Whether you are a first-time or repeat international visitor to the United States, here are 3 tips and reminders that will help your American vacation go smoothly and be a memorable adventure.
Your trip to the United States for your holiday break will take a passport. You may also need to bring your driver's license. If you plan to stay for an extended period and a purpose, you will need a visa.
If you're just traveling to the United States for a vacation, your passport and driving ID will be enough to get you into the country and through customs. It's important to review the difference between a passport and visa. Passports verify who you are and whether or not you are allowed to travel internationally. Visas grant access for a specific purpose and a particular stretch of time. When traveling internationally, you always need a passport. You may not need a visa.
Your travel goals will help you determine whether or not you need to arrange a car rental. For example, if you're traveling to a major metropolitan area for your vacation and don't plan to leave the city, then setting up a ridesharing app on your phone and summoning a car when you need one may be a better choice. According to Budget, a car rental will likely require that you show your passport or other documentation as well as your license. You will also need to have a familiarity with driving rules and regulations in the United States. Be aware that these can change from state to state, so if you're crossing state lines you will need to review law changes and carefully monitor the speed limit.
Consider a Road Trip
A great way to see the United States is to drive historic Route 66. This route includes many roadside attractions and passes close-by natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon. You can also enjoy time in St. Louis and take the elevator arch so you can see the city from up high. This road trip takes you from Chicago through St. Louis and down to Tulsa, Oklahoma. You'll travel through Texas, New Mexico and into California, stopping in Santa Monica. In every city along the route, you'll find museums, dining, and attractions to suit any interest. This two-week trip will provide you with memories that will last a lifetime.
A visit to the United States can include natural wonders, thriving cities, and charming small towns. No matter your travel goals, you can find something wonderful to visit and enjoy in the states.
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Hawaii is known for being one of the most scenic places to visit in the United States. From the sparkling waters to the amazing food, music, and culture, Hawaii is on the "must-see" section of many people's bucket lists. However, before you go booking your flight to the "Big Kahuna," there are a few things you should know first.
Contrary to what you may assume, the weather in Hawaii is not always nice and sunny with rainbows and gentle breezes. The island actually has multiple climate zones such as tundra, wet, monsoon and more. If you are visiting the island during the summer season, the temperature can tend to be especially humid and hot. You may want to keep these things in mind and pack clothing that will allow you to be cool and comfortable, especially during the summer. Sun hats can help to shield you from the blazing rays while linen materials, loose, or flowing garments can help as well.
Hawaii is made up of several islands which can be accessed either via a small plane or by taking a ferry. The six islands are Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and the big island of Hawaii. However, if you are just trying to maneuver around a particular island, then you could definitely rent a vehicle. There are a few rental rules to know if you're thinking of renting a car while in Hawaii. For instance, if you are renting a vehicle online, you are required to be at least 21 years old and have a credit card. Also, the rates, as well as fees, may vary drastically for drivers who are under 25, so be mindful of this as well.
Know the People
Not everyone you come across is an actual Hawaiian as this term is reserved for those who are descendants of Hawaiians. Only about 10% of the people on the island are actual Hawaiians while the rest of the population are known as locals. Locals are people who were born on the island and can be Caucasian, Asian, and more. To be on the safe side and avoid offending anyone, using the term "locals" is a good bet.
There is so much to explore on the beautiful islands of Hawaii. Just remember to take your time and enjoy as much of the amazing vibe and culture as you can.
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Whether you are from the East Coast looking to escape to the West or you’re from the West and looking to explore something new, New Mexico is a great place to take a family vacation. There are so many beautiful things to see and do. Regardless of how old your children are, you can find things to do for just a couple of days or a full week. Let’s take a closer look.
Play in the Sand Dunes
At White Sands National Monument, you’ll find the world’s largest gypsum dune field, according to Just Go Travel Studios. Located on the northern portion of the Chihuahuan Desert, this is a beautiful place to play, take family photos and explore. You can grab some free maps at many locations in the area. The sand is pure white, the sky is blue, and you’ll feel like you’re inside the pages of a book. You’ll be dealing with a lot of sand, so bring some items along that will help you clean up rather than trek a bunch of sand into your vehicle when you’re done.
