What the REAL ID Act Means For Your Travels In 2016

What the REAL ID Act Means For Your Travels In 2016

If you’re planning to fly after 2015, heads up: A driver’s license might not be sufficient identification for boarding an aircraft, even if you’re flying domestically.

That’s because new restrictions on IDs used to board commercial aircraft are slated to take effect sometime in 2016. It’s the next and final phase of the REAL ID Act, which was enacted in 2005 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish federal security standards for government-issued IDs. Here’s what you need to know to be able to breeze through security even after the new regulations take effect.

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A Primer on REAL ID

According to the DHS, REAL ID is the result of a 9/11 Commission recommendation that the federal government establish regulations to improve the accuracy of state-issued identification documents.

The act lays out standards for the production and distribution of identification cards and prohibits federal agencies, commercial aircraft, and nuclear power plants from accepting identification that doesn’t meet those standards. The regulations apply to 56 jurisdictions, including all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Territories of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

The new rules require that every driver’s license contain the following information:

  • Full legal name
  • Residential address
  • Birth date
  • Gender
  • Driver’s license/identification card number
  • Digital front-facing photograph
  • Signature
  • A barcode
  • A star in the upper-right-hand corner which signifies that the cardholder’s identification has been verified
  • Security devices that help prevent anyone from tampering with or counterfeiting a card

Requirements for issuing IDs have gotten stricter too, as new applicants are required to present a birth certificate, social security number, proof of U.S. citizenship (or proof of temporary residence within the U.S.), and an ID that includes the applicant’s full legal name and birth date.

Sounds straightforward enough, right? Not so fast. Shortly after REAL ID went into effect, 17 states passed laws restricting or outright banning the implementation of the act’s regulations within their borders. These laws stemmed from worries over the costs required to overhaul existing ID systems as well as privacy concerns (REAL ID requires that states share their databases of licensed drivers—including all information that appears on the licenses and the driving records and histories of everyone licensed to drive—with all other states). Because different states are at different stages of compliance, the act’s effects have gotten a bit murky.

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Graphic: User Kurykh via Wikimedia Commons

What You Need to Know Before Traveling

So what does all of this mean for the average traveler? It depends partly on where you’re from and the kind of ID you already have on hand. Here’s a breakdown of the most critical information as it pertains to compliance with REAL ID.

  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will continue to accept driver’s licenses and other state-issued identifications cards “at least until 2016.” It’s unclear exactly when the new regulations will go into effect, but the DHS has promised to give the public advance notice.
  • Currently, one territory and several states are deemed “non-compliant,” meaning IDs from those places may not qualify as acceptable identification in the airport. Driver’s licenses from New York, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Louisiana, and American Samoa lack the security features required under REAL ID, so travelers with these licenses may be asked to show a secondary ID (more on that below).
  • Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington have all passed laws banning the implementation of REAL ID within state borders, which means IDs from these states may also be deemed insufficient for air travel. These states have received extensions to give them time to comply with the act, but it’s unclear whether any of them will choose to do so.
  • Travelers with licenses from any of the aforementioned states or territories may be required to show a secondary ID in order to pass through airport security. Acceptable forms of secondary ID include a passport, a passport card, military ID, permanent U.S. resident cards, an Enhanced Driver’s License(EDL), or trusted traveler cards issued by the Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI programs. An up-to-date list of acceptable IDs can be found on the TSA’s website.
  • Condé Nast Traveler reports that there will be a three-month grace period after the regulations take effect during which the public will have time to adjust to the new regulations.
  • Anyone planning to travel internationally shouldn’t have to worry. Since international travel already requires a passport, your ID will be compliant with REAL ID regulations.
  • Still have questions? Reach out to the DHS’ Office of State Issued Identification Support by emailing osiis@dhs.gov.

While people with driver’s licenses from the states not listed here shouldn’t have to worry about presenting secondary IDs prior to boarding, the best way to avoid worrying about the REAL ID Act (no matter what state you’re from) is to invest in a passport and bring it along for every trip. (If you’ve never obtained a passport before, read up on the passport basics.) Not only will having this form of identification prevent headaches prior to boarding, but it will open up a whole wide world of international travel. As far as government red tape goes, that’s a pretty great silver lining.

