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Airmail in the Early Days

All over the USA, Seventy foot concrete arrows can be found in remote locations. Follow them, and they’ll point you out of the desert.

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They come courtesy of the US Postal Service’s Air Force and will point you all the way across the continental United States.

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They were constructed in 1924 to guide postal planes in the right direction as they carried mail from coast to coast.

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These old planes couldn’t rely on radio as much at the time, so they used these arrows, along with beacon towers, to navigate.
 
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The arrows and beacons bisect the United States
from San Francisco to New York City.
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The towers were 50 feet tall and fixed with gas lights
that could be seen from 10 miles away, in order to help
lost pilots find their way.
 
 
This is a model of the arrows and towers in their heyday.
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World War II brought new advances in radio technology effectively making the towers and arrows system obsolete. The towers were mostly dismantled.

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There has been an effort to restore and preserve some of them, however. Like this one in New Mexico complete with its generator shack.

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This is a pretty cool piece of history, even if it was short lived. To think of those early postal pilots navigating like this from coast to coast is mind blowing.

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Flight Visualization over Europe Video

This data visualization was created from real flight data. It shows the air traffic which flies on a typical summer day and highlights the intensity of the operation in Europe - an operation which runs 24x7x365.
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New Orleans Summertime Blues? Try These Vacation Destinations

Summertime is full of barbecues, shorts and river walks. New Orleans is an exciting city this time of year. Everyone seems to have summer fever and is out and about. The only problem is that hot, sticky New Orleans summer weather! You might enjoy this year’s steamy months a little better if you took a break. A cost-conscious, fun-filled vacation is just the ticket if you want a month, week or even a long weekend away from The Big Easy.

The Everglades


Enjoy fishing, boating, hiking, eating and drinking in one of the most unique locations. Stay in Florida City’s Everglades International Hostel and enjoy breezy accommodations at great rates: dorm beds are $28 per person, and a group of six can book a private room with bathroom for $168, according to evergladeshostel.com. They can set you up with tours for any time of day. Prepare to share space with gators the size of tanks and heavy-artillery mosquitoes … it’s all part of the fun!

Everglades

Photo by Bogeskov via Flickr

Europe


Although it might seem like an ambitious goal, seeing 10 or even 20 countries in a summer is completely doable, as long as you know where the deals are. A Eurail pass for up to 3 months starts at $494, according to eurail.com. Save by staying in hostels and eating cheaply at markets and street stalls instead of restaurants. One of the best sites to check the cheapest flight deals is Skyscanner.com. Round-trip flights from New Orleans to the U.K. start around $1300.

Eiffel Tower

Photo by Terrazzo via Flickr

Charlotte, North Carolina


So you can’t be Katniss Everdeen, but you can at least travel to the state where much of "The Hunger Games" was filmed. Take a day trip to the ghost town of Henry River, where several District 12 scenes were set or catch a show at the Knight Theater, also a filming location, according to romanticasheville.com. Looking for adrenaline boosters? Check out the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Photo by James Willamor via Flickr

Carnival Dream Cruise


Set sail on the high seas with a cruise through Carnival Dream. Their all-inclusive packages include 24-hour room service and multiple dining options, among them a coffee bar, steakhouse, chef’s table and tasting bar. Entertainment doesn’t lack, either. Packages come with a comedy brunch, access to the art gallery, “dive-in” movies, concerts and an Internet café. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t forget the candy shop. And when you’re done there, head to a yoga or Pilates classes to work off the extra calories before hitting the pool. Depending on your room choice, cruises can cost as little as $40 per night, according to carnival.com. There are cruises departing from the Port of New Orleans year-round.

