A Presidential Tour: Five Historic Sites to Travel to for President’s Day Weekend

Whitehouse

President’s Day is a holiday commemorating the nation’s former and current leaders. From coast to coast, and sea to shining sea, there are hundreds of parks, memorials and the like honoring the national pride and history of the presidential office.  Not sure where to go to really celebrate the long weekend? Check out our list for ideas!

Mt Rushmore1) SOUTH DAKOTA: Rising high above the tree line of the park below, national figureheads George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. They forever look out upon the country they have helped liberate, unite, and develop through both actions and words that continue to influence rising generations. The Mount Rushmore National Memorial, located in South Dakota, is an infamous American landmark and popular historical travel destination, symbolizing not only the nation’s history but also “a promise for the future.” Plan your visit to this national treasure on it’s official website here.  

Monticello2) VIRGINIA: "No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden...But though an old man, I am but a young gardener." Thomas Jefferson is well-known as an American Founding Father, the writer who penned the Declaration of Independence, and the third President of the United States. However, a visit to his plantation home of Monticello presents a glimpse into his life beyond these iconic roles. Located near Charlottesville, Va., The Jefferson Monticello is open to the public for visits and tours, preserving the plantation’s historical integrity as well as educating visitors on the man behind the house. It is famous in part for its historic gardens, which were designed as a sort of showpiece, used to grow food and also dedicated to experimenting with plants from all over the world. Learn more about the home and its gardens here

Lincolnmemorial3) WASHINGTON, D.C.: "In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever." These words are carved into the stone that sits above the likeness of President Abraham Lincoln, famed for his role in navigating the country through the Civil War. The Lincoln Memorial is one among countess structures and memorials paying tribute to the accomplishments and lasting influence over the nation shared by its various leaders.  Washington D.C. is the capitol of the United States, as it has been since 1790, housing its presidents and serving as a commonplace to preserve American history. From touring the acclaimed Smithsonian museums to stepping through the doors of U.S. history firsthand at the White House, Washington D.C. has a lot to offer for a weekend getaway.  For more information about the Lincoln Memorial, click here.  To plan your trip to Washington D.C., click here.

Little white house_ga4) GEORGIA: Hidden in away in Warm Springs, Georgia, famed President Franklin Delano Roosevelt erected his getaway home turned historical site, better known as the ’Little White House’.  He traveled first to Warm Springs hoping that the local spring waters would improve his struggle with polio. Though the waters did not serve as a cure, he returned nearly each year to the area and even carried out official political duties at the house. To further mark its presidential significance, John F. Kennedy as a presidential candidate and Jimmy Carter while opening his general election campaign have spoken at the house. Today the Little White House and its pools and springs are a part of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources State Parks and Historic Sites. Next to the house is the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute, serving as a vocational rehabilitation center. For more information about the Little White House, visit the website here.

Regan library5) CALIFORNIA: Nestled on a mountaintop about 45 minutes outside of he Ronald Reagan Presidential Library And Museum The library, administered by the  National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), houses presidential records from its namesake’s administration, including over 60 million pages of documentation and 1.6 million photos. The building itself is a representation of the “shining city on a hill” President Reagan spoke of, according to the library’s website, and is his also his burial site. To learn more about library, click here.

The White House, though physically based in Washington D.C., is rooted in the history of every one of these United States. This list is only a snapshot of the numerous parks, monuments and memorials preserving both the pride and legacy of the U.S. presidential office.  Be sure to check out what presidential historical sites are near you!

Wherever you travel this President’s Day weekend, travel with peace of mind knowing that your trip is protected with Travel Insurance Services. Learn more on our website.


 
Traveling to Minneapolis for the Big Game?

Minneapolis_skyline2
For football fans across the nation, Sunday February 4th is much more than a typical Sunday night game- it’s THE Big Game of the year. Whether you are rooting for the reigning champions- the New England Patriots- or their fierce competitors- the Philadelphia Eagles- the game is highly anticipated, with thousands of fans flocking to the site of this year’s big game in Minneapolis, Minnesota. If you’re one of the lucky ones traveling to Minnesota for the big game, here are a few moves to blitz boredom during your stay in the Twin Cities!

Minnesota zoo_photo11) The Minnesota Zoo: If you are looking to get in touch with a different type of nature off of the football, look no further than the Minnesota Zoo. Opened in 1978, the zoo itself is a 485-acre campus and brings in approximately 1.29 million visitors each year. Its mission is “connect people, animals, and the natural world to save wildlife.” In the spirit of that mission statement, the zoo serves as a “[c]oordinator of international conservation and breeding programs for numerous species”, an effort that includes tigers and Asian wild horses among others. The zoo also boasts a robust volunteer program if you are interested in doing some community service during your stay in Minneapolis! To learn more about the zoo, check out the website here.

2) The Mall of America: Traveled out for the game but still need to get your shopping done? No problem! The Mall of America, well known as the largest shopping mall in the country according to U.S. News and World Report, is close by. The mall has over 500 stores within a reported 2.5 million square feet of retail business space. Additionally, the Mall of America is houses “family-friendly” attractions, such as the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park and the SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium.

The walker art center_13) The Walker Art Center: If you are looking for an iconic tour of Minneapolis, one stop worth making is to the Walker Art Center. The Walker is well-known for its assortment of both modern and contemporary art, including paintings, sculptures and photographs. According to U.S. News and World Report, one of the Walker's most popular exhibits is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Bundle up and get outside to enjoy the “largest urban sculpture garden in the country,” home to the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry!

4) The Mary Tyler Moore Statue: 1970’s sitcom star Mary Tyler Moore is credited with putting “Minneapolis on the map”. Her namesake television program, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, highlighted Minneapolis often and brought attention to the city at a time when it was starting to grow, according to Meet Minneapolis President and CEO Melvin Tennant. To honor the legacy of the late actress, the Mary Tyler Moore statue stands- forever holding her iconic pose throwing her tam in the air- at the Minneapolis Visitor Information. To learn more about the statue, visit the Meet Minneapolis website here.

Stone arch bridge_15) Stone Arch Bridge: If you are looking to catch up on the city’s history in addition to football activities, take a trip over the historic Stone Arch Bridge. The bridge itself is 2,100-feet of granite and limestone. It was originally constructed in 1883 in order to increase and ease the flow of traffic and goods into and out of the city. According to U.S. News and World Report, the bridge is designated a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and remains the only stone arch bridge to have ever crossed the Mississippi River. Today, it is commonplace to see bikers and walkers crossing the landmark as well as sightseers taking in the marvelous views of the city during twilight.

This is only a short sample of the numerous activities and sites to do and see in Minneapolis. For more things to do in Minneapolis, check out the city’s website here.

Will the Patriots keep their winning streak going for another year? Or will the Eagles fly to victory? We won’t know until game day. But one thing we do know is that, just like on the field, not everything goes according to plan. Be sure you’re ready in the event you need to call an audible; if unpredictable winter weather disrupts your travels or you need to cancel for another reason, make sure your costly trip is covered with a travel protection plan. A travel protection plan can protect your costly travel investment against trip cancellation, delays, lost or delayed baggage, medical expenses (your regular health insurance coverage may be limited far from home), and more. Visit travelinsure.com to learn more about our travel plans, and contact us today to determine the best plan for you and enroll. You can enroll up to 24 hours before you depart, so act now!

Not traveling to the big game? Lock in travel protection from Travel Insurance Services for your next vacation and breathe better knowing you have our reliable coverage and services at your side.

 


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!

Continue reading "Beautiful Places of Worship in Southeast Asia" »