Utah’s Mighty 5 Road Trip | Hiking Guide

A Road Trippers Guide to Hiking the Mighty 5

© Photo by Visit Utah

Taking in the Beauty of Utah’s National Parks, One Mile at a Time

After picking up your Advantage Rent A Car at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, you’ll be ready to head to Utah’s Red Rock Country. Carved by rivers and the passage of time, it is among our nation’s most spectacular natural landscapes. With soaring canyons and towering buttes, sandstone arches and endless stretches of sky, this desert setting is ideal for endless outdoor pursuits from hiking and mountain biking to rock climbing and sightseeing.

Across the United States, there is no shortage of awe-inspiring national parks but nowhere is the wonder more concentrated than here in southern Utah where the Mighty 5 sit clustered together. The parks — Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches — showcase the rugged beauty of the American Southwest and provide the perfect opportunity for an old-fashioned road trip.

Here’s what you can expect on your escape to Utah’s Mighty 5:

March to Zion

More than 200 million years ago, the North Fork of the Virgin River cut its way through burnt-red Navajo Sandstone to create Zion National Park. Home to Native Americans and westward pioneers, it was the Mormons who first declared the land of soaring monoliths and dramatic buttes to be Zion, a natural “temple of God.”

While there are plenty of multi-day backpacking trips and strenuous hikes, you’ll also find several areas off the main road that offer short treks for those of all ages and fitness levels. Here are a few of the most popular, from easy to more difficult:

Visit the Bryce Canyon Goblins

© Photo by Utah.com

After spending a few days in Zion, it’s only a couple of hours in your Advantage Rent A Car to our next stop, Bryce Canyon National Park. The first misconception about Bryce Canyon is that it is a canyon at all. In truth, the amphitheater that was carved from millions of years of rain, snow and ice is more like a cave without a roof. Inside this magical landscape is the other myth, the one that explains the origins of the hoodoos. Also known as goblins, these stalagmite-like rock formations are said to be early Paiute Indians turned to stone for their evil deeds.

More abundant here than any place else in the world, the hoodoos sprout up from the desert floor along the Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail, a 2.7-mile loop that takes hikers across stunning overlooks and through slotted canyons. Enjoy these short easy hikes or stroll along the park’s rim, experience an interactive prairie dog maze at the visitor’s center or finish your day at Sunset Point watching the sun paint the sky the color of red rock.

Step Back in Time at Capitol Reef

© Photo by Utah.com

A sweeping landscape of twisted rock and boundless skies are what makes Capitol Reef National Park a favorite among locals. Pastel-colored cliffs, massive domes and hidden arches make it easy to imagine what life was like millions of years ago. This is what you should see:

  • Capitol Reef Scenic Byway — This 25-mile, round-trip drive takes you past the park’s best scenery, including Panorama Point and Goosenecks Overlook viewing areas.
  • Pioneer Register – See a rock wall with the names of miners, settlers and adventurers dating back to the 1800s in this easy mile-long hike that dips from the trailhead into a slot canyon.
  • Hickman Natural Bridge — Pass the ruins of the ancient Freemont culture and the large white stone domes that inspired the park’s name before arriving at the 133-foot bridge.
  • Fruita – In the green groves of Fruita, a Mormon community sits in a shaded canyon with orchards and U-pick it farms aplenty. Fruits that include cherries, apricots and pears are seasonally available.
  • Temples — The Cathedral Valley Scenic Backway cuts through the northern tip of the park along a desert canyon drive and features dramatic sites like the Temples of the Sun, Moon and Stars

Raft the Rapids in Canyonlands

Located in the heart of Red Rock Country, Canyonlands National Park sprawls over 500 square miles of colorful desert land, deep-plunging gorges and soaring buttes carved by rushing rivers. Four distinct areas provide visitors with a variety of ways to experience one of America’s great national parks:

Witness the Splendid Arches

In less than an hour’s drive, you’ll be at Arches National Park where nature lovers and thrill seekers alike will find natural rock arch formations, carved by centuries of erosion. Arches offers a variety of hiking options for nature enthusiasts of all fitness levels. Here’s a look at what there is to do and see on your visit to Arches:

Keeping Safe on the Roads and the Trails

    Tips for Navigating Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks

  • Prepare for a Driving Adventure — When picking up a rental car, opt for a 4-wheel drive vehicle that can handle the rugged terrain and unpredictable weather you may encounter on your road trip. Stop by the Advantage Rent a Car counter at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, where you can pick up a GMC Arcadia or Toyota 4Runner.
  • Avoid the Dark — It may seem like a good idea to drive at night to maximize daylight, but the abundance of deer, elk and other wildlife on the road can make it dangerous. Save the driving for late afternoon when there’s still plenty of visibility.
  • Take Breaks — Most of Utah’s National Parks have facilities at the visitor’s center. Make sure to plan ahead.
  • Expect the Rain — July and August are monsoon season so be prepared for snap thunderstorms.
  • Layer Up – The Utah desert has summer temperatures that dip into the 50s and soar above the 90s so layers of clothing are essential.
  • There’s an App for That — Download sightseeing apps for narration about the attractions as you drive by.
  • Put Your Best Foot Forward — A pair of supportive, waterproof hiking boots will help you navigate the unstable terrain and wet riverbeds.
  • Sun Protection – A hat, sunscreen and sunglasses are essential in the unforgiving desert sun.
  • Keep Quenched — Plan to drink about a liter of water per hour. Always keep a water bottle with you.
  • Consider an Airport Alternative — While McCarran Airport in Las Vegas is better for the itinerary because it is close to the first stop on the trip (Zion National Park), Salt Lake International Airport car rental in Salt Lake City could be just as convenient because of its proximity to the last stop on the trip (Arches National Park). Your Advantage Rent A Car options will ensure you have an enjoyable adventure no matter which airport you choose.

