Vacation Ideas


Most Haunted & Historic Hotels in America

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A Guide to Haunted & Historical Hotels

Playing Host to Ghouls & Ghosts 
Every Night of the Year

If the little devil in you still prefers “tricks” over treats and goose bumps are your gauge of a good time, members of National Trust Historic Hotels of America can offer a ghastly good time. Spanning over 300 years of history, these hotels have seen their share of unrequited love, untimely deaths and unsolved mysteries—all ingredients that stir supernatural specters. 

Make your Halloween a truly haunting experience with a visit to one of these spooktacular sites. Choose to go ghost hunting with a group, participate in a murder mystery weekend or book a stay in a “preoccupied” room.

Floyd the Doorman - Georgia 
Big Bend Ghost Tracker, a group of ghost hunters, spent the night at the Best Western Plus Windsor Hotel in Americus, Georgia, and monitored several areas of the hotel where strange sightings have been reported. Fully equipped with flashlights, thermo-meters, cameras, infrared equipment and electro-magnetic monitors the ghost hunters were looking for signs of a haunting. Among the spirits they encountered on the hotel’s third floor was the silhouette of Floyd Lowery, who worked at the Windsor as a doorman and elevator man for 40 years. It is likely that Floyd still wanders the hallways of the Windsor because he so loved the hotel and doesn’t want to leave. [Cover story]

Cigar Smoke & Flowery Perfumes - Michigan
The Holly Hotel been referred to as the most haunted historic building in Michigan, and perhaps the most haunted in America. By all accounts, the Holly Hotel does seem to be one of the few active haunted hotels where the occurrences continue over and over. The haunting and strange happenings have been observed by many people, from employees to guests. Very few of these can be easily discounted. The ghostly residents seem to follow certain “habits,” and even if one is ignorant to the fact that therestaurant is haunted, their experience will often fit into a known set of occurrences. For example, many people have smelled cigar smoke, even though they didn't know that original owner of the Inn smoked cigars. The descriptions of flowery perfume is often strikingly similar as well, and for some reason, the meat cleaver is the favorite toy for a little girls’ spirit who still plays in the kitchen and on the banquet room steps. More Scary Hotels Here...


U-Haul & Bridgestone Sponsor Women Traveling Alone Safety Tour

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Women Traveling Alone - Focusing on Your Personal Safety

Traveling Alone – What Women Need to Know Before They Go!

Sponsored by U-Haul & Bridgestone Tires

by Courtney Caldwell

Driving around town is an everyday occurrence for most of us. Errands, going to and from work, picking up kids at school or soccer, grocery shopping, visiting family and friends, a girls’ night out… you know your area like the back of your hand.

But, what about driving into territory beyond your borders? Do you have a fear of driving outside your comfort zone? Do you worry about getting lost or even worse, followed?

The number one reason women stick close to home is fear of the unknown, what to do, what not to do, how to keep yourself safe on the road in unknown territory, never ming where to begin in the planning process of a big road trip. Whether you’re planning an across-country or across-town move, the very first place to begin your journey is with your homework and advanced planning.

I’m about to embark on a 3200-mile cross-country journey, driving a 17' U-Haul truck, and yes, all by myself. When I tell people of the road trip, they look at me dazed and confused, and then after a short pause ask, ‘you’re driving alone?’ That one question in itself speaks volumes to how much education is needed for women, and many men, on how to plan a road trip with fun, not fear.

Doing your homework and pre-planning are essential in making your journey safe and sane… whether across town or across country. It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 80, as long as you carefully plan out every detail of your trip's route, hotel stays, gas stops, navigation, and every detail of your trip, you'll arrive at your destination safely.

U-Haul Moving TrucksIt is such an honor to have U-Haul as our ‘Women Traveling Alone’ road trip safety sponsor for a variety of reasons one of which is their connection and support to a young Shoshone Indian girl named Sacajawea, who served as an interpreter and guide on the famed Lewis & Clark Expedition in 1804. Her heroism in numerous life-saving contributions helped lead their two-year journey to a safe and successful conclusion.

Sacajawea, just a young teen at the time, not only provided guidance for hundreds of miles through the tough terrain of the northwest Rockies, then known as the Louisiana Purchase territory, she also demonstrated extraordinary courage and strength during numerous life-threatening events, often emerging as the hero who saving lives and supplies from devastating weather, potential enemy threats, and from capsized canoes. Sacajawea became known as the first woman to be included in a democratic vote on the all-male crew, sharing her knowledge and experience as to which route to take for most access to hunting for food and safe shelter in the wild.

In honor of Sacajawea, U-Haul has painted her mural on both sides of our moving truck to celebrate her accomplishments and help shed light on her exceptional contributions to the beginning of what shaped the U.S. today. Her story is one of bravery and the true meaning of persistence.

Her contributions were chronicled by Lewis & Clark in their personal diaries naming Sacajawea as the only person on the expedition who never complained or panicked when confronted with dangerous or devastating circumstances. Level-headed and fierce, she faced each event as it came, contributing significantly to a successful and safe outcome.

Sacajawea was married to a Frenchman twice her age, who had traded her for goods and supplies with a tribe who had kidnapped her at 12 (away from her Shoshone family and friends). While little is known about her husband’s contributions to the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Sacajawea’s accomplishments earned her a place in American history. Add to that, her journey included a pregnancy, childbirth in the wild, and then carrying her infant on her back during the expedition. The baby boy nicknamed Pompey, spent the first two years of his life living right along side his brave mother.

Sacajawea’s story is one of true courage and inspiration. It is with great pride that I have the opportunity to share her story as I traverse the U.S. in my 17’ U-Haul truck with her mural painted on each side, sharing her tale with everyone I meet along the way.

Bridgestone Tire Sponsors 2011 International Car and Truck of the Year Awards - Presented by Road & Travel MagazineWe'd also like to extend our deepest thanks and gratitude to long-time partner and sponsor, Bridgestone Tires, for their support of tire safety and helping people understand how to choose the right tires for their vehicle. As one of the leading tire companies in the world, Bridgestone is committed to not only helping women stay safe on the road but also to keeping our environment clean with their One Team One Planet message. Bridgestone Americas is dedicated to achieving a positive environmental impact in all of the communities it calls home. This commitment includes efforts such as developing tires with improved fuel economy, manufacturing products and providing services in an environmentally responsible way, and establishing wildlife habitat and education programs.

Reduce environmental footprint - Save gas: When driving long distances or larger vehicles it's important to remember that the faster you go the more gas you'll use. So keep in mind as you plan your route and how many miles you'll drive each day, also plan to stay within the speed limit and stay to the right on 2-or more lane roads to allow cars to pass on your left. By reducing your speed, starting and stopping slower, you'll not only achieve better gas mileage and save money, you'll also be reducing your environmental footprint. This issue is important to all of us but our sponsors, Bridgestone and U-Haul, are international companies contributing significantly to help this cause. 

For more information to keep yourself safe on the road, click here.



Safety Tips for Traveling with Your Pets

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RTM's Annual Traveling with Your Pet Issue : How to Keep Your Furry Friends from Freaking Out on the Road

Road & Travel Magazine - 2012 Traveling with Pets Issue

Traveling with Your Pets - How to Keep Them Safe

Camping with Canines & Cats
6000 campgrounds pamper your pets

Hot Cars Cause Heat Stroke in Pets
Pets suffer same demise as kids

Gnawing at Numbers - Pet Travel Stats
America has more pets than people

B&B's Welcome Pets with Perks
Bed & Breakfast Bits for Bowser

Air Travel Tips for Cats & Dogs
Onboard or in the belly?

Transporting Your Vehicle
How to ship your car across country

Pet Travel Hotel Directory
Posh places to park your pooch

Pet Travel Insurance
Protect your pet on the road

Restraining Order for Pets
Protect pet from becoming projectile

Which Cars are Best for Pet Travel?
Choosing the right ride for Fido

Pet Petters Ploy for Stolen Purse
What to do if stolen when traveling?

Common Courtesy - Rules of the Road
8 Tips for common driving courtesy

For more information on Pet Travel Tips, click here.


Staycation: Picnic at the Park

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It's a beautiful, summer day and luckily, you have the entire day to yourself. What to do? Why not turn your one-off holiday into a staycation by packing up and heading to a local state park you've never visited. Better yet, pack a picnic - a sustainable picnic, naturally - and plan for a day-long event. 

