Tag: vacation

Go Green When Spending Time Outdoors This Summer

The great outdoors beckons people year-round. But nature is especially enticing in summer, when warm weather compels people to leave their couches and soak up some sun. Spending time outdoors is rewarding, and it can be even more so when men and women take steps to make their outdoor recreation as eco-friendly as possible. Whether it’s choosing certain activities or taking other measures, there are various ways to go green when spending time outdoors this summer and beyond.

Leave the car at home.

Americans and Canadians consume more gasoline per capita than any people in the world. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the United Nations, Americans consume 4.39 liters of gasoline per capita each day, while Canadians consume 3.62 liters per capita each day. In lieu of driving everywhere this summer, men and women who want to be more mindful of the environment can leave their cars home more frequently. Rather than driving the family to a nearby ice cream stand, walk or bike there instead. Run as many errands on foot or on a bicycle as possible. Walking or cycling is a great way to get some time outdoors on warm summer days, and reducing fuel consumption is an equally great way to help the planet.

Vacation locally.

Another way to help the planet when spending time outdoors this summer is to vacation locally. People who vacation close to home typically do not fly, and that’s a significant benefit to the planet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that aviation emissions release black carbon, nitrous oxide and sulphur oxide, which contribute to the greenhouse gas effect. And while the EIA notes that automobiles and airplanes produce relatively similar amounts of carbon dioxide per gallon, airplanes burn considerably more fuel than cars, thanks in large part to the considerable amount of fuel planes burn on the runway. By vacationing locally, outdoor enthusiasts can reduce their reliance on airplanes, thereby reducing the effects those airplanes have on the environment.

Embrace eco-friendly activities.

Various activities, from organic gardening to planting trees to beach cleanups, provide a great way to get outdoors and help the planet at the same time. Men and women who grow their own vegetables can take solace knowing that the vegetables they’re eating each night did not require the depletion of any natural resources to go from garden to table. Signing up for beach cleanups can prevent trash, including harmful plastics, from making its way into the world’s oceans, and such cleanups provide a great excuse to go to the beach.

Volunteer with a local park service.

The National Park Service offers a variety of volunteer opportunities to individuals who are enamored with the great outdoors and are interested in protecting their local and national parks. Such opportunities can be explored by visiting www.nps.gov/getinvolved/volunteer.htm. Parks Canada (www.pc.gc.ca) offers similar opportunities to outdoor enthusiasts.

Outdoor enthusiasts can make their summers more rewarding by taking steps to be as eco-friendly as possible when spending time outdoors.

Making the Most of Family Vacations

Family vacations can seem like daunting endeavors to organize, as planners must cater to each member of the family and their individual needs. Family vacations can cost several thousand dollars, which only adds to the pressure planners may be under. But careful planning makes it possible to simplify the process so more time can be spent resting, relaxing and having fun.

Child-friendly hotel

One of the “musts” when booking a family vacation is finding the right accommodations. This often means booking rooms at family-friendly hotels. Things to look for when seeking hotels include amenities like swimming pools and recreation areas, nearby parks and other attractions that kids can enjoy, and easy access to stores that sell necessities. When booking a room, request one that is close to the elevator or the breakfast buffet. If you have youngsters who nap or go to bed early, try to book adjoining rooms or one-bedroom suites. This way the kids are tucked in but accessible, allowing adults to enjoy their downtime.

Plan the trip together

Get the entire family involved when planning a vacation and let children who are old enough to have a say in some of the travel plans. Let kids choose some activities, pick some restaurants or even select which seats to sit in on the airplane.

Pack as lightly as possible

Pack light and, if possible, buy some necessities when you arrive. Few things can be as headache-inducing as dragging along extra luggage with kids in tow. Choosing a hotel or resort with laundry facilities can be advantageous to active families who may get messy along the way.

Allow for downtime

While it’s beneficial to have an itinerary, leave some moments for spontaneity and rest. You don’t want to return home so tired from the trip that you need another break. Use downtime as opportunities for kids to lead the way.

