Wine Travel – Nebraska’s Blossoming Wine Country

Nebraska is well known for its agriculture, supplying an abundance of food crops from the bountiful farms dotting the landscape. As a bonus for wine lovers, grapes are among the crops thriving here, particularly in the eastern portion of the state.  The confluence of the Platte and Missouri Rivers creates lush valleys and an ideal environment for a burgeoning number of Nebraska wineries just waiting for your visit.

Let’s take a closer look at the Nebraska wine industry, and explore Omaha and beyond.

Nebraska Wine

Nebraska, much like other midwestern states, has a long tradition of grape growing and wine making.  Just before Prohibition, over 5000 acres of grapes proliferated the Nebraska countryside.  Since the mid 80’s, Nebraska’s wine industry has taken flight and now wineries are springing up in all regions of the state. 

And while most people associate Nebraska’s terrain with miles of flat cornfields, that image is misleading at best.  It’s interesting to note that Nebraska actually has several different microclimates. This is especially true in the state’s eastern portion, home to Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska’s two largest cities. 

Nebraska now boasts over 25 wineries, and almost all rely on Nebraska grown fruit and grapes to create wines that are rapidly becoming known and respected by wine consumers and the wine press alike.  We discussed the Nebraska wine industry with Carey Potter, Executive Director of the Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association, who shared some promising news about the industry.  Plans are taking shape to officially designate one or more Nebraska wine trails, with cooperation and support from the Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism. 

People often ask us, “How can wine from one midwestern state be much different than another?”.  The answer is simple – the soil.  Different climatic and geophysical conditions yield different flavors to the grape, and it’s a fascinating discovery to experience the end result.

All told, we visited five wineries in the Metro Region of Nebraska, encompassing Omaha, nestled along the Missouri River, and Lincoln, Nebraska’s capital city less than an hour away.

Come along with us as we learn more about Omaha, Lincoln, and Nebraska wine.

Discovering Omaha

It’s about as convenient as it gets to reach Omaha.  Located directly in the middle of the country, you’ll find Omaha off Interstate 80 driving east/west, or Interstate 29 north/south.

And once you’re here, you’ll realize why so many people speak fondly of Omaha.  The downtown is compact and easy to navigate, with numerous choices for dining and entertainment.  History is celebrated here, even as the city evolves and goes high tech.  Most of all, smiles are genuine and the midwestern hospitality is alive and well.

We arrived mid morning, eager to take in some Omaha sights before an afternoon of wine tasting.

The focal point of downtown Omaha is the Old Market District, a revered historic area with original brick streets filled with shops and restaurants.  We were planning for dinner in the Old Market, so we set off for Lauritzen Gardens, on Omaha’s south side and near the Henry Dourly Zoo and Rosenblatt Stadium, home to the College Baseball World Series.

Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha’s primary botanical gardens, is a 100 acre oasis of tranquility, ideal for a little exercise on foot.  Wander amongst the rose gardens, Victorian garden, arboretum, or the floral display hall.  After lunch at Johnny’s Cafe and Steakhouse, a wonderful history laden Omaha tradition since 1922, it was time to explore Omaha’s ongoing relationship with the Missouri River on the River City Star.

On The Missouri River

On this one hour Missouri River cruise, you’ll glide along Omaha’s riverfront parks, including the Lewis and Clark Landing. This 23 acre park site is one of Omaha’s gathering spots, featuring a boardwalk on top of the river wall, marina, and nightly live music in season.  You’ll also pass the Heartland of America Park and Fountain, the Omaha skyline, and downtown Council Bluffs Iowa just across the river.

Omaha Area Wineries

With the better part of an afternoon ahead of us, we hit the road to explore two Omaha area wineries.

Driving south from Omaha, the metro area evolves into a rich river valley, with expansive farms beckoning along the way.  It’s easy to see why agriculture prospers here, as the Missouri River and fertile soil combine to provide a bountiful harvest.

Just 15 minutes south of Omaha in the midst of this lush valley, you’ll find Soaring Wings Vineyards.  Since 2003, the Shaw family has been operating this 11 acre winery and vineyard on land that was a former Native American settlement.  Numerous artifacts have been found on site, and farming has been the primary pursuit since the 1800’s.

