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December 19, 2011

Tips for Planning a Volunteer Vacation

Volunteering Vacation Time

How can you make a difference? It's easy - by donating your time while visiting a destination in need of your help. It's been dubbed "voluntourism," and it's sweeping the nation.

"Imagine the face of a lion cub looking up at you waiting to be fed at a reserve in South Africa"

According to the Travel Industry Association, 25 percent of travelers say they're currently interested in taking a volunteer or service-based vacation.

Whether its students spending spring break in a third world country, or families traveling just one state over, there are options and opportunities for people of all ages and walks of life to make a difference. With this increased interest in voluntourism, it's important that travelers know how to pick the right volunteer opportunity for them.

Before jumping into helping others, help yourself by asking the following questions recommended by i-to-i, a meaningful travel provider - Click here for all tips.

December 15, 2011

2012 Chrysler Town & Country Minivan Road Test

2012 Chrysler Town & Country Minivan Road Test Review by Martha Hindes

by Martha Hindes

If you think of Dodge's Grand Caravan minivan as comparable to a jeans-clad, bike-riding adolescent, then its sibling -- the 2012 Chrysler Town & Country -- would have to be the new high school grad dressed for a senior prom. Sure they're related. But what a difference a few years -- or a few thousand dollars -- can make.

Upgrading is no stranger to the automotive world. Vehicles across the board have been moving from basic to brimming with amenities for decades now. So it's a natural transition to have a version loaded with features available for those who want to step up to premium. And having a different brand name solidifies the status.

Like its kin, the 2012 Chrysler Town & Country benefits from its makeover a model year earlier that introduced some heavyweight changes in powertrain, performance and handling. Replacing less powerful and less efficient engines is the new award-winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 in all models, that generates an ambitious 283-horsepower. All new suspension tuning and a new six-speed automatic trans with manual mode gives the T&C the kind of kick necessary to be seriously considered for its driving ability along with people and cargo capacities.

Safety gets high marks, with blind spot and cross traffic systems available to warn of traffic dangers. Fuel economy miser helps earn mileage ratings of 17/25. Fuel economy is boosted with "Stow 'n Place" roof rail bow storage that eliminates wind drag when those cross beams aren't needed. Full review

December 14, 2011

Car and Hotel Safety Tips When Traveling

Hotel Safety Tips

The first and most obvious tip to safeguarding your automobile is to remove all valuable items which can be seen. That means things like packages, bags, radar detectors, cell phones, cameras and audio/video equipment. Either place these items in your trunk or take them with you. Once inside the hotel, you can use a safe to store your valuables. Also, double-check and make sure to roll up all of the windows and lock your vehicle.

Once you get to your room, keep these tips in mind:

• Keep the room door locked, especially deadbolts.

• Do not let anyone in your room without properly identifying them first. Use the door's peep hole, if there's any question concerning the person's identity, ring the front desk as soon as possible.

• Safeguard your room key at all times. Do not give your key to others. Do not leave your key in the room or in the door.

• Find the location of the two exits nearest your room. Also, count the number of doors between your room and the nearest exit so you will have a reference point if the hallway is smoky. Locate alarms and extinguishers in your area. Look out the window and note height and surroundings for reference.

• When you hear an alarm, don't investigate. If you smell smoke, immediately notify the hotel operator. Read all tips here.

December 07, 2011

Unclaimed Baggage Center - Suitcase Shopping

Unclaimed Baggage Haven


By Patrick Crowley

The last time you flew on a business trip did you, or the airline, lose a Nicole Miller leather jacket? Or how about a snazzy gold pair of Kenneth Cole boots? Or maybe even a Francesco Biasia purse, a WCM leather belt or a double strand cultured pearl necklace appraised at $13,650?

Those wayward items of lost luggage have found a home on the sales floor of a one-of-a-kind store, a sort of misplaced baggage heaven where clothes, jewelry, shoes, jackets, cameras, golf clubs and more go to find new lives with new owners.

