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How to avoid crowds in Rome

(BPT) - Rome has been a starring city on the world stage throughout history. Art is all around you in this cultural center where pieces by Bernini, Raphael, Caravaggio and Michelangelo are daily decor. The city surrounds you with masterpieces from throughout the ages, making it a highly coveted destination with plenty of crowds. DreamPlanGo has provided some tips to help you avoid long lines and enjoy the city in peace:

Time your trip. Certain times of the year bring in more crowds than others. If you truly can’t stand masses of gawkers, it’s best to avoid Rome during June, July, August, Easter, Christmas and New Year’s. Cooler weather but also quiet sites and lower prices will greet you in November, early December, January and February.

Evade long lines at the Colosseum. The Colosseum in Rome is one of the biggest attractions in the country and a bucket list stop for many. Don’t let the winding long lines deter you from seeing this world wonder. Start by purchasing your ticket, but not at the Colosseum. Buy a combo ticket for two sights at Palatine Hill. The line at Palatine Hill is short or even non-existent. You’ll get your ticket purchased, tour the ancient parts of the city at the hill and still get into the Colosseum with time to spare.

Mind the time of day you visit the Vatican. It pays to be organized. Book your tickets to the Vatican in advance online. Try to make it for first thing in the morning and as the doors open, make your way directly to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel or the Raphael rooms. These masterpieces by the Renaissance artists get very crowded. If you’re not a morning person, visit at 1 p.m., while people are elsewhere eating lunch. Alternatively, save the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael rooms for last, right before the Vatican closes at 4 p.m.

Enjoy Via Appia Antica (The Appian Way). Get a breath of fresh air and stretch your limbs in this Roman road that feels like an exclusive escape. Spreading out on the south side of the city, it reaches nearly 340 miles outward to Brindisi. Take a bus tour through the Italian countryside, or bike the path on Sunday when all vehicles are barred.

If you want to escape the Roman crowds altogether, visit Dreamplango.com to learn more about the 5 Day Trips You Must Take From Rome.

High-tech monitoring of digital information...

(BPT) - The digital age has made online information widely available both for good and bad purposes. When it comes to the nation’s security, monitoring, tracking, securing and analyzing digital data is a key factor in defending intelligence networks.

Creating a line of cyber warfare defense is the U.S. Navy's responsibility, which has a community charged with mastering the capabilities, tools and techniques required to effectively collect, process, analyze and apply information.

This is a growing field, and individuals interested in careers in computer science and computer engineering will find excellent opportunities with the Navy. Enlisted sailors and naval officers specialize in information-intensive fields that include information management, information technology, information warfare, cyber warfare, cryptology, intelligence, meteorology and oceanography. Collaboratively, they develop and defend vital intelligence, networks and systems. They also manage the critical information that supports the U.S. Navy, joint and national warfighting requirements, maintaining the Navy’s essential technological edge.

Cyberspace is the interdependent network of information technology infrastructures, including the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems and embedded processors and controllers. America’s Navy has highly technical computer scientists and computer engineers who develop tools and techniques in the information environment that ensure situational awareness, provide defense against attacks and deliver tactical advantages.

Some of the day-to-day jobs include gathering data through sources ranging from advanced cyberspace operations to unmanned surveillance systems, converting data into actionable intelligence, and maintaining cutting-edge communications networks that effectively share and safeguard information. It’s all part of the mission for those who serve in the professional areas of information and technology in America’s Navy – for those warriors who do battle within the cyberspace domain and the electromagnetic spectrum.

As a member of the Information Dominance Community, Navy sailors apply principles and techniques of computer science and computer engineering to research, design, develop, test and evaluate software and firmware for computer network attack, exploitation and defense in cyberspace operations. 

For more information about opportunities to serve, visit www.navy.com/careers/information-and-technology.html.

11 tricks to speed through airport security

(BPT) - No one likes standing in the security line at the airport, and if you are a frequent flier it can be a real hassle.

Whether you want to streamline your approach to security or get yourself in a special line, here are travel inspiration website, DreamPlanGo’s suggestions on how to reduce your wait time and reclaim your sanity:

Invest in CLEAR. To be clear, CLEAR costs. Subscribers pay about $15 per month, so it’s only worth it if you are a frequent business traveler. You also have to hand over your fingerprints, iris image and multiple forms of identification. Once you have your CLEARCARD you can leave from select airports only. This service might become more attractive when more U.S. airports participate in the program.

