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Air travel is getting worse. Here are 6 tips to make it less of a headache.


Thousands of flights were canceled or delayed over the Father’s Day weekend, with the chaos at airports in the U.S. and abroad pointing to a summer of discontent for travelers. Airlines, tricky to operate under the best of conditions, are now also grappling with severe personnel shortages just as passengers return in droves as the pandemic eases. 

“We’re used to navigating around weather delays in the summer, but having this huge travel resurgence combined with weather and staffing issues at airports and airlines has made it a much more complicated landscape,” said Misty Belles, a travel expert and spokesperson for Virtuoso, a global network of travel advisers specializing in luxury experiences.

So what can you do to minimize the frustrations? Travel pros recommend some tricks of the trade to make air travel less of a headache this summer. 

Book through the airline

Booking your ticket directly through an airline can make for more effective customer service and faster rebooking if necessary. By contrast, airlines tend to be less helpful when your travel arrangements are made through online aggregators such as Expedia or Priceline.

“There has never been a more important time to book directly with the airline. When you book through a third party and you have to rebook, the airline says, ‘Go to them,'” Willis Orlando, travel expert at Scott’s Cheap Flights, told CBS MoneyWatch. “They also have less robust customer service operations than an airline does.”

Even if it can seem like takes forever to connect with an airline customer service representative, once you’re in touch they can usually resolve problems.

“With online travel sites, there is an extra layer of communication and policies, and you’re not always owed the same as what you are if you booked through the airline,” Orlando added. 

Catch the first flight of the day

Another rule of thumb is to always book the first departing flight of the day for a better chance of it taking off on-time, even if it’s $50 or $100 more expensive than other fares.

“Take the first morning flight out,” Belles of Virtuoso said. “It’s painful getting up at 4 a.m., but those flights are less likely to get bumped as the day goes on and things get backed up.” 

Plus, bad weather typically disrupt operations later in the day, she added.

For extra assurance, purchase a second, fully-refundable ticket for a flight scheduled two to three hours later. If your first flight is cancelled or significantly delayed, call the airline and request a full refund — then hop on the second flight.

When arranging a backup flight, book through a different carrier and try to use airline miles or points, which go right back into your travel bank if you end up cancelling the flight.   

“Booking tickets with airline miles gives you the benefit of a refundable ticket without paying for one. You can get your miles credited back to your account,” said Melissa Biggs Bradley, founder of Indagare Travel, a luxury travel planning company. 

Fly direct

On a recent trip, Bradley flew from New York to Venice, Italy, and then drove an hour and a half to Slovenia, as opposed to connecting through Paris or Amsterdam and flying to a regional airport located closer to her final destination. And she’s glad she did. 

“Other people went through Paris or Amsterdam and connected and had massive lines, huge issues with bags and worries about flights being cancelled,” she said. “They would have been much better off going to a major airport a little further away and doing that drive.”

Of course, direct flights are more expensive than routes with connections, but they reduce the odds of something going wrong that mars your long-awaited vacation.  

“Avoid connections. If there are two or three legs, you’re doubling or tripling your chances of running into a problem,” said James Ferrara, co-founder and president of InteleTravel, a network of 75,000 independent travel advisers. “The more you can connect the lower the price, so it’s not an option for everyone.”

If you must use connecting flights, don’t even think about a 45 minute layover. Give yourself at least two hours, or longer.

Upgrade to be first in line

Once you’ve booked your flight, download your airline’s mobile app and enable text messages to receive alerts related to your flight. Also join the airline’s frequent-flier program. 

“All of those things will help you get information quicker,” Ferrara said. 

Consider upgrading to a premium seat if one is available. Indeed, the better your standing with the airline, the more priority you’ll be given when it comes to rebooking a canceled or significantly delayed flight. 

“When seats are overbooked or flights are canceled, they award seats on new planes based upon your status on that first plane. First class, business class and passengers with higher mileage levels will be rebooked first. You’ll get a seat before the person at the back of the plane does,” Bradley said. 

If you work with a travel adviser, they will take care of the rebooking process for you and advocate on your behalf. And it won’t cost you anything, as their fees are paid by airlines and hotels. 

