8 Healthy Homemade Snacks for Your Next Flight

What’s more exciting than flying?! Alright, maybe flying isn’t exciting to everyone but it means you’re traveling…and we looooooove traveling! But what’s one of the first things to fall by the wayside whether you’re taking a vacation or just jetting off for a quick business trip? Usually your healthy diet. This diet typically starts at the airport because let’s face it, there aren’t many healthy options at most airports and if you wait until the onboard café to find some snacks your options are even more limited; not to mention expensive! It doesn’t have to be this way however, you can eat healthy, save money and keep your healthy lifestyle intact while flying…it just takes a little work. Here are 8 of our favorite ideas for healthy (and easy) airplane snacks:

Avocado Smash with Plantain Chips
Avocados are an awesome travel snack because they don’t require refrigeration, they provide healthy fats to your diet and they can be mashed up with just about anything. Bring along some crispy plantain chips and you have a great healthy snack for flying. It’s even gluten –free and paleo approved!

To make: Take 1 avocado, scoop into a bowl, add seasonings of choice: lime juice, salt, pepper, garlic, hot sauce, chives, lemon zest…options are endless. Then using a fork smash the avocado with the seasonings until desired consistency is achieved.

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
Skip the chips and instead make this easy, addictively crunchy snack for your next trip. Chickpeas are high in fibre and protein so unlike chips or popcorn, this spicy snack will also fill you up. Spice combinations are endless so you can experiment and find a flavor combination that you crave.

Spicy Chickpeas

To make: Drain a can of chickpeas, toss with 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp chili powder, ½ tsp ground cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne powder to taste. Spread on parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a single layer for 30 minutes at 400° F, shaking tray half way through.

PB Power Balls
These tasty little peanut butter power balls are about as easy to make as it gets; they’re full of energy boosting oats and protein rich peanut butter to keep you satisfied through those long flights. They’ve also got a little kick of chocolate for those sweet cravings and best of all –no baking required!

To make: Combine 1 c. oats, 2/3 c. shredded coconut, ½. c peanut butter, ½. c mini choc chips, 1/3 c. honey, 1 tbsp. chia seeds and 1 tsp vanilla in a bowl and mix until combined. Roll into 1 ½ inch balls and refrigerate until firm.

Hummus and Veggie Wrap
Hummus is such a versatile spread and provides way better nutrition than any mayonnaise based dips and spreads with its high fibre and protein thanks to chickpeas and tahini. It’s a perfect option for flying because it can stand some time out of refrigeration and won’t make your sammies soggy. Pack a couple of these easy hummus veggie wraps for a healthy snack on the go.

hummus wrap

To make: Take your favorite store bought hummus and spread a couple tablespoons onto a wrap (or a leaf of lettuce if you want to go all out on health factor) and add your favorite fresh veggies like grated carrot, tomato, cucumber, peppers, sprouts, radish, avocado, or anything else you like, roll it up, wrap in plastic and keep in the fridge until it’s travel time.

Sesame Edamame
Our favorite Japanese appetizer can also be a great (and satisfying) travel snack on the go. Edamame beans are cheap, easy to cook, rich in carbs, protein and fibre…and best of all they travel well thanks to their natural ‘packaging’.

Edamame

To make: steam some frozen (or fresh if you can find) edamame pods in their shells until tender, drain off excess water, then toss with 1 tsp sesame oil, sea salt, fresh ground pepper and sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds. Just pack in a container for your flight and bring a little baggie for those shells.

Chocolate Crunch Bars
Candy bars and other sugar-filled, chocolaty treats are all too easy to come by at airports and on-board but they do nothing good for you. These chocolate crunch bars require a little work but are a great alternative with far less sugar, protein rich almonds, fibre filled dates and enough chocolate to satisfy any sweet craving!

To make: Bottom layer- Combine 8 medjool dates, 2 tbsp. shredded coconut,  ½ c slivered almonds, 2 tbsp. cocoa powder and pulse in food processor until well mixed and sticky. Press into small square dish. Top layer- Melt ¼ c. coconut oil and ¼ c. chocolate chips until smooth and combined.  Add 1 tbsp. maple syrup and 2 tbsp. cocoa powder, stir and pour over the date/nut base. Refrigerate until firm and then cut into squares and wrap in plastic for travel.

DIY Dried Fruit
Fresh fruit is great but doesn’t always travel so well. By the time you make it through airport security your banana is usually battered and beaten at best. The answer? Dried fruit! It’s easy to make your own dried fruit at home and it’s free of preservatives and added sugars (unlike some of the store bought stuff). It travels extremely well, fills you up with fibre and satisfies a sudden sweet craving.

Dried fruit

To make: Select your favorite fruits that are ripe but not overripe (apples, banana, mango, peaches, pears and apricots all work well) remove seeds/cores and slice to about ¼ inch thickness. Place on non-stick baking sheets and place in 170°F oven to dry for anywhere between 4-8 hrs. Drying time all depends on thickness and moisture content of fruit. Once dried, pack in bags or add to granola for a healthy travel breakfast!

Quinoa Nut Clusters
It’s no secret that quinoa packs a healthy nutritional punch and it’s a welcome addition to any diet with its abundance of vitamins, minerals and protein. Combine it with nuts and cocoa in this easy to make snack and you have a winning combination that not only travels well, but is sure to make your neighbors jealous while they pick from sad airplane snacks.