Enroll in TSA PRE-Check. Ten popular airlines participate in TSA Pre-Check. Fork over a non-refundable $85 application fee and submit your personal information and fingerprints for quick access. If you haven’t committed a felony and aren’t on a terrorist watch list, you will receive a Known Traveler Number. Use this number to purchase tickets with participating airlines. You will usually be invited into the PRE-check express lane at the airport, but it’s no guarantee.

Consider a Trusted Traveler Program instead. If you participate in Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI, you can qualify for TSA PRE-check lines in addition to expedited North American border crossing lines.

Check out airline loyalty programs. Some airline loyalty programs help make screening easier. They will waive your cost of the PRE-check, or provide you access to elite security lines at airports.

If you don’t want to spend big bucks for a shorter wait time, try these tips instead:

* Pick the fastest security agent. If you are a pro at picking the fastest checkout line at the grocery store, now is the time to use your skills. Sometimes it isn’t about the shortest line, but the most efficient agent.

* Don’t push the 3-1-1 rule. Peanut butter, jam, gravy and cranberry sauce won’t make it through security even if they are your lunch for the day. Treat these items just as you would lotions, toothpaste and other liquids and gels.

* Keep gifts unwrapped. No one wants to have their Christmas presents greedily torn apart by TSA officers, but if they need too, they will. Wrap your gifts after you’ve flown.

* Be a neat packer. Carefully packed suitcases are frequently easier to scan with the X-ray machine. If TSA agents do need to open your bag, you will be saved the embarrassment of your suitcase’s contents exploding all over the airport.

* Organize carry-ons. Once you get to the X-ray machine, it’s best if you are ready to go. Stow your laptop in an easy-to-reach space and have your 3-1-1 bag ready. A few moments of planning beforehand can save you hold-ups and stress while you’re in line.

* Plan a sensible outfit. Your airport outfit might have to be a little boring in order to speed through security. You don’t want to have to take off jewelry, belts, scarves, coats and lace-up boots, so today is the day to wear slip on shoes and a simple, one-layer outfit with no accessories.  

* Have your documents ready. Get out your drivers’ license, passport and boarding pass before you reach the agent. This keeps you from having to root around in your pockets and bags while you make others wait.

Are you passing through customs as well as security? Read up on The Smart Traveler’s Guide to Crossing the Border.

Tips to make the daily drive easier for commuters

(BPT) - It’s a tough job driving to work – just ask the millions of Americans who commute every day. The average commute takes 25.5 minutes one way, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. However, 10.8 million people drive an hour or more to work each way. Some have it worse: approximately 1.7 million Americans commute 90 minutes or more each way.

The key to driving to work is getting there on time and that means having a trustworthy vehicle that’s in tip-top shape. “Tires are often overlooked but they should be a priority,” says Bob Abram, product planning manager for Yokohama Tire Corporation, maker of a variety of truck and car tires. “They have an enormous effect on braking, steering, comfort, handling and fuel efficiency because tires are the only parts of a car or truck that actually touch the road.”

Commuters would be surprised at how today’s high-tech tires can help drive down the costs of driving, says Abram. “There are so many new, innovative technologies, such as the use of orange oil in our tires, which saves drivers money either by having tires that last longer or tires with increased fuel efficiency. We now incorporate orange oil in everything from light truck/SUV tires – like the GEOLANDAR H/T G056 – to the ADVAN Sport V105 for luxury and high-performance vehicles.”

However, no matter how much technology tires pack these days, nothing can take the place of proper maintenance in getting the most out of them. No matter what your daily commute is, the more driving you do, the more you should check your tires regularly, especially the air pressure. “By keeping the right tire pressure, you can begin cutting down on your annual fuel costs, which will pay dividends,” he says. “Tires that are under-inflated by 8 pounds per square inch can reduce vehicle fuel economy by as much as 2 percent. For the best gas-saving results, take five minutes each month and check your tire pressure.”

Abram recommends checking tires when they are cold (at least four hours after the vehicle has been driven). Check tire pressure with a reliable tire gauge and make sure the valve stems have a plastic or metal cap to keep out dirt, water and foreign objects. You can find the tires’ proper inflation level (as recommended by the car maker) on a placard in the glove box, on the car door or in the owner’s manual.

Abram offers commuters more tips that will keep tires road-ready and wallet-friendly. For additional tire care and safety tips, visit www.yokohamatire.com or www.rma.org.

* Tires that are balanced correctly will provide a smoother ride and help prevent improper wear. You can get your tires balanced at the same time as your regularly-scheduled rotation.

* Rotating your tires will also prevent uneven wear and promote a better ride. Because the weight distribution on your car or truck can vary, it’s best to rotate your tires a few times a year, such as every time you get your oil changed.

* Check tire alignment once a year. Misaligned tires create unnecessary tire wear and higher fuel consumption.

* Tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch (the lowest legal limit) to prevent skidding and hydroplaning. Best to replace before 2/32 depending on your drive (geographically and type of streets). Winter traction and wet traction start getting compromised well before 2/32. For example, rural streets that aren’t regularly plowed would be different than city streets that are regularly plowed.

* Checking tread depth: place a penny upside down into a tread groove. If part of Lincoln’s head is covered by the tread, you’re driving with the proper amount of tread. If you can see all of his head, you should buy a new tire.

Tips for traveling with chronic kidney disease

(BPT) - For people who have lost the function of their kidneys, dialysis is a life-sustaining treatment they must undergo several times per week.

Although dialysis doesn’t take vacations, dialysis patients sure can – they just need to plan ahead when they travel.

“Traveling is an empowering way to show how patients can lead active lives on dialysis,” says Dan Martella, senior director of guest services at DaVita Kidney Care. “Patients should know that being on dialysis doesn’t mean that they can’t still do the things they enjoy.”

This checklist can help patients make sure they have everything prepared ahead of time for their upcoming travels.

1. Make sure your doctor, nurse and social worker are aware of your travel schedule so that staff can help ensure a smooth process during that time.

2. Confirm what expenses are covered by your insurance carrier. DaVita Kidney Care offers insurance consultations online and through its guest services phone number to help patients determine what health care travel costs their insurance will cover.

3. Contact a dialysis center close to your hotel or vacation home so the center can accommodate your travel plans accordingly. To locate a center near a vacation destination, use the “Find a Dialysis Center” tool on DaVita.com.

4. If you don’t dialyze in-center, it is important you still identify a dialysis center nearby in case there is an emergency, like lost luggage or forgetting an item at home.

5. Pack your medical information with your carry-on luggage and bring it to dialysis. Information should include medical records, recent lab reports, dialysis prescriptions and medication taken.

6. Bring extra medication in case you get delayed while traveling.

It may seem daunting to organize your dialysis treatments as part of your vacation plans, but DaVita’s guest services team can help. Guest services specialists regularly assist thousands of patients in scheduling dialysis treatments to fit their travel schedules. This service is available to all dialysis patients at no cost.

DaVita Kidney Care provides travel assistance to dialysis patients across the country, which includes finding a center near their travel destination to accommodate the patient’s schedule and helping to ensure the new center is prepared to welcome the visiting dialysis patient.

Stay on the road this season with these winter...

(BPT) - Preparing your car for harsh winter temperatures before they strike is a great way to ensure your vehicle will be able to handle the year’s coldest months. Both new and old cars need maintenance during this season. Following the car care tips below will help to keep your vehicle running at its peak from now until spring.

* Check the tires. Snow, sleet and slippery roads mean you will rely on your tires during the winter more than any other time of the year – so make sure they are up to the task. Check your tires for correct cold weather air pressure and have them rotated. Inspect the condition of your tire’s tread. This can be achieved by performing a simple test, place a penny on its edge in the tread groove with Abraham Lincoln upside down. If you see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tire treads are worn down and you should replace your tires. This same test should be done in several tread grooves across the tire.

* Clean your fuel injector. When the temperature reaches its lowest, you want to know your engine will still operate efficiently. Royal Purple’s Max-Atomizer is the most concentrated fuel injector cleaner on the market. Using it in your vehicle can improve your car’s fuel efficiency, power, throttle response and emissions. It also helps your car start quickly, idle smoothly and operate in winter’s coldest weather.

* Check your fluid levels. Check your brake, coolant, power steering, transmission fluids and windshield washer fluid levels regularly during the winter months. Clear visibility is imperative during the winter months, and windshield fluid can be heavily used. It is a good idea to have a bottle in your trunk to ensure safe driving conditions.

* Clean the air filter. The winter season sees the roadways littered with debris that can get caught in your vehicle’s air filter. The air filter can be easily inspected and cleaned or replaced it if necessary. Doing so will help your car run more efficiently and may even prevent larger problems from occurring in the future.

* Prepare a winter survival kit. Even the best planning can’t prevent a winter accident. If you find yourself stranded on the side of the road, a winter survival kit could be invaluable. Your kit should include an ice scraper, de-icing liquid, hand warmers, a granola bar or two, bottled water and cat litter, which can provide traction for your tires if you get stuck. It is also a good idea to store your phone in the glove box or center console when driving. This way, if you do spin out, you’ll be able to find your phone afterward.

* Take your vehicle in for a tune-up. Some winter car maintenance tasks may be outside of your expertise, so it is a good idea to bring your car in for a winter check-up. Your regularly scheduled oil change is the perfect opportunity for your mechanic to do a more detailed inspection of your vehicle. Come prepared with any questions or concerns so your mechanic knows what to look for.

