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Top reasons why Toronto is the ultimate...

(BPT) - Picture yourself in a small café, sipping coffee with patrons cheering in Portuguese as a Brazilian soccer game plays on the television. Blocks away you stop by an Italian butcher shop for some prosciutto. As you walk you see more unique stores and hear people speaking over 20 different languages, from French to Hebrew. Outside your hotel at night the green and red lights blaze through the streets, announcing the latest theatrical runs and shows.

Many people may think this is a description of London, Paris or New York, but it’s all part of the vibrant magic of one of the most multicultural cities in the world: Toronto.

Why Toronto?

Anyone who spends time in Toronto can give you a list of reasons why you should visit. From upscale boutiques to international designers, the city's world-class shopping is matched only by the variety of cuisine found in its many fine-dining establishments.

Then there is the sheer diversity of the city. A visitor can walk through Toronto and feel as though they've traveled to a dozen different countries.

With Air Canada rapidly expanding its service, currently offering over 200 destinations worldwide and daily service from over 50 U.S. cities, Toronto is both a top vacation destination and a major hub for international travel.

A major reason for this is that travelers connecting in Toronto Pearson International Airport do not have to go through Canadian customs on the way to their final destination. In addition, travelers can take a shortcut and clear U.S. Customs and Immigration while in Canada. This advantage allows them to avoid the long lines when arriving in the U.S. 

Business travelers

Anyone who has traveled for business knows there isn’t always time to squeeze relaxation time into the trip. But more than ever, business professionals are realizing the importance of combining business with pleasure, something that has been dubbed, “bleisure travel.”  

In this spirit, Air Canada’s exclusive Toronto Stopover program gives US travelers flying through Toronto the opportunity to take up to a week to explore the city before traveling to their final destination, at no extra cost.

Couple this with the seamlessness of travel and well-timed connections with airports throughout the world, and you have an easy way to explore one of the world’s most diverse cities.

Now, even if work has kept you from fully enjoying your business trip, you can spend a few days in Toronto eating, shopping and exploring neighborhoods like Greektown or Koreatown, all on your way home.


Tips for navigating the sharing economy

(BPT) - Thousands of people stayed in rooms and houses last night that belong to strangers. More hopped into cars with people they'd never met and accepted a ride to a restaurant or to their home. A young woman rented a designer dress she saw listed online.

These are a few examples of the sharing economy - a system in which people rent homes, arrange rides and borrow personal items typically through online services that facilitate the transactions. Rather than doing business with hotel chains, taxis or department stores, consumers are engaging with strangers in a way that is atypical of traditional business interactions.

The sharing economy generated about $15 billion in revenue in 2013 and is expected to hit $335 billion by 2025, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Like many big changes, the emergence of the sharing economy has required consumers and companies to re-educate themselves and rethink their approach. While there are many safeguards in place, owners and renters tend to overlook the role insurance plays in this new economy.

It doesn't have to be complicated. Resources such as Insure U from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) can help you avoid unexpected surprises in the world of shared rides and rooms. A few things to keep in mind:

Welcome home

The vast majority of accommodations booked on HomeAway, VRBO or Airbnb go off without a hitch. Still, there are stories involving families coming home to torn-up couches, smashed-in walls and homes littered with trash.

If you regularly rent out a room in your home, it's important to know many homeowners policies won't cover guests' injuries or property damages. Talk to your insurance agent and determine if you need additional liability or landlord coverage.

Likewise, if your next vacation involves renting a room or villa, make sure your homeowners or personal liability insurance covers any damages that could happen during your stay.

Don't be taken for a ride

If you have a car and don't mind driving, contracting as an Uber or Lyft driver may be a way to make extra money in your spare time and meet some colorful characters.

Before you start, make sure everything is safe for you and your passengers. With this in mind, insurance is one of the most important factors to understand.

The most popular ride-share companies offer contingent collision and comprehensive coverage when a driver accepts a ride request or has a passenger in the vehicle. However, drivers need to understand that while you can insure your vehicle for personal use or for commercial use, in some cases you cannot insure it for both.

More insurance companies are creating policies that cover drivers who use their vehicle for both commercial and personal use. Contact your insurance representative to find out if there are any gaps in your coverage to reduce your liability and ensure a safe experience.

Goods and services for hire

The sharing economy doesn't stop there. It's also now possible to make a little extra money by renting out your power tools, golf clubs, camera equipment and much more - including your time and labor.

Before you rent, get a security deposit and take plenty of photos to document the item's condition. Talk with your insurance agent to figure out what kind of information you need for your homeowners insurance policy to cover whatever it is you're renting out.

Just like the sharing economy is all about convenience, Insure U (www.insureuonline.org) offers free tips and tools to help you get smart about insurance coverage in all situations.

Celebrate the last days of summer with a...

(BPT) - Before those magical summer days vanish into fall, now is a good time to pack your suitcases, load up the car and escape on a final summer adventure.

The late days of summer offer much to enjoy for a new segment of traveler: the Seekender. They are bold adventurers who take advantage of the weekend to pursue their passions.

Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton knows a few things about the Seekender lifestyle.

“With my family, we seek to live the life we love together, especially on the weekend of busy work-filled weeks,” Bethany says.

Does this sound like you and your family? Get out the map, choose a place you haven't experienced yet and get ready for a fun weekend. This is how Bethany does it:

Put a cap on drive time: Don’t waste the weekend with hours and hours in the car. Bethany tries to avoid ultra-long travel days, so her little one can get a nap in. Find a destination you can reach without hassle within three hours or so, while the kids doze and relax in the back seat. On Saturday, you’ll wake up at your getaway spot, ready to seize the weekend.

Think simple: Don’t book every hour of the day with an activity. Back off a bit on the planning, and set your sights on one or two spots you’d like to visit each day. Leave some space for relaxation and spontaneity. Go with the flow and consider letting the kids help make the plans for the day. Involving them in the planning will keep everyone’s mood elevated and allow for a stress-free trip.

Be on the lookout for family friendly activities: Along with the usual parks and museums, don't forget to check for special weekend events in your area. In the final weeks of summer, for example, fair and festival season is in full swing. Set aside some time for the destination's local festivals or state fairs, where the kids can enjoy carnival rides, local music and food.

Get outdoors: Embrace the outdoors and the warm weather before it cools down in the fall. Did you know that the National Parks Service maintains 397 parks and 2,461 national landmarks? Bethany has added Yellowstone National Park to her travel bucket list and hopes to experience its natural wonders with her family soon. Check out this interactive map to see if you've missed any exciting stops in your region. Or if you're feeling more adventurous, this is a perfect time of year to visit the mountains. In the summer months, the parks often offer alpine slides and mountain biking trails, which makes an excellent day trip outing under the sun. 

