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May 23, 2012

Driving Solo: First Weekend of Road Trip to LA

U-Haul - A better way to moveThe stars must have been aligned the first weekend of our "Women Traveling Alone" Safety Tour as every tree that lined the freeways was in full bloom with rich and radiant hues of green abundant against a pure blue sky. Norman Rockwell couldn't have painted a much more scenic backdrop himself.

Making it from Rhode Island via Canada to Detroit in my 17' U-Haul Truck (@Uhaul on Twitter and @UHaulCompany) over the weekend, which was loaded to the gills, took 2 days allowing only 300 miles on day one and 400 miles on day two. For some reason, the truck didn't like either Canada or Sonoco gas as it gave a few hiccups and burps throughout the country. Fortunately, it got over its little cold the next day. Not sure what that was all about but delighted it ended. Lessons learned, the earlier you start your road trip, the better all around. And here are a few reasons why.

1. If you are going through Canada or Mexico, make sure you have an up-to-date valid license and passport. Nowadays, you can get just a passport card instead of a full passport for crossing these borders however you cannot fly with a card. You must have a full passport to fly. The passport card looks just like a license only with different info on it. Allow at least 8 weeks before your trip to apply, which you can do online. If you're driving a moving truck, RV, big van or anything of the like, be prepared to be pulled over for an inspection if the border agents feel there's anything suspicious going on with you or your vehicle. I thought for sure driving a big moving van they'd pull me over, especially after 911, but they didn't entering Canada or the USA but I did see them pull over a few ahead of me. So, make sure your dirty laundry is not the first thing they see should they open the back of your truck.  

2. As a woman driving alone, you want to drive during daylight hours, allowing for unexpected stops or delays. While traffic was unusally clear over the weekend, it took some time to get used to handling the loaded U-Haul and how even the slightest breeze affected the steering of such a high profile vehicle. The difference between driving an empty truck home from the U-Haul lot to driving a truck fully loaded with thousands of pounds of furniture is considerably different. It definitely required 2 hands on the wheel at all times.

3. There a hundreds of 18-wheelers on the freeway and while most are professionally trained drivers, and you are not, it can be daunting to have so many pass at high speeds causing wind gusts in their wake, which can make your moving truck a little swirly, so plenty to get used to which takes a little time but after awhile you get your groove on and get in the zone and learn the ways of the road.

4. When you leave early, you also leave plenty of time for gas stops or traffic delays, without getting your knickers in a knot about arriving late or after dark. At the end of each day, assuming it's still light out, I like to fill up with gas to quicken the morning start. I use the evenings and mornings in my room to reorganize notes, call ahead to the next hotel to confirm ETA, and prepare my food for the next day's drive so there's no fiddling around inside the cabin of the truck trying to find something to eat. All that I need is within eye and arm reach, allowing for a safe drive and less stop time. Less stop time means less time outside the cabin of the truck and more miles on the road.

So far, so good, however I do have to say how surprising I find it to see so many young women at some of these roadside travel service areas barely dressed, taking photos of each other, posing and giggling, just having harmless fun, yet from where I sit in the high profile U-Haul as I pull in, I also see men sitting in their cars, backed into a remote shaded spot, watching, staring, glaring... and the young women haven't a clue. One guy in an old Pontiac Firebird saw me pull up as he watched two girls taking photos of each other and for whatever reason, drove away in a hurry when I pointed at him. That's all it took. Whether he felt busted or was just on his way out we'll never know but his departure was unusual and behavior suspicious.

The goal of this journey is to help educate women of all ages, pay attention to your surroundings! There's always someone watching!

Bridgestone TiresOur sincere thanks to Bridgestone Tire and U-Haul for sponsoring (@Uhaul on Twitter and @UHaulCompany) this 'Women Driving Solo" safety tour. Through their support, we're able to help educate more women about personal safety on the road.

To read our opening story on this journey, 'Women Traveling Alone' please visit us at Road & Travel Magazine, and read about the journey of Sacajawea, the young Indian woman (teen) who helped lead the 1804 Lewis & Clark Expedition to a safe conclusion. 

Be sure to check back tomorrow for more tips of how to stay safe and sane on the road. I'll also share gas saving tips and how to better your MPG... leaving a lighter footprint.

