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First Aid Essentials For Travelers

Let's face it, stuff happens while on vacation. You didn't mean to trip up a step at the city museum or get a splinter in your leg from the driftwood at the beach, but it happened just the same. Instead of wondering how to take care of any minor accidents that happen on your trip, take time before you go to make up a medical travel kit. You don't have to be a boy scout to be prepared; it just makes good sense for anyone traveling. It will depend on where your travels take you as to what to put in your kit, but there are some things that are necessary wherever you go. And while it's true your destination may be in the US where there might be stores available to purchase what you need when you need it, why risk it or interrupt your fun because you need to locate a store? Must haves for any trip: • bandaids in various sizes • antiseptic towelettes • Benadryl tablets or the like • antacid tablets • sunscreen • anything else important to your particular health issues You don't need a lot of each, just enough to help for the duration of your trip. Remember to restock after you get home so it's ready for the next trip. If you're traveling abroad, you medical travel kit will be more extensive as you don't know the availability of various products, plus you want to be certain of what you're taking. Here are the additional items to pack for overseas travel: • Your prescription medication, enough to cover the entire trip. You can ask your doctor about substitutions should you run out or lose your meds. • Medication you might possibly need for motion sickness or altitude sickness. • Allergy medication if you have allergic reactions. This can be an antihistamine, a prescription medication, an epi-kit, and a topical such as Calamine lotion. Keep in mind you may be eating food you've never tried, and allergy information is not always readily available. • You may encounter digestive issues with all the new foods you try on your trip so medicine to help with stomach issues should be packed in your kit. Antacids, anti-diarrheals, and laxatives come in convenient tablet form and can help immensely. • As mentioned previously, sunblock is important. Don't underestimate the strength of the sun and protect your skin from harmful UV rays. • If insects are an issue, be sure to pack a reliable insect repellent. No matter where your travels take you, bring your well-stocked medical kit along. That way you can fix any minor medical issues and continue with your otherwise enjoyable vacation.


Valley Forge: The Place to Cure Cabin Fever

(NewsUSA) – Valley Forge and Montgomery County, Pa., were the site of, arguably, the most famous winter in history, when the Continental Army hunkered down amid harsh conditions, limited supplies and low morale. Fortunately, things have perked up a lot since then. Today, when the cold and snow weather sets in, the area comes alive with a variety of outdoor activities that ensure not only rosy cheeks but plenty of memories built with family and friends. Downhill skiers flock to Spring Mountain Adventures, Schwenksville, which offers top-notch schussing within a commute that takes a matter of minutes, not hours. The 535-foot mountain hosts skiing, snowboarding and tubing, down nine trails serviced by six lifts. A full array of lessons is available, catering to all levels of expertise. Apres ski options include a lodge where adventurers can ease their tired muscles while enjoying a fresh slice of pizza in front of a roaring fireplace. To kick up the luxury a notch, the nearby Woodside Lodge offers overnights in a plush B&B setting that reflects its 1920s past. For cross-country fans who crave the extra cardio, the 28 trail miles at Valley Forge National Historical Park provide an excellent workout against the backdrop of history. Gliding by the recreated huts of the Muhlenberg Brigade — the outermost Revolutionary War defense against a possible British attack from the east — skiers can almost still hear the murmur of camp life and the crackle of fire pits. Continuing along that same path leads to the National Memorial Arch, a stunning sight when, from a carpet of snow, it soars upward toward a crystal blue winter sky. Skaters have numerous indoor options in the area, including Center Ice, Oaks, and Wintersport Ice Arena, Willow Grove. Both offer private lessons to cover skating basics for all levels, as well as ice hockey leagues that high-speed competitors will surely want to “check” out. Friday nights at both rinks feature DJs and a party atmosphere. Easing the pace significantly is the quiet solitude of ice fishing at Green Lane Park. When temperatures plummet, its three lakes quieten to a still glaze. Armed with an ice auger, camp stool, rod and lures, anglers make their way onto the frozen surface, set up and enjoy the pursuit of a wintry catch. Or the chance to relax and take in the spectacular snowy landscape. Information on additional “cool” activities and warm options for accommodations is available online from the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau.


