The Only Guide You Need for Travel and Hotels in Atlanta

When you dream of taking a vacation, what do you picture in your mind? Vacations symbolize different things to different individuals. Some people like to see everything the city has to offer while others would enjoy nothing more than to spend the entire day getting some relaxation at the hotel. If you happen to be like me, you like a part of both. On the one hand, because I have traveled somewhere unique, I ought to see some of the local flavor. The danger is that, if I use up all my time darting around from one site to another, when I return back to my home I will need an additional vacation to heal. Keep the following tips in mind when travelling to Atlanta.

The first thing you will want to do is handle as much at the start as possible. That means doing responsible things such as switching currency when it is necessary, viewing maps of the region, leasing a car, booking a flight, and choosing a hotel that satisfies your demands. As luck would have it, most of these tasks have become more convenient and cheaper through the world wide web, so before getting in the car and driving, you can save some money by looking for deals on the internet.

When it comes to finding a hotel, remember to examine your choices with care. Things to consider would be how it ranks; is it a two star hotel or a four star one? Is it convenient? If you are going to Disneyland but the hotel you reserved is in San Diego, you are going to waste a good deal of your vacation driving. Are you planning on staying at the hotel quite a bit, and if you are going to be there, what variety of conveniences do they furnish? I will never forget the time I went out on vacation to lay back by the pool, only to find that the hotel I was at didn’t have one. I am sure that I must have appeared rather odd walking around the hotel with my inflatable ducky around my waist and no pool to be found.

When it is time to pack, remember to keep it simple, traveler. Start by getting familiar with the weather conditions so that you know what you must pack, but avoid over-packing. Remember, if you forget something, odds are that you can purchase a replacement. As a matter of fact, take as few clothes as possible. I suggest packing older clothing which can be discarded along the way. Depending on where you go, you may locate charities that would be glad to take extra clothing off of your hands. Besides, this will make more space for keepsakes.

During your travel time, be sure and bring something to occupy the kids. There are lots of travel games out there, and no, I am not talking about the Game Boy. As a matter of fact, I strongly encourage taking a step back from technology. Though it may be your last stand, discourage the kids from packing a walkman, video game systems, television or portable DVD player. Kids get enough of that already. This is a perfect time to get to know those strangers in the back seat while teaching them to survive without their standard forms of entertainment. Maybe they will even learn to appreciate the world. And if their grades were not up to par this year, make them listen to your music along the way. You should see a dramatic improvement in grades next time around.

Two useful things to think about including in your suitcase are Pepto-Bismol, in case something (though occasionally you may come across a school which can provide an adequate education in 6 months) doesn’t agree with you, and hand sanitizer; the kind that works without water. Remember, no matter what situation you find yourself in, do not let the hand sanitizer replace taking a shower.

When you are setting off to Atlanta, you will want to carry plenty of supplies for taking photographs. If you are behind the times and still use film, consider moving up to a digital camera. Nothing is more disappointing to me than when I get back from a trip and discover that some of the pictures didn’t turn out. With a digital camera, I can see what I am taking as I go along. The only things I need are batteries and memory space. Now that you can get a great digital camera for under $200, your excuses are dwindling away. Thousands of tourist locations have stores that will transfer your pictures from your memory card to a CD, allowing for you to snap even more pics to torture friends and family with when you get home.

I can’t stress enough the value in keeping things simple. Prepare wisely by taking care of as much as you can in advance. When it comes to travel, remember, the internet is your ally. Pack, plan, and keep entertainment basic to help ensure that your vacation to Atlanta is a relaxing and memorable one. I hope that this humble authors advice will be beneficial to you as you prepare yourself to kickoff on your journey.

What Type Of Life Insurance Is Best?

Life Insurance (though it shouldn’t be) is to this day a very controversial issue. There seems to be a lot of different types of life insurance out there, but there are really only two kinds. They are Term Insurance and Whole Life (Cash Value) Insurance. Term Insurance is pure insurance. It protects you over a certain period of time. Whole Life Insurance is insurance plus a side account known as cash value. Generally speaking, consumer reports recommend term insurance as the most economical choice and they have for some time. But still, whole life insurance is the most prevalent in today’s society. Which one should we buy?

