Home | Communities | RizeEverett Office | Business Directory | Rize Communications | Advertising | Music | Contact Us | User's Guide | Login | Register
  Rize 1Ave
  Services and Prices
  Rize Networks
  RizeEverett Marketing News
  Fan/Business Page Index
  Live Stream Index
  Dress your Live Stream
  The Hewitt Hop!
  Business Licenses
  Everett Herald
  My Everett News
  Rize Newsletter
  Rize Business Referral
  Marketing Tools
  Events Calendar
  Everett Events
  Rize Trivia Show
  Summer Event Guide
  Outdoors Northwest
  Everett Local Pool
  Artist Expo
  Car Shows
  Local Sports
  Rize Upload TV
  Restaurant Menus
  Downtown Everett
  Everett History
  Experience Everett
  Photo Contest
  Photo Gallery
  Rize Merchandise
  Amazon Store
  Mobile Apps
  Articles by YOU!
  Movie of the Week
  TV Guide
  Teen Biz
  Volunteer Guide
  Auto Sales
  Classified Ads
  Daily Crossword Puzzle
  Emergency Preparedness
  Find a Friend
  Garage Sale
  Green Zone
  Game Zone
  Kids Games
  Kids Zone
  Local Jobs
  Lottery Results
  Pet Zone
  Real Estate
  Refer A Friend
  Website Stats
  Site Map

Expedia.com - Great rooms at Great Prices!


Brandpoint - Free Online Content

Bookmark and Share

Who do you know that gives the most during the...

(BPT) - Everyone has favorite moments from the holiday season. For some it's a present from a distant relative or greeting family members with a warm hug when they get off the plane. For others it's sitting down together to enjoy a delicious Christmas dinner. Some of these moments are steeped in tradition and others are new occurrences your family will be talking about for years. But old or new, each moment is special in its own way.

Creating a memorable holiday season takes time and dedication, not only that of families across the country, but of thousands of transportation professionals as well. And in the spirit of a season in which it's better to give than to receive, here are Michelin's unsung heroes of transportation that deserve thanks for everything they do to make the holidays special for everyone.

* Airport workers. That warm hug in the airport would never happen without the tireless effort of these flight and ground crews. Last year, an estimated 38.1 million people flew during the holiday season - that's roughly one tenth of the nation's population - and it's the hard work of airport professionals everywhere that got them where they were going.

* Farmers. The holiday meal starts with the work of the farmer and each farmer feeds more people than you may have guessed. According to the USDA, each farmer supplies food for 144 people in the U.S. and abroad each year. That's enough to satisfy all your holiday guests, no matter how many people are invited.

* Truck drivers. However you may travel to your holiday destination - planes, trains or automobiles! - your shipped packages will arrive by truck. An estimated 3.6 million truck drivers will transport nearly 70 percent of all freight tonnage in the U.S. this holiday season. Drivers work long hours to make sure your gifts arrive on time.

* Miners. No one wants a lump of coal in their stocking, but coal miners also produce 210 metric tons of gold producing ore and 1,170 metric tons of silver producing ore. And for those gifts you'd much rather have? Yes, they're responsible for those shiny baubles and jewelry as well.

* Parcel delivery workers. Those weekly deliveries take on special importance during the holiday season and for parcel delivery workers the job takes on extra volume as well. Research shows parcel delivery workers will deliver nearly 20 billion packages, letters and gifts during the 2016 holiday season, according to the United States Postal Service.

* Snow Plow Drivers. Thousands of drivers are responsible for clearing millions of miles of roadways and bridges to keep roads safe for traveling to holiday events and gatherings.

* Construction workers. Responsible for infrastructure, housing, commercial and governmental projects, these dedicated workers work through the elements to complete roads, bridges, water and wastewater projects and buildings. Whether they built or renovated the home that will host your holidays this year, or the roads you travel to your favorite parties, construction workers play an integral part in bringing your holidays to life.

Say thanks today

The holiday season is magical due to the efforts of these dedicated people, and to say thanks, Michelin is recognizing individuals in the transportation and travel industries throughout the holiday season. Nominations can be made by posting to Michelin's Twitter account via the hashtag #KeepThanksMoving or by posting on the MichelinUSA Facebook page. Michelin will then randomly select seven individuals to receive a Michelin-themed gourmet gift box from Try the World. You can learn more about the contest at Michelinmedia.com, so get your nominations ready and give back to those who give so much to you during the holidays.

A guide to holiday traditions worth starting in...

(BPT) - Every family has their own set of traditions. Some involve going to holiday parties or shows like the Nutcracker, baking batches of cookies or a trip to the Christmas tree farm.

But just as our phones, cars and lives have changed over the past 10 years, so have holiday traditions. While ugly sweaters, family, trees and gifts are as much a part of the holiday spirit as ever, new traditions are popping up, adding new memories and new possibilities to the holiday season.

New travel destinations

There was a time when it seemed like everyone scrambled to make it home for the holidays. And while families are still making plans to get together, an increasing number are shaking things up by traveling to a new state or a new city to celebrate the holidays.

And they're not only traveling to the iconic spots like the ice rink in Rockefeller Center or seeking out palm trees and white sand beaches. One vacation theme that has been rising in popularity involves reliving favorite Christmas movies.

The best example of this trend can be seen in Cleveland, Ohio where A Christmas Story House & Museum (www.achristmasstoryhouse.com) is currently celebrating its tenth anniversary. Each year, thousands of people from all over the country make the trip to visit the restored house where the iconic movie was filmed. Inside A Christmas Story House, open year-round, every room and detail matches up to the movie so people who have grown up watching the movie year after year can have the first-hand experience of what it's like to be one of the Parkers. Only the furnace works a little better, and no one gets his or her mouth washed out with soap.

Changing shopping habits

You've probably seen a store advertising artisanal, hand crafted, locally produced goods pop up in your neighborhood. It's a sign that people's buying habits are changing. This is especially true when it comes to their holiday shopping routines.

While there may still be plenty of people lining up outside of the big box stores for Black Friday sales, more and more are searching for that one-of-a-kind gift that can only be found in a local store or after some serious online hunting. Instead of giving each other the gift everyone else wants, people are trying to give each other gifts that are truly unique and thoughtful.

Get a workout in

It's tradition to prepare for the numerous snacks, sweets and huge meals of the holiday season by buying a couple of baggy sweaters. But the current health conscious generation is changing that.

No, they're not replacing sugar cookies with kale chips, rather, adding a workout to the Christmas routine.

Many cities around the country now host Santa and reindeer-themed runs. But as fun as these are, few are as unique or memorable as A Christmas Story 5K/10K Run. Taking place each year in Cleveland, Ohio, the race involves more than 5,000 people dressed in pink bunny pajamas, the infamous lamp or any character from the iconic movie. Participants run from the former Higbee's Department Store and finish at A Christmas Story House & Museum, where runners can visit the gift shop to shop for some amazing A Christmas Story-themed presents. Those who are unable to make the trip, can still order their own Leg Lamp at www.redriderleglamps.com!

Baby on board? 8 tips for stress-free infant...

(BPT) - Whether it's a quick weekend away or a weeklong adventure, family travel is a great way to bond and create lifelong memories. However, if you have an infant, you may be hesitant to pack all those bags and venture to the unknown.

"With their love of a set schedule and the familiar, plus loads of gear, babies are natural homebodies," says Sandra Gordon, baby safety expert and blogger at www.babyproductsmom.com. "Still, they can be surprisingly adaptable and getting out and about can be loads of fun for everyone. The trick is to be prepared so you can enjoy the journey and the destination."

Gordon offers eight tips and tricks that make infant travel easy so everyone can have an enjoyable vacation:

Prepare the diaper bag

The diaper bag is your go-to throughout your trip. Pack everything your baby might need including diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, snacks, toys, a pacifier, feeding supplies, infant formula and lots of Ziploc bags for dirty bottles, clothes, etc. An extra shirt for yourself is a smart addition as well, just in case.

Pack pre-measured, dry powder baby formula

Whether on the plane or out for the day, pack two to four bottles with pre-measured, dry baby formula that you can mix with bottled water at feeding time. To save up to 50 percent, buy store brand infant formula. All infant formula sold in the United States is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so store brand formula must meet the same FDA standards as the big advertised brands. It's available wherever infant formula is sold, such as Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Target.

Bring a prepared bottle

Bring a prepared bottle for the airport; it can help keep your baby content during the lengthy check-in process. It's also a must during takeoff to relieve ear pressure. You can take more than 3.4 ounces of infant formula or breast milk through airport security. Tell the transportation security officer that you have medically necessary liquids at the beginning of the checkpoint screening process. Visit the TSA for more info on flying with children.

Split up your stuff

When packing bags you plan to check at the airport, split up the contents so that each suitcase has everyone's clothes in it, including your baby's. That way if a bag gets lost, everyone will have something to wear for the next few days until your bag is found. Essentials such as formula, medicine, etc. should be packed in your carry-on.

Stick to baby's schedule

Babies rely on a schedule so there's no need to disrupt it when on vacation. Try travelling around nap time for domestic flights or at bedtime for international flights. Be sure to bring along her favorite stuffed animal or blanket that she normally sleeps with so there's something familiar to sooth her. Baby can sleep and you can relax.

Avoid popular travel times

Avoid crowds and save money by travelling on slower days. The day prior to holidays will always be hectic, so opt to fly two to three days before or after to enjoy a slower airport plus cheaper ticket prices. For non-holiday travel, avoid early-morning flights on weekdays so you and your baby don't have to compete with harried business travelers.

Rent gear

If you can't bring all your gear when travelling, consider renting. Ask your hotel about rental options in the area so you can have everything you need to make baby feel comfortable without having to lug items across the country. It is an extra cost, but it also saves you the cost of having to check bulky items on the plane.

Eat in or eat out early

Book a hotel with a kitchen so you can make baby-friendly foods in a comfortable space. When you do want to eat out, remember that prime time for eating out with infants, toddlers and preschoolers is Sunday through Wednesday before standard lunch or dinner times (11:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m.). Restaurants are less crowded and you'll get faster service.

Travelling with a baby gets easier every time you do it. With these tips you'll satisfy your wanderlust without worry, plus your little one will have a great time.

Hit the road with your team for the ultimate...

(BPT) - Team loyalty comes with benefits: There is simply no easier way to plan a little escape than to hit the road for an away game. And while you're at it, you can experience the best of what a new town has to offer. By combining your love of sports with having new experiences in new locales with your family, you join a new segment of travelers Hampton by Hilton has identified as Seekenders.

Samantha Ponder is something of an expert on the Seekender movement. The ESPN reporter is constantly on the road covering collegiate football and basketball games, so she treasures those opportunities when she can grab a quick getaway with her young daughter, Scout, and her husband. For her, it’s not only fun, but “Seekending” is one way to shape and deepen their lives.

