(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) - 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) - 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!
(BPT) - The American summer vacation is a seasonal tradition. It's when memories are made, experiences are shared and sometimes when bills pile up. In fact, research shows that more and more families across the country are planning responsibly and considering their budget when it comes to summer travel plans to make the most of their vacations without breaking the bank.
Nearly 70 percent of parents planning a summer vacation said they expect to spend the same or less this summer than they did last year, according to a Coinstar survey among U.S. adults with children at home, aged 5 to 18. In addition, 68 percent said they plan to fund their vacation using cash on hand. The top three goals reported for summer vacation include rest and relaxation, increased family bonding and enjoying outdoor activities. Fortunately, all of these activities can be enjoyed inexpensively, a sign families aren't willing to cut their fun as they trim expenses.
Planning ahead means planning smart and will give you the best shot at scripting the perfect vacation for your family and your budget. Consider these tips to maximize your vacation budget.
* Take the road less traveled. Many vacation destinations are priced based on supply and demand. That means you can make your vacation more affordable by traveling to a location that doesn’t typically see heavy summer traffic. There are plenty of exciting destinations in the U.S. that may be off the beaten path. Check out Groupon offers for getaway deals as well as packages from airlines and resorts. You may just find your best trip was to a location you never expected to love.
* Stretch your budget with found money. You may have vacation funds that you’re not even aware of — like that hidden jar of change in the closet. It’s like a mini savings account, so cash it in at a Coinstar kiosk to boost your vacation budget. If you don’t have a coin jar, start a vacation fund using the change you collect over the next year and encourage your entire family to add to it when they can. In addition to using your spare change, this may also be the perfect time to cash in your credit card or airline points to stretch your budget even further.
* Travel together for savings. When it comes to cutting costs, don't be afraid to use the buddy system. Go on vacation with family or friends and rent a home together or split other costs. Look for accommodations that have a kitchen and you’ll be able to save on restaurant expenses. Finally, if you are eating out, find restaurants where kids can eat for free or at a highly-reduced rate when an adult meal is purchased.
* Look for free or low-cost activities in and around your travel destination. There are plenty of family-friendly activities that can also be free. Walking tours, museums, historic landmarks and parks all present options for places you can visit without putting a dent in your budget. To find opportunities around your travel destination, check out AAA or the local travel and tourism office as well as convention and visitors bureaus. You can also simply Google free things to do in the area you intend to visit. You may be surprised at what pops up!
* A ready vehicle will ease your mind and budget. If you plan on driving to your destination, make sure your car is ready. Change the oil in your vehicle and fill your tires properly. These simple steps will do more than just help you avoid a breakdown, they will maximize your fuel efficiency and save you money.
The summer vacation is an annual tradition, and while the memories of your trip will extend far beyond the season, the costs don't have to. Apply the five tips above and you'll make your trip a sound investment in both resources and experiences.
(BPT) - The warmer weather means longer days, backyard barbecues and weekends away. Before setting out on the open road, make sure you and your vehicle are ready for the journey ahead. Hankook Tire took a look at driving trends and behaviors to identify what drivers do (or forget to do) to keep safe on the road this season.
1. Keep your eyes on the road.
One of the easiest ways to avoid accidents, wrong turns or other highway mishaps is to stay focused. Cell phones are most often responsible for distracted driving, according to the latest Hankook Tire Gauge Index. One-third (33 percent) of Americans regularly take phone calls while on the road, and one in 10 drivers (11 percent) admit to texting while driving. To help put this risk into perspective, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports texting while driving on the highway is equivalent to driving blindfolded for the length of an entire football field. Promising news for drivers is that the Gauge also found that nearly one-half (49 percent) of drivers use Bluetooth, dictation or do-not-disturb features while driving to maintain better focus while on the road.
2. Take advantage of tech.
As automotive technology continues to advance, cars are constantly updated with the latest and greatest to make your time behind the wheel more comfortable, more efficient and safer. Over one-third (34 percent) of drivers reported their vehicles are equipped with a rear view camera, and 26 percent have adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjusts the vehicle’s speed to maintain a safe driving distance. While 73 percent of Americans find these enhanced safety features very useful, the Gauge Index found that more than half (57 percent) of drivers don’t actually use them. Regardless of the features in your car, it’s important to not let the summer fun distract you from checking rear and side view mirrors, blind spots and speed.
3. Don’t tread lightly.
Before a road trip, most people fill up the tank, gather snacks and make sure the kids are set up with movies and games. What about your tires? Americans are mostly likely to check the condition of their tires if they appear to look low or uneven (65 percent) or if a warning light appears (49 percent).
Even if not prompted by a warning light or unusual sounds, always double check your tires’ air pressure and tread depth before an extended trip, as healthy tires improve gas mileage and save money at the pump. In addition to the financial benefits of healthy tires, Americans also recognize the importance of tire tread in providing safety and control, as 75 percent of drivers think about how effective their tire tread is when driving through heavy rain, and 61 percent are mindful of their tread when driving on a hairpin turn. Additionally, close to one-fifth (18 percent) of Americans believe enhanced tire grip provides more safety on tough turns than wider lanes, reduced speed limits or road sign warnings.
4. Who ya gonna call?
Even the most prepared and proactive drivers can end up on the side of the road because of unforeseen driving events. Whether it’s a flat tire, dead battery or overheated engine, 41 percent of Americans listed an auto club as their first phone call, followed by their significant other at 27 percent, according to the Gauge Index. Only 3 percent of respondents recognized that their first call should be to local authorities, who can update traffic information, create a safe roadside situation and send the proper help to get you back on the road safely.
By following these quick tips and guidelines to safety, you can go full steam ahead to wherever your destination this summer may be!
(BPT) - Each year, travelers from the United States (U.S.) head to popular destinations. And while many have Zika on their mind while traveling, and are aware of the need to bring sunscreen, bug repellant and other travel necessities, many don’t know that cholera may be a bigger threat than they thought and most don’t take the necessary measures to protect themselves from it.
Cholera – an infection that affects the intestinal tract and can cause severe watery diarrhea is currently estimated to be present in over 60 countries, mostly in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. Of the top 20 international travel destinations for U.S. travelers, five are to cholera-endemic countries, such as the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, China, India and the Philippines. Mild forms of cholera can be mistaken for traveler’s diarrhea, which can leave travelers in an uncomfortable state due to diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and mild to severe dehydration and ruin travel plans. You can get cholera by eating or drinking contaminated food and water.
Every year, millions of people around the world become ill due to cholera. However, fewer cases are reported to health authorities than the global estimates. There are more than 8 million U.S. travelers per year going to countries where cholera is endemic. In recent years, there has also been a re-emergence of cholera in Ecuador, Haiti, Cuba and Mexico. However, despite the recent re-emergence, cholera remains underreported.
Still, plans to go abroad don’t need to be canceled or changed to avoid getting sick. You can protect yourself from cholera (and other food and waterborne illnesses) by drinking clean (filtered or bottled) water, washing hands frequently and eating foods that are from sealed packages or cooked well. However, almost 98 percent of travelers do not comply with these guidelines.
Getting a vaccine before travel may also help to ensure that your travel plans are not inconvenienced by illness. The CDC recommends that adult travelers (ages 18-64) who are going to areas of active cholera transmission get vaccinated for cholera.
If you are traveling abroad to an area where cholera is present, make sure you are prepared by talking to your doctor or pharmacist at least two weeks in advance about getting vaccinated for cholera.
(BPT) - As a day to remember those who fought and died in service to our country, Memorial Day was originally called "Decoration Day." Waterloo, New York, was declared by President Lyndon B. Johnson to be the birthplace of Memorial Day back in May of 1966.
The purpose of Memorial Day sprung from wanting to honor the dead during the Civil War. General John Logan first proclaimed that a day would be set aside in the month of May to honor those who died in service:
“The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land."
May 30 as a date was chosen at the time because no specific battle was commemorated on that day. Currently, the last Monday in May holds the honor of being Memorial Day.
It is important that we remember those who fought for our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe here in the Unites States. There are many ways you can pay your respects to those who fought and died for us. For example, you can help arrange official color guard ceremonies for Memorial Day events and year-round for church services, athletic events and school programs.
The National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed back in 2000, and asks all Americans on Memorial Day at 3 p.m. to “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.'”
If you are going to be in the Washington, DC, or New York areas for Memorial Day, there are activities to help honor your veterans throughout the weekend:
May 27 - World War II Memorial, Washington, DC:
There will be a free Ranger Talk from 2:00-2:45 p.m. and 4:00-4:45 p.m.
