(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.
(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.
(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.
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.
(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, according to a 2016 survey by market research company Gfk, 35 percent of respondents 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 the tree tops or riding the waves on a surfboard, don't overlook the fact that 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. 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 — all that you made yourself. Here are four picturesque El Salvador towns and their fascinating specialties 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 the people, animals, flowers and things in and around the town. 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 with a long and fascinating history. The Mayans were just one ancient civilization that cultivated and prized its deep blue 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 both 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.
Engage with one of these artists, and you may be treated to fascinating tales of their artistic lineage — of those who had passed down the knowledge and skill through the 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 the red mud.
The woven textiles of San Sebastian
The town of San Sebastian is famous for its colorfully banded textiles made with a traditional loom called the Telares. Here, you’ll find ample opportunity to observe a master weaver at work at Casa de la Cultural de San Sebastian. As they work the looms with hands and feet, 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 — in 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. To help you start planning your hands-on excursion, visit elsalvador.travel/en/tipos/artisan-route.
(BPT) - Summer has arrived, and for many that means it's time for a road trip. In a survey conducted by the American Automobile Association, 80 percent of families surveyed said they are planning a road trip vacation this summer, a 10 percent increase from last year.
Those hitting the road may discover a need for additional space in the vehicle, whether it’s because the entire family is crammed into the car or because of the extra luggage and gear taking up space. A variety of accessories are available to make hauling gear easier. The Specialty Equipment Market Association, a trade organization representing businesses that manufacture automotive parts and accessories, recommends researching products based on one’s vehicle and personal needs.
Here are a few options to consider before hitting the road:
Trunk rack: If you want to take a bicycle or two along on the trip but do not have a truck to haul them, a trunk rack will do the trick. It is lightweight and mounts to the rear of a car with straps and hooks; however, this may mean trunk access is blocked until the rack is removed. Price will vary depending on its material and features, such as an anti-sway mechanism to keep the bikes from moving.
Hitch and spare-tire racks: If the vehicle has a spare tire mounted on the rear, such as a Jeep Wrangler or some SUVs, or a hitch receiver, you can use a spare-tire rack or a hitch rack. Either rack can be a simple single-bar mount that accommodates multiple bicycles or a basket to tow additional luggage. When using a hitch rack, ensure that the hitch receiver is compatible with the rack, including towing capacity, class and tongue type, among other specifications. A spare-tire rack is installed using a mounting plate, and like the hitch rack, it is easy to load.
Roof rack and cargo box: A roof rack is the most versatile option because it’s mounted on top of the vehicle — essentially out of the way — and can be adapted to transport a variety of items. However, you may need help loading the gear up top, and depending on the cargo, wind resistance may come into play. Also, while some roof racks can be attached easily, others may require some drilling. Once in place, a roof rack can accommodate a cargo box, a lockable storage unit that fully protects gear from the elements while on the road.
Truck rack: For those with a pickup, a truck rack helps increase the cargo capacity already provided by a truck by mounting above the bed, with some racks extending past the roof of the truck cabin. Installation and removal is simple, plus they are easy to load and can support a greater amount of weight.
These are but a few of the many types of racks available in the automotive aftermarket industry that can help increase the amount of cargo a vehicle can haul. Be sure to take some time to research what’s available.
Manufacturers introduce new racks and many other products annually at the SEMA Show, the leading trade-only show for businesses in the automotive industry. Consumers can connect with some of these businesses at the official SEMA Show after-party, also known as SEMA Ignited, where one-of-a-kind custom vehicle builds featuring the newest aftermarket products parade out of the convention center before making their way to the ultimate car show open to the public. For more information, visit www.semaignited.com.
(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.
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:
* 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.
(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.
(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.
(BPT) - There was a time decades ago when taking a flight was truly a privilege. People looked forward to comfy seats, cold drinks and friendly service.
Today? Not so much. With the 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 big 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. Of course 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 on. Finally, stay 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 connects 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. By reducing troubleshooting time by up to a whopping 25 percent, that 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. No disruptions to a child’s favorite TV show could be the ticket to a calmer travel experience for all on board.
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. Here’s to a more pleasant travel experience for all.
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.)
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.
(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 multiple sources, including 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 and moving parts. Here are ways you can stay organized while traveling, and feel more confident that you have 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.
* 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. TrackR pixel is a coin-sized item tracker that attaches to virtually any item — from car and house keys to wallets, passport cases to handbags — to help you keep track of important items while traveling. When downloaded to your smartphone, the TrackR app works with the item tracker to help locate the tagged items. You can use the app to locate tagged items, remind you to take items with you and even locate them on an in-app map. If you misplace your phone, simply press the button on the tag, and it will make your phone ring so you can find it. To learn more or to purchase online, visit www.thetrackr.com.
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. Attach a TrackR item tracker to passport cases to ensure you can always find these critical items.
* Carry a small journal to help keep track of notes about places where 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 it’s 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.
(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.
(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.
