travel suggestion


The Ten Best Ways to Protect

Your Home While On Vacation

white-picket-fence-house

 This time of year finds millions of people heading off for well-deserved vacations. Of course, if you’re retired, your schedule is pretty much up to you. Regardless, I thought this might be a great time to pass along some valuable suggestions for protecting your home while you are away. As frequent travelers, my wife Trisha and I use checklists we’ve put together to make sure we don’t forget anything. While our memories are still pretty good, we find checklists very efficient and they give us peace of mind.

1. Silence Is Golden

Uncle-Sam-secrecy-poster

In this era of social media, don’t advertise your departure on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or any other form of messaging. I suggest you only share your plans with trusted friends and neighbors. It’s sad to say, but there are plenty of thieves out there in cyber space looking for an easy score. If you trust the folks at your local Post Office and newspaper, stop those deliveries. If you don’t trust them, ask a neighbor to collect those items each day. I’ve added the last comment because as a teenager, my wife’s family cancelled everything prior to their summer vacation. Twice, when they returned home, their possessions had been stolen. The bottom line is, only inform those you trust with your travel plans. There is plenty of time to talk about your trip when you get home.

2. Turn Off Electronics

frankenstein2

Thirteen percent of fires are caused by electronic malfunctions in the home. This means you need to make sure you have unplugged your electronics or turned off power strips for nonessential electronics such as coffee pots, amplifiers, electric blankets (a friend of mine forgot this one and nearly burned his house down), etc. This will also protect your electronics from power surges while you are away.

3. Make Your House Look Lived In

121015-trashed-forclosed-house-2

Well, maybe not that lived in, but thieves casing neighborhoods are looking for signs that folks are away from home. Some examples would be porch lights left on all day, old newspapers lying about, yards not mowed, blinds or curtains closed tight, etc. All of these tell a thief, “We’re not home, help yourself.” What does your home look like when you are living there? Is there a car in the driveway? Maybe you should leave one there and have a friend move it occasionally. Leave some blinds or curtains in a “lived-in” position. Of course, the ones in front of your new 100” 4D television or your rare Monet on the wall should probably be left closed. Have a friend mow your lawn while you’re gone. In other words, make your home look like you are still there. Believe it or not, some people have even left messages on their phones such as, “Hello, we will be out-of-town until the end of the month, have a nice day.” I’m sure someone will have a great day hearing that message.

4. Secure Doors and Windows

dungeon_dweller_props

Once again, this may be overdoing it, but an important item on your checklist should be to secure all doors and windows. Hardware stores have very nifty (is that still a word?) little latches and gadgets for securing every type of door and window. In our case, we have a couple of doors that have glass panes making it very easy to break the glass and reach in to unlock the doors. For that reason, we have some very simple to install safety latches that make it impossible to open the door in such a manner. We use them every day, even while we are at home.

5. Inform Local Security

red4

If you have a security alarm system, make sure your security company knows the dates of your travel plans. The same goes for local security patrols or police as they may have a policy of extra surveillance. If you do have a security company as we do, make sure you get one or two of their signs for the front of your house. We also have decals from our company that are placed on various windows around the house. A smart thief should know that if they break a window or open a door, our alarm is going off. By the way, it’s really loud.

6. Turn Off Automatic Garage Doors

garage-door-opener-1_np56

For those of us with automatic garage door openers, we’ve all probably experienced coming home to a garage with the door wide open. Did we leave it open, or did someone else open it accidentally or on purpose? Before you leave, shut off the electronic door and padlock it from the inside.

7. Close or Block Pet Doors

Stuck+in+doggy+door

If you forget this one, trust me, I won’t be breaking into your home. But there may be some skinny little thief out there that could get through your pet door and steal your stuff.

