Egypt Independent: Living-Main news en 6 tricks to flying first class, for free <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Think you can&#39;t afford a spin in a private jet -- jacuzzi included -- or a night at a lavish, five-star hotel? Think again.</p><p>A dedicated group of frequent fliers (or &quot;aero-sexuals&quot;) have mastered the fine art of scoring travel freebies. They share their top tips on getting that free ride.</p><h3>1. Go gold</h3><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Robert Burgess has redeemed over 10 million airline miles and hotel points. He runs the website&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Head for Points</a>, and specializes in racking up British Airway and Avios points.</p><p>His tip for the newbie? Get an American Express Gold card, which is free for the first year and comes with a sign-up bonus of 20,000 points -- enough to travel from New York to Paris free of charge, or even business class from London to Moscow. And no, you don&#39;t need to rack up debt to benefit from the deal.</p><p>&quot;If you cancel the card and wait six months, you can reapply to get another 20,000 points,&quot; he confides. &quot;You can keep on doing it. American Express has never stopped the offer.&quot;Many supermarkets offer specials on certain products that convert into points for Amex users, he adds. Burgess has earned trips by carefully selecting wines and printer cartridges. Any goods he doesn&#39;t want to keep, he sells them on.&nbsp;</p><p>Luckily for travelers, banks aren&#39;t going to be ditching miles programs anytime soon.</p><p>&quot;Banks spend billions of dollars on miles for airline use as an incentive, and the reason is that the credit card market is saturated, so it is a struggle to make consumers get a new card. The best way is these incentives,&quot; notes Daraius Dubash, co-founder of&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Million Mile Secrets.</a></p><h3>2. Support the underdog</h3><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Underpopulated flights are the &quot;outsize value sweet spot,&quot; according to Burgess. One of the best bets right now, he says, is flying on European routes via Qatar Airways or Emirates Airlines, both of which recently expanded into the continent and are operating under capacity on those routes.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;Qatar fly two 787s out of Copenhagen (to Qatar) a day. There is not that much demand there for the business class seats, so you can get them for &pound;700 (US$1,086), which is nothing compared to the cost from London.&quot;</p><h3>3. Keep your origins open</h3><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Ben Schlapping&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">One Mile at a Time</a>&nbsp;blog has become the frequent flier bible. The 25-year-old Seattleite has traveled five million miles in the last decade, often spending several days in a row airborne amassing points.&nbsp;</p><p>He favors premium cabin travel, which he says offers greater value-for-point conversion. If you have flexibility over where you&#39;re traveling from, you can get better deals on first- and business-class seats. Flights that pass through Colombo, Sri Lanka, for example, are particularly cheap.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;If you&#39;re looking for discounted premium cabin tickets, then some cities will be less expensive to depart from,&quot; he says.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h3>4. Join reward schemes. Lots of them.</h3><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Schlapping also belongs to several rewards schemes, and prefers programs that allow you to transfer points easily.</p><p>&quot;I like keeping the bulk of my points in transferable currencies. American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou points, and Starwood Preferred Guest all transfer to multiple programs, so it&#39;s easier to get points where I need them when I see a good redemption opportunity,&quot; he says.&nbsp;</p><h3>5. Spend a little, get a lot</h3><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Matt Kepnes runs travel hack blog&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Nomadic Matt</a>. He doesn&#39;t mind dropping a little cash on an airline-branded credit card -- a fee that usually runs between US$60 and US$100 yearly. In the long run, it can actually save you cash.</p><p>&quot;You get priority boarding, free bags and a lounge pass which can you can use at thousands of airports,&quot; he notes. Plus, it makes traveling more comfortable.</p><p>&quot;With priority screening, security never takes more than 15 minutes.&quot;Monica Stott, who writes the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Travel Hack</a>&nbsp;blog, says that she thinks it&#39;s worth spending US$30 to buy a day pass at an airport lounge.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;The lounges have great food, wifi, magazines and newspapers, games rooms for kids, beauticians, showers and comfortable places to relax until your flight. It&#39;s much nicer than waiting in the main terminal and I&#39;d usually spend that much on food, drinks and magazines anyway,&quot; she says.