The winter driving season can be nerve-wracking, but if you apply the tips above, you can rest assured that your vehicle is prepared for whatever the season throws at you. To learn more about Royal Purple’s Max-Atomizer, visit RoyalPurple.com.

6 things you can do to be more productive this...

(BPT) - Time. You never seem to have enough of it. Whether it’s work, family commitments, your kids or your spouse, there’s always someone or something that needs your time. And imagine the chaos if you were to actually want a little time for yourself as well.

You can’t create more time, but you can ensure you make better use of the time you have. To help you be more productive this year, Hyatt Place Seamless Travel Series productivity expert Lindsey Pollak offers these tips.

* Wake up earlier. Yes, it’s that simple. Waking up 30 to 60 minutes earlier gives you a great jump-start on your day. You can exercise, catch up on email or just relax in this newfound peace and quiet. Just don’t forget to go to bed earlier at night to ensure you’re awake to enjoy the morning.

* Make a plan. Even the busiest of days will flow more smoothly if you are following a predetermined plan and schedule. So before your next busy day, week or season, take time to jot down a list of everything you have to do. You’ll be more efficient in accomplishing these tasks and you won’t waste time panicking about how you’ll complete it all.

* Decide which decisions you’ll make. Research has shown that the more choices you make during the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain. Eliminate routine decisions whenever possible by having the same breakfast each morning, putting out your clothes the night before or parking in the same space each day, for example. By cutting these decisions out of your daily itinerary, you’ll be saving brain power for the truly important choices.

* Delegate. You aren’t afraid to ask for help at work, so why not speak up at home? Ask family members to help you complete household projects or hire someone to help you maintain the yard, run errands or do the shopping. Any assistance you receive will save you time for other responsibilities.

* Optimize your life on the road as well. Whether you’re on vacation or traveling for work, you still want to be as productive as possible. Hyatt Place hotels help multitasking travelers stay productive on the road, offering free WiFi, free hot breakfast, a 24-hour gym and more. To help you have a seamless travel experience from start to finish, Hyatt Place brings you the Seamless Travel Series, teaming up with leading travel experts to offer advice on travel, style, technology and health.

* Be selective in what you commit to. Want to do more in 2015? Start by saying no. Life pulls you in all different directions, and every request you commit to eliminates time you could spend doing something else. Instead of committing to everything offered to you – including the things you don’t really want to do – don’t be afraid to say no. You’ll be more productive when you can focus on the few things you actually want to do.

You can’t turn back time or make more of it, but by implementing these productivity tips, you can make the most of it. So go out and get ready for a productive 2015, and remember, time is ticking.

Negligence is the rust of the soul ... and the car

(BPT) - Whether it’s the anxiety of looking at a bank statement after a big purchase or waiting for news from a doctor, facing harsh realities can be nerve-racking. The same mentality applies when dealing with your car discrepancies, be it routine maintenance or even skirmishes with other drivers on - and sometimes off - the road.

These drivers are not abiding by one of the fundamental, unwritten road rules, according to a recent survey conducted by Hankook Tire. In the latest Hankook Tire Quarterly Gauge Index, results showed that 86 percent of American drivers have had their car damaged by others when parked and never received a note from the person responsible. However, despite these findings, the gauge also revealed that only 14 percent of Americans say they have dinged a car and didn’t leave a note, which begs the question: Who’s telling the truth?

Aside from avoiding issues with others on the road, drivers also tend to neglect their own routine car obligations. The recent gauge index also revealed that 57 percent of Americans leave regular car maintenance obligations such as registration, oil changes, and car inspections until the last minute or past the recommended timeframe.

But what the large majority of the driving population lacks in fulfilling some standard car care needs, they make up for in other ways. Seventy-seven percent of drivers make sure to fill their gas tank before or immediately after their gas light goes on. And although many Americans lack manners by failing to leave notes in parking lots, they take pride in their parking skills. Sixty-seven percent of drivers consider themselves “excellent” or “good” parallel parkers, maneuvering into a tight spot in two tries or less.

Now that the fall and winter months are here provide drivers with less than stellar road conditions are here, take into account these helpful car safety tips that will help you be more mindful of your cars basic needs:

Check your tank – Running low on fuel on a regular basis can be hazardous to a car because it causes the fuel pump to pick up debris from the bottom of the fuel tank that can clog the pump or fuel injectors. Be mindful of your gauge, and try to get to the nearest fueling station as soon as you can.