Travel off the beaten path

Mature children may like sights and sounds that aren’t necessarily designed for kids. So while it may be tempting to stick to big-name resorts that cater to families, there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had exploring lesser-known islands or villages. And while you’re at it, introduce children to native cuisines so they can broaden their culinary palates.

Relive the memories

Make lasting vacation memories more by putting together a photo album or scrapbook.

How To Avoid Hot Weather Automotive Breakdowns

When the weather warms, many people take to the outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and rising temperatures. Summer road trips or vacations are the norm, but it is important to realize that hot weather can take its toll even on a new, well-maintained vehicle.

High temperatures can cause all sorts of damage to a vehicle, from zapping battery power to overtaxing the cooling system. Recognizing potential hot-weather risks and performing routine checks on the vehicle are the keys to keeping vehicles in top form.

Battery

Excessive heat can shorten the life of a battery because it causes battery fluid to evaporate more quickly. This, in turn, can damage the internal structure of the battery. AAA reports that car battery issues are the most common breakdown calls.

It’s a good idea to top off a battery with distilled water if it is the kind that requires it. Low-maintenance batteries may not have filler caps and will not require water. Inspect the battery for corrosion and leakage of battery acid. This could be a sign that the battery is getting old and will need to be replaced.

Cooling system

Cooling systems work hard to keep the flow of air to the engine and prevent it from overheating during warm seasons. Compromised cooling fans or lack of coolant can be troublesome. To avoid overheating, check coolant levels before getting on the road. In addition, have the cooling system checked by a trained mechanic prior to the summer driving season. It’s a small price to pay to avoid extensive engine damage from overheating.

Tires

Hot weather causes the pressure inside of tires to rise. Overinflated tires can wear down prematurely or result in blowouts. The Car Care Council recommends checking tire pressure routinely in the summer, when tires are cold. Follow the guidelines in the owner’s manual for recommended air pressure. Look for improper tread wear, weak spots or other tire damage that may end up causing flats.

Fluid levels

Hot weather can put extra demand on all fluids and engine components. Check transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and engine oil levels. Top off or change when necessary.

Pack with breakdowns in mind

Plan ahead for potential summer breakdowns by bringing along water, snacks, sunscreen, and an emergency medical kit. Be sure mobile phones are fully charged and that the number of a tow service or roadside assistance crew is entered into your list of contacts in the event of an emergency.

With warm-weather road trips beckoning, it’s time to plan accordingly to prevent breakdowns that can derail fun.

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How Families Can Make Staycations More Unique

As a result of the economic downturn that began in 2008, many families found themselves forgoing traditional vacations in favor of “staycations.” In such instances, families spent time away from work and school together but did not travel far, if at all.
While the economy has bounced back since the dawn of the staycation, many families are still choosing to stay at home in an effort to save money. Staycations might not seem as glamorous as traveling abroad or as relaxing as spending a week in an oceanfront resort or condominium, but there are ways for families to make staycations more fun and seem like a true departure from everyday life.

• Experiment with new cuisine.

One of the joys of travel is the opportunity to dine out and experience cuisine native to particular locales. But families don’t need to travel abroad to enjoy this particular benefit of traveling. The internet is home to a wealth of recipes from countries far and wide. Parents and their kids can choose recipes online and prepare meals from a different country each night, or pick a “country or region of the week” and prepare a different dish native to that area each night. This provides a great departure from ordinary family dinners and can make for a fun activity for the whole family.

• Camp out.

Straying from the norm, even when staying at home, can make staycations seem more like a vacation than merely a week away from school or the office. Parents who want to add a dash of adventure to their families’ staycations can set up tents in the backyard and sleep under the stars or seek out local campsites that are free or relatively inexpensive. Tell stories around a backyard firepit when staying at home to provide a more authentic camping experience for everyone.

• Take in local culture.

Rather than spending the week lounging around the house or the backyard pool, families can explore the cultural opportunities in their towns or cities. Busy families tend to take such opportunities for granted when they get caught up in the daily grind, and exploring local history and artistic opportunities in the same way you would when traveling can provide a sense of excitement similar to that experienced during more traditional vacations. Visit a local zoo, take in a performance at a local theater company or take a guided historical tour of an area of your hometown or a nearby city.

• Indulge in an extraordinary activity.

While families typically choose staycations to save money, forgetting the budget to enjoy one extraordinary activity can make a staycation more fun and memorable. Spend one day during the staycation doing something the family would not ordinarily do, be it visiting an all-day amusement park, taking a helicopter tour of a nearby city or going to a ballgame. Such a break from the norm, even if it’s only for a single night, can make staycations feel more like vacations.
Staycations have become an economic necessity for many families, and there are many ways for parents to make such times as enjoyable and unique as more traditional vacations.

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How to Save Money on Vacation

“Travel can be expensive, but savings are possible when travelers know where to look.”

Going on vacation often means throwing a little caution to the wind and indulging here and there on purchases or experiences a person wouldn’t normally make at home. According to a 2015 CBS News poll, the average American is entitled to 16 days of paid leave each year, and the average Canadian worker 19 days. Such time off is an opportunity to fit lots of fun into a relatively short period of time. Frugal travelers may want to be sure they’re spending their hard-earned money in the smartest ways. Traveling without breaking the bank enables the average person to take more vacations and continue to make invaluable memories. Here are some suggestions on making a getaway, whether it involves lots of traveling or staying close to home, more affordable.

Be flexible.

Travelers who are flexible in their departure dates and times can usually find great rates because they have the ability to shop price instead of date. Various airline websites and travel discount services show the average flight prices across several days. Frugal fliers can select the lowest price. The same can be true when booking hotels and other vacation components.

Pack light.

Many airlines now charge extra for baggage fees — especially for suitcases that exceed the weight limit — so don’t bring along unnecessary items. Hotels typically provide toiletries for free, so save space and money by removing such items from your luggage. Chances are if you didn’t pack an item, you can still find an affordable alternative at your destination.

Use coupons.

Coupons aren’t only for getting cents off your favorite brand of tissue at the supermarket. Coupons and discount codes are available for just about any purchase — even vacations. Check all travel websites to see if there are any deals to be had. Don’t overlook discounts related to your membership in clubs such as AAA or AARP or those linked to your alumni or military organization. According to RetailMeNot, having a social media account can help, too. Travel deal sites and airlines may post about flash sales.

Plan meals.

Look into economical restaurants before departing. Know where you’ll be eating and when, including packing a lunch or enjoying a hotel-provided breakfast. Enjoying a big lunch can be more frugal than indulging on dinner.

Rent small.

If renting a car, choose the smallest model that will fit your needs. In addition, there’s no need to pay for a large room that you don’t plan to spend much time in, so resist the temptation to book large hotel rooms.

Consider public transportation.

Investigate the public transportation options at your destination. Such options may not be as convenient as taxis, but they may be more economical.

Book based on currency.

Stay abreast of currency exchange rates. Such rates can make a big difference in choosing a destination, particularly if your money will be worth more internationally. Also, try booking a vacation through the local country’s version of the same travel site.

Skip tourist hotspots.

Talk to the locals to find out where to get the best deals. Try local foods, brews and more for a cost savings. Travel can be expensive, but savings are possible when travelers know where to look.

Make Vacations and Travel a Key Component of Retirement

When the time comes to bid farewell to conference calls, meetings and daily commutes, retirees have open schedules to fill with whichever activities they choose. Travel is one exciting way to pass the time.

Traveling can be a rewarding prospect for active seniors, particularly those who successfully preplanned for retirement and have the income to fund various excursions. Many seniors, both in the United States and Canada, find that travel tops their to-do lists once they retire. According to Senior Travel magazine, new travel options are emerging for newly minted retirees looking for something a little different from the status quo.

The list of destinations retirees have at their disposal is limitless. The following ideas are some of the more popular ways retirees choose to travel.

Road trips rule.