Bases to Cover Before Traveling Abroad

Well, you've decided it's time to take that trip you've always dreamed about; the big trip out of the country to see the international sights. It's a little daunting and scary to plan, but if you take into consideration all aspects of your future trip including the expected and some of the unexpected, you'll be better prepared to handle any problems. This will also give you some peace of mind before you depart, which helps with the long plane ride and subsequent jet lag. Homework This doesn't mean you have to read up on the history and look at all the pictures of every museum before you go, it means getting to know the local laws and customs of the areas. What is the dress code? Are shorts frowned upon? How do they expect women to behave? The more you know about the country, government, and people, the better you're able to understand and respect the customs. Also, it's important to learn how thieves target tourists and what you can do to protect yourself and your valuables. Learning about the country also includes learning about the climate and geography. Will you have to walk more than you normally do, and is the terrain rocky or will there be lots of steps? Regarding the climate - it may be very hot or the altitude elevated and of concern. If you know this ahead of time, you can plan to take things slower, keep well-hydrated, and have the appropriate clothing. Medical Get thoroughly checked out by your doctor before you go, and refill all your prescription medication so you won't run out on your trip. Explain any concerns you have about the climate in the country you'll be visiting as your physician may be able to offer you some help with possible seasickness or altitude-related issues. This is the time to get any necessary immunizations as well. Find out if your current medical coverage applies if you're out of the country. If not, or if only partially, check into getting supplemental insurance. If you have health issues, determine the level of health care in the country you want to visit. If you're disabled, you'll want to check accessibility standards to make sure you can get around. Consider getting a medical ID bracelet, if you don't already have one. Packing Packing as light as possible is key, especially if you're going to be changing locations frequently. If you've never traveled abroad, now is the time to talk to your friends who have and get their packing tips. Your travel agent could be of help with this too. Your clothing choices can mean the difference between having a good time and standing out as a target for pickpockets. Paperwork It's a good idea to register your travel plans with the State Department and you can easily do this through their website. That way, if there's a crisis, at home or abroad, the State Department will know how to reach you. Your information is privileged and can't be accessed by others without your authority. Go through all your paperwork to make sure you've signed everything you need to sign, such as your passport, and you have all that's required, such as any visas. Leave copies of your passport data page, visas, itinerary, and even your credit card numbers with your family at home as backup. Have your travel itinerary all on one page, on your person, so you can easily access the information. It should have all addresses, phone numbers, and dates of the places you'll be staying, and it's a good idea to add some of the important phone numbers of people back home as well. Leave a copy with family members as well. This advice should help you prepare for your trip abroad and if you're prepared, you won't worry as much. This ultimately means you'll have more fun on your much anticipated trip.


Nicaragua Offers Neoclassical Luxuries

(NewsUSA) – When I announced plans to travel to Nicaragua in search of luxury travel destinations, friends thought I had lost it. Many people assume that the country is still engulfed in political turmoil and a security risk for travelers. On the contrary, Nicaragua is one of the safer places in Central America, offering fabulous natural beauty and world-class boutique hotels at bargain prices. After arriving in Managua, I headed 50 miles northwest to the colonial city of Leon. In this historic university town, I discovered paradise in the gem-like Hotel La Perla ($100 double). This stately neoclassical mansion has been lovingly restored by its two charming expat owners, James Petersen and Mark McKnight. Each of the spacious 15 rooms is furnished in antiques. The dining is some of the best in country. One memorable feast included local lobster and sea bass artfully prepared by the world-class kitchen. After a few leisurely days in Leon, I headed south to Nicaragua’s other colonial city, Grenada. I found building restoration in progress, fueled by foreign capital and aimed at international tourism. Although beautiful, the city lacked the intellect and authenticity of Leon. I checked into another neo-classical treasure, the Hotel La Gran Francia. Built in the 16th century, it was restored to its original glory in 1995. Located just off Parque Central, the hotel’s restaurant served up scrumptious gourmet meals at bargain prices ($60 dinner for four). My comfortable room was large and brightly furnished in impressive period pieces ($100 double). This Nicaraguan jaunt ended just shy of Costa Rica in the former fishing village of San Juan del Sur. It was New Year’s Eve, and the town was fully booked. I found lodging in a humble private home, where a $10 room went for $50. A $6 day pass at the spectacular Pelican Eyes resort saved the day. I spent my final days lounging poolside and plotting my quick return to Nicaragua’s Caribbean Corn Islands.