Travel on a Wednesday

If you’re traveling for an event like a wedding or sports tournament, if possible plan on arriving a couple of days in advance. Building a two to three day cushion leaves room for canceled flights or other travel mishaps without it causing you to miss the main event. 

“Don’t count on flying and arriving the same day,” Bradley said. “Build in a buffer and you’ll get there.” 


Travel Watch: Tips and tricks for summer trips

03:46

Take an extra day off of work and fly on a weekday if you can. Also avoid flying between Friday and Monday, experts say. 

“The most important thing right now is not to fly on weekends. This is what weekends are going to look like at least through the summer,” Ferrara said, referring to the recent chaos at airports. 

Only bring carry-on

If possible, avoid checking luggage, which avoids long bag drop lines at airports. Bradley urges her clients to either carry on or ship. In addition, if your flight is canceled and you have your bag with you, you’ll be more nimble. 

“You can jump on a different flight, whereas if your bag is in the belly of plane, it takes longer to maneuver and get yourself on a different flight,” Bradley said. “I am huge proponent of never checking your bag.”



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You Can Book Your Next Hotel Room on Instagram — Here’s How




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Best and Worst Times to Travel – NECN


Memorial Day Weekend is expected to be both busy and expensive this year with inflation driving up travel costs.

It’s not great timing for the unofficial start of summer, which kicks off this coming weekend. Nearly 40 million people are expected to travel ahead of the long weekend, which is up 4% from last year. Add that on top of the skyrocketing prices for gas, airfare car rentals, and you have yourself a pretty big headache.

Average domestic flight prices are up 46% from 2019. Some flights are already sold out for weeks and, unfortunately, things are not much better on the ground.

It’s hard not to notice the skyrocketing cost of fuel with people thinking about driving during the upcoming summer vacation — or even driving to the corner store. A gallon of regular gas in Massachusetts is now $4.47, according to AAA — up 17 cents from last week. A year ago, it was $2.89.

Gas prices are expected to average close to $4.65 by next weekend, which is a 51% increase over last year. So how do you make the best of it and try to avoid all the stress if you’re driving? The worst roads in the region area to travel are the Expressway south and Purchase Street from Route 24, according to AAA.

The times that you want to avoid driving are Thursday and Friday between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. The best time to drive is early in the morning before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.

For those who are heading home Monday, the best time to drive is after 11 a.m. because the traffic will be worse in the afternoon. For those who are flying, experts suggest booking midweek and early morning flights as well.



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T-Pain Showcases Upbeat Banger ‘That’s Just Tips’ on ‘Corden’


T-Pain stopped by The Late Late Show to perform his recent single, “That’s Just Tips.” Dressed in a red suit and white cowboy hat, the rapper gave a high-energy performance of the track along with his live band.

The rapper dropped “That’s Just Tips” earlier this week via Nappy Boy Entertainment/Empire. The track follows several recent collaborations, including last year’s “I Like Dat,” which saw T-Pain teaming up with Kehlani. He also appeared on Denzel Curry’s recent single, “Troubles,” off the rapper’s recent album, Melt My Eyez See Your Future.

T-Pain will hit the road this month for The Road To Wiscansin Tour. The 18-date trek kicks off May 10 in San Francisco, making stops in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and New York. The tour will wrap up at his inaugural “Wiscansin Festival” at the Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee on June 11. Tickets are on sale now.





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Solo Travel Tips: 6 Best Tips for Women Traveling Alone | Safety



Traveling solo can be empowering and rewarding, offering moments of self-discovery and deep reflection. Understandably some women are intimated to travel alone, with the key concern being safety. With careful planning, however, and the right mindset, you can minimize the risks to ensure a rewarding safe travel experience.


