Buckle Up and Discover Maryland this Summer

Ready for a road trip? Here’s a great list of places to go and things to do in Maryland this Summer. From the article …

“All you need is transportation, a great playlist and a pair of sunglasses to take a spontaneous road trip through one of Maryland’s 18 scenic byways. Whether taking a quick joyride or planning a weekend getaway, there are plenty of national and state parks, local eateries and unique exhibits to discover.”

Check out the list – Buckle Up and Discover Maryland this Summer

Thanks for reading the Maryland Travel Stories!

St. Michaels Winter Romance

St. Michaels, Maryland is one of my favorite small towns in Talbot County. My wife and I have been there several times.

The town posted a 30-second Valentine’s Day video (above) on it’s Youtube channel. Watch the video then go book a room or plan a day trip for you and your love!

Check out our two favorite places while you’re there. The first is Olivins Tasting Room – a retail store specializing in aged & infused olive oils & vinegars. The second is Mike & Eric’s Front Street Restaurant & Bar. The food is good and a very friendly staff. Please tell me how it was when you get back!

Thanks for reading Maryland Travel Stories.

Road Trips: Drive Your Car or Rent

 

dreamstime_xs_29500523 - Car ValueA lot of road trips can kill the value of your car. I had a conversation last night with a friend who was not a happy camper! He’s trying to sell his car and was shocked to learn the car lost $12,000 in value in 2 years. Why … a lot of road trips. He has a short commute to work but he hits the road at least once a month for weekend stays.

He purchased a used car two years ago with 11,000 miles on it. He paid a little over $18,000 for the car. Today, the car has 91,000 miles and was appraised at $6,000. Wow! That’s a lot of value lost in 2 years. Should he have rented cars for all those road trips?

The question you have to ask yourself is do you care about the value of your car? What type of car owner are you? Are you the type to buy a car and drive it until it dies? If you are, you probability don’t care about car value. One day you’re mechanic tells you it’s time to replace the old set of wheels. You call some nonprofit to tow it away and buy the next car. You don’t need the value on the old car to help buy a replacement car. If this is you, go road trip crazy and drive your own car.

Drive my car or rent a carIs your car leased? Or, do you plan to trade-in your old car for a replacement? If the answer to either question is yes, your car’s value is important. Here’s what you need to think about.

How many miles do you drive per year? The average American drives 12 – 15 thousand miles per year. Let’s use 15,000 (or 15K) as a nice round number. Miles driven is not the only factor in determining the value of a car but it’s an important one. At the end of each year you own your car, how many miles did you drive? If you added less the 15K, GREAT. You slowed the rate of decline in value. If you added more than 15K … OUCH! It’s like tying a brick to your car’s value. Bottom line … if your road trips will take you over that 15k mark in any one year; fly, take the train or RENT A CAR. Don’t put those miles on your car.

Thank you for reading Maryland Travel Stories!

Hotel Stay: Why You Should Tip Housekeeping Every Night

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I saw the above tweet and had to check it out. It’s an article on the Groupon website called “Why You Should Tip Housekeeping Every Night and Other Hotel Tipping Etiquette” by Jorie Larsen. In the article, Jorie Larsen spoke with manners expert Lizzie Post (cohost of the Awesome Etiquette podcast). Read the article to see the complete info-graphic on hotel tipping.

My favorite part was tipping the housekeeper. Lizzie’s advice goes as follows:

Should you tip [the housekeeper]?: Yes.
How much?: It depends on the number of people staying in your room, although $2 per night is fairly standard. Larger families, or those staying in a large suite, should tip more, up to $5 per night. When deciding how much to leave, Post says to “consider the amount of work housekeeping has to do.”
Should I tip every night or once at the end?: “Tipping nightly ensures the tips go to the people who actually clean your room,” Post says.
Where should I put the tip?: On your pillow or nightstand. Better yet, place it in an envelope clearly labeled “Housekeeping,” then leave it on your nightstand.
What if I’m staying at a B&B or small inn?: It’s up to your discretion, but feel free to ask the inn’s staff what the tipping standards are. Generally speaking, you should leave a tip if there is hired help to clean the rooms.

dreamstime_s_48685237 - Hotel HousekeeperI often get into discussions with friends who don’t tip housekeeping at all or who only tip at the end of their stay. I hope this ends the discussion for my friends that don’t tip. Follow the wisdom of Lizzie Post and start tipping!

For my friends who tip at the end of the stay … STOP IT! There are times when a different person cleans your room each day. If you tip all at the end of your stay, you are over tipping the last housekeeper and not tipping the others at all. When I stay at a hotel, I leave a $2 or $3 tip on the desk with a note that says “tip for housekeeper”. I want it to be clear to the housekeeper that it is a tip for him or her.

How do you handle tipping the housekeeper?

Thank you for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

Planning Family Vacations (The Labor of Love Podcast)

Labor of Love PodcastI listen to a fantastic episode of The Labor of Love Podcast! It covers the ups and downs of planning family vacations. Episode 18 – “Family Vacations”. The description is:

Wait, aren’t we supposed to be relaxing? Lori talks to travel expert Wendy Perrin and writer David Valdes Greenwood about how to survive — and even have fun! — on your family vacation.

Get great ideas to keep the stress down before, during and after your next trip. Go listen to this podcast right now!

What’s a podcast? / Real Simple Magazine / Panoply Podcasts

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A Lesson Learned Booking A Hotel

© Alikeyou | Dreamstime.com - Businessman Shocked By What He Saw In A Notebook Photo

© Alikeyou | Dreamstime.com – Businessman Shocked By What He Saw In A Notebook Photo

Okay. I have a blog so I can rant. I’ve stayed at many hotels in my lifetime. I make my reservation for the stay I plan to have. I show up, check in and go to my room. At the end of my stay I check out and receive my bill. I understand that I’ll be charged a fee or even a night’s stay if I don’t show up or cancel at the last minute. It’s the wonderful relationship I have with hotels. It works.

I tried something new on my last stay. I booked my reservation using the booking service on TripAdvisor. I was surprised to find out they charged the full stay on my card before I checked in! I know people pay in advance for cruises and tours. I usually don’t pay in advance for a hotel. What if I check out early? I’ve been charged for nights I might not use.

Here’s my biggest concern with this. Go watch Hotel Impossible. There are a lot of poorly managed hotels out there. If I arrive and the place is dirty, smelly, have critters or is in poor repair … I’m history! I’ll find somewhere else to stay. I’ll pay the price of a night stay if I need to. I don’t want to have to fight to get the cost of 2 or 3 day’s back when I didn’t stay 1 day.

I know this maybe petty for some. You might even call me naive for not knowing that booking sites do this. I definitely will view this as a lesson learned.

Don’t get me wrong. I love TripAdvisor for the information. I’ll just book future reservations somewhere else.

Thank you for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

Road Trip Tips

“It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it have not have it.”

Words of wisdom I like to keep in mind every time I take a day trip in my car. Here are some things you should have for your next day trip:

© Curvabezier | Dreamstime.com - Cute Cars Driving On A Road Trip Photo

1 – Visit the ATM before you leave – Cash is still king in many small towns and roadside stops. My wife and I tried to attend a community fair on a trip 2 months ago. There was a cash only entrance fee and no available ATM’s. Many stores, gas stations and food outlets have minimum amounts for credit or debit card charges. A few bucks in your pocket will be very helpful in times like this.

2 – Get an E-ZPass for your car – I know some people feel they don’t travel enough or go through toll booths enough to justify an E-ZPass. They forget that convenience has a value and stress has a cost. I love being able to zoom by the toll booth in the E-ZPass lane! Without the E-ZPass, I would go crazy if I had to wait behind a long line of cars at each toll booth. To me, a less stressful vacation is worth the small cost for the E-ZPass.

3 – Join the American Automobile Association (AAA) – The benefits are enormous; travel information, travel discounts and travel insurance. They’ve even added identity theft monitoring as an option. The main reason to join … roadside assistance! I locked my keys in my car on one trip and had my car breakdown on another. In both cases, all I had to do was make one call.

4 – Store a small first aid kit in your car – There are many first aid kits available for car use. Buy one! “Better safe than sorry!”

5 – Buy bug spray (or check the expiration date) before you leave – You never know when you will need this. I’ve been attacked while pumping gas! Flying critters are always on the lookout. Don’t be their next victim! I always have a can or some wipes in my trunk during road trips.

6 – Give your car a quick checkup – Read my post on this, “AAA’s Easy Maintenance Checks for Motorists“.

7 – If you need a partner for the road trip – Read my post on this, “Find Travel Buddies“.

I hope this helps! Vacations are about building memories. These tips will help make them good memories. What tips would you add?

Thanks for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

Brent Jackson