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Clear winter roads keep us safe and the...

(BPT) - Across the U.S., more than 70 percent of the population lives in areas affected by snow and ice. Each winter the average driver in these areas will see more than 5 inches of snow on the roads. And when the snow is falling there are few things more comforting than the sight of snowplows and salt trucks making highways safe for commuters, shoppers and travelers.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, snowy, slushy or icy pavement accounts for more than 116,000 Americans injured and over 1,300 killed each year. In fact, 24 percent of all weather-related vehicle crashes occur under such wintry conditions. A study by Marquette University found that effective use of road salt reduced vehicle crashes by 88 percent, injuries by 85 percent and the cost of accidents by 85 percent.

In the Snow Belt, citizens expect roads to always be cleared of snow and ice, no matter how bad the storm, says Bret Hodne, public works director for West Des Moines, Iowa. To help meet those sky-high expectations, Hodne orders salt months before the first snowflake falls. His motto is "don't trust your climate" because if you plan for an average season, it's bound to be a record-setting winter of snow and ice.

Salt was first used in the 1930s for snow and ice control, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that salt became widely adopted by snowfighters as one of the major weapons to keep winter roads safe. In an average Iowa winter, Hodne's department alone uses 4,000 tons of salt and keeps twice that amount in storage. Salt works by lowering the freezing point of water and when applied on already frozen roadways (deicing) it helps to melt the ice. When salt is applied before a freeze sets in (anti-icing) it helps prevent liquid water from becoming ice. This is why drivers will often see salt trucks out and about before the roads start to freeze.

Both methods give tires more traction with the pavement, keeping roads open and safe while protecting lives and commerce. How quickly salt melts frozen water is dependent upon a number of variables, including temperature, time and the rate of application. Fortunately, it is usually not necessary to melt all the snow and ice on a road. Merely destroying or preventing the bond between pavement and frozen water is a more efficient, economical and environmentally sensitive approach. In fact, salt is the single most effective and economical method for treating roadways.

In addition to enhancing the safety of our roads in winter conditions, those snowplows are doing a lot to improve mobility. Snowfighters reduce weather-caused delays and congestion, allowing for emergency vehicles to respond more quickly when people need help, making for shorter travel times for families, allowing kids and parents to get to school and jobs safely and on time.

In fact, a study by IHS Global Insight for the American Highway Users Alliance found that snow- and ice-related delays and shutdowns hurt hourly workers the most. This study also placed a monetary value on fast and effective snow removal and salting. According to the researchers, a state can incur economic losses of between $300 million and $700 million every day that roads are closed and impassable. So, those snowplows are not just helping keep families together and safe, they are helping to keep the lifeblood of our commerce pumping during winter storms — a thing for which we can all be thankful!



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6 tips to help keep your drive distraction-free

(BPT) - As you drive down the street, the threat of potential distractions is everywhere. Federal research shows that distracted driving is a factor in one out of every six crashes, and accounts for 5,000 automobile crash-related fatalities each year.

While teens are commonly associated with distracted-driving issues — particularly texting — the issue affects drivers of all ages. To help reduce distracted driving crash-related injuries, and loss of life, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Auto Alliance) offer these tips to help drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

* Gear up before you go out. Whether it’s your sunglasses, your Bluetooth(R) earpiece or your favorite hat, putting accessories on before starting your car allows you to keep your hands on the wheel, and not your wardrobe while driving.

* Stop for a bite. A quick bite for lunch should be enjoyed in a restaurant, or your non-moving vehicle, instead of on the go while you're driving. This allows you to take a break, enjoy your food and not worry about spilling beverages on yourself.

* Don’t be afraid to pull over. If another matter begs your attention — such as settling a disagreement between your children — pull the car over to handle the situation properly rather than trying to attend to it while you are driving.

* Have a plan in place. Sometimes this is easier said than done. However, if you are traveling somewhere for the first time, you should understand your route before starting the drive. Program your GPS, or share printed directions with your navigator before you depart.

* Call them back. Cell phone usage is one of the leading causes of distracted driving-related crashes and not all of them are related solely to texting. If your phone rings while you’re in the car and you do not have a hands-free headset already on, let the caller go to voicemail. You can always call them back when you arrive at your destination or your next stop.

* If you don’t need it, store it. Sporting equipment, kids' toys or groceries, your car is the transport home for many things and sometimes those items can jostle back and forth while you're driving — particularly on those sharp turns. And when things start moving, your natural reaction is to take your eyes off the road and reach for them. Instead, secure items in the trunk or in another storage compartment before the drive.

Keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel is one of the most important things you do every single day you choose to drive so be sure to apply the tips above and make driving your No. 1 priority. Your loved ones and those you share the road with will thank you for it. For even more helpful tips and strategies to minimize driving distractions, visit www.decidetodrive.org.



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5 late-summer road trip tips

(BPT) - Last call for your summer road trip. Grab the family, call your friends: The Great American Road Trip still awaits. Don’t let summer fade into the sunset without a last hurrah.

According to the Auto Club, you won’t be alone: 37.5 million Americans hit the road during the Independence Day holiday this year, up 2.9 percent from 2016. And to no one’s surprise, the Auto Club says the old-school, family-type road trip and visits to national parks and theme parks remain the most popular types of vacations for families.

They say getting there is half the fun, so before you head out on a “roadie,” here are a few tips to make the trip safer and more enjoyable.

* Be flexible: It’s always wise to plan ahead, and leave a little extra time in the master schedule, especially if you’re traveling with kids. But it’s also fun to be spontaneous, so don’t plan too far ahead. Maybe you want to stop and see the world’s largest thermometer in Baker, California. Make time for the fun stuff that’s off the beaten path.

* Lost and found: There’s nothing more frustrating than being lost, especially while on vacation. Use apps like Waze and Google Maps to help you get around traffic and get to your destination.

* Must-haves: Don’t forget to bring: the cell phone charger, flashlight, batteries, bottled water/juice, first-aid kit, snacks, music and toys/games/videos for the kids.

* Clean sweep: Since your family or friends will be in your vehicle for several hours a day, be courteous and throw out the ancient Big Gulp cups, food wrappers, empty sugar packs, old gym clothes and all the junk you’ve tossed in your backseat the last few months. Besides, you’ll need to make room for all the silly souvenirs you’re going to buy along the way.

* Check, please: One thing you definitely need on a road trip is a reliable vehicle, so you’ll want to make sure yours is in excellent, road-worthy shape. Pre-check everything, from all the fluids to your tires. Especially your tires even the spare.

I can’t say enough about the importance of your tires, especially if you’re heading out on a family road trip,” says Fred Koplin, senior director of marketing and motorsports for Yokohama Tire Corporation, manufacturer of a variety of tires for passenger cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks.Tires are the only part of a vehicle that actually touches the road and they affect everything from braking and steering to comfort and handling.

Koplin says while it doesn’t matter what type of vehicle you drive, it’s super important that you have the right tires to get the best handling, ride and treadwear.

For a fun summer road adventure and daily driving, too Koplin recommends a touring tire, which combines the comfort and tread life of a passenger tire with the handling and sports-like feel of a performance tire. “The Avid Ascend is a great example of a touring tire,” says Koplin, because it offers exceptional all-season performance, remarkable treadlife and excellent fuel efficiency.”

To learn more about touring tires, Koplin says to check tire company websites like www.yokohamatire.com or your tire retailer’s website for more help.

Koplin offers more tire tips that will help you throughout the year:

* Check tire pressure at least once a month this takes about five minutes. Always use an accurate tire gauge and make sure the valve is free of debris and water. Consult the vehicle’s owner’s manual or placard on the driver’s door to determine proper tire pressure. The correct tire pressure is specified by the manufacturer of the vehicle, not the tire manufacturer. Tire pressure should be checked when the tires are cold at least four hours since the vehicle was last driven.

* Check your tread depth by placing a penny upside down into a tread groove. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tire’s tread has worn down to the legal limit and you need to buy new tires.

* Tires should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch, the lowest legal limit. It’s best to replace them before they reach 2/32 for optimal performance, especially in bad weather.

* Rotating your tires regularly promotes even wear of the tread. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.

* Check your alignment at least once a year or sooner, especially if the vehicle is pulling to one side. This will help avoid uneven wear on tire tread. Tire balance should also be monitored.

For more tire care and safety tips, visit www.yokohamatire.com/tires-101 or www.USTires.org.



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Coffee tourism in El Salvador jolts interest of...

(BPT) - Americans' love for coffee is inspiring them to embark on java journeys around the world, leading them to stunning locations like El Salvador where coffee is an important part of daily life. In fact, coffee farming has fueled the economy in El Salvador and defined its rich culture for more than 200 years.

Today, it is estimated there are nearly 20,000 Salvadoran coffee growers producing the elite Bourbon and Pacarma varietals throughout the growing regions of Apaneca-Ilamatepec, Chichontepec, the Cacahuatique Mountain Range and Tecapa-Chichontepec. The end product is shipped around the world and enjoyed by millions of people every day so much that the country's coffee production is becoming a main attraction for tourists. In addition to visiting El Salvador to surf and hike the volcanoes, travelers are now coming near and far to experience firsthand the country's world-renowned coffee from the source.

The Coffee Route of El Salvador

Coffee cultivation is considered an art form in El Salvador, and its producers are highly skilled, acquiring deep knowledge from past generations. Visitors who want to experience El Salvador’s coffee culture can learn about the process from plant to cup — the proper methods of growing coffee beans, harvesting, sorting, drying, roasting and the delicate process the fruit goes through before it can be brewed.

The coffee harvest period in El Salvador begins in October in the low-altitude and extends until March in the higher altitude areas. If traveling during this period, consider checking out the El Carmen Estate, a stunning coffee plantation founded in 1930 in the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range next to the quaint town of Concepción de Ataco.

Consider taking the integral tour, which is a 3-hour immersive adventure into all things coffee. First, visitors are welcomed at La Casona, the original farm house, where they are invited to taste a cup of Ataco Gourmet coffee prepared in a chorreador dripper.

Next, guests enjoy a guided tour around the coffee mill to learn the full coffee process. If you visit in December or January, you can see the red Bourbon cherries being hand-picked. The beans are then pulped at the wet mill to remove the outer skin, fermented and washed with spring water before being sun-dried on clay patios.