Here is my top advice for women traveling solo, from a woman who does it time and time again:

  1. First and foremost, book a trip with a reputable tour operator. Even if they are a bit higher – you can’t compromise safety.
  2. Do guided tours and, better yet, private tours if you can. Not only does it provide access to unique places and people, but it supports the local economy and encourages communities to value tourism. Guided tours ensure that you are in the right places, and not a naïve tourist who could potentially be taken advantage of.
  3. Consider forgoing the larger properties and choose to stay at smaller boutique/owner run properties. This usually allows for a more attentive experience from the staff and you almost feel like you become part of the family. You may feel safer and more secure in this environment and that the property is looking out for you. In big hotels, it is easy to become lost in the crowd.
  4. Share your full travel itinerary with someone back home in advance. Make sure they understand the potential time differences when trying to get hold of you and know where you are daily.
  5. Consider scheduled road transfers vs. Uber or public transportation unless it’s well established like in larger cities such as LondonParis or New York. Book scheduled road transfers through a reputable operator always.
  6. Schedule “check-ins” with your loved ones back home. It helps alleviate concerns as well as making them part of your experience. It also ensures that they are on track with your whereabouts at all times.


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Van life: Meet the woman who turns Airstreams into homes.


(CNN) — The ability to wake up in a different place every day, live and work in some of the world’s loveliest places, and feel absolute freedom — it’s no wonder that many people dream of life on the road.

Kate Oliver not only succeeded in making van life a reality — but she also turned it into a business. Along with her wife, Ellen Prasse, Oliver launched The Modern Caravan, a business that took them all over America as they repaired old Airstream camper vans — a business built on the back of their gorgeous renovation of their first Airstream, Louise.
Now Oliver has published a book, “The Modern Caravan” — something of a meditation on van life, profiling people who have restored their own vans, looking at their lifestyle and renovation tips. But it’s also a guide to Oliver and Prasse’s aesthetic, and how to achieve that DIY-style. Because, they say, everyone loves the open road — even if we don’t quite know why.

Dreaming of another life

Oliver says we all have a hankering for the open road.

Oliver says we all have a hankering for the open road.

Kate Oliver

Growing up in the Midwest, Oliver felt out of place. “I never really felt like I fit, and I didn’t have an easy childhood,” she says. Instead, she retreated into her imagination, calling the local library her “escape.”

“Initially it was all fiction, then one day I wandered up and found architecture and interior design books, and I thought, ‘Oh my god, those are real places, they exist somewhere with people in them,'” she says.

“There was something in those pages and photographs that I could just imagine myself into. Obviously the photos were staged, and my nine-year-old mind didn’t know that, but there was often food on a counter being prepared, and I imagined the whole scenario playing out. I thought, I want that kind of life, full of gatherings.”

She got that different lifestyle — though in a rather different way than she’d imagined, from looking at those library books.

‘What if we sold everything?’

Oliver and her wife wanted more for their daughter. On the road, they found it.

Oliver and her wife wanted more for their daughter. On the road, they found it.

Kate Oliver

In 2013, Oliver and Prasse had started talking about the future. They wanted something more for them and their four-year-old daughter, but weren’t quite sure what.

“For six months, we’d sit up every night drinking tea, talking about what that meant,” she says.

“We never really came to a conclusion, but one morning in January 2014, I stumbled across some photos of a band on tour. Someone in the band seemingly had a kid and was taking their kid on tour.”

It was a light bulb moment.

“That was it — I thought, I know we don’t have a van but that’s what we need to do. I texted my wife at work, and said, what if we sold everything, bought a van and traveled — and she said yes.”

That, as Oliver says, was that. The next morning, as Prasse went to work, Oliver got to work, planning their lifestyle change. Back in 2014, she said, “it wasn’t really common — van life wasn’t a thing.” She also admits, “We didn’t know what was coming.”

The grind to build a home

Some people live permanently on the road, others park up in their gardens.

Some people live permanently on the road, others park up in their gardens.

Kate Oliver

Because from pictures on Instagram, turning an Airstream into a natty home looks pretty glamorous. In fact, says Oliver, it was difficult, not always pleasant, and heavy-duty labor.

“We hoped we’d find a really cool vintage Airstream, and maybe paint it a bit,” she says. After several months, they found one that seemed to fit the bill — but then they took it home.

“Once we started doing the basic digging in, we said, ‘Oh my god, this is a much bigger project.'”

Mice had chewed through the electrics, meaning the entire thing had to be rewired. The interiors needed huge work, too.

“Within a few months we’d taken the entire thing down to the chassis and the shell,” says Oliver.