Check your engine – Thirty-one percent of Americans wait to change the oil until past the recommended service date. Not changing your oil often enough allows harmful dirt, particulates and acids to degrade or damage key engine parts.

Rotate your tires – According to the Hankook Tire Quarterly Gauge Index, 33 percent of Americans say tire rotation is the No. 1 routine car maintenance obligation that they put off until the last minute. However, rotating the tires allows them to wear more evenly, increasing the tires’ lifespan.

Choose the right tire – Do you know what brand of tires you have on your car right now? If you said no, you’re not alone. Thirty-six percent of Americans say they don’t know their tire brand. Knowing this information is important to be sure if the tires are appropriate for the upcoming fall and winter driving conditions. The Hankook Winter i-cept evo is a winter tire that provides excellent performance during winter weather conditions.

5 must-know tips for healthy winter travel

(BPT) - Whether heading to grandma’s house for the holidays or to a tropical destination to get away from the cold, winter travel comes with the added challenge of staying healthy.

Crowded airports and train stations and tight guest quarters make us all more exposed to germs – and this year’s cold and flu season is projected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be among America’s worst yet.

Vacation illnesses or injuries are not only inconvenient and expensive, but often completely preventable. Follow these tips to keep yourself and your family healthy during this year’s winter adventures:

1. Pack a travel first aid kit. You can purchase a kit at a local pharmacy or easily make your own. Include essentials like bandages, alcohol swabs, hand sanitizer and over-the-counter treatments for colds, allergies, aches and pains, and indigestion.

2. Keep health information handy. Travel with your health insurance card and a good supply of any prescription medication your family will need (bring a few extra for good measure). As backup, snap a photo of your prescription labels in case you need a refill on the road. Keep these important items on your person instead of packing them in your checked baggage.

3. Sleep when you can. A tired body is a susceptible body. Resist the urge to binge on airplane movies during that cross country flight. Instead, rely on your eye mask, ear plugs and cozy socks to help you log a few extra hours of rest, relaxation, and cold-fighting.

4. Don’t spread germs. Before going in for a round of hugs, kisses and handshakes straight from your journey, wash your hands or put that travel-size hand sanitizer you packed to good use. Helping to prepare family dinner? Use a spoon just once for taste-testing; no double-dipping this year!

5. Find the best local care. Don’t try to wish away a runny nose or aches and pains. If you do need to see a doctor, don’t get stuck wasting time or cash in overcrowded and expensive emergency rooms or urgent care clinics. Use a handy online website and app like ZocDoc to find local doctors who take your insurance, read reviews from real patients, and book a quick appointment. The typical patient booking with ZocDoc sees a doctor within 24 hours.

With these simple tips, you and your family will be well-prepared to avoid illness on the road. And if you do get sick, you’ll have the tools you need to recover and get back to your vacation as soon as possible.

Catch a glimpse of fall colors on these awesome...

(BPT) - The fall months are a great time for families to enjoy the great outdoors with the changing of colors and much cooler temperatures. If you don’t already have a fall escape weekend planned, you might want to consider scheduling one soon.

Interest in outdoor adventures is on the rise, especially for women, with more than 80 percent of women surveyed by Polaris considering themselves adventurous.

There’s no better way to experience the vibrancy of fall but to immerse yourself and the family in the brilliance, and an off-road vehicle provides a front-seat view. For family members of all abilities who want to drive their own off-road vehicle on the trails, the single-seat Polaris ACE is designed with the comfort and capability people want in an ATV, but with the security of a UTV for additional confidence when riding the trail. The high-backed, adjustable bucket seat is combined with an adjustable steering wheel to ensure the ride is about experiencing the outdoors in comfort.

If you’re interested in seeing some of the best colors America has to offer, check out these off-road trails designed to showcase vibrant reds, shimmering golds and deep purples that will have you catching your breath in awe of the beauty.

Copper Harbor, Michigan – This small town was given the best of Mother Nature’s talents overlooking Lake Superior. The drive to the tip of the Upper Peninsula is long, but Cooper Harbor provides an extensive system of off-road trails running along the lake’s shoreline. Keep in mind, fall colors change earlier in the UP along the shore, so consider planning your fall trip for around the first weekend in October.

Rock Run Recreation Area, Patton, Pennsylvania – The Allegheny Mountains combine a beautiful combination of oak, cherry, yellow poplar, ash and maple trees for a colorful fall blend that starts around the last week of September and peaks around the second week of October. Rock Run has 140 miles of trails to keep your family entertained for a long weekend, and you can easily find a camping spot in the three campgrounds spread around the recreation area.

