Travel blog postings

Travel Postings

Earliest: September 24, 2003Latest: September 19, 2018Total: 46

September 19, 2018

Brenton Point Sea Wall

If you visit the Newport Mansions or downtown Newport, Rhode Island, chances are you may have visited Brenton Point, a picturesque view of Narragansett Bay.

Brenton Point Sea Wall2

Brenton Point Sea Wall

The seawall between the Ocean Beach and the rocky beach was put up in 1935 as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). This was all part of the New Deal put in place by President Franklin D. Roosevelt that helps bring prosperity around the country.

The wall was put up to protect the erosion that was occurring around Brenton Point State Park.

If you go down the stairs near the only jetty at Brenton Point, you should see the marker of the Works Progress Administration.

Works In Progress Marker2

About the Works Progress Administration

The Works Progress Administration was the largest and most ambitious American New Deal agency, employing millions of people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads.

Other Work in this area include:

  • The Cliff Walk Sidewalk
  • Vernon Park Improvements and Slide
  • Cardines Field

You can find all the other historic work requested by the Works in Progress Administration on the Living New Deal website.

September 12, 2018

The Amish Village

The Amish Village is a great place where you can learn all about the Amish lifestyle in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Here you can take a small bus tour, a tour of an old Amish house and a small village where you can explore an old school house and plenty of opportunities to take pictures with props. There are several small shops where you can buy souvenirs.


Nine Things We Learned About the Tour

It's worth doing both the bus tour and the house tour. There are some information overlap, but you do learn a lot about the Amish lifestyle.

When you walk in the Amish Village there is a small store where you purchase tickets. There are 2 other shops on the grounds, so there are more things that are available.

There are plenty of opportunities to ask questions on the tour, so it's good to think of some before you go.

The bus tour stops at a farm stand where you can buy produce and merchandise. A good way to support the Amish.

You'll see plenty of horse buggies on the bus tour. Be aware that the Amish don't like you to take pictures of them. (Wonder Why? Ask your tour guide!)

You are allowed to explore the village without paying for a tour.

There are bathrooms in the Amish Village, next to the schoolhouse. Just typical bathrooms nothing different/special about them.

We did both the Bus Tour and the House Tour. We arrived at 10 am and left the property at 12:44 pm. We did take our time exploring the Village, especially the schoolhouse and general store.

There are small gumball type machines available to feed the farm animals, bring quarters if you want to feed them. If you forget, you can always get change at the general store.

Finding the Amish Village

The Amish Village is located in Ronks, PA - 199 Hartman Bridge Road, Ronks PA. About a couple of miles from the Tanger Outlets in Lancaster.

Lancaster County Traffic
Bus passing a horse and buggy during the tour.

September 5, 2018

Crayola Experience Store

Recently we visited the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA. We have a lot of fun at the general Experience - more about that in a later post. This weeks post is all about the Crayola Experience Store.

You can visit the store without paying for the Crayola Experience.

Overall Impressions

The store looks pretty cool, as you walk in you see a large colorful wall in the back of the store.

That's where the experience kind of ends.

We were a bit disappointed in the Crayola Store product selection. We thought they would have more unique Crayola merchandise. In fact, they didn't carry some basic crayon packs.

Crayola Pick Your Pack

Some Observations

  • We visited during the busy "Back to School" shopping season and they didn't really have anything to promote "Back to School." I was thinking that Staples actually had more Crayon box options than the Experience Store.
  • We brought our Back to School shopping list - so we could get some Crayola items. We thought it would be a fun way to get school supplies. They didn't carry the right number of pens or crayons that we needed - we ended up getting the supplies at Staples.
  • In the back of the store is a wall of different crayons and markers. You can make your own set using any combination you wish. We did think that was neat and created a couple of packs.
  • We did find some unique items such as Wipe off Crayons and color socks.
  • They don't have any shopping carts or baskets, which limited our purchases. If we had a basket, we might have purchased more items.
  • Crayola makes Silly Puddy but they only carried one multipack in the whole store.

At the End of the Day

We would not likely go out of our way to visit the store. It was a fun day, but we walked away from a bit disappointed.

We did talk to a manager before we left to tell them what we thought of the store, we gave them some ideas on how they could make it a better experience for other shoppers.

August 12, 2018

AAA Trip Tik Booklets

One of the services that AAA offers is a TripTik, a booklet that helps you plan your long drive to your vacation destination. AAA has been providing travel assistance for more than a century - so they know the best route to get to your destination.

Trip Tik Booklets

2002 - Old Travel TripTik

In 2002, I traveled from San Jose, California to Boston, Massachusetts. (Read my trip notes.) I used AAA TripTik to help navigate the southern route so that I could stop in the right cities and not miss any roadside attractions.

I remember sitting with an agent and walked through the trip. A few days later, I got a nice spiral bound copy of my trip with additional maps of my location, should I want to know more about the city.

2018 - Visit to Pennsylvania

This year we are traveling to Pennsylvania for a fun trip to Hershey Park. I thought it would be worth getting a new TripTik and seeing what has changed in 16 years - after all in the world of Waze and Google Maps, do you still need TripTik?

Short answer - it appears that Waze and Google Maps don't have to worry about AAA as a competitor. AAA TripTik falls short of expectations

Six Things I have learned

  • The 2018 version of TripTik is a bunch of pages of Google Maps with additional information on road constructions and Driving regulations.
  • When I made my TripTik this year, I wasn't asked any specific details about my trip. For example, we planned to bypass the George Washington Bridge and the Tappen Zee Bridge - basically, we didn't want to go anyplace near New York City.
  • I wasn't asked about when I wanted to take breaks. In 2002, AAA told me that they recommend stopping every 400 miles. In 2018, I wasn't advised on any places to take breaks.
  • In 2002, I was talking with a travel agent. In 2018, I was talking with a person at the front desk taking my order. Both the 2002 and the 2018 books are comb bound.
  • The 2002 book had interesting facts for example: "Boston (pop 574,300). Many scenes from the beginning of the Revolution were played in Boston. While preserving its historic landmarks, the city has maintained its position as governmental cultural educational and commercial capital of the state."
  • When I got my book in 2002, they walked through the book with me. They highlighted the trip and showed how to use it. In 2018, I picked up the book and was asked if I had any questions - I simply said that I'll look through the book and come back with any questions.

Should You Get a TripTik?

Since the books are part of the AAA membership, it doesn't hurt to get one made for a long trip. In the rare case that the car GPS goes out, at least you'll have a map available.

I think most people will just rely on services like Waze to give them the most up to date best route to their destination. Waze is adding additional information such as locations to popular restaurants nearby and local attractions.

April 22, 2018

Wall Huggers at the Airport

On a recent trip, I was surprised on the number of people that were looking and needing a spot to charge up their smartphones. This was true at airports and at several Starbucks stores.

There's no reason for this. The solution is simple and very practical.

Wall Huggers

While waiting for their flights, people would seek locations to power up their device before getting on board. They pull out their USB cables just hoping for a free spot at the power charging area.

Samsung even made fun of them in 2014.

Simple Solution

The simple solution is to use a USB power charger, otherwise known as portable power banks. They provide a bit of extra juice whenever you need it.

The good thing is that you don't need to find a wall changing the station. Simply plug in your phone and go. Amazing how much flexibility it can bring. You can charge your device while walking on the plane.

What Size/Brand

On a recent trip, I found that the Jackery USB 6000 mAh/22.2Wh was plenty of power. I was able to charge up my iPhone 6s Plus several times and still had plenty of available charges available.

The iPhone 6S Plus has a 2750 mAh battery. This means that the 6000 mAh will fully charge a "dead" iPhone at least 2 times. I use the Jackery Bar Premium USB Power Charger. It's nice because you can see exactly how much charge is available and it's a good fit in the packet.

