Where do you want to stay?

Book Rooms Now | Logo

Where do you want to stay?

Red Carpet Inn Scottish Inns Master Hosts Inns Downtowner Inns Passport Inn

Get Packin'

Hospitality International's Travel Blog

2013 – Happy New Year!

Posted: December 26th, 2012 by

We’ve survived! The world did not come to an end on 12-21-2012!  It’s now time to celebrate . . .

220px-2000_times_square_ball_at_waterfordIt began in 1907, the iconic Times Square ‘ball’ drop at 11:59 pm capturing New Yorkers and a nation  to herald in the New Year.  This year, some 8 million plus folks in New York City alone, with an estimated audience of  over a  billion people throughout the world joining in to celebrate the new year of 2013.  The ball started out with 100 incandescent light bulbs, iron and wood in its construction, but has evolved over time, and with advances in technology, now features LED lighting, crystal panels and a much larger size. 

Other cities ring in the new year with similar drops: in Florida you might see a 200 pound Tangerine drop, or a six foot Queen Conch Shell (Key West),  Miami is home of the “Big 35’ Orange” drop, and there is the Peach Drop, broadcast worldwide from Undergound in Atlanta, Georgia.  Some not so well known drops include a 500-pound-steel-and-foam “Watermelon Ball “in Vincennes, Indiana; a “Sardine” in Eastport, Maine;  Traverse City, Michigan features a “Cherry” drop;pioglet Niagara Falls features a 10’ “Gibson Guitar” dropped from the Hard Rock Café;  Mount Olive, North Carolina features its ‘Pickle” lowering; Cincinnati proves pigs can fly when a “a Flying Pig” is part of their celebration; and, in Mobile, Alabama, it’s the “Moon Pie” drop . . . to learn more about hundreds of drops, lowering, raising and simply celebrating the New Year, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_objects_dropped_on_New_Year%27s_Eve

What about other cities and countries.  How do they celebrate the New Year? 

Ecuadorians  use scarecrow like dummy’s to represent something that happened in the past year.  At midnight  the dummy will be put on fire, and as it goes up in smoke firecrackers are lit, adding to the festivities.  “Ano Viejo . . . Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!  So the Dutch say to wish you a Happy New Year . . . and the Filipino will wish you a “Masaya Bagong Taon” while Romanians say “An Nou Fericit” and Spaniards will utter “Feliz Ano Nuevo” . . .

Adding to many well wishes in a variety of languages are various traditions, like wearing yellow to enhance your chance for abundance and more money … something many in South American countries subscribe to; however,  in other areas food is part of the New Year celebration.  Some foods  represent money (cabbage), living a long life (sauerkraut), 12 grapes (happiness), or a traditional black-eyed peas, ham and collard green meal for health, wealth and happiness.

Perhaps the last, and hopefully the most enduring, tradition for the New Year are the resolutions, which dates back to the early Babylonians when a popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.  Today the number one and two resolutions (not necessarily in that order) are to lose weight and quit smoking . . . how about you, what is your resolution?

[polldaddy poll=6792674]

Family Fun for the Holidays . . .

Posted: November 27th, 2012 by

Black Friday conjurs up visions of throngs of people pushing, shoving, tugging, and cajoling their way to the head of the crowds or to be first in line to pay for their hard-fought bargains.  Aside from all that chaos though, it also marks the beginning of the  season to be merry, be it Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa, and for the most part ignites the holiday spirit in many folks.

Get-packin.com wants to help kick-start the holiday spirit as well, but, our contribution is to help you find fun places to go, especially with the family.  So, pull up your easy chair, bring the whole gang in, and check out all these holiday events, like A Very  Furry Christmas” at Sesame Place, located in Langhorne, PA., about 30 minutes from Philadelphia and 90 minutes south of New York City.

The Big Apple heads to music city, where “A Country Christmas” in Nashville, TN., finds the New York City Rockettes kicking up their heels at the Grand Ole Opry House, or brrrrr, take a tour of ICE, featuring “DreamWorks’ Shrek the Halls” – taking place at the Opryland Events Center.

Ahhh, sunny Florida where there are activities galore to be found in the greater Orlando area, or in Miami you’ll find  what’s touted to be the “world’s largest Christmas theme park and free carnival in  Santa’s Enchanted Forest.

Other fun places to be this holiday season include the North Pole, in New York’s Adirondacks, about 12 miles from Lake Placid.

