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Category: ‘The Road Less Traveled’

Travel Tips for Packing

Posted: April 29th, 2016 by

 

 

Travel tips for packingYou’ve researched, you’ve planned and you’ve booked

Now you’re counting down the days till you set off.Just the packing left to do.

How well this stage goes will depend on what sort of packer you are.

Read on for some tips you may have forgotten or just not seen.



#1 Organize your case and instantly compress your clothes

Travel_organize your case and compress your clothes at the same timeIf fitting everything in your case is a major challenge, then maybe you have not discovered or tried packing cubes.

Several companies make them and you can buy them from various stores.

I tried them for a recent 10 day trip to Europe and I easily fitted all my clothes into a carry on size case.

Not sure how they could possibly save space or if you could fit all your clothes in?

Watch this cute short video and perhaps you’ll be converted too!

 


 

#2 Packing a suit in a small suitcase? No problem!

Travel_packing a suit in a small suitcase

Think it can’t be done?

I packed my husband’s suit in a small suitcase for a recent trip abroad along with all his other clothes.

He was very skeptical and unconvinced, and I was worried that it might not go as planned, but thankfully it worked perfectly!

No creases or wrinkles after several days travelling.

Watch this video to see an expert do it

 

 

 


 

#3 Rolling, Folding or Bundling?

Travel_rolling,folding or bundling

 

Are you a Folder and like the ‘neatness look’ to your case when you are done?

Perhaps you are a Roller – rolling every piece of clothing and confident you will use up every available space in your case.

Or maybe you are a Bundler –watch this video and decide if this is more your style of packing

 

 

 

 


 

However you like to pack, remember the wise words of Leslie Wilmott, a packing expert:

‘It’s a suitcase, not a closet”

Happy Packing!

April Showers and Flowers

Posted: April 14th, 2016 by

The month of April is everything we are looking for after the winter.

Glorious bursts of colors as flowers gently open to the warm rays of the sun.

Travelling can be dull and boring, so brighten the experience by checking out nearby Botanical Gardens



 

Nashville, TN

Cheekwood

 

Cheekwood Botanical Garden, not too far from the Scottish Inns Hotel located at 426 Murfreesboro Road, Nashville, TN 37210

Ranked #9 in USA Today 10 Best Botanical Gardens and features 55 acres divided into a dozen themed areas including a Japanese Garden, an herb garden, two perennial gardens, a color garden, water garden, seasons garden and an award-winning wildflower garden. Sounds relaxing and peaceful, so different to the Interstate that you may be travelling on.

 

Pine Mountain GA

Travelling south of Atlanta along the I85 means you can take a break wandering around the Callaway Gardens.  The Callaway Azalea Bowl looks wonderful this time of the year.

calloway 1 calloway

This 40-acre garden is home to more than 3,000 native and hybrid azaleas, which explode into a colorful palette of pinks, reds, lavenders and whites each Spring. Additional plantings include 2,000 trees and shrubs that provide an array of foliage and blooms throughout the year. With wide walking paths that criss-cross the hillside gardens, the Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl is a delightful spot for a leisurely stroll in any season. A gazebo overlooking Falls Creek Lake is an ideal resting spot from which to drink in the picture-postcard beauty.

Glencoe IL

Visiting Chicago IL and need a break? Then take time out and visit the Chicago Botanic Garden. 385 acres with 26 gardens and 4 natural areas that include Japanese gardens and an English walled garden. This beautiful site is ranked #8 in USA Today 10 Best Botanical Gardens and is well worth a visit. Just a few minutes drive from the Red Carpet Inn located at 3207 Buckley Rd. N Chicago, IL 60064

 

tumblr_n4fvzqzdRw1rgztpko1_400 Chicago-Botanic-Garden

There’s even a tram to take you on a tour if you want a rest from walking. The tram ride is 2.3 miles and runs  through the Japanese Garden, the McDonald Woods and alongside the Garden’s 81 acres of water.

Happy Travelling!