Carnival Cruise

Photo by El coleccionista de instantes

A quick word of advice: When traveling a lot, protect your identity with security measures while dealing with money or personal information. According to Lifelock, in 2011 there were more than 11 million victims of identity fraud. According to usa.gov, must-dos include keeping receipts or tearing them up, shielding your PIN with your hand while at ATMS and storing personal information in a safe place.
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Packing List For Your Next Trip

Hi everyone,

I came across this great packing list that you can use to help you get ready for your next trip. Click here to download the packing list.
packing_list
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Small Town USA Day Trippin' Itinerary

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When planning your next vacation, thoughts of New York City or Los Angeles often jump to the top of the list. While these large cities are popular destinations, visiting a small town often provides a better vacation experience. America’s small towns are its treasures, offering more affordable prices and unique experiences lacking in many bigger cities. Head off of the beaten tourist track to find charming small towns with plenty of sites to see.

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin (Wisconsin Dells Hotels)

At first glance, Wisconsin might not seem like the most obvious state for a water park mecca. However, Wisconsin Dells (population 2,678) draws millions of tourists each year to its world-class resorts. Dells.com reports that Wisconsin Dells offers a variety of adventurous activities, including zip lines, fishing, spelunking, or jet skiing. One of the primary attractions in the town is Noah’s Ark, the largest water park in the United States. Although summer is peak season, off-peak visitors often find lower prices and can enjoy the Kalahari Resort, one of the largest indoor water parks in America.

Taos, New Mexico (Taos Hotels)

Anyone interested in early American history or different cultures is sure to enjoy Taos, New Mexico. The town of 5,716 is located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in north-central New Mexico, providing stunning natural beauty. One of the main attractions is the Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States, reports Taos.org. Taos is an excellent place to learn more about the culture and customs of Native Americans in the Southwest. While you would think the desert would be sweltering in the summer months, the 7,000-foot elevation of Taos keeps it a cooler, pleasant place to visit year-round.

Camden, Maine (Camden Hotels)

If the sea is calling you, Camden, Maine, is the perfect destination. With just 4,850 year-round residents, Camden offers classic maritime charm. Many visitors come to Camden to stroll its beautiful streets, enjoy local art galleries and spend time sailing, according to Lonely Planet. Its close proximity to a state park provides opportunities to hike and camp. Prices rise in the summer months as visitors flock to Midcoast Maine. Visiting in the spring or autumn months brings gorgeous weather, fewer crowds, and more affordable prices.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming (Jackson Hole Hotels)

Many tourists pass through Jackson Hole, Wyoming, without spending time to take in its natural beauty. The town of 8,647 is found in west-central Wyoming near the Idaho border. In addition to being a natural jumping-off point to visit Grand Teton or Yellowstone National Parks, Jackson Hole is a tourist destination in its own right. The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce recommends staying in a mountain lodge to enjoy white-water rafting, hiking, and world-class skiing.

Gulf Shores, Alabama (Gulf Shores Hotels)

If a beach getaway is your idea of a relaxation vacation, Gulf Shores, Alabama, is a fantastic option. Home to about 5,000 people, Gulf Shores offers some of the best quality public beaches in the United States, reports GulfShoresAL.gov. With recent tourism disruptions due to hurricanes and the BP oil spill in 2010, look for discounted prices at local resorts.

No matter what your idea of the perfect vacation, small town America is prepared to deliver. Although smaller towns may lack hot nightclubs or five-star restaurants, the smaller crowds and relaxed pace make them excellent choices for your next getaway.
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Tips on Hiring Taxis at Airports

After a long and tiring flight, the last thing you want to worry about is the possibility of being defrauded by greedy, illegal and unscrupulous taxi drivers. Airports in unfamiliar countries are often vast and confusing places, even for seasoned travelers. It's wise to learn as much about the value of the currency as possible, so look online to check the latest exchange rates and try to become familiar with the terminology. Looking after your spending money will obviously be one of your main priorities as a traveller, after securing your most affordable airfare, and sourcing the best possible accommodation for your money.


