Take a nice trip this fall

As colder temperatures sweep across the country and the leaves are set aflame with color, the U.S. settles in with the arrival of autumn in all of its pumpkin spice-scented glory. Many think of fall’s predecessor or its successor as the ideal times to travel for various reasons, whether summer beach vacations or the winter holidays. However, the fall season has its own charms to offer any vacationer looking to get away. Here are just a few of the top places to travel for a full fall experience:

Vermont

Northeast Region: Montpelier, Vermont—There many locations throughout the various regions of Vermont with world famous views of the changing leaves. Whether you choose to conquer one of the many hiking trails the Green Mountain state has to offer, enjoy one of its eclectic art events, or tour its scenic byways, Vermont has something to offer for everyone. For more information on places to visit in Vermont during the fall season, including two maps for the current conditions and forecasting the fall foliage, click here.

 

Washington

West Region: Washington—
The Pacific Northwest is famous for its landscapes among other things. Therefore the fall season is a prime time to visit the region, particularly the state of Washington. Set the stage at the Cascade Loop Scenic Highway:“[c]olorful sights include the vibrant yellow larches of Ross Lake, the golden-grassy farmland of Winthrop and blazing yellow-red maple vines in Leavenworth,” according to ExperienceWA.com. In addition to scenic overlooks along these and the many other drives, Washington offers hiking opportunities, like Wallace Falls near Gold Bar, as well as fall festivals, such as Autumn Leaf Festival in Leavenworth. To learn about other scenic drives in Washington for your next fall time excursion, check out this article.

  St. Paul

Midwest Region: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota—According to Travel Channel, Minneapolis-St. Paul offers a plethora of fall fun opportunities. The area offers a “scenic leaf-peeping drive” using either the Minnehaha Parkway in Minneapolis or Summit Avenue in St. Paul. If you prefer to get closer to nature, Minnesota’s Fort Snelling State Park and Afton State Park give hikers and bikers that chance. To learn more about the different autumn scenic views, sports activities, shopping and more — click here.

  Grand canyon

Southwest: The Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona—The Grand Canyon National Park is hailed as one of the country’s most popular parks with approximately 5.9 million people visiting the 277 mile wonder last year alone, according to National Geographic. U.S. News & World Report suggests that the best times to visit the park are either in the spring between March and May or in the fall between September and November. During the fall, the temperatures cool down and the summer crowds disperse, leaving more hotel rooms and trails available as you enjoy the beauty of the Canyon. To plan your trip the Grand Canyon National Park, visit the National Park Service website here.

  New orleans

Southeast: New Orleans—New Orleans, also known as the Big Easy, “keeps locals and visitors busy with countless events from late September through November…,” according to Travel Channel. From the city’s own Oktoberfest or its famed Oak Street Po-Boy Festival to the Louisiana Seafood Festival and the Voodoo Music Festival, the city has something for everyone to enjoy during the fall season. For more information about the best times to travel to the Big Easy, check out this article from U.S. New and World Report.

Outside of this list, there are many places across the United States that offer fall enthusiasts spectacular views of the changing leaves, traditional hay rides, fall festivals, Halloween celebrations and more. Wherever you travel, USI Travel Insurance Services is here to help protect not only your travel plans, but also your experience. For information on how Travel Insurance Services can protect your trip, visit our website here.


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How to Prepare for the Ultimate Backpacking Trip

By Jim Burch

John Muir once said, "The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” And there is no better way to see America's wilderness than to strap your gear to your back and walk. But it's not that simple, is it? Backpacking, while fun and rewarding, is sometimes difficult and requires real preparation.

Get in Hiking Shape

Even at no grade and low altitude, hiking for 10 miles and 25 plus pounds on your back takes a toll on your body. If you're a beginner hiker or you spend most of the day sitting in an office chair, there are a few simple exercises to get your legs and core into prime hiking shape.

  • Core - Deadlifts are crucial to back and core strength. Learn to do them safely and properly.
  • Legs - Squats and lunges target both the front and back muscles all the way down the leg.
  • Mobility - The "Limber 11" is a great series of stretches to make long hikes safer and more comfortable.

Get the Gear

The toys needed for a backpacking adventure into the wilderness are minimal, but you should still invest time and research into these key items before exploring the backcountry:

  • Backpack - A good backpack should carry 35-45 liters of gear and have an internal frame to distribute the weight off your shoulders and onto your hips.
  • Tent - The giant tent you use for family car camping won't do for this excursion. Backpacking tents are light, small and only big enough to fit the exact number of people in your group (usually 1-3). Make sure it has a rainfly and consider the additional footprint if you'll be camping on rough ground.
  • Sleeping Bag - If there is one item to splurge on, it should be the sleeping bag. Down feathers pack down and loft out better than synthetic material. You should also find one with a temperature rating below the coldest night of your trip.
  • Sleeping Pad - Most people think the primary function of a sleeping pad is to give cushion, but it's actually to separate you from the cold ground below. The best sleeping bag does nothing if it's pressed up against the cold ground, but a sleeping pad offers a buffer between your body and the dirt below. It also just so happens to be more comfortable.
  • Water Filtration - When you're more than a day's hike from the nearest clean water source, you need a method to filter your own from a stream or pond. Water filters filter out impurities from any water source so you can have safe, clean water to drink and cook with.

There are dozens more items to consider, such as headlamps, a knife, and first aid, but any good backpacking checklist will help ensure you have everything you need.

Get Your Itinerary

You've got the gear, you're in great shape, now it's time to prepare for the actual trip. Controlled land, such as National and State Parks, will usually require backcountry permits for wilderness camping. Popular parks such as Grand Canyon and Yosemite are very difficult to get permits for, so you should sign up for them the moment they're available.

Even if you're backpacking through a national forest or wilderness area, which usually does not require permits, it's a good idea to have an itinerary and share it with someone before you leave. National parks use permits to control crowds on the trail, but also to know where you are if something happens (a fall, an animal attack, etc.).

Make an itinerary, share it and stick to it and you'll be just fine.

Focus on the Journey

Multi-day backpacking trips can be physically challenging, but try to enjoy each moment — even when your body is tired — instead of just thinking about completing your journey. After all, you're off the grid and among nature to savor every step and take in every sight.

 

About the author:

Jim Burch studied creative writing and journalism while working as an editor for the Murray State News in Kentucky. These days, he writes diverse copy -- from sports and movies to tech and health.

 


Traveling to Southeast Asia This Year? Check Out These 4 Gorgeous Places of Worship!

According to a report that Google produced late last year, travel trends have recently been shifting. People are starting to favor adventure-based vacation ideas over luxury-based vacations. Vacation spots which were once considered the norm among American tourists, such as Paris, France, and Cancun, Mexico, although still common, are being replaced with fresh new spots in a completely different part of the world: Southeast Asia. Travel to this Southeastern Asian countries has risen recently, and is expected to keep booming, especially into 2025.

As a very culturally rich and diverse area of the world, it only made sense to focus today’s blog topic on some of the gorgeous temples, churches, mosques, and other places of worship that really showcase the cultural diversity of South Asia. Regardless of whether you’re a religious individual or not, each of these places is still a breathtaking sight for pictures and can tell you an enriching story about the area’s cultural history.

So, without further ado, here are 4 gorgeous houses of worship you absolutely must check out if you’re visiting Southeast Asia anytime soon!

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7 Spooky Destinations That Capture the Essence of Halloween

Halloween is ubiquitously magnificent. It’s one of those holidays where you can really enjoy the adrenaline rush of all the talk of ghosts, witches, and the paranormal. It’s also a time to appreciate the night sky, costume parties where you can be someone (or something) else for a day, and really give yourself the chance to let loose a bit. But the question always stands: Where is the best place to celebrate Halloween? Well, in case you’re looking for some inspiration, check out these top destinations that really capture the mysterious and spooky aura of Halloween.

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5 of the Most Diverse Labor Day Weekend Festivals

So, what are your Labor Day Weekend plans this year?

It’s time to say goodbye to summer! Labor Day Weekend is a chance to celebrate the end of summer with your friends and family, so it’s no surprise Labor Day is widely celebrated by people all over the country. People celebrate with delicious barbecue, their favorite brands of beer, and good company. It’s also pretty common for individuals to celebrate at beaches and bays, as this is the last time to really enjoy the summer climate before autumn arrives. Boating, water-skiing, and kayaking are some of the more popular activities that people engage in during Labor Day weekend. But are you looking for something a little different? Not that boating and water-skiing aren’t awesome activities, but all of us want something fresh and new every now and then. So that’s why we’ve compiled a list of 5 of the most culturally diverse Labor Day Weekend festivals around the country!

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