by its servants who are also heads of governments and power brokers. Its tentacles are long and its business travels rapidly reaping even more rewards.

Its members knowingly or otherwise engage in many of the crimes listed above either through innocence of the truth or through intimidation and harassment by the leaders. Its power is such that even writing about it could bring repercussions that stirs the emotion so many to commit murder against the author. This is already happening in some circumstances that are well known to the reader.

My research went to the beginning of civilization and beyond to uncover the facts and to piece together a picture of the worst crime imaginable. It unearthed a fraud and forgery that will shock to the core. The details are published on my site where the pdf version may be downloaded nojesuschrist.com

Defending People Charged With Internet Crimes

According to reports published by the United States Federal Government, in the mid-1980s, trafficking of child-pornography within the United States was nearly eradicated through successful campaigns by federal and state authorities.

In the 1980’s, producing child pornography was difficult and expensive, however, with the advent of computers and the internet, child pornography has become easier to acquire, reproduce and store.

Digital cameras and the ease in which images and movies can be posted on the internet, combined with a world wide web which has no borders, has made it easy for distributors and collectors of child pornography to obtain the illegal photographs and videos. Although most people have some knowledge about the vast amount of pornography located on the internet, The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has estimated that 20% of all internet pornography involves children.

Legally speaking, 20% of the pornography located on the internet is illegal to possess in the United States.

As a result of the increase in the availability of child-pornography, federal and state convictions for crimes related to child-pornography has increased. Recently, the United States Department of Justice announced a national strategy for eliminating child pornography. The effort includes nationalized databases allowing states to share information and the hiring of 38 assistant U.S. Attorneys across the United States to prosecute child pornography crimes.

A person must merely open a newspaper or watch the television to find a news article or picture of a person whose name and reputation is ruined by state or federal charges related to possession of child pornography.

Instead of focusing on the people producing child pornography, efforts have shifted and law enforcement is now targeting people who possess child pornography. In order to help prosecute regular citizens, the federal government has partnered with internet search engines to find people searching for, downloading and possessing child pornography.

Computer crimes are not limited to simply possession or distribution of child pornography.

Many people have seen television shows where law enforcement uses a computer to lure unsuspecting people into illegal situations (e.g., NBC’s documentary, To Catch a Predator, etc.).

In such situations, a law enforcement officer poses as a minor and lures a unsuspecting person to a location; the location is usually portrayed as the minor’s home. When the unlucky person arrives at the minor’s home, television cameras record the subsequent conversation between the surprised adult and law enforcement.

Sometimes, the unlucky person believes (or hopes) he or she may be able to “talk their way out” of a potential arrest; however, the statements made by the person is recorded and likely used by a prosecutor as the basis for a criminal prosecution.

In short, sex crimes, internet crimes and computer crimes are a primary focus of state and federal law enforcement throughout the country.

Examination of the Computer

In any case involving a computer, it is critical to use a computer expert in any child pornography case. The use of such experts can help establish a defense to the crime by showing some of the following:

• When an illegal file was downloaded;
• Which computer program was used to download an illegal file;
• Which computer user downloaded an illegal file;
• Whether the illegal file was placed on the computer as a result of a computer virus;
• Whether the illegal file was placed on the computer by somebody “hacking” into an unsuspecting user’s computer, and;
• Whether the people portrayed in the images and/or movies are actually “children” or models above the legal age of consent who are “posing” as a minor.

Unfortunately, most attorneys do not have sufficient knowledge about computer technology to even consider the use of computer experts. Most attorneys without sufficient computer background simply believe that if child pornography is found on a computer, the person is “guilty”.

Examples of Common Situations

Throughout the United States, prosecutors can file variety of different charges against a person for using a computer for what may appear to be legal activities.

Three common examples are provided:

Example #1: A suspect looks for pornographic material on the internet and subsequently downloads both legal and illegal materials (e.g., child pornography, etc.). The illegal materials actually come from a website which is operated by the federal government for the sole purpose of finding and arresting people who download child pornography. Once the illegal materials are downloaded from the law enforcement computer, a warrant is requested from a local court and the computer is seized and searched.

The person is arrested even if they didn’t know the materials downloaded onto their computer were illegal.

Many people believe that if a website looks “legitimate”, the materials that come from that website must be legal to possess (e.g., pictures, videos, etc.); however, such an assumption is not true.

As indicated, the federal government has set up “legitimate” looking websites which provide child pornography. The sole purpose of the website is to lure a person into committing illegal acts (e.g., downloading an illegal movie and/or picture, etc.) and then arresting that person for downloading and possessing the illegal item provided by the federal government.

Example #2: Similar to the example above, a suspect uses a “peer-to-peer” file sharing program to download pornography (e.g., LimeWire, Bittorrent, BearShare, etc.). Unbeknownst to the suspect, some of the pornography downloaded is actually child-pornography, and it comes from a computer owned and operated by law enforcement. Once the illegal materials are downloaded from the law enforcement computer onto the suspects computer, a warrant is requested from a local court and the computer is seized and searched.

