Fun in Nashville

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Hit the Hall — Kick off your Nashville experience with a day at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum. The world’s largest popular music museum offers ever-changing exhibits featuring the legends of country music past and today’s hottest stars. Grab a bite to eat inside the museum at 2|22 Eatery, a full-service restaurant serving Southern favorites, or at Bajo Sexto, an authentic Mexican taqueria. Then take some time to explore the museum’s two retail stores offering locally-made gifts, clothing, and a comprehensive selection of books and music.

Ride the Row — Take a tour of Music Row and visit historic RCA Studio B, the famous recording studio where Elvis recorded more than 200 songs. Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Chet Atkins, Eddy Arnold, and many more recorded classic hits here. Not surprisingly, the heartbeat of Music City is driven by music — from country to classical. Tours of RCA Studio B depart daily from the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum.

Visit The Parthenon — In Nashville’s Centennial Park, you’ll find the world’s only full-scale reproduction of the ancient Parthenon in Athens, Greece. The Parthenon houses an art gallery and museum as well as Alan LeQuire’s Athena Parthenos. Standing at almost 42 feet in height, Athena is the tallest indoor sculpture in the Western world. Just a mile from The Parthenon is the LeQuire Gallery, where you can visit Alan in his studio and witness one of the nation’s premier sculptors.

Take In A Songwriters-In-The-Round Show — One of the most unique ways to hear music in Nashville is at a songwriters show. Typically called a “writers night,” songwriters are put somewhere they are not used to being — in the spotlight. Several singer/songwriters will play ‘in-the-round’ as they sit on stage accompanied only by a microphone, a guitar, and their immense talent. These shows can be found in small, intimate clubs all over town, including the famous The Bluebird Cafe in Green Hills and downtown’s The Listening Room CafeOutdoor Concerts — Music steps outside in the summer. Events like Musicians Corner at Centennial Park, Full Moon Pickin’ Parties at Percy Warner Park Equestrian Center, Bluebird on the MountainMusic in the Vines at Arrington Vineyards, and Live on the Green at Public Square Park bring the high notes to the great outdoors. Head to Riverfront Park for a concert at the Ascend Amphitheaterand take in the incredible views of downtown and the Cumberland River.

Take a Timeless Journey — The Ryman Auditorium, also called the “Mother Church of Country Music,” has had artists as diverse as Elvis Costello and Patsy Cline perform on its legendary stage since 1892. You can take a backstage tour and record your own song in the Ryman studio. The stars of the Grand Ole Opry take the stage every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday night (at the Ryman Auditorium November-January; at the Grand Ole Opry House February-October) with guest appearances by the biggest names in music. With 90 years of history, the Opry is the world’s longest-running broadcast and shows no signs of slowing down.

Nashville’s Newest Sounds — Honoring musicians from stars to studio players that represent all genres of music, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum is housed in the Nashville Municipal Auditorium. From Hank Williams, Sr. to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Motown to Southern Rock – there is truly something of interest to everyone. Pay homage to the Man in Black at The Johnny Cash Museum located on 3rd Avenue. Featuring the most comprehensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia in the world, this is THE Cash venue to visit for all ages. Then stroll up to the George Jon on 2nd Avenue, which offers visitors a never-before-seen look into the life and career of the musical icon.

Salute — Three U.S. Presidents call Tennessee home: Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson. You can revisit the past at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage: Home of the People’s President. Polk is buried on the grounds of the historic State Capitol building in downtown Nashville.

 

 

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5 Pet Items You Never Thought to Bring on Vacation

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Toys, a leash, important medication—these are no-brainers when you’re preparing to vacation with your dog or cat. Because such a vacation takes so much preparation—especially if you’re traveling with a pet for the first time—it’s virtually impossible to leave these essentials at home.

Other items? They might not even cross your mind. But without them, your vacation may get derailed before you even reach your destination.

Add these to your next travel checklist to ensure a happy and safe getaway for you and your furry friend.

Pictures of Your Pet

A lot of travelers clear their photos off their phones before they go on vacation in order to leave as much space as possible for new memories. That’s fine, but leave at least a couple of pictures of your pet. Many shelters require visual confirmation of ownership in the event that your pet gets lost and you need to pick him up somewhere.