Visitors to El Carmen participate in a cup-tasting table and learn the basics of coffee sampling. On the tour, everyone enjoys a country lunch and leaves with a pound of Ataco Gourmet coffee. The high quality of El Carmen’s coffee is due to the estate’s prime growing conditions and a meticulous approach to harvesting and processing.

Coffee Tours in El Salvador

You may opt to explore plantations like El Carmen independently, or, decide to take a tour where experts lead you along the dedicated tourist route. Some of the fascinating cities you may visit on the Coffee Route include Tacuba, Las Chinama, Chalchuapa, Santa Ana and El Congo.

Along the Coffee Route, you'll have the opportunity to explore charming colonial villages, national parks, coffee plantations, rain forests and artisan towns. A variety of accommodations are available here, allowing visitors the opportunity to enjoy a full immersion in the scenic surroundings during a relaxing, overnight stay. It is certain to be an experience you never forget, and you'll be surprised just how much you learn about coffee production.

Just imagine a vacation full of spectacular surf, breathtaking volcanoes and what very well could be the best coffee you've ever tasted. Coffee tourism is heating up, so when planning your next vacation, consider El Salvador for once-in-a-lifetime experiences and java journeys that your friends will envy. To learn more, visit www.elsalvador.travel.



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Don't let asthma ruin the holidays

(BPT) - With colder months arriving, there are a few things on everybody’s minds: festive treats, gift shopping and of course, time spent with family and friends. As many people look forward to the holiday season, asthma sufferers need to be aware and prepared for all the triggers this time of the year can bring. The change in weather, traveling or being in a relative’s home with new allergens can all trigger an asthma attack.

Charmayne Anderson has been living with asthma for as long as she can remember. Now, as Director of Advocacy at the Allergy and Asthma Network, she educates others on how to prepare for an asthma attack and enjoy life — and the holidays — unencumbered by their condition. After living with asthma through childhood, adolescence and now adulthood, she has witnessed an evolution of asthma medications and respiratory treatments firsthand.

“When I was diagnosed with asthma as a child, there were no inhalers or similar treatments for us to take home,” Anderson said. “My parents would have to take me for after-hours emergency care visits for an injection to help get my breathing under control.”

Anderson, along with the approximately 25 million asthma patients in the U.S., has more advanced and effective treatment options today to help manage symptoms and asthma attacks. For most people with asthma, having a rescue inhaler on-hand at all times is crucial, whether at home or on the go. Since asthma triggers may change frequently, it’s difficult to predict when an attack could strike. Particularly at this time of year, walking in the chilly winter air could be enough to cause wheezing and shortness of breath.

“For someone who has asthma, it can be a life-or-death situation. When you’re experiencing an attack, even if it’s minor, if you can’t get relief immediately it just escalates and becomes even greater,” said Anderson. “Having my rescue inhaler with me at all times and being able to check the dose counter is critical.”

One modern feature of asthma inhalers that has been especially helpful for Anderson and others areis dose counters integrated into rescue inhalers. For Anderson, dose counters serve as a forewarning that her inhaler is running low. Such a seemingly small reminder has certainly made a big difference; Anderson believes dose counters have helped her be more proactive in filling her prescription and being aware how much medication is left.

Every year, asthma accounts for 10.5 million doctor visits and 1.6 million emergency room visits in the United States. By utilizing dose counters and maintaining an asthma treatment plan, asthma sufferers like Anderson can help avoid emergency situations like these and travel with some confidence knowing they’re prepared.

Anderson said, “Prior to using a rescue inhaler with a dose counter built in, there were many times when I was away, out or not necessarily paying attention to how much medicine was in my inhaler. I'd get to a point when I would need it and I realized there was nothing in it, and I'd scramble to refill it.”

Now, when it comes time to travel for the holidays, the number one thing on Anderson’s to-do list is to make sure her and her children’s inhalers are filled.

“Before heading out of town I check everyone’s dose counter to make sure there is enough medication,” said Anderson. “Reaching out to a pharmacy while you’re traveling for the holidays is hard, especially when you’re experiencing an asthma attack and in an emergency situation.”

For additional information on the importance of dose counters, visit KnowYourCount.com.

Ms. Anderson has been compensated for her time in contributing to this program.

RESP-41556

September 2017



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What's the deal with teen driving crashes?

(BPT) - It’s no surprise that teen drivers get into more traffic collisions than their older counterparts, but why? Some reasons include less driving experience, a higher willingness to take risks and passenger distraction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 350 teen drivers got into collisions due to some type of distraction, according to data from 2015. Forty-one of those fatalities were because of other occupants in the vehicle.

Forty-six states and Washington, D.C., limit teens from driving with passengers other than immediate family members until they receive full license privileges. Most often, they’re restricted to only driving with one passenger for the first six months. However, NHTSA teen fatal accident data reveals that 16-year-olds drive with the most passengers, averaging 2.7 occupants who were involved in fatal accidents compared to 2.5 for 17-year-olds; 2.2 for 18-year-olds; and 2.1 for 19- and 20-year-olds.

“Passengers can be a huge distraction in the car, especially for young drivers who may not have the same reaction time as more experienced drivers,” said Randy Petro, Mercury Insurance’s chief claims officer. “Graduated driver’s licenses exist for a reason and parents need to be diligent with their teens to ensure they’re adhering to these rules and not driving around with their friends before the law says they can. Even then, it’s important to keep their focus on the road.”

Passenger distractions aren’t the only causes of teen driving accidents. Here are a few more of which you should be aware.

* Time of day: 342 accidents and 394 fatalities happen at 6 p.m., respectively.

* Day of the week: Weekends are the worst time to drive, but more accidents happen on Saturdays (1,007 accidents and 1,191 fatalities).

* Speeding: 1,505 accidents were directly related to speeding.

Mercury Insurance created the Drive Safe Challenge to provide a platform for parents and teens to have serious discussions about driving. Its goal is to reduce the number of teen crashes and fatalities, and it includes tips to help parents communicate with their kids about appropriate driving behavior, as well as useful information and videos to assist teens with being safe behind the wheel. It has recently been updated to include common causes for teen driving accidents by state. Texas teens, for example, experience the most teen driving crashes with 709, while Washington, D.C., has the fewest at 2.

Be sure to talk to your kids and set ground rules before they get in the car, because being a good driver may even qualify them for an auto insurance discount.



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5 tips for planning memorable holiday travel

(BPT) - The holiday season can be the perfect time to travel. With school and work days off, it's a special way to reconnect with family and friends as you get to bask in that cheerful holiday spirit.

Planning a holiday-themed trip is easier than you think, if you keep a few tips in mind. Follow these five steps and you'll be on your way to making vacation memories that will last a lifetime.

Accessibility

You're guaranteed to feel like a Scrooge if you're stuck on a long flight or gridlocked roads. When planning a holiday trip, look for a location that’s an easy drive or quick flight for everyone. Big cities might be easy to get to, but they are hectic during the holidays. Alternative destinations like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, are just as convenient to get to and may not have as much travel congestion.

Accommodations

It will be your home away from home for the holidays, so be smart when selecting your rental to set your trip up for success. Research accommodations that keep everyone close but comfortable, such as a condotel or beach home. Both these options offer plentiful space, including kitchens, so you can whip up favorite family foods before relaxing to watch a classic holiday movie together before bed.

Unique events

One of the best parts of the holidays is access to unique events that don't happen any other time of year. Once you determine a destination, research special events in the area. For example, grab a cup of cider and walk amid the soft glow of more than 5,500 hand-lit candles at the Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens in Myrtle Beach. The breathtaking beauty is enjoyed by couples and families alike.

Fun experiences

To create a memorable trip, it's important to add a little holiday magic. Bring your favorite holiday book with you to read before bed. Decorate holiday cookies at the local bakery or pick up a gingerbread house kit at a local supermarket. Sign up to meet Santa on the beach and get the perfect holiday photo to send back to family and friends. Ask around and you're sure to find more than a few festive adventures for your travel crew.

Traditional cheer

Just because you're away from home doesn't mean you can't enjoy traditional holiday fun. Research local celebrations that feature caroling, sleigh rides and tree-lighting ceremonies. If you're in Myrtle Beach, visit Ripley’s Aquarium for the Festival of Trees, which includes trees decorated to perfectly represent each of the 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico. Find your state's tree to see how well it captures the heart of your home!

With these five tips you're sure to have your best holiday yet. Years from now you'll look back and everyone will still be able to talk in detail about their favorite travel experience.



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The Caribbean is open for cruise vacations

(BPT) - Contrary to what some may think, the hurricanes in September had little to no impact on the vast majority of the Caribbean — a far-reaching region covering more than 1 million square miles.

In fact, of the nearly 100 ports in the Caribbean, almost 90 percent are open and fully operational — and welcoming thousands of cruise ship passengers every day.

To help make sure consumers are aware that the Caribbean is open for business, the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) has launched a campaign and website — CaribbeanIsOpen.com — to provide the latest updates.

The Caribbean is one of the world’s most popular regions for cruise travelers. The islands are not only conveniently accessible, but offer spectacular beaches, legendary crystal-clear waters, vibrant towns and popular shore excursions.

The locals welcome vacationers to their islands as tourism, and the cruise industry in particular is critical for the economy.

According to the FCCA, cruising generated $2.4 billion in direct economic impact for the Caribbean and created nearly 55,000 jobs and $842 million in wages throughout the region during the 2014-15 cruise season. This is in addition to the indirect jobs created in supporting industries, such as providing supplies for shore excursions, ports and restaurants.

“Seasoned cruisers to the Caribbean understand that most of the islands have been unaffected,” said Carolyn Spencer Brown, chief content strategist for the website Cruise Critic. “They also understand tourism is a top driver for the islands’ economic well-being and that cruises are a large part of that equation. Because of that, it’s important for both cruise lines and travelers to continue to support so many of the Caribbean islands that are ready for business and eager to provide travelers with the incredible vacations they’ve come to expect from the region."

Now is an ideal time to plan a Caribbean cruise vacation. Contact a local travel agent or check out cruise line websites to find plenty of options for cruise vacations.