How about a green Christmas, with a twist, like a Christmas tree made out of 245,000 green Lego DUPLO bricks in Legoland during their ‘holiday snowdays’.

The most fun of all just might be a train ride for the whole family . . . . . . . .

Click here  to learn all about the Polar Express train rides schedule.

After a day of holiday site-seeing, what you need is a good night’s sleep in places like Winnemucca, Nevada – so why not visit www.BookRoomsNow.com

California Dreamin’

Posted: May 2nd, 2012 by

A bucket list is a great way to get the most out of life.  One popular trip on a lot of people’s bucket list is a drive up Highway 1, on the California coast (preferably in a convertible). Don’t forget your sunglasses!

Downtown LA, Venice Beach, Griffith Observatory and Hollywood Sign.- Wikimedia Commons.Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported

A great starting point is Los Angeles.  Allow a few days taking in the sights before hitting the road.  Here are a few  “must see” attractions in L.A. area:

  • The Getty Center in Pacific Palisades – located on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains, visitors can view art from Pre-Renaissance to Impressionist periods in Europe.
  • The Getty Villa in Malibu- J. Paul Getty’s ornate Spanish Ranch house is now a world-class art museum. Admission is free but parking must be reserved.
  • Hollywood  & Highland- This busy intersection includes the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and 3 stories of boutiques, cafes and shops. Don’t miss the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Kodak Theatre.
  • Santa Monica Pier- The 1600 ft. pier opened in 1909 has a 1922 Carousel with 44 hand carved horses, a working roller coaster and a Ferris Wheel.
  • Beverly Hills- A trolley runs around the area allowing you the opportunity to hop off for a walking tour through the mansions along palm lined boulevards. Get more information at Beverly Hills Visitors Bureau.
  • The Grove/Farmer’s Market- The Grove is a new open pedestrian shopping area with green spaces, fountains, boutiques, and entertainment complex attached to the Historic Farmer’s Market, which has been in existence since the 1930’s.
  • Universal Studios Hollywood- Just a few minutes drive from Downtown LA or Hollywood, this theme park offers a behind-the scenes view into movie making and some really fun movie themed rides.
  • The Hollywood Bowl- Is the summer home of LA Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Bring a picnic and enjoy outstanding music under the stars. If you are in the box seats you can even order dinner in advance to be served at your box!
  • The Griffith Observatory- Built in 1935 in the Art Deco style, the observatory sits on a Mountain peak overlooking Hollywood and old L.A.  It is open Wednesday-Sunday until 10:00pm and admission is free, although there is a small charge for the planetarium sky show.
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art- Located in the “Miracle Mile” district of Midtown.  The museum receives rare collections on tour. It shares the boulevard, known as Museum Row, with L.A. Craft and Folk Art Museum, Page Museum of Natural History and La Brea Tar Pits.

If you are looking for convenient and affordable lodging  in the Los Angeles area visit our website

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!

 

No Matter Where Your Travels Take You . . . .

Posted: February 8th, 2012 by

Who would have thought that February, which many do not consider the ideal month to travel in to also be one of the most popular months of the year for tourism.

Certainly you have to list the sunny shores of Florida and the Daytona 500, which happens to be February 26th this year, as one of the key reasons to travel south, especially if you live in the frigid northern climes.  Just being able to shed all those extra layers of clothing and drink in the sea air is enough reason to trek down I-75 or I-95.

If Florida is not on your mind, then head to New York?  Sure, the weather may not be ideal, but if a little romance is on your agenda, then Niagara Falls, the honeymoon capital of the world (or at least in the U.S. of A) or New York City with its bright lights, Broadway shows and mega shopping opportunities would be a perfect alternative.

Why not Pennsylvania, you ask?  Well, why not?  Even where the grass has been greener can be serene, when heading to the Amish countryside as you travel along the back roads and by-ways.  

A little further south, there is always Virginia, the state which touts “Virginia is for Lovers”  . . . where you can watch the sun rise over the ocean near the seaside and heading further east see the shadows fall over the lush (verdant green in the spring, summer and fall months) rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley as the sun goes down.  Now if that isn’t romantic, I’m just not sure what is.

Romance it seems has no season, just a reason for traveling to that special place.  And if you’re unsure where to stop for a good night’s sleep, click here for some suggestions.

By the way, we haven’t forgotten New Orleans; after all, one of the most popular tourism events of the year happens in the big easy . . . Mardi Gras will kick off before Lent, which occurs on the 22nd of February this year, so if watching colorful parades and being involved in all the gala is something you enjoy, then head to Louisiana!

