February, 2013

FarmstayThere’s been a push in recent years to get closer to our food. “Eat local” has segued from gimmicky buzz phrase to familiar mantra, and thanks to the efforts of writers, chefs, farmers, and other visionaries around the world, today’s consumers are far more knowledgeable than they’ve ever been about the origins of their food.

It’s no surprise, then, that the tourism industry has caught on to this newfound awareness. Agritourism, sometimes referred to as a farmstay, provides visitors with an opportunity to spend their next vacation on a real, working farm. For rates comparable to a typical B&B or inn, visitors receive room, board, and, often, hands-on demonstrations of activities specific to their farm. At a dairy farm, for example, you may learn how to make cheese or milk a goat. At a berry farm, you might spend a leisurely afternoon picking blueberries and enjoying them later that evening in a delicious dessert that you helped bring to fruition (pardon the pun).

Hundreds of farms across the US offer a farmstay option, so there’s something for everyone–from an active family with young childrenZero Whirl 24 Red to a retiree who’s long overdue for a relaxing weekend. Whether you choose to rise with the sun and help with chores or spend your visit at your own pace, there’s never a shortage of things to do, see, and learn during a farmstay.

Find a farm close to you at farmstayus.com.

Packing for a farmstay, however, offers its own unique set of challenges. Rugged conditions, bulky clothing, and puddles of dubious origin can all wreak havoc on luggage that’s not up to the task. Zero Halliburton, a brand synonymous with toughness, passes the “farm test” with flying colors. Continue Reading »

Business TravelBusiness travel spending is expected to exceed $100 billion in 2013, edging closer to pre-recession levels. Good news? Definitely! An early indicator of an upward trend? Hopefully! But companies are still being cautious with their money, and business trips in 2013 may not be as cushy as you remember them.

Pre-recession, business travel had a luxurious reputation. Though it often came with grueling schedules and red-eye flights, employers tried to sweeten the pot by picking up the tab on business class seats, room service, higher-end rental cars, in-flight cocktails, and more. Lately, though, they’ve been cutting back–some going as far as mandating that all employees fly coach, regardless of job title. As a result, they’re saving millions. According to a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, the North American division of T-Systems International, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG, has done just this–and cut company spending by a third.

If business travel is on your agenda this year, you can have a first-class experience even if you’re relegated to coach with the rest of us vacationing plebs. Travelpro, one of the travel industry’s favorite luggage brands, recently released Executive Pro, a line of suitcases, briefcases, and laptop bags intended for the wandering professional.  Continue Reading »