(BPT) - Ask people who fly frequently, and they will tell you that it takes a mental and physical toll on them.
Psychologically, air travel can make you feel like a nameless face in a herd of sameness. The combination of spending hours in airport lines, dragging around luggage to avoid bag fees and being wedged into tiny seats drive people to near madness. The confluence of monotony and feeling unappreciated has made air travel a lethargic chore instead of, at the very least, a necessary means to an end.
The possible physical effects of air travel are even more troubling. Dry cabin air and altitude changes can compromise a passenger’s immune system. Long stretches of inactivity can also contribute to circulatory conditions such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), which some have contentiously called Economy Class Syndrome.
The good news is that there are common sense ways to keep your mind and body healthy while traveling.
* Hydrate to energize – Dehydration can lower energy, and also affect your mood and the ability to think clearly, according to a study conducted at the University of Connecticut. Pack a refillable bottle in your carry-on and be sure to fill it once through security. When in the air, ask for water or juice instead of soda or alcohol, which can increase dehydration. Hydration can boost energy levels once you arrive at your destination.
* Assert your personality – Find a way to bring along something that reminds you of home. This keeps you grounded and can spark conversations that make air travel more enjoyable. A new and unique way to do this is with a MyFlyBag. This personalized luggage features a photo or image of your choice – your family, a pet, a favorite vacation spot – turning an otherwise boring piece of luggage into a personal billboard.
* Limit stress – Stress is the body’s enemy. Mitigate it by arriving at the airport early, so you can navigate the ticketing and security lines without having to constantly look at your watch. Arriving at the gate early also gives you a chance to meet new people.
* Stimulate the mind – At the airport, pick up a book of crossword puzzles, math games or even a newspaper from a foreign country printed in English to stretch the brain in new directions.
A little planning and a positive outlook can change the entire air travel experience for the better. You will stand out, be energized and will be ready to make the most of your business trip or personal vacation.
It’s been said that no human artist has ever really matched Mother Nature for creativity and beauty, and the arrival of fall colors across the country certainly supports that belief. While humans have explained in detail the science behind the biological process that causes leaves to change from green to yellow, red, orange or purple, the wonder of fall colors endures.
Nowhere in the country is fall’s beauty more gloriously displayed than in New England. The sheer variety and vibrancy of colorful foliage in these northern states has delighted and amazed visitors since Europeans first set foot in the region. A fall excursion through New England offers the opportunity to savor breath-taking scenery, but also the chance to experience some our nation’s oldest historical and cultural sites. Plus, with schools back in session, fall travel means thinner crowds and cooler, more comfortable temperatures.
An all-inclusive travel package, such as the Hidden Gems of New England tour by Tauck, can be a care-free, economical way to experience autumn in New England. You’ll be able to take in the fall foliage without having to worry about travel arrangements – all for 40 percent less than such a trip would cost you if you tried to make identical arrangements on your own.
Throughout New England, foliage will don a dazzling array of hues, from vibrant reds, yellows and golds to rich oranges, umber and purple. From sycamores, maple and birch to oak, ash and dogwood, the region’s trees will stage a showy display as night-time temperatures drop and autumn arrives.
In addition to stunning vistas of breath-taking color, the Hidden Gems of New England tour takes travelers through historic points such as:
* Boston – One of America’s oldest cities, Boston played a pivotal role in the American Revolution as the site of both the Boston Tea Party and the Battle of Bunker Hill. During the Civil War, the city was a stronghold of the anti-slavery movement. Today, Boston is known for outstanding cuisine, a rich arts and cultural scene, and a transportation and educational hub for the entire New England region.
* Lexington and Concord– The “shot heard round the world” was fired in Lexington, Mass., when American Minutemen met British soldiers on Lexington Green in the first battle of the American Revolution. Some of America’s best-loved and most influential early literature traces its roots to Concord, with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott and Henry David Thoreau all having ties to the city.
* Walpole, NH. – Another historic New England town, Walpole played a role in events leading up to the American Revolution. Today, it’s home to the private studio of award-winning documentary film maker Ken Burns. History buffs can get an exclusive “insider” look at Burns’ studio when they take Tauck’s Hidden Gems of New England tour.
* Woodstock, Vt. – Billings Farm and Museum in this picturesque village gives visitors an inside view of the revolutionary concepts of sustainable land use and forest conservation that first found root in the region.
* Hartford, Conn. – Mark Twain’s Farmington Avenue homestead is a must-see for visitors to Hartford. Though Twain traveled the world, he considered just two places home: the Missouri town where he grew up, and this grand home in Connecticut. Steps away from Twain’s house is the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author and abolitionist whose “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” opened the nation’s eyes to the lives of African American slaves in the decades leading up to the Civil War.
For more information about a New England Fall Foliage, visit Tauck.com.
(BPT) - Europe continues to attract the attention of American travelers, and travel on river cruises is one of the best ways to see many of the continent’s sights and explore much of its history. In response to strong demand, cruise lines are offering many new and expanded services to accommodate this growing travel interest:
Expanding to new rivers. Many river cruise lines are bolstering their cruise portfolios by expanding to rivers where they haven’t before offered itineraries. Such is the case with Tauck, a leader in premium quality guided travel for 88 years, which is adding two new cruises on the Seine River in 2014. “Cruising the Seine Plus Versailles, Paris & London,” 14 days, begins with an included two-night stay in London at the landmark Savoy, complete with guided sightseeing. Guests travel next to France for a nine-day cruise along the Seine, before enjoying an in-depth exploration of Paris and a two-night stay in Versailles at the Trianon Palace Versailles, a Waldorf Astoria property.
“Rendezvous on the Seine,” 10 days, includes a two-night stay in Paris. A subsequent seven-day cruise on the Seine is highlighted by a tour of Normandy’s historic D-Day beaches, an excursion to seaside Honfleur, guided tours of abbeys and chateaux, and a farm visit and tasting of local specialties in Etretat.
Added offerings on existing rivers. Many of the popular rivers already traveled by cruise lines will have additional options added. These rivers include the Danube - where travelers can visit Regensburg, Germany and travel to Bratislava, Slovakia – and the Rhine, where visitors love exploring nearby Amsterdam, Cologne and everything between to Basel, Switzerland.
New ships. Many river cruise lines are expanding their fleets to keep up with demand, and Tauck is no exception. Next year the company will launch a pair of “newbuilds,” the ms Savor and ms Inspire. At 443 feet, the ships will be the longest in the company’s fleet, but the new vessels will accommodate far fewer passengers than same-sized ships in other lines, to ensure a less crowded and more intimate atmosphere. As with its existing ships, Tauck will also staff the new riverboats with a Cruise Director and three professional Directors to provide the highest possible levels of service.
Those interested in more information on Tauck’s river cruise offerings can visit the company’s website at www.tauck.com, or call 800-468-2825.
(BPT) - Moving from one home, one city and even one state to another is a great opportunity to clean house and start fresh. Instead of packing all belongings – even those that haven’t been used in years – moving gives families a chance to reduce their material goods so that what ends up being unpacked in the new house is immediately used.
While purging their belongings, families should consider giving back to their community, both as a nice way to say goodbye and to make the move much easier. Some ways to give back while moving include:
* Donate unneeded belongings to organizations that can put them to good use. If you have gently used furniture, clothing, children’s toys, books or even kitchen utensils that you won’t need in your new home, many organizations will take these items to help victims of natural disasters, or to sell to help financially support other needs of the organization. If you aren’t able to find an organization that will accept donated items, consider holding a yard sale and donating the cash to a local charity. When advertising the garage sale, be sure to advertise the charity you’re supporting, and ask shoppers if they’d like to also contribute to the charity.
* Make your donations go further. When donating to an organization, businesses will often match a donation. To help you in giving back during your move, Penske Truck Rental is raising funds to help the Paralyzed Veterans of America and its Mission: ABLE campaign. This campaign ensures veterans with disabilities get the care, benefits and job opportunities they’ve earned and deserve, says U.S. Army veteran Bill Lawson, national president of the organization. Penske Truck Rental customers renting a truck can donate $1 to support Mission: ABLE. Penske will match each donation made by Memorial Day, 2014.
* Use recyclable containers for packing. Contact your local grocery store or restaurant and ask if you can help them recycle their boxes by using them for packing. This gives these boxes one additional use prior to disposal, helping out your community and the environment.
* Hire your packing help from a local youth group or non-profit organization. Call up local youth organizations and offer to pay a salary for young workers to help you load the moving truck with your packed belongings. Be sure to mark boxes carefully if they are heavy or contain fragile items, and also have a family member in charge of directing how boxes and furniture will be loaded into the truck. This is a great way to help support a local organization while also helping you to move.
As you plan your move, consider these ways you can give back, both in your current community and the new community. It will help make the transition smoother and help you to embrace and learn more about the new community.
(BPT) - A job transfer usually is a good thing. Hopefully the transfer signals a promotion as you take your career a step further up the ladder, bringing about new and fun challenges in the workplace. But the transition itself is often not easy, especially if it involves moving your home and family to a new location.
Businesses often give transferred employees less than two weeks (11 days) to accept a transfer offer and once accepted, an average of 33 days to move and report to the new job, according to Worldwide ERC, a professional association for workforce mobility. That isn’t much time to find a new home, put the old home up for sale or subleasing and plan a move that could be across town, across state lines or across the country.
Resources are available to help ease the stress of your job transfer. They include:
* Your company – Before you accept the job transfer offer, check with your human resources department on what services or financial compensation your company offers. Many companies outsource relocation services or cover selected services like providing rental moving trucks for employees. Be aware that the average cost of shipping household goods for a domestic transfer was around $12,459 in 2012, according to Worldwide ERC.
* Truck rental – Much of the moving process involves the transfer of your household goods. Truck rental companies like Penske help to make this process much easier. For example, Penske, which is a member of Worldwide ERC, has a dedicated customer service and sales team within its existing call center to serve the specialized needs of employee relocations. The company also added services like moving labor to help customers load and unload the rental trucks, new self-storage options for movers and customized billing options for each of these services to make the corporate transfer much smoother.
“Time, cost and ease of use are of the essence with an employee relocation move,” says Don Mikes, senior vice president of rental for Penske. “We have a solid solution to make the process easy ranging from rental trucks, towing equipment and moving supplies to services beyond the truck such as self-storage and moving labor.”
* House hunting – Searching for a new home could be the most stressful part of relocating. Many employees will opt for temporary housing like apartments or extended-stay hotels for the first couple months of the transfer. This allows them to get a feel for the community and take the time to review homes for sale. However, if you prefer to purchase a home right way, contact the human resources department at your new location to ask for real estate agents referrals. Also take your search online. Between MLS listings with photos and online mapping tools, you can narrow your search quickly to preferred homes, allowing you to make an appointment once with your real estate agent to tour the homes and hopefully make an offer.
* House selling – On the other end of the spectrum, you also have a home to sell. Many homeowners are opting to hire a management company and rent out the home, with the intent to sell in the future once they have their life organized in the new location and have the time to list the home with a real estate agent. Management companies handle the review of rental applicants, the background checks, collect the rent and take care of any emergency maintenance concerns that might occur, allowing the homeowner to concentrate his energies on the new job.
The job transfer process may feel overwhelming, but with these resources available to assist you with the transfer, you’ll find yourself quickly settling into the new office and digging into the challenges of the new job.
(BPT) - Now that frigid temperatures and stormy days have come back in earnest, it’s time for car owners to think seriously about the road conditions ahead and take the simple but important steps to ensure safe winter travel this year.
Bad weather is linked to 7,000 deaths, 800,000 injuries and more than 1.5 million crashes every year, according to a long-term study published in the American Journal of Public Health. While these numbers are scary enough, even minor breakdowns can lead to real trouble on snow-packed roads.
"There's nothing worse than breaking down on a cold winter night, stranded on the side of the road," says Jim Fults, auto insurance leader at Fireman's Fund Insurance Company. "A few basic precautions can dramatically reduce the risk of getting stuck on the road, including roadside assistance provided through your insurance policy.”
People can avoid or minimize dangerous weather-related breakdowns and accidents by performing regular checks, so motorists are advised to follow these steps to increase the odds of arriving safe and sound:
* Get your car checked: A professional check is worth it, for added peace of mind.
* Check your tires: Rain, snow and ice can make roads lethal. Check your tire tread and make sure the air pressure is OK.
* Light the way: Keep lights clean and make sure they are working.
* Get charged up: A dead battery is the main cause of breakdowns, so get it checked and replaced if necessary.
* Cooling system: Ensure this is checked and that the anti-freeze content meets the manufacturer requirements.
* Wipers: Check windscreen wipers and replace if they fail to clear the screen correctly.
* Fuel: Ensure you have more than enough for your journey.
Be prepared and take the following items with you:
* A fully charged cellphone
* Shovel in case of snow
* De-icer and a scraper for windows
* Blanket and warm clothing in case the worst happens
* Sturdy shoes or rubber boots
* Some snacks, such as energy bars
* Extra fuel "We urge motorists to set aside some time to carry out a series of simple checks," Fults says. "Some may seem like common sense, but you'll be surprised at how many drivers forget after the summer. For example, it is crucial to ensure all your lights are clean and working properly. Always replace any broken bulbs immediately. If you don't, you will not only find it difficult to see the road clearly, you run the risk of not being seen by other drivers."
