Traveling With Disabilities

T R A V E L I N G

Fortunately, in the past few years, the travel industry has become more accessible for all types of people, including those with disabilities. However, you can never be certain if a hotel is going to have large enough doorways for a wheelchair, or if a particular destination has copious amounts of hilly walking — so we’ve come up with a few good tips to ensure you have a enjoyable trip, free of worry.

1. Always call ahead to check accommodations. In most states, travel providers are required by law to make reasonable accommodations for disabled persons, so as long as you give them a 24-48 hour heads up, they should meet your needs.

2. Be specific when describing the disability and the needs required. Not everyone will be aware just what is needed for each specific disability, so you will need to be clear in detailing what accommodations need to be made.

3. Talk to your doctor beforehand to get some tips. They may have specific suggestions for you based on destination, time of year, type of lodging and other various factors.

4. Always bring extra medication, if it is required. Most doctors recommend bringing double of what you would need on a trip in case of delays or emergencies.

5. Request your doctor to find local physician availability where you’ll be staying in case of emergency. Most doctors will be able to network and relay specific information to colleagues in other states to ensure the local doctor is aware of your situation, should anything come up.

6. For flying, make sure to arrive as early as possible to make arrangements for seating with the flight attendants, if your disability requires that extra space. Also be sure to grab the attendant’s attention before landing to make a plan for a smooth exit.

7. Be aware of your rights, especially at an airport. Read the TSA’s rules for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division has a comprehensive guide to the rights of disabled air travelers.

Battle of the Chinatowns: San Francisco vs. New York City

San Francisco

There’s only two spots in the U.S. where you can get as close to Asian culture as possible without crossing the Pacific — San Francisco and New York City’s Chinatowns. But if you had to decide between the two — which should you choose? We’ve weighed the pros and cons of both so you can decide!

sanfranchina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Francisco

SanFran’s Chinatown is the oldest in the country, which gives it more of an authentic feel to some. Established in 1848, it served as a hub for many new immigrants, and that has contributed to it’s true concern for preserving the traditional culture.

Walkability

It’s pretty hilly, but if you think you can manage the relatively small neighborhood of just 30 blocks, you should be able to walk it out.

Shopping

Calligraphy shops, a China Herbs Co, and a China Wok shop are just a few stores you’ll enjoy strolling through.

Activities

Participate in tai chi (an Asian form of yoga) in the park, or take a nightly ghost tour to see spirits of immigrants past.

Eats

Many small cafes offer butter cream buns, traditional donuts, and juicy chive dumplings to go, or for a sit-down restaurant, try following the actual residents to see where the real treats are — places such as the RNG Lounge and the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory.

Culture

Visit the Chinese Historical Society of America to see what it was like to grow up in this small, sometimes cramped neighborhood via life-size dioramas.


 

nycchina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York City

New York’s Chinatown may not be the first, but it claims to have the biggest Chinese-American hub in the country. This Chinatown is much more diverse and strays from the traditional, but offers a lot more to do.

Walkability

Two miles below Manhattan is the terrain covered by NYC Chinatown, and it tends to get a bit crowded. The streets may be wider than most in the city, but you’ll still find a crowd.

Shopping

Get a personalized pair of chopsticks at Yunhong’s, fabrics and statues at the Pearl River Mart, and tons of Asian groceries at one of the many authentic markets.

Eats

For some of the most delicious — and cheapest — food in the city, head to Jing Fong or the Golden Unicorn, or try something with more American fusion at Dim Sum Go Go, Xi’an Famous Foods, or the Peking Duck House.

Culture

Enjoy the Hong Kong Boat Races in the park, visit the Museum of Chinese American History, and explore one of the many emerging art galleries.


So, which would you choose? Let us know in the comments on Facebook!

 

 

America’s Most Beautiful Public Gardens

We may be closing in on winter, but that doesn’t mean your love for botany has to leave for the season. The United States has some of the most beautiful public gardens in the world, many of which are free of cost. Here are a few of our favorites.

longwood

1. Longwood Gardens, Philadelphia

Over 1,700 acres in Kennett Square has consistently been voted America’s best garden, with indoor and outdoor exhibits, as well as events and educational programs.