Another example is when law enforcement uses those same “peer-to-peer” file sharing programs to “search” for illegal child-pornography. Once law enforcement finds illegal materials, a computer program determines the TCP/IP address of the computer which houses the illegal materials. With the TCP/IP address, law enforcement can issue a warrant to determine the location and address of the suspect computer. Once law enforcement knows the physical location of the suspect computer, another warrant is obtained allowing the search and seizure of the computer.

Example #3: A suspect contacts a person believed to be a minor through a chat room on the internet. The minor is actually law enforcement. Through several conversations, the suspect is either encouraged to send naked pictures, or, in the worst-case scenario, the suspect is badgered into a personal meeting with the minor only to arrive at a pre-arranged destination and have law-enforcement waiting to arrest the suspect.

The three examples are common situations where people are charged in either federal or state court, however, the examples provided are not the only actions which can result in criminal charges.

Federal Charges relating to Child Pornography

Federal law makes it a crime to possess or distribute child pornography. Specifically, Title 18, section 2252 and 2252A of the United States Code criminalizes possession or distribution of child pornography.

Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction (pictures, video, data stored on a computer, etc.) which involves a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Title 18, section 2256 of the United States Code contains several definitions relating to crimes involving child pornography; the following simplified definitions are provided:

Minor: The term “minor” as used in the federal law, means a person under the age of 18.

Sexually Explicit Conduct: The term “sexually explicit conduct” as used in the federal law, means any sexual act, including material which simply shows a child’s genital area.

Visual Depiction: The term “Visual Depiction” includes film, videotape, or other data stored on a computer, or computerized data or any data able to be converted into a picture or film.

Although there are several different criminal provisions of the United States Code relating to computer crimes, charges and penalties associated with child pornography are provided:

Receiving or Distributing: If a person receives or distributes child pornography, that person is subject to imprisonment in a federal prison for a mandatory minimum sentence of five (5) years.

Title 18, U.S.C., § 2252(a)(2); § 2252A(a)(2) (2010).

Transporting: If a person sends, gives or provides child pornography to
another person in any manner, (e.g., via mail, email, any
electronic means, etc.), that person is subject to imprisonment
in a federal prison for a mandatory minimum sentence of five (5) years.

Title 18, U.S.C., § 2252(a)(1); § 2252A(a)(1) (2010).

Possessing: If a person possesses, in any manner, child pornography, that person is subject to imprisonment in a federal prison for not more than ten (10) years.

Title 18, U.S.C., § 2252A(a)(4)(b); § 2252A(5)(B) (2010).

In essence, federal law makes it a crime for any person to possess materials which display a person under the age of 18 nude, genitals exposed or engaged in any sexual activity.

When representing a person charged with a crime involving child pornography, it is important to fully understand the differences between the potential charges and the risk of incarceration for each.

Significantly, if a person pleads or is convicted of a crime involving the possession of child pornography, there is no mandatory minimum sentence; however, if a person pleads or is convicted of receiving, distributing or transporting child pornography, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of five (5) years imprisonment.

State Charges for Child Pornography

In essence, all states makes it a crime to possess pictures or movies which portray a child’s genitals, pubic area or breasts (in the case of a female), if the child is under a certain age.

Common examples of illegal behavior are easy to image (e.g., a person possessing video tapes or pictures of underage children, etc.); however, the statute also criminalizes the possession of digitalized images and movies which can be stored on a computer or cellular phone. As such, if a person receives an illegal picture through email, and the person has a phone which receives email, a person could be charged and convicted simply for illegal items accidentally saved on their phone. Further, with the increasing popularity in cellular phones which are capable of taking pictures and recording movies, many more people are at risk of criminal charges for simply taking and saving illegal pictures.

Many state laws make it a crime for anybody to make a picture or video which shows a person under the age of 18 with his or her genitals exposed in any manner or engaged in “sexually explicit conduct”.

This includes pictures made with a cellular phone or a digital camera.

Prosecutors in many states have used this statute to prosecute people for merely downloading or copying images from the internet and then saving those pictures onto the hard-drive of a computer.

Restated, if you are downloading images and/or movies from the internet and then saving those images and/or movies on your computer, you may be charged in state court with the crime of manufacturing child pornography under the above statute.

Common Defenses in both State and Federal Court

Regardless of whether criminal charges are filed in state or federal court, there are many issues which should be examined by an experienced criminal defense attorney familiar with computer crimes.

The same issues arise whether the crime involves child pornography, sex crime or general internet crimes.

Although not limited to the following, several common issues which frequently arise are analyzed.

Knowing possession

In both state and federal court, in order to be convicted of the crime “possession of child pornography”, a defendant must knowingly possess child pornography, that is, the person charged must have knowledge of the existence of the child pornography.

This means the government must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person accused had knowledge of the existence of the child pornography.