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5 savvy strategies to calm your travel worries

(BPT) - Traveling can make for some of the best moments of your life, but it is not without its challenges. After all, there are rooms to book, activities to plan and, of course, luggage to worry about. Without the right strategies, these challenges can seem pretty daunting.

How daunting? A survey from Honeywell shows that thinking about luggage and whether it’s been successfully loaded onto the plane is one of the top worries travelers have when embarking on a new trip. Fortunately, there’s a solution to that and many other challenges employed by savvy travelers. How savvy are you? Read on to see how many of these strategies you already use and find some new tactics to round out your portfolio.

* Downsize your wallet. Your billfold is a wealth of personal and financial information, but you shouldn't keep all your eggs in the same basket. Clear your wallet of everything except a credit card, a backup and your insurance information and leave the rest at home. Pack some cash in your carry-on and you'll ensure a missing wallet won't be a total loss.

* Travel during the off-season. Travel can be expensive, especially if you’re flying during peak season. This makes winter travel to many locations significantly cheaper. However, many people refuse to fly during this time because they believe the weather will hinder their flight. Fortunately, many delays can be avoided thanks to modern technology. Honeywell’s GoDirect Weather allows pilots to safely navigate through snowstorms, hurricanes and other adverse weather conditions to provide you a safe, smooth and affordable flight to your destination.

* Pack a one-day survival kit. Lost luggage can happen to anyone, and that's why it's important to have a backup plan. Enter your carry-on. Instead of using it only for the items you want with you on the plane, pack it full of everything you’ll need to survive for 24 hours in your destination. That way, if your luggage should be misplaced at arrival, you won’t be stuck scrambling for everything once you land.

* Breathe easy while flying. Forty-four percent of survey respondents said they felt the air quality inside the aircraft cabin was so poor it could make people sick. This is a myth, and modern environmental control systems, designed by Honeywell, not only keep the cabin pressure comfortable, they scrub the air regularly of toxins, microbes, molds, viruses and even smells. This means you can breathe deep and focus on your destination without sacrificing your comfort.

* Do your research. Getting the lay of the land is one of the most exciting parts of traveling to a new location, and a little preparation allows you to enjoy the journey without getting lost. Make the most of your time while you're traveling by planning some activities in advance and mapping them out. You’ll save time when you land if you know how far the airport is from your hotel and that hot restaurant you want to try.

Never stop traveling

Travelers today are savvier than ever, but old myths die hard. In planning your next adventure, focus on the tips above and ignore the myths. It's a surefire strategy to enjoy every moment of your travels and create memories that last a lifetime.

Read more about Honeywell Aerospace on the Follow the Aero blog.



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Holiday havoc? Consider it handled

(BPT) - The holiday season is full of magic and wonder - until your flight gets cancelled, your budget is blown and you fall ill at the worst possible time. Fortunately, staying merry despite common holiday conundrums is easier than you think with the right attitude and a few simple steps.

Here are some of the most notorious holiday hurdles, with practical advice for overcoming them and enjoying the best of the season.

Holiday hang-up: Blown budget
The holidays can get expensive fast. Buying something for everyone on your list shouldn't put you in debt. Instead, think outside the box.

Solution: Organize a gift exchange where each person draws one name and buys one gift. Additionally, consider homemade gifts to cut costs, as well as experiences, like taking kids sledding or ice skating.

Holiday hang-up: Sickness
From holiday travelers being confined in planes and trains to loved ones gathering under one room for festivities, it's no surprise that germs are rampant during the holidays. Germs are not a gift anyone wants to receive and they can quickly strip a joyous occasion of all its fun. In fact, a recent survey by Robitussin found that 68 percent of people have been sick and miserable during holiday gatherings and 24 percent have had a holiday gathering ruined because a family member was sick.

Solution: Tis the season of giving, but sharing your germs will get you on Santa's naughty list. One sick person at Christmas dinner can turn into the whole family ringing in the New Year while sick in bed. If you feel ill, be prepared with a medicine like Robitussin Severe Multi-Symptom Cough Cold + Flu, which provides relief for your worst symptoms. If you're still not feeling yourself when festivities are occurring, it's best to stay home. Try putting on comfy pajamas and binge watching your favorite holiday movies while you rest up. Sure, it stinks to miss the fun, but in the long run you're protecting others from getting sick and giving yourself the rest you need to get well again.

Holiday hang-up: Kids get the "gimmes"
Commercialism runs high during the holiday season. Kids' wish lists seem to grow with each passing day. You want them to focus on the "season of giving" and they want to focus on "the season of getting."

Solution: Show kids how good it feels to give back. There are many ways to help those in need, especially around the holidays. Try volunteering at a local nonprofit, donating gifts to a local shelter or assisting an elderly neighbor by shoveling their driveway. Be sure to encourage your kids to participate, too!

Holiday hang-up: Travel problems
Whether it's a missed connection, delayed flight or the weather is too bad to drive, travel is difficult during the holiday season.

Solution: If you're stuck at home, make the best of it with a staycation. Sleep in, make yourself a big breakfast and do all the things you never get to do. Explore the fun that's available in your hometown, whether that's a trip to the museum or splurging on tickets to the local theater. Spontaneous adventures can be some of the most memorable!

Holiday hang-up: You burned the food
Did you mess up Grandma's famous apple pie? Do your gingerbread men look a little deranged? Are your kids concerned that Santa will refuse your holiday cookies? Kitchen fails happen to even the most skilled chefs.

Solution: Always have a backup. An extra store-bought pie or cookies in the cupboard provide peace of mind. Plus, during the holiday crunch, avoid trying new recipes. Best to stick to tried-and-true for the best shot at success.

Holiday hang-up: Unexpected party guests
When your cousin RSVP'd for one but ended up bringing his new girlfriend, there's no need to panic. Unexpected holiday guests can put you in a tailspin, but being flexible is all part of a memorable holiday adventure.

Solution: Don't stress! Now is a good time to remember the old saying, "the more the merrier!" Put out an extra table setting, grab that bottle of wine from the cupboard and slap a bow on the top for a quick gift. Savvy hosts and hostesses will plan ahead by keeping a few extra gifts on hand, so whether there's an extra child looking for a present under the tree or an adult who needs a bit of holiday magic, you're always set with the perfect present.



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5 ways your hotel can help you live a healthy...

(BPT) - Whether traveling for business or pleasure, a trip away from home means a shift away from your regular routine. In some ways, this can be fun and exciting, but if you're not careful, such a trip can also hinder the healthy lifestyle you've worked so hard to create.


Fortunately, even the most enjoyable trip doesn't have to mean needing a few days to return to your normal routine. There are ways to maintain your healthy lifestyle, no matter where you are by utilizing the facilities within your hotel. Keep these five tips in mind during your upcoming travel so you don't have to sacrifice your healthy lifestyle while away from home.


* Start the day right. Ever heard the saying breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Of course you have, and guess what? It's still the most important meal of the day even when you're traveling. Look for a hotel that offers complimentary breakfast and take advantage of this benefit. A healthy meal to start your day will give you more energy and help you feel less hungry later.


* Save time to exercise. The right hotel can make you feel as though you've moved into your gym. Homewood Suites by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton are loaded with fitness amenities including state-of-the-art fitness areas and swimming pools for a quick lap. Build some time into your day to utilize these facilities and your workout regimen won't miss a beat just because you are traveling.


* Plan it all out. If your visit is for business, plan as many activities around your professional obligations as possible, and if you're here for pleasure, fill your calendar with fun, healthy activities. You can make better use of your limited time by being active, which supports a good calorie burn and protects you from snacking while you watch television.


* Cook in when you can. A fun meal out can be a delicious way to explore a new area, but the healthier, more cost-effective avenue is to eat in whenever possible. Homewood Suites by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton feature fully equipped kitchens and in-suite cooking utensils and supplies to make cooking in-house a breeze. And if you're worried about finding the supplies you need, take advantage of the grocery shopping delivery service at Homewood Suites. Compile your shopping list and you can enjoy delicious meals like this quick, creamy shrimp pasta all in the comfort of your suite.


* Take the scenic route. At home you know the best bike routes, running paths and trails. On the road you lack that expertise, but you can still use this time to explore your surroundings. Research nearby parks and bike rentals before your trip and schedule time to get active.

Traveling to a new city doesn't mean you should abandon your old routine. If you choose the right hotel and plan ahead of time, there's no reason your latest adventure can't be rewarding to both you and your healthy lifestyle. To learn more about Homewood Suites by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton, visit www.hiltonbringit.com.



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5 preparation tips to make any cruise smooth...

(BPT) - When it comes to a dream cruise, everyone has their own idea of the ideal vacation. The beautiful ocean waves breaking against the bow beneath you, the warm breeze blowing against your hair and the lure of new, unexplored destinations off in the distance. If you’re lucky, maybe your dream vacation is already in the works and you’re eagerly counting down the days until it’s time to board. And if you’re still in the dreaming phases of your perfect cruise, you realize that dreaming of your vacation is almost as much fun as living it… almost.

No matter where you are in the process, the perfect cruise is more than just picking your dream destination; there are plenty of other things to consider as well. Whether a minor or monumental task, these tips are your starting point. Satisfy each of these considerations and you’ll be on your way to making your cruise everything you dreamed it could be.

* Always be on the lookout for the best deal. If you could enjoy the same amazing cruise at a fraction of the price, why wouldn’t you? Deals are not hard to come by in the cruise industry and the key is to book early. Do your research, look for package offers and book your trip as soon as you can. The wait may be difficult but an early booking could save you hundreds of dollars.

* Pick the right cruise line. Your dream cruise rests on the right ship, so don't leave this choice to chance. MSC Seaside is a sun-lover’s paradise with plenty of outdoor space to take in the Caribbean sunshine and stunning views, thanks to its unique outdoor, ocean level promenade. When you step inside for a bite to eat, you'll discover MSC Seaside is home to celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi’s first restaurant at sea. Dine on gourmet Asian cuisine while enjoying the spectacular view and your cruise will be everything you dreamed it could be.

* Pack smart and know what’s included. Your cruise line is your home away from home for the duration of your trip, but that doesn’t mean you have to bring home with you. Many of your daily needs will be provided by the cruise line itself. Take the time to learn what is included with your package and you can save money and headaches by not duplicating your inventory.