“I see life as the ultimate adventure and want to explore as much as I can, not only to challenge and grow myself, but to set that example for my daughter,” Ponder says. “I want her to be exposed to many places and people because I want her to start asking herself the important questions in life as she gets older.”

Ponder offers some sound tips and strategies to help you plan the perfect Seekender adventure that is trouble free and will also create lasting memories.

Escape from your comfort zone.

Go ahead, write down two or three ideas for a getaway that will take you out of your routine. Look for away games in locales offering foods and experiences that are truly unique from your hometown. For example, if your team is playing in Denver, carve a bit of extra time to head up to the Rocky Mountains for a day of snowshoeing, hiking or skiing.

Ask the locals.

Keep a little space in the itinerary to stumble upon something fun. For example, you don’t have to scour the internet to find the very best top-rated destinations to eat, Ponder says. One easy way to do this is ask the locals or when staying at a Hampton by Hilton, ask the staff. They are eager to share some of their favorite local places. This is especially true if you are off on a collegiate game adventure. “There are always hidden gems in college towns,” Ponder says.

Make friends.

When you’re tailgating, be open to meeting others around you. After all, you already have something in common: a love of the game. “Bring extra food with an intention to share,” Ponder says. “You may end up meeting a lifelong friend!”

Take care of yourself.

If you don’t have time to put in a full workout, come up with a quick, “good-enough” routine for the hotel room. Ponder does push-ups and squats in her room. Another great option is to book a hotel that offers a complimentary fitness center like at a Hampton by Hilton. Ponder also dresses casually for comfort when she’s en route. And her two must-haves for the journey are facial wipes and a baseball cap. “They're easy to pack and a good way to feel more pulled together, even when you're not,” she says.

Reach for amenities that matter.

A hotel with all the amenities you want and expect is like a great travel partner: It can maximize the enjoyment of your Seekender trip. Samantha’s top three hotel musts are cleanliness, functionality and a comfortable bed. She finds she doesn’t have to worry about anything when she stays at Hampton by Hilton hotels. She knows the room will be clean, the free, hot breakfast will make it easy to start the day and she can still get her workout in at the complimentary fitness center.

Taking your love for your favorite team on the road is a great way to bond and build lasting memories for your family. For inspiration, follow Ponder’s Seekender adventures on HamptonSeekender.com and join the conversation on social media at #Seekender.


8 stress-free family travel tips for dads

(BPT) - Family travel is a great way for everyone to bond and create lifelong memories. However, before you can hit the road, you need to do a little planning.

Traditionally, moms took the lead in organizing vacations. Today, a new trend is emerging in which men are taking charge and planning family trips. Driven by the desire to share important life experiences with their kids and partner, fathers are handling every aspect of travel, from researching locations to booking hotels.

Beau Coffron is one of these dads. With a passion for travel, the Lunchbox Dad blogger has planned numerous family vacations. These experiences led him to become a Travel MANager for Homewood Suites by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton.

Coffron knows family travel is a lot of fun, but it can also get stressful fast. To avoid those out-of-control moments and keep kids (and parents!) happy, he offers eight smart tips for stress-free family travel.

Plan early: Whether a quick weekend adventure or a grand week-long escape, plan as early as possible. Having extra time to research the right location, travel accommodations and activities cuts stress and ensures you plan a memorable vacation.

Use online planning tools: Save time by using the internet to research and book travel. An all-in-one website like Mencanplantravel.com is packed with inspirational insight from dad travelers, tips for planning a great family vacation and fast options for finding great hotel rates around the world.

Pack smart: Traveling with a family can mean bringing a lot of stuff for each person. Pack smarter by focusing on items that multitask. For example, kids' T-shirts take up little space and can be worn during the day or at night as pajamas. Accessories like scarves can also be used as small blankets for picnics.

Keep kids busy in transit: No matter what your mode of travel, kids can get bored while in-route to your destination. Keep kids busy by packing unique activities such as giving out a small metal tin from the kitchen and pack magnets for mess-free fun. Searching "free printable coloring sheets" online and printing out loads of activities kids can color with crayons is another great option.

Guarantee sound sleep: For little ones, always pack a crib sheet so you know you'll have fresh linens for your baby or toddler. For all kids, you can download a soothing sound machine app on your phone to block any sound to help everyone sleep better.

Simplify first-aid: Create a travel-friendly first-aid kit by filling a plastic pencil box with travel-size sunscreen, insect repellent, bandages, tweezers and more. It takes up little space and you won't have to spend time digging around your luggage to find items when needed most.

Bring a disposable camera for kids: Kids love to take pictures, but parents tire of having to share their smartphone constantly. Instead, give kids control by buying a disposable camera. They'll have fun documenting the vacation and you don't have to worry about them breaking your screen.

Document possessions: You're sure to use your phone to take photos and videos of the kids, but have you thought of doing so with your luggage? Lay out what you've brought and take a quick video before putting items away at the hotel. This helps should you have to make an insurance claim.

With these tips, dads can plan stress-free family trips with ease. Now you just count down the days until takeoff.


4 undeniable reasons to travel in 2017

(BPT) - Do you dream of getting away from the stress of your everyday life? Are you looking for a way to reconnect with loved ones? Do the winter blues have you dreaming of warm sunny days?

Sounds like you're in need of a vacation.

Planning a vacation gives you something to look forward to in the new year. What's more, studies show planning a vacation is one the best parts of the travel experience. It can boost your mood for weeks leading up to the big trip.

From researching exciting destinations, booking accommodations and counting down the days until you leave, travel can get your 2017 off to the right start, or be the perfect gift for the holidays. Here are four tips to make the trip perfect:

Get away to disconnect: When planning a vacation, select a location where you can truly disconnect from your job and home responsibilities. For example, with 60 miles of coastline open for relaxation and fun, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a wonderful destination that's an easy drive or flight from virtually anywhere in the United States. Once you arrive, make sure your out-of-office email is set and resist the urge to check social media. Now's the time to focus on you and your loved ones.

Get away to reconnect: AAA reports two out of three people say quality time with loved ones is the most important part of a vacation. In addition to selecting a great location, strive to find comfortable and convenient accommodations. Condotels, multi-bedroom hotel units and beach homes, are all wonderful options to bring your family and friends closer together. Plus, the extra amenities (like full kitchens) are sure to make your stay that much more relaxing.

Get away to build memories: A whopping 91 percent of people say their favorite memory is a vacation, according to Expedia.com research. To set the stage for massive memory-making, select a location with something for everyone. There's more than just the gorgeous shoreline at Myrtle Beach. Feel like a mermaid when you visit Ripley's Aquarium. Learn the wonders of science and the imagination at WonderWorks. Travel back in history by exploring Hopsewee Plantation and LW Paul Living History Farm. Finally, indulge the palate by visiting a variety of eateries along Murrells Inlet MarshWalk. Learn more at VisitMyrtleBeach.com.

Get away to try something new: Trying an activity you've never done before is guaranteed to give you and your family memories to last a lifetime. Do some research about the destination you've selected and sign up for activities in advance to ensure you get the most convenient times. Whether it's crabbing off a pier, kayaking pristine back-rivers or taking a hot air balloon ride, doing a unique activity is something you'll always remember (plus you'll get a story that is sure to make everyone jealous back home).

Stop dreaming and start planning — that unused PTO is full of possibilities. Whether a gift or a family trip next year, let these ideas guide you to the vacation of a lifetime.

Dickens, ice slides, beaches and roller...

(BPT) - When you think about it, heading south is a pretty great way to spend a holiday vacation.

For example, there’s this historic city near the gulf that is famous for its carnival-like summer fun, but it’s actually one of those hidden gems when it comes to making Christmas magic by the sleighful.

From sporty Santas who run in half marathons to a full-throated celebration of all things Charles Dickens, from ice sculptures to roller coaster rides to moonlit walks on the beach, Galveston Island, Texas is starting to gain a reputation of being a family destination for holiday cheer.

And best of all, you can easily get around without having to bundle up and walk into the headwinds of an Arctic clipper.

Here are six things to discover this season on the “Winter Wonder Island” of Galveston Island.

Ice Land: Ice Sculptures: Beneath a big-top tent is a Caribbean theme featuring tropical fish, eagle rays, turtles and sharks — a paradise created from 2 million pounds of ice by a team of master carvers. As the entire family wanders through the icy wonderland, kids can fly down an ice slide while parents enjoy a cocktail at Shivers Ice Bar. The icy wonderland runs Nov. 12-Jan. 8.

Festival of Lights: Brighten up the wintry season at the largest holiday lighting event on the Gulf Coast, featuring a mile-long trail of more than 100 sound-enhanced animated light displays. Visitors to the festival can also go ice-skating at the Moody Gardens outdoor ice rink or snow tubing on the Arctic Ice Slide.

Holiday with the cranes: Every fall, these very special holiday guests glide in on wings spanning 6 feet to come home for the winter on Galveston Island. Sandhill cranes stand 4 feet tall and have traveled great distances from their breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic, Alaska and Siberia. Here’s a chance to witness the power of nature’s mysterious call to migrate and watch these lively, family-oriented birds socialize. Stop in for lectures and guided tours, Dec. 10-11.

Victorian historic district: Before the Civil War, Galveston had one of the largest cotton shipping ports in the U.S. and was Texas' most populated city. This history and bustling commerce laid the foundation of what is today's36-city-block historic district. Here, you can explore the unique shops, restaurants, art galleries and museums — including a railroad museum that will see the Jolly Old Elf pulling into the station on the Holiday Express on Dec. 10. And as the sun goes down and the holiday lights twinkle on, it’s even more festive.

Dickens on the Strand: You might say Charles Dickens’ beloved tale about Mr. Scrooge defined and established many Christmas traditions we enjoy yet today. The locals of Galveston celebrate that in a huge way with this Victorian London themed revelry that takes place Dec. 2-4. With the historic district as a backdrop, downtown comes alive with carolers and musicians, peddlers, food carts, crafts and more. Better yet, show up in Victorian attire and get admission for half price.

The Grand 1894 Opera House: Plenty of family friendly entertainment will light up the stage at this landmark theater during the holiday season. This year’s lineup includes a performance by Loretta Lynn, and holiday-themed theater including “ELF, the Musical,” "Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Musical.” Check the schedule for details at thegrand.com.

More wonders await at Galveston Island that will help you build lasting memories with your family. To help you plan your complete getaway, visit www.galveston.com/holidaymagic/.

5 ways guys can plan the perfect vacation

(BPT) - When it comes to vacation planning, Clark Griswold has given guys everywhere a bad name. The first National Lampoon's Vacation movie saw his plans to bring his family to Walley World fall apart at every turn. Then his planned trip to Europe was a disaster. He couldn’t even plan a simple family Christmas without it becoming a complete catastrophe.

Now the holidays are coming up once again for you and you want to plan your own vacation. It doesn’t have to follow the Griswold script. Just follow these five guidelines below and you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation without the comedy or the tragedy.

