(BPT) - If you’re among the millions of Americans who relish seeing loved ones during the holidays, there’s good news and bad news. The good: you’ll get a chance to visit with family and friends, since 66 percent of Americans say they plan to travel this holiday season. The bad: 100 percent of them will be taking their germs with them.
A recent Crowdtap survey of more than 1,000 people, conducted by Robitussin, revealed some interesting tidbits about holiday travel and how Americans handle germs, including:
While the majority (82 percent) worry about getting sick during holiday travels, only 48 percent said they would reconsider traveling if they were sick or felt they were getting sick, and only 35 percent would actually cancel their plans.
Sixty-eight percent said their own cold or flu has totally ruined a family holiday gathering and 21 percent said the illness of a family member has spoiled a holiday get-together.
Americans greet loved ones with physical signs of affection, which only adds to the spread of germs, including hugs (40 percent), kisses on the cheeks (22 percent), handshakes (13 percent) and even kisses on the lips (6 percent). Just 12 percent go with a safe “hi” and wave.
“The holidays aren’t just the season of giving gifts and cheer, they’re also the season of giving germs,” says Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona. “When people block a cough by holding a hand over their nose or mouth, they’re actually concentrating the virus on their hands. Those hands then touch seatbelts, door handles, airplane trays and countless other objects that others will come in contact with when traveling. Anytime you have a lot of people together in a confined space - a family gathering or in route to one - germs are going to spread like wildfire.”
Since sickness is likely to be widespread after such an increased sharing of germs, 17 percent of holiday travelers said they wanted their cold or flu medication to suppress their cough and 14 percent want the relief to last for 12 hours. A cough medicine, such as new Robitussin 12 Hour Cough Relief formula, relieves cough symptoms all day and all night during holiday travels.
Gerba offers some advice to help Americans protect themselves from cold and flu during holiday travels - and the rest of the winter:
Be aware of germ risks while on the road
Plenty of Americans will fly, take a bus or travel by train to visit loved ones during the holidays. While public transportation may be convenient, it’s also a germy way to travel. Taking a bus increases your risk of catching a respiratory infection six times, researchers have found influenza viruses on airplane trays and studies show trains are the most germ-filled mode of public transportation, Gerba notes. Americans seem aware of the risks; 38 percent said public transportation such as a plane or bus is the worst place to be sick with a cold or flu.
“There’s no time to disinfect surfaces in an airplane between flights, so you are always flying with someone else’s germs,” he says. “Most of the risk for getting a cold or flu on a plane is the person you sit next to and the people in the row in front and back of you, because of the way the air flows in airplanes.”
Hygiene is key to a healthy holiday season
Good hygiene is even more vital during the holidays, when families and friends come together and bring their germs from all over the world. It’s possible to pick up germs during your travels and transmit them to loved ones before you actually start to feel ill.
“Hand washing and hand sanitizers are probably the best defense to reduce your odds of getting a cold or flu by half, especially after being in public areas,” Gerba says.
Try to avoid shaking hands and hugging or kissing anyone who has a cold. Push buttons with your knuckles and use a paper towel or sanitizing wipe to cover door knobs and bathroom stall latches before you touch them.
If you do contract a cough, cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, and use a trusted cold remedy, such as Robitussin Maximum Strength Severe Multi-Symptom Cough, Cold & Flu, to relieve a variety of symptoms.
“Protecting yourself from a cold or the flu doesn’t mean you have to give up seeing loved ones for the holidays,” Gerba says. “Practice good hygiene and take steps to protect yourself — and you can enjoy the company of your family and friends without worrying about feeling under the weather.”
(NewsUSA) - It's the season of sunshine and road trips -- and if you want to get the most out of your four-wheeled adventure, you better pack a map to go along with that electronic GPS.
"The best reason to keep paper maps in your vehicle, especially on long road trips, is because GPS isn't always reliable," says Cynthia Ochterbeck, editorial director of Michelin Travel Partner.
Confirming this trend, a 2013 Harris Interactive survey of 2,200 U.S. drivers who use GPS found that 63 percent say that the technology has led them astray at least once by pointing them in the wrong direction or creating complex, confusing and incorrect routes.
So, while it may seem that paper maps have gone the way of Atari's Pong, they are still just as important as ever -- not to mention many other benefits that you don't get with some GPS devices.