To make: Mix ¼ c. melted coconut oil, ¼ c. maple syrup or honey, 2 tbsp. cocoa powder and 2 tsp coconut flakes in a bowl until combined, add in 1 ½ c. puffed quinoa and ½ c. chopped toasted nuts of your choice (almonds, peanuts, cashews all work well, or for nut-free add toasted pumpkin seeds) and combine. Spoon into muffin liners and refrigerate until set.

FlyJoy Bars

Ok, this last one isn’t in the homemade category but lets say you get scheduled for a last minute business flight and you have no time to do your usual healthy snack prep… don’t worry because FlyJoy has you covered! These delicious, nutritious bars make it easy to enjoy a healthy snack on the go, since they’re filled with wholesome ingredients like quinoa, oats, flaxseeds, chia seeds, dried fruits and nuts. Just pop a few of these bars into your carry-on and you won’t have to worry about temptations like airport fast-food and unhealthy in-flight snack options.  Plus they come in seven fun flavors like Peanut Butter & Jelly and Cashew Cookie Dough. To get your hands on some, head to flyjoy.com.

FLYJOY

Cabot Trail Cycle Tour – A Daily Journal of An East Coast Adventure

Join guest blogger Brent Drewry over the next few days as he reports on his down East cycling tour of the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia.

The Cabot Trail is a scenic roadway located on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island and measures 298 km or 185 miles in length. The famous trail named after explorer John Cabot completes a loop around the northern tip of Cape Breton Island and passes through the scenic Cape Breton Highlands as well as the national park. Follow along with Brent as he cycles the beautiful Canadian Atlantic coastline. Each day will bring a new journal entry…and we’re sure some new challenges as well!

Soloviova Liudmyla / Shutterstock

Day 1

“A sense of adventure knows no age…today marks Day 1 of the Second Hand Lions Tour of Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia.  I can’t believe I’m actually quoting Rob Lowe, but here goes, because this remark speaks to the nature of this journey…”My issue isn’t about physical aging, my issue is about wanting to remain vigorous and youthful on my spirit.”

Let’s be honest, why DO you embark on a 5 day 400km cycling tour through the hills of the east coast of Canada with 7 other aging athletes?

Is it the incredible sights of the Cabot Trail highlands, of the ocean, the invigorating smells of the sea, the endless hospitality of the people ?!

Or is it a youthful desire to recapture past feats of athleticism and prove to ourselves we’ve still got some punch left in us?  As a group of fifty-something athletes who have represented Canada at a national level in rowing, cycled across this great country of ours, or run marathons, we’ve started down the trail of self-discovery in one of the most beautiful places in the World, let alone Canada.

Let’s see what this week has in store and let you know what this Amazing corner of Canada has to offer … that is if we have enough Advil to get us through!

Stay tuned … tomorrow is Day 2 with an 8 am start on the bikes…

if we can ever get out of the pub that is…”

Damian Lugowski / Shutterstock

Day 2

Day two featured a 90km day starting in Baddeck and headed clockwise around the Cabot Trail. Here are some of the highlights!

  • Baddeck is home to Alexander Graham Bell and the place the first flight in the Commonwealth took place by Bell’s “Silver Dart.”
  • We enjoyed excellent accommodation and a “breakfast of champions” at Inverary Resort in Baddeck
  • Mike from Freewheeling Adventures got us all set up with bikes.
  • What is the #1 accessory for our age bracket? Costco bifocal sunglasses!
  • The first challenge was up Hunters Mountain, our first climb of the trip. This is where you want to rip the saddlebags off and get rid of every extra ounce of weight.
  • There is no stopping for long during this time of year black flies will have a feast.
  • A cloudy day turns into a beautiful sunny day with amazing views along the way through Middle River and the Margaree Valley with a quick pistol at the dancing goat. The trip keeps getting better as we get too close to the coast.
mikecphoto / Shutterstock
marevos imaging / Shutterstock
Scott Cummings / Shutterstock

Day 3

  • 2 broken chains, 1 flat, and a frozen derailer – not bad across 8 bikes and some hard riding.
  • spent the night in Cheticamp beautiful spot, big team dinner, and a few of the guys ended the night at the Dorryman, Thurs night is talent night!  Mario the crab fisherman had many stories and a round of Propeller beer to buy, great guy
  • left Cheticamp Friday morning after a phenomenally hearty breakfast at Maison Fiset House
  • one of the guys broke a chain 100m  into the ride – far better than doing it at top of one of the mountains but delaying departure into the mountains
  • The hospitality keeps getting better the farther east you go:  case in point – Lynn the manager at Maison Fisette, when she realized we might be delayed on the start due to the broken chain, called the bike shop owner to open up an hour early; when she realized someone forgot their banana and iPhone charger she drove them down to the bike shop
  • Lynn helping one of the guys clean up hands from chain grease, what a host!!

ready to roll!

Dan Rata 000 / Shutterstock

into the Park!

vagabond54 / Shutterstock

amazing views looking back towards Cheticamp from the first climb (called “La Bloc”) into the Highlands Provincial Park

  • a fine memorial to fallen soldiers puts the view into perspective
  • The first big climb is French Mountain at 455m challenging with the panniers (saddlebags) on!
David P. Lewis / Shutterstock

Andre in the bike shop in Cheticamp told us North Mountain would be challenging (as a racer he used to do training rides from Dingwall to Cheticamp and back in 6 hours) not much can prepare you for an average 14% grade in some places 20% in the climb to the top; every bend in the road you think (pray) it’s the top.

