Are there benefits to buying a timeshare in this day and age?
(BPT) - Once upon a time, if you said you owned a timeshare, you might get a side eye from a well-meaning friend who was concerned you caved to a hard sell for a vacation option. But times have changed, and a quiet revolution in the industry now shows that timeshares can be a savvy vacation strategy.
According to Consumer Reports, timeshare is an increasingly attractive travel option that has evolved since its start in the 1970s.
But do people buy timeshares anymore? According to the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), the short answer is yes. Approximately 7.1% of U.S. households, or 9.6 million families, own one or more types of vacation ownership products.
If current trends continue, young families could soon lead the way in the world of vacation ownership. In fact, despite stereotypical images of timeshare owners as empty nesters headed to the same destination to stay in the same unit every year, owners are trending younger. The average age is 44, thanks in large part to the evolving flexibility of timeshares and growing lists of destinations to visit.
For Kassi and Keith Parker, who bought a timeshare in their late 20s, the decision was a no-brainer.
“When we first sat down with the sales rep, we felt a bit guilty for wasting his time,” explained Kassi, who, along with her husband, invested in vacation ownership with Hilton Grand Vacations. “But not long into our conversation, it dawned on us that we could spend less on travel and continue to explore the world with all of HGV’s properties and experiences. And still being south of 30, we saw so many amazing trips in our future at such a better price.”
Hilton Grand Vacations is one of a handful of timeshare companies affiliated with well-known, reputable hotel brands.
“We’re Hilton Honors members and when I travel for work, I always want to stay with Hilton, because I appreciate the consistency of the brand. Nevertheless, we went into the sales presentation as complete skeptics,” explained Kassi. “Having the Hilton name behind the company gave me real peace of mind. I might not have taken the leap otherwise. We know exactly what we get with their hotels and knew it would be the same with the vacation properties.”
Kassi isn’t alone. According to the State of Shared Vacation Ownership Industry study from ARDA, a timeshare company’s credibility is just one consideration consumers have when deciding to buy a timeshare.
Other reasons listed include:
“We found that we traveled too much to not invest in vacation ownership. We know we’re going to travel for the rest of our lives, and the fact that we can travel on a budget is one of the top reasons why we love vacation ownership,” explained Kassi. “It makes us actively think about travel and ensures we take time off to travel. Even if our year is crazy busy, we’re still going to take advantage of our vacation — even if we need to do a staycation at our home resort in Orlando. We know that we will be owners for life and the flexibility of Hilton Grand Vacations was a big decider for us.”
According to the ARDA study, timeshare owners travel better and more often:
“We know we are younger than the traditional timeshare owner, but this doesn’t feel like a traditional timeshare — or at least the stereotype of what people think timeshare is,” said Kassi. “When we think about the value we get back from our investment, we think about it in terms of the time we spend together, the memories we make, and the investment we make to each other and our relationship. It’s our vacation plan.”
A little planning will ensure your next road trip with one or more children will be happy and safe, no matter where you’re going. Enjoy your road trip with the family using these seven tips, and you will all be safer and happier - and you and your kids may even have fun along the way!
(BPT) - Whether the length of your drive is three hours or 30 minutes, it can seem an eternity with a bored child in the car. A little planning will ensure your next road trip with one or more children will be happy and safe, no matter where you’re going.
Here's how you and your kids can stay safe and enjoy the journey almost as much as the destination.
1. Factor in time for pit stops
Don’t try to crush a several-hour driving marathon to get there quickly. Children need frequent breaks to use the restroom, have a healthy meal — and release their pent-up energy. Look for signs of restlessness and stop before kids get too out of sorts.
When you stop, find a safe spot where your kids can stretch their legs and run around a little. If they’re sluggish, organize a quick game of tag or catch, or encourage them to do a jumping-jack competition.
If frequent stops are making you later than expected, call ahead to let people know you’re off schedule. Better to take your time and arrive safe and happy.
2. Make sure kids stay buckled up, the whole time
Help keep your kids safe by making sure your child is buckled up every time, for every ride. As older kids get restless, they may unbuckle themselves during a long drive. Make sure you’re checking periodically throughout the trip, not just when you first pull out of the driveway. After every rest stop or meal, ensure kids are buckled up before you head back on the road.
3. Bring games — and dust off your creativity
Age-appropriate hand-held games and books can be good diversions for your children on long trips. Find audiobooks the whole family can listen to during the trip.
Recall games you played during road trips with your parents. Did you spot license plates from different states? Say a certain word when you saw an animal or certain type of car? How about a game of I Spy? Start a guessing game like 20 Questions, or use yes-or-no questions to guess a famous person one of you thinks up. Stock up on knock-knock jokes or silly riddles to keep kids engaged with you and each other.
4. Keep kids under 13 in the back seat
No matter how long your trip is, children under 13 should never sit up front, for their own safety. Car safety standards and features, like air bags, are developed and tested with adult bodies in mind. Air bags can be inflated at speeds of up to 200 to 400 mph, and because kids’ bodies are still developing, they are safest in the back seat. Additionally, most crashes impact the front of the car, and the back seat is farthest from this impact.