Let’s talk about the purpose of life insurance. Once we get the proper purpose of insurance down to a science, then everything else will fall into place. The purpose of life insurance is the same purpose as any other type of insurance. It is to “insure against loss of”. Car insurance is to insure your car or someone else’s car in case of an accident. So in other words, since you probably couldn’t pay for the damage yourself, insurance is in place. Home owners insurance is to insure against loss of your home or items in it. So since you probably couldn’t pay for a new house, you buy an insurance policy to cover it.

Life insurance is the same way. It is to insure against loss of your life. If you had a family, it would be impossible to support them after you died, so you buy life insurance so that if something were to happen to you, your family could replace your income. Life insurance is not to make you or your descendants rich or give them a reason to kill you. Life insurance is not to help you retire (or else it would be called retirement insurance)! Life insurance is to replace your income if you die. But the wicked ones have made us believe otherwise, so that they can overcharge us and sell all kinds of other things to us to get paid.

How Does Life Insurance Work?

Rather than make this complicated, I will give a very simple explanation on how and what goes down in an insurance policy. As a matter of fact, it will be over simplified because we would otherwise be here all day. This is an example. Let’s say that you are 31 years old. A typical term insurance policy for 20 years for $200,000 would be about $20/month. Now… if you wanted to buy a whole life insurance policy for $200,000 you might pay $100/month for it. So instead of charging you $20 (which is the true cost) you will be overcharged by $80, which will then be put into a savings account.

Now, this $80 will continue to accumulate in a separate account for you. Typically speaking, if you want to get some of YOUR money out of the account, you can then BORROW IT from the account and pay it back with interest. Now… let’s say you were to take $80 dollars a month and give it to your bank. If you went to withdraw the money from your bank account and they told you that you had to BORROW your own money from them and pay it back with interest, you would probably go clean upside somebody’s head. But somehow, when it comes to insurance, this is okay

This stems from the fact that most people don’t realize that they are borrowing their own money. The “agent” (of the insurance Matrix) rarely will explain it that way. You see, one of the ways that companies get rich, is by getting people to pay them, and then turn around and borrow their own money back and pay more interest! Home equity loans are another example of this, but that is a whole different sermon.

Deal or No Deal

Let us stick with the previous illustration. Let us say the one thousand 31 year olds ( all in good health) bought the aforementioned term policy (20 years, $200,000 dollars at $20/month). If these people were paying $20/month, that is $240 per year. If you take that and multiply it over the 20 year term then you will have $4800. So each individual will pay $4800 over the life of the term. Since one thousand individuals bought the policy, they will end up paying 4.8 million in premiums to the company. The insurance company has already calculated that around 20 people with good health (between the ages of 31 and 51) will die. So if 20 people pass away, then the company will have to pay out 20 x $200,000 or $4,000,000. So, if the company pays out $4,000,000 and takes in $4,800,000 it will then make a $800,000 profit.

This is of course OVER simplifying because a lot of people will cancel the policy (which will also bring down the number of death claims paid), and some of those premiums can be used to accumulate interest, but you can get a general idea of how things work.

On the other hand, let’s look at whole life insurance. Let us say the one thousand 31 year olds (all in good health) bought the aforementioned whole life policy ($200,000 dollars at $100/month). These people are paying $100/month. That is $1200 per year. If the average person’s lifespan (in good health people) goes to 75, then on average, the people will pay 44 years worth of premiums. If you take that and multiply it by $1200 you will get $52,800. So each individual will pay $52,800 over the life of the policy. Since one thousand individuals bought the policy, they will end up paying 52.8 million in premiums to the company. If you buy a whole life policy, the insurance company has already calculated the probability that you will die. What is that probability? 100%, because it is a whole life (till death do us part) insurance policy! This means that if everyone kept their policies, the insurance company would have to pay out 1000 x $200,000 = $2,000,000,000) That’s right, two billion dollars!

Ladies and gentleman, how can a company afford to pay out two billion dollars knowing that it will only take in 52.8 million? Now just like in the previous example, this is an oversimplification as policies will lapse. As a matter of fact, MOST whole life policies do lapse because people can’t afford them, I hope you see my point. Let’s take the individual. A 31 year old male bought a policy in which he is suppose to pay in $52,800 and get $200,000 back? There no such thing as a free lunch. The company somehow has to weasel $147,200 out of him, JUST TO BREAK EVEN on this policy! Not to mention, pay the agents (who get paid much higher commissions on whole life policies), underwriters, insurance fees, advertising fees, 30 story buildings… etc, etc.

