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Visit El Salvador

Top 5 reasons to visit El Salvador in 2018

(BPT) – El Salvador, Central America’s smallest country, attracts a wide array of intrepid travelers who come to experience its vibrant culture and diverse outdoor activities. From its rich Maya history, to its volcanic beauty and generations-old artisan heritage, El Salvador provides plenty for travelers to explore.

El Salvador is incredibly easy to reach from the U.S. and offers everything from ecotourism to culinary adventures at a fraction of the price of more well-known Central American destinations. There are regular direct flights to El Salvador from major U.S. cities, including New York City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, and there is no need to exchange money upon arrival, as the U.S. dollar is the national currency.

Here are five ways to make the most of a trip to El Salvador.

1. Kick back at the beach – There is no shortage of world-class beaches in El Salvador, with warm Pacific waters lapping on nearly 200 miles of coastline. Surfers flock to La Libertad for its renowned waves and international competitions. Those interested in learning to surf can find lessons for as low as $10. Along black sand beaches, travelers will find amazing seafood to enjoy while taking in magnificent ocean views.

2. Hike volcanoes and waterfalls – El Salvador is known as the “Land of Volcanoes” with 25 volcanoes visible to the naked eye. Many travelers combine a city tour of San Salvador with an easy volcano hike in El Boquerón National Park, just a short drive from the city. Local guides can navigate visitors up steeper volcanoes for half- and full-day trips. The country’s tallest volcano is Santa Ana Volcano in Cerro Verde National Park northwest of San Salvador where hikers will find moderate to difficult trails with a stunning turquoise crater lake at the top.

3. Get caffeinated on a coffee tour – El Salvador’s high altitude and tropical climate create the ideal conditions for growing coffee beans, and the country is known as one of the world’s top regions for specialty coffee production. Chances are that you have enjoyed java that originated in the mountainous region of El Salvador. A tour of El Carmen Coffee Estate gives visitors a closer look at the coffee-making process and provides the chance to taste some of the best coffee on earth straight from the source.

4. Get crafty with an artisanal immersion – Several of El Salvador’s small colonial towns are known for signature artisanal crafts that travelers can learn during their stay. Those that travel north from San Salvador to the quaint town of Suchitoto can make their way to the Arte Añil workshop and gallery to learn how to dye cloth with indigo as the Maya once did. Further north, the town of La Palma draws inspiration from the Maya to create the Arte Naíf drawing style. Visitors learn to paint with spontaneity without adhering to perfect proportions, creating bright and contrasting colored designs on locally harvested copinol seeds for a truly exotic souvenir.

5. Dig into the past with an archaeological site visit – Known as the “Pompeii of the Americas,” the UNESCO World Heritage Site Joya de Ceren provides a fascinating look at an ancient farming community that was buried in ash from a nearby volcano. A visit to the site and the nearby pyramids at San Andrés educates travelers on the lives of Central America’s original inhabitants who lived there as many as 1,000 years before Europeans arrived.

With easy flight options, low prices for world-class experiences, and the ability to hike a volcano in the morning and surf in the afternoon, it’s not hard to see why El Salvador has become a hot destination for 2018.

Andover Media Serves the Eastern Shore Proudly

Kent County, Maryland is a special place for many reasons; be it the beauty of its waterways, the fruitfulness of its agriculture, the history of the land, or the quality of its people. It acts the home to many small businesses, offering the opportunity for business leaders to open their doors to the public and grow their services to fit the ever changing needs of the community. Justinian Dispenza of Andover Media, a Galena based media company, has shown how well a new business can both survive and thrive in Kent County.

Hayden Chance and Aaron Maloney started Andover Media primarily as a service to aid musicians across Delmarva, starting off as a recording studio over five years ago. Two years ago Dispenza joined Andover Media, bringing along his extensive experience in photo and video services to the company. Chance and Maloney were both a part of a band, a deciding factor in their location, as oftentimes musicians would have to travel to metropolitan areas in order to record. They decided to support local artists with a space to grow their ability and credibility thanks to the recording studio meant to encourage Delmarva musicians. Dispenza’s addition was a natural one to maintain the growth of a business meant to support musical artists.

“Before I joined Andover Media I had been across the world performing several videography and documentary projects,” Dispenza said. “I want to be able to bring my international experience to a small community and help fill a niche that existed before Andover Media’s arrival on the scene.”