* Plan activities for the whole family. While the cruise itself is enjoyable, it’s the activities you take part in while on the ship that truly make your vacation unforgettable. Look for a cruise that offers activities for your entire family. MSC Seaside, for example, features the most interactive water park at sea with slide boarding technology, two of the longest zip lines at sea, a 4D cinema and two Formula 1 racing simulators. And if you plan to bring small children, they will love the ship’s LEGO-themed playrooms along with an entire experience day with themed games and competitions.

* Arrive early. Weeks and months of planning using the tips above could be all for naught if you don’t heed this last piece of advice. After all, flights can be delayed or cars can break down and if such a thing should happen to you, planning a little extra time into your schedule ensures that when the ship does leave, you’re on it, no matter what happened on the road to get there.

Your dream vacation is waiting for you. If you’re in the planning stage for your cruise, applying the tips above can help you finalize your strategy and finally get on the ship. And if you’re still in the dreaming stage, now’s the perfect time to bring that dream to life. Planning a cruise is easier than you may think and just a few little steps can put you on board for a vacation you’ll never forget.

To get started on planning your cruise, visit www.msccruises.com.



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Must-see Pittsburgh: In city experiencing...

(BPT) - As more Americans choose to invest in experiences, fall and winter getaways take priority spots on desk planners. Many will visit Pittsburgh, to explore its evolution as a rust belt city that has polished its grit.


This once smoky steel-making capital of America turned incubator for new technologies is fittingly welcoming Ian Cheng’s Emissary Sunsets The Self, a work of art that contemplates evolution and existence. The artist’s signature animated worlds, populated with artificially-intelligent characters, will play on a massive LED screen in the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Forum Gallery.


The edgy exhibition is among this fall’s visual arts attractions that underscore Pittsburgh’s cachet as a cultural and artistic hub.


The Carnegie, founded in 1895 by industrialist Andrew Carnegie, is known for its extensive and impressive art collection. A collaboration with The Studio Museum in Harlem also will allow patrons to watch American stories unfold through the visions of 40 artists.


The Frick Pittsburgh, where pioneering industrialist Henry Clay Frick lived at the turn of the 20th century, is the exclusive North American venue for a blockbuster exhibition, Undressed: A History of Fashion in Underwear (Oct. 21, 2017 – Jan. 7, 2018), organized by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Unusual, yes. Quite simply, it’s a serious look at an alluring subject: the fascinating history of underwear design from the 18th century to the present.


Before steel overshadowed Pittsburgh’s other industries — think Steel City, the Pittsburgh Steelers and U.S. Steel Tower — the region was the center of American glass making. Now, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is mesmerizing guests with larger-than-life glass sculptures inspired by nature in SUPER. NATURAL., the new exhibition from renowned artist Jason Gamrath.


This striking visual artwork adds to the buzz about Phipps’ seasonal flower shows. The Victorian greenhouse, a centerpiece of the city’s Oakland neighborhood since 1893, has evolved into one of the region’s most vibrant cultural attractions with its fresh perspectives and coveted green building standards.


At The Andy Warhol Museum, named for another of the city’s famous native sons, the current project of activist and artist Bekezela Mguni, Ancestral Lines and Pittsburgh Loves Dogs, remains through Oct. 29. Exploring the experiences of African Americans, these works are typical of evocative installations at The Warhol, a museum unlike any other in the world.


With seven floors of challenging exhibits, including a room filled with floating silver pillows, The Warhol offers daily workshops, demonstrations and gallery talks, ranking it among the best places to find the learning environment and sense of community that only a museum can provide.


Just a short drive outside of Pittsburgh, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg showcases southwestern Pennsylvania’s rich agricultural and industrial past. With a collection spanning four centuries and newly expanded, The Westmoreland has evolved as a one-of-a-kind space.


Its exhibition, A Timeless Perfection: American Figurative Sculpture in the Classical Spirit — Gifts from Dr. Michael L. Nieland (Oct. 7, 2017 - Dec. 31, 2017), will present extraordinary academically trained sculptors who emerged at the height of the Gilded Age.


When leisure time beckons, many other visual arts await exploration in contemporary galleries and cultural gems within Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods. If you seek engaging and inspiring experiences, visits to museums and galleries can provide memorable moments — and the opportunity to reflect on what makes Pittsburgh charmingly distinctive.



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Road salt means safe roads

(BPT) - State and municipal departments of transportation are gearing up their winter maintenance plans to prepare for snow and ice. In addition to plows, road salt is an important tool to keep roads clear. Every year these agencies stockpile sufficient salt to last the winter season and store it in strategically placed barns.

"Snowfighters" (those responsible to clear snow from roadways) are out in force in salt trucks before snow and ice is expected. They pretreat the roads with salt brine, a mix of road salt and water. This brine sticks to the road surface and helps prevent ice from forming in the first place, making winter travel safer. And the safety issue is a substantial one. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation show that there are about 115,000 people injured every year on snowy, slushy or icy pavements and more than 1,600 people killed each year on winter roads.

The good news is that a Marquette University study showed that a good winter maintenance program that uses road salt reduces accidents on winter roads by about 88 percent and can reduce injuries by up to 85 percent.

A key goal for many agencies is tracking their winter maintenance actions in great detail and ensuring that their actions are optimized to meet their goal of safe roads for the driving public. In Idaho, for example, new salt-spreading units allow them to track how much salt they apply to the road, and other sensors allow them to check that the road is responding as expected to the salt application, and is not getting slippery. This also helps reduce costs. They have seen a 29 percent reduction in annual winter maintenance costs since introducing the new technology.

Maintaining mobility is also a big concern, as people need to get to work or the grocery store and kids need to get to school. Clear roads allow ambulances and other emergency vehicles to perform their life-saving services. A study for the American Highway Users Alliance found that the cost of having roads closed down is substantial - between $300 million and $700 million a day for a state in direct and indirect earnings. One study suggested that the costs of maintaining the road system during a winter storm are completely recovered in the first 25 minutes of winter-maintenance activities, because of the improvements in safety and mobility that the improved road conditions bring about.

Care for the environment is also a key issue in safe and sustainable snowfighting. Several studies have shown that when road salt is properly applied at the right time and place to keep roadways safe and passable, environmental impacts can be effectively managed and minimized. Modern roadways are not a natural feature of the environment and are specifically engineered to satisfy our demand for personal and commercial mobility - factors that are basic to the quality of life.

A comprehensive study by environmental researchers at the University of Waterloo and Environment Canada found that when best practices, as outlined in Canada's Road Salt Code of Practice, were used, chloride levels were reduced by half. Another study by the Guelph University Research Review found that recycling stormwater runoff could reduce chloride peaks in streams without adversely affecting road safety. In cooperation with the city of Toronto, researchers used the EPA Storm Water Management Model to design computer-controlled stormwater containment systems to serve as a guide for future mitigation applications.

Salt is our most important winter resource, because it saves lives and protects the economy. It is economical and extremely effective.



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Riding is the new driving: How to make the most...

(BPT) - New to ridesharing? So are most people, both drivers and passengers alike. Ridesharing matches you with a nearby driver who will pick you up and take you where you need to go. Calling a ride is as easy as opening up a ridesharing app and tapping a button; a driver will then arrive within minutes. By using a ridesharing service, you can help your community by reducing traffic, connecting with your neighbors, and keeping your local economy strong.

One major player is Lyft, the fastest-growing on-demand transportation service in the U.S., covering 94 percent of the U.S. population. Once you have the app downloaded, all you need to do is enter a prepayment method, designate your pickup and dropoff location, and you’re set! In just a few minutes your driver will be at your location ready to go. The app allows you to track the location of your driver so you will always know exactly when to be ready, and if you can’t find your driver you can easily send them a text or give them a call.

1. Riding shotgun — Front seat or backseat? That is entirely up to you! Looking to be social and connect with your driver a little more? The front seat is the place for you. If you prefer a little more solitude, then the backseat might be best. There isn’t a wrong answer — just go with whatever feels right. Here is an easy conversation starter: Drivers often make excellent recommendations if you’re visiting a new city. As a local, they know the hot spots best.

2. Feeling TIPsy? — After a night of socializing, you should rely on ridesharing to get you home safely. And if your driver provided stellar service, got you to your destination in record time or had a sick ride, you might want to tip them for their hard work. Tipping is always optional but always appreciated.

3. Safety first — Is ridesharing safe? Yes! Ridesharing is a safe and reliable way to get from point A to B with a little help from someone in your community. In fact, 87 percent of Lyft drivers have given a ride to a neighbor. Good thing that companies across the industry are dedicated to safety. For instance, Lyft ensures that every driver is screened before they’re permitted to drive on their platform, starting with professional third-party background and DMV checks. In addition to the background check, Lyft has a dedicated Trust and Safety team on call 24/7.

4. Ride your way — You have another wedding next weekend and you want to arrive in style, but you also want to save a little money on the ride home. Are there options in ridesharing that cover both types of service? Yes! Across the ridesharing industry there are a wide range of options to suit a wide range of needs. If you're looking to save some money, try sharing your ride with someone else. If you have a special date or an important meeting, you can splurge for a luxury black car.

5. Best of both worlds — If you happen to have a qualifying four-door car, you are totally able to use your free time and spare seats to make some extra cash. Driving on a platform like Lyft is great because you can seamlessly switch between rider and driver. Going to that hip area of town that never has parking? Call a ridesharing service! Have a few hours to spare because your mom’s flight is delayed? Open the driver app and make the most of that time.



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6 simple steps to avoid distracted driving

(BPT) - Mobile phones have become an essential part of life for most people, helping them stay connected and increase productivity. However, this technology can also be a distraction when driving, which puts everyone on the road at risk.

More than one-quarter of all car crashes involve phone use, both with handsets and hands-free, the National Safety Council reports. Considering many states and countries don't yet compile and report data on cellphone use following a crash, this number is likely much higher.

Distracted driving isn't just an issue for young adults. High technology use means this is a problem across generations. For professionals in particular, the expectation to stay productive and reachable means a constant temptation to use cellphones when driving.

Recognizing the ethical and liability issues that arise when employees drive while distracted, employers across the country have begun implementing distracted-driving policies. Typically, these policies prohibit employees from using mobile phones while driving on company time.

