All posts by Harman Stinson

Harman's travels have taken him through the Caribbean, across the United States, Australia, Canada, Alaska and Europe. He has seen far off places such as Turkey, Croatia, the Greek Isles, and the Ukraine. While traveling he has climbed extensively in the Sierra Nevada and skied throughout the western U.S. His sailing experiences have taken him from the coast of Florida all the way to Grenada, Croatia and an extended sailing trip from New England to Bahamas in a 28 foot Cal.

Airport Security: Getting Through Airport Security Fast and Easily

After 9/11 airport security has tightened, and while the TSA continues to tweak the process to make it quicker airport security screening is here to stay. The people who can do the most to make this process quicker is the passengers. There is a lot more we as passengers can do to make this process quick and easy than the over worked TSA. Here are a few tips to make this process less painful:

  1. Don’t wear a belt or a lot of jewelry.
    We all know by now that we need to remove any metal, so why even have it on when you get in the security line. Your belt or jewelry can easily be put in you carry on and you will save time by not having to remove it quickly right in front of everybody behind you waiting to go through the metal detector.
  2. Have only the bear essentials in you pocket (ID, Boarding Pass)
    You are going to be asked to remove items from your pockets anyway so again why not just put them in a carry on bag. The only items needed to get through security are your ID and Boarding Pass so everything else just should just be put in your carry on.
  3. Wear sensible Shoes
    Removing you shoes has become the norm, so why would you where shoes that are not easy to get on or off. Anything with laces that need to be tied or boots that are hard to remove don’t make sense going through security and are more then likely uncomfortable on a flight.
  4. Put as much in you carry on as you can (Jacket)
    Now days jackets also need to be removed, so way not put this in you carry on before getting in line.
  5. Have your Laptop easily removable
    Laptops have been needed to be removed for many years, so if you are carrying a laptop it would be best to have it accessible and easily removed to allow you to quickly put in in a tray.
  6. Pack Liquids as Required
    Water, Shampoo, whatever can only be carried on in quanities under 3 ounces in a plastic bag. So pack it like this before hand and you will save yourself time and/or possibly having to toss out all of you liquids
    Bottom line is the TSA are just trying to do there jobs, but complaining or causing a seen is more likely to get the TSA officers to notice you and feel you may need to be screened then get you through security faster. Use your manners and respect the TSA and more then likely getting through security will be easier.

With the advice above having a sensible carry on is very important. Having easily accessible pockets to put your cellphone or wallet makes removing items from your pockets not such a big deal. It also should be big enough to fit  a laptop or other items that may need to be removed easily accessible. Making sure you have a good carry on is important to make getting through security an easy experience for you.

Which side is the tank on!

This year I read an article (wish I could remember where I would credit them) which revealed one of the great secrets of the universe. That secret…

Which side of the car is the gas tank on?

This was a question I have asked myself since I learned to drive. Even in my on car I would forget between fill ups which side the gas tank was on. When I was rich enough to get a fancy car with one of those release handles next to the seat I would pop the handle and look into the side mirrors to see which side popped open.

Now no longer for thanks to the internet the question has been answered forever.

I’m sure you are on the edge of your seat, so I will tell you. Have you ever noticed that gas pump icon that is present on all cars fuel gauges. Have you ever wondered why the hell they have an arrow next to the fuel pump icon.

You guessed it that arrow is indicating which side of the car you fuel tank is located.

Problem solved, FOREVER!

Long Island – Bahamas

Like so many 80-mile Long Island, Bahamas has a rough side and a calm side. One side has the dramatic cliffs and caves of the east coast that front the crashing Atlantic waves. The west side has soft, sandy beaches that lead into the Bahamas Bank.

Leg 7 Start of the Volvo Ocean Race

The start of the 7th Leg of the Volvo Ocean Race in Boston. This leg will finish in Galaway, Ireland. Check out these photos to see the start of the page.


Nicaragua FlagThe Sandinista revolution is perhaps what most people think about when they think of Nicaragua. But as with so many other Central American countries, Nicaragua is a place rich with culture, sites, and opportunity for tourists.

With the help of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the country has been trying to recover from the ravages of war, but this recovery has been made harder by inflation and high unemployment. Still, Nicaragua has been dealing with the problems of the past and as success arrives, more and more people are making there way to this country–but there is still a lot of work to do. Some areas of Nicaragua remain unstable, run by armed criminal groups. This is particularly true along the northern border near Honduras; but if you are traveling to Nicaragua, it’s wise to be cautious no matter where you are.

The capital, Managua, is set on the southern shore of Lago de Managua. Over the years this city has been devastated by natural disasters, and since the earthquake of 1972, Managua has had virtually no city center. However, construction is underway, and the city continues to improve its facilities and restore attractions. But the line between those who have and those who have not remains distinct–poverty is a very real problem in Managua.

Granada is oldest Spanish city in Nicaragua. Founded in 1524 by conquistadores, it rests on shores of Lake Nicaragua in the shadow of Volcán Mombacho. The town is a literary center and has a quiet, historic feel. It’s an ideal city to tour on foot, and when you’re ready to take a break from seeing Granada’s colonial sites, the lake is just a short walk from downtown.

Down the Río Escondido from Managua, Bluefields is an ethnically diverse area on the Caribbean coast and an interesting and fun place to visit from the tourists’ point of view. The people of Bluefields know how to have a good time: there are several reggae clubs and dancing on the weekends.

Traveling in Nicaragua
Nicaragua MapWhile several overland and over-river border crossings exist between Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica, the major airlines fly regularly into Managua from Europe, North America, and other Central American countries. For the U.K., U.S., E.U. member countries, several other Latin American countries, Scandinavian countries, and more, visas are not required to enter Nicaragua. Tourist cards good for a 90-day visit will cost a small fee at arrival, and an exit tax is charged upon leaving the country. Travelers from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries that do not have a reciprocal relationship with Nicaragua will need a 30-day visa to enter the country.

Budget travel in Nicaragua can be done for US$10-$20 a day, but for US$30-$40, you can enjoy an occasional rental car and meals at more upscale restaurants. US$40 and more will allow for very comfortable travel. Tipping is not a common practice in inexpensive restaurants, but 10% is the norm for more expensive eateries. There is a nationwide value tax added to each bill, and occasionally a gratuity will also be included, so be sure to check for the latter before leaving an extra tip. Haggling in open marketplaces is a common practice.

Domestic airlines fly to the major hubs such as Managua, Bluefields, Puerto Cabezas, and the Corn Islands, but if you are heading to places more remote, the bus is your best option. Buses run on a regular schedule, but be be wary of pickpockets and thiefs, who often turn to the buses to find unsuspecting victims. Make sure to keep an eye on your luggage and don’t keep anything of value in your pockets.

Boats are sometimes the only way to get to places on the two coasts, especially on the Caribbean side, but this can also be the most expensive way to travel.

Weather in Nicaragua
On the Pacific coast and toward the center of the country the best time to visit is early in the dry season–December to January. Temperatures are cooler and these areas are very lush during this time of year (the Caribbean coast is predominantly rainforest, that is, green and lush year round). However, Nicaragua is a nice place to visit almost anytime of year, with the possible exception of the end of the dry season–April and May–when the climate is much more arid.

Nicaragua Information
Population: 5.2 million
Government: Republic
Square Miles: 50,180 sq mi (129,494 sq km)
Capitol: Managua (pop 1 million)
Official Languages: Spanish, English Creole, Miskito
People: 69% mestizo, 17% European descent, 9% African descent, 5% indigenous peoples
Religion: Roman Catholic 73%, Protestant 16%
Major products/industries: Coffee, seafood, sugar, meat, bananas, food processing, chemicals, metal products, textiles, clothing, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear

Travel Tips – Airports

One of the easiest ways to start your trip off right is to make sure you get to your destination smoothly. Since most people fly it is important to know a few things that will keep you safer and make your experince much more pleasant.

Know Your Airport

I was recounting travel tales, recently, with friends who had flown internationally through San Juan, Puerto Rico’s international airport. The customs area there is inconveniently far away from many of the more-frequented gates, and my friends missed their connecting flight because they hadn’t known to factor in enough layover time to get through customs and still make the long trek to their next gate.

This is a problem in many airports, and there’s a great moral to my friends’ story: know your airport. Particularly if you’re connecting internationally, and thus have to go through customs, always find out in advance the layout of the airport through which you’ll be connecting. This information may be gotten from the airline, your travel agent, or on the Internet (most medium to large airports now have Web sites that offer either a description or a map of their layout), and it could potentially save you the trouble of missing your connecting flight.

Getting through airport security faster

These days, getting through airport security seems like a chore. It behooves all of us (including those in line behind you) to be prepared. Make sure the only things you keep in your pockets are identification and your airline ticket–anything else could set off the metal detector or raise suspicion. This also goes for shoes, belts, or other pieces of clothing that may have metal attachments. Try to wear clothes with plastic buttons, shoes with plastic eyelets, and belts with metals that may not set off the the metal detectors. If this is impossible, be sure to remove your shoes and belt to be scanned along with your carry-on luggage.

Pack a carry-on that’s easy to open and inspect if security needs to check your bag; this way they won’t have to remove everything just to see what’s on the bottom. Make sure to put the contents of your pockets in your carry-on or your jacket. Double check to make sure you don’t have any items like nail files, small scissors, knitting needles, or other things that might set off mental alarms (remember, even the most unthreatening household goods can now seem like a potential weapon in the eyes of airport security, no matter who you are). Be ready when you get to the front of the line: remove your jacket and have your ticket and ID in hand. It’s also a good idea to wear shoes that are easy to remove in case security asks to check them.

With all recent the hold-ups and frustrations at airports, being prepared can make your life exponentially easier and will make the difference in a pleasant flight or a not so pleasant one.

Packing list

It is a good idea to carry a list of expensive items you have packed in your checked luggage. That way, if the airline loses your bag, you have some record of what has been lost.

Likewise, you should never pack any irreplaceable items, such as, medicine or jewelry in your checked luggage; make sure you put it in your carry-on bag, or leave it at home for safe keeping.

Air travel

The air you breathe while on a plane is not pressurized to sea level. Many people don’t realize that this contributes to jet lag: flying long distances can cause mild cases of altitude sickness. Combine this with the fact that the recycled air on planes is very dry, which leads to dehydration, and that people are often traveling across multiple time zones, and it’s easy to understand why we might not feel like ourselves at the end of a long flight.

We cannot eliminate jet lag entirely, but we can limit it. Bring a large bottle of water to drink throughout the trip to stay hydrated, eat well, and try to prepare yourself for the transition into a new time zone (take a nap–adjust your internal clock). If you do these things, you’re sure to be better off when you exit the plane than if you’d done nothing at all.

Flying with infants

Many people know the frustration of taking a long flight with a crying baby nearby. Parents who travel with infants may know this feeling all too well, but surprisingly, very few know what’s causing their child’s discomfort and how to stop it. At the liftoff and descent stages of a flight, cabin pressure in commercial airplanes changes dramatically. This is necessary so that passengers and crew can continue to breathe while in flight. However, the change in pressure has an effect on our inner ear (something like diving too deep in the ocean).

Adults who know this feeling can generally self-adjust the pressure inside their heads to be balanced with the pressure outside: yawning helps, or chewing gum, and some people can simply “flex” their inner ear mechanism to equalize the pressure.

Babies, on the other hand, may not be able automatically equalize the pressure in their ears. This can become extremely uncomfortable for a child, and is the main reason they cry when a plane is taking off or landing. If you’re a parent who thinks this may be occurring with your child, the easiest way to resolve the situation is to give your baby something to suck on–a bottle, or even your finger. The motion caused by this sucking will usually cause your child’s inner ear pressure to equalize with the outside pressure, thus relieving him of the pain inside his head… And relieving all the other passengers of the pain outside theirs.

Airport circuit check-in

To make waiting in lines at airport security posts a quicker easier ordeal, be sure to empty your pockets and put the contents in your carry-on bag, this might include watches and jewelry, a money clip, loose change, and more. It means less beeping at the metal detector, and you won’t have to put your wallet and valuables in the plastic bucket where things could be stolen as you’re getting scanned manually by airport security personal.

Address on luggage tags

Traveling abroad means putting you address on your luggage, which in turn means everyone can see where you live and know that you will be gone. More than one robbery has been perpetrated by shady characters lingering around local airports, scoping out the home addresses of people they see taking outgoing flights. The best way to protect against this is to put your business address on a piece of luggage. This will insure that no one who spots your address will be getting the correct one, and that your bags–if lost–will find their way back to a place you can retrieve them. Another idea is to put your local police station’s address label on the label, but this could lead to complications if your bags are lost. And we’d like to hope that your bags are more likely to be lost in transit, than your house being robbed.