This doesn’t even take into account these variable life and universal life policies that claim to be so good for your retirement. So you are going to pay $52,800 into a policy and this policy will make you rich, AND pay you the $200,000 death benefit, AND pay the agents, staff and fees? This has to be a rip off.

Well, how could they rip you off? Maybe for the first five years of the policy, no cash value will accumulate (you may want to check your policy). Maybe it’s misrepresenting the value of the return (this is easy if the customer is not knowledgeable on exactly how investments work). Also, if you read my article on the Rule of 72 you can clearly see that giving your money to someone else to invest can lose you millions! You see, you may pay in $52,800 but that doesn’t take into account how much money you LOSE by not investing it yourself! This is regardless of how well your agent may tell you the company will invest your money! Plain and simple, they have to get over on you somehow or they would go out of business!

How long do you need life insurance?

Let me explain what is called The Theory of Decreasing Responsibility, and maybe we can answer this question. Let’s say that you and your spouse just got married and have a child. Like most people, when they are young they are also crazy, so they go out and buy a new car and a new house. Now, here you are with a young child and debt up to the neck! In this particular case, if one of you were to pass away, the loss of income would be devastating to the other spouse and the child. This is the case for life insurance. BUT, this is what happens. You and your spouse begin to pay off that debt. Your child gets older and less dependent on you. You start to build up your assets. Keep in mind that I am talking about REAL assets, not fake or phantom assets like equity in a home (which is just a fixed interest rate credit card)

In the end, the situation is like this. The child is out of the house and no longer dependent on you. You don’t have any debt. You have enough money to live off of, and pay for your funeral (which now costs thousands of dollars because the DEATH INDUSTRY has found new ways to make money by having people spend more honor and money on a person after they die then they did while that person was alive). So… at this point, what do you need insurance for? Exactly… absolutely nothing! So why would you buy Whole Life (a.k.a. DEATH) Insurance? The idea of a 179 year old person with grown children who don’t depend on him/her still paying insurance premiums is asinine to say the least.

As a matter of fact, the need for life insurance could be greatly decreased and quickly eliminated, if one would learn not to accumulate liabilities, and quickly accumulate wealth first. But I realize that this is almost impossible for most people in this materialistic, Middle Classed matrixed society. But anyway, let’s take it a step further.

Confused Insurance Policies

This next statement is very obvious, but very profound. Living and dying are exact opposites of each other. Why do I say this? The purpose of investing is to accumulate enough money in case you live to retire. The purpose of buying insurance is to protect your family and loved ones if you die before you can retire. These are two diametrically opposed actions! So, if an “agent” waltzes into your home selling you a whole life insurance policy and telling you that it can insure your life AND it can help you retire, your Red Pill Question should be this:

“If this plan will help me retire securely, why will I always need insurance? And on the other hand, if I will be broke enough later on in life that I will still need insurance, then how is this a good retirement plan?”

Now if you ask an insurance agent those questions, she/he may become confused. This of course comes from selling confused policies that do two opposites at once.

Norman Dacey said it best in the book “What’s Wrong With Your Life Insurance”

“No one could ever quarrel with the idea of providing protection for one’s family while at the same time accumulating a fund for some such purpose as education or retirement. But if you try to do both of these jobs through the medium of one insurance policy, it is inevitable that both jobs will be done badly.”

So you see, even though there are a lot of new variations of whole life, like variable life and universal life, with various bells and whistles (claiming to be better than the original, typical whole life policies), the Red Pill Question must always be asked! If you are going to buy insurance, then buy insurance! If you are going to invest, then invest. It’s that simple. Don’t let an insurance agent trick you into buying a whole life policy based on the assumption that you are too incompetent and undisciplined to invest your own money.

If you are afraid to invest your money because you don’t know how, then educate yourself! It may take some time, but it is better than giving your money to somebody else so they can invest it for you (and get rich with it). How can a company be profitable when it takes the money from it’s customers, invests it, and turns around and gives it’s customers all of the profits?