In January 2017, the NSC reported that Cargill was the largest privately held company to prohibit the use of mobile devices, including hands-free technology, while an employee is driving on behalf of the company. Cargill's Chairman and CEO David MacLennan just marked the one-year anniversary of following the policy.

"I had to try the policy myself first," says MacLennan. "Once I knew what it would take to go completely cellphone free in my car, I could then make it work for our entire company."

Based on his experience, MacLennan offers these six simple steps for anyone looking to eliminate distracted driving yet stay productive and responsive to your job.

1. Auto response
Use a free automated response app to let callers know that you’re driving and can’t take the call. You can personalize the response so incoming calls or texts receive a text message saying you're on the road.

2. DND
If you’re driving a vehicle outfitted with communication technology, use its “do not disturb” feature to unplug from calls and texts while behind the wheel.

3. Block drive times
Just as you schedule meetings, use shared calendars to block times you’ll be driving. This alerts anyone else connected to your calendar when you’ll be out of touch.

4. Out of sight, out of mind
A study by AT&T found that 62 percent of drivers keep their phones within reach in the car. Put yours where you can’t see or reach it, such as in the back seat.

5. Pull over
If you must take a call while on the road, let it go to voicemail and pull over in a safe location to return the call. Plan pull-over "cellphone stops" along your route if needed.

6. Avoid all distractions
Cellphones aren't the only cause of distracted driving. Eating, grooming and reading are activities people try to tackle while driving. Be smart and simply stay focused on the road.

Driving safely should be everyone's top concern when behind the wheel. These simple steps can make it easier to resist the temptation to pick up the phone or do another activity that can wait until you've arrived, safely, at your destination.



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Back-to-school lessons for drivers

(BPT) - With Americans around the country adjusting their daily commutes and driving habits to accommodate back-to-school schedules, it is a great time to brush up on Driving 101. Take the stress out of back-to-school travel by practicing these safe driving tips.

Steer away from old habits

Even something as simple as gripping a steering wheel can impact safety. According to Hankook Tire’s most recent Gauge Index, 66 percent of drivers position their hands at “10 and 2 o’clock.” While this was once a widely instructed technique, driving safety experts now recommend keeping your hands at “9 and 3 o’clock.” In the case of an accident, this slight shift can prevent a deploying airbag from forcing the driver’s hands into his or her own head. Younger drivers are moving away from the traditional steering grip, as only 26 percent of respondents aged 18-34 drive with their hands at “10 and 2,” yet close to three out of four drivers over the age of 34 still follow the old form.

However, drivers can — and do — develop safer driving awareness with experience, despite not always being taught key fundamentals when first learning to drive. The Hankook Gauge Index found that while only 38 percent of drivers were taught to provide one car length of space for every 10 mph when driving at high speeds, 69 percent now follow that rule. Similarly, only 32 percent of drivers were taught to use low-beam lights in heavy rain, snow, sleet or fog, and now over half (51 percent) do so. While some driving behaviors have become routine, key fundamentals can have an impact on safety.

School-zone safety

Student pickups and drop-offs are chaotic and busy times, and reduced speed limits create safer driving environments for parents, students and teachers. While 71 percent of Americans drive over the speed limit in normal traffic zones, nearly the same number (73 percent) report that they slow down in school zones.

Although a high percentage of American drivers heed school-zone laws, close to 25 percent still report driving over the speed limit in school zones. Driving even a mile or two over the speed limit in school zones can result in a speeding ticket. Drivers should keep an eye out for traffic signs promoting modified speed limits to not just create a safer environment, but also to avoid traffic violations.

Back to college

Sixty-six percent of current and former college students say they had (or have) a car during their time on campus. Commuting to and from home or work and exploring the college town can add to the wear and tear of your vehicle. Checking the condition of the vehicle and its tires is especially important for college students who often neglect car care for their studies.

While over 70 percent of drivers are aware that healthy tire tread helps support improved traction and better mileage, there is a lack of consistency when it comes to monitoring. In fact, 69 percent of drivers check their tread less than once a month, including 33 percent of drivers who rely solely on their mechanic to check when the car is being serviced. There are many reliable ways for consumers to check tire tread on their vehicles and their children’s vehicles, including the use of a tread depth gauge, tread wear indicators or the “penny test.”

More awareness and maintenance of tire tread can lead to greater road safety this fall. Should tires need to be replaced, drivers can take advantage of rebate programs such as Hankook’s 2017 Great Hit promotion, which can save drivers up to $100 on qualifying tires through September 30.



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Find inspiration along El Salvador's...

(BPT) - While many would welcome an escape to paradise to delay the onset of winter, there are those of us who crave a getaway that takes things a step beyond the usual basking, rest and relaxation.

In fact, 35 percent of respondents to a 2016 survey by market research company Gfk said they prefer vacations that are active and offer opportunities to try new things.

While an "active" vacation may conjure ideas like zip lining through tree tops or riding waves on a surfboard, an active vacation in a tropical land can also mean discovering unique ways to interact with and learn about a new culture.

For example, in El Salvador, there is ample opportunity to watch and speak to artisans at work in mediums from indigo powder to red clay, according to El Salvador’s Ministry of Tourism. If you're feeling inspired, you can even make your own version of these crafts at one of many workshops open to visitors.

Plan a road trip along El Salvador's artisan trail, and you can return home with a suitcase of souvenirs like hand-dyed scarves, colorful woven mats and clay figurines — that you made yourself. Here are four picturesque El Salvador towns where you can enjoy a hands-on immersion in an artisan paradise.

The murals of La Palma

A walk through the streets of La Palma is a journey in living color because just about every wall and entryway is covered in vibrant murals depicting people, animals, flowers and things. These works are painted in a simple folk-style called Arte Naif that features plenty of Mayan influences, making it easy for even a beginning artist to create a pocket-sized La Palma-style mural. Taller Paty (artesaniaspaty.com) offers workshops to visitors that take them through the steps of rendering a colorful design on a wooden box or inside the “frame” of a copinol seed.

The indigo art of Suchitoto

As you wander along cobblestone streets in the village of Suchitoto, you’ll be charmed and inspired by the colonial Spanish architecture as well as the art for sale in its many galleries. Along the way, make plans to stop at the Arte Añil Gallery, which features a workshop where you can learn to dye fabric with indigo.

Indigo is a blue powder extracted from a blue flowering plant. The Mayans were just one ancient civilization that cultivated and prized its deep color, incorporating this striking hue into their murals and pottery. After this workshop, you’ll have your own indigo accessory, either a hand-dyed scarf or a bag, as a memento of your trip.

The red clay of Ilobasco

Ceramics runs deep in the identity of this town, a history that is owed to the skill of the artists and the abundance of red mud the artists harvest and prepare into clay. Watch as they shape this lump of earth into intricate miniatures, ranging from tiny human forms to little egg-shaped figures called sorpresas that open and reveal a daily activity of the town.

You may be treated to fascinating tales of the artists’ lineage — of those who had passed down the knowledge and skill through generations, sometimes dating back to the 1700s. Then, you can take part in one of the many workshops and shape your own Ilobasco miniature in red mud.

The woven textiles of San Sebastian

San Sebastian is famous for its colorfully banded textiles made with a traditional loom called the Telares. Here, you can observe a master weaver at work at Casa de la Cultural de San Sebastian. As they work the looms, it’s mesmerizing to watch the motions of man and machine create beautiful blankets, hammocks and mats. Here, you can try your hand (and your feet) at a Telares in a unique and intimate setting — the home workshop of a master weaver.

Wherever you begin your artisan journey, El Salvador has much to offer for anyone who loves to create. For more information on hands-on excursions, visit elsalvador.travel/en/tipos/artisan-route.



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Traveling soon? Tips to stay sharp and avoid fraud

(BPT) - If your suitcase is full, don’t worry — protecting yourself from fraud doesn’t mean more packing.

But it does mean you should prepare for the challenge of keeping your personal info safe. According to an Experian(R) survey, 20 percent of respondents had sensitive information like credit or debit cards, personal identification or smartphones stolen while on vacation. “As you travel, your exposure to risk can expand,” says Chip Kohlweiler, vice president of security at Navy Federal Credit Union. “Before you head out, ensure your financial institution is up to date with your contact information. This will minimize disruptions in service, and you can leverage travel notifications and card freeze/unfreeze features,” he adds.

Fraudsters are waiting for you to slip into cruise control, so being alert can save you stress — and money. But when do you need to be on your toes and when can you kick back and relax? Let’s walk through a few travel checkpoints so you know where threats are lurking.

Travel planning

Window shopping for your perfect trip can ignite wanderlust. But keep your wits as you browse through destinations and travel offers online. You’ll want to be extra careful, especially if you plan to make a payment or provide personal information for bookings.

You’re probably using a phone, computer, tablet or combination of these to do your planning. Regardless of what device you’re on, you can use your travel savvy to avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

Watch out for:

* Offers for “free” trips, or travel prices that are too good to be true

* Fake travel websites

* Hidden costs in package deals — read the fine print!

* Requests for personal information

As with any online purchase, check the URL of the site you’re on. If you’re looking at a web page but the URL doesn’t match the site you had in mind, you could be looking at a fake site being run by a fraudster.

If your site checks out, read the fine print and know exactly what you’re signing up for before you enter any payment or personal info. Don’t hesitate to call and confirm any of the information you see. If the company or individual doesn’t offer a phone number, it’s probably not legit.

When it comes to calling, you should be doing the dialing. It’s illegal for companies to call you with an automated message if you haven’t given them written permission to do so. The voice recording that offers you a prize in exchange for your credit card could be trying to scam you.

While you’re traveling

You dodged the traps and booked your travel with ease. But the fraudsters haven’t called it quits, and neither should you. There are a few hot spots where you should stay alert, including:

* Airports

* Hotel lobbies

* Public hangouts (like coffee shops or popular tourist hubs)

Pickpocketing — one of the oldest scams in the book — is popular in these busy atmospheres. Avoid distractions that take your focus away from your belongings. Remember, your personal space is exactly that — personal!

Protecting your digital information is just as important as your physical space. High-traffic areas may offer public Wi-Fi. These networks are an easy access point for cybercriminals. Some fraudsters even create their own hot spots and name them based on the location.