8. Rethink Your Hide-a-Key

Real Estate Locks

Some would advise you not to leave a hidden key and suggest you leave it with a neighbor. I won’t say what I now do, but years ago I was glad I had a key hidden on my property. Here in California, the ground shifts a bit. While traveling we kept getting calls that our security alarm was going off. Both the security company and neighbors were not pleased, but no one could tell why the alarm was going off. The house was locked up like Fort Knox. I then realized that the alarms, and the calls to my cell phone were occurring at the same time each morning. How could that be? What happened at that time of the morning? All I could think of was my front yard sprinklers came on at that time. My neighbor checked and, sure enough, due to shifting ground a window at the front of our house had cracked. When the sprinklers came on, water hit the window, found the crack and ran down shorting out the alarm sensor. I told the neighbor where the hide-a-key was and he turned off my alarm system. If you leave a key, make sure it’s a super secure spot, if not, leave it with a neighbor. My wife came up with an even better idea than a hide-a-key. She bought one of those real estate locks (looks like a big padlock) that holds a key inside and attaches to a door. It has a combination we can share should someone need to get into our home while we are away.

9. Put Valuables in a Safe

Franklin_50_Gun_Safe

For all you cyber thieves reading this blog, let me say up front, I don’t keep my valuables in my home. I don’t even have valuables, just the typical important papers we all must secure. Whatever your situation, anything of importance should be stored in a safe while you are away from home. Years ago we discovered that the big home stores have two sales on safes each year. We waited for the next sale and took advantage of a great saving. Our important papers are now in a constant state of security.

10. Best Security Measure

Killer Dog Bowl

Every thief will tell you, should you get the chance to ask them, the  number one best security measure for your home, regardless of your being at home or away, is communicating to thieves you have a dog. This is so simple. Place a nice little sign on your fence, gate, or doors that say something to the effect of: Beware of Dog. Reinforce that idea by placing a doggie bowl next to your back door. I suggest the bigger the better.

Safe Travels

One more thing. As most of you know, my wife Trisha writes a terrific blog called Trisha’s Dishes where she shares some of her favorite recipes. Her most rectent blog is not to be missed. It’s titled Three Great Breakfast Recipes. Don’t miss these fantastic recipes, they have become favorites for our family and everyone else who has tried them.

Trisha Parker "Trisha's Dishes"

Simple go to:

http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com and click on Trisha’s Dishes.

zzzzz close

http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com

Advertisements

Travel Tip: Avoid Airline Luggage Fees

I recently wrote a blog in which I described how I was able to avoid paying an extra fee for my luggage on several overseas flights. In case you missed it, airlines, especially foreign airlines, have very tight weight restrictions for both checked and carry-on luggage. They also have zero-tolerance policies and extremely high fees for going over their limits. In my blog I described how I wore a jacket with a number of inner and outer large pockets in which I stuffed underwear, t-shirts, camera, etc.

O.K., the word cheap comes to mind (I prefer frugal), but the fact is I saved some real money by employing this clever idea. After writing the blog, I heard from people who thought my concept was great. At that point, my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and I set about to research and design my new line of “travel luggage.” Unfortunately, like most of us who have great ideas, we often discover others have beaten us to the punch.

While I’ve now found several types and styles on the internet, let me share my favorite with you. It’s called the Stuffa Jacket. I like its concept and design. Other travel luggage I’ve found simply looks like horse blankets with pockets and even the most frugal among us would probably be embarrassed to wear something so grotesque.

For what its worth, and I believe you will save enough on your first flight to cover the cost of the jacket, here is the Stuffa.

Untitled

Features:

Capacity: 3/5

The Stuffa is designed more as an additional storage space rather than a replacement for a bag, but the 12 pockets concealed within the lining of this bodywarmer (which can hold up to 5kg of clothing) along with the two external pockets for your phone, passport or tickets, offer a considerable amount of supplementary storage space, allowing you to travel lighter.

Ease of use: 5/5
The bodywarmer’s mesh pockets can be stuffed full of clothes very easily, then just slip the jacket on: simple.