Drive Times

Las Vegas to Zion National Park: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Zion National Park to Bryce National Park: 2 hours

Bryce National Park to Capital Reef National Park: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Capital Reef National Park to Canyonlands National Park: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Canyonlands National Park to Arches National Park: 30 minutes

The journey from Arches to Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport takes about seven hours or you can head to Advantage Rent A Car counter in the Salt Lake City International Airport, which is about four hours away.

Orlando Food Scene | Top U.S. Foodie City

The Main Attraction

Discovering Orlando’s Exciting Food Scene

Celebrity-run eateries. Local diners. Food trucks. Neighborhood markets.

Orlando, once the home of predictable theme-park fare, has become a true foodie destination where exceptional culinary achievement is an adventure all its own.

Perhaps that’s why WalletHub named the destination the “Top Foodie City in the U.S.” In fact, just this year, two local chefs were named James Beard Awards Semifinalist Nominees for the “Best Chefs in the South” category. Kathleen Blake of The Rusty Spoon and Luma on Park’s Brandon McGlamery are among a growing contingent of young chefs responsible for a food renaissance here in the shadow of the mouse.

Alongside this talented crew are A-list chefs who’ve chosen the destination for their signature restaurants. In the newly opened Disney Springs, visitors can enjoy the typical tourist must-sees as well as star-studded dining experiences at Art Smith’s Homecomin’ or chef Masaharu Morimoto’s famed Morimoto Asia. Not far away are Norman Van Aken’s self-named establishment at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes and Emeril’s by Emeril Lagasse at Universal CityWalk.

Orlando Food Scene

For something a bit more low-key, Orlando offers as many tasty casual venues as it does high-end establishments. In fact, when Diners, Drive-ins and Dives arrived in town, the popular Food Network program discovered six hidden Orlando restaurants worth a visit:

  • Se7en Bites,a Southern breakfast/lunch eatery and bakery in the Downtown Milk District that dishes up mouthwatering brunch favorites as well as treats such as Salted Caramel Bacon Cinnamon Rolls on Sundays
  • The Meatball Stoppe, which specializes in all types and combinations of the Italian-inspired protein.
  • International dining destinations such as Puerto Rican sandwiches at Willie’s Pinchos, Brazilian spud creations at Mrs. Potato Restaurant, Vietnamese cuisine at Saigon Noodle and Grill and New York City delicatessen fare at The Pastrami Project food truck.

Finally, foodies will want to check out Orlando’s exciting market scene. The fun begins in the Audubon Park neighborhood at the popular East End Market. This trendy food hall is inspired by what local farmers and artisans are producing, an eclectic mixed-use space and some tempting treats that include Gideon’s Bakehouse, TravelPulse’s vote for “Earth’s Best Cookie.” A short drive away you’ll find the Winter Park Farmer’s Market, an Orlando tradition held every Saturday morning at the old train depot, and, west of downtown, the Winter Garden Farmer’s Market, which offers local produce, artisanal foods and specialty crafts in a hometown, historic setting.

So, while you may find yourself headed to Orlando for the heart-pounding theme park rides, picture-perfect poolside afternoons, the thrill of the annual Gay Dayscelebration or Orlando United Day, the new crop of all-star restaurants and impressive chefs will prove to you that dinner in this tourist town may just be the real attraction.

Exploring the destination’s culinary scene is easy with a sporty rental car from Advantage Rent a Car. Pick up a Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro at the airport counter and you’ll quickly be on your way to discovering all the secret foodie joints and local hot spots you’re craving.

Top Foodie Spots in Orlando

From a Who’s Who of famous chefs to local favorites that put fresh, local fare front and center, Orlando is a city where you’ll want to eat again and again. Here are Orlando’s Best Restaurants, according to USA Today’s 10 Best:

Orlando Food Scene

1. K Restaurant – This favorite foodie hangout has been a College Park standout for years with locally sourced food in a comfortable and elegant location. Unexpected creations pair with comfort food – try a burger and mac and cheese for one of the best meals you’ll ever enjoy

2. Scratch – Drop by for a drink or a small plate at this Winter Park locale that offers a romantic vibe, a well-informed wait staff and a seasonal rotating menu of great food.

3. Mamak Asian Street Food – China comes to town with dishes inspired by food stalls such as curries, spring rolls and street tacos. Another not-to-be-missed item is the Mamak roti canai.

4. The Ravenous Pig – The city’s favorite gastropub has been generating a buzz since it opened in its former location in Winter Park. Today, the updated digs just down the road serve up a rotating menu of locally based cuisine and craft cocktails.

5. Shish.Co Mezze & Grill – OK, so a drive-up food stand may not be the most posh setting for a restaurant, but the mouthwatering doner bowls and rich Turkish coffee will transport you straight to Istanbul. It’s a great stop off before heading across the street to the area’s independent film house, the Enzian Theater.

6. Kabooki Sushi – Don’t let its location in a strip mall mislead you.Inside you’ll find a sleek interior, creative rolls and Orlando’s best sushi and Asian-fusion dishes.

7. Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa — With origins as a food truck, Pig Floyd’s is a mash-up of Caribbean, Latin and Asian barbecue. Don’t miss the tender brisket, the char-grilled chicken and the butter chicken tacos, which were named one of the must-eat foods in Orlando.

8. Bull & Bear – Just like the New York namesake, Orlando’s Bull and Bear is a premium steakhouse that offers superior quality in a plush, upscale atmosphere.

9. Se7en Bites – From handmade moon pies to just-like-grandma-made chicken pot pies, we can’t say enough about this new Southern comfort classic.

10. Norman’s – Whether you enjoy the spectacular lake views outside the Ritz-Carlton or inside in the magnificent white-tablecloth setting, you’ll swoon at Norman Van Aken’s creamy cracked-conch chowder and other imaginative culinary creations that are not to be missed.

Article written by Christine Van Dyk

Pulse Nightclub Memorial | Orlando Gay Days

The Journey “We” Take

The Pulse Memorial and Orlando’s Gay Days

When 49 people lost their lives in the Pulse Nightclub shooting, something amazing happened in Orlando. Some might say it was a wake-up call or a shift in our collective consciousness, but to folks in the Sunshine State, it seems to have an awful lot to do with grammar – something that begins and ends with a pronoun.

As we approach the June 12 anniversary of the shootings, the City of Orlando is honoring the compassion that was displayed that night when “they” became “us” and the whole world learned the importance of being “we.” That subtle shift in words taught us the importance of rejecting biases and the danger that comes when we distance ourselves from those outside our own circles. Because the truth is, the Pulse tragedy didn’t just happen to “them,” it happened to us all.

To honor the memory of the victims and support the survivors, Orlando United Day, which comes on the heels of the annual Gay Days celebration, is hosting a number of events and memorials. There is the One Orlando Collection and Digital Gallery, which features items gathered from the memorial site, and the unveiling of the Sea-to-Sea Flag that has become a globally recognized symbol of the LGBTQ movement. At the site of the Pulse nightclub, the community will gather to reflect on the events of that evening while in Lake Eola Park, the world will “Remember Our Angels.” For the latest information, visit the Orlando United Day webpage.

Like the sticker on a rearview mirror says, objects behind us are “closer than they appear.” And so while a year has gone by, and many of the rainbow-colored banners have begun to fade, the goodwill that the world found in being “us” is closer than ever, and this city we all love to love continues to be #orlandostrong.

The Show Must Go On

Reminding us all that life is equal parts tragedy and celebration, the 27th annual Gay Days celebration will usher in and lead up to the one-year anniversary of the Pulse shootings. As in years past, this unofficial event by Walt Disney World Resorts is the most popular vacation celebration for the LGBTQ community and one that will surely draw high attendance this year.

Visitors can be the first to experience Pandora—the World of AVATAR at Animal Kingdom or take center stage at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Travel around the world at Epcot, Disney’s land of the future, or explore endless enchantment of the Magic Kingdom Park where everyone can be a kid again. It all happens May 30 through June 5 in theme parks and venues throughout Orlando. Other supporting events for this year’s “Gay Days Circus” theme include exposition halls, the Miss Gay Days contest and plenty of pool parties at resorts across the sunny destination.

Enjoying Better (Gay) Days

Come to Orlando for the Gay Days party or extend your stay to attend the commemorative Pulse events. Take a short drive to the coast or make time for some retail therapy at the upscale The Mall at Millenia, cool off in one of the area’s water parks or let off some steam in the heart-pounding I-Drive NASCAR experience.

But before you pack up and end the excitement, take a moment to visit the Orange County Regional History Center and remember the names that are scribbled across the 49 wooden crosses. Get in your car and make the short drive to pay your respects at the small, unassuming bar that sits wedged between downtown Orlando and the Delaney Park neighborhood. The memories are everywhere, even at the new Orlando City Soccer stadium where, amidst a sea of purple chairs, 49 rainbow-colored seats sit front and center – forever reminding the world of all “we” lost and gained that night.

For an updated schedule and additional information on Pulse events, visit Orlando/Orange County’s Orlando United webpage.

For more information and schedules for Gay Days events, go to GayDays.com

North Carolina Mountain Getaways | Family Trip

Altitude Adjustment

north carolina mountain getaway

© Photo by Explore Asheville

A Family Getaway to the North Carolina Mountains

As the sun crept across the mountaintop, the morning light shone through the low-hanging fog that blanketed the pine trees. The Cherokee call it “shaconage,” the land of the blue smoke. I stood there with my two boys who were quickly becoming young men and watched as the “smoke” slowly settled into the crevices between the peaks. No one said a word. We waited in the eerie quiet, afraid to speak, until the trill of birdsong shattered the silence and the Earth began to wake.

In our world of smart phones and insta-everything, our North Carolina Mountain getaway surprised me. I never expected my pre-teens to be so in love with the Appalachian countryside or the simple outdoor activities that I treasured as a kid. But as it turns out, this was the great adventure my boys had longed for without even knowing. A place where ruffians dueled with sticks and chased each other up mountain paths, dove off cliffs into hidden swimming holes and caught fireflies in mason jars every night before bed. It is a moment that is forever trapped in my memory — when their boyhood was frozen, and I could watch them grow up slowly. Here are some of our favorite experiences from that summer — an easy-to-follow agenda and a few things to do when your own family visits the smoky-blue mountains of North Carolina.


north carolina mountain getaway

© Photo by Tweetsie Rail Road

Riding the Rails in Boone

After flying into Charlotte, we packed up our Toyota Highlander and drove up to Boone, where I introduced the boys to a favorite from my own childhood: the Tweetsie Railroad. Named for the shrill sound of its whistle, this authentic steam engine is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a classic throw-back to an era when vacations took place in wooden-paneled station wagons with bologna sandwiches packed in Styrofoam coolers. The three-mile, western-themed ride features an old-fashioned conductor who guides good ole’ number 12 over trestles, around the mountain and past a comical band of robbers and American Indians. After disembarking, the boys raced off to explore the Wild West theme park, which featured a carousel, a Tilt-A-Whirl, a free-fall ride and a scenic chairlift up Miner’s Mountain. Sick from too much cotton candy and that last whirl on the Tornado ride, we headed for the hotel where we all collapsed into bed.


north carolina mountain getaway

Panning For Fun

Scattered around the Boone area and in the small towns throughout this corner of Appalachia are gem mines where your kids can search for hidden treasure. Start by buying a bucket for your little rock hounds and setting them loose in the water flumes to look for precious and semi-precious stones. While we never found more than mica and quartz, watching the boys splash each other and learn about the area’s mining history was well worth the cost of admission.

north carolina mountain getaway

© Photo by Mast General Store

Trinkets from the General Store

Established in 1883, the Mast General Store of Boone is the perfect excuse for your kids to stock up on sugar and unnecessary plastic doodads. With toys, candy, outdoor gear and an apothecary, this shop of yesteryear is chock full of the kinds of treasures their grandparents may have coveted at their age like Little Golden Books, coonskin caps, bone-handled pocket knives and model cars.