Tucked in the northern Alabama foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is a placed called The Unclaimed Baggage Center. Part salvage operation and part department store, this retailer mines products from luggage lost by airlines or left behind in airports by passengers. Located in Scottsboro, Ala., the 32-year-old company handles about 1 million items a year, with 6,000 new pieces of merchandise – from jewels to clothes to Egyptian artifacts – hitting the store’s floor each day. Shop now.

December 06, 2011

How to Prevent Losing Your Luggage with Airlines

Lost Luggage

Airlines around the globe mishandle about 1 percent of the 3 billion bags checked each year. Airlines in the U.S. alone lose 10,000 pieces of luggage a day. Although airlines claim to return roughly 98% of lost luggage within a few hours to a few days, it makes traveling, and more importantly, enjoying your vacation, difficult.

So, what can travelers do to avoid lost luggage?

"Airlines in the U.S. alone lose about 10,000 pieces of luggage a day."

The best solution would be to carry on your luggage. But, with carry on luggage restrictions down to specific sizes, for most travelers it is nearly impossible to carry on enough, even for a long weekend getaway.

One of the simplest solutions is to Ship it... UPS and FedEx are more reliable than the airlines, and they have much better tracking technology in place.

Here are a few tips to try and avoid lost luggage dilemmas:

  • Have your luggage shipped directly to your destination: For a fee, there are many services out there that will ship your luggage directly to your destination, cutting out the airlines all together. Google luggage shipping services. Make sure you research each one to ensure they are a reputable company. UPS & Fedex are most reliable.

  • Use a Global Tracking service such as, a unique item retrieval service enabling you to register your valuable items on a secure database. Find all tips here.


    December 01, 2011

    Leasing or Buying a Motorcycle: Which is Right for You?

    Leasing or Buying a Motorcycle: Which is Right for You?

    If you’re in the market for a new motorcycle, deciding how to pay for it can be difficult. It’s important to consider your goals and lifestyle before leasing or buying a motorcycle.

    Buying a motorcycle
    If you plan to keep your bike for several years and would like to customize it, then buying may be the right option for you.

    Advantages of buying a motorcycle

    • Full ownership – After paying off your motorcycle loan, you’ll no longer be responsible for monthly payments - just gas, insurance, license and registration fees, and repair and maintenance costs. Since the bike is yours, you can customize it or resell it as you wish.

    • No mileage fees – There will be no limit on the amount of miles traveled per year. That means more road trips with your new bike.

    Disadvantages of buying a motorcycle

    • Higher upfront cost –You’ll be responsible for a down payment, license, registration and dealership fees, and taxes.

    • Higher monthly payments - When buying a motorcycle, you’re paying for the entire cost of the bike, which means higher payments per month.

    • Post-warranty repairs – Since most buyers keep their bike past its warranty expiration, you’ll have to pay for future repairs out-of-pocket. Find all tips here.


    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.

    November 21, 2011

    Tips to Avoid Holiday Travel Chaos

    Holiday Travel Tips

    Ahhh, the holidays are here again! Turkey, Mom's famous sweet potato pie...and chaos at the airport. To ensure your holiday travel experience is as enjoyable as possible, please consider these tips:

    Allow for extra time at the airport. Domestic travelers should arrive at the airport 75 minutes prior to departure. International travelers should arrive two hours in advance.

    Bring photo identification with you. All passengers age 18 and older must carry government-issued photo identification at all times and may be asked to show identification at check-in, security checkpoints and during boarding.

    In cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration, a boarding pass is required to get through security checkpoints. An E-Ticket receipt or itinerary is no longer adequate. To eliminate uncertainty, all passengers should obtain a boarding pass prior to the security checkpoint. All Tips Here.