</p><h3>6. Stay alert and organized</h3><p>While rewards come easily, unwary hackers can be caught out by hidden fees, fuel surcharges, and frequent changes to reward schemes. Not to mention filling out applications for multiple credit cards comes with the risk of big debt.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;The greatest risk is not paying your credit card balance in full,&quot; says Dubash. &quot;The high interest rates are never worth the airline miles.&quot;</p> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 13:46:00 +0000 CNN 2457029 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/09/04/43/screen_shot_2015-09-04_at_4.37.43_pm.png Feel ready to fly with 'happy hormones' <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p><span style="line-height: normal;">Checking in at the airport can be a a dispiriting experience, especially when you factor in delays and long lines to get through security.</span></p><div>London&#39;s Gatwick Airport wants to help take the pain out of travel, and has a remedy in the form of &#39;happy meals&#39; rich in mood-enhancing hormones.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Restaurants at the airport have updated their menus to include dishes designed to put travelers in a better mood. Frankie and Benny&#39;s, for example, has added a salmon citrus salad that promises to improve brain function, while Lebanese chain Comptoir&#39;s falafel and fattoush salad is meant to keeps blood sugar levels steady.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Gatwick has teamed up with nutritionist Jo Travers, who explained the concept:</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;There are certain foods that will help the &#39;happy&#39; chemicals in your brain to keep flowing. Two key players are the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, along with amino acids tryptophan and theanine, which can contribute to the creation of serotonin, known to most as &#39;happy hormones&#39;.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Low levels of these chemicals can cause fatigue in addition to lowering existing levels of serotonin. Similarly, a deficiency of Omega 3, can lead to fatigue and mood swings.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The new meals will be on trial at Gatwick for a month.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Promoting nutrition for travelers makes sense and can take-off across the industry, says Raymond Kollau, founder of travel website Airline Trends.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Passengers traveling by air often have a long and tiring day that is filled with snacks, and making it easier for them to choose the right kind of food, promoting a light meal instead of one that is high in carbs, will make them feel better,&quot; says Kollau.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Although one always has to be skeptical about the kind of wellness claims certain foods can bring, it is also an indication how the overall quality of food and beverages offered at airports has improved over the past years.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Giving airline food a lift</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The importance of nutrition for flying is gaining recognition, Kollau believes. He points to innovations such as the FlyFit &#39;fatigue fighting&#39; juice range, which claims to improve blood flow, and is now sold at 50 airports.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Opportunities for serotonin-boosting exercise are also growing at airports. At Amsterdam&#39;s Schiphol and Brussels Airport, passengers can recharge their phones with power generated from riding indoor bikes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Such progress is welcomed by Geirthrudur Alfredsdottir, a pilot with Icelandair and editor of the Fit to Fly website which offers health advice for travelers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;There are many things people can do to be in better condition for flying,&quot; says Alfredsdottir. &quot;They should eat light meals before, stretch and do some small exercises.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sleeping pills and greasy food are no-nos, the pilot says, which leave you drained and can cause circulation problems when combined with cabin pressure.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 13:29:00 +0000 CNN 2457027 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/05/18/43/screen_shot_2015-05-18_at_12.49.46_pm.png What are the favourite countries of CN Traveller readers? <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>The well-travelled, well-heeled readers of&nbsp;CN Traveller UK&nbsp;have spoken, voting Italy, Paris, British Airways and the Greek Islands among their favourite destinations and travel brands this year.</p><p>In the UK edition of&nbsp;CN Traveller&nbsp;magazine&#39;s 2015 Readers&rsquo; Travel Awards, voters crowned Italy their favourite international country for the fifth year in a row.</p><p>While the Mediterranean country has always been a perennial favourite for its history, culture, food and bucolic setting, this year the country received a major boost with Expo Milano 2015.</p><p>After Italy, France, the US, Spain and Greece rounded out the top five countries.</p><p>When it came to favourite cities, Paris edged out New York to take the top spot, both of which were followed by Barcelona, Rome and Venice.</p><p>Holidaymakers looking for ideas on the best luxury hotels around the world may also want to check out the recommendations of fellow travellers, as the Readers&rsquo;</p><p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5em;">In the category of the Americas and the Caribbean, the luxurious LVMH-owned resort Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France in St. Barth&rsquo;s took the top spot.</span></p><p>Set amidst lush, tropical gardens, the resort is composed of 40 suites, bungalows and villas and rooms offer panoramic views of the ocean. Luxury services that include Guerlain spa treatments, access to a 21-metre-long yacht, and lobster lunches on the beach.</p><p>Other regional hotel winners include Le Bristol in Paris in the category of Europe; The Oberoi Udaivilas, in Udaipur for Asia and the Indian Subcontinent; and La Mamounia in Marrakech for Africa and the Indian Ocean.</p><p>Here are some of the winners from&nbsp;CN Traveller&rsquo;s&nbsp;Readers&rsquo; Travel Awards 2015:</p><p>Top international cities</p><p>1. Paris<br />2. New York<br />3. Barcelona<br />4. Rome<br />5. Venice<br />6. Sydney<br />7. Istanbul<br />8. Amsterdam<br />9. Berlin<br />10. Florence</p><p>Top countries</p><p>1. Italy<br />2. France<br />3. USA<br />4. Spain<br />5. Greece<br />6. Australia<br />7. New Zealand<br />8. Thailand<br />9. Turkey<br />10. India</p><p>Top long-haul airlines</p><p>1. British Airways<br />2. Qatar<br />3. Emirates<br />4. Qantas<br />5. Cathay Pacific<br />6. Singapore Airlines<br />7. Etihad<br />8. Virgin Atlantic<br />9. Air New Zealand<br />10. KLM</p><p>&nbsp;</p> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 20:53:00 +0000 AFP 2457003 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/06/01/43/venice_italy-20150126115943911.jpg Teens who have close friendships likely to become healthy adults <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p><span style="line-height: normal;">Peer pressure is a number one concern for teens and their parents, yet a new study indicates that close friendships during adolescence could have health benefits that last into early adulthood.</span></p><div>&quot;These results indicate that remaining close to &ndash; as opposed to separating oneself &ndash; from the peer pack in adolescence has long-term implications for adult physical health,&quot; says co-author Joseph Allen of the University of Virginia. &quot;In this study, it was a robust predictor of increased long-term physical health quality.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>What&#39;s more, those who as teens made purposeful efforts to do as the others seem to be healthier in adulthood than those who did not, according to the study, which was published in the journal Psychological Science.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Teens&#39; intense social lives and the seemingly boundless energy they invest in them could indicate an instinctive recognition that friendship and well-being go hand-in-hand, say the researchers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Submitting to peer pressure can have serious consequences, yet, across different cultures, research suggests that aspiring to what&#39;s normal is linked to reduced life stress, according to the study.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Following a diverse group of 171 teens from the age of 13 to 27, the researchers questioned them in the early years, and started assessing their overall health annually once they turned 25.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Participants between the ages of 13 and 17 were asked to identify their best friend of the same gender and bring him or her into the study, whereupon these new additions filled out a questionnaire about the quality of their friendship.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>They responded to questions about trust, communication, alienation and how much energy they invested into fitting in.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Participants aged 25 and over were assessed for depression and anxiety symptoms in addition to body mass index (BMI) as part of their overall health assessments that also accounted for diagnoses and hospitalizations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Both high quality friendships and purposeful efforts to fit in with their peers as teenagers were associated with better health by the time participants reached the age of 27.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The research team adjusted data for socioeconomic status, body weight and drug use, all of which they had hypothesized could have twisted their results, yet they remained constant.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;From a risk and prevention perspective, difficulty forming close relationships early in adolescence may now be considered a marker of risk for long-term health difficulties,&quot; says Allen.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The researchers hypothesize that the need to fit in has evolved from the days of early man when people relied on their tribe for survival.</div> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 14:47:00 +0000 AFP 2456993 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/11/28/43/watching_.jpg