“The last thing you should do is access your bank account or any sensitive account on a public network,” says Kohlweiler. Data on your phone becomes available to a criminal when you connect to these public networks. Your best course of action is to keep your phone or tablet stowed away until you can jump on a password-protected network, like in your hotel room.

Partner with a sidekick

The good news is you’re not in this alone. There are services and resources out there to make fraud protection easier. For instance, as a Navy Federal member, you can call or go online to set up a travel notification. You can also request account info via text. Tools like these can put you one step ahead of the criminals. If you are a victim of fraud, we have a team dedicated to resolving these issues, too.

When you return home, be sure to get in touch with a representative to check in. It never hurts to have two sets of eyes reviewing your account after a big trip.

If you’re planning to travel, do your research and remember to pack your fraud protections. And make security tools, like the ones available through Navy Federal, your travel buddy.



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Suite rescue: 6 kid-friendly craft ideas to...

(BPT) - You’ve picked the perfect location, booked your hotel suite, lined up attraction tickets and done everything you could to make sure your last vacation before the official end-of-summer will be a success for kids and parents alike. However, what will you do if the weather doesn’t cooperate?

One of the top travel mistakes is relying on the weather forecast to dictate your plans, which is why it is essential to have a back-up plan. Unfortunately, rain is a distinct possibility in many destinations during late summer. A little creativity and planning can help parents keep kids entertained on rainy vacation days.

Simply pack a few simple craft supplies, and try these six ideas inspired by DIY mommy experts and the All Suites brands by Hilton (Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites and Home 2 Suites) for fun, kid-friendly crafts you can easily do in your hotel suite:

1. Fun with felt finger puppets

Add several small squares of felt in multiple bright colors, glue, scissors and a variety of trimmings like sequins to your vacation packing. When it rains, break out your craft supplies and make felt finger puppets, just like Joy Cho from Oh Joy! All-suite hotels like Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites and Home 2 Suites, all by Hilton, provide plenty of work space for simple crafts. Once the project is complete, kids and parents can stage their own puppet show. The All Suites brands by Hilton not only provide plenty of room for these projects, but plenty of different "sets" to perform the show.

2. Suite, suite spa day

When rain postpones outdoor activities, get creative like Oh Happy Day! and try some indoor enjoyment instead. Packing bathrobes, nail polish, bath bombs, scented lotions and plush flip-flops sets the stage for an in-suite spa day. Fill up the tub, add a bath bomb, soak kids’ feet, and pamper them with kid-friendly manicures and pedicures.

3. Funneling some fun

If your hotel suite comes with a fully equipped kitchen, like at Homewood Suites, take advantage to recreate a vacation food favorite as shown in another example by Oh Joy! Use the complimentary grocery shopping service available at select properties to order simple ingredients like flour, sugar and cooking oil that you'll need to whip up a batch of easy, yummy funnel cakes.

4. Sweet and sticky

Need a spur-of-the-moment idea with supplies that are easy to find? Drop by any grocery or convenience store, grab a bag of marshmallows and a box of toothpicks. Let kids use these simple ingredients to build whatever sparks their imagination by poking the ends of the toothpicks into the marshmallows. It’s a yummy, convenient alternative to carrying traditional building toys in your luggage!

5. Unbottling their energy

Turn an empty water bottle into a treasured souvenir. Simply use a kitchen funnel to pour dry rice or sand into a plastic water bottle, and add tiny memorabilia, such as shells collected from the beach, and other vacation-related bits. Kids will have fun turning the bottle to discover what’s inside - just make sure that lid is on tight!

6. Roadmap to fun

Hotels often have colorful and helpful vacation maps of the destination. Another example by Oh Happy Day can spark inspiration to make your own map. Unfold a destination map, gather accumulated ticket stubs, brochures, admission stickers and wristbands — and tape them to their corresponding points on the map. Glue sequins or attach stickers to the remaining spots to visit when the rain stops.

Rain doesn’t have to ruin your last vacation of the summer. When you stay at any All Suites brands by Hilton, you’ll have all the room you need to fill rainy days with fun crafts. Visit www.hiltonbringit.com to learn more and book your suite.



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5 ways to explore the 'final frontier'...

(BPT) - When it comes to outer space, there is much to wonder over and dream about. Where else are there such colossal challenges paired with the infinite possibilities of discovery? For stargazers, dreamers and those who believe anything is possible, Florida has the perfect vacation spot for experiencing that sense of cosmic adventure, and letting your imagination run wild. Just zoom in on a certain strip of Atlantic seaboard known as the Space Coast — your portal to “the final frontier.”

Here, there is ample opportunity to get an up-close look at space exploration. Of course, The Space Coast is home to the Kennedy Space Center, located in the middle of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge along the Atlantic shore, where NASA has captivated the hearts and minds of Americans with its launches of manned spacecraft and other vessels sent off to explore our solar system.

There’s so much on the Space Coast for space enthusiasts to take in, including close encounters with space vehicles, the opportunity to watch a rocket launch, and the chance to hear dramatic stories told by America’s astronauts. Use this guide to start planning your adventure to the Space Coast.

Witness a roaring rocket launch

A few weeks before heading for the Space Coast, it’s essential to check the latest rocket launch schedule at spacecoastlaunches.com, so you can seize the opportunity to witness an actual, thundering liftoff. The website also offers plenty of suggestions for catching an excellent view of the launch action coming out of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (You even might be able to get a preview by tuning in for live launch coverage at spacecoastlaunches.com/watch-live.) Just know this: A roaring rocket launch is an experience that can’t be fully appreciated until it is seen — and felt — in person.

Get an astronaut’s perspective

Without a doubt, those who are named to NASA’s Astronaut Corps belong to an elite group. Still, not all who are accepted end up on a space flight. Asking real astronauts about their experiences in the program or talking with those who have flown on a space mission is a can’t-miss opportunity for any space fiend. During your visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, be sure to block out some time for one of the daily question-and-answer sessions with a real astronaut.

Get an up-close look at the Mars Rover

There’s been renewed optimism lately about a manned mission to Mars — and with it, much speculation that the person who will first set foot on the Red Planet may already have been born. The crew that makes the voyage to Mars will need a vehicle rugged enough to safely traverse the planet’s challenging, rocky landscape. At the same time, the machine must be designed to function as a mobile laboratory. At the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, you’ll have the chance to view an astonishing, otherworldly concept vehicle called the Mars Rover. And while you’re on-site, the expansive “Summer of Mars” exhibit will show you what it will take to accomplish the next big space mission.

Experience Exploration Tower

From the observation deck atop Exploration Tower at nearby Port Canaveral, you can take in a panoramic view of the bustling cruise-ship harbor below and the awe-inspiring launch facilities of both the Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Here, you’ll find it easy to appreciate our past space achievements, as well as the possibilities that lie ahead. The seven-story Exploration Tower also happens to be a great spot to view rocket launches; after liftoff, stick around and check out the many exhibits that take you through a sweeping history of Port Canaveral and how it influenced exploration of the Americas and beyond. For more details, visit explorationtower.com.

Soak in the history

Before and during your Space Coast trip, take time to absorb the rich history of the Kennedy Space Center. After all, this is where America began its journey to the moon and launched the era of the space shuttle. The space center facilities house hundreds of scientific spacecraft designed to help us learn about the galaxies and our universe. Search for Cape Canaveral history on nasa.gov, where you can listen, watch and learn all about the fascinating missions and the extraordinary men and women who made them possible.

Time to stop dreaming about your space-themed vacation adventure, and start planning. You'll discover plenty of helpful information on visitspacecoast.com.



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5 smart solutions when flying gets frustrating

(BPT) - Decades ago, taking a flight was truly a privilege. People looked forward to comfy seats, cold drinks and friendly service.

Today? Not so much. With cramped seating and impossibly long security lines, flying is the unpleasant grunt work of travel — something you endure to make it to the better thing. But travel pros know the best ways to soothe their nerves in the face of even the most aggravating situations.

Below are five annoyances on commercial flights, and smart strategies to help you cool your jets and deal with each. As you can see, new technology is helping to make flight much more enjoyable than you’re probably used to.

Inflight annoyance No. 1: Noisy passengers

Whether the toddler in row 15 is throwing a fit, or your neighbor continually wants to strike up a conversation, few things are more annoying on a flight than noisy passengers. This is where a pair of noise-canceling headphones is worth the investment. While dampening the surrounding sounds, these will help you focus on your work, a movie or even sleep. Even better, they send a clear signal to the world that you’re not available for idle chit chat.

Inflight annoyance No. 2: Seat kickers

Many parents have been on both sides of the “seat-kicking” issue. No one wants to feel their chair kicked, but it’s harder to prevent than a lot of non-parents think. Little kids move fast, and 2-year-olds aren’t the best listeners. A recent survey by YouGov shows most respondents (55 percent) said they are annoyed having their seats kicked or hit when flying.

The key to staying calm is dealing with the situation early and politely. Turn around with a smile and ask the child’s parent if they could help their child to not bump the seat in front of them. You might even suggest putting a carry-on under their feet to rest their legs. Finally, be patient. The parents want a peaceful flight just as much as you do.

Inflight annoyance No. 3: Flight delays

There’s no need to get worked up when you get the bad news that your flight will be late due to maintenance issues. Instead of getting frustrated, use the extra time to treat yourself. Grab one of those chair massages in the concourse. You’ll feel more relaxed, plus the muscle rub-down will send a message to your brain that everything is OK.

Besides, you may not get many chances in the future to treat yourself because technology advances are starting to cut back on the length of these maintenance delays. For example, GoDirect Maintenance Services from Honeywell Aerospace wirelessly connect mechanical systems to maintenance crews, so they can quickly address potential mechanical issues. They'll know what the plane needs even before it lands, saving time and keeping operations smooth. Reducing troubleshooting time by up to 25 percent means less downtime for airline flights and fewer delays caused by maintenance.

Inflight annoyance No. 4: Terrible Wi-Fi service

Besides being charged a bundle just for internet access, passengers are often disappointed by what they get: dropped service and the inability to use the Wi-Fi for things they really want, like streaming music and movies.

Preparation is key to staying calm, so before the plane takes off, keep your device stocked with movies, albums and books. But one day soon, that won’t be necessary.

