Tag Archives: travel

5 Tips for Getting your Finances Vacation-Ready

Learn how managing your money this summer can make travel season even easier

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

Planning for summer travel means choosing a location, booking your stay, and counting down until vacation time. It also means effectively managing and protecting your money so your anticipated getaway doesn’t turn into an unexpected staycation. Follow these simple tips for keeping your financial life in order before, during, and after vacation. 

Notify your financial institution before you hit the road. Nothing could ruin a vacation faster than a lack of funds due to a limited cash supply and/or a frozen credit or debit card because of suspicious-looking account activity. Letting your financial institution know that you’ll be traveling helps keep your accounts safe and avoids interruptions in your credit or debit card services, especially if you’ll be out of the country. Many financial institutions offer a simple online form that you can complete ahead of your travel.

Record card information and other important documents. Before you leave, record card numbers and customer service contact information, your passport, and insurance cards. Take photos of each item or write the information down on paper and keep it in a safe location, like a hotel safe. You can also store the information on your computer or email it to yourself. As long as you can locate an Internet connection, you’ll have quick access to this information in case you need to report that it’s been stolen.

Pay for larger purchases with cards. A credit card in particular offers the most security because, unlike a debit card, it’s not linked directly to your bank account—so there’s no risk of fraudsters gaining direct access to your money. Plus, purchases made with a credit or debit card might be replaced by the card company if the item is stolen. 

Don’t carry all your money at once. One tactic to keep cash safe is to split it up. Keep a certain amount in your wallet and another amount stashed away for later. Overall, the best approach is to carry a combination—a credit card for the majority of purchases, another card as a backup, and cash. While cash can be easily stolen, it’s a good idea to keep a small amount on hand in case you encounter a merchant or service that only accepts cash. 

Review your bank and credit card statements. Upon returning from your trip, look at your bank and credit card statements to check the accuracy of transactions. Get a receipt for every transaction made while on vacation and compare this to the total charged to your account. Receipts are also helpful to have on hand in case you have to dispute a charge with a vendor. 

Join Member One here each month for more money-saving tips and financial advice! Be sure to visit their website, www.memberonefcu.com, for more info on their products and services. Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

Single Girl Travel

A few tips for exploring the world around you this summer

Traveling alone can be a little intimidating. However, with a little planning and some research, it is possible to plan a solo trip that you will never forget. Keep the following tips in mind as you plan your next adventure, and check out www.lovelybella.com for more tips throughout the summer!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

 

Plan, then train.  Know approximately how far you will be walking. Work your way up to walking the distance you’ll need to walk to enjoy the places you want to see. Start small, and remember to stay active every day. If you work through the discomfort in your muscles now, your body will thank you later. 

Be frugal.  Traveling solo does not have to be expensive. For example, at the time this article was written, you could ride a Greyhound (www.greyhound.com) bus from Roanoke to Miami (one way) for $107 on June 1. The trip includes one hour (approx.) stops in Raleigh, Fayetteville, Savannah, and Orlando. The trip will take around 26.5 hours total. An Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) trip, with the same destination, was $157 for one reserved coach seat and takes approximately 32 hours with a three-hour transfer in Washington, D.C.

Want to travel outside of the United States? The trip may be more expensive, but you can still save money if you do it right. Great Value Vacations (www.greatvaluevacations.com) is a fantastic place to find and plan the trip of your dreams. At the time this article was written, you could purchase a six-night trip for one person to explore Ireland’s Wonderful West: Adare Villa for $916. This includes airfare, airport taxes, accommodations, full-size car rental, and tours.

Stay safe, but not afraid.   We are surrounded by reports of violence on television and social media. All of these stories can keep us from living our best lives and experiencing all that the world has to offer, but they don’t have to have such a powerful influence. The important thing to remember is to BE ALERT. Know your surroundings from the moment you step off a plane. Resist the urge to wear headphones or be distracted by your phone. (Really, you shouldn’t be scrolling through your newsfeed on vacation anyway). Being alert does not mean being fearful. In the same way that you would look both ways before crossing a street, be aware of the people around you. Learn how to avoid danger (and how to respond if it can’t be avoided) in Fearless by local author, Logan Doughty. 