Pick the right hotel: Choose a hotel that offers a variety of locations so your entire family can have a good night’s sleep wherever you land. For example, with over 2,100 properties globally, Hampton by Hilton is the perfect option for your family weekend getaway. With a free hot breakfast for every guest and takeaway bags for families on-the-go, you don’t have the hassle of planning breakfast — plus there’s plenty of fresh tea and hazelnut coffee to keep parents caffeinated. Downtime at the hotel is also easy and relaxing, with free Wi-Fi, and, at most locations, an exercise room and a pool.

Pack up the bags and begin planning your next three-day weekend trip with your family. For inspiration, follow Bethany’s Seekender adventures on HamptonSeekender.com and join the conversation on social media at #Seekender.



Why an RV may be the ticket to your dream...

(BPT) - Too often, a family trip can leave you more stressed out than relaxed, especially when you have kids in tow. But when you travel in an RV, it's like having a second home on wheels. Learn why an RV vacation may be the best bet for your family (and also your budget) in this video.


48 hours to discover Tupper Lake [Infographic]

(BPT) - -

Top 5 ways you could have your own personal...

(BPT) - By now, we’ve all heard about Brexit — the term used to describe Britain’s exit from the European Union — and a serious decision that will play a crucial role in the overall health of the global economy for months and possibly years to come. On the flip side, there are some immediate affects that could be great for your personal economic situation.

As the dust settles, consumers are set to experience a unique economic landscape. Most consumers, in one way or another, should understand the impact Brexit is having on their finances and assets. It isn’t all doom and gloom — understanding how Brexit affects the average consumer can give you an advantage.

Here are five areas you should pay attention to following the Brexit.


U.S. mortgages rates are expected to remain low, if not decrease slightly due to Brexit. Uncertainty will drive lower rates with less variance, creating a buyer’s market.

“Mortgage rates are likely to soon fall close to the all-time lows that prevailed in late 2012,” says Alan MacEachin, Navy Federal Credit Union corporate economist. “Homeowners should assess whether refinancing would make sense for them.”

What’s more, prospective home buyers should be aware of the lower costs for financing their purchase. Since the housing crisis, rates have been extremely low.

What this means for you: Own a home? See if you can refinance your mortgage to a lower rate. This could save you money over time.

Still renting but in the market for a new home? Partner with a trusted lender to check the rates. If you don’t have enough money for a down payment, look into 100 percent financing options, like the HomeBuyers Choice mortgage from Navy Federal Credit Union. You could get into your new home with no money out of pocket.

Use your plastics

Make the most of Brexit-influenced pricing by using your credit card as your primary form of payment. When traveling, your card will offer a better exchange rate than banks or exchange kiosks.

However, “Make sure you’re using a credit card that waives foreign transaction fees,” says Randy Hopper, vice president of credit cards at Navy Federal. “Otherwise, the advantages of the exchange rate could be lost entirely.” 

Hopper added that U.S. interest rates are likely to stay lower for longer as a result of Brexit, “meaning there’s a reduced likelihood that the interest rate on most credit cards will increase anytime soon.”

What this means for you: Use your credit card when traveling overseas. To avoid foreign transaction fees, choose a card from a financial institution that doesn’t charge them, like Navy Federal.

Ripe for auto loans

Consumers have something to celebrate when it comes to auto loans. Considering the average age of a used car is now at 11.4 years, a new car that requires little maintenance, combined with the low rate environment, may prompt you to take a test drive on that car you’ve been eyeing.

“The key factor here is that rates will remain lower for longer. I expect auto sales to remain high this year, considering rates consumers are getting,” MacEachin said.

What this means for you: Do your research. It may be time to upgrade your car, and there has never been a better time to do it. Run the numbers with a Car Affordability Calculator, so you can see what impact rates have on your monthly payments. Many financial institutions also offer auto loan pre-approvals, so you can shop with confidence.

Saving for retirement

Consumers years away from retirement have plenty of time to recover from any losses Brexit may cause.

For those closer to retirement, it may be a good time to check on your investments and overall retirement plan. Form a solid plan of action with your financial planner to safeguard your investments from any market volatility.

What this means for you: This is a good reminder for those saving for retirement to check up on your investments. Your financial planner will be able to provide advice that matches your retirement plan and help guide you through these times of economic uncertainty.

Got the travelbug? This one’s for you!

Have you ever had the desire to visit the UK? Now might be the time. The exchange rate will decrease the cost of vacationing in the UK, as everything from meals to hotels to clothing will become more affordable. British airline fares may also decline relative to American carriers.

“The value of the British pound has dropped sharply as a result of the Brexit vote, which means the cost of a vacation in Britain would be about ten percent cheaper than it would have been just a few weeks ago,” MacEachin says.

If you are flying a British or European carrier, be sure to check in with your airline before flying. Following Brexit, there is some uncertainty on how UK carriers will adjust.

What this means for you: London may be calling, so check out your travel budget and compare the pound to the U.S. dollar. Search for hotels, airfare, and entertainment at lower costs. Due to the low credit card rates, it may also be a good time to check around for any travel rewards cards.

Bottom line: The Brexit affect is only just beginning and the long-term view is that it could create some market volatility. But for the immediate future, you can take advantage of low rates on consumer loans, in addition to credit card exchange rate, and travel prices.

The time is ripe for making moves, especially if you’re buying or refinancing a home, in the market for a new car, moving to using credit cards, especially overseas, or more specifically in the U.K. Cheers mate!

Summer travel: 3 common credit card myths busted

(BPT) - As temperatures rise, so do the number of Americans planning to get away. In fact, three-fourths of consumers plan to pack their bags this summer and head out on vacation, according to recent surveys.

If you are like most, you plan to fund at least a portion of your summer travel on a credit card. According to Experian, credits cards are used more often than cash or debit cards across all types of vacation purchases.

“When used responsibly, a credit card can be a great way to help keep your wallet secure, reduce fees and make the most out of rewards while traveling,” says Mikel Van Cleve, director of personal financial planning with USAA Bank. “However, there are some common myths about credit cards and travel that may keep some consumers from maximizing their card’s benefits.”

Van Cleve sets the record straight about three common travel-related credit card myths:

Myth No. 1: Don’t notify your credit card company

When it comes to whether you should tell your credit card company you’re embarking on a trip, some banks say yes, others say no. Van Cleve recommends always taking the extra precaution to let your bank know where you will be traveling if it’s for more than just a quick trip, especially if you’re traveling somewhere new or overseas.

