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African Safari Planning a Vacation Space Shuttle AtlantisMorocco John Deere Pavillian "Must Haves" for Travelers Vacation Rentals

Must-Sees For Pre-K Kids

(NAPSI)—Good news for families with children under age 5: You can take advantage of off-peak travel perks before school lets out. For example, get a head start on Orlando’s must-see attractions and seasonal benefits this May, including:

• The all-new daily Festival of Fantasy Parade in addition to New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park.

• Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin at SeaWorld Orlando brings kids face to face with a colony of penguins.

• Seuss Landing at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, where the author’s books come to life.

• Shamu’s Happy Harbor at SeaWorld Orlando, where adventure seekers can ride the kid-friendly Shamu Express coaster.

• Universal’s Superstar Parade, which invites kids to sing and dance along with Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer, as well as characters from the animated films “Hop” and “Despicable Me.”

Recently named one of the 10 Best Budget Destinations for 2014 by Frommer’s Budget Travel, Orlando is offering plenty of theme park deals found at VisitOrlando.com/May.

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The Africa I Never Expected: On Safari With Micato

by Natalie DiScala

(NAPSI)—I went to Africa for the animals, and for good reason—you won’t find wildlife more magnificent anywhere else in the world. And I relished every moment of my bush adventures, expertly orchestrated by Micato Safaris. But by the time I left Africa, it was the people who had captured my heart.

Off to a Good Start...

My journey began on British Airways’ oh-so-comfortable Premium Economy class from Toronto to London, then on to Nairobi. I was concerned about how “full service” our reception would be, as we landed in Nairobi near midnight, but a member of Micato’s concierge team (on call 24/7!) was there to greet me and my husband as soon as we stepped off the plane. She whisked us through customs without our having to wait in any lines, stayed with us until our luggage arrived, then led us outside.

It was here that we met Philip, our Micato safari director, who accompanied us every step of the way. When I think back on the amazing people we met with Micato, Philip springs to mind the most. His knowledge of the reserves and animals was nothing short of astonishing, but it was his disposition and infectious laughter that almost single-handedly made the trip.

Luxe Lodges at a Glance...

Hemingways Nairobi was the perfect first stop for a real rest. Our room had a blissfully comfy king-size bed and an enormous deep soaking tub. Nearby, the Giraffe Centre, where you can feed the endangered Rothschild giraffes, is a must-see experience. But an only-with-Micato experience in Nairobi is lunch with Micato Africa founders Felix and Jane Pinto, who truly treated us and our companions like “well loved, out of town relatives,” which is how Travel+Leisure characterized the indefatigable hospitality of the Pinto family.

The internal flights that Micato builds into its safaris make getting around a time-saving pleasure, which we came to appreciate as soon as we touched down in the Maasai Mara. The time we would have spent being endlessly shuttled between regions was better spent on the ride to Olare Mara Kempinski, a 45-minute drive that serendipitously turned into a two-hour game drive. Olare conveniently borders the banks of the Ntiakitiak River, so it was the perfect spot for sipping cocktails and watching elephants and hippos leisurely going about their business, literally in our backyard.

From Olare we made our way to Sir Richard Branson’s uberluxurious Mahali Mzuri, in the northern part of the Mara. From the outside, the tents call to mind spacecraft, their gray-steepled rooftops pointing high into the sky. Sir Richard seems to share Micato’s keen awareness that location and timing matter a great deal in Africa; conveniently, camp here was off the “main drag” of one of the Mara’s most fertile viewing areas, and we were not disappointed.

Upon arriving at the decadent Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti in Tanzania, Philip shepherded us to one of the watering holes to witness a thirsty herd of elephants-a spectacular greeting! We rose the next morning for a 4:30 a.m. departure on a hot-air balloon safari, followed by a champagne bush breakfast. Soaring above the savannah, we witnessed a lion with a fresh kill, a galloping dazzle of zebras, a bloat of hippos and countless other creatures.

The Micato Difference

While every place we stayed at was entrancing in its own way, they all had one thing in common: each and every place obviously held the utmost respect for Micato and for all its staff. We were literally treated like royalty upon each arrival—and I soon realized why Travel+Leisure has named it the #1 World’s Best Safari Outfitter a record nine times. Micato just seems to excel in the art of safari—and was continually surprising us not just with awe-inspiring animal encounters, but also with all sorts of other “Ah-ha’s” along the way.

Another benefit of traveling with the “World’s Best”? Micato covers all gratuities from beginning to end—at your lodges and at every other point along the way. It was so nice not to have to worry about whom needed tipping at any given time—I could just relax and enjoy!

A Company that Cares

As my two weeks on safari went on, I came to realize something else about Micato. The company certainly has a firm foothold in the safari business—but the company is every bit as passionate about being in the education business. Through its One for One Commitment, Micato sends a child to school for every safari it sells.

