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Snacks to pack for a road trip

The summer vacation sees many families taking road trips. There will be plenty of things to plan but do not keep packing the snacks for the trip until the last minute. Careful planning will ensure everyone is comfortable and happy.


A cooler will be a good investment to make to keep the drinks cool and to keep the snacks as fresh as possible.

Bottled water and juice packs: it is vital that you stay hydrated during the hot summer days especially since the air-conditioning can dehydrate you faster.

Cheese and crackers: an affordable and healthy snack. String cheese is ideal since it is individually packed. Go for bite size crackers, this means less crumbs to clean.

Fresh fruit: bananas, apples, grapes, and berries, whatever your favorite fruit is ideal and can be bought fresh at rest stops. Choose fruits that are not messy to eat.

Sandwiches: make some at home and keep in the cooler or bring the bread and pack the fillings separately to make fresh sandwiches whenever needed.

Dried fruits and nuts: peanuts, mixed nuts and raisins.

Granola bars make a good breakfast or a healthy snack.

Beef jerky for everyone to enjoy.

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creative on July 10th 2011 in Travel


Planning to take a tropical vacation? Sri Lanka is that perfect destination. A tiny island on the southern tip of India, this is a tropical paradise that offers diversity ranging from glorious sandy beaches and palm fringed blue seas to jungles and misty mountains to a culture rich in history.

The country is surrounded by the Indian Ocean with wide sandy beaches for safe sea bathing, snorkeling, and windsurfing along with luxurious hotels and restaurants offering the freshest seafood and delicious Sri lankan cuisine.

If it is the rich culture and history you want to experience, the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and polonnaruwa will mesmerize you with the beauty of the man made lakes and ancient ruins of palaces and temples built over 2000 years ago.

The hill country is a myriad of misty mountains blanketed by lush green tea plantations with cascading waterfalls. One could even enjoy a round of golf in the cool climes of Nuwara Eliya.

Sri lanka is also a haven for wildlife with several wildlife parks like Yala, Wilpaatu, Udawalawe and Kumana, where you can spot wild elephants, leopards, bear, sambar and an abundance of birds surrounded by scenic beauty.

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creative on May 10th 2011 in Travel

Traveling to Orlando Florida

Article submitted by Ruth Davitian of Cheap Hotels

Land of California Crazy Architecture, strip malls, and kitschy tourist attractions, The Sunshine State’s Orlando is no longer a vacation destination to whisper only to your AARP group. Sure, this place is cheesy and crowded and loud and commercialized beyond belief. Yes, the flashing neon lights and beckoning billboards of desperation-based commerce are there, but so are the good old Winn-Dixies and the pecan stands, the rubber alligators and the Drive-Your-Own-Racecar-Just-Like-Richard-Petty tracks. Orlando’s not only the perfect place in which to soak up some southern sun, but also to sponge up the local quirky color that makes a vacation one to remember. Who could forget a toothless woman wearing brilliant blue caked eye shadow and a pink flowered housedress, selling palm tree earrings by the side of the road? She will forever remain the poster woman for the state, in my brain.

I’m in Orlando now, on my terrace at Westgate Vacation Villas. It’s only about a mile to the gates of Disney World, and miles and miles from real life. I’m looking down upon a sunset-reflecting ripply lake with a white swan paddleboat planted in the middle. There are black ducks quacking around the edges, and kids splashing in the pool. The waterfalls splash, too, and the water effects are better than one of those Japanese machines that are supposed to relax the way-too-stressed average American. From here I can see a tall building outlined in 1960s neon aqua-green, and a mini-golf course replete with grimacing dinosaurs. The ducks have just whooshed into the lake and they’re skimming, en masse, below my screened-in private porch. It’s autumn where I live, but summer seems to be eternal here.

Most people recognize the name Westgate as a time share deal. It is indeed a time share, and probably a very good one, but I’m here as a guest, which seems to be a little-known option associated with Westgate Resorts. It beats the heck out of a cramped little hotel room, and my huge hulk of a 16-year-old son thinks so too. Traveling-with-parents teens (and traveling-with-teens parents) need privacy, and Villa #1516 has just that. It’s a double unit, complete with its own enormous apartment on each side. The place is so spacious that I almost get lost. Each apartment has a cutting-edge kitchen, living room, TV, Jacuzzi, granite-walled shower, bed (I wax euphoric about the beds here: the high-thread-count pillows and linens and blankets; oh my!) Each individual unit has its own washer/dryer, dishwasher, sink, stove, fridge . . . All the comforts of home, and then some. There’s HDTV in my living room, and a sectional leather sofa, large enough for good stretching. The place is immaculate (not a dust bunny to be found), and quiet, and ever-so-efficiently run. Somebody here is an Expert Folder of Towels. She – or he – has folded washcloths into adorable baby ducks and perky penguins. Towels are folded to make baskets to hold towels, and on my bed rests two towel-swans: heads meeting to make the shape of hearts. The surprise tonight was a towel elephant, perched saucily cross-legged on the side of the Jacuzzi. The folding is an art, and I hate to mess up the finely-executed efforts by actually using the towels.

