(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.
(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:
For more information, visit www.aerlingus.com.
(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.
(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.