Go See the Fish
According to Budget, the ABQ Biopark Aquarium is a great place to visit with young children. This aquarium is located directly next to the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s easy to access, there is plenty of parking, and you can keep the kids busy for hours with all there is to see and learn. There is also a botanical garden attached to the facility. Plan to be at this location for at least a couple of hours, if not more. You can easily spend a good majority of the day at the ABQ Biopark Aquarium if you pack a lunch and take your time.
Check Out the Local Cuisine
This is a great area that is rich and diverse in culture. Head to Santa Fe if you want to try authentic sopapillas and chile rellenos. El Corral Café offers authentic Mexican cuisine at affordable prices that your whole family will enjoy. Even the pickiest kids will love trying things like churros, homemade enchiladas and Spanish rice. The great thing about New Mexico cuisine is that you can dine out incredibly affordably throughout your whole trip.
There is so much to see and do in New Mexico that will help you and your children learn about the culture and people. You should plan to spend at least a couple of days in each area so you can truly absorb all of the culture there is. This is a memorable trip that you and your family will enjoy looking back on for years to come.
Hitting the open road continues to be an increasingly popular vacation option for families. As spring approaches, the idea of exploring the country in full bloom encourages many families to begin planning an RV travel adventure. For travelers looking to experience the outdoors, consider these tips.
5 Ways to Rev Up for a Travel Adventure
(Family Features) Hitting the open road continues to be an increasingly popular vacation option for families. As spring approaches, the idea of exploring the country in full bloom encourages many families to begin planning an RV travel adventure.
With more than 18,000 RV campgrounds across the United States spanning everything from vineyards to beaches to mountains, there's something for nearly everyone. There are also campgrounds that cater to certain lifestyles, like family-friendly, rustic or lux, for the ultimate adventure that fits your personality.
Travel expert Misty Wells believes living the outdoor life helps her keep a healthy connection with her two children. From fishing to paddleboarding to kayaking, Wells and her family do it all. For travelers looking to experience the outdoors, she offers these tips:
To take the first step toward your family’s RV adventure, visit GoRVing.com.SOURCE:
Ask nearly any person about his or her dream trip and watch a smile appear as the perfect personal excursion is described. Now, ask why the trip has yet to happen, and time and money will be the likely culprits. Carving out time and saving funds to make travel possible, even during the busiest travel seasons, can be a challenge, but these tips can help you travel the world in style.
Pursue Your Travel Passions
(Family Features) Ask nearly any person about his or her dream trip and watch a smile appear as the perfect personal excursion is described. Now, ask why the trip has yet to happen, and time and money will be the likely culprits.
The misconceived notions that may be holding you back from traveling can feel especially exacerbated during busy seasons when travel costs rise and coordinating vacation schedules with coworkers becomes a challenge.
Carving out time and saving funds to make travel possible, even during the busiest travel seasons, can be a challenge. Lee Abbamonte, the youngest person to travel to every country in the world plus the North and South Poles, and Bank of America recommend these tips to travel the world in style.
Book Based on Your Interests
One of the easiest ways to make time for travel is to book based on your likes and hobbies. When you plan a trip around your passions, it helps you prioritize the experience over the cost.
"When I worked in finance, I noticed a lot of my colleagues made excuses about why they couldn't travel," Abbamonte said. "I've found that booking travel based on your personal interests can help you stay motivated to follow through actually taking the trip. For example, I love watching and playing sports, so I often use that as a reason to travel to various countries."
One area you might be passionate about is food. In fact, 23 percent of Americans say they have planned a trip around a culinary experience, according to a Bank of America survey. Local cuisine also offers a unique glimpse into a culture.
"I love attending local food festivals and cultural celebrations," Abbamonte said. "Just one day at a food or wine festival can give you a great understanding of an area's culture and people, which is quite literally great 'food for thought.'"