Bonus: If you have a SwissGear 1900 ScanSmart TSA Laptop Backpack, the Jackery Bar Premium USB Power Charger will fit in the Cellular pocket. Which makes it handy to have whenever you need it.

Jackery6000

I would recommend not getting the updated model with built-in Apple Lightning Cables, because of the short cable length. Using a 12-inch cable, you can keep the charger in the back pocket while charging the phone in the front pocket. I find the 12-inch length to be good for in the in-flight seat pocket.

December 17, 2017

How Well Do You Know Road Signs?

Think back to the last time you really thought about road signs. It was probably when you took your permit or drivers license test, right? Aside from stop, yield, merging, school crossing, no U-turns, and a few other signs, you might not completely understand the meaning behind every road sign you pass on your daily commute.

Don't Know All The Signs? You're Not Alone

When you take a written test at the DMV, you must score 80 percent or higher to pass the test. If you go the Internet and take an online test, which tests your knowledge of road signs, most sites also consider 80 percent or better to be passing.

Funny Road Signs

One source reported that most online test takers believed it to be "ok" and safe to drive the maximum posted speed limit during inclement weather. The same source also reported that more than half of test takers were unable to properly identify an advanced warning sign for a school. 35 percent were unable to identify a "lane ends" sign.

As a driver who knows some of the road signs (but maybe not all), you may wonder how important it is to be completely knowledgeable.

Are There Consequences To Not Knowing Road Signs?

You know how to use a stop sign and can follow directions on the highway. Is it really a big deal if you don't all of the road signs? Not knowing all the road signs is potentially dangerous and can put you at greater risk of being involved in an accident.

Think about sharing the road with a motorist that doesn't know what stop sign means. While the stop sign is one of the most basic and commonly known signs, we can't assume that every motorist knows what it symbolizes or even follows it.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), each year, nearly one-third (or about 700,000) of all intersection crashes in the U.S. are at intersections which have stop signs. Given the high rate of incidents, it's safe to assume that some drivers don't see, understand, or adhere to stop signs.

How Well Do You Know Your Signs?

Depending on where you live, you may be more likely to see some road signs than others. For example, if you live in a rural area you may be familiar with the sign that depicts a farmer on a tractor. Someone who lives in an urban area may not understand the meaning behind the sign.

Even if you feel like you know most (if not all) of the road signs in your area, it doesn't hurt to brush up on a few more, especially if you're planning a road trip or travel for work.

Want to test how well you pay attention to signs? "Cards of Distractibility" is a free online game that simulates distracted driving while road signs change on the screen. At the end of the game, you are asked to properly identify all the signs you saw while driving. Want to see how many signs you actually know? There are plenty of practice tests online, give one of them a try.

December 16, 2017

Tools To Utilize When You Drive a Rental Car

Car Rental Advice

Traveling for the holidays often means renting a car when yours in the shop or once you get off an airplane. Ideally, we'd all rent a car that we're familiar with, such as our own, but that's not always the case.

Depending on when and where you rent a car, your choices may be slim but if you have a choice, here are some things to request and use in a rental car, especially when you're traveling in unfamiliar territory.

Reconsider Using GPS

GPS can be extremely helpful, particularly when you're driving on highways and interstates that you've never traveled, but they can also be complicated to use, force you to take your eyes off the road, and even give you inaccurate results.

Instead, consider taking advantage of navigational apps that deliver results in real-time. Heading to Florida for the holidays? Florida NavMap is a "must have" navigational tool for residents and tourists, alike. Not only does it give you access to the traffic conditions in real-time but the free online tool also lets you see where there are road construction and other areas that may delay your travel.

Use Hands-Free Options

Although most states ban texting and driving, and more are starting to ban the use of all handheld devices while driving, your state's laws may be different from those where you're renting a car. Not only should you find out the distracted driving laws for the state you are driving in but also use a hands-free option whenever possible (and regardless of the law).

Ideally, you should avoid making a phone call or using your device at all but if you need to, a hands-free option is less dangerous and allows you to keep both hands on the wheel.

Request A Vehicle With Safety Features

Most of today's newest cars have top-of-the-line safety features which include blind spot detection, lane departure and forward collision warnings, as well as back up cameras. While many rentals are newer vehicles, the company may opt out of some of the safety features.

When renting a car, take a look at your options and request a car with safety technology, if possible. You may have to pay more for the technology but it's often worth the cost of feeling a little more confident and secure as you drive.

Go For The Wi-Fi

If you have the option of having Wi-Fi in your rental car, you should take advantage of that tech feature. Not only can it help you stay better connected and use apps more easily but you can also save on roaming fees and other charges to your smartphone bill when you travel.

A Tip For Using Technology in a Rental Car

Before you drive the rental car off of the lot make sure you've figured how to use all the features in the car and then focus your attention on the technology. Make sure you've tested everything out and asked questions before you hit the highway so you can focus on the drive and not how to use the technology.

November 12, 2017

InsureMyTrip Warning Resource Page

If your thinking of traveling the world, before you book your travels check out the vast amount of information on InsureMyTrip.com. You can learn all about which countries the U.S. State Department says to avoid. The information is very useful in understanding the risks of going to certain countries. Information is constantly updated from various sources.

The nice thing is that the site tells you when the warning or alert should be lifted - when the information is available. The information provided is good detail than what is on the U.S. State Department provides. They even include YouTube video clips on some of the alerts.

insuremytrip
https://www.insuremytrip.com/travel-alerts-and-travel-warnings

From the Developer:

Over the past months, we've worked extremely hard to build what we think is a complete page on Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings on the internet.

We built this as a public service for travelers of all types, especially those who need to travel into the more unstable places on the planet. This is useful for people on humanitarian missions, church organizations, archeologists, historians, biologists, medical workers, visiting professors, and adventure travelers.

April 2, 2017

Tips for Healthy Travel

Health Travel2

With summer travel just around the corner, you may have already started planning a trip. While the summer season isn't typically known as an "unhealthy" time of year, nothing's worse than getting sick while on vacation. Whether you're traveling by air or car, here are some tips for staying healthy while you travel:

Get a "Go Ahead" From Your Doctor

If you have a health condition, it's always a good idea to check in with your doctor to make sure it's okay to travel. While travel is safe for many health conditions, you should definitely talk to your doctor if you are pregnant, have had a recent injury, or have been feeling unwell.

Don't Forget Your Medications

Before you hit the road or hop on a plane, make sure you have more than enough of your prescription medications and if possible, bring extra. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to see if there's an easy way to refill your prescription in case of an emergency.

Worried that you can't take medications or OTC drugs on a plane? Most items are allowed. Make sure that all containers are clearly marked and easy to reach if they need to be checked by security.

If you take a medication that requires refrigeration, make sure that you have adequate accommodations while you travel.

Check Out Your Insurance Plan

No one wants to think about getting hurt or sick while traveling, but it could happen. Take a close look at your health insurance plan and see what's covered and what's not. If you're traveling across the globe, you may want to consider travel insurance. Not sure what you should do? Talk to your insurance agent.

Get Updated on Vaccines

Don't remember when you last had a tetanus shot? Heading to a tropical region? It's always a good idea to stay on top of your immunizations, and some countries require travelers to receive a shot before visiting. Plan ahead because some immunizations require multiple shots and must be done well before you travel.

Stay Caught Up on Sleep

A good night's sleep can be difficult when you travel, but it's important to your health and safety. Experts recommend acclimating to a different time change before you travel. For instance, if you are traveling West, start going to bed 1 to 2 hours later than usual. Avoid renting and driving a car when you are fatigued and take brief naps when you're tired.

