« April 2014 | Main | June 2014 »

Top 10 Tips for Solo Travelers

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

More and more travelers are hitting the road with the ultimate traveling companion, oneself. Whether you are being sent to a new city on business or merely just taking off to see the country on an independent adventure, solo travel can be an empowering and enriching experience. Don’t leave home without keeping these 10 solo travel tips in mind.

 

1. Join a tour, even if just for the day

One of the biggest solo travel fears is that it will be lonely. Solo travel doesn’t have to be lonely, even when you are traveling for business. If you have a free afternoon or morning, you can join a tour to learn a little more about where you are. Walking, food and general sightseeing tours are great ways to meet people and socialize while traveling alone.

2. Pack light

As you will probably be toting your own bags, you don’t want to have heavy suitcases weighing you down. Not only will copious amounts of luggage make traveling more difficult as a solo traveler, but you may also draw unwanted attention attempting to juggle heavy luggage.

3. Eat at the bar

For travelers going out alone, especially on business, you shouldn’t feel self-conscious when dining out. As food is often an essential part of travel, you would hate to miss out on tasty local cuisine by staying in every night. Rather, solo travelers should grab a seat at the bar. You just might meet like-minded business or leisure travelers in the process.

 4. Take a class

If you want to learn something new about where you are or perhaps acquire a new skill, you can always sign up for classes as you travel alone. Language, cooking or even a fitness class can be a nice way to blend into the community, even if you are just passing through on business.

5. Select accommodations that make you feel at home

As any solo traveler will tell you, it can be hard to go at it alone. Homesickness and loneliness can creep in, making you feel less comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. Solo travelers should book accommodations that have that sense of home, whether they come with kitchens and living rooms or merely have that cozy edge.

6. Park yourself at a café

People-watching is the solo traveler’s main sport, or at least it should be. One of the best sports to watch the world go by is the neighborhood café. Park yourself at a café, sip on a warm beverage and appreciate where you are.

7. Let family and friends know where you will be

If you are traveling solo for business or pleasure, you should leave a daily itinerary with family and friends back home. They should have phone numbers and addresses of where you will be and when so that you know someone is always keeping tabs on your whereabouts. Essential travel safety tips for solo travelers include keeping in touch with family and friends so that there are never concerns or worries.

8. Avoid staying out late at night

Even if you are traveling with someone, being out late at night in an unfamiliar place is not always the best idea. Especially when you are traveling alone, you have to keep your guard up. While you want to experience each destination fully, you should retire for the evening before you find yourself in dangerous situations late at night.

9. Consult tourism boards for special cultural events and offerings

Tourism boards are often neglected and ditched for guidebook apps. However, tourism boards can be particularly useful for solo travelers. These offices often have information on special cultural events and offerings going on throughout town that your guidebook might not know about.

10. Smile!

Traveling alone is intimidating at times. Solo travelers can’t approach every person they meet with a frown. Rather than suspecting everyone might be targeting you, it is important to smile. One simple smile could open doors and lead to friendships and greater cultural understandings, making for an enriching solo travel experience.

 

After a day of touring around on your own or working at the office, solo travelers can keep in touch with friends and family back home with Wi-Fi at their Extended Stay America suite. 

Top 5 Beaches to Visit This Summer

May 20, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Silky sands, the smell of sunscreen, a shining sun and splish-splashing in cool waters make for a picture perfect summer vacation scene. Nothing quite says summer like taking off from landlocked perches for wide-open seas. Luckily, travelers don’t have to shift through too many sands in the U.S. to find their ideal stretches of summer vacation perfection. When planning your summer getaway, the following five locations boast sea views, sand and sunshine, and are sure to have your whole party wishing summer vacation was endless.

 

1. Savannah, Georgia

Most come to Savannah for its tasty and filling Southern cuisine and to be mesmerized by its romantic squares draped in Spanish moss. However, just 18 miles outside of town, you can find one of Georgia’s best beaches. Tybee Island possesses a three-mile long public beach, nicknamed Savannah’s Beach. The island also features a historic lighthouse and plenty of bird and wildlife viewing opportunities.

2. San Diego, California

Most families are seeking a beach that is safe for swimming and splashing. San Diego certainly supplies this with its La Jolla Shores beach. The sandy beach stretches for one mile and boasts some of the gentlest waves in all of San Diego. Located in the northern city limits, La Jolla Shores is ideal for swimming and snorkeling. It also borders the La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve in San Diego and sits right within reach of another famous San Diego beach, La Jolla Cove.

3. Destin, Florida

Florida’s northwest Gulf Coast area is spoiled in appearance. What began as a small fishing village, Destin is one of those beauties along the coast. Its shoreline stretches for 24 miles and boasts some of the best beaches in the state, making for a favorite summer vacation spot. Most of the beaches in Destin are characterized with powdery white sand and emerald green waters lapping up the scene. The town is home to thirteen public beaches including James Lee Park Beach and Henderson Beach State Park. James Lee Park Beach is ideal for families with its alluring stretch of sand and playground area. Henderson Beach State Park on the other hand stuns with its pure white sand, protected perfectly and naturally by sand dunes.

4. Virginia Beach, Virginia

For families and travelers looking to appreciate miles of beaches but also the activity and life of a beach town, Virginia Beach fits the bill. Virginia Beach affords 35 miles of coastline, stretching from Chesapeake Bay down to Sandbridge. The major beach settlement has plenty of restaurants, state parks and activities. Some of the best beaches in Virginia Beach include Chesapeake Bay Beach, known for its low-key nature, Resort Area Beach, bustling with activity and sands for miles, and Sandbridge Beach, a secluded, natural hideaway.

5. Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara might be just a two-hour drive north of Los Angeles but it might as well be days away. Toted as the American Riviera, the beachside community appreciates its sands, mountains and culture all rolled into one paradise. Santa Barbara’s moderate ocean temperature and mild tides make for some of the best beach vacations for families, especially those that include surfers. Santa Barbara isn’t just gifted in the sand, surf and sun department though. It also boasts 50 public parks and picnic areas.

 

After a day at the beach, you will want to unwind back at your hotel. Extended Stay America accommodations provide all of the necessary amenities for a relaxing time such as pools, hot tubs and premium TV channels. 

5 Best Photo Ops in Los Angeles

May 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The City of Angels, upon first inspection, might appear to be nothing worthy of a photograph, especially after one stint in L.A. traffic. However, Los Angeles is a stunner in front of the camera at a number of perches around town. From the Hollywood Sign to Griffith Observatory, you will want to have your camera ready to take advantage of these top five photo ops in town.

1. The Hollywood Sign

Perhaps no other landmark conjures up the Los Angeles identity more than the Hollywood Sign. The famous lettering across Mount Lee spans 450 feet in length and 45 feet in height. While the sign itself is now fenced off, you can snap some shots of it from the Hollywood Reservoir, or while hiking the Hollyridge or Canyon Boulevard Trails. The lasting symbol of the entertainment industry originated in an ad campaign for a suburban housing development called Hollywoodland. You won’t want to miss a chance to snap a selfie by this iconic piece of history.

2. Runyon Canyon Park

Visions of Los Angeles often boil down to celebrity sightings, glistening mansions, the Hollywood Sign and the Sunset Strip. You can expect to see all of the above at Runyon Canyon Park. The park sprawls across 160 acres of land and features a number of high perches where you can bask with your camera in hand at the cityscape before you.

3. Griffith Observatory

If you want to snap a shot of the Pacific Ocean, the Hollywood Sign and even Downtown Los Angeles, you can make your way to the Griffith Observatory, easily one of the city’s best photo opportunities. While home to space and science exhibits, the L.A. icon sits on a dramatic perch right on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park. From its rooftop observation deck and terraces you can appreciate a view 1,134 feet above sea level and of course you can see the observatory’s remarkable dome. Admission to enter both the building and grounds comes free of charge.

4. Mulholland Drive

Immortalized in film, song and television, Mulholland Drive represents one of the Los Angeles landmarks that must not be missed. Along the famous thoroughfare stretching from the Pacific Coast Highway to Downtown Hollywood, you can pull off on at least seven overlooks, often with vistas of the downtown Griffith Observatory and on clear days you can even see Catalina Island. Mulholland Drive is worth at least cruising for the views of the L.A. Basin and San Fernando Valley.

5. Korean Bell of Friendship

It is not everyday that you can take in views of the Los Angeles harbor and also an intricate, 17-ton bell. The Korean Bell of Friendship looks out on the Los Angeles harbor and Catalina Channel. Given from Korea in 1976, the bell has lent L.A. a massive taste of Korean culture. The decorative bell makes for good photographs and it frequently tops lists of one of the best things to see in Los Angeles.

After scaling all of Los Angeles’ best views, you can take in a more relaxing view in your hotel suite. Extended Stay America offers roomy suites with separate bedrooms so the whole family can get some peace and quiet. 

Top 5 Destinations to Visit for a Mother’s Day Getaway

May 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Each and every year, families come together to celebrate the glue that holds every household together: moms. While your mother might resist any sort of fuss on Mother’s Day, families can take the initiative and treat Mom to more than just brunch, flowers and a card. If you want to take off on a Mother’s Day getaway, there are a number of spots around the country that make for prime getaways Mom is sure to appreciate.

 

1. New Orleans, Louisiana

For the mom with a constant spring in her step, New Orleans’ vigor lends an ideal spot to head for the holiday. With plenty of good food, music and relaxation opportunities, New Orleans provides activities and attractions for the whole family, especially mothers. You can start by taking Mom to City Park, a lovely oasis in an urban locale. Its mystic live oak trees provide a fine setting to relax and unwind while in the Big Easy. However, perhaps no attraction in New Orleans pulls out the stops for Mom than the Audubon Zoo. Set up in historic Uptown, New Orleans, the zoo offers free admission to all mothers on Mother’s Day along with musical performances.

2. Seattle, Washington

Seattle fills up Mother’s Day weekend with plenty of half-priced admissions around town, including the acclaimed Woodland Park Zoo. Cruise companies also come out in full force to celebrate. You can arrange to take your mother around Puget Sound on one of the many cruises offered in Seattle. Some also include a brunch or lunch buffet. If your favorite lady is a coffee drinker, Seattle seems permanently caffeinated with its coffee shops and tours where you can get to know the city’s most famous beverage. For the mom who can’t resist a good view, Seattle has a few, including ones from the top of the Smith Tower and the Seattle Great Wheel at Pier 57.

3. Asheville, North Carolina

Buried in the mountains of eastern North Carolina, Asheville might seem like an unsuspecting Mother’s Day getaway. However, if you want to bring Mom some of the best blooms, you can take her to the Biltmore Estate, the largest private residence in America. Onsite, the enormous palace features gardens designed by Central Park landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Just a few minutes drive from downtown Asheville, the Biltmore Estate also features plenty of attractions to keep not only Mom happy, but the rest of the family entertained too. The Biltmore Estate has a maze and farmyard where kids can pet baby animals. Lurking near town, you can uncover a number of natural attractions to take advantage of such as the Blue Ridge Parkway, DuPont State Park and Sliding Rock Waterfall.

4. San Francisco, California

San Francisco is known for many things. Cable cars, zigzagging streets and the Golden Gate are all fine and well, but for the family looking to take their sweet tooth Mom somewhere for the holiday with a chocolaty edge, San Francisco is an easy choice. The City by the Bay has become a center for artisan chocolatiers. Rich, dark and milky chocolate has been infiltrating San Francisco for some time, beginning with Ghirardelli Chocolate Company in 1852. While you can visit Ghirardelli’s operation in San Francisco, you can also treat your mother to one of the many chocolate walking tours offered or factory tours such as those offered by TCHO.

5. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston caters to both mothers and families with small children with its annual Duckling Day Parade. Every Mother’s Day, the city celebrates the classic children’s book “Make Way for Ducklings” by having children dress as their favorite character from the book and gather in Boston Common. Another attraction in Boston more fitting for a Mother’s Day treat is Lilac Sunday at the Arboretum. Home to one of the best lilac collections in North America, the parkland features more than 370 lilac plants of 176 kinds. This lilac event is specially put together just for Mother’s Day.

 

Once you have treated Mom to one of these Mother’s Day getaways, you can sweeten the deal with accommodations she will appreciate. Extended Stay America offers much more than your standard hotel room with separate in-suite bedrooms so that Mom can get a little rest and relaxation away from the kids.