1. Think events before time. Many vacation planners focus right away on how many days they will be gone and fill their time based on this. Why? The days aren’t the most important element, it’s what you’re doing that defines a great vacation. Start your plans by determining everything you want to do and then set aside the time necessary to make all of it happen.

2. Take the initiative. Don’t let Clark Griswold’s foiled plans stop you. You can plan an amazing vacation and research shows your significant other would appreciate it if you did. Ninety percent of women said they would be happy if their partner did any of the travel planning according to the Travel MANager Weekend Escape Artist survey, conducted by Wakefield Research. Surprise your significant other by planning all of the details for a spontaneous holiday trip using the Travel MANager microsite, an online platform that provides men with advice, resources and tools to plan the perfect trip. Travel MANager offers you professional advice from expert travel bloggers, original research and trip itinerary suggestions all in one digital hub so you can plan efficiently.

3. Budget everything. You may not know what every aspect of your trip will cost, but it’s good to have an idea before you go. Having a rough outline of the expenses you’ll incur will prevent you from having to forgo any activities or getting that surprisingly high bill at trip’s end.

4. Find the right hotel. When you're on vacation, your hotel room is your home away from home so pick a good one to fit your needs. Look for a hotel that allows you to spread out and have a little space. This is especially true if you're traveling with kids who will appreciate the space to play and rest. Homewood Suites by Hilton, for example offers large, spacious suites perfect for you and your family and friends to spread out after an exhilarating day.

5. Save the best for last. The final day of many trips is simply reserved for traveling back home. Instead of subscribing to this tired mantra, save your last day for the thing you wanted to do most. You’ll leave your trip on a high note with plenty of amazing memories, and you’ll be more apt to stick to your schedule if it preserves your most coveted activity.

Great holiday trips don’t just plan themselves, and the more planning you do ahead of time, the less likely you are to have the mishaps that would make your story truly screen worthy. To learn more about how Travel MANager can help you plan your holiday trip, visit mencanplantravel.com.

Go West! Adventurers, film buffs flock to Rocky...

(BPT) - America’s love affair with winter sports continues.

Participation has been on the upswing since 2011, with 9.4 million downhill skiers, 7.7 million snowboarders and 4.1 million cross country skiers tracked respectively in the 2014-15 season alone.

One of the most popular regions? The Rocky Mountains, whose ski resorts drew 20.7 million visitors in 2014-15 according to snowsports.org – the highest number since 2010/2011, and representative of 39 percent of all such visits across the U.S. And because of this year’s prime snow conditions, many ski buffs are again looking to the West for this season’s vacations. Those wanting adventure with a choice of many other amenities might consider Sundance Mountain Resort near Provo, Utah, the 5,000-acre resort founded by actor Robert Redford in 1969.

Redford, who can sometimes be found on site, founded Sundance in 1969 with the mission of fostering artistic expression, encouraging nature appreciation and building environmental stewardship. He explains in a video how he found the property while driving around.

“It was so idyllic, kind of raw and primitive, which made me fall in love with the whole canyon,” he remembered. “I knew it was just a matter of time, and this whole beautiful area was going to be discovered … so at that point I pledged to do everything in my power to preserve it.”

The destination has since become renowned, as it is an official venue for the iconic Sundance Film Festival. But vacationers may be surprised at the resort’s range of other offerings.

Ski enthusiasts are drawn by the area’s average 300 inches of dry, powdery snow each year. And Sundance, in addition to 45 downhill ski runs (20 percent at expert level) offers 25 kilometers of groomed trails for skating and classic skiing along with a nearly two-mile zip line offering dual-span seating, adjustable speeds of more than 65 mph and the largest vertical drop (2,100 feet) in the U.S.

The family-owned resort is a year-round destination and cultural mecca offering artistic, literary, theatre and musical programming along with four eateries including the award-winning Tree Room. Also featured are 92 guest accommodations; a selection of mountain homes; a full spa spotlighting nature-influenced healing methods; a state-of-the-art screening room; an outdoor amphitheater; a bar and a general store. All buildings are created from local materials – stone quarried in the area along with indigenous cedar, fur and pine – and designed to fit in with the environment.

Sundance’s affiliation with the film festival of the same name means hundreds of dramatic and documentary films, shorts, installations, performances, panel discussions and dynamic music events have been launched or hosted at the resort, continually introducing attendees to original and authentic storytelling. Two fun facts: Redford’s 1972 film “Jeremiah Johnson” was filmed nearby, and the vintage 1890s wooden bar inside the resort’s Owl Bar was once frequented by Butch Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall Gang. The resort has also served as an inspirational mecca for countless skiers, artists, outdoor enthusiasts, foodies and wanderlust adventurers.

Browse photos of the resort’s inspiring mountain vistas, challenging ski runs and other inviting amenities at www.sundanceresort.com.

5 travel tips for a last minute getaway

(BPT) - There's something so exciting about planning a vacation, yet more than half of American workers let their vacation days go to waste. But having time away from the stresses and daily grind of your job is crucial to a work-life balance. You work hard to earn your vacation days, so why not take full advantage of them with a last minute getaway?

To provide some relief and assist in restoring that work-life balance, Hilton Garden Inn recently partnered with several travel experts and bloggers for advice and tips to some of travelers' greatest problems - and in regard to last-minute getaways, they found that the key to a successful spontaneous vacation is quick preparation, and efficiency is key.

So before jetting off, you'll need a few tricks to ensure you're ready on time. Here are some tips you might find helpful when preparing for an impromptu getaway:

Get sleep

While your travel plans might have you feeling nervous and excited, it's important to get as much rest as possible before a vacation. You'll feel the urge to stay up late, trying to check those last minute items off your to-do list, but it's better to set a bedtime and stick to it. You'll want to start your journey refreshed and ready to take on an adventure.

Prepare for an easy exit

The night before you embark on your trip, pack your suitcase and set it by the front door, along with a list of things to do before you walk out of the house. The list could include things like packing your phone charger, feeding the fish, making sure all the lights are off or any other loose ends you need to tie up. When you create a list the night before, you'll have less risk of forgetting any important details when you're short on time.

Make a playlist

Before you leave on your trip, make yourself a "wind down" playlist of all your favorite mellow songs. When you're traveling, there's a lot on your mind. You have places to go, and sights and people to see - it can feel a bit chaotic. A calming playlist helps you to soothe yourself on the plane, lull yourself to dreamland in a hotel room or simply relax if you're stressed about travel plans.

Download the right apps

There are many apps available that make travel easier. Why not try the Hilton Honors app? When booking your last minute getaway, use the Hilton Honors app to find one of more than 700 Hilton Garden Inn properties around the globe. Once you book your stay, use the app to choose your hotel room, check-in online and request an Uber (available in select cities). Additionally, apps like Yelp and TripAdvisor have restaurant reviews and ratings so you can find the best spots for a yummy meal.

Make a plan for exercise

Traveling can be tough on your body, but if you plan ahead, you can fit some exercise into your schedule to get the endorphins flowing. When booking travel, make sure to choose a hotel that has a fitness center, such as a Hilton Garden Inn which features the latest cardio and weight training equipment. Look over your proposed itinerary and block out 20 to 30 minutes. If that's too much time to dedicate, you can also download 7-minute workouts on your phone, which you can easily do in your hotel room to get your heart rate up.

Put those vacation days to good use and plan a last minute-trip with these tips. After all, what's the point of working so hard if you can't enjoy a relaxing getaway?

To book a weekend to reset and refresh, visit www.hgi.com.

Salt storage barns: The key to safe winter roads

(BPT) - For most of us, if we ever think about salt storage, the salt shaker on our table probably comes to mind. However, for your local road and transportation department, salt storage is all about keeping road salt properly covered and safe so it is available for the department to use when it starts to snow.

At first glance, it is easy to wonder why road salt needs any sort of special storage, but digging a little deeper into that road salt stockpile soon shows why good storage practices can be extremely important. Proper use of road salt as part of a winter maintenance program can reduce crashes by between 85 and 88 percent, according to a Marquette University study. Furthermore, the use of road salt ensures roads stay open and deliveries are made, avoiding losses to state economies that can run in the hundreds of millions of dollars every day, according to a IHS Global Insight study.

The need for proper salt storage

So it is no real surprise, as we approach the winter season, that agencies are giving significant thought to proper salt storage. For example, the City of Geneva in Ohio is planning to construct a new salt storage facility that will be able to hold six times as much salt (1,800 tons) compared to the old facility that could only store 300 tons. Not only will this provide a sustainable salt storage solution for the city, it will also give them enough storage that they will no longer have to rely on mid-winter deliveries of salt. Previously, in bad winters, they needed salt to be delivered in the middle of winter when, of course, delivery is likely to be most difficult. That can cause a lot of nervous worry about whether or not the salt will arrive in time, and when the new storage facility comes on line, those worries will no longer be a concern!

Sometimes, state departments of transportation (DOT) will need to build new storage facilities to make their operations more efficient. This has been happening in Tennessee at exit 158 on Interstate 24. A planned new facility there will greatly improve efficiency for the Tennessee DOT- instead of their trucks needing to "deadhead" (run back empty) to another facility nearly 80 minutes away, they will be able to get reloaded and back on the road in less than 40 minutes. That means more time for the trucks on the road, keeping those roads safe and passable, and thus protecting the traveling public during winter storms.

An ideal storage barn solution

It would be easy to think of a salt storage shed as just a building with an impermeable floor, but a look at the facility in Fort Collins, Colorado shows that it can involve a great deal more than that. Larry Schneider, director of the city's streets department and his team put a great deal of planning, about five years' worth, into their salt storage facility. They have doors at both ends of their building so they can access salt to fill city trucks at one end, and get salt to make salt brine at the other end without any interference. They load their salt through a conveyor system, that simultaneously weighs the salt as it is loaded into the dome, coats it with a special liquid so it is more effective, and places it in the right place in the dome to ensure they make use of all the space in the building.

The city's liquids program uses a special dispensing station, a bit like a series of fuel pumps, so that a number of trucks can fill up with the right brine at the same time. They even took care to make sure the doors in the salt building faced away from the prevailing wind direction, to make the handling process easier during winter storms. All that planning means trucks can fill up quickly and efficiently in the middle of the night during storms (and of course, during the day too!) and that the city can keep a close track on the salt and brine they use for their winter maintenance. As Schneider says "we can't manage it if we don't measure it." And a good salt storage barn helps them to keep track of the whole process!

5 reasons you'll love your next vacation

(BPT) - The big skies and open spaces of the American West have captured the imagination for hundreds of years. Whether it’s the beauty of a desert sunset or the cold majesty of snow-capped mountains, there’s something about the landscape and the clean air that reinvigorates the spirit.

Seeking relief from the hustle and bustle of modern life, people from all over stay at one of many dude ranches across the country. Here, an intimate blend of adventure and comfort allows visitors to experience the majesty of the west in style and unmatched luxury.

