10 Tips for Traveling in Cold Weather

Vacation: It often evokes images of hammocks, sandy beaches, palms trees and blue-green waters, but traveling to a Winter Wonderland can be just as relaxing and fun, if you prepare. Knowing what and how to travel in winter can be the difference between a trip to remember for a lifetime and one that you can’t wait to get home from.

Follow these travel safety tips and tricks to know what to expect and to prepare for your trip so it’s smooth sailing once you hit the road.

1. KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING. Whether you’re traveling by plane or going on a road trip, winter travel can be both daunting and dangerous. Have a clear path mapped out ahead of time. Be aware of places where inclement weather can alter your plans - airports in snowy hubs or twisty roads over high elevations may require a Plan B.

2. STRAIGHT SHOT. If you’re flying, and a nonstop flight isn’t possible, try to book connecting flights in places where weather doesn’t tend to be as big an issue. True, there are never guarantees that you won’t have a delayed or cancelled flight, but some airports are either better equipped to handle, or just don’t have as big a problem dealing with weather-related issues. Also try to book early-morning flights. Giving yourself more time during the day to deal with delays and cancellations can be the difference between getting safely to your destination and spending the night in an airport.

3. HYDRATE. Hydration is always important, and traveling is no exception. Even in winter, dehydration can be deadly. Be sure you’re drinking enough water and, if driving, keep extra water bottles on hand.

4. SLOW DOWN. Literally - on the road or in the air, be sure to plan enough time so you don’t feel rushed. Taking it slow is important for obvious reasons when driving, but equally true when flying. Not allowing ample time to get to your destination can cause stress, especially when navigating icy road conditions, so it just doesn’t make sense to be in a hurry. Make the journey part of the adventure.

5. EAT YOUR WHEATIES. Be sure to eat nutritious foods and snacks when traveling. While grabbing that McSomething on the go can be tempting and easy, it’s just as convenient to grab a healthy high-energy bar or snack pack of nuts to get a boost of energy. Toss a few extras into your carry-on or in the car in case you are delayed.

6. STAY ALERT. You should plan a time to rejuvenate throughout your journey. A 12-hour trip will leave you tired and not ready to hit your destination-ground running. Especially when driving, you should work into your trip regular stopping time to stretch and get some air. Be sure you’re pulling over in a safe location, though.

7. TRAVEL KIT. Pack a safety travel kit to have on hand. Think outside the typical first aid kit, too. While Band-Aids and gauze are important, think about cold weather necessities - blankets, an ice scraper and a flashlight are just a few things you may find you need.

8. CHECK YOUR EQUIPMENT. Whether in your own car, or if renting one after a flight, be sure to check your tire pressure and tread. Carrying chains in snowy or icy conditions is always a good idea.

9. COVER THE CAR. When you get to where you’re going, try to park your car in a garage or covered space.

10. STAY PUT. If you get stranded somewhere, try to stay where you are. If you’re in a clear, safe spot on the side of the road, the safest thing to do is stay in your car and wait for help. Be sure your exhaust pipe is clear though - you don’t want ice or snow built up around it as it could result in carbon monoxide building up in the car. To keep warm, you can run the car for about 10 minutes every hour, cracking the front window during.

 

There are many cold weather safety tips you can use to ensure you have a magical winter wonderland getaway, but the most important tip is to simply plan ahead. Knowing the potential issues that may arise based on where you’re going and the road to get there can help you prepare for any possible issues that may arise. Being prepared will let you get to your destination, settle into your Extended Stay America suite and start making memories. 

November 21, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Don’t Forget the Diaper Bag! An Essential Vacation Packing List for Traveling with Children

Packing for any kind of trip can be a challenge. When you have to pack for a whole family, including infants and toddlers, for vacation, the amount of bags you take can grow and grow. To make the packing process a little bit easier, here are a few essentials to toss into that diaper bag.