Growing more, Andover Media has begun performing photography and videography for events such as weddings and other marketing projects. Currently a large portion of Andover Media’s business is performed in D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia, but Dispenza hopes to do more with locals here on the Eastern Shore in the future.

“Our vision is to continue expanding to meet people’s needs, but more importantly to keep our projects on the Eastern Shore,” Dispenza said. “We have a lot of experience in our fields and we want to be able to give that to the community.”

While not all their work is local, Dispenza said Andover Media is keeping busy, having booked 60 weddings over the 2018 season. In addition to this Andover Media and Shore Studios have recently come together to complete a documentary for Washington College. Andover Media is striving to make connections with other local businesses through collaborative efforts, or networking events such as the Chamber’s own monthly Business After Hours.

“We’ve been working hard to meet and interact with more people in the community,” Dispenza said. “I don’t have the roots here that many people do, so I have to network a lot to continue meeting people in the community; but that hasn’t stopped our success.”

Andover Media has been recognized by both The Knot and My Eastern Shore Wedding for the high level quality their photos and videography have brought for several brides across the Delmarva area. The Eastern Shore is a prime wedding location, and Dispenza’s videos only serve to highlight the beauty of the area.

“Staying in Kent County was a deliberate choice we made,” Dispenza said. “We love to do business with locals because of how special this area is, and how well suited Kent County is to appearing on camera and video. Almost everyone who lives here knows it’s a beautiful place, and I want to capture their beautiful moments here as well.”

Andover Media is currently booking for 2019, for more information visit them at https://www.andovermedia.com/

Choosing Your Photographer

4 traits to look for when choosing your wedding photographer

(BPT) – Planning a wedding is no small task. In order to enjoy the process (and stay sane), it’s important to recognize early on which details can be decided quickly, and which ones deserve more time and care.

When it comes to wedding photos, you can’t go wrong with a little extra time and thought, because there’s no such thing as a do-over. Choosing the right person for the job makes all the difference in getting that collection of photos you’ll treasure forever.

When your special day rolls around, a professional photographer will have the skill and artistry in capturing those beautiful candid moments as well as the more formal portraits. Here are some traits to look for during your search that signal you’re in good hands.

1. A portfolio you love. Your venue may have a list of “preferred professionals” to choose from, but don’t feel obligated to stick with their list. Feel free to explore your options, and browse local guides and websites for the ones that have strong portfolios that speak to you. As you look, pay attention to mood, style and facial expressions. Skilled and experienced photographers should have a strong and varied wedding day collection.

2. They help you think through the day. A good listener who takes a genuine interest in your plans – and makes sure you feel elated with their work – is always a good sign. Things like venue, lighting, time of day, the number of people you want to capture, number of settings and the itinerary are just a few factors they need to consider to plan and organize the shoot. If you’re not sure about something, ask their opinion. A professional will give you an honest assessment along with lots of suggestions so you enjoy your special day and capture those priceless images.

3. Something just clicks. And it’s not just the shutter. Bad puns aside, keep in mind you’re going to be spending the day with your photographer. In fact, you could very well be spending more time with the photographer than anyone else – even with your beloved. Don’t skip the in-person, face-to-face meeting when planning your special day. You want to be sure this is someone who makes you both feel open and relaxed, so trust your gut feeling.

4. They’re the complete package. A professional will complete the time-consuming (and sometimes overwhelming) task of sorting through hundreds of shots for you and put their skills to work in editing the images. What you should get is a collection of hand-picked images, all perfectly edited, cropped and toned, so they capture the best moments and emotions of the day.

The one bearing the camera has a great responsibility: They are recording the first pages of history for your new family. To make sure you find the one that has the experience and the flair the day calls for, a professional photographer is always the right call. Start your search with the Professional Photographers of America by visiting FindAPhotographer.com/WeddingPhotos.

Experience Nanjing, China

5 experiences to try in Nanjing, China

(BPT) – In southern China, the ancient capital city of Nanjing beckons travelers to immerse themselves in history and culture.

Nanjing served as the capital city of 10 dynasties and regimes over more than 1,800 years and is home to some of China’s most significant historical attractions, including the Xiaoling Tomb of the Ming Dynasty, Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum, the Presidential Palace and the City Wall, which dates back more than 600 years.

