Tag: Ways

5 ways to bring a vacation experience home

The safest thing to do is stay home and self-isolate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a staycation.
camp sleepover set up
Courtesy of Ash + Arrow Events
sh + Arrow Events brings everything in to set up a slumber party, movie night, picnic or glamping experience for you and your little ones.

Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to going out during the pandemic. The safest thing to do is stay home and self-isolate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a staycation. Here are five ways to make time off at home feel like a getaway.

Plan a themed dinner.
Choose a theme and require a dress code. Set your table with fun dishes, glasses and silverware. Try a new recipe or order in — Madison is home to myriad restaurants serving almost any cuisine you can think of. Want to transport yourself to Paris? Order brunch from La Kitchenette, dig out that beret from the closet and tune up a French playlist on Spotify. Did you want to channel Walt Disney World? Have everyone dress up as their favorite animated characters and munch on Mickey Mouse-shaped snacks. If nothing else, a themed dinner will give you a break from the “what’s for dinner?” monotony.

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Bring some of your favorite destinations to your screen by enjoying a virtual concert or digitally walking through a museum. Travel Wisconsin has compiled a list of destinations offering tours, virtual events and videos that you can find here. Some highlights include virtual tours of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin near Spring Green, the Milwaukee Art Museum’s exhibitions and the American Birkebeiner course.

Bring your favorite bar home.
Put on your pajamas, cozy up on the couch and sip a drink from your favorite local bar or restaurant. While you might not be comfortable going out for a night on the town, places are making it easy by providing cocktail kits containing everything you need. Make margaritas from Canteen, gimlets from State Line Distillery, 25-ingredient bloody marys from Short Stack Eatery, Old-Fashioneds from Mint Mark and more. Madison bartenders and restaurant owners are more than happy to facilitate a boozy night in.

Have a spa day.
Everyone deserves a little pampering from time to time. Laquerus, a locally owned nail boutique, is now open for manicures, pedicures and lash extensions. But if you’d rather not venture out, Laquerus also has a fully stocked beauty shop with all the supplies you need for an at-home spa experience. Pick up a mani kit and choose from 40-plus nontoxic nail polishes. Laquerus also offers sheet masks, salt scrub, soy candles, lipsticks and roll-on balms — all the fixings for a full pampering session.

Transform your home.
Remember the days of creating blanket forts for movie nights? Ash + Arrow Events brings everything in to set up a slumber party, movie night, picnic or

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3 ways to keep your golf game sharp while on vacation

james colgan swings 3-wood

Here’s the difference a little hard-earned R&R can make for your golf game.

Welcome to the 30-Day Challenge sponsored by Medterra, where one GOLF.com staffer leaves no stone unturned in the pursuit of a simple goal — breaking 90 — with the hopes of helping you do the same. This is the fifth in a seven-part series detailing his no-holds-barred journey to the 80s — all in just one month. You can read part 1 about the program he’s using to get better here, part 2 (a swing fix from his front lawn) here, part 3 on his game-changing club-fitting here, and part 4 on the drill that turned the tide here.

A word of advice: if anyone ever challenges you to improve your golf game by 10 strokes over the span of 30 days, don’t plan a week-long vacation for the middle of those 30 days. And if, for some hedonistic reason, they challenge you to do it with the threat of public embarrassment for your failure, definitely don’t plan a week-long vacation.

true spec golf in new york city


James Colgan

I give this advice because I’ve lived this advice. Like the 90s-shooting dunce I am, I elected to schedule a vacation smack-dab in the middle of GOLF’s 30-Day Challenge. It was the end of summer, and the temptation of New York’s Adirondacks were too much to pass up.

I had a lovely week in Lake Placid, N.Y. (particularly as a hockey-and-beer nut), but it came at the expense of the practice routine I’d painstakingly created. The rhythm I’d built — three nights at the range, one day on the course, and countless more mental reps throughout the day — was inherently incompatible with day-long hikes and kayak trips.

This disruption was of particular importance to me. Practice reps are your lifeblood if you’re trying to shave 10 strokes off your score. A week away from the range can undo your fixes, cost you feel, or worse, return you to the bad habits that left you shooting in the 90s and 100s in the first place.

But I wasn’t ready to accept defeat on the 30-Day Challenge because I trekked into the mountains for the week. If anything, I hoped to use the time to my advantage.

As I packed into the car, I decided to adopt a course management technique as my philosophy for the week: focus on the course in front of you, not the one behind you.

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Sure, I couldn’t spent hours at the range, but the bevy of fantastic courses in the Lake Placid area would serve a unique challenge for me. I’d have fewer chances to practice, but they’d be higher quality reps. I needed to turn my attention to what I still had (virtual training capability

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6 ways using an authorized Disney vacation planner will improve your trip

a large stone statue in front of a building

© Provided by The Points Guy

MSN has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. MSN and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers.

Three years ago, I was a brand-new Disney novice. I knew there was a monumental effort required to plan the perfect Disney trip, so I proverbially shelved that travel project for years until I believed my kids would be old enough that the effort would be worth it. What I didn’t know at the time is that there are people who would do the majority of that mental lifting for you … for free.

I met a travel agent specializing in Disney destinations who was a points-and-miles novice. For a year, we traded each other knowledge within our unique skillsets. And while I’m no longer a Disney novice myself, what I’ve learned is that Disney World is such a unique vacation destination that it’s still one of the arenas in travel where it greatly benefits you to have an expert guide you along the way.

Related: Everything you need to know about visiting Walt Disney World Resort

Authorized Disney vacation planners make their money off commissions they receive from Disney when you book a trip through them. Their vacation prices are not inflated, and as we’ll discuss, they are often the way to find the best prices available.

Here are the top six reasons you should use an authorized Disney vacation planner to book your next trip to Disney World. I’ve now booked this way several times, even though I’m no longer a newbie to visiting Disney World.

Related: What it’s like inside a reopened Disney World 

They do all the work

Booking a Disney hotel and buying theme park tickets may seem easy enough, but a complex array of options and add-ons can make it daunting to a Disney novice — even once you’ve picked the best Disney World hotel for your trip.

Currently, things are a bit different than normal. FastPass+ is temporarily suspended and you need to book parks for specific days you are going to visit due to COVID-19 precautions.

But, there are still premium Disney restaurant experiences and character dining you want to reserve well in advance as these do book up. Your vacation planner can handle all of this for you and offer a variety of overall trip-pricing options based on which level of luxury you want to travel in.

Sometimes bookings (and any related changes) may need to be made over the phone or early in the morning, starting at 6 a.m. — but that won’t be your problem as your vacation planner will handle it for you.

Related: How much does a trip to Disney World cost 


Rise of the Resistance attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

© The Points Guy
Rise of the Resistance attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

During non-pandemic times, the

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New ways to protect your 2021 vacation

But he’s not taking any chances, and neither are other travelers. They’re looking for new ways to protect their 2021 trips. Among their strategies: taking advantage of more-permissive booking policies, buying new travel insurance policies that specifically cover a pandemic and subscribing to services that can help them at their destinations.

Kato safeguarded his upcoming adventure in several ways. His first step was to book with a company that has a lenient cancellation policy. Viking, his cruise line, allows him to change his cruise date up to 24 hours before departure without paying a penalty. He turned down Viking’s offer of a 3 percent discount if he paid by cash. That way, if something goes wrong, he can dispute the charges on his credit card.

“I’ve also maintained my annual travel insurance plan with Allianz, which provides some cancellation coverage and covers repatriation and emergency medical expenses,” he says.

Airlines also have eliminated some, though not all, change fees. Generally, you will still pay a change fee for extra-cheap economy-class tickets and international tickets, though policies vary from airline to airline. Taken together, these amount to some of the most consumer-friendly booking policies in a generation.

“Airlines are now offering incredible flexibility,” says Juan Fernandez, operating partner at Elli Travel, a travel agency in Larchmont, N.Y. “For hotels, it’s important to book refundable rates.” He says travelers can take the extra step of calling and asking a front-desk manager or in-house reservations manager how the hotel handles credits and refunds.

Fernandez’s advice applies to any kind of travel booked for 2021. If you want to know how a travel company will handle pandemic-related disruptions, or cancellations for other reasons, just ask. Chances are, the airline, cruise line or hotel has a policy in place.

Sometimes you can pay a little extra for some peace of mind. For example, Alaska Tour & Travel offers what it calls a “worry-free” cancellation waiver that allows travelers to cancel an Alaska tour up to 31 days before the trip. It costs 3 percent of the price of the tour, which is about half the price of travel insurance. The waiver also provides a full refund for a cancellation because of a medical emergency or a death within the traveling party or the immediate family, as long as the company receives cancellation notice at least 24 hours before the start of your tour.

“The one thing we can count on is uncertainty,” says Bailey Foster, a vice president at travel insurance company Trawick International.

Foster recommends finding a travel insurance policy that includes trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage. Most travel insurance doesn’t cover a cancellation made because of fear of a coronavirus infection, but some policies do cover pandemic-related treatments and mandatory quarantines.

That’s a big change from earlier this year, when travel insurance coverage for such treatments and quarantines was “unthinkable,” says Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO of VisitorsCoverage, a company that sells medical insurance for travelers. “There was nothing available for travelers facing the

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47 Ways to Save Money on Vacation

According to American Express, about one in three Americans plan to spend at least $1,000 per person on their next summer vacation – or $4,000 for a family of four.

International travel is of course a major budget-buster, but modest weekend getaways and regional road trips add up quickly too. No matter where you’re planning to go, what you’re planning to do, or how long you’re planning to stay, it behooves you to do whatever it takes (within reason) to reduce your expenditures.

I spoke with more than a dozen travel experts and dug deep into my own travels past to compile this comprehensive list of tips to save money on any vacation. It’s organized in roughly chronological order, beginning with destination selection. Have a look!

How to Save Money on Any Vacation

1. Look for Destinations With Favorable Exchange Rates

If you’re eyeing a trip abroad, your first move is to look for destinations with favorable exchange rates – that is, where local currencies are weak relative to the U.S. dollar. Look for countries experiencing momentary political or economic instability, a condition that often puts downward pressure on currency values.

One caveat: Don’t rush to take advantage of favorable exchange rates if it means putting yourself in harm’s way. More often than not, currency devaluation is a symptom of deeper problems. Since 2013, the Mexican peso has fallen more than 25% against the U.S. dollar in recent years due in part to widespread cartel violence, according to XE Currency. That’s an enticing proposition for bargain-hunting travelers – as long as they steer well clear of hot spots.

My wife and I took advantage of a slightly less dramatic discrepancy: We visited Porto and Lisbon, Portugal in the fall of 2016, when the euro was near a multiyear low against the dollar. Our out-of-pocket costs were about 30% lower than on my previous trip to Europe eight years earlier.

2. Sign Up for a Cheap Flight Newsletter

If you’re not set on a specific destination, sign up for a cheap flight newsletter that curates deeply discounted flight deals to various destinations.

My go-to is Scott’s Cheap Flights, a free newsletter that comes every day or two, on average. Each deal indicates what you can expect to pay for the cheap flight against the normal fare range, plus a brief description of what you need to do to get the deal (sometimes the instructions are a little convoluted), the deal’s expected lifespan (usually no more than a couple days from the email’s time stamp), and the travel date ranges during which it’s likely to apply (usually a span of several months into the future).

Scott’s absolute best deals are reserved for the newsletter’s premium version, which costs $39 per year and comes about twice as often. I don’t travel internationally enough to justify the investment, but if you head abroad for business or pleasure more than once or twice a year, it might be worth your while.

3. Set Price Alerts

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19 cheapest ways to get travel money

It goes without saying that for safety, many like to have a wad of euros, dollars or lire in their overseas wallet before they jet off – in which case our TravelMoneyMax tool will do the job.

However, it may be cheaper to travel cashless and simply withdraw money from an ATM at your destination airport with a top travel credit card. Do this and you’ll benefit from near-perfect exchange rates (which’ll beat the rates offered on exchanging cash in advance). 

However, bear in mind that it may be difficult to avoid ATM fees in certain countries. From our experiences at MSE Towers, we’ve seen ATM fees in Vietnam, Thailand, India, the US and elsewhere – though going cashless may still work out cheaper than taking cash even after factoring in the odd ATM fee.

Remember that if using a credit card overseas, almost all card providers will charge interest from the moment you make a cash withdrawal. To minimise this, pay off the balance IN FULL while abroad. Also see the point below in regards to the potential credit score impact of withdrawing cash on a credit card.

It’s also worth being aware that not all airports will have an ATM at arrivals. Others will have them but may charge fees or worse, not be in working order. If you do plan on travelling cashless, it may be worth researching the airport online before you go.

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10 Ways to Eat Healthy While on Vacation

A vacation is a time to unwind, to celebrate, to rejuvenate, to see new
places and try new things. But it can also make you very uneasy about eating –
if, for example, you are trying to eat healthy and maintain or lose weight.
Here are 10 ways to stay on a healthy eating plan while on vacation and still
enjoy yourself!

1. Resist the Urge to Splurge

According to a study led by Linda H. Clemens EdD, RD, of the Consumer
Science and Education Department at the University of Memphis, women tend to
splurge when they eat out, then eat normal amounts during their other meals
that day. This means they end up with an abundance of calories and fat that day
— much more than the body needs!


Clemens believes we should no longer think of eating out as a special treat
and thus give ourselves carte blanche to overindulge.

“Most of us grew up thinking of eating out as an event that didn’t
happen too often,” she explains. But today, many of us eat out on a daily

What has happened to women nutritionally because of this trend? In a study
published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 1999, Clemens
and other researchers found that the more often women ate out, the higher the
total calories, grams of fat, and milligrams of sodium their diets

There are probably three main factors that contribute to this overabundance
of calories and fat coming from restaurant meals:

  • We tend to splurge by choosing higher-fat and higher-calorie menu
  • Restaurants are serving us large portions,
  • And we are eating it — all of it.

According to a recent survey by the American Institute for Cancer Research,
67% of Americans say they finish their entrees always or most of the time.
Sometimes, it isn’t what you are eating as much as how much you
eat that gets you into nutritional trouble.

Melanie Polk, RD, nutrition director at the American Institute for Cancer
Research, recommends exercising portion control even in restaurants.

“Some Americans are now ordering half-sized portions, sharing entrees,
taking home leftovers, and ordering appetizers as meals,” she says.


2. Have It Your Way

When it comes to table-service restaurants, customers are asking to have it
their way more and more, according to a recent National Restaurant Association
report. Some 80% of restaurants with meals averaging $25 or higher per person,
and 70% of restaurants with meals averaging under $25 per person, say customers
are more interested in customized menu items now than even two years ago.

What, in particular, are customers asking for? They often want menu items
prepared or dressed a different way than is listed on the menu. People also
like to have a range of portion sizes to choose from, and many diners are
asking to have part of their meal “doggy-bagged.”

3. Enjoy the

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