Before heading out of Boone, make sure to grab some local-made souvenirs to take home with you like a jar of blackstrap molasses, stoneground southern grits, bottles of Cheerwine soda or a box of paper-thin Moravian spice cookies. Our favorite treats were the Insomnia Cookies we bought downtown. The s’mores and triple chocolate chunks were so delicious they were gone before we hit the onramp to the interstate.

Where the Snow Falls Up

Less than a half hour from Boone, Blowing Rock is a quaint town with art galleries, boutiques and funky restaurants. However, with two squirmy boys, my chances of a girl’s day were just about non-existent. Instead, we headed up to North Carolina’s oldest attraction and the namesake for the town. Blowing Rock is a precipice that juts out some 4,000 feet above the valley. A Native American legend explains the unique updrafts of the crag that caused Ripley’s Believe It Or Not to label it “the only place in the world where snow falls upside down.” In truth, it is the shape of the overhang that directs the strong updrafts from the valley so that if you drop a piece of paper it will be blown right back up to you. Besides the fearful walk to the edge, the park features incredible panoramic views and an extensive network of trails for a great day of hiking.


north carolina mountain getaway

© Photo by Explore Asheville

Day Trekking Along the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a 2,174-mile footpath along ridges and across valleys in the mountains from Maine to Georgia. If you’re not quite up to a thru-hike on the A.T., why not enjoy a short walk in the woods around Asheville just an hour and 45 minutes from Blowing Rock? Our boys loved chasing each other through the forest and up the rocky cliffs to the summit. Check online or with your hotel for day hikes that fit the abilities of your group. You’ll also want to make sure the trek is a round-trip hike unless you have multiple cars that you can park at both ends of the route

Appalachian Sounds in Downtown Asheville

Every Friday evening in the summer people of all ages beat a path to downtown Asheville for the city’s Drum Circle. In the shade of Pritchard Park an eclectic mix of senior citizens, restless children, hipsters and businesspeople are invited to play along. You can imagine how fun it was to watch the boys pound the primal beats while my husband and I sat back, relaxed and enjoyed a bottle of wine beneath the stars.

Nearby at Pack Square Park another group of locals gathered at sunset to share the musical heritage of the Appalachian Mountains. Asheville’s Shindig on the Green is an impromptu jam session featuring bluegrass music and square dancing. Bring a lawn chair and find a spot on the grass where you can enjoy the music and savor some smoky North Carolina barbecue


north carolina mountain getaway

© Photo by Explore Asheville

Whitewater Thrills

Asheville has been called one of “America’s Top 10 Best River Towns” by Fodor’s Travel. With four rivers for rafting, there are plenty of paddling venues with levels that range from easy to extreme. After agreeing on a moderate class-three ride, we headed out with the boys. However, because we were traveling with kids, there are a few things we needed to keep in mind. Here are some of the tips I gathered for North Carolina rafting with children:

  • Remember a change of clothes and dry shoes to wear afterward.
  • Bring water sandals or tennis shoes to wear during the float.
  • Slather yourself in sunscreen and wear a hat since the sun reflects off the water.
  • When rafting with kids, ask for a guide in your boat since some companies only staff every second or third boat.
  • Reservations are necessary, especially on weekends.

If you’re looking for something a bit calmer, tubing excursions can be just as fun.
Ask if your rafting company offers other activities and pursuits like zip lining, fishing or swimming. That way you can enjoy twice the fun in a single outing.


north carolina mountain getaway

© Photo by Explore Asheville

“Fall” in Love With North Carolina

Our final day in the high country was spent searching for hidden waterfalls and old-fashioned swimming holes in and around the Pisgah National Forest. We slid on the natural slide at Bust Your Butt Falls and waded into the frigid waters below Looking Glass Falls before we capped off the adventure with a family toboggan run down the 60-foot slip into Sliding Rock. While it was most certainly the highlight of our trip, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Map your route beforehand since most falls and swimming pools are not marked.
  • Be especially careful climbing on the rocks to avoid being swept into the falls and keep small children away from rushing water.
  • Never dive headfirst. It’s hard to see the rocks and limbs that lie beneath the surface.
  • Most falls and pools require a short hike to reach them so wear proper shoes.
  • Bring along drinking water and snacks.

A getaway to the North Carolina Mountains is easy to do with just a rental car, a map program and some old-school car games to occupy the kids. After our five-day vacation, we headed to drop off the car at the Charlotte Airport Advantage Rent A Car just a couple of hours away from Asheville.