Here, past dynasties are entwined with glittering modern skyscrapers. The misty Purple Mountain looms in the distance and the Ningzheng Ridge forms a crescent around this city in the heart of the Yangtze River delta.

If you visit Nanjing, walk in footsteps of the past with these thought-provoking, immersive experiences designed to bring Nanjing’s history and culture to life.

Imperial Examination Experience

When you take part in the Imperial Examination Experience at Nanjing’s Jiangnan Imperial Examination Hall Museum, you will step into the shoes of an ancient Chinese civil servant. Beginning in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 220 A.D.), citizens wishing to serve in the state bureaucracy were required to pass a rigorous government-issued examination. However, the test didn’t involve job skills. Instead, it assessed candidates’ knowledge of classic literature and literary style. .

During the three-hour Imperial Examination Experience, you’ll dress in traditional attire, learn to create Chinese calligraphy with a brush pen and make thread-bound books to take home as a souvenir.

Chinese Tea Culture Experience

Few things are as closely associated with China as tea. Its long history as an indispensable part of daily life runs like a silk thread through everything from poetry to painting to calligraphy to medicine. Travelers seeking a deep exploration of tea can book the Chinese Tea Culture Experience in Nanjing.

During this four-hour activity, you’ll see the stunning and peaceful Xuanwu Lake Park, formerly an imperial garden, before you disappear into a secret interior passageway in the Nanjing City Wall to find the hidden, speakeasy-style Lao Cui Teahouse. There, you’ll learn about the importance of tea in the Chinese culture from a tea master, who will guide you in the ways of brewing a perfect cup of tea. Finally, you’ll learn the ancient art of Chinese woodblock printing and create your own as a keepsake.

Nanjing Cloud Brocade Museum

Yunjin, meaning “as beautiful as a cloud at sunset,” is silk brocade exquisitely woven in a style dating back 1,500 years. Incorporating silk, gold and silver threads, and even peacock feathers, the fabric was once reserved exclusively for the ornate dragon robes worn by emperors. At the Nanjing Cloud Brocade Museum, the only one of its kind in the world, visitors can watch as artisans weave the brocade in the traditional style on self-powered looms. The craft is so intricate that the weavers produce only five centimeters of yunjin per day.

Nanjing Impressions

Founded in 1994, Nanjing Impressions is a Top 50 Chinese Heritage Restaurant. It aims to preserve traditional Huaiyang cuisine, a popular and prestigious style of cooking in Jiangsu Province and one of the four great traditions of Chinese cuisine.

The interior is designed like an ancient tea house, with hundreds of hanging lanterns, wooden benches and authentic dress for servers and chefs. The experience is vibrant, with servers shouting blessings as they pass traditional Nanjing specialties. Make sure to try the city’s signature dish of Nanjing Salted Duck, a 400-year-old recipe that involves a complicated procedure of brining and dry rubbing that produces a rich, tender bird.

The Chinese believe a perfect meal consists of 10 dishes, so come hungry.

Qinhuai River Cruise

Float lazily down Nanjing’s Mother River on a romantic evening cruise, and you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time to the city’s roots. Distant strains of guqin, a traditional Chinese stringed instrument, waft through the air as you cruise along the lantern-lit Qinhuai Scenic Area, with its quaint riverboats, footbridges and Chinese architecture including one of the world’s best-preserved Barbican gates.

Ready to start planning your Nanjing experience? Visit gotonanjing.com for more information.

A South African Experience

Visit Durban for an unforgettable South African experience

(BPT) – Think of South Africa, and images of majestic savannas and roaming wildlife come to mind. A South African safari is an unforgettable experience, but no visit to the country is truly complete without a cultural immersion. The vibrant city of Durban combines the best of both worlds. Located along the Indian Ocean coast an hour from Johannesburg by air, Durban offers an eclectic array of activities where you can explore the city’s significant role in world history, the rich heritage of its Zulu people, and innumerable natural wonders – from the beach to the bush.

Experience authentic Zulu culture
Named for its dramatic surrounding landscape, the Valley of 1,000 Hills has been home to the Zulu people, South Africa’s largest ethnic group, for centuries.

Visitors can take an organized tour deep into tribal lands to experience Zulu culture with its exuberant ceremonies, traditional music and dancing. You’ll learn about Zulu beliefs and healing practices, break bread with local families and learn the hidden meanings behind their colorful beadwork. You can even arrange one-on-one sessions with the village healer or spend the night with a Zulu family in their home.

