Shane Hobel: How a Survival Training Getaway Will Change Your Life

We’re continuing our series on personal retreats as a getaway option with purpose.  To many, a typical retreat experience screams yoga, self-help, healthy eating, and spirituality – with mostly females.  Well, we found Shane Hobel, a wilderness survival expert and founder of Mountain Scout Survival School. Shane takes city-slickers out of their comfort zone and teaches them the skills to survive comfortably without the luxuries of our modern world. He’s been featured on Doomsday Preppers, Mansome, WPIX 11, Cablevision, History Channel’s MonsterQuest,The New York Times, The New Yorker, and CNN, as well as prominent regional newspapers and news stations.

WATCH our interview with Shane Hobel, wilderness survival expert

Tell us about Mountain Scout and some survival getaway options for somebody who wants to learn more about surviving outdoors without the modern day conveniences we’re all used to.

Mountain Scout has teaching locations in and around New York City as well in the Hudson Valley. We’re actually the only school that teaches both urban survival, as well as wilderness survival, and we’re the only school allowed to teach in Central Park. We offer the urban programs in NYC, and some of the wilderness and urban programs in Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Westchester, and up here in Putnam, as well as Dutchess counties.

The wilderness survival side is about connecting to our ancestors’ skills, and understanding ones relationship out here in the world. On corporate retreats, private groups and getaways, we give students that fun day or team building day. Everyone’s goal of what they want to achieve at the end of the day is different. It really depends on what they’re looking for, but everybody walks away with a bit of that relationship, of knowing what they can do out here in the vast world.

Think of it this way: what would happen if I took away all the things that are a part of your life: your car, your apartment, the refrigerator, the cable TV,  electronic devices, etc. Take away all these things and what do we have left? You soon realize what’s important in the world and in life. It’s shelter, water, fire, food, tracking, awareness, and movement. This just scratches the surface, but it’s a tremendous experience. Continue reading →

Thanksgiving 2016 adds 1 million more travelers vs. 2015

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

AAA projects that 48.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, an increase of one million travelers compared with last year. This represents a 1.9 percent increase over 2015 and the most Thanksgiving travelers since 2007. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27.

2016-thanksgiving-travel-forecast

According to AAA data, this year’s increase in Thanksgiving travel is spurred by improvements in the economy during the second half of the year, including rising wages, increased consumer spending and overall strength in consumer confidence. And despite recent incremental increases in the national average price of gasoline, AAA estimates U.S. drivers have saved more than $28 billion so far at the pumps this year compared to the same period last year.

“One million more Americans than last year will carve out time to visit with friends and family this Thanksgiving,” AAA President and CEO Marshall Doney said. “Most will travel on the tried and true holiday road trip, thanks to gas prices that are holding at close to $2 per gallon. Others will fly, take the bus or set off on a cruise to celebrate with their loved ones.”

Many travelers will journey west this Thanksgiving
This year’s top destinations for Thanksgiving include many popular west coast cities, as well as perennial family-friendly favorites. The most popular destinations this Thanksgiving, based on AAA.com bookings, are:

  1. Las Vegas, Nevada
  2. San Francisco, California
  3. San Diego, California
  4. Orlando, Florida
  5. New York City, New York
  6. New Orleans, Louisiana
  7. Anaheim, California
  8. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  10. Seattle, Washington

Read the full story here: http://ht.ly/y9y8306rjow

 

Top Six Sunny Post-Election Retreats

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

On November 9th, Canada’s Immigration Website crashed – seemingly overwhelmed with a spike in searches by Americans reacting to Tuesday’s presidential election.  We talked to editor and publisher of Live and Invest Overseas, Kathleen Peddicord, to discuss this topic, as well as her picks for a warmer, sunnier post-election retreat.

WATCH our interview with Kathleen Peddicord, LiveAndInvestOverseas.com

Here are Kathleen’s top six picks: Continue reading →

5 fascinating facts about Tibet

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Contributed by David Castello

tibet

Few countries in the world evoke the mystique of Tibet. Nicknamed the “Roof of the World” (it shares Mount Everest with Nepal), most people simply know it as the former home of the Dalai Lama. For centuries, Tibet heavily restricted outsiders and it wasn’t until 1924 that the first European woman, Belgian–French explorer Alexandra David-Néel, visited the capital, Lhasa. Let’s start with the basics:

1. The Size of Tibet – Many believe that Tibet is a small country like neighboring Nepal or Bhutan. Actually, Tibet is huge. The Traditional Tibet (U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo provinces) is 965,000 square miles. This is over four times larger than France and a whopping 25% of the land mass of China, which is a good reason why the Communist Chinese invaded Tibet on October 6, 1950 only ten months after winning the Chinese Civil War and declaring the People’s Republic of China. Since 1965, China recognizes only the much smaller Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) which comprises U-Tsang and the western area of Kham (474,300 sq. mi). This Tibet is autonomous in name only because it is strictly governed by the Chinese Communist Party. Continue reading →

“Did you know…5 surefire ways to save on holiday travel?”

holiday travel

Aside from merry-making and reconnecting with friends and family, the holidays often signal crushing expenses, especially for travelers.  In a recent Forbes post, Grant Martin offers solid strategies to ease the financial burden for holiday travelers.

“With supply not able to keep up with the increased demand, airlines can raise prices with little ill effect. Compound that with one less legacy carrier [US Airways] in competition and the current atmosphere is ripe for high holiday airfares,” says Richard Kerr, Senior Points and Miles contributor at The Points Guy.

Here are Grant’s five tactics to ensure you’re doing everything possible to minimize your travel costs this holiday season:

1. Book early

2. Monitor the hottest sale fares

3. Use points

4. Use Creative routings

5. Use a low-cost carrier

For the full article and tips on implementing these tactics, click here.

Why Palm Beach County, FL needs a cultural concierge

Known the world over for fabulous beaches, exciting nightlife and upscale living, Palm Beach County, FL, also boasts a tremendous array of cultural attractions. ExpertFlyer goes One-on-One with Bama Lutes Deal, the first cultural concierge, to learn about the finer things in Palm Beach County.

WATCH our video interview with Bama Lutes Deal, cultural concierge.

 

Why did Palm Beach County decide to establish a Cultural Concierge?

Palm Beach County is Florida’s Cultural Capital™, with more cultural venues and events per capita than any destination south of Atlanta.  With so many museums, art galleries, performance halls and other cultural venues, visitors to The Palm Beaches have 42,000 cultural offerings to choose from.  With so much for tourists to experience, the Cultural Council decided to bring in a cultural expert who could curate events and help travelers plan the cultural aspects of their visits to The Palm Beaches. The goal is to showcase our vibrant cultural landscape and help travelers fell more like locals, to help them find authentic local experiences that reflect their own tastes and interests. Continue reading →

Press life’s reset button with a retreat vacation

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In our never-ending quest to seek out new and unique vacation options, we’re kicking off a series on personal enrichment retreat vacations.  While retreats still seem to attract more women than men, you’d be surprised at the niche options that are out there — from the spiritually oriented to wellness and outdoor adventure. In this first segment, we talked to Cierra King, co-founder of Reset Retreat, based in Austin, TX and Belize, to learn some of the life-changing take-aways that her guests experience.

WATCH our interview with Cierra King, co-founder, Reset Retreat

 

Tell us a little about your company, Reset Retreat and how you got started.

We combine personal growth, yoga, and adventure to help guests deepen their relationship with themselves, reset their patterns, break personal boundaries and find purpose. We create the inspirational space, trusting communities, and strategically planned programming that allows guests to maximize their potential and reset their perspective.

We got started because we needed this experience for ourselves! We needed that place to connect with other like-minded and supportive people to help us better our lives. Serendipitously, I met my partners while on vacation and, without even realizing it, created our own “mini retreat.” We saw the effects it quickly had on our personal lives and career. We knew we had to create this for other women. And so two weeks later, we met again and formed Reset Retreat. Continue reading →

What Airlines Won’t Tell You

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

ExpertFlyer co-founder and president, Christ Lopinto, was recently interviewed by FOX News anchor, Ernie Anastos, on little-known facts and tips that the airlines won’t tell you.  Watch the segment and read the Q & A.

 

Ernie Anastos: Listen, we just heard a lot about what the airlines are doing and so forth. You’ve got to be kind of like your own travel agent these days, don’t you? Really, all the details.

Chris Lopinto: Unfortunately, yes. Our motto is information is empowering, and that’s why we like to give as much as possible. Really, with a little bit of research, you can do quite well these days.

EA: Okay, let’s talk about how you get the best seats, because that’s what a lot of people are concerned about. How do you do that?

CL: Absolutely. Unfortunately nowadays, airlines reserve the best seats for their elite customers or those who are willing to pay for them. However, what they don’t tell you is that within about four or five days before departure, the airlines upgrade their best customers into business or first class. That means that a lot of good seats open up in economy class just waiting for someone to grab them.

EA: What do we do?

CL: What we do is we log into the airline website or whatever website you used to buy the ticket from and check the seat map again to see if you can get a better seat assignment within a few days of departure. By that time more economy seats will be available.

EA: A lot of people are concerned about frequent flyer programs. Is there a real payoff with that?

CL: There can be, but you have to be careful. Think of frequent flyer points as money in a bank account. However, unlike a real bank account, you don’t earn interest and the bank can basically devalue that money at any time.

EA: What do we do?

CL: There’s a term in the industry called, “Burn as you earn,” which means don’t save up a lot of frequent flyer miles thinking you’re going to have some big vacation somewhere down the line. If you have enough to use and you can use them, use them now because frequent flyer miles will never be as valuable tomorrow as they are today.

EA: Any other quick suggestions if you’re traveling alone or with other people? Your family and so forth?

CL: Well, one suggestion is that if you’re trying to buy a trip with multiple people, say a family of four. What the airlines do is, they’ll price the ticket for the amount that is the same for everyone. Let’s say there’s one cheap fair available. What they won’t do is they won’t give you one cheap fair then three of the more expensive fairs. In order to figure that out, you price it twice. One at the quantity you want, say four, and one with just one ticket, and if the price per ticket is different, you know that there’s some cheaper fairs available, but just not four. What you do is, you buy a few of the cheaper and then a few of the more expensive and you get an overall lower cost for your trip.

 

4 Air Travel Tips to Survive a Long Flight

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Contributed by Cathy Trainor, Tripping.com

long flight

Congratulations! You’ve done the work on figuring out where to go, getting all the logistics in place, buying your plane tickets, and booking the perfect vacation rental. Now it’s time to fly. Here are four useful air travel tips for your long haul flight across continents. Whether it’s your first long-distance flight or your hundredth, these ideas work for everyone.

Try the No-Jet-Lag Diet

This diet was developed by scientists to help combat the effects of jet lag on the body when you travel across many time zones. The theory is to start preparing your body to reset its internal clock several days before flying by following a special diet. By alternating fasting and feasting meal days, and limiting caffeine intake to certain hours of the day, you will be more alert when you reach your destination.

In our experience, this diet didn’t completely eliminate jet lag, but it helped a lot. You can also try taking some herbal supplements, like no-jet-lag homeopathic pills every few hours during flight and melatonin to help you sleep – but make sure to check with your doctor first.

Drink Lots of Water

Airlines don’t typically offer you more than a glass of water at a time, so buy a big liter-sized bottle after you get through security, and take it with you on the plane. Try to finish at least one of these during the flight, even if it means that you have to get up to go to the bathroom more frequently.

Flight attendants can also help you refill the entire bottle for round two if you ask nicely. Also, if you’re a nervous flier, you might feel inclined to have a glass or two of wine at meal time. Try to skip alcohol if you can, because it will dehydrate you, and try these eight tips for relaxation instead.

Stretch and Walk Around

Don’t worry about looking like a weirdo when you get up to stretch on the flight: it will help you stay comfortable during and after the trip. You can follow these airplane yoga exercises without even getting out of your seat.

Try to get up as much as you possibly can to walk to prevent swelling in your body.

Bring a Toothbrush and Face Wipes

Brushing your teeth before bedtime on the airplane can help you stay fresh, and there is no better feeling than brushing your teeth when you get off the plane and still feel groggy.

Bring face wash and a washcloth, or your favorite face wipes to keep your skin fresh – you’ll be amazed at how much it helps you to stay awake.


Bonus Tip: Take Your Music With You

Here’s a bonus air travel tip: bring your music collection! Rocking out to your favorite songs can make a long flight or road trip fly by (see what I did there?) Unfortunately, you can’t stream music without Wi-Fi and in-flight Wi-Fi can be pricey (if it’s even available). There are new apps available that let you circumvent this inconvenience, like younity.  This app lets you access all of the music from your computer on your mobile phone or tablet, no matter where you are. In order to listen to music on the plane, you can download your music collection for offline use. younity is the go-to travel app you never knew you needed!

 

“Did you know…Reykjavik saw the fastest rise in Google travel search this year?”

google travel searchAccording to a mind-numbing data deep dive from Google and Sojern, this year’s emerging travel hot spots are:

1. Reykjavik
2. Havana
3. Toronto
4. Mexico City
5. Tokyo

Google says they looked across billions of searches to see travelers’ digital journeys to this year’s hot spots and the result: an unprecedented look at the traveler customer journey based on intent signals across online, mobile, and video channels.

Read more: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/travel-trends-2016-data-consumer-insights.html

 

Revolutionary Putnam County, New York

New York-Tri-state area residents are always on the hunt for a “hop, skip and a jump” getaway. Putnam County, NY, is not only a short hour+ drive from Manhattan, it’s also steeped in revolutionary war history and unusual attractions that one might not anticipate.  We asked Frank Smith, director of Tourism for Putnam County, NY, to join us in a One-on-One interview to talk about some of the fun and historical attractions, including super spots for enjoying the fall foliage season.

WATCH our interview with Putnam County Tourism director, Frank Smith

Q: Putnam has caught the attention of “The Fireball Run,” a nationally streamed, internationally televised, adventure travel series. I understand they are making a pitstop in the county.  Tell us about that?

The Fireball Run is in its 10th season of production, and Putnam County could not be happier that we are a pit stop along the journey. Live filming is set to take place on Route 6N in Mahopac on the afternoon of Friday, September 30th and the morning of Saturday, October 1st, in conjunction with the Italian American Club of Mahopac’s Columbus Day Parade, as well as the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce’ annual Mahopac Street Fair.

Q: What are some of the unique and historical attractions that make Putnam County stand out as a draw for day-trippers?

Although small in geographic area, Putnam is filled with history and culture. There are a few “must-see” destinations in this category.

The Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison is a great example of Federal Style architecture, and home to the famed Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival.

There’s Manitoga, the home and studio of Mid-century designer Russel Wright.

The Chuang Yen Buddhist Monastery, home to the Western Hemisphere’s largest Buddha Statute.

The grave and route of Revolutionary War heroine Sybil Ludington.

The Putnam History Museum is home to a West Point Foundry Built Parrot Gun in their newest exhibit, which is walking distance from the Metro North railroad stop in Cold Spring. Continue reading →

A random sampling of NYC hotels showed 1/3 didn’t change sheets between guests

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In an investigation airing on Tuesday, September 13th, “Inside Edition” puts hotels to the test – the program came up with a unique way to find out whether you may be sleeping on dirty sheets – and the results might make you think twice before getting under the covers.

 

The program booked rooms at nine different hotels and each time sprayed a harmless and washable fluorescent paint onto the bed sheet, using a stencil that reads, “I Slept Here.” The paint is invisible to the naked eye – you can only see what’s on the sheets by turning on an ultra-violet light.

At The Candlewood Inn & Suites in Manhattan, “Inside Edition” checked out leaving the dirty sheets with the invisible message. But were the sheets changed? The next day, “Inside Edition” booked the exact same room – but under a different name. When they examined the sheets under the UV light, shockingly, the same message – ‘I Slept Here’ – appeared. The sheets hadn’t been changed between guests.

Read the full story here to learn how management reacted and check your local listings to tune in on Tuesday, September 13th to watch the report.

San Diego — The birthplace of California

As part of our series on historical getaways, we’ve gone West to San Diego!  Most people think La Jolla Cove, the San Diego Zoo or  Balboa Park when they hear San Diego, but the city has a long interesting history and attractions that define it as the Plymouth Rock of the west coast.  We interviewed Robert Arends of the San Diego Tourism Authority, who shares some unique stories and places to visit, particularly if you’re a history buff.

WATCH our interview with Robert Arends, San Diego Tourism Authority

Why is San Diego considered the birthplace of California?

On September 28, 1542 Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese explorer sailing for Spain, anchored his flagship San Salvador on Point Loma near the entrance to San Diego Bay. On this historic day, Cabrillo became the first European to set foot on the West Coast of the United States. And the San Salvador became the first recorded European vessel to sail along California and survey its coastline; sailing north in search of new trade routes. The San Salvador is the ship that discovered San Diego and of the (future) State of California.

San Diego made history again this past Labor Day weekend.  Tell us about the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s maiden voyage celebration of the first full-scale working replica of the San Salvador. Can tourists board the vessel throughout the year?

Designing the San Salvador

Designing the San Salvador

Yes, the Maritime Museum of San Diego hosted a big annual Festival of Sail – the largest Tall Ship festival on the West Coast – over Labor Day weekend and a full-scale working replica of the San Salvador, the “Mayflower of the West” made her public debut as the star attraction. For the first time ever, visitors got to walk her decks, marvel at her rigging and step back into time to the Age of Discovery [15th-18th century] with exhibits on the ship’s historic significance – akin to the Mayflower as the origin symbol ship of New England.

On September 10, the San Salvador will make her inaugural voyage up the California coast for the Pacific Heritage Tour, where visitors can sail aboard one of 3 passenger legs. She will also make ports of call stops in Oxnard, Monterey, and Morro Bay.

Upon its return to San Diego, visitors will be able to board the San Salvador year-round as part of the Maritime Museum’s permanent collection.

What are some other attractions that history buffs will enjoy?

  • Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma, San Diego’s only national park. Features the film “In Search of Cabrillo,” an exhibit hall presenting Cabrillo’s life and times, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, tidepools to explore, a whale watching overlook, an original WWII gun battery and old military radio station exhibit.
  • Juniper Serra Museum on Presidio Hill, marking the spot where a group of Spanish soldiers and Franciscan friars established Mission San Diego de Alcala in 1769, over 225 years AFTER Cabrillo’s discovery of San Diego. This was the first mission in California’s string of 21 famous missions and the state’s first church.
  • Old Town State Historic Park, San Diego’s first downtown which sprang up around Presidio Hill. Features a historic plaza, several adobe buildings and Old West architecture that brings to life San Diego’s Hispanic heritage from the early to late 1800s.
  • Mission San Diego de Alcala, established in 1774. It was relocated from Presidio Hill to nearby Mission Valley so it could be closer to the San Diego River, the region’s primary water source. Features a museum of original artifacts, a chapel, beautiful gardens and an excavation site believed to be part of the monastery.
  • Mission Trails Regional Park, one of the largest urban parks in the U.S. covering 6,800 acres. Features the Old Mission Dam, hiking up Cowles Mountain (the highest peak in City of San Diego at over 1,500 feet), boating and camping, a state-of-the-art visitor center and popular rock climbing at Mission Gorge.

So, when the history lessons are over, where do you recommend tourists visit to relax, unwind and take in some pretty vistas?

San Diego’s 70 miles of beaches, including scenic La Jolla which is pretty as a postcard! And Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, where visitors can enjoy 360-degree views of San Diego. There’s also the iconic 200-foot tall California Tower in Balboa Park, part of the Museum of Man. Interesting bit of trivia: the tower is topped by a San Salvador ship weathervane. I also recommend taking a fun harbor excursion with Flagship or Hornblower to see San Diego Bay and the coastline just as Cabrillo did!

Any upcoming special events, festivals or other attractions coming up this fall?

Cabrillo Festival on Sept, 30-Oct. 1, featuring a re-enactment of Cabrillo’s historic landing on Point Loma at Ballast Point on Naval Base Point Loma. The event is FREE, family friendly and features cultural demonstrations, folk dances, art vendors and food booths bringing to life traditions of local Native Americans (Kumeyaay tribe), Mexican, Portuguese and Spanish cultures.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Myers Valley Inkopah Gorge  20100320

San Salvador Petroglyphs | Photo: (c)Ted Walton

There was a discovery in San Diego’s East County of a petroglyph rock depicting Spanish ships that is believed to be the only remaining first-person documentation of Cabrillo’s arrival in San Diego in 1542 (see attached photos); recorded by the indigenous Kumeyaay tribes of San Diego County who have lived here for more than 12,000 years. The petroglyphs are believed to be the oldest graphic representation of a recorded event in U.S. history.

The Maritime Museum has a replica of this amazing find.

To plan a trip to San Diego and learn more about our fascinating history and attractions, visit SanDiego.org

Exploring Historical West Virginia

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

West Virgina — Mountain momma, take me home, country road…and so goes the famous song by John Denver.  Kathleen Panek, historian for the Shinnston, WV Tourism Center at the Gillum House, says there’s so much to W. Virginia that people don’t know.  For instance, did you know that the state has a massive underground bunker that was built as an emergency shelter during the Cold War to keep congress safe?  It’s located in White Sulphur Springs and can be accessed via the historic Greenbrier hotel — it’s big enough to house more than 1,000 people!

Watch our interview with Kathleen — It you’re a history buff you will be fascinated with the off-the-beaten-path attractions of West Virginia. Our next historical destination is San Diego, the birthplace of California.

Americans waste 1.8 million years worth of vacation time

When it comes to frequent travel, ExpertFlyer subscribers are among the top tier, whether it’s for business or leisure travel.  In fact, a recent survey of more than 1,500 of our Seat Alerts subscribers indicated that 87% of those polled take a minimum of two vacations each year and 28% said they took four or more vacations per year.  Since vacations are worth their weight in stress relief, increased productivity, exposure to beauty, culture and new people – and more, we thought we’d talk to time-off expert, Katie Denis, senior director of Project: Time Off, to see how the rest of the world is using — or not using — their vacation time.

WATCH: ExpertFlyer’s One-on-One Interview with Katie Denis of Project: Time Off

Katie Denis: Generally, most Americans are not taking all their vacation time. 55% of them left time on the table last year to the tune of 658 million unused days. That’s 1.8 million years if you want to break it down. Continue reading →

2nd Annual Summer Travel Survey Reveals Thoughts About Travel Safety, Rewards Programs, and How Airlines Can Keep Customers

Travel experts weigh in on results adding commentary about purchasing habits, security / privacy issues and Facebook’s edge as the preferred way for travelers to share their travel experiences

With families in the thick of planning their summer vacations, ExpertFlyer.com is releasing results from its second annual travel survey. The data reveals, not surprisingly, that the majority (81%) of travelers believe taking a vacation is very important, citing exposure to beauty, culture and new people as the biggest benefit, followed by increased energy, excitement and stress relief.  The survey also discovered that despite vast technological leaps and the convenience of online search and booking, planning a vacation is still a time-consuming proposition with 51% of those polled saying they spend a minimum of 2-3 hours over multiple days hunting down airfare deals and nearly a one-third spending in excess of 4 hours over multiple days. The overwhelming majority (79%) also said they would relinquish some privacy issues to expedite security checkpoints and voiced what they want airlines to do to maintain their loyalty.

WATCH: ExpertFlyer Co-founder and President Chris Lopinto comments on trends emerging from latest survey

ExpertFlyer conducted the survey with more than 1,200* consumer-based travelers subscribing to its free Seat Alerts app to determine their favorite destinations, airlines and award programs, how they pay for travel, and how they communicate with the world while on vacation and more.  The illuminating results are illustrated in the survey’s infographic. Continue reading →