During our time in the high country, we skipped rocks across streams, sailed through the air on a rope swing, licked mint chocolate chip ice cream cones that melted down our hands and walked across a gorge on a bridge that swayed with the wind. Then, just as quickly as the fog had lifted from the mountains, our vacation was over. With our bags packed and the boys all tuckered out, we headed for home — grateful for the experience and our time in the “land of blue smoke.”

north carolina mountain getaway

Drive Times:
Charlotte to Boone: 2 hours, 5 minutes
Boone to Blowing Rock: 20 minutes
Blowing Rock to Asheville: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Asheville to Charlotte: 2 hours

Article written by: Christine Van Dyk

Eating Healthy While Traveling | How To

Better Business Bites

How to Eat Healthy While Traveling for Work

When my company switched insurance plans, I was reminded how overdue I was for my annual physical. Clothed in nothing more than a paper-towel wrap and my own shame, I stepped onto the scale for my yearly dose of reality. As the numbers crept higher and higher, I was confronted with the consequences of a diet that had consisted mostly of airport burgers and hotel bar food. Leaving the doctor’s office that day with my script for cholesterol medication and the admonition to exercise and eat healthier, I had to face the ugly truth: life on the road had taken its toll.

Determined to get back to my “fighting weight,” I made a plan I hoped would work with my hectic travel schedule. By taking a few minutes to plan my days, I can now make better choices that not only keep my weight down but also give me the energy to power through my crazy life. Here’s what I do to eat healthy while traveling for work:

Snack Smart:You know it’s true – the longer you sit listening to that speaker drone on and on, the better the doughnuts start to look. Instead of diving into the pastry platter, I’ve determined to chose fresh fruit or a protein-rich snack I bring from home instead.

Skip the Bread:Since we’ve already established my preference for burgers, here’s how I feed my cravings without breaking the caloric bank: lettuce wraps. I just order my favorite burger, minus the cheese, and have it wrapped in lettuce instead of the bun. Also, ask if the restaurant offers a choice of fruit or salad in place of fries.

Drink Well: Chose water, coffee and tea during meetings and flights instead of soda. You’ll save hundreds of calories by skipping the high-sugar drinks and you’ll also avoid becoming dehydrated.

Take Advantage of Airline Lounges:As a priority member and frequent flyer, you probably have access to an airline lounge. Instead of filling up on pretzels, pop into the club pre-flight to snack on the crudité platter.

Don’t Skip Meals:You might think that avoiding meals would help you save calories but in the long run, the tactic always backfires. Instead, chose lighter, more frequent meals starting with a breakfast that is chock full of protein.

Healthy Airline Meals: While the thought may seem like an oxymoron, you can, in fact, eat healthy while flying. One of the things those endless miles get you is a seat in first class and a choice of meals. Just ask the flight attendant for the heart-healthy options.

Become a Food Stalker:Some guys can resist temptation wherever they find themselves. That’s not me. Instead of succumbing to the momentary allure of Buffalo wings, I go online to check out the menu before going to dinner and make my decisions ahead of time. This also helps me make suggestions to clients about where to go and provides me more control of my diet.

I have also found that by opting for a rental car, I have more choices in regard to where my next meal is coming from. With a car from Advantage Rent a Car, I can easily drive across town to explore the latest farm-to-table restaurant that everyone is talking about and skip the greasy mozzarella sticks at the hotel bar.

Washington DC 4 Day Getaway

At First Blush
The Cherry Blossom Festival And 4 Days In The Commonwealth

Encircling the Tidal Basin in a ring of champagne pink and cottony-white blooms, Washington D.C.’s cherry trees have colored the capital city for more than a century. Dating back to 1912, the original 3,000 trees were a gift of friendship from the mayor of Tokyo City. Shading the sidewalks along the basin and carpeting the shores skirting the Potomac, the iconic blossoms signal the arrival of spring more surely than any date on a calendar. What better way to mark their arrival than a four-day getaway through beautiful and historic Washington D.C.?

Thanks to a milder-than-usual winter and the early advance of unseasonably warm temperatures, Washington D.C. may be blushing a bit sooner this year. If the forecast holds and the blossoms peak March 19-22 as predicted, the city will see one of the earliest blooms to date (despite a recent cold snap). Spring’s looming arrival has organizers of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival scurrying to prepare for the event while travelers make plans to be in town for the peak bloom that occurs when 70 percent of the Yoshino cherry trees are flowering. Be sure you’re prepared for your next Washington D.C. road trip too by booking your travel, rental car and hotel in advance because the festival draws quite the crowd!

In addition to strolling the picturesque paths and snapping photos of blooming trees against a backdrop of national monuments, the festival is also a cultural celebration with events scheduled throughout the city. The fun kicks off with a Pink Tie Party featuring cocktails and dancing before the opening ceremony at the Warner Theatre with performances by American and Japanese artists. The event includes a kite festival and a fireworks display, a Japanese Street festival and the National Cherry Blossom Parade. Visitors can view the goings-on by boat, biking tour or simply sitting back on the lawn and relaxing beneath the blushing shade.

Day 1: Mall Walking In D.C.

While in the capital, travelers should make a point not to miss the National Mall. This 2-mile-long stripe of verdant green is lined with the nation’s most important monuments and museums. It is bookended by the Lincoln Memorial on the western end and the U.S. Capitol at the east with the Washington Monument squarely in the middle. Nearby sits the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial and a simple granite wall set into the earth that honors the 58,209 Americans who gave their lives in the Vietnam War. To the north of the Washington Monument, the grassy Ellipse links the Mall to the White House, the nation’s most famous home, while the Library of Congress and the National Archives provide more history to explore in the world’s first-ever planned capital city. And best of all, the experience is free.

New to the D.C. Mall is the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The 19th museum in the Smithsonian collection is a massive three-tiered bronze corona erected on the very land where African slaves were once traded. Inside this 400,000-square-foot structure, travelers discover exhibits honoring music legends and politicians, social activists and freedom fighters. See a World War II-era Tuskegee airplane and the hymnal carried by Harriet Tubman, Chuck Berry’s beloved Cadillac and a restored segregated Pullman railcar. All told, the museum is home to more than 33,000 objects and is a treasure trove of American history.