Travel light.  Believe it or not, you can fit a week’s worth of clothes, toiletries, and basic necessities for one person into a standard backpack. This is great for road trips with friends or a small group, and it is even better if you are traveling by plane! As soon as you arrive, you simply throw your backpack over your shoulders and exit. There is no hassle in waiting for your luggage or digging through everyone’s belongings to find your suitcase. You are ready to begin your adventure from the moment you arrive. For more information on packing like a minimalist, visit www.theminimalists.com. To see minimalist travel in practice, check out www.thetravellinglight.com.

Let’s Travel… Locally!

Adventures are waiting for you—maybe even in your own backyard! 

Looking for a fun mini-vacation this month? Why not use this opportunity to support the local economy? There are plenty of fun places to visit and spend time with family and friends in Southwest and Central Virginia. Check out our favorites below…we may just see you there!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Carvins Cove Natural Reserve – This is a beautiful experience for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. With over 12,000 acres of hardwood and mixed pine forests, 60 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, and more than 11,200 acres protected by the largest conservation easement in Virginia’s history, this is a place where you can truly appreciate the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. At the reserve, take advantage of free-ride downhill trails, boat rentals (kayaks, 14’ boats, and paddle boats), stand up paddle boarding, and fishing opportunities. Hop on the free ride downhill trails or the cross country single track. Pack a lunch, and take a friend! www.roanokeoutside.com

Fairy Stone State Park – Warm weather is here, and that means it’s time to break out your camping gear! Fairy Stone State Park is the perfect place to spend a long weekend enjoying the scenery (including the 168-acre lake adjoining the Philpott Reservoir!). Attractions include cabins, a campground, group camping, an equestrian campground, a conference center, hiking trails, lake swimming, rowboats, canoes, paddle boats, kayaks, picnicking, and two playgrounds (one of which is in the water!). This is a great mini-vacation for children of all ages, as the park is one of few places in the world where you can find the legendary Fairy Stones. There are all kinds of superstitions attached to these stones, but the best part about them will be the special memories attached to the ones you find. www.dcr.virginia.gov

Apple Ridge Farm – You may already know Apple Ridge Farm for its reputation for providing environmental education and camping experiences for more than 70,000 youth, many from Roanoke’s inner-city neighborhoods and public housing projects. However, it’s also a great place for adults to relax and unwind! This unique location is surrounded by beautiful mountain views and five miles of hiking trails to take advantage of during your stay. The best part? Guests can book their stay in an actual train caboose car! Specifically, a remodeled 1978 Norfolk Southern Caboose Car. Outfitted with a queen size bed, sofa, table for two, and an attached outside deck, it provides a unique aesthetic you won’t soon forget! Your stay will include a complimentary breakfast basket, and all proceeds provide funds for Apple Ridge’s mission to “Help Kids Grow.” Book your stay on Airbnb. www.appleridge.orgBedford, Virginia – While we are on the subject of Airbnb, there are plenty of beautiful locations to choose from if you are interested in exploring the Bedford area. In Bedford, you can truly experience what it means to eat and shop local, supporting local farmers, artisans, and small business owners every step of the way. On the weekends, start your Saturday off right at the Forest Farmers Market. The selection may vary, but in the past vendors have offered fresh local fruits and vegetables, baked goods, arts and crafts, and more! For lunch, head to Town Kitchen Provisions! They offer specialty and deluxe deli sandwiches and super deluxe green salads in addition to espresso drinks, beer, and wine. Spend your afternoon on the Bedford Wine Trail, which includes Hickory Hill Vineyard, Peaks of Otter Winery, Ramulose Ridge Vineyards, Seven Doors Winery, LeoGrane Winery, and White Rock Vineyards. Or, visit the Bedford Visitors Center to learn about Bedford’s rich and intriguing history. Head to dinner and Olde Liberty Station, where you’ll choose from local cuisine options like steak, pork chops, and chicken paninis. www.visitbedford.com