November 30, 2011

How to Elimate Jet Lag by Dr. Jo Lichten

How to Eliminate Jet Lag

Jet Lag AdviceOur internal body clock is regulated by circadian rhythms that respond to daily light/dark cycles. When we travel over time zones, these abrupt changes confuse your body clock and cause what is referred to as jet lag. Symptoms of jet lag include fatigue, sleep problems, irritability, queasiness, upset stomach, headache, and grogginess or difficulty concentrating. Jet lag symptoms appear to be more severe when flying east or crossing three or more time zones.

To prevent jet lag, follow these tips:

  • Start out well rested.

  • Drink plenty of water.
    Dehydration worsens the symptoms of jet lag; so try to drink at least eight ounces of non-caffeinated fluids before, during, and after your flight. Go easy on the alcohol and caffeine; besides dehydrating you, they will also disturb your sleep pattern. See all tips here.

October 07, 2011

Top 10 Getaways for Parents without the Kids

Top 10 Getaways Without the Kids

Enjoy a Kid-Free Holiday at a Top 10 Getaway for Parents

As the kids are transitioning back into school mode, call in the grandparents and ask them to baby-sit while you and your significant other take a kid-free vacation.  Of course you love the kids, but sometimes we all need a break from the little rascals. Below are five parent getaways worth checking out over the next few months.

  • Lunenburg, Nova Scotia - In 1995, the old town of Lunenburg on Canada’s east coast was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its survival as a British colonial settlement. This quaint coastal village off Mahone Bay is the perfect place to book a bed-and-breakfast or small cottage and explore the history, do a little kayaking or simply unwind. Let Lunenburg’s small-town charm and the tranquil seaside views win you over. When looking for things to do, visit Bluenose, the world-famous wooden racing schooner, check out the Fisheries Museum and learn about the salty men who navigated the Atlantic, then head over to the Ironworks Distillery for artisan spirit tastings.

  • Portofino, Italy - The words “Italian Riviera” are usually enticing enough to dust off the suitcases, and Portofino is considered to be the most beautiful harbor of them all. What was once a quaint fishing village is now a popular boating and yachting destination. The best place to stay is on a boat, and there are plenty of exquisite restaurants and high-end boutiques that line the harbor. If sleeping on dry land is more your style, travel the sea by water taxi to other towns along the Riviera, including Genoa and San Fruttuoso. And, if you haven’t seen enough breathtaking scenery, head up to Castello Brown to check out the beautiful views and stunning gardens. Full story

October 06, 2011

Find Fall Foliage in Lincoln's Boyhood Home of Indiana

Abe Lincoln's Boyhood Home in Indiana, USA

by Carol Troesch, Spencer County Visitors Bureau


Southern Indiana is known for its rolling hills, endless outdoor recreation, and great family fun, but did you know that it’s also the boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln? Because of the area’s mild autumn days and cool evenings, it also produces some of the most striking and vibrant autumn colors, which makes it a great fall destination!

The fall foliage season, when the changing palette of deciduous trees is full of blazing color, is a terrific time to visit places that can offer not only an amazing views, but also allow you to enjoy some relaxing family activities.

Lincoln State Park in Lincoln City, Indiana

Here, you can enjoy the rich colors of fall as you visit the fertile ground of Lincoln’s childhood home at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City. The memorial is located on the site where Lincoln lived with his family from age 7 to 21. The Visitor Center features two Memorial Halls, a museum with a variety of exhibits, and an orientation film. From the Memorial Center, it is a short walk up the Lincoln Boyhood Trail to the gravesite of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who died of milk sickness in 1818. FULL STORY

September 30, 2011

Where to Find the Best Fall Foliage

Exploring the Shades of Fall

by Suzanne Carmel

When the summer travel season ends and throngs of tourists head back home to work and school, the fall season brings cool, crisp weather, vibrant colors and an easy pace in which to explore the landscape. As autumn leaves change color, hikers, bikers and road trippers come outdoors to welcome the new season.

There are many wonderful places across the United States where September and October usher in shades of red, yellow and orange; magically transforming vistas already breathtakingly beautiful. During fall, every twist on a path or road brings a new surprise, as the possibilities in these five states illustrate.