Eccentric Americana Entices Travelers

(NewsUSA) – While high-brow cultural events might appeal to some, many travelers choose roads paved with kitsch, knick-knacks and dinosaur sculptures. Americana -; or the diner-laden culture of folktales and Norman Rockwell paintings -; produces donut burgers and giant balls of string, local food festivals and unusual athletic events. Touring regional sights brings families closer to home and provides a fun, memorable way to explore America’s regional cultures and cuisines. Families looking for eccentric fun can’t do better than to head to Wisconsin. Eclectic food stops abound. Wisconsin’s Mount Horeb Mustard Museum houses the world’s largest collection of mustard varieties -; visitors can see over 4,600 dijons, wasabis and grey poupons, not to mention antique mustard pots, vintage advertisements and other mustardy memorabilia. Those over 21 years old might enjoy a trip to the National Brewery Museum in Potosi, where they can view turn-of-the-century brewing equipment. If visitors are the type to catch, not order, their dinner, Hayward’s National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum might appeal. The highlight of the museum is the “Shrine for Anglers” -; a four-and-one-half-story building shaped like a leaping muskie, a large fish whose gaping mouth serves as an observation platform. Once visitors sate their physical hunger, they can satisfy spiritual needs at Beloit’s Angel Museum, a converted church that shelters over 12,000 angel figurines, including 700 black angels donated by Oprah Winfrey. Near Sparta, The Paul and Matilda Wagner Grotto, also known as The Glass Church, a sculpture garden decorated with glass, serves as a nondenominational contemplation space and a grassroots art exhibit. Other destinations celebrate American history, culture and innovation. Appleton’s History Museum at the Castle contains equipment once owned by Harry Houdini, while Elkhorn’s Watson’s Wild West Museum displays antique spurs and over 2,000 branding irons. The Tommy Bartlett Exploratory in Wisconsin Dells contains mementos from a different sort of frontier -; visitors can see a Russian Mir core module and a replica of Sputnik 1. For more information about experiencing Americana on the road, visit www.travelwisconsin.com or call 1-800-432-TRIP, extension 8747.


The Volunteer Vacation

Perhaps you've never considered taking a volunteer vacation, and in fact, don't really know what one is. In this article we'll explore the concept of a volunteer vacation and why you might consider taking one. Traditionally, a vacation is taken in order to relax, rewind, unplug, and rejuvenate. A vacation takes you away from your daily rut and the stress of your job. Ideally, a vacation takes you out of your daily reality and transports you somewhere fun, interesting, relaxing and perhaps exotic. A volunteer vacation can take this to the next level and introduce the concept of vacation with a purpose. A volunteer vacation involves taking a vacation with the express purpose of working to help others, and paying for the privilege to do so. If you've never done this before, it may sound odd to pay to work on a trip where most people would relax, but think back to some of the vacations you've taken in the past. Truthfully, didn't you get a little bored just relaxing? Didn't you wonder if that's all there was? And come home a trifle… well… unsatisfied? Volunteering can give you a sense of accomplishment, make the food taste better after a full day of physical labor, and be very rewarding. You also get the chance to meet people whose lives are very different from yours. They may show you that happiness is not related to wealth, or make you realize how lucky you are. Those are just the benefits to you. The benefits to those you are helping are huge. One week out of your life helping to build a house means a lifetime of shelter to a family of eight. Your hot and dusty manual labor digging a well or working a village farm means water and food for those who desperately need it. Carving some time out of your crazy schedule to help in an overseas orphanage can mean hugs, kisses, and stories read to children who've never been shown love before. The concept of taking a volunteer vacation has become increasingly popular and now has a name - voluntourism. Many people, especially retirees, are finding it a rewarding experience, even though they are paying for the vacation and putting in the hard work. Once they've taken a volunteer vacation, they are more likely to stay involved with the charity, either with lending themselves again physically or monetarily. If you decide this sounds like something you'd like to do, you should check out the vacation as you would any other vacation. What is included? Room and board, or do you have to arrange that separately? Are there specific times you need to be there to help with a project? You'll also want to check out the volunteer organization and determine they've been around for a while and are reputable. Also, do all fees go into the project or is the organization taking a big percentage? A volunteer vacation may not be for everyone, but if you try it, I think you'll find it worth the monetary price you pay and highly rewarding for you and those you help.


Get the Most From Your Travel Budget

When you've decided you'd like to take a vacation, there are many decisions to make. You might want lots of activities like sightseeing, hiking, shopping, and scuba diving. Or you might want your trip to be romantic, fun, exotic, or exciting. Where you go can depend a lot on your finances and what you can afford. For many people, a vacation isn't really a vacation unless they travel somewhere farther away than their own state. If this is the case with you, then consider your possible destinations and their "high season", "low season", and "shoulder season" to get the most for your money. High season This is the time of year when your destination is the most popular, and therefore the time of year when the resorts are at their most expensive. If everyone wants to go to the Florida coast for spring break, then this is when the prices will be the highest. Please note the high season, or peak season, is not the same time of year for every destination. Ski resort towns have their high season in the winter, European destinations in the summer, and northeastern US in the fall. Not everyone has a choice of when they can go on vacation, but if you do, then carefully consider whether you want to visit your destination during it's high season and pay more for the privilege, or if you want to wait a month and go when it's less expensive. Low season This is the time of year when the location's price is at rock bottom. Now, there's a reason why it's less popular and less expensive during low season and you'll have to decide if the negatives will be huge setbacks for you. For example, many parts of Europe are less popular in the winter, but maybe you don't mind the cold temperatures and would rather see the sights bundled up than fight the summer crowds. Plus you think it's romantic to snuggle in front of an old-fashioned fireplace with a good book and a cuppa. Low season is better for your pocketbook, but you've got to be willing to get what you get. Shoulder season The time between high and low seasons is often called the shoulder season. Typically the conditions will be either spring or fall-like. The crowds are fewer, but they still exist, and the costs are somewhere between high and low seasons. If you're not looking to get a great tan on vacation, then a trip during autumn may be a nice option for you. Know that the weather might not always cooperate, so pack your umbrella and jacket along with your shorts and swimsuit. If you have an ideal destination in mind and you can take vacation when you want, then it's easy to consider your budget and the best season for you. If you have to take vacation at a certain time of year, then think about which destinations might be in low or shoulder season at that time and pick from those choices.