Giving a Statement

Many defendants mistakenly believe if a reasonable explanation is provided as to “why” child pornography is on a computer, criminal charges can be avoided.

Restated, many defendants believe that providing an honest statement to law enforcement will help avoid being arrested or facing criminal charges.

That is not true.

When a defendant provides a statement to law enforcement, the statement will likely be used against the defendant during a criminal prosecution.

A criminal defense attorney should try and suppress any statements given by a defendant which, in any way, provide a link between the defendant and any child pornography found by law enforcement. A Motion to Suppress should be filed regardless of whether the defendant was in custody when the statement was given.

Many people believe statements given by defendants can not be suppressed if law enforcement provides Miranda warnings. This is also not true. An attorney should try and suppress statements given by a defendant even if law enforcement provides Miranda warnings.

Recent case example

In one recent case, an older, married man was suspected of possessing child pornography based upon activity to known websites containing child pornography. The gentleman lived with his wife in the suburb of a large city and had lived in the same neighborhood for years.

Law enforcement did not have enough evidence to get a warrant to enter the suspect’s house and seize the computer. Because they couldn’t get a warrant, law enforcement decided to walk up to the man’s house and talk to him to see if they could gain access to the house voluntarily.

In arriving at the house, law enforcement waited until approximately 7:30 p.m., when it was dark, and all the people in the neighborhood were home. Three federal agents and some local police came to the older man’s house. After convincing the man that they should be allowed into the house, the authorities also convinced the man they should be allowed to “examine” the computer within the house.

In short, law enforcement coerced the gentleman to verbally provide permission to search the computer. Law enforcement threatened to stay in the man’s house for several hours while they attempted to get another search warrant. Law enforcement also threatened to seize and take several items which belonged to the man’s wife.

The man believed if he did not give consent, multiple officers would arrive in the neighborhood with the lights on their patrol cars flashing, law enforcement would stay in the house for hours, search through all of his items and his wife’s items, and ultimately take several things which belonged to him and his wife.

After several hours of badgering, and believing he had no other choice, the man finally admitted he may have downloaded child pornography, provided verbal consent and the computer was seized. Shortly thereafter, the man was federally indicted because his computer contained child pornography.

In the above example, an attorney should challenge whether the officers even had the right to go to the man’s house and talk to the older gentleman. An attorney should also challenge the verbal consent and statement given by the older man on the basis the consent was coerced. Finally, an attorney should challenge whether the officers had the right and authority to examine the computer because the wife did not give consent and both parties had access to the computer.

Initial Seizure of the Computer by Law Enforcement

In all criminal cases involving a computer, it is likely that law enforcement will seize the computer and subsequently perform a forensic search of the computer.

Although all law enforcement has different procedures for an initial search and seizure of a suspected computer, an experienced criminal defense attorney should ensure all procedures were followed properly.

The failure of law enforcement to follow proper procedures in analyzing a computer for the presence of child pornography can result in charges being reduced or completely dismissed in some cases.

Recent case example

In a recent case, a defendant’s computer was seized and subsequently examined by a computer expert hired by local law enforcement. The expert reviewed the computer and found what was believed to be child pornography.

When deposing the expert, attorneys discovered the expert did not follow procedures and protocol required by both federal and state law. Because the proper procedure was not followed, several motions were filed and arguments were made in court to have the charges dismissed. After several days of arguing, the prosecuting attorney finally agreed to a substantial reduction of charges.

Recent case example

In one recent case, a computer was seized by a person suspected of possessing child pornography. A close examination of the computer and suspected child pornography resulted in the discovery that the pictures believed to be “illegal” were downloaded from a commercial adult website and the alleged “children” were adult models.

In that case, the owners and creators of the website were contacted and records were sought to demonstrate the people within the pictures were actually adults.

Determining who had access to the Computer

In most households, multiple people have access to a computer. Sometimes, people even allow friends, relatives and neighbors access to a computer. We have represented clients charged with crimes simply because the person allowed other people to use their computer.

In such cases, it is important to thoroughly consider all people who have had access to a computer to determine possible defenses. Such information is critical in establishing the party responsible for putting illegal material on a computer.

Recent case example

A defendant was recently charged with possession of child pornography, however, the defendant lived with three (3) other people. A detailed examination of the computer determined most of the illegal materials were downloaded onto the computer between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. during the regular work-week. Because the defendant worked a regular job during the day, employment records were sought and ultimately, a significant amount of doubt was cast upon who, exactly was responsible for downloading the illegal materials, and the defendant accepted a very good plea agreement which completely avoided the risk of lengthy imprisonment.

Limewire and other “peer-to-peer” networks

Although many people use software such as Limewire for legal purposes, some people download child pornography using such software.

When a person is facing charges which involve “peer-to-peer” networks, such as Limewire, Kaza, etc., an attorney with technical knowledge can quickly look at a computer to determine whether the material may have been downloaded “accidentally.” Restated, an experienced attorney can look at the manner files were downloaded onto a computer to determine whether a person was intentionally seeking illegal materials such as child pornography or whether the person accidentally downloaded child pornography.

