Experience the Revolutionary War

NewsUSA  |  2015-11-17

(NewsUSA) - If you are fanatical about American history -- especially the Revolutionary War -- then the new "Patriot Trails" might be just for you.

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."

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Wellness Travel Is on the Rise

NewsUSA  |  2015-11-17

(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.

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Business Travelers Get Taste of Ireland at Airline's New Lounge

NewsUSA  |  2015-11-17

Redesigned business-class lounges are inspiring function and relaxation.

(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.

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Your Carry-On Guide to Enjoying Business Travel

NewsUSA  |  2015-11-17

Why you should look forward to your next flight.

(NewsUSA) - If, like most business travelers these days, you are in the air more than in your home or office, it's important to be able to stay comfortable and connected while logging all those miles.

While you may be inclined to tackle the stack of pesky e-mails that continue to pile up, experts say that instead of trying to get a fickle Wi-Fi connection to work while you're en route, a better use of your time might be to rest, relax, and recharge.

The following tips should give you plenty of reasons to look forward to your next Business Class flight:

  • Sample other countries' tasting menus. Business Class on many airlines features global cuisines and regionally-inspired dishes, so take advantage of in-flight dining to sample food from international locales. Or, check if your Business Class lounge offers pre-dine service before boarding and spend your time enjoying a movie or catching up on sleep.
  • Stay connected. Check if your Business Class offers free Wi-Fi. If so, you can log in to work, post on social media, or even start posting travel photos early -- all from 36,000 feet in the air.
  • Unplug and tune in. If you'd rather unwind and disconnect from the grid, use those noise-canceling headphones that are provided for you and browse through the many in-flight entertainment options. Business Class typically offers an array of choices, including: business shows, documentaries, movies and playlists, plus exclusive content for Business Class guests.
  • Sleep like you're in your own bed. Aer Lingus, the premier airline that connects Ireland to the world and the world to Ireland, has seats made by Thompson Aero Seating in Northern Ireland, that transform into fully flat beds so you can stretch out like you do at home. In addition, the airline offers guests amenities such as eye masks, socks, and custom-made duvets for coziness (and warmth) to maximize the comfort and quality of rest.
  • Arrive before you depart. Unlike other countries, Ireland is the only European country to offer Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance to guests traveling to the United States, allowing you to avoid lengthy lines on arrival. Business Class guests on most airlines receive priority boarding and exit, so you can get where you're going quickly and effortlessly.
  • Sample other countries' tasting menus. Business Class on many airlines features global cuisines and regionally-inspired dishes, so take advantage of in-flight dining to sample food from international locales. Or, check if your Business Class lounge offers pre-dine service before boarding and spend your time enjoying a movie or catching up on sleep.
  • Stay connected. Check if your Business Class offers free Wi-Fi. If so, you can log in to work, post on social media, or even start posting travel photos early -- all from 36,000 feet in the air.
  • Unplug and tune in. If you'd rather unwind and disconnect from the grid, use those noise-canceling headphones that are provided for you and browse through the many in-flight entertainment options. Business Class typically offers an array of choices, including: business shows, documentaries, movies and playlists, plus exclusive content for Business Class guests.
  • Sleep like you're in your own bed. Aer Lingus, the premier airline that connects Ireland to the world and the world to Ireland, has seats made by Thompson Aero Seating in Northern Ireland, that transform into fully flat beds so you can stretch out like you do at home. In addition, the airline offers guests amenities such as eye masks, socks, and custom-made duvets for coziness (and warmth) to maximize the comfort and quality of rest.
  • Arrive before you depart. Unlike other countries, Ireland is the only European country to offer Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance to guests traveling to the United States, allowing you to avoid lengthy lines on arrival. Business Class guests on most airlines receive priority boarding and exit, so you can get where you're going quickly and effortlessly.

For more information, visit www.aerlingus.com.

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Recycled Tires in Yellowstone

NewsUSA  |  2015-11-12

(NewsUSA) - Visitors driving to Yellowstone National Park's iconic geyser, "Old Faithful," also will travel via tire once they exit their cars for a closer look. Old Faithful now boasts a porous, clean flexible walkway made mostly of recycled Michelin tires. The pavement surface, known as Flexi-Pave and manufactured by the company K.B. Industries (KBI), is gentler to the environment than asphalt because the permeable composite material allows for better erosion control and preservation of the natural patterns of groundwater flow. In addition, the walkway surface is extremely durable and tolerant of heat and cold, and does not leach any oil into the surrounding environment.

"The material used to create KBI's Flexi-Pave is completely benign and therefore can be used safely with the delicate aquifers here in Yellowstone," said Kevin Bagnall, CEO and founder of KBI, in a statement. The Old Faithful Walkway Project covers 6,400 square feet and includes 900 Michelin tires. "The path allows 3,000 gallons of groundwater to pass per square foot. It also is designed to diffuse the water's force, helping prevent erosion," Bagnall noted.

