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Holidays

What town is named after this "jolly old elf"?

What town is named after this “jolly old elf”?

I hope you’re all having a wonderful holiday season.

Now, as promised last week, here are the answers to our Merry Christmas Travel Quiz. In case you missed the earlier post and would like to take the quiz, I’m listing the answers at the bottom.

1. Christmas Island was discovered by British Royal Navy Captain William Mynors on December 25, 1643, hence the name. Which ocean would you travel to to spend the holiday season on Christmas Island?

a. The South Pacific

b. The South Atlantic

c. The Indian Ocean

d. The Antarctic Ocean

2. Which U.S. state would you travel to in search of a town named Santa Claus?

a. Indiana

b. Ohio

c. Michigan

d. Illinois

3. Where would you travel to retrace the footsteps of the original St. Nicholas,… Continue reading

While I’m recovering from a hand injury that makes it difficult to type (you may laugh, but it’s true!), I’m reprising our Merry Christmas Travel Quiz from a previous year.

Fortunately, it’s an “evergreen” — meaning it won’t pass its expiration date anytime soon, and which conjures up images of Christmas trees as well.

So good luck, and try to resist googling the answers — I’ll have them in my next post.

What town is named after this "jolly old elf"?

What town is named after this “jolly old elf”?

Christmas is a popular time to travel, especially for baby boomers escaping cold weather (those who live up north) and/or taking advantage of their empty nests (if applicable).  And if you have grandkids you don’t want to part with at Christmastime, you can always take them with you!

One option is to put together a Christmas-themed vacation. But how much do you really know about where to find… Continue reading

The beach at Rocky Point, Mexico. Photo from Visit Rocky Point.

The beach at Rocky Point, Mexico. Photo from Visit Rocky Point.

Today’s guest post, by financial writer Jim McKinley, offers several practical suggestions for business executives on how to avoid stress while taking much needed vacations.

I think some of the same suggestions can be applied to middle managers as well — and even some freelance writers!

As the winter holidays approach and visions of Caribbean or Mexican beaches beckon, here are Jim’s tips for truly getting away from it all (or at least most of it):

By Jim McKinley

Business owners work under a great deal of pressure and consequent stress. Business fortunes can change in the blink of an eye, and a deal you’ve sweated over for months can come to nothing.

Waiting it out can be highly stressful and can overwhelm even the most experienced business professional, considering how much is at stake. Sometimes, getting away from… Continue reading

You may want to eat your turkey at home next year.

You may want to eat your turkey at home next year.

Some 25 million Americans are expected to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday – up seven percent from 2017.

It’s considered the busiest travel season of the year in the U.S.

Last year, more than 153,000 flights departed from U.S. airports between the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and the Monday after.

Airports are busiest on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, making it the worst day to fly if you’re looking to avoid crowds, delays, and disruptions.

The best time to fly to avoid disruptions is between 6 a.m. and noon.

Here are the busiest flight routes: 

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) → San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and reverse

New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA) → Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and reverse

Kahului Airport (OGG) → Honolulu International Airport (HNL) and reverse

New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) →… Continue reading

Fairbanks' Midnight Sun Festival draws big crowds at the Summer Solstice.

Fairbanks’ Midnight Sun Festival draws big crowds at the Summer Solstice.

As a big fan of Alaska travel and someone who’s written about the state a fair amount, I realize I’ve been amiss in not previously mentioning one of the 49th state’s premier events: Summer Solstice in Fairbanks.

Just 140 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the city of Fairbanks is the top spot in Alaska to celebrate the Solstice on June 21. The Solstice is the apex of the Midnight Sun season, which runs there from April 22 through August 20.

During the Solstice, the sun never dips below the horizon and the sky never gets dark.  So on June 21 or thereabouts, Fairbanks residents and visitors can either pull down the blackout shades when it’s time to go to bed or give into reality and just decide to stay up half the night.

Three Sun-Illuminated Events

Thanks… Continue reading

Yu Sheng, the salad that Malaysian Chinese toss to ensure prosperity for the coming year. Photo by Jade Chan.

Yu Sheng, the salad that Malaysian Chinese toss to ensure prosperity for the coming year. Photo by Jade Chan.

Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival), starts on February 16 this year and continues for 15 days.

It’s the most important festival time of the year in China — when millions of Chinese travel to their home villages and cities to be with family or friends for holiday reunions.

This is the Year of the Dog, which is one of the 12 rotating Chinese Zodiac signs.

Those born in the Year of the Dog are thought to be loyal, industrious, and courageous.

Chinese New Year is now celebrated by parades featuring dragon and lion dances and fireworks, family gatherings and feasts, and, on the 15th and final day, a Lantern Festival featuring illuminated red lanterns.

According to legend, Chinese New Year traditions stem from thousands of years ago… Continue reading

A mess o' crawfish.

A mess o’ crawfish.

Mardi Gras — Fat Tuesday — falls on February 13 this year, and is celebrated in America most notably in Louisiana.

In my limited Mardi Gras experience, I’ve noticed that Louisianans like to dance to Cajun music, dress up and ride in Mardi Gras parades, catch beads, drink copious amounts of liquid refreshments, and eat crawfish.

I love seafood, but when I was presented with a heaping platter of boiled crawfish in Lake Charles, Louisiana, a few Mardi Gras celebrations ago, I was a little intimidated.

While crawfish look like little lobsters, they’re way too small to crack in the same way. So how do you eat them without making a fool of yourself in front of the locals?

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what I was taught by a local expert (and it works!):

1. Pick up one fully boiled crawfish.… Continue reading

Times Square on New Years' Eve -- I'll be watching at home

Times Square on New Years’ Eve — I’ll be watching at home

The one time I don’t like to travel during the year is between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Theoretically, it’s the week when I clean up my office, get my affairs in order, and enjoy more time with family and friends. Oh yes, and watch some football, especially my beloved Michigan Wolverines, who often play in a bowl game on the morning of January 1 so I have to be abstemious the night before.  Go Blue!

In practice, it doesn’t always work out that way, but I still prefer spending New Year’s Eve at home with my wife, Netflix, and clam dip, unless we’re invited to a small party with nearby friends or family. I lived in New York for 20 years and never made it to Times Square to see the ball drop — not on… Continue reading

I love Chicago -- in summer. Photo by Clark Norton

I love Chicago — in summer. Photo by Clark Norton

Did you know that Chicago, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh are the best places to celebrate Christmas in America?

And I’m sorry to have to tell you this, residents of Hialeah, Florida, but you finished dead last for Christmas cheer in a survey of the 100 biggest U.S. cities, conducted by the financial site Wallethub.

You Hialeahans might as well stoke up the coal furnace right now, because all you’ll get in your stockings are lumps of the sooty stuff.

But back to the merry cities of Chicago, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh, followed close behind by New York City and Seattle, all dubbed tops for Christmas joy — and affordability, although some might question the latter.

Orlando, Atlanta, Washington, DC, Las Vegas (NV), and Portland (OR) rounded out the top ten.

How These Results Were Determined

Wallethub surveyed “29 key… Continue reading

Despite Disney's best efforts, Davy Crockett did not invent Thanksgiving.

Despite Disney’s best efforts, Davy Crockett did not invent Thanksgiving.

Here are the answers to the Thanksgiving Holiday Quiz in my most recent post.  Let me know how you did!

1..Which historical figure is most identified with Thanksgiving in America?

a. The Earl of Cranberry

b. Davy Crockett

c. The Sultan of Turkey

d. Governor William Bradford

Answer: D — Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony, who is said to have declared the colony’s first Thanksgiving feast in 1621.

 

2. Who  invented the green bean casserole, and when?

Dorcas Reilly's recipe has sold countless cans of mushroom soup.

Dorcas Reilly’s recipe has sold countless cans of mushroom soup.

a. Betty Crocker in 1949

b. Dorcas Reilly in 1955

c.  Fanny Farmer in 1930

d. Julia Child in 1963

Answer: B — Dorcas Reilly in 1955. Reilly was a product developer for the Campbell Soup Company, where she came up with the idea for green… Continue reading

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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