Photo ©Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

Massachusetts

The best time to experience fall in this East Coast state is from the middle of September to the end of October. State foresters issue fall foliage reports in the morning three times a week so you're sure to have the inside scoop on where to see the best hues. The state tourist office offers tips such as visiting mid week or exploring back roads to enjoy the season leisurely. Locals and visitors alike enjoy hiking, biking, canoeing — even tramping through a pumpkin patch to find the perfect one.

Consider driving down roads in Cape Cod, the Berkshires, and on the Mohawk Trail — one of the most traveled fall foliage routes. Historic small villages, bucolic farms, seaside towns and rolling countryside are all awaiting your visit.

Full story

September 29, 2011

Where to Find the Best Fall Foliage

Exploring the Shades of Fall

by Suzanne Carmel

When the summer travel season ends and throngs of tourists head back home to work and school, the fall season brings cool, crisp weather, vibrant colors and an easy pace in which to explore the landscape. As autumn leaves change color, hikers, bikers and road trippers come outdoors to welcome the new season.

There are many wonderful places across the United States where September and October usher in shades of red, yellow and orange; magically transforming vistas already breathtakingly beautiful. During fall, every twist on a path or road brings a new surprise, as the possibilities in these five states illustrate.

Photo ©Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

Massachusetts

The best time to experience fall in this East Coast state is from the middle of September to the end of October. State foresters issue fall foliage reports in the morning three times a week so you're sure to have the inside scoop on where to see the best hues. The state tourist office offers tips such as visiting mid week or exploring back roads to enjoy the season leisurely. Locals and visitors alike enjoy hiking, biking, canoeing — even tramping through a pumpkin patch to find the perfect one.

Consider driving down roads in Cape Cod, the Berkshires, and on the Mohawk Trail — one of the most traveled fall foliage routes. Historic small villages, bucolic farms, seaside towns and rolling countryside are all awaiting your visit.

Full story

September 26, 2011

Take Time for Yourself with a Dude - At a Dude Ranch

Best Guest Ranch Vacations for Women

A Directory to the Finest Dude Ranches for Women by Patti Schmidt

The Homestead Ranch
Matfield Green, Kansas
Prairie Women Adventures and Retreat
[read our story about The Homestead Ranch]

The Homestead Ranch is a 4,000-acre working cattle ranch in the Kansas Flint Hills. Wildlife is abundant and Native American arrowheads and tools still crop up in pastures and creekbeds after spring rains. Owner Jane Koger, a fourth-generation rancher, and her mostly women ranch crews have been handling things for 20 years. William Least Heat Moon wrote about Jane and the others in Chase County in his book PrairyErth, the American Library Association's Best Work of Nonfiction for 1991. The county is the geographical center of the U.S.

Programs: Prairie Women Adventures and Retreat offers several programs: two three-day Prairie Ecology programs, which focus on the ecology and use of native prairie plants and four horseback riding programs, for those who want "just a little more time with the horses"; one branding vacation, where guests will help inoculate, brand, and band (turn bull calves into steers) them; and one pasture-burning program each spring. Program manager Ginifer Maceau stressed that this ranch does things "the preferred Humane Society way; for example, we freeze brand rather than hot-iron brand." She believes women are a lot more comfortable with that.

Amenities: Guests reside in a modern bunkhouse: up to two in the one private bedroom; the other 10 guests sleep dormitory style in the bunkhouse, which is heated, air-conditioned, and includes a hot tub on the deck. All meals are provided; the afternoon I spoke with Maceau, they were having teriyaki beef kabobs, rice pilaf, salad, fresh bread and lemonade pie with strawberries.

For more information: contact Prairie Women Adventures and Retreat / The Homestead Ranch Guest Programs at (620) 753-3416.
Website: http://www.guestranches.com/homestead
Email: ginifer@wheatstate.com

Wilderness Trails Dude Ranch
Durango, Colo.
Women's Week

The San Juan Mountains and the Los Pinos Valley lend this 160-acre ranch beauty; it also shares a fence line with the Piedra Wilderness Study Area. The Roberts family-Gene, Jan, Randy, Lance, and Erika, who have owned it since 1970- are responsible for its designation in Gene Kilgore 's Ranch Vacations as "one of the finest ranch vacation experiences in the country." At times of the year other than Women's Week, especially in summer, families provide this ranch about 95 percent of its often repeat customers.