Durability: 5/5
The Stuffa is a well-made and nicely designed product that looks the part and should stand the test of time.

Style Factor: 5/5
By far the most stylist garment in our test, this looks like a normal item of clothing (rather than a bin-bag) and you could happily wear this out and about without getting any odd looks.

Value: 4/5
It’s twice the price of the Roo – but for that extra money you do get a stylish jacket, albeit one with slightly less capacity.

Best for: stylish light-travellers
If you want to save money on airline baggage charges, and look good whilst doing it, the Stuffa is the luggage jacket for you.

I haven’t purchased mine yet. My wife Trisha says she might not stand next to me when boarding the plane if I’m wearing this thing stuffed to the brim. We’ll see how this one turns out. Saving money is something she is really good at so I think she’ll eventually go along with it. If you see somebody at the airport that looks like a giant hot dog, it just might be me.

John and Trisha Parker

John and Trisha Parker

zzzzz close

http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com  

eiffel tower

Trisha and John Parker

 

Tips For Seniors Traveling Abroad

Having recently returned from an incredible travel adventure to Italy and France, I thought it might be beneficial to share a few travel tips for those considering such a trip.

1. If you plan on driving while in a foreign country, make sure you check in with your insurance agent. In most cases they will advise you to purchase additional coverage from the rental car company in the country you are visiting. This is important because when renting a car in the U. S., if your coverage is like mine, the rental car’s coverage is typically not necessary.

2. When possible, book a hotel in the middle of the cities you want to visit. Most foreign countries have rapid transit much better than ours and you can travel easily through most of them. Often, the entire country is connected by efficient rail systems. On our recent trip to Italy, we became very familiar with the Milan train station as we traveled through it several times. Of course, the way most foreign cities have been centrally designed, once there, you can walk to most of your destinations.

3. Because we are all connected to our smart phones, don’t feel you have to get expensive extended coverage while abroad. Most hotels, restaurants, coffee houses, etc., have free Wifi. To stay in communication back home, we simply sign up for a $10 universal texting plan. It gives you peace of mind in case you need to contact a family member or friend. Otherwise, forget you have a phone and enjoy your trip.

4. As a senior, there is a registration program the U. S. government offers that will also provide an extra sense of security while abroad. Here is the link for registration. This will give your family members an extra way to communicate with you in case of emergency. Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

5. Take your personal safety and security seriously. In most countries you will visit, you probably won’t have to worry about major crime. The fact is, petty crime such as pick pockets, etc., exists in all cities. Keep your passport, credit cards, cash, travel tickets, and I.D. in a hidden travel belt. I have always resisted this suggestion, but during our long recent trip, I decided to wear one and found it quite convenient.

6. If you have any other questions about your health and safety in a country you plan to visit, here are two more links that will keep you informed:

Current Travel Warnings and Current Travel Alerts

Bon Voyage

 

Salute To Veterans

On this Veterans Day weekend, I want to extend my sincere gratitude and best wishes to all veterans, past and present, for their service to our country. As a veteran myself, I know the sacrifice of both veterans and their families. I pay special tribute to those who were injured while on duty and those who made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. I know most don’t often talk about their service to the country, and I’m not sure many in our current culture even recognize the past and present price that has been paid for their freedom. Each year when my sons call me and say, “Thank you for your service Dad,” I know it was well worth it.

For all the veterans out there, here is a link to get information and/or questions answered about your benefits:

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Florida

I’m a bit more tan as I write this blog as I just returned from a great getaway to Florida. It’s interesting that I often hear Florida being joked about on television. You know, the comments such as, “God’s waiting room,” etc. Well, let me tell you, retired or not, there is simply something about the warm weather, blue skies, palm trees swaying in the breeze, great food, and laid back spirit that could relax the most tense among us. I caught myself sleeping in until 8:30 or 9:00, and that was with the benefit of a 3 hour time difference. While the summers are hot and humid, from November to April, Florida is really a paradise. If you’ve never been there, do yourself a favor and make the trip. You will love it.

Oh, and if you ever get to South Florida and the Jupiter/Hobe Sound area, when hungry I suggest you make your way to Dune Dogs, The Catfish House, and Harry and the Natives. If you would enjoy watching boats cruise the intercoastal while eating crab-dip nachos with a beverage, I suggest the Waterway Cafe. Just to be sure of my recommendations, I spent a lot of time in each establishment on my latest visit. You’re welcome. 

 

 

WWW.TheBestOfOurLives.com

Travel Suggestion

If you’re looking for an interesting place to visit right here in the good old U.S.A., I suggest you think about southern Arizona. Having made several visits to this part of the country in the last few years, my wife and I have come to love the area.

Southern Arizona has so many fascinating places to visit, I’m not sure any one person could visit them all. We try to take in one or two each time which gives us plenty of reasons to return. Here are just a few of the places we have recently enjoyed. For more information simply click on the links.

Kartchner Caverns State Park 

Arizona State Parks: Kartchner Caverns: Home

 This is one of the newest and most interesting attractions in the U. S. It was discovered in 1974 by two explorers. Only revealed in 1988, the state of Arizona spent millions of dollars and opened it to the public in 1999.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Titan Missle Museum

Titan Missle Museum

My wife Trisha and I visited this location and took the guided tour a few weeks ago and it was fantastic. As seniors, we all remember the days of our nuclear standoff with Russia. The U. S. maintained many Titan Missle sites during those years and they were all manned 24/7 by the military. The sites were eventually destroyed, but this one was left in tact for historical purposes. It is the only publicly accessible site remaining from that era. There is a museum, gift shop, video room, and a guided tour for your enjoyment. I was surprised to see an actual Titan II Missle in the silo and our guide took us through a simulated launch. Quite breathtaking.!

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tubac

Tubac Arizona > Southern AZ Artist Colony & Travel Destination

Here is an all-in-one place to visit. This historic Spanish settlement has become a true resort. You can find art gallaries, gift stores, wonderful food, golf, spas, and much more. Most of all, the relaxed and peaceful environment is worth the visit by itself. We love the beautiful hand painted pots and other crafts. On our last visit we purchased three more for our outdoor area. Quite beautiful and unique. Whatever your pleasure, you will find it here. Below is Trisha with good friend Susan at the main entrance.

 

Vitamin Warning

This one is for the guys. We live in an era in which people take lots of vitamins. I admit to taking them myself. Unfortunately, we often think more is better. A new study warns that taking too much Vitamin E can increase a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer. Because there are vitamin products out there with very high units of Vitamin E, men are being warned. The new research results were published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The multi-million dollar study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.  As with any medical information, check with your doctor.

Grandkids

A long time ago, when dinosaurs walked the earth, October was my special month. It is the month of my birth. The fact is, birthdays were never a big deal in my family. I mean, everyone has one, so what’s the big deal. Well, so far this October, four of our grandkids have had birthdays. It is my greatest gift and a wonderful blessing. Happy Birthday each and every one. 

www.TheBestofOurLives.com

 

Let me begin by saying I’m probably one of the most patriotic people you will ever meet. My father served in WWII and his father in WWI. I served four years in the U.S. Air Force during the Viet Nam war. I also consider every first responder and all civilians who gave assistance on 9-11 to be true heroes. Additionally, I was and still am heart-sick for our country and everyone who suffered the loss of a loved one in the cowardly attack on innocent life. I didn’t, however, participate in the cultural and media-created grief-fest over the last month.

As a typical young man growing up in this country, I took my share of blows. As a skinny 7th grader, I was punched by the biggest 9th grader in school when I accidentally stepped on his foot. Pretty sure I broke some ribs but I never told anyone about it. Later on as a high school senior, I took out the catcher while scoring the winning run that gave my baseball team the league championship. Guess which one I choose to celebrate? What has happened to our culture when we create a spectacle to remember taking a horrible cheap shot from a bunch of lunatic fanatics? And why have we spent so much time building a monument to, lets face it, our biggest defense failure?