The tasting room and outside veranda here are an ideal way to while away a few hours on a sunny afternoon.  From either inside or outdoors, you’ll take in a panoramic view of the surrounding valley.  You can buy Soaring Wings wine by the glass, partnered with Nebraska made cheese, sausage, and other delicacies.  Local art adorns the walls, and Soaring Wings hosts live music acts on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons.

Stepping up to the tasting bar, we were delighted to see so many varied styles to sample.  Soaring Wings wines have won almost 150 medals in international competitions, so chances are anything you select will please your palate.  Our favorite was a slightly dry red, the Special Reserve St. Croix.  Made with grapes that thrive in eastern Nebraska’s river valley, this wine is rich and satisfying, with a dark fruit bouquet. 

For all you riesling fans, go for Winter White, Soaring Wings’ most popular wine.  This wine offers a touch of sweetness, balanced nicely with the crisp characteristics of a good riesling.  For a slightly sweeter red, there’s Mystic Red, absolutely bursting with fruit.

Further south, about 50 minutes from Omaha in Nebraska City, sits Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard.  This popular destination has a long history, dating back to 1925.

Set on 90 acres of fertile Missouri River valley farmland, Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard is dedicated to agricultural education, agritourism, and historic preservation.  Their on site research facility hosts programs and classes from the University of Nebraska, and there are numerous events for the general public throughout the year.  Kimmel is also a primary partner for the Arbor Day Foundation.

On our visit, we toured the vineyard and learned which grapes thrive in this corner of Nebraska.  You’ll find vines of LaCrosse, Concord, Chambourcin, and Vignoles.  Elsewhere along a special two mile trail that meanders through the site, you’ll encounter cider pressing demonstrations, as well as fruit and vegetable harvesting.  Stop and enjoy the view at one of the many benches or picnic tables.

You can easily spend the better part of a day at Kimmel Orchard, capped off with a stop at the Apple Barn for some wine tasting.  For white wine fans, try the LaCrosse, a semi sweet gem with aromas of melon and pear.  Or have some fun with the Apple Wine, produced from cider apples grown right here.

Saving the best for last, we shifted into red wine mode with Kimmel Orchard’s DeChaunac.  This French hybrid grape produces a dry red wine that’s bold, rich, and full bodied.  Equally satisfying was the Chambourcin, one of our personal favorites.  This wine offers a fine balance of dark fruit flavors with a lively spicy kick.

Omaha At Night    

With happy hour and dinner in our sights, we headed back to downtown Omaha, destination Old Market District.         

As the very heart of Omaha, The Old Market offers unique shops, local restaurants to suit any taste and budget, plus enough arts and entertainment to keep you busy for hours.  The four block area features renovated warehouses, old fashioned lighting, and authentic brick streets.  Rich in history yet modern and contemporary, The Old Market is Omaha at its best.

While at The Old Market, stop to shop at Everything Them, a colorful gallery featuring prints, jewelry, and historic memorabilia.  Or, pop in for a cold one at Barry O’s Old Market Tavern.  For a world class wine list, there’s M’s Pub, an Old Market staple for over 30 years.

Omaha has long been known as a haven for great steaks, and with that in mind, we stopped at the Upstream Brewing Company for drinks and dinner.  Housed in a renovated firehouse, Upstream’s name is derived from the original Native American meaning of the word “Omaha”, meaning upstream or against the current.

The beer here is exceptional.  We started with a row of tasters, a 4 oz. sample of everything.  An easy quaffer is Gold Coast Blonde, while the American Wheat is a top notch hefeweizen, and the Firehouse ESB is a malty delight.  For something a bit more edgy, try the fresh and hoppy India Pale Ale, or my favorite, the thick and creamy Blackstone Stout, named after a landmark Omaha hotel of yore.

After dinner, you can explore other nightlife options in The Old Market, or take a carriage tour around the area.  Away from downtown, there are numerous nightlife, entertainment, and eating options on Dodge Street, Omaha’s primary east/west thoroughfare.

On To Lincoln

After a morning filled with more Omaha area sightseeing, we hopped on Interstate 80 westbound for the short drive to Lincoln. Back in the late 1990’s, we paid our first visit to Lincoln, Nebraska’s capitol city that’s less than an hour from Omaha.  You won’t need a mileage marker or your GPS to let you know you’re close to Lincoln … just watch the horizon and you’ll see the Nebraska State Capitol building rise into view.