In addition, it is a good idea to put together an emergency winter survival kit so that you are prepared should you breakdown. Remember to include a flashlight, blanket, ice scraper and a first aid kit.
There are some travel destinations where sights, people and activities add up to much more than the sum of their parts. You know when you’re in one of those special locations because you’re doing more than just seeing – you’re experiencing the spirit of the place. In the United States, there are few places more imbued with that indefinable sense of wonder than the Southwest. Delving into the landscapes, history and culture of the region on a Grand Canyon tour is sure to give you a real and memorable encounter with the spirit of the Southwest.
The Grand Canyon is certainly the leading natural attraction in the Southwest – if not the entire U.S. – but the surrounding area has even more to offer. The desert landscapes vary from austere to dramatic, and visitors can revel in all that diverse beauty by taking a Grand Canyon tour that also includes the majestic national parks of the region. While tours like those offered by Tauck often boast cost savings (as much as 40 percent over independent travel), they also give travelers the freedom to truly delve into their experience. Without the stresses of arranging everything on your own, you’re free to relax, unwind and find real understanding of the spirit of the Southwest deserts.
These are the key attractions you’ll want to visit on a Grand Canyon tour that also includes other national parks of the Southwest:
* Arches National Park – Nature is at its most fanciful in the landscape of Arches National Park, so named for the 2,000 natural rock arches within its borders. Start with a viewing of a sunrise in the “Windows” section of the park, and you’ll have the photo opportunity of a lifetime. Explore the park’s other geological wonders like Delicate Arch and Balanced Rock, and, for a bit of extra adventure, take a float ride on the Colorado River. The spirit of the desert is as much expressed through its culture as its landscape, and an excursion led by a member of the Navajo nation will provide insight into the sacredness of the land.
* Bryce Canyon National Park – The “hoodoos” this canyon is known for might have a whimsical name, but they are seriously impressive, particularly when viewed in the first light of morning. As the sun rises, watch the colors deepen, shift and change in a spectacular natural display. Bryce Canyon’s numerous horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters of eroded, colorful rock formations are easy for visitors of all ages to enjoy – hikes ranging from easy to challenging can be arranged.
* Grand Canyon National Park – The facts and figures about the Grand Canyon – 18 miles wide, 277 miles long, more than 5,000 feet deep – are impressive, but they pale when you encounter the Grand Canyon in person. Take the road less traveled and visit the North Rim, a spectacular part of the park that only sees about 10 percent of the park’s annual visitors. Relax and take in the views or get more in-depth with mule rides and ranger talks about history and geology.
* Zion National Park – The varied landscapes of Zion are all equally arresting, and so captured the imagination of Horace Albright, the first director of the National Park Service, that he was personally involved in the establishment of Zion National Park. Take at least a full day to explore the park in its grandeur, from the Weeping Rocks to the Court of the Patriarchs, where jagged peaks stand next to one another like mythical giants.
The sweeping vistas, kaleidoscope of colors and astounding natural rock formations of the Southwest are certain to make visitors appreciate the region. However, getting to know the real spirit of the desert is what will make you fall in love with it. For more information about a Grand Canyon tour that covers the best of the Southwest, visit Tauck online.
Many people hear the words “escorted travel” and immediately think “tour bus” or “motorcoach.” While there’s nothing wrong with either form of travel, they’re certainly not the only options available when you take an escorted or guided tour. A host of other options deliver all the benefits of escorted travel without relying on traditional motorcoach transportation.
For example, although the guided tour company Tauck has been offering award-winning, premium quality motorcoach tours since 1925, the company has continued to innovate and is constantly redefining the meaning of “guided travel” in exciting new ways, including:
European river cruises. No travel segment is growing faster right now than European river cruises, and Tauck’s river cruises are among the best. The company was recently named “The World’s Best River Cruise Line” by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine, and it’s launching two new ships and four new cruises next year. Like traditional tours, river cruises offer the rich cultural experience of exploring a variety of historic European cities and towns, but with the added convenience of unpacking just once.
Special city-centric events. You can also travel on events that each explore a particular theme, and are based in a single city (again, with unpack-just-once convenience). Tauck events highlight Rome and London, while others celebrate the Kentucky Derby and Rose Parade. And the company offers a rotating series of events featuring the filmmaker Ken Burns that explore the topics of his documentaries, including jazz in New Orleans and baseball at the sport’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
Active, small group travel. “Culturious” journeys are active explorations for small groups of culturally inquisitive travelers. Culturious trips provide an up-close, hands-on, immersive experience in focused destinations (think Tuscany or Provence). Transportation is provided by nimble mini-coaches that go where larger motorcoaches can’t, such as the narrow, cobbled streets of small European villages.
Guided trips for families. Guided trips especially designed for families are always popular, like the Tauck Bridges portfolio. While some trips incorporate motorcoaches, others employ expedition ships (in the Galapagos), open-top safari vehicles (in Tanzania) and elegant riverboats (along the Rhone and Danube).
With any form of guided travel, the benefits are many. Before your trip, the planning is done for you, and upon arrival, there are no worries about navigating in a strange destination. During your trip, you’ll enjoy special access to places and experiences you’d never find on your own. And because the better packages are virtually all-inclusive, your trip is essentially paid for in advance. But perhaps the best advantage is the presence of an expert, professional tour guide who brings each destination to life by sharing his or her knowledge of the sights and scenes you’re experiencing.
For more info visit tauck.com.
The Internet has revolutionized the way we plan vacations, and nowhere is that impact more apparent than in the explosion of online, first-person traveler reviews of hotels, restaurants, guided tours, cruises and attractions. Consider this: One leading travel review website hosts 260 million unique monthly visitors and more than 100 million reviews covering more than 2.7 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions.
However, in many cases the appeal of online travel review sites is also their Achilles’ heel. Pretty much anyone can post their opinions in a review, leaving the door wide open for those with a particular bias for or against whatever they are reviewing. For example, nothing stops restaurant owners or hoteliers from padding a review site with glowing write-ups for their business. Likewise, nothing prevents that same person from falsely panning his or her competitors, or prevents anyone with an unreasonable grudge from posting baseless rants.
But don’t despair. With some common sense and these tips, you can still use online reviews as an effective tool to plan your next vacation:
* Consider a number of reviews. Look for overall trends when contemplating reviews for a particular hotel, restaurant, tour operator or cruise line, and be suspicious of isolated, overly negative or positive reviews. Be like a panel of sporting judges: Disregard the high and low scores, and make your determination by the majority of opinions in between.
* Read the reviewer’s other posts. Some review sites will let you read all the reviews from a particular poster, and that can be illuminating. You might not trust the opinion of someone, for example, who is routinely negative, demanding and always complaining of being treated poorly.
* Pay attention to the actual complaint. You may find that the reason for a terrible review isn’t relevant to your travel plans. If a restaurant can’t accommodate a gluten-free diet, or if that hotel in New Orleans charges $50 a night for parking (and you’re not bringing a car), you may be able to disregard certain bad reviews.
* Most importantly, rely on websites where the reviews are verified. You might not know it, but it’s impossible for most travel websites to verify whether or not people have actually experienced what they’re reviewing. And if a review isn’t based on firsthand experience, how reliable or trustworthy can it be?
Thankfully, there are websites where the reviews are 100 percent verified. Tauck, for example, is an 88-year-old leader in guided travel with more than 100 land journeys and cruises to more than 70 countries and all seven continents. The company encourages its guests to share reviews of their experiences, but each review is only posted to Tauck’s website once the author’s email address and the trip he or she is reviewing have been cross-checked against Tauck’s records.
For more information on Tauck, and to read reviews of the company’s trips, visit Tauck.com.
Exploring cultures, witnessing majestic landscapes and tasting exotic foods – there’s so much to experience when traveling the world. And while a group tour is a great, hassle-free way to experience many of the world’s most desirable destinations, for some, the idea of traveling in a large group may be a bit daunting. Thankfully, many top tour operators are now offering trips with smaller group sizes, providing all the benefits of group travel (ease of planning, all-inclusiveness, high levels of service, guided sightseeing, value, etc.) with the more personalized feel of fewer traveling companions.
Whether you’re traveling with a spouse or significant other, alone, or among a group of friends, small group travel with 20 to 24 like-minded travelers takes a trip to a new level of delight. The world is full of myriad locations perfect for small group travel.
Traveling in a small group is an excellent way to expand your horizons. But trying to plan the entire trip with itinerary, meals, hotels and travel arrangements can be a nightmare. Instead, consider a small group tour where everything is already organized. Tauck has been helping small groups see the world for more than 80 years. When you travel with Tauck, everything is taken care of for you, all you need to do is pack the suitcases and charge the camera batteries.
For your next vacation, consider inviting friends to join you on one of these adventures:
* California’s Gold Coast – This 11-day tour offered by Tauck highlights the beautiful scenery where California and the Pacific Ocean meet, with a trip inland to also see the wonders of Yosemite National Park. Small groups of couples or friends will love this tour, sampling wines bottled in Sonoma Valley, discovering the history of the Gold Rush era, delighting in the sea life at Monterey Bay Aquarium and negotiating the stunning beauty of Highway 1.
* America’s Canyonlands – Small groups will love this eight-day tour by Tauck showcasing the amazing landscape sculptures found in Arizona, Utah and Nevada. This active small-group tour will have travelers setting their alarm clocks early to catch sunrise at the Grand Canyon, or participating in a little splashing fun while rafting down the Colorado River. This trip is a must for bringing the cameras – take your next holiday photo with Bryce Canyon or Zion National Park in the background.
* Tuscany and Cinque Terre – The robust flavors and earthy scenery of Tuscany led themselves to travel by smaller, intimate groups, where all members can savor the warmth and friendliness of the Tuscan people. This eight-day tour encompasses Florence, Cinque Terre, Lucca and Sienna. Along the way, guests learn about the rich culture of Florence, the flavors of Cinque Terre and even indulge in a cooking class in Lucca.
* Costa Rica – With so much adventure to experience in Costa Rica, you may feel you’ve only scratched the surface after eight days – but it will be a good start. Hike with a knowledgable guide through wildlife-rich jungle, dance barefoot on a pristine beach, marvel at an emerald-filled crater and savor the majesty of the cloud forests. This tour takes guests from the markets, restaurants and beaches of San Jose to a chocolate workshop in San Isidro, a zipline ride through the rainforest canopy above the Montezuma river and kayaking through the mangrove estuaries of the Curu Reserve.
With small group travel, you can return from your trip with stories to share among friends and family members for years to come. Start reliving the memories of your small group tour right away by trading photos of your experiences. Visit tauck.com for additional small group travel adventures available.
While time alone can be refreshing and liberating, more often, people crave company. That’s especially true when it comes to traveling. In addition to providing the comfort and assurance of numbers, traveling with others can be deeply enriching, as we share experiences and view new sights through others’ perspectives.
Even if you’re single, one doesn’t have to be the loneliest number if you opt to travel with a group tour designed to welcome solo vacationers. Group tours ensure many of the hassles of vacationing get handled by someone else. Tour directors take care of hotel accommodations, arrange sightseeing and entertainment, and manage on-tour transportation. Solo travelers who take a group tour can also find camaraderie in journeying with like-minded travelers who share interests.
Connecticut resident Arlene Pressman was uncertain about taking a vacation alone two years after losing her husband. “I wasn’t sure how I would feel being alone,” Pressman said in a letter to tour operator Tauck. “But I was not alone! The group I traveled with was friendly, fun to be with and included me in everything.”
Tauck, a leading tour company that has been accommodating solo travelers for 88 years, points to the benefits of group travel for solos, including:
* Tour directors are solo travelers themselves, so they understand the unique challenges and objectives of those traveling solo.
* Tour directors are knowledgeable professionals well-versed in local customs and traditions, so solos are traveling with someone “in the know.”
* Solos won’t have to worry about the details, from checking in and out of hotels to handling luggage and overseeing transportation. It’s all done by the tour group.
* Tour directors manage the schedule, so solo travelers don’t have to worry about making the most of their time on a trip.
* Solo travelers who vacation with a group have the opportunity to meet like-minded people with whom they can form a friendship that endures after the vacation ends.
* Traveling with a group adds a layer of security for anyone traveling alone.
First-time solo travelers may find a European river cruise especially enriching, Tauck professionals point out. Whether you choose to cruise on the Danube, Seine, Rhine or Rhone rivers, a river cruise offers the chance to see the world from the luxurious decks of a cruise ship. And when you disembark, you’ll visit some of Europe’s most historic, culturally dynamic cities and breath-taking sights, even better, through 2014, Tauck has waived the regular “single supplement” on all Category 1 cabins on each of its river cruise departures. Visit www.tauck.com for a complete list of cruises.
(BPT) - Europe is a popular destination for international travelers looking to visit the world’s great capitals such as Paris, Amsterdam and Prague; to experience European culture; and to explore charming small towns. But planning a European trip can be daunting because it involves a lot of research to decide where to go, how to get there, and what to see. River cruising offers an excellent solution to this travel challenge for these reasons:
* See Europe’s great cities: Many of Europe’s greatest cities such as Budapest, Paris, Vienna and Prague developed along the rivers because of the easy means of transportation and trade, as well as access to fresh water. That’s why river cruises can easily access so many of Europe’s cosmopolitan cities, and even quaint towns and villages which developed along the river banks. Sleek, intimate ships hosting only about 200 passengers are much smaller than ocean cruise ships, and often can dock right in the heart of town so passengers can walk right off and start exploring.
* Immerse in the culture: In addition to being able to explore a new city each day of the cruise, river cruising allows travelers to develop a deep understanding of the cultures they explore. For example, Viking Cruises - the largest river cruise line - has launched 10 new river cruise ships this year alone and includes a “Cultural Curriculum” on all itineraries. This Culture Curriculum offers passengers language lessons, demonstrations of regional cooking and crafts, visits to local marketplaces and privileged access to cultural treasures. Whether privately touring the ancestral home of Prague’s Prince Lobkowicz, or providing guided tours with the best English-speaking local guides, Viking Cruises offers many ways to get up close with local culture on their cruises.
* Explore alone or with a knowledgeable guide: River cruise travelers have the option to explore destinations on their own or with a local guide on a group tour. This flexibility gives passengers a chance to experience the local culture as they wish. For travelers with specific interests, Viking Cruises offers a complimentary concierge to help connect travelers with local treasures like a decadent chocolatier or reservations at local restaurants.
* Pack and unpack just once but see multiple destinations: River cruising gives passengers the freedom to travel without the hassle of changing hotels, packing and unpacking multiple times, or finding transportation. These smooth-sailing cruises are the fastest-growing travel segment also because the views along the river are ever-changing, providing a relaxing and highly scenic way to travel, and there’s never any seasickness as can happen on an ocean cruise.
Because river cruising creates so many opportunities to visit different destinations on a relaxing, scenic vacation, it’s easy to understand why these cruises are growing in popularity. Start planning your river cruise today and begin daydreaming about all the sites you’re going to see and different cultures you can experience.
(BPT) - As the sun begins to set on the last stretch of summer, it’s time to start prepping for the final road trip of the season. Millions of drivers hit the road during the summer months, but the weekend leading up to the start of September marks the last hurrah of vacation season, one of the busiest weekends of the year for motorists across the country.
According to AAA, North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, more than 34.1 million Americans will take to the streets during Labor Day weekend this year alone. Whether cruising down to your beach house for the long weekend or visiting family across country, increased driving can create added stress and wear for your vehicle – not to mention stress on your wallet!
Quaker State, one of the industry’s most innovative motor oil brands, makes it its mission to help value-seeking consumers get the most out of their vehicles by extending vehicle longevity and improving durability.
When it comes to what may be your first or second largest investment, value is always key. Make the effort to finish out the season as the summer of savings by following these fuel-saving tips from Quaker State:
Viscosity is vital Motor oil is the lifeblood of every engine, helping to protect and prolong its life. Using the correct high quality viscosity grade of oil is critical to helping maximize your vehicle’s performance and efficiency. The reformulated Quaker State Ultimate Durability Full Synthetic Motor Oil is developed with anti-oxidizing properties to help fight engine aging and wear, while also saving you an average of $0.05 per gallon at the pump.
The pressure’s on Even your car could use a little TLC at times. Start from the ground up: improperly inflated tires can wear out quickly and waste fuel, with at least two billion gallons of gas wasted each year, according to the Department of Transportation. By keeping your tires inflated to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended PSI (pounds per square inch), your fuel economy savings can increase to up to $0.11 per gallon.
Get rid of that junk in the trunk Before setting out on the road for the long haul, do your best to keep your trunk’s haul light. For every one-hundred pounds removed, you can save up to $0.07 per gallon. So when traveling with multiple people, pack only the necessities!
Raise the roof on fuel savings Hitting the open road and taking off for the end of summer can be exciting, especially with the idea of fresh pavement waiting to be explored. However, traveling with a fully-loaded roof rack can not only slow you down, but also decrease your fuel efficiency by five percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. By stowing bulkier items in the trunk, you can add a sense of ease to your car’s aerodynamics, as well as its gas tank.
Summer is a time for relaxing, so this year, have a plan: Let Quaker State help you get the most out of your vehicle and save some money along the way. For more information on Quaker State Ultimate Durability, please visit www.quakerstate.com.
(BPT) - Sometimes the vacation bug bites without much notice. If you find yourself craving a travel adventure in the near future, you might worry it will be too complicated or costly to plan without adequate time. But the truth is, sometimes last-minute trips offer the best opportunity to score big bargains, if you know where to find them.
There’s no need to ignore your last-minute itch for travel. Try a few travel tips and planning strategies to ensure your trip is not only memorable and stress-free, but saves you cash, too.
1. Skip air travel and save at the pump
Last-minute plane tickets are costly, so for spontaneous trips, consider hitting the road instead. Pack up the car, RV or motorcycle and let the road be the gateway to your next great vacation. Download an app that tracks gas prices, like gasbuddy or Gas Guru so you can always find the best price per gallon to cut down on fuel costs. Want better fuel economy? Improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure, says the U.S. Department of Energy.
2. Uncover hidden gem locations
Popular tourist towns with massive crowds will always cost more than those hidden gems visited by fewer folks. Get destination inspiration on websites like www.LiveLifeLocal.com. With a focus on car, RV, boat and motorcycle travel, the site – created by Safeco Insurance – makes it easy to search for fun destinations and routes by geography, vehicle and tags. You’ll find valuable content from authors and bloggers as well as everyday users passionate about travel.
3. Be flexible and ask for discounts
If you can be flexible with travel dates, you might be able to score a last-minute deal. Booking accommodations for weekdays rather than weekends will save you cash, and often there’s more availability last-minute. If you know you want to travel in the near future, call hotels and campgrounds and see if they offer discount rates for open rooms/sites. Often rates are reduced 24 to 48 hours prior, but you need to ask. For hotels, a discounted room is better than a vacant room. For you, a fantastic deal awaits. Check out sites like Orbitz.com, Expedia.com or Booking.com.
4. Plan activities en route
Getting there is half the fun when you plan stops along the way. When you’re short on time, go online to map your route and discover unique places to stop along the road to your final destination. For example, LiveLifeLocal lets you map your route and suggests nearby activities. To help organize and plan your stops along the way, you can add your preferred activities to a “collection” on your online vacation portfolio. It’s a great way to quickly research and organize a last-minute vacation, plus it is free. Just add a title and save it for easy access, then share adventures on your favorite social media sites and make all your friends jealous.
5. Package and save
When it comes to saving money, package deals are a great way to ease a tight budget. Can you bundle activities together and purchase all your tickets for a deep discount? Does your hotel offer any freebie activities to local attractions along with a reservation? Always ask about possible discounts and packaged savings so you can get the best deals throughout your last-minute trip.
Give in to the wanderlust and take that last-minute trip with confidence. Whether you’re hitting the road solo or bringing the whole family along, a few simple strategies will ensure a trip to remember without breaking the bank.
Spring is a beautiful time to visit Europe and enjoy the greening of rolling hillsides, the blooming of colorful flowers and birds singing earlier each morning. Plus, you can tour the countryside free of crowds. As winter’s freeze ebbs away, European waterways make the perfect transportation method to tour cities from Amsterdam to Vienna. Spring European river cruises are packed with plenty of sights to see, foods to taste and cultures and arts to experience.
As one of the most convenient ways to travel Europe, river cruises are growing in popularity. They afford travelers the luxury of set lodgings during the trip (so you only have to unpack your bags once), with the ability to explore large areas of European countryside, from picturesque villages and small towns to larger, culturally-rich cities. Tauck was named the “World’s Best River Cruise Line” by Travel + Leisure magazine for the second time in three years, and offers many river cruises across Europe. Some of the best river cruises to experience in spring include:
* Holland and Belgium – From the wealth of beauty found in Amsterdam – flowers aplenty at the Keukenhof Gardens, and art and jewelry displayed in Rijksmuseum – to the stunning scenery of tulip-surrounded windmills in the Holland countryside, this river cruise will dazzle the eyes. The itinerary captures much of the area’s heritage and ends in Brussels with a wonderful combination of sights to see, including renaissance-style buildings and Grande-Place, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
* Holland to Hungary – Five countries, 16 large and smaller cities, three rivers and two weeks – this Tauck spring European river cruise is the experience of a lifetime. Starting in Amsterdam along the Rhine River, winding through Germany with visits to Koln, Rothenburg and Nurnberg on the Main River, and then joining up with the Danube River through Austria and into Budapest, this cruise is a spring journey you won’t forget. Sing along with the music machines at Siegfrieds Mechanisches Musikkabinett, view the Baroque architecture found in Passau, and tour Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna.
* Sights of the Seine – Few rivers have the reputation for romance that the Seine boasts, and Tauck offers cruises that allow travelers to explore the sights, sounds and scenery of this most romantic river. The 10-day Rendezvous on the Seine cruise includes two nights in Paris, a stop in Normandy where the D-Day attack led to the end of World War II, and a visit to impressionist Claude Monet’s home and garden in Giverny.
As you begin planning your spring European vacation, let Tauck handle all the travel, lodging and food arrangements for you with a river cruise. Visit tauck.com to explore other spring European river cruises that might pique your interest.
Only a handful of people around the world are old enough to remember World War I, yet as the 100th anniversary of the first truly global war approaches, its impact on the world can still be felt today. In many ways, WWI set the stage for all world-wide conflicts to come; it was the first war that truly affected almost all the world, the first in which aircraft played a role, and the first conflict in which modern weapons created casualties in the millions.
And one of the world’s most poignant remembrances – red poppies to memorialize fallen soldiers – springs from a WWI poem, “In Flanders Fields.” Penned by a Canadian physician following a pivotal battle, the poem encompasses both the tragedy and heroism of fallen soldiers in the symbol of the red poppies that grew in the famous field.
Today, Flanders Fields draws visitors who, although they don’t remember the war, wish to remember those who served in it, and the lessons WWI taught the world. As people around the world prepare to commemorate the centennial of WWI, many will plan a trip to this historic spot.
An all-inclusive tour, like those offered by Tauck, can take care of the details for travelers, allowing them more time to enjoy the experience of travel and immerse themselves in the culture and history of a location. A tour ensures everything is taken care of – hotel accommodations, on-tour transportation, sight-seeing and special entertainment – often for far less than you would pay if you arranged everything yourself.
This year, travelers who wish to take part in the WWI 100th anniversary have a unique opportunity to visit Flanders Fields on Tauck’s “Belgium and Holland in Spring” European river cruise. On the fourth day of this 10-day cruise, guests will visit the Flemish city of Ieper (Ypres), where the Battle of Flanders was fought. Travelers will also visit the In Flanders Fields Museum and partake in an exclusive dinner in the reconstructed Cloth Hall, commemorating battles fought from 1914 to 1918.
History, culture and scenic beauty permeate the other nine days of the itinerary, with stops in historically significant locations throughout the inland waterways of Holland and Belgium, including:
* Brussels – Sightsee in Belgium’s capital city, taking in once-in-a-lifetime sights such as Grande-Place, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Motor from Brussels to Margraten to visit the Netherlands American Cemetery, where thousands of World War II American soldiers are interred.
* Antwerp – A key Belgian port city and the capital of Flanders, Antwerp offers many sights, including a historic center where you’ll find the Grote Markt (old market square) and the Cathedral of Our Lady. Visit the Red Star Line Museum and absorb the history of the shipping company that ferried more than 2 million European immigrants from the Netherlands to new lives in North America.
* Rotterdam – Devastated by the Luftwaffe in WWII, the Netherlands’ second-largest city has rebuilt over the decades to become a thriving 21st-century commercial, transportation and cultural hub, often called the “Gateway to Europe.”
* Alkmarr – The windmill is an iconic symbol of the Netherlands and what journey to the region would be complete without a visit to the Schermer Museum Molen. Dating to 1634, the windmill structure now houses a museum that explores how windmills influenced the region’s culture and economy.
* Amsterdam – From the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, journey to Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, where you’ll see another Dutch icon – millions of blooming tulips, along with daffodils, hyacinths, lilies crocuses and bluebells. You’ll also enjoy a canal cruise through Amsterdam’s network of Renaissance-era waterways, lined by quaint architecture. A stop at the world-renowned Rijksmuseum affords guests a chance to admire masterpieces by Dutch masters such as Rembrandt.
For a full itinerary and to learn about other European river cruises, visit tauck.com.
When it comes to traveling with family members, you really want to get it right. When done properly, family travel can bring different generations together and leave everyone with memories they’ll treasure for the rest of their lives. Given that potential, and considering the fact that family travel can involve substantial expense, it’s a smart idea to rely on experts in the field to make your family travel plans a reality.
Guided tours and cruises designed specifically for families, like those offered by Tauck Bridges, allow families to tap all the benefits of traveling together – from seeing once-in-a-lifetime sights together to uninterrupted time together – without having to worry about the details. With everything taken care of, including hotels, sightseeing, on-tour transportation and entertainment, families are able to focus on the experience of being together in a new place – and simply enjoy each other’s company.
Whether you’ll be traveling with just your immediate family members, or vacationing with extended family in a larger group, the travel experts at Tauck have some advice for choosing the right tour:
* Look for a tour with destinations that will spark the passion and sense of wonder for every age within your group of traveling companions. A tour should offer sights and activities that are accessible for both the youngest and oldest members of your group.