“You could stand with your feet on the earth but still in your trailer.”

‘Sweat, tears and cursing’

Oliver's book travels the States, meeting people who've renovated their own vans.

Oliver’s book travels the States, meeting people who’ve renovated their own vans.

Kate Oliver

Oliver had no experience at all with renovation or building work, but Prasse had — her mother is an electrical engineer, and she’d learned from her “fix it” family. A love of sculpture also meant she was good with her hands, and had an eye for what worked.

In her book, Oliver talks about the physicality of the work — tough manual labor that changed them physically. That she enjoyed it was a surprise, she says: “Once I got into a flow I really enjoyed the physical labor, and I was amazed at how well our strengths and weaknesses played off each other. Where I didn’t have a strength she did, and vice versa.”

Today, people looking at their finished products or flicking through Oliver’s book won’t see the “sweat, tears and cursing” she says goes into a van rebuild — not least because of all the layers of work.

“Normally a contractor building a house has someone coming in to do the electrical work, plumbing, drywall, custom cabinetry, or custom furniture,” she says.

“We do all that.”

The only thing they don’t do anymore? Upholstery. “We’ll happily wield the power tools but when it comes to the sewing machine we need professionals,” says Oliver.

The tricky start

Oliver and Prasse have renovated 12 Airstreams, including three they lived in themselves.

Oliver and Prasse have renovated 12 Airstreams, including three they lived in themselves.

Kate Oliver

It took a year to renovate the van they would christen Louise. During that time, they sold their house and moved into the van, creating their home as they lived in it. Eighteen months later, they were on the road. They traveled across the States in Louise, bedding down in the desert and beside the ocean, living the van life dream.

It was while they were on the road that they realized that they could make a business out of renovation. The idea was simple: to travel in their Airstream to clients’ houses, where they would work onsite, doing Louise-style transformations of old jalopies into sleek campers.

Nowadays, with the proliferation of the “van life” movement, and companies offering transformation services everywhere, it’d be hard to make a name for yourselves. But in 2017 it was easier.

“We were in the sweet spot where the travel lifestyle was taking off, not a lot of others were doing what we were doing, and Instagram was about organic growth,” says Oliver.

They traveled across the States — by this time in their second renovated Airstream, June — driving to clients’ houses and doing up their vans on site. Interestingly, most of their clients were women — coupled up but “with their husbands going along with it,” says Oliver.

Seeking safety

The book follows van dwellers, like rockclimbers Gabi and Brandon.

The book follows van dwellers, like rockclimbers Gabi and Brandon.

Kate Oliver

It wasn’t all the dream they’d expected, however. In the her book, Oliver talks about experiencing misogyny and homophobia on the job. “Sometimes we want to think we’re more progressive and accepting than we actually are,” she says.

In fact, it was one terrible experience that made them decided to give up their business model of visiting the clients in situ.

“When we started, we wanted to roll our love of travel in with the business, and said we wouldn’t take contracts further out than two years because we wanted to evaluate whether it was working or not,” says Oliver.

“We knew before we went to that last job that it wasn’t very sustainable — we were working insane hours, homeschooling our daughter, working constantly. We weren’t exploring. This was not the way we wanted to do things.”

Around the same time, in early 2019, a friend let them know about a new trailer for sale — the couple immediately said they wanted to buy it, and do it up for themselves.

“We were going to start flipping Airstreams: buying, renovating and then selling them — it felt more doable and safer,” says Oliver. They called their new vehicle Hope. Eventually, they sold her to a woman “to park on her own land, as a way to live in peace and solitude and grow deeper into herself,” as Oliver writes in the book. Their next Airstream? Hawk, in which she wrote it.

Van life in a pandemic

Having a van is your chance to express your personality, says Oliver.

Having a van is your chance to express your personality, says Oliver.

Kate Oliver

Because, just as they were embarking on this new chapter, Oliver was asked to write about van life. So they jumped back behind Hawk’s newly restored wheel and spent the next year the US, photographing people who were living in renovated Airstreams. They were already talking about potentially settling down, with their daughter ready to start junior high school, when the pandemic hit.