  • almost 1800m in total climbing to get over French and North Mountains
  • still snow up there! you get the peak and it’s absolute silence too few places like this on earth!
  • the view down to Fishing Cove amazing definitely need to come back to hike the trail down
  • race down the mountain at 60-70 km hr though the switchbacks and destination Dingwall at the Markland Resort
  • a tough day behind us, settle in for a lobster dinner and some Irish Red beer
  • bonfire on the beach
  • outstanding meals and hospitality at The Markland thanks to manager Kim and the rest of the staff. Kim actually went so far as to lend us her car when we needed to get into town for supplies and for the trip up to the northernmost village on Cape Breton (Meat Cove) – fantastic!
  • if you get to Meat Cove be sure and check out campsite #11 at Justin’s campground on top of the outcropping – don’t look down if you’re afraid of heights!
Daniel M. Silva / Shutterstock
Scott Cummings / Shutterstock
3523studio / Shutterstock
ivandan / Shutterstock

Day 4

  • tough to leave the Markland had a great time and fed well
  • Dingwall to Ingonish destination: Keltic Inn
  • short ride about 55km and beautiful sunny day with strong tailwind out of the north
  • took outer shoreline loop (White Point Road) with hills but outstanding views to the north towards Dingwall
  • check out the lighthouse at Neil’s Harbour
  • cliffs offer good handstand picture opportunity!
  • arrive at Keltic Inn and settle into the cottage
  • Keltic Lodge was originally the summer home of the Corsons, a Midwest US industrialist; built the home for his wife who was suffering from lung problems and needed the fresh sea air; the story goes that Mr. Corson was shown the land by Alexander Graham Bell on a journey on horseback over from Baddeck via St. Ann’s and fell in love with it. Portraits of The Corsons still up in the main bar area of the lodge:
  • taking in the Hiking trail to Middle Head (point out from Keltic Inn), was where cattle used to graze
Gerald Cosby / Shutterstock
SanWesFot / Shutterstock
Gareth Janzen / Shutterstock

Day 5

  • settled into Keltic Lodge for a day off of riding …..and of course, decided to ride …but only about 5km down the road to the Franny Trail
  • always nice to ride without the panniers and extra weight – and did the 8km hike up to an elevation of 430m with a great view of Middle Head and Keltic Lodge
  • well worth the hike up and excellent refreshments waiting back at Keltic Lodge – Keith’s and Lobster Sliders it doesn’t get any better!
  • Robert and the rest of the restaurant staff very helpful
  • James in the pro shop set us up to play on the famed golf architect Stanley Thompson designed Highlands Links course
  • watch for the eagle on the 4th hole and moose on the 11th!
  • then an entertaining night with musician Danny Keegan singing sea shanties and all joining into “Barrett”s Privateers”
  • tomorrow – back on bikes for a 100km ride back to the starting point of Baddeck!
Kristy Dempsey / Shutterstock
karenfoleyphotography / Shutterstock
Krumao / Shutterstock

Day 6

This trip has reinforced how fortunate you can be to share experiences with old friends and have the opportunity to also make new friends along the way, in the group and the places you ride through.

Riding in a group creates some inter-dependence, competitiveness. and trust – not unlike many team sports.

All of this is to say when you set out for a 100km ride into 30 to 50km headwinds with luggage on the back of your bike, you’re pretty thankful to have a great group of guys to ride with, share the load, scenery, and sense of accomplishment.

  • Throw in the climb of over 430m up Smokey Mountain with many steep switchbacks on the descent for good measure and it’s a great day on the road!
  • all ready to record the big downhill run on the new iHandlebar iPhone …
  • earned this lunch at the Lobster Galley St Anns
  • 20km more into Baddeck and a complete Cabot Trail cycling loop!
  • Excellent seafood feast at the Lobster Supper in Baddeck
  • Sincere thank you to all who helped us on this trip, and the fantastic hospitality received everywhere!
  • Cape Bretoners are without a doubt some of the friendliest people on the planet!!
Hank Shiffman / Shutterstock
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock

Cheers to all!

sportpoint / Shutterstock

Romance or Family Time: Should You Bring Your Kids on Vacation?

As a parent it’s one of the hardest questions you face when thinking about vacations; whether you should bring the kids or not. Is it worth the extra baggage, the extra hassle, the extra money that it will cost you to bring them along? Should you feel guilty for leaving them at home? Should you be exposing them to different cultures around the world? Should you take time out for a romantic vacation without the kids? While we’re certainly no experts on whether or not you should take your kids on vacation, as parents and fellow travelers ourselves, we thought we would lay out all the pros and cons for you; and let you make that choice.

The Pro’s of Taking the Kids:

#1 Remember when you were little and your parents left you to do something fun for the first time? You probably got really mad at the time, stomped your feet and said “no fair”. That feeling surfaces as we become parents when we think about leaving our children behind; especially for more than just a few hours. One of the pro’s of taking your kids on vacation is that you won’t have that feeling; the feeling of guilt that you are leaving them and that you are going off to do something fun without them. Because let’s face it vacations are fun. Bringing the kids along you are ensuring that they don’t feel left behind, that they feel included in your life and that they will always remember you took them places.