Have a Credit Card Rewards Strategy
Earning points through travel spending is especially popular today. In fact, 65 percent of Americans have a rewards credit card, according to the same Bank of America survey. Yet when it comes time to reap a card's rewards, 55 percent admit they don't have a strategy to maximize points.
Abbamonte recommends using a credit card that rewards all your purchases and offers extra points where you spend most.
"Since traveling and eating out are easily my top two expenses, the Premium Rewards credit card from Bank of America works perfectly for my lifestyle," Abbamonte said. "I earn two points for every dollar I spend on travel and dining - which works out great to maximize my rewards earnings, plus I earn 1 1/2 points on all of my other purchases."
For example, think of it this way: Every time you use your card, you are earning points for your next trip. Even your morning coffee can help you earn points toward a plane ticket.
Have a Plan but Be Flexible
To get the most out of your travel experience, make a general plan for what you want to do. However, be sure to leave time for exploring charming side streets and unexpected surprises. You never know what will catch your eye once you arrive.
"I often visit multiple countries in one trip," Abbamonte said. "While I usually know where I want to travel, I don't always buy my flights between countries beforehand. You may want to adjust how you planned to allocate your time once you're on a trip. Maybe you fall in love with a bed and breakfast, and just can't part ways to catch your flight out of town. Travel shouldn't be a mad dash from destination to destination. It's a time to truly live your best life in a new place."
Maximize Financial Rewards
"If you qualify for a banking rewards program, you can really max out on your credit card rewards," Abbamonte said. "For example, Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients receive up to a 75 percent bonus on their credit card rewards - which means you could earn up to 3 1/2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases with the Premium Rewards credit card."
To maximize rewards, consider layering your airline, hotel, banking and credit card rewards programs together. Abbamonte, for example, includes his frequent flier and hotel loyalty program membership information while booking airline travel and hotels, allowing him to earn benefits from other loyalty programs on top of the points he receives with his card.
Find more ways to save for travel at bankofamerica.com/getmorerewards.
Maximize Your Rewards
An analysis of Bank of America's over 50 million debit and credit cards during 2017 showed travel and restaurants to be top areas for spending. Using a credit card that rewards you for where you spend the most can help pay for upcoming travel.
On average, consumers spent in 2017:
Photos courtesy of Getty ImageSOURCE:
Bank of America
A family vacation is the perfect time to unwind, but it can be even more relaxing with time spent outdoors enjoying nature in all its beauty. Whether you plan your entire trip around a specific activity or just build in a day or two along the way, you can create some unforgettable memories with these ideas.
Unplug with an Outdoor-Oriented Vacation
(Family Features) A family vacation is the perfect time to unwind, but it can be even more relaxing with time spent outdoors enjoying nature in all its beauty. Whether you plan your entire trip around a specific activity or just build in a day or two along the way, you can create some unforgettable memories.
Choosing your destination is the first big decision in planning a vacation, and selecting a location that offers plenty of attractions for the whole family is a smart bet. For example, Texas offers a variety of state parks with unexpected terrain, such as the second largest canyon in the United States at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, or Pedernales Falls State Park with its distinctive river banks where visitors can swim, tube and kayak.
Once you have your general destination selected, it’s time to consider exactly how you’ll fill your days.
Outdoor sporting. Fishing is a fun and affordable activity the whole family can enjoy. After all, there’s no age limit on the thrill of a catch. Lakes, streams, rivers and creeks are all potential fishing sites and each offers a unique experience, from the scenery to the types of fish you’re likely to catch. Before you head out, be sure to research what permits and gear you’ll need. Some destinations even allow you to rent necessities, so you may be able to save the hassle and expense of buying new.
Wildlife watching. You can see hundreds of species of animals in their natural habitats by visiting a state park or natural area, and bird-watching is chief among those activities for many visitors. State natural areas, prairies and lakes are all good places to catch sights of different bird species, and many of these locations offer hiking paths and trails that make it easy to enjoy some fresh air and exercise along with the scenery.