Vacation Planning Basics

Before You Decide - Vacation Considerations ( Vacation Planning Basics ) Just the word "vacation" brings many positive thoughts to mind. But with so many options available and destinations to visit, you can actually be paralyzed with information overload. If you do a Google search for "travel vacation" you'll see over 31 million websites! How do you decide where to go and what to do? The first thing you need to do, before you start searching, is narrow down what you want. Here are some considerations to get you started: 1. Your budget. How much money you have to spend is a huge determinant regarding your vacation. Take a realistic look at your finances and what you're able to spend first, then you can investigate possible locations that might fit that budget. 2. The length of time you have available for the vacation. Obviously if you have a job where you can't get much time away at a pop, that's going to affect where you go on vacation. Perhaps you need to look at your vacation time as several 4 day weekends and plan accordingly. 3. The time of year you will be taking your vacation. Your circumstances may affect when you can take your vacation. Perhaps you need to take it when the time is right at work, or you need to go during your child's vacation from school. Another factor that could influence the "when" are the rates. Expenses are cheaper if you travel during the "shoulder" season and not during the peak travel times for your destination. 4. Preferences such as: Climate - You may prefer hot and tropical, or autumn and the fall colors, or even winter and snow. US vs. international - Do you want to take your vacation soon? Then you must have your passports in hand. Is the international location you're considering currently a safe place to visit? Method of transportation - Airplane, car, train, or boat. If you have a strong desire to drive, this will limit your vacation destination possibilities. 5. What you'd like to do: nothing outdoor activities something with a purpose (such as a volunteer vacation) take in the culture 6. Whether you have to incorporate visiting family during the trip. Sometimes you want to visit your extended family while on your vacation. This will certainly limit where you are traveling to, but not necessarily. You can stop over at your mother-in-law's in San Francisco for a few days on your way to Hawaii, or you can spend a day at your brother's near the Orlando airport before you go to Disney World. 7. What the other members of your travel party, such as your kids, want to do. You may be in the position of head of the family but you still should take into consideration your kids' interests. Believe me, if there is not enough for the kids to do, your vacation can be pretty miserable. Once you've gone over the 7 considerations listed above, you should be able to have a much better picture of your vacation. Now you can talk to a travel agent or plan your trip yourself.


Things to Remember When Renting a Car Aborad

The decision whether to rent a car while abroad is a big one. Many destinations have great public transport and will fit your needs. However, public transport doesn't go everywhere and doesn't always allow you to have the control to do things when you want to do them. But renting a car may mean high gas prices and different rules of the road, such as driving on the left side rather than the right. If you look at your itinerary carefully, weigh the pros and cons, and decide you want to rent a car then read on. 1. The time to decide whether you'll need a car on your trip abroad is before you go, not after you get there. You can make arrangements for a car through a travel agent or you can work directly with car rental companies that operate worldwide. Be sure to book while in the US and prepay in US dollars so the fee is set and can't rise on you if the exchange rate changes. 2. If you're planning to drive across the border into another country(s), a rental company will charge you extra for the privilege. The additional charges can vary greatly so shop around for the best rental car rate for this. 3. Know your car insurance options. Start with your own insurance in the US and find out if it covers an international car rental. Learn and understand what insurance you have, then decide whether to accept or decline the coverage the car rental company offers you. Even if you have your own car insurance, consider accepting the additional insurance if it offers additional coverage as you may be driving on the other side of the road, with unfamiliar traffic laws, and around other drivers that drive "differently" than you're used to. 4. Get an international driver's license. This is easy to obtain through companies like AAA. There is a fee involved, as well as an expiration date. Be sure to bring along any paperwork such as your insurance information. 5. Many cars in other countries come standard, which means a manual transmission with a stick shift and no air conditioning. If you want an automatic transmission, air conditioning, or any other luxuries, you will be charged extra. Take into account the number and size of your suitcases and determine the size of the car you need based on trunk space. Make sure you're specific as to what you want so there are no mistakes when you show up at your destination to pick up your car. To recap, first decide whether you need a car abroad and where to get one in advance of your trip. Then determine where you will be driving and what extras you want. Get an international driver's license and make sure you're fully covered with car insurance. Now you're all set and ready to roll.