Since 1926, members of The Dude Ranchers Association have served as stewards of both the land and the traditions of the American West. Always eager to share their way of life with guests from the big city or just down the road, they have transformed the rancher’s way of life into one of the most incredible vacation opportunities around.

For a taste of the variety offered, here are five reasons all kinds of people return to dude ranches across the country.

1. Roughing it has never been so luxurious. Simply put, it’s hard to find a more relaxing experience. With many ranches offering morning yoga to limber you up before you get in the saddle along with spa services to induce a state of complete relaxation, you’ll think those cowboys had it easy on their cattle drives!

2. An educational adventure for the whole family. Many dude ranches have an array of kid-friendly activities. Children of all ages can ride horses, play, learn about animals and the wonders of the great outdoors. Parents treasure this direct, hands-on learning, and kids, well, they hardly know that what they’re doing is educational.

3. A perfect getaway for animal lovers. There is no shortage of people who visit a dude ranch in order to live their childhood dream of having a horse or a pony. Horses are an integral part of the dude ranch experience, and whether you ride them through the mountainside meadows or learn some grooming techniques, working with these animals is a magical experience.

4. Indulge in a meal like none other. After a day luxuriating in the crisp western air, nothing is better than sitting down with your family for a gourmet meal paired with the perfect wine. Yes, the food is a world-class combination of classic favorites and new flavors, but it’s also a chance to share stories with your loved ones, hear about the things your kids discovered and create lasting memories.

5. Discover something about yourself. Each year, there is no shortage of people who come to relax and let the stress of daily life melt away. While doing this, they also manage to participate in things they never imagined. Whether it is zooming down a zip line, going whitewater rafting or mountain biking, many people discover new experiences that give them a new perspective on life.

Founded in 1926, The Dude Ranchers’ Association was founded to preserve, protect and promote this unique vacation experience. Since then, the core principles of dude ranching remain the same: horses, hats, hospitality, heritage, honesty and heart.

With more than 100 accredited members, all of which are required to uphold the highest quality and standards within the dude ranching industry, The Dude Ranchers’ Association can help you find your next dream vacation.

5 bold steps to reshape your life

(BPT) - Time to reflect back on 2016 and set your sights on 2017. How did the year progress, and what did you accomplish? Maybe your goals included: A new promotion, a new car, a bigger house, better health or more meaningful relationships. Did they happen?

Has that time come to raise the bar and make a fundamental change?

At first glance it may seem impossible, but nothing changes unless you take control. Maybe 2017 is the year you start living life more on your own terms - and start today by employing these five tips:

* Live a life that is true to you. Wrestle with this one. Dig deep. Is it work? Then make passion for that work front and center. Is it skill building? Then tackle an online class in a skill you need, or just want to explore. Is it where you live, or who you are sharing life with or want to share it with? Stare it down and chart one bold step toward change. The biggest regret at the end of life’s journey is abandoning your dreams. And for most people it’s just pure fear that they weren’t good enough, so they “turtle shell” up. Stop. No retakes. One mantra: Live Life Now. Repeat: This is Your Life. Find what is true to you and take one tangible step.

* Measure your time and where it is spent. Time is like the sand in the hourglass of life. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Manage it like money. Every person walking this planet has the same exact number of hours in a day. Think of it as currency. How are you spending it? Seriously, take out the pen, paper and write down for one week how that most precious commodity was spent. Then change the allocation and budget time toward accomplishing that change you want, and maybe even desperately need. Own your hour glass of life and take control.

* Focus on your people. Ask yourself a tough question: Who are the people you care about most? Who do you impact, and who impacts you? These are the people that matter most in your life. Don’t be afraid to shift the balance of your time in their favor. You'll be a better friend, and you’ll inherently feel stronger and more impactful. Your support network grows stronger, as do you.

* Feel good with what you wear. This may seem contrite, but what you toss on that skin of yours not only speaks volumes about you, but also puts you into a certain mindset. If clothes make the man, what do yours say about you? Change some items in your wardrobe and feel good about what you wear. For example, the Madda Fella menswear clothing line projects the chill vibe of Key West, yet works well in the boardroom or out on the boat.

* Find your inspiration point. What place inspires you? Where is that one spot in the world that motivates you above all others? For Madda Fella CEO and founder Michael Louden, it is Key West. “When I am there, in the sun, in this gorgeous slice of the world, I change perspectives… see a bigger world.” he says. “You owe it to yourself to do something meaningful with your life, to make a difference.” Find your place. You’ll find it is just what you need to recharge your batteries, revive your spirit and strengthen you.

The holidays are a wonderful time to bring into focus the year ahead. Don’t be afraid to think big and to start now. Set the ground work for change today and you'll make 2017 your most legendary year yet.

Celebrate 100 years of majesty with a visit to...

(BPT) - It has been 100 years since an important American institution was born. On August 25, 1916, the National Park Service was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson and was established as a new federal bureau to oversee the country’s national parks and monuments.

Since then, the national park system has grown to encompass more than 400 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state. With that act, grand sweeps of mountains, canyons, forests, islands and seashores were preserved and made accessible to people of all ages and abilities. Whether you are looking for back-country skiing down a mountain or just a scenic afternoon drive, our national park system has plenty of resources and infrastructure to make a visit enjoyable and memorable to just about anyone.

It was John Muir, a naturalist and early parks advocate who said it best: “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”

No matter where you live, there's a good chance one of these mesmerizing landscapes or historical monuments is just a quick road trip away. However, while millions will visit these majestic spots each year, few realize a major challenge faces national parks across the country — waste. The National Park Service manages more than 100 million pounds of waste nationally, much of which is generated by serving more than 300 million park visitors per year — that's enough to fill the Statue of Liberty more than 1,800 times.

While waste is a major issue in the parks, visitors can make a difference. Subaru of America, experts in zero-landfill sustainability, is sharing its knowledge of these practices with the National Parks to help keep the parks beautiful for the next century. As part of that effort, the automaker, alongside National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), has developed a set of tips that visitors can adopt to help reduce some of the biggest contributors to landfills from national parks, including paper, plastics and glass:

Opt for online: While paper maps can be a park staple, there are smartphone apps that provide the same information and more. Even without cell service, some national park apps will give helpful information about where you can spot wildlife, catch a beautiful sunset, or even find a refillable water station.

Mug for the parks: Bring a reusable coffee mug from home or buy one from the souvenir shop to help reduce the 58 billion paper cups that are sent to America’s landfills every year.

BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle): Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. Keep a refillable water bottle on hand or buy one at gift shop, while taking advantage of convenient refilling stations around the park.

Ditch the Plastic Bag: Help reduce waste by not using a plastic bag for your souvenirs or groceries that you bring into the parks. Instead, bring your own reusable bag or tote for your items to help eliminate plastic bag waste.

Take Out What You Bring in: Think about what you bring in. Check to see if it can be recycled or composted in the park you are visiting. If it cannot, try to take it home. It is often far easier to recycle near your home than in rural park areas.

If you are interested in learning more about Subaru's efforts or what you can do to help make a positive impact for generations to come, visit subaru.com/environment.

What every new driver needs to know about tires

(BPT) - When you get behind the wheel, some actions come automatically, without thinking, such as checking your fuel gauge, using your turn signal and snapping on your seat belt.

But even the most experienced drivers fail to follow this key habit that every driver should practice: They don’t check their tires.

If you miss the warning signs that your tires need air, repairs or replacement, you could end up with a tire blowout as your car zooms down the highway. This can lead to loss of control of the vehicle and, ultimately, an accident. According to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 12 percent of crashes involving inexperienced drivers are caused by tire-related issues.

So as a new driver, you have an opportunity to start a new habit right away. Check your tires once a month, and schedule a reminder on your phone. It’s worthwhile to take a few moments to pay attention to your tires. Otherwise, if you don’t, your tires will one day force the issue.

If any of these tasks on this checklist are unfamiliar to you, have a trusted family member or friend show you how. Before long, these steps will be almost as effortless as checking the fuel gauge!

Inflation: Learn how to check tire pressure with the help of a simple, inexpensive tool that fits right in your glove box: a tire pressure gauge. First, look in your jamb of the driver's side door for the PSI number, which means pounds per square inch. This tells you how much air your tires need. Remove the cap from the valve stem of your tire and apply the pressure gauge to find out how much air is in your tires. If you need to top them off, find a nearby service station, hopefully one that offers free air!

Wear: Get down and examine each tire, front, back and sides, and use the penny test to check for excessive wear. You accomplish this by placing the coin in the tread with Lincoln’s head pointing downward. If you can see the top of his head, your treads are too worn down to adequately grip the road and it is time for replacement.

Debris: Check your treads for any debris, such as rocks or nails. If you think one of your tires is punctured, yet you don’t hear any hissing, place some liquid soap on the suspected area. If a bubble arises, that's a sign of a puncture and it should brought in.

Bulges: If you see a "bubble" or a bulge in the sidewalls, that is a sign of distress and your tire in danger of failing. Bring it in as soon a possible. This is usually caused by striking a curb or a pothole or some other debris on the road. If you should accidentally hit something, it's a good idea to pull over to a safe place and examine the tires for signs of damage. If you don't see anything, be sure you check again the next time before you get behind the wheel.

Rotation: Front tires will wear more quickly than the rear, thanks to the heavy weight of the engine. That’s why it’s recommended that you rotate your tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. Luckily, this can be done very easily during an oil change. All you have to do is ask.

Equipment: Is your spare tire in the trunk of your car, along with all the other necessary tools? Don't forget to check the tire pressure of your spare, as well. If you are in a situation where you can't change your own tire, know who you would call, and whether you have the resources to cover the costs. Now that winter is coming, it's a good idea to be prepared with other supplies to keep you safe in case you are stopped, such as a winter kit and a snow shovel.

Your tires are the only things between your car and the road. But investing a few minutes into this monthly safety check is an important step in reducing your risk in getting into a crash. To learn more about being safe on the road, check out Michelin's Beyond the Driving Test at www.beyondthedrivingtest.com.


5 steps to a truly life-changing visit to Cuba

(BPT) - With the recent easing of travel restrictions to Cuba, Americans are now busily writing their Cuba vacation checklists. They likely look something like this: Drink a mojito in a Havana bar, smoke a really good cigar, try to dance the salsa, wear a new Che Guevara T-shirt and take a selfie doing all of the above at once.

While those are worthwhile activities, don't let that be where your checklist ends, as you won't come home with a true understanding of what Cuba is really like. To experience the heart and soul of Cuba — and to have one’s own heart and soul touched by the experience — you have to put down the guidebook, forget your pre-conceived notions of what you should be doing and follow these five steps.

Step 1: Spend time with real Cuban people. Americans traveling to Cuba still have to qualify under one of the approved categories, one of which is “People to People.” Think of it as an authentic cultural exchange. You meet Cuban people, such as artists, athletes, musicians and dancers, and they give you insight into their everyday lives. Prepare to be amazed by the talent, passion and dedication these people have to their craft and the commitment private citizens have to the arts in the face of extraordinary budget pressures.