May 28 - National Memorial Day Concert, Washington, DC:
From 8-9 p.m., PBS will sponsor a free concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. General Admission gates for the event will be open starting at 5 p.m.
May 29 - Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade, New York:
The parade will take place at 11 a.m. and will follow a route from 78th St and Third Ave., along Third Ave. to Marine Ave. up to Fourth Ave. and over to John Paul Jones Park to 101st St. and Fourth Ave. for a memorial service.
May 29 - National Memorial Day Parade, Washington, DC:
The parade will take place at 2 p.m. starting at the Constitution Ave. and 7th Streets, NW and ending at 17th Street.
The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to honoring our heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country. Nearly 90 percent of cash donations the Purple Heart Foundation receives provide funds for programs that help the National Service Officer Program, the Scholarship Program, as well as other programs. It is our goal to help make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for all of our men and women in uniform who defend our freedom. Show your support for them by making a one-time or monthly pledge to make sure they continue to receive the support and benefits they deserve by clicking here.
(BPT) - Highlights of summer travel include exploring new cities, theme parks, sightseeing and sampling local eats with loved ones. Yet too often, the logistics of planning a summer vacation can create stress that makes it difficult to appreciate the trip itself. By making smarter choices, the planning process will be easier and the journey more enjoyable.
For example, affordability is a top concern for families planning a vacation. According to a survey by the Family Travel Association, the majority of family travelers prefer to stay in hotels, and more than half spend between $1,000 and $5,000 on travel. Travelers looking to save money might find greater value in all-suites hotels that offer larger spaces and in-suite kitchens or kitchenettes to help reduce dining expenses.
An all-suites hotel means every room is an affordable suite, so there’s room for more — travelers don’t have to worry about packing light. No matter what type of baggage a traveler brings, literal and figurative, an all-suites hotel can make the experience that much better. Ahead of this year’s summer travel season, here are four simple vacation planning tips to ensure families can focus on what really matters – enjoying the adventure while making new memories.
Consider staying local
The annual family summer vacation doesn’t have to involve driving for days, or costly airfare. If you live within a half day’s drive of a major city, consider researching what that location has to offer by way of attractions, historic sites, shopping and dining.
Once the decision to stay close to home is made, value-conscious travelers should consider a hotel that offers plenty of space and prime access to local attractions. For example, Home2 Suites by Hilton Atlanta Downtown is steps away from the Georgia Aquarium and Centennial Olympic Park, and other attractions such as the World of Coca-Cola. Plus, staying closer to home means you’ll spend less time getting to your destination and more quality time with the family.
Instead of just traveling with your nuclear family, consider making this the summer to get away with extended loved ones or another family with children close in age. All-suites accommodations provide ample space to comfortably fit larger groups. After all, a spacious suite means more room to both spread out and come together.
Sixty-five percent of all family reunions occur during the summer, making it the perfect time to get away. Selecting an all-suites hotel can be particularly helpful for families traveling with children for an extended period of time. For example, each suite contains a separate bedroom and living area, so parents can take a break from the kids (at least for a moment) to catch up with other family members during a reunion.
Don’t overdo dinner
For families of all sizes, dining can be a significant summer travel expense, especially if you eat out for every meal. Of course, one or two special meals are a must when you’re on vacation, but you can make your dollar go farther by choosing hotels that offer complimentary breakfast, in-suite kitchens, on-site convenience markets for grab-and-go items, for-guest-use outdoor grills and complimentary grocery shopping services.
For example, Homewood Suites by Hilton Dallas Downtown offers an on-site 24 hour Suite Shop(R) convenience store, fully equipped kitchens in every suite, hot full breakfast daily and complimentary refreshments at an evening social Monday through Thursday. After a full day of sightseeing, making dinner plans can feel like a hassle. Choosing a hotel with multiple meal options and amenities can make dinnertime the easiest part of the day.
Decompress in the evening
With so much to see and do, getting enough “R&R” can seem like the last thing you tend to when you’re on vacation, especially when you’re busy with the family. However, allowing yourself some downtime — and getting a good night’s sleep — can help you avoid that burned-out feeling you can get at the end of a long, active vacation.