Groups of persistently hustling taxi drivers are to be found at all busy places, even at the world's best airports and the most secured ones. It's a good idea to avoid them at all costs, for your personal safety. Ask airport officials for location of the main taxi ranks. At Miami, for example, official advice is to find a taxi cab that is clearly marked with the words "taxi" or "taxicab" prominently displayed on both sides of the vehicle. The licence number must also be clearly visible in at least six locations within the car, as should the driver's identification documents. This advice is valid for taxis in most cities, in the west.


Knowledge is power. It's a good idea to prepare for the trip by reading accounts on popular travel websites, where other people review and write about their experiences. They can provide you with a wealth of useful information, such as how much to expect to pay for your journey. Most taxi firms are metered, although sometimes it can be a good idea to agree a flat rate at the start of your journey if it is some distance. Make sure you have plenty of cash in the local currency as your driver will find it annoying if you don't have any, and you will find it stressful. Be polite and don't forget to give a tip if you think he or she has done a good job. How much will depend on the location, but between five and ten percent should be adequate. Lastly, relax and enjoy your stay!
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Global Humanitarian Experiences for Philanthropic Travelers

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As long as you have a spirit to serve and passion for volunteering, you have what it takes to be a humanitarian.



"Whether you're an accomplished physician, a student in nursing school, or someone with zero medical training, there are plenty of organizations (religious and otherwise) looking for volunteers," explains the travel blog of HCCMIS. You can help treat and improve the living conditions of third-world nations by learning more about the following organizations and embarking on the trip of a lifetime. 



Project Hope



Medical volunteers for HOPE participate in ship-based care in partnership with the U.S. Navy. HOPE volunteers also participate in land-based projects that provide medical assistance to needy people worldwide, including major disaster relief efforts. In 2004, volunteers helped mitigate the Tsunami devastation in Southeast Asia. HOPE volunteers provided aid to Katrina victims in Gulf States during 2005. Five years later, HOPE relief workers assisted Haitian earthquake victims.



Volunteers in Latin America, West Africa and Oceania also participated in health education and humanitarian assistance missions. The goal: remediate disasters and improve the quality of life for people throughout the globe by executing educational and health care services.



Embark of any of the current HOPE opportunities: 




  • Nurse Educators (Shanghai): Qualified graduate-level nurses will teach undergraduate nursing students.




  • Physical & Occupational Therapists (Haiti): Volunteers will train and mentor local techs specializing in PT and OT.

     


  • Physician Faculty and ESL Teachers (Shanghai): Qualified recruits will teach students about basic medicine, physical sciences and comprehensive English.

     


  • Various Volunteers (South Africa): Recruits will carry out the HOPE Centre chronic disease project.

     


  • Health of Women and Children Program (Dominican Republic): Team of diverse volunteers will promote global health program.

     


  • Physician Specialists (Haiti): Physician Specialists will assist with Hôpital Albert Schweitzer and the health system. 



Global Crossroad: Nepal & Other Destinations



The Himalayan country of Nepal suffers from severe poverty and sickness. Global Crossroad offers life-changing Nepali experiences for volunteers who want to embark on an adventure as well as help heal the sick or make a difference in an orphanage.



Nepal volunteer programs include:




  • Teaching English to Buddhist Monks


  • Working in an orphanage


  • Volunteering in nature conservation or medical/health care


  • Becoming a photojournalist


  • Impacting the lives of underprivileged children through Mini-Venture Nepal programs 


  • Discovering the beauty of Nepal through Summer Escapes program, including community work   



Volunteers will participate in a language and cultural immersion orientation program in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu. During two phases, you'll learn about the county's history and the negative wear-and-tear effects of the modern world. Volunteers become submerged in Nepali culture and way of life for a more rewarding experience. 



Fees include meal plans and accommodations for projects and traveling. You'll receive three meals a day full of local ingredients and traditional cuisine. GlobalCrossroad.com also explains that international volunteers will stay in a permanent residence called a "home base, either with a host family or in a project hostel." 