* 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.
* 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.
(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.
(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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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, 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.
(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.
(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.
(BPT) - Children can’t help but be drawn to animals, so a visit to the zoo is always a winning and memorable choice for a summer outing. Introducing children to animals of all kinds, especially endangered species, will help foster a lifelong appreciation of them. With more and more animals needing help, educating children about conservation is more important than ever. However, cranky moods brought on by long lines, hot sun and worn out legs can quickly mar a day at the zoo.
With these tips and insights, you can get the most out of your visit, making your zoo adventure one the kids will never forget!
Score a free ticket
The costs of any outing can quickly add up, but this summer, you can stretch your dollars with free admission for the kids. With every purchase of two specially marked Stonyfield YoKids yogurts multipacks, you can get a free kid’s ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket to a participating zoo or aquarium. (The offer is valid until Sept. 30, 2017) To get your ticket, visit www.stonyfield.com/azasafe/redemption, choose a participating zoo or aquarium, upload the image of your receipt, fill out the simple online form and you're done. The Stonyfield YoKids yogurt containers even feature many endangered species like penguins, cheetahs and elephants, so kids will be excited to collect them all.
Build connections before the visit
Make the visit more meaningful by learning together about the animals in advance. This can be as simple as stopping at the library a week in advance and checking out a small pile of age-appropriate books about monkeys, lions and other animals. In addition to that, explore online for high-quality animal printouts and games.
Be thoughtful about the timing
Animals and children — especially the little ones — live on very different schedules than the adult human. Both will hit that time of day when they really need to retreat from the crowds and have some down time. Aim to visit at opening time, when the kids are fresh and ready and the animals are more likely to be up and about.
Don’t miss the special events
Since many animals love dinnertime as much as any human, contact the zoo ahead of time and get the feeding schedule. When kids get to see their favorite animals enjoy their supper, it adds to the experience. In addition to that, zoos often have special programs and events, whether it’s day camps for kids or close (but safe) encounters with the animals. Check the zoo’s website and plan accordingly.
Bring your adventure pack
Having all the right gear handy will greatly reduce stress for everyone while eliminating the need to purchase extra supplies at the gift shop. Pack your backpack with sun gear, including sunscreen, sunglasses and baseball caps. In the heat of summer, you want to avoid dehydration, so include a water bottle for each family member. If you want to bring snacks, try freezing some YoKids squeezers ahead of time — it's the perfect on-the-go treat. Many zoos have policies about food in the exhibit area, so be aware and plan ahead before you approach the ticket booth.
Skip the stroller
Don’t tax your lower back from repeatedly lifting young children from their strollers. Instead, use a wagon to help them get around. This will give young legs a rest while giving them the freedom to climb in and out themselves as the family moves from exhibit to exhibit. If you don’t own a wagon, check if the zoo offers rentals.
A trip to the zoo is the perfect gateway to learn more about the world we live in. When the experience is positive and engaging, kids will come away with a deeper appreciation for wildlife and our role as humans to preserve and protect.
(BPT) - Summer break is an American institution, and that midyear break is often best enjoyed through travel. This year is no different; in fact, many experts expect this year’s summer travel season to be among the busiest ever. That is particularly true when it comes to air travel.
According to research from Airlines for America, a record 234.1 million passengers are expected to travel by air this summer on United States-based airlines. That figure represents an increase of 4 percent over last year.
So why are so many people taking to the skies? Below are five reasons air travel is going to be hot this season. They might just motivate you to go and book your trip.
* More disposable income. An increase in the United States’ gross domestic product, coupled with a lower unemployment rate, means more Americans have disposable income they can use to travel. Trips that were once considered road destinations are now being targeted for flights, allowing travelers to spend more time at their final destination and less time trying to get there.
* Increased entertainment options. The days of planning to simply sleep on a plane are over. Travelers now have access to fast, consistent and global in-flight Wi-Fi with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation, powered by Honeywell’s JetWave hardware so they can stream their favorite Netflix shows, YouTube videos and even use Facebook Live. This advancement provides high-speed, in-flight Wi-Fi with the reliability travelers are used to having at home or in the office. And best of all, this Wi-Fi is the first service to span the globe, meaning you can stay connected traveling at 35,000 feet around the world.
* Reduced travel expenses. Air flight used to be seen as a luxury expense, but that is no longer true. Improved airline efficiency and increased competition in the market have sent the price of airline travel down for several years. The reasonable price of crude oil has also helped keep airfare a much more affordable option for summer travels than it was even five years ago.
* A more comfortable, reliable flight. A flight delay or turbulence can start any summer trip on a negative note. According to a recent survey by YouGov, 47 percent of U.S. adults who’ve flown in the past 12 months are most frustrated by late arrivals or departures while 35 percent said on-time arrivals and departures would make them most excited to fly again. Improved technology is reducing those risks while making the entire flight more comfortable. Honeywell’s GoDirect Weather provides data that pilots can access through a mobile app to find real-time weather reports along their flight path. GoDirect Weather also provides crowd-sourced, real-time weather data that’s shared from other planes flying in the sky. Pilots can then use this data to adjust their flight paths in response to the conditions they will face, meaning fewer flight delays and a safer, smoother flight for travelers.