Comfortable sleeping accommodations are key, of course, but it’s also important to choose a hotel that offers space and amenities for relaxation. Whether your version of winding down is a quick dip in the pool, a round of tennis or basketball, or an evening cocktail, that downtime can help you recharge for the next day’s activities. For example, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile offers drinks and snacks at its complimentary evening reception, and a heated indoor pool, sauna and fitness center to help you decompress.
Whether planning a week-long summer trip, weekend getaway with family or large family reunion, we all want our vacation to go off without a hitch. To find an all-suites hotel for your summer trip, visit HiltonBringIt.com.
(BPT) - Long days, moonlit nights and endless opportunities for adventure are probably causing you to daydream about travel. Whether you're planning a day trip or a month-long extravaganza, summer is full of opportunity for you. But what about your empty house while you're away?
Unfortunately summer months are also peak periods for home burglaries. Seasonal patterns exist in household burglary rates, according the U.S. Department of Justice, with these crimes happening more frequently in the summer than during other seasons of the year because people are traveling more and are away from their homes.
Planning your next weekend at the cabin doesn't have to involve worry about a break-in back home. Give yourself peace of mind no matter where you are by taking a few proactive steps to protect your home today.
Step 1: A smart home is a secure home
Law enforcement agencies agree that one of the best ways to protect a home is with a security system. Something as simple as a sign noting an alarm system is onsite can be enough to deter a potential theft. Closing and locking all doors (including dead bolts) and then setting an alarm dramatically decreases burglary odds.
Smart home technology is creating greater innovation in home security, with systems like Iris by Lowe’s allowing homeowners to create a do-it-yourself, tailored system that's not only convenient but effective security. This affordable system features more than 100 compatible devices that include security cameras, motion sensors, smart locks, adjustable light bulbs, connected thermostats, smoke alarms and more.
For an even more secure home, Iris now offers professional home monitoring for less than $15 a month. The service gives homeowners the ability to have emergency responders dispatched to their homes in the event of a security, smoke, carbon monoxide or panic alarm, with no long-term contract required. Whether you're at work or across the country, you can rest easy knowing someone will respond quickly to any home emergency.
Step 2: Avoid signs that show your home is vacant
An empty home is an easy target for break-ins. It can be pretty obvious when homeowners are away, especially if they've been gone for a while. But with a mix of simple steps and effective technology, you can give your house a “lived-in” feel, even when you’re miles away.
Stop your mail and newspaper delivery when traveling, or ask a neighbor to gather these items for you so they don't accumulate on your property. Have someone come and tidy your yard and water plants so everything appears tended to. Use your Iris smart home system to set lights to turn on and off throughout the day. You may even ask a neighbor to periodically park in your driveway to give the impression people are coming and going.
Keep in mind social media has become a rich resource for criminals. Keep profile settings to private and never post photos or other messages on social media about your vacation while still away. Travel posts are like news alerts that your home is empty. It's best to wait until you return before sharing those precious images with friends and family.
Step 3: Rid your property of hiding spots and easy points of entry
Homes with lots of overgrowth and natural coverage provide hiding spots that make break-ins simpler. That means now is the time to trim bushes, hedges and trees, especially around entrance points in the home.
Next, look for vulnerable areas of your house. For example, the garage door may be easier to open than you think. Consider using a C-clamp on garage doors while gone or integrating a smart garage controller so you can keep tabs on whether it's opened or closed from your smartphone.
Windows are another common way for burglars to enter a home. Hot summer months often mean cracked windows, so double check all are closed and locked. With a smart home system like Iris, you can even check on this remotely and get notified if a window is opened or broken. If you have a window air conditioning unit, you may want to install window frame locks to prevent a criminal from pushing out the unit and entering the home.
Summer should be a time of relaxation instead of worry. These three steps can help you be smart about securing your home so you can actually enjoy that vacation.
Visit MyIrisSecurity.com or your local Lowe’s or to learn more about installing Iris in your home today.
(BPT) - With all the fun things to do around here, it’s no wonder that Pittsburgh is KidsBURGH! Enjoy new activities as a family this year at up to 50 percent off regular admission prices when you book on VisitPITTSBURGH.com. So what’s there to do, you ask?