"One of the greatest characteristics of paper maps is that you get all of the details, [such as] points of interest," says Ochterbeck. "Plus, you don't risk getting lost when you lose the signal or the battery dies on your cell phone or GPS device."
Another benefit is that, in addition to printed maps providing efficient ways of understanding road networks that surround particular areas, the information is very reliable. Plus, new specialized maps, like Michelin's Zoom Maps, are aiming to enhance the paper map experience.
Most people recognize Michelin for its tires, but, unknown to many, it also has a 112-year history of creating maps and travel guides. In fact, it provided the maps that were used by the Allies for the D-Day invasion. Improving on this history, the new Zoom Maps offer seven regional maps for travel in the U.S., with the ability to zoom in on more detail in urban areas. In addition, the new maps have a "not-to-be-missed" event calendar for regions, in an easy-to-fold system so you don't have to unfold the entire map.
"Technology is great, but a printed map is one of the most important tools a traveler in an unfamiliar setting can have -- the battery doesn't die, it is easy to use, and it allows you to make decisions on route changes if necessary," says Ochterbeck. "Even better, there are no roaming or data charges to worry about."
For more information, visit www.michelintravel.com.
(NewsUSA) - Winter comes with a unique set of challenges, including lower air temperatures, lack of visibility, fewer daylight hours, falling snow and, of course, icy roads. These can certainly make for some hazardous driving conditions, which is why experts say you should dig out your ice scraper, gloves and snow shovels before hitting the road.
"Don't set off like a tank commander with a tiny hole cleared," says Andy Smith, a patrolman in Canada.
The safest way to prepare for winter driving is to be proactive before an emergency occurs. The following tips will give you some ideas on how to drive safely all winter long:
Some regions experience heavy snow and dangerous ice storms, others find an increase in rainy conditions, and in some places, temperatures may just cool down a bit. Regardless of location, the winter season brings a climate change that all drivers should consider.
(NewsUSA) - With the dollar stronger against the euro than it has been in years, many Americans are considering a European vacation this year. More than 11.4 million Americans visited Europe in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, which predicts greater numbers in 2015.
More importantly, over half of those Americans traveled in the summer, contributing to crowded museums, attractions and restaurants during the hottest time of the year. To avoid the crowds and to take advantage of milder weather, savvy travelers are beginning to plan their European vacations during one of two "shoulder seasons."
Shoulder seasons run from April until early June and from mid-September to November, and typically are characterized by thinner crowds, comfortable temperatures and lower prices. With fewer tourists comes better access to café culture, world-class museums and historical sites. Less-pressed locals can take more time to offer recommendations, and tour groups are more intimate, enabling everyone to have a more relaxed experience.
While most of the region is temperate during shoulder seasons, the southern and eastern Mediterranean are the sunniest, resembling the warm climate of Southern California. Travelers can still enjoy a swim in the sea in Greece, Croatia and Ibiza as late as October.
For a European vacation that's not a classic "If it's Tuesday this must be Brussels" experience, consider a cruise on one of Star Clippers' authentic tall ships. Besides unpacking just once while visiting multiple countries, the ships sail throughout the Mediterranean from April to November, visiting Europe's most popular cities and smaller ports inaccessible to large cruise ships.
Onboard, the intimate, yacht-like ambience and casual, convivial atmosphere combine to create a unique experience complemented by continental cuisine and a relaxing European pace.
For more information, visit the website www.starclippers.com.
Produced by the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board (VFTCB), Patriot Trails is a comprehensive touring adventure designed to illustrate the dramatic struggle for independence for modern visitors. The self-guided Revolutionary War journey uses web-based mobile technology to tell the richly detailed story of the Revolutionary War as it unfolded throughout Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Best of all, the transportable information can be accessed while visitors are onsite at the significant locations -- or even en route.
"Most people recognize the role that Valley Forge National Historical Park played during those crucial years of 1777 and 1778," says Edward Harris, vice president of marketing and communications for VFTCB. "What visitors -- and even locals -- may not know is that the encampment that was housed there is just one aspect of a much larger story."
The customized itineraries highlight 16 historic sites in all areas of the county. Notable destinations include Peter Wentz Farmstead in Lansdale, which twice served as Washington's temporary headquarters, and Hope Lodge in Fort Washington, the site of a six-week encampment prior to the winter in Valley Forge.
