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Van life: how to find the right vehicle

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Do you dream of joining the van life movement and traveling the world in a tiny home on wheels? This nomadic lifestyle with its emphasis on simplicity, freedom, and adventure can be enticing. However, if you want to hit the open road, the first thing you’ll need is a comfortable and reliable vehicle.

In general, conversion vans and small motorhomes are the vehicles best suited for van life. One important factor to consider is how much space you’ll need. If you plan to travel alone or with a partner, a small campervan should suffice. If you intend to have kids, pets, or friends along for the ride, however, you may want a more spacious model with room to stand up.

Keep in mind that the furniture and features included vary from one vehicle to the next. In addition to a modest amount of storage space, you’ll likely want a model equipped with:

• A bed or long bench seat
• A table or fold-out countertop
• A sink and water tank
• A cooler, electric cooler or mini-fridge
• A camp stove or cooking plate
• A rack for bikes, kayaks, or surfboards


If you have limited funds, consider purchasing a used vehicle (inspected by a trusted mechanic) and transforming the interior yourself using new or second-hand materials. Alternatively, various companies offer van conversion kits that are fairly simple to install. Just make sure any modifications you make to a vehicle are safe and legal.

For example, find out if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has any regulations about removing or modifying seats and other vehicle components. You should also leave the installation of electrical wiring and gas lines to a professional. In addition, make sure you don’t exceed the gross vehicle weight rating.

If you sell your home to become a full-time nomad, however, you might have a more flexible budget. In this case, you may want to invest in customizing your van to ensure it’s fully equipped and designed according to your preferences. Plus, with the right gear, you’ll be able to maximize your time off-grid.

Finally, remember to add personal touches that make your vehicle feel at home. These can include patterned fabrics, reclaimed wood, colorful lighting, eclectic decor, funny bumper stickers, and more.

Test it out
Do you want to get a taste of van life before you commit to buying a vehicle? Plenty of companies rent camper vans equipped with everything you need to enjoy a nomadic lifestyle for a few days or weeks.

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Travel

How to navigate busy airports this Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is one of the year’s busiest travel times, as millions of Americans take to the sky to visit loved ones. Crowds, however, can make airports a stressful place. Here are some tips on how to remain calm and collected before your flight.

Pack and dress smart
Do your part to make the security line move quickly by packing your bags as lightly as possible. Make sure electronic devices are easy to access, wear shoes that slip on and off without laces, and avoid wearing a belt with a metal buckle.

Ship your gifts
You may want to arrive at your in-laws with presents in hand, but traveling with gifts will make your luggage heavier. The airline may even end up charging you extra fees for overweight bags. Instead, consider shipping your gifts ahead of time.

Don’t argue
With so many passengers and planes in the air, it’s not unusual for things to go wrong. Flights may get canceled, or you could be denied boarding due to an oversold flight.


The best advice is to avoid getting angry at customer service representatives. Airline employees will be more inclined to help you if you can stay calm and show empathy. Also, be aware of your rights as a passenger under federal law. This way, you’ll know what you’re entitled to if you’re denied boarding.

Finally, to ensure your flight is as pleasant as possible, be sure to stay hydrated, wear comfortable clothes, and use a lumbar pillow to support your lower back.

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Travel

Affordable vacations that are a ton of fun

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Inflation has wreaked havoc on budgets for many households and prompted folks to start tightening their belts. That makes trips to Disney World, and its hundred dollar-plus (per day) tickets, a tough cost to swallow. Ditto for four-star resorts and visits to expensive cities. So, where can you take a vacation on the cheap without sacrificing fun?

Florida is famed for its beaches and draws huge crowds. Those crowds, however, can drive hotel and flight costs up. Head to Gulf Shores, Alabama, and you can enjoy warm waters and beautiful white sand beaches. Hotels, meanwhile, are often cheaper than their Florida counterparts. Don’t mind cooler water? Consider beachside resorts along Lake Michigan.

When you think of museums, you might first think of New York or Washington, D.C. These cities are home to some of the most famous museums in the world. Some, like the Smithsonian, are even free. That said, hotel rooms are often expensive. You can often enjoy cheaper hotels in Philadelphia while also exploring America’s colonial past. Famed museums and sites in Chicago, like the Adler Planetarium and Field Museum, offer free museum days.

A four-star hotel in the United States can easily cost north of $300 per night. If you head somewhere with a much lower cost of living, you might find much cheaper but still luxurious accommodations. In the Dominican Republic, for example, you can often find three and four-star hotels near the beach that charge less than $100 per night.


You don’t have to skip theme parks, by the way. While the biggest theme parks are often quite expensive, you can patronize smaller but still amazing theme parks, like Cedar Point, where a one-day ticket costs $49.99. Cedar Point’s Halloweekends, in particular, are great fun this time of year.

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Virginians would accept no less than $265 each in airline compensation for flight cancellations, survey reveals.

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Within just the first six months of 2022, nearly a quarter (24%) of U.S. flights have been delayed, of which the consequences have been exacerbated due to the surge in travel demand (dubbed ‘revenge travel‘) following pandemic restrictions being eased. By July, more flight cancellations had occurred than there were throughout the entirety of 2021. The Department of Transportation has said airlines should bear the brunt of the blame due to flight overscheduling, followed by confusing guidelines on compensating passengers in refunds or vouchers for these inconveniences.

The cancellation cost revealed… FamilyDestinationsGuide.com surveyed 3,014 travelers and asked, hypothetically: ‘If an airline was to bump you off a flight, how much compensation would you accept to do so?

Unfortunately for airlines, it seems this inconvenience caused to passengers doesn’t come cheap. The average traveler from Virginia said they would accept an amount no less than $265 to compensate for the inconvenience of having their booking canceled or rescheduled on a different flight. This compares to a national average of $283.

When broken down across states, this figure was highest in Alaska, where the average traveler would accept no less than $534 for the inconvenience caused by a flight cancellation or rebooking. Comparatively, travelers in Delaware appear to be more understanding of these kinds of cancellations and would accept an amount of just $86.


The Department of Transportation is creating a website that aims to provide travelers with an explanation of each airline’s policies when it comes to flight delays and cancellations, making it easier for passengers to understand their rights. Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, has also called these travel disruptions “unacceptable,” saying that U.S. airlines should offer meal vouchers to passengers suffering flight delays and hotel lodging accommodations for those stranded overnight. Despite this, more than half (65%) of respondents said they don’t believe the department is doing enough to help travelers in this regard.

According to Department of Transportation data, 3.2% of domestic flights were canceled by U.S. air carriers within the first six months of 2022. Given this, 61% of travelers said they believe flight cancellations have become the new norm. And given how these delays and cancellations have increased exponentially over the past few years, 69% also said they’re not optimistic that the travel situation will improve this year.

On a scale from 1 to 10 (with one being the least confident), the average traveler ranked themselves an average 5 in terms of being confident that their flight will not be delayed.

This explains why 53% also said that due to the increasing number of air carrier delays and cancellations, they’re actually more likely to travel to their destination by road instead of avoiding the risk of airport travel inconveniences completely. It seems the fuel cost is cheaper than the cost of inconvenience caused by airlines – and that’s saying something!

The Department of Transportation is essentially telling U.S. carriers that they need to do far more to support passengers when they are forced to endure delays and cancellations due to flight overscheduling,’ says Rose Ackermann at FamilyDestinationsGuide.com. ‘The department’s upcoming website launch aims to compile all information about airline guidelines in this regard, making it more accessible for travelers to understand their rights regarding compensation and refunds. Before booking your vacation, it’s important to familiarize yourself with your chosen airline’s policies in terms of cancellations and delays. This may help you plan the rest of your trip accordingly, in case any of these inconveniences occur, thus alleviating the stress of having to deal with too much hassle on your holiday.’