#2 When you take your kids with you on vacation you can go places that you might not go as an adult. As adults we forget what it is like to have as much fun as children and going down that waterslide because your 5 year old won’t go alone may just be the most fun you’ve had in ages. Children encourage us to have more fun. Knowing that you are bringing your children on vacation will have you planning more child friendly things to see and do; water parks, animal encounters, Walt Disney World, and amusement parks are just a few examples. Forget the spas and the laying around on a beach all day sunbathing; these kids need to stay busy and having a family vacation ensures a whole lot of fun for everyone.

family vacation

#3 Family vacations and travel make incredible memories that your kids will never forget. They may forget what they did at school earlier in the day but we guarantee you they won’t forget the time you hiked to the waterfalls with them and they got to cannonball in. Going outside of their comfort zones creates lasting memories that they will hopefully share with their own children one day. You don’t need to travel to Disney World to create these memories either. They will come from road trips where you got lost, from plane rides over the ocean, from tiny hotel rooms that you stayed in, to the waterslide at the hotel pool. Kids love adventure and by taking them on vacation you are giving them the adventure they crave; and they won’t forget it.

#4 Opening your children’s eyes to different cultures, languages and ways of life is an invaluable lesson you can teach them; starting at a young age. Showing them first hand that not everyone lives in the same climate, the same houses, the same equality will stick with them for a lifetime. Children learn by doing and taking them places where they can actually experience a different way of life is far more valuable than reading about it in a book. Showing them the places that exist in the world that they may want to live in one day, explaining to them that they have the whole world to explore is a valuable lesson they will carry with them. Teaching them to read maps, ask for help, be polite and accepting are all taught on these family vacations.

family camping

The Con’s of Taking the Kids:

#1 One word….money. Everything costs more now including hotel rooms, flights, food and admission to all those attractions you are planning on seeing. Why waste the thousands of dollars you are going to pay taking your kids on vacation when you know they won’t really care whether the piece of art was created in 1840 or 1940. The fact is that taking your children on vacation can be very expensive. From eating out all the time to the souvenirs you know they’re going to beg for, you will be wondering in no time why you ever thought to bring them along. Add in the extra cost for flights if you are flying somewhere, the extra luggage you will have to pay for and all the new games and books you are going to need to keep them occupied and your total trip cost just tripled.

#2 Let’s be open and honest here and admit that all kids really seem to care about is the hotel swimming pool. They may think it’s cool that they get to go to a new city with things they haven’t seen before but by midday they will be begging to go back to the hotel room and swim. Like it or not; kids just don’t have the same attention span we as adults do. Nothing is worse than shelling out a large amount of money to take them to some history rich place only to have them uninterested in everything you see and do. Parents often make the mistake of assuming their children will just tag along to “grown-up” places and expect them to behave. WRONG. Leave the children at home if this is the case. They will not appreciate it, they will make it less enjoyable for you and frankly they will have a better time at home playing with their friends. If your vacation is not “child friendly” and you suspect your kids won’t enjoy it as much as you; the choice is clear.

romantic beach

#3 There is no time for Romance when you are traveling with your kids; none, zero, zip. More than likely you are all crammed into one hotel room or one state room on a cruise ship or perhaps you are lucky enough to have a divider. Either way you can plan on having zero alone time with your partner. Family vacations stick the family together for the whole time. Parents need alone time too and taking a vacation without the kids is the perfect opportunity to reconnect. The chance to unwind, relax and do activities that you can’t do at home. Take a winery tour, sip champagne under the stars, sunbathe on the beach all day, snowshoe in the mountains; all with the comfort in knowing your kids are happily at home basking in the attention of grandma and grandpa.

#4 One of the best reasons to travel without your kids is to show them that it’s okay to have independence. Going away without them will show them that you trust them, that you care about them and that it is completely normal to do this. Children crave independence and we aren’t suggesting leaving your child alone at 8 years old to go on vacation but giving them responsibilities when you are away will bring them a greater sense of importance. Letting them be responsible for packing their lunches or making sure their homework is done while you are gone will show them that you believe in them. Teaching them that when you are a grown-up and you work hard you can reward yourself with things like vacations, or showing them that parents getting to have fun without their kids is perfectly acceptable.

couple venice

The debate will rage on for many centuries we are sure of that. Whether or not to take your children on vacation is an entirely personal choice and only you know what is best for your family. Whether you choose to visit Disney World with or without the kids; we support you. Go on then; get out there and see the world however which way it pleases you!

Like this? Check out The Best Family Cruises for 2015

Natural Wonder at Natural Bridges National Monument

The rugged, dry desert conditions of Utah don’t conjure images of powerful rushing water but the evidence of such activity still remains today at Natural Bridges National Monument in the state’s southeast.

This seemingly desolate area was deemed a National Monument in 1908 but was inaccessible for many decades as the closest settlement was a 3-day ride on horseback. That is until the uranium boom of the 1950’s, which brought new roads and infrastructure so more visitors were able to make the trek to see this awe-inspiring feat of nature.

Sipapu Bridge

History:

Natural Bridges are formed by the process of erosion, and in this case the flow of water over the Colorado Plateau through White and Armstrong Canyons has resulted in the incredible landscapes that can be witnessed today. This national monument site features 3 amazing natural bridges carved out of the rock which can be appreciated from an overlook, the Bridge View Drive which winds through the area passing all 3 bridges, or hike the trails and stand at the base of these mega monuments for a true understanding of their sheer size and architectural significance.