Lincoln is a hardy, spirited town, home of not only state government but also the University of Nebraska.  Football rules here, and there’s a lively ambiance on campus and downtown.  With an overnight stay planned, we had ample time to explore the community.

Surrounding the Lincoln area are three of Nebraska’s most well known wineries.  We were able to visit one on our first afternoon, and the remaining two the next day.  But first, a little sightseeing was in order.  Let’s explore Lincoln …

A View From Above And The Haymarket

Our first stop in Lincoln was the Art Deco style State Capitol building, one of the most unique and stylish in the U.S.  Built  from 1922 to 1932 at a cost of $10 million, the building’s majestic four hundred foot domed tower and low spreading base contain exterior and interior artwork representing the natural, social and political development of Nebraska.  Be sure to visit the 14th floor observation deck for a nice view of Lincoln and the surrounding countryside.

It’s less than a mile across downtown to one of Lincoln’s premier attractions, the historic Haymarket area.  Named after the original market square established in the late 1800’s, this downtown Lincoln destination is a shopping and dining magnet.  One of our favorite shops here is From Nebraska, a gift shop featuring all types of locally made products, including Nebraska wines.  In fact, there’s even a tasting bar here, so you can do as we did and sample wines from wineries all across the state.

A Lincoln Classic And Prime Country

Afternoon plans called for a winery visit outside the city limits, so a quick lunch was in order.  We learned of a small locally owned fast food chain called Runza Restaurants from the Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau, and were able to locate a Runza branch on the way to the winery.

There’s a reason why Runza Restaurants are coined “A Lincoln Classic For Over 50 Years”.  You’ve got to try the Original Runza Sandwich.  It’s fresh dough stuffed with seasoned ground beef, rolled together, and baked … it’s sort of a cross between a wrap and a burrito.  And absolutely do not miss Runza’s onion rings – they’re double battered, perfectly crunchy, and oh so delicious!

It’s delightfully easy to get around in Lincoln, and a very short drive brought us to Prime Country Winery, a few miles southwest of Lincoln in the town of Denton.

Prime Country is a true taste of Nebraska, as every wine is made with grapes grown on site.  The vineyard features DeChaunac, LaCrosse, Concord, Edelweiss, and St. Vincent grapes, among others, with the end product being used in stand alone wines or blended varietals.

We felt the blush wines starred here, particularly the Denton Blush, a medium dry wine made with an equal mix of red and white grapes.  Thinking of a wine to pair with steak, we tasted and bought Nebraska Red, an assertive off dry red made from Dechaunac grapes.

Prime Country offers upward of a dozen wines, ranging from white to red and dry to sweet.  They’ll welcome your visit, year around.

The first winery of the next day,  Deer Springs Winery, is located in a quiet country setting northeast of Lincoln.  We were looking forward to visiting here because much like Prime Country Winery, most of the wines at Deer Springs are made from grapes grown on site.  A family run operation, Deer Creek’s tasting room is housed in a beautifully restored late 1800’s farmstead home.  There’s an outdoor landscaped area to sit and enjoy a bottle of wine or picnic, and various events are held in the spring and summer months.

Deer Springs offers a full line of reds and whites, so there are plenty of choices.  But we particularly recommend two white wines, the Brianna and the Firefly White.  Both wines are semi dry with a tinge of sweetness, but the most impressive characteristic of both are the tropical fruit flavors.  Prairie Sunrise was another winner, a bit drier, almost in the chardonnay style.

Our favorite Deer Springs red wine was a toss up between Prairie Sunset and Autumn Woods (love those names!).  Prairie Sunset is a blend of St. Vincent and St. Croix grapes, deep violet in color, with flavors of dark ripe plums.  Autumn Woods checks in a tad drier, with smoky and spicy characteristics that had us thinking of a pairing with steaks or barbecue.  Several bottles were added to our blossoming Nebraska wine collection!

Our final winery on this trip was Nebraska’s largest and one of the most well known, James Arthur Vineyards, open since 1997 in the town of Raymond and only 15 minutes from Lincoln.

