Plan A Fall Foliage—Or Spring Flowers—Bike Tour
(NAPSI)—While any time of year can be a good time for a bike trip, two of the best are spring and fall, when the highways and byways are both comfortable and colorful.
Pointers On Planning
Here are five hints to help you make the most of your two-wheeled adventure:
1. Know before you go.
Research your route online and in guidebooks. Note places to stay and places to see.
2. Get the best maps you can.
Look for a scale of between 1:200,000 and 1:400,000 or purchase Map software for your smartphone or tablet.
3. Don’t plan on going too far or too fast.
Factor in rest times, closed roads, bad weather and good detours.
4. Run the numbers.
Decide in advance how many are traveling together. Small groups of, say, two to six people can be easier to manage. Larger groups can be a lot of fun and may be better for beginners. If you’re traveling alone, be sure someone else knows your route and timetable.
5. Be prepared.
It’s a good idea to bring along a tire pump, tire gauge, spare tubes, a patch kit, helmet, sunglasses, a first-aid kit, gloves, rain gear, extra socks, cycling shorts, tights, long- and short-sleeved shirts, a knit hat, a bright yellow or orange vest, and shoes to wear when you’re not riding, as well as whatever toiletries and amusements you usually need on a trip.
Fortunately, packing it all can be simple with weatherproof bike bags, called panniers, that keep your valuables safe and easily accessible. One of the favorites is the Thule Pack ‘n Pedal line of products.
These on-bike racks and panniers are easy to install and remove from a bike quickly and safely. There is even a handlebar accessory where a smartphone, headlamp or action sports camera can be mounted.
For more products that can help to equip your bike for a ride, go to www.thule.com.
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Five Tips For RV Travelers
(NAPSI)—Here’s a new look at an old pastime: Recreational vehicle (RV) travel has been a favorite with Americans for more than a century. The fuel of choice for RV travelers, propane, has also been around for more than 100 years. Propane is a clean, American-made fuel used for cooking, heating and cooling, and powering a variety of appliances in most towable, motorized and specialty RVs.
Before they get behind the wheel, however, there are a few steps that RV enthusiasts should take:
1. Get an inspection. RV owners should have their propane system inspected annually by a qualified service technician.
“Technicians, like any expert, get training that helps them to properly predict and address any issues with your system,” advises Roy Willis, president and CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), an energy check-off program dedicated to safety and training for the propane industry. “Leave it to the experts and do not attempt to repair any propane-related component yourself.”
It’s also important to ensure that the RV has at least one Class B:C fire extinguisher and operational propane, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
2. Read the owner’s manuals. It’s always a good idea to read the RV owner’s manual and appliance manuals and carefully follow instructions. If there has been a recall notice on appliances—or anything in the RV—have the vehicle serviced before departure.
3. Check for wear and tear. Check the RV’s propane fuel gauge to make sure there’s enough propane in the tank before hitting the road. PERC also encourages travelers to visually inspect propane cylinders and holding mechanisms for any signs of rust, corrosion, fatigue or wear and tear.
“Propane systems should never leak or show visible damage,” Willis says. “If you detect a leak or sense a propane odor—which is similar to a rotten egg smell—have it checked out immediately by a professional. All refilling, repair or replacement must be done by qualified service technicians as well.”
4. Turn propane systems off while on the road. “Shut off propane supply valves, pilot lights, igniters and appliances,” Willis says. “The equipment should not be in use while operating the RV.”
5. Clear the cooking area. Propane is most often used to cook food and cool beverages at rest stops and campgrounds. Before cooking on an indoor RV stove, open a window and turn on exhaust fans.
If you’re cooking outdoors using portable fuel-burning equipment including wood, charcoal and outdoor propane grills and stoves, make sure you’re a safe distance from the RV and propane tanks. Never use outdoor cooking equipment inside.
“Travelers should also keep propane tanks and cylinders at least 10 feet away from heat sources,” Willis says. “Remember, propane is a safe fuel when handled properly.”
Following these simple safety checks can save travelers time and provide them added peace of mind.
Families that travel by RV generate less carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions than those traveling on a plane, renting a car and staying in a hotel. To further reduce their carbon footprint on the road, RV travelers can follow these suggestions from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association:
• Keep RV and tow vehicle engines well tuned to conserve energy and reduce emissions.
• Always use marked RV campsites to avoid damage to natural habitats.
• Recycle as you travel.
• Minimize the use of disposable dishes, cups and utensils.
• Keep campfires small to minimize the amount of ash and pollution, and don’t put anything into the fire pit that will not burn.
For more information, visit usepropane.com or gorving.com.
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Deal Month In Orlando
(NAPSI)—If making nearly half the cost of your vacation disappear sounds like magic, then Orlando just might cast a spell on you this September.
In the midst of major openings and expansions, the destination is offering 30 days of savings up to 50 percent during Visit Orlando’s Magical Deal Month in September.
SeaWorld Orlando, for example, has a Kids Free Vacation Package for up to five nights with one free child’s admission with each paid adult.
Universal Orlando Resort has a four-night hotel accommodations package and early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, all at a reduced price.
Walt Disney World Resort is offering a free dining plan with purchase of a nondiscounted six-night/seven-day Magic Your Way package.
In addition, over 75 of Orlando’s top restaurants offer three-course, prix-fixe dinners for $33, Aug. 25 to Sept. 30, as part of Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month. To learn more, go to www.VisitOrlando.com/September.
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Going On Vacation? Your Smartphone Can Help Keep Your Home Safe While You’re Away
(NAPSI)—With the economy picking up, more and more families are planning trips this season. Your next vacation may be more relaxing once you realize all the convenience and security you have at your fingertips—thanks to your smartphone and its many useful apps.
Smartphones offer so many apps to help you make the most of your time away. There are airline apps, restaurant finders, apps to help you make sense of overseas currencies, and travel apps to help you decide what to do and see.
That may be one reason, according to a recent Choice Hotels travel survey, millennial travelers and parents with kids under 12 would rather lose their luggage than go without their phones.
Home Management From Your Phone
Some of the most valuable technologies for travelers, however, aren’t focused on the trip itself. As travel picks up this season, families turn to technology to easily manage their households from afar. For example:
• There are apps that let you control the lights, drapes, TV and radio from anywhere, so you can make your house look lived in even when it’s not.
• Smart locks can send push notifications to owners’ phones when someone locks or unlocks the front door.
• Some apps can adjust the thermostat so you can save on energy costs while you’re away and still come home to a comfortable, climate-controlled house.
• With the Kwikset Kevo smart lock, you can manage electronic keys (eKeys) and control your home security through the Kevo app.
• If you need a neighbor to take out the trash or check if you left the oven on, you can quickly send a free Guest eKey through the Kevo app. There’s also a Scheduled eKey that lets you set day and time constraints from the phone for house sitters and dog walkers.
Learn More About The App
For further facts or to find out how to get the Kevo app, go to www.kwikset.com/kevo or call (800) 327-5625.
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Florida’s Cultural Scene
(NAPSI)—The sandy beaches of Sarasota County, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, are just the tip of the iceberg for visitors craving cultural attractions.
Known for its architectural innovation, the region is drawing travelers to the SarasotaMOD Weekend festival this fall (Oct. 9-12, 2014). Celebrating Sarasota’s pioneering architecture movement, visitors will be treated to guided tours as well as gatherings with architects, authors, critics and designers (www.sarasotaMOD.com).
• Then there are the four dynamic days at the Ringling International Arts Festival the following week, Oct. 15-18, which features emerging artists on the grounds of the Ringling estate. Visit www.ringling.org/events/series/ringlinginternational-arts-festival.
• In mid-November, visitors can chalk one up to the Sarasota Chalk Festival, Nov. 10-17 (http://chalkfestival.org), where artists use the street pavements as their canvas. And visitors will watch amazing sand castles be built at the Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition, Nov. 14-18 (www.siestakeycrystalclassic.com).
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Students Are Filling A Gap With Travel
(NAPSI)—Increasingly, students and those just out of school are using international travel as a productive way to make the most of the gap of time between high school and college or between college and starting a career. That’s why this type of purposeful travel has come to be known as gap travel.
After spending 12-plus years in the classroom, a gap year spent traveling can be an excellent way for students to learn about themselves and the rest of the world. At the same time, it can also serve as a way for the student to stand out from the crowd when applying for college or a job.
A Number Of Options
Gap travel can take many forms, including work trips where participants hold full- or part-time jobs and are self-sustaining; volunteering trips; teaching programs; and strict sightseeing packages. Many gap trips, such as those at www.firstabroad.com, are structured to be extremely affordable, making them even more popular among millennials.
According to Jim Zambrano, CEO of First Abroad, a Boston-based company that coordinates gap travel, “These international programs are a great option for young adults who have yet to find a job and teens who are either facing an increasingly competitive college admissions process or just can’t afford college.”
Students who take gap trips often receive benefits that set them apart from the less adventurous, including:
• Interesting material for college essays or job interviews through engaging in new, unconventional experiences
• More time to discover interests that can give students greater clarity and understanding when choosing a major or a career path
• A renewed sense of purpose and excitement about moving on to the next step in life, whereas students who don’t take a break can often experience burnout
• Skills and life lessons that cannot be learned in a classroom
• A global perspective on life and career.
Gap years can be a fit for those who wish to gain work experience, have a steady income, gain independence and see the world—all at the same time.
To learn more, visit the website at www.firstabroad.com.
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Getting The Most From Your Fall Travel Dollar
(NAPSI)—From smaller crowds and lower prices to a bounty of festivals and beautiful seasonal foliage, there are many reasons to vacation in the fall.
For example, those who want to catch the changing leaves at their peak have fantastic choices across the U.S., from Eastern hot spots such as Vermont, Maine and Tennessee to California in the West. There are even websites they can go to that can help them track the best times to visit each destination.
Festivals To Choose From
In addition to autumn’s natural beauty, many destinations come alive with weekly or daily festivals celebrating everything from apple harvests to local music and independent films. There are also Oktoberfest celebrations and the wild pastime of the Punkin Chunkin, where competing teams use custom-built machines to launch pumpkins up to a mile. Again, there are great options for both families and couples, and many destinations offer numerous events to help make your trip fun and memorable.
Less Time Spent Waiting
An added benefit of fall travel is that most destinations are not as crowded in the fall, allowing you to spend less time waiting on lines and more time exploring and enjoying the time spent away.
This can make it a great time to visit Southeastern beaches, popular national parks or monuments, and must-see cities all across the country. With all the options for fall travel, it is smart to plan ahead and book early to ensure you get the best prices and accommodations. Another great reason to travel in the fall is that many airlines begin to lower airfares, making it more affordable to travel. Lodging often comes down in price as well, with many locations providing healthy discounts to attract guests.
Add Value To Your Dollar
Another way to increase the value of your travel dollar is by staying in a vacation ownership resort, also known as timeshare. For travelers who want to see all that the country offers, vacation ownership can be a great way to guarantee a yearly vacation to their favorite destinations
These resorts typically provide more space than a traditional hotel and also offer homelike conveniences such as a kitchen, living room, multiple bedrooms, and a washer and dryer.
And through vacation exchange companies such as RCI, owners can gain access to nearly 4,500 resorts in more than 100 countries. Those wanting to sample the timeshare experience before buying can do so by booking a stay at vacation resorts through sites such as Endless Vacation Rentals (www.EVRentals.com).
With so many cost-saving benefits available during the fall, you may opt to visit a destination you couldn’t otherwise afford. Or perhaps, the savings you receive may allow you to plan an additional vacation in another season as well.
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Travel Prepares Students For Success With Personal Growth And Character Building
(NAPSI)—The keys to your child’s success in school, college and beyond may be the ones that fit the locks on his or her suitcase.
That’s because, advises Valeria Ramdin, Ph.D., Assistant Dean, School of Nursing, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Massachusetts, with colleges increasingly setting global readiness as a goal for graduates, it’s crucial to instill and nurture a global understanding in our young people.
Even though the Internet allows you to virtually “travel,” nothing compares to experiencing the real thing, taking in the sights, sounds, even smells. If you’ve been to Germany, for example, you can talk about the Berlin Wall: You’ve been there, you’ve touched it, you’ve talked with people who’ve been through that experience. You don’t need the pages of a book to make it come alive.
What Parents Can Do
There are several steps, Dr. Ramdin says, parents can take to help their kids develop a global awareness. These include:
• Let them explore, abroad or close to home. Museums, theaters and concerts can all be places to learn.
• Restaurants can be a window into another culture, an invitation to learn and understand.
• On planes or other public transportation, sit apart and talk with other people.
• Be a role model. Show a curiosity that lets your children be curious. When they make a discovery, have that sense of “Wow, tell me more” that encourages them to explore.
Adds clinical psychologist Dr. Isaiah Pickens, educational travel can be very useful.
Research has found, he says, that in today’s global society, people have actually splintered more than they’ve united. Many people have a tendency to stick with others who think the way they do.
Students’ perspective of the world—what they believe and the way they read different situations—really influences how they behave academically and socially.
One of the most effective ways to broaden students’ perspectives is through exposure to different kinds of experiences. And nothing immerses a person in new experiences like traveling in an educated way—getting informed about other cultures and talking through the nuances with fellow travelers.
It’s a way to understand what everyday life is like in another country, not just the tourist perspective.
Many students who travel or study abroad haven’t been away from their parents before. They suddenly have to rely on other people and the resources within themselves to navigate a foreign world. This can open their eyes to alternative ways to handle situations. After these unfamiliar (but teacher-supervised) situations and activities that promote students’ growth and confidence, parents can often see how the experience enhances their child’s level of responsibility and prepares him or her for the next level of school.
The most helpful takeaway from travel may be learning how to connect. Empathy, or being able to understand the world from another person’s perspective, is what enables people to connect to each other as humans. Through community service abroad, students can gain a better understanding of their position in the world relative to those in other countries. They can become much more aware of global issues—and more appreciative of the opportunities available here in the U.S.
As students transition into college, they will have to live and work with people from different cultures or regions. Traveling gives them a great head start on how to connect with others in a meaningful way. When kids, while they’re still developing, can connect with other people and cultures, that empathy can become embedded in their worldview as adults.
Children can expand their knowledge and awareness in many ways, Dr. Ramdin points out, but if that does not include a cross-cultural understanding, they will be falling short somewhere. They’re missing a worldview that’s essential in an increasingly global society. That’s where student travel with an organization such as People to People can come in. A leader in guided educational student travel for over 50 years, it has helped more than 500,000 students experience new cultures and encounter new places.
To learn how your child can be a People to People Ambassador, check out an information meeting near you. Visit www.PeopletoPeople.com or call (800) 669-7882 for meeting dates and locations.
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