"What we are doing is telling that tale by showcasing other significant historic sites throughout Montgomery County," says Harris. "The information for our trails is formatted for mobile devices. Our website's responsive technology enables history buffs, families, students and groups to access information on the go."
The Patriot Trails website breaks the exploration down into manageable options, depending on how much time a history buff has. Designed for all ages, the itineraries range from half-day to multi-day and can be customized. The website also highlights the men and women who committed themselves fully to oppose the British crown, offering mini-biographies.
"We are very excited about this tour," says Harris. "Its success can be replicated to enable visitors to experience our great county in a whole host of ways, from military history beyond the Revolution to arts and culture destinations to retro theaters and brewpubs."
(NewsUSA) - Studies show that a yearly vacation is invaluable for health, with benefits varying from lower stress levels to cardiovascular improvements. Adding to these benefits, many travelers are now combining traditional vacations with wellness-geared getaways.
A panel of experts at the annual International Travel Mart in Cannes, France, predicted that, by 2040, 90 percent of luxury tourism will include some aspect of health and wellness.
The global market size of the wellness tourism industry is growing rapidly -- faster than travel in general -- and is predicted to account for $678.5 billion by 2017, compared with $438.6 billion in 2012, according to Statistica Inc.
Much of this growth can be attributed to the maturation of the baby boomer generation, which is more health-conscious than preceding generations. These travelers look for a vacation that integrates their daily healthful routine with traditional aspects of travel. But it's not just baby boomers who are looking to travel in good health -- the active family travel market is burgeoning and is expected to continue to grow as well.
So, what is wellness travel? The trend covers all aspects of health, including nutritious menu options, spa offerings and fitness activities. Across the globe, tourism professionals are responding to growing demands by introducing whole food, vegetarian and vegan menus, spa packages and active excursions. Hiking, cycling, paddle boarding and kayaking continue to gain popularity.
Tall ship cruise specialist Star Clippers is one travel company that offers a complete wellness experience. Shoreside the cruise line features complimentary water sports and adventurous shore excursions that include mountain biking and kayaking in some of the most beautiful destinations in the Mediterranean and Caribbean.
Onboard, guests are invited to participate in yoga on deck under billowing sails on select yoga-themed sailings, and most cruises afford the opportunity to climb the mast for an exhilarating workout. Massages are available on each ship, and flagship Royal Clipper features a full-service spa. Healthy gourmet meal options are available on all three ships in the fleet for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
For more information, visit www.starclippers.com.
(NewsUSA) - Business travelers may feel like they live in the sky, but one airline is working to make sure they have their feet firmly -- yet comfortably -- planted on the ground.
As an extension of its new business class service, Aer Lingus has opened a lounge at JFK International Airport in Terminal 5, aiming to offer the warmth of Ireland to travelers even before they begin their journeys. From natural-stone wall accents to oak floors, raindrop-shaped light fixtures to pint glasses along the bar, the space inspires function and relaxation.
"You can see when you look through this lounge the Aer Lingus brand," says Jack Foley, vice president North America for Aer Lingus. "You can see the Irish roots in it, but you can also see the functionality of a business trip in this lounge."
All business class customers and Gold Circle members (plus a guest) can enjoy a wide range of amenities. They include a business center with complimentary Wi-Fi, separate quiet area stocked with chaise lounge-style chairs and revitalizing areas that feature everything from TVs to showers.
The facility also offers patrons the chance to dine pre-flight, where a hot buffet, soups and sandwiches, and wine and spirits are served.
Located across from Gate 26, the lounge is also well situated should travelers desire to take in the airfield or the historic TWA Flight Center. However, history buffs need not look any further than the lounge, which features a wall installation remembering prominent Irish Americans such as President John F. Kennedy and artist Georgia O'Keeffe.
Aer Lingus moved to Terminal 5 less than two years ago, Foley says, citing it one of the "top 10 terminals in the world."
"Now we have our own piece of Terminal 5, which really sets the brand apart," he says.
In Dublin, the airline's headquarters, travelers will also find enhanced features to that airport's business-class lounge. The Aer Lingus Gold Circle Lounge, located in Terminal 2, is a tranquil setting where guests can comfortably recharge. In addition, the lounge now has a shower area where guests can refresh pre-flight.
For more information, visit www.aerlingus.com.