Situated in the hilly countryside adjacent to a 20 acre vineyard, James Arthur Vineyards offers plenty of seating on their large convered porch or under the shade of three gazebos.  Enjoy a bottle of wine outside, paired with one of several snacking baskets filled with specialty foods direct from local Nebraska purveyors.

We enjoyed one of the most interesting wines we tasted on our Nebraska trip this particular afternoon.  It’s Snowy Egret, a white wine made from a grape called Geisenheim.  Slightly sweet, with an unmistakeable grapefruit aroma and tang, it’s a highly unique style and very drinkable.  Best of all, proceeds for every bottle sold are donated to the Lincoln Children’s Zoo.

Just as interesting was San Realto, a red wine almost in the Sangria style.  The winery staff calls San Realto a red wine for people who don’t like dry reds.  It’s made with DeChaunac grapes with a small amount of Concord grapes added for sweetness.  And then there’s Gamebird White, slightly oakey and complex, made with St. Pepin grapes grown in the James Arthur Vineyard. 

James Arthur Vineyards will ship their wines (depending where you live), so jump in, order some, and try a real taste of Nebraska.

Reflections on Nebraska

Discovering wine is a lot of fun, and Nebraska wine was a great discovery for us.  Before this trip, we’d never tasted a Nebraska wine.  Winemakers here are proud of their craft, and we were particularly impressed with their desire to use local grapes in their winemaking process.  And with shipping regulations gradually easing, it’s more convenient than ever to try Nebraska wine. 

At some point, we plan to come back and explore the rest of Nebraska’s wineries.  There are several in western Nebraska, and a few more in the planning stages.  The Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association is moving ahead with promotional ideas to help market and support the state’s wine industry, which will undoubtedly heighten the profile of Nebraska wines. 

If your travel plans take you through the midwest on Interstate 80, be sure to stop over in both Omaha and Lincoln.  We truly enjoyed the great food, local attractions, and most of all the genuine Midwestern hospitality.

History Of Plum Trees And Their Hybrids

The documentation of ancient plums growing in antiquity is sparse. The best evidence of that oldest existence is best documented through America’s most famous pomologist, Luther Burbank, who reported in his twelve volume botanical literary classic, Small Fruits, Volume IV page 136, that the European plum, Prunus domestica, and its ancestor fruit originated in the Caucasus Mountains near the Caspian Sea. Burbank detailed evidence that the prune (dried plum) was a staple food of the Tartars, Mongols, Turks, and Huns “who maintained a crude horticulture from a very early period.” Several websites have put forth the absurd idea that, because the European plum, Prunus domestica, seeds were not found in the ruins of Pompeii after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, “whereas, most other old world fruits were,” that this plum could be concluded to be a recent hybrid of “spontaneous chromosome” doubling to produce a hexaploid offspring.

The earliest reference to plum history in the American colonies came from Prince Nursery of Flushing, New York, that was established in 1737 and reported in 1771 in an advertisement “33 kinds of plums” for sale. These plum trees were no doubt European plums, Prunus domestica.

After the year 1755, Henry Laurens, who was a guest and friend of Wililam Bartram, introduced olives, limes, ginger, everbearing strawberry, red raspberry, and blue grapes into the United States. From the south of France he introduced apples, pears, plums, and the white Chasselas grape which bore abundantly. Henry Laurens lived in Charleston, South Carolina and served as a President of the Continental Congress.

William Bartram described two species of American plums in his famous book, Travels, in his 1792 trip to Georgia, where he identified the Chicasaw plum, Prunus chicasaw, and in Alabama, he found a wild plum, Prunus indica.

Luther Burbank contributed more toward improving and hybridizing plum trees of different species than any other person in history. His work on the plum group of stone fruits stands apart from any other person for his unequaled contribution to improving various fruits that are grown and enjoyed today.

Burbank states that his importation of twelve plum seedlings in the year 1885 was the “most important importation of fruit bearers ever made at a single time into America.”

Burbank brought plums from all over the world and intercrossed them in a giant “melting pot” to produce the best characteristics and to reject the wrong ones. These genetic plum mixtures were recombined for many generations and resulted in plum hybrids today that are so different from the original species as to appear to be new species.

