Traveling Thursday – National Park Free Admission

This week’s post is short and sweet. This Saturday, September 29 is National Public Lands Day. That means fees are waived at all of our national parks. If you can’t make it to a park this weekend, the next fee-free days will be Nov. 10-12 in celebration of Veteran’s Day.

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Traveling Thursday – Leaf peeping

Pumpkin spice latte season  Err, I mean autumn officially starts this weekend and soon, many of us will take to the road to do a little leaf peeping. I’ve put together a list of links to make your planning easier and your trip just a bit more enjoyable.

Oh before we get to the links, did you know that the US Forest Service has a fall color hotline?  800-354-4595

The Foliage Network (frequently updated maps)
Fall Photography tips
Unexpected Fall Color Spots
State by State Guide to Fall Color (includes links and state-specific numbers)
Fodor’s Guide to Fall
Travel + Leisure Ultimate Fall Guide
Scenic Drives in the Northeast

And a few links highlighting spots that are close to home, for me anyway…
Upstate SC Best State Parks for Color
Upstate SC Leaf Report
Romantic Asheville’s Fall Foliage Info

Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway Gas Availability Map
Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Guide

No matter where you go to see the leaves, remember to have fun and be patient on the roads. Take your time and be open to unexpected stops like apple orchards, craft fairs, and small diners. Remember, it’s an adventure and not a race.

Traveling Thursday – Greetings and salutations

We’re always busy. We’re always running. We ask someone how they’re doing but rarely want to hear anything more than a cursory response. I’ve made it my goal to slow down a little and really mean it when I ask someone how things are going.
Even if you don’t do this during your everyday life, I challenge you to do it on your next vacation. I know it’s not always reasonable to have a long chat with everyone you encounter during your trip but when you have the chance, take it. Be a warmer, friendlier version of yourself.

Find out if the person at the front desk of the hotel is having a good day before diving into your questions about local attractions and restaurants. Talk to the servers at the restaurants and your tour guides. I’m not saying you have to find out their life history, or share yours, but just take sometime to treat them like a human being and you’ll be surprised how the conversations you’ll have can add to the enjoyment of your trip. By taking this approach, I’ve heard amazing stories, learned about other cultures and customs (even when traveling domestically), laughed my butt off, and been treated to great recommendations. You’ll also find that when you are friendly to those you encounter, they start to look out for you which is fantastic when traveling solo.

By doing this on vacation, I’ve also found it easier to incorporate this approach into my daily life. You be surprised how something so simple can make you happy and help bring a little of that vacation feeling into even the most mundane things.

Traveling Thursday – Alerts from your airline

Mr. McB’s last two business trips have involved flight cancellations the day before departure. In both instances, the cancellations were not weather related. Thankfully, he signed up for the airline’s alert service when booking the flight and received a call to announce the cancellations and give instructions for rebooking.

Every traveler should sign up for these notifications when booking a flight. Each airline has its own way of doing this  but it’s always pretty simple and I believe some automatically opt you in. Seriously, say yes to the alerts and save yourself a lot of hassle.

Oh and for those of you who are often on airport pickup duty like I am, I highly recommend FlightStats to track your loved ones travels. They also have a mobile alert system.