Individuals with a passion for traveling, new experiences and humanitarian service can also venture to an array of worldwide destinations through Global Crossroad services. Help disadvantaged and at-risk children in Argentina. Care for individuals in Kenya who are infected with HIV/AIDS. Support Thailand locals as they strive to achieve economic opportunity by generating projects, such as a fish farm and animal husbandry. Other countries include Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Uganda and more.

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Basic Preparations for International Business Travel

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Traveling abroad for business can be beneficial, productive and exciting for your company. It can produce new business and networking opportunities, but it can also be hard on you. Especially if you are a business-travel novice.


Stay Connected
One of your most important considerations, especially for international business travel, is staying connected— to your office, to your contacts overseas and to anyone in the States who you rely on to conduct business. Start by managing your technology to preserve your ability to communicate en route: put your laptop, tablet, digital camera and anything else electronic in your carry-on luggage, rather than in your checked luggage. To make sure you have access to smartphone technology while traveling abroad, your best bet will be Internet-based solutions, which depend on data instead of cell technology. Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VOIP) applications like Skype let you make free calls to other users of these apps and very inexpensive calls to land lines and mobile phones— anywhere in the world. For text messaging, use free services like Google Voice.

Send Things Ahead
Sending materials ahead of time if you’ll be presenting at a conference may be a necessity or simply a convenience. Either way, one of the most important steps in the shipping process is international address verification. The last thing you want to worry about is undelivered mail.

Take Care of You
Jetlag is a common problem for business travelers. Drink plenty of water in the days before your trip, and cut back on alcohol and caffeine. If you’re going to a destination that requires more than 12 hours of air travel, stopping in a city en route for a night or a few hours or arriving early at your destination can help to break up your trip and allow your body to adjust to the time differences. Try to sleep and eat according to your new time zone, not the one you’re coming from.

Protection
To protect your data, files and presentation materials while traveling, Microsoft recommends these precautions:
  • Don’t carry your laptop in a designated computer bag— it’s a dead giveaway that you’re carrying a laptop. Instead, consider a suitcase or a padded briefcase.
  • Create strong passwords with capital letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t carry them anywhere near your laptop.
  • Encrypt your files.
  • Use a screen guard to make it difficult or impossible for anyone to see what you’re looking at on your computer.

Acclimate
Familiarize yourself of common cultural practices through books and videos before your trip. Take note of idioms (whether or not you speak the language of the country) and customs. You can even pass the time on the plane by reading up on the culture of your destination. If you can do this, you and the people you meet will all feel much more relaxed.
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5 Family-Friendly Summer Vacation Destinations

If you were to ask your family of five where they want to spend their summer vacation, you'd probably end up with five different locations. Together as you decide where to go next here are five more ideas to add to the list:

Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah


Just 25 miles outside of Salt Lake City, Little Cottonwood Canyon boasts excellent hiking, biking, picnicking, fishing, climbing and more. The two resorts in the canyon, Alta and Snowbird, offer numerous summer activities for families, including camps and hikes, zip lines and horseback riding. Camp Snowbird, open for kids ages 4-12, hosts nature hikes and science experiments. Not to leave mom and dad out, there's also a variety of restaurants, shopping and festivals to choose from.

Tip: When packing, put each of your children's outfits — including socks, underwear and bows — in a plastic bag before tucking them into your suitcase. This makes it easier to get dressed in the morning without losing anything or unpacking the whole bag.

Cruise to Alaska (view Alaskan Cruises)


Instead of worrying about flights, hotels, car rentals and dinner reservations, book a cruise instead. Many ships cater to children, with miniature golf courses, water slides, clubs for the kids and entertainment. While you can cruise pretty much anywhere, we chose Alaska because what kid wouldn't want to have a close encounter with a humpback whale or watch other sea animals bob in and out of the ship's wake?

Tip: Though several cruise lines are making Wi-Fi hotspots more available to patrons, logging on while you're at sea is still pretty expensive. If you want to check in at home or the office, wait until you disembark and visit an Internet cafe instead.