* All-inclusive tours offer the best value and a stress-free experience. Tauck Bridges family tours handle every detail, from transportation arrangements and hotel accommodations, to booking attractions, sight-seeing tours and even gratuities. Not having to sweat the small stuff leaves families free to fully experience the joys of traveling together.
* Be sure your tour offers up-front pricing, with no hidden costs or surprises.
* Consider a tour that allows your family to meet and travel with other like-minded families. Sharing your travel experiences with other families can enhance the fun, and many Tauck Bridges families develop lifelong friendships after their tour together concludes.
Not sure where to go on your next family vacation? Consider these popular Tauck Bridges Family tours:
* Tanzania: A Grand Family Safari – This 11-day tour takes families from an African lodge at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro to the African bush where they rub elbows with Maasai warriors, all the way to the Serengeti, where they may spot an elephant, gazelles, wildebeests or even a big cat or two.
* Wonders of the Canadian Rockies – For seven days, families can immerse themselves in the sights and flavors of America’s neighbor to the north. From visiting a glacier and an ancient canyon once covered by a long-vanished sea to whitewater rafting on the Athabasca River and moose- or elk-spotting along the Icefields Parkway, this trip has something for all ages.
* European tours – With so many Americans tracing their heritage to Europe, a trip across the pond virtually guarantees a chance to reconnect with roots while experiencing something new. Tours take in historic cities in Spain, Italy, Ireland and Switzerland, or convey guests on a cruise down the Danube. Tour lengths vary from seven to 10 days. For a full listing of tours, visit www.tauck.com.
* The Americas – North and Central America also offer adventures for families, and Tauck tours encompass some of the most interesting sites and exotic landscapes in the U.S. and Latin America, including Alaska, California and the Eastern seaboard from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., and the Galapagos Islands, Peru and Costa Rica.
For more information on family travel, visit tauck.com.
(BPT) - This fall, you have a choice of great travel apps that can help make your getaways a breeze, from booking a flight or renting a car while on the road to finding a bathroom during a busy day of sightseeing. For readers in the throes of booking their fall adventures, we’ve rounded up six of the most useful go-to apps for savvy travelers. Bonus: They all just so happen to be free.
* WhatsApp (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone) – Now there’s almost no excuse not to stay in touch with mom during your travels. WhatsApp uses your smartphone’s data plan or a Wi-Fi connection to let you message with family and friends around the world for free. On your next vacation, use the app to organize group chats, or send audio, photo or video messages. It’s now one of the most downloaded apps in the world. Moms, you’re welcome.
* Orbitz Flights, Hotels, Cars (iOS, Android, Kindle Fire) - There’s no shortage of booking apps out there, but leading travel site Orbitz.com’s revamped version is so speedy and user friendly that it’s just one of 48 apps to earn a spot in the Apple App Store’s coveted Hall of Fame. This app lets you accomplish everything you would expect - book flights, hotels, cars and packages - but a big bonus is that it also treats users to mobile-exclusive deals on hotels. Other selling points include access to your Orbitz.com account preferences, and up-to-date flight and gate info. Just think of this hall of famer as the Willie Mays of travel apps.
* TripWhat (iOS) – Once you’ve got your flight and hotel details sorted, you can focus on the fun side of travel - figuring out which sights to see, where to dine and what sort of entertainment’s happening nearby. TripWhat helps you sort through and map out the options with detailed listings uploaded from other sites such as WikiVoyage, SeatGeek, Google Maps, Yelp and Last.fm, among others. You’ll never have to ask, “So, what do we do now?"
* SitOrSquat (iOS, Android) – In certain cities - we’re looking at you New York - finding a clean public bathroom in the middle of a long day of sightseeing can put you in a real pinch. The SitOrSquat app, sponsored by Charmin, not only helps you find a local public potty, but also includes user reviews that inform you of their condition, as indicated by “Sit” or “Squat” icons. This app’s an especially great pick for families with small kids whose bathroom emergencies tend to spring up at the most inopportune times.
* Field trip (iOS, Android) – What’s the fastest way to really get to know a city while traveling? Have a well-informed local show you. Consider Google’s FieldTrip your friend in town, guiding you to the best off-the-beaten-path sights, shops, restaurants and hidden histories. Just stroll around the city you’re exploring and watch as the hyper-local, customizable geo-publishing tool populates your screen - no clicking required - with interesting tidbits such as a recommended dish at a nearby restaurant or a free concert happening nearby.
* RoadAhead Highway Exit Finder (iOS) – Don’t play rest-stop roulette when it comes to stopping for food, gas or bathrooms while on the road. On your next trip, plan your stops smarter with RoadAhead, an app that helps you find the best highway exit for all your travel needs - gas prices, dining options, lodging, distance from exit and other useful info included. You’ll never again have to white-knuckle your way along an unknown number of miles to the next station.
(BPT) - More and more, Millennials are on the road for work. In an average month, one in four business-traveling Millennials travel overnight for work at least once per week.
As the line between “personal” and “business” grows thinner and thinner for this generation, Millennials are increasingly finding adventure through business. More than any other group, Millennial business travelers are more likely to add on extra days to their business trip for leisure travel (84 percent) according to the Hilton Garden Inn Discovery and Connection Survey. Millennials are funding these adventures through their business trips, too. The vast majority of this group (85 percent) is more likely to use reward points from their business travel to book a vacation, compared to a year ago.
As the economy improves, business travel across the nation is on the rise. According to the Global Business Travel Association, U.S. business travel is expected to grow 5.1 percent in 2013. As more Millennials hit the road for work, they are keeping top of mind a few, simple business travel perks to fulfill their appetite for personal adventure and discovery:
* Fly for free – Those flying for business can earn airline miles in their name. These business miles quickly add up, allowing travelers to upgrade seats or add another destination without accruing additional cost. Business travelers can then use these miles to bring a friend or loved one on the trip with them – quickly transitioning from business to family vacation or romantic getaway once the weekend hits.
* Earn hotel perks – Frequent stays in hotels offering rewards programs can grant business travelers benefits like free overnight stays, late checkout, and complimentary breakfast. These extras turn a business trip into much more, especially when additional nights are used to extend a business trip into a vacation.
Some hotels have signature promotions, such as Hilton Garden Inn's Bed n' Breakfast deal that includes breakfast for each adult staying in the same room, and free meals for kids 12 and under.
* Discover local hidden gems – Cities often encourage business travelers to experience the local culture while in town and provide package deals with discounts to restaurants, tickets to local shows or events, helpful tips to find transportation in the city and even sightseeing opportunities to explore during free time. This becomes even more common when a city is hosting a large business gathering, such as an industry convention.
Millennials continue to be at the forefront of achieving work-life balance – utilizing business travel to discover new cities, explore local cultures, taste authentic cuisines and connect with new people across the country and around the globe.
No traveler can truly say they know Europe if they haven’t thoroughly explored two of its classic cities London and Florence. Between exploring everything royal and Renaissance, eating delectable foods at little cafes tucked on every corner, and touring the museums, these two world cities have so many sights to see, you’ll want to immerse yourself fully in the culture, history and “off-the-beaten-path” delights of each.
Some of the must-see sights in London include:
* Everything royal – Explore Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, celebrate tea time at Fortnum & Mason, and take a walking tour highlighting the romance of Prince William and Kate Middleton, from their first meeting to the royal wedding. London’s West End is also a great place to explore the shops where the royals are frequently seen.
* Trace Shakespeare’s literary footprints – While the original Globe Theatre, Shakespeare’s playhouse in London, was destroyed in 1644, it has been reconstructed to let actors perform the Bard’s plays exactly as they would have in his day.
* World War II history – London was a big player in World War II, surviving many raids by Nazi bombers. The city is full of stories about the Blitz, from tragedy to heroism, and has a memorial established at St. Paul’s. Walking through the streets also showcases existing damage still left from the bombing.
These stories and sights are all included in Tauck’s “World Cities” tour of London. This six-day tour will explore London as the Londoners live, and this all-inclusive, in-depth experience includes everything from hotels, sightseeing, meals and on-tour transportation to special entertainment.
Some of the sights to see in Florence include:
* Art exploration - Florence is a city of art, from the magnificent David statue to street artisans selling crafts and paintings. Art is also found in much of the city’s architecture – from the Baptistery of St. John to the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral’s Duomo, one feature of Florence’s skyline you can’t miss. In fact, the Duomo’s museum is where Michelangelo sculpted the original David. His masterwork is now on display at the Galleria Dell’Academia. Also tour the Medici family museum and the Uffizi Gallery, which includes a hidden passageway lined with self-portraits of many famous artists.
* Learn from da Vinci – Not only did Leonardo da Vinci create masterpieces of art, he also was an inventor – and some of his inventions will probably surprise you. Just a short drive from Florence into the Tuscan hills will take you to Vinci, the village where Leonardo was born.
* Italian food and drink – A trip to Italy and Florence is not complete without enjoying the region’s delicacies. From freshly grown ingredients and handmade pastas to wines fermented from grapes grown on Tuscan hillsides, sampling the local cuisine is a “magnifico” experience. And what better way to fully appreciate the region’s bounty, than with a lesson in wine tasting and appreciation from a master sommelier?
Tauck‘s “World Cities” tour of Florence gives you all these experiences and more over an enriching and memorable six-day immersion in Florentine culture. The company has spent 88 years designing authentic, engaging, all-inclusive travel experiences, ensuring you’ll enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime exploration of Florence.
To learn more about both of these tours, visit Tauck.com to find e-brochures on London and Florence.
Travel can be an adventure – that’s for certain. However, it should ultimately be an opportunity to relax, enjoy and live life to the fullest. One of the absolute best places to do all of those things is, without question, Italy. With a culture that values the beautiful, the delicious and the traditional, Italy is the perfect escape for travelers seeking a slower pace of life and indulgence in everyday pleasures. However, capturing everything Italy has to offer can pose a challenge to independent travelers; well-planned Italy tours can put everything within reach and let you focus on the experience.
Italy’s best sights are scattered around the country, dotted along the sunny southern coastline and nestled in the rustic heart of the northern countryside. Seeing it all is one thing – having the time and freedom to enjoy it is another. Italy tours like those offered by Tauck ensure that you get to see the best sights and savor the best experiences. The stress – and added expense – that comes with doing it all yourself is eliminated, enabling you to revel in all Italy’s gastronomic, artistic and historic riches.
The list of places to visit in Italy could stretch on almost indefinitely, but expert-planned Italy tours highlight not just cities and towns, but also key experiences that immerse travelers in the local lifestyle. These are just five of the very best that you should look for on Italy tours:
* The Amalfi Coast – Located along Italy’s southwest coast, the beauty of this region moved Goethe to write poems detailing all that he saw. The towns of Amalfi, Positano and Ravello boast ancient roots and residences dating to the 10th century. The spectacular views out to the Mediterranean are sure to inspire you, as will the relaxing mood of the “Costiera Amalfitana” – it’s been known as a soul-soothing getaway for centuries.
* Rome – “The Eternal City” is truly that. Here, ancient ruins stand side-by-side with buildings that are filled with vibrant modern life. That mix makes it both fascinating and thrilling – there are few other places on earth where history and modernity mix and mingle so easily. While in Rome, a visit to the Vatican is essential; Tauck’s Italy tours offer exclusive, after-hours guided access to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel so you can see the world’s greatest art treasures – without the crowds.
* The countryside of Tuscany and Umbria – The neighboring regions of Tuscany and Umbria will speak directly to the heart of foodies and those who yearn for a genteel-yet-rustic way of life. The rolling landscape is punctuated with hilltop towns and farmhouses dating back centuries, as well as vineyards that have been producing some of the world’s finest wines for generations. It’s also an ideal region for learning more about the secrets behind Italy’s famed cuisine from local experts.
* Cinque Terre – On the northwest coast, this chain of five romantic cliff-clinging fishing villages is certain to be a highlight of any visit to Italy. Journey between the villages by train (and some Italy tours include cruising between them), stopping to enjoy the unique character and atmosphere of each. Walk the cobblestone streets, photograph the brightly painted houses and, by all means, dine on some of the finest seafood dishes in the country.
* Venice – It may be one of the most legendary – and most visited – cities in Europe, but Venice’s fame is only equal to its magic. Glide along the canals on a gondola, stand spellbound inside the glittering Byzantine Basilica of St. Mark, revel in the splendor of the Doge’s Palace – it’s all part of the essential Venice experience. Nearby islands in the Venetian Lagoon, such as Murano, Burano and Torcello, are famous for handicrafts like lace and glass, and make wonderful day trips.
Italy’s allure to travelers is multifaceted – from its food to its art to its laid-back atmosphere, it’s simply one of the best destinations in the world. For more information about Italy tours, visit Tauck.com.
Visiting Europe in the weeks before Christmas adds a whole new character to the holiday season, one that’s quite different from what is celebrated in the United States. Decorated to the hilt with greenery and lights, the towns and villages in Austria, Germany and France will delight visitors with traditional Christmas markets that each year overflow with unique holiday gifts, decadent Christmas goodies, and endearing holiday customs.
The best way to experience Europe’s beloved Christmas markets is on a riverboat. Both the Rhine and Danube rivers are still navigable in mid-December, giving travelers the opportunity to explore these enchanting holiday markets when the pre-holiday excitement is at its very peak. Some of the top sights to see at this time of year include:
* Christmas markets – Nurnberg, Germany has what is arguably the most famous Christmas market, attracting 2 million people each holiday season. Stocked with authentic ornaments, crafts, candles and delicious goodies, this market is a must-see for a European holiday season vacation. Regensburg – just a bit further south on the Danube River – is well-known for its sausages, and Passau on the Austrian border is where you can see how delicious gingerbread is made, and buy some to take home with you. In France, Strasbourg has five themed markets filled with holiday goods to enjoy.
* Holiday music - The Regensburger Domspatzen Choir in Regensburg German fills the holiday with festive sound. Another jaunt up the river takes you to Passau on the border of Austria, where the largest pipe organ in Europe is featured in frequent holiday concerts at St. Stephan’s Cathedral. And a musical trip to Europe isn’t complete without a visit to Siegfried’s Mechanisches Musikkabinett, a museum featuring many mechanically run musical instruments housed in a 16th-century castle.
* Experiencing Christmas traditions – The village of Riquewihr in France is steeped in tradition – other than electricity used to power the decorative holiday lights, not much else has changed. It’s the perfect location to celebrate Christmas in a fairy-tale setting, just like it was celebrated years ago. In Baden-Baden, France, the living Nativity blends in with the Christmas market, and you probably will want to take a dip into the reputed healing waters of the natural hot springs that bubble up in the town. Heading further north along the Rhine River, you’ll want to don some skates in Heidelberg and float across the ice to the holiday tunes.
Tauck, named the “World’s Best River Cruise Line” by Travel + Leisure magazine, features two river cruises celebrating Europe’s Christmas markets, and both perfectly capture the holiday spirit. “Christmas Markets Along the Danube” is an eight-day cruise from Nurnberg to Vienna, while “Christmas Markets Along the Rhine” (also eight-days) sails from Basel, Switzerland to Koln, Germany. These memorable cruises are all-inclusive, with luxury riverboat accommodations, all shore excursions and sightseeing, meals and beverages, gratuities, on-tour transportation, special entertainment and more all included in the price. Visit Tauck.com to learn more about these tours and plan your European holiday getaway for your family.
(BPT) - Whether you’ve been taking pictures for years or just bought your first camera, photography is an art enjoyed by people around the globe. And while people have captured the beauty around them for generations, today it’s easier than ever to share those photos with friends and family, or even strangers, anywhere in the world.
These days, there are even opportunities to see the photos you take on a worldwide stage. For example, photographers who want some extra exposure can use the new Bing Homepage photo app on Facebook, to submit their own photos for consideration for the Bing homepage image. With a potential audience of millions of people, it’s more important than ever to make sure your photos are beautiful.
Korske Ara, founder of World Photography Day, knows what it takes to make photographs truly memorable. Make sure your photos are ready for family, friends, and the world by following these easy steps.
*Lighting is the secret sauce of a great picture. Whether you're using natural or artificial light, the appropriate lighting makes the difference between a good picture and a great one. Next time you're taking pictures outdoors, wait for a cloud to move across the sun to make a potentially flat image look vibrant instead. If you’re taking pictures indoors, Ara recommends moving lamps or adding candles to change the atmosphere and mood of a photo.
*Make your photograph unique with a perspective that’s all your own. Don’t know where to start? Check out the Bing homepage for inspiration, as it features unique images from around the world each day, often from unique vantage points. Ara also says, “When you see something worth photographing, chances are most people have seen it from the same perspective that you're initially seeing.” Instead, ask yourself, how can I bring this to life in a new way? You'll be surprised at the results you get just by re-thinking where you stand, kneel or lay as you take your photos.
*Don’t forget your equipment. Tripods are often disregarded because of their size but they are fantastic tools for photographers. Especially when taking shots of landscapes or wildlife the tripod makes a big difference in the quality of photographs, as it helps stabilize your camera, resulting in a clearer and sharper photograph, particularly in lower light situations. Most cameras these days have a tripod mount, including many point and shoots, and for those on the go, compact tripods are easier than ever to find.
*Grab your camera and get out there. Ara tells new photographers not to be afraid to put their skills to the test and start taking a camera with you everywhere you go. With the introduction of digital photography, there is incredible freedom to capture memories like never before. Practice, experiment, and keep trying. Learning to capture beautiful photographs is a life-long journey and there's always something new to learn, see and capture. A beautiful photograph isn't captured by theory, it's captured by emotion.
(BPT) - Traveling during the holiday season can be fun, but it also offers its fair share of anxious moments, stress and expense.
This year, between Thanksgiving weekend and New Year’s Day, an estimated 100 million Americans will travel by car, train or air to visit family or go on vacation, based on forecasts issued in previous years by the American Automobile Association (AAA).
The key to avoiding stress and potential legal issues during the busy travel season is planning, according to FindLaw.com, the nation’s leading website for free legal information.
Here are some additional tips from FindLaw.com to keep your holiday travel plans safe and stress-free:
* Be sure you have all necessary travel documents. A valid ID, such as a state-issued driver’s license, is necessary beyond the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint at the airport, and will certainly be essential if you want to rent a car at your destination. If you plan to leave the United States, you must have a passport. According to the State Department, “all minors regardless of age, including newborns and infants, must have their own passport when traveling internationally by air.” FindLaw advises that you apply for your passport at least six weeks before your trip. Also, make photocopies of all travel documents – the front and back of your license, or the information pages of your passport – and store them in a safe place in the event that your wallet or purse is stolen, or your luggage is lost.
* Don’t advertise your trip on social media. Posting your travel plans online such as on social media sites is an open invitation to thieves. Contact your local law enforcement agency and notify them of your travel arrangements – they can offer you tips, help assess the risk of crimes in your neighborhood or add your property to a “watch list” if you are gone for an extended period. Also, make sure your neighbors are aware of your travel plans so they can watch for suspicious activity. Save the social sharing for after your trip.
* Pack smart and carefully. Avoid packing items that cause delays at airport security checkpoints. Ship gifts ahead of time and pack electronics and liquids as directed by the TSA (www.tsa.gov). For liquids, gels and aerosols, use the 3-1-1 rule – 3.4 ounce bottle or less, by volume; placed in a 1 quart-sized clear, zip-top plastic bag; 1 bag per passenger. Carry all prescriptions in their original, clearly labeled bottles. Carefully follow all TSA rules pertaining to metal objects, including unloaded firearms, which must be declared at time of check-in.
* Check your insurance coverage. If you’re going to take an extended trip overseas, consider upgrading your insurance to ensure you have proper coverage. If you rent a car, have copies of your auto insurance card and information on hand. Carefully check your personal policy for rental coverage to make sure you are covered. Consider travel insurance to reduce the financial blow if you are forced to cancel or interrupt your trip. Read the insurance policy carefully before accepting and only go through a respected insurance provider.
* Check your cell phone plan. Don't assume your cell phone will work in another part of the country or overseas. Check with your provider to see what kind of coverage you will have at your destination, and if you’ll need to upgrade to use your phone. If you travel out of the country, research local calling procedures before you leave home. Learn, for example, how payments are handled, country calling code, etc. Avoid the helpless feeling of trying to operate a payphone; operator assistance and automated instructions may come in a language you can’t understand.
* Plan for an emergency while you are gone. Make sure your trip is fun and carefree by planning ahead for the worst. Check weather forecasts and set your travel schedule accordingly to avoid potential setbacks. If you are traveling overseas, or in an area you are not familiar with, check the State Department website for updated travel warnings and current credible threats, and determine the location of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will be travelling. Always, be knowledgeable of local laws and customs.
To read more about how to travel safely this holiday season, visit FindLaw.com.
(BPT) - Nearly 150 days separate the last day of the winter holidays from the first unofficial day of summer – Memorial Day. After holiday decorations get packed away, and winter sets in, it’s not uncommon to experience a touch – or more – of winter boredom.
Some people may find themselves in a rut during those long 150 days. Fortunately, a number of tactics can help perk up your spirits. Here is a handful to consider as you enter 2014:
Escape the routine
Traveling during winter has many benefits. In many areas of the country, winter months are slower business times for hotels and resorts, and you may find great deals. What’s more, breaking up the routine and going somewhere new and exciting – or relaxing – may help alleviate winter blues.
Immersing yourself in relaxation and pampering could be just what you need to release winter tensions. Places like The American Club resort in the quaint Village of Kohler, Wis., offers luxurious accommodations and the opportunity to step outside the winter routine. The newly renovated Carriage House sits above the five-star Kohler Waters Spa. Owned by Kohler Co., the leading manufacturer of bathing products, it’s no surprise the spa is renowned for its cutting-edge bathing and hydrotherapy services.
Such destinations offer you the opportunity to immerse yourself in luxury and do absolutely nothing, or get your blood pumping with all the exciting attractions, activities and culinary experiences at the resort and surrounding area.
Refresh your environment
Travel isn’t always possible, but you can still experience a change in perspective when you make changes in your home environment. Kitchen and bathroom renovations are top choices and winter is a great time to tackle those projects.
If you have the budget, by all means – go big. But if your budget is more modest, don’t despair; even small changes like new shower heads, faucets and accessories can give a room a spirit-lifting new look and feel. Doubt the power of a shower head to transform a bath? Consider the KOHLER Moxie Showerhead + Wireless Speaker. Its wireless speaker pairs with devices enabled with Bluetooth technology, offering a delightful and energizing showering experience. Available in four new colors (Chartreuse, Retro Blue, Navy Blue or Cherry Red), this showerhead will not only provide new decor but also an upgraded showering experience.
Make your own holidays
Who says you have to limit spirit-lifting celebrations to specific days of the year? If gathering with family and friends around the dinner table makes you happy, why not choose one day a month and have everyone over? Decorate for a theme that you enjoy – such as the beach or even the Fourth of July in January.
Celebrate each family member with a special outing. Perhaps in January, your first-grader will choose a trip to the local indoor playground. In February, your husband might opt for a family bowling night. Allowing each member of the family to choose a destination gets everyone involved and excited. Plus, unusual family outings are a great way to brighten winter days.
The days between New Year’s and spring don’t have to drag. Just step outside the routine – whether through travel or innovation at home – to help beat the winter blues.
(BPT) - Whether over the river or through the woods, families across the U.S. are planning to travel during the holidays. In a world of well-traveled toddlers, worldly teens and active seniors, multigenerational travel is growing and for good reason: everyone enjoys a vacation together while creating unforgettable memories.
“Multigenerational family travel is character building,” says Julie Henning, writer and contributor for destination and activity website LiveLifeLocal.com. “In exploring new places with the people who already know your strengths and flaws – and love you anyway – you can come together in a way that otherwise wouldn't happen at a holiday or reunion.”
Planning a trip for the whole family doesn’t have to be intimidating. With a few simple tips, it’s easy to coordinate a vacation everyone will enjoy:
1. Keep a “group” mindset
Whether you’re orchestrating an elaborate vacation where the whole group flies across the country, or you’re road-tripping, picking up the grandparents along the way, keep the lines of communication open.
“Planning a multigenerational trip is a little bit like planning a wedding,” says Henning. “If you can remember the trip is not just about you, but a time of celebration for the entire family, chances are you'll have much fonder memories.”
2. Plan together
“If you have more than one ‘planner’ in the group, involve them all in creating the agenda as much as possible,” advises Henning. This will help ensure everyone provides input and the responsibilities are spread between multiple people.
Online travel sites make it easy to plan multigenerational trips, even if families live in different locations. LiveLifeLocal.com, created by Safeco Insurance, allows users to discover unique destinations, read reviews and map out their travel route at no cost. You can research and save preferred activities to a “collection” on your online vacation portfolio, which can then be shared with your family via email, Facebook or Twitter, making planning a snap.
3. Communicate budgets
It’s important to be open about your vacation budget and expectations to avoid any awkward moments and unintended expenses once you’ve arrived at your destination. Be sure to talk about who is paying for what, or if it will be split equally. With so many people involved, the cost of multigenerational vacations can add up quickly, and no one wants to be surprised by going over-budget.
4. Pack and prepare
Preparing to leave is one of the most difficult parts of multigenerational travel. Each age group will need different things – your toddler needs diapers and her favorite blanket, your teen needs his favorite mobile device and charger, and the grandparents need to make sure they pack any necessary medications. Make lists and start packing early to eliminate the last-minute rush.
If you’re driving, make sure the car gets a tune-up before you leave. If you’re meeting up with the grandparents to use their RV, remind them to have any necessary maintenance done before you arrive. Properly winterizing and preparing RVs, boats and other vehicles is important for a headache-free multigenerational trip ... and just good sense overall. Check with your insurance company to see if towing is covered under your plan in case the need ever arises.
5. Cherish meal time
“In many families, mealtime is when everyone comes together to share their days and reconnect,” says Henning. “On a trip, this can be at a restaurant, picnic at the beach, or from the comforts of a vacation home. Make an effort to enjoy regional food, shop at the local farmers market, or cook the meal your family enjoys most.”
6. Expect the unexpected
Remember that nothing is perfect, including your vacation. Be patient and understand flexibility will go a long way toward ensuring a smooth, stress-free vacation.
“Leave time for something to go wrong,” advises Henning. “Camera batteries run out, room keys disappear, and bathroom breaks happen. Keep in mind that everyone needs some down time, even from the people they love most.”
Make this holiday one to remember by planning a multigenerational trip now. These tips will help you create a vacation itinerary everyone will love, helping to forge new bonds and traditions while creating memories to last a lifetime.
(BPT) - This season, Americans are embarking on all types of journeys, from romantic weekends to outdoor activity focused getaways. In fact, 28 percent of Americans will take a road trip for the Thanksgiving holiday driving an average of 1,117 miles, according to the Hankook Quarterly Gauge Index. But what defines the ultimate road trip? Hear what drivers have to say:
For the romantic: Long, winding drives through scenic roads are timeless. The Hankook Gauge Index found that the majority of Americans think the most romantic way to get away is to “get in a car and keep driving” (38 percent), followed by taking a scenic train ride (37 percent), and flying far away in an airplane (25 percent).
For the sports fanatic: It is football and hockey season, after all. What better way to celebrate these sports in all of their glory than taking a road trip to catch a game? Better yet, stay fit and enjoy the outdoors by hitting the road for the ski slopes.
For the adrenaline junky: There’s nothing quite like zooming around in a sleek, sporty vehicle to get the heart pumping faster. According to the Gauge Index, race cars offer the "ultimate thrill ride," compared to white water rafting, roller coasters and zip lining. For the racing junkies, many professional motorsports series run through the end of November. Take a trip to catch all the racing action in-person.
Whether you’re planning an epic excursion or taking in the scenic roads with someone special, before cruising away you’ll want to keep in mind these Hankook Tire driving tips:
* Check your tire pressure: With frequent weather and temperature changes, air in tires can expand and contract, causing them to lose air pressure. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.
* Plan ahead for wet conditions: Rainfall, snow and other undesirable driving conditions can decrease visibility and cause hydroplaning. Make sure your windshield wipers are in good working condition. If driving on a road with water or ice, slow down and avoid sudden movements with the steering wheel or brake pedal. If you feel like you're floating, a possible indication of lost traction, gently release the accelerator pedal until you feel the tires make contact with the road surface.
* Stock up and be prepared: Extreme weather can cause you to go through lots of windshield washer fluid to ensure you can see ahead of you. Check to make sure all of your vehicle’s fluid levels are full with engine coolant and oil, brake fluid and no-freeze windshield wash. You should also check to make sure you have a spare tire, ice scraper, booster cables and a flashlight stored in your trunk.
* Don’t overload your car: Check the tire load carrying capacity indicated on the tire or vehicle owner’s manual for the maximum recommended load. When replacing tires, the speed rating and load index of the replacement tires must be equal to or greater than that of the tire being replaced to maintain the speed capability and weight carrying capacity.
The enduring ability to inspire wonder and awe, and to weather the rigors of time, Mother Nature and human politics – these are the qualities that elevate an engineering feat to landmark status. These attributes have drawn millions to the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Great Wall of China and the Eiffel Tower over the centuries. In 2014, admiring eyes will surely turn to Central America, as the year marks the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal.
As engineering feats go, the canal is likely to amaze travelers for centuries to come. The 48-mile-long man-made waterway connects the Caribbean Sea in the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean at the narrowest point on the Central American isthmus. First conceived as a way to help ships avoid the dangerous passage around Cape Horn at the southern-most tip of South America, the canal opened for business in 1914. The Panama Canal cut in half ships’ travel time from the Atlantic to Pacific oceans.
Nearly a million ships have traversed the canal in the past 100 years, including cruise ships bearing travelers who come to experience the one-of-a-kind passage. Touring the Panama Canal and Central America allows travelers to not only see this modern engineering wonder, it provides access to beautiful landscapes, amazing wildlife and centuries-old cultures.
Many people find an all-inclusive trip, like Tauck’s Panama Canal & Costa Rica cruise, makes it easy to experience all the region has to offer. The 11-day itinerary includes over-night stays in both Panama City and San Jose, and a six-night cruise aboard a newly renovated, 88-passenger yacht that transits through the Panama Canal. Expert naturalists guide guests on explorations of the lush Central American interior and its abundant wildlife.
Swimming, snorkeling and museum-hopping can all be on your agenda, and you can even visit a coffee plantation to learn how coffee beans are grown, harvested and brewed. With 88 years in the tourism industry, Tauck has been delighting travelers for nearly as long as the Panama Canal has.
Near historic San Jose, travelers can explore a rainforest eco-park where they may see toucans, spider monkeys and red-eyed leaf frogs. After two days of fun in the sun on Osa Peninsula and Coiba Island, Tauck guests begin their passage through the Panama Canal, starting on the Pacific side of the waterway.
Because sea level on the opposite ends of the canal varies by 85 feet, the Panama Canal designers created a series of locks to lift and lower ships as they move through the channel. In the early days of the canal, mules towed ships through the locks, and today the mechanical tractors that do the job are still called “mules” in honor of the four-legged workers. Commentary from a local expert helps put the wonder of the canal in perspective, whether your passage occurs in daylight or by moonlight.
To learn more about a Costa Rica and Panama Canal tour, visit Tauck.com.
(BPT) - Vocalists from Perry Como and the Carpenters to Michael Buble have warbled about how wonderful it is to be home for the holidays. But who says you have to buy into that belief? Not being home for the holidays offers many advantages, including the opportunity to travel, visit far-off loved ones or just immerse yourself in total relaxation during one of the most hectic times of the year.
While families with small children may embrace the experience of decorating, cooking and gift-giving in the comfort of their own home, other groups – such as families with teens, couples without kids, and baby boomers who love to travel with friends – may feel ready to revel outside their home zone. Like traveling at any time of year, holiday trips are not without hassles, but the benefits can make the challenges worthwhile.
Here are a handful of reasons why not being home for the holidays could make the season bright:
* Total relaxation – Instead of hurrying to decorate your home, host a soiree, accept every invitation, prepare enough food to feed an armored battalion, and find exactly the right gift for everyone you’ve ever met, going away to a resort during the holidays can help ease holiday stress. Opt for a quintessential winter getaway like in the Village of Kohler, Wisc., and you’ll enjoy a snowy holiday season, complete with carolers, hot cocoa and holiday decor around every corner. The American Club Resort, one of only 45 hotels in North America to boast both AAA Five-Diamond and Forbes Five-Star designations, has been hosting happy holidays for decades. Immerse yourself in spirit-soothing relaxation at Kohler Waters Spa, enjoy snow shoeing through an 800-acre wildlife preserve, or catch up on last-minute shopping at 25 specialty and boutique stores in the Shops at Woodlake Kohler.
* Visiting far-away loved ones – Is there an adored cousin whom you just don’t get to see that much anymore? A brother who lives five states away whom you haven’t shared the holidays with since you both lived with your parents? Giving up being in your own home for the holidays affords you the chance to enjoy part of the season in the home of loved ones you see infrequently. While you spend the whole year with the family you live with or the ones who live nearby, the holidays are the perfect time to re-connect with family and friends who live far away. And, if you don’t want to add to their stress during the season, you can find plenty of great hotel deals in cities across the country.
* Savoring seasonal flavors without the work – Holiday cookies, pumpkin pie and elaborate dinners are an integral part of the season for many people, but they’re also a lot of work. Staying in a hotel or luxury resort during the holidays ensures you’ll be able to enjoy all your favorite flavors of the season – prepared by a professional chef and leaving cleanup chores to someone else. Instead of spending hours in the kitchen preparing and cleaning, you’ll get to share those seasonal flavors with your traveling companions.
* Great travel deals – Knowing many people prefer to stay home for the holidays, top hotels and resorts across the country offer travel packages, deals and incentives to entice holiday travelers. Add-ons abound, from all-inclusive offerings with meals, parties and special dinners, to shopping packages that provide travelers with access to and discounts for premium shopping venues.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “the Earth laughs in flowers,” and there’s a good chance this thought came to him while he was touring England, a country filled with spectacular gardens. London itself has many beautiful gardens, from royal parks surrounding the palaces to small green spaces maintained by volunteer groups. These gardens help to bring out the beauty of the city’s landscaping.
But what really makes London stand out in the world of flowers is the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show, having its 101st showing May 20 to 24, 2014. This is considered a top flower show around the globe. With many different contemporary and artisan garden designs on display, plus a wide array of demonstrations and garden shops, this event is a must-do for anyone with a green thumb or who loves to stop and smell the flowers.
Tauck is offering The Tauck London Event tour to the 101st RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The six-day tour starts May 22, 2014, and includes a day at the show, topped off with a gala evening including a cocktail reception and dinner inside London’s historic Guildhall. Tickets for the flower show are hard to come by, and Tauck not only takes care of acquiring them, but also handles hotel arrangements, sightseeing opportunities, on-tour transportation and special entertainment during the week. At the show, wander the acres of planted gardens, visit the “how to” demonstrations, browse the stalls and shops and listen to lectures from the top gardeners in England.
The rest of the event showcases other iconic London-area locations, including a tour of the Tower of London; a trip to Greenwich to see the Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory; a historic walk through Victorian-era London including a tour of the Foundling Hospital; and a visit to sites that show the rebuilding of London after the World War II Blitz that nearly destroyed the city.
The tour also has several afternoons free, allowing time to visit the many royal gardens or wander into London’s smaller gardens laid out perfectly for the enjoyment of locals and tourists alike.
You don’t want to miss London in the spring, with flowers blooming in a variety of colors, creating a luxurious perfume in the air. Visit Tauck.com to learn more about the London event.
Understanding the past can help us better appreciate the present and look toward the future. If you want a more meaningful vacation, an excursion to one of America’s most significant sites can be a step straight into history. Why not celebrate the Gettysburg Address’ and Yosemite National Park’s 150th anniversaries by delving into the rich landscape that hosted each monumental achievement?
Allow your mind to explore the wonderful places past and present with one of Tauck’s all-encompassing, all-inclusive tours. Two Ken Burns's documentaries have inspired tours featuring some of the most revered places in America. From a turning point in the American Civil War to a turning point in the struggle to save America’s wild places, these two tours will inspire every visitor.
The Ken Burns documentary “The Civil War” focuses on a pivotal time in America’s history, but nothing can compare to visiting the conflict’s actual sites and hallowed grounds, and experiencing the history for yourself. Feel the power that the places still hold and hear exclusive talks from experts. Visitors will find a new appreciation for what it means to be an American as they travel from Washington, D.C. through Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, to Richmond, Va.
* National Archives. Get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the place that houses the nation’s founding documents, like the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. Visitors will also see how the archives are preserved to share the stories with future generations.
* Iconic battlefields. Visit Gettysburg, Antietam, Petersburg and Appomattox Court House while being guided by area experts. These private tours will give visitors a greater understanding of what happened on the battlefields and how those past events still affect life today.
* Exclusive lectures from great historians. Feed your mind as you travel the most prominent locations of the Civil War. Tours are accented by brief films produced by Ken Burns that give unique perspectives on the conflict and how it continues to shape the nation today.
The national park system helps to preserve some of the most awe-inspiring areas of the nation. These untouched swaths of land can tell endless stories of the past, while making visitors feel the overwhelming power of nature. California’s Yosemite National Park was the nation’s first protected wild land, making it one of the most astounding parks both for its dense history and unscathed backdrops. The Tauck Yosemite Event marks the park’s 150th anniversary and guides visitors through the park, mirroring themes explored in the Ken Burn documentary “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” Travelers can expect to get an insider look at the past and the present of this breathtaking park.
* The Bracebridge Dinner. This black tie affair dates back to 1927 and transforms the main dining room in Yosemite’s historic Ahwahnee Hotel into a 17th century English manor for one night. Tickets to the four-hour, seven-course meal (complemented by extravagant performances) have historically been nearly impossible to obtain, but Tauck is including the Bracebridge Dinner in its Yosemite Event. It’s the perfect way to celebrate the traditions of Yosemite and the holiday season.
* Attend the Tauck event, and besides touring Yosemite, you’ll enjoy other memorable experiences in the region. Feel dwarfed as you stroll under the towering canopy of Muir Woods. The winding paths will guide you through some of the most humbling places of the majestic forest. Get off your feet and take a scenic train ride through California’s Central Valley. (The rail follows the route the historic Buffalo Soldiers took in the 1800s.) Tour iconic locations in beautiful San Francisco, and enjoy a combined three nights at the St. Regis San Francisco (along with two nights accommodations at The Ahwahnee in Yosemite).
* View the amazing works the park has inspired. Celebrate Yosemite’s milestone while attending galas and events that shine the spotlight on the natural wonders. Get the inside look at how the beautiful land inspired great photographers like Ansel Adams and timeless films like Little House on the Prairie.
Traveling through historic sites satisfies both wanderlust and the yearning to learn more about the complex past of America. A rich historic tour is sure to inspire passion and awe in all visitors, no matter how little or how much they already know about American history.
For more information on historic, all-inclusive tours, visit Tauck.com.
Legends in Major League Baseball are born in October. From riveting seven-game series to late-inning heroics, unforgettable moments in baseball history happen during the playoffs culminating in the most prestigious baseball event, the World Series.
Celebrate America’s pastime and commemorate your favorite MLB legends by participating in a once-in-a-lifetime baseball event assembled by legendary filmmaker Ken Burns at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. Producer of the Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary series “Baseball”, Ken Burns is a famed baseball historian with countless encounters, stories and experiences to share about the game’s best ballplayers.
Burns partnered with Tauck, a leader in premium-quality guided travel for 88 years, to create “The Tauck Baseball Event: America’s Pastime”. This exclusive four-day baseball event (from July 31 – August 3, 2014) includes opportunities to meet Hall of Fame players and interact on Cooperstown’s iconic Doubleday field, enjoy keynote presentations from respected authors, baseball experts and analysts plus experience a VIP after-hours tour inside the Hall of Fame.
A few insights on the insider experiences and noteworthy attendees:
* The four-day baseball event is open to 130 guests – the cost includes a three-night stay at the historic Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, N.Y., sightseeing, transportation throughout the tour, meals and special entertainment. After arriving at The Otesaga Resort you’ll enjoy a keynote address from Ken Burns followed by a private cocktail hour for all guests with a chance to meet Burns one-on-one. The night concludes with a close-up look at all of the historic artifacts and treasures kept in the Baseball Hall of Fame on a special VIP tour.
* The baseball event also features former MLB outfielder and current ESPN baseball analyst Doug Glanville. Glanville spent his nine-year MLB career playing for the Cubs, Phillies and Rangers. He is one of the few people who truly know what it feels like to deliver a clutch hit in October – delivering a game-winning triple in the 11th-inning of the 2003 NLCS for the Cubs. Glanville finished his MLB career with 1,110 hits and is also the author of the baseball book, “The Game From Where I Stand.”
* Another special treat is an address from Lois Youngen, former catcher and outfielder in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). Still an active member of the AAGPBL alumni organization, Youngen played for the Kenosha Comets, Fort Wayne Daisies and the South Bend Blue Sox from 1951 to 1954. After baseball she earned her doctorate from Ohio State University and excelled as a physical education instructor for more than 30 years. She also caught a perfect game thrown by Jean Faut in 1953.
* Daniel Okrent, the inventor of Rotisserie League “Fantasy” Baseball will also be in attendance to discuss legends of baseball’s past and budding stars of today. The baseball author, editor and journalists wrote “Nine Innings: The Anatomy of a Baseball Game” among other titles.
* Finally enjoy a special opportunity to interact with members of the Baseball Hall of Fame on Cooperstown’s own Doubleday Field. During last year’s event hall of famers Phil Niekro and Ozzie Smith took the field with guests sharing pitching and fielding techniques. Take a few grounders, fine-tune your curveball and even take a few cuts in the historic batting cages on site all with tips from a legend.
To learn more about this event, call 800-468-2825, or visit Tauck online.
(BPT) - Traveling Europe may seem like a distant dream; tourists inundate cities during peak season, driving prices up. But your European dreams are attainable – if you travel during winter months. Europe can be much more affordable in winter and the quiet cities offer a more intimate and authentic experience.
During the winter months, cheaper flights and discounted hotel rooms are easier on your budget. The Michelin Must See guides, such as Michelin’s Most Famous Places Italy and France editions, will help you gather all the details necessary to plan your intimate European getaway even in the depths of winter. Colder weather also means indulging in the decadent cuisine and bold wines, so cozying up in a picturesque café won’t be unseasonable.
If you are looking for a low-key getaway with all the culture and luxury that the region offers, consider visiting two of Europe’s most breathtaking cities in winter. Each offers a rich history to feed the mind and lavish sights that will arouse your psyche.
Situated just north of the French Alps, Annecy offers the perfect backdrop for an ethereal French adventure. Surrounded by a lake, river and mountains, Annecy has quintessential French charm. The old town is speckled with colorful markets, arcaded architecture and inviting cafes that will transport you into a French dream world.
“Annecy is one of my favorite places in France,” says Michelin editorial director, Cynthia Ochterbeck. “A great way to get there is to fly directly to Geneva, Switzerland, as it is not far away. Then rent a car, and make your way south. That way you can enjoy the beauty of Annecy as well as get out in the Alps for some breathtaking drives.”
From the old town, the River Thiou runs into Lake Annecy, which offers stunning views. Take a stroll or ride around the edge of the lake via the Avenue d’Albigny. While the boats may be out of the lake for the winter, there is no reason to miss the beautiful Chateau d'Annecy. And if you are traveling with a special someone, steal a kiss on the middle of the Pont des Amours.
If a cold wind brings in freezing temperatures, take the opportunity to view some on the most beautiful Basilicas and mausoleums that the city has to offer. The warm gold and shimmering jewel tones will quickly warm your senses. Let the intricate mosaics tell the story of the city with their striking patterns, colors and rich symbolism. Don’t miss those in the Basillica di San Vitale, which is an architectural piece of art itself. You will feel as though you are royalty as you walk in awe through the ornate structure filled with dazzling carved Byzantine capitals, frescos and mosaics. These beautiful works of art fleck the city, telling of a time when the city was the capital of the Western Empire.
If you cannot imagine a trip to Europe without making a stop in one of the landmark cities, visit the beautiful island city of Venice after your stay in Ravenna. As the temperatures drop, the major sites offer photo opportunities free of fellow tourists. Crowds and prices will spike during Christmas and again during the festival of Carnevale, so avoid those times if a serene, budget-friendly vacation is your objective.
Once you return from your vacation, you will be eager to discover all the other areas of the world that offer beautiful winter escapes with great deals.
Visit the www.MichelinTravel.com for more travel tips for your next escape.
America’s national park system is one of the greatest points of pride for the country, and has even served as inspiration for other nations eager to preserve their own national treasures. One of the most iconic of those parks is California’s Yosemite National Park. Images of its rocky cliffs, thundering waterfalls and gargantuan sequoia trees entice nature lovers of all ages, but the history of the park is just as fascinating as its geological and natural wonders. The average visit to the park might leave that background out of reach, but a Yosemite tour, crafted in partnership with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, is guaranteed to bring it all to light.
Burns’ documentary feature “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” captivated viewers across the country and re-ignited interest in exploring parks like Yosemite. Tour operator Tauck teamed up with Burns to create a tour that gives participants unprecedented insight as well as opportunities to simply revel in the majestic beauty of Yosemite. While many of the experiences on this Yosemite tour are exclusive to participating travelers, it also offers cost savings of as much as 40 percent, compared to doing the same trip on your own.
Travelers can expect a lot out of their visit to Yosemite – and it’s certain that they won’t be disappointed. These are the top five sights and experiences to look forward to while visiting the park:
1. The view from Glacier Point. While there’s no shortage of spectacular views within Yosemite, this might be the most stirring of them all. From the point, you can look out over the Yosemite Valley for a vista that takes in Half Dome and countless other glacier-formed peaks. John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt stood here in 1903 during a tour of the area that ended up convincing Roosevelt to authorize its federal protection as a national park.
2. Buffalo Soldier history. Creating a national park that balances natural preservation and the welcoming of visitors is no small task – and, in Yosemite, it would have been impossible without the help of the “Buffalo Soldiers.” They were the ones who blazed trails, built roads and mapped the vast wilderness of Yosemite – thus making it possible for the park to be properly managed. Tauck’s Yosemite tour includes a talk by Park Ranger Shelton Johnson on the Buffalo Soldiers; he was featured in Burns’ documentary.
3. A stay at The Ahwahnee. The lodges of the national parks hold a special allure, but none more so than The Ahwahnee. This luxurious, grand resort is set against a sheer granite cliff, which makes for one of the most dramatic settings you’re ever likely to see. A spirit of rustic luxury emanates throughout the lodge, which was built in 1915, from its soaring dining room to the cozy grand lounge.
4. The falls of Yosemite. Waterfalls work a particular magic on visitors to Yosemite, and there is no shortage of these natural wonders to be admired. Yosemite Falls, with its upper and lower falls, as well as cascades in between, is the highest waterfall in North America with a combined 2,425-foot drop. At Vernal Falls, visitors can get a whole different perspective, by walking across a footbridge.
5. Hike, bike and more. Getting out and into the environment of Yosemite is a must for every visitor. Choose your favorite method – on foot, two wheels or four wheels – and set out for an adventure. Hikers and bikers can follow designated paths into the wilderness, but open-top vehicles also have access to remote corners of the park.
A Yosemite tour is guaranteed to inspire enthusiasm for nature, history and America itself. For more information, visit Tauck.com.
(BPT) - With the cooler temperatures of autumn flowing in, many Americans will be hitting the road to discover the natural beauty that the season brings. Whether they crave adventure, want to see the fall foliage or are just getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday, families need to be prepared to ensure they are getting the most out of this travel season.
“When it comes to fall travel, there is no experience quite like the autumn day drive – it’s your last taste of crisp air and warm colors before the blanket of winter hibernation sets in,” says Editor in Chief of “Road & Travel Magazine,” Courtney Caldwell. “The keys to a successful road trip lay within the amount of preparation you do for your family and vehicle before you put either into motion.”
Nothing puts a damper on a weekend getaway like car issues that could have easily been prevented by simple maintenance.
The American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Motor Oil Matters (MOM) program has been established to provide information to consumers on the importance of using high quality motor oils, and verifying the oils are properly identified on invoices and receipts. Oil-change locations and motor oil distributors that share MOM’s commitment – and submit to independent, third-party auditing – have the opportunity to be recognized by MOM through the Motor Oil Matters distributor and installer licensing programs.
MOM and Caldwell recommend fall travelers arm themselves with a simple plan of action and preparation to help get to their destination:
Don’t fall behind on your vehicle maintenance:
* Change that oil: Motor oil is the lifeblood of your engine. One of the simplest steps you can take to ensure your vehicle is maintained is to change your motor oil with an API-licensed motor oil that meets your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. Be wary of deals that sound too good to be true, and make sure your value-priced oil change includes high quality motor oil. MOM has put together a checklist for consumers, to ensure they are confident when going into a shop. To download this checklist, please visit www.motoroilmatters.org.
* Breathe free: Replacing a dirty air filter can increase a vehicle's life expectancy and fuel efficiency by reducing the strain on the engine, especially during warmer months.
* Check your tires: Pay attention to your tire pressure and tread depth, as they are essential for increased automotive safety and optimum driving performance. The lower the tread depth is on your tires, the less traction you will have on wet and dry roads, and the greater the distance you will need to stop.
Enjoy more than the season:
* Keeping everyone happy: Write out a packing list for each family member. Store these lists on your computer so you can adjust them for different seasons and trips. Kids can be easily entertained during long car rides in the backseat with trivia, coloring books, games, books, assorted toys and stuffed animals.
* Stop and pop: Bathroom breaks are always a good thing. They force you to get out of the car and talk with locals. A 10-minute break every two hours also increases alertness and adds to the overall sight-seeing experience.
* Expect the unexpected: Always have a car-safety kit packed for you and your family. It should contain: an auto escape tool, blankets, cell phone charger, cleaning items, flashlight, jumper cables, matches, pencil and notepad, warning lights or road flares, bottled water, non-perishable items and drinks, extra (hidden) cash, and a well-equipped first aid kit.
* Keep it clean: Save and bring a handful of plastic grocery bags in the car to use for trash, damp clothes, or a “sick” bag for any car-sick passengers.
For more tips and to read about potential travel destinations, visit www.roadandtravel.com. For more information on MOM and to download MOM’s Oil Change Checklist, and the importance of using high quality motor oil, go to www.motoroilmatters.org. Be sure to also check them out on Facebook and Twitter (@motoroilmatters) for the most recent updates and news.
(BPT) - Americans are on the move: logging two billion business and leisure trips of 50 miles or more from home for at least one night last year alone, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Today, more people are looking for authentic travel activities – ones that are outside the traditional museum or monument visit. To get more out of your next vacation, consider expert advice on how to break out of the tourist rut and have a truly authentic local experience.
“The single biggest thing you can do to trigger these experiences is to talk to people – talk to locals,” says Reena Ganga, Gadling blogger and Wanderplex Founder. “But since that’s easier said than done, I think there are several ways you can try to foster interactions with locals and put yourself in a position to create great travel memories.”
Hyatt House, an upscale extended stay hotel brand located across the United States, has teamed up with Ganga and America’s favorite lifestyle maven, Martha Stewart, to help vacationers learn the tricks of travelling like a local with the following tips:
Reena Ganga’s tips:
* Trek like the locals. Don’t limit yourself to sightseeing buses or taxis. If the locals travel in communal mini-vans or via bike, do it too. Locals who aren’t used to seeing tourists take that form of transport often find their tenacity endearing and will make the effort to talk to them.
* Go off the beaten path. Make time to head to the smaller, secondary cities when you travel. These are often the places that feel the most culturally distinct. If you’re in a big city, head outside the tourist zones and into interesting neighborhoods where the locals spend their time.
* Choose a place that feels like home. Instead of staying in a traditional hotel, think about staying in a serviced apartment or an extended stay hotel like Hyatt House, where you have a living room and kitchen. Then head out to the local market and talk to the vendors. You’ll discover the produce and products that are special to that area, and you never know where the conversations will lead.
* Eat with the locals. Don’t just eat at chain restaurants that you’re familiar with or that only have English menus. Go where the locals congregate. Whether it’s a mom-and-pop restaurant or a street stall, local eateries are likely to have more authentic food and the locals are often eager to tell you about the food, how to eat it, etc.
* Put away technology. If you find yourself lost while traveling, don’t immediately refer to maps on your phone – stop and ask a shopkeeper for directions. If you need a restaurant recommendation, don’t just search online. Ask locals for their tips – it’s a great excuse to strike up a conversation.
Keep in mind, traveling with a local mindset means taking a new approach to packing, too. Stewart offers these smart packing tips:
* Distribute weight evenly. Pack the heaviest items, such as shoes and toiletry bags, at the bottom. Pack socks inside shoes to prevent footwear from getting squished.
* Skip checked baggage. A canvas bag with a sturdy strap is great for packing for any length of trip. Remember, if you forget something, often hotels can help. Hyatt House has the Hyatt Has It – Borrows program, which can supply everything from a phone charger to yoga mats.
* Carry-on with care. Because you never know when weather or unforeseen events will cause travel delays, pack a carry-on bag containing items you would be very unhappy to lose, such as medications and toiletries.
* Stay clean on the run. Travel-size packaged antibacterial towelettes are great for keeping your hands and face clean.
* Regulate wrinkles. Use large drycleaner bags to pack bulky sweaters or cardigans. The plastic helps prevent wrinkling.
* Secure belongings. If you’re traveling a long distance, use a lock and key or combination lock to protect your belongings.
These simple tips make it easy to travel like a local and get the most out of your next vacation. You’ll be delighted by the unique memories and wonderful stories you get by traveling with a local mindset.
Sources: Martha Stewart Living, June 2003; Martha Stewart Digital, Article: Smart Packing Tips; Martha Stewart Video – Organizing: Helpful Tips for Packing Travel Bags; The Martha Stewart Show, Season 7, Episode 7099 (How to Pack a Suitcase Lightly for Easy Travel)
(BPT) - Have you ever watched an amazing nature documentary and wondered how filmmakers captured such incredible scenes and compelling stories? Have you ever wished you could visit some of those same places yourself, to truly experience the wonders of the natural world with all five senses?
If you answered “yes,” you’ll be excited to know that one of the world’s top travel companies is partnering with the world’s leading producer of award-winning natural history documentaries to make those wishes a reality.
Tauck, the world-leader in guided, premium-quality land journeys and cruises, has entered into an exclusive, multi-year partnership with BBC Earth to bring the expertise and perspectives of BBC wildlife filmmakers to Tauck’s itineraries exploring the natural world. The BBC is the world’s leading producer of highly acclaimed, award-winning natural history documentaries, such as Planet Earth, Frozen Planet, Life and The Blue Planet. Those series and other BBC productions have reached more than 500 million people in over 180 countries worldwide to date
The new Earth Journeys collaboration will launch in 2014, and initial components of the partnership are being phased into several existing Tauck itineraries over the course of the coming year. Natural history enthusiasts can choose between two African safaris (the 12-day “Botswana, South Africa & Zambia” itinerary and the 13-day “Kenya & Tanzania: A Classic Safari”), Tauck’s 13-day “Antarctica” cruise expedition, and the company’s six-day “Manitoba: Polar Bear Adventure” in Canada. Each of these special travel experiences offers travelers a unique, in-depth and enriching opportunity to, in the words of Tauck and BBC Earth, “come meet your planet.”
Here are just some of the details of the new Earth Journeys partnership:
* Tauck will work with BBC Earth to use the same cutting-edge technologies employed by its filmmakers to bring Tauck guests into more intimate contact with the destinations they’re visiting. Specific technologies will vary by itinerary, and may include motion-activated camera traps, infrared night-vision cameras, long-range directional microphones, underwater cameras, and small fiber-optic endoscopic cameras.
* BBC Earth will create a series of original, exclusive films that Tauck guests will view on location. These brief (approximately 10 to 20 minutes) vignettes will utilize BBC Earth’s incredible resources, including the world’s largest collection of nature film footage plus insights and voiceovers from BBC Earth experts. The resulting films will provide context and add fresh perspective to the animal life and natural wonders that Tauck guests are experiencing during their travels.
* Tauck will also work directly with BBC Earth filmmakers and naturalists, leveraging their passion and experience to add additional original content to the portfolio of Earth Journeys itineraries.
* Going forward, BBC Earth will also work with Tauck to co-create entirely new Earth Journeys itineraries for launch in 2015 and beyond.
For more information on the new collection of Earth Journeys, visit www.tauck.com/bbcearth.
The government shutdown is having far-reaching consequences, but travelers are really feeling the pinch as their plans get ... well, shut down ... due to national park and monument closures.
But America’s principal attractions aren’t all shuttered. From sea to shining sea, state parks have an astounding array of natural wonders and historic hotspots well worth a look.
So don’t cancel your travel plans. Instead, head out to these 50 amazing state parks, chosen by travel inspiration site DreamPlanGo, that will leave you saying, “Shutdown? What shutdown?”
Alabama | Shimmering white limestone formations and spring-fed pools decorate the underground “miracle mile” at Rickwood Caverns State Park, near Birmingham.
Alaska | Chugach State Park, just east of Anchorage, covers 495,204 acres where you can revel in mountain scenery, rivers, lakes and wildlife.
Arizona | Lost Dutchman State Park, named after a fabled lost gold mine, offers multiple trails that take visitors out into the Superstition Wilderness, as well as campsites that let you revel in your surroundings as long as you like.
Arkansas | Mount Magazine State Park’s namesake peak, Mount Magazine, is Arkansas’ highest point.
California | Humboldt Redwoods State Park is the perfect place to feel tiny next to some of the biggest trees you’ll ever see. Within park boundaries, you’ll find Rockefeller Forest, the world's largest remaining old-growth forest of California redwoods.
Colorado | Eleven Mile State Park offers a little something for everyone – hiking, camping, kayaking – but the stand-out draw here is fishing. If catching trophy trout is on your bucket list, this a good place to get closer to the dream.
Connecticut | The stone fortress of American actor William Gillette – most famously known for his role as Sherlock Holmes – sits in southern Connecticut’s Gillette Castle State Park.
Delaware | William Penn made Cape Henlopen beaches – part of Cape Henlopen State Park – some of the very first public lands established in the U.S.
Florida | Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is famous for its manatees, offering visitors some of the best viewing opportunities in the state.
Georgia | Situated in northwestern Georgia, Red Top Mountain State Park features Lake Allatoona, a popular summer location for swimming and boating.
Hawaii | Hapuna Beach State Park, located on the “big island” of Hawaii, boasts one of the biggest white sand beaches on the island and perfect opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling and more.
Idaho | Thousand Springs State Park was created out of four existing state parks - with another natural area added for good measure - in 2005. From its spectacular springs and waterfalls to canyons and sheer basalt cliffs, there are all varieties of natural wonders on show here.
Illinois | Starved Rock State Park features 18 – yes, 18 – canyons, 14 of which have waterfalls. Hike the trails to as many of them as you like and you’re guaranteed a full day of breathtaking beauty.
Indiana | Spring Mill State Park brings history to life in both the Limestone Grist Mill for which it’s named and the surrounding Pioneer Village. Buildings dating back to the early 1800s have been lovingly restored and make a perfect backdrop for demonstrations of everything from blacksmithing to candlemaking.
Iowa | Pikes Peak State Park might just change your perception of Iowa, a state known for its very level landscapes. But here, bluffs tower over the island-dotted Mississippi River, giving visitors sweeping views they won’t soon forget.
Kansas | Kanopolis State Park was the first state park established in Kansas, and it’s been luring visitors ever since it opened in 1955. Situated in the bluffs of the Smoky Hills region near Salina, it’s a great place for hiking, camping and watching an active prairie dog town.
Kentucky | A 65-foot-high natural sandstone arch spans 78 feet across walking trails in Natural Bridge State Resort Park, not far from the Red River.
Louisiana | Enchanted cypress-tupelo swamps and hardwood forests make up the shady Tickfaw State Park, not far from New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
Maine | The 5,270-foot-tall Mount Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak, can be found in Baxter State Park.
Maryland | At Assateague State Park, herds of rare Assateague ponies run wild on the barrier isle – a trademark of Assateague Island.
Massachusetts | Philosopher Henry David Thoreau found inspiration on Walden Pond, in Walden Pond State Reservation in Concord.
Michigan | The second largest state park in Michigan, Tahquamenon Falls State Park is situated close to Lake Superior and features the 50-foot Tahquamenon Falls.
Minnesota | Gooseberry Falls State Park is just one example of the spectacular parks dotted along Highway 61, which hugs the shore of Lake Superior. Gooseberry features upper, middle and lower falls, each of which draws “oohs” and “aahs” from visitors.
Mississippi | The scenic Natchez Trace Parkway runs directly through Tishomingo State Park – located in the Appalachian Mountain foothills, not far from Tupelo.
Missouri | Onondaga Cave State Park takes you below ground and into an otherworldly environment. The eponymous cave is filled with stalactites, stalagmites and other formations as well as pools of crystal-clear water.
Montana | Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park overlooks the trail that its namesake explorers traveled along the Jefferson River in Southwestern Montana. The caverns are well-lit and easy for the whole family to explore.
Nebraska | Rock Creek Station State Historical Park will spark the imagination of anyone who played a certain early 1990s computer game that involved a great journey and a whole lot of broken axels and typhus. The ruts you see in the ground here aren’t just any old wheel tracks – they’re left over from the times when this was a supply center and stopover on the Oregon Trail.
Nevada | Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park brings together two unlikely elements, but that just makes the park more fascinating. Visitors can see the fossilized remains of an enormous ichthyosaur, an aquatic dinosaur, and then pay a visit to Berlin, an eerie abandoned mining town dating from the turn of the century.
New Jersey | The Barnegat Lighthouse gave Long Beach Island’s Barnegat Lighthouse State Park its name.
New Mexico | City of Rocks State Park, from a distance, really does look like a city. But in fact, it’s made up of eroded volcanic rock formations densely packed together – perfect for an exploratory adventure.
New York | Water pumps continuously over the American Falls, Bridal Falls and the Canadian Falls at Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the U.S.
North Carolina | At Chimney Rock State Park near Asheville, visitors can take the 1.5-mile hike to stand at the base of Hickory Nut Falls, or skip straight to the 315-foot granite monolith, Chimney Rock.
North Dakota | Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park gives visitors an immersive historical experience. On-A-Slant Mandan Village, or Miti-ba-wa-esh, which was established in the 16th century, is part of the park as is a reconstruction of George Armstrong Custer’s house and other fort buildings.
New Hampshire | Before its collapse in 2003, the famous Old Man of the Mountain Cliffside formation could be found in Franconia Notch State Park.
Ohio | The American folklore icon, Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman), carved his name in the stone wall of the Lyons Falls in Mohican State Park back in the 1800s. Sadly, the etchings have been worn away by the elements.
Oklahoma | Black Mesa State Park lies in the region where the Rocky Mountains dwindle into the shortgrass prairie so often associated with Oklahoma. Here you can climb the highest point in the state, Black Mesa, and after dark, watch the sky to see why it’s a high-demand destination among stargazers and astronomers.
Oregon | Smith Rock State Park might make you double check your map – but yes, there’s high desert in Oregon. The jagged rocky peaks here are a climber’s paradise, but they’re also just as beautiful to those who like to keep two feet on the ground.
Pennsylvania | Leonard Harrison State Park’s Pine Creek Gorge has been nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.”
Rhode Island | Beavertail State Park’s crown jewel is the Beavertail Lighthouse, built in 1749 near the entrance of Narragansett Bay.
South Carolina | Set at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains is South Carolina’s Table Rock State Park. Here, you’ll find Pinnacle Mountain, the tallest peak within the state.
South Dakota | Custer State Park boasts spectacular Black Hills scenery – a draw in its own right. But visitors also have the opportunity to see enormous herds of bison, which make an unforgettable sight as they spread across the grasslands.
Tennessee | The 20,000-acre Fall Creek Falls State Park on the Cane Creek Gorge is popular for its distinctive rock formations and picturesque waterfalls, like the 256-foot Fall Creek Falls.
Texas | Palo Duro Canyon State Park, close to the historic town of Amarillo, is the ideal place to see the second largest canyon in the country, Palo Duro. Adventurous types can zipline or horseback ride, but everyone should take the opportunity to see the arresting “Lighthouse” rock formation.
Utah | Goblin Valley State Park is famous for its curiously shaped red-rock hoodoos, which make for a surreal landscape, but you’ll also find ancient rock art created by Native Americans.
Vermont | Button Bay State Park is situated between New York’s Adirondack Mountains and the Green Mountains in western Vermont.
Virginia | The curiously named Hungry Mother State Park comes from a legend about a mother and her child who wandered the area after their home on the New River was destroyed.
Washington | Cape Disappointment State Park overlooks the spot where the mighty Columbia River pours into the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can hike and bike, visit lighthouses or try to spot migrating gray whales.
West Virginia | One of the most photographed sites in West Virginia – and the most photo-worthy – is the Glade Creek Grist Mill in Babcock State Park.
Wisconsin | Amnicon Falls State Park, located in the northwestern part of the state, is perfect for anyone who loves the great north woods. Rivers, rapids and waterfalls run through pristine forest and under an historic and highly photogenic wooden covered bridge.
Wyoming | Sinks Canyon State Park features a truly unusual phenomenon: the Popo Agie river rushes into a cavern (the Sinks from which the park takes its name) and then reappears in the Rise, a pool about half a mile away. Tests have shown that it takes hours for the water to make that journey, but no one knows why it takes so long.
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