Mad as a March Hare – March Comes in Like a Lion – March Madness

Posted: March 5th, 2014 by

More than likely you have heard of one or more of these phrases as we say goodbye to those wintery days and look forward to Spring.

hareIn the case of Mad as a March hare, it may be a reference to the erratic behavior of animals (or humans) in the month of March . . . what about March, coming in like a Lion and out like a Lamb . . . well, the Rev. Dr. David Q. Hall describes why “March winds are well known” in his blog, The Rev. Dr.s Musings on Nature, Life and Belief.

bbp 1The phrase March Madness actually pertained to the European Hare’s breeding season, but a more current (20th Century) reference is about Basketball. Fact is, March Madness became a nickname for the NCAA Basketball tournaments, which take place in the month of March. The tie in to tourism is simply that the tournaments take place in a variety of cities each March (and often go into early April), thus attracting a great number of basketball fans, supporters, etc. who not only fill sport venue bleachers and seats, but as is the case with out-of-town visitors, require overnight lodging, the requisite number of meals and an assortment of purchases; all which help to beef up the economical windfall for the lucky hosting city(s).

Photo shows Orville Wright in flight

Photo shows Orville Wright in flight

Tourism would be greatly affected today had it not been for the Wright Brothers and the first airplane flight on December 17, 1903 and although it took place in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, they hailed from Dayton, Ohio, called the birthplace of aviation, and the first stop for the ‘First Four’ at UD Arena in Dayton (March 18-19). Not only will basketball fans be treated to a heart-pounding, foot-stomping start to 2014’s March Madness, but there’s more to Dayton than just the hoops, like the world’s largest and oldest aviation museum, “National Museum of the U.S. Air Force” and the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park.
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The Birdwatcher In Us!

Posted: January 28th, 2014 by

Central Park

"The deceptively cute Gray Jay is one of the most intrepid birds in North America, living in northern forests year-round and rearing chicks in the dark of winter."  www.allaboutbirds.org

“The deceptively cute Gray Jay is one of the most intrepid birds in North America, living in northern forests year-round and rearing chicks in the dark of winter.” www.allaboutbirds.org

Let’s face it, there’s a little birdwatcher in all of us. Stop and think for a moment; do you remember when you looked skyward and wondered where that flock of geese was flying to as they headed southward? How about the time you saw birds of a feather swoop from one set of tree tops to another; or watched the antics of a Blue Jay taking possession of its space, or a Mother bird feed her young amid their gaping beaks, twitters and peeps. Yes, you were bird watching!

Mountain Desert Island, Maine - a year-round birding paradise - Wikimedia Commons

Mountain Desert Island, Maine – a year-round birding paradise – Wikimedia Commons

I’ve never actually considered myself a birdwatcher per se, but I do remember quite a few years ago, while touring the Florida Everglades, encountering a group of tourists who were actually on a bird watching tour. They disembarked quietly from their tour bus in single file with binoculars in hand. At first, I couldn’t help wonder what they were doing, but then it was evident as they dispersed and quickly raised their binoculars toward the tree tops. I could barely hear their whispers, but imagined they were pointing out one bird or another. You could see the fascination and quiet excitement on their faces. I watched three or four congregate near some Palmetto’s as they peered around the prickly green pointed Palmetto, and in hushed tones speak of some great feathered find.
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Holidays: The Name’s the Same!

Posted: December 20th, 2013 by

It appears there are a number of cities and towns in the US with holiday type names, so how about a little trivia where the name is the same when it comes to holidays?

The Star of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is easily visible 20 miles away

The Star of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is easily visible 20 miles away

Probably the most recognized Christmas related town name is Bethlehem, and in the US there are (reportedly) eight to 12. I’ve discovered 9 of them: Bethlehem, CT; Bethlehem, GA; Bethlehem, IN; Bethlehem, KY, Bethlehem, MD; Bethlehem, MS; Bethlehem, NH; Bethlehem, PA; Bethlehem, WV, with Bethlehem, PA being the most prominently known.

It was on Christmas eve in 1741, when a group of Moravians founded the mission community of Bethlehem, which proved to be a town for the future when in 1762 it built the “first-water works in America to pump water for public use.”

After the Civil War Bethlehem became a city, and a center for heavy industry and trade during the industrial revolution, thus Bethlehem Steel Corporation was founded, becoming the 2nd largest steel producer in the US, and was also one of the largest shipbuilding companies in the world. Unfortunately they ceased their operations in 1995, after about 140 years of being in business.