This post was posted by TheHipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on November 23rd.

Great Food to Eat When Visiting Chicago (That Aren’t Pizza)

Great Food to Eat When Visiting Chicago (That Aren’t Pizza)

Chicago may be synonymous with “deep dish,” but there’s more to this city than thick crusts and mounds of cheese. In addition to striking architectureand gorgeous sunsets, the Windy City boasts a smorgasbord of good eats.

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1. Chicago-style Hot Dog

What cheesesteaks are to Philly, the Chicago-style hot dog is to the Windy City. The best versions start with a Vienna Beef Natural Casing dog, lay it down in a steamed poppy-seed bun, and top it with yellow mustard, diced white onion, relish, thin tomato wedges, a layer of crunchy dill pickles, and a couple of sport peppers. You’ll be able to find them all over the city, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the choices, head to Jimmy’s Red Hots near Humboldt Park. Or go to Allium (located in Chicago’s Four Seasons Hotel) for an upscale take on the classic dog.

2. Vegetarian Diner Food

The Chicago Diner has earned a national reputation for its classic diner fare with a twist: All of the dishes are vegan or vegetarian. Even the most dedicated carnivores will find something to like here, where the menu sports a Radical Reuben (in which seitan replaces corned beef), vegan milkshakes, and truffle mushroom lentil loaf. The restaurant offers locations in both Halstead and Logan Square.

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3. Paczkis

Chicagoans line up for hours on Paczki Day each year, when dozens of vendors around the city sell the hole-less Polish donuts to signal the arrival of Lent. Order them filled with jams, creams, or chocolate, or keep it simple and stick with an iced or powdered sugar variety. Consult this map to find where to score yours.

4. The Jibarito

Reportedly invented in Chicago, this Puerto Rican dish consists of a sandwich made with fried green plantains instead of bread. The plantains cradle meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a garlic-flavored mayonnaise. Enjoy one at Borinquen in Humboldt Park—the home of the original jibarito.

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5. Saganaki

Another dish that has its origin story in Chicago, saganaki consists of breaded or floured cheese that’s fried and served piping hot. Find it all over GreekTown.

6. Charcuterie

Chicago is well known for its butcher shops and high-quality meat (Perhaps that’s why the Italian beef sandwich is another Chicagoan favorite). Carl Sandburg even declared Chicago the “hog butcher for the world” in a poem about the city. Whether you’re looking for fresh-cut ribs, cured sausages, or heritage breeds, Chicago’s butchers have you covered. Popular shops include The Butcher and Larder (in West Town), Publican Quality Meats (in West Loop), and Paulina Meat Market (in Lakeview).

From carnivorous meals to fried cheese, donuts, and vegan fare, don’t miss a delicious bite on your next trip to Chicago. If by some unlikely chance you’re not satisfied, you can always order a pizza upon arriving back home.

This post was posted by TheHipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on November 9th.

Hopping Up For The Holiday Season

Hopping Up For The Holiday Season

Well October is upon us again and with it comes the often dreaded deluge of Christmas music echoing in every store and radio station, not to mention the ever demanding holiday office parties and gatherings with families and friends. Maybe you are not the personality type who dreads the holidays and relishes all that comes with it. What cannot be denied is that if you are hosting a party or simply showing up and desire to be a “good guest” that brings something more than just yourself some proper planning is necessary.

Image Source: stockcharts.com
Image Source: stockcharts.com

It is not uncommon for adults to engage in some adult beverages at the office party or family get together, for after all some find a little sense of “ease and comfort” in the life and style that comes with an adult beverage. Alcohol has been labeled by some as a “social lubricant” and if a gathering has more than two or three chances are some will partake. Champagne certainly is popular with New Year’s celebrations, and can complement practically any other holiday gathering, so it will only benefit to check out companies such as Andre-Champagne.com to search for the right “hops” to “hop up” your get together.

Proper etiquette is necessary when you bear in mind who will be arriving at the party in addition to what types of beverages will be served. If champagne will be served, proper glassware to cater to the discerning connoisseurs will go miles to welcome and impress them. A visit to Create & Barrel will offer up some options to research for the guests and to ensure that if you are hosting you will make a great first impression. For the champagne connoisseur they are particular about the glassware their “bubbly” is served, so there is no reason to skimp! For after all, if it is an office party and you are hosting, something as simple as quality glassware could spark the conversation that lands you the next promotion!