Owachomo Bridge

Indigenous Roots:

Each bridge was given its own Hopi name to represent the indigenous roots and people who once inhabited the area. Sipapu, the largest of the three bridges means ‘the place of emergence’ and was named so as it was the entryway the Hopi people believed their ancestors entered this world. Owachomo bridge which means ‘rock mound’ was named so for its geological feature on the east side. It’s also the bridge most at risk of collapsing as it’s only 9 feet (3m) thick at it’s crest. The third bridge, Kachina was named for the rock art found on it which resembles that seen on Kachina dolls, artifacts from the Hopi people. Another important site which doesn’t include a bridge is Horsecollar Ruin site, which is an ancient Puebloan ruin site abandoned more than 700 years ago. From an overlook a short hike from Bridge View Drive, you can view the remarkably well preserved structures.

Horsecollar Ruins

Wildlife:

If the bridges aren’t enough reason for you to visit this naturally formed spectacle of Utah, maybe the wildlife is a draw. The canyons and surrounding area are home to many species of birds, rabbits, rats, lizards, mule deer, mountain lions and several species of snakes including the pygmy rattlesnakes. Another very cool draw is that Natural Bridges Monument was named the world’s first international Dark-Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association in 2007 so it’s a great place for star-gazers and those that just appreciate the beauty of the night sky.

Kachina Bridge

The park is open year round and admission is just $6 per vehicle or $3 per person on foot. There is no on-site restaurant or lodge but you can bring your own amenities and stay at one of 13 sites in the park’s campground to immerse yourself in the beauty of this natural site.

How to Tell if Your Hotel Room is Actually Clean

We have all heard the horror stories; the bed bugs, the dirty sheets and the filthy washrooms. And most of us have at least thought about it or experienced it at one point or another when staying in a hotel room. How does one really know if the sheets were washed, the water glasses are clean and the coffee maker is safe to use? Is it necessary to pack your own sheets, pillowcases and black light to check for stains? How far should one go to ensure that their hotel room is clean? Before you kick off your shoes and hop into that bed there are a few things you can do to make sure your hotel room is actually clean:

Do Your Research
If you are booking a hotel yourself it always pays to do a little research beforehand. A quick internet search of the property often brings up many traveler review sites where previous guests have posted about cleanliness. Trip Advisor is a popular site to use and one of the most trusted out there. Use the word “clean” when searching and the results will be much more specified and organized. Most hotels are inspected annually for cleanliness and don’t be afraid to call up the hotel and ask them for their latest score. Hotels depend on a great reputation for business and a four or five star rating normally ensures they are up to par in the cleanliness factor. Rental properties and B&B’s are less likely to be federally inspected and heading to the Internet is usually your best choice to see what others have to say. One thing to note is that the Internet has a lot of information and it is easy to get sucked into reading review after review after review. Likely every hotel will have one or two bad reviews so don’t get hung up on reading too much into them. If you are worried just be sure to throw some anti-bacterial wipes in your luggage.

hotel room being cleaned

Do a Visual Check
The first impression is important and before you get to your room make sure to take a look around at the grounds, lobby and elevators. If things are dusted, polished and clean it is normally a good indication the hotel cares about its cleanliness. Once you are in your room all it takes is five minutes to visually inspect the room. Key areas to look at are the bed where bedbugs hide and can be recognized as tiny brown bugs that often run when they are disturbed. Make sure to check the sheets, mattress and headboard for these nasty critters. A good tip to remember is to call housekeeping when you arrive and ask that they change the bedspread and pillowcases as studies have shown these often get missed. The bathroom is the second place to check out as a dirty bathroom warrants a request for a new room. If there is any sign of mildew around the bathtub or shower; chances are you won’t want to be walking around barefoot in there. Make sure to look around for dirty fingerprints and hair that is caught in the drains. A quick check of the light switches and door handles will truly tell you if the room has been wiped down. Don’t be shy about asking housekeeping to return if you feel your room isn’t up to par; after all, you’re paying for it.

hotel bathroom counter

Don’t Use the Glassware
At most, glasses get rinsed with hot water before getting wiped down with a semi-clean towel before being put back onto the table for you to use. Your safest bet is to use the individual wrapped plastic glasses or at least wash the glass ones yourself before you use them. Speaking of things not to use: if you didn’t take the above tip about changing your bedspread you should now go ahead and throw it off your bed. Bedspreads do not typically get changed between each guest and can be a haven for germs. As for the pillows; most hotels hide extra ones in the closet that are sure to be washed and clean. The dirtiest of things in a hotel room tends to be the television remote so if you happen to be packing an anti-bacterial wipe; this would be a good thing to use it on. Other things to avoid are the ice bucket and the coffee maker as one can never be sure what those containers were used for before you got to them. Eating ice out of a bucket that was used for garbage by the guest from the previous night is just not a vision we want to have. A good rule of thumb is never to place your toothbrush on the bathroom counter as housekeepers often use the same towel to wipe down multiple surfaces. Do yourself a favor and keep anything that goes in your mouth or on your face in your travel bag. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently as good hygiene will protect you from any germs that may be present.

hotel glasses

Don’t Overdo It
All that being said, realistically we live in a world where there are germs and most likely when you are traveling you will come into contact with them. Don’t expect that the carpet will be shampooed between every guest or that the bedside table will be polished. Be sensible in what you touch and what you don’t touch and know that germs lurk in the hidden corners that may have been forgotten by the cleaners. Be smart about what to look for and do follow the above steps to ensure you will be comfortable staying in your hotel. Don’t be afraid to ask for a different room, an extra wipe of the bathroom or a change of sheets. When your hotel experience is complete; help other travelers out by posting a review about your experience on the Internet; whether it was positive or negative. Remember, bad hotel experiences can happen but you don’t just have to sit in misery. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want because after all, you’re the guest!

please make up my room

 

 

 

Animals are Getting Second Chance Thanks to Volunteer Pilots

Sadly, more than 4 million U.S. pets are euthanized every year but thanks to a few incredible organizations some animals are getting a second chance at life.