Remember, the law requires a person “knowingly” possess child pornography. Possession of pornography involving adults is not a crime. The government must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, a defendant knowingly possessed the illegal image(s) and/or video(s) and the person charged must have reason to know of its true content and character (e.g., that the material is illegal, etc.).

As such, if a person did not intentionally download child pornography, it is likely the person would not know the illegal item was located on their computer. An attorney with computer knowledge will examine a computer to determine whether illegal files were likely downloaded accidentally.

Further, experienced hackers can access a person’s computer through an internet connection and store illegal materials on the computer of an unsuspecting person.

Restated, pedophiles with computer knowledge can hack your computer and use your computer to store and access their illegal child pornography without fear of getting caught.

Use of Computer Experts

As noted above, although it is important to have an attorney who possesses significant computer knowledge, it is also important to have a computer expert on your team who can provide testimony, if necessary, to the technical issues which arise when defending somebody charged with a computer crime.

Recent case example

In a recent case, a defendant was charged with several counts of possession of child pornography based upon images and movies found on his home computer. The defendant’s computer was seized by law enforcement and later searched by law enforcement when the computer was at the police station.

When deposing the police officers who searched the Defendant’s computer and found the illegal material, I discovered the “expert” did not follow procedures and protocol required by both federal and state law.

Simply stated, the police officers did not follow the required technical procedures when searching for pornography on the Defendant’s computer.

Recognizing the problem, the client retained a computer expert who also reviewed the analysis done by law enforcement. The expert wrote a report showing the technical mistakes made by law enforcement, and how those mistakes impacted the Defendant’s ability to establish a defense.

Those mistakes were the basis for defense motions to dismiss the charges for violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights. Ultimately, the prosecuting attorney agreed to a substantial reduction of charges.

Punishment in Federal Court

If a person is convicted of a crime involving a computer or the internet in Federal Court, the person will be sentenced based upon the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Although no longer mandatory, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines is a compilation of written standards which exist all across the nation to help equalize sentences for similar crimes. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines (hereinafter “The Guidelines”) provide a framework for judges to follow when determining an appropriate sentence for an offender. The Guidelines help ensure that a person convicted of a federal crime in one state receives a similar sentence to another person convicted of the same crime in another state.

With respect to a crime involving child pornography, the term of imprisonment for a convicted defendant can increase significantly based upon factors outlined within The Guidelines.

The following enhancements may apply in a case involving child pornography.

Prepubescent Minors: If the materials found on a computer (e.g., pictures and/or movies, etc.) involve a “prepubescent minor” (e.g., a minor who had not attained the age of 12 years), an increase in the sentence is warranted.

Use of a Computer: If a computer is used to access, distribute and/or store the illegal materials, an increase in the sentence is warranted.

Sadomasochistic Conduct: Depictions of sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence in the materials requires an increase.

According to recent federal decisions in the issue, penetration of children (in any manner) qualifies as “sadomasochistic conduct” because the courts believe forced sex of a child is painful and, as such, “sadomasochistic”.

Number of Images: An increase in the sentence is also warranted if the number of images located on a computer is more than 10 images. A substantial increase is warranted if there are movies and/or videos located on a computer. One video counts as 75 images, and videos substantially longer than 5 minutes may require an upward departure.

In short, after considering all of the factors which impact a potential sentence, it is not uncommon for a person convicted of possession of child-pornography in Federal Court to have an average sentence somewhere between eight (8) and fifteen (15) years.

Enhancements exist in Federal Court for every type of computer crime, not just possession of child pornography.

Punishment in State Court

As indicated, in every state, felony charges exist for sex crimes, internet crimes and computer crimes.

As in Federal Court, there are many factors which can impact a judge’s decision in imposing a sentence. An experienced attorney will ensure a Court is aware of all favorable factors before a defendant is sentenced.

Conclusion

The popularity of computers and the internet have made it easier for people to commit computer related crimes. The consequences of criminal charges related to computer crimes can include a lengthy term of imprisonment. It is imperative that a person facing criminal charges for computer crimes consult and retain an attorney who has in-depth experience and knowledge about computers and other technology. Frequently, it is such knowledge which provides the basis for a short sentence or probation as compared to a lengthy sentence of imprisonment.

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.

What Every Traveler Should Know About Making Hotel Reservations

There was a time when making hotel reservations was as simple as picking up the telephone & booking a room for a specific period of time. Depending on how your travels worked out, you would sometimes have the misfortune of having to book the same day & were hoping for the best, but all in all, booking a hotel room was not a big deal.

Boy, things have certainly changed! When the occasional hotel room “Booker” decides it’s time to make a reservation, the nervous perspiration starts. Palms get clammy, internal temperature starts to rise, and voices start cracking. The issue at hand is that we’re constantly bombarded by commercials on our airwaves telling us that we can find better deals by using technology. Online booking, booking apps, and email & text message alerts for price drops are now the way to book a hotel room not necessarily the right way but the smart way. Of course, no one wants to seem foolish, right?