“Covid really forced our hand,” she says. “We were back on the road when the world shut down. Campgrounds were closing, everyone was saying go home, but for nomads, where do you go home to?”

They parked up in the back yard of Prasse’s parents’ house in Kansas, and stayed there for a few months. Then they talked. A studio was a necessity to carry out their renovation work, they decided.

“Staying in my inlaws’ back yard wasn’t an option, so we said, OK, it’s time to settle down,” says Oliver. On June 4, 2020 — she remembers the date instantly — they moved into a house, back in the Midwest.

Nearly two years on, they’re working on their 12th vehicle.

Matching personality with van

Some keep their vans on their property, as a fuller expression of themselves.

Some keep their vans on their property, as a fuller expression of themselves.

Kate Oliver

For Oliver, the road is, clearly, life — and she wants to bring that life to the projects they work on for other people. So how do you encapsulate someone’s essence in a camper van?

“I can’t design for someone if I don’t know who they are,” she says. “I like to have really intimate conversations — some are up for that, some are not. We start with how they live now. That’s crucial — for clients wanting to use it as a home it’s important to get a sense of the way they work, and move through a space, so they don’t feel their movements are having to shift.

“I want to know what they do for work, what their style of work is. Do they prefer to sit on a couch, at a desk, do they need a separate workspace?”

Once they’ve talked needs and style, they move on to design. The couple’s signature touches? Frosted Plexiglass doors separating living spaces, and lots of walnut wood to bring the outdoors in.

Oliver is a firm believer of the power of getting out on the road.

“When I went out there for the first time, and I was so far from the Midwest, everything I’d been raised in, I could breathe and see myself for the first time,” she says.

“I could see who I was because I had the space and time to think about it. I think a lot of people think of it as escapism — I went to escape my life I didn’t want, and find the life I did [want]. There’s so much distracting us, and we lose sight of ourselves really easily.

“I think people go to find out who they are away from all of that. I think we need to sit in that quiet.”



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Walks and rhubarb: how Catherine the Great looked to England for top parenting tips | History books


Catherine the Great, who ruled Russia for more than 30 years in the late 18th century, copied eccentric English childcare methods to try to alter Europe’s view of her empire as unsophisticated and feudal.

The harsh nursery regime favoured by the English royal family, including long walks for toddlers, cold water washing and no rocking of cribs, was adopted by the empress’s own palace in St Petersburg once she received a note outlining the rules followed by the royal nanny in London.

“The emphasis was on discipline and fresh air,” said Lucy Ward, the author of a new book that reveals startling practices in both royal households. “It is all hearty and no-frills stuff but, for Catherine, it was part of showing the world just how progressive Russia was.”

In a message to the empress, the nurse Louisa Chieveley, who tended George III’s 15 babies, claimed it was “their constant living, the regularity of which, with air and exercise, makes them the healthiest family in the world”.

As part of what Catherine described as her own “anglomania”, in 1768 she also secretly summoned a doctor from Hertfordshire to travel out to inoculate her and her young family against smallpox, a technique that was highly controversial. The charismatic despot, who is played by Elle Fanning in the hit Channel 4 drama The Great, reigned over her empire from 1762 to 1796, and was determined to impress European elites with her adherence to modern scientific advice.

“These ideas were part of her interest in education and health. Russia had a big child mortality problem and it was seen as crucial to expand the population,” said Ward.

The Empress and the English Doctor, published on Thursday, makes use of several previously unseen papers that belonged to the Quaker-born English physician Thomas Dimsdale. The doctor’s own sister had died of smallpox, and by the time he was summoned to Russia, Dimsdale had already inoculated 6,000 people, with live small pox with only one reported death.

Thomas Dimsdale.
Thomas Dimsdale, summoned to Russia by Catherine. Photograph: Courtesy of the Dimsdale family

At Catherine’s request, Dimsdale also went to Chieveley, officially titled Head Superintendent of the Royal Nursery, in 1779 and obtained key childcare details.

“As the royal family are very large, they are never put on their feet till a year old and generally walk perfectly well three or four months after. The only medicines used are rhubarb and magnesia, which are given whenever it is necessary, and walking twice every day except in rain,” explained Chieveley, adding, “It is usual in the royal family for children of three or four years old to walk four or five miles in a day.”