Search the skies. You’ve probably heard the old adage that even the stars are bigger in Texas, and there’s no time like a family vacation to discover whether it’s true. Get away from the city lights and take in some of the best night sky views around at a dark sky park like the state’s largest state park, Big Bend Ranch State Park in the Big Bend Country region. Some parks offer special stargazing programs, events and observatories, or simply bring a blanket, some binoculars and your camera to discover the new world that awaits above.
Honor history. There are glimpses into the past virtually anywhere you go, that appeal to practically any interest. Compare foot sizes with a dinosaur. Wonder at rock art that is thousands of years old. Trace the steps of Native Americans and Spanish missionaries. Churn butter on a farm. Participate in festivals and battle reenactments that pay homage to momentous events of yesteryear.
Digital discovery. If you’re skeptical of getting the kids to put down their devices long enough to enjoy some outdoor exploration, geocaching may be just the answer. Geocaching is essentially a modern-day treasure hunt, and there are geocaches to be found throughout Texas, including at Pedernales Falls State Park in the Hill Country region. Use a GPS unit or smartphone app to find the exact location of a geocache nearby. Be sure to make note of the terrain and difficulty levels to ensure the site is appropriate for your group then set out on your adventure, enjoying the sights along the way.
For more ideas and inspiration to start planning your next family vacation, explore TravelTexas.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Texas Tourism Board
A vacation for the family is no small expense, but with these tips you can minimize the hit your wallet takes and focus instead on exploring new places while making great memories.
Family Travel You Can Afford
(Family Features) A vacation for the family is no small expense, but there are plenty of ways you can minimize the hit your wallet takes and focus instead on exploring new places while making great memories.
Travel during off seasons. Although peak season varies by destination and region, virtually every location has an off season when demand is lighter and so are prices, for everything from hotel rooms to entertainment. The one downside is that while off season travel can be great for a strict budget, lower tourist traffic means many attractions and amenities may offer reduced schedules or even close. An alternative is traveling during what’s known as the shoulder season, the transitional timeframe between peak and off-peak seasons, when it’s easier to find the best of both worlds: lower prices and plenty of things to see and do.
Pack your snacks. Particularly if you’re traveling with small children, there’s no way to avoid frequent stops for restroom breaks and burning off some energy. Outfitting the whole family with a drink and snack at every stop can quickly add up. Instead, carry a supply of treats and drinks in a cooler, if there’s room, so you can refresh and recharge but skip the added expenses.
Shop smart for gas. Just as you’ve likely noticed in your hometown, gas prices can fluctuate from one area to the next. When it’s time to fill up, avoid densely populated tourist areas where prices tend to be higher. There are also several smartphone apps that can help identify the best prices in your immediate vicinity.
Leverage rewards programs. Whether it’s a retail shopping card or an incentive program on your credit line, take maximum advantage of your available rewards to help defray travel costs. Cash in points to earn credit on essentials like gas, hotel costs and more, depending on your program offerings.
Practice fuel-efficient driving. If weather allows, use the vents or windows to cool down rather than the air conditioner. Make sure tires are properly inflated. Try to limit abrupt changes in speed with hard accelerations and braking, and use cruise control when traffic conditions allow.
Eat on the cheap. Do your research ahead of time to find deals at restaurants on your route. Look for “kids eat free” deals and other specials. Also take advantage of the free meals offered at many hotel chains, such as hot breakfast buffets.
Comparison shop. If you can pinpoint where you’ll be each night of your trip, you can compare hotel rates ahead of time. Not only can you get a better deal, you’ll avoid the risk of bouncing from one lobby to the next in search of vacancies.
Enjoy simple pursuits. Entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive to be enjoyable. Skip the pricey amusement parks in lieu of a scenic hike or a new experience like zip lining. National parks and historical sites offer plenty of low-cost adventure for families of all ages.
Find more tips for travel and other family-friendly activities at eLivingToday.com.
