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Road Trip! Summer Means Hitting The Open Highway

Ah, the familiar refrain that has stood the test of time and one that sends most parents cringing while taking a family road trip.

As the summer of 2018 kicks off, consider this: 68 percent of Americans are likely to go on vacation, and 85 percent of them will travel by car, based on data from a recent online survey of approximately 1,500 adults.

While aspects of a road trip may be daunting, a majority of these travelers acknowledge that getting there is half the fun: 24 percent strongly agree, and 45 percent somewhat agree that getting to a vacation spot is often as enjoyable as being there.

If you've ever wondered what goes on inside the car during a road trip, read on.

A survey conducted by NACS, a trade association representing the convenience-store industry, reveals that most passengers want to be social: just over 60 percent report that they enjoy talking with fellow passengers and almost 80 percent cite listening together to music, podcasts, or audio books as favorite activities.

However, when it's time to take a break, disagreements can arise, especially when it comes to meals and snacks. A convenience-store stop can be a simple solution.

Today's convenience stores offer more than just gas and restrooms. Many serve a range of hot-meal options such as pizza and burgers, as well as customizable sandwiches, coffee, drinks, and smoothies, so passengers and drivers of every age and taste can find something to satisfy them.

The NACS survey results show that the top three reasons for breaks during summer road trips are to:

* Use the bathroom (96 percent).

* Get gas (95 percent).

* Buy food or drinks (91 percent).

"There's only one place that can satisfy all three of the top reasons for stopping during a road trip: a convenience store," says Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives.

"From restrooms and fuel pumps to indulgent snacks and healthy options, you can stop once and make everyone happy. And that can certainly make a road trip more fun."

However, regular breaks are an important part of road trips for safety as well as for practical reasons.

Drivers need a quick and easy place to stand up and stretch, or to allow someone else to take the wheel. Kids get antsy and need to stretch, too - according to the NACS survey, approximately 45 percent of the in-car disagreements during road trips center on children fidgeting or arguing.

Convenience stores provide all the services needed for long or short road-trip breaks in a safe, predictable environment.

Many convenience stores offer easy access from major roads, so there's no struggle or lost time navigating to an unknown spot without any sense of the services available. Convenience stores offer clean, well-lit rest stops for single drivers, groups of friends, older adults, and families with children.

Visit convenience.org/ more for additional information about what convenience stores offer and how they can help make summer road trips smooth, safe, and enjoyable.

 

Road Trippin’! Summer Travel Means Hitting The Open Highway

As the summer of 2018 kicks off, consider this: 68 percent of Americans are likely to go on vacation, and 85 percent of them will travel by car, based on data from a recent online survey of approximately 1,500 adults.

While aspects of a road trip may be daunting, a majority of these travelers acknowledge that getting there is half the fun: 24 percent strongly agree, and 45 percent somewhat agree that getting to a vacation spot is often as enjoyable as being there.

If you've ever wondered what goes on inside the car during a road trip, read on.

A survey conducted by NACS, a trade association representing the convenience-store industry, reveals that most passengers want to be social: just over 60 percent report that they enjoy talking with fellow passengers and almost 80 percent cite listening together to music, podcasts, or audio books as favorite activities.

However, when it's time to take a break, disagreements can arise, especially when it comes to meals and snacks. A convenience-store stop can be a simple solution.

Today's convenience stores offer more than just gas and restrooms. Many serve a range of hot-meal options such as pizza and burgers, as well as customizable sandwiches, coffee, drinks, and smoothies, so passengers and drivers of every age and taste can find something to satisfy them.

The NACS survey results show that the top three reasons for breaks during summer road trips are to:

* Use the bathroom (96 percent).

* Get gas (95 percent).

* Buy food or drinks (91 percent).

"There's only one place that can satisfy all three of the top reasons for stopping during a road trip: a convenience store," says Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives.

"From restrooms and fuel pumps to indulgent snacks and healthy options, you can stop once and make everyone happy. And that can certainly make a road trip more fun."

However, regular breaks are an important part of road trips for safety as well as for practical reasons.

Drivers need a quick and easy place to stand up and stretch, or to allow someone else to take the wheel. Kids get antsy and need to stretch, too - according to the NACS survey, approximately 45 percent of the in-car disagreements during road trips center on children fidgeting or arguing.

Convenience stores provide all the services needed for long or short road-trip breaks in a safe, predictable environment.

