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Rhythms Of Brazil: The Soundtrack For Your Home Exchange II

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archived in places, tips for going abroad

This second part of the rhythms of Brazil includes samba-reggae, choro, frevo, lambada and sertanejo - Enough for a long and diverse soundtrack in case your home exchange is not a short one.

Samba has been fused with several genres, one example would be samba-reggae, the fusion of Brazilian samba and Jamaican reggae. This genre has a strong percussion pattern and like other rhythms had its origins in the Bahian carnival, where the group Olodum first introduced it.

Choro (cry) or chorinho, was originally played with three instruments: guitar, flute and cavaquinho. Its origins can be traced back to Rio de Janeiro in the late 1800s and it was revitalized in the last 50 years.

Frevo is another simple rhythm with an energetic melody. It originated in the Northeastern states of Brazil and it is still played by some bands during the carnival.

Lambada is a genre that is most known for the particularity of its dance. Movements are very sensual and there is a characteristic whip-type move.

Guitar - Image by luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net Sertanejo is a very popular type of country music originated in Southern Brazil. It could be compared to the country music of the USA, with melodies mostly accompanied by melancholic or romantic lyrics referring to the daily lives of the men of the rural areas Brazil in opposition to the men of the big cities.

HomeForHome has always tried to share advice on safe travelling, and Brazil is not the exception. There are several things you will need to consider before you get in a plane to Brazil. It is always advisable to check your country’s foreign affairs office for requirements and recommendations before you travel to any place you are unfamiliar with. For example, there could be things you need to consider regarding health (vaccination are a clear example), security, safety, and entry requirements. Most foreign affairs offices have information in their websites, so it could be a good place to get started. Here we share some links with information related to travelling to Brazil:

Australia - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Travel Advice Brazil
Canada - Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada: TRAVEL REPORT Brazil
United Kingdom - Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Travel advice: Brazil
USA - Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State: Brazil Country Specific Information

What to do in 2011

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archived in fun activities ideas, places, tips for going abroad

Image by Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net As the year starts, travel reviewers and specialized websites always come up with list of the best places to travel during the next 365 days. They often include a “classic” destination (any of the “must see before you die” locations), a few exotic ones, many in tropical areas with lots of sun and sand and so forth. We are going to do a similar thing this year, but HomeForHome style. We are going to present you with the most important event (or events) taking place this year in each country so you can plan your home swap then :)

Here we start:

Australia - It is probably not the most important event of the year, as it takes place every year, but it is the starting point of the tennis year and will commence really soon: The Australian Open. The best players in the world compete to be at the top in Aussie land. Before this Grand Slam, there are other “smaller” tournaments that serve as preparation for the players to get in shape for the first big test of the year. As it is summer in Australia when the year begins, it is a very good time to attend not only the tennis matches but also to visit the beautiful Australian beaches during your house swap and you are going to find many entertainment shows to attend as well: music concerts and festivals and even a carnival.

Argentina - It turns out we continue with anothee sport related event: the Football American Cup. Argentina will receive Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay, Venezuela and special “guests” México and Japan. The locations were the matches will be held are quite interesting: La Plata, Cordoba, Santa Fe, San Juan, Salta, Mendoza, Jujuy, and the Final Match in Buenos Aires. If you tour through this locations you will get to know how varied the Argentinian landscape really is.

Pet To The Vet

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archived in pets, tips for going abroad

It has been some time now since the last time we mentioned of the greatest advantages of home exchange: you can take your pet. There is also the alternative of having a pet exchange, but it would be much more fun to take your buddy with you, not to mention if you are dealing with a long term home exchange.

We have covered pet carriers, pet safety during transportation, how to keep your pet comfortable during a road trip, getting your pet used to travelling in a car, and even airlines dedicated exclusively to pets. If you haven’t read those posts you can find the using the search box or clicking on the pets category in the right panel =>>

Some are:

Image by Maggie Smith /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Maggie Smith /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

But there’s yet another important detail you should be aware of that we haven’t stressed enough: your pet needs to be checked by a vet before he/she can travel. For example, most airlines will require a certificate indicating that your pet has not been sick in the past 30 days and has received all the required vaccines. Also, for his/her own sake you need to consider a visit to the vet to check your pet’s health status before embarking in any trip.

