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the Civilized Explorer > The French West Indies > Before You Go
Although access to the Web is more difficult in the French West Indies than in other parts of the world, you can get online while you are there. Perhaps more helpful, though, is using the Internet to plan your trip before you go. Here are links to help you find useful information to plan your trip, along with some resources which you may find helpful while you are there.
Automatic Teller Machines are available on Martinique and Guadeloupe at almost all bank branches, and there are a couple of ATMs on St. Barth. For a list of machines that will advance cash against your VISA card, check http://www.visa.com/pd/atm/main.html, which lists only Guadeloupe and Martinique among the French West Indies, but allows searches by region, country, address, intersection, city, state or province, ZIP or postal code, and by airport.
For MasterCard, Cirrus, and Maestro accounts, drop by http://www.mastercard.com/cardholderservices/atm/, which lists Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Sint Maarten. You may find MasterCard ATMs in airports at http://www.mastercard.com/cardholderservices/atm/airport/
We have occasionally dropped into the French West Indies on a national holiday and found almost all the stores closed, including banks. Businesses are also closed on religious holidays which we do not follow in the United States. The World Public Holidays Database at http://www.tyzo.com/tools/holidays.html would have come in handy to plan ahead. Choose France as the country for the French West Indies.
The weather is almost always nice in the Caribbean, but check out Intellicast at http://www.intellicast.com/LocalWeather/World/Caribbean/ where you can select local weather forecasts for Guadeloupe and Martinique. During the hurricane season, check out The Civilized Explorer Hurricane Damage Reports page at http://www.cieux.com/dmg.html for current information on the islands, with links to additional news and information on hurricanes in the Caribbean.
The French West Indies are in the Atlantic Time Zone, one hour ahead of New York Standard Time, but the same as New York during Daylight Savings Time. For the exact time, see Times Around the World at http://times.clari.net.au/America.html (the home page is at http://www.hilink.com.au/times/).
We have a currency converter available in
English -- http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic?user=stripling&lang=en,
French -- http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic?user=stripling&lang=fr,
and German -- http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic?user=stripling&lang=de.
We use OANDA Corp for our conversions, and they offer a free module for Palm OSes which you can download and use for conversions of currency, metric and English length and volume, and shoe and clothing sizes. Hotsyncing updates the currency rates. See FXPilot at http://www.oanda.com/products/fxpilot/fxpilotintro.shtml for the details. Most European countries, including France use the Euro now, which makes things considerably easier for travelers, but OANDA continues to offer conversions for other currencies as well as the Euro.
This Web-based traveler's calendar allows you to add and delete your events. If you are traveling in Guadeloupe and make dinner reservations, for example, you can add the appointment if you have access to a modern browser. Note that the calendar is set for Caribbean Time -- entries will be dated Atlantic Standard Time (AST), which is four hours behind GMT, one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time. You must establish an account in order to schedule events, and that is handled by the script -- no one sees your account information, no one spams you. After you register, you get a confirmation email with a code -- this helps keep spammers off the service; since you have to confirm the email, you may want to register in advance while you have access to your email account. Note that all events are publicly viewable.
So you know SBH is the St. Barth airport, but who the heck are you booked on? You have never heard of LI, and you want to know what that airline is.
Check the Airport Locator and Airport Codes Lookup at http://www.logisticsworld.com/airports.asp for your airport code. The site is complete, but it covers much of the world. If you cannot find your North American airport code at LogisticsWorld, try Yahoo's directory at http://help.yahoo.com/help/maps/maps-13.html or search for international airport codes at http://search.airport.yahoo.com/search/airport?p=United+States&D=http%3a//maps.yahoo.com/?p=. Yahoo provides maps where available. Use the World Airport Directory at http://www.airportdirectory.dhs.org/airports/ to see if the airport has an online presence.
Track a flight in real time with trip.com's flightTRACKER http://www.trip.com/trs/trip/flighttracker/flight_tracker_home.xsl, which shows the location of the plane, aircraft, heading, speed, and altitude among other things.
Want to see a photo of the aircraft? Airliners.net at http://www.airliners.net/ has over a hundred thousand photographs.
Make the Civilized Explorer Portal (http://www.cieux.com/portal.html) your home page away from home. It provides access to email, calendars, this page, national and regional news, and more.
We have pages on "Getting Online in the French West Indies" at http://www.cieux.com/fwiConnection.html which covers Internet access, and "Calling the US from the French West Indies" at http://www.cieux.com/callingUS.html which gives information on telephone calls to North America.
For the latest information on airline policies and security, see our page Online Airline Information at http://www.cieux.com/onlineAirline.html. This page gives links to major U.S. airlines, government resources on travel warnings, real-time reporting of delays, transportation closures in New York and Washington, D.C., and consumer sites with information on airline bankruptcies and passenger rights, message boards, destination profiles, and more.
Note: The US State Department now recommends that all travelers, even short- term travelers register their trip. This recommendation is the result of the tsunami that hit in Southeast Asia, leaving many tourists unaccounted for. Generally, travelers have been expected to visit a local consulate to inform the government of their whereabouts during lengthy stays overseas. Given the huge loss of life as a result of the tsunami, with most victims never being recovered, the government now wants the opportunity to contact or locate you. See Welcome to the Registration Home Page and follow the directions for short or long duration travel, clicking on the button to "Register My Trip."
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