Many convenience stores offer easy access from major roads, so there's no struggle or lost time navigating to an unknown spot without any sense of the services available. Convenience stores offer clean, well-lit rest stops for single drivers, groups of friends, older adults, and families with children.

Visit convenience.org/more for additional information about what convenience stores offer and how they can help make summer road trips smooth, safe, and enjoyable.

 

From Fantasy to Free-falling: Orlando’s New Summer Attractions

While it's true that families tend to flock to these familiar venues, (the city has been named one of Travelocity's "Coolest Places to Go in 2018 for Families" and AAA's "Top Domestic Summer Destination"), it is also so much more than the sum of these two theme parks.

So if you're considering a trip to Orlando, read on about how to score the best deals and some sights to see with the fam that you may not have known even existed. 

Attraction Tips & Deals 

The destination's only official visitor center, operated by Visit Orlando, offers deals, discounted tickets, unbiased expert advice and Insta-worthy photo ops for guests. 

Movies & Fantasy Worlds Come to Life 

Universal Studios Florida will put guests right in the middle of the action with the new Fast & Furious - Supercharged ride, based on the popular film franchise, where an after-race party turns into a high-speed race to escape a criminal cartel.

Disney's Hollywood Studios opens Toy Story Land on June 30, featuring two new attractions. The rides, Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Sauchers, will take visitors right into Andy's imagination as they join beloved characters on their adventures.

Madame Tussauds Orlando's "Justice League: A Call for Heroes," will give guests the "sidekick" experience to Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, and Ben Affleck's Batman.

Legoland Florida Resort found its niche when it debuted "The Great Lego Race," on March 23.

This thrill ride is the first virtual reality roller coaster experience designed for kids and features Lego minifigures, a rocket-powered surfboard, and an espresso-fueled scooter. 

Outdoor Adventures and Record-Setting Thrills 

SeaWorld Orlando debuts Infinity Falls this summer, a whitewater rapid-adventure raft ride through a lost jungle. The journey will send guests through fountains and waterfalls before dropping 40 feet - a world record for a river raft ride - into churning whitewater.

The Orlando Starflyer is the world's tallest swing ride, and opens on June 1. At 450-feet tall, the ride offers open-air views of the city for up to 24 guests at once, swinging them through the air at up to 60 miles an hour.

Just in time for their 20th Anniversary, Fun Spot America opened HeadRush 360, a spinning and swinging new attraction that takes riders 40 feet in the air - upside down.

And Orlando Watersports Complex is home to Central Florida's first Aquapark, which features a modular series of inflatable, interlocking climbing obstacles, pathways and slides for hours of fun.

For more information, visit VisitOrlando.com.

Bed and Breakfasts Give Travel a Personal Touch

B&Bs "are more intimate, with much more personal attention," says Sharon Scruggs, who operates the Fife and Drum Inn with her husband, Billy. Both are lifetime residents of Williamsburg, Virginia, and provide a unique and in-depth perspective on the history of the area for their guests.

The bed-and-breakfast experience offers many other benefits beyond what travelers find in a chain- hotel setting.

- Location. Many bed and breakfasts are historic properties, often located in the center of scenic areas.

The Fife and Drum Inn has been part of Sharon's family for generations. The building was constructed in 1933 by her grandfather as a combination of stores with apartments above, and is a short walk to the sights and sounds of Colonial Williamsburg, including the holiday Grand Illumination fireworks display.

- Character. Part of the charm of a bed and breakfast is the uniqueness; art, décor, and food are integrated to create a complete experience. For example, the Fife and Drum retains the colonial feel of the area in all its guest rooms. Special features include antique furnishings, elegant four poster beds in some guest rooms, as well folk art and artifacts from the restoration period of the historic area available for guests to enjoy.

- Food. Bed and breakfasts don't shirk the breakfast half of the equation, and the best of them reflect the local cuisine. The Fife and Drum features daily breakfast casseroles based on family recipes to reflect the southern cooking of the area; other items include fresh biscuits, Virginia ham, fruit, and a unique blend of granola to fuel a day of sightseeing.

- Customization. Not only do visitors to a bed and breakfast get a unique perspective on the place they are visiting, they have options for special packages not available in other hotel settings. Bed and breakfasts can partner easily with local businesses for a smoothly organized and highly personalized vacation experience.

The Fife and Drum Inn offers options such as the Historic Triangle Package that includes three nights at the Inn, breakfasts, and admissions to historic Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. Bed and breakfasts also lend themselves to romance. Helpful hosts can design guest packages built around proposals, anniversaries, or just a special getaway.

Visit fifeanddruminn.com for more details about how a bed and breakfast makes for a memorable travel experience.

Orlando Screams: 78 Days of Halloween

Starting as early as Aug. 17 and running through Nov. 3, there's something for everyone, from mild and family-friendly to wild and terrifying.

This year's lineup includes a host of All-Hallows events and attractions; themed hotel packages; and the return of the largest horror convention in the nation. 

Theme Park Frights 

This year, visitors can expect Universal Orlando Resort's Halloween Horror Nights to pay an homage to the '80s , with a haunted house in the theme of Netflix's "Stranger Things," as well as nine other haunted houses, for a total of 10 - the most ever in the event's 28-year history.

For a more family-friendly experience, the Walt Disney World Resort's Magic Kingdom Park comes alive with jack-o-lanterns and special characters for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

Visitors can trick-or-treat throughout the park, masquerade with costumed characters at the Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, sing along at the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, and end the night with a "Boo-tacular" fireworks show.

SeaWorld Orlando's Halloween Spooktacular has an ocean of Halloween fun planned.

During this daytime event, families are immersed in an underwater "fantasea" including trick-or-treating, not-so-spooky live shows, and the chance to mingle with everyone's favorite Sesame Street friends including Elmo, The Count, Cookie Monster and more. 

Boo Beyond the Parks 

The largest horror convention in the nation, Spooky Empire, returns to Orlando Oct. 26-29 at the Caribe Royale Orlando. Celebrity guests this year includes David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson of X-files fame, with more to be announced.

Other thrills and chills include a, costume contest, zombie walk, and film festival.

A Petrified Forest features two outdoor scare trails for small groups to venture through a haunted forest at night. Live actors stalk guests through the dark, and uniquely themed areas make for a truly thrilling, chilling experience. The event runs select nights, Oct. 5 - Nov. 3 

Haunting Hotel Happenings 

Three Hyatt properties are offering a "No Tricks, Just Treats" package, Sept.1 - Nov. 4, to get guests into the Halloween spirit.

The package includes two complimentary "spooky" drinks or beverages of choice per stay as well as a special-themed treat placed in their room upon arrival, available at Hyatt Place across from Universal Orlando Resort, Hyatt House across from Universal Orlando Resort, and Hyatt Place Orlando Convention Center.

Hilton Orlando is offering "A ROOM WITH A BOO" package, which includes daily breakfast, premium Wi-Fi and late checkout at 2:00 p.m.; perfect sleeping-in time for those "creatures of the night." Use this link for booking.

For more information, visit VisitOrlando.com.

 

Black Friday Deals Abound for Orlando

Visit Orlando, the official association and travel planning expert for Orlando, offers an additional 10 percent discount on all purchases made at OrlandoTickets.com starting on November 20 to celebrate the start of the holiday shopping season.

To access the promotion, visit OrlandoTickets.com between November 20 and 29 and use the promotional code, "GIFT."

Shoppers will find exclusive deals and discounts to more than 40 world-famous theme parks, attractions and dinner shows. Most are valid through one year from purchase, so they make great gifts for anniversaries, family vacations, or other special events throughout the year.

The Black Friday 10-percent-off offer is in addition to some notable savings opportunities at popular Orlando-area theme parks, including:

- Walt Disney World Resort:

Savings start at $30 per ticket on Flexible Date Disney tickets.

Guests who purchase a 5-day or longer Flexible Date ticket also receive a free commemorative Toy Story towel with each order while supplies last.

- Universal Orlando Resort:

Guests who purchase a 3-Park, 2 Day Park-To-Park ticket receive an additional two free days of unlimited admission to Universal Studios Florida, Universal's Islands of Adventure, and Universal's Volcano Bay for a total savings of $65 per ticket.

- SeaWorld Orlando: Guests receive 2 days for the price of 1 with a 2-Day, 2-Park ticket that can be used at SeaWorld, Aquatica, and Busch Gardens Tampa for a savings of $75 per ticket.

- LEGOLAND Florida Resort: Guests receive a second day of free admission with the purchase of a single day admission for a savings of $35 per ticket.

The Orlando area offers more than 450 hotels not only convenient to theme parks and family activities, but also offering a mix of vacation experiences including water parks, entertainment venues, unique and diverse dining experiences, sports, and nightlife, to appeal to all ages and interests.

For more information on how to save money on next year's vacation, or give the perfect gift experience, check out OrlandoTickets.com starting November 20.

The Big Appeal of Small City Vacations

The good news is that there are many places outside of major cities for great culture and cuisine, but with a more laid-back feel.

Blue-Roads, a world leader in small group touring, specializes in taking you to these more intimate destinations where you get the best of both worlds. Here are a few ideas for authentic experiences coupled with a relaxed pace that allow you to truly decompress and better enjoy your travels:

Bilbao, Spain. Millions of tourists flock annually to Catalonia's capital, Barcelona, for its world-class art museums, its imposing gothic architecture and Northern Spanish delights such as paella. In Bilbao, you'll find equally appealing character and ambiance. In this rugged coastal city, steep yourself in Basque culture, history and cuisine. It's renowned for its fresh seafood and Basque foodways, its world-class Guggenheim Museum, and it's amazing indoor food market and contemporary architecture. On Blue-Roads' Highlights of Northern Spain tour, you'll explore the iconic Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim and dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Granada, Spain. Madrid may be famous for its great European masterworks and breathtaking architecture, notably the Royal Palace and Plaza Mayor, but Granada is a jewel in its own right. You'll marvel at Granada's equally breathtaking Moorish architecture, a distinctive mix of Islamic and Arabic influences. No visit to Granada is complete without seeing the splendor of the Alhambra's palace and gardens from its plateau in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with a sweeping vista overlooking the city. Included in the Iberian Inspiration tour is an exploration of this famed place, considered one of the finest masterpieces in Islamic architecture.

York, England. While few cities can match the lure of London, it is a very crowded destination. About three and a half hours north is York, one of the best-preserved ancient walled cities in the world. It dates back to Roman times. It's also one of the most picturesque places in England. The Heart of Britain tour brings you into the heart of Old Town York. Steps built in the middle ages bring you to the top of the city wall where you can take in dazzling views before sitting down to enjoy a pint or a meal.

Galway, Ireland. Ireland is famous for its rugged coastline, majestic castles and emerald green hills. Be sure not to limit yourself to Dublin or Belfast, though. Don't miss Galway, considered Ireland's cultural heart and designated the European Cultural Capital 2020. Known for its traditional Irish music, Galway is rich in medieval history, street art and is the birthplace of the traditional Claddagh ring. On Blue-Roads' Emerald Isle tour, you'll soak in the vibrant energy of this eclectic city, including a walking tour of the harbor city of Galway, where fisherman have lived and worked for centuries.

Who says you can't have it all? When you visit one of these less-traveled cities featured in Blue-Roads Tours, you'll replace the day-to-day with a getaway to remember.

 

Your Bucket List Isn’t Complete without These Five Experiences

The best adventures - the ones that stay with us for years - are immersive. They engage all our senses, inspire us to see the world in a new light and introduce new cultures and customs. To get the most from these experiences, you need to uncover hidden treasures and details that that you won't find in a guidebook.

Blue-Roads Touring, a leader in experiential travel, gives you a taste of what it's like to be a local. The company hires only experienced tour leaders, many of whom are former professors, artists and actors, allowing them to dig deeper into the art, history and culture of the region.

Ready to add some new experiences to your bucket list? Try these: 

Soak Up the Italian Countryside 

How do you describe a 12-day tour of Northern Italy? In a word: Indulgence. On a Blue-Roads Italian Indulgence tour, you'll spoil yourself in the region's riches - from sumptuous food and wine to the glamour of the Italian Riviera. Highlights include cooking a classic Tuscan lunch from the comfort of your own villa, wine tasting in the Piedmont region and truffle hunting with a local farmer in Cherasco. 

Burgundy or Loire Valley by Barge 

The only thing that can make exploring the French countryside even better is doing it by riverboat. With just 10 cabins and 20 passengers, your intimate Blue-Roads boutique barge has all the luxuries of a lavish hotel, including French cuisine by a formally trained chef, a sundeck and Jacuzzi. Whether you venture to Burgundy or to the Loire Valley, you'll enjoy serenely traversing the countryside by canal. On land, you can discover charming towns town on foot or bicycle and visit vineyards and farms to sample the best of the local region. 

The Frontlines of World War I 

History is more than what we read in books. Blue-Roads' signature battlefield tours take you to the frontlines of the "war to end all wars," in Ypres and the Somme, and to memorials honoring the fallen. A highlight is that Blue-Roads connects you to relatives who gave their lives in the war so that you may pay your respects graveside. 