High-speed inflight Wi-Fi from Inmarsat’s GX Aviation, powered by Honeywell’s JetWave system, is already a feature on select international flights. Passengers can tap into home-quality Wi-Fi around the globe to stream their favorite TV show without annoying interruptions or being dropped. Having reliable inflight Wi-Fi is also great for entertaining kids throughout the entire flight. Especially since most people (61 percent) are not willing to offer a traveling parent help who's struggling to entertain or calm down a young child, even if it could mean positive travel karma for them, according to YouGov.

Inflight annoyance No. 5: Dry (potentially smelly) cabin air

It’s much easier to relax when you are comfortable, and the easiest place to start is with your airplane outfit. Wear moisture-wicking active wear to keep things breathable in a warm environment, but be sure to stash a fleece jacket in your carry-on so you can warm up if the temperature drops.

But what if you sit next to a passenger with body odor or someone who brought bad-smelling food on the plane? YouGov’s recent survey shared that 74 percent of people are annoyed with these unwanted smells when flying.

Fortunately, fluctuating cabin temperatures and smells are on their way out. Thanks to Honeywell’s Integrated Environmental Control System, advanced technology monitors and controls the cabin environment, so the air conditioning, cabin pressure, cooling and ventilation are always in perfect balance.

Read more about Honeywell Aerospace on the Follow the Aero blog.

Flying? 5 ways to keep your cool and get through it

Back in the golden age of flight, boarding a plane meant you were in for an amazing experience – comfortable seats, plenty of cold drinks and smiles everywhere.

Today? Not so much. With the cramped seating and impossibly long line to get out the door, flying is seen as the unpleasant grunt work of travel, something you just have to get through. Talk to the travel pros, though, and they’ll tell you there are ways to sooth your nerves in the face of even when the worst . It just takes a willingness to take a few deep, cleansing breaths and see the solution.

Let’s walk through the five most annoying flight experiences with strategies to help you calm down and restore your mood to good.

Inflight annoyance No. 1: The passengers

Whether a toddler in row Q is having a fit over being belted in, or your seat mate wants to strike up an unwanted conversation, noisy passengers can distract your creating that zen-like flight experience you want to create. Not to mention, it’s very annoying. This is where a pair of noise canceling headphones is a flier’s best friend. While dampening unwanted sounds, these allow you to focus your ears on podcasts, music or an audio book – while sending a clear signal to the world you’re not available for idle chit chat. (To send a stronger message, just lean back in your seat and close your eyes.)

Inflight annoyance No. 2: Seat kickers

Little kids love to swing their legs. Which would be fine, if you didn’t have to feel it drumming on your lower back during an entire flight. The key to staying calm is dealing with the situation directly. Turn around and politely ask the child’s parent if they would put a stop the kicking, because it’s keeping you from relaxing during your flight. If the pitter patter of little feet doesn’t stop, offer your carryon suitcase as a foot rest to accommodate their short legs. The sacrifice may be worth a peaceful flight, and with any luck, the parent will take the hint and grab their own luggage to solve the problem.

Inflight annoyance No. 3: Flight delays

When you get the bad news that your flight will be late due to maintenance issues, there’s little point in getting worked up. You can’t do anything, plus the So why not use the extra time to treat yourself? Grab one of those chair massages in the concourse. You’ll feel more relaxed, plus the muscle rub-down will send a message to your brain that everything is OK.

Besides, you may not have these chances in the future, because technology will cut the length of these maintenance delays. For example, emerging technology from Honeywell Aerospace called GoDirect Connected Maintenance will place important mechanical data right in the hands of maintenance crew, even before the plane lands or before something breaks. By reducing troubleshooting time by a whopping 25 percent, that means briefer downtimes for airline flights.

Inflight annoyance No. 4: The terrible wi-fi service

Besides being charged a bundle just for internet access, passengers are often disappointed by what they get: dropped service and the inability use the wi-fi for things they really want, like streaming music and movies. Preparation is key to staying calm, so before the plane takes off, keep your device stocked with movies, albums and books. If this is a working flight, download hard copies to your laptop, so a dropped signal doesn’t disrupt your progress. One day, this hassle will go the way of the horrible inflight music and movie. High speed inflight wi-fi powered by Honeywell’s JetWave hardware is already a feature in select international flights. For you, that will mean you can tap in to home quality Wi-Fi, and stream your favorite TV show without worrying about being dropped!

Inflight annoyance No. 5: That dry, ever-changing cabin air

It’s much easier to relax when you are comfortable, and the easiest place to start is with your airplane outfit. Wear moisture wicking active wear to keep things breathable in a warm environment, and be sure to stash a fleece jacket in your carryon so you can get cozy if the temperature drops. In the meantime, fluctuating cabin temperatures are on their way out, thanks to Honeywell’s Integrated Environmental Control System, will use advanced technology to monitor and control the cabin environment, so the air conditioning, cabin pressure, cooling and ventilation are always in perfect balance.



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Do vacations cause you stress? Try these tips

(BPT) - Vacation is supposed to be fun and relaxing, but more than half of Americans say vacations cause them stress, and 46 percent say stress interferes with their enjoyment of traveling, according to a survey by HomeAway. Vacation stress comes from crowded airports, making transportation arrangements, booking lodging and more.

However, staying organized while traveling can help relieve some of the stress of juggling so many details. These tips will help you stay organized while traveling, and feel more confident and in control of your vacation plans.

Prior to departure

* Make an itinerary with important information, such as flight numbers and times, hotel phone numbers, check-in and check-out times, prices, ticket numbers and phone numbers for attractions you’ll visit.

* Gather together travel guide info. If you’re still a fan of paper, create a packet of travel guides and maps for the area you’ll be visiting. Or go electronic and download guides and maps on your smartphone.

* Remember to make arrangements for your home while you’re away. Discontinue newspaper and mail delivery, put lights on timers and ask the local police department to do vacation checks on your home.

Packing organization

* Pack a few days before your departure. Waiting until the last minute to pack can make you feel rushed and stressed — and increase the chance you’ll forget something important.

* Make a checklist of everything you need to take with you and check off each item as it goes into your bags. Organize your checklist by when items can be packed — well in advance (for seasonal clothes you don’t need at home) to last-minute (toiletries).

* Plan outfits and take items that can be mixed and matched with each other.

* Before critical items go into your bags, outfit them with technology that will help you keep track of them, like the TrackR pixel, a coin-sized item tracker that attaches to items from car and house keys to wallets, passport cases to handbags. The TrackR smartphone app works with the item tracker to help locate the tagged items.

On the road

* If you’re traveling with the whole family and have a lot to carry, consider making each person responsible for a different, age-appropriate, item. For example, parents can manage large bags, teens and tweens can handle carry-on items and young children can be responsible for any small entertainment or comfort items, such as stuffed animals and carry-ons with coloring books and Crayons.

* Keep all passports in one place and have a single, responsible party manage them.

* Carry a small journal to help keep track of notes about places you go, changes in plans or reservations, receipts, tickets and more.

* Pack a small bag for snacks and water. Vacation travel often involves waiting, whether at the airport for a delayed flight or in line for a popular attraction. A small snack bag can help prevent hunger-fueled frustration and lack of focus.

Some stress while traveling may be unavoidable, but staying organized while on vacation can help ensure you feel as little stress as possible — and leave you plenty of energy to enjoy your trip.




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Travel tips to keep bed bugs at bay

(BPT) - Planning an upcoming trip – maybe a long weekend getaway, or a family vacation before the kids head back to school, or perhaps you’re a road warrior who travels frequently for work? No matter what type of trip you have planned, you’ve probably already put together a packing list of what to take along.

But here’s a question: Is there anything on your list you could use if you were to come into contact with bed bugs? Don’t worry, you’re not alone – insects of any kind are the last thing on most people’s minds when planning for paradise. Nevertheless, if you’re not careful, bed bugs could become a most unwelcome part of your travel plans.

Bed bug 101

Research from Ortho shows that 50 percent of Americans know someone who has had bed bugs. However, if you’ve never encountered these pests before, your first question is, naturally, what are they?

A bed bug is a non-flying insect that feeds on the blood of mammals, like human beings. Bed bugs are small — roughly the same size as an apple seed — with flat bodies. Their flat shape is what allows them to hide in small spaces.

How to spot a bed bug infestation

It doesn’t matter if you’re staying at a 2-star or 5-star hotel, bed bugs do not discriminate and infestations can happen anywhere. If your hotel room has a bed bug infestation, the first thing you may notice is an odor. Many people say it smells sweet like almonds or musty.

When first arriving at your room, place your luggage in the bathtub where bed bugs cannot reach. Then, physically look for bed bugs, checking the seams and folds of your mattress and behind the bed frame and headboard. Remember, bed bugs are very small, so they can easily hide in nooks and crevices. As you check these places, look for shed bed bug skin or black dots (fecal spots) as evidence of their presence.

To determine whether the place you're staying has bed bugs, you can use a product like Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap, a pesticide-free, portable trap that uses a newly identified attractant pheromone to lure, detect and trap bed bugs in under an hour. To use, place the trap in key areas where bed bugs may hide, such as under the bed’s headboard. Then, release the attractant to lure bed bugs out of hiding. In about an hour, check the trap to determine whether you have an issue.

Carry these affordable traps with you whenever you travel and you can go to bed each night assured you’re not sharing your room with bed bugs. If your trap shows your room has bed bugs, immediately contact hotel management to understand your lodging alternatives.

Enjoy your home alone

Remember, even the briefest stay in an infested room could be enough for some of these insects to hitch a ride home with you. Because bed bugs love dark places, the folds of your luggage make for a welcoming environment. Pack a travel-sized aerosol spray on trips, such as Ortho Home Defense Dual-Action Bed Bug Killer, and treat your suitcase before returning home.

When you return home, inspect the seams of your luggage for visible bed bugs. Finally, confirm you didn’t bring any home by placing a trap near your bed or sleeping area. Fortunately, with a little knowledge and the right tools, protecting yourself and your family is easy.

For more information about the Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap, and other products to treat bed bugs, visit Ortho.com/BedBugs.



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More than fun: 5 tips for planning a healthy...

(BPT) - Taking a vacation is more than a fun getaway from the daily drudges of life. Turns out, travel has a multitude of benefits that can impact your health and wellness, too.