5. Pack healthy snacks
Make sure each child has a refillable water bottle for the journey, plus healthy snacks they enjoy, like fruit, cheese sticks or yogurt. Choose age-appropriate snacks that won't be a choking hazard, so you can focus on the road.
6. Bundle up safely
For the best protection in a car seat, your child's harness should fit snugly. A bulky coat can create extra space between the child and their harness, increasing risk of injury in a crash. To keep your child safe and warm on the ride, dress your child in a lighter jacket and place a blanket over the harness if needed.
7. Before you go: Check that they’re in the right seat
A car crash can happen anywhere, anytime — so the right car seat for your children’s age and size is always important. Any upcoming road trip can be a good reminder to double-check that they’re in the right seat for their safety — and that it’s installed correctly.
Enter your child’s age, weight and height at NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat to check if they’re in the right seat. On the website you can also get installation tips and find a location near you where a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician can help you check the seat’s installation.
Enjoy your road trip with the family using these tips, and you’ll all be safer and happier. Trips like these can be memorable for all the right reasons, and you and your kids may even have fun along the way.
If your fondest dreams are more about the journey than the destination, a trip on a legendary four-masted windjammer in the Caribbean may be just the adventure you're looking for. This article provides info on how to make your sailing dreams come true!
(BPT) - If your fondest dreams are more about the journey than the destination, a trip on a legendary four-masted windjammer in the Caribbean may be just the adventure you're looking for.
Finding an authentic sailing ship for your nautical adventure is not out of reach. Sea Cloud Cruises sail the traditional way — by hand. The yacht is designed for up to 64 passengers, with a crew of about 60. You can watch the ship’s sailing crew climb the rigging and work the sails as you journey to smaller ports and destinations — and you can even volunteer to help work the ropes, if you like.
A 360-foot windjammer with 29 sails and a main mast towering to 184 feet, the tall ship was built in 1931 as a private yacht for heiress and founder of General Foods Marjorie Merriweather Post and husband Edward F. Hutton. Shipboard guests included the rich and famous, such as author James Michener. The ship was restored in 2011 by a group of German businessmen seeking to retain its opulence and beauty.
Every journey provides an “Open House” cocktail hour where guests can view all the staterooms, including the luxurious cabins created for the heiress and her husband. Other cabins have more modern furnishings, most with picture windows, and some with doors opening to Caribbean breezes on the Promenade Deck. Travelers enjoy personal service, with many crew members staying with the line for over 10 years, and some even more than 30 years.
While the settings may be luxurious, the on-board experience is informal, with no assigned seating at meals, a casual dress code and an intimate atmosphere. American and European guests mingle and relax while enjoying Michelin-star quality meals out on the deck or inside the dining room, featuring fresh seafood and produce obtained during the voyage at Caribbean ports like St. Barts, the British Virgin Islands or Bequia Island in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Caribbean has been the ship’s destination since the beginning, so the long-lasting contacts between the company and local suppliers provide the best quality products for unforgettable meals. The smaller size of the ship allows her to visit lesser-known ports of call, far from typical tourist destinations. Often small Zodiac boats are used to let passengers visit quiet island beaches or indulge in a little snorkeling. The Caribbean offers ideal sailing due to the east-to-west prevailing trade winds, making it the perfect destination for the yachts.
On most of the 7- to 14-day Caribbean itineraries, half the day is spent sailing, allowing guests to enjoy the beauty of the sailing ship and revel in the journey. For those who love to sail, it’s a dream come true. Passengers can visit the ship’s deck any time, stopping at the bridge to speak to the captain or the officer on duty, 24/7. The engines only run when needed, using low-sulfur diesel, so the trip is an example of sustainable tourism. Travelers seeking a longer voyage can travel the crossing from Europe to the Caribbean, a two-and-a-half-week trip.
The ship spends summers sailing the Mediterranean, but winters are prime for some of the best sailing in the world — following in the wake of buccaneers throughout the islands of Lesser Antilles and other unique Caribbean destinations.
A second ship, Sea Cloud II, is more modern but still sailed the traditional way, by hand, with 23 sails and a 188-foot main mast. This ship carries up to 94 guests, with a crew of about 65. The company will christen a third ship in summer 2020.
Learn more, find stunning videos or take a virtual onboard visit, at SeaCloud.com.
(BPT) - Planning a trip abroad? That’s exciting! But you have lots to do and less time than you think to get it done. What do you need to accomplish before leaving?
Here's a handy checklist to help you get your ducks in a row.
If you have a current passport, check the expiration date. Many countries require that you have at least two to four blank visa pages, and that your passport be valid for 6 months past the last day of your trip.
If you don’t have a passport or it needs renewal, get that done first. The U.S. State Department announced an increase in processing time for passports to 6-8 weeks. Even a higher-cost expedited passport can take three weeks.
Fortunately, FedEx Office is teaming up with RushMyPassport to offer further expedited U.S. passport services. Stop by one of 2,000 FedEx Office locations or visit FedEx.com/passport to complete your application. You can even purchase government-compliant passport photos at their locations. There are six options:
This doesn't include shipping, so add one day or more for shipping, or arrange pick-up at their location in select cities.