San Diego, California (view San Diego Hotels)


With enough sandy beaches to keep your kids occupied for hours, San Diego is a beautiful summer destination. Museum hop at Balboa Park, then visit the thousands of animals at the famous San Diego Zoo. Build a campfire on one of the county's several bonfire-friendly beaches, then enjoy dinner and a walk through The Gaslamp Quarter, known as the historic heart of San Diego.

Tip: Before you leave, ask a neighbor to collect your mail and a friend to watch your home. Consider investing in a security system that you can access remotely, such as LifeShield.com alarm systems. These provide a smartphone app that allows you to view security cameras and arm or disarm alarms.

Las Vegas, Nevada (view Las Vegas Hotels)


You might not think of Vegas as a kid-friendly destination, but there are plenty of places in and around Sin City to enjoy the whole family. Visit Discovery Children's Museum and walk through the nine themed exhibition halls then head to Circus Circus for roller coasters, 3-D videos and other carnival thrills. Spend an afternoon hiking across the trails of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, but be sure to make it back to the strip by nightfall to watch the Bellagio water show.

Tip: The fountain show runs regularly between 3 p.m. and midnight on weekdays and noon to midnight on weekends, according to Bellagio.com.

Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida (view Walt Disney World Area Hotels)


Of course in a list of family-friendly vacations, we can't leave out Disney. There's something for everyone at the resort, including four theme parks and two water parks.

Tip: If you have small children, use the parent swap. It allows parties of two or more to experience the attraction while one adult waits with the child. Then you can "swap" to enable the other adult to enjoy the attraction without the wait. Just ask the cast member working at the entrance of the attraction for a rider switch.
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Cruising 101: The Caribbean

Venturing to far-off places, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, extraordinary cuisine and first-class treatment is what cruising is all about. You've researched and found amazing Caribbean cruises, but now what? Taking a cruise is definitely not a last-minute vacation. You need the proper paperwork, current passports and up-to-date vaccinations, depending on your location. Below are things to consider before exploring the sights and culture of the Caribbean:

Passport


Your cruise can be denied for the simplest of reasons, like misplacing your passport. Your passport can't need to be renewed in less than six months. A valid passport is essential when traveling so if it needs to be renewed, do it now.

Visa


Visas are required, depending on your location. This generally doesn't include the Caribbean but does in Europe, Central and South Americas.

Sea Travel


For voyages that begin and end in the same U.S. Port, U.S. citizens may travel with both a Government-issued birth certificate and Government-issued picture ID card, preferably your driver's license.



Luggage Tags


Make sure every piece of your luggage (including carry-on and purses) have luggage tags. That way it will be very clear which ship you're sailing on, the dates you're going and the stateroom you're occupying. With easy-to-read luggage tags you decrease the change your luggage will be lost or stolen. When checking in to your first port, generally there will be a porter to take your luggage and an attendee to give you luggage tags and tell you your stateroom number.

Documentation


Make sure the name on the cruise reservation is exactly as it is stated on the passport or other citizenship document. If your name has changed for any reason, it is required that the documentation be updated with the new name. If you do not, you could run into delay or possible denial of boarding.

Vaccinations


Be up-to-date on all your vaccines, especially when traveling out of the country. If you think you might be due for a vaccine, contact your doctor's office of your cruise line on recommendations.

Special Health Concerns


If you or anyone you know is traveling with disabilities, you need to notify the cruise line so proper measures can be taken. Services that require advanced notice include raised toilet seat, large print material, shower stool, service animal relief area, oxygen and dialysis supply and medical refrigerator.

Payments


Payment for your cruise should be made during your booking process online and sent to your travel agent or cruise line. Final payment is due 75 days prior to sailing for standard and holiday departures and other select departures require final payment 90 days prior to sailing date, according to celebritycruises.com.
Guests who do not bring the proper documentation with them may be prevented from boarding their flight or ship or from disembarking or entering a country and may be subject to fines and will not be reimbursed any amount of money. So before you book those Celebrity Caribbean cruises, make sure you have all the required documentation.
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