To begin, let’s keep it simple. First of all, you always want to be sure you have the dates correct for your prospective reservation at the correct hotel. In other words, have the basic information spelled out correctly before you even start. It seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised how often people will try booking a hotel room with faulty information.

You also want to be sure to try & book early. Even though this may not always be possible, it does help get things off your mind faster than waiting until the last-minute before booking. You also avoid issues of not having a room to reserve because of something on the calendar that is bringing people into town. An example would be trying to book a hotel near the beach during Spring Break season.

It pays to think about how you book so that you can avoid having to contend with overbooking, time crunches, and heavy travel windows. For example, if you are traveling on the weekend, try to book a room at a hotel that tends to have a leaning toward business bookings. In the same vein, if you’re traveling during the week, like to stay in a hotel that has more of a ‘resort’ feel to it. This way, you’re always trying to travel opposite of the general travel traffic.

Finally, here is some input regarding the online & discount booking apps & websites – it can go either way. You can actually save some serious money booking online in some way, but you may open yourself to being booked at a mystery hotel whose identity isn’t known until after the reservation is made. In some cases, you also have to act quickly to take advantage of hotel reservation deals in order to get the pricing, which you may not be in a position to do right away. It’s also important to know about being “walked” by a hotel. Getting “walked” means that if a hotel can’t fill your reservation, it will pay for a night elsewhere. Hotels overbook assuming that there will be “no shows”. Depending on how & when you book, your indirect/third-party booking leaves you as a low priority, and if you’re unlucky enough to have booked at a hotel where everyone showed up, you will be “walked”.

Surprisingly enough, booking hotel reservations directly with a hotel over the phone or through their own website is the best way to book in many cases & provides the most perks. Whether through loyalty programs, flexibility in price negotiation, or being a frequent guest, connecting the old-fashioned way seems to be the best bet for handling your travel lodging.

Effective Ways to Save Money on Hotel Booking

In today’s era when everything has become globally expanded and worldwide organizations are running an extra mile to serve communities across the earth, traveling have become more important than ever. Hence, people have started to consider voyaging as a daily part of life to either solve the business purposes or to have a break from all the stress. In both cases, finding an accommodation that can suit your requirements, budget and timing has become a major crisis and you all must be wondering on how to save those extra bucks on accommodation while traveling to an unknown place. To answer that question, this article has come up with the most amazing ideas after consulting the expert travelers and researching through the market to give you a final conclusion of effective ways to save money while booking a hotel. So, check out the list below and make your escapes much more affordable and enjoyable at the same time:

1. Timing is the Key

No matter what you do, the perfect timing covers the half way towards your success and when you are planning a vacation, it is really important as you might get caught-up in either hefty demand or a time when everything is closed. It is always important to keep on looking for the deals months before to ensure you get the perfect prices as per your season or take the chance for making a last minute search to get the cancelled rooms at an affordable price. Also, by perfect timing, we mean to plan your vacation in the season that is neither on the peak, nor on the off when we speak of tourism and ensure you get it all with perfect weather conditions, less demand and more fun.

2. Comparing for Best Deals

Most of the people these days go for the giant agencies or the trusted agents to get their bookings done and mostly end-up paying more for putting their trust in wrong hands. It is often advised by the expert travelers to always compare the prices between travel agencies and hotel groups to find the best quote and get the bookings done after finding what is best suitable for your trip. There are an abundant number of reputed as well as start-up travel agencies that allow you to book your hotel accommodation on seasonal sale, special discount and other offers exclusively available in the market to outshine others and give you a dream getaway you always wanted.

3. Looking for Less Prominent Locations

Hotel accommodations located near the prominent sites and attractions are costlier than the hotels and resorts located in other parts of the city. Whereas the prominent locality may give you the edge of exploring the attractions with a few blocks of walking, the hotels located farther are willing to offer you more at lower prices to get your attention as well as to give you the finest quality of stays. Hotels near the biggest landmarks and prime localities are often found packed throughout the seasons and require advance booking procedure which also pays a big contribution in higher prices. If you book your hotel room in places that are a little away from these major sites and are located at less prominent places, you will surely find some quality accommodation at lower plans.

4. Use of Memberships

While paying or at the time of booking, we often forget to take other sources into account which can be more beneficial for us and often miss the opportunity to save a little extra while booking a hotel stay. These days, when organization is racing to get your attention and business from you, they also give you some privilege of getting cash-backs, discounts and other perks and leverages while using their special and exclusive membership options. Many banks and card companies these days give some special offers while collaborating with the travel agencies and give some cash-back as well as discounts on transaction of a certain minimum amount. Usage of these offers can also give you some extra benefits to ensure some more savings on the hotel booking.