Image Source: antoinettesykes.com
Image Source: antoinettesykes.com

The unnecessary stress that can come with meal planning for a holiday party can drive you up the wall and back. It is bad enough that all of us have the stress of gift shopping, planning for the in-laws visit, getting the kids to and from all their holiday activities. Let’s reduce stress at every opportunity that we have, enjoying the life and style of the holiday season. A quick visit to sites such as Food & Wine will offer you a wide array of recipe options that compliment champagne to ease your holiday planning anxiety.

Procrastination is commonplace amongst us humans, and one sure fire way to make your holiday experience increasingly more stressful is to wait till the last minute to assemble what you need to cater to the guests. Why not start now, so as to put you in the position to relax and enjoy the life and style of the holidays.


Nickida - is a wife and stay at home mother of four. She was born in Trinidad but moved to the US at age 14. She started blogging on an off for about three years and recently started writing more consistently. She enjoys sharing about her children, marriage, books, recipes, movies, reviews, giveaways and much more. She is working on improving her baking skills and building on her cake decorating business.

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8 Things You Need to Know About Breast Cancer

8 Things You Need to Know About Breast Cancer

Earlier this month I shared about Breast Cancer Awareness and learning about your month for getting a mammogram.  I partnered with Saint Agnes Hospital to share valuable information about breast health and I even interviewed Dr. Diana Griffiths of Saint Agnes Hospital.  Read what she had to share below about breast cancer and breast health.