And don’t fall for the old “What if the term runs out and you can’t get re-insured trick”. Listen, there are a lot of term policies out there that are guaranteed renewable until an old age (75-100). Yes, the price is a lot higher, but you must realize that if you buy a whole life policy, you will have been duped out of even more money by the time you get to that point (if that even happens). This is also yet another reason to be smart with your money. Don’t buy confused policies.

How much should you buy?

I normally recommend 8-10 times your yearly income as a good face amount for your insurance. Why so high? Here is the reason. Let’s say that you make $50,000 per year. If you were to pass away, your family could take $500,000 (10 times $50,000) and put it into a fund that pays 10 percent (which will give them $40,000 per year) and not touch the principle. So what you have done is replaced your income.

This is another reason why Whole Life insurance is bad. It is impossible to afford the amount of insurance you need trying to buy super high priced policies. Term insurance is much cheaper. To add to this, don’t let high face values scare you. If you have a lot of liabilities and you are worried about your family, it is much better to be underinsured than to have no insurance at all. Buy what you can manage. Don’t get sold what you can’t manage.

Issues and Concerns on

Being beautiful is regarded with high market value. For this reason, not only the celebrities and media persons take extras care on their skin, everyone who wants to stand out among the crowd would do all the things to achieve self-esteem by having a flawless skin.

Although various skin care products are out in the market, still many individuals, including celebrities resort to the natural way of maintaining a distinctive appeal. Because of the study which revealed that many commercial beauty products contain harmful ingredients, the cosmetic s and skin care industry has opened its doors to the safer alternative skin care products.

Using is not futile, as some individuals may think. Contrary to other people’s assumption, continuous and habitual use of natural plant extracts can improve the skin’s health. In fact, the antioxidants that are used by manufacturers of skin care products are from plant extracts.

Ideally, natural beauty skin care items are screened and approved by the FDA before it comes out in the market. But because of the increasing demand, several manufacturers illegally distribute counterfeit products which are not approved by the FDA. As a result, some consumers of organic skin care products contend that the use of natural herbs is harmful.

The fact is, majority of the dermatologist recommend the use of skin treatments with organic ingredients because they are less irritating and seldom to produce side effects. Organic ingredients are safe to be introduced in a living cell such as the skin because it is not regarded by our immune defenses as foreign substances. Hence, better absorption of beneficial nutrients is highly attainable.

However, you should remember that consistency in using the product t is an important factor for its efficiency. Some natural beauty skin care product users say that organic ingredients are not effective, but this could be because of two reasons; first, because of short-term usage of the product. Typically, an organic skin treatment would bring significant and visible results in a matter of two months of habitual use. Secondly, expired product. Although natural ingredients are used as an ingredient, preservatives are still needed to keep those it active. However, some manufacturers fail to include the product expiration in the container. Hence, some will mistakenly think that it all natural skin treatments are defective.

Scaling New Altitudes Through Hotel SEO and Hotel SMO

One of the first industries to be impacted by the internet, the travel and hospitality industry today leads the path to social media marketing. In today’s times, when anything and everything finds a foothold on the internet, it becomes but imperative that your hotel gets an enhanced visibility through the internet. Advertising one’s hotel brand can be equally necessary and especially with the revolutionizing of the online marketing industry, the competition of roping in as many clients as possible has got even more intense.

Social media is all about getting people involved and engaged in your activities. It lets you build, connect, communicate and interact with your current and prospective customer base. Aiding in etching lasting relationships with customers, social media provides an open platform where you listen to, interact and converse with people who have something to say about you.

Technological developments today have also changed the manner in which a traveler makes decisions regarding hotel patronage and bookings. Social media interactions, guest reviews, opinions, and experiences are trusted more over just hotel promotions and advertisements and are closely monitored by potential customers. As mobile devices have become the norm for communication and obtaining information, today’s traveler wants quick access to relevant information and seeks to connect with a hotel representative in real time. A survey states that as many as 33% people are traveling to various destinations across the globe and travel planning is a part of the social interaction they have on Facebook!

With growing competition and an escalating travel demand, the significance of hotel SEO to drive in potential customers mounts tremendously. The right hotel SEO helps in getting and staying connected to customers, leading to business growth. Integrating booking engine links on the website, defined content and impressive visuals all form a part of hotel SEO. Often, tourists avail travel deals and packages based on appealing visuals and informative and eye-catching content. The content must incorporate relevant keywords that place your brand on the search engine’s first page. Hence, hotel SEO gives a kick start to the campaign and lets your website gain maximum hits.