"The Old Faithful Walkway Project is a great example of what a difference a company devoted to sustainability can make in the world's first national park," said Karen Bates Kress, president of the Yellowstone Park Foundation, in a statement. "We are fortunate to have a corporate partner as farsighted, public-spirited and generous as Michelin," she added. In fact, Michelin flew in a team of employees from across the country to help complete the construction of the walkway. The 10 volunteers were winners of a company-wide contest to participate in the project.

Michelin serves as a major corporate sponsor of the Yellowstone Park Foundation, with a goal of helping the park curb operating expenses and reduce the consumption of raw materials. To that end, Michelin regularly donates and helps maintain thousands of tires for Yellowstone National Park's more than 800 vehicles, including patrol cars, garbage trucks, snow plows and load-hauling tractor trailers. The tires feature the latest in green tire technology to help save fuel and reduce emissions.

"Helping build and provide material for this new pathway is very much in line with Michelin's goal of working with the Yellowstone Park Foundation," said Leesa Owens, director of community relations for Michelin, in a statement.

To find out more about Michelin tires, visit www.michelin.com.

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Boost Cell Signal for Safer Travel

NewsUSA  |  2015-11-12

(NewsUSA) - It's the bane of every cell phone user -- conversations that become garbled and calls that drop. These "dead zones," usually happen while you're on the road, and can be frustrating at best, while making you feel exposed and defenseless at worst. However, they also present a critical safety issue when driving during the winter.

As winter weather wreaks havoc on roads (never mind cell phone coverage), it becomes more important than ever to stay connected to family and friends -- whether it's to let them know you're running late, stuck in traffic or in an emergency situation.

That's why zBoost, a Georgia-based company that develops and manufactures cell phone signal boosters, is helping people stay connected no matter where they are, while giving winter travelers a sense of safety and security.

"As a realtor in snowy Ohio, I am on the road showing homes or visiting family, and I'm dependent on my mobile phone to stay connected," said Lisa Van Doting. "Before adding my zBoost Mobile1 cell phone signal booster, I was frequently in areas with no cell service, which left me disconnected and vulnerable in emergency situations."

The way it works is the zBoost Mobile1 is set up in the interior of any car or truck, and a mobile phone is placed in a sturdy, lightweight cradle (much like cell phones of old). The cradle amplifier connects to the dash-mount bracket and also connects to the vehicle's 12V power through a power adaptor via a USB cable. The magnetic antenna is mounted on the exterior of the car, which captures the signal outside of the car, brings it in through a narrow cable and amplifies it on the inside for a stronger signal, extending the in-vehicle cell zone (the phone must be in the cradle). The unit also boosts voice and text for all major cell carriers.

In addition to reducing dropped calls and combatting dead zones, it also extends the battery life of the phone, includes a hands-free option, and most important, extends your cell phone's range.

For more information, visit www.zboost.com/solutions-products/travel/zb245.html.

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3 Things to Know Before Ride-Booking a Car

NewsUSA  |  2015-11-12

(NewsUSA) - If you were some innocent fleeing a terrorist attack, would you expect to be charged four times the normal cost of a car ride?

Alas, that's what happened to some Uber passengers last December when the "off the charts" demand for a quick escape from anywhere near the 16-hour siege at Sydney, Australia's Lindt Chocolate Café automatically triggered the controversial "surge-pricing" that Uber and other ride-booking services also employ here in the U.S.

Even some of the app-based companies' (former) biggest fans say that's just a fancy term for price gouging. "#Neverforget, #neveragain," read the hashtags celeb Jessica Seinfeld used in Instagramming a receipt for a whopping $415 Uber fare during a recent New York snowstorm. And so many lawmakers across the nation have their own pro-consumer reasons for wanting to crack down on the industry -- lesser players include Lyft and Sidecar -- that you'd almost think the very idea of summoning a ride on a smartphone was Evil Incarnate.

It's your call, but here's what you should know before booking one of those cars:

  1. Your driver may not have been thoroughly screened. Newspapers have reported numerous cases of ride-booking drivers arrested for allegedly raping or assaulting passengers. But efforts to subject the newbies to the same rigorous background checks as taxi and limousine drivers -- akin to a "Not Welcome" sign for lowlifes -- have been fought by all three services.

    "Background screening is a public safety issue," says Gary Buffo, president of the National Limousine Association (www.limo.org). "Competition is a good thing, but everyone needs to play by the same rules."

    Uber, for one, has touted what it calls its "industry-leading (vetting) standards." But that claim took a hit last December when prosecutors in California alleged, as part of a consumer protection lawsuit against the company, that their drivers weren't being fingerprinted -- thus making its criminal checks "completely worthless."

  2. Good luck suing if you're injured. Some ride-booking services allow drivers to carry personal, rather than commercial, insurance. (Hey, they use their own cars.) Testifying at a recent City Council hearing in Buffalo, New York, Kristina Baldwin, of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, called that a "serious insurance gap."

  3. Surge pricing can be a shocker. Uber did reimburse Sydney riders after getting skewered by the media. But New Year's Eve revelers in New York City, learning a lesson in supply and demand, apparently had no such luck. "The most expensive eight minutes of my life," the New York Daily News quoted one angry passenger.

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