Saint Agnes Hospital Breast Cancer Team- Photo Credit: Saint Agnes Hospital
1. At what age do you recommend women to get their first mammogram if they have no family history of breast cancer and if they do have a family history of breast cancer how does that time frame change?
Women with no family history of breast cancer should be getting a baseline mammogram between the ages of 35 and 40. Women should be getting yearly mammograms once they turn 40. Unfortunately, only 50% of women 40+ are getting a mammograms and with more than 231,000 women getting diagnosed with breast cancer every year, that is a major concern.
2. How often should women perform self-breast exams?
Women of all ages (starting as early as age 20) should be doing breast self-exams monthly regardless of their risk factors. The purpose of performing breast self-exams is to be familiar with how your own breast tissue feels so that you can more easily identify if something feels wrong or different. Between the ages of 20 and 40, it is recommended that women also have a physical exam of the breast by a trained professional every 3 years and then yearly beginning at age 40.
3. When is the best time to perform a self-breast exam? 
Women who still menstruate should perform self exams a few days after their period ends each month because their breasts are less likely to be tender or swollen around that time. Women who no longer menstruate should perform self exams on the same day of every month — for example, the first of the month or the day of your birthday each month — so that it is easy to remember to perform a self-exam once a month.
4. What are some common misconceptions about breast cancer?
There are a surprising number of myths that women believe about breast cancer. Three that are important to dispel are: 1) breast cancer only affects women over the age of 40; 2) mastectomies are the best way to treat beast cancer and will increase survival rate; and 3) mammograms can increase the risk of cancer — as none of those statements are true.
The truth is breast cancer affects women of all ages. The medical community has seen women as young as 20 being diagnosed with the disease. That’s why it’s so important for women to make it a priority to perform self exams and get physical examinations of the breast starting in their 20s. Also, African American women in particular have a higher incidence rate of breast cancer before age 40 and are more likely to die from breast cancer at all ages, so it is critical for African American women to make breast health a priority as well.
Also, mastectomies do not necessarily increase your rate of survival. Many women who come into Saint Agnes’ Comprehensive Breast Center initially request a mastectomy (full removal of the cancerous breast), because they assume that a more aggressive surgical treatment will boost their survival rate. However, studies have shown that a lumpectomy (removal of the cancerous lump in the breast) paired with radiation is a much less aggressive form of treatment that is equally successful in terms of survival rate for patients for whom lumpectomies are an option. With that said, there is a relatively small number of women who do not meet the criteria for a lumpectomy and for whom mastectomies are the medically recommended method of treatment.
Women also think that double mastectomies (removal of both breasts even though the cancer is only in one breast) will improve their survival, but that is also a myth. With that said, for women who have a genetic abnormality such as BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 (such as Angelina Jolie), which predisposes them to a higher risk of breast cancer, there can be value to getting a double mastectomy prior to being diagnosed with breast cancer, as a preventative measure.
And lastly, mammograms do not increase a woman’s risk of cancer. Some women have been concerned that the radiation received during mammograms can be harmful and lead to an increased risk of developing cancer, but that is not true. Radiologists at Saint Agnes provide the lowest dose of radiation to prevent harmful side effects. It remains important for women 40+ or women with high risk to get mammograms on a yearly basis so that if there is an abnormality in the breast, it can be caught, identified and treated early.
5. Are there any specific signs women should look for as signs they need to contact their doctor?
If women notice any unusual change in their breast, they should contact their doctor. This includes detecting a lump in the breast or armpit, a change in the size, shape or skin appearance of the breast, a change in the appearance of the skin around the nipple or bleeding or discharge from the nipple. Women should also contact their doctor if they have a family history of breast cancer so that their doctor can discuss a surveillance plan, assess the need for genetic testing and develop an individualized treatment plan.
6. What is the likelihood of inheriting a breast cancer gene?
Most breast cancers are random but about 5% are related to a genetic predisposition. In particular, women who are diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 50; women who have more than one first degree relative (i.e. a mother, sister, daughter) with breast cancer; women who have bilateral breast cancer; women who have a family history of ovarian cancer; or women who have a male relative with breast cancer are all candidates to be seen by a genetic counselor to discuss their potential for genetic abnormalities and genetic testing.
7. Why is early detection so important?
When breast cancer is caught early, it significantly increases the survival rate of the patient. That’s why regular mammography and exams are so important. Mammograms save thousands of lives each year. Women of all ages need to make sure that they are giving themselves the best possible chance at living long, healthy lives. If you are over the age of 40 or you have a family history of breast cancer and you haven’t scheduled your yearly mammogram, it is important to do so immediately.
8. Do you believe a support system is important when a woman receives a diagnosis of breast cancer?
A support system is extremely important when a woman receives a breast cancer diagnosis. A diagnosis is life-changing and has a dramatic emotional toll on many women, but having a support system to lean on can strengthen patients, make them feel less isolated and help them through the recovery process. In fact, studies show that women with strong support systems live longer. At Saint Agnes, we have a variety of support programs to help patients cope with their diagnosis such as “Laughter Yoga”, for our patients to emotionally unwind and meet others going through similar experiences; and “Look Good … Feel Better”, teaching women how to cope with the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment (such as skin changes and hair loss). We also have programs for the family and friends of our patients such as our Spiritual Care & Chapel, which provides spiritual well-being to patients and their support networks, and our C.L.I.M.B. and Kids Camp programs, to help children whose parents or grandparents have been diagnosed with breast cancer cope wit the disease.


Nickida - is a wife and stay at home mother of four. She was born in Trinidad but moved to the US at age 14. She started blogging on an off for about three years and recently started writing more consistently. She enjoys sharing about her children, marriage, books, recipes, movies, reviews, giveaways and much more. She is working on improving her baking skills and building on her cake decorating business.

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The Visitor’s Guide to Portland’s MAX Rail System

The Visitor’s Guide to Portland’s MAX Rail System

When talking about exploring new cities, it’s common to focus on walking and biking tours. But by mastering public transit, it’s often possible to see a wider range of the city — and that’s definitely the case in Portland, Oregon.

The Portland MAX line consists of five different light rails: blue, red, green, yellow, and orange. It takes visitors all the way from the Portland International Airport — which is great if you want to save a few bucks and stay right by PDX — to main attractions like Moda Center, the Convention Center, the Expo Center, and all the way out to Beaverton. Plus, a one-day pass is a mere five bucks!

Let’s take a look at some attractions spread out across Portland, which you can squeeze into one day with the convenience of the light rail.

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If you’re indeed coming from the airport — part of the red line — hop off in northeast Portland at Lloyd Center (and maybe even stay at the DoubleTree there). Just a few blocks north of the rail stop is Broadway Street, which is lined with cute shops and food carts like Taco Pedaler. This eatery started as a mobile catering cart but opened its first brick-and-mortar location a 15-minute walk from the MAX stop.