Along with SEO, social networking also helps to drive potential traffic to the website. In today’s date and time, the initials clearly are SMO – Social Media Optimization. This involves efforts to create exciting, interesting and engaging marketing campaigns. In other words, a website must strive to develop content that not only informs but also entertains and engages in order for it to be picked up by blogs, get re-tweeted, commented on, liked and shared and result in the formation of natural links back to the site!

Hotel SMO is helpful in building trust of tourists looking for travel accommodation. It involves creativity and investment where people are connected to your business. Variety is the spice of life; this adage holds true while executing Hotel SMO as you have an opportunity to broaden your business verticals. The brand’s Facebook page or a Twitter account can do wonders where you can announce special offers and deals, run contests and polls and ask questions in order to increase engagement and drive in more and more user traffic. It needs special mention that social posts need to be related to your business so that it helps in creating brand awareness. Sharing reviews on travel social networks like Expedia and TripAdvisor with social bookmark sites is the best method for promotion.

Understanding the All

Everybody wants to be beautiful naturally rather than being beautiful through high chemical content products. We know that there are people suffering from chemical sensitivities that are looking for all- that are 100% natural. All are what we consider to be truly healthy beauty products.

There are so many beauty products nowadays which contain different kinds of chemicals that some of us might not understand what that chemical really is. Also, we do not know what benefits they could give to us. I remember going to a store where different kinds of beauty products are on sale. I saw this whitening lotion and out of curiosity I picked it up and read the labels at the back. I was kind of surprise to see those different kinds of chemicals that are being used. I did not even finished reading it and put it back to the shelf. Just imagine how these chemicals could affect your skin. I would rather mash up the papaya pulp and apply to the surface of my skin

All must be considered to be the high standard beauty products that are being sold today. All and natural food have no difference. Just like natural food has become accepted and revered, natural beauty care is finally beginning to receive the credit that it deserves. There are no strict standards in place to direct consumers to the real thing when it comes to completely natural. So its buyer bewares, and be educated as to what constitutes a completely natural product.

We see a lot of beauty products using the word “natural”. But do not be deceive by them. When you see the word “natural” on a beauty product, it is basically meaningless and worthless. This is a buzz word that is being used to attract you to buy those beauty products. So you better read the ingredient labels very carefully as much as possible. If you see any long chemical names that you can barely pronounce, there is a very good chance that it is not completely natural.

I may sound harsh but that is the truth. So, if you are using such chemical based products and even if you have been using that for years or decades, I would suggest that you compare your beauty products to food. The skin that surrounds your entire body takes in a large portion of whatever is put onto it. If you think that skin does not absorb, then think about birth control and Nicotine patches. Yes, skin does absorb and it is presently absorbing toxins every day if you use beauty products that contain dangerous ingredients. It may be a small amount on a daily basis, but when used continually all through your life, it can be a large amount, some of which remains. These chemicals may have been tested for so many times, but just imagine when all of these chemicals are put into the body, they will basically merge with each other. These combinations have not been tested. So it simply means that you are the guinea pig.

All are not just an imitation that you are buying in stores everywhere. They are the real thing. Different companies are coming ahead, bringing their wonderful, truly natural products to the market under the name all-natural or organic. Just continue to read your labels. It is your time to give your skin the beauty that they need. In turn, your skin will thank you with radiant, healthy beauty.

Travel and Hotels in Brazil

Brazil is one of the biggest countries in South America and you can travel endlessly here. You can find a lot of travel deals and hotels in Brazil just by scouting around a bit. You can stay in hotels of all classes, sizes and categories. Since the country is very popular with tourists, accommodation is easily found here, especially in cities.

The most popular destinations in Brazil is Rio de Janeiro. During the carnival and Samba Parade, Rio comes to life. The other popular vacation spots are Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches. Tourists from all over the world come here to holiday on these beautiful pristine beaches. Even though the beaches are surrounded residential areas, you can find affordable luxury hotels in the vicinity. The service industry is highly guest oriented in Brazil and you receive world class service even in mid-priced hotels.