Walk in Gandhi’s and Mandela’s footsteps
Not everyone is aware that Mahatma Gandhi’s life work was inspired by his experiences in Durban. In 1893, he arrived as a young lawyer, and the discrimination he witnessed personally and against his fellow Indians drove him to start his worldwide movement of passive resistance fighting for the rights of the Indian population. At the Phoenix Settlement, you will see Gandhi’s house and the printing press he used to publish his newspaper, The Indian Opinion. Many of the more than one million Indians living in the city make the pilgrimage to this historical site alongside visitors from around the world.

Five years after his death, Nelson Mandela remains South Africa’s most revered public figure. 2018 marks a year-long celebration of his life and what would have been his 100th birthday on July 18. Honor his work when you’re in Durban by visiting the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, at the exact spot where he began his “Long Walk to Freedom” after being arrested for anti-Apartheid activism in 1952. Visit the striking monument and educational exhibition walking you through Mandela’s life and role in establishing a democratic South Africa.

Hit the beach at Umhlanga Rocks
Umhlanga Rocks, Durban’s laidback beach village, is on a picturesque stretch of the Indian Ocean. It beckons visitors with a scenic promenade passing by local landmarks including Umhlanga Lighthouse and Whale Bone Pier. A walkable downtown makes dining and nightlife easily accessible from the area’s many boutique hotels and guesthouses, and opportunities to get on the water abound – from surfing to deep sea fishing, scuba diving, whale watching and kiteboarding.

Discover an underwater wonderland
Consistently rated one of the top warm water diving and snorkeling sites in the world, Aliwal Shoal is also the spot to get up close and personal with blacktip reef sharks. Those brave enough can swim or dive alongside these mysterious creatures in the open ocean, but viewing from inside a cage is always an option.

Experience a Big Five safari
Back on land, the South African bush is less than four hours away by car. Private game reserves offer high-end safari lodge accommodations, minimal crowds and optimal chances for getting the perfect photos of the “Big Five” – elephants, rhinos, water buffalo, lions and leopards. In iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, hippos, crocodiles, pelicans and flamingos roam Lake St. Lucia, while elephants, giraffes and leopards inhabit the adjacent grasslands.

Visit www.durbanexperience.co.za to learn more.

Moving Tips

Marrying households: 7 savvy moving tips for newlyweds
Launching your pad: 7 savvy tips for newlyweds planning a move

(BPT) – If you’re planning a wedding or you’ve just tied the knot, congratulations! Getting ready to start the next chapter of your life with the one you love can be an exciting time, filled with anticipation about your future together.

That said, combining two households can take considerable planning and preparation, especially if both parties own troves of treasured possessions. As you are getting ready to make the transition into a single house or apartment, consider how the following suggestions may make your move easier.

* Pare down possessions. After unwrapping your wedding gifts, take an objective look at your collective furniture, household goods, clothing and other items. Where do you see duplicates? Whose décor are you more likely to use? Are those old clothes you’ve had since high school really worth keeping? Now is the time to be generous in donating unneeded items to a local charity (or selling them on Craigslist).

* Nix the shopping blitz. Although those wedding checks and gift cards are burning a hole in your pocket, postpone your purchases until after you move so you don’t end up needlessly hauling them to your next locale.

* DIY on the moving. Rather than shelling out a small fortune hiring a moving company, simply rent a truck that you can drive without a commercial license. As a rule of thumb, seek 150 cubic feet of space for the furnishings of each room in your present house; that means a 12- or 16-foot Penske rental truck should accommodate the contents of a small apartment or condo. Remember to reserve your truck at least two weeks ahead, and ask for the discounts provided to AAA members and military personnel.

* Invest in packing supplies. This is not the time to skimp by using flimsy containers, newspapers and cheap tape to pack up your treasured belongings. Save yourself time and frustration later by picking up sturdy boxes, labels, tape and bubble wrap from your truck rental store so you can ensure everything arrives at its destination safe, unbroken and easy to unpack.

* Party on. Inviting friends and family to help you with your move can be a win-win for all; many hands make light work when it comes to loading and unloading your truck, and you can offer incentives by springing for pizza and beverages at your new home afterward.

