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
(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.
From your own hometown to the far reaches of the globe, there are thousands of destinations just waiting to be discovered by adventurous souls. Gearing up properly is essential no matter where your travels take you. Make sure you’re well-prepared for your next epic journey with these must-haves for adventurous travelers.
Appetite for Adventure
(Family Features) From your own hometown to the far reaches of the globe, there are thousands of destinations just waiting to be discovered by adventurous souls. Satisfying your itch to get out and explore may take you across town or across the ocean, but adhering to some common principles can make your travels extra rewarding.
Gearing up properly is essential no matter where your travels take you. Make sure you’re well-prepared for your next epic journey with these must-haves for adventurous travelers and find more travel-friendly advice at eLivingToday.com.
Let it roll
Lay your head
Explore new lands
Protect your feet
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (travelers, bike, boots, tent, backpack)SOURCE:
(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 winter cold and snow force you indoors, you might dream of getting away to somewhere warm and sunny that offers plenty of energizing fun and a much-needed change in the weather. Planning for your spring and summer vacations is a great way to score some budget-friendly deals. It also helps you beat the winter blues by giving you something to look forward to.
But where to go, you might ask. One great option is Florida's Space Coast, a destination that, while renowned for its ties to the U.S. space program, also offers an astonishing abundance of adventure-filled, outdoor vacation activities.
If you're starting to explore your spring or summer vacation possibilities, here are some can't-miss things to do that make the Space Coast an out-of-this-world destination:
* Take a nighttime "bioluminescence" kayak tour along the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge or Cocoa Beach. These tours allow you to get up close and personal with some of the glowing creatures who magnificently inhabit the waters along Florida's Space Coast.
* With so many great beaches, the area is an ideal destination for surfers and other water sports enthusiasts. Here, you can visit the flagship Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach - a 52,000-square-foot, multilevel store offering a huge selection of surf boards, swimming attire and other surf-brand apparel. Meanwhile, at the nearby Ron Jon Surf School, you can arrange a surfing lesson or even rent a paddleboard.
* Immerse yourself in nature at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, a 140,000-acre park that is home to at least 1,500 species of plants and animals, including alligators, manatees and a wide variety of birds. If the time of year is right, you can also take a guided nighttime Turtle Walk to observe sea turtles as they lay their eggs.
* The region is a paradise for birds, making it the perfect place to host the annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival, normally held early in the year. Bird-watching, or "birding," is just part of the fun at the festival, which also offers entertainment, unique dining experiences, special events and more.
* In Titusville, sign up for a Coast-to-Coast Bike Tour and get an up-close view of the region's vibrant wildlife areas and historic sites. Or, for an epic ride, venture out on your own along the Coast-to-Coast Connector Bike Trail.
* Get your adrenaline pumping with a zip line aerial tour. Brevard Zoo's Treetop Trek allows you to zip line, crawl or climb your way through acre after acre of lush Florida landscape.
* The Space Coast is one of the few places you can personally witness a rocket launching into space, and it is breathtaking. Rockets carrying satellites into orbit or transporting cargo to the International Space Station launch periodically throughout the year. You can find the launch schedule at SpaceCoastLaunches.com.
To learn more about Florida's Space Coast and plan your spring or summer getaway, head to visitspacecoast.com.
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