Micato also got into the philanthropy business before it was trendy. For more than 25 years, its nonprofit arm, AmericaShare, has changed the lives of African children, and I saw firsthand how Micato-AmericaShare and its travelers are making a difference in the lives of Africa’s neediest families. So by the end of my trip I had seen the Africa of my dreams, but I also saw an Africa I never expected.

An Amazing Finish...

Our journey ended with a visit to the Harambee Community Centre, an oasis of hope within one of the largest slums in Africa. It’s from the Harambee Centre that Micato-AmericaShare operates a lending library, recreational facilities, a meal program for a nursery school, and perhaps most remarkable, hosts a small manufacturing operation where they make reusable sanitary pads.

The pads, made and distributed by Huru International as part of “Huru Kits” (which contain other sanitary supplies as well as a life-skills booklet), have thus far been distributed to 84,000 young women, enabling them to stay in school during their period.

With all these resources, Micato-AmericaShare and Huru International are enabling sustainable changes for the communities where they do business, and by association, they’re giving travelers something very special: the satisfaction of knowing that their safari is really making a difference.

To find out how to book your own incredible safari, visit www.micato.com or call 1-800- MICATO-1.

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Plan A Vacation, Get Happy

(NAPSI)—It’s no surprise that a great vacation can cause a boost in happiness. But did you know that the biggest boost in happiness actually comes from the vacation-planning process, which has a greater impact on happiness than the vacation itself?

That’s the word from experts who say that just the anticipation of a vacation can increase happiness for up to eight weeks, according to a study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life. To help jump-start your happiness, here are some tips on how to plan a great vacation and get happy.

• Commit to Regular Vacations: Americans wasted more than 500 million vacation days last year. To keep from becoming part of this statistic, lock in your vacations now! One great way to ensure you take regular getaways is by purchasing vacation ownership. This travel lifestyle product guarantees that you will have a vacation each year. And through exchange companies like RCI, you can swap your week or points for a stay at one of the nearly 4,500 resorts in more than 100 countries that are a part of its exchange.

• Choose the Vacation You Need: Your destination and activities of choice are essential parts of planning the vacation you need. Think about the type of experience you want. Are you stressed at work? Perhaps a beach vacation at a spa resort would provide the relaxation you need to come home rejuvenated and refreshed.

Or have you been feeling stagnated and bored? Then a location with activities like zip lining or scuba diving will give you the adrenaline rush you crave. Also think about if you would like a family-friendly resort, or choose an adults-only break if that’s what you need. It’s your vacation—take ownership of the details.

• Do Your Research: With so much travel advice available online, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Find a site that comes from a name you can trust, and that offers a wealth of advice on many destinations at once. This way, you can compare several location options on one site. Travel guide and travel magazine websites are good sources, as is RCI.com, where you can find information on destinations including area activities, traveler reviews, accommodation recommendations, videos, maps and weather information.

If you’re ready to get the vacation-planning happiness boost without a lot of work, RCI’s “Win Your Dream Vacation Sweepstakes” has you covered. RCI is giving away 40 vacations in celebration of its 40th anniversary—you can dream up your ideal trip, then share it for more chances to win.

Visit www.RCI.com/sweeps to play. The planning alone could boost your happiness.

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See the stunning Space Shuttle Atlantis

(NAPSI)—Visitors welcomed the iconic spacecraft Atlantis to its new home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida last year. The attraction was the most significant addition to the Visitor Complex in recent years, bolstering attendance to this unique destination, known for its mix as part museum, science center and theme park. Guests can see the historic Atlantis spacecraft as only astronauts have—with payload bay doors open and robotic arm extended, as if it has just undocked from the International Space Station (ISS). The immersive experience invites the curious to “be the astronaut” with never-before-seen, technologically sophisticated multimedia presentations and more than 60 interactive, touch-screen experiences and high-tech simulators that bring to life the passion of the 30-year Space Shuttle Program, as well as the magnitude of the engineering marvel. The top-of-the-line audiovisual and show systems, seldom-seen NASA images and footage, and reality-based astronaut training simulations combine to create a “goose bumps” experience. The exhibit also highlights the astounding achievements made possible by the shuttle, most notably the ISS and the deployment and maintenance of the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Morocco: A Valued Partner In North Africa

(NAPSI)—Recent events have shown once again that Morocco is much more than beautiful beaches and colorful markets. It is also an important ally that the United States has come to rely on in the midst of the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa.

Both the Obama administration and Congress view Morocco as an equal partner, serious about reforms at home and dedicated to advancing regional economic progress, stability and security.

A Strategic Dialogue

In early April of this year, Secretary of State John Kerry went to Morocco to co-chair meetings of the U.S.−Morocco Strategic Dialogue. At that time, he hailed Morocco's "essential leadership role" in its reform program and its proactive strategy to enhance regional security and stability in Africa and the Middle East.