* Still the safest way to travel. You’ve heard the statistics that you’re more likely to suffer a fatal collision on your way to the airport than in the air, and it’s true. Every year, the number of fatalities associated with flying dramatically pales in comparison with driving, and this trend is expected to continue. New flight technologies introduced every year are helping pilots avoid bad weather and overcome maintenance problems that can cause airline accidents, resulting in an increased number of safe, uneventful flights. So plan your vacation with a flight in mind. It’s a secure, quick way to make the most of your summer trip this year.
(BPT) - The beloved summer season tends to come and go too fast, so there’s no time to waste when planning a summer trip with friends or family. Whether it’s a bike ride, hiking for the day or a family vacation at the beach, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared for the adventures that lie ahead. Check out these five essential on-the-go travel tips that will ensure a safe and stress-free trip.
The contents of your adventure pack depend entirely on your summer plans. Packing for a longer beach vacation? Be sure to make a packing list so you don’t forget anything important, and pack plenty of layers to prepare for all types of weather. If your summer is filled with day trips to the beach, pre-pack the suits, towels, beach chairs and plastic bags for wet clothes. If you plan on going on long hikes, have bug spray and a first aid kit at the ready. Try to expect the unexpected; you never know when duct tape and a little emergency cash can save the day.
Guard yourself against the sun
Nothing can ruin a fun time quite like sunburn can. Sun protection is something you don’t want to leave behind and you certainly don’t want to get a late start to your day because you have to run to the store to pick up another bottle of sunscreen. Make sure your summer adventure pack is full of sun gear: sunscreen, sunglasses, SPF clothing, and a baseball cap or a wide-brimmed hat.
Have cold water at the ready
It’s important to stay hydrated in the summer heat, so don’t forget to pack plenty of water. To keep your water ice-cold, fill your water bottles halfway with water and stick them in the freezer. Before you leave for your next outing, fill the bottle to the top and you have refreshing ice water to go! Or invest in a well-made reusable, insulated bottle that will keep your water cold throughout the day.
Tip: Freeze fresh fruit such as berries or lemons in ice cube trays and toss in your water bottle before you go for a refreshing unique twist!
Don’t let empty batteries stop your fun
A few hours into your adventure you might find that your phone is running low on battery, making you choose between keeping your access to the outside world and a photo op. Invest in a portable power bank. Just keep it charged and ready in your pack so you can top off your battery meter whenever you’re on the go.
Stay energized with protein-rich on-the-go snacks
It can be hard to eat healthy when you’re on the go. Avoid fast-food places that tend to be heavy on the junk food and prepare a variety of nutritious snacks before you hit the road. “Choose foods that are high in protein and other nutrients like vitamin B12, which are essential for maintaining energy throughout the day,” says Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner. “Raw nuts, nut butters, fresh fruit and even eggs are easy to prep and won’t make a mess while traveling.”
Blatner recommends baking up a batch of egg muffins and freezing them until your next outing. “Not all eggs are created equal though,” says Blatner. “With six times more vitamin D, more than double the omega-3s and vitamin B12 than ordinary eggs, Eggland’s Best eggs are the only eggs I recommend to my clients and serve to my family since they are loaded with superior nutrients that can help you refuel after a long day of traveling or sightseeing."
Check out this easy and healthy Eggland’s Best Mini Quiches with Chives, Shallots and Turkey Bacon recipe to get started.
Mini Quiches with Chives, Shallots and Turkey Bacon
8 Eggland’s Best Eggs (large)
12 oz. turkey bacon, chopped
1 small onion, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh chives, minced (plus more for garnishing)
Small handful of parsley, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
Pinch of smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups fresh Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin with cooking spray and place it on a cooking sheet. Doing this will make it easier to transport in and out of the oven.
In a large skillet, add in the turkey bacon and cook on medium-high heat. After a few minutes, add the onion, shallot and garlic and cook down for a few more minutes.
Lastly, add the chives, parsley and Italian seasoning and cook mixture until the turkey bacon is cooked through.
Remove mixture from heat and set aside until needed.
In a 4-cup liquid measuring cup, add in the eggs and take a fork to whisk until evenly beaten.
Add the paprika and salt and whisk to combine.
Place a thin layer of Parmesan cheese into each individual muffin tin.
Take one teaspoon of the bacon mixture and add it to each tin.
Carefully pour enough of the egg mixture into each muffin tin, just until it covers the filling mixture. Sprinkle with some more Parmesan cheese.
Bake quiches for 16-18 minutes or until the eggs have fully set.
Allow to cool slightly before taking a butter knife to release them from the pan.
Serve immediately or let quiches cool completely, cover with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge.
To reheat, place them on a baking sheet in a 375-degree oven for 5-7 minutes, or until heated through.
Source: Eggland's Best
(BPT) - Temps are higher, the days are longer and road trips are planned.
When it comes to getting our cars ready for the road, we habitually adjust our rear-view mirror and double-check fuel levels before putting the car in gear. We sometimes change our engine oil and refill the windshield fluid. Yet we often overlook one of the most important safety features on our vehicles — the tires.
With a little preparation and the right tire maintenance know-how, major issues on the road can be largely avoided. Follow these simple tips to ensure your rubber is ready to meet the road:
1. Choose the right tires for the season.
There are many different tire categories, from ultra-high performance (UHP) tires designed to ensure performance vehicles handle flawlessly at high speeds to highway tires built to provide a smooth, comfortable ride and predictable handling.
It’s important to work with a professional tire technician to decide which tires are best suited for your vehicle and style of driving.
“Today’s tires are available in thousands of fitments providing varying performance, comfort and safety features, making it absolutely necessary to discuss your wants and needs with a knowledgeable tire sales person to ensure you’re getting the desired results,” says Matti Morri, Nokian Tyres technical customer service manager.
For example, a driver looking for balanced performance on varying surfaces — from hot and dry to cool and wet — would be happy with something like the Nokian zLine A/S UHP, designed to perform safely and precisely in variable conditions.
2. Give your tires a once-over for correct air pressure.
One of the easiest ways to extend the life of your tires is to regularly check them for correct air pressure.
Low and uneven inflation will cause a number of problems for your vehicle, including poor handling and reduced comfort, increased fuel consumption and an overall unsafe driving experience. Tire pressure should be checked once a month and always before longer trips. You should always check tire pressure before hitting the road because driving causes tires to heat up and air pressure to increase. Consult the vehicle’s manual for proper inflation pressures.
3. Check your tread depth.
Tires with inadequate tread are susceptible to poor handling, hydroplaning, reduced gas mileage and more. In fact, tires are considered legally worn out when they reach 2/32 of an inch.
“To ensure your tires will perform safely, it’s crucial to monitor for worn treads,” Morri says. “Nokian Tyres’ products are equipped with Nokian’s Driving Safety Indicator (DSI), which indicates what percentage of tread depth remains, as well as a water drop stamp that disappears when tread is reduced to the point where the risk of hydroplaning is increased.”
Pro tip: A penny and a match are both easy tools to check your tread depth. Stick a penny, facing you, upside down in the tread on multiple spots around the tire. If Lincoln’s head is completely visible, your tread is too worn and you should replace your tires. Similarly, if you stick the head of a match in your tread and the tip is not completely hidden, your tread is too worn. These are both signs of ultimate worn tread, and you may want to consider new tires before reaching this point.
Before you hit the open road, remember that minor issues can become major roadblocks in the blink of an eye — or turn of the wheel. Take a little extra time to follow these simple tire tips and the only thing you’ll have to worry about is the wind messing up your hair.
(BPT) - Pittsburgh, Pa., is one of the world’s hottest travel destinations right now. For proof, just consider the accolades recently bestowed upon the City of Bridges. From Zagat naming Pittsburgh the “No. 1 Food City” in the U.S. to Harper’s Bazaar choosing the city among the “Best Places to Travel in 2017,” Pittsburgh is heating up in a super cool way!
This summer, Red Bull Flugtag Pittsburgh takes the fun to even greater heights on Saturday, August 5 during the popular EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta, August 4-6. Flugtag, which means “Flying Day” in German, is the world’s wildest homemade human-powered flying craft competition.
The city’s thriving river scene will be the place to be. Long known as the Three Rivers City — with the Ohio, Monongahela and Allegheny meeting at Point State Park — Pittsburgh has fully embraced this tourism point of differentiation by proudly promoting its ever-growing list of river or riverfront activities. Whether it’s boating, hiking, running along 24 miles of riverfront trails, or attending a Pittsburgh Pirates game at beautiful PNC Park or concert at Heinz Field, visitors can experience the great outdoors right in the heart of the city.
Now in its 40th year, the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta is a summer mainstay in Pittsburgh’s historic Point State Park, appealing to locals and visitors alike. There’s music, food, fireworks and, of course, a wide range of river events — everything from jet ski stunt shows and Formula One Powerboat Championships (think 160 mph) to an Anything That Floats (think sink) race, where teams build their own boats and try to keep them afloat. Other highlights include a 90-foot Ferris wheel, free concerts featuring national acts Easton Corbin and Smash Mouth, and a 200-ton sand sculpture.
This year, Red Bull Flugtag offers a highly anticipated addition to the regatta along the North Shore. Forty teams, made of five team members each, will launch their self-designed and -built flying machine off a 22-foot-high flight deck in hopes of soaring into the wild blue yonder — or, in this case, over the Allegheny River, but more often plunging in magnificent fashion into the river down below.
Forty teams, mainly from the Pittsburgh and surrounding regions, will participate, including students from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, so there will definitely be some serious engineering and physics practices being relied upon to build the flying machines.
But it may just come down to teamwork, the right materials and maybe even luck that helps one team soar past the others and, perhaps, break the all-time flight distance of 258 feet.
The EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta weekend ends with 15 minutes of fabulous fireworks — timed to a soundtrack that tips its hat to the regatta’s 40th anniversary and the City of Bridges itself. And get this: everything (except for the Ferris wheel) is free! So get ready … You gotta regatta!
(BPT) - Thanks to its natural beauty and multitude of attractions, Arkansas tourism is thriving, recently breaking a record by drawing 19.6 million overnight guests in just a year.
Not only is tourism thriving in Arkansas, but the state’s commitment to investing in and creating fun, compelling experiences continues to grow. Public-private partnerships have led to the development of world-class mountain biking trails throughout the state, with more to come. And Arkansas state parks, which feature access to mountains, lakes and rivers, make great week or weekend vacation destinations.
Arkansans have a goal: Making your trip to their state memorable and well worth repeating.
"I’m always pleased when visitors tell me what a wonderful time they had in The Natural State,” notes Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “They’ve invariably enjoyed our outstanding array of parks, explored our fascinating landscapes, experienced our diverse communities and met some of the friendliest people on the planet.”
Consider how visits to some of the state’s best attractions might fit into your travel plans.
Buffalo National River: One of the few undammed rivers left in the continental U.S., this national treasure is a dream for hikers, horseback riders and canoeists, offering everything from calm pools to running rapids to natural wilderness to massive limestone bluffs. The Buffalo meanders through the heart of the Ozarks for 150 miles before joining the White River, prized by fly fishermen for its bounteous brown trout. Book one of the area’s many cabin rentals or campsites to take advantage of all the recreation.
Clinton Presidential Library & Museum: At this Little Rock attraction, you can learn more about the presidency of our nation’s 42nd president by visiting a full-sized replica of the Oval Office and viewing artifacts gifted by foreign leaders, as well as memorabilia from his childhood, campaigns and family.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art: This free-admission multi-exhibit treasure and the nearby Amazeum children’s museum represent two of the best-kept secrets in the South. Crystal Bridges takes its name from a nearby natural spring and bridge incorporated into the building to make it a work of art itself. Sculptures and nature trails link the site’s 120-acre park to downtown Bentonville.
Crater of Diamonds State Park: This highly unusual Murfreesboro attraction features a 37-acre plowed field that tops the world’s largest diamond-bearing volcanic crater. Treasure hunters are enchanted by the chance to find and keep loose diamonds found on-site; recent take-homes have included raw 7.4-carat and 8.52-carat specimens.
Johnny Cash Boyhood Home: Johnny Cash fans and other music enthusiasts can explore an 11-mile stretch of music culture on Highway 67 where Cash and other artists such as Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis launched their careers. Don’t miss Cash's restored childhood home in Dyess, which you may recognize from his 2005 biopic “Walk the Line.”
Mountain biking mecca: Arkansas is tied with Colorado for holding the second-highest number of International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) EPIC Rides. Three cities — Bentonville, Fayetteville and Hot Springs — are designated IMBA Ride Centers because of their world-class facilities and hospitality. And five different teams are tasked with keeping area trails beautiful and accessible for riders ranging from beginner to pro.
Check out a full listing of the state's other many attractions at Arkansas.com.
(BPT) - Summer’s here and it’s the perfect time for the family to hit the road … off-road, that is. From Connecticut to California, there are scenic off-road trails of all varieties — rock, sand, dirt, water and mud — that are ideal for a family off-road excursion. Call it an off-the-beaten-path vacation.
“Leave the electronics at home, grab some supplies, engage the 4x4 system, and see where the adventure takes you. Off-roading is not only an extremely enjoyable way to appreciate the great outdoors, it offers a chance to strengthen family bonds and make memories that will last a lifetime,” says Christian Hazel, editor of Petersen’s 4-Wheel and Off-Road.
Depending on the terrain, you can go off-roading in your daily driver — almost any four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive SUV, crossover or light truck can handle it. You’ll be out in the wilderness for several hours, so some basic tips include:
* Bring plenty of food and water.
* Pack extra clothes in case temperatures drop as the sun goes down.
* Take along a flashlight (with new batteries) and a basic safety kit with bandages, sunscreen, gloves, etc.
* Research the area/trails where you’ll be off-roading. You’ll most likely be out of cell phone/GPS range, so it’s always good to know where you’ll be driving and what the roads will be like.
* Make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape, especially the tires.
“Off- or on-road, tires are super important,” says Fred Koplin, senior director of marketing and motorsports for Yokohama Tire Corporation, manufacturer of a variety of tires for SUVs, pickup trucks and passenger cars. “They play a vital role in braking, steering, comfort and handling. Doesn’t matter if you’re in a Jeep or family wagon, the wrong tires can result in a disappointment with the handling, ride and treadwear.”