* Learn how to load. Apply logistical strategy to filling up your moving truck, perhaps by following the guidelines offered by Penske’s Truck Wizard. In general, heavier items should go in the back of the truck, with lighter items in front and on top.

* Practice makes perfect. Driving a moving truck isn’t difficult, but it’s definitely different from driving a car or pick-up. Take time to familiarize yourself with those differences; for example, you must use your mirrors to navigate turns, you should avoid sudden stops or lane changes and give yourself extra time.

Need more information about the advantages of renting your own moving truck? Check out PenskeTruckRental.com for details.

5 Skin Care Misconceptions

Dermatologist debunks top 5 skincare misconceptions

(BPT) – Figuring out what’s best for your skin can feel like solving a difficult mystery – everyone’s condition is unique, there are countless treatment options and people will do almost anything for a clear complexion.

“When it comes to your skin, there are many elements to consider,” says Dr. David Lortscher, board-certified dermatologist, CEO and founder of Curology. “Clogged pores, acne and other common issues can be a result of age, genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors. I often hear about common misconceptions that cause otherwise well-meaning people to make mistakes that trigger larger skincare problems.”

To help people better understand skincare and take control of their daily regimen, Dr. Lortscher shares the top misconceptions about skincare and acne.

Misconception: Exercise and sweat can cause acne.
Fact: Sweating while exercising doesn’t cause acne. The eccrine glands produce sweat and the sebaceous glands produce oil – so revving up the sweat glands doesn’t actually turn on the oil glands involved in acne breakouts. The truth is sweating and humidity can aggravate breakouts by giving the bacteria on the skin a better environment to grow.

Cleansing is key post-workout, but keep in mind vigorously cleansing your skin can also be a source of friction that aggravates acne. The best strategy is to splash comfortable-temperature water on your face and neck, then pat dry gently.

Misconception: Chocolate and greasy foods cause acne.
Fact: Many people have heard that chocolate and junk food are the worst foods for your skin, but modern science hasn’t found a direct link between acne and oily foods.

Diets are like acne treatments: highly individual. That’s not to say your eating habits can’t affect your skin. Eating simple carbs and sugar raises your blood sugar levels, causing your body to produce excess insulin, in turn stimulating oil production and leading to more inflammation and increased acne severity.

Misconception: DIY skincare and home remedies are good for your skin.
Fact: The DIY craze has extended to skincare routines, giving people ample ways to create their own remedies at home. However, it’s wise to be careful about the ingredients applied to your skin.

Some people try baking soda as a cost-effective scrub or mask. Baking soda is pH 9 and the pH of the skin is 4.5-5 or so. Therefore, scrubbing your face with a baking soda paste can be harsh and disturb your skin’s natural barrier, leading to red, raw and sensitive skin and leaving it susceptible to breakout.

Others suggest lemon juice as a home remedy for acne but it can cause significant dryness, redness and irritation. Lemon juice may have an exfoliating effect on the most superficial dead skin cells, but there are better ways to treat your acne.

If you’re fed up with DIY remedies and over-the-counter products just haven’t worked for you, you have options. Try custom prescription skincare like Curology, a service that gets you expert dermatology care from the comfort of your home. Just take a few photos and a skin quiz to get a prescription formula customized to your individual needs.

Misconception: You can make your pores smaller.
Fact: Most people want smaller pores, but in reality, you can’t change the size or force them “open” or “closed.”

Pore size is genetic; you can’t shrink them or make pores go away. To keep large pores from worsening, treat acne breakouts, don’t pick and use sun protection. Sun exposure breaks down collagen, which is the support structure surrounding the pores, so pores do appear larger as you age.

Misconception: You only need to wear sunscreen on sunny days.
Fact: It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or cloudy; if you plan to spend time outdoors, wear sunscreen daily. It is estimated that damage caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun is responsible for up to 80 percent of skin aging.

SPF is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. Most sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job of protecting against UVB. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Preparing Your Home for Older Visitors

Senior guest? How to prepare your home for older visitors
How to host a senior guest in your home with success

(BPT) – Whether it’s for a special occasion or just because, hosting an older adult in your home can be a wonderful experience with lots of memory-making potential. However, for a safe and successful visit, you may want to make a few adjustments to your home before they arrive to make it more senior-friendly.