Adding travel notifications can help minimize the chances of your account being blocked or flagged for unusual activity. It will also allow your bank to better monitor your account and notify you if there is any suspicious activity while you are away.

Van Cleve explains that several banks, such as USAA Bank, allow you to skip the phone call and alert them of your travel plans through their mobile app or online account.

Myth No. 2: Foreign transaction fees are unavoidable

Most credit cards charge a fee for foreign transactions when traveling abroad, but Van Cleve says that you do not have to settle for this added expense. Banks, like USAA, and some credit card companies have eliminated foreign transaction fees for some of their cardholders.

Van Cleve recommends checking with your card provider to see if your credit cards offer no foreign transaction fees. While it may seem like a small cost to pay, he notes that these fees — which range from 1-3 percent of your purchase — can quickly add-up during a week-long trip away. 

Myth No. 3: Last minute travel changes will always cost you

Nervous that your trip may get canceled last minute? In addition to zero-liability protection in the event your card is lost or stolen, Van Cleve explains that booking travel with a credit card is a smart way to protect yourself from other unpredictable events.

Some credit cards offer trip insurance and will refund you for the cancellation. For example, USAA’s VISA Signature card offers cardholders trip cancellation and interruption insurance that will reimburse you up to $1,500 for purchases made on the card. 

Before booking your trip, Van Cleve recommends familiarizing yourself with your credit card’s full range of perks. You might even be eligible for hotel upgrades, delayed baggage insurance, price protection, priority boarding, rental car discounts and more.



Enjoy your travels with this effective,...

(BPT) - Don't let your travels be spoiled by motion sickness. Easily alleviate nausea and vomiting with Sea-Bands, a drug-free remedy that's perfect for adults, children and pregnant women. Watch this video for more information and visit sea-band.com.


Drive away distractions to protect teens behind...

(BPT) - Today's teens face more distractions than any generation before.

Many don't recall a time when they were not continuously connected to their friends. Cell phones - which might have been provided as a safety precaution in case Mom or Dad was running late picking them up from school - are now the source of constant messaging, sharing and media consumption.

Teens send texts instead of passing notes in class. They share moments with their peers and the world in the form of photos and short videos. Music, food and transportation can arrive on demand, all with the swipe of a finger. Being away from their phones, even for a short period of time, can even cause a form of separation anxiety expressed in the acronym FOMO (fear of missing out).

So it should come as no surprise that cell phone use is the offense most commonly associated with distracted driving. However, it's not the only type of distraction.

"A lot of people think they're better drivers than they actually are, which is why they take unnecessary risks when they're behind the wheel," said Randy Petro, chief claims officer for Mercury Insurance. "We see a lot of claims related to distracted driving, including parents turning to scold arguing children, adjusting the infotainment system, and even taking photos while driving. Your first priority once you start piloting any vehicle should be to focus on the task at hand - driving."

Ten percent of all drivers ages 15 to 19 who were involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA also reports that 660,000 people drive distracted every day.

Teens aren't the only ones who feel the need to be connected - adults are guilty of it, too.

Many of the teens who are glued to their smartphones have witnessed their parents answering emails at the dinner table or have seen them shoot a "quick text" while driving. Teens have grown up learning that this type of behavior is acceptable and maybe even expected. However, there's a right time and a right place for everything.

"The first thing parents need to do is practice what they preach. Teenagers won't always be receptive to 'because I say so' or 'because I'm the adult,' especially if they witness their parents actively engaging in a behavior they're being told is bad," adds Petro. "We as adults need to set a proper example - after all, we do have the advantage of more life experience."

Parents should set a powerful example by committing not to drive distracted if they want their children to do the same. If necessary, parents can also invest in technology to monitor and disable phones while their teens are driving to eliminate the temptation altogether.

"No Instagram post, bite of a burger or playlist selection is worth someone else's life. People are mainly in a car to get from point A to point B, and our wish is for them to do it safely," says Petro.

There are several excellent online resources that provide tips and information to help prepare teens for life behind the wheel, including Mercury Insurance's Drive Safe Challenge and NHTSA's Distraction.gov.

5 reasons to visit the African American...

(BPT) - You feel the beat pulsing through your body and the crowd's energy encouraging you to move with the music - you haven't felt this alive in years. The thrill of listening to live music at a festival, surrounded by hundreds of people coming together for the day, is an experience many never forget. The African American Festival offers this kind of exhilarating live music, along with 16 acres of free fun and learning for every family member.

The largest free cultural festival on the East coast, the African American Festival welcomes all ages and includes a wide range of unique activities unlike any other festival around. When the festival is over, you'll find plenty of reasons to stay and enjoy the rest of the city. All summer long, you can experience free cultural events, as well as world-renowned museums, attractions and historical sites. Baltimore keeps the whole family entertained even on a tight budget.

Here are five reasons to visit Baltimore and attend the festival this summer:

This festival is fun for the whole family!

You don't have to plan a separate vacation to attend this cultural festival. The African American Festival offers wide-ranging experiences, including children's activities, to give the entire family a chance to celebrate summer.

Mouth-watering festival food introduces you to new tastes.

With more than 50 food and food truck vendors, you'll never go hungry at the African American Festival. These vendors offer cuisine from all over the world and provide a small taste of what to expect from the Baltimore food scene. After the festival, be sure to stay in town to try the cuisine Baltimore is best known for: seafood. The city has numerous crab houses and seafood restaurants, where you can go to delight in the local delicacies any day of the week.

The culture continues long after the festival.

The African American Festival is just one of the many ways to experience culture in Baltimore. When you need a break from the crowd, head out to cozy and historical neighborhoods like Little Italy, Federal Hill and Fell's Point, where you'll find not only restaurants, shops and activities to keep you entertained, but also premier museums honoring the history of African Americans, like the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park, Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture and the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum. All are family-oriented destinations to check out while you're in Baltimore.

Industry experts reveal the newest beauty trends and products.

When you're ready to take a break from technology and wellness, stop by Beauty Pavilion to learn new brands, expert tips and the latest trends in hair and makeup. BrownGirl Village is specifically set up for young girls who want hair, makeup and fashion tips.

The African American festival celebrates a world of cultures.

The African American festival wants to bring people together from all cultures to celebrate diversity. Stop by Culture Village to hear more live music, taste delicious food and learn creative dances from a number of unique cultures from around the world.

The African American Festival, which takes place July 2-3, provides a wide range of entertaining, educational and empowering activities. When you're preparing for your trip, be sure to check out all of the other fun art and cultural events Baltimore has to offer as well, like ARTSCAPE, LatinoFest, the Caribbean Festival and the P.C.A.M. Polish Festival. For more information on Baltimore's special events, deals and discounts, visit www.Baltimore.org.