If you're not a categorical picnicer, we'll help you out with some of the basics. To begin, you'll need a basket (like this cool, red option from ReUseIt) or big bag for toting all of your goodies, and a blanket big enough for however many people you'll invite (I dig this PVC-free blanket with carry strap). Yes, many parks have picnic tables, but I'm of the mindset that it's simply not a picnic if a blanket isn't involved. Once you have these two items, gather up some reusable or corn-based and biodegradable plates and utensils like those made by Trellis (most grocery stores now carry paper alternative options).

You won't want to make any stressful grocery store stops on the way, if you can avoid it, so use what you have in  your home already to pack up a nutritious variety of foods and snacks. Some of the staples include: fresh fruit salad; raw, organic vegetables; crackers and cheese; and simple sandwiches.

Top it all of with a bottle of specialty organic juice or hey, why not indulge in a bottle of biodyamic wine if the day calls for relaxing? For dessert, bring along some healthy granola or all-natural cookies - finger foods are always appreciated outdoors! 

Lastly, kick back and soak up some sun. A lazy day at the park truly is one of life's greatest pleasures and surely makes for an awesome staycation. 


Planning a Safe and Sustainable Safari

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As summer approaches, thousands of people will plan vacations to Africa, with a majority of them hoping to see jaw-dropping creatures like lions, elephants, and gazelles in their natural habitat. However, an increase in tourism means that the welfare of these animals may actually be compromised.

To help ensure that you're planning a safe - and sustainable - safari, heed the following tips:

  • Research a safari company’s background: Some tourism outfitters cater specifically to guests seeking a photo safari, while others specialize in hunting trips. Make sure an outfitter employs trained guides or naturalists who know the local rules. Many companies offer tours led by inexperienced individuals who lack the necessary knowledge to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience which doesn’t harm animals.
  • Find a safari outfitter that supports locals: Some companies use a portion of profits to support local programs like wildlife protection in community-owned conservancies, animal conservation outreach and education development, while also providing employment opportunities to community members. Opt for a philanthropic company, if possible.
  • Follow all park rules: Safaris provide a rare chance for tourists to get up-close-and-personal with wild animals. However, with this opportunity comes a great amount of responsibility. Off-road and reckless driving, herding, speeding or noise pollution from safari vehicles could disturb or even spook the wildlife, putting everyone in the vicinity in danger.
  • Don’t be a part of the problem: In the wild, even the smallest piece of litter could negatively impact the entire ecosystem of a region, so visitors must be extremely diligent throughout their trip. It's also important that when tourists buy local souvenirs, they confirm that trinkets aren't made from animal parts or indigenous wood.
  • Don’t turn a blind eye: Report any violation to the relevant wildlife authorities. Remember, animal mistreatment is bad for tourism and reflects poorly on the community, so it is important to voice concerns to the appropriate authorities. 

Source: International Fund for Animal Welfare


Top 10 Summertime National Parks Hikes

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200410013-001This summer, why not kick off the flip flops and lace up some hiking shoes? Here in the U.S., we've got 84 million acres of stunning national parks just waiting and ready for you to explore. Not only are our nation's pristine parks an idyllic ecotourism destination - they're the ultimate in inexpensive activities!

If you're not familiar with the most sought-out trails, that's okay. Take a day or two to find your own favorite nooks, crannies and cliffs to call your own. Or, if you're eager to see what everyone is talking about, try one of these hot spot trails that are known for their nationwide popularity: 

  1. Arizona: Petrified Forest National Park
    Painted Desert Rim Trail (One mile round trip)
    This trail winds through the rim woodland and offers up various species of plants, animals and spectacular views.
  2. California: Yosemite National Park
    Wapama Falls (Five miles round trip)
    Taking you to the base of Wapama Falls, this trail passes two waterfalls and bounties of wildflowers.
  3. Colorado: Black Canyon of the Gunnison
    Rim Rock Nature Trail (One mile round trip)

    A self-guided nature trail that's mostly flat and follows the canyon's rim. You'll catch excellent views of the Gunnison River.
  4. Florida: Canaveral National Seashore
    Turtle Mound Trail (.3 miles)
    Hike to the top of a 35-foot-high Native American Mound and choose one of two awesome views.
  5. Georgia: Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
    General Bragg Trail (Five miles)
    Cehck out Georgia Regimental Monuments, Strahl's Brigade Tablet and General Bragg's Headquarters as you hike back through history.
  6. New Mexico: White Sands National Park
    Interdune Boardwalk (650 yards round trip)