Beyond stress reduction, vacations can improve heart health, mental health and personal relationships. In fact, men who take annual vacations are 32 percent less likely to die from heart disease, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association. Women benefit too: Those who take vacations twice or more per year are “less likely to become tense, depressed or tired, and are more satisfied with their marriages,” according to the Wisconsin Medical Journal.

Wellness travel is growing 50 percent faster than travel as a whole, according to a survey from the Global Wellness Summit. This includes spas, adventure and fitness-themed trips. But that doesn't necessarily mean you need to go on a yoga retreat to get the healthy benefits of travel. Consider these five tips for adding a healthy dose of wellness to your next vacation.

Intentionally disconnect: A whopping 42 percent of employees feel obligated to check email during vacation and 26 percent feel guilty even using all of their vacation time at all, according to Randstad. Make it a point to focus on the present and ignore your phone or limit checking it to once per day. If email or social media is hard to resist, sign out of those apps for the length of your vacation.

Relax by the water: Water is a natural element that inspires relaxation, but also provides lots of opportunity to play. For example, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, offers visitors an incredible 60 miles of ocean to explore, including the famous Intracoastal Waterway. Go to visitmyrtlebeach.com to learn more about how to relax on the sand by day and fall asleep to the calming waves of the ocean by night.

Try a new activity: Trying something new can have positive mental and physical benefits. Never tried kayaking or paddle boarding before? Give it a whirl. Want to take a yoga class? Sign up for an introductory lesson on the beach. Feeling brave? Go skydiving, zip-lining or parasailing. Whether you end up discovering a new hobby or just have a one-time adventure, you're sure to fully enjoy the experience.

Get into nature: Many health studies show the benefits of being outside, so make sure to plan plenty of time to explore Mother Nature on your trip. In addition to fresh air, take a hike at a local park and explore new scenery. When in Myrtle Beach, for example, you can take a morning jog through Huntington Beach State Park, meditate at Brookgreen Gardens or plan a family bike ride at Myrtle Beach State Park.

Eat well by eating right: Going out to eat is a fundamental part of vacationing for most people, but that doesn't mean you need overindulge so much that you feel sluggish throughout your trip. To eat well, plan sensible meals that feature fresh local ingredients, such as fruit, vegetables and the daily catch of fish. You'll enjoy regional flavors that tantalize the palate without the heavy foods that drag you down.



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Celebrate the Chisholm Trail's 150th...

(BPT) - This year, 2017, marks the Chisholm Trail’s 150th anniversary. The Chisholm Trail is the greatest migration of livestock in world history that relocated cattle from South Texas through Oklahoma all the way to Abilene, Kansas. The first herd to make the journey using the Chisholm Trail set off in 1867 and continued until 1885, relocating more than 5 million cattle and a million mustangs. Take a look back into the Texas cowboy way of life by visiting the Texas towns and countless museums that continue to pay homage to the trail and the cattle industry’s history. You can explore the rich Texas history of ranch hands, cowboys and cattle by planning a trip to any one of these towns or all six.

Kingsville

Sitting on 825,000 acres in South Texas, an area larger than Rhode Island, the King Ranch established a “cow camp” and quickly became one of the most influential ranches in the world. Today, the King Ranch is a National Historic Landmark and offers several daily tour options: from the history of the ranch where you’ll see the historic Santa Gertrudis Creek, where Captain King first camped in 1852, along with the grand home built in 1912 by Captain King’s widow, Henrietta — to nature tours. A surprise to many is the fact the ranch is home to such a diverse ecosystem of plants and animals. In fact, famed conservationist Aldo Leopold called King Ranch “one of the best jobs of wildlife restoration on the continent” and it is now home to more than 363 species of birds, including the largest known population of ferruginous pygmy-owls in the U.S.

Yoakum

Like many towns that benefited from those traveling the Chisholm Trail, Yoakum did not sit on the trail itself, but is located about an hour from San Antonio. Due to its proximity to this population center, it quickly became used as a gathering ground for cattle to be driven up the Chisholm Trail and is considered by many to be the official starting place of the trail. With the introduction of the railroad, the trail became defunct so this inventive town found new ways to prosper beyond the cattle industry by encouraging its residents to grow tomatoes that could be easily shipped on the rail lines.

San Antonio

San Antonio became a gathering location for many herders starting their long journey. Trail drives were extremely important to the local economy. Now both the Witte Museum and the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum provide artifacts and exhibits that give visitors an idea of the beginnings of Texas cowboy life. While the Battle of the Alamo was long over by the time of the Chisholm Trail, history buffs can’t miss this incredible landmark while in town, along with the four other Spanish colonial missions, which were named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015.

Lockhart

Just 70 miles northeast of San Antonio, Lockhart was where two herding routes converged and on some days, 5,000 to 6,000 heads of cattle passed through this outpost. Today, on the second weekend of June, Lockhart celebrates the Chisholm Trail by hosting the Chisholm Trail Roundup, a four-day festival, featuring a chili cook-off, rodeo and even a cowboy breakfast around a chuck wagon on the courthouse square. You can also celebrate the trail’s spirit year-round at Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Que, which has been serving slow-cooked meats from real pits using post oak wood since 1978.

Waco

Continuing northward, cattle herds crossed the Brazos River in Waco on their way to Kansas. In 1870, the newly completed Waco Suspension Bridge, a National Historic Landmark created by the same architect behind the Brooklyn Bridge, provided a convenient, albeit costly, means for cattlemen to move herds across the Brazos. A sculpture near the Waco Suspension Bridge still commemorates the famous Chisholm Trail and captures the diversity of trail riders. These days, Waco provides visitors with an incredible range of activities, from checking out Ice Age–era fossils at the Waco Mammoth National Monument to uncovering delightful home and garden goods at Magnolia Market.

Fort Worth

Fort Worth, for many traveling the Chisholm Trail, was the last main stop to rest and refresh supplies. The city quickly became known as “Cowtown.” Today, the Fort Worth Stockyards transports visitors back in time when watching the Fort Worth Herd, the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive, which takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day in the stockyards. This area also features several restaurants and shops, along with the Stockyards Museum.

Explore historic Texas towns and make history come alive in celebration of Chisholm Trail’s 150th anniversary across the Lone Star State. For more information about travel experiences in Texas, visit www.TravelTexas.com and find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



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3 reasons to study abroad during high school

(BPT) - Think about how your teenager will spend their next summer vacation.

What if their months off from school could include something much bigger than the usual lineup of part-time jobs, sports practices and hanging out with friends?

Picture this: Your teenager wakes up in a different bedroom in a different country, far from home. After eating a breakfast that may consist of new and different foods and flavors, served by a caring host family, your student heads out to have amazing experiences in a new land. Whatever the day brings, your teenager will remember it for a lifetime.

What surprises many is a summer of studying abroad is not just for college students. What's also surprising: going abroad is not just for families of means. For all high school students, there is ample opportunity to spend their summer in a new country, having an experience of a lifetime that just isn't available at home.

Every year, more than 300,000 U.S. students study abroad, according to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators. If your high school student were among them, how would the adventure transform their lives and futures?

1. They stretch and grow.

A summer abroad is the ultimate “stretch” experience a student could have. That is, learning to communicate in a foreign language and adapting to daily life in a different culture makes students who study abroad in high school more resourceful, and helps them develop their interpersonal skills and discover new solutions to obstacles.

“Many parents see a change in their students when they return from the experience of studying abroad,” says Matt Redman, vice president of Global Navigator High School Study Abroad programs at CIEE: Council on International Educational Exchange, a nonprofit that operates more than 300 study abroad programs. “They just carry themselves differently because of that boost in maturity and confidence they gain from living in a new place during their summer break."

2. They get exposure to bigger ideas and experiences.

If going abroad is an opportunity your student wants to pursue, it’s important to understand the options and to identify goals for the program so your teenager has the experience he or she is looking for. Some programs offer daily itineraries where students visit multiple cities and see the major sites. Others are more focused and offer interaction with local people, local language lessons and a chance to live and engage with the community. While both approaches offer valuable life experiences, learning can be balanced with fun.

For example, CIEE’s Global Navigators high school programs give students an opportunity to learn and work in a field of study, such as marine science, filmmaking or global entrepreneurship in places like China, Spain or Peru. At the same time, there's room in the schedule for exploration and fun, where students sightsee, try new activities and participate in community events.

3. It prepares them for their next steps.

After their time in a different country, the feedback from the students is nothing short of inspiring.

“Our students often talk about the new things they’ve discovered about themselves just from having these new experiences far from home,” Redman says. “Along with becoming more independent, many talk about their plans for the future. With very few exceptions, they see college as an essential part of their futures. These teens are not only excited about going to college, they know what they want from life. In having these experiences, they find their focus, and they set goals.”

It’s easy to see how focus and passion can fuel a student's drive to excel academically. Beyond college, research suggests studying abroad also has positive effects on career prospects.

Villanova University found that graduates who spent time in a different country as part of their studies had better opportunities and a higher job placement after graduation than those who did not.

In addition to that, businesses are increasingly seeking employees who can contribute a global perspective. According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 78 percent of 400 employers surveyed in 2015 said students should gain the “intercultural skills and understanding of societies and countries outside the U.S." Yet only 15 percent of employers find these qualities in recent college graduates.

Thinking about it? The opportunity is closer than you think.

Studying abroad is long associated with families of means. Look for scholarship opportunities and doors can start opening for your teenager. For example, CIEE’s Global Navigator Scholarships are based on financial need and cover anywhere from 20 percent to 100 percent of their tuition costs, making the opportunity to study abroad and experience a new culture within reach for even more families. Since 2013, these scholarships have made international study a reality for more than 3,000 students. To learn more about CIEE's Global Navigator High School Study Abroad program and the scholarships, visit ciee.org/globalnavigators.



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Memories by the mile [Video]

(BPT) - With everything your family has on its plate — work, school, sports, recitals — it can be difficult to carve out meaningful quality time together. And when you do have that time together, you want to make it special.

At half the cost of a hotel vacation, an RV trip will save you money and help you reconnect outside. Explore all day with the kids, then have quiet downtime with your spouse in the evening around the campfire. With an RV, every day is an adventure.

Ready to explore this great country and build lifelong memories? Check out GoRVing.com and get started today.



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Articles last updated at Nov 17, 2017 18:56:08pm.
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