British Royalty

Anglophiles, this is what you've been waiting for! This nine-day Royal Tour of Britain brings you to the castles and residences of famous monarchs - past and present. From Balmoral Castle, the Scottish holiday home of the royal family to Buckingham Castle, St. James' Palace and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, Blue-Roads rolls out the red carpet on this unforgettable journey. 

Croatia: The Crown Jewel of Europe 

Walk in the footsteps of feudal kings and queens in Croatia, which provides the backdrop for many epic scenes in the fantasy series, "Game of Thrones." Scale the Diocletian's Palace. Sip wine at family owned Bibich Winery, where the vineyards are over five hundred years old. Then set sail for Korcula, an enchanting island and the reputed birthplace of Marco Polo. Nature, history , adventure - Croatia and the Dalmatian Coast has something for everyone.

Now that you've got five more extraordinary places and experiences for your bucket list, what are you waiting for?

Safeguard Your Jewelry on Summer Vacation

Unfortunately, the Emblings aren't alone. In fact, Jewelers Mutual conducted a recent survey on travel and jewelry loss or theft and found that the number of jewelry losses, based on survey responses, has doubled compared to their 2015 survey. The most common place to lose jewelry? The beach (27 percent of reported losses).

The survey also revealed that only 1 percent of travelers who lose jewelry report recovering the piece.

"Approximately 40 percent of consumers are devastated or experience a high level of emotional impact from a lost piece of jewelry," said Don Elliott, director of claims at Jewelers Mutual.

Avoid becoming a vacation victim with these six travel tips from Jewelers Mutual's new travel guide:

* Take pictures of items before your trip in case you need to file a police report.

* Avoid posting pictures of your jewelry and location on social media.

* Leave jewelry off while swimming.

* Wear or pack jewelry in a carry-on bag.

* Tuck necklaces and watches under necklines and cuffs when in dangerous areas.

* Keep necklaces safe and untangled in your bag by threading them through a straw; fasten earrings to an extra button to keep them together.

Jewelers Mutual puts travelers' minds at ease. The Wisconsin-based company has been in the business since 1913, and understands the value of jewelry and developing personal relationships with its customers.

While some homeowner's insurance plans cover an extent of personal property, the plans typically won't go as far as to replace a cherished piece that is lost or damaged. For those seeking to replace their lost treasure, Jewelers Mutual works with jewelers to recreate your lost, damaged or stolen jewelry so it can continue to be a prized possession for years to come.

Embling and her fiancé acted fast retracing their steps and discovered the ring in their hotel room, which happens to be the second highest place people lose their jewelry.

Visit jewelersmutual.com for more information about insuring and protecting your most cherished memories.

 

Serenity Awaits at Calabash Cove Resort & Spa St Lucia

With a secluded beachfront location on the northwest (or Caribbean) side of the coast of the island of St. Lucia, Calabash Cove offers privacy and luxury for adults only.

The Calabash Cove guest list includes singles and couples, some honeymooners, some celebrating an anniversary or other special event, and others looking for a simple but elegant getaway with some personal space and well-prepared meals. Visitors come from the United States, Canada, Europe, and around the world.

The resort and spa is a full-service resort: the optional Unconditional All-Inclusive package covers all food and drinks including room service, daily specials, an in-room bar, lobster when in season, and more than 20 wines by the bottle from the resort's extensive wine list. Tips and Wi-Fi are included as well.

Part of the resort's appeal is its promise of intimacy - only 26 suites, all with a king bed, Jacuzzi, double vanity, rain shower, private balcony or patio, ocean view and cable TV. The resort is built along a sloping hill and was designed to complement and harmonize with the natural surroundings and offer guests full benefit of ocean breezes and sunset views.

The property includes a private beach with nearby coral reef, as well as tropical gardens and groves of trees to set the scene for reflection and relaxation.

Calabash caters to a quieter crowd, says owner Konrad Wagner

"If guests like a large, noisy, and ordinary resort, Calabash Cove Resort & Spa may not be best for them," he explains.

"A crowd for many of them is when three couples decide to charter a boat for the day to visit the Pitons for snorkeling."

Calabash guests "enjoy dinner music every night at a volume suitable for a conversation," he adds.

However, guests looking to sprinkle their serenity with activity can take advantage of a Cybex cardiovascular fitness center, or get out on the water with kayaks, paddle boards, and snorkeling gear, all available at no additional charge.

Calabash Cove is ideally situated five minutes north of Castries and five minutes south of Rodney Bay Village, with approximately 40 bars and restaurants to cater to a range of tastes when guests crave a change of scene.

Visit calabashcove.com for more information.

 

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