We also have some new resources to refer you to so you make sure you do not miss anything:


To Consider While you Pack for a Swap

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archived in Tips, tips for going abroad

Image by Salvatore Vuono /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Salvatore Vuono /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The time arrives, you got your home exchange details all worked out, your transportation arrangements are perfectly scheduled and you are ready to go! One last thing: packing your bags. To help you with this step, we have a few DOs and DON’Ts.

- Plan ahead. Take time to make a list of the things you will need. Include those that are indispensable for the activities you planned for your home exchange (if you will go hiking, take your usual hiking shoes to avoid unwanted blisters).
- Exclude from your packing list those things you can buy in your destination as if you were at home and do not cost much.
- Check the weight of your bags. Especially if you are flying and you need to stick to the airlines policies to avoid extra charges.
- Consider the local weather in your destination at the time you are travelling. The web has great resources to find weather information.
- Prefer clothes that are appropriate for layering.

- Wait until the last minute to pack your bags. You will risk leaving out many important items or ending up with too many bags.
- Over-pack. Remember that with HomeForHome you can search for a  home exchange opportunity to stay in a house with a washing-machine and a drier, which means you can pack less clothing items and still have clean clothes all the time. Most people usually end up wearing half as many clothes as they packed.
- Forget to pack your kid’s favourite toy, but remember to leave a few toys in your handbag for his/her entertainment during the trip.
- Forget it may rain. Depending on your destination, it could be easy or hard to find comfortable waterproof clothes.

FlightStats: an interesting tool

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archived in tips for going abroad, websites

Image by tom.snaps /flickr.com

Image by tom.snaps /flickr.com

I was trying to find some statistics related to airplane travelling and I found this great tool called FlightStats. What is FlightStats? Well, it is a website that provides global information related to airports and flights. There’s a list of the busiest airports and destinations, the most popular destinations and several tools, including an attractive map search tool.

There is an interesting Travel Tool section, in which I explored the Flight Status tool that allows you to search by flight (need airline name or code, the flight number and the departure date), by airport or by route and provides near real-time information and reports of anything that could be affecting a flight. There are other tools worth trying, like Airport Information, which seems to be able to provide delay information, flight status, weather conditions, driving directions (with traffic conditions), car-park options and user ratings. Seems interesting, right? I will try it next time I plan a trip, and I look forward to receiving your comments if you try it too.

If you are just starting to plan how to get to your home exchange destination, you may want to take a look at the Travel Planning tool (currently in the More at FlightStats.com section), it offers the following options: Flight Availability, Country Information, Travel Warnings, Travel Advisories and Consular Information Sheets. Here is what they say about these tools:

FlightStats has a set of applications that can aid you during your initial stages of planning for travel. Before traveling internationally make sure you view the latest travel advisories and warnings, and research the country you are thinking about traveling to.

Country Information - This application summarizes some of the other country-related applications. In addition, you can see a map of the country with major airports, and learn about disease prevention based off of information from the US Center of Disease Control and Prevention.

Travel Warnings - Get the latest travel warnings published by the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand.

Travel Advisories - Current and past news and security alerts for countries around the world.

Consular Information Sheets - The latest information about a country published by the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand.”

Growing your own wings

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archived in tips for going abroad

Photo by mikecogh /flickr.com

Photo by mikecogh /flickr.com

If you are planning to take a flight to your summer home exchange destination then it won’t be bad to read today’s post and prepare to grow some patience, unless of course you actually have wings of your own or you know a scientist with a tele-transportation device in test phase. As we said the last time, patience is a quality that is never over-rated when it comes to travelling, specially in an airport. Why? Well, not always what’s scheduled with weeks of anticipation goes as planned: delays, cancellations, gates that suddenly change, baggage getting lost… We are not saying going though all these is a requirement to get out of an airport, and we certainly hope your next flight leaves and arrives on time, but being prepared for what your next trip to the airport may bring to your life implies taking some patience in your carry on.