Paiute Trail, South Central Utah – As the largest trail system in the nation, this is an opportunity your family can’t pass up, especially if you want to see some gorgeous fall colors. Many of the trails weave their way through Fishlake National Forest, which has a blend of deep green coniferous trees mixed in with the colorful orange and gold hues of aspens. The trail system is so extensive, your family will always be looking around the next corner from your Polaris ACE to capture a glimpse of new canyon, lake, scenic overlook or quiet valley.

Hatfield-McCoy Trails, West Virginia – With 700 trails ranging from easy to the most difficult, your family will have plenty of opportunity to enjoy the off-road riding, the scenery of the mountains in Southern West Virginia and spend some quality time together. There is no camping allowed on the trail system, but there are plenty of bed and breakfasts, cabins and campgrounds, as well as hotels and rental homes scattered throughout the six counties the trails cross. The second and third week in October tend to offer peak fall colors, so be sure to book your lodging early for your family excursion.

Clark and Jackson Counties, Wisconsin – With 227 miles of ATV and UTV trails available in these two counties, your family will have no difficulty filling a long fall weekend with fun and sightseeing. Clark and Jackson counties are known for their beautiful rolling hills, wandering streams and plentiful wildlife. Oaks, maples, birch and pine trees are common, providing a beautiful backdrop of color along the trails.

These are just a few of the many off-road trail options scattered across the country. Start planning a fun, mini fall vacation for your family to experience the colors in a whole new way, from the seat of an off-road vehicle.  With two power options, 32 and 45 horsepower, the Polaris ACE provides just enough power for beginners and a spirited ride for the more advanced rider ensuring a fall colors experience like no other.

Just south of the usual: Tips for enjoying a...

(BPT) - Colorful is the best word to describe Latin American, thanks to its varied history, cultures, historic sights, natural attractions and wildlife opportunities. From vibrant Rio de Janeiro to the intriguing Amazon Jungle; from the enigmatic Machu Picchu to the fascinating Galapagos Islands and scenic beauty of Costa Rica, adventure awaits any traveler planning a trip to Central or South America.

The key is to find the right kind of adventure when traveling through South America, while avoiding the wrong kind.

When we envision the perfect South American getaway, full of explorations and excitement, we picture beautiful hotels, amazing food, incredible sight-seeing and above all, we imagine creating memories galore. What we don’t always consider is language barriers, cultural differences or what it takes to organize a jaw-dropping escape. From transportation to hotels and from researching must-see attractions to organizing daily schedules, planning an international getaway is no easy task.

That’s where a tour can make a world of difference. On a touring vacation, a professional handles all the details, logistics and scheduling for you. Offering travelers dozens of South American touring vacations that are just south of the usual, the team at Globus, the world’s leading tour operator, has put together five perks to look for when booking a tour through South America.

1) See the hidden gems without any hidden charges. Everyone loves extras – until they're charged extra. Globus throws in more visits, more experiences and more sight-seeing, all in the price of the vacation. For example, some of the included local favorites on South American tours are a private, Argentine Tango dance lesson, a visit to a local family’s farm in Costa Rica and a Mother Earth Ceremony performed by a local shaman.

2) Rest where the action is. A hotel can have the crispest sheets, the fluffiest towels and the tastiest pillow mints, but if it's not near the sights, what good is it? When you book a tour to South America with a reputable company, you can expect your hotel to be in a safe neighborhood, in the heart of the destination.

3) There’s the scenery and then there’s the scene. One of the best perks of taking a tour is getting local, cultural insight from tour directors and local guides. They speak the language. They know the history. And they know where to point out the best food, best shopping, best architecture and more.

4) Roam if you want to. Some travel operators overschedule, instilling the need for a vacation after your vacation. When you book a tour, choose a company that weaves in the right amount of free time for individual exploration, quiet reflection or a book and a latte at a sidewalk cafe.

5) Skip the lines. Tour companies like Globus know the ropes of travel and they know how to get in front of them. On Globus’ South America tours, expect to be treated like a VIP, including no waiting in lines at must-see sights.

A tour provides travelers a colorful, insightful and hassle-free way to see and explore South America. For more information, visit www.globusjourneys.com or call 866.313.2855.

11 U.S. cities famous for their Christmas cheer

(BPT) - Everyone needs a fun little holiday trip. You can get some shopping done, see a show, enjoy the lights and amp up your anticipation for the holidays.

If you are looking for that special trip, travel inspiration website, DreamPlanGo suggests visiting these 11 cities whose holiday celebrations will make you happy:

1. Boston - Boston hosts a charming, New England Christmas with careful decorations, snow covered streets and festive Christmas shopping. Take in a production of Handel’s Messiah, or enjoy the annual Christmas Revels show.