5. Find what you Actually Require

In the hunger of finding the best accommodation option, we often lean towards finding hotel deals that provide it all and often pay more for services and amenities that we don’t really required. Before making your hotel booking with B&B, All Inclusive and half-board options, always sort your requirements and think accordingly whether you will be needing those services or not. It is quite obvious that the more services you add on your hotel room, the more you are going to pay. Hence, always book for the things you require and try to avoid those services that you might use and can get them if required as an add-on.

Whenever you plan a holiday for yourself or with friends, you can come up with many more options such as finding hostels, couch surfing (not for every destination), finding a person you know and more, yet these concepts are not worthy when you are either on an executive trip or on a holiday with your family or loved ones. So, if you have been thinking for going on your next vacation and taking a step back on your decision after watching hefty hotel prices, then all you need now is to effectively go through these points and consider them all before making your hotel booking to save a good fortune. However, if you have been thinking to save a little extra, you can always search for some seasonal offers on flights as well.

What Facilities and Services to Look for When Booking a Hotel

When it comes to booking a hotel room whether for one night or a few nights, you may want to ensure that they have certain facilities and services that will make your stay more comfortable and enjoyable. Not all hotels offer the same facilities and services and they don’t always offer the same level of service, so you will want to take a close look to ensure that you are going to get what you expect to make your stay enjoyable and memorable.

One of the many things that some people want to find when staying at a hotel is an on-site wellness centre. Somewhere where they can be pampered, a place where they can enjoy a host of quality treatments by top therapists to make their stay that bit more special. Whether it’s a soothing facial or a relaxing massage, having a wellness centre on-site can provide guests with a chance to indulge and relax, to feel rejuvenated after their stay.

Another thing that many people look for when booking a hotel for a night or two is a gym. While on vacation or traveling for business, many people still enjoy their daily workout and having access to a gym where you can get your half and hour or hour of exercise may be important to you. Look at the hotel and the services they provide, identify if they can provide you with either an on-site gym or free access to a nearby gym, so that you can enjoy the benefits the gym provides while away from home.

Next ensure that they have an on-site restaurant. While being away from home is a time to try new places, sometimes having a meal in the restaurant at the hotel is more convenient, especially after a long day of meetings or sightseeing. If you are meeting friends, see if they have a lounge bar as well, somewhere where you can have breakfast, lunch and an evening meal, maybe with some well-deserved after dinner cocktails as an added benefit.

Does the hotel provide you with free Wi-Fi access during your stay. Most hotels these days will give you access to the internet. This just enables you to complete any work you need to do or to stay in contact with family and friends, updating your Facebook page so friends can see where you are and what you are up to. Having internet at your fingertips ensures that you have a technological time and that you enjoy the modern conveniences that you have at home.

Make sure the hotel you choose offers a concierge service. A concierge service can be a great benefit when away from home. This service is run by an experienced team with extensive area knowledge. They can assist you with just about anything from arranging a car hire to finding a good local restaurant to theater bookings and tour bookings. They can make recommendations on what to see and do during your stay to ensure you get the most of your experience.

The final things to look for, especially when traveling on business is whether they offer any function facilities and if so, what do they provide. If you are in town on business and you intend having a number of meetings, then you may want to take a closer look at the meeting room facilities in the hotel. Can they accommodate you to hold meetings at the hotel, maybe along with breakfast or tea and coffee, so that you can have your meetings with ease and without interruption.

Top Reasons Why You Should Travel To Iceland With Kids

In the world of travel destinations, Iceland occupies a unique position. It has a landscape like no other with a delightful mix of active volcanoes, erupting geysers, hot geothermal springs, some wonderful beaches and also caves.

It is also the land of fairies, dwarfs and elves. Iceland fires up the imagination and makes it the perfect place for a vacation with kids in summer.

Why Iceland and Kids? The answers are not hard to find.

• When one plans to visit with kids it is best to join one of the family tours in Iceland where the tour operator offers a private 4×4 vehicle with large wheels and spacious interiors. One can undertake the golden circle trip in comfort and if the kids feel like falling asleep, there is ample space.

• However, it is the attractions of Iceland that will keep kids wide awake. One such is the presence of geysers across the country. The Strokkur geyser erupts with clockwork regularity and for kids, this is a novel sight. It is safe to get close to the geyser and kids love it.

• Watching a geyser is one thing but luxuriating in the warm waters of geothermal springs is another. The Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik is like a hot tub bath and kids will love cavorting in the waters, exploring the waterfalls and caves.

• Talking of caves and grottoes, Iceland has them in plenty and one will come across such ice caves and lava tubes while on the Golden Circle tour. Exploring caves and grottoes is perfect for kids who always have fantastic imaginations.

• Then, for a bit of fun, kids can go snowmobiling on the Langjokull glacier. The Gullfoss Falls present another experience and kids simply love to be under and behind a waterfall and romp about as they are exposed to water sprays.

• Iceland can be a voyage of discovery. It is the land of volcanic rocks, ice caves and the place where two continents meet under the sea. Along with fun kids learn geography in a hands-on way.