“Spending time with aging parents or grandparents is a wonderful experience for all generations,” says Sara Terry, Brookdale Senior Living’s senior vice president of resident and family engagement. “Creating a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere is the job of any good host and that is no different when entertaining seniors. Considering older adults’ varying mobility and comfort levels, there are a few adjustments you can make to your home to meet their needs.”

Whether your guest is staying short- or long-term, Terry offers these six tips to help you transform your home into a more senior-friendly environment so you can focus on what matters most: making memories with your entire family.

Outdoors
The walkways to many homes are cracked or uneven, which is a risk factor for falls. Make sure the pathway is cleared and easy to see, shovel show in the winter and sweep leaves in the fall. Stairs can be tricky to maneuver as well. If possible, add a ramp that leads to your door. If there are stairs, install handrails on each side. Entryways divided by a threshold can be tricky for someone with mobility issues. Eliminate this common tripping hazard when seniors visit.

Clutter
The easiest thing you can do is remove clutter (especially on the floor) to allow sufficient space for senior guests who may be in a wheelchair to maneuver around rooms. Remove or tape down all cords. Rugs may look nice but they are a leading tripping hazard. Remove all accent rugs from your home, and in areas like the entryway where you must have mats, make sure they are secured with non-slip material.

Light
Seniors need more light than you do in your home, particularly in notoriously dim areas such as entryways, hallways and staircases. Replace existing soft light bulbs with brighter or higher wattage ones and add motion-sensor lights to bathrooms. Adding night lights throughout your home is an easy addition that helps seniors see better, especially at night or on darker winter days.

Stairs
Ideally, a senior won’t have to navigate stairs, but if you have some in your home, you can make the space safer by having railings on both sides. Railings should be at least 1.5 inches in diameter to accommodate seniors with limited dexterity and aging grips. What’s more, help each stair be more visible by using contrast strips (available at your local hardware store).

Bathrooms
Make bathrooms safer by adding well-placed grab bars next to the toilet and in bathing spaces. In the shower or tub, add non-slip strips and a shower seat for comfort and ease of use. For guests who are staying awhile, consider adding a handheld, adjustable-height showerhead. Finally, set the hot water heater temperature to 120 degrees as to avoid unintended burns.

Room selection
Whether your loved one is staying one night, one month or more, selecting the right room will increase their comfort and safety. One-level living is key, so if possible use a room on the main floor with easy access to the bathroom, kitchen and living room. Furniture, including the bed and chairs, should be at a good height (neither too low nor too high) to be easily used. Knobs can be difficult, so consider replacing round door handles with lever handles.

“In addition to these tips, I recommend having a conversation with your loved one before their stay,” says Terry. “Talk to them about what will make them feel at home in your home. What’s most important is enjoying your visit to the fullest and spending valuable time together.”

5 essential planning tips to make your outdoor wedding perfect

 

(BPT) – There’s so much to love about an outdoor wedding. Whether it’s set on the beach, at a winery or even in the backyard of a family member, pledging your eternal commitment to your partner in beautiful natural surroundings makes the day extra memorable.

If you’re thinking of holding the big day in the great outdoors, you’re in good company. Over the past decade, outdoor ceremonies are on the rise: 52 percent of couples tied the knot in an outdoor ceremony in 2017, compared to 29 percent in 2009, according to the TheKnot.com’s 2017 Real Weddings Study. Couples are also shying away from churches, hotels and banquet halls as settings for the ceremony receptions and opting instead for less conventional sites, such as rooftop event spaces, historic homes, wineries and parks.

Unlike the traditional venues, an outdoor ceremony and reception has its own set of considerations when it comes to planning. These practical tips will get you started in building the outdoor wedding of your dreams.

* Sketch out the itinerary early: Before you sign the contract with your chosen venue, discuss in detail your vision with the coordinator, and before you leave, be perfectly clear on what’s permissible and what’s off-limits. If you’re envisioning dancing the night away under the stars, you don’t want to find out three weeks before the big day that the venue has restrictions on equipment and noise. Before you sign any contract, have your itinerary ready and discuss it from start to finish.