You can experience a brand-new movie at Kennywood Amusement Park’s 4-D Theater, explore 18 lifelike dinosaurs at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, discover a tropical forest at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, or go hog wild with the Hands-On Harley-Davidson exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
At Kennywood, a new LEGO Movie 4-D Experience opens in May 2017. The kids will love this sequel to the 2014 blockbuster hit, which features Emmet and his Master Builder friends. Also new this year is a virtual reality experience where visitors will be immersed in a world that lines up with the on-ride experience offered by the Sky Rocket roller coaster.
“So, when Sky Rocket launches riders from 0 to 50 mph in under 3 seconds, up a 90-degree hill and then straight back down, riders wearing the VR headsets will see the same thing happening in the virtual world they’ve been immersed in,” says Nick Paradise, a spokesman for Kennywood. Both attractions are included with admission.
When you visit the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, keep your eyes peeled for the baby rhino and be sure to check out Jungle Odyssey, a new, permanent exhibit that features a pygmy hippo, giant anteaters, capybaras and more. Another exciting addition, available Memorial Day to Labor Day 2017, is Dinosaurs, an add-on experience that takes guests back to prehistoric times with 18 anatomical, lifelike dinosaurs.
Check out The Power of Poison, Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s new exhibition focused on nature’s most dangerous chemicals. At the museum, which is attached to the Carnegie Museum of Art, the whole family can explore a tropical forest and continue on an adventure that includes a sleeping Snow White and a spooky smoking cauldron. This exhibit allows kids to solve a mystery using iPads and turn the pages of a giant storybook with just the touch of their hands. It truly offers something for everyone, with live animals, interactive technology and surprising science.
At the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, families can participate in Hands-On Harley-Davidson, an interactive area exhibit that includes a kid-sized motorcycle dealership and engineering lab that lets kids (and adults) “Dream It. Build It. Ride It.” This exhibit runs May through September 2017. There are also plenty of permanent areas to enjoy, including Waterplay, an art studio, the Attic's Gravity Room and more.
Take to the rivers on Saturdays and Sundays all summer long aboard the Gateway Clipper Fleet’s new family-friendly sightseeing cruise. It features the one and only Captain Jack. There are also several kids-themed cruises where the little ones can meet their favorite princess and superhero, or take part in a galactic battle. Also new this year is the “Be Our Guest,” “Under the Sea” and “Wizards School” specialty cruises.
At the Highmark SportsWorks section of the Carnegie Science Center, Ropes Challenge is a major new attraction. It’s a multi-user, two-level experience where harnessed guests navigate a series of obstacles and challenges: tightropes, rope bridges and even a zipline. For younger family members, the SkyTykes course is closer to the ground. There are also SportsWorks exhibits where visitors can become human yo-yos, scale a 25-foot rock wall, do high-flying bungee tricks, compare their running time against an Olympic silver medalist and test their reaction speed against an ice hockey goalie.
If you’re looking to cool off, head to Idlewild & SoakZone, just 50 miles from the city. Here, you can splash, slide and relax at Float Away Bay, or “ride the tide” at the Wowabunga Family Wave Pool. For dry fun, you can take a trolley ride through Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. The attraction is based on the hit TV series inspired by the original Mister Rogers’ neighborhood. Kids love Story Book Forest, home to characters from cherished nursery rhymes and children’s tales. In all, there are over 35 different rides, attractions and shows for all ages at Idlewild.
Visit Pittsburgh this summer for a fun-filled affordable family getaway! Save big by booking your adventure through visitpittsburgh.com.
(BPT) - Want to get away this summer? Skip the plane ride or long car trip and get out on the water. Whether it’s an hour after work cruising, a morning of fishing or a weekend of watersports, boating provides all the benefits of vacation at your convenience, close to home.
In a recent study by Discover Boating, four out of five Americans said being around water relaxes them, and 72 percent feel healthier after spending time on the water. With Americans working longer hours, the need to take vacation time is greater than ever. According to the U.S. Travel Association, four in 10 Americans are not using all their paid time off.
Boating benefits a person's overall well-being and can be more accessible than many think. In fact, millions of Americans go boating each year on more than 15 million boats in the U.S., according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
"Boating offers the opportunity to get away from it all without going very far from home, allowing you to disconnect from stress on land, enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, and have fun with your friends and family,” says Carl Blackwell, president of Discover Boating. "Vacation time doesn’t need to be reserved for long trips — you can enjoy all the benefits of vacation more frequently and close to home when you go boating.”