Don't Forget to Stretch

Whether you are driving across state lines or sitting on a plane for half a day, it's important to take stretching breaks. Failure to move around can put you at a great risk for getting a potentially deadly blood clot. Walk around or flex your legs and feet.

Eat Well and Stay Hydrated

A vacation can throw off healthy routines. While it's also a great opportunity to try new foods and indulge high-calorie dishes, don't forget to eat healthy, too. Dehydration can sneak up on you and cause a lot of health problems so don't stay hydrated throughout the day, whether you're on the beach, in the desert, or bicycling around a foreign city.

March 11, 2017

Traveling Overseas? A Few Considerations You Should Make

E_ B I G B E N

Traveling overseas to other countries and regions of the world can be a thrilling experience. Upon receiving their passports, most American travelers eagerly await their travels over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Depending upon your final destination, the length of stay, and travel plans can determine some of the requirements necessary before you leave your hometown. Making sure you are fully prepared and equipped with necessities to ensure you safely reach your vacation spot is extremely important. Poor planning can lead to a headache and potentially a dangerous situation when travelers reach their overseas destination.

Are you traveling to a foreign country this year? What are some of the most important considerations one must make before they embark on their journey? Below we will outline a few of the most important things to ensure you are checking off your list before traveling.

Currencies

The American dollar can have a much smaller or larger impact in foreign countries where the exchange rate may be higher or lower. As a result, it's important to carefully consider the cost of common goods like food, and lodging before you even consider getting on the plane. Some areas of the world, such as Dubai may require large amounts of money in order to purchase necessary goods and services. You may be surprised how common items like a toothbrush or deodorant can greatly differ throughout different regions of the world because of exchange rates. Furthermore, some goods may be much more expensive because of the production process required for the product's development. The cost of goods may be much higher, resulting in a more expensive product.

Frugal travelers should consider traveling to places where exchange rates are much lower. One of the most budget-friendly places to travel that allow American travelers the ability to dine, shop, and relax is Thailand. Here, one US dollar is the equivalent to 35 Thai bahts (as of March 10, 2017). With this in mind, a typical hotel night can cost an American traveler anywhere from $12-$30 per night. Talk about getting a lot for your money!

Similarly, in countries like Australia, the American dollar is the equivalent of 1.33 Australian dollars. Though the exchange rate may be very similar in Australia, it's important to consider the costs of common goods. Are they similar to the cost in the United States, or are they more expensive because of their geographic region? This is where the importance of extensive research comes into play before planning your travels.

Safety

Traveling across the globe is enough to make first-time travelers nervous. Commuting on a plane for an extensive amount of time can already be enough to scare away those traveling to a foreign country for the first time.

Once travelers reach their final destination, it's important to consider the safety levels in the area. Will you be able to adapt to the cultural differences presented in the region? Making sure you are aware of what is considered respectful, and what is not is extremely important.

Its also important to consider your safety when traveling throughout different countries. When traveling to regions like the UK or Australia, drivers must quickly become adjusted to driving on the opposite side of the road in which they are accustomed to. As a result, this can cause a dangerous situation, especially if it's the first time doing so. When paired with sightseeing, and traveling to different restaurants and places of interest in foreign countries, driving on the opposite side of the road can be a distraction in itself. Paired with any slight consumption of alcohol can create a hazard for yourself and many other motorists on the roadway.

Creating a Pre-Travel Itinerary

Before considering any travel arrangements, consider important factors before embarking upon your next journey. Traveling to a foreign country is not only exhilarating, but it's an experience that lasts a lifetime. However, extensive preparation, research, and planning should be a part of any preliminary travel itineraries. Avoiding any potential dangers, unforeseen conditions, and problems should always be at the top of any travel plans. Make an itinerary far in advance, and plan for any unexpected issues that could arise. But most importantly, have fun and enjoy your trip!