While visiting Rio in spite of the carnival one must visit the Corcovado Mountain to witness the statue of Christ, The Redeemer. Other attractions include Sugar Loaf Mountain, Maracana Stadium and cruises on the Sepetiba bay. There are several tropical islands to visit to see exotic birds and other wildlife.

Petropolis, Imperial Museum and Crystal Palace are all day trips and you can stay put in a single hotel while visiting these places.

One easy way of seeing Brazil is to make hotel bookings as you advance your sight seeing trips and save on time and commute by doing that. Since accommodation is never a problem here you should make use of it in every single way.

Finding Cheap Airfare and Hotel Reservations – What is the Best Strategy?

For many people, vacations that we can afford usually require cheap airfare and hotel reservations.

There seems to always a be a bounty of airfare deals, discount hotel accommodations and rental car promotions. But bear in mind that there are factors determining your final costs. The day and time of your scheduled flight, the days of the week you will occupy a hotel room or rent a car, and when you secure your reservations are controllable elements of booking reservations. Also, special promotions come, go and change constantly.

Making your hotel reservations online is a good strategy. You will find everything at your fingertips. Great selection, great discounts and the internet offers unequaled comparison shopping.

Package deals can definitely save you money. You can save hundreds of dollars when buying package deals. Online travel sites typically offer pricing for flights, hotels, and car rental separately or in whatever combination you want.

A good way to save on hotel reservations is to go to the website of the hotel your interested in staying at. Hotel owners like their hotels full and if business is slow they can offer some amazing deals. If your over fifty, don’t forget to ask for a senior discount.

Many experts in the travel industry recommend booking your air tickets and your hotel reservations as far ahead of time as you are able to. Advance booking, they claim, will frequently give you an advantage with more beneficial pricing. Booking well in advance of your trip puts you at ease because you can focus on the wonderful trip ahead. If you don’t want to gamble this is your best option. As you get closer to your departure date, check back with your travel website or to see if there are any new promotions available. They probably won’t contact you about them but you could very well get an even better deal even though you have already made your purchase.

Many travelers wait until the last minute to look for cheap airfare and hotel deals. Sometimes, good deals can still be found but the flip side is that many have found themselves unable to book any type of hotel reservation or airfare because attendees of a big football game or convention had already gobbled up everything.

So, the best strategy for securing your cheap airline and hotel reservations is to go ahead and book early for your peace of mind. Utilize the internet for comparison shopping. Do your homework and be aware of any additional discounts you may qualify for. Try for some last minute negotiating for an even better deal. And then, focus on more pleasurable things like shopping for your trip, reading up on all the neat things you will be able to do and see at your destination.

How Can Healthy Living Choices Prevent Birth Defects?

Every year, costs on birth defect related hospital bills exceed USD 2.6 billion.

Type of birth defects. It can occur as a result of a various factors at any point in the pregnancy. Mostly, they occur due to a combination of environment factors, genetics and individual behaviour.

According to the Centres for Disease Control (CDC), the most common defect is down syndrome with around 6,000 cases per year. Cleft lip is around 4,500 cases and cases for hole in the heart around 2,000 cases per year.

Coleen Boyle, the director of the National Centre on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, cautions that defects not only affect the patient but also the entire family – both emotionally, physically and financially. Thus it is important to take preventive measures.

Though experts do not know the causes of quite a few birth defects and not all birth defects are preventable, preventive measures can still be undertaken by the mother and her family to reduce the risks of occurrence.

Small steps like going for regular check-ups, taking care of yourself and adding 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid in your diet can go a long way into prevention.
Planning ahead.

The foetus is most vulnerable in the initial stages of the pregnancy that is the first three months. This is the time when the organs of the baby are being formed. Thus, preparing in advance, even before conception, can help improve the baby’s chances.

Based on CDC’s statistics, most pregnancies are unplanned. Hence they suggest that women of childbearing age should in general take care of their health to ensure future health of their babies.

If mothers take the 400 mcg of folic acid, 70% of neural tube defects, 36% spina bifida defects and 17% anencephaly (incomplete formation of the brain, skull and scalp) could be prevented.

Consumption of harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco can cause severe birth defects, premature births, sudden infant death syndrome and miscarriage. Care should be taken to avoid these substances, especially if a couple is trying to get pregnant.