I can predict some of the answers. One would be we are doing this to honor the victims. Yes, I’m sure that’s part of it. But we won’t forget those people. They were the murder victims of heartless criminals. What I believe we should have done was build a new set of buildings twice as high on that site. What has happened to our can-do spirit in this country? We cry and moan over every mishap and wallow in collective grief. Remember when Princess Diana was killed in a car accident? For days the media brought us images of people around the world gathered in mass laying down flowers and crying. I felt bad for her and her family, but to be honest, I had never met her. I certainly didn’t break down or have a desire to gather with my neighbors to grieve. We all suffer the loss of loved ones. It’s the most difficult and emotional aspect of life. But if something happens to me on the highway, I sure don’t want my family to gather at the place of my demise and build a roadside memorial to visit each year.

When 9-11 occurred, I was so proud of our nation’s great resilience and defiance despite suffering such a horrifying attack. Now I feel we have been shown to be a nation of weak and powerless wimps, wallowing in a collective sea of pity and self indulgence. I truly honor those who lost their lives on 9-11, but seriously worry our culture has lost much of its grit and spirit.

North to Alaska 

 

Last week my wife Trisha and I, along with my mother Marty, sister Sharon , and good friends Madelynn and Juan, had the good fortune to explore the great state of Alaska. It was our third visit, and for those of you who have traveled to this scenic wonder, you already know its indescribable beauty. Fortunately for us, the weather proved to be just cold enough at the glaciers to meet expectations, offered a few brief showers in some locations, and provided the most glorious days even the locals and our ship’s crew described as the best weather they had ever seen. 

 If you’ve never been to Alaska, do yourself a favor and make plans to see one of the most spectacular places on earth. Here are just a few of the hundreds of photos we took on our plane, train, and ship travel adventure:

  

 

As we grow older, to be blessed with grandchildren is truly a joy. My wife Trisha and I are fortunate to have several of these wonderful young people in our lives. Ever since our oldest granddaughter Lucy was old enough to travel with us we take her on one trip each year to somewhere exciting. This year was no exception.

We first planned to go to New York, but the upcoming 9/11 anniversary had packed the hotels and those kinds of crowds didn’t seem too inviting. Having recently visited Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, a place we have always enjoyed, we decided it would be perfect for this year’s adventure. After the plans were made, we got a couple of last-minute calls from Lucy’s mom. She told us her friends were advising her not to allow her daughter to go to Mexico. The second call came after Lucy’s friends began to scare her about the trip. Long story short, we assured mother and daughter and went through with our plans. It was a great trip and we had a ball.

Better yet, it was an opportunity to share a good life lesson. Are there places in this world especially dangerous to visit? Yes. In fact, there are several not too far from my home. The point is: life itself is a risk. My own aunt and uncle were murdered in their own bedroom. Several years ago I would never have imagined traveling through China meeting people and making friends with whom I would continue to communicate. Are there places in Mexico I would not visit right now? Absolutely. At this point, Cabo was much less a risk than our ride home from the airport. Lucy loved the scenery, boating, para-sailing, swimming, dancing for the guys at Senior Frogs, and shopping.

Growing older does not automatically give you more wisdom. It should, however, give you perspective. I personally drive more slowly and cautiously than before. On the other hand, I also try things I never would have done when I was younger. I admit to enjoying the adrenaline. Trisha is the same way and we both have our “list” of exciting things to try. Up till now, I haven’t added skydiving to my list, but I know it’s on hers. Maybe we’re just getting a bit crazy in our old age, but this is our life, not a dress rehearsal. Bottom line: you want to do something in this life, you better get to it. 

  

 

Next Page »