Want to go fishing, sailing, wakesurfing, cruising or ride a personal watercraft? Whether on vacation or staycation, these insider tips provide fun, stress-free ways to get on the water this summer.
Take a class. Sign up for a boating lesson to hone your powerboating, sailing or watersports skills by mastering the basics while having fun along the way. Popular options around the U.S. include boating classes, on-water training courses, watersports camps, youth boating programs and more.
Rent a boat. Rental options are available on most waterways and provide hourly or daily access to a variety of boat types. Rental outfitters should provide tutorials on operating a boat, share safety instructions and offer suggestions on destinations. New to the mix are peer-to-peer rentals, allowing you to rent someone else’s boat, which usually includes insurance coverage and captains for hire.
Share the fun. You don’t need to own a boat to join a boat club. Clubs and shared ownership programs allow you to share a boat with others, split the costs and book your time on the boat online. These clubs and programs also maintain, clean, insure and store the boats and many provide on-water training.
Float your own boat. There are no limits to going on vacation when you own a boat. Chart your own course to boat ownership by visiting DiscoverBoating.com, where you’ll find a boat selector and loan calculator to help you determine your budget and identify the different types of boats that fit your lifestyle and interests. Once you’ve narrowed down your search, the site can connect you with manufacturers whose boats best fit your needs and wants.
Find ways to get on the water by using Discover Boating’s Go Boating Today tool. Just enter your zip code to find rentals, classes, boat clubs and more close to home.
(BPT) - No stringent schedule. Eating new, exotic foods. Getting lost in a page-turning novel. Trying a new activity that takes you outside your comfort zone.
These are the types of things that make for a memorable vacation. The problem is, you're not traveling this year and instead are opting for the increasingly popular staycation.
Yes, you're taking PTO and staying put, but that doesn't mean you can't have an incredible time. In fact, many of the activities that make a traditional vacation so wonderful can be emulated while at home.
To help make your staycation feel like a real getaway, follow these five steps. You'll have just as much fun as leaving town, but you'll save tons of money, plus get to sleep in your own bed.
Limit technology: When you travel to a faraway location, you probably have limited-to-no access to your cell phone and email. That disconnection helps you unwind. Mimic that feeling by limiting your technology use during your staycation.
Leave your phone upstairs, turn the computer off and resist grabbing the tablet. You should consider changing your email and phone message to say you'll have limited access over the time you're off, so people who contact you know it might be awhile until you get back to them.
Escape with a destination-specific book: Want to feel like you're leaving town without leaving the house? Historical fiction can transport you to a different time and place, no matter how short or long your time off. For example, New York Times best-selling author Anita Shreve's newest novel, "The Stars Are Fire," vividly brings 1947 New England to life. Based on a real event — “the year Maine burned,” when more than 200 fires raged across the state — the book introduces us to Grace Holland, five months pregnant and the mother to two toddlers. As flames rip through the town, Grace must flee into the ocean to survive, spending the night in the frigid sea as the fire sends debris and smoke onto the beach. In the morning, she discovers her husband missing and her home completely destroyed. Amid devastating loss, Grace must rebuild her family’s life, and find strength she didn’t know she had. The novel asks her, and its readers: What would you do if you could begin again?
People Magazine called the book “original and gripping,” the perfect recipe for a staycation. And USA Today gave the book three and a half out of four stars: "Shreve is masterful at creating compelling characters whose inner conversations about love and intimacy are both heartfelt and heartrending … [this] quiet novel about marriage, duty and passion lingers long after the last page is turned, like the smoke from a wildfire."
Eat exotic and amazing fare: Every corner of the world offers cuisine that represents the culture of the people who live there. When you travel, eating these types of foods enhances the vacation experience. During your staycation, skip standard weekly meals and try new destination-inspired recipes and make a few at home.
Try your hand at a New England clam bake, the Midwest-famous Watergate Salad or chili rellenos from the southern U.S. states. Or, for a more exotic taste adventure, explore ethnic recipes from around the world. Whatever you choose, you're sure to have fun making and eating the unique dishes.
Drink and be merry: While you're expanding your staycation experience with new cuisine, why not drink that way too? Complement your meals with a traditional location-inspired libation, such as a Manhattan from New York, Mai Tai from Hawaii or Vieux Carre from New Orleans.
