(Family Features) Recreation vehicles, or RVs, are increasingly popular. Sleek new models and high-tech innovations are attracting younger and more diverse people to the RV lifestyle.
Whether it’s a permanent way of life or a practical way to satisfy your wanderlust, you may be surprised by how easily an RV provides the perfect solution for your lifestyle. It’s something automotive expert and TV host Rutledge Wood has enjoyed for years.
“So much of my life has been on the road that it was natural for me to fall in love with the RV lifestyle,” Wood said. “Whether it’s covering NASCAR or traveling with my family, I can’t think of a better way to enjoy life on the road than in an RV.”
Consider these tips from Wood if you’re thinking about giving an RV lifestyle a try:
Start with a rental. Owning an RV offers an affordable alternative to traditional vacations, and renting can let you try before you buy. Renting an RV allows you to do a practical, hands-on test drive to learn more about the features and characteristics you need. You might find you need more or less space than you originally imagined, or you may discover a motorhome suits your family better than the towable styles. Renting lets you experiment so you can be confident you’re getting the RV that’s right for you when you decide to buy.
Check out the latest innovations and models. At the first-ever RVX: The RV Experience show, RV manufacturers unveiled an array of new models, concept vehicles and prototypes that will transform the future of RVing. Cutting-edge features and technologies, including advances in safety and livability, may appeal to all types of RV users from families to tailgaters to luxury travelers. Learn more about new RV models and innovations at RVX.org.
Make your RV a home away from home. If you keep your RV stocked with basic supplies, nonperishable foods, linens and clothes, you’ll be ready to go nearly anytime, anywhere. From items like toiletries to accessories for your favorite activities, an RV lets you keep the essentials on board at all times so when the open road calls, you’re ready to answer.
Talk with other owners. Visit a local RV campground and you’ll most likely find a friendly community willing to share information and advice. Ask what you should know about owning an RV and seek out answers to questions you may have about features, care and ownership. Find out what lessons owners learned the hard way and what pleasant surprises they’ve discovered. You can also find RV owner forums and groups online to learn more about RV ownership, such as the Go RVing Facebook page.
Create a bucket list. The RV lifestyle offers nearly unparalleled freedom and flexibility. The options for places you can go, and the things you can see and do, are virtually endless. Start a list of all the destinations you’d like to conquer and experiences you’d like to collect then start mapping out how to make each journey a reality.
Learn more about how to begin your RV adventure at GoRVing.com.
Photo caption (man): Rutledge WoodSOURCE:
(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:
(Family Features) Taking time to go on vacation or to just unplug from everyday life can be beneficial, and there’s certainly no lack of options when it comes to choosing an ideal vacation spot. The options for experiencing an amazing vacation are so plentiful, such as exploring a cruise port, eating and drinking your way around a city or simply visiting a new destination, you may find yourself struggling to narrow down the choices.
By focusing first on what type of vacation experience you would enjoy most, the details of the location may more easily fall into place.
“Often, would-be vacationers get so hung up on figuring out where they want to go, they forget to consider what they’ll do when they get there,” said Matthew Phillips, director of travel for AARP Services, Inc. “It makes sense to keep location in mind when it comes to considerations like climate, but knowing what types of activities, entertainment and sights you hope to experience can help ensure you plan a travel experience of a lifetime.”
Once you’ve determined how you’d like to spend your time, you can begin to explore some hot travel destinations, such as these:
California: Rent a car and take a road trip down the California coast and experience sunshine, culture and more as you drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It may be one single coastline, but California is filled with scenic views of the Pacific Ocean and tourist attractions, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Hollywood sign.
Caribbean: There are few better ways to escape the cold weather than with a Caribbean cruise, where breathtaking excursions, first-rate cuisine, exciting nightlife and spectacular entertainment fill every day and night. There are dozens of cruise options available, so it’s a good idea to do plenty of research and look into special incentives and offers to complement the experience. For example, the AARP Travel Center powered by Expedia provides exclusive offers to members on select cruises, including up to $1,000 in onboard credit.