For off-roading, Koplin says you’ll need something extremely durable with great traction. “It all depends on what you drive and what you plan to do, but you can either go with a top-notch all-terrain (A/T) tire, which is very versatile, or a super strong mud-terrain (M/T) tire like our new, rugged GEOLANDAR M/T G003. Both types of tires are also designed for highway use and daily driving, too.”
Maintaining your A/T or M/T tires for daily use is essential, too, says Koplin. This includes taking five minutes a month to check your tire pressure. “A tire that’s underinflated will affect your drive and the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Keeping them properly inflated will give you a better ride and save you some at the gas pump,” he says.
The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) recommends checking the tires when they are cold — at least four hours since the vehicle was last driven. Koplin says to always use an accurate tire gauge and make sure the valve is free of debris and water. The correct tire pressure is specified by the manufacturer of the vehicle, not the tire manufacturer. The proper inflation levels can be found on a placard on the inside of the car door and/or in the owner’s manual.
Koplin offers more tire tips that will help you throughout the year:
* 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 must 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 depending on your drive (geographically and based on the type of streets).
* 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.
(BPT) - There was a time when cities like Paris, Berlin, New York or Tokyo were at the top of many travelers' lists. The glamour, the glitz and the history of these cities lured many, but times have changed and more people are eager to discover some of the lesser known gems. Cities that, though smaller and less renowned, are just as stunning and full of surprises.
One of these treasures is Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Also known as Mill City, the Mini-Apple, or the City of Lakes, Minneapolis is home to a vibrant music scene, miles of bike trails, a community of creative entrepreneurs and an energy that you just can't find anywhere else. It’s true that a lot of people shy away from the winters, which can be fierce, but those who go during the summer usually leave with plans to return. Here are five reasons why.
We could go on, but it might be more fun to make your own list of favorites by visiting Minneapolis yourself. Summer is here, so book a room at the new Radisson Red Minneapolis, stay in the heart of downtown, and discover one of America’s great cities.
(BPT) - When planning a Florida vacation for the entire family, two things typically first come to mind: winter getaway and busy theme park. Nothing wrong with that, but if you stop there, you're limiting your possibilities.
Along the state’s Atlantic coast, there’s another side of Florida that’s waiting to be discovered. With extensive waters, diverse wildlife, enthralling history and countless fun things to do, this is a unique area that will have everyone in the family catching the spirit of adventure. For a vacation that delivers hands-on, memorable experiences, why not pack up the family and explore Florida’s Space Coast?
For starters, there are miles and miles of Atlantic shoreline to enjoy. Along the Space Coast, it’s always a perfect time of year to pass the day at the beach. Rent a beach umbrella near the historic Cocoa Beach Pier and relax with a frozen drink while the kids play in the sparkling surf. In the same area, you can also climb aboard for a two-hour boat tour operated by Island Boat Lines and piloted by a United States Coast Guard-certified captain. The tour winds through The Thousand Islands, which are a maze of trails and canals through mangrove islands and hidden hammocks. You'll learn from a professional naturalist who will point out some of the dolphins, manatees and coastal birds that are among the numerous wild creatures making their home in and around these captivating waters.
For something else that truly amazes, try a nighttime kayak tour on the Indian River Lagoon within the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. Dip your paddle, trail your fingers in the water or just watch for mullet swimming by — simple water movement activates a glow-in-the-dark trail of neon blue-green along the river surface. What you’re seeing is plankton magic, or, more scientifically, “bioluminescent dinoflagellates” defending themselves against potential predators. Between that astonishing glow and the extraordinary view of the night sky enveloping the undisturbed refuge, your family members will feel like they’ve entered a portal of enchantment.
If you’re interested in observing more nature in action, the Space Coast is home to the second-largest loggerhead nesting area in the world, with more than 15,000 sea turtle nests. At Carr National Wildlife Refuge, visitors can take a turtle walk to observe the nesting of these beautiful creatures and learn valuable information about conservation efforts.
Enter the cool zone
The Space Coast also features plenty of entertaining museums and other indoor attractions and activities that will get you out of the sun, without sacrificing the fun. In Palm Shores, don’t miss the challenges and rollicking good times at Adventure HQ, which has tons of inspired and wacky climbing tests that kids can’t resist. (Who wouldn’t want to try scaling a beanstalk?) Then head over to Port Canaveral’s Exploration Tower to learn all about this area's rich history — from its earliest inhabitants to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors and all the way to the men, women and machines behind our present-day space exploration — as told through interactive exhibits. Finally, take a walk among giant dinosaur skeletons and inspect a detailed replica of King Tut’s shining tomb at the newly opened Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures, in Cocoa Beach.