A Copy of Your Pet’s Medical Records

You should know where the nearest veterinarian or emergency pet health facility is at all times. 

Sheets or Blankets

Laying your own sheets and blankets out in a rental car or on hotel furniture is one way to make sure your pet doesn’t leave his or her hair everywhere. If [the sheets] haven’t been washed immediately before your trip, they have the added bonus of smelling like home, which ought to keep your pet calm in an unfamiliar place.

Ziploc Bags

Ziploc bags are basically a pet parent’s Swiss army knife. You can use them to pick up poop if necessary. You can also carry food in them if you’re going on a day trip and need to pack a backpack.

Tap Water From Home

The quality of tap water changes from city to city (sometimes drastically), and for pets who are accustomed to drinking from just one water source for their entire lives, even a slight change in quality for short period of time can upset their stomach.

7 Ways to Salvage a Trip if You Get Sick

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Getting sick while traveling probably comes with the gig. Between last-minute stress before we leave, red-eye flights in an anything-but-sanitary environment, unfamiliar food and sleep disrupted by jet lag, the rigors of travel are enough to make any of us more susceptible to sickness.

But once you’re down, you don’t have to be out. Here are ways to salvage your trip if you do end up getting sick while traveling.

1. Check your insurance before you travel.

Heck, check right now. This is one of those things few people ask about until they need it, and then it might be too late. If you are not covered for medical care while traveling, we highly recommend purchasing trip insurance with medical coverage.

2. If your illness is serious, contact your embassy or consulate.

If you are really sick, you don’t want to end up in a random doctor’s office or foreign ER without knowing whether the staff is competent, without anyone knowing you are there, or with language or other communication barriers. Embassy and consulate officers can recommend local health care providers, direct you to a hospital, notify family, assist with the transfer of funds, help arrange for transport and more. Don’t be wary of contacting your nearest embassy if things get dire; these folks are paid with your taxes and are there to assist.

3. Find a good doctor.

If you are traveling within your home country, the best way to find care covered by your insurance is to call your insurance company or visit its website. You can also check sites like HealthGrades.com for reviews of local doctors.

4. Start medications right away.

Many of us are reluctant to run to the nearest doctor or pharmacy when we’re not feeling well, instead preferring to gut it out while a malady runs its due course.

When traveling, however, taking this tack might mean that your vacation is over by the time you actually feel better, so I encourage you to pounce on whatever medications are available as soon as you start feeling under the weather. Over-the-counter fever and pain reduction medicines (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin), antacids or stomach soothers, Nyquil-type medications to help you get through the night, and even simple stuff like throat lozenges can be great allies in dispatching your symptoms quickly.

5. Protect your traveling companions.

If one sick traveler is a source of misery for everyone on the trip, multiple sick travelers can shut things down completely. If you feel an illness coming on, take immediate action to protect your fellow travelers. Here are a few ways to prevent spreading your germs to your companions:

– Wash your hands regularly (and encourage your companions to do the same)

– Carry and handle all of your own stuff

– Remove your toothbrush from the sink counter

– Don’t stick your hands into their snacks

– Don’t get food from the buffet for anyone but yourself

– Don’t share food, utensils or glasses

– Don’t use others’ cell phones or handle their room key

– Use the same pillow every night

6. Quarantine yourself.

If you are really sick, you might consider quarantining yourself by paying for a separate hotel room for a night or so. Not only will you protect your companions from germs, but you’ll also be less likely to disturb them with your coughing, tossing or turning — and without sleep they’ll be more vulnerable to contracting illnesses themselves.

7. Realize that your illness is temporary.

Most common travel maladies last about a day or two — or at least the worst of it lasts that long. If you employ some of the strategies above, get a ton of rest and wait it out for 18 to 36 hours, in most cases you can get fully back into the thick of your trip.

 

Travel Money Mistakes to Avoid

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When budgeting for a trip, we often list the big-ticket items — airfare, hotel, lodging, car rental, attraction tickets — add them altogether and call it the final price. But the trickle of funds to other costs starts almost as soon as we start moving: gas to and from the airport, tolls, airport parking, overpriced bottles of water in the airport and more.