Beyond the Smithsonian’s newest wonder, other highlights in the world’s largest museum await, from the National Zoological Park to the National Air and Space Museum, the National Gallery to the National Museum of Natural History. Just be sure, to take one last glance at the cherry blossoms before you make your way across the Potomac, past Arlington National Cemetery and on your way south to the next stop on your Old Dominion road trip: Charlottesville, VA.

Day 2: The City That Jefferson Built

Sandwiched between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Alleghenies, Charlottesville rides the ridge of the Shenandoah Mountains, making it both an easy and scenic day trip from our nation’s capital in a comfortable rental car from Advantage.

Peppered with towering trees and hiking trails that snake their way toward secret waterfalls, Shenandoah National Park is the perfect stop-off to stretch your legs before heading on to the home of one of the nation’s most famous patriots and his beloved residence, Monticello. “Little mountain” as it was named, was the family home and final resting place of Thomas Jefferson. Statesman, author of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States, Jefferson built the neoclassical plantation on land he inherited from his father. Throughout the home, evidence of Jefferson’s genius and ingenuity abounds: dumbwaiters and disappearing beds, a duplicate-writing machine and an extraordinary clock run by weights and pulleys. After retiring from public office, Jefferson spent the remainder of his life writing, educating and perfecting the estate and its gardens. Visitors to this National Historic Landmark can tour the meticulously restored house and its grounds before heading down the road to Mitchie Tavern, a 200-year-old inn that still reflects the Colonial spirit and authentic way of life in Jeffersonian times.

Thomas Jefferson’s influence on Virginia continues at nearby University of Virginia, the “academical village” he both founded and designed. Tours of the campus showcase its imposing colonnades and serpentine brick walls, the Pantheon-like rotunda and 13 West Range, the room where author Edgar Allen Poe once resided before leaving the university when his stepfather cut off his gambling money.

After the campus tour, travelers can wander the charming streets of Charlottesville where quirky shops and cobbled streets give way to horse lands and rambling country roads. Enjoy a fine meal at a streetside cafe before making your way to Pippin Hill Vineyard. Don’t miss the nooks and crannies that are yours to explore at the Daedalus Bookstore or a plate of Hogwaller Hash at the Blue Moon Diner. Just make sure to catch a concert at the city’s most unusual music venue, The Garage, a single-car stall where musicians play to fans who listen while reclining on the grassy hill across the street.

Day 3: America’s Beginnings

The third day of the Old Dominion road trip begins in Colonial Williamsburg where blacksmiths and carpenters, seamstresses and apothecaries roam the living-history museum in period costume. Listen as a wig-maker explains his craft or to the fife and drums that parade through the center of town. Enjoy a lively discussion of politics with a rowdy Patrick Henry or watch as justice is doled out at the Governor’s Palace. Four historic taverns offer meals that honor their origins while a large cast of everyday townsfolk remains continually immersed in the mid-1700s, bringing to life the conversations, customs and way of life of early America.

A short drive down the road is Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas, making this one of the most historic D.C. road trips you can plan! Established as James Fort, the colony survived for 83 years despite starvation, a lack of fresh water, disease and attacks from the native Powhatan nation. In fact, between 1609 and 1610, nearly 80 percent of the residents died in what has become known as the “starving time.” Today, Jamestown is a 46-acre living history venue with re-creations of Jamestown Fort, Powhatan Indian Village and the three ships that brought the Jamestown colonists from England in 1607. Dressed in period costumes and offering a variety of hands-on activities, the area is chock full of things for history buffs of all ages to do. Just down the road, the actual historic site offers an in-depth look into the archeological remains of the colony and the stories that researchers continue to unearth about some of America’s earliest settlers.

Day 4: Battles For America’s Future

If Charlottesville is Jefferson’s turf, Fredericksburg is George Washington’s. The father of our country and his extended family were prominent in the area. The 40-block historic district is on the National Register of Historic Places and contains such sites as Rising Sun Tavern, built and operated by Washington’s brother Charles; the Hugh Mercer Apothecary shop; the Mary Washington House, where George’s mother lived; and Kenmore, home of Washington’s sister and brother-in-law, Betty and Fielding Lewis.

The Civil War raged around Fredericksburg, and the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park commemorates four major battlefields – Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Courthouse – as well as Fredericksburg National Cemetery. Visitor centers interpret the action with audio-visual presentations and museum displays.

As you plan your drive with these D.C. road trip ideas, make sure to make time for a side trip and swing over to Culpeper to visit the Civil War battlefield at Brandy Station, site of the largest cavalry engagement in North America. The battle itself was inconclusive, but it marked the end of the Confederate cavalry’s dominance in the war.

Back in Fredericksburg, save room for a treat from Carl’s Frozen Custard, which may be the nation’s only walk-up frozen dairy emporium listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Behind its neon-lit Art Moderne façade, Carl’s has been dishing up frozen custard – which differs from ice cream in that it contains eggs – since 1947. It’s great for a late-night snack, and because it’s open until 11 p.m., it’s wildly popular with students from the nearby University of Mary Washington.

Some things to know: The custard is soft-serve and comes in three flavors – chocolate, vanilla and strawberry – though shakes and sundaes are also available. Carl’s is a cash-only operation. And be prepared to stand in a very long line, even in bad weather. Yes, it’s that good.

A Journey in Time

This four-day tour of the Virginia Commonwealth is easy to do with just a rental car from the Washington D.C. Advantage location, a map program, and a little bit of planning. From Fredericksburg, the drive back to Dulles International Airport and our modern, busy world is just over an hour away.

Over the course of four days, this journey walks in the footsteps of history, from our nation’s capital to the man behind the Continental Congress and from the earliest settlement days before America even had a name to the dark days of civil war. A living pilgrimage, it connects us to our past, gives context to our tomorrows and offers us all a lot to think about.

When planning your trip, be sure to visit Advantage.com to make your rental car reservations and travel plans ahead of time.

Driving Times:
Washington D. C, to Charlottesville – 2 hours 20 minutes
Charlottesville to Williamsburg – 1 hour 53 minutes
Williamsburg to Jamestown – 18 minutes
Jamestown to Fredericksburg – 1 hour 57 minutes
Fredericksburg to Dulles International Airport – 1 hour 16 minutes
Side trip: Fredericksburg to Culpeper/Brandy Station – 53 minutes

5 Important Tips for Business Road Trip Safety

Author: Guest Blogger Jessica Thiefels

Road tripping is cheaper than flying, especially if you’re going to more than one place. This makes it a popular choice for business trips; the company rents the car and pays for your hotels and gas, and you hit the highway for a few days.

Whether you’re traveling alone or with someone else, it’s important to keep safety in mind on your trip. You want to be prepared for anything, whether you break down in a remote area or no longer have service, but need to access your maps.
Use these tips to make your next business road trip both safe and successful

Share Your Itinerary

If you know where you’ll be and when, which is likely with a pre-planned business trip, then give your itinerary to a good friend or your significant other. Even a loose plan of where you’re going could be valuable in case something happens.

For example, if you’re in an accident, and don’t show up a scheduled meeting, the person with your itinerary can say, “Well, she was driving from Burlington, Vermont to Albany, New York today, so she’s likely somewhere between those two points.”

Don’t forget to check-in with someone regularly as well. This ensures that whoever has your itinerary also knows that you did in fact make it to the second stop, or that you were stuck at the first one for an extra day or two, setting your schedule back a few days.

Bring a Non-Lethal Self Defense Tool

Driving through deserted parts of the U.S., especially at night, can be scary. Without knowing where you are, or anyone that lives nearby, you want to be protected. While an attack of any sort may be unlikely, being prepared ensures you’ll leave the situation safe and sound.

One of the best non-lethal self defense tools is a taser or stun gun, both of which are legal to carry in most states in the U.S. They’re also easy to use and effective: “Your taser gun can immobilize an assailant from up to 15 feet away giving you valuable time to escape the situation and find help,” explain self defense experts from the Home Security Super Store. This makes it a great non-lethal weapon to have on your road trip, allowing you to protect yourself without getting too close or severely injuring anyone else.

Home Security Super Store. This makes it a great non-lethal weapon to have on your road trip, allowing you to protect yourself without getting too close or severely injuring anyone else.

Download Helpful Apps Ahead of Time

There’s an app for nearly everything, and many of them can make your business road trip safer. Here are a few apps to download before leaving for your trip:

  • Gas Buddy – Quickly locate nearby gas stations when you realize you’re almost empty at the last minute.
  • iExit – Know where the nearest restaurant, hospital or store is with this simple app.
  • Me – Get detailed maps, for both highly populated and completely remote areas. They’re accessible offline as well, making this an important app for every road trip warrior.

Be Well-Rested

An estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers report having fallen asleep at the wheel in the last 30 days, according to The CDC. You don’t want to be one of these drivers, injuring yourself or someone else at the same time, but sleeping in unfamiliar places can cause you to get less rest than usual.

In this case, make use of rest stops, where you can take a nap if need-be. This is especially helpful when driving at night. Even if you’re not tired, you may be more likely to doze because it’s dark outside.

Use an app like USA Rest Stop Locator (Android, iOS) to find the nearest napping spot, along with ratings and reviews for each one. When traveling solo, these reviews will be helpful in determining whether a rest stop is safe for you to crash at for a few hours.

Keep Emergency Equipment on Board

Don’t let a bad cut or minor injury send you off course. Be prepared for any potential incident with a simple road trip kit. You can buy them for as little as $20, depending on what you want included. For less than $40, for example, you can get this Top Gear Premium Road Trip Assistance kit, which comes with a reflective safety vest, charged LED flashlight, 34-piece first-aid kit and more.

If you have many of these items at home already, toss them into a bag to make your own emergency kit. Keep it in the trunk or backseat for easier access while driving.

Make your next business road trip as safe as it is successful so you can return ready to take on your next big project.

Author: Guest Blogger Jessica Thiefels

How to Prep for Your First International Business Trip

How to Prep for Your First International Business Trip
While trips around the world can seem glamorous, there’s more than strictly business to think about. Between cultural norms, language barriers and simply arriving at your destination on schedule, the whole experience can seem daunting.

Taking the time to fully prepare for your travels can make all the difference. Use the tips below to make sure your first business trip won’t be your last.

Get Your Documents in Order
The first thing to do before any international business trip is to get a passport. If you’ve already got a passport, check that it hasn’t expired—be sure to research the country’s regulations about passports, as some will not accept passports that expire within six months.

Once you have a valid passport, find out if you need to get a visa and whether or not you should hire security for the duration of your stay. Now is the time to call both your bank and insurance companies to let them know that you’ll be traveling and get any necessary documents from them.

When you’ve gathered everything you need, put all of these documents (and copies of documents) together in a travel folder, so you’re not rushing around on the morning of your flight trying to find everything. Also, keep in mind that electronic copies are good to have on hand, in case you loose the hard copies.

Check Travel Advisories
The easiest way to check for travel advisories is by using the State Department’s website. It can give you a good idea of what to expect when you’re travelling. If you see a travel advisory for the country you’re visiting, don’t panic. Most of the time travel advisories simply tell you that you’ll need a vaccination (try to do this 4-6 weeks before you go).