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!

.

Holiday Madness Is Here!

Posted: November 2nd, 2011 by

Diyas (oil lamp) during Diwali-wikipedia

This is just a crazy time of year. According to Hallmark, there are 8 major holidays crammed into the short time span from October 31- December 31. That averages out a holiday every 11.5 Days!  Some of these holidays have been celebrated since the pilgrims first set foot on these shores, while others are recently recognized in the United States. For instance, although Diwali has been celebrated in India for centuries, it has only recently gained popularity as major holiday in this country. 8 Major Holidays in 92 Days- 2011:

October 31- Halloween

November 11- Veterans Day

November 13- Diwali

November 24- Thanksgiving

December 21- Hanukkah

December 25- Christmas

December 26- Kwanzaa

December 31/January –1  New Year’s Eve/Day

Many people plan to visit friends and family or take a much needed vacation for at least one of these holidays, making this one of the busiest travel times of the year. Families are able to take advantage of school breaks and take the kids to visit Grandma, go to Disney World, enjoy a cruise or hit the slopes. Hotels, cruise lines and tour companies all offer holiday specials this time of year. With a little advance planning, the savvy traveler is able to take advantage of some great deals.

What are your plans this holiday season?

[polldaddy poll=5635069]

For affordable lodging and a good Night’s Sleep on your holiday vacation

Taking Time to Remember

Posted: September 8th, 2011 by

 

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the world-changing event that has become known simply as 9-11.  As our country continues the healing process, communities all across the nation will take time this September 11th, to commemorate the personal stories of tragedy, and in many instances triumph, in the face of overwhelming circumstances. We remember those who lost their lives and loved ones, as well as those who risked their lives as first responders. Check with your local officials for events in your area. These are some events taking place in the NYC area.

* Remembrance at Trinity Church

On Sunday, Sept. 11, the historic Trinity Church, at Broadway and Wall Streets near the ground zero site, will ring the Bell of Hope at 8:46 a.m. In the afternoon, at 1:30 p.m., the church will ring the tower bells for an hour of remembrance. At 2:30 p.m., a special service will be held in remembrance of the 9/11 volunteers, first responders, and recovery workers. At 7:14 p.m., an interfaith ringing of the Bell of Hope will again honor the memory of those killed. Admission is free.

* Hand in Hand Remembrance

On Saturday, Sept. 10, thousands of people will join hands to form a human chain along the waterfront in lower Manhattan. The event begins at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center on 9/11. Afterward, participants may post a message on the Wall of Remembrance at Battery Park. Participation in the hand-holding ceremony is free, but pre-registration is required. Sign up on the event’s website. Organizers will contact you with information on your starting location.

* Opening of the National 9/11 Memorial

The 9/11 Memorial, on the ground zero site, contains two giant waterfalls and two reflecting pools in the footprints of the twin towers, surrounded by the names of the people who died inscribed in bronze panels. The Memorial will be open to the public starting on Monday, Sept. 12. Admission is free, but advance reservations are required. You can reserve a pass on the 9/11 Memorial’s website. Enter at the intersection of Albany and Greenwich streets.

* World Trade Center Memorial Floating Lantern Ceremony

On the evening of Sept. 11, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Interfaith Center of New York will host a floating lantern ceremony on the south side of Pier 40 on the Hudson River. Participants will write loved one’s names and messages of peace on paper lanterns and release them into the river. The ceremony includes interfaith prayer, meditation, and musical performances. Admission is free.

Chillin’ in the Bayou City- Fun and affordable ways to beat the heat in Houston, Texas

Posted: July 14th, 2011 by

Folks in Houston, Texas know that summer temperatures hover in the mid 90’s and often exceed 100 degrees. However, there are scores of activities, which allow you to enjoy summer from a cool point of view!  Here a just a few suggestions:

NASA Johnson Space Center Tram Tour

  • NASA Johnson Space Center– Take a tram tour, a behind-the-scenes journey through NASA’s Johnson Space Center, you may visit the Historic Mission Control Center, the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility or the current Mission Control Center. Before returning to Space Center Houston, you can visit the “all new” Saturn V Complex at Rocket Park. Occasionally, the tour may visit other facilities, such as the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. You may even get to see astronauts training for upcoming missions.

  Museum of Fine Arts Houston– MFAH features summer activities for kids and adults Every Sunday and Thursday this summer, families can enjoy an expanded line-up of activities at the MFAH including the Art Detectives program Gallery Investigations; Creation Stations; the storybook program A Book and A Look; and self-guided activities such as Family Packs.

 

 Houston Museum of Natural Science, located on the edge of Hermann Park, one of the nation’s most-heavily attended museums-is a centerpiece of the Houston Museum District. With four floors of permanent exhibit halls, including the Wortham IMAX® Theatre, Cockrell Butterfly Center, Burke Baker Planetarium and George Observatory and as host to world-class and ever-changing touring exhibitions, the Houston Museum has something to delight every age group.

 
 
 Reliant Park Complex– Check out the many events scheduled at the Reliant Park Complex. From the world’s first domed stadium to the world’s first retractable roof, air-conditioned, natural grass football stadium, Reliant Park has established itself as the premier sports, entertainment and convention complex in the country.  From NFL football to Disney on Ice, to live concerts there is something for eveyone.  Check out the calander of events.
 
Kayak Tours – For a truly unique way to see the city,  how about a Kayak Tour of the Buffalo Bayou?  Buffalo Bayou Shuttle Service  is just one of the tour operators offering guided kayak tours.   They will point out beautiful sights as well as obstacles to navigate through. They will fill you in on the History of the Bayou and how it relates to Houston. From the Civil War to Present Day, there is a lot of history on the Buffalo Bayou. 
 
 If you are looking for a good Night’s Sleep while in Houston, check  for  quality affordable acommodations in 28 locations throughout the Houston area.
  
 
 
 
 
 
 

On the Road to “Sweet Home Alabama” . . .

Posted: May 13th, 2011 by

 

Hot air balloons like these are seen at the Alabama Jubilee in Decatur - Flickr image by ericlbc

Imagine discovering a treasure trove of ideas for a fun weekend, or a mini-vacation, an extended leisure trip or even an educational adventure, at no cost to you.  Just stop by any Alabama Welcome/Visitor Center and you’ll find rack after rack, on every wall and in every nook and cranny, filled with maps, guides, special event calendars, photo journals, booklets, pamphlets, discount coupons, and so on to help you on your merry way through Alabama, the Beautiful!

US Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville -- Flickr image by bryce_edwards

Check this out:

Madison County features the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville Botanical Garden and Huntsville Museum of Art, which offers something for everyone, from youngsters to folks well into their retirement age . . . or you could check out the Official Visitors Guide to nearby Decatur where you can sail away at the Alabama Jubilee Hot-Air Balloon Classic held over Memorial Day weekend – for more information log onto www.NorthAlabama.org

    • Pick up your Alabama 2011 motorcycle map and log on to www.Motorsycle-Maps.us – an Internet site highlighting  motorcycle roadways and more
    • Visitor – The must have guide to the Alabama Gulf Coast features an annual calendar of events plus special a Mardi Gras calendar; fact is, you won’t to miss the 7th Annual LuLu Palooza, taking place in Gulf Shores Homeport Marina on May 30th
    • Visit www.yearofalabamamusic.com for a complete listing of venues, attractions and festivals, like the Johnny Shines Blues Festival in Tuscaloosa on August 27t

 

    • Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, AL - Flickr image by southerntabitha

 Don’t wait til’ Oktoberfest to visit Cullman, a city filled with adventure, history, nature and faith . . . where the Ave Maria Grotto, a 4-acre site, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has more than 125 miniature replicas of famous churches, shrines and buildings from around the world thanks to Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine Monk, who was born in Bavaria in 1878.  Brother Zoettl arrived at the Saint Bernard Abbey at the age of 14, and in 1958, at the age of 80, built his last minitature model, the Basilica at Lourdes.  Visiting the Ave Maria Grotto is like taking a trip around the world, in minature . . .

  • There simply is not enough room to list all of the great places Alabama has to offer, so we’ll finish our blog with the Hank Williams Trail, beginning in Mount Olive and Georgiana, then travel up US Highway 31, “the highway Hank traveled” to Montgomery, where Hank is in his final resting place at Oakwood Cemetery

Look for “Historic Alabama” an A to Z guide to Landmarks and Events at an Alabama Welcome/Visitor Center or log on to www.alabama.travel to request your copy. Even arm-chair tourists will enjoy reading about Boaz to Eufala to Hayneville to Loachapoka to Nauvoo to Pickensville to Sylacauga, and Wetumpka.