Step 2: Experience life in a small town. To visit a place like Gibara (on the northern coast of eastern Cuba) and Remedios (near the coast in the north) is to understand how the majority of Cubans really live. These are places where the main square is a communal living room, where on Friday nights young girls dress up to meet young boys, where music is played in the streets and is accompanied by the clack of dominos on a café table. You’ll see preserved architecture from the 1600s and quickly notice that the preferred mode of transport is a bicycle or a ’57 Chevrolet Bel Air. All you need to do is hang out and watch life go by.

Step 3: Stay at a casa particular. When you add a huge tourist boom to a just-developing tourist infrastructure, the first thing you’ll notice is it’s hard to get a hotel room. Enter the casa particular. These are family-owned bed and breakfasts that are clean and affordable. Most have air-conditioning and private bathrooms, though the best part is the personal touches the proprietors love to add.

Step 4: Eat in a paladar. A paladar is a privately owned restaurant, often in a converted house. It’s where you’ll find authentic Cuban food, locally sourced and prepared from old family recipes. In Havana, get the grilled octopus in pesto sauce. In the center of the island it’s cattle country, where the specialty is vaca frita — a crispy and soft beef that melts in your mouth. Wherever you go, order the flan — it’s the real deal and a world apart from the poor substitute you always pass on.

Step 5: Learn a few steps of the salsa. If there’s any kind of beat in the air, you’ll find the sultry moves of a salsa dancer not far behind. And in Cuba everyone dances the salsa — in town squares, restaurants, even on buses. There’s something about the grace and passion of the dance that symbolizes the joy of life of the people of Cuba. Learn a little salsa and it’ll be the best thing you take home with you.

One of the most respected and experienced organizations offering “People to People” experiences is the not-for-profit educational travel company Road Scholar. Learn more at www.roadscholar.org/cuba or call (877) 426-8056.


4 ways to make your hotel feel more like home

(BPT) - After a few weeks of staying in hotels, you let out a sigh of relief as you walk through the front door of your home. As someone who travels for work, whether it be for relocation, training or sales, you know the feeling of coming home after a long trip — but you should also feel comfortable when you're away.

While you'll always enjoy returning to your family and home, you don't have to feel uncomfortable for weeks at a time during your extended trip. These four tips help you make your hotel experience feel more like home, and your overall trip more enjoyable.

First off, choose a suite to get more space.

Unlike typical hotel rooms, suites offer multiple rooms including a living room, kitchen and separate bathroom so it's more like an apartment. When you stay in a suite, you're less likely to feel cramped and you have the space to make it a bit more personal with your own touches.

Avoid eating out for every meal.

During business trips, many travelers are forced to eat out or order room service for every meal, but this can make you feel sluggish after just a few days. When you stay in a suite with a full kitchen, you can prepare your own meals as you would at home. Candlewood Suites hotels offer accommodations with a full kitchen including a refrigerator, stovetop, microwave and most importantly, a dishwasher. You can easily stay on your routine with healthy meals and make your favorite dishes. Additionally, Candlewood Suites properties offer the Lending Locker, where you can borrow items like a blender or crockpot to make your favorite items.

Unpack belongings after you check in.

It's hard to feel at home when you're living out of a suitcase. To make your suite feel like your own personal space, unpack clothes in drawers and closets, put away toiletries in the bathroom and store belongings like books in the nightstand. After you're all unpacked, you'll be able to relax more easily in your temporary home.

If you’re traveling for long time, you’ll eventually need to tackle your laundry as well. Candlewood Suites hotels provide free washing machines and dryers for guests to use which means you can conveniently take care of your laundry without ever leaving the hotel.

Personalize your space.

On short weekend trips, it makes sense to pack light. But, when you're in a new city for weeks or even months at a time, it's better to bring along more than just clothes and shower essentials. Personal touches, like family pictures, sports memorabilia and fresh plants can dramatically improve your space and feel more like your own. Some guests even like to bring their own bedspreads or wall art to make their suite feel like home.

Nothing can replace home, but a comfortable suite can at least come close. To learn more about apartment-style suites and how you can book one for your next extended trip, visit www.candlewoodsuites.com/business today.


3 tire tips to cruise through winter, safely

(BPT) - The leaves are falling, temperatures are dropping and winter will soon be here. While snow can be pleasant to look at, it can also wreak havoc on roadways and create hazardous driving conditions during the winter months.

Everyone dreads the nerve-wracking winter commutes, but there’s plenty you can do to prepare your vehicle for inclement conditions. By taking a few precautionary steps in advance of the drop in temperatures, you can make sure your vehicle is better equipped for safe, smooth travel during the colder months.

Tires are one of the most important factors of safe winter driving; they can be the difference between a safe commute and a ride in a tow truck.

“It’s crucial for drivers to be conscious of what type of tires are ideal for their region’s climate and driving conditions,” says Matti Morri, technical customer service manager, Nokian Tyres — the inventor of the winter tire. “Too often, drivers think all-season tires are satisfactory for all conditions, which puts them in an unsafe position during the winter months. Even the most mechanically sound vehicle is no match for winter without proper tires.”

Take the time to make sure your tires are in optimal condition before the first snowfall to make the picturesque beauty of winter more enjoyable.

1. Make sure your tires are suited for the conditions.

Whether a driver needs all-season, all-weather or winter tires depends on the climate the driver is based in.

* All-season tires perform best in temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit and above. For most of the country, this means they are ideally suited for spring, summer and fall driving. If you don’t experience snowy, slippery conditions in the winter, all-season tires are sufficient.

* All-weather tires can be used year-round and still provide excellent handling in the snow. All-weather tires are ideal for drivers that experience four seasons but are not designed to withstand the harsher winters in the northern regions.

* Winter tires are designed to grip in colder, winter conditions, not just in snow. These tires provide extreme grip in weather below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter tread patterns are also designed to provide excellent grip in icy and snowy conditions. Winter tires are engineered specifically to perform most effectively in harsh environments where colder temperatures are the norm. They don’t just combat snow and ice, they’re specifically designed and tested to function better in areas where temperatures can drop down well below freezing.

2. Monitor tire pressure.

Once you’ve found the proper tire for your climate, it’s important to closely monitor the tire pressure. As the temperature drops, tire pressure falls with it. In fact, for every 10-degree drop in temperature, tire pressure decreases by 1 pound per square inch.

Low inflation can cause a number of problems with your vehicle. It increases fuel consumption, shortens the life of your tires and creates an unsafe driving experience, as if you don’t already have enough to worry about while driving in the snow.

Tire pressure should be inspected at least once a month and always before a long trip. So grab a tire pressure gauge and your vehicle’s owner manual before hitting the road this winter.

3. Monitor and rotate your tires.

Once your tires are properly inflated, take a look at the tread. Tires are considered legally worn out when they reach 2/32nds of an inch. To err on the side of caution, replace your tires when they reach 5/32nds of the remaining tread depth for winter driving. One way to check is to insert a U.S. penny into the main groove so that the edge of the coin touches the tread and Lincoln's head is upside down. If the top of Lincoln's head remains visible from the groove, the tires are fully worn.

Tires need more tread depth during the winter to compress snow in their grooves and release it as they roll. Insufficient tread depth sacrifices the vehicle’s traction and mobility in the snow. You should monitor the tread depth closely throughout the winter and rotate the tires at least every 7,500 miles.

Having proper tires is just the beginning of safe winter driving. Visit a mechanic prior to the first snow to get the rest of your vehicle checked out, and in case all else fails, make sure you have an emergency kit in you car. Drive at a speed that’s appropriate for the weather conditions and stay calm. Drivers should always approach winter driving with extreme caution and use their best judgment before hitting the road. Sometimes even the most prepared driver is no match for Mother Nature.

Unpack these simple luxuries to decompress at...

(BPT) - Traveling on business sounds glamorous, but it's actually as hard as a day's work — more than one would expect. After the day whirls by, whether it was spent wooing clients, leading training seminars, networking or closing sales, there’s a big appetite at the end of the day for a relaxing evening.

The growth of business travel in the U.S. is slower than the preceding decade, according to the Global Business Travel Association. So chances are when you are sent out, you are expected to accomplish more with less help during your off-site time. This can make you exceptionally ready for some down time at the end of the day. 

But for many busy women, this is a challenge. For starters, 79 percent of women said they can get twice as much done in a day as a man could, according to a recent survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Hilton Garden Inn. Quite possibly, that is what is making women feel like they’re running on empty: 67 percent said they have wished their significant other would travel on business so they could be alone.

"Women are ambitious when it comes to wanting to maximize their career opportunities while building a meaningful life at home with their families," says Ash Sears, founder the blog, Quirky Inspired . "I have discovered when I'm traveling on business, it's actually a great opportunity to steal some time to pamper myself. And you don't have to spend a lot of time and money doing it."  

When traveling, as with home, it’s important to grab some restorative personal time to keep life in balance, and get your energy back up. Next time you’re traveling on business, leverage that block of time alone and your hotel surroundings so you can truly decompress.  

Pack a few spa items

Pack luxury bath products, the scented candles, the herbal teas you never get around to using at home, and use them to help you melt away the tensions of life and of the day. It will help you restore your mind and your muscles. Don’t forget the masks and foot creams so you can treat yourself to a facial or simple pedicure.

Disconnect the devices

In order to truly de-stress, untether yourself from the electronics. Delegate work emails and social media duties to someone else for a few hours, call your family to say goodnight, and power down the devices. Well, maybe you’ll want to keep one device going so you can stream some light bossa nova music to set the mood. Grab a good book or magazine and lounge by the pool. Or if you really need to decompress, try a simple meditation, focusing only on taking deep, slow, full breaths. After a few minutes, it will lower your blood pressure and make you feel better. 

Ask Jeeves

Yes, there are plenty of excellent mobile apps that are good at finding a great dinner spot. But there’s just something unappealing about clicking around and searching online after a busy day, especially when you are trying to weigh your choices against a limited knowledge of a new city. Take advantage of your hotel staff’s knowledge of the surrounding area. Hit them up for some solid local insight and you’ll be on your way.

Go to cocktail hour

No evening of luxurious downtime would be complete without some gourmet nibbles and adult beverages. If it gets a little later than expected, not to worry, Hilton Garden Inn’s Pavilion Pantry is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, offering a wide array of snacks and beverages. Consider having a glass of wine or a yummy dessert to relax from your hectic day.

Indulge and Relax in the Shower

Traveling is a perfect time to sample luxury spa items you may not have time to use at home. Enhance your shower time by using shower gels, loofah sponges or body scrubs. Look for shower items that include jasmine oil. The scent promotes a sense of calm and well-being and serves as a sleep aid.

To book a weekend to reset and refresh, visit www.hgi.com.




