You've Got to Spend Money to Make Money

September 30 2009 by Chris McGinnis

face-to-face-business-wr.jpgIf you think you're doing your company a favor by taking fewer business trips, you might want to think again. Evidence is emerging that you could actually be doing it harm.

U.S. companies could miss out on nearly $200 billion in profits this year because they have cut back on business travel too much, according to a recent study by IHS Global Insight.

Another study by Oxford Economics found that companies bring in about $12.50 in revenue and $3.80 in profit for every $1 spent on business travel. The research firm said that if a business cut out all travel, it would forfeit 17 percent of its profits in the first year, and those profits would likely not return for three years after business travel resumes.

I've always had the feeling that traveling and meeting face to face was crucial to my business, but this is the first time I've ever had that feeling quantified.

Here's an example of how this study applies to my own business travel...see if you can apply it to yours.

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Hiking with Your Dog

September 28 2009 by Cesar Millan
Comments (2)

hikingwithdog.jpgThis is one of the greatest experiences for human and dog alike, as you set out together, just like your ancestors did when dogs were first domesticated and came along on the hunt. It's a great bonding exercise, and it's a way for you to establish yourself as the leader of the pack (even if that pack consists of just one dog). The problem: a lot of national and state parks don't allow dogs. The good news: there are plenty of other open spaces around the country where the two of you can leave the car behind, take to the trail and explore your world.

Before you take a hike, there are a few precautions you should take:

  • Attach license, ID (with your cell phone number) and rabies tag to your dog's collar.
  • Make sure your dog's vaccinations are up to date.
  • Trim his nails.
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Taking a Car Trip?

September 28 2009 by Cesar Millan

Cesar_issue#1-cover.jpgSome dogs take naturally to car travel; they're the ones you see with their noses out the window, reveling in the ever-changing sights and smells. Others, however, may need a little coaxing, especially if their car trips always end up at the vet's office. So, start out with short daily rides. Take her someplace nice, let her run around and have fun. Gradually increase the length of the rides. Once your dog is comfortable in the car, you're ready to hit the road:

  • Before the drive, take your dog for a good long walk.
  • Don't feed her within three hours of the car trip; that minimizes the danger of car sickness.
  • Bring drinking water; she'll need some whenever you make a stop.

Arrived at your destination? Now's the time to feed her.

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Niagara Grape and Wine Festival

September 25 2009 by Bryson Forbes

WineandGrape.jpgIt's that time of year again where the Niagara region welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors to celebrate this year's wine harvest. The festival has been happening annually dating back to the 1950's and has been, like their award winning wine region, growing every year by leaps and bounds.

As a Brock University alumni (located in St. Catharines), I can attest to the celebratory atmosphere that engulfs the area, as hundreds of activities and events are put on over the 10 day festival. Residents and visitors are entertained, fed, and of course, able to sample an array of award-winning wines.

The Niagara region now boasts 29 wineries, all of which can be toured - check out a complete list here http://www.niagarawinefestival.com/page/winefest_wineries.
The marquee event is the parade that takes place this Saturday, September 26th in St. Catharines. More than 200,000 people are expected and the theme this year is "Embrace your Olympic Spirit".

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So Go Ahead - Dream

September 25 2009 by Sam Lowe

mont-saint-michel-wr.jpgMany years ago, probably even longer ago than that, I read a magazine article about a rich man who visited every country in the world. He owned a jet airplane so he made it to the 300-plus nations in existence at the time in less than a year. Inspired by his success and already bitten by the travel bug, I vowed to do likewise. Alas, economics and reality set in so I'm still more than 260 nations short of reaching that goal.

Even worse, as I grow older, I sense that my time is running out. But, rather than give up entirely, I compile lists of places I want to go and things I want to do before ... well, you know.

Mont St. Michel on the north coast of France tops my gotta-see list. I can hardly wait to climb to the top of the towering church and watch the tides go in an out. Then, it would be off to Petra, the ancient city in Jordan. I eagerly look forward to entering the narrow passage leading into the ancient buildings that were carved into sandstone centuries ago.

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Families Traveled Long and Far this Summer (or at Least Longer and Farther than Predicted)

September 24 2009 by Amy Graff

1983-Vacation_family-vacation-wr.jpgThis past summer, the media was convinced that families would stick to short, close-to-home vacations. "Weekend getaways" is the term journalists often used. But the results of Trekaroo's 2009 summer travel survey found that many moms and dads were taking off with the kids for more than five days. And while California and Florida were the top two favorite vacation spots, international destinations came in at No. 3. Canada was particularly popular with the family crowd.

Here's a summary of the survey results from Trekaroo, a Web site that's dedicated to all things related to family travel.

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Fall Arts Festivals

September 24 2009 by Mike Mason

Fall Festival.jpgAutumn is a great time for art festivals. Yes, I know, summer is when most big festivals are staged. But that is what makes visiting festivals in the fall all the better. Festivals in the fall tend to have fewer crowds, a more laid back atmosphere and usually the weather is more agreeable. And yes, big festivals designed to attract summer vacationers happen in the summer, but fall is a great time to discover more local festivals going on in your town or a town near you. There is no shortage of festivals going in the fall from fine art, arts and crafts, performance, food and more. Attending a local arts festival is also a great idea for a stay-cation--a relatively inexpensive and quick weekend getaway.

Local arts festivals are also a great way to support your local economies. And if you sense that the economy has been tough on businesses, artists and arts organizations are really feeling it. Here are a few fall arts festivals going on around the country.

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Good Value, Good Sleep at the Airport

September 23 2009 by Chris McGinnis

READ THE TEXT VERSION OF THE VIDEO:
Last week was a whirlwind of international business travel for me, from here in San Francisco to London and back in four short days.

While that sort of itinerary may sound far-flung, highbrow and jet setting, I had the chance to stay over at a Best Western, which kept me grounded and my perspective in check.

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Homecoming Hoopla

September 23 2009 by Mike Mason

homecoming-game-wr.jpgFor those that follow a sports calendar (versus a regular 12 month calendar) you certainly know that we have entered into a special time of year. No, not back to school. No, not the fall harvest. College football has started and is in full swing. For those that have their happiness linked to the ups and downs of rooting for a college football team over the next few months, it can be a great and not so great time. But for many it is also time to start planning a return trip to the alma mater for homecoming.

There is a debate about who started the homecoming tradition. Three universities make claims for initiating the ritual that is now followed in universities, colleges and high schools across the US. The University of Missouri and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign both claim to have started the tradition as far back as 1910 and Baylor University is credited with first attaching the football game activity to the festivities. Though it is fair to say some universities claim homecoming activities back into the late 1800's.

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Tennessee, Day Five: Chattanooga to Knoxville and Home Again

September 22 2009 by Jason Fogelson

7TN.tail-of-the-dragon-wr.jpgToday is going to be a real motorcycling day. We're going to ride the Tail of the Dragon .

The Tail of the Dragon is one of the most famous motorcycling roads in the United States, and has become a real destination ride for people from all over the world. The main reason is its layout: 318 curves in 11 miles of smooth blacktop, winding through beautiful tree-lined hills in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Officially known as US 129, the Tail of the Dragon is a lovely, challenging road that emits a siren call to bikers the world over.

A word of warning about the Tail of the Dragon: Any road this famous will attract its share of idiots, morons who forget that they are on a public road with other traffic. A search of YouTube will reveal a myriad of moronic behavior, hooliganism and wrecks that could easily be avoided with a touch of common sense. I wouldn't ride the road on a busy weekend - it wouldn't be any fun. The key to enjoying a safe ride on the Tail of the Dragon, as with any ride, is to ride safely, ride within your limits and respect the rules of the road. 'Nuff said.

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Tennessee, Day Four: Lawrenceburg to Chattanooga

September 21 2009 by Jason Fogelson

6TN.jackdaniels-wr.jpgThe skies are threatening as we eat our breakfast in the solarium at the Best Western Villa Inn. Looks like this could be the day that we have to break out the rain gear.

As we saddle up on Melvis, a guy waves us down, running across the parking lot. I flip open my visor.

"Ya'all been in weather before? Because we're about to get some weather."

I thank the guy for his concern, and assure him that we've been in weather before. Because we have ridden through some real gully washers in our time, and we actually kind of enjoy it.