He vowed that, "The U.S. stands by and will stand by this relationship every step of the way." And in the joint statement issued at the conclusion of the visit, the U.S. commended King Mohammed VI's leadership in "deepening democracy and promoting economic progress and human development."

These sentiments were later echoed at a hearing on U.S. policy toward Morocco held by the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

In her opening statement, Subcommittee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said, "The administration must continue to see Morocco as the potential for what other North African transitional countries can do, and we must look to glean the best practices from its approach and see how it can be implemented in neighboring countries as well."

Calling Morocco a "critical partner," Ranking Member Theodore E. Deutch (D-Fla.) said, "It's clear that Morocco is committed to taking substantial action" to improve security and stability in the Maghreb and Sahel.

A Role Model For The Region

Additional testimony before the committee focused on the two countries' successful trade and security partnership, Morocco's significant progress on human rights and political reform, its efforts to stop the spread of religious extremism, and Morocco's role as a model for other countries in the region.

The hearing also made it clear that the U.S. and Morocco are partners in working to resolve the almost 40-year-old Western Sahara dispute. Members of Congress publicly reiterated the longstanding U.S. policy of advocating for a solution based on autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty.

This information is conveyed by Beckerman on behalf of the Government of Morocco. Further information is available at the U.S. Department of Justice.

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Have A Surprising, Exciting And Engaging Good Time

(NAPSI)—Surprising, exciting and engaging ways for kids—and kids at heart—to experience the innovations of the present and the future while appreciating the heritage of the past can be found at the John Deere Pavilion and Store in Moline, Illinois.

The Pavilion, a free attraction that is open daily, engages guests by exploring how we are all connected to the land. Here are some of the interactive exhibits you can experience:

• The Legacy of John Deere profiles company decision makers from the past 175 years and features a variety of vintage tractors and other company artifacts.

• Our Growing Planet examines big challenges facing a growing global population and ways to address these challenges.

• Innovative Solutions highlights breakthrough designs and innovative technologies that help make businesses more productive, efficient and profitable.

• The John Deere Discovery Zone provides our youngest fans with opportunities to explore where food comes from, the need for roads and bridges, and taking care of the environment.

• Cotton to Blue Jeans weaves the story of cotton from seed to shelf, where the end product is the ever-popular blue jean.

• Machine Simulators give visitors a chance to try their skills at operating an excavator or crawler dozer.

Throughout the Pavilion, several machines are displayed in their working environments so visitors unfamiliar with the products can see what they do on farmsites, work sites and forests around the world. And the best part is, they can climb aboard many of the giant machines to see what it’s like to take the wheel.

Adjacent to the Pavilion, the John Deere Store is a one-of-a-kind retail center that stocks officially licensed, genuine John Deere toys, clothes, collectibles, novelties and videos, plus the largest John Deere collection of Ertl toys anywhere.

Looking for more fun? Plan a road trip and take in other John Deere attractions starting with the place where it all began. Designated as a Registered National Historic Landmark, the John Deere Historic Site welcomes visitors into John Deere’s original Grand Detour home where he created his first self-scouring steel plow. In addition to his residence, the site features a replica of his blacksmith shop with a working blacksmith demonstrating the trade, as well as an exhibit of an archaeological dig that unearthed Deere’s actual equipment.

You can also take in a factory tour at John Deere Harvester Works, visit the World Headquarters building and display floor, and tour other Deere family homes. To plan your trip, visit www.Johndeereattractions.com/visit or call (309) 765-1000.

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“Must-Haves” For Travelers

(NAPSI)—Most people know the basic necessities to pack, but what about ways to enhance the travel experience, not just make it happen?

Americans will take more than 2 billion trips for business and pleasure this year, the U.S. Travel Association estimates. Here are some tips to keep in mind when preparing for your next trip:

Technology for Travel

• Electronics accessories. Keep your devices charged and running with power converters, adapters and transformers. These tools will come in handy, especially for international travel. Converters are used to fit the plug-in on the wall, while adapters and transformers help prevent battery damage. This power can be useful for items such as hair dryers, shavers, laptops or cell phones.

• Access to news. One of the most important aspects of taking a trip is knowing about the area you’re traveling to—but it doesn’t hurt to stay updated on what’s happening at home as well. PressReader provides travelers full-content access to more than 2,500 newspapers and magazines worldwide, so they can keep up on the latest news from their smartphone, tablet or laptop.

This digital newsstand gives you the option to translate any article into 16 languages, so you can read local stories in your native language. With an engaging and interactive reading experience, travelers can do everything from reading local restaurant reviews to understanding the current political landscape.

PressReader is available at various hotels and resorts, airport lounges and cruise ships around the world. For more information or to try PressReader, visit www.pressreader.com.