Floyd, Virginia – FloydFest isn’t the only time of year to visit and support Floyd’s local economy! Start making your trek up the mountain this month, and check out the small businesses that offer products and experiences you can’t find anywhere else. You’ll love the wood fired pizzas at DogTown Roadhouse (www.dogtownroadhouse.com). On the weekends, they offer live music as well! There are many dining and shopping options to choose from in downtown Floyd. Set up your tent or RV at Chantilly Farm and spend the weekend exploring everything this part of the Blue Ridge Mountains has to offer! At Chantilly Farm, you can wake up and enjoy bike riding, walking, and running in their wide open spaces. They also offer a wooded hiking trail, two disc golf baskets, and rentable corn hole boards. www.chantillyfarm.com

Abingdon, Virginia – There is nothing quite like a stay at the Martha Washington Inn and Spa in Abingdon, Virginia. A short road trip from Roanoke, the inn sits right on Main Street, allowing visitors to experience the relaxing environment of the spa before spending a day (or night) on the town! Take a ride on The Virginia Creeper Trail and return to the Martha in the evening for a generous glass of port wine at the front desk. If you stay at the Martha, use their complimentary town bikes to ride down Main Street, relax in a therapeutic salt water heated pool, and unwind by the fire-pit. Dine at one of the many excellent restaurants in Abingdon before catching a play at the Barter Theatre. Visit the restored train station now known as The Arts Depot, where you can mingle with working artists. You could easily spend a whole week in Abingdon and still find new things to do every day. www.visitabingdonvirgina.com

Profile: Melissa Aldana

Tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana will perform at the Jefferson Center on February 17 at 7 pm and again at 9 pm. A rising tenor saxophone star, Aldana recently released her second trio album (and fourth as a leader). “Back Home” unveils a powerful musical creation by Aldana and her illustrious bandmates. Not so much reminiscent of a specific place, “Back Home” evokes something a little deeper for Aldana.

“Back Home is a tribute to Sonny Rollins, who has been a huge influence on me since I was ten years old,” she explains. “It makes a reference to the first time I heard him playing back home in Chile. I completely fell in love with the sound of his tenor. He is organic and funny. Those are some of the most important elements in music. It’s like he’s having a conversation with you, and you can hear how he’s taking risks and trying new things. Those are the elements I want to have in my own playing.”

Aldana describes her relationship with the tenor saxophone as a lifelong commitment. The journey with the instrument has allowed her to mature as an artist, and her dedication to it remains. From New York to Montreal (and around the world), she carries that pivotal moment when she first heard Sonny Rollins play with her in addition to the lessons she has learned from other artistic influences. In this way, she can allow the music she creates to tell the story of her travels, experiences, and personal growth.

On “Back Home” she includes a track called “Time” that is a “meditation on her life since departing Chile.” She has described the nostalgic track as a reflection of the last nine years of her life. As the tenor saxophone carries the listener through the ups and downs of the accumulated time, it is not hard to give over the memories of one’s own adventures. This is exactly the impact Aldana hopes to have with her work.

“I hope [the audience] has fun and goes on a trip with the music. Also, I hope they enjoy it as much as I did when I recorded the album,” she adds.

Joining Aldana for her February 17 show are Sam Harris on the piano, Thomas Crane on the drums, and Pablo Menares on the bass. Together, they project an “uncommonly full orchestral sound, rich in spiritual intensity, all in the absence of a harmony instrument.” The experience is one that Roanoke audiences are unlikely to forget, and Aldana is excited to introduce both new and returning fans to her new music.

To purchase tickets, visit www.jeffcenter.org. For more information on Melissa Aldana and how to purchase her music, go to www.melissaaldana.com.

The Magic of Getting Lost

As a senior in college, I find the question “what are your plans for after graduation?” completely agonizing. Although a little hectic with senior seminar, work, trying to decode my math homework, and trying to make it to the gym at least once this week, my day is going along just fine. Then, someone dares to ask about what I plan to do with my life after college. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you know exactly what you want to do. If you’re like me, and most other college students, you have absolutely no idea.

So, naturally, I email my advisor immediately to make an appointment on how my life is going nowhere because I can’t seem to figure out what to do with it. As usual, he calms me down and tells me that I’m exactly where I need to be and that it’s completely natural for a college student to have absolutely no idea where they want to take their diploma. As he always says, “Look at me, I came in as a music major and now I’m an English Professor.” However, this time I came to my advisor’s office for my monthly freak out, he had something else to give me; The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman.