Mothers can also help their unborn children by following a healthy lifestyle which includes following a healthy and balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight. A balanced diet containing fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats is recommended. A healthy lifestyle has the potential of halving the occurrence of birth defects.

Another point of prevention could be women ensuring that they have gotten all their vaccination shots to prevent catching infections.

The habit of pill-popping should also be avoided. Especially for pregnant moms, any medication they take should be in consultation with their doctors.

What can men do?

While the onus of child bearing is with the women, men too can be part of this initiative by being aware and reading up some literature. If they know of some existing genetic history, they should actively participate in uncovering as much information as possible. While the women are making healthier life choices, men should too, by making similar lifestyle adjustments.

So this new year, make a resolution to follow a healthy lifestyle – immaterial of whether or not you plan to start a family.

Healthcare in Spain

Whenever we think of healthcare in a foreign land, we immediately think, “will it be expensive and of the same quality as what we’re used to?” In fact, the quality of healthcare in Spain is excellent and many doctors and nurses speak English.

The health service is run along a two-tier system similar to that in the UK. The first tier is the National Health Service and the second is the private health care sector, which is covered by health insurance. Whether you are a native of Spain or a British citizen, if you are making social security contributions then you immediately qualify for the National Health Service. Otherwise, it is best to have some kind of private health insurance. We have personally experienced both sides of the Spanish healthcare system.

Private Health Care

When we first moved to Spain, we had very little experience of the lifestyle and that included provision for healthcare. As we were both reasonably healthy and because our knowledge of the language was still limited, we were somewhat scared of approaching social security offices and medical centres to gain more information, putting it off for another day.

However, with the rise in older men developing problems with their prostrate and my awareness of prostrate cancer, I decided I needed to see a doctor for a check up. Not being eligible for the Spanish health service at the time meant I had to go private. I had this dreaded feeling “This is going to cost a fortune”. Not necessarily so.

The couple that we rented our villa from in Mojacar recommended an English speaking lady doctor in Garrucha and we found to our surprise her fee was only 40 euros per consultation. On my first visit, all my details were entered into the computer and then a comprehensive examination was done including arrangements for a blood test.

Everything was extremely thorough and the staff was very helpful wanting to get a full picture of my current state of health. I was given a letter indicating what blood tests were needed and directions to a nearby blood analysis clinic. At the clinic I was seen straight away and the necessary blood sample was taken. What was most impressive was that I was called back the very same day for my results. Back in England I would have had to have waited ten days. Even better, when I phoned the doctor an appointment was made for the next day.

The blood test results came to a cost of 80 euros, but they had tested for virtually everything. At my second consultation I was told that I would need to see a specialist in Almeria and an appointment was made for 3 days time, again very impressive and quick.

At this point I felt somewhat amazed that in less than 24 hours, I had seen a doctor, been examined, had a comprehensive blood test, seen the doctor again been reassured that I have nothing major wrong with me and an appointment made to see a specialist in a couple of days all for 120 euros. Fantastic.

When I saw the specialist in Almeria, Dr Francisco Gomez Berjon, he was most charming, spoke perfect English and was completely at ease with me. Once again I was given a thorough examination and a course of medication prescribed, a further appointment was made for six months, and his fee, only 80 euros. I now see Dr Francisco twice a year for a check up.

On the flip side of this, my wife Carol and I also had the experience of the Spanish National Health Service.

Spain National Health Service

If you have ever visited Spain you will know that pavements either don’t exist, which means you walk in the road, or are uneven and have a kerb that is about 18 inches high (how disabled people in wheelchairs get by I do not know). You will also notice that the local Spaniards always walk in the road, apparently fearless of being hit by a passing vehicle. They obviously would rather face the car than risk walking on the pavement.

Anyway, to begin our story, one Sunday morning, my wife was on her way back from the newsagent, when she tripped and fell off the pavement. Ouch! We later found out she had broken her little finger and fractured her wrist.

At the time we had just started our estate agency business and as such we had to make social security contributions which meant we qualified for free medical care. If you do not have private health insurance, you should join the Social Security system.

Once you take any job in Spain your employer is obliged to process all the paperwork for you, pay part of your contributions and deduct the other part from your salary. If you are self-employed you will have to go to the local Social Security office and fill in all the paper-work yourself. Unless your knowledge of the local language is very good, then it is probably advisable to get a gestor (official agent – a bit like a lawyer for menial bureaucracy) to do this for you. Beware of using a British accountant who doesn’t speak Spanish fluently – you may find that you have not been registered correctly.