    Easily accessible for strollers and wheelchairs, this walk offers vast views of wildflowers aplenty.
  7. South Dakota: Jewel Cave National Monument
    Canyons Trail (3.5 mile loop trail)
    You'll surely encounter limestone cliffs, ponderosa pine forests, deer, birds and bats on this trail.
  8. Texas: Big Bend National Park
    Dog Canyon Trail (4 miles round trip)
    Glimpse a narrow canyon cut between massive limestone layers on this medium-difficulty trail.
  9. Tennessee: Great Smokey Mountains
    Andrews Bald Trail (3.5 miles round trip)
    At 5,920 feet, Andrews Blad is the hightest in the Smokies. Enjoy breath-taking views of the southern mountains from the top.
  10. Maine: Acadia National Park
    Ocean Path Trail (4 miles round trip)
    Sand beaches and sea cliffs. Enough said, right?

Source: National Park Foundation


Farm-to-Table Getaways in Colorado

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Organic-farms Locally-driven lifestyles are sweeping the nation and today, people want to know where their food comes from and that it’s sustainable. This summer, why not delve into fresh agricultural offerings with an experiential vacation? Across Colorado, travelers to get their hands dirty and enjoy the fruits of their labor on farm and ranch stays. Travelers can take part in organic cooking and butchery classes; cultivate crops; herd cattle or bison; and actually take part in the development of a farm or ranch.

The authentic experiences not only open the eyes of the everyday urban warrior, but fill the stomach! What better way to escape?

Fresh and Wyld Farmhouse (Paonia, Colo.)
Known for its commitment to locally- grown food, Fresh and Wyld maintains its own veggie gardens, chickens, goats, berry patch and heirloom apple trees to feed its guests. The Inn serves communal-style home-cooked meals and also offers organic cooking classes, butchery classes, farm school classes and heritage farm art workshops.

Mesa Winds Farm (Hotchkiss, Colo.)
A 36-acre farm, Mesa Winds produces USDA Certified Organic peaches, apples, grapes, raspberries, asparagus, vegetables and honey. Visitors sleep in rehabbed "picker cabins" and are welcomed to lend a hand with the farm work and dine on organic food fresh from the farm. Orchard camping opportunities are also available.

Smith Fork Ranch (North Fork Valley, Colo.)
A private luxury ranch Smith Fork Ranch offers fly fishing, horseback riding, hiking and a unique farm-to-table experience. The ranch has a garden farmstead that provides the majority of the vegetables and herbs for the ranch meals; they also raise free-range chickens that provide farm fresh eggs. The ranch also offers guided and unguided local farm and winery tours. 

Zapata Ranch (Sun Luis Valley, Colo.)
A 103,000-acre authentic working cattle and bison guest ranch, Zapata borders the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Owned by the Nature Preserve, vacations at the Zapata Ranch revolve around learning through experience, about real ranch life and the great outdoors. Zapata prepares meals with their grass-fed bison and beef and locally grown produce.     

(Source: Colorado Tourism Office)


Day & Night Rainforest Adventures

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Take Eco-friendly Tours through Costa Rica’s Rain Forest

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is an environmentally sensitive multi-sport lodge set on a 165-acre private preserve in the undeveloped Pacific Coast of Southern Costa Rica. The Lodge embraces conservation and harmony with the natural environment and caters to travelers interested in enjoying ecotourism, nature, adventure and sports. Tours and activities are conducted in the most safe and respectful manner possible.

Playa Nicuesa Lodge - Cabin
Playa Nicuesa Lodge - Cabin

One of the many eco-friendly ways adventurers can experience Playa Nicuesa is through nocturnal and early morning adventures into Costa Rica's largest intact lowland tropical rainforest finds guests of all ages immersed in a symphony of screeches, cooing & croaks.
For the animal watcher and rain forest lover, Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge offers excursions in search of elusive Osa Peninsula-Golfo Dulce fauna, such as crocodiles, poison dart frogs, eyelash pit vipers, bats, kinkajous, mapaches, peccaries and more.

[Full Story]