Need a pick-me-up after stuffing your face full of tacos? Head across the street to Costello’s Travel Caffe, a cozy spot featuring videos of the owners’ worldwide travels.

Once back on the MAX rail, go just a few stops westbound to the river. Getting off at Rose Quarter is the simplest next step. Once off MAX rail, head south, and you’ll come right upon a beautiful view of downtown Portland, along with a bridge if you’d like to get there by foot.

If it’s the weekend, you’re especially in luck — right across the river is the Portland market featuring a mix of vendors and food trucks. The market goes every Saturday and Sunday from March through Christmas Eve. The closest MAX stop, in case you don’t want to head there by foot or in case you’re coming from another part of the city, is Skidmore Fountain, which is on the red and blue line.

And the closest stereotypical Portland attraction isn’t far away either: Voodoo Doughnuts. While you’ll likely have to wait in line for your box of pink doughnuts, crazy flavors featuring everything from bacon to Froot Loops make the wait worth it — as evidenced by the fact that Voodoo is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

The last stop on this one-day MAX rail tour of Portland should be Washington Park — which is also the name of the stop. For reference, it’s just a 24 minute ride from Rose Quarter, on the other side of the river, to Washington Square, where visitors will find the Oregon Zoo, Portland Children’s Museum, World Forestry Center Discovery Museum, and Hoyt Arboretum via the red and blue lines.

That’s just a quick sample, too — the light rail is fast and cheap enough that you can make your own adventure and get to know parts of Portland beyond the riverside while you’re there! With that in mind, here are a few tips on how to get the most of out the MAX rail.

  • Buy a pass — probably one-day — as opposed to paying hourly. The trips add up quickly!
  • Do your homework on the TriMet website as you plan your trip; some trains only run every 30 minutes during the later hours, for instance.
  • Of course, it doesn’t have to be walking and biking OR MAX rail. The train does have places to load your bike if you want to take a hybrid tour of the city.

This post was posted by TheHipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on October 12th.

The Four Best Day Trips for Fall Visitors to Seattle

The Four Best Day Trips for Fall Visitors to Seattle


For visitors to the Pacific Northwest this fall, there is no shortage of activities in Seattle, the region’s largest and fastest-growing city. Baseball fans can check out a Mariners game, foodies can stroll around Pike Place Market for hours, and brave souls unafraid of heights can take in the unparalleled view from the Space Needle. But travelers who find themselves with free time, and with access to a car, may want to consider the following four day trips, which highlight the lush beauty unique to the Emerald City and the surrounding area, particularly in the Autumn season.

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The San Juan Islands:

About a three-and-a-half-hour drive north, the San Juan Islands are a must-see destination for out-of-towners. The San Juan Islands are composed of 172 individual islands, but four (San Juan Island, Orcas Island, Lopez Island, and Shaw Island) are served by ferries and feature activities for visitors. For wine aficionados, visiting San Juan Vineyards, located on the main San Juan Island, is well worth the drive –  their well-regarded wines have won many awards. Those with fond memories of the film Free Willy should also be sure to go whale watching while exploring the islands, with the best time for viewing occurring from late May to October. All four islands have hotels and inns for those wishing to stay overnight, with the Earthbox Inn and Spa offering the perfect ambiance to relax.

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North Cascades National Park:

Northwest of Seattle is the North Cascades National Park, which is about a four hour drive from the city. Many come here to camp, and the jagged peaks, engulfed by hundreds of glaciers nestled among cascading waters, ensure an unforgettable experience. No other U.S. park outside of Alaska contains as many glaciers, in addition to diverse wildlife: bald eagles, moose, bears, grey wolves, and more than 200 species of birds. If you’d prefer a day trip in the park as opposed to camping, try staying at the budget-friendly Red Roof Inn near the Seattle-Tacoma Airport (Sea-Tac).

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Olympic Peninsula:

Three hours west of Seattle is the Olympic Peninsula, home to temperate rainforests and the Olympic Mountains. There is no shortage of activities with fishing, sailing, boating, and hiking being among the most popular. The Peninsula is also famous for its lush scenery featured in Hollywood blockbusters like theTwilight series. Those wishing to stay in and around the peninsula have a plethