Digital Flexibility

March 23 2009 by Mark Deyer
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Flextripod2.jpgLike many, when I travel, I take pictures. Lots of pictures. That's why I was ecstatic when I came across my newest and most favorite tech gadget: the Gorilla Pod. The Gorilla Pod is a flexible tripod that fits into the tripod port of nearly any camera on the market. Three flexible legs allow it to wrap around anything and everything when you're on vacation. No more trusting strangers with your camera to snap a photo.

My desire to find a product like the Gorilla Pod came on a recent trip to San Clemente California. While my fiance and I strolled the sparse beaches, we were left with no one to take our picture. We fumbled several times at setting our digital camera on a rock and setting the auto timer, but inevitably the camera would fall over or we couldn't get the picture at the right angle. Many of our most beautiful and favorite moments of our trip went undocumented because we just couldn't find a way to get the camera setup properly. I figured there had to be a better way.

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Undiscovered: Close to Home

March 21 2009 by Karla Henriquez
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Undiscovered Close to Home.jpgWe all travel for different reasons and even the reasons why we're traveling change all the time. Sometimes we travel because we want a change of scenery. Other times we travel because we feel compelled to see something of note, like a famous building, a rock formation, or a piece of art. Some of us want to know how other people live - what do they eat? Where do they gather? What are their traditions?

In today's environment, travel can also be a healthy form of escape from gloomy economic forecasts. And it doesn't have to be a huge financial endeavor. Staying relatively close to home (within a day's drive) can still provide the escape of travel, without the time and budget constraints. But where can you find these close to home escapes? It largely depends on where you live. Which leads me to my question: What destinations close to your home (within a day's drive) make great travel escapes?

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An Excellent Investment

March 20 2009 by Sam Lowe

ExcellentInvestment.jpgOne of the best investments I have ever made cost a mere $10 but over the years it has saved me close to $1,000. It's a Golden Age Passport, a lifetime entrance pass to national parks, monuments, historic sites, recreation areas and national wildlife refuges that charge an entrance fee.

The pass is for citizens or permanent residents of the United States age 62 or older. Once obtained, it grants free admission to the person whose name appears on the pass and any accompanying passengers in a private vehicle if a park has a per vehicle fee. When a per person fee is charged, the passport admits the signee, spouse and children.

The passport must be obtained in person at a federal area where an entrance fee is charged. You must show proof of age and residency, something like a drivers license, birth certificate or similar document. The pass is non-transferable and does not cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessioners.

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Cutting Back on Biz Travel is Easy...

March 18 2009 by Chris McGinnis
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travelcosts1.jpg...but the reality is that increasing business travel when other companies are cutting back creates an opportunity to poach business from competitors and snag new accounts.

Right?

Well, yes, according to the US Travel Association. Granted, this group's raison d'etre is to promote travel, but its mid-February survey of 401 execs at U.S. companies reveals a conflict.

About half of the respondents reported that their companies had recently cut back on business travel spending. But 82 percent agree that business travel is important to their ability to achieve positive results. And 81 percent believe that client contact is necessary during tough times.

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This Just May Be the Best Time to Travel, at Least in My Lifetime...

March 17 2009 by Bryson Forbes
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besttime.jpgDespite what Chicken Little and every newscaster, radio host and journalist would have you believe, the sky is not actually falling!

Personally, I don't think I can take much more of the doom and gloom and am looking at things from a different angle. This challenge has created some of the best travel opportunities seen in decades. The reason is simple; you stand to get the greatest value for your vacation if you plan and go during the current recession.

To take advantage of the great offers available, my wife, Ruth, along with our two kids, my daughter Caira, six going on 16, and son Ethan, who is four, just returned from a 10- day escape to Arizona. The deals were great for every facet of the trip. Hotels, car rental companies, restaurants and even airlines are fighting hard to win your business, which means great value for Canadians looking to travel.

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What Not to Wear

March 17 2009 by Jason Fogelson
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WhatNottoWear.jpgGetting ready for a trip always involves a big gear inspection. What to wear, what to pack, what to leave at home. I happen to enjoy the planning part of a trip almost as much as I enjoy the trip itself. Almost.

I have to confess that I'm one of those ATGATT guys. You know, All The Gear, All The Time. So my senses are particularly tuned to pick up what I perceive as real mistakes by my fellow riders. At risk of sounding like a gear evangelist, here are a few things I've actually seen other bikers and their passengers wearing on the road:

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Let's Go Fly a Kite: Windy Weekend Fun

March 16 2009 by Julie Drossos

kite.jpgOn a recent, warm and sunny day, a close friend and I decided to "try something new". We were told about a local park here in Vancouver - Vanier Park - which on a windy sunny day is often home to some high flying fun - kite flying! For me - someone who gets easily bored - spending a an afternoon watching these beautifully colored kites dance through the skies was surprisingly entertaining, exciting and relaxing all at the same time. I was impressed with the skill of the kite-masters, appreciative of their diligence and concentration, and I enjoyed the visual beauty of it all (I'll also shamelessly admit that I found it entertaining to watch some of the kites crash to the ground too). What I learned from chatting with others at the kite park is that kite flying is an age-old pastime with a strong following around the world.

Did you know that March 28 - May 3 is National Kite Month (don't worry, I didn't either)? In celebration of it, there are a number of Kite Festivals taking place that might be worth checking out for some windy weekend fun. Why not stray from your normal routine and do something different with a friend, or step outside the box on your weekend family outing and perhaps you and your kids might discover a newfound appreciation. A great perk is that most kite festivals are very affordable (if not free), making it a great option for an economical family outing.

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Deducing Biz Travel Tax Deductions

March 12 2009 by Chris McGinnis
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Taxhelp.jpg
Once I finish writing this blog I promise to get all my paperwork in order to send off to my accountant.

Promise!

Yeah, right.

I'm sure something else will come up and I'll end up sending it all in at the last minute. Just like last year. And the year before that.

Here are three tax tips to consider when wrapping up your returns this year:

1. Due to wide variations in fuel costs over the last year, the standard IRS deduction for business miles on your personal vehicle came in two flavors:


  • 50.5 cents per mile for the period January 1 through June 30, 2008
  • 58.5 cents per mile for the period July 1 through December 31, 2008

The current deduction for 2009 is 55 cents per mile, FYI.

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Some Good Old Days Haven't Gone

March 10 2009 by Sam Lowe

08 fcolumbia_200x200.jpgHaving reached that age when any reference to "the good old days" takes on added meaning because I was there for a lot of them, I was quite taken with Columbia, an old mining town that's also a historical state park, located in California's Tuolomne County near Yosemite National Park.

This is an ideal place for senior travelers for a couple of reasons:

First, it's easily walkable and reminiscent of the small villages where so many of us grew up. The main street is only two blocks long, it's flat and there are no cobblestones to stumble over. And, as a bonus, they don't allow cars or loud music on the main drag.

Second, Columbia takes its job of being an historical state park very seriously. Every morning, the shopkeepers put on their period costumes and crank open the huge steel doors that guard the stores against fire. Then the women bustle onto the sidewalks, clad in long skirts and whisking homemade brooms to maneuver the previous day's dust off the wooden sidewalks and back onto the dirt road that bisects the town.

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