Burbank stated that he spent more time hybridizing plums than with any other plant breeding program, and he reported that he screened 7.5 million plum hybrid seedling crosses before releasing outstanding cultivars for sale. His famous line of plum trees that were popular in the late 1890’s are still admired and grown commercially for sale and in backyard gardens today, such as Burbank, Santa Rosa, Wickson, Golden, Satsuma, Shiro, and Ozark Premier. His first huge success was applauded by USDA Professor, H.E. Van Deman, who suggested that the pick-of-the-lot creation of Luther Burbank be named after its creator, thus, the “Burbank Plum.”

The most successful crosses between plums come from the Japanese plum, the most exotic, ‘Satsuma,’ the name suggested by Professor H.E. Van Deman of the USDA, who identified it as being imported from the Satsuma province in Japan. This unique plum grew a red skin with a pale-blue netting bloom overlay. The pulp was dark purplish-red, firm, tasty with an excellent quality to be preferred for home use.

Burbank’s experimental species were Japanese plums, Prunus triflora, that grew wild in Japan and were pickled by the natives. The Japanese plums grew in many colors in skin from white to purple, were large and rather tasteless, but the Japanese natives ate them while green and hard. The Japanese plum genes appear to dominate most hybrid plum offspring. Chinese plums, Prunus simonii, were aromatic, with rich colored skins, a small pit, but the skin cracks and the fruit tastes bitter.

European plums, Prunus domestica, are varied in sizes, largest to small, sweet or sour, complex genes, many colored skins, very widely adaptable, good for fresh eating, drying, or canning. The disadvantage: they are too juicy or watery. “Green Gage” is a well known standard European cultivar. Prunes are very high in sugar content.

Several species of America plums are very hardy and productive to the extent of covering the ground in spring with several layers of fruit. These plums can be tasty but have poor shipping quality. Burbank released an excellent hybrid strain of this cross called “Robinson plum.”

Several American native plum species have been used in hybridization experiments by Luther Burbank. American plums, Prunus Americana, wild goose plums, Prunus hortulans, the chicasaw plum, Prunus augustifolia, Western sand plum, Prunus besseyi, the beach plum, Prunus maritima, and the California wild plum, Prunus subcordata. These native plum trees are unusually cold hardy and frigid temperatures do no harm to them, even in the northernmost part of the central United States.

The “Myrobalan” plum originated as a French species, Prunus cerasifera is used extensively as a peach tree and plum tree rootstock that tends to be compatible with the resulting fruit tree union and appears to be highly resistant to nematodes and root diseases.

Burbank’s goal in hybridizing plums was to produce a tree that had “stability, novelty, variety, hardiness, beauty, shipping quality and adaptability.”

The plum leaves and twigs exhibit many subtle characteristics that can be experienced by the plant hybridizer to predict the future characteristics of fruit that will be grown from small seedling crosses. Most hybridizers known from experience a predictable outcome, even though these plant qualities are too intangible to explain to an audience, like changing facial expressions or minute variations of color changes. If the leaves of a plant are dark red, the fruit will be red. This same phenomenon is applicable to flowers such as the canna lily leaf color, and the red rhizome color; or in the crinum lily cultivars, a red bulb means a red flower; a light green bulb means a white flower.

Luther Burbank developed a seedless plum by hybridizing a French plum cultivar, “Sans noyaii.” These plums develop into various skin colors ranging from white to yellow, orange scarlet, crimson, violet, deep blue, almost black, striped, spotted, and mottled. These seedless plums were delicious and unique, but were never commercially successful with growers or with public demand.

Burbank crossed many plums that had a tendency to produce fruit with a high sugar content, like the sweetness of figs, pineapple and oranges. This high sugar content makes it possible for the plum (prune) to insure long term preservation, when it is dried. The prune contains a thick and tough skin of such texture that is required to not crack when the commercial drying process begins and proceeds to deliver a tasty, honey-sweet fruit that lasts well.

A prune will not dry properly into a marketable fruit, unless the plum contains a sugar concentration of at least 15%. Before drying, the prune is submerged briefly into an alkali solution that prevents future fermentation by preventing microbes from growing on the surface of the skin. For satisfactory prune production commercially, a prune tree must be a reliable grower with an annual substantial crop of fruit. The prune must ripen early, when the days are long and warm and must drop from the tree to avoid expensive picking costs at the proper ripening time. The prune fruit must cure and dry to a black color and grow a small pit. Most prune hybrids have been hybridized from the European plum, Prunus domestica.