• Kids are safe. You can sit back and have a drink and your kids may wonder about but there is no need to worry. Crime is low and people around are always helpful and watchful over kids. Even restaurants go out of their way to have “kid-friendly” menus.

• Invariably the talk will get around to fairies, dwarfs and elves. People here believe in them and some might even tell your kids interesting tales about local elves or dwarfs. For kids,this is an added element of mystery and excitement. Who knows? They may come across one.

• Then there is the grand spectacle in the sky: the Northern Lights. Plan the trip outside Reykjavik or farther North just right with the help of local tour operator and one can get to view this stupendous sight. It will certainly result in dropped jaws and eyes popping. One may find it difficult to tear the kid away from the spot.

• Kids and food go together. There is the standard fare by way of burgers and sandwiches but there is also a chance to sample Iceland’s unique cuisines, some of them simply lip-smacking enough for kids to want to gorge on them.

The days are long in summer and it may be difficult to get the kid to go to sleep. Iceland is a lure hard to resist and just right for a family vacation with kids.

Traveling Is A Way Of Attaining Peace FOR The Soul

Travelling is a thrilling experience for a lot of people. It gives them the adrenaline rush they are looking for and makes them exhilarated about all that is related to travelling. The travelling lust is quite hard to resist and there are people who cross all limits of fulfilling all the wishes and desires that they hold for travelling in their hearts.

It can turn out to be an amazing experience only if one plans it perfectly and takes care of all the little to do things that should be taken care of while travelling. It is a joyous ride and it can turn out to be really amazing.

Let us have a look at some of the tips you need to know for travelling:

• MAKE A PROPER LIST

Always have a list of everything that you would be needing and pack accordingly. A list will help you remember everything that needs to be packed and you will not forget anything in the last moment. So keep everything in your mind so that everything is kept in your mind and you know exactly what all you will need while you are on the road.

• LEARN THE COMMON TONGUE OF THE PLACE

This always helps no matter where you are travelling to. If you know few of the common phrases of that place in their mother tongue it always makes it much easier to travel and makes it much more convenient as well. Therefore try to take out some time and learn just few of the common phrases that people mostly use their so the conversing gets easier.

• DON’T FORGET THE EXTRA CAMERA BATTERY

Camera is one of the most important things to carry when you are travelling. You would obviously want to take a lot of snaps of every place you visit and capture all your memories in those photographs, therefore do not forget to carry that extra camera battery just in case of an emergency. You never know when your camera might run out of its battery due to constant usage; therefore it is always safe to carry an extra pack.

• KEEP YOUR ROOM NUMBER AND HOTEL ADDRESS NEAR TO YOU

This is just in case you have to refer to it suddenly or you get stranded and you need to ask for directions. Keep these two pieces of information handy so that you can use it whenever necessary. It is for your own good and safety, therefore just be alert while you are travelling and keep the important tips on mind. This is absolutely necessary to make your trip a successful one.

Solo Travel – 10 Ways to Save on Single Supplements

In your school days, you may have found, as I did, that economics really is the “dismal science”. However, I did learn one key fact. Supply and demand drive prices. For solo travel, the surcharge or “single supplement” does vary partly in keeping with this tried and true rule. The good news? If you prowl through the Internet, you can find ways to save on solo travel when demand is down. The bad news? Reduced or no single supplement offerings are limited in number and go fast.

Here are 10 ways to save.

1. Don’t ask for one room. Ask for a “room for one’. In Europe, lodging is often sold with solo pricing. Be sure to see if it is a solo price for a standard room or a small single room. Look at the size offered for single occupants. Then consider the amount of time you will spend in your room. I often take 10-12 hour day trips abroad with almost no time spent in my hotel room except to catch some sleep before heading out again.

2. Get there first. Book even one year ahead since few slots are reduced for solos. This is really important if you go in-season. Holiday resorts and hot spots in summer may have return visitors book the next year when they check out.

3. Head to the airport when everyone else is heading home. Off-season travel is the best way to get immediate 50% off reductions. In the south of France, rates go down as fast as Sept 9. Ski resorts, like the fabled Sun Valley Lodge, have specials just before Christmas. In winter and spring, European discounts can be half-price as well.

4. Get excited about rainy weather or extreme heat and cold. You will have to think how far you want to take this. I had a thrilling short term work trip one Jan. in Siberia. I also went on tour in India during the monsoons. In some cases, the negative pronouncements may not impact your trip. A good example? The risk of hurricanes each fall is less likely to touch the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) making for better pricing. In Africa, for example, safari rates are lower during the rainy or “green” season if you can get away, and don’t mind the possibility of short, heavy rains.

5. Look for new travel providers. Hotels that are just opening or reopening after renovations have specials to gain or regain market share. The Hotel Castille in Paris, for example, had short-term deep discounts when it reopened just steps from fashionable boutiques. Thereafter, the rates increased in keeping with other high-end small hotels

6. Be a contrarian. Don’t pay a premium for what’s currently trending. Prowl the Internet for undervalued regions. If it is all the rage, prices will soar. In the 1980’s, I somehow found a Montenegro resort right off the Albanian border. Since then, Sveti Stefan, where I stayed, has been updated as reflected in its 5 star pricing. The moral of the story is get there before the crowds discover a destination.