Could it be the result of a grand ceremony on December 7, 1937, during the Great Depression, when the wife of Bethlehem Steel Corporation President, Charles F. Brown, flipped on the switch to turn on the new Christmas street lights and a large wooden star [that the city of Bethlehem still beckons visitors]? It was also at this time the Chamber of Commerce adopted the nickname ‘Christmas City, USA’. Today, that wooden star when lit up can be seen as far as Wind Gap, 20 miles away.

Bethlehem is also home to three large universities, including Lehigh University, and Money Magazine listed it at number 88 out of 100 ‘best cities to live’ . . .
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Not Necessarily Off the Beaten Path . . .

Posted: March 1st, 2013 by

I just love being a curator of tourist-ific information to pass along to visitors to our travel blog, Get-packin, so when I happened upon another great travel website I became quite excited , especially when it comes to conjuring up places to visit – you know, those out of the way places found along the nation’s byways . . .

beartooth mountain by B.S. TownsendI hope to whet your appetite for some new travel finds using this great resource! There are recommended byways in 46 states plus a dozen or more multi-state byways reflected, such as Beartooth Highway which meanders across the rugged Beartooth Mountain Range, providing a dramatic view and unparalleled wildlife watching in the states of Montana and Wyoming. There are also more than a dozen local resources through a variety of Chamber of Commerce offices located in both states.

Civil war buffs in particular; or for that matter anyone interested in America’s history, will appreciate this 180 mile Journey Through Hallowed Ground byway, that encompasses the beauty and history of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Here you can take a journey and see nine presidential homes and sites, more than a dozen national and state parks, at least 50 or more historic towns and villages, nearly a dozen historic homes, 100’s of Civil War battlefields and 1,000’s of historical sites. No matter where you start from, the journey from Gettysburg to Monticello will be one you will soon not forget.

Some highlights of this journey might be:
• Leesburg, VA – “a school in Leesburg, VA named for Frederick Douglass was the first built and paid for by African-Americans”
MonticelloPresident Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farm near Gettysburg
• Monticello – home of Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States
• Harpers Ferry National Park

Also a good resource for learning which route to take is to click on the print n go tool. This not only identifies the route you need to take but it includes accessibility information as well as bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and a detailed map.

new river gorge bridge and sandstone fallsIf you’ve ever watched the movie “Coal Miners Daughter” about the life of country music legend, Loretta Lynn, then you might find the Coal Heritage Trail of interest (although Lynn hailed from Kentucky where there were many coal mines as well). Here you can get a first hand look at the history and culture of the coal industry, as well as breathtaking views in rustic West Virginia, especially during early fall when a kaleidoscope of autumn hues covers the landscape with gold, red, orange and brown foliage. A key attraction in this area is also the world’s second largest single arch steel span, the “New River Gorge Bridge” . . .

so creek falls and dilophosaurusFolks who are prehistoric fans and fact finders will find the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway of major interest, as they journey in search of culture and archaeology where dinosaurs once roamed the land of Colorado and Utah. The excitement of a new discovery, along with breathtaking panoramas of these beautiful western states is definitely worth traveling along this byway.

If you’re looking for something a little tamer, then why not drive along A1A Scenic Highway Historic Coastal Byway in Florida with miles and miles of golden sand beaches. Be sure to bring along the sun tan lotion, sun glasses and a blanket to spread out, perfect for watching those beautiful east coast sunrises, or for those of you looking for that perfect sunset on the California coast, your route is the San Luis Obispo North Coastal Byway.

Your ticket for all these wonderful travel experiences and confirmation as to why we call our home “America the Beautiful” is www.byways.org . . . why not take time to explore a byway near you and capture these travel memories to last a lifetime.

Spring Break is Bigger and Better Than Ever!

Posted: April 2nd, 2012 by

Spring break actually started for some schools in mid February and runs the second or third week in April.  If you would like numbers, Tripsmarter.com has put together all the data on spring break 2012 dates and corresponding number of humans on break in a given week.

Are you looking for spring break ideas?  In addition to the traditional favorites, there and lots of alternative spring break opportunities.  How about a volunteer vacation?  Are you interested in snow or sand? Here are just a few ideas for a fantastic spring break!

The top ten spring break destinations don’t change much from year to year. Below is a list of top ten spring break hot spots for 2012.

  1. Cancun
  2. Panama City, FL
  3. Miami and South Beach Florida
  4. Europe
  5. Puerto Vallarta
  6. Acapulco
  7. Caribbean (Nassau and Jamaica)
  8. South Padre Island, TX
  9. Puerto Rico
  10. North American Ski Resorts

One alternative to the “sun or sand” routine is a volunteer vacation. There are lots of opportunities to enjoy fun and camaraderie of like-minded folks, while doing your share to help others in need. United Way is sponsoring alternative spring break for volunteers in the US, and non-profit house-builder Habitat for Humanity offers opportunities all over the country. Projects Abroad is now offering short-term volunteering abroad opportunities specifically designed for one-week spring break trips.

Check out this volunteer list of college student volunteer opportunities, and however you decide to spend your spring break remember to have lots of fun!

 

Over the River and Through the Woods…

Posted: November 30th, 2011 by

The holiday season can be a stressful time for many people.  I have an 11-year-old son and I can tell you that his gift list, and those of his schoolmates, is daunting indeed. At the top of every list this year is all the “smart” technology, from phones to TV’s to Tablets, with a not so smart price tag. The media would have our kids think they are outside the norm if they do not have all these expensive gadgets, and many times parents are pressured into buying things they just cannot afford. This creates stress. On the other hand if we do not buy these things we believe our kids will be unhappy and this can also be stressful.

Another anxiety provoking holiday tradition is the trip to visit extended family. Many people take advantage of time off work and school to visit family. While it is nice to see our relatives, it can also be difficult to mesh different attitudes about child rearing, traditions and even religious beliefs. While family movie networks abound with warm fuzzy images about holidays and family, it seems this seldom relates to the average family. And then there are those who do not have family to visit. The newly divorced, or aged folks can feel very alone at this time of year.

As if that weren’t stressful enough, we over-extend ourselves in our social obligations. We try to attend every holiday party, social event and family gathering, overeating and sometimes drinking too much in the process. 

What is the answer to all this stress? Here are a few ideas about how to simplify the holidays and hopefully make things a little less stressful.

  • Forgo all the expensive gifts and opt for a “homemade” Christmas. Everyone is good at making something, whether it is woodworking, knitting, or just putting together a list of family recipes or a photo album. These kinds of gifts can become cherished family heirlooms. Families with small children may particularly enjoy this approach, especially getting the kids involved in making the gifts.
  • Forget all the elaborate holiday decorating and just display some fresh cut greenery in your favorite vase. How about a small living tabletop tree that can be planted outdoors after the season is over. Sometimes less is more.
  • Instead of trying to attend every single holiday party why not plan a weekend outing with kids to view Christmas lights, go to the zoo or to a museum? Or even just plan a family night to stay at home and play games or watch a movie.
  • Remember the less fortunate during the season. Volunteer for a food drive for the needy or support our troops by helping military families who may be far away from family at this time of year.  If you are alone, this is a good way to get involved in the community. For families, helping children to realize that there are others who do not have all the advantages, may allow them to appreciate how blessed they are.
  • Finally, if you think that trip to Grandma’s house may cause too much stress and anxiety, just say no. Instead, perhaps arrange a visit at a less hectic time of year, or visits with individual family members versus a large family gathering.

Remember, if you are traveling at this time of year, visit www.bookroomsnow.com for a good night’s sleep at a price that won’t add stress to your holidays!

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Shuffle Off to Buffalo – a Road Trip Near the Falls

Posted: April 27th, 2011 by
 
Buffalo Skyline – Wikimedia Commons Photo

 There’s more to Buffalo, New York than the “Falls”  . . . located on the eastern shores of Lake Erie, Buffalo has the second largest population in New York.  The city could attribute its growth to the Erie Canal and its proximity to Niagara Falls, which is the 6th most popular attraction in the world (according to Forbes Top 10 most visited attractions).  Perhaps the 1933 tune, Shuffle Off to Buffalo, with its lyrics “there’s no honeymoon that’s cheaper” aided in Buffalo’s tourism growth as well.

Buffalo is a city steeped in cultural history; From the Iroquois, who originally settled Buffalo, and Seneca Indians who were said to have destroyed the Neutral Nation (of which the Iroquois were members) to The French, who were rumored to have exclaimed, beau fleuve (translation: beautiful river) upon seeing Buffalo and Niagara Falls.  During the  War of 1812,  Buffalo was burned by British forces. On November 4, 1825 the  Erie Canal was completed with Buffalo strategically positioned at the western end of the system.

Despite these early set backs, Buffalo grew and became an economic force in the State of New York; of which tourism played an integral part .  There are plenty of attractions and things to do (some of which are shown below), plus lots of shopping excursions (evidenced by Canadian visitors just across the border).

  • Michigan Street Baptist Church (This African-American church was founded in 1845 as the Macedonia Baptist Church and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974)
  • Buffalo’s Underground Railroad (The railroad and the Macedonia Baptist Church were of historical significance during the Civil War)
  • Buffalo Zoo (The zoo, more than a century old, experienced some excitement late 2010, when Sidney, a 13-year old gorilla, gave birth to a baby boy gorilla, dubbed Tiny by zoo caretakers.  It had been 10 years since a gorilla gave birth at the Buffalo Zoo)

    Sidney is shown with baby gorilla – Flickr image by dpape

  • Wilcox Mansion (Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site)
  • Shea’s Performing Arts Center
  • Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park (The USS Little Rock, USS The Sullivans, and USS Croaker are among the historic ships on display)
  • Erie Canal
 

Maid of the Mist – Flickr image by mahfrot

 

 Not only is there a lot to do and see in Buffalo; but raising a family might take center stage (Forbes rated Buffalo the 10th best place to raise a family in America) and seeking a medical profession, which is a strong economic factor with the University of Buffalo and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus maintaining their growth and expansion in spite of a sluggish economy, could be a good reason to call Buffalo home.

Although, if you’re not looking to relocate, and you need a good night’s sleep while visiting this vibrant western New York City, visit www.BookRoomsNow.com

 

PACK YOUR BAGS … IT’S A ROAD TRIP TO SPARTA!

Posted: March 15th, 2011 by

A typical Spartan? Statue of King Leonidas at Sparta, Greece - Wikimedia Commons

Did you think we meant Sparta, Greece? 

There are a total of 28 towns named Sparta in the U.S., plus one in Canada and two in South America.  Although Sparta, Greece would provide the most historic significance, our travels are taking us to the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, and to the town of Sparta, North Carolina, about six miles to the famed Blue Ridge Parkway.

Don’t overlook places you’ve never heard of as they could be that diamond in the rough, like the sleepy little town of Sparta, tucked away in the midst of the Smoky Mountains, near its State Park and many other beautiful tourist areas: nature at its best. 

View from the east ridge off Blue Ridge Parkway, near Sparta looking toward Pilot Mountain - Flickr photo by billkrisjacob

Folks around Alleghany County say that Nature created Sparta, and if you visited their chamber of commerce site you’ll find their claim to be true.  http://www.sparta-nc.com/

Looking Glass Falls - Flickr photo by Alaskan Dude

Along with the splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains you’ll find artisans galore, weaving their magic spells in the form of pottery, quilting, painting, photography, woodcrafts and the revival of traditional music of the hills. 

There’s something to do and see around every bend of the road:

  • Take in a music venue

Alleghany Historic Museum, Silver Dollar Music Park, Alleghany Jubilee or Blue Ridge Music Center

  • Cast your rod, swing your club, shoot the rapids or small game

Check out local trout and fishing farms, let the balls fly at Olde Beau or New River Golf clubs, thrill at an exhilarating ride in a canoe, or aim for the bulls eye, and nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina atop a gentle steed as you meander through the beauty of the mountains.  

  • Tour the local museums or art galleries

Alleghany Arts and Crafts, Blue Ridge Gallery of Fine Arts, and many more

  • Sip in the sites and fine wine at local wineries

Chateau Laurinda, Grapestompers, Thistle Meadow Winery

  • Upcoming special events include

Alleghany Jubilee (every Tuesday and Saturday evening)

Lawn Mower Racing in May, June and August – NASCAR of a different scale

Lions Club Rodeo July 1 and 2

Mountain Heritage Festival in September