Medicine, Sunscreen and Insect Repellent

One of the worst things to occur on your vacation is illness. You don’t want your babies or toddlers to get sick while traveling, but things can happen. You should talk to your pediatrician about what medicine to have in case of a problem. Also, parents shouldn’t forget sunscreen and insect repellent, which are essentials for most vacations where you will be outdoors. It is important to make certain that the products can be used on your children; some sunscreens, for example, aren’t intended for babies.

Extra Changes of Clothing

You might be going on vacation with your tiny ones for just a few days, but babies and toddlers often require more outfit changes than a Broadway show. Especially if you are taking a plane, you will always want to have a change of clothing with you and several outfits to get your bundle of joy through those messes on the road.

Changing Pads, Diapers and Plenty of Baby Wipes

Parents with an infant in diapers have to travel with a portable changing station. You can pack changing pads to make it easy to change your little one on the road. If you are flying or going to be in transit for several hours, you will also need plenty of diapers and baby wipes to make it to your destination. Nothing is worse than being stuck in a confined space with no extra diapers.

Toys and Games to Keep Everyone Entertained

When little Johnny decides to have a temper tantrum in the middle of your tour or while you are out to eat, toys and games will be your saving grace. While the whole toy chest won’t fit in your suitcase, a few basic toys and games will be welcome distractions when it seems the sky is falling on your wee one.

Baby Bottles, Formula and Snacks

As part of your vacation packing list for children, you shouldn’t forget to pack baby bottles and formula for infants and also snacks for the rest of the crew. Sometimes a tantrum is merely caused by hunger. However, being on the road or on an airplane can make it difficult to get your child what they want. A few plastic containers of snacks should always be with you wherever you go.

Cameras

Parents and families won’t want to forget one of the most important items that might not stop a temper tantrum or cure a runny nose, but it will have a lasting impact on your trip. Families should always travel with a camera, preferably with video capabilities, to document a child’s first few times seeing the rest of the world. For children who are a little bit older, you can give them disposable cameras to document what they see too.

 

For families traveling, you want a space that feels a little bit like home to keep some normalcy with the little ones. Along with a kids stay free policy, Extended Stay America suites allow families to create mini-homes away from home with separate bedrooms, kitchens and living spaces. 

November 17, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

6 Travel Apps you Need to Download

Travel would not be possible it if weren’t for a little help from one’s friends, namely all of those apps in your pocket. In today’s world, you won’t have to worry about missing your flight or running out of gas thanks to many different travel apps. Before you take off on your next adventure, be sure to download these six essential apps.

 1.      Google Translate

The Google Translate app is practically a travel necessity if you plan on traveling to countries where they might not speak your local tongue. The app features over 70 languages where you can speak into the phone, type what you need translated or even take photographs of something you want deciphered. The Google Translate app is free to download and works on both Android and iPhone.

2.      Skype

When you want to stay in touch with family and friends back home but you don’t want the massive cell phone bill, you can use the Skype app. The app is available for Windows Phone, Android, iPhone, Nokia X and Blackberry. The Skype app allows you to make free face-to-face video calls as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection. You can also send and receive messages for free on the app.

3.      TripIt

The free version of the TripIt app frequently tops lists of must-have travel apps. The travel itinerary app keeps you organized on the road and prevents the traveler from having to bring all sorts of paperwork for their flights and reservations. The TripIt app allows the user to send all of their trip-related emails to the app. TripIt then organizes all of your travel plans and keeps them in a nice and neat place. The app is available for free for Android and iPhone.

 4.      Google Maps

To make sure you never wander around lost for several hours on your travels, the Google Maps app allows you to get directions and maps in 220 countries and territories. The app also provides live accident and traffic information so you know what routes to avoid on your travels.

 5.      Gate Guru

 One of the best travel apps for those going by plane is Gate Guru. This app, which is available for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone, helps you manage your flight from departure to arrival. Gate Guru features flight notifications that alert you of gate changes, boarding times and other status updates. It is also useful if you aren’t familiar with the airport as it provides a listing of all the amenities and restaurants near you.