Patience not to scream when you can’t get across to the airline staff - this is fundamental, they are probably trying their best to help you and they don’t want to have you stay overnight at the airport or anything, so give them a moment to find a solution, explain your problem nicely as many times as you need and smile for a change.

Patience to go through all the required security checks - they have to check everyone, your safety depends on it too, so give the security staff a chance to do their job correctly, and again, smile.

If you need some encouragement to get you through an airport problem, just remember where you are headed: you are flying off to your home exchange, an experience you will never forget!

Need travel advice? Find a travel guide

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archived in Tips, tips for going abroad, websites

Image by Arvind Balaraman /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Arvind Balaraman /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sometimes when you return from a trip you have the bittersweet feeling you didn’t do as much as you wanted to do. You didn’t visit as many attractions as you wanted, you didn’t find some of the places you wanted to visit, you didn’t find that little coffee house you heard about, and you start thinking that maybe you should have taken a guided tour or something. Of course, a guided tour may be a good solution but if you don’t want to spend your vacations following someone else’s schedule, there are other options to enjoy your destination to the fullest during your next home exchange. Many excellent travel guides from recognized editors are available online to help you plan ahead and find the best places to visit. Combined with Google Maps or your GPS these online guides can help you select and get to those places you just can’t miss.

Today we provide you with a short list of travel guides from around the Web, but there are hundreds of other online resources like blogs and forums fully dedicated to travelling.

Here’s what the travel guides we selected say about themselves:

Fodor’s - “Fodor’s helps you unleash the possibilities of travel by providing the insights and tools you need to experience the trips you want.” http://www.fodors.com/

Frommer’s Travel Guides - “Frommers.com is an essential online destination for those planning the perfect travel excursion.” http://www.frommers.com/

Let’s Go Travel Guides - “For 50 years, Let’s Go has published the world’s favorite budget travel guides, written entirely by students and updated every year. With pen and notebook in hand and a few changes of underwear stuffed in our backpacks, we spend months roaming the globe in search of travel bargains.” http://www.letsgo.com/

Lonely Planet Travel Guides - “Lonely Planet is renowned for its first-hand approach, up-to-date maps and commitment to providing the best information for travellers.” http://www.lonelyplanet.com/

Travellr - “Travellr.com is a question and answer (Q&A) site for travelers to get answers from locals who know.” http://travellr.com/

TripAdvisor - “TripAdvisor® provides recommendations for hotels, resorts, inns, vacations, travel packages, vacation packages, travel guides and lots more.” http://www.tripadvisor.com/

WikiTravel - “Wikitravel is a project to create a free, complete, up-to-date, and reliable worldwide travel guide.” http://wikitravel.org/

Travelling in the European Union

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archived in tips for going abroad, websites

Image by Salvatore Vuono /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Salvatore Vuono /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Did you know that there is an official travel website for people travelling to the European Union? Well, there is one. Travelling in Europe is the EU’s official website for travellers. It is an interesting website, with an informative and promotional tone. Right now, the first thing featured there is a section about the documents you will need to move around in Europe.

For those making plans to travel to EU countries for their next home exchange it is a must to learn about passports, identity cards and visas required.

Passport or IDs

For EU citizens, it is not a requirement to present your ID or Passport to enter another EU country, except Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom. However, it is advisable to have your ID or Passport at all times, in case you are required to prove your identity, for example, in case there is a temporary security check established in any of the borders between EU countries. If you are planning to leave the EU, you are going to need your Passport or ID card.

Non-EU citizens need a valid passport to enter the EU, that is there are checks in every country receiving people from outside the EU. The only exceptions are citizens from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, because these countries have signed agreements with the EU.


EU citizens do not need a visa if they are travelling to EU countries, along with people from 34 countries travelling to the EU for less than three months. These non-EU countries include Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America. For current information, you may search the Travelling in Europe website but it would be much simpler just to contact any EU country consulate near you and ask directly.