California-based group Wings of Rescue and South Carolina-based Pilots N Paws are two of the major organizations leading the way in rescuing and relocating animals to give them a better chance at adoption. Through these programs, volunteer pilots lend their planes, fuel, and their time to help move these loving animals from places with an overpopulation of animals for adoption to those where more people are looking for their next best friend.

puppies in carrier

Areas like California, South Carolina and Georgia tend to have more pets than can be adopted while states like Florida, Washington, New York, New Jersey and Oregon actually need more pets to satisfy the growing demand for pet adoptions. To help this location problem, some volunteers with big hearts are taking to the skies.

Kate Quinn, the Executive Director of Pilots N Paws says, “We have seen the number of animals rescued go up every year since we started in 2008” and in each of the past 2 years, the groups 5,000 plus volunteer pilots have flown more than 15,000 animals to their new homes. More than 75,000 animals have been relocated in the last 7 years and according to Pilots N Paws, the number just keep rising. 

It’s good news on each end of the journey as the overcrowded shelters euthanization rates are dropping and those shelters receiving the relocated animals say that the furry friends are getting adopted out as quickly as they’re being brought in.

 

Like This? Check out: World’s 6 Strangest Animals (And Where to Find Them)

The Creepiest Things You Don’t Know About Hotels

Staying at a hotel is usually a fun experience, especially if you’re traveling for a vacation or other holiday but there are lots of things about hotels that aren’t so fun. Things that the hotels don’t even want you to know about; most of them pretty creepy. Aside from thinking about how well your room was cleaned or who stayed in it before you, there are a number of other issues you probably didn’t even think about, so let’s take a look:

People Leave Things Behind

Matt Anderson Photography / Getty Images

This happens surprisingly often according to reports from hotel staff. Scary stuff gets left behind by seemingly ordinary guests like weapons, illegal drugs, and prescription pills. Most of it gets removed by cleaning staff but they don’t always find it all so you just never know when you could be sleeping with a loaded gun under your mattress!

You’re Not the Only Living Creature

WIN-Initiative / Getty Images

Most people are wary of checking for bedbugs in any hotel they’re staying at but these aren’t the only thing you might be sharing your room with. Fleas, ticks, and roaches can all be common occurrences depending on where you’re staying. If you’re in the tropics it only makes matters worse with reports of spiders and even scorpions being reported in some Tripadvisor reviews.

It Might Smell Clean…

Prapass Pulsub / Getty Images

You may walk into your hotel room and smell a pleasant perfume scent but that could be your cue to ask for a different room as many hotels use perfume scents to cover up stubborn odors. If you smell cleaning chemicals (slightly, not strongly) that’s probably a good sign but if the room reeks like a department-store perfume counter, they’re probably hiding something…and it ain’t pretty.

There Are Deaths

SummitView / Getty Images

While it’s not something we like to think about, people die and sudden deaths can happen anywhere. It’s also not uncommon for suicides to take place in hotel rooms, so much that Lodging Magazine even published a recent article for hotel managers addressing suicide prevention in hotels. Statistics on the issue are hard to find, however, as many incidents are ‘swept under the rug’ so to speak.

You Paid How Much?!

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

This next issue is more annoying than it is creepy; it’s the little matter of hotel rates. There’s so much fluctuation in the industry that almost no one pays the same rate. Hotels use complex algorithms to determine rates which can even include factors like airline tickets sold and the weather. The best thing to avoid aggravation is don’t ask anyone else what they paid!

Crimes

Richard Williams Photography / Getty Images

Hotel rooms have long been used as places for illegal acts like prostitution and taking drugs but in recent years, the illegal activity is getting more serious. Drug rings are now using hotel rooms as temporary meth labs which leave behind harmful and toxic chemicals in their wake. According to the DEA, 1,300 hotel rooms were used as meth labs in the US in 2013.

The Pool, The Horror

Justin Paget / Getty Images

The smell of chlorine usually makes us think a swimming pool is well-treated, safe, and clean but this may not be the case. Strong smells can actually mean dangerous levels of chemicals could be in use, which is usually a cover-up for poor water quality. Because swimming pools and fitness centers are bonus amenities that aren’t primary revenue-makers, they’re often overlooked as far as maintenance and upkeep. The last thing you want during your hotel stay is a soak in bacteria-filled water.

The Strangest Reasons for Flight Delays

After a recent incident where a British Airways flight traveling from London to Dubai had to return to Heathrow Airport shortly after take-off because of a ‘foul smell’ from one of the toilets, we decided to take a closer look and find out what other bizarre occurrences have resulted in planes being delayed, re-routed or otherwise detoured from their planned travel routes. The findings are ‘out there’ to say the least and include everything from animals on board to food incidents to irrational behavior from the crew.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these most peculiar airline incidents from recent years:

Not My Size

Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

An Australian couple who was traveling first class onboard a Qantas flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne caused a 30-minute delay of the flight after they refused to fly unless the airline provided them pajamas in the right size. The Daily Mail reported that after they were not provided with the requested extra-large pj’s, they demanded to leave the plane and were walked back to the terminal to wait for the next flight.

Crew Gone Crazy

Stephen Swintek / Getty Images

In March of 2012 CNN reported that a flight attendant for American Airlines caused major drama at Dallas Airport after some irrational behavior onboard a plane headed for Chicago. The flight attendant first got confused about where she was, asking passengers if they were in Houston, she then came on the PA system advising of a mechanical issue with the plane, which was followed up by another flight attendant assuring everyone that nothing was wrong. Things got much worse after she came back on the PA ranting about how she was no longer responsible for their safety and that the plane was going to crash. The hysteric crew member had to be restrained by 5 people and the plane had to return to its gate so she could be removed, resulting in a delay of about an hour.

Piggly Wiggly

Digitaler Lumpensammler / Getty Images

In November of 2014, the NY Post reported that a Connecticut flight was delayed after passengers became angry about an ‘emotional support animal’ brought on board by one woman. The woman had brought a 70 lb potbelly pig with her on the plane and passengers reported that the animal was pacing up and down the aisle and even ‘stinking up the plane’. The woman and her four-legged friend were asked to leave the plane as a result of the complaints from other passengers.

You’re Nuts

Flavia Morlachetti / Getty Images

In December of 2014, 250 passengers aboard a Korean Air flight at New York’s JFK Airport were delayed about 30 minutes after the company’s own senior VP caused a major disturbance. Reportedly, the VP who was sitting in first class was served some macadamia nuts in a bag. Seems harmless right? Well, the correct procedure for the service in first-class instructs these nuts should have been served in a bowl, not the bag. The irate woman began screaming at this mistake and demanded that the plane turn around and the flight attendant be removed before they could take off. The VP initially got her way as the flight attendant was removed from the flight after returning to the gate, but once this story made news the VP was forced to resign and was criminally charged with obstructing aviation safety law.

Got Any Spare Change?

John Scott / Getty Images

An Air France flight asked passengers for whatever cash they could give after their flight headed for Beirut was re-directed to Damascus due to civil unrest in the Lebanese capital city. Reuters reported the incident which occurred in August of 2012, involved the plane being forced to land in Damascus and after refueling the plane, Syrian authorities refused credit card payment for the fuel. At first passengers aboard the flight were asked to gather their cash in order to pay for the re-fueling causing a delay, however in the end alternate payment arrangements were made. Air France has since stopped flights to Syria due to increased fighting in the country and a breakdown of relations.

Rowdy Reptiles

Rithwik photography / Getty Images

In December of 2012, there were snakes on a plane. Literally. An EgyptAir flight headed from Cairo to Kuwait had to make an emergency landing in the resort town of Al Ghardaqa after a passenger was bitten by a venomous Egyptian Cobra that he had smuggled on board in his carry-on luggage. CNN reported that after biting the man in the hand, the snake got loose and began slithering under the seats. This isn’t the only reptile related issue, however; San Juan airport in Puerto Rico has had regular delays or re-routing of planes due to giant iguanas on the runway. Any run-ins with the big beasts could cause serious damage or injury as they’re reported to grow up to 6 feet

Gulf Island Getaway: Sheraton Sand Key Resort

Widely regarded as one of the best beaches in the country and recently named the Best Beach in Florida by USA Today, Clearwater Beach is the perfect tropical escape right in your own backyard. Located on 10 acres of pristine beachfront on the Gulf of Mexico, the Sheraton Sand Key Resort is the perfect place for relaxation, family fun, or even a romantic getaway.

Escape to the Island

One of the unique features setting this resort apart from others in the area is the location on Sand Key, which despite being connected by an elevated roadway is actually its own island. It’s this location that greatly contributes to a sense of rest and relaxation at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort as you enjoy the private beachfront away from the noise and crowds of the main beach area.

Sheraton beach view

Amenities

The Sheraton Sand Key offers all the amenities you need to enjoy a great time on the Gulf coast. In addition to the 10 acres of private beach front property, the resort also has an outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi with amazing ocean views so it’s possible to watch one of the famous Gulf Coast sunsets without leaving the pool. For even more relaxation, the resorts on-site spa offers services including deep tissue massage, aromatherapy, salt treatments and facials. Fitness is important to many, even while on vacation and the resort offers many options for exercise including beach runs/walks, a state of the art fitness center with modern equipment and ocean views, outdoor tennis courts and the exciting new sport of beach tennis. Don’t worry if you forget a few things when packing; SeaGrapes Apparel and BlueWater Provisions located near the resort lobby have everything you need including drinks, snacks, clothing, toiletries and distinctive gifts and souvenirs.

Sheraton Pool

Rooms

You won’t find the typical faded beach hotel rooms here. This resort features 390 smoke free rooms, many with views of the Gulf of Mexico and Intracoastal Waterway. All rooms are clean, spacious and inviting with new modern furniture and ultra-comfortable beds and linens. Each room has its own private balcony to enjoy warm sunny days or the beautiful coastal sunsets from the comfort of your own room. Guestrooms also include all the amenities you would expect of the Sheraton brand like flat screen tv’s with cable and in-room movies, deluxe bath amenities, wired and wireless internet and coffee making facilities featuring Starbucks coffee and Tazo teas. After long days on the beach or by the pool it’s nice to know you have a comfortable place to relax and unwind.

sheraton-rooms-1

Hospitality

From the moment you arrive at the doors of the Sheraton Sand Key Resort you’ll feel welcomed by their world-class hospitality. The staff here are friendly, kind and willing to go above and beyond to make your stay here memorable. Even just passing in the hallway, they always take the opportunity to greet guests with a smile. From the General Manager to the housekeeping crew, many staff have been a part of this organization for years and enjoy forming relationships with the repeat guests they see return year after year. The result is an atmosphere where you not only feel welcomed but valued as a guest.

SheratonSandKey_Lobby_Dec2014

Dining

Prepare for a delicious dining experience without even having to leave the property. Sheraton Sand Key Resort has several options to suit all your dining needs. While enjoying time at the pool visit Slo Joe’s Turtle Bar for refreshing tropical cocktails or the Poolside Café for snacks and refreshments. For casual American fare, visit Island Grill offering a casual family friendly menu daily from 11am-5pm. If you’re looking for sports, a full bar and some great pub snacks and small plates, the Mainstay Tavern is the perfect place to enjoy some casual pints or a relaxing glass of wine in the evenings. For an exquisite meal prepared by one of the area’s most reputable chefs, Rusty’s Bistro in the lobby offers a full buffet breakfast each morning which includes creative specials like apple stuffed pancakes. For dinner, the Bistro also serves some of the best and most creative Floridian cuisine in the area including seafood offerings like a unique take on calamari and fresh local fish. Everything at Rusty’s Bistro is innovative, flavorful and prepared with finesse.

Photo 2014-10-17, 12 04 40

Nearby

While the resort itself has lots of activities to offer, there are tons of great activities nearby. If you want to check out all the action and excitement of Clearwater’s main beach area, it’s only a short trolley or cab ride away. At the main beach you’ll find Pier 60; THE destination to enjoy sunset parties on the beach, bars and restaurants, beach shops and many fishing charters and dolphin watching cruises. Animal lovers won’t want to miss visiting the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, located only a 10 minute drive from the Sheraton Sand Key Resort. This is not your typical aquarium as the focus here is on marine life rescue and rehabilitation but you may recognize the aquarium’s famous dolphin; Winter from Disney’s Dolphin Tale movies.

ClearwaterMarineAquarium

Get Away Today

From picture perfect sunsets to exciting animal encounters, Clearwater Beach is your premier destination for fun on Florida’s Gulf Coast and the Sheraton Sand Key resort provides the ideal accommodation for a perfect vacation. Come visit the Sheraton to experience world-class hospitality, idyllic ocean views and vibrant local cuisine and you’ll soon see why after one visit, guest just keep coming back for more.

 

 

Clearwater sunset

Where the Wealthy Fly: The Top Private Jet Routes in the World

No cramped spaces, no crying babies and the freedom to decide exactly when and where you want to fly–anywhere in the world. Yes, flying in a private jet is a privilege most of us can only ever dream of, but for those wealthy enough to afford it, it’s a luxury like no other.

With the whole world to choose from, just where would you fly if you had a private jet at your disposal? If you’re like us, you think about this (probably more than you should) and also wonder where do the wealthy fly? Well a 2015 Wealth Report published by Knight Frank shows a list of the top 10 private jet routes in the world for 2013. The report also shows the top 10 fastest growing private jet routes. Let’s take a look:

Jordan Tan / Shutterstock.com
Jordan Tan / Shutterstock.com

Top 10 Routes Worldwide:

1. Moscow -to- Nice/Côte d’Azur
2. Miami -to- New York
3. New York -to- Los Angeles
4. New York -to- West Palm Beach
5. London -to- New York
6. London -to- Moscow
7. London -to- Nice/Côte d’Azur
8. Chicago -to- New York
9. Houston -to- New York
10. West Palm Beach -to- New York

Top 10 Fastest Growing Routes:

1. Nice/Côte d’Azur -to- New York
2. Maiquetía -to- Miami
3. Dubai -to- London
4. Pittsburgh -to- New York
5. Houston -to- West Palm Beach
6.  Moscow -to- Tel Aviv
7. Houston -to- Midland (Texas)
8. Lagos -to- London
9. Austin -to- Houston
10. Houston -to- Washington DC

It might come as some surprise that the most popular private jet route in the world is from Moscow, Russia to Nice, France. This fact displays the continuing importance of Russian wealth in the European market. The second most popular route after this is Miami to New York, followed by the ever popular New York to Los Angeles, both of which firmly reinforce the fact that the United States remains the most important private jet market in the world.

When we take a look at the fastest growing routes we can see the emergence of international markets like Maiquetía, Venezuela and Dubai, UAE; though the fastest growing route overall is Nice to New York. Given the amount of times we see New York come up on this list, it’s clear that it’s both a favorite departure city as well as destination for wealthy jet-setters worldwide.

So just who are these wealthy flyers and what do they do? Well according to the report which uses data collected by NetJets, around 80% of these luxury flyers are male, aged 40-55. It also states that the majority are private entrepreneurs whose wealth comes from finance and oil and gas industries, followed closely by those in property and technology industries.  By the sounds of this, if you ever want a private jet of your own, you’d better get working on that big business idea!

Also Check Out: The 10 Most Expensive Vacation Destinations in the World