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3 ways to keep your travel memories alive

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Vacations don’t last forever and once you return home, the memories slowly start to fade. To remember as much as possible about your trip, use one of these three methods.

1. Take lots of pictures
Tourists with cameras around their necks are a common sight at most travel destinations and with good reason. Taking photographs is one of the best ways to document awe-inspiring vistas, fascinating cities and friendly new faces. To make sure your pictures do the location justice, invest in a good quality point-and-shoot camera instead of using your smartphone.

2. Make a scrapbook

More than a photo album, a vacation scrapbook allows you to showcase your pictures alongside various mementos such as tickets, sketches and postcards. You can also write short stories about the things you choose to include.

3. Start a travel blog
Blogging is a great way to document and share your vacation. And it’s surprisingly easy to set up your own blog. All you need is an internet connection and a few minutes at the end of each day to upload photos and write about the day’s adventures.

You don’t need to go anywhere to collect your summer memories. Even if you’re staying home, take the time to keep a record that you’ll look back on in the years to come.

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4 things to look at when assessing travel reviews

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If you’re planning a vacation, you may be wondering if you can trust reviews on websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. The answer is yes, as long as you know what to look for. Here are four things to take into consideration when assessing reviews.

1. The date. Refer to the most recent reviews available. Criticism about a hotel or restaurant from seven years ago is probably out of date.

2. The amount. The greater the number of reviews about a place, the better your chances are of finding useful information about it.

3. The content. If you take the time to read people’s reviews, you may find out all kinds of useful information. For example, a highly-rated hotel may be praised for its all-night dance club, which isn’t ideal if you’re traveling with children but may be perfect for honeymooners.

4. The photos. People leaving travel reviews often include photos. These will give you a more honest look at what you can expect than the professional photos included on a property’s website.

Remember that travelers often take to travel review sites to vent their frustrations with an experience that may not be universal. However, some resorts and hotels pay people to leave excellent reviews that aren’t deserved. The best policy when assessing reviews is to ignore the highest and lowest ratings and focus instead on the majority of reviews that are somewhere in the middle.

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Plan early for inexpensive January get-aways

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The end of the year can leave many of us feeling drained, emotionally and financially. A vacation to recover from the holidays — is it even possible?

Absolutely. Start planning now, and you may find that a January holiday is surprisingly affordable.

And to springboard your brainstorming, here are a smattering of ideas from Travel and Leisure on cheapest places to travel in January (note that some are cold-weather locales, naturally. Keep an open mind!):

* Chicago, Illinois. Great food, music, museums, and sports. And in January, hotels are 50 percent more affordable than high season, while an average round-trip ticket is $179.10.

* Boston, Mass. Catch the Boston Symphony Orchestra in its world-famous concert hall, check out any number of fantastic museums, grab a great meal, and maybe see the Celtics play. Boston in January offers a 53 percent savings on hotel rates and flights are an average of $200.66.

* Toronto, Canada. Eat your way through this diverse city, which lays claim to a Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Italy, Little Portugal, and a Greek Town. Toronto also boasts the world’s longest underground shopping complex, at 19 miles. Hotels are 33 percent more affordable and plane tickets average $280.65 from the U.S.

* San Diego, Calif. Here’s a balmy option with beautiful scenery, architecture, beaches, and tons of great food. The San Diego Brew Festival takes place in January, showing off some of the area’s 130-plus craft breweries and delicious food truck fare. You’ll save 37 percent on hotels, while round-trip tickets average $274.95.

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How to overcome a fear of flying

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Is your fear of flying stopping you from taking your dream vacation? This phobia is a common one, but it can be overcome. Here are some tips to help you manage it.

• Pinpoint the source. For some people, being afraid to fly stems from a fear of heights. For others, it’s the lack of control. Knowing where your fear comes from will help you take the necessary steps to surmount it.

• Learn everything you can. Knowing how a plane stays in the air, where turbulence comes from and what built-in safety features are featured on airplanes can be comforting and help dispel some of your worst what-if scenarios.

• Talk to the cabin crew. Pilots and flight attendants help keep you safe while you’re in the air. Meeting with them and chatting for a few minutes can help assure you that you’re in good hands.

• Optimize your experience. Book a direct flight to minimize the number of take-offs and landings necessary to make the trip. Additionally, choose a seat near the wing where you’ll feel the least amount of turbulence.