    October 26, 2011

    British Columbia, Canada - Hot Spots

    Victoria, BC, Canada Parliament Building

    Vancouver Island: Cowichan Valley provides a taste of the countryside:

    Need incentive to travel? Hand-crafted treats and homegrown flavors are sure to draw you to Vancouver Island’s delectable Saison Market Vineyard, north of Duncan. Thanks to the fine touch of Ingrid Lehwald and Frédéric Desbiens, garden-fresh soups, artisan breads, fruit preserves, savory treats, pastries and baked goods — all fashioned in the market vineyard kitchen — will have you singing their sweet praises each weekend when Saison opens its doors to guests. For flavors steeped in tradition, continue the journey north to the Teafarm. This four-hectare (11-acre) small-scale commercial tea grower — the first in Canada — produces aromatic pours, thanks to a landscape that nurtures a wide variety of herbs and flowers, alongside the tea plant Camellia sinensis. Here, just south of Nanaimo, Victor Vesely and Margit Nellemann produce 23 original hand-blended cups that include the smoky Cowichan Caravan, the revitalizing White Lavender and the earthy Minty Nettle. You can even pull up a pillow in the tasting room to sample the farm’s Chinese Zodiac pours: warm the senses with a steaming mug of lemon balm, rose and chamomile Rabbit Tea (2011’s signature blend), or linger over the calendula flowers and ginger root of the green Dragon Tea, a 2012 brew sure to bring in the new year with a bite.;

    To read more story ideas from the Vancouver Island region, visit

    Vancouver, Coast & Mountains: Glaciers, Mountains and Airplanes, Oh My!
    Sometimes a bird’s eye view offers the very best vantage point. Not to mention a total adrenalin rush. With Squamish’s Glacier Air, you get both, thanks to flightseeing tours that buckle in for high-flying glimpses of glaciers, mountains and forests between Vancouver and Whistler. You could, for example, spend 25 exhilarating minutes high above the Squamish Valley, with unobstructed views of the rainforests, ice falls and glaciers that make up the Tantalus Mountain Range. There’s a 40-minute panoramic tour into Garibaldi Provincial Park — one of BC’s largest — complete with unforgettable glimpses of the mighty Black Tusk and the Mamquam Icefield. To cool the jets, the 50-minute “Olympic” tour of the mountain town of Whistler is a tad bit more sedate, with views of a natural volcanic dam, Cloudburst Mountain, and glimpses of the ski runs on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains that garnered so much gold during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. No matter your choice, you’re in good hands with the pros at Glacier Air; with over 25 years of in-flight experience, these pilots will surely demonstrate that the sky is the limit. To read more story ideas from the Vancouver, Coast & Mountains region, visit

    For more places to go and things to do in British Columbia, click here.

    October 13, 2011

    Tips for Traveling with Pets

    Pet Travel Advice & Tips

    by Nicole Hockin

    Traveling with pets is becoming more of a norm for pet-owners than in recent years. From road trips to long-haul air flights to stays at beautiful resorts, four-legged companions are officially members of the family when they make the vacation roster.

    If you are planning a trip with your four-legged friend then please keep in mind these tips for traveling with pets.

    1. In the Car
    Keep fresh water and a bowl available. Every time you stop, go ahead and fill it up. While you’re sipping on a drink throughout your drive, your dog is panting its way to dehydration.

    And just like with your kids, plan for stops at rest areas or parks to let everyone stretch their legs, relieve themselves, and burn off some restless energy.

    “Practice” traveling with your pets before heading off on a long drive or flight. Keeping your dogs in a crate is a great way to recreate a familiar environment for them, which both soothes their anxiety and provides an extra bit of security in the event of an accident.

    2. On Airplanes
    Most airlines make flying with pets fairly painless. Many require a health certificate filled out by a veterinarian to be submitted ahead of time. An easy way to ruin a vacation is to find out that your pet can’t fly at the check-in desk. Be sure to check with an airline before you fly for all their specific restrictions and requirements.  For example, some airlines prohibit brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs and cats as checked luggage. Breeds represented include Boston Terriers, Pekingese, and Shih Tzu.

    Find all tips here.