 

 

 

 

via lewisginter.org

via lewisginter.org

2. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, VA

50 acres of more than a dozen themed gardens, such as Healing Garden, Fountain Garden, Victorian Garden and more, make this mid-Atlantic garden one of the most exquisite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

callaway

via callawaygardens.com

3. Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, GA

These gardens exist as a public, educational, horticultural and charitable organization, and they follow through with that mission by offering plenty of classes and workshops to help the community contribute to the massive gardens and preserves.

 

 

 

 

via chicagobotanic.org

via chicagobotanic.org

4. Chicago Botanic Garden

You wouldn’t normally imagine a massive garden in the middle of an urban paradise, but this free botanical community is filled with wonderful exhibitions such as butterfly houses, holiday celebrations and art pieces inspired by nature.

 

 

 

 

via cheekwood.org

via cheekwood.org

5. Cheekwood Botanical Garden

In the land of country music, Nashville promotes more than just beautiful music. The Cheekwood Gardens feature not only your standard botanical scenery, but is also paired with an incredible art museum. Choose between 55 acres of gardens or 33,000 square feet of art, or squeeze both into one culture-filled day of fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

via japanesegarden.com

via japanesegarden.com

6. Portland Japanese Garden

Perhaps the  most authentic garden of its kind outside of Japan, the Portland Japanese Garden has five parts — the Flat Garden, Strolling Pond, Tea Garden, Natural Garden and Sand and Stone Garden. With five incredible different ecosystem-styles to choose from, you’re bound to find something beautiful that strikes you.

The Best Small Towns in America

via visitbardstown.com

via visitbardstown.com

When many think of classic Americana ideals, they think of the picturesque small town. With all the hustle and bustle of daily life in the new Millennium, you may find it hard to believe that these quaint types of towns still even exist, but Fodor’s has compiled a list of the best one’s of 2014 to offer you as proof.

 

Telluride, Colorado

For an outdoor adventure at any time of the year, Telluride is the best well-hidden destination. Try skiing in the winter, mountain biking in the fall, long hikes in the summer and just about any other outdoor sport imaginable in the summer. Annual film and bluegrass festivals bring in an outside crowd that the locals consistently greet warmly.

 

Marfa, Texas

Marfa is best known for its interesting art installations, such as a fake Prada store built in the middle of the desert. For a spookier activity, check out the Marfa Lights, which most speculate are simply car headlights or small fires across the horizon, but create such a strange phenomenon that it’s yet to be officially explained.

 

Calistoga, California

You probably don’t think of anything “small” when Cali comes to mind, but the residents of Calistoga promise they’re nothing like their rowdy Hollywood neighbors. Lined with dozens of Western-style storefronts, the town preserves its local feel by banning all food chains and large franchises from building in the city limits.

 

Port Townsend, Washington

At the very tip of the Olympic Peninsula, this teeny town is actually a tourist spot for Seattle Urbanites looking for a rural escape. Priding itself on a strong artistic culture, you’re bound to find a festival, show, play, or vintage boutique to explore and enjoy.

 

Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Famous for being the inspiration behind Norman Rockwell’s art on Saturday Evening Post, this itty bitty town of just over 1,000 residents is filled with timeless architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as eclectic shopping and dining.

 

Ashland, Oregon

Victorian homes, a town square with a stream literally running through it, and a 93-acre park make this northeastern town a must-stop if you’re passing by. After enjoying local art and dining, catch a play at one of the best Shakespeare Festivals in the country.

 

Bardstown, Kentucky

With a Main Street that’ll knock you right back into the early 20th century, this stop in Bourbon Country is recommended by most Kentucky residents. This second-oldest state town is filled with Georgian architecture, and a visit to many of the distilleries in the area will entertain any guest of age.

 

Top 5 Beaches in the U.S.

Winter is quickly approaching, so to keep you from falling too deep into the cold weather blues, here is a little something to keep you dreaming of summer 2015 — the top 5 beaches in America according to Stephen Leatherman, professor and director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University.

 

via Dr Beach

via Dr Beach

 

5. Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Cliffs, palm trees and bountiful plants decorate this incredible Hawaiian beach in Maui. But it’s not all fun and games — the beach is actually located in a breached volcanic crater!

 

 

 

via foxnews.com

via foxnews.com

 

4. Waimanalo Bay State Park, Oahu, Hawaii

If you aren’t a fan of the big waves and rough currents, this beach is for you. Complete with lifeguards on duty, outdoor showers, tons of public parking and clean restrooms, this beach is a favorite for Hawaiian locals.

 

 

 

via foxnews.com

via foxnews.com

 

3. St. George Island State Park, Florida

This super-white squeaks-when-you-walk sandy beach is part of a state park on the eastern end of Florida. Birding and fishing are popular here, as well as stingray sightings and dune-walking.

 

 

 

barefoot beach

via Dr Beach

 

2. Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park, Bonita Springs, Florida

This 8,200 foot long, 342 acre park is a staple for Florida residents. Gentle surf and shallow waters make for a perfect family outing.

 

 

 

 

dr beach

via Dr Beach

 

1. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

Named in honor of Duke Paoa Kahanamoku,  a gold medal Olympic swimmer who is credited with bringing surfing to the U.S., this beach is bounded by the Ala Wai small boat harbor and the Hilton Hawaiian Village catamaran pier. Big waves make it the perfect surf spot!

10 Free Things To Do In Las Vegas

10 FREE

Las Vegas is known as the place to spend big and win big, but if you’re traveling on a budget, there’s plenty of activities in Sin City that don’t cost you a dime!

 

1. Aquarium at the Silverton

In this 117,000 gallon aquarium, you’ll not only see 4,000 species of exotic fish, but the rarest fish of them all — mermaids! At the Silverton Aquarium, trained swimmers and ballerinas entertain kids and adults alike with their mermaid shows in this massive tank.  If Ariel wasn’t your favorite Disney Princess growing up, stick around for trainers to demonstrate live feedings of the live-in stingrays.

2. Bellagio Conservatory

Nearly 15,000 visitors a day come to revel in the Bellagio horticulturists’ masterpiece garden. These conservatory shows are more like a Broadway production than a typical botanical garden.

3. Circus Acts at Circus Circus

A free circus? Count us in! At Circus Circus, 60 seats on a first-come-first-serve basis are filled by guests eager to witness expert jugglers, unicyclists, acrobats and trapeze artists, to name a few. On the Circus Midway, guests can play more than 200 arcade games of skill and chance.

4. Fremont Street Experience

Vintage Las Vegas paired with high-tech entertainment makes the shows on Fremont Street a close contender to the Vegas Strip. A canopy the size of a football field projects one the best light shows you’ll ever see, while ziplines, music and dance pave the way for you to create your own fun in an incredible atmosphere.

5. M&Ms World

Four floors of your favorite colored M&Ms greet visitors with a chocolate craving in Vegas. Learn about the history of this iconic candy while participating in interactive exhibits and films, as well as grabbing a personalized souvenir!

6. Sunset Stampede

A lush forest in the middle of the desert makes for one of Vegas’ most unique free attractions. At the Sunset Stampede, an animatronic show of forest creatures, babbling brooks, windy trees and more has been entertaining guests since 1994 — with plenty of incredible high-tech additions since then.

7. Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo

For the live inspiration behind the iconic Flamingo neon sign on the Strip, the Wildlife Habitat at the grand hotel brings you up close and personal with not only hundreds of flamingos, but exotic ducks, birds and koi fish as well. Bring your camera fully charged, because these friendly creatures might just walk up to you and say hello!

8. Volcano at the Mirage

The massive electronic volcano at the Mirage is the closest you’ll ever get to molten lava without being in any actual danger. $25 million worth of updates have made this one of the most iconic attractions on the Strip, filled with fire, music, choreography and amazement. Be careful if you arrive early enough for a front row spot — things tend to get a little toasty.

9. Fall of Atlantis at Ceaser’s

For 11 incredible minutes, guests inside the Ceaser’s Shops will be thrust into a recreation of roaring fires, splashing waters, thunderous sounds, and a 20-foot-tall beast accompanying the tale of King Atlas and his jealous children who destroy an entire kingdom.

10. Hershey’s Chocolate World

Need a break from the glitz and glamour of Vegas, paired with a sweet treat? Hershey’s Chocolate World invites visitors to a magical world of chocolate and creativity. Ever wondered what a 800 pound replica of the Statue of Liberty looks like? Probably not, but you are now!

 

7 Food Delights to Try in New Orleans

New Orleans is all about flavor. The people, the music, the parades, and the history in NOLA are anything but bland — and neither is the food. Here are seven of the best restaurants in New Orleans, and the dishes you have to taste to believe.

1. Clancy’s

French-Creole classics and a nearly religious devotion to local seafood powers the menu at Clancy’s.

Food delight: Veal chop with roasted tomato and herb demiglaze

clancys veal chop

via nola.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Cochon

Cochon’s chefs focus on the most important characteristics of Cajun food: seasonality, terroir and powerhouse flavor.

Food delight: Cane syrup glazed pork cheeks with mushrooms and roasted corn grits

cochon pork cheeks

via nola.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Commander’s Place

Dubbed “haute Creole” by critics and fans, Commander’s Place has a much friendlier atmosphere than you’d guess from its title.

Food delight: Couchon de Lait Po Boy with forever braised shoulder of pork with crispy onions, autumn mushrooms, pecan pesto grilled French bread and sticky pig trotter

commanders

via nola.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Coquette

Blending flavors from Memphis and Saigon to Napa Valley and Tel Aviv, the dining at Coquette has the feel of multiple restaurants all in one.

Food delight: Black mission figs with raw cheddar, marconas, honeycomb

via nola.com

via nola.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Domenica

If you thought Italian food had no place in NOLA, think again. Domenica’s traditional style pizza is enough to blow the socks off Julia Child.

Food delight: Pizza margherita

domenica

via urbanspoon.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Gautreau’s

This American-style upscale restaurant will make you proud to come from the land of burgers and hot dogs (though you won’t find any of those on this exquisite menu).

Food delight: Citrus poached shrimp with heirloom tomatoes and horseradish creme fraiche

via nola.com

via nola.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Herbsaint

The renowned chefs at Herbsaint effortlessly splice Louisiana ingredients and dishes with the French bistro and Italian trattoria canons. 

Food delight: Lamb and mushroom lasagna

via nola.com

via nola.com

What Groups Do We Serve?

WATER SPORT

While our sister company, Adventure Student Travel, focuses mainly on student group trips, we expand our services to a wide variety of potential travel clients. Curious if your group could book with Group Tours? Here are just a few of the types of groups we serve.

Business Travel – We know the importance of work away from home, and we are determined to relieve as much stress for your group as possible.  Our travel team works hard to get you to your destination and on the ground so you can get the work done. We can do as much or as little as required to be sure your business trip is a smooth transition from the office to working out in the field. Accommodations will likely require work space, wireless internet, and quick access to a meal or reservations for a working dinner with a colleague or client. Our travel team will take the leg work out of finding the best hotel properties for your meetings and conferences. Leave the travel worries to us while you focus on your work.

Group Cruises – Group cruises offer the amazing perks of only unpacking once, and seeing countless destinations. Some exciting group cruises we’ve planned in the past have left from ports like Miami, New Orleans, Galveston, Texas, andLos Angeles. You’ll soon discover a cruise ship is a getawaA reunion with the members of your military unit can be a moving experience, a time to reflect on all you’ve been through together and to catch up on the lives you’re building today. It can be combined with great military sites around the nation, creating a powerful tribute and a bridge from yesterday to today.y in itself, and the journey is the destination. Here’s where you begin to try new and exciting things – from surfing to on-deck sports and activities. Inside, you’ll enjoy entertainment, buffets, cinema, shopping, and even more activities. Each day, you’ll have the opportunity to stop off on a new destination. The variety of destinations for your cruise is almost limitless, but we’ll help you narrow down the many exciting choices.

Family Reunions – No matter if your family is large or small, call us and we’ll plan a reunion you’ll be talking about for years to come. We’ll deal with the tricky details of where to stay and what transportation to choose, and you can spend your valuable time finding out what new destinations your loved ones want to explore. We know that traveling with family means making tough choices — an adult could walk around a museum all day, but a child may only last an hour — so we’re here to talk you through it using our years of experience as a guide.

Military Reunions – A reunion with the members of your military unit can be a moving experience, a time to reflect on all you’ve been through together and to catch up on the lives you’re building today. It can be combined with great military sites around the nation, creating a powerful tribute and a bridge from yesterday to today. Whether you visit Washington D.C. or a war memorial of your choosing, we’ll handle all the details so you can enjoy the experience.

Sports Team Travel – Sports team travel can be extremely complicated. Getting a team together is exciting, but when the dust settles and it’s time to make arrangements for traveling to the next big event, a travel professional is a good person to have on speed dial. Coaches don’t typically have time to make all the arrangements necessary to ensure every detail is taken care of so all the team has to do upon arrival is play ball. The soccer mom who helped with the schedule and arranging the refreshments can’t be expected to do it all. Our friendly and professional travel operators are here to meet the unique requirements of traveling with a team. Call us whether you need flights arranged around your competition schedule or motor coaches reserved within your budget. We are here to help.

Dont have an official organization, but just a big group of friends who want to go somewhere fun? Call us today or email us here.

The Best Tips For Traveling in Large Groups

best group tipsGroup travel, as you may be able to tell, is our company’s passion! We believe in group travel for a wide variety of reasons, but mainly because we know traveling with friends, classmates and loved ones is the best way to make memories to last a lifetime. However, group travel can occasionally get tricky if you don’t go about it the right way — so let us share some tips to make your trip a smooth sailin’ good time!

1. Discuss your plan in-depth before the final booking. Our travel coordinators will walk your group representative step-by-step through your itinerary choices, but it’s a really good idea to have a sort of public-forum for your group to discuss choices — a Facebook group or email chat usually works well for this. Be sure everyone is in agreement on where to visit, where to stay and what the budget will be like — or you may have some unhappy campers.

2. Think about the types of discounts groups are offered. One of the big perks of group travel is the money you’ll save booking for large groups! We have all the right connections to get you the lowest travel costs, but remember — usually, more is more in this industry! So gather up all your closest friends and save big on the trip of a lifetime.

3. Stay organized and informed. We’ll be in close contact all throughout your booking process, so hopefully this step won’t be too difficult. Just be sure to return all forms, sign every last document, and keep your group updated with any changes made so that you’re all on the same page once the trip begins.

4. Don’t overplan! This can be a tough one to break away from, because you naturally want to stuff as much as you can into your trip! It’s crucial to include some extra time for transportation, little hold-ups, and most importantly, relaxation! Plan an hour longer than you thought you’d need at the beach, or push back the start of your day to sleep in just a tad longer, and you’ll stay happy and rested.

5. Communicate. Not only with your group, but with Exploring America! We’ll be available on-call with any questions or troubles you may run into during your trip.

6. Most importantly — have a blast!

The Current State of American Vacation Time

skift travel habits

via Skift

By Skift’s research, half of America has not taken a single vacation day this year.

Using Google Consumer surveys, Skift came to the conclusion that since the beginning of 2014, 51 percent of American’s claimed they have not taken a day off work. 15 percent of Americans say they’ve taken more than 10 vacation days this year, while the rest is split between those who took fewer than 5, and those who took between 5-10 vacation days this year.

Overall, less women have taken vacations than men, and more Western regioners have taken time off than those in the Northeast. Interestingly enough, the income-range with the least amount of vacation time is right in the middle, at $50,000 to $75,000, with the highest income range ($150,000+) taking the most vacations.

Many researchers and industry experts conclude that America needs to reform its vacation policies in the workplace. Some possible reasons for American’s lack of vacation time include feeling trapped by work, needing standards for paid time off, and having a collective identity of overworking.

What does all this mean for Exploring America fans? — it’s time to take some time for yourself to travel.