* Plan your equipment needs: One thing to know about holding a wedding in a less conventional spot is venues can vary wildly on what they can provide for you in terms of supplies and equipment. Take time to walk through the entire event so you’re clear on what you may need to supply yourself. Even if a venue lacks essentials like power outlets and bathroom stalls, don’t give up. There are affordable solutions out there to help you upgrade the space to a fully functional venue. Your local rental store, for example, is an essential stop for anyone planning a wedding. In addition to all the wedding gear you could need, from decorations to seating, they also have lots of other equipment and ideas to help you plan the perfect outdoor event.

* Always have a Plan B: It’s impossible to predict what the weather will bring for an outdoor wedding, which can add uncertainty. But you can reduce the stress by planning for the worst conditions. Is hot and humid weather a possibility? How about a thunderstorm? A deposit on a rented air-conditioned tent and a set of misting fans can be a smart move. You may not end up needing these, but your peace of mind will be worth every penny.

* Set up a kids’ station: Many outdoor reception spaces have a built-in advantage for hosting pint-sized guests: There’s more space for them to stretch their legs and be kids without disrupting other guests. Create a kid-friendly corner featuring games, activities or even a rented inflatable bounce house that lets kids be active and let off some steam. They’ll be thrilled (and so will their parents).

* Encourage exploration: If the big event is held in a public place, help your guests fully appreciate the experience. Does the park have a hiking path that leads to a beautiful waterfall? Have maps printed and leave out a stack for those who decide to take a little break. Are you getting married in a beautiful garden at a historic mansion? Ask the venue if you can take extra brochures to offer the guests, or set aside time for special guided tours. This is a sure way to show consideration for your guests and make the day memorable.

When the pieces fall into place, planning and hosting an outdoor wedding is a beautiful way to begin your lives together. To find a rental store in your area to help you plan the perfect event, visit RentalHQ.com.

 

Travel Insurance Tips

Travel insurance tips for a worry-free vacation

(BPT) – Vacation may be a time to relax, but things can take a serious downturn if you lose your passport or if there is disastrous weather at your destination – or worse, you need an emergency medical evacuation. Though travel insurance can seem like just one more expense, without it, an emergency evacuation can cost over $100,000!

Travel insurance is a simple way to protect your belongings and minimize losses. Angela Wong of USAA Travel Services says, “Travel protection, offered through companies like Travel Insured International, provides travelers with that extra peace of mind so that they’re covered should the unexpected happen while away from home.”

To get a quote, you will need the following information:
* Number of travelers
* Age of travelers
* Trip dates
* Overall trip cost (which includes pre-paid, non-refundable expenses such as accommodations, airfare, cruises, tours and excursions)

Tip: To compare quotes and make more sense of them, divide the quote by the number of days you’ll be traveling to get the cost of coverage per day.

In most cases, the chances are that your travels will go without a hitch. However, if they don’t, you could be in real financial trouble. Wong adds, “Benefits often provide coverage for emergency evacuation, trip cancellation and interruption protection, medical insurance and baggage insurance.”

* Trip cancellation or interruption: With trip interruption coverage, you’ll have the money to refund the expenses of a new return ticket or to stay in a comfortable hotel.

* Emergency illness or injury: With travel medical coverage, you won’t be paying a huge medical bill. You’ll also have assistance services – in your own language – to locate a suitable medical facility and arrange transportation.

* Baggage delay, loss or theft: With coverage for delayed bags, you can relax. You’ll also be reimbursed for the essential items you need to start enjoying your trip.

* Bankruptcy of travel supplier: You’ll be able to recoup your expenses and reschedule your vacation.

* Weather-related delay: With protection against weather damage, you’ll be able to recover your pre-paid costs while travel assistance services will help you arrange a vacation to a new location.

With these coverage options, it is important to be upfront about pre-existing conditions and read the fine print to understand what you’re paying for. Remember: Don’t pick one just because it’s cheap; make sure you understand your needs and purchase one that makes sense.

While people understand the importance of travel insurance, they don’t often understand how it works. It’s really quite easy and no different than auto or home insurance. If an incident occurs, just contact your travel protection provider and start a claim to receive reimbursement and assistance.

At the end of the day, a vacation is about spending time with loved ones, unwinding from the daily routine and making happy memories. It’s not about worrying endlessly about all the things that could go wrong. Therefore, when it comes to protecting ourselves and our precious belongings, we shouldn’t think twice about travel insurance – it’s a must.

For more information on travel insurance coverage and to request a quote, visit USAA Travel or Travel Insured International.

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