My son’s doing his own laundry on his side, and I’m doing mine over here. He’s watching his TV; I’m watching mine. How sublime. I can’t wait to bring the grandson, once he’s old enough to patiently bear the lines at Disney. Speaking of Disney, it is still — TA-DA! — magical. I was worried about that, as it’s been 34 years since I walked these sparkly streets. I last saw The Magic Kingdom when I was 14; now I’m nearing 50. I still, however, got the same chills upon boarding the boat for the quintessential Disney exhibit “It’s A Small World.” I climbed the tree house of The Swiss Family Robinson, after asking a teenage attendant if I was too old for the climb. (“Shoot, no!” she drawled. “We even have grandparents who do it!”) and I zoomed through the darkness of Brer Rabbit’s Laughing Hole in a fast-moving boat. I met a tattooed biker dude who said that The Flight of Peter Pan was fantastic (even for a grownup), and he was right. The sight of Cinderella’s castle moved me to tears. We Baby Boomer kids of the ‘50s and ‘60s were raised on fairy tales, you know, and we’re still in search of Happily Ever After. In Disney, we can believe that it really exists, that fairy tales can come true, and that magic happens. It’s as if the Kingdom is sprinkled with fairy dust.

Of course, there have been some improvements and modern innovations in the past decades, such as the likenesses of Johnny Depp in the Pirates ride. Who, though, could complain about that?! I just spoke on the cell phone to my grandson Connor, who’s 2. He knows Mickey, and Minnie, and Goofy, too. I debated the jealousy factor of whether or not to tell him that I met them, and that I kissed Mickey on his soft mouse cheek. It was one of the best moments of the week. I decided to spill the beans to Connor, and hoped that he wouldn’t be too envious of the fact that his grandmother beat him to the mouse. “Guess what, buddy? I met Mickey Mouse! I met Minnie! I saw Goofy! I kissed Mickey! It was so cool!” There was a typical toddler silence on the other end, and then my sweet little grandbaby said, “I . . . love . . . you.” Ok; just melt my heart and put it in a pan and fry it up with grits. I cannot wait to bring this kid to Disney.

Epcot has an amazing ride called “Soarin’,” and MGM has Star Tours and the Aerosmith Rock ‘n‘ Roller Coaster. MGM’s competition – Universal – has a wild Twister attraction that puts you in the middle of a tornado (Um, yeah. A tornado. Doesn’t everybody want to do that?) Islands of Adventure has the best 3-D Spiderman ride and a cool Dr. Seuss section.

After 4 days straight of amusement park hopping, I’m tired. It’s a good tired, though, a magical wand-waving flying-elephant dwarf-whistling tired. It’s the kind of tired that’s transformed by falling into a bed at Westgate Vacation Villas, where fairy tales come true every day and night. I’d write more, but it’s late, I’m tired, and Disney dreams are waiting, even for an old fogey like me.

For more travel articles, go to Cheap Hotels Blog.

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submit on February 9th 2011 in Travel

Travelling back to Paris

Article submitted by Ruth Davitian of Cheap Hotels

Returning to Paris like a long-straying lover, I surrendered to the fact that a once-adorable woman abroad in her sixties had to learn new roles. France and I had both changed since my twenties. Now the flavor would lack the zest of inescapable male attention — the dentist, the actor, the accountant, the government official, the interviewee, the fellow train passenger. Adorableness had defined me. Now divorced, no children, severed from professional context, I craved to remain relevant.

True, on my return, a youthful charmer would materialize in step along the Seine, asking rote questions and then for a phone number. And true, within five minutes a creaky avuncular veteran would join me at the BHV Café. But the sparkle of real possibilities had waned. Older men seemed either paired or impaired. Flirting struck me as grotesque. Would I now be reclusive? Scholarly? A tribal elder? Natural? What would natural look like?