Florida Gulf Coast: The warmer seasons are perfect for unplugging and relaxing by the sand and water. Head to the beaches of Florida and get a room with a view so the water is never out of reach. For example, Sarasota, Florida offers miles of beaches, including Siesta Key, known for its majestic waters and luxurious amenities.
Southwest France: Explore the beautiful wine-growing region of Southwest France through a fascinatingly historical and invigorating river cruise. For example, the Uniworld Bordeaux river cruise allows guests to sail three rivers: the Garonne, the Dordogne and the Gironde. The experience blends land and water with archaeological and historical tours, artisanal wine tastings, sprawling gardens and charming villages to explore. Take your experience a step further and see the sights while feeling like a local by going on a spotlight tour, an intimate way to uncover hidden gems.
Singapore: If you want to immerse yourself into a completely new and unique culture, hop on a flight and explore Singapore, commonly referred to as a “shopper’s paradise” for its emerging brands and bargains stores. Enjoy both the urban and natural attractions while indulging in the eclectic dining scene. Singaporean cuisine is full of diverse plates, such as bak kut teh, laksa and friend carrot cake, derived from several ethnic groups.
If you’re ready to start planning a satisfying getaway, a resource like AARP Member Benefits can assist with planning and saving money along the way. Learn more at AARPBenefits.com/travel.
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(Family Features) Spring is the perfect time of year to break away from everyday life for a journey to a new destination. Across the country, the climate tends to be moderate, so you can take in a wide range of activities for a fun-filled getaway.
One challenge of planning a trip is finding things to do that appeal to everyone’s interests and packing it all into a limited amount of time. One solution is East Texas, where you can find a wide range of museums, outdoor adventures and historical sites that offer adventure and unique experiences for nearly everyone. Get started planning your trip for this spring with these activity ideas.
Learn something new. Museums are a great place to learn more about your favorite topics, see memorabilia and share your passion with your traveling companions. Look for a destination with museums dedicated to a wide range of interests, like the broadcast industry or the path toward freedom in America, for example.
Get immersed in nature. One of the best ways to appreciate the local flora and fauna is inserting yourself right into the middle of it. For example, at Caddo Lake State Park in Karnack, Texas, you can paddle waterways dotted with bald cypress trees draped in Spanish moss that tower over the lake’s maze of bayous, sloughs and ponds. While visiting the park you can also stay in a historic cabin, try your luck fishing, hike, picnic, camp and even experience an adventure within an adventure when you look for a geocache.
Get up close with animals. Zoos across the country may have one thing in common (the animals, of course), but each offers its own special touches that make learning about and interacting with animals a fresh experience. From petting areas to drive-through safaris that put you right in the middle of the animal kingdom, there are plenty of ways to satisfy the animal lover among your group.
Travel through history. If there’s a history buff in your travel party, a destination like the Texas State Railroad takes visitors back in time by allowing them to ride a refurbished train car through a round-trip, four-hour, 25-mile rail journey through the Piney Woods of East Texas. Vintage steam and diesel locomotives take passengers on a trip featuring historic narration, comfortable seating and food and adult beverage services.
Make plans to make your spring travel adventure a memorable one at TravelTexas.com.SOURCE:
(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.
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.'"
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.
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
Some financial institutions offer banking rewards programs that can help you earn bonus points on your credit card rewards. Sometimes all it takes is a quick search to find out what benefits are waiting for you as a loyal customer.
"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.
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:
(Family Features) Whether you're planning a cross-country vacation or just a weekend getaway, packing for a road trip doesn't have to be a daunting task. Creating a packing list of essentials can be the first step toward avoiding unnecessary stress and making your trip one to remember.
Of course, that list should start with the items you should never leave home without like your driver's license and proof of insurance, but it should also include pertinent information about your destination, like the trip's itinerary and reservation confirmations. Don't forget a map or printed directions in case your GPS dies or your phone loses service.
While even the most experienced travelers have reached their destinations only to find they left a necessity or two behind, this handy packing guide can set you on the road to success and help you avoid buying a new set of sunglasses or portable charger en route to your destination.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (women with map)SOURCE:
(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.
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