Taking to the highways and byways is an excellent way to see the country. Seniors can customize their routes depending on which places they want to visit. RV travel can be as comfortable or as rustic as travelers prefer. Many seniors spend months traveling in their campers, which offer many of the same amenities of home. Campsites and special RV hook-up sites offer the other necessities of traveling the open road.

Genealogical tourism is popular.

People hoping to trace their ancestry and visit their ancestral homelands are one of the fastest-growing travel segments. Visiting an old church in Europe where ancestors were married or buying food from a market in which a great aunt or uncle once worked leads retirees on many international adventures. Such trips provide travelers with a unique opportunity to understand their roots up close and personal while enjoying some international travel along the way.

Exotic tours can be exciting destinations.

History buffs or adventure-seeking couples may be particularly attracted to exotic travel destinations that are slightly off of the beaten path. Travel tours may take vacationers to destinations such as excavation sites or backpacking through the rainforest. With passport in hand, seniors can go just about anywhere their desires take them.

Enjoy a relaxing seaside trip.

A seaside vacation can be the perfect trip for seniors who want to put their feet up and sip some cocktails while watching the waves lap the shores. Many beach resorts offer all-inclusive packages for different age groups. Meals, excursions and hotel rooms can be bundled into one affordable, confusion-free price.

Go cruising.

Speaking of all-inclusive vacationing, cruising seems tailor-made for those ages 50 and older because it offers the convenience of accommodations, food, entertainment, and transportation all in one. The various activities offered on the ship mean travelers can find ways to spend their time how they see fit. Cruising couples can opt to spend all of their time on the ship enjoying carefully prepared meals and entertainment or disembark and explore the various ports of call along the way.

Now that they have more free time, retirees can gear up for travel adventures to remember.

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Simplify Vacation, Maximize Fun

Vacations are a great opportunity for families or individuals to recharge. But especially active vacationers often return from their trips in need of rest, as planning may have taken its toll or schedules loaded with too many activities might have left little time for R&R. Those willing to simplify their vacations may find their excursions provide the rest they need and the energizing boost they can make use of upon returning from their destinations.


Leave work behind

The United States is one of the few countries that does not guarantee paid days off. The Center for Economic and Policy Research says one in four working Americans do not get paid time off. The employment site Glassdoor notes that among those who do get paid vacations, 75 percent of employees chose not to use all of their time in 2013. By comparison, Canadians get an average of 19 days of vacation time per year. Stress about making up work or falling behind makes some professionals worry about using their vacation time, and those who do travel may stay connected to the office in some shape or form. Splitting time between leisure and work responsibilities on a vacation can be taxing and take away from the time you need to relax and recharge. Cut work ties and immerse yourself in the vacation experience.

vacation2Use a travel agent

Using a travel agent to plan your vacation can remove any stress and anxiety you may feel when planning a trip and juggling the responsibilities of everyday life. Many people choose to book their own trips as a cost-cutting measure. What they don’t realize is that travel agents may be privy to special deals and perks they can pass on to customers. These agents also know the ins and outs of certain resorts and locales. Leaving the legwork in their accomplished hands means all you have to do is show up with your reservations instead of pouring over the minutiae of planning.

Consider an all-inclusive trip

All-inclusive resorts and cruise lines take the work out of having a good time. These types of vacations remove a lot of the problems associated with personal travel. Meals are provided, activities are coordinated, and you don’t have to carry extra cash, as most costs generally are covered.

Keep your itinerary flexible

Scheduling right down to the minute can remove the fun of the trip. Leave opportunities to just sit and enjoy your surroundings. Perhaps other members of the family or traveling party have their own ideas for entertainment. A rigid timeline can make the vacation seem more like a commitment rather than an opportunity to let loose and stop watching the clock.

Rent a carvacation1

Find out if a rental car can be included in the price of your vacation. Having a car at the ready means vacationers can come and go as they please without worrying about hailing taxis or waiting for public transportation. Rental cars also provide access to areas outside of resort confines. Research possible destinations in advance and map out where you want to go to remain safe and prepared.

Vacations don’t have to be taxing. Cut down on some of the stressful aspects of traveling by simplifying and delegating tasks.


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