Of course there are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages to wet your whistle, too. Feel the southern charm with a traditional sweet tea, or sit down with your book and instead of a classic cup of joe, indulge in an Italian espresso or an iced coffee.
Break routine with a daily adventure: You may be home, but that doesn't mean you can't explore areas of your city that you rarely venture to. By doing new things, you'll feel like you're really on vacation!
Visit that museum. Go to that quiet park. Take a hike down by the river. Go to a movie in the middle of the afternoon. Try something new, such as paddle boarding or rock climbing. Just because you're "home" doesn't mean you can't have unique adventures that make for unforgettable memories.
Staycations continue to grow in popularity, and with these tips, it will truly feel like a getaway rather than just bland days off at home.
(BPT) - Summer isn’t just vacation season, it’s also peak moving season. Studies show more people move during summer months than any other time of year; kids are out of school and weather is less likely to delay moves. However, moving is hard work no matter what time of year you do it. You’ll need careful planning and smart packing to ensure your summer move goes smoothly and safely.
These 10 tips can help:
1. Rent the right size moving truck.
Choose a truck that’s too big, and you’ll waste gas and space, plus empty room inside the truck means your belongings are more likely to shift in transit. Choose one that’s too small, and you could face multiple trips or the hard decision of what to leave behind. Penske Truck Rental professionals recommend you allow 150 cubic feet of truck space for each fully furnished room you’ll be moving. A 12-foot truck that offers 450 cubic feet could move three rooms — the equivalent of a one-bedroom apartment — while a 26-foot truck affords 1,400 cubic feet, approximately enough to move a two- or three-bedroom house.
2. Perfect your packing schedule.
Pack too soon and you’ll be living surrounded by boxes, some of which might contain stuff you need right now. Pack too late and scrambling at the last minute could mean you make mistakes that lead to damage. Pack out-of-season and non-essential items several weeks before moving day. Donate or sell anything you won’t need in your new home. Wait until the day before or morning of your move to pack essentials like personal necessities and basic cookware.
3. Protect packed items.
Nothing’s worse than opening a box at your destination only to find something broken. Use plenty of paper and bubble wrap to protect packed items. Towels, socks, pillows and other soft materials can help protect breakable items, too.
4. Reserve your rental truck early.
It’s no surprise that truck rental places get very busy during summer months. Reserve your rental truck at least two weeks prior to the move — earlier if you’ll be moving during a peak month like July or August. You can reserve a truck from your smartphone at PenskeTruckRental.com.
5. Clearly label all boxes.
Remember to label every box with what’s inside it and the room it will go to in your new home.
6. Have plenty of help on hand.
Having help loading and unloading boxes will make the move go more smoothly — and reduce the risk you’ll get hurt trying to do everything yourself. Enlist friends and family to help out. If you have large, heavy or very delicate items, consider hiring professionals to help load and unload those items.
7. Load the truck efficiently.
How well you load the truck will affect the safety of your belongings. Load heavy items like big furniture pieces and heavy boxes first, then stack lighter boxes and items to fill the remaining space. Be aware of the possibility that contents can shift in transit, so try to eliminate excess space that might allow the load to shift.
8. Lift carefully.
Improper lifting can cause injury. When lifting, bend your knees and lift with your legs, not your back. Get help lifting heavy items and use hand trucks and moving dollies to move heavy or bulky items. Take plenty of breaks and stay hydrated.
9. Schedule your drive to avoid peak traffic times.
You already know when peak traffic times occur around your current neighborhood, and a simple online search can help you identify rush hour at your destination. Schedule your drive so you won’t be on the road during the worst traffic times. Leaving very early before morning rush hour can help you avoid the frustration of sitting in traffic, and give you extra time to unload at your destination.
10. Learn safe truck driving practices.
Most people don’t have a lot of experience driving moving trucks, so take extra care to ensure your own safety and the security of your belongings. Ask your rental professional to familiarize you with the vehicle. For safe driving tips, visit pensketruckrental.com.
(BPT) - Vacations are a time to bring the family together and create life-changing experiences. But the airport hassle, hotel room fees and unexpected scheduling hiccups are not the memories you want to leave behind.
Instead, bring home with you wherever you go with an RV vacation. Sound too good to be true? Watch this video to learn more.