4 Smart Reasons to Upgrade Your Home Security...

(BPT) - Think of what has changed forever in the span of a decade. How do you watch movies at home? You’ve replaced the DVDs with digital streaming. How do you send a picture of your kids to your parents? You skip the printing and post it on social media or send a quick text.

Another thing you can add to the list of next generation living is home security. If you install a new system in your home today, you’ll find it easier to secure and control your home, while burglars will find it harder to pull off a home heist.

Today’s best security systems come with smart home technology and a mobile app, which allows you to remotely control your system as well as other devices like locks, lights, video cameras and even your thermostat. Modern systems also offer enhanced protection from crime, with professional monitoring for emergencies and wireless communication that can’t be defeated by a semi-savvy burglar with wire cutters.

“A next-generation security system combines state-of-the-art protection with the convenience of smart home technology,” says Matt Zartman of Alarm.com, a l smart home security technology provider. “It’s easy to use, whether you’re at home or away, and it does much more for you than a traditional system can.”

Here are few changes Zartman has seen:

Smart features: One of the biggest challenges with traditional security systems is forgetting to arm the system. Once you leave home, you have no way to control it. Thanks to smartphone apps, that’s all changed. You can arm a modern security system with a tap on the screen of your smartphone, whether you are upstairs in bed tucked in for the night or hundreds of miles away on vacation.

Real-time news: An older system would only alert you when an alarm was set off. Today’s systems can alert you to a range of events via your smartphone. For example, you can get an alert when your kids arrive home, when a trusted contractor opens your smart lock, or when a video camera detects motion. You can also get notifications when something inside your home is accessed, such as a safe or a locked cabinet.

Upgraded protection: Older phone and cable-based security systems are easy to defeat because a burglar can cut the wires outside the home. The best modern systems use a wireless cellular connection to communicate. Even if your power is disabled or WiFi signal goes out, your home security system keeps you safe and connected.

Other emergencies: Tied into modern security systems is the ability to detect other emergencies in your home, such as detecting smoke or a carbon monoxide leak. They are even capable of alerting you when a water pipe bursts, so you can take action to prevent costly water damage.

If you are interested in learning more about modern security systems and how they keep your family safer and more connected when you are away, check out Alarm.com’s Smarter Home Security systems at www.alarm.com/blog.

Travel tips to help introverts enjoy every journey

(BPT) - If you’re an introvert, traveling can be a challenge. Being introverted can increase the anxiety you feel when engaging in already-stressful business travel, and undermine your enjoyment of a leisure trip. Being forced to sit next to and even socialize with numerous other people, many of them strangers, can be torture for introverts.

“Introverts aren’t necessarily loners or even shy,” says Jim Menge, president of Rovia, an award-winning travel services provider. “They’re just more bothered by travel hassles like crowds, intense together time, and interacting with strangers. It’s important for introverted travelers and their traveling companions to plan an itinerary that will make the trip as stress-free and enjoyable as possible for everyone.”

Reserved, not shy

About 50 percent of the population are introverts, according to Psychology Today. And while stereotypes may portray introverts as shy, socially phobic loners, that’s not at all who they are. “Introverts are drained by social encounters and energized by solitary, often creative pursuits,” the online journal explains. “Many introverts socialize easily; they just strongly prefer not to.”

Your introversion may make you think a group travel experience would never be for you; you’ll stick to taking trips with your core family members and friends. Yet with the right itinerary, introverted travelers can find the perfect balance of alone-time and group activities, whether they’re traveling for business or pleasure.

Travel tips

Menge offers these tips for introverted travelers and the traveling companions who love them:

* Talk about your plans with your travel companions, especially if you’ll be touring with extroverts. It’s important everyone discusses what they can do to make the trip as enjoyable as possible for everyone.

* Consider how comfortable you are with stretching your limits. “Each person is unique and has their own level of comfort with pushing themselves to try new experiences,” Menge says. “Think about what you’re comfortable with.” For example, learning and using a few foreign phrases, or talking with one person outside the tour group can be a low-stress triumph.

* Many introverts are energized by creative and meaningful pursuits. If that describes you, voluntourism may be a great group travel option. Voluntourism is vacation travel with a volunteering component, and it allows you to have meaningful interaction with both locals and fellow travelers that goes beyond the small talk you may dread. Voluntour itineraries like those offered by WorldVentures balance work and relaxation, and volunteer projects can last from a single day to several weeks. One day of your trip, you may work with others to build a school, and the next day have free time to explore the sights and sounds of the destination.

* Allow yourself adequate free time to get away from the group by yourself (if safe to do so) or with a handful of close loved ones. That away time will allow you to recharge so you’re more relaxed when you rejoin the larger group.

* Look for accommodations that won’t force you into social situations. For example, a B&B, where dining is communal, might be an uncomfortable environment for an introverted traveler, while a larger hotel may allow for more anonymity and independence.

* Choose activities that allow you to enjoy “me-time,” even if you’re with others. For example, a hike on a scenic and moderate to strenuous trail will allow for more quiet time — even in a larger group. Everyone will be concentrating on walking carefully and breathing, rather than on socializing.

* Use technology to give yourself alone time when you can’t physically get away from others. Wearing headphones or using an e-reader can silently alert your travel companions that you need some time to yourself. “You’re not being rude, you’re just doing what you need to do to recharge,” Menge says. “It’s perfectly OK to do what you need to do in order to maximize your enjoyment of your trip.”

You can learn more about voluntourism and group travel opportunities that will please both introverts and extroverts at www.dreamtrips.com.


Planning a Florida vacation? Discover this gem...

(BPT) - This year, you'll be traveling to Florida for a theme park experience of a lifetime — and your family can hardly contain their excitement. While thrill rides and fun games make up the majority of your itinerary right now, it's a good idea to research other attractions in the area you can add to the list.

Even the most seasoned amusement park enthusiasts need a break from the long lines and bustling crowds now and then. When your family desires a change of scenery, Visit Central Florida has the perfect escape to rejuvenate both kids and adults: Bok Tower Gardens.

Bok Tower Gardens is a beautiful, relaxing hideaway that's only a short drive from major theme parks and beaches. Much more than a botanical garden, this historic landmark offers a wide range of activities to keep your family entertained all day. Here are just a handful of the experiences you'll find at Bok Tower Gardens.

Outdoor Kitchen and Edible Garden

A recent addition, the Outdoor Kitchen and Edible Garden is a great attraction for foodies and home gardeners alike. Enjoy fresh garden-to-table dining, and learn tips for growing vegetables and creating interesting dishes during chef-led demonstrations. Along with the tasty meals, you'll admire the charming setup; this outdoor kitchen is built from reclaimed cypress wood and features a wood-fired brick oven.

The Children's Garden

Bok's new Children's Garden opens up in September, and offers three acres of play area in open, natural environments. Kids of all ages will have a blast exploring and learning through a wide range of activities, from rock scrambles to fairy trails. When the weather's warm, don't miss out on playful water games by the river!


It's a treasure-hunting game for the modern world! Geocaching, where you use GPS-enabled devices to navigate and track down hidden objects, is available in three different locations throughout the Gardens. The three geocaching locations also include trade treasures and a log book to enhance the game.

The Singing Tower Carillon Concerts

Pack a picnic and blanket, and enjoy lunch under the tower to the sounds of a live carillon concert at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. daily. The carillon is a musical instrument consisting of 23 cast bronze bells, and can play music in any key. If you'd rather not prepare food before hand, you can find a fresh, flavorful lunch at the Blue Palmetto Cafe.

Family Fun

At Bok Tower Gardens, there are plenty of entertainment options created with the whole family in mind. Discovery Backpacks encourages your to explore the breathtaking Gardens, taking in the fresh scents and vivid colors, while enjoying fun and educational activities. If you wish to learn more about the Gardens, sign your family up for a free Garden Adventure Guide. During the tour, you'll learn fun facts about its culture and natural history. You can even use the map and clues to hunt for hidden tile posts on your way to the Singing Tower.

Natural beauty, fun activities and live music — what's not to love about these gardens? To learn more about Bok Tower Gardens and start planning your visit, head to visitcentralflorida.org today.


Driving 101: Smart tips to ace the road

(BPT) - The backpacks are full, the car pools are set, and the homework is piling up as we continue to transition away from summer and back-to-school. Whether you are walking your child to the bus stop, dragging your teen out of bed or dropping your child off at school, the morning routines for millions of Americans around the country have changed. Hankook Tire recently polled Americans about driving this fall and found that the start of school impacts traffic, morning routines and driver behaviors.

In its latest quarterly Gauge Index, Hankook found that 35 percent of Americans believe the start of school causes more traffic on the roads, which impacts morning commutes. In addition to being slowed down on the road, over 10 percent of Americans reported that it takes longer for them to get out of the door in the morning. If you do find yourself late, it could have implications on others, as one-third (33 percent) of respondents indicated they commute to work with friends, family or colleagues. Along with getting to work, Hankook uncovered other back-to-school trends for the upcoming school year:

Learning to drive

Don’t be surprised if Americans drive like their parents, as the Gauge Index revealed half of all drivers were taught by Mom or Dad. The next most frequent driving teacher is a professional instructor (23 percent), followed by friends (8 percent) and siblings (6 percent). No matter who does the teaching, chances are they’d be called to the head of the class, as 85 percent of drivers are confident they would not be a better driver if someone else taught them.

Driver detention

Everyone has their own habits on the road, both good and bad, but 29 percent of Americans recognized speeding as the most popular bad habit on the road. Talking or texting on the phone (12 percent), changing lanes without using a blinker (9 percent) and not wearing a seatbelt (7 percent) were other bad habits recognized by drivers.

Car coloring

Car color has strong implications on a driver and vehicle’s personality, and Americans are divided in how they choose the color of their vehicle. While 38 percent of respondents indicated they choose the color of their car because it’s their personal favorite, 23 percent of Americans chose the color based on what is the least expensive and another 23 percent choose a color that they think will stay the cleanest. Other factors include keeping the car cool in high temperatures (17 percent) as well as colors that are considered to be “safe” on the road (10 percent).

Back-to-school driving 101

Hankook offers some basic automotive tips to ensure safe and smooth driving this fall.

* Start the season off right with a DIY vehicle audit. Be sure to check your tire pressure, tire tread, oil levels and brake lights. To check your tread, insert a penny into your tire’s tread grooves. If the top of Lincoln’s head is visible, your tires are worn and you likely need to replace them. If you are in the market for new tires, take advantage of Hankook’s Great Hit Mail-in Rebate, and save up to $100 on premium tires by visiting: www.hankooktire.com/us.

* Have you ever forgot where you parked? If so, you are not alone. The Hankook Gauge Index found 75 percent of people have in fact forgotten where they parked. To avoid having this happen, take a picture of your parking spot or note the lot number or another landmark on your phone.

* While we can forget where we parked, we can also forget what kind of tires are on our car. Make sure your car is running on the right, season-appropriate tires. The Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 is an ideal all-season high performance tire that combines cutting-edge appearance with confident handling, traction and control on dry, wet and wintery roads.

Fabulous food finds puts Pittsburgh on every...

(BPT) - While the french fry and coleslaw-garnished Primanti Bros. sandwich and pierogies are traditional culinary staples of Pittsburgh, the food scene in this city of three rivers has exploded, much like the city itself.

Long known as the Steel City, Pittsburgh is now more closely associated with robotics, medicine, education, banking, tourism and yes, its blossoming food culture. There are now more than 300 restaurants in the downtown Pittsburgh area and scores more in many of the city’s 90 unique and diverse neighborhoods.

And while it is still a legendary sports town long associated with names such as Terry Bradshaw, Roberto Clemente, Arnold Palmer and Dan Marino, Pittsburgh is now home to many of the country’s hottest chefs. Consider Justin Severino, chef and co-owner of two award-winning restaurants, Morcilla and Cure, who is now listed among Pittsburgh's superstars.

How did Pittsburgh become the “No. 1 Food City in the U.S.” as recognized by Zagat and how has it landed at the top of so many other top 10 lists? VisitPITTSBURGH President and CEO, Craig Davis, feels that the media really started noticing the “new Pittsburgh” in 2009.

“That’s when we hosted the G-20 Summit, and the national and international media saw firsthand the beauty of Pittsburgh and the tremendous transformation our city had gone through,” Davis says. “Since then, Pittsburgh has been receiving accolade after accolade, including many for our unique restaurants and up-and-coming chefs.”

According to Davis, it wasn’t only the media that began seeing the city differently. Restaurant investors and young chefs discovered Pittsburgh to be a less expensive place in which to open restaurants in comparison to other cities.

And chefs are seizing the opportunity to create unique and award-winning dining options. Two of Pittsburgh’s newest restaurants were named among Bon Appétit’s list of the “Top 50 New Restaurants of 2016” — the previously mentioned Morcilla and the Ace Hotel’s Whitfield. Located in the trendy neighborhood of Lawrenceville, Morcilla scores the No. 4 spot on Bon Appétit’s “Top 10” list, calling Chef Severino “the most underrated chef in America.” 

Pittsburgh has so many more amazing culinary options. Gaucho Parrilla Argentina, located in the city’s Strip District, has been recognized by Yelp as one of the “Top Places to Eat in the U.S." Playboy magazine includes two Pittsburgh diners in its roundup of the best breakfasts in the Northeast. Pamela’s Diner, frequented by President Obama during his many visits to Pittsburgh, serves award-winning crepe-style pancakes, and Coca Café is noted as having “an artsy and adorable” 20-seat dining room with a foodie-focused menu.

Nestled on the top of a steep hill overlooking the city’s skyline is the picturesque neighborhood of Mount Washington, home to a variety of fine dining restaurants, and it’s the place where visitors can discover one of “America’s Most Stunning Views,” according to USA Today.

Among the most exciting and innovative new restaurant concepts in the city is Smallman Galley, located in The Strip, Pittsburgh’s historic Market District. This restaurant incubator has been dubbed a “launch pad,” providing four outfitted kitchens and seats for 200 guests for four aspiring chefs to run their own restaurant without the capital risk as they attempt to break down barriers and enter the industry. For patrons, it is an opportunity to try four innovative food concepts in a unique, historic space at one time.

So how has the dynamic food scene benefited the convention and tourism market? 

“It is a fantastic selling tool for our city — whether we are talking to a meeting planner or a sports event planner or simply someone who calls our office wanting to visit Pittsburgh,” Davis says. “People hear we are a great food city, and they know that our culinary offerings will add to their Pittsburgh experience. They still may want to try a Primanti Bros. sandwich when they visit — and they should — but they also want to discover our other great restaurants as well.”

Find out more and plan your visit to Pittsburgh with discount attraction tickets, hotels and more at VisitPITTSBURGH.com.



From the mountains to the seashore, explore the...

(BPT) - History buffs, beach bums and backpackers know that Texas has more than a few options to choose from when it comes to enjoying their hobbies, but did you know that the state is also home to national parks, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the longest section of undeveloped barrier island in the world? Pack your bags and head to the Lone Star State for some nationally recognized fun.

There’s a place in far West Texas where night skies are as dark as coal and rivers carve temple-like canyons in ancient limestone. This magical place is Big Bend National Park. While exploring more than 801,000 acres, visitors can take a rafting trip down the Rio Grande, hit the trails to see some of the best panoramic views of the state, search for hidden mines on the Lost Mine Trail at the summit of the Chisos Mountains or take an overnight backpacking trip. Visitors will also see Texas wildlife, as there are many different species in the park including mountain lions, deer, Mexican black bear, javalina and over 450 species of birds. Big Bend also supports a remarkable diversity of plant life; there are 1,200 plant species, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

A few hours away in Salt Flat is the world's premier example of a fossil reef from the Permian Era, Guadalupe Mountains National Park. From protecting travelers from the Mescalero Apaches who were defending their lands, to exploring and mapping the region, Buffalo Soldiers are entwined in the history of the Guadalupe Mountains. The Guadalupe Mountains are still an important cultural and spiritual sanctuary for the Mescalero Apaches with members of the tribe returning to the area to harvest agave for ceremonial purposes.

Aside from its rich historical value, the park is known for its extensive hiking and backpacking opportunities in one of the nation's most pristine wilderness areas. Eighty miles of trails welcome hikers to Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas (8,749 feet) and to mountaintops with scattered but thick conifer forests typically found in the Rockies hundreds of miles to the north. While exploring the Guadalupe Mountains, visitors are bound to encounter some of the 60 species of mammals, 289 species of birds and 55 species of reptiles present. These are just a few reasons why Guadalupe National Park is one of America’s best kept secrets.

In Central Texas, San Antonio’s five Spanish colonial missions (including the Alamo) represent the largest concentration of Spanish colonial missions in North America and the first UNESCO World Heritage site in Texas. The missions include the state-owned Alamo, or Mission San Antonio de Valero, and the four federally run missions — Concepción, San José, San Juan and Espada — that each have an active Catholic parish.

Once you finish exploring the Missions of San Antonio, take a road trip south to Padre Island National Seashore, the longest section of undeveloped barrier island in the world. Stretching over 130,454 acres, Padre Island National Seashore separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre, one of a few hypersaline (saltier than the ocean) lagoons in the world. The park protects 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies and wind tidal flats teeming with life, including a variety of sea turtles.

In fact, five sea turtle species — Kemp's ridley, green, loggerhead, hawksbill, and leatherback — have been documented along the seashore. All of these species are federally listed as threatened or endangered. The Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery at Padre Island National Seashore is the only division of its kind in the entire National Park system. Padre Island National Seashore began efforts to save and recover sea turtles in the 1970s, when the National Park Service led the formation of a bi-national program to restore the Kemp's ridley. This species, which once nested from Mustang Island, Texas to Vera Cruz, Mexico, is the most endangered sea turtle in the world. Staff and volunteers at Padre Island National Seashore have worked diligently to recover the Kemp's ridley for decades and the program has now expanded to include protection and conservation measures for the other four species. Today, more Kemp's ridley turtles nest at Padre Island National Seashore than at all other locations in the U.S. combined.

Whether you’re looking to climb mountains, explore historic missions or take a tranquil walk on the beach, get your fill of national sites in the Lone Star State.


Tips for last-minute family travel

(BPT) - Everything takes more time with young children in tow. When even a simple grocery store trip takes strategic planning, most parents forget about organizing a weekend getaway, especially if it’s spontaneous.

The truth is, small kids can be amazing travel companions with a little forethought. Use these smart parent planning tips whenever you're feeling pangs of wanderlust. This weekend's last-minute travel adventure could turn into incredible memories that will last a lifetime.

Limit drive time to 3 hours or less

When it's just you and your partner, the journey is part of the excitement of traveling. For kids, time in the car is boring at best and agitating at worst. To avoid tantrums and too many "Are we there yet?" questions, limit travel time to three hours or less.

If you have young kids, try leaving early in the morning so they fall back asleep or plan to travel during nap periods. For older kids, pack plenty of activities, load up the mobile device with new apps and buy some inexpensive-yet-fun surprises they can open along the way.

Find a hotel with room to spread out

To ensure an enjoyable trip, you want the comforts and space of home when you're on vacation. Being stuck in one room with few amenities can be a travel nightmare, especially if you have kids who like to move or a baby who goes to bed at 7 p.m.

The Staybridge Suites brand is a great example of a family-friendly hotel that encourages its guests to make the space their own and have fun. The brand has spacious suites with up to two bedrooms and two baths and a full kitchen so the family can spread out. You can even bring your pet with you so your family is complete.

Want to meet other families or get out and roam? Enjoy the outdoor pool, explore the gazebos and grill up some dinner. The complimentary breakfast (with waffles!) is sure to please kids both young and old.

Avoid a heavy itinerary

The beauty of last-minute travel is, your family doesn’t have to stick to a strict schedule. Kids want to spend the morning at the pool? Go for it. Then, sneak in a quick nap with your toddler before visiting the local museum in the afternoon. Because you're not stuck with an extensive itinerary, you can kick back and enjoy some quality bonding time together.

That's not to say you shouldn't explore the area; it's about finding a good stress-free balance. For weekend excursions, focus on one main activity you'd like to accomplish, such as visiting an amusement park or local monument. For longer trips, plan no more than one activity per day to avoid burnout.

Have the last-minute vacation blues because everything is booked? If tickets are sold out, ask to be put on a cancellation list. It's highly possible your family will be able to sneak in at the last last-minute, and you may even get a discount for filling the spot on short notice.

You don't have to avoid last-minute travel until your kids are grown. With these tips, spontaneous vacations might just be your new favorite activity.

To learn more about how you can enjoy a family vacation at Staybridge Suites hotels visit www.staybridgesuites.com/vacation.


10 packing hacks to streamline your move

(BPT) - Moving brings a mix of emotions. Excitement about living in a new home is paired with angst and anxiety about the actual moving process. The most dreaded task is the one that takes the most time: packing.

The boxes, the bubble wrap, the labels — oh my! Packing can be chaotic and overwhelming. Fortunately the experts at Penske Truck Rental have some time-tested tips to help anyone make packing for a move fast, easy and efficient.

Creative packing supplies: Boxes, packing tape and bubble wrap are essential, but by creatively using what you already have, you'll cut costs and waste. Try blankets and bedding instead of bubble wrap. Socks wrapped around glasses and stemware provide excellent protection. Decorative baskets can be used as a substitute for boxes when it comes to light goods.

Label wisely: Mark each box with your name, information about its contents and the room it comes from. Numbering boxes and adding color coding helps keep everything organized. When you arrive at your new home, sort boxes by putting them directly into the rooms where they belong.

Pack strategically: Start with the rooms you use the least before packing the most frequented rooms. What's more, use a clear container for supplies you'll need immediately upon arrival. You can quickly see the contents, plus this container is easy to pull among a sea of brown boxes.

Avoid bathroom-box blunders: Toiletries can easily break or spill. For powder cosmetics, place a cotton ball inside the container to prevent cracking. For bottles, remove caps, add plastic wrap and replace caps for a more protective seal.

Move appliances with care: Plan ahead when moving appliances. Check the owner’s manuals for special moving instructions. For refrigerators, defrost at least one day before a move and wipe liquid to avoid a wet, smelly mess.

Plan ahead: Reserve a rental truck at least two weeks in advance. A 12- or 16-foot truck is ideal for moving a few large items or the contents of a small apartment. Moving a larger home will require a bigger truck. For guidance with truck selection, visit www.PenskeTruckRental.com.

Pack moving trucks efficiently: Start with heavy items first and strive to distribute weight evenly to prevent shifting. If possible, place couches on their ends rather than horizontally to save space. When stacking boxes, create walls and tie down to secure.

Pack snacks: After spending days packing you'll want to hit the road and get to your new house without unnecessary breaks. By packing drinks and snacks, you won't need to stop when hunger strikes.

Keep important documents close: Keep important documents, credit cards and your driver’s license in a bag inside the truck. When you stop for a break, make sure to lock this bag in the center console or glove box.

Consolidate: Finally, remember the less you have to pack, the less time it will take so condense by getting rid of unused items. The general rule is if you haven't used it within a year, it's time for it to go. Have a yard sale, donate goods or give to friends (give first dibs to those pals helping you on move day).

From cliff jumping to paddleboarding: What...

(BPT) - The power of nature is undeniable - all it takes is a few moments outdoors to feel refreshed and have your spirits lifted. So why limit yourself to short bursts of warm sunlight? With the wide-ranging landscapes that make up this country, there's no shortage of unique experiences waiting to be discovered.

One place that is truly unforgettable in terms of its natural beauty is Maine. A state well-known for its fresh lobster, Maine also boasts a rocky coastline, picturesque waterway, gentle, rolling mountains and dense forests. It's a terrain many consider to be the "complete package," and it certainly appealed to six young travelers looking to exchange their typical daily routines for an extraordinary adventure. Here's their story.

How it all started

Visit Maine partnered with L.L Bean to provide travelers an experience of a lifetime. The group of friends, which included siblings and spouses, had never been to Maine before and didn't know their itinerary in advance; they instead embraced the unknown, and had a blast doing so. While the enthusiastic travelers chased the sun, the Visit Maine team followed their journey and captured each highlight, outlined below.

The arrival

Shortly after arrival, the group of friends ditched their usual mode of transportation to get to know the quaint, Maine town Yarmouth on bike. With the sun on their backs and fresh salty breeze keeping them cool, they pedaled through the historic town, marveling at the rich heritage surrounding them and pondered what adventures awaited them in the days to follow.


Cluttered interiors and noisy neighbors often make for a stressful living environment, but when you escape into Maine's pristine nature, the stress goes away and relaxation sets in. At the Recompence Shore Campground, the adventurers were truly living under the sun, and enjoyed having the Atlantic Ocean for a neighbor and the peaceful sounds of birds created a calm setting.

Fly fishing

Forget about loud restaurants and crowded grocery stores - these travelers were given a fishing reel to catch their dinner! After taking a quick fly fishing lesson, the group stood in the water with confidence to put their new skills to the test.

In the end, no fish were caught, but that didn't damper the group's spirits. Fly fishing is an art which takes practice, and in the end, standing in the quiet river surrounded by a thick layer of green was enough.


After a day of relaxation, the travelers set out to have a little fun! Paddle boarding gave each person a unique, 360-view of Maine, one that took everyone's breath away. Not to mention, it's a great form of exercise that works the entire body. While having a blast splashing and soaking in the sun, each paddle boarder reaped the benefits of getting up and getting active, which when bogged down by responsibilities, is something many of us don't get to enjoy nearly enough.

Cliff jumping

So many of us get stuck in a daily routine and stay with what's comfortable. Maine provided a chance for the six travelers to break out of their comfort zone and take a risk. The 25-foot drop into Coos Canyon made the group hesitate at first, but with a little encouragement, each one took the plunge to experience a thrill they'll never forget.


To top off the trip, the explorers made their way up Tumbledown Mountain. It's a difficult hike, one that requires focus, a positive attitude and of course, a lot of water, but the group was up to the challenge. They knew the awe-inspiring views would be worth the struggle; it turned out to be more magnificent than they could have ever imagined.

There aren't enough words to accurately describe the exceptional landscapes of Maine. This is why Visit Maine produced a digital publication complete with editorial photos and documentary-style videos to capture the group's journey. Visit The Maine Thing Quarterly today to get a full look into their Maine experience.

Foot care tips to keep vacationers on the go

(BPT) - Clothing, passport, toiletries, accessories — when you travel you have a lot of important items to fit into your suitcase. But two of the most essential ingredients in an enjoyable vacation don’t go in your luggage: your own feet. Whether you’re walking on a sandy beach or strolling through a bustling marketplace, healthy feet that feel and look great can make the journey much more enjoyable.

Here are foot care tips to help get your feet travel-ready:

Before you go

If your vacation is to a warm destination where you’ll spend time in sandals and flip flops, treating yourself to a pre-trip pedicure can help your feet look their best. Be sure to choose a reputable salon and bring your own instruments. Remember, toenails should always be trimmed straight across and never let anyone cut your cuticles.

You can also take care of unsightly and uncomfortable toe and foot fungus infections before you go. Over-the-counter treatments like Fungi-Nail(R) Toe & Foot(R) can quickly and easily help clear up toe and foot fungus and athlete’s foot. The product begins killing fungus on contact and helps stop it from spreading. ClearGuard moisture block technology ensures the medicine will stay on your feet, no matter how much you sweat or how often you dip in the water. You can also use Nailner(R) for healthy, brighter nails fast. Nailner is a convenient pen that whitens discolored fungal nails with results you can see in just seven days. An eight-week consumer trial showed Nailner is effective in reducing nail thickness.

While you may be tempted to only pack cute flip flops for your beach trip, and impressive fashion boots for cooler locales, keep comfort in mind, too. Walking in uncomfortable shoes can cause blisters and chafing; sore feet can really dim your enjoyment of vacation. Never take brand new shoes on vacation. Instead pack a few pairs of comfortable shoes made of breathable, natural materials and try to stick with a lower, cushioned sole.

Finally, pack a foot care kit that includes bandages for covering minor cuts and scrapes, antibiotic cream, an emollient-enriched moisturizer, an anti-fungal (like Fungi-Nail), blister pads, an oral anti-inflammatory medication to ease tired and swollen feet, Nailner nail renewal pen to keep your nails looking whiter and brighter while at your destination, sunscreen and sunburn cream.

On the move

While on vacation, change socks daily to help reduce the risk of fungal infection. You should also avoid walking barefoot in public places like pools, locker rooms and showers. If you pick up a fungal infection while traveling, treat it promptly to prevent it from spreading.

If your feet will be exposed to the sun on the beach, remember to apply sunscreen to them too. Since feet can swell in hot climates, be sure to drink plenty of water that will help keep you hydrated and minimize swelling.

It is important to choose footwear that’s appropriate for the type of activity you’ll be doing each day. It’s normal for feet to feel a little tired and sore after a long day of walking around seeing the sights. But, if serious pain occurs or your feet continue to hurt even after you’ve returned home, you should talk to your doctor.

For more information about how Fungi-Nail eliminates and stops the spread of toe and foot fungus, or regarding Nailner nail renewal pen visit www.funginail.com or fn-nailner.com.


Save money, cut stress with savvy...

(BPT) - If you work for a small business, you're in good company. There are 28 million small businesses in the United States that provide 55 percent of all jobs, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Travel is a necessary part of growing a small business. In fact, two out of three small-business owners and employees travel specifically to meet clients face-to-face, a Holiday Inn Small Business Traveler Study found. However, 56 percent of those surveyed note the stress of travel is the top pain point for business trips, plus nearly a third feel they aren't treated as well as business travelers who work for large companies.

To put the joy back into traveling and to help small-business travelers get the most out of their money, consider these expert tips and tricks.

Research hotel amenities and extras

The hotel you choose should enable your success, not hinder it. That's why you should research options and select a hotel that offers the amenities and extras you need to grow your small business even when you're away from home.

A few hotel essentials for small-business travelers include free high speed Wi-Fi, comfortable and quiet lounge areas, business centers and meeting facilities. Additionally, a full-service hotel with a restaurant, bar and workout rooms will save you time and help you find the balance between work and relaxation.

Seek small-business perk programs

Some hotels offer programs specifically for small-business travelers. For example, The Holiday Inn brand’s "Inn Business" offer awards small-business travelers with Gold Elite status in IHG Rewards Club following just one-night stay, as well as complimentary room upgrades, priority check-in and late check-out, and the ability to earn rewards nights faster. Learn more at www.holidayinn.com/innbiz.

Another program to explore is Your Rate by IHG Rewards Club, which provides access to exclusive rates to save money plus a streamlined booking process. This is a major time-saver considering it takes an average of nine steps to book a hotel room, according to the Holiday Inn Small Business Traveler Study, and now it can take a little as two steps.

Stay organized and save time

Disorganization fuels stress. A little proactive thinking can eliminate worries and headaches from small-business travel. First, make a travel checklist even if you're frequently on the road. It's easy to forget necessities when you're in a hurry.

Next, if you're flying, opt for non-stop flights to save time. A flight labeled non-stop arrives at a destination without a layover. This is not to be confused with direct flights which can have a stop, but travelers wouldn't be required to get off the plane. This results in a longer trip time compared to a non-stop flight.

Finally, it's easy to get confused when traveling frequently. Take cell phone photos of your hotel room so you can easily reference the number. Also, take photos of your car rental and where you park so you can find your vehicle-of-the-moment without a hitch.

Eat well and maintain a schedule

Traveling can throw off your schedule which can make you feel tired and impatient. First, pack a protein-packed snack and remember to stay fueled and hydrated to avoid headaches, fatigue or worse.

Next, try to stay at hotels that offer room service from a full onsite restaurant. This makes it easy to save time by starting your morning in-room with a wholesome meal, or, kick back after a long day with a tasty dish enjoyed from the comfort of your private suite.

To avoid burnout and stay healthy, sleep is vital. A portable white noise machine helps induce sleep, especially when changing time zones. Also, keeping up an exercise routine at the hotel’s gym is great for melting away stress and allowing the body rest come nighttime.


Articles last updated at Dec 05, 2016 14:55:40pm.
Next update in 60 minutes.

Site Meter

Copyright 2016, RizeEverett.com

Date and Time

Travel Weather


Travel Tools

More Travel Tools

Travel Costs


Theme Parks

Currency Converter

Intl. Dialing Codes