Some countries don't require visas for brief visits, but you should check well before leaving. Find the country at travel.state.gov/destination to determine necessary paperwork and allow several weeks for the process. You will typically need to visit the website of that country's embassy for current visa requirements and instructions. FedEx Office does not currently offer visa services, but plans to in the future.
If your destination country doesn't require a visa, they may require proof of sufficient funds for your trip, proof of onward or return flights and a passport with one blank visa page valid for 6 months beyond the date you arrive.
Bring along information for the U.S. embassy and consulate, in case of emergency. You should also carry contact information for family members in case anything happens to you. Leave a copy of your travel documents (such as passport) and itinerary with someone back home and carry copies with you (separate from originals, in case of loss or theft).
Savvy travelers carry a combination of cash, traveler’s checks and credit cards in separate locations. Learn overall currency exchange rates and make a cheat sheet with that country’s equivalents of $5, $10 and $20. Remember, exchange rates change daily and vary depending on where you exchange money.
Exchange some at the airport when you arrive. Then exchange more in a touristy area posting competitive exchange rates to find better deals.
Consult your doctor to catch up on vaccinations. Find out if the country where you’re traveling requires vaccinations for entry, or which are recommended, on the CDC website: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/travel-vaccines. Vaccines should be administered a month ahead for maximum effectiveness.
If you take prescription medications, bring them in their original containers, plus a copy of the prescription(s).
Some health insurance policies cover you overseas, but many don't. You can purchase travel insurance to ensure you’re covered for both doctor or hospital visits and for transporting you to a hospital if necessary. Some renters or homeowners insurance policies cover loss or theft abroad, but you can purchase additional coverage if they don't.
Planning ahead will not only ensure a hassle-free trip, but will give you peace of mind in case the unexpected happens. Knowing what you need before you go will make your trip memorable — for all the right reasons.
These general guidelines are not exhaustive. Be aware that laws change and vary from country to country. Check relevant resources including travel.state.gov/destination for information about your destination.
Looking for a vacation that’s not only fun, but also meaningful? Wish you had more time to volunteer in a way that really makes a difference? There’s a simple solution: Plan your next vacation around a great volunteer opportunity.
(BPT) - Looking for a vacation that’s not only fun, but also meaningful? Wish you had more time to volunteer in a way that really makes a difference? There’s a simple solution: Plan your next vacation around a great volunteer opportunity.
Whether on your own or with the entire family, volunteering on vacation is a wonderful way to explore a favorite destination or someplace you’ve always wanted to go, while contributing to a cause you care about. It's also one of the fastest growing travel trends in 2019. According to a Google Consumer survey, one in four travelers report that they plan to volunteer on an upcoming trip, and almost half of travelers (47 percent) say they would choose a vacation destination based on a volunteer opportunity they are passionate about.
With the Travel for Good program from Travelocity, you can easily explore volunteer activities in popular vacation destinations all over the U.S. Most activities require anywhere from just a few hours to a whole day.
Here are just a few of the types of opportunities you can find on their interactive volunteer map.
Concerned about hunger?
Travel to New York City to volunteer for Rescuing Leftover Cuisine. This nonprofit organization saves food from New York City restaurants that would otherwise go to waste, and then delivers it to folks who need a helping hand.
Or visit Washington, D.C., to sort food donations, stock shelves and assemble nutritious food packs for elementary school children at Food for Others. Volunteers age 12 and older can sign up for weekday shifts, making it a great opportunity to teach your tween or teen children about how they can make a difference.
Care about animals?
You can spend time at The Nashville Zoo, one of Tennessee’s most popular attractions, to enjoy the wildlife while assisting at one-time volunteer opportunities for special events like the adults-only Brew at the Zoo and holiday-related celebrations for Easter, Halloween and more.
Or if you love cats and dogs, consider volunteering your time to help out at an animal shelter, such as Best Friends Animal Society in New York, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Washington, D.C., or PAWS Chicago.
Passionate about the environment?
Plan a trip to California to volunteer with Surfrider Foundation, which organizes regular beach cleanups around the Bay Area. Or head farther south to help out at San Diego Coastkeeper, an organization that helps make sure San Diego's waters are safe and clean.
In the Big Easy, help Green Light New Orleans work on sustainable, eco-friendly projects, including installing energy-efficient light bulbs in residential homes, installing rain barrels to collect stormwater runoff and other good deeds.
Want to help build healthier communities?
You could spend your vacation in San Francisco, getting your hands dirty while tending the land at Alemany Farm, the largest urban farm in San Francisco, which educates visitors on how to become healthy food producers and gives away all the food it grows for free.
Or help teach hygiene habits to vulnerable groups in Las Vegas with a volunteer stint at Clean the World Foundation.
Finding a place where you can volunteer on vacation may seem daunting, but it's easy to locate nonprofits in need in some of the top cities across the country by checking out www.travelocity.com/travelforgood. The site also offers tips from fellow volunteer travelers for your next adventure. Make your next vacation both memorable and meaningful by finding the right volunteer opportunity for you.
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