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Mature Living

5 ideas for a dream retirement vacation

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One of the best things about retirement is that you can use your free time to take the luxurious vacation you’ve always wanted at any time of year. If you’re ready to unwind and take a break from your routine, here are five vacation ideas that may inspire you.

1. Trip. Treat yourself to a complete change of scenery and discover another country’s culture, landscapes, and flavors.

2. Road trip. Travel from one end of your country or state to the other. Visit all the places you never got to see during your working years.

3. Festival. Go to a festival of your choice. Whether you’re passionate about music, classic cars, or art, let loose and enjoy yourself.


4. Cruise. Lounge on the sun deck, enjoy stress-free entertainment, and participate in excursions at the various ports of call.

5. Rental. Rent a cottage or villa in a picturesque location where you can practice various activities like hiking and swimming.

Don’t forget to ask about reduced rates for seniors to help you save some of your hard-earned money.

 

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Travel

5 passport tips

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If you intend to travel internationally, you’ll need a passport. Here are five valuable tips to avoid any travel headaches.

1. Inspect it
When you receive your new passport, ensure that all the information is correct. If everything looks good, sign it with a blue or black pen. If there’s an error, immediately report the mistake so the is¬sue can be fixed.

2. Store it
Keep your passport in a safe place. Ideally, it should be stored in a cool, dry place that’s not easy for others to access. You may also want to consider keeping your passport in a waterproof pouch.

3. Check it
Before planning a trip, make sure your passport isn’t damaged and that it’s still valid. You should also verify the expiry date. Some countries require your access to be good for several months after your departure date. Therefore, make sure your passport meets the entry and exit requirements for the country you want to visit.


4. Protect it
When you travel, keep your passport in a safe place and never leave it unattended. Additionally, don’t put any personal information in your passport absolutely necessary.

5. Report it
If your passport is lost or stolen while you’re abroad, report the issue to the relevant authorities immediately. Once you get home, visit your nearest government office to apply for a new one.

Remember, if you need help understanding the passport and visa requirements for your destination country, you can ask your tour company representative or travel agent for help.

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How to prepare for a solo trip

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Traveling alone can be an empowering experience. Here are a few tips to help you make your trip a success.

Define your itinerary
Determine the duration of your trip. This will allow you to create your itinerary as well as choose your modes of transportation and select accommodations. Once these details are sorted, you can set a budget, create a schedule and make reservations.

Do some research
Gather relevant information to make your trip as hassle-free as possible. For example, find out if you need certain vaccinations or a visa to cross over borders. Additionally, look up the country’s currency and exchange rate, review local laws and customs and write down the contact information for the American embassy in the country you’re visiting.

Make the necessary calls
Call your bank to tell them you’re going on a trip. This will prevent you from having your credit card declined or blocked while you’re abroad. Additionally, you can take this opportunity to inquire about bank fees for withdrawals and payments. You should also purchase travel insurance and research international phone and internet plans.


To book your trip, reach out to a travel agent in your area.

 

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Dec
10
Sat
10:00 am 10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Dec 10 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area Journey back in time and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of a Civil War Encampment during the holidays. Interact with the 10th VA Infantry, also known as the Valley Guards,[...]
Dec
14
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 14 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Dec
17
Sat
1:00 pm The Nutcracker 2022 @ Skyline High School
The Nutcracker 2022 @ Skyline High School
Dec 17 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
The Nutcracker 2022 @ Skyline High School
Italia Performing Arts is pleased to announce its own student production of the seasonal ballet The Nutcracker, to be presented in Front Royal, VA, on Saturday December 17th 2022. Tickets: $35 and $25 Under 16:[...]
Dec
21
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 21 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Dec
28
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 28 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Jan
1
Sun
5:30 am First Day Hikes at Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
First Day Hikes at Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jan 1 @ 5:30 am – 3:00 pm
First Day Hikes at Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. While the American tradition of celebrating the New Year occurs at midnight on New Year’s Eve, other cultures celebrate by enjoying the sunrise on New Year’s Day. As part of the continuing American[...]
Jan
4
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Jan 4 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]