"Ride safe, now."

Looking at the sky, I figure that if we head out now, we can avoid the weather and stay dry. The front seems to be moving from north to south, and we're going east. So we ride off, knowing that our rain gear is easily accessible should we need it.

History is all around as we ride. In place and street names, we see reminders of David Crockett, Tennessee pioneer and statesman, revered throughout the state.

We ride toward living history in Lynchburg, a tiny town in the center of Moore County. Since 1866, the principal industry in Lynchburg has been the making of Tennessee Whiskey at the Jack Daniel's Distillery . They've been doing it there (with a short interruption for Prohibition) the same way Jack Daniel started, with the same water source and the same recipe for nearly a century and a half. Tours of the Distillery are free, and take about an hour. Our tour guide, Billy, is a squat man with a big grey beard spreading over the front of his overalls. He looks a little bit like a troll, and he's got a sharp sense of humor. He gives a great tour, rife with company history, lore and insight, along with a real passion for the product. There are no samples on this factory tour - good thing, too, because we've still got riding to do.

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Time to Start Thinking About Holiday Travel?

September 21 2009 by Bryson Forbes

holidays-in-quebec-wr.jpgWith Labour Day behind us now and the kids all back in school, you should start thinking about your travel plans for holiday break. I know it seems ridiculously early, but I am recommending people make their plans now. Here's why:

  • If you want to travel when everyone else does then you are going to have to act early, pay more, or compromise on exactly what you want to do. I am all for acting early above the other two options.
  • Last November things really started to get ugly in Canada (and everywhere, for that matter). Investments started to drop and job security became very uncertain for a number of people. I know a lot of people put travel plans on hold. This year, although things are not perfect, people in general are feeling much better and have more certainty financially. That means more people on the road and less supply for last minute travellers.
  • In addition, our summer in Canada was terrible. With the exception of two weeks in August, some would argue that we transitioned from spring right to fall. This coupled with no trips last winter will create a surge in demand this year.
  • Although travel companies hope I am right, they are not leaving it to chance. Early booking bonuses, loyalty point bonuses and other incentives are in full swing. These will begin to taper off if the demand is there.
  • The last reason is less practical and more emotional, but I love having something to look forward to. I am sucker for the countdown. I certainly don't wish time away but it can serve as a great cure for a stressful day to escape for a moment and daydream about that upcoming trip.
Enjoy your September, but don't wait too long to start thinking about your winter travel. Let me know your plans.


Where Did Your Summer Travel Take You?

September 21 2009 by BW Innsider
Comments (35)

SummerisOver.jpg

Tell us and enter for a chance to win a $100 Best Western Travel Card®!

You probably don't want to hear this, but summer is almost officially over. Hopefully, like us, you had a chance to get out and enjoy the summer while it was here. Whether you discovered a fantastic new beach, enjoyed a family reunion, lost yourself in the outdoors or just found some time to unwind, we want to hear about where your summer travels have taken you. Fill us in on your summer travel destinations and enter for a chance to win a $100 Best Western Travel Card.

To submit your summer travel destinations (and at the same time enter for a chance to win a $100 Best Western Travel Card®), select the Comment button and enter in your response to the question, "Where did my summer travel take me?" Once you enter a comment you are entered into a random drawing for one commenter to win a $100 Best Western Travel Card!

In addition, get an extra entry into the contest for adding this blog post to another site (track back). Copy and paste the URL under the Trackbacks section to add this post to your blog.

The contest promotion ends on October 4, so submit your travel destinations today.

Mountain Biking: Find Your Line

September 19 2009 by Casey Bower

mountain-biking-wr.jpgI was out for a mountain bike ride the other day with a friend and I had an epiphany.

I hadn't been on my bike since I had my accident and as I rode down a steep single-track trail, the movements and techniques I used to know started to flood my mind. I had started the day off quite cautiously but as these memories of riding came back I felt myself let go and "enjoy the ride." I had remembered how to "find the line."

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Chicago in the Fall

September 19 2009 by Claudia Kunkel

chicago-skyline-wr.jpgEarly fall is an ideal time to visit Chicago. The weather is typically mild and when the sun is shining Chicagoans don't waste a minute of it. On the weekends the beaches might still feel like summer with hoards of people soaking up the sun, playing volleyball, riding along the path on bicycles or just reading in the shade of a big tree watching the sailboats go by.