Why bedbugs are winning at our favorite hotels

(BPT) - The summer travel season is upon us, offering an opportunity for families across the U.S. to reconnect. The goal is simple — to make memories that last a lifetime. Bedbugs are the very last souvenir you want your family to bring home. A recent study conducted by the University of Kentucky found that bedbug reporting on online review sites and social media have a “…big impact on purchasing decisions.” It’s no surprise that both leisure and business travelers would avoid a bedbug-infested hotel.

General managers across the country are feeling the financial bite from bedbugs. According to the same University of Kentucky study previously mentioned, a single online review that mentions bedbugs lowers hotel room value by $38 for business travelers and $23 for leisure travelers.

What exactly is the state of the current hotel-related bedbug problem? Recent studies found that about 74 percent of pest professionals reported problems with bedbugs in hotel rooms, a truly staggering figure. This rise in bedbugs is coupled with a changing public perception, with 43 percent of people now expressing the attitude that bedbugs are a concern.

An occurrence of bedbugs can also massively impact a hotel’s brand reputation. Exposure to legal action continues to rise jeopardizing hotel shareholder equity. Just recently, a Virginia woman sought $5 million in a lawsuit over bedbugs. A federal judge ruled in her favor and a jury will hear her case.

So, how can a hotelier and a hotel guest both prevent becoming the latest Trip Advisor bedbug-related casualty? Well, there are a number of things that each can do to win this battle. Let’s take a closer look.

* Education is key. Research proves that two-thirds of travelers surveyed by the University of Kentucky last year couldn’t identify a bedbug. Hotel staff and individual travelers are encouraged to be able to recognize a bedbug in its different life stages as well as signs of bedbugs in and around beds.

* Forward thinking in bedbug prevention has savvy hoteliers and travelers investigating the root of the problem. Savvy hoteliers are designing hotel rooms to be more bedbug resistant.

* Hoteliers and homeowners are adopting preventative measures for their mattresses and/or box springs such as an active mattress liner that kill bedbugs. ActiveGuard(R) Mattress Liners go on like a fitted sheet and can save time, money and energy preventing bedbug infestations from establishing.

While recent reports may show that bedbugs are winning, the war is not over. Embracing technology, educating oneself and taking a preventative approach to this blood-sucking pest can lead to victory for both hoteliers and travelers.

Traveling on a budget: 5 ways to save money on...

(BPT) - When the daily grind starts to wear you out, nothing rejuvenates quite like a vacation. Whether it's a long weekend across the country or two weeks spent abroad, a trip offers the chance to escape routine, try new experiences and come alive once more. Of course, planning a vacation takes time, and more importantly, money. Many of us do not have the budget to plan a luxurious adventure whenever the feeling strikes. Or do we?

Traveling can be affordable when you plan wisely and know where to cut down on spending. From flight tickets to activity planning, follow these five tips to save money on your next vacation.

Take advantage of online planning tools

Travelex, the world's largest foreign exchange specialist, recently launched a new website designed to make traveling affordable and hassle-free. Luxury For Less is your one-stop shop for planning a luxury holiday on a budget. It shows where you can get the most cost-effective vacation experience and allows you to book flights and hotels directly on the site, via global travel search engine Skyscanner. Using data from past vacationers, the average spending cost is also calculated into your set budget so you can get an accurate total for everything from airfare to activities. Traveling internationally? Beyond flights, hotels and spending money, Luxury For Less even lets you purchase foreign currency at the lowest rates directly from the site through Travelex. No longer do you have to spend hours on multiple websites to get a great deal on travel.

Travel light

Those extra fees the airlines charge for bags add up quickly. When booking your flight, look at the airline's policy on bags, and do your best to avoid baggage fees by packing just the necessities (you'll thank yourself later when hauling luggage to each hotel). Many major airlines allow you to check your first bag for free when traveling internationally, but keep in mind you still could be charged if the suitcase is over the weight limit.

Spend a day walking around

Tourist attractions can eat up your spending money if you plan too many activities in a day. Before your trip, research free events, activities and sites you can enjoy. One of the best ways to experience the local culture is to simply walk around the city. Spending an afternoon walking takes you away from the large tourist crowds, and gives you the opportunity to stumble upon the hidden gems locals love.

Hit up the local grocery stores

Trying the local cuisine is a big part of the vacation experience, and it's good to save money for dining. You don't have to spend your entire budget by eating out for every meal, though. Based on your budget, decide how many many times you can afford to eat out each day or throughout the week. The rest of the time, rely on the nearest grocery store to find ingredients for sandwiches, salads and other easy meals. If your hotel has complimentary breakfast food, take advantage of the opportunity to eat for free.

Download smartphone apps that allow you to communicate for free

New smartphone technology makes it easier than ever to communicate for free while traveling. Before you head out on your trip, be sure to download free apps like Whatsapp and Skype, which allow you to instant message, voice call and video chat from anywhere without spending a dime.

Everyone deserves a break from their daily routine now and then. When you're ready to enjoy an exciting adventure or relaxing retreat, visit travelex.com/luxuryforless to start planning your vacation.

Top tips to make the most of your family's...

(BPT) - With winter in the rearview and warm weather finally here, millions of Americans have come out of hibernation and are looking to breathe in the fresh summer air. This year marks the centennial celebration of America’s National Parks and according to AAA, gas prices are at their lowest in 12 years, so there is no better time for Americans to head outdoors.  

In addition, AAA states that the most popular types of vacations for families planning to travel this summer are road trips (69 percent), national parks (49 percent) and theme parks (42 percent).

With more families exploring nature’s most beautiful locations, Gander Mountain offers some helpful tips to keep in mind before you hit the road to ensure you are prepared with both the right information and the proper equipment to fully enjoy the great outdoors this summer.

Practice pitching. Grab a camping tent big enough for the entire family and make sure to practice putting it up in your backyard to allow for a hassle-free setup once you get to your camping site.

Energize with a treat. Pack chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers and let Mother Nature provide the skewers for free. No camping trip is complete until you make the perfect s’more around the campfire. Or keep it simple with an on-the-go energy bar to keep your level of energy up.

Avoid the itch. Bug spray is a camping essential, so consider a "deep woods" option for better protection. If spray isn’t your preferred option, citronella candles and torches repel those pesky insects. Spend time relaxing under the stars without worrying about mosquito bites.

Safety first. Have a first aid/survival kit with you at all times, even if you are just going on a day hike. Prepare for all types of weather as it could change in an instant. Consider dressing in layers so you can respond easily as temperatures can change rapidly.