Bringing Nostalgia Back to Road Trips
A family road trip can bring on a strong sense of nostalgia. Although much has likely changed since you embarked on your first journey as a child, there are still plenty of ways to appreciate road tripping with the family and bring the best of “then” to “now.”
Seating selection. A generation ago, road trips meant putting down the seats in the station wagon and creating a giant play space in the rear of the car. Keep the same spirit in your road trips now by attaching a travel kit in an accessible bag or organizer to the front seat backs to hold plenty of diversions.
Electronic-free entertainment. Handheld devices and headphones may be the norm for this generation, but there’s no time like a family road trip to put down the electronics. Old-school games like I Spy, Make the Trucker Honk and The Alphabet Game add some free, fun entertainment that encourages a look out the window at the passing surroundings.
Vehicle maintenance. Remember the old 3-months or 3,000-mile oil change rule? Forget about it. Most of today’s vehicle manufacturers recommend changing your oil every 5,000-7,500 miles. However, to prepare for your family road trip and avoid mechanical failures along the way, most mechanics will offer the same tip: change the oil. If you haven’t already, consider making the switch to a synthetic motor oil such as Kendall GT-1 Max to help your engine achieve maximum performance and extend the time between oil changes to give you more time on the open road. An AAA engine oil research study confirmed synthetic motor oil performs better than conventional motor oil by nearly 50 percent. Also remember to check your vehicle’s fluids, battery, wipers, tire tread and air pressure to ensure road-trip readiness. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the recommended maintenance information according to the manufacturer.
Gas prices. When the Griswold family hit the road on their infamous trek to Walley World 34 years ago, gas rang up at $1.16 a gallon. Today the national average for a gallon of gas is $2.49. While yesterday’s gas prices will likely never return, a road trip is still an economical choice for families. Consider a one-tank destination over a cross-county trek to help deliver a memorable experience with your family.
Plan your road trip with more tips and ideas at kendallmotoroil.com/roadtrip.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images (family packing car)SOURCE:
The Caribbean is one of the world’s most popular regions for cruise travelers. The islands are not only conveniently accessible, but offer spectacular beaches, legendary crystal-clear waters, vibrant towns and popular shore excursions. Contrary to what some may think, the hurricanes had little to no or little impact on the vast majority of the Caribbean – a far-reaching region covering more than 1 million square miles.
The Caribbean is Open for Cruise Vacations
(Family Features) Contrary to what some may think, the hurricanes in September had little to no impact on the vast majority of the Caribbean – a far-reaching region covering more than 1 million square miles.
In fact, of the nearly 100 ports in the Caribbean, almost 90 percent are open and fully operational – and welcoming thousands of cruise ship passengers every day.
To help make sure consumers are aware that the Caribbean is open for business, the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) has launched a campaign and website, CaribbeanIsOpen.com, to provide the latest updates.
The Caribbean is one of the world’s most popular regions for cruise travelers. The islands are not only conveniently accessible, but offer spectacular beaches, legendary crystal-clear waters, vibrant towns and popular shore excursions.
The locals welcome vacationers to their islands as tourism, and the cruise industry in particular, is critical for the economy.
According to the FCCA, cruising generated $2.4 billion in direct economic impact for the Caribbean and created nearly 55,000 jobs and $842 million in wages throughout the region during the 2014-15 cruise season. This is in addition to the indirect jobs created in supporting industries, such as providing supplies for shore excursions, ports and restaurants.
“Seasoned cruisers to the Caribbean understand that most of the islands have been unaffected,” said Carolyn Spencer Brown, chief content strategist for the website Cruise Critic. “They also understand tourism is a top driver for the islands’ economic well-being and that cruises are a large part of that equation. Because of that, it’s important for both cruise lines and travelers to continue to support so many of the Caribbean islands that are ready for business and eager to provide travelers with the incredible vacations they’ve come to expect from the region."
Now is an ideal time to plan a Caribbean cruise vacation. Contact a local travel agent or check out cruise line websites to find plenty of options for cruise vacations.SOURCE:
Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association
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