That trickle doesn’t stop when you arrive at your destination; think cell phone charges, bank fees, hotel Wi-Fi and housekeeping tips, to name a few. To avoid spending more than you have to, check out these 10 money mistakes to avoid while traveling.

1. Don’t forget to let your bank know you will be traveling.

Forgetting to call your bank before traveling abroad is a common error that even frequent international travelers make; it slips your mind until the plane touches down, and by then it’s often too late. These days banks have almost zero lag time in noticing a debit or credit card being used abroad, so you will get shut down on pretty much your first swipe in a foreign country.

As banks have gotten more sophisticated about tracking card use locations, this can be important even important for domestic travel, and most banks recommend that you let them know about those closer-to-home trips as well. Fraud detectors can be tripped if you’re suddenly using your card across the country, making more or different purchases than you usually do or charging unexpectedly large amounts (such as a weeklong hotel stay).

Note that this applies to debit cards as well as credit cards, and you sometimes need to talk to more than one department even inside the same bank to get them all approved for travel.

2. Don’t overlook bank and ATM fees.

While traveling internationally, each time you go get cash you will likely incur a fee of some kind. These can vary a lot depending on whether the ATM is run by a large bank or not, if the bank is on your card’s network and more. Keep in mind that fees can change from year to year, so it’s worth checking before every trip.

3. Don’t fail to make a plan for getting to your hotel from the airport.

That first taxi ride from the airport may be your most financially vulnerable moment of any trip — the time when you have no idea how far it is, what a fair price is for the ride, whether you have lower-cost alternatives such as a train or bus, or even whether your hotel has a free shuttle. It is best to figure all of this out before your trip; when you arrive you are tired, often without much cash and carrying a ton of luggage. You don’t want to be fumbling around trying to figure all this out on the airport curb.

4. Don’t underestimate your cell phone bill.

How much could a few texts, a bit of mapping, a few email checks and a batch of social media updates cost per day? Plenty, it turns out. Even if you purchase an international roaming plan, these often have pretty aggressive data caps, and your data allowances can disappear quickly.

5. Don’t forget to research the local exchange rate.

Especially in the first several hours at your destination, having done a little research on the local exchange rate against your home currency can make a huge difference. Often it takes a couple of days really to have a handle on how much things cost, but this can take even longer if you are traveling in an area where prices may not be so fixed as they are at home. Knowing the exchange rate cold so you can do the math quickly in your head will help considerably.

6. Don’t bring traveler’s checks.

Barely anyone accepts them anymore, they’re not cheap, you have to invest a fair amount of time in obtaining and purchasing them, and credit cards give you a far better rate of exchange in most parts of the world. Skip ’em.

Five Foods to Avoid Before Flying

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Pre-flight anxiety — spurred by endless baggage lines, security checkpoints and screaming children — need not extend to fears of repeat trips to the airplane lavatory. But eat the wrong thing before you fly, and you may be contending with more than just an awful in-flight movie or space-invading neighbor.

Unfortunately, airport dining options — like a greasy fast food burger, oily pizza or a liquid lunch at the concourse bar — are rather limited. Still, if you’re disciplined, avoiding the gut-busting trifecta of grease, alcohol and carbonation can help contribute to a bloat-free flight. There are even a few surprisingly nutritious foods on our “don’t eat” list that are best avoided before you take to the sky. And for the long-haulers wondering if there’s anything to do to prevent jet lag as they zoom from New York to Beijing, there may just be a food-based remedy: Eat nothing at all.

Remember to drink lots of water, eat some carrot sticks and nuts, and check out our five foods banned for pre-flight consumption.

1. McDonald’s Extra Value Meal

According to the medical community, the body doesn’t do so well digesting foods laden with sodium and saturated fats in the first place — and digestion at 35,000 feet proves even more difficult. So it’s common sense to avoid these worst offenders before flying. But beyond the digestion problems, there’s also the issue of in-flight blood circulation. Sitting squished and immobile in a pressurized cabin hinders blood flow, setting off a physiological chain that can lead to swollen feet, or worse, deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT involves the formation of a blood clot deep inside the body that when breaks free can lodge in the brain, lungs or heart, causing severe damage, even death.