7. If you can’t pronounce it or spell it, you’ll love the prices! Substitute the road less traveled. If you have a dream to see the Parthenon you must go to Greece. (That is unless you live in North America and would like to see a perfect replica in Nashville, Tenn.!) Regional air carriers are a good way to find out great largely undiscovered places at low prices. One example: I dreamed of Tahiti in my early post-graduate days. When rates were high there, Air New Zealand suggested alternatives: Rarotonga and Aitutaki. I took them up on it and had the trip of a life time dining out on the stories for years.

8. Scour the Internet for national and regional programs offered by tourist boards. Check ahead as they may only be available abroad. One of the best deals I found in the 1990’s was with then “Lan Chile”. From the US, I purchased three stand-by tickets for a total of $200 to go anywhere in the country. At that price, I made my way to Antarctica Chile, at the end of the world!

9. Use flexible dates to grab week-day deals. Hotels and airline rates often go up and down together. Why is that? That takes us back to supply and demand. When planes and hotels have low load factors, prices are softer.

10. Share to save. Look for tours that have no single supplements by agreeing to share. The benefit to this approach? It is a way to save if your travel dates are not flexible, and no to low single supplement deals are not available.

In any case, before you give up on fitting solo travel into your budget, look at these options.

Rabat Must Visit Places on Holidays

The Villa des Arts in Rabat (as in Casablanca) is the result of corporate sponsorship through the foundation of the ONA Group. The latter (Omnium Nord Africain) is the first Moroccan private industrial and financial group formed as a holding company.

The Villa des Arts in Rabat aims to be a space for the discovery and promotion of contemporary arts with a permanent reference to Moroccan culture and heritage.

Located in the Hassan district near the As Sounna mosque, in a magnificent neo-colonial style house of the 1930s where you can admire the architecture, inside a superbly flowered and beautifully wooded park, Villa des Arts will attract you and make you feel that you are in one of the most pleasant places of Rabat with a halt freshness and culture at the same time. The entrance is free and you can easily move around by simply respecting this place dedicated to modern art in all its forms by selecting Morocco holiday packages.

The Villa des Arts is not a museum or even a gallery of exhibitions, but a cultural place that is divided into several spaces: in the main building, the Villa du Parc, the Carré d’art (the Futuroscope of the creators) The Al Borj space of concrete and glass that evokes the nearby Hassan Tower and will recall the BNRM, Al Qantara the bridge between cultures, multipurpose room for conferences, screenings and exhibitions, small theater which allows The performances of small lyrical, poetic and musical performances as well as open-air conferences, the Diwan space of permanent or itinerant exhibitions, retrospectives of eminent artists and the Gallery on the courtyard for emerging artists.

Upstairs the library and the media library shelter the places of research and exchange between students, researchers, historians and artists. The multimedia library is dedicated to students and researchers with the access to a selection of databases or sites in the fields of arts and culture.

Finally, the virtual museum hosts performances allowing the visitor to create the show from their own imaginary. The Village des Artistes, hosting the workshops of prestigious artists such as Chaïbia, Kacimi, Gharbaoui, and Cherkaoui, offers artists the opportunity to express, realize, make discover, transmit, and make understand the act Creation.

The Villa des Arts is a place that will make you fall in love with its artistic work and cultural hertitage and it’s a must visit site if you are in Rabat. Here are the names of the artists who have already exhibited at the Villa of Arts in Rabat: Maika Agueznay, Ahmed Mjidaoui, Dia Azzawi, Mohammed Melehi, Abdellah Sadouk, Mohammed Chabaa, Adlellatif Lasri, Milou Labied, Anissa Berrada.

Marina Bouregreg of Rabat-Salé:

At the entrance of Salé, along with the old Moulay Hassan Bridge and a few meters from the prestigious gate of Bab Lemrissa, Marina Bouregreg offers, over a 4-hectare lake, 240 moorings on floating pontoons, Sailing less than 30 meters and a maximum draft of 3 meters.

The construction site started in 2006 but the Marina was not able to really open in good conditions to foreign boaters until early 2009.

Backed by the future city of the Arts and the hotel complex that have not yet seen the light of day, the Marina Bouregreg welcomes the visitors in an excellent way. Some boaters may go particularly towards the Canary Islands because it is located half- Distance from European coasts in Morocco hotels & resorts.

In the evenings or on Sundays, the terraces of the cafes and restaurants along the docks towards the delight of the Rabat and Slaouis (the most affluent ones) where people come there willingly to take a refreshment while dreaming a little.

The other less fortunate people simply hang out when the overzealous security guards let them in, as these people often do their job with a hint of brutality confusing pleasure port and military port.