I would play it case by case until a new mantle eased onto my shoulders.

The first excursion I’d planned was an all-day bus tour of the medieval castles and chateaux of the Loire Valley — bearing romantic names like Chenonceau and Chambord, with a series of stops for refreshment and a lunch at Amboise. The bus would gather passengers from hotels at the sadistic morning hour of 7 and return us at 9 in the evening, a marathon day.

A quick initial glance around told me the 30-odd fellow passengers were mostly Americans. No communication passed among us the first two hours, even those traveling together. At the first consummately welcome coffee stop, I found myself joined by a man about my age, a former New York lawyer now living his second life in Brazil. He looked a bit like a shorter De Niro with a larger nose. His name was Harry. Harry volunteered over cappuccino and crumbly almond croissant his rapture over a wife in her twenties and a two-year-old son — his overwrought Manhattan existence with an ex-wife/law partner but a memory. He asked if he could sit with me at lunch, and I agreed — why not? Though I nursed some resentment toward men nesting with females younger than their daughters, I’d come to appreciate that my battle was with Mother Nature and not the gentlemen who exploited her.

I soon found myself attentively companioned. In strolls through the castles as we half-listened to the guide’s robotic recital of dates, origins, and architectural facts, Harry and I exchanged Yogi Berra and Lady Day anecdotes. We’d both seen Coleman Hawkins at the smoky Metropole on Broadway. Alternating with these tales were his reports of how immensely satisfying his new life was.

At lunch, passengers from Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina gave us a wide berth as we gorged along with sole meuniere on names and issues — Peter Lindsay, Sinatra, Kissinger, Roe v. Wade, Ed Sullivan, Ed Koch, SNCC, Jimmy Durante, Pol Pot, the Russian Tea Room, the Stork Club, rent control, Sonny Rollins, Yankee Stadium. At a few points Harry became clearly wistful, then returned to touting Rio’s vibrant ambiance.

During further rest-stops and rambles through portrait-lined corridors and sunny gardens, cracks in Harry’s portrayal of delight with Rio wife and baby widened. They widened so alarmingly that, with nothing personal at stake, I became solicitous, as one does when watching any collapse.

During the stretch back to Paris in the darkened bus, my new chum slipped into a state of distress, struggling against tears. When the brakes squealed more frequently as we arrived at the city’s outskirts, he sighed deeply. He looked past me out the window and said that the day had opened a wound, reminding him of all that he’d given up. His young wife (never named) understood nothing he had to say, he had no patience with the child or his wife’s grasping family, he yearned for a civilized person to talk with, about anything, and he was in a trap of his own making.

We didn’t exchange last names or addresses. What would be the point? We shook hands before I descended at the Hotel de Seine.

My feelings were mixed. Harry had made the day tour more than an excursion of the Loire Valley. His suffering seemed genuine, and I was in no position to judge foolish romantic choices. And, as it came to me back in my room, his compliment had shed light on the wealth of new roles available to a woman in her sixties. I looked in the mirror and saw, not a bubbly young beauty, but a woman of substance.

And one who could be not only relevant but a downright menace.

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submit on January 25th 2011 in Travel

Sights to See in Stockholm

Sweden has long been known for the ‘Swedish Sin’, the Vikings and for being one of the first countries to truly uphold gender equality. Its capital, Stockholm, is a blend of medieval and modern architecture in the forms of museums, churches, mosques, synagogues, art galleries, shops and several parks and gardens that is a must-see for any visitor to take in while being a pedestrian’s paradise which makes it perfect for a stroll.

So, here are the top five sights that is must-see for tourists and visitors:

1. Gamla Stan
Roughly translated into English, it means ‘The Old City’. With its cobbled streets, medieval alleyways and a heavy influence of North German architecture, this city is steeped in culture and history, so almost every sightseeing trip begins from here.

2. Skansen
Founded by Artur Hazelius, Skansen is the first open air museum and zoo in Sweden and is located on the island of Djurgården. This museum/ zoo which is a great place for the family, also boasts of being one of the few museums that almost everyone who visits, loves.

3. Archipelago
Take a boat trip that stretch from Stockholm itself all the way to Finland, and you find green, rocky or sandy islands. Considered the most popular sight in Sweden, this one is a must-see for visitors.

4. Sergels Torg
Centrally located, it is the most public square in Sweden named after its sculptor, Johan Tobias Sergel, and is considered to be timeless although controversial. Beneath the square lies a shopping mall that you take advantage of.

5. Kungliga slottet
Being the official residence and the primary royal palace of the Swedish monarch, the Stockholm Palace is located partly on Stadholsmen and Gamla Stan, while neighboring the Swedish Parliament building known as the Riksdag.

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submit on March 30th 2010 in Travel

Holidays in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, the capital of Brazil, is the second largest city. The city is surrounded by green mountains, thick forests and beautiful blue seas. The city also is home to samba music that is also another reason why it this tourist spot is so popular. So, let us look at some of the must-visit holiday places in Rio de Janeiro:

Rio de Janeiro is full of life with its carnival celebrations, natural settings, beach resorts and restaurants. Some of the hot tourist spots are Corcovado and Sugarloaf mountains, Maracana Stadium and the Quinta da Boa Vista Art Museum.

Rio is famous for its beaches. Some of the famous beaches are Flamengo, Botafogo, Copacabana, Ipanema and Barra da Tijuca.

Copacabana is one of the most famous beaches in the world. The New Year in Copacabana is celebrated in a grand way with more than hundred thousand spectators.

Sugar Loaf is a best-known landmark in Rio de Janeiro with the peak located at 396 meters above the harbor. The peak was named due its resemblance to the traditional shape of concentrated refined loafsugar.

Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer, in Portuguese) was placed on top of Corcovado Mountain during 1931. The Christ statue with his arms spread out is 2,300 ft high, as if to embrace those living in the city.

Jardim Botanico is another popular tourist spot that is a botanical garden of 340 acres. The garden has more than 5000 species of flower, and is the best spot on a sunny day with temperatures falling ten degrees below normal temperature.

Maracana is the biggest soccer stadium with a capacity to accommodate more than 100,000 spectators. Rio de Janeiro’s famous soccer team is called Flamengo.

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submit on February 13th 2010 in Travel

Driving Abroad Safety Tips

The start of a new Algarve vacation can be such a thrill. But before visiting the car rental, Faro tourists should review the U.S. Department of State’s tips for driving abroad safely:

  • Carry both an IDP and a valid U.S. driver’s license at all times.
  • Observe the country’s minimum driving age; in Portugal, the minimum age is 18, though some Portugal car hire companies may require drivers to be older in order to rent a car.
  • Wear your seatbelt. Some countries penalize drivers who violate this law.
  • Obtain liability insurance.
  • Do not pick up strangers or hitchhikers.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when getting in and out of your vehicle.
  • Chart your course before you begin. Make sure that you have a good map.
  • Brush up on local traffic laws. Some countries require you to honk your horn before driving around a sharp corner or signal before passing by flashing your lights. You can learn more about Portugal’s traffic laws by visiting the website for the Portuguese Directorate-General for Traffic at

Unfortunately, Portugal has a very high rate of auto-related accidents and fatalities. But by following these tips and using extreme caution at all times, touring the country by car can be a pleasant and safe experience.

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submit on May 27th 2009 in Travel

Need to Get Around Paris? Try the Vélib’ System

On your next Paris vacation, you could take the Métro around the city, or you could try the Vélib’ system. Modeled after Lyon’s Vélo’v system of public bicycle rentals, the Vélib’ debuted in summer 2007 and has since grown to encompass more than 20,000 bicycles at 1,450 stations spread over the city every 300 meters or so. The system is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, so you’re never without transportation. To use the Vélib’, you’ll need to purchase a daily, weekly, or yearly subscription that gives you an unlimited number of free 30-minute rides each day. Rides that last longer than 30 minutes incur increasing fees for each subsequent 30-minute period. To find out more, visit the Vélib’ website at

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submit on February 12th 2009 in Travel

Orlando Theme Parks

Orlando, Florida is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country. Whether you’re planning the ultimate Disney vacation for your family or you want to enjoy the nightlife, there’s plenty for you to see and do. And for theme park fans, there are endless opportunities for fun.

One thing that many people who’ve never been to Disney or Universal before don’t realize is that each actually consists of multiple parks, each of which requires a separate pass to gain access to. Disney World includes the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM Studios, and Animal Kingdom. In addition to the original Universal Studios, there is now a Universal Islands of Adventure. When planning Disney World or Universal Studios Florida vacations, you should keep in mind how much time you will have and the interests of those traveling with you. Animal lovers will probably prefer Disney’s Animal Kingdom while Islands of Adventure is a must-see for roller coaster aficionados.

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submit on February 12th 2009 in Travel