2. The Gas Giants

For obvious reasons, it’s smart to avoid foods that encourage intestinal expansion, as the nature of the pressurized airplane cabin promotes further bloating. Chief among such foods are fried and super-saturated dishes, but even certain “healthful” foods — onions, cauliflower, cabbage, beans, lentils — can make you feel like an over-filled balloon. The aforementioned high-sodium foods can cause you to retain water, further contributing to that bloated feeling.

3. Alcohol

For many fliers, downing a few cocktails is part of their pre-flight protocol. It helps allay the fear of flying  and serves as a liquid sleeping pill. But doctors (yes, them again) say that consuming alcohol before or during a flight should be avoided, at least in excessive amounts. Alcohol causes dehydration, which is already a concern for most fliers given the ultra-dry air and salty meals on planes. If having a drink is a must for you, counteract the effect of the booze by consuming plenty of water.

4. Carbonated Beverages

When flying, and especially on a long-haul, it helps to think of yourself as a super athlete, competing against the forces of dehydration, boredom, rude flight attendants and the smelly guy sitting next to you. As an athlete, you’d never consume a Pepsi during a triathlon, would you? You need to be at your peak, and carbonated beverages contribute to bloating and cramping, two enemies of the long-haul athlete. Again, we’re suggesting that you avoid foods that impede digestion, cause gas and potentially cause distress to you and your fellow passengers.

5. Everything

In a study published in the journal “Science,” researchers suggested that fasting for about 16 hours before a long flight may actually help to fend off jet lag.

Here’s the study in a nutshell: Normally it’s light that triggers an internal clock that controls when we eat and sleep. But according to the study, a second clock seems to override the first when the body senses that food is in short supply. So researchers believe we might be able to faster adjust to time zone changes by manipulating this second clock, based on hunger. In essence, if you make your body think it’s starving, you’ll be able to remain awake and alert until it’s dinner time in your new destination, resetting your body’s light clock in the process.

 

Travel Hygiene Tips: Staying Fresh on the Road

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If you’ve ever stepped off a plane with stained and rumpled clothes, a pore-clogged face, a jet lag-induced headache, and a mouth that still tastes like hours-old airplane food, you know how tricky it can be to stay clean and rested while traveling. And that’s just the first leg of your trip. Where do you turn when access to basic facilities — like a shower and sink — becomes a distant memory?

If you’re properly prepared, you’ll be ready for whatever travel trial comes your way: to use an apple or lemon to improve your breath, to take a shower without water, or to fall asleep in even the most cramped, cacophonous of airline seats.

Hands

Those travelers devoted to hand sanitization are religious about the act — and for good reason.You may be more than 100 times likelier to catch a cold while flying than you would on the ground, thanks mostly to low cabin humidity. One important way to protect yourself is by keeping your hands clean.

Face

A clean face can do a lot to offset dirty hands and foul breath. When considering your face on the road, there are two things to keep in mind: the climate of your destination and your skin type. Leaving for Egypt’s desert sands? Pack plenty of lip balm and moisturizer. Hiking the rain forests in Costa Rica? Nature will help you out a little. But no matter where you’re traveling, sunblock is absolutely essential if you’ll be spending any time outdoors.

Mouth

Is bad breath the greatest enemy to overall travel freshness? Your fellow airplane passengers apparently think so. So what to do to avoid that foul, sticky taste in the mouth and that look of revulsion from your neighbor on the plane or metro? Beyond the obvious mints or gum, there are a number of products that promote oral hygiene on the road. Colgate Wisps are disposable mini-toothbrushes that provide a quick and easy mouth-freshening option when you can’t brush your teeth for real. The brush head has a freshening bead that releases a mouth cleaning liquid when you scrub, and a pick on the opposite end provides a floss option. It requires no water to use, and the ingredients are safe to swallow.

Body

For the body, clothing can go a long way in at least giving the impression that you’re cool and dry. But when you’re in a water-free environment and desperate for a shower, there are a number of “soap” products that can be used without water. The aptly named No Rinse Body Wash is a popular option for adventure travelers. Known in the health care field (for use with bedridden patients) and also good for campers/trekkers who don’t have the luxury of a shower, No Rinse products utilize a water-based odor neutralizer to provide a quick wash. Of course, the benefit here is that you don’t have to rinse.