There are also three ornamental varieties of flowering plum trees recommend for planting: Newport, Prunus cerasifera ‘Newport’, Purple Pony Prunus cerasifera ‘Purple Pony’, and Red Leaf Plum Prunus cerasifera ‘Thundercloud’, flowering plum trees.

Burbank developed purple leaved plum trees from a French plum ancestor with purple leaves, Prunus pissardi, that commercially are sold as ‘Thundercloud’ flowering plum, Vesuvius, and Othello. Some of these red leaf flowering plums developed by Burbank grew delicious red fruit in addition to the beautiful red ornamental leaves.

Plum fruit is rated high in antioxidant content that offers many health benefits like Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, Niacin, and the minerals; Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Iron.

Burbank sifted out the complexities of plum hybridization and even crossed the plum with the almond, Prunus dulcis, hoping to create a tasty almond kernel and a tasty pulp. He created many crosses with the Apricot, Prunus armeniaca L., and created plumcot trees, a 50/50 blend of plum trees and apricot trees; Pluot trees demonstrate a 75/25 blend of plum trees and apricot trees; and Aprium trees a 75/25 blend of apricot trees and plum trees.

Copyright (c) 2006 Patrick Malcolm

Working Holiday Visas For New Zealand – Seasonal Work And Travel Insurance

A working holiday visa to New Zealand allows you to work in a variety of jobs, with one of the main attractions for many young travellers being seasonal work such as fruit picking and vegetable harvesting. This type of work requires no previous experience, provides training on the job, and is available almost all year round. This article explains the working holiday visa, what seasonal work is available, where and when, and what working holiday travel insurance you will require for your trip.

Working Holiday Visa

With winter settling in over the southern hemisphere, now is the time to start planning your summer trip to New Zealand. If you are eligible, the New Zealand working holiday visa is a perfect opportunity for you to enter New Zealand (NZ) and work legally. NZ currently has agreements with 34 countries and the visa allows you to work here for 12 months, and up to 3 months for any one employer.

You can apply online for your visa on the Immigration NZ website. Here they provide a list of Countries that are part of the working holiday agreement, age and other criteria, and they outline they process you have to follow to successfully apply for your visa. Applying for your visa isn’t hard, and the application usually doesn’t take very long.

Seasonal Work

If you time it right, then you can arrive just in time for fruit picking season. During this season you can pick up work harvesting or packing fruit, vegetables and grapes, pruning trees, and help maintain crops.

The beginning of the season is usually about October, this is when strawberries come into season. The regions strawberries are grown include the Waikato, Hawke’s Bay and Horowhenua. You could stay picking strawberries right through to March, otherwise the summerfruit harvest starts in November in the Hawke’s Bay and December in Central Otago. Summerfruit includes cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums. The season for summerfruit goes through to early March. In mid-February to mid-May you will get the apple harvest in regions mentioned above and in Nelson.

All growers will provide on the job training, so all they require is for you to be fit, and have good vision! Fruit harvesting is the perfect way to see the Country, and meet locals and other travellers while earning money.

Working Holiday Travel Insurance

Whenever you travel it is important to have appropriate travel insurance. If you are travelling to NZ on a work visa, then you are also required to have adequate medical insurance. There is a wide range of travel insurance policies available through a number of different insurers.

Working holiday travel insurance should protect you for a range of activities, including horticultural work, and cover areas such as medical expenses, repatriation, lost baggage, theft etc.

Although NZ is regarded as a safe country to travel there is still theft, especially in many tourist hot spots. Accidents can happen anywhere, and you have to pay for your medical care in NZ, that is why medical insurance is important. Lost baggage, missed flights, cancellations etc, are unforeseeable events that can happen when you travel. Having a suitable travel insurance policy will give you peace of mind when these things happen.

In conclusion, we encourage you to take advantage of the working holiday visa scheme that NZ offers. You should also investigate seasonal work as an option and the many informative websites about this type of work. But most importantly, make sure you take out appropriate working holiday travel insurance to both meet your visa requirements and to give you the peace of mind you need to travel abroad.