FULL ARTICLE

September 13, 2011

Top 10 Getaways for a Kid-Free Holiday

Top 10 Getaways Without the Kids

As the kids are transitioning back into school mode, call in the grandparents and ask them to baby-sit while you and your significant other take a kid-free vacation.  Of course you love the kids, but sometimes we all need a break from the little rascals. Below are five parent getaways worth checking out over the next few months.

  • Lunenburg, Nova Scotia - In 1995, the old town of Lunenburg on Canada’s east coast was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its survival as a British colonial settlement. This quaint coastal village off Mahone Bay is the perfect place to book a bed-and-breakfast or small cottage and explore the history, do a little kayaking or simply unwind. Let Lunenburg’s small-town charm and the tranquil seaside views win you over. When looking for things to do, visit Bluenose, the world-famous wooden racing schooner, check out the Fisheries Museum and learn about the salty men who navigated the Atlantic, then head over to the Ironworks Distillery for artisan spirit tastings.

  • Portofino, Italy - The words “Italian Riviera” are usually enticing enough to dust off the suitcases, and Portofino is considered to be the most beautiful harbor of them all. What was once a quaint fishing village is now a popular boating and yachting destination. The best place to stay is on a boat, and there are plenty of exquisite restaurants and high-end boutiques that line the harbor. If sleeping on dry land is more your style, travel the sea by water taxi to other towns along the Riviera, including Genoa and San Fruttuoso. And, if you haven’t seen enough breathtaking scenery, head up to Castello Brown to check out the beautiful views and stunning gardens. Read more.

August 23, 2011

Tips for Enjoying the Great Outdoors

Enjoying & Preparing for Great Outdoors

How to Enjoy the Great Outdoors with the Right Preparations

by John Ricci
Founder & Chief Adventurer, Wandrian Adventures

Now that it’s summer time in North America and people have time off and children are out of school, it’s time to hit the great outdoors. The great outdoors can give you most of the comforts of home (Usually not a microwave or a DVR, but everything else is possible) and with some proper planning and a can do attitude; you will be at home in the wilderness and sharing stories around the fire. Here are a few tips everyone should consider as they plan their own Great Outdoors experience.

I live by the Mantra of Know before you go….Know that you can be comfortable in the outdoors with the right preparations…. … Know the rules, know the weather, Know what you have access to (water, provisions, firewood, bathrooms etc.) All of the above are crucial to your comfort as well as safety and will allow you greater enjoyment.

Whenever possible, carry out whatever you carry in and leave only footprints and take only pictures. We are lucky to have National Parks like The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Baxter State Park and others to enjoy. The more we take care of them and tread lightly, the better chance others will have that same experience in the future.

Lastly, be prepared for the unexpected – weather, accidents etc. know that accidents can occur and know that you are prepared to handle them if you came with a plan.  There are several other things you should account for depending on where you are going and for how long, but the above covers all adventures, everywhere. Full Story

July 22, 2011

How to Plan a Road Trip on a Budget

Tips for a Budget Road Trip
When planning a family vacation, how can travelers stretch their budgets and maximize just a few vacation days? The answer for an increasing number of families is: Take a road trip close to home.

Driving vacations allow families to select scenic destinations that are nearby, reducing time spent in transit and fuel costs. In fact, the RV Industry Association says that a family of four can save up to 65 percent on a camping road trip, compared to other vacations, such as taking a cruise or traveling by plane.

Family Roasting Marshmallows

"Families that are starved for quality time together don't have to take a three-week trek," says Jim Rogers, president and CEO of KOA Kampgrounds of America, the world's largest system of family campgrounds. "Parents and grandparents can plan several weekend trips close to home, yet still enjoy an authentic camping experience and save money too."

The size of the camping travel market in North America may be larger than you think. Private campgrounds accommodate 107 million overnight stays each year, and two-thirds of U.S. campers are RVers, according to KOA's comprehensive market research. [Full story]