2. Nashville, Tennessee. - If you are craving a glorious country Christmas, head to Nashville. You’ll find Christmas carol twang, Christmas dinner shows, a themed ice show and extreme tubing for the kids.  

3. Orlando, Florida - Parades, lightshows and Disney holiday razzle-dazzle are guaranteed to blow you away. At night, enjoy a fake snowfall on Mainstreet U.S.A along with fireworks.

4. Las Vegas - Living up to its reputation, Las Vegas does Christmas bigger and more outrageously than anyone else. Competing light displays turn The Strip into an otherworldly mish-mash of neon and LED Christmas lights.

5. New York - An oldie, but a goodie, New York impresses millions at Christmas time. Watch the Rockettes, skate in the shadow of Rockefeller Center and check out the amazing window displays at Macys and Saks Fifth Ave.

6. Branson, Missouri - Branson has enough Christmas shows to keep you entertained the entire month of December. If that isn’t enough, you’ll find 5 million Christmas lights decorating the roller coasters at Silver Dollar City and plenty of shopping.

7. Charleston, South Carolina - Gullah spirituals, Victorian house tours and the spectacularly decorated Drayton Hall plantation house are all part of Charleston’s annual Christmas celebration. Stroll through the city’s oldest quarters for the romance of lights that illuminate the historic buildings.

8. Durango, Colorado - Durango’s storefronts participate in a window decorating competition so you’re guaranteed to have a lot to look at. Kids will love a ride on the “Polar Express Train.” If Christmas isn’t your jam, you can simply ski.

9. Taos, New Mexico - Besides having amazing skiing, Taos puts on a culturally diverse Christmas celebration. Walk through the glow of Ledoux Street’s paper “luminarias.” Take in the Pueblo Christmas Eve celebration or the traditional Hispanic reenactment of Mary and Joseph searching for shelter.

10. Key West, Florida - If you’d rather see a palm tree trimmed for Christmas, head to Key West. Serve your Christmas dinner beach-side and then walk along the historic waterfront for the Bight Before Christmas: Key West’s decorated boat show.

11. Chicago - Chicago’s German heritage shines during the holiday season. Visit the Christkindlmarket for German crafts, beer, sausages and sweet treats. Afterward, skate on Navy Pier and take in the lights along the Magnificent Mile.

Ready to take the festivities global? Read Celebrating Christmas Around the World.

Ask the Pharmacist: Don't let a bleeding...

(BPT) - If you or someone in your family, has a bleeding disorder, you know that even the simplest accident can be a cause for major concern. Major developments in care and treatment have significantly improved quality of life. Most patients can now self-administer intravenous clotting factor with education and direction from a trained clinician – like Accredo bleeding disorder nurses – rather than going to a treatment center for each infusion.

“However, many medications have special treatment, storage and transportation requirements,” says Leslie Oygar, a clinical nurse liaison in the Accredo Bleeding Disorders Therapeutic Resource Center. “This means that traveling with a bleeding disorder, especially during the busy holiday season, can pose particular challenges.”

A few precautions can ensure that patients and their families can have a safe and healthy holiday travel season, she adds. Specialist nurses, like Oygar, in Accredo’s Therapeutic Resource Center, can help patients effectively manage their condition.

Here are a few tips for people with bleeding disorders to consider as they plan to travel:

* Plan ahead: If traveling a long distance, make sure to discuss arrangements in advance with a physician or specialist pharmacist. Obtain emergency contact information for both the physician and pharmacy.

* Be prepared: Not all hospitals carry clotting factor or the other medications used to treat bleeding disorders. Make sure to carry adequate clotting factor, other bleeding disorder medications, infusion supplies and, if possible, a few extra doses in the case of a significant bleed or trauma. Many insurance providers require prior notice to be able to authorize extra doses of medication. Allow 3-4 weeks to make sure you have all the approvals in place. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website has information about treatment centers in the U.S, as well as hematologists who can provide medical intervention at or near travel destinations, if necessary.

* Keep your records current: If traveling for extended periods, make sure the specialty pharmacy has accurate information about how to contact you and where to ship the factor during the travel period.

* Carry documentation: A letter from the hematologist is an important document of introduction and information for anyone treating the patient if medical intervention is necessary. This letter will also provide an emergency physician with treatment guidelines specific to the individual, and the contact information of the patient’s personal hematologist and nurse coordinator.

* Know the rules: When using public transportation, whether air, bus, train, or anything else, call ahead to ask about requirements associated with traveling with needles, syringes and other medication administration equipment. Sharps boxes are usually acceptable even if they contain used syringes. If traveling by air, download and complete the TSA Notification Card 72 hours prior to air travel and contact TSA Cares at 855.787.2227 to help facilitate your trip through airport security.