On the Space Coast, there’s no need to stand in line for hours to experience thrills and excitement. For those who like their adventure high up in the trees, Brevard Zoo’s Treetop Trek has zip lines, cool swings and three aerial obstacle courses perfect for kids and kids at heart. You can get your ticker racing another way by taking a go-kart for a spin at Andretti Thrill Park, which also features mini-golf and a ropes course. For even more drama, an up-close encounter with the space program offers its own special kind of thrill, and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is simply jam-packed with a solid day’s worth of jaw-dropping exhibits, including the rockets, shuttles and out-of-this-world astronaut stories that will capture the imagination.
For ideas and tips on planning your fun family vacation along Florida’s Space Coast, visit visitspacecoast.com.
(BPT) - You can love everything about a destination, but after your family has visited the same spot multiple times they may start to feel as if they’ve done and seen everything the location has to offer. When a vacation destination fits your budget, lifestyle and the amount of time you have for getting there, you may not want to give it up, no matter how many times you’ve already been there.
So how can you ensure the fifth (or 15th) visit feels as fun and exciting as the first?
Here are six tips for keeping your favorite summer vacation spot feeling fresh year after year:
* Try different accommodations — Trying new accommodations can help give you a fresh perspective on a location. If your family always stays in a budget hotel, consider a rental by owner next time. If you’re used to luxury accommodations, stay in a campground for a different experience. Destinations that are popular spots for repeat visitors often have a variety of accommodations as diverse as the travelers who visit. For example, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina — one of the East Coast’s most popular destinations for repeat visitors — you can find accommodations that range from luxury hotels to budget motels, campgrounds to beach house rentals, all-inclusive resorts to all-suites accommodations.
* Vary dining options — It’s easy to get in a rut when you’re eating on the fly, especially if you’re eating for convenience rather than experience. However, every destination has its own regional cuisine. If your family sticks with fast food or chain restaurants, switch things up by trying a restaurant that specializes in regional food. If you usually avoid touristy restaurants, try one for the experience next time. Online travel websites are great resources for getting an idea of an area’s dining options.
* Stay in different areas — Popular destinations typically have different areas within the region. If your family always stays in the same area when visiting your preferred vacation spot, switching to a new neighborhood could help you discover new things to see and do. For example, North Myrtle Beach gives visitors easy access to all the attractions and beaches the region has to offer but is often quieter and less crowded than the Grand Strand area. Staying near Broadway at the Beach, one of the city’s shopping and entertainment venues, will be a different experience than staying in a beachfront hotel.
* Mix it up with new travel companions — No rule says family vacations can’t include extended family or good friends. Try planning your family vacation with relatives or friends with whom you don’t normally travel. Visiting a familiar area with new people can help you see it in a new way through their eyes. Plus, fun shared is fun doubled, and kids may enjoy activities more if they can share it with a peer.
* Plan a different theme each year — Popular destinations rarely have just one type of fun to offer. You can make each trip feel new by choosing a theme and engaging in activities that fit that theme. For example, for an adventure-themed Myrtle Beach vacation, put Shark Wake Park and Go Ape Adventures, a zip-line and treetop excursion, on your itinerary. For an outdoor theme, take a relaxing kayak tour, try paddle board yoga, and feast on a sea-to-table meal at Wicked Tuna on the MarshWalk. Culture and history can combine when you explore historic Brookgreen Gardens’ outdoor sculpture gardens and visit Hopsewee Plantation for a tour and afternoon high tea.
* Go at a different time of year — Some destinations virtually shut down when their high season ends, but others, like Myrtle Beach, stay vibrant year-round. If your favorite vacation spot has year-round attractions, try visiting in the off-season. Often, hotels and resorts offer great deals to attract travelers during the off-season, plus thinner crowds can mean shorter lines for popular attractions — and the chance to experience a familiar destination in a new way.
Finally, advice from travel websites and visitors bureaus can help you better understand what you might have been missing on earlier visits to your chosen vacation spot. For example, at www.visitmyrtlebeach.com, you can find information on hotels, dining, shopping, attractions and more.
(BPT) - The smell of the fresh air. The gentle rustle of the wind through the trees. The wonderment of kids exploring Mother Nature. More families are joining the movement to unplug from their electronics and get outdoors. Is your family one of them?
Spending time outdoors has numerous mental and physical benefits, plus for families it's a wonderful way to bond and create lifelong memories. You can make nature a part of your life by getting a recreation vehicle and exploring parks both near and far.
These aren't your grandpa's RVs. Today's RV options are as varied and unique as the families who buy them. Just take a look at some of the most popular RV choices as per the experts on GoRVing.com.
Available in a range of sizes to fit your needs, travel trailers are easy to attach to a variety of vehicles. Lightweight models can often be towed by mid-size vehicles, including the family car, minivan or SUV. Larger trailers can be towed by a pickup truck or larger SUV. Fifth wheel models feature a raised forward section that provides a spacious bi-level floor plan, and can be towed with a pickup truck.