We needed to find a hospital quickly but not ever needing emergency medical treatment in Spain we hadn’t a clue where the nearest hospital was. We found a place near the beach with a red cross painted on the outside of the building but were then advised they only take private fee paying patients. Fortunately, they directed us to a health centre on the other side of town.

As opposed to my wonderful private health care experience with English speaking staff, at this health centre, the receptionist only spoke Spanish and we had some trouble understanding each other. Fortunately for us, a doctor was passing by and kindly offered assistance. However, to our dismay we were told we had come to the wrong hospital. In fact, you are supposed to attend the hospital that is registered for the district where you live. We were then given more directions and this time found the right health centre.

We were seen straight away, only to be told that the diagnosis of a suspected broken finger needed an X-ray, but that the centre did not have an X-ray facility and we were told to go to the main general hospital in Lorca, which was 35 km away. All this time my wife behaved remarkably well even though the pain was excruciating.

As with most things in Spain everything is located in the town centre and parking was difficult. We walked to the A & E department and just like the UK – it was very busy. After explaining our problem to the reception desk, we filled in a form, and proceeded to wait. Of course, we assumed we were going to be here for hours. Actually things were very fast and after a very short wait, Carol was examined and whisked off to X-ray. After the x-ray, we waited only another ten minutes before a doctor confirmed the broken finger and fractured wrist. Carol received the necessary treatment and an appointment was made to visit the hospital in another seven days.

In all fairness if we had been better prepared it wouldn’t have turned into such a drama. The lesson to be learnt from this experience was that accidents do happen and you do need to be prepared. When you arrive at your final destination, register immediately with your local health centre, find the location of your local hospital, drive there and have a look around. Also, make a note of useful telephone numbers that you are likely to need in case of emergency and keep them close by a telephone. You never know when you may need them.

We have put together a list of various forms and information that you may find helpful.

Form E121 –
If you are a pensioner from the UK, 65 for men, 60 for women, and intend to live in Spain permanently then you can get free medical care and medications under a reciprocal agreement between EU governments; you should obtain form E121 from the DSS in the UK prior to your departure. You may need a separate form for each member of your family. This form should be handed in to the Seguridad Social (Social Security) in Spain. It provides permanent health cover and does not need to be renewed. You will receive a temporary health card and eventually you will receive a letter giving the name of the medical centre you are to visit in case of illness and a permanent card. Until the form has been registered at the social security office you are not covered for healthcare. Private health clinics will not accept this form as payment.

Form E106 –
The E106 is for people who have moved permanently to Spain but have not reached pensionable age, its period of effectiveness depends on the state of your past National Insurance contributions record. The period of medical cover commences from the date you leave the UK. You must however apply and receive your E106 entitlement form before leaving the UK to ensure you are covered and to know what that cover entitles you to.

Form E111 (EHIC) –
The best solution for someone wanting to stay in Spain for a short period of time without becoming a resident is the form E111, now replaced by the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), this card is issued by the National health Service in the UK, and you should carry it with you together with your passport at all times, in case of an emergency. This card is only to be used in cases of emergency and is not for the treatment of chronic illnesses.

Private Health Service –
If you aren’t covered by the Spanish social security, then it is imperative that you have private medical insurance. If you have private health insurance in the UK, then find out from the insurance company if they will pay your medical bills in Spain. There are a large number of private Spanish or English companies offering health insurance. The policies offered generally differ considerably in the extent of cover, limitations and restrictions, premiums, and choice of doctors, specialists and hospitals.

Health care points to remember when moving to Spain –

o Make sure you know where your nearest hospital is located.
o You need to go to the hospital registered in your district.
o If you are working in Spain then make sure you make social security payments in order to qualify for the Spanish National Health Service.
o Make sure you find a local gestor (official agent – a bit like a lawyer for menial bureaucracy) that can handle the social security paperwork for you.
o If you paying private healthcare insurance make sure you are aware of any limitations.
o Keep a list of useful telephone numbers of places to contact in case of emergencies.
o Try and learn some useful Spanish words, do not expect everyone to speak English.

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