The requirements are different for non-EU citizens travelling to the United Kingdom and Ireland, so in their case it would be advisable to contact their representations in your country for more details.

Even if you have a valid visa, officials at the border checks may ask you for other supporting documents, like a return ticket, invitation letter from a EU resident, or lodging reservation, so make sure you cover every detail before packing your bags.

For detailed information, you can visit Travelling in Europe

Animal Airways?

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archived in pets, tips for going abroad, websites

For many people, home exchange has solved the troubling idea of not bringing an important member of the family on their vacations: their pet. But sometimes, the possibility of travelling with your pet doesn’t solve a major problem, how can we avoid the trip being a bad experience for them? Your pet may be used to short distance car drives or you can train your pet for a long distance drive by taking trips of longer distance every time and even check with your vet for advice to make the trip an enjoyable one, but what if you need to take a long distance flight to your destination?

Well, for this particular issue, there’s a new solution called “Animal Airways” that provides many pet travel services. Their idea is to help people make the best arrangements to assure their pets will travel as comfortably as possible. For example, they can advise you on the most suitable airline and route for the particular destination you’ve chosen. It seems as their service was first intended for people relocating, but it may as well help people travelling for a different purpose.

Here is their basic service description:

“1. Tell us your plans - talk to us or fill-in your flight, pet and personal details, so we can identify the most suitable solutions for your family and pet travel plans.
animalairways_logo2. Explore your options - Our representative calls to talk with you about your plans and explain the different options.
3. Choose your flight - After taking into account your comfort, budget, and your pet’s safety, our flight managers assist in choosing a flight that’s just right for you.
4. Get ready - We inform you of all regulations and how to prepare yourself and your pet for the flight. We prepare all the necessary documents.
5. Fly! - Sit back. Relax. Enjoy your flight.
6. Support - Our 24/7 call center is available to answer your questions and put your mind at ease.
7. Settle in - We confirm that you and your pet have arrived safely and give advise on how to ensure a healthy stay for your pet.”

They have other solutions so if you want to learn more about them just visit Animal Airways, and to find your next home exchange visit HomeForHome.

More advice on airport checks

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archived in tips for going abroad

To complete the information provided in our previous post, we couldn’t leave out the list of forbidden items. If you pack any of these items in your hand baggage you are going to be delayed in the security checks at the airport. Remember these regulations are to protect us all, so be patient, hopefully after you get through to the lounge you’ll be enjoying your home exchange vacation already.

The Directgov UK government website clearly states that “You cannot take any objects in your hand baggage that can cause injury to yourself and other passengers. These are considered ‘prohibited’ and you are only allowed to take these items in your hold baggage (bags you check in)” and a quite thorough list follows. We will not reproduce the full list, but here is the main groups with a few examples to help you get the idea:

- Pointed/edged weapons and sharp objects, like scissors with long blades, knives of any kind, corkscrews, darts, screwdrivers, drills, ice skates or darts.
- Blunt instruments. Many sports equipment items are included in this group, like hockey sticks, paddles, bats, fishing rods and billiards cues, among others.

Objects that cannot be taken on the plane at all:

- Guns, firearms and weapons. If you are thinking “ok, like anyone in their senses would bring a gun” well, keep in mind that even toy guns and ball bearing guns are included in this category, so don’t take it lightly.
- Explosives and flammable substances, leaving out the obvious let’s say that here we have aerosol spray paint, smoke generating canisters/cartridges, non-safety matches, pyrotechnics, party poppers and drinks with over 70% alcohol by volume.
- Chemical and toxic substances, like organic peroxides, acids, alkalis (here is where “wet” batteries are included), tear gas, pepper spray or any kind of poison.

bagPlease keep in mind that these items are strictly prohibited on the plane and will not be allowed in the hold baggage either. If you have any doubts, contact your airline to request more information. For regulations applying in other countries, you may visit the Foreign Office website.

Pack your bags and get ready to fly to your home exchange destination with HomeForHome.

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