Pack for adventure. Make sure to pack the gear needed for any adventure. From the proper fishing rod, reel and bait, to a fire starter, kayak, or cooler — be prepared to make the most of whatever comes your way.

Plan ahead. Seek out the advice of professionals who know the outdoors and have local knowledge and experience with the products you plan to purchase. Dedicated outdoor retailers like Gander Mountain have experts on hand to help answer all of your questions and make sure you’re ready to take on the great outdoors.

For more tips, advice and the latest and greatest outdoor gear and accessories, visit www.GanderMountain.com.

Travel tips for 3-day weekends

(BPT) - The arrival of warm weather signals the season of three-day weekends and more people are using that time to travel. Whether it’s three glorious days off due to a holiday, summer office hours or simply cashing in on precious PTO time, weekend warriors are taking advantage.

This weekend travel trend may be attributed to more people “working to live” rather than “living to work.” In fact, 68 percent of Americans would rather embark on a bucket-list trip than get a big promotion, according to a Hampton by Hilton survey.

These trips don’t have to break the bank, especially when flying isn’t always essential for a memorable adventure. Hopping in the car this summer is a cost-effective, easy way to jumpstart your vacation. According to AAA’s 2016 Your Driving Costs study, gas prices in the U.S. are at a record low. With that in mind, this summer is the ideal season for road trips.

“You don’t need a full week to enjoy a vacation. Many of the best times I’ve had with my family have happened on three-day travel adventures,” says Kristen Hewitt, sports reporter and blogger at www.MommyInSports.com.

This weekend mindset has inspired a new travel segment known as the Seekender. Seekenders are bold adventurers who take advantage of the weekend to pursue their passions. Sound like you? Check out Hewitt’s favorite travel tips to get the most out of every moment of your next three-day trip:

Target the four-hour mark
You don’t want to spend two days of your three-day vacation traveling, so pick a destination you can access in four hours or fewer. Following this rule ensures you have as much time as possible to enjoy your destination. Plus, if you travel with kids, they’ll be much more mellow and you’ll avoid those “Are we there yet?” moments.

Select an accommodating hotel
Choose a hotel with a variety of locations so you’ll be close to the action and attractions. With more than 2,100 properties globally, Hampton by Hilton is ideal for weekend wanderers.

Pack right, pack light
Resist the temptation to over-pack by packing for versatility. Don’t forget to add a few accessories that transform outfits quickly, such as statement jewelry and summer hats. A simple packing trick to get the most out of the space in your carry-on is to roll clothing. You’ll fit more in and eliminate wrinkles!

Free up the itinerary
It’s tempting to pack as much as possible into three days, but you’ll end up stressed and exhausted by the end if you do. For long weekends, select one main activity you want to do — such as a tourist stop, museum visit or day at the beach — and leave the rest of the time open for casual exploration. Spontaneity often inspires the best adventures.

Stay on budget and eat well
If you can cut down on your food bill, your entire trip will be more affordable. Look for a hotel that offers free breakfast so you can start your day with a full belly. For example, Hampton by Hilton guests enjoy hot breakfast and freshly brewed hazelnut coffee at no extra cost. When out and about, never underestimate the appeal of a picnic in a park — a more affordable alternative to restaurant dining.

Indulge your wanderlust and begin planning your next three-day weekend trip. For inspiration, follow Hewitt’s Seekender adventures on HamptonSeekender.com and join the conversation on social media at #WeGoTogether.

Looking for adventure? Take a Mississippi music...

(BPT) - Full of natural beauty and historic landmarks, Mississippi is a destination that attracts many travelers. But did you know the state is also home to a strong music legacy? Known as the Birthplace of America's Music, Mississippi paved the path for modern music with its seminal contributions to blues, rock, country and gospel. No matter your favorite genre, Mississippi is the place to be for live music festivals, famous museums and more. Let these 10 music destinations help you plan your next trip to the South:

1. Mighty Mississippi Music Festival

The Mighty Mississippi Music Festival is three days of blues, rock and heritage music in Greenville, Mississippi at Warfield Point Park. Held September 30 - October 2, 2016, the festival features world-class acts and some of the most popular Americana and Bluegrass bands, with the Mississippi River as a beautiful backdrop. This year's performers include G. Love and Special Sauce, Ryan Bingham, Steve Azar and The Kings Men, The Revivalists and Maren Morris.

2. Americana Music Triangle

Nine distinct musical genres came to life in the Americana Music Triangle, including blues, jazz, country and rock and roll. The Gold Record Road is 1,500 miles of driving trails with hundreds of attractions that let you experience the places where music made history. Pick your driving itinerary or plan an adventure along the entire route.

3. Mississippi Blues Trail & Country Music Trail

Pack a bag and get ready for the road trip of a lifetime. Made up of around 150 markers around the state, the Mississippi Blues Trail commemorates the area that gave birth to the blues. Meanwhile, the Country Music Trail is the pathway to country music's deep roots. Trail markers share exclusive music history that you can't find anywhere else.

4. GRAMMY Museum Mississippi

Newly opened in Cleveland, Mississippi, the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi is the first GRAMMY Museum outside of Los Angeles. This museum presents visitors with a rich experience that explores current trends, music history and the story behind the creative process of recording. The 28,000 square foot space is full of interactive exhibits and displays. See outfits worn by celebrities like Cee Lo Green and Lady Gaga, and use a touchscreen table designed to look like the Mississippi River to explore Mississippi's influence on renowned musicians.

5. B.B. King Homecoming Festival

Held at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, Mississippi, The B.B. King Homecoming Festival celebrates the culturally rich heritage of the Mississippi Delta. The festival honors its namesake as an internationally renowned musician who not only influenced blues music, but the entire local culture. After B.B.'s passing in 2015, he was buried on the museum grounds. The museum is constructing a memorial garden for fans, who come from around the world, to pay their respects.

6. Tupelo Elvis Festival

Located in downtown Tupelo, not far from the birthplace of Elvis, the Tupelo Elvis Festival celebrates the impact of his music on the world. Each year's festival in early June hosts artists from across the nation for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest. Enjoy local food vendors, a pet parade, beauty pageant, 5k run, disc golf and more.

7. Mississippi Delta Blues & Heritage Festival

The longest running blues festival in the nation, the Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival is known as the "king of blues festivals." Falling on the third Saturday in September and featuring blues artists from near and far, the festival has been one of the most popular events in Greenville since 1997. Since it began, it has attracted hundreds of thousands of fans from the world over.

8. Jimmie Rodgers Music Festival

In downtown Meridian, not far from the Jimmie Rodgers Museum, the Jimmie Rodgers Music Festival honors "The Father of Country Music" and is one of the longest running music festivals in the United States. At Green City Hall, this family-friendly event in May welcomes guests of all ages and features two days of musical acts from around the country.

9. Double Decker Arts Festival

Named for the Double Decker buses imported from England that tour visitors around town, the Double Decker Arts Festival in Oxford, Mississippi is a two-day celebration of food, music and the arts. Held in late April and centered around the historic Courthouse Square, the event hosts crowds of more than 60,000 people and 200 art and food vendors.

10. Music on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

The Mississippi Gulf Coast regularly draws well-known musical acts to its casino hotels, which include the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Beau Rivage, and the IP Casino Resort. In the 1940s through the 1960s, musical greats like Etta James and Big Joe Turner performed at 100 Men Hall, which still hosts live music today. Also on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, you'll find the Crawfish Music Festival, which spans two weekends and includes a crawfish cook-off and a beer garden.

For more information on exploring the birthplace of America's music, visit: visitmississippi.org/americana.

The U.S. destination that celebrates 'I...

(BPT) - You begin Monday in your usual morning mood — grumpy. The day quickly turns around, however, after hearing a few funny stories from co-workers. Suddenly you find yourself laughing and enjoying the morning. Your outlook is positive and your spirits have been lifted, and all it took was one hilarious joke. It has to make you wonder: Why don't we laugh more often?   

Laughter has healing power, and few comedians understood this quite like Lucille Ball. Born in Jamestown, New York, on Aug. 6, 1911, Ball went on to star and produce her own show, "I Love Lucy," with husband Desi Arnaz. During its six-year run, "I Love Lucy" became one of the most beloved shows on television.

Even though Ball is no longer with us, her legacy lives on. Today, her hometown in Chautauqua County, New York, continues to keep her vision alive and help others through laughter with its National Comedy Center. Here are three ways to experience the fun during your next visit. 

Honor the past

Ball enriched the lives of fans all across the country, and with her husband Arnaz, paved the way for many comedians who came after. To honor her legacy, Jamestown opened The Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, which features original costumes from the show, family film footage and portraits, and even Ball's 1972 Gold Mercedes-Benz. You can also visit Desilu Studios, nicknamed the "I Love Lucy" museum to get an inside look at where the magic happened. Desilu Studios contains costumes, props and Emmy Awards from over 50 years ago, as well as re-created sets from the show. 

Celebrate the present

Each year Jamestown's National Comedy Center presents the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival (commonly known as Lucy Fest) on the first weekend of August to celebrate Ball's birthday. In 2016, Lucy Fest runs August 4-7 and includes 50 events at a dozen venues throughout Jamestown. Past headliners have included Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and Joan Rivers, and this year you can expect to see Trevor Noah, Lewis Black and Brian Regan. 

Prepare for the future

Comedy fans all over the country will soon be flocking to The National Museum of Comedy, scheduled to open in 2017. A one-of-a-kind attraction, The National Museum of Comedy plans to offer year-round programming, include more than 70 exhibits celebrating comedy, and serve as a national archive of the comedy world. Whether you're interested in becoming a professional comedian or are interested in learning how to use comedy in your personal life, you'll find a wide variety of workshops to attend. 

If you're a fan of "I Love Lucy," comedy or even just laughing, join Jamestown in celebrating the healing power of laughter by visiting Chautauqua County, New York. Find more information to start planning your trip by browsing tourchautauqua.com today. 

Gas station myth or fact: What you need to know...

(BPT) - On any given day, some 40 million Americans stop at gas stations to fill their tanks. For many, it’s a weekly routine, one they don’t spend much time analyzing, but are there things you think you know about your fill-up that just aren’t true?

Andrea Kaufman considers herself a fairly conscientious auto owner, but the St. Louis Park, Minnesota resident admits she doesn’t know the finer details of pumping protocol. “I’ve heard plenty of gas station tips and tricks, but I’m not always sure which ones I should believe.”

Let’s set the record straight as energy experts dispel three common gas station myths.

Myth #1: It’s best to buy gas early in the day.

The theory is that gasoline is denser at cooler temperatures, so you’ll get more fuel per gallon early in the morning. While the basic science is correct, the experts at Consumer Reports point out two practical reasons why this is a myth.

First, most gas stations store fuel in double-walled underground tanks that keep gas at steady temperatures. Second, even if there were variations, the volume difference between gasoline at 75 versus 60 degrees Fahrenheit is just 1 percent — not enough to be noticeable at the pump.

Myth #2: It’s dangerous to use a cell phone near gas pumps.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, there is no documented incident of a wireless phone causing a gas station fire or explosion.

It’s true that many fuel companies post stickers on pumps warning motorists to turn off phones while refueling as cell phones could be a distraction. But the Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI) reports the most likely cause of fire at the pumps is static electricity created by drivers sliding in and out of vehicles. For safe refueling, PEI recommends you turn off the car engine, refrain from smoking and stay outside the vehicle.

Myth #3: All brands of gas are the same.

Like more than two-thirds of Americans, Kaufman buys gas primarily based on price and convenience. “I don’t know if there is a difference between brands,” she says. While all gasoline sold in the U.S. must meet federal requirements for performance, not all gas is the same.

The auto industry has a certification system for fuel. Top Tier certified gasoline includes additional detergents and fuel additives that remove engine deposits that can hurt fuel economy.

“Today’s more fuel-efficient engines need higher-quality fuel for peak performance,” says Akhtar Hussain, refined fuels expert at CHS, which markets Cenex brand fuels at more than 1,450 gas stations in 19 states. “Cenex TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline provides 2.5 times the cleaning power of conventional gasoline and removes deposits for better fuel economy and reduced emissions.”

Our Top Tier certified gasoline keeps newer high-precision engines clean and helps older engines perform better, he adds. “It helps clean your engine every time you fill your tank.” Cenex TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline is available at every Cenex location. To find one near you, visit cenex.com/locations.

So much for those tank-filling myths. Now it’s time to fuel up and enjoy the drive.

Go West: Explore extraordinary Western...

(BPT) - Ancient landscapes, rugged gorges, epic waterways, never-ending sunsets and stunning turquoise ocean views: this could only describe the extraordinary terrain of Western Australia’s North West Kimberley region. It’s the Australia you think you know, but once you’re here, you quickly realize it’s far more spectacular than you ever expected.