Catherine gained power in Russia as the wife of Peter III, who was murdered in 1762. As a native German, she saw Russia as part of Europe.

“Although Catherine quickly learned the Russian language and used the Orthodox church to bond with the Russian people, there was a pivot towards Englishness in her court,” said Ward.

“English habits, along with hunting dogs and garden design, became fashionable, but it was also really important for her to fundamentally change Europe’s view of the country. It was this thinking that led her towards inoculation.”

Smallpox swept Russia shortly after Catherine came to power, with more than one in five people affected. Emperor Peter II had died of it at the age of 14, on the eve of his wedding.

“Catherine is commonly associated with a lie about having died during an odd sex act but, in fact, the most interesting thing that she ever did with her body was get herself inoculated,” said Ward.

Pragmatic English doctors could see that inoculation worked, even though it was dangerous. Safer vaccination methods came later in 1798 when less virulent bovine pox was injected by Edward Jenner to boost immunity.

Catherine invited Dimsdale and his third wife, Elizabeth, to return to Russia later to carry out the same procedure on her two grandsons, one of whom became Tsar Alexander I. She also made the doctor a Russian Baron and gifted him large sums of money.

“Catherine really knew how to handle state symbolism,” said Ward. “She was an expert in that side of leadership and wrote letters to Voltaire about her inoculation because she knew that would help spread the word.”

Soon after her initial inoculation by Dimsdale, Catherine embarked upon the first Russo-Turkish war and successfully took control of Crimea.



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Military spouse blogger shares top trips and tips for European travel with kids – Military Travel


A foreign land. Three young children. A rollercoaster pandemic.  

After nearly two years in Germany, Air Force spouse Jessica Lynn could list plenty of reasons to stay close to home. Yet, she remains determined to explore new placeswhile encouraging other OCONUS families to safely do the same.  

“It can be so scary moving to a new place,” she said, “but rip off the Band-Aid of your comfort zone and see what you can see.” 

Stationed in Geilenkirchen, Germany, since June 2020, Jessica Lynn is always on the lookout for the next adventure with her husband, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, and three kids (ages 5, 7 and 9). Due to the current hassles of air travel, most of their getaways have been road trips to nearby Austria, the Netherlands and quaint German villages 

READ: 30 travel deals for military families

Highlights so far include Wernigerode, Germany, where their family visited Rapunzel’s tower, and Normandy, France, where they spent four days exploring the infamous landing site of American troops during WWII 

Julia (9), Madilyn (7) and Logan (5) sit on the steps of the Rathaus (town hall), in Wernigerode, Germany.

For Jessica Lynn, writing about travel is nothing new. In college, she started her first blog while studying abroad in England 

“It was just a way to keep in touch with friends and family,” she said.  

The blog’s focus shifted once she started dating her then-boyfriend, now-husband, Kenny, who was already in the Air Force. Knowing very little about the military, Jessica Lynn started writing about their long-distance relationship from a fresh perspective. These journal-style entries drew in readers from outside her personal network.  

I started gaining followers, which was such a new concept back then when you would write just to write,” she said.  

A few years later, she left a beloved job at a magazine in New Mexico to get married and move to Georgia

Logan examines the intricate ceiling at Schloss Benrath (the Pink Palace) near Düsseldorf, Germany.

the first of six duty stations with Kenny, including Italy and Germany. 

Today Jessica Lynn shares posts about family friendly destinations, captivating reels from their adventures and PCS tips for military families with thousands of followers across Pinterest and Instagram 

“I really enjoy connecting through my words and helping other military spouses and girlfriends,” she said. “I’ve moved to new bases already knowing people there because they’ve read my posts. It’s rewarding to hear that something I’ve written has helped someone or made an impact.” 

When Jessica Lynn isn’t blogging or traveling, you can find her cooking or researching the next destination on her family’s trip list, which for 2022 includes Paris, the Northern Lights, Canary Islands, Spain, Portugal and a Baltic cruise. She hopes to visit 10 new countries this year and plans to blog highlights and photos of each adventurealong with hard-earned tips for taking kids along. 

 



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