• Distract yourself. Deep breathing exercises can help you remain calm during tense moments on a flight. Or, settle in with a good movie or book to help keep your mind occupied.

If you’re struggling to get over your fear of flying, don’t hesitate to reach out. A psychologist can help you identify the root of your anxiety and provide you with the tools to overcome it.

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Do you want to travel to someplace warm?

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During the winter months, we complain about the cold, but what can we do about it? Ginny Leser at Main Street Travel has some suggestions:

For more information about Main Street Travel, visit mainstreet-travel.com.

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7 travel apps that will make your next vacation easier

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Are you taking a vacation this winter? If so, download these convenient apps designed for travelers.

1. Hopper. This app uses real time information and historical data to help you find the best price on your flight and hotel. When the cost bottoms out, you’ll get a notification telling you to book.

2. FLIO. Track flights in real time, access detailed airport maps and get vouchers for deals on food.

3. Google Translate. Translate over 100 languages by typing the text into your phone or by pointing your phone’s camera at a snippet of text.

4. XE Travel. Determine the true cost of your purchases with this reliable currency converter. It will also help you to track expenses and stick to your budget.

5. Google Maps. Find your way around any city with directions for traveling by car, bicycle, public transit or on foot. You can also download maps for use offline.

6. Flush. A useful app that allows you to find the nearest public washroom.

7. TunnelBear. Keep your online activity private with this virtual private network.

These apps are so useful, you’ll wonder how you ever traveled without them before. Bon voyage!

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Why you should use a travel agent to book your next trip

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Despite how easy it is to book flights, hotels and car rentals online, travel agents continue to offer a valuable service to travelers. Here’s why you should rely on an agent to book your next vacation.

• You’ll save time. Finding the best flights, accommodations and tours can be time consuming. A travel agent will do all the footwork while you go on keeping up with your busy life.

• You’ll get the best price. Hotels, airlines and travel tours often offer travel professionals special rates and other perks that aren’t available to the public.

• You’ll access insider knowledge. Travel agents tend to be familiar with the ins and outs of many destinations. They can tell you the best places to stay, visit and eat.

• You’ll have support in an emergency. If a natural disaster strikes or an airline suddenly goes bankrupt during your trip, your agent will be there to help you get home safely.

The best part of working with a travel agent is the relationship you build. Eventually, they’ll know your tastes and preferences so well, they’ll be able to suggest and book trips you’ll love with little or no input from you.

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Upcoming Events

Jan
24
Fri
9:00 am Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Jan 24 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veterans Services Meeting at Able Forces @ Able Forces
Able Forces Foundation will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia, and Danielle Cullers, Homeless Veteran Advocate-Volunteers of America[...]
Jan
25
Sat
11:00 am Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
A Story Ballet. Join us in a celebration of classic literature through dance! The whole family will enjoy this ballet performance, presented by the Northern Virginia Academy of Ballet.
1:00 pm Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Jan 25 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Moving Mindfully: Finding and keeping your footing @ Ruby Yoga
Join Ruby Yoga and Deborah Romero of Optimal Posture LLC for a series of workshops on moving more mindfully through life using the principles of yoga and the Alexander Technique. Slated for Saturday, Jan. 25,[...]
2:00 pm Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Are you aged 7 or older? Do you enjoy art? If so, please join us for our children’s art class. Using the classic scissor cutting art of Scherenschnitte, we will make silhouettes in a nature[...]
Jan
29
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 29 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]
Jan
30
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 30 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]
Jan
31
Fri
7:00 pm Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Jan 31 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Love Revival - FREE Monthly Community Dinner @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Free Community Dinner for everyone! Come enjoy a hot meal on the last Friday of every month at Love Revival Ministry Center.
Feb
1
Sat
10:00 am Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 1 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Come to our extremely popular monthly program that gives developing readers the chance to read and relax with a trained therapy dog.  For beginning readers and up.  Choose a time slot at registration, which begins[...]
11:00 am HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
Feb 1 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
The Humane Society of Warren County will hold their 1st annual Polar Plunge event on February 1st at the Culpeper Lake, located at the Northern Virginia 4-H Center in Harmony Hollow. “Plungers” are asked to[...]
2:00 pm World of Lego @ Samuels Public Library
World of Lego @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 1 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
World of Lego @ Samuels Public Library
Children ages 5 and up are invited to explore all the amazing things you can do with Legos.  Registration begins January 1.