The Kimberley has two distinct seasons: the dry, which runs from May until October (and is therefore preferred by visitors) and the wet, which runs from November until April. Whether you’re seeing the destination by land, sea or air, here are some key experiences you’ll find in the Kimberley region:

Rich history and culture on land:

* The Gibb River Road, which links the exotic pearling town of Broome to the town of Kununurra, is one of Australia’s most renowned four-wheel drive challenges.  This legendary 600-kilometer (410 mile) stock route was originally used for droving cattle, but is now also a captivating destination for travelers seeking the ultimate Australian Outback experience. The journey is made even more memorable through hosted excursions with companies such as Kimberley Outback Tours by day, and with unique accommodation options at upscale, off-the-grid lodges and bush camps by night.

El Questro Wilderness Park, located in the east Kimberley, extends about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north to south, totaling one million acres in size. Its landscape offers outstanding diversity including rainforests, gorges and waterfalls and Aussie wildlife. To stay right near the action, check out the lodging options at El Questro, which range from five-star luxury hotels to campsites.

Fascinating sea adventures:

* Cruise the remote pristine waters of the Kimberley with expedition ship operator, True North, for a luxury adventure into the true wilderness. True North offers a more personalized experience and opportunities to explore secluded gorges, an abundance of wildlife, spectacular waterfalls, and Aboriginal rock art that predates even the Egyptian Pyramids!  

* For stunning sights of marine life and nature, divers and snorkelers can check out the Rowley Shoals off the coast of Broome, as it ranks amongst the most remote and pristine marine areas in the world.

Excursions in flight:

* You can explore the Kimberley by air via the Kimberley Aerial Highway, which is a series of red earth airstrips offering views of the region’s most iconic landscapes and one-of-a-kind accommodations. For the ultimate in flight luxury, stay at the Berkeley River Lodge, accessible only via its private airstrip.

Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures offers a four-night expedition, providing an exciting way to explore the untouched natural wonderland of the Kimberley. You’ll experience a seaplane flight over the Buccaneer Archipelago, followed by a water landing on Talbot Bay.

For more information, and to start planning your trip, visit westernaustralia.com.

Discover these 4 transformative vacations

(BPT) - With the busy travel season upon us, people comb through travel websites and brochures looking to find their ideal vacation destination. Some search for stunning examples of wilderness found only in America; others seek a cultural experience, a chance to taste new foods, visit historic sights and see a different side of life. For those seeking to make their vacation fun as well as educational and enriching, there are a host of photography workshops throughout the country that not only offer a chance to see amazing places, but instruction on memorializing their experiences through digital imaging and photography.

Through Canon Live Learning Destination Workshops, amateur and professional photographers can travel to destinations around the country and learn from master photographers at the pinnacle of their craft. Participants choose from a number of destinations where they can experiment with different Canon cameras and lenses, get expert feedback on their images and go home with prints that showcase their experience and new photography skills.

To help inspire your next vacation, one that can be relaxing, fun, educational and give you an eye-opening perspective on the world, here are some of the best places to discover, or rediscover, in America.

The best place to experience the mountains: The Rocky Mountains in Aspen, Colorado. Few things are as dramatic as the mountains, and few mountains are as iconic as the Colorado Rockies. In the heart of these mountains is the famous ski-town of Aspen, which has become a vibrant community filled with world-class dining and shopping. Just outside this small but cosmopolitan town are cowboys and cowgirls, rock climbers and other devotees of the rugged life who have made their home in one of the most stunning and unforgettable landscapes of North America.

The best place to view waterfalls: The Great Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Visitors who wake early to see the sun cut through the mist gathered in the valleys know why these are called “smoky” mountains. Known for its environmental diversity, the Great Smoky Mountains have an abundant amount of wildflowers, vistas, animals and historic settlements. Tucked away in these mountains are some of the most scenic waterfalls in the country. While not as famous as Niagara or Yosemite Falls, these wonders remain one of the best kept secrets in the United States.

The best place for stargazing: Moab, Utah. People are often amazed by how bright the stars appear outside of the city. But to really get the full effect of the stars, you have to go far away from any human settlement, such as the desert of Utah. Here, the Milky Way and its thick star clusters fire across the sky in a way that has to be seen to be believed. It’s a sight everyone needs to see once in their lives.

The best place to be charmed: Tie between the New England Seaside and Savannah, Georgia. There’s no better way to take in a sense of America’s past than by visiting one of these ocean-side destinations. Savanah’s cobble-stone streets, city squares and numerous Revolutionary and Civil War era sites create a vibrant picture of the Old South. Far to the north, the fishing villages of Massachusetts, with the lighthouses, ships and of course, chowder and clam bakes, offer a glimpse into a way of life that was once common throughout America.

The inevitable downside of any great vacation is that it always seems too short. With the right camera skills, you can take amazing pictures that are good enough to print, share with others or hang on your wall. These physical prints are not only memories. As works of art you created, they are a truly meaningful way to preserve your experience.

Spring into summer in the Lone Star State

(BPT) - When it comes to spring and summer vacations, Texas is full of possibilities, boasting more than 600 miles of coastline, scenic mountain ranges, historic sites and more. With activities like dolphin watching, deep sea fishing, bird watching and hiking, visitors will never be bored.

For a Gulf Coast adventure, Corpus Christi is a must-see and one of the world’s top kiteboarding destinations. Just down the road from Corpus Christi is Port Aransas, a coastal town where chartered boats with local guides and equipment are available for deep sea fishing experiences that will have you reeling in red snapper, wahoo, blue marlin and more in a matter of hours. Galveston, a unique 32-mile beach town, offers everything from soft sandy beaches to one of the largest, most historically significant collections of 19th-century buildings. Additionally, Galveston is one of the top locations for birding in the United States as the island is home to more than 500 species of birds.

If you prefer mountains to waves, West Texas is the place for you. You’ll be amazed by the beauty of the Big Bend National Park in Big Bend, the Davis Mountains State Park in Fort Davis and the Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso. In addition to hiking through scenic mountain ranges, West Texas is home to many outdoor activities. Take a dip in the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool, Balmorhea, horseback ride, white water raft on the Rio Grande River, kayak, canoe, stargaze at the McDonald Observatory and more.

Another popular state park, Palo Duro Canyon, cuts through the heart of the Texas Panhandle just south of Amarillo and is nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Texas. At roughly 60 miles long, up to 20 miles wide and around 266 yards deep, it is the second largest canyon in the country. Further South in the Texas Hill Country, Enchanted Rock is an ancient pink granite dome that has attracted visitors for thousands of years. A variety of outdoor activities are sure to keep visitors busy, including hiking, camping, rock climbing, birding, geocaching and stargazing. In fact, Enchanted Rock is one of two Texas state parks designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association.