As someone who is very organized, a master of To Do Lists, and needs to have a plan for almost everything in her life, this book was perfect for me. The Good Girls Guide to Getting Lost is a coming-of-age memoir about the amazing journey Friedman embarks on when she, a college grad, surprises herself and everyone around her by purchasing a ticket to Ireland. Never having been to Ireland, the good girl who had always done what she was supposed to now finds herself in a strange new country, making friends with a free-spirited Australian who loves nothing more than a good adventure. While abroad, Rachel travels from Ireland, to Australia, and to South America where she discovers her love for travel; all the while finding her true self.

Not only was this book warmhearted, hilarious, and honest, but it offered an amazing insight into what it’s like to travel abroad. This book is a fantastic read and highly recommended for anyone who feels like taking a trip and getting lost for a little bit. Even though my advisor had assured me many times before that it’s perfectly fine to be a little lost right now, I never truly accepted that until I read Rachel Friedman’s memoir. The Good Girls Guide to Getting Lost taught me that it’s okay to be unsure of yourself sometimes. It’s okay to be lost. Rachel shows us that in momentarily escaping some of life’s hardest decisions and living for the moment, getting lost allows us to find ourselves.

 

Written by Taylor Ward

 

What We’re Reading

Upon reading Kim Dinan’s first book, The Yellow Envelope, even the most apprehensive among us may start to see that if you believe in the ability of the Earth to take care of you, it will.
After Dinan moved to Portland with nothing but her husband, two dogs, and a few boxes, her generous new boss offered the luxury of her home (and tours of the city!) to the couple. Jump a few years into the future and Dinan had her own home, a different job, and a seemingly perfect life; but she knew that she was missing out on the life she wanted. After talking her husband into selling everything and planning to travel until whenever they decided when, her former boss (now friend) gifted the couple $1,000 in a yellow envelope to help others throughout their travels. They only had a few rules with the money. Don’t overthink it, document it (or not) so that they might be able to see it in the future, and decide the amounts to give away based on how they were inspired.
Throughout their travels in South America, India, Nepal, and Peru, Dinan realized that every time something on her trip didn’t go the way they planned, a native aided them. She was most surprised by the generosity that was shown in India. Between losing a cell phone and traveling in an old rickshaw that was prone to breaking down every time she drove it, someone was willing to reach out without expecting compensation in return.
She speaks openly about how their travels challenged the relationship between her and her husband. The strain of being constantly together in an unfamiliar environment after being in such a stable routine for years put constant tension into everything they did. The distances traveled, the strenuous hiking, and the ever-changing landscape took them as far apart as they could be, changed the outlook they both had on the relationship, but ultimately brought them back closer than ever.
The purpose of the yellow envelope was to make a difference in the world, no matter how slight. It also changed Dinan’s perspective on life completely. Not only did she gain more confidence and happiness through gifting small donations to many people during her travels, but the reality of traveling to Third World places brought her to appreciate the smallest things handed to her. She loved harder and more often. She came out of the three years of touring the world a completely different person.
While not many believe in the reality of dropping everything and traveling for extended periods of time, Dinan’s newly identified lessons can be incorporated into believing in the humanity of the world. It does still exist, and we should not be so scared that we miss the opportunity to experience it. Visit Dinan’s blog, www.so-many-places.com, to learn more about her travels and where to preorder The Yellow Envelope, which will be available for purchase on April 4.

Written by Zoe Pierson

Top 10 Romantic Getaways in the US

We all need a vacation sometimes, and that’s inevitable. What better time to start planning a romantic getaway than in the month of love? Whether that means a getaway accessible by car, or by hopping on a plane for a few hours, I have a few beautiful trips that don’t even require a passport.

#10 Indianapolis, IN
If the city is your cup of tea for a vacation, this city does it all. Many of the hotels here celebrate their love of art, sports, or both. A short walk leads to museums, restaurants, shopping, monuments, and sports arenas. At night, a lighted Canal Walk gives a tour of the city and sinks you into sweet dreams.

#9 Ketchum, ID
With a “small town” and European blend, this vacation was meant for keeping a packed schedule while relaxing. Breathtaking mountains offer stunning views that are also known for skiing. Music and art play a large role in the community, and day trips to the nearby Sun Valley offer many outdoor adventures.

#8 Portland, OR
This location truly has something for everyone. Contemporary art tends to be a common theme throughout the city with modern inventions making their way into society. City life sits right on the water, and you are always a short ride to mountains and hiking. Music and museums reign, night life is bustling, and a good restaurant is always in reach.

#7 Gatlinburg, TN
Maintaining timeless beauty for years, the mountains in Gatlinburg are a second home that call to you once you’ve begun to return home. With plenty of dining and shows to see within 30 minutes of anywhere, there is a guarantee to never be bored. Horse and buggy and skyline rides offer an insider’s view that can never be forgotten.

#6 Napa Valley, CA
Modern cottages are nestled in acres of wine country in this part of California. With elaborate pools, 4 and 5 star restaurants, and plenty of shopping, Napa Valley will make for an unforgettable experience and some great pictures. If hotels aren’t your thing, there are many camping sites that allow hunting, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

holding-hands-1599054_1920#5 Pittsboro, NC
Writers, authors, and musicians have all been bred from this area due to the luscious landscapes and the love for the arts. Bed and breakfasts and small inns are popular in this neck of the woods, and the Fearrington House is your perfect destination for a place to stay and a full blown spa.

#4 Barnard, VT
Many writers and journalists have passed through this area of Vermont, and have described the crisp air and clean spirit that it holds. This vacation would be perfect in the fall; leaves changing with the background of cottages, barns, and old farms. Silver Lake State Park provides beauty through the seasons, and peace and quiet are sure to help you wind down in this small town.

#3 Newport, RI
Many mansions serve as hotels in this little town, and they sit quietly on the coast. Despite how warm or cold the weather, the sound of water lapping the rocks and views of sailboats always cleanse the soul. Downtown, you can explore small, privately owned shops and great food. If you’re looking for a tan, small stretches of beach can be found all around town.

#2 Savannah, GA
Historic buildings and cobblestones bring many people to this location for their vacations. Southern hospitality keeps shops and sidewalks full, and meal times aren’t ever set in stone because deciding on a restaurant is far too difficult. Scary ghost stories don’t keep people from going out at night and even going on ghost tours. Music, water sports, and theaters are also large parts of the community.

#1: Little Torch Key, FL
It’s as close to the Caribbean as you can get without leaving the country. Little Torch Key is a small town in Florida that is right off the coast, accessible by boat or small plane. Tiki themed barbecues and thatched roofs throughout the small island provide the lasting impression of a friendly Caribbean town, and the white sand and crystal waters don’t hurt either.

 

Written by Zoe Pierson

Bella’s Floyd Yoga Jam Adventure

We spent the majority of our Labor Day weekend at Floyd Yoga Jam. In the mornings, a calm fog settled over the mountain as we awoke to the sound of a flute playing in the distance. Slowly, we made our way out of our tents, in search of coffee and the perfect spot to spread out our yoga mats.

FullSizeRender-2A sign on the trail reminded us to “believe in magic.” But, what is magic exactly? In a world where all that stands between you and what you want is a search bar on a tiny screen, it is hard to remember what we identified as magical in younger, simpler times. We were, of course, torn from those tiny screens as we made the trek up the mountain. One by one, our phones began to read, “No Signal.” Our attention turned to the surroundings, the people, and then almost remarkably inward.

Somewhere between our Thursday night arrival and our departure late Sunday, we felt the release of tension in our backs, our shoulders, and our spirits. As beginners, we worried that we would not be welcomed with open arms by those more experienced with yoga its various forms. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The instructors and fellow Jam attendees not only welcomed us, they inspired us to keep learning once our time on the mountain was over.

IMG_8675We can’t wait to go back to Yoga Jam next year! In the meantime, we’ve checked out videos and books from the library and scheduled classes to keep learning. What was once intimidating is now a deeply intriguing subject that we can’t wait to explore further. Thank you to everyone at Floyd Yoga Jam who made these beginners feel at home!