2. Folding campers and expandable travel trailers
Also known as pop-ups or tent trailers, folding camper trailers feature soft sides that extend to reveal queen-sized beds and kitchens and are a great entry-level option for families who enjoy sleeping in a tent without sleeping on the ground, along with the convenience of an RV. Expandable travel trailers are a cross between a folding camper and a hard-sided travel trailer. They feature ends that pull out to offer more sleeping room and a generous amount of living space. They’re lighter than conventional travel trailers and often more affordable.
3. Motorized RVs
When most people think of the classic RV, motorized designs come to mind. These all-in-one recreation vehicles allow you to bring all the creature comforts with you on the road. Home-like amenities abound, including kitchens, bathrooms, living areas with entertainment centers and heating and air conditioning. Drive virtually anywhere — from sea to shining sea — and bring your "house" with you. Motorhomes are classified by types, ranging from the largest and most luxurious Type A versions to Type C motorhomes that feature an over-the-cab sleeping area kids love.
4. Van campers
Van campers, or Type B motorhomes, are smaller in size and often get outstanding fuel economy, but still have all the conveniences of home on the road. Easy to maneuver through narrow mountain roads, curvy coastal byways and busy downtown settings, they’re a trending choice for couples touring the country or families traveling for weekend tournaments and competitions.
5. Toy haulers
Toy haulers, or Sport Utility RVs, are for the active family who wants to take motorcycles, dirt bikes, ATVs or other motorized toys on the road. Available as a motorhome or towable unit, toy haulers have a rear end that drops down, forming a ramp into a “garage” area where motorized toys can be safely stored. In many models, the ramp does double duty as a back porch or outdoor living room.
6. Rentals and park models
Not ready to buy? Consider renting to test the waters. You can rent different types of RVs so you can find the right one for your family's needs. Check out El Monte RV, Outdoorsy and Cruise America for rental information. Another choice to consider is a park model RV, offered by many campgrounds. You just drive to the campsite with your supplies, and an RV (which looks and feels like a mini cabin) is ready for your arrival.
Now that you know your options, it's time to get inspired. Visit @GoRVing on Twitter or Go RVing on Facebook to get more ideas and outdoor inspiration for your next RV trip. And see families like yours enjoying RV adventures at Away.GoRVing.com.
(BPT) - “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” — Saint Augustine
The benefits of travel have been written about for centuries, connecting the experience with cultivating awareness and expanding perspectives. The story of travel connotes a journey of self-discovery. The introduction of every new culture is the beginning of a new mindset. For many, travel is at once a decentering and unifying experience. The encounter of something new leads to being fully present, evaluating preconceptions and rewiring beliefs. The effects of travel on adults is well documented. But how does travel affect children, who rely so much on stability and who, in many ways, already live in the moment, and experience the world with eyes wide open? Does the disruption of place hinder or complement a child’s intellectual development?
It’s been eight years since the U.S. Department of Education took a closer look at the effects of travel on childhood education. In a 2009 study, which analyzed findings from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study of the Kindergarten Class database, family life was assessed, as were summer activities and school experiences. The study collected data from 21,600 children from grades K-5; a subset of 5,047 parents also were asked about their family excursions during the summer. Study results showed improved standardized test scores in reading, math and general knowledge from the children who traveled during the summer with their families.
The study findings are important because they provide an alternative to learning loss in kids during the long summer months away from school. Kids who don’t engage in activities during the summer are at risk of falling more than four months behind their peers. This statistic goes all the way up the ladder to college students. Today, many parents consider the arc of the travel experience — seeing new places, experiencing new cultures, attending concerts and visiting historic sites, monuments and art museums — as an opportunity to not only enhance the emotional depth and patience of their children, but their academic outcomes as well. As a result, some parents are opting to “world school” their children during the summer, with noted benefits of bonding and spending quality time with family, building an interest and respect for other cultures, and making learning interesting and deeply engaging.
Can we simply conclude that vacations make kids smarter? We reached out to travel expert Jim Menge for the answer. Menge has been to more than 100 countries, and is a believer of the benefits of travel. Menge is also the President of Rovia, an industry-leading travel and lifestyle service provider, headquartered in Plano, Texas. “Not necessarily,” Menge says. “But the immersive experience of travel and all the delight and disruption that go along with it can have a real effect on childhood learning. And when kids start early, they broaden their horizons, and develop a real appreciation for the world they live in.”
If summer travel can have such a profound influence over the intellectual development of kids in grades K-5, what effect, if any, does it have on college students? In the year 2000, the University System of Georgia, comprising 35 institutions, conducted a 10-year study to see if study abroad contributed to the academic performance of college students. They found the experience not only resulted in improved academic performance, higher GPAs and graduation rates, but it benefited the performance of at-risk students as well.
Clearly, travel and education can create powerful combinations. If you have children, consider taking a vacation over school breaks and during summer months. It will add to their development and character. And if you have kids in college, study abroad has become an even more compelling option. The shared experience of travel can bring families together, creating bonds and lifelong memories. It’s time to consider the data that promotes travel as the ticket to a world of increased engagement and enhanced academic performance. Bon voyage!