Your Official Fall Color Destination Guide

As the days get shorter and the air becomes crisper, traditional summer foliage trades in its greenery for fall’s signature, golden hues. It’s during this time that many travelers take pleasure in traveling the countryside to view colorful displays at their favorite destinations. Here are several great places to enjoy the scenery this season.

Vermont

As one of the most well-known places in America to see fall foliage, Vermont offers particularly breathtaking views in the central and southern parts of the state. Places near Burlington, Lake Champlain Islands, and the Green Mountains typically offer the best views.1 To learn about the recommended areas to drive, visit Vermont’s tourism website, which offers a printable list of more than 20 drives around the state. The map includes drives of 30-210 miles and showcases points of interest and historical markers along the way.

New York

When you think of New York state, you may think immediately of its largest city, with all the concrete buildings and sidewalks. But if you travel upstate, you’ll have the opportunity to see many orchards and bodies of water that offer outdoor activities for enjoying the vibrant colors of fall. Kayaking on Lake Otsego and hiking at Glimmerglass State Park are just two of the activities most enjoyed by travelers who wish to see what a New York autumn has to offer.

Oregon

The Cascade Mountains are already a grand place to quench your wanderlust, but when you add fall colors, the destination borders on breathtaking. Boasting cottonwoods, big-leaf maples, and Oregon Ash, this beautiful backdrop can be witnessed during a drive along the Columbia River, a hike on the area’s trails or a rafting trip on the river.

Tennessee and North Carolina

Scarlet oaks, maples, sweetgums and hickories show off their colors with 800 miles of scenic roads and hiking trails that go deep within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Travelers can get lost in the wonder of color during the day and then take in all that Gatlinburg, Tenn. has to offer at night.

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

“Take your pick” is the name of the game in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Michigan’s state forest system, encompassing approximately 4 million acres,2 is the largest in the eastern United States. This vast acreage includes 20 state parks and the beautiful Great Lakes. Brilliant fall colors are a sight to behold when reflected in the varying tones of blue lake waters. Remember to visit one of the area’s popular, historic light houses. Fodor’s Michigan Travel Guide will point you to fall foliage viewing you will never forget.

Missouri

Hosting the expansive Lake of the Ozarks, central Missouri has a lot to offer when it comes to great fall colors combined with pleasant temperatures. Enjoy leaf peeping via a horseback ride through the rolling, colorful hills or opt for a workout by mountain biking on trails through the large state park. The area also offers yacht rides, plenty of wineries and great golf courses where travelers can get their fill of the vibrant countryside.

1http://www.budgettravel.com/feature/budget‐travel‐vacation‐ideas‐best‐places‐to‐see‐fall‐foliage,13382/
2 http://www.fodors.com/news/photos/10‐best‐fall‐foliage‐trips‐in‐the‐us#!9‐upper‐peninsula‐michigan

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6 Tips for Joyful Travel

So you’ve planned for months and your long awaited vacation is finally here. While we all know that trips don’t always look like they do in the movies, there are ways to try to ensure your trip contains joy and memories for years to come. Here are five tips for more joy-filled travel.

  • Plan well: Oftentimes travel goes poorly due to lack of planning. While it’s fun to take random trips, sometimes not knowing enough about your destination or how you are going to get there leads to stressful travel (long wait lines, road construction, a hotel in the wrong part of town etc.). At minimum, take the time to plan where you will be staying and learn the ins and outs of your destination by researching things to do and times various activities are available.
  • Take your time: Being in a rush will inevitably lead to chaotic thinking and less joy. Get up early to get to the airport well before you need to be there. Enjoy each step you take at a favorite destination. Take in the sights, sounds and smells around you and pause to reflect on each one. Being in a rush to see “everything” may lead to not fully enjoying the present.
  • Give thanks: Find an area to reflect on the good things you have in your life. According to this health article published by Harvard, gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions and relish good experiences.1

  • Practice the art of giving: Standing in line to get a cup of joe before you start your sightseeing? Pay it forward and pay for the coffee for the person behind you in line. Studies show that giving actually helps us feel rewarded and thus, more joyful.
  • Reflect in solitude: Whether you are traveling with a partner or an entire family, sometimes a little solitude is all we need to feel joyful. Get up early before your fellow travelers and enjoy a little time on the hotel balcony or walk down by the beach and catch the sun rise.
  • Celebrate: Wherever you traveling and whatever you do, make sure you choose a celebratory attitude. Celebrate your accomplishments as well as the accomplishments of your fellow travelers. Don’t be afraid to celebrate what you had for breakfast if it adds a small amount of joy to your morning. Cultivate an infectious enthusiasm for life, and others will be drawn to you and your joy will multiply exponentially.2

 

1 http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

2 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/meimei-fox/the-life-out-loud-7-secre_b_857265.html

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Tips to Fight Flight Anxiety

How to avoid flight anxiety

How to avoid flight anxiety

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6 Things You Need to Do before Any International Trip

Whether you are planning a trip to Italy or Africa, it can be tempting to think about all the wonderful things that you’ll experience while away from home. But don’t let the destinations guides fool you – the best international trips require more than just your best hopes and dreams to have a good time. Great vacations require planning – good planning to be exact. To get you started in thinking strategically about your trip, we’ve included six things you might want to cross off your checklist right now.

  • Update your Passport:
    Do you know where your passport is? Are you aware of the date on which it expires? A good rule of thumb is to renew your passport about six months before it expires as most countries want to be sure that you’re six months or more pre-renewal before you visit. Take a look at the State Department’s website to look up the country to which you are traveling and see preferred timelines during which to renew your passport.
  • Check for Travel Advisories:
    With terrorist incidents ever more visible in today’s world, it’s important to check for travel warnings and advisories before you book your trip, prior to departure and even during your travels. A great resource is the State Department’s Consular Information Program for Travel Alerts. Many people also enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program which makes it easier for the State Department to assist you in the event of an emergency. It may also help to have a list of contact information for American embassies in the destinations to which you will be traveling.
  • Get Vaccinated:
    Many travel destinations require travelers to be up-to-date on certain vaccinations before entering the country. For the most comprehensive and up-to-date medical recommendations, check in with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. It’s also a good rule of thumb to make sure you have enough prescription medication that will last the duration (plus any unexpected delays) of your trip. Remember to pack common over-the-counter medications for headaches, body aches etc. as these things may not always be easy to find upon arrival at certain destinations.
  • Evaluate your Finances:
    Before you leave, be sure to call your bank and credit card providers to advise them that you will be traveling so that your international charges won’t cause any suspicion or locked accounts. Do your research and be knowledgeable on exchange rates and how much things cost where you are going so that you can gauge how much you might spend.1
  • Learn Key Words and Phrases:

When you set out to learn key words and phrases in the local language, it’s more than simple courtesy or learning how to ask where the bathroom is. There are times when being able to effectively communicate is a matter of health and safety.1  For example, in a foreign country it may be important to learn how to indicate to those around you that you or someone you are traveling with has a food allergy or a certain medical condition.

  • Get a Travel Insurance Plan:

Travel insurance is more than coverage for medical incidences while abroad. While this is an important reason to seek coverage, many plans cover travelers for things like cancelling a trip for a covered reason, trip interruptions and baggage loss. Additionally, many Travel Guard travel insurance plans include travel assistance services like hotel and flight rebooking, baggage location assistance, up-to-the-minute travel alerts and even concierge services to make vacations more memorable.

To learn about more handy international travel tips, see this article from Fodor’s and to learn more about finding the right travel insurance plan to fit your needs, visit travelguard.com.

1 http://www.fodors.com/news/10-things-you-need-to-do-before-any-international-trip-11431

 

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No Excuses: 7 Ways You (Yes, You) May Travel More Sustainably

Sustainable travel. Responsible tourism. Environmental travel. Anyone with even a passing interest in travel has seen these words tossed about – increasingly, so – over the past several years. As a hashtag on your niece’s Facebook page, in a headline on your favorite news site, as a vacation package category…wherever these words appear, the answer to one key question is often missing alongside them: “What on earth does it all mean?”

In fact, sustainable travel and its synonyms may mean many things. For example, the World Tourism Organization, a widely-respected authority on sustainable travel, uses this definition: “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.” Earlier this year, however, a sizable chunk of the 1,500 travelers we polled in our first sustainable travel pulse poll presented a different one: “treating your destination and its inhabitants the way you’d like others to treat yours.”

We love this simple, “golden rule” philosophy as it perfectly underscores one of the most important things to know about sustainable travel: anyone can practice it. To prove it, we’ve outlined seven perfectly attainable tactics to help you become a more conscious traveler on your next trip. Each idea costs not much (or not any) more time, effort, and money than its alternative, and those that practice them often find their own travel experience enhanced in the process:

  1. Research your destination: During a trip, learning about your destination’s history and culture is somewhat inevitable, but why not start sooner? Research your destination (Wikipedia may be a good starting point) to learn about its past, present, and future. Not only may doing so increase anticipation for your trip, but it may also improve it, as you spend less time “ramping up” at your destination, and more time experiencing it. There are also practical reasons to do your research – taking a peek at weather, traffic, and basic phrases ahead of time may cut down on the incidence of travel mishaps, such as poor packing, and help you navigate your destination.
  2. Reduce energy consumption: Even those who are relatively environmentally conscious at home, may shed their earth-friendly habits with their daily routines while on vacation. More than just friendly advice on hotel door hangers, simple actions – such as turning off lights, reusing towels, and unplugging chargers – take virtually no effort and may make a huge difference. Further, research shows taking such actions may actually improve your trip experience: A J.D. Power and Associates North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study found that guests who participate in a hotel’s green program report greater satisfaction with their stays than those who don’t (CNN).
  3. When in Rome…: As flight prices trend downward, and international travel becomes more accessible, the old adage “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” may be more relevant than ever before. Some say that with the benefits of globalization comes an increased responsibility to take advantage of opportunities to learn about others and develop more nuanced perspectives on the world. While at a new destination, engage in its local culture – talk to its people, eat its food, and shop its markets. After spending time, money, and effort traveling to your destination, you owe yourself an experience you couldn’t have at home.
  4. Pack a Reusable Water Bottle: In the realm of green travel, packing reusable water bottles may seem so elementary that many people overlook it. While simple, opting for reusable water bottles remains one of the most effective ways to minimize your environmental impact while traveling. Remember, 88 percent of water bottles end up in landfills, and in areas with frequent tourists – and thus, frequent water bottle usage – that can really add up. For insights into the right reusable water bottle for your trip, check out this handy com article.
  5. Make it a family thing: Traveling sustainably isn’t just for young, solo travelers. On the contrary, a core tenet of sustainable travel is empowering the next generation to be great global stewards. There are so many fun ways to get your kids involved in this effort – for example, calculating your “travel footprint” and brainstorming ways to reduce it together. As a family, you have a greater opportunity to make a difference than any one person has alone, and when your kids carry these lessons into adulthood there’s a chance for a more lasting impact!
  6. Capitalize on the sharing economy: In just a few short years, the sharing economy has so revolutionized the travel industry that taking advantage of it now may no longer be considered a “tip.” Instead, for many travelers, it has become the default option. If you’re still on the fence, however, consider the following: Home and ride sharing services are often less expensive than their alternatives, naturally provide a more authentic experience of your destination, and often, provide a more direct stream of income to the locals.
  7. Take culturally-sensitive photos: Taking photos on trips has always been popular – and is even more so now with the rise of social media – but many travelers don’t realize that their snaps may be indirectly harming their subjects. This Crooked Trails article provides great insights on culturally-sensitive photography, including tips such as: always ask before taking a photo, personally engage with the people you want to photograph, and leave respectful distances between yourself and your subject.

Still not convinced? Take a minute to watch this helpful video from our friend and award-winning travel blogger Heather Delaney Reese of It’s a Lovely Life. In it, she and her family dispel common “myths” that sometimes keep people from traveling sustainably.

Travel bloggers Heather Greenwood Davis (Globetrotting Mama), Melissa Northway (Dandelion Moms), and Chelsea Day (Someday I’ll Learn) — who will also serve as panelists, alongside Amber Mamian (Global Munchkins), for our upcoming Sustainable Travel Twitter Chat from 8-9pm CST on Aug. 9 (RSVP here) — offer more essential sustainable travel reading in their respective articles: “The Importance of Sustainable Travel: Do Good As You Go,” “Teaching Kids about Sustainable Travel,” and “Join the Sustainable Travel Movement.” Finally, sustainabletravel.orgecotourism.org, and gstcouncil.org are other great resources for sustainable travel news and tips.

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2016 Summer Games: What You Need to Know

2016 Summer Games: What you Need to Know

2016 Summer Games: What you Need to Know

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Hurricane Season Travel Checklist

Summer is one of the most popular travel seasons and with good reason – the kids are out of school, the office is quieter, and the weather is great…right? If you’re making plans to visit coastal destinations, keep in mind that summer travel coincides with hurricane season (June 1 – November 30). If your summer travel plans feature a Caribbean or an Atlantic-adjacent destination, consider the following:

 Flag your trip. If you’re a U.S. citizen, enroll in the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to register your trip with your destination’s nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Doing so will make it much easier for the U.S. to update you and keep you in touch with family and friends in an emergency.

 Maintain access. Make sure you have access to a radio, a TV or a mobile device that can
keep you apprised of severe weather updates. If you have internet access, the National
Hurricane Center website is a great resource for monitoring the status of storms before and during a trip.

 Stay in touch. Keep in close contact with tour operators, cruise lines, hotel staff and/or local officials to learn the correct protocol and procedures for inclement weather. Ask about evacuation routes, so you’re prepared to take action should evacuation become necessary on short notice during your tip.

 Call ahead. Confirm weather-related cancellation policies with hotels, airlines and booking services. Each service is likely to have its own policies, so it pays to explore each one’s change and refund options. Some hotels in the Caribbean, for example, offer “hurricane guarantees,” while others hold travelers wholly responsible for this risk.

 Fuel up. If you’re renting a vehicle at your destination, be sure it always has plenty of fuel. Weather can change quickly and tropical storms may blow in without much warning. You don’t want to have to stop for gas on your way to a safer area, so as possible, stay ahead of the game with a full tank!

 Pack travel protection. Some travel insurance plans provide coverage for natural disasters under the Trip Cancellation benefit and will refund prepaid, forfeited, nonrefundable trip costs up to the limit of coverage. Travel Guard plans also come with 24/7 assistance services designed to help rebook cancelled flights and get travelers to safety.

For additional information on hurricanes and other tropical storms, please visit the State
Department’s Natural Disaster website.

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