Want to make a splash? Take a swim in one of Austin’s swimming holes. Barton Springs Pool is one of Austin's famous landmarks and easily the most popular swimming hole in the city. Spring fed, Barton Springs Pool is over three acres and remains 70 degrees year round. Another famous swimming hole, Hamilton Pool, was created thousands of years ago when an underground river collapsed creating the sunken grotto. With a 50-foot waterfall spilling from an outcropping of limestone into the jade green pool, it is a site to behold.

South of Austin in New Braunfels, Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort has been named the best water park in the nation for 17 years. With tube chutes, water coasters, a sea creature cove, lazy rivers and more, visitors of all ages will have a blast at an affordable price.

Not near New Braunfels? Don’t worry! There’s plenty of fun to be had in Arlington at one of the biggest theme parks in the state, Six Flags Over Texas. Its claim to fame is The Texas Giant, while the kids will enjoy Bugs Bunny Boomtown. Across the street, more than 3 million gallons of water await at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. In San Antonio, Six Flags Fiesta Texas offers a variety of musical performances and shows in addition to rides. The park is home to Batman: The Ride, a new world class 4D Free Fly Coaster that thrusts riders into an immersive, high-speed Gotham City adventure.

Perhaps the most important theme park of all in the state of Texas is Morgan’s Wonderland. Located in San Antonio with inclusion as its guiding principle, Morgan's Wonderland was designed with special-needs individuals in mind and built for everyone's enjoyment. The 25-acre, completely wheelchair-accessible park features more than 25 attractions.

Not to mention, San Antonio is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site San Antonio Missions. The state’s most iconic mission is the Alamo, however, Spanish priests established five additional Catholic missions: San Antonio de Valero, San José, Concepción, San Juan and Espada, along the San Antonio River. The traditions established by the mission’s friars still influence the culture of San Antonio today.

With great weather and plenty to do, you can’t go wrong when spending your spring and summer in Texas. For more information about travel experiences in the Lone Star State, visit www.TravelTexas.com and find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


10 smart security steps for seniors

(BPT) - From identity theft to home burglary, it’s an unfortunate fact that senior citizens are often a target for criminals. By taking simple security measures while at home and out traveling, you can dramatically reduce the likelihood you or a loved one is victimized.

Always lock doors: Whether you’re in a home or an apartment, always keep doors locked. It’s a simple yet effective step to keep property and the residents safe, during the day and in the evening.

Secure patio doors: Determined criminals won’t stop even though the front door is locked. Use the Master Lock 265DCCSEN Security Door Bar to restrict patio and sliding glass doors from being pried open.

Ask for identification: When service or delivery people come to the door, ask for ID. If you still feel uneasy, get a number to reschedule the visit and then call the company directly to confirm the employee’s status.

Secure small valuables: Whether home or away, use a light portable safe. The Master Lock 5900D  SafeSpace Portable Personal Safe keeps cash, documents, electronics and small valuables safe, plus the cable can be wrapped around a fixed object or serve as a carrying handle.

Vary routine while home: While home, try to vary the routine periodically. Criminals track when you come and go, so if it’s obvious you’re always gone during certain times, your home can easily be targeted.

Maintain routine while gone: If traveling, make it seem like someone is home. If you can’t get a house sitter, make sure to stop the newspaper and mail delivery and have a neighbor bring your trash in on the appropriate days.

Keep keys close: Skip the obvious doormat or planter and instead store spare keys and access cards securely by using a Master Lock 5422D Push Button Portable Key Safe. Plus, the protective weather cover prevents freezing and jamming.

Travel with less: When traveling, avoid drawing attention by wearing minimal jewelry and carrying only the necessary cash. You’ll feel confident and enjoy your trip more when you leave jewelry and other valuables at home.

No need to name: For phone books, organization directories and apartment lobbies, list your first initial rather than your full first name. This can help protect your identification; strangers won’t know your full name while friends and relatives will recognize your initial.

With these simple safety measures, senior citizens can feel protected in their homes for years to come.

5 easy ways to relax, recharge and have fun on...

(BPT) - Feeling stressed? Adding water to your summer plans may be one of the best remedies.

More than four in five Americans say being around water relaxes them, and 72 percent feel healthier after spending time on the water, according to a 2015 Discover Boating survey by Wakefield Research.

With Americans working longer hours, the need to take vacation time is greater than ever. Four in 10 Americans are not using all their paid time off (PTO), according to Project: Time Off’s 2015 research by GFK Public Affairs.

One easy solution? Get out on the water and go boating. It not only benefits overall well-being, it’s also more accessible than many think. In fact, millions of Americans go boating each year on more than 15 million boats in the U.S., according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.   

"Today’s technology can make it difficult to fully disconnect and relax, which is why boating offers a unique solution,” says Carl Blackwell, president of Discover Boating. "Surrounded by water, fresh air and your favorite people makes a boat one of the rare places where you can focus on each other, forget about daily distractions and enjoy the outdoors.”

Whether on vacation or staycation, there are fun, stress-free ways to get on the water. These insider tips can help anyone get started in fishing, wakesurfing, sailing, personal watercraft and cruising this summer. 

Take a class. Sign up for a boating lesson to hone those powerboating, sailing or watersports skills by mastering the basics while having fun along the way. Popular options around the U.S. include boating classes, on-water training courses, watersports camps, youth boating programs and more.

Join a club. Find a boat club near you for a hassle-free and cost-sharing way to access a versatile fleet of boats. Simply pay a monthly fee and book your time online. Most boat clubs take care of docking, cleaning, and maintenance, with members responsible for fuel. Plus, most offer extensive boater education courses as part of the membership.

Share the fun. Share the fun and the budget. Fractional ownership programs are similar to boat clubs offering shared access to boats paired with maintenance and education, with a few subtle differences — an annual fee versus monthly dues and assignment of members to a particular boat, similar to a property timeshare instead of a fleet of boats.

Rent a boat. Rental options are available on most waterways and provide hourly or daily access to a variety of boat types. Rental outfitters provide tutorials on operating a boat, share safety instructions and offer suggestions on destinations. Another rental option new to market are peer-to-peer rentals, allowing you to rent someone else’s boat, which usually includes insurance and captains for hire to help you set sail.

Charter a trip. Explore new waters and experience the boating lifestyle by chartering a boat trip with family or friends. Chartering offers options — bareboat (with no captain) or crewed (with captain and crew) for a few days or weeks long. Pick your preferences and chart your course.

Find your way on the water by using Discover Boating’s get on the water interactive tool, just enter your zip code to find rentals, boat clubs and more close to home. If you’re curious about owning a boat, whether new or previously owned, take the next step and research all your options on DiscoverBoating.com.


Articles last updated at Jul 25, 2016 22:55:29pm.
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