* Keep the original packaging: Keep all medications and supplies unopened and in the original boxes especially when traveling by air, which requires an inspection of carry-on bags or coolers if appropriate. Medications and equipment should be accompanied by a letter from the physician and carried by the patient while traveling. Wear a Medic Alert at all times – especially when traveling.

* Store carefully: Mini-fridges in hotels and other accommodations can have poor temperature control, which increases the risk of freezing the factor. Be careful to store medications at the appropriate temperature.

For bleeding disorders patients traveling internationally, the World Federation of Hemophilia website can provide information about treatment centers outside the U.S. For more information, visit lab.express-scripts.com.

Fall in love with a trip to the Lone Star State

(BPT) - With the summer season winding down, the onset of fall foliage with the cooler temperatures, and a variety of events and festivals, fall presents one of the best times of year to visit the Lone Star State. Fall in Texas means plenty of fairs, outdoor music events, cheering crowds, wine harvests and more.

1. Fall in Texas is synonymous with football season. From legendary NFL teams like the Dallas Cowboys (whose AT&T Stadium boasts the world’s largest High-Definition Video Display) and the Houston Texans, to Division I NCAA football with the Texas Longhorns and Texas Tech Red Raiders, you’re sure to find a suitable tailgate to root for your favorite team. A tailgate in the Lone Star State wouldn’t be complete without iconic Texas eats such as barbecue, chili and queso.

2. Mark your calendars for Sept. 26, the start of the iconic State Fair of Texas at Dallas’ Fair Park, a 24-day showcase of entertainment, exhibits and competition, as well as some of the best (and most bizarre) fried foods you can find. Other notable fall fairs and festivals include Wurstfest, a 10 day celebration of German food and culture in New Braunfels and the Texas Pecan Festival in Grove, which is the official state festival of Texas’ state nut.

3. Texas’ Parks and Wildlife Department runs a fall foliage report from October through November detailing the change in colors throughout the season. The best-known state park for fall foliage is Lost Maples State Natural Area in the Hill Country near Vanderpool. State parks in the Pineywoods and Post Oak Belt including Daingerfield, Martin Creek, Lake Bob Sandlin and Martin Dies Jr. often have vibrant displays of reds, oranges and golds in maples, various oaks, sweetgums and elms. In the Panhandle, the cottonwoods change to a radiant yellow to golden color in the Palo Duro Canyon as well as in Caprock Canyon State Park. Caddo Lake State Park is also worth mentioning, as in late fall trees turn a rust color, contrasting nicely with the Spanish moss and swamp setting.

4. While Texas may not immediately come to mind when planning a fall wine country getaway, the Lone Star State is home to more than 220 wineries and is the fifth largest wine producing state in the U.S. A key wine destination is the Hill Country, which is home to some of the state’s best wineries and an ideal location for viewing the changing colors of autumn. Fredericksburg is home to some of the oldest wineries in the U.S and grows more than half of the world’s grape species. Located just a short drive west of Austin, the quaint town includes key wineries such as Fall Creek Vineyards and Becker Vineyards, one of the oldest wineries in Texas.

5. In the fall, visitors flock to Galveston Island to enjoy the beaches and various attractions such as the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, Moody Gardens, The Historic Strand District and Pier 21. At Padre Island National Seashore, which is famed as one of the United States' last natural seashores and is known as the world's longest barrier island at 130 miles in length, visitors enjoy Bird Island Basin for windsurfing. It also offers terrific opportunities for kayaking, birding and fishing, with equipment rentals and windsurfing and kayaking lessons available for the more adventurous. This year (October 10-12,) Rockport will celebrate 40 years of SeaFair, a celebration of seafood featuring a gumbo cook-off, cooking demonstrations, contests, a parade, water activities, live music and more.

6. On any given Texas night you can find something for every type of music lover. In Austin, the Live Music Capital of the World, thousands of visitors flock to Austin City Limits Music Festival to watch more than 130 acts from all over the world to play rock, indie, country, folk, electronic and more on eight stages. Looking to perfect your two-step? Gruene Hall, Texas’ oldest dance hall is a destination to see up-and-coming artists as well as some of the biggest country stars. Fort Worth is home to the world’s largest honky tonk, Billy Bob’s Texas, which offers nightly entertainment, bull riding and dance lessons for a true Western experience.

Whatever your idea of a perfect fall vacation may be, you are sure to find it in Texas. Visit www.traveltex.com to begin planning your fall getaway.

Articles last updated at Dec 21, 2014 05:28:46am.
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