 6.      Gas Buddy

 When you are in need of a good road trip planner app, GasBuddy is essential to have in your pocket. If you are looking to save on gas prices, this app helps you find the cheapest gas near you. It also tells you where gas stations are located along your route. GasBuddy is available for free for Android, iPhone and Blackberry.

 

With all of the right apps in hand to make travel that much easier, you can make another easy choice with your accommodations. Extended Stay America offers roomy suites where the whole family can spread out and relax. 

November 13, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

5 Ways to Stay Fit While Traveling

Travel and fitness don’t often coincide. It’s quite common to be surrounded by delicious and fattening cuisine and have very little time to burn it off from stop to stop. Whether you are on vacation with the family or looking to come home from that business trip without more weight, travelers can practice a few simple tips to stay fit while globetrotting.

 1.      Book Accommodations with Fitness Centers and Gyms

Staying fit while traveling can be a challenge if you never seem to have the time to work out. If you are looking to keep off vacation weight, it is best to book hotels and accommodations with fitness centers and gyms. You can go for a jog on the treadmill or swim in the hotel’s pool when it is convenient for you. Travelers can squeeze in a workout without having to go too far from their hotel room.

2.      Pick Walk-Friendly Destinations

Some travelers pack on the vacation weight merely because they aren’t walking enough. If you can choose your vacation destinations, be sure you are selecting cities and spots that are walker-friendly. When you can ditch the car and walk more as you travel, you stand a better chance of staying slim and trim too. Selecting naturally gifted vacation destinations like national parks can also help you stay active even while traveling.

 3.      Cook Healthy Meals When You Can

Travel is no stranger to delicious and often fattening foods. If you are eating out each and every night of your travels, most likely you are not going to stay fit. Travelers who create a little semblance of home when they are on the road can better keep off the vacation weight. By preparing your own meals when you can, you can stay fit more easily while you travel. You will want to look out for accommodations that have kitchens so that you can prepare healthier meals.

4.      Use Fitness Apps to Track Your Calories and Motion

There are a variety of fitness apps you can use to keep track of your calorie intake and also how many calories you’re burning while on vacation. As you travel, it can be easy to indulge here and there and not have any idea of the consequences. Fitness apps can help you keep track more easily as the information and data is right in your pocket. Some of these apps can also help you track how active you are. These apps can give you a better sense of when you need to do something more active on your travels to offset that big dinner last night.

5.      Always Take the Stairs

Travel is riddled with elevators and escalators, from the airport to the hotel, and if you’re truly concerned about how to stay fit on vacation, you’ll see stairs as an opportunity. Every time you take the elevator or the escalator, you run the risk of missing out on some easy exercise. When you can, you should always take the stairs. Travel often doesn’t allow for extra time to exercise but if you take the stairs, you can multitask. One easy way to incorporate this technique is to seek out the highest point in your vacation vicinity—perhaps an observation deck of some kind. You can generally climb up your way up to the best views obtainable in your area and get a workout in the process.

Luckily for travelers who are looking to stay in shape on the road, Extended Stay America offers gyms and swimming pools at several of their locations, so you can work off dinner right in the comforts of your hotel. 

November 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Where to Find the Most Stunning Fall Foliage

Rich reds, oranges and yellows pop across the country during September, October and November, making fall one of the best times to go leaf peeping in the United States. While stunning fall foliage isn’t hard to come by in this country, you do have to know where to look to uncover the most eye-popping colors. From the California coast to the mountains of Vermont, the United States is crawling with places where the autumnal colors truly pop, leaving eyes wanting more. If you need a little guide for finding the best spots for fall foliage, here are some of the top places to catch the changing of the colors and the seasons across the country.

Aspen, Colorado

While much of the High Country of Colorado delights fall sightseers with eye-popping foliage, Aspen in particular rises above the rest. The town known for its celebrity status and posh attitude also is appropriately named after the aspen tree. Aspens in and around town glow with a golden yellow color, even more so when the wind kicks up. You can catch the aspens at their best from late September through mid-October.

Green Mountain Byway, Vermont

Vermont’s Route 100 features an 11-mile byway of beauty in autumn. The Green Mountain Byway is filled with color, specifically come the first week of October. Some of the state’s and the country’s best fall foliage can be found along this route through Waterbury and Stowe. The Green Mountain Byway also boasts views of Vermont’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield.

Napa Valley, California

Fall foliage hunts should not go without a little wine. Napa Valley, California, offers one of the best spots to not only see the colors change on the trees and grapevines, but also to sample some of the best wines in the world. Napa Valley in California is at its fall best around late October when rows of grapevines take on more golden yellow hues. You can tour vineyards and stop for tastings as you leaf peep.

Boston, Massachusetts

It is no secret that Massachusetts boasts some of the country’s best spots for leaf peeping, including Boston. In order to experience New England fall foliage, you don’t have to get out of the big city. Boston Common and the Charles River Esplanade are good spots in the city to soak up the fall colors. If you want to take a drive from Boston and experience eye-popping colors, you can follow Route 2 from Boston to the New York-Massachusetts border. The scenic highway features fine views of the fall foliage out the car window. Fall foliage tours aren’t complete until you have experienced autumn colors in New England. 

 

When you need a home base for leaf peeping in New England, Extended Stay America Boston is the answer. Suites are outfitted with every traveler’s needs such as Wi-Fi, television and a kitchen. You can easily rest up after a day of fall foliage touring so that you can hit the ground running in the morning and catch more of the colorful season before it heads south for the winter.

October 30, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Thrill-Seeker's Guide to Halloween Horror Nights

The Thrill-Seeker's Guide to Halloween Horror Nights

It’s finally here: The time of the year has come for the ultimate experiment on just how much fear you can take. Yes, Universal Studios’ annual Halloween Haunted Horror Nights 2014 is in full force. And for the next month or so, you can put your nerves to the test. Whether you’re on the West Coast in the Los Angeles area, or on the East Coast in Florida, this year’s fear factor is off the charts. With elements from Alien vs. Predator, The Walking Dead and From Dusk Till Dawn, you’ll be sure to face your worst fears. Go on, we dare you.

Before you buy your tickets though, here are our top 8 tips for making it out alive.

Tip #1:

Get there early. This popular event is only here for a limited time, so it’s sure to be both busy and crowded. Gates will open around 6:30 p.m. each night.

Tip #2:

Plan ahead. Purchase your tickets ahead of time, as tickets tend to sell out. On nights they sell out, no tickets will be available at the gate. Tickets are conveniently available online. Will you be at Universal Studios in the LA area? Or will you be at Universal Studios Orlando?

Tip #3:

No costumes or masks are allowed. Please note you will not be admitted with either of these on.

Tip #4:

For your safety and that of your friends, or those who have come to terrify you, please know that the following are not permitted in the event areas:

  • Food
  • Bottles
  • Drinks
  • Flashlights or laser pens
  • Recording devices
  • Flash photography

Tip #5:

Purchasing a Halloween Horror Nights Express or Front of the Line Pass will grant you somewhat of a VIP status, allowing you front-of-the line cuts, bypassing those inevitably long lines. Note: These passes are very popular, and with only a limited number available each night, they will sell out.

Tip #6:

Plan for traffic getting into the park. The parking situation can be particularly daunting on Saturday nights.

Tip #7:

Scout out your visit and develop a loose plan of attack ahead of time. A map for the Hollywood location can be found here, and Orlando’s map is here.

 Tip #8:

Keep in mind that while there are technically no age restrictions for this event, the material is geared tremendously toward adult viewers. Also note there will be no refunds given if you later determine the experience is not age appropriate for a member of your party.

 

Halloween Haunted Horror Nights 2014 is expected to be the best of these events yet so make sure you get the most out of the horrifying night by knowing everything you need to ahead of time. And when you need a fear factor break? Make your way back to your home-away-from-home at an Extended Stay America near you. If you’re in the Orlando area, we’ve got a safe haven for you. Are you planning on hitting up the horror house on the Golden Coast? Don’t worry, we have Extended Stay Americas there, too. 

October 27, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)