11 Vacation Ideas You Haven’t Thought of Yet

Sometimes you want a vacation just so you can "check out." All you've been dreaming of for months is doing nothing but sit on a beach somewhere and drink umbrella drinks. The reality is, this works for the first few days, and then you're bored and you start looking around for something to do. Why not choose a different type of vacation; one where you won't ever get bored because you're occupied with something you consider worthwhile and fun? I'm talking about those vacations that are outside the box. River rafting - You can decide which trip you want based on the number of days, how rough the water will be, and the level of "roughing it" you prefer. Some float trips offer gourmet meals and don't expect you to do the dishes. Houseboat - All you need is a big body of water such as Lake Havasu or Lake Shasta, your food supplies, friends, and your swim trunks. You can also rent jet skis for your trip. Ski huts - In some mountain ranges, such as the Rocky Mountains, there are ski in and ski out huts you can rent. Stay every night in one hut, or cross country ski from one hut to another. In the summer you can hike from hut to hut. Train - There are train trips you can take where the fun is in the getting there, not necessarily the final destination. You'll see beautiful scenery and probably take in some history too. Sports camp - Rock climbing, surfing, scuba diving, extreme sports, snowboarding, snowshoeing, softball, triathlon training, and many more sports camps are available. You can drill down even further - say hiking camps for women over 50, and find what suits you. Dude Ranch - Just like Billy Crystal in the movie City Slickers, you can vacation at a working ranch. Some ranches allow you to help out, while others are just a nice place to stay with rustic decor, good food, and outdoor activities such as horseback riding. Lighthouse - You can sign up to do a working stint in a lighthouse. For example, be the lighthouse keeper on Dungeness Spit in Washington state for a week. Duties include giving tours, shining the brass, and watering the lawn. Special interest camp - Do you have a desire to learn more about photography or film making? Do you like to hike and are interested in plants? There are camps for all these. Do a search on the Internet under your specific interests and you will be amazed at what is available. Bicycle - Here's how it goes - you ride your bike during the day (the number of miles depends on which package you choose), and a van carries your things to the next hotel where you will find a hot shower and dinner awaiting you. These packages can be local or international, and believe it or not, seniors are big on bike touring. Volunteer - You and friends or family can take on a special volunteer project for your vacation. Install house ramps for those who need assistance, help build a house, teach at a rural Sunday school, give assistance after a natural disaster, or teach life skills to unwed mothers. Theme - Put a theme to your vacation, such as making it a goal to stay at every campground in the western half of the state. One family I know plans their vacations around attending a baseball game. Their goal is to visit every stadium in the US.


Montgomery County, Pa. Offers Recreation in Historic Setting

(NewsUSA) – When most people think of Valley Forge and Montgomery County, Pa., they think of historic sites and the Revolutionary War. It may offer history buffs a keen look into the past, but there’s so much more. Whether you are a hiker or a biker, there are nearly 60 miles of multi-use trails interconnected throughout the county for visitors and locals alike to explore. Two must-visits for nature lovers and adrenaline junkies are Valley Forge National Historical Park and Green Lane Park. With 3,500 acres each, these parks offer an abundance of recreational activities. Just 20 miles west of Philadelphia, Valley Forge is the famous encampment of George Washington and is known as the birthplace of the United States Army. Here, visitors can rent bikes to traverse the paved 6.6-mile Joseph Plumb Martin Trail, which connects key historic and interpretive sites within the park. In addition, the park contains 19.5 miles of designated, marked, hiking trails. Bike rentals (weather permitting) are available on weekends starting in mid-April and daily after Memorial Day. Guided bike tours are also offered. Less than 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia, Green Lane Park offers a variety of year-round, outdoor activities and programs for visitors. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy fishing and boating, including rentals of row boats, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, as well as pontoon boat tours (new for this season), family and group camping, picnicking and 20 miles of trails for horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking. In addition there are two children’s playgrounds. Winter fans can sled, cross-country ski, ice fish or ice skate. The park also offers free summer concerts and family-oriented, environmental education programs on weekends. Visit valleyforge.org for more information.


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