If there’s an advisory for violence or terrorist attacks, find out exactly where these attacks are happening so you can make the most informed decision about your safety. As always, be aware of your surroundings and always know where the U.S. embassy is for each country.

Roll Don’t Fold

Rolling your clothes instead of neatly folding them is one of the best methods of saving space. The bulkiest items should be kept in the corners of your bag in order to distribute the weight evenly, and then rolled items should be compiled in the middle of your bag. Note that clothing made of synthetic fibers, such as nylon, as less likely to wrinkle than cotton or other natural fabrics.

All rolled items should be at the bottom, while formal wear, cotton button-downs or slacks are arranged neatly on top. Another technique that can be used is bundle wrapping, or packing clothes into one solid bundle that fits snugly into your suitcase. This technique will leave you with the fewest wrinkles and unwanted creases. Find your most versatile shoes and bring just one or two pairs to reduce weight—emptying your bag, or paying a fee when you get to the airport, is not ideal.

Research the Customs of the Country You’re Visiting
Thorough knowledge of the country you’re visiting can make or break a business trip. Especially when visiting for the first time, it’s important to know about the business customs of other countries.

In particular, research greetings, standards of dress, and rules of gratuity and who pays for a meal during a business meeting. In Japan, for example, it’s customary for all businesspeople to dress in dark business suits, whilst in America business-casual would be appropriate for the very same meeting.

It’s also important to learn a few phrases in the language of the country you’re visiting. Use a tool like this Language Map to see which language is most commonly spoken in the country you’re visiting. This ends up serving as a great way to boost your resume and earn the respect of your foreign colleagues as well.

Author: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and has five years of experience in the marketing world. She is currently a lifestyle blogger and has been featured on Ms. Career Girl and LifeHack.org. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.


Check out more blogs from this experienced traveler at See & Savour written by Jennifer Chong

Check out more blogs from this experienced traveler at See & Savour written by Jennifer Chong

Portland had been on “states to visit” list for a long time. It took a couple of tries but thankfully earlier this year I packed my bags for a short weekend trip to Portlandia. It was everything I imagined and provided me with a glimpse of what I can look forward to next time. Here is a breakdown of where we stayed, what we ate and what we saw!

ACE HOTEL | 1022 SW Stark St // Probably one of the most instagramed hotels in Portland, from their photo-booth snapshots to their iconic lobby. Ace is a boutique hotel thoughtfully designed to feel like your cool friends home. I was traveling with two other friends so we decided it would be fun to stay in their triple bunk bed room. It took us all back to our dorm room days. Note that if you decide to get the triple shared room – the bathroom’s are down the hallway and not in the actual room. The Ace is centrally located and great for a short weekend.


PINE STATE BISCUITS | Multiple Locations // Biscuit lovers unit! This place will have all you carb lovers in heaven. The biscuits are giant fluffy but with a little bit of crunch on the outside, they just melt in your mouth. If you’re feeling extra hungry and adventurous try the Reggie Deluxe – a biscuit with fried chicken, egg, bacon & cheese topped with gravy!

COURIER COFFEE ROASTERS| 923 SW Oak Street // Go here and order the canelle – actually make that two cause you’ll want another. Oh their chocolate chip cookie is pretty darn amazing as well.

MAURICE | 921 SW Oak Street // Right next to Courier coffee lies Maurice, a charming cafe/bakery – with only a few tables I’d guess they can seat between 20 to 25 people at most. We enjoyed some light snacks here before dinner though I wished we saved some room for an early dessert. Their dessert display looked magnificent.

FARM SPIRIT | 414 SE Morrison St // A true farm to table restaurant this restaurant serves up a 100% plant based menu. With limited seating – you must make reservations for the multi-course dinner in advance.

LE PIGEON | 738 E Burnside St // According to Bon Appetite – Le Pigeon put Portland on the culinary map. Come here to try a French-inspired cuisine though their burger seemed to be dominating when we were dining here.

We didn’t have enough time to visit all the place’s I wanted to eat but next time I’d love to try Toro Bravo, Tasty and Alder, Tasty and Sons, and Cylde Common.


Where To Shop

There is no shortage of cute and adorable shops in Portland. Specifically in the West End you will find a number of independent shops. My favorites include –

ALDER AND CO | 616 SW 12th Ave // I’ve admired this shop online for many years so it was wonderful to see everything in person. It’s as delightful – full of great home and kitchen goods.

WEST END SELECT SHOP | 927 SW Oak // Women’s shop with unique finds, inspired by the owner’s ‘select shops’ she frequented while living in Japan.

Clash Royale HackClash of Clans HackMy Cafe Recipe Stories HackGolf Clash HackPokemon Duel HackMobile Legends HackSuper Mario Run HackRoblox Robux HackClash Royale Cheat HackYugioh Duel Links Gems and Golds HackStreaming Movie Online 2017

QUIN| 1022 W Burnside St // An artisinal candy shop with caramels and soft candy chews. Their product is top notch without all the artificial colors, waxes, sweeteners and fake flavors. Definitely worth the visit.

Outside of the West End check out…

THICKET | 4933 NE 23rd Ave // A boutique outdoor garden with a beautiful arrangement of plants. They carry an assortment of plant goods as well as vintage items.

SCHOOLHOUSE ELECTRIC | 2181 NW Nicolai // Another shop I’ve admired and even collaborated with in the past. The shop is stand alone but worth the visit to check out. They’ve got a cafe with sandwiches and small bites in the front as well!

Sites To See

Of course, we couldn’t leave without seeing the natural side of Portland. We loved visiting Multonmah Falls, a short drive from the city it was a great escape. Take a short walk/hike from the parking lot to see a beautiful view of the waterfall.

Check out more blogs from this experienced traveler at See & Savour written by Jennifer Chong

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