Want to veer away from the water's edge? I am amazed to find that there is always some kind of festival going on. Old Town is one of my favorite spots for great restaurants, street fairs and unique boutique's. Whether you experienced the Old Town Art Fair during the summer or are headed to the Wells Street Crush, Music and Comedy Fest in September, you will enjoy wandering through this Chicago neighborhood on a beautiful day.

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Large Collection of World's Largest

September 18 2009 by Sam Lowe

big-08-srunner-wr.jpgAs a youth, I started taking photographs of big things. Big houses, big horses, big statues. Then, during middle age, the hobby was raised to the next level - pictures of world's largest things. And now that I am mature, perhaps even older than that, I look back on those I've seen and photographed, and look forward to getting more under my belt. My list varies but I concentrate on the funky ones that stand as lesser monuments to civic pride.

There's no way I can ever get to all of them because they are in the thousands. Like the world's largest fruit bowl, the world's largest guitar and the world's largest turtle. But I console myself with my personal collection, including these favorites:

North Dakota has a couple of winners. The world's largest buffalo, a 60-ton concrete and steel creation, stands guard over Jamestown. It measures 26 feet high and 46 feet long. To the west, the world's largest cow rises 38 feet on a hillside near New Salem. The fiberglass reproduction of a Holstein weighs six tons.

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Tennessee, Day Three: Memphis to Lawrenceburg

September 18 2009 by Jason Fogelson
Comments (1)

5TN.elvis-wr.jpgAnother big day today. We're going to Graceland.

We check out of the Best Western Suites after a quick free breakfast in the lobby. It's been a nice stay, but we've got places to go, and the King to see.

A short ride on the Interstate, and we're piloting Melvis down Elvis Presley Boulevard. On the south side of the street, there are the famous gates with Elvis's silhouette and musical notes. We pull in to the Graceland parking lot on the north side, and sit Melvis alone to wait in the shade. The guards at the gate are kind enough to let us know that there are lockers at the visitors' center where we can stow our helmets and jackets while we are on our tour, a great convenience for motorcyclists and others for just 50 cents. We pay our admission fee, and board a shuttle bus for Graceland Mansion and a self-guided audio tour. Each guest is handed a headset and a small Walkman-like device. A very pleasant, informative soundtrack guides you through the public areas of Elvis' home and grounds - the private areas (bedrooms and bathrooms) are off-limits. The famous Jungle Room still draws gasps of wonder, with its green shag-carpeted ceiling and indoor waterfall. My favorite room is Elvis's rec room, decorated in bright yellow and blue with his TCB lightning bolt logo on the wall and a mirrored ceiling. The trophy room provides a great historical look through Elvis's career accomplishments. It's amazing to look over all that Elvis did and then to realize that he died at the age of 42. He's been dead for over 30 years, and still people listen to his music, watch his films and visit his grave. Which is right there at the Mansion, at the end of the tour. In the light of Michael Jackson's recent demise, Elvis' story feels all the more current and tragic to me right now. Though Graceland is decidedly tiny, tacky and a little bit sad, it is an absolute must for any true music fan to visit.

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Agony of the Chase

September 17 2009 by Mark Deyer

race-car-wr.jpgThis 2009 NASCAR season has been anything but predictable. With the start of the Chase beginning this Saturday, many of us are still trying to figure out what has been the biggest surprise of the season.

Tony Stewart, backed by his own team and dollars at Stewart-Haas Racing, put up a storybook season to date and leads all drivers in points going into The Chase. Tony's three wins and 18 Top-10 finishes have made his departure from Joe Gibbs racing a distant and forgettable memory.

Everyone's favorite villain Kyle Busch couldn't muster enough points to crack the Top-12 to make a run at the Sprint Cup championship. Kyle's 4 wins this season is the most of any driver who missed The Chase, but a string of poor runs late in races leaves him out yet again.

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Business Travel ROI

September 16 2009 by Chris McGinnis

business-man-money-wr.jpgWhen it comes to planning a business trip, one of the constant questions we all ask ourselves is, "Is this trip going to be worth the cost?" To determine the return on your investment, you first need a good estimate on how much it will cost.

And that's not always so easy. But Uncle Sam is here to help.

Every three years at about this time, the U.S. General Services Administration publishes the per diem rates it uses to reimburse government employees or contractors traveling to thousands of U.S. cities. In 2010, most of the country will fall under a standard maximum per diem of $116 ($70 for lodging, $46 for meals and incidentals). But there are 400 non-standard areas that have per diems which are higher.

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Tennessee, Day Two: Nashville to Memphis

September 16 2009 by Jason Fogelson

4TN.country-music-hof-wr.jpgAfter a quick (free) hot breakfast in the lobby, we hightail it to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum so that we can be there when they open at 9:00 am. Neither Robin nor I are particular fans of country music, but we've heard that the museum is great, and we're eager to see it before we leave town. The Museum turns out to be fantastic. They've got a great collection of memorabilia, everything from Elvis' gold piano to Hank Williams' guitar to Porter Wagoner's Nudie suits. The whole place is intelligently laid-out, with sound and film clips illustrating the history and vitality of the music and culture. We get a chance to tour a special exhibit about Hank Williams and his progeny, "Family Tradition." After a $70 visit to the gift shop, we leave feeling inspired about country music.

We load up Melvis and check out of the Best Western Music Row, heading west out of Nashville on US 70. Interstate 40 is a direct route to Memphis, but we want to stay on the back roads as much as possible, while still making time. This is one of our longer days, 210 miles by the shortest route, and we've got a detour to make. We've heard that the world's greatest fried chicken is in Mason, Tennessee at a place called "Gus's." We can't let a claim like that go unexamined, so we plot a course for the tiny town.

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Earn 4x The Rewards this Fall

September 16 2009 by BW Innsider

Why not get more for your trippin' this fall? Join Best Western Rewards® Best Western's free rewards program. Stay any 2, 3 or 4 qualified* NIGHTS and earn double, triple or quadruple points when you pay with a MasterCard® card between now and November 22, 2009 (max. 4 nights). Book on BestWestern.com and earn 250 bonus points. Use points to redeem free nights, Best Western Travel Cards®, airline rewards, gift cards and more.

Get details >

Happy fall travels!

Tennessee, Day One: Knoxville to Nashville

September 15 2009 by Jason Fogelson
Comments (1)

3-TN-melvis-wr.jpgUp bright and early, we eat our free hot breakfast at the Best Western Cedar Bluff Inn . Packed and ready, we meet Harry from Odyssey Airport Taxi in front of the hotel for the ride over to Smokey Mountain Harley-Davidson in Maryville. Oops - we discover that our motorcycle is actually across town at Knoxville Harley-Davidson on Lovell Road. No problem - by now we're now old friends with Odyssey Airport Taxi, and Patrick comes by to shuttle us to the correct Harley dealer. I am once again forced to re-learn a travel lesson: confirm your itinerary carefully, and pay attention to the details. Luckily, my mistake hasn't cost us much more than a few hours and an extra cab ride.

We finally arrive at Knoxville Harley-Davidson, to a warm greeting from Sean Hickey, Rental Manager. Sean has our paperwork ready, and we're soon loading up our black 2009 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide with gear. Robin immediately christens the bike "Melvis." Melvis is a stock Ultra Classic, with just over 8500 miles on the clock. He's in excellent shape, with a few tiny nicks and scuffs adding character. The only accessory I can spot is a set of highway pegs, which I know will come in handy on the longer rides.

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Countdown to Savings!

September 15 2009 by BW Innsider

alarmclock.jpgThis week on bestwestern.com, extra great travel deals will be available, but only from 12pm EDT - 4pm EDT.

The travel can take place anytime this year, though prepayment is required to get the low rates. Make sure to set your alarm for noon EDT and check out the savings that everyone is talking about.

Check Out Countdown to Savings >

Summer Photo Contest Winners

September 14 2009 by BW Innsider

Thanks to everyone who participated in the first YMBT photo contest. We had amazing entries and it was fun to see there was plenty of trippin' going on this summer. In fact, we were so impressed with the photo entries that we couldn't bring ourselves to pick just one winner...so we picked three! The three winning images are displayed below. Check out all photo entries here.

Each winner will receive a digital picture frame to display all their great summer travel photos.

Thanks again to all who participated. Stay tuned for more YMBT travel contests coming up in the near future.

Winner 1 - Submitted by Julie Henneman
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Winner 2 - Submitted by Rhonda Geneser
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Winner 3 - Submitted by Rachel Niemeyer
GrandTeton_PC3.jpg

Winners will be contacted by Best Western regarding their prizes.

Tennessee: Travel Day

September 14 2009 by Jason Fogelson

2-Tennessee.Pres-Ste-wr.jpgTraveling by motorcycle is all about the gear - what to wear, what to take, what to leave behind.

Robin and I have carved our packing down to a science. We start with the essentials, and lay out what we consider to be the minimum amount of stuff that we can bring and still have a good trip. Then we take a hard look at what we're planning to bring, and see what we can leave behind. We usually realize that we're over packing, and we're able to reduce our load before we ever leave.

One thing that we never leave behind on a motorcycle trip is rain gear. A day of rain doesn't have to spoil a motorcycle trip, but without rain gear, it almost certainly will. We each have good two-piece rain suits that are designed for small packing and quick donning. They go in the bag first.

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A Waterfall Runs Through It

September 11 2009 by Sam Lowe
Comments (1)

50-water-wr.jpgMy two best two reasons for returning to Spokane, eastern Washington's largest city, are whimsical and photogenic. The first is whimsical - the giant red Radio Flyer wagon that sits in the lush, 100-acre Riverfront Park. It's about 12 feet high and 20 feet long, substantially larger than the ones we lugged our brothers and sisters around in many years ago. This one is a slide. You climb up one of the wheels and slide down the handle. It's not quite as much fun as riding over a bumpy road in one like when we were kids, but still it's worth one trip down just to partially relive those wondrous days of our youth.

The second, and most important, reason is that there's a waterfall running right through the center of town. The Spokane River makes its way through the surrounding hills into the city, then puts on a frothy display as it plummets, then cascades while evolving from a river into Spokane Falls. They are a delight to watch, and photograph, from any of the 17 pedestrian and traffic bridges that cross the (at this point, at least) raging river. Most of the bridges are located in the park, from Monroe Street eastward to the campus of Gonzaga University.

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Riding Around Tennessee

September 11 2009 by Jason Fogelson
Comments (1)

1Tennesee.HD-motorcycle-wr.jpgPlanning the ride is almost as much fun as the actual ride. At least it is for me.

I have never really spent any time in Tennessee. I've passed through on my way to somewhere else, but I've never lingered. And Tennessee deserves better.

My wife Robin is taking a week off from work to ride as my passenger and share the adventure. Robin is the best passenger in the world. Always cheerful, she never complains and she's very entertaining when we're off of the bike. She helps me plan the trip, and studies up on our destinations for fun things to see and do. If I wasn't already married to her, I'd have to court her all over again.

Weeks before the trip, once we decided on Tennessee as our destination, we hit the books. We found three excellent travel books that provided great inspiration and information: Moon Handbooks Tennessee by Jeff Bradley (Avalon Travel Publishing, 2005); Off the Beaten Path Tennessee by Jackie Sheckler Finch (Morris Book Publishing, 2009); and Scenic Driving Tennessee by Russ Manning (Falcon Guide, 2005).

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Canadians Love Reward Programs

September 9 2009 by Bryson Forbes

BWR.jpgI knew this statement was true, but I didn't quite now how true until I started digging for some facts. According to Colloquy Research, a whopping 93.6 percent of Canadians belong to at least one loyalty program. That number has jumped almost 9 percent since their last study in 2007, which is shocking for an already very saturated market.

Why do we like them so much? Optimists will tell you that we are smart! Why not be rewarded for spending our hard earned cash and for our loyalty - that's worth something you know. The cynics say we're cheap! "Those Canucks always looking for the best deal" they say. In my opinion, both are somewhat accurate.

Although neither cheap nor smart came to mind last week when I witnessed the lady in front of me at the grocery store express line reach back to grab seemingly anything that would take her to the total to the purchase minimum to get a point. I did think to myself, "wow, talk about engaged" and I came to the conclusion the most Canadian generally think of collecting rewards as a game and have fun with it.

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For Those Who Drive More Than Fly

September 9 2009 by Chris McGinnis

freeway-traffic-wr.jpgBest Western's most frequent guests are business travelers who drive more than they fly on business trips. As a matter of fact, 63 percent say that less than 10 percent of their business trips over the last year involved air travel.

So when I read about a fascinating recent study on traffic gridlock, I knew I had to pass along some key findings here. The National Traffic Scorecard was produced by INRIX, a company that provides traffic and navigation information for online traffic sites, and a provider of GPS devices that road warriors use every day.

Some snippets:

  • After a period of decline due to the stagnating economy in 2008, traffic congestion was on the rise in the second quarter of 2009 due to signs of economic recovery and lower fuel prices. Delays due to federal stimulus package roadway construction projects are also contributing to an overall increase in congestion.
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How to Travel with Friends (and Return Home Friends)

September 9 2009 by Amy Graff
Comments (2)

friends-traveling-wr.jpgWhether you're spending a week on the beach in Hawaii or road-tripping across the United States, you'll certainly have more fun traveling with friends than going solo. But group travel can be stressful because the smallest misunderstandings can break up friendships. Here are some tips to ensure everyone returns home friends.

Assign responsibilities. If you're a big group, consider designating a trip leader (ideally the most organized person among your friends) who can take on such tasks as conducting a poll for trip dates, emailing out the final itinerary, and coordinating what people need to bring. This person can also dole out responsibilities to others. You might put one person on researching restaurants and another on planning optional group activities, for example. A great resource for coordinating the group is the website Triporama.com, which allows groups to create to-do lists, chat on private message boards, and build day-by-day itineraries.

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Most Scenic Highways and Byways

September 8 2009 by Matthew Clyde

minivan-sedona-wr.jpgI'm now a mini-van driving dad. Not by choice. I was forced into this decision by the other powers in the household - an expecting wife and her cohorts, including our 6-year old and 3-year old. They are in heaven in our fully-loaded, state of the art family mobile for the new millennium. And if our kids had their way they would permanently move into the van. Despite my hesitations, secretly I have enjoyed the new supped up transportation. Recently we took a drive through Northern Arizona and Southern Utah - which holds some of the most spectacular scenery and landscapes in the nation. No wonder President Obama took his family on vacation to the Grand Canyon. A key benefit to the new mini-van set up is the second the kids inquire "Are we there yet?" we can easily flip a switch and they can be entertained with a DVD or game and my wife and I can enjoy the scenery on the road ahead. As I took this drive I felt fortunate to live close to so many great, scenic drives. So as the final moments of summer fade and the seasons change, there isn't a greater time than now to plan a simple road trip on an amazing scenic drive--a road trip that is more about the journey along the way than the destination. As the line from the movie Cars eloquently reminds us, "The road didn't cut through the land like that interstate. It moved with the land, it rose, it fell, it curved. Cars didn't drive on it to make great time. They drove on it to have a great time." So find a great scenic route, pack a picnic, keep the camera handy and enjoy the ride. Here are a few of my favorites and a few I am hoping to try.

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No Snow? No Problem!

September 4 2009 by Claudia Kunkel

telluride-gondola-wr.jpgI will admit that I never miss a season skiing at one of the many incredible Colorado Ski Resorts in the winter and never really considered the possibilities for summer fun in the mountains. That is until some friends convinced us to join them for the 4th of July in Telluride, Colorado - I am a convert! There is something for everyone in these mountain resort towns during the summer without the sticker shock of lift tickets for the entire family.

Led by the example of the laid back local crowd, we quickly learned to relax and make the most of the incredible natural resources all around us. We wandered down Telluride's charming main street past unique shops, fabulous restaurants and historic buildings. Be sure to venture into Town Park on the east edge of town if you are looking for the ideal spot to picnic and play. It doubles as celebration central for the 4th of July festivities and other festivals throughout the year. From the town of Telluride, we rode the free gondola for stunning views and easy access to Mountain Village. Don't forget to try the disc golf course across from Mountain Village Market. Everyone loves to throw a Frisbee around and it is free to the public!

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Lest We Forget

September 4 2009 by Sam Lowe

Cambridge-American-Cemetary-wr.jpgSince it happened more than 60 years ago, it is sometimes easy to forget the role American servicemen played in the defense of England during World War II. But the British haven't forgotten, and they proudly display that loyalty in a variety of ways.

The Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial is a classic example. Located in Cambridge, about 60 miles north of London, it was established as a temporary military cemetery in 1943 on land donated by the University of Cambridge. The site was later selected as the only permanent American WWII military cemetery in the Great Britain.

Now it is a silent tribute to American men and women who died while stationed at military bases in England. Row after row of white headstones sweep across the landscape in an arrangement similar to the memorials in northern France. There are 3,811 grave markers, each bearing the name and military assignment of the fallen warrior whose remains rest below.

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How to Leave the Kids Behind

September 3 2009 by Amy Graff
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Leavethekids.jpgMy husband and I are about to take off on a week-long trip to Barcelona. We're celebrating our 10-year anniversary...and we're leaving the kids behind. Two grandmas and a grandpa will be watching our 4- and 6-year-old. This is the first time we have left our kids for an extended period of time--well, actually for more than two nights.

Surprisingly, both kids seem entirely comfortable with the idea. No tears...yet. In fact, every day my daughter asks me, When are you going to Spain? It seems as if she can hardly wait for me to step out the door. She's looking forward to all the ice cream cones her grandfather will buy her.

How can you help your kids feel comfortable with you leaving them behind? Here are some tips.

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Business Travel Trends to Watch

September 2 2009 by Chris McGinnis

airplane-interior-wr.jpgIf you are wondering what's going to happen next in the big wonderful world of business travel, then the National Business Travel Association's annual convention is a must. Last week, nearly 6,000 professionals (including yours truly) showed up in San Diego to gather information, sell, check out the competition, attend educational sessions, network and enjoy what has to be one of the best cities on earth to be sent on a business trip.

Here is some of what I was hearing on the tradeshow floor:

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Serve Up: US Open

September 2 2009 by Karla Henriquez
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usopen.jpgThis week there are attractive and athletic people all over Manhattan handing out fliers inviting passersby to attend one of the world's premier sporting events, the US Open. Should they go? My answer is a definitive and resounding yes... and so should you if you can. In no particular order, here are the reasons why.

  • Roger Federer, considered the greatest tennis player of all time after winning 15 majors, is going after his 6th consecutive US Open title this year.
  • Inside Arthur Ashe Stadium you can experience first hand the intensity of a sport that elicits complete silence from a crowd of 22,000.
  • There's just something exciting about watching people compete to win a piece of a $21 million purse.
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Puerto Rico - Vacation Island Hop

September 1 2009 by Matthew Clyde
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PR_1.jpgPuerto Rico has been a favorite island escape for travelers across many generations. The "Island of Enchantment" will feel both exotic and familiar to visitors from the continental U.S. Culturally, the island offers a rich blend of Spanish, Anglo, African, and native flavors that provide for a fun and diverse vacation.

Part of the tourist draw is that Puerto Rico enjoys year round summer temperatures, with an average annual temperature of 80°F. The peak tourist season is between December and April, so now is the perfect time to plan your next island getaway. Of course, if you like to travel in off-peak right now is the time to go, but keep in mind off-peak coincides with hurricane season in the Caribbean. My recent visit was in March, based on strong recommendations from my local contacts as the ideal time to visit - not too hot, not too crowded, not too much rain. Whenever you may plan to take your island hop, here are a few highlights you don't want to miss.

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All About Buell

September 1 2009 by Jason Fogelson
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buell-motorcycle-wr.jpgI've made no secret about it - I love motorcycles, all motorcycles -- especially Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The sound, the feel, the look - Harley-Davidsons are what I picture in my head when I think "motorcycle."

Some riders have an entirely different picture in their heads. They see chiseled, modern lines. They see track-ready bikes with lightweight body parts and high-tech mechanicals. They see sportbikes.

That's where Buell comes in. A wholly owned division of Harley-Davidson since 1998, Buell is the American Sportbike.

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