• GPS trackers. Ever worry about losing your valuable items when traveling? Constantly checking your pockets for your cell phone or passport? With GPS trackers, travelers can add tags to their cell phones, passports, luggage, car keys and more. So when they lose something important, they can find it using the GPS remote.

Healthy Travel

• A first aid/emergency kit. Keep a small bag in your carry-on luggage for when unexpected situations arise. You can load this up with the typical items, like bandages and aspirin, but go beyond that by packing an empty water bottle, snack, sleeping aid, vitamin C and more.

• Hand sanitizer. One of the best ways to ruin a business trip or vacation is falling ill. While many people try to protect themselves with alcohol-based sanitizers, what they don’t realize is that these types of products don’t reduce illness.

There is a product, however, that is effective and works for hours: Zylast. Studies show this revolutionary new hand sanitizer kills germs on contact, but is also persistent for six hours—unlike alcohol-based sanitizers that stop working after 15 seconds. Zylast is the only sanitizer effective against the common cold, flu and norovirus, which are the main bugs infecting travelers.

That’s not a risk that travelers want to take, considering the recent national travel survey that revealed 63 percent of travelers get sick on vacation and spend more than $1,200 per trip.

For more information and to receive a 10 percent discount on your order, visit www.zylastdirect.com and enter the code travel10.

• Motion sickness medication. If you’re prone to motion sickness or not a seasoned traveler, motion sickness medication can help while on an airplane, boat or in a car. You can also add some ginger to your emergency kit, as studies have found it alleviates the nausea associated with motion sickness. Green apples and crackers are other natural remedies.

Keep these tips in mind as you embark on your next business trip or leisure travel adventure

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Pointers On Booking The Perfect Vacation Rental

(NAPSI)—Good news for travelers: As more and more families are discovering, vacation rentals can offer twice the space at half the price of a hotel room and are easier to book now than ever. That may be one reason, according to the global travel market firm PhoCusWright, online bookings of vacation rentals increased from 12 percent in 2007 to 24 percent in 2012.

Built-In Savings

There are a number of ways to save when staying in a vacation rental. For example, extra bedrooms mean additional family members or friends are able to join in the fun and split the costs. Preparing your own food, instead of going to restaurants for every meal, and having access to a washer and dryer both offer even more ways to minimize expenses. With baggage fees possibly tacking on an additional $100 to $200 per family each way, travelers have the option to pack less, travel lighter and save more.

Other potential cost-saving benefits found with vacation rentals include Wi-Fi, as well as entertainment for the kids, such as swimming pools and game rooms. Plus, unlike in a hotel where the only adult time is if parents secure a babysitter, those in vacation rentals can sip wine and share stories on the patio, or gather together to watch movies in the living room, after the kids are in bed.

“My kids love it when we travel with their grandparents. We do so at least once a year and have found that it’s easiest for everyone to stay together in a vacation rental,” said Erin Gifford, mother of four and founder of family travel website Kidventurous.com. “It’s nice to be able to spread out and each have our own space after fun-filled days of taking in attractions. We also like being able to cook, play games and spend time with each other under the same roof.”

Top Five Planning Tips

Use these hints to help secure the perfect vacation rental for your family’s next getaway:

1. Book Early

Moms and dads know all too well that planning is key when doing anything with kids—especially traveling. Booking a rental as early as you can is important because each property is unique. You want to have as many options as possible to accommodate your group, such as checking to see if a crib is available or if the property is pet friendly.

2. Read Reviews

Learn from other guests’ opinions. They’ve stayed at the properties and offer unbiased, firsthand accounts of what to expect. Reviews clue you in on details that may be overlooked in the listing, such as the need to bring your own beach towels.

3. Go the Extra Mile

Look for vacation rentals that aren’t located near popular attractions, such as the waterfront or theme parks. The farther you are from tourist areas, the better the deal.

4. Stay Off the Beaten Path

Search for properties in lesser-known destinations for a more peaceful getaway that costs less because demand isn’t as high.

5. Use Reputable Sites

Search and book through professional online vacation rental sites, such as HomeAway.com, which offers access to the most vacation rental options in the industry. Alternatively, try VRBO.com, which has been around for nearly 20 years.

More Advice

The cardinal rule for booking a vacation rental is to always pick up the phone and call the homeowner or property manager. Not only will they know the specifics about the property, but they give an insider’s perspective on the destination itself.

Gifford recently booked a vacation rental via HomeAway and added, “Speaking with a property owner or manager provides insights into a rental and the surrounding community that I only get over the phone. It gives me those extra details I need to determine ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when considering a particular vacation rental.”

Once a final decision is made on a property, travelers should request a rental agreement that outlines all rules and cancellation policies so everyone is on the same page. If possible, pay online by credit card or through secure services like PayPal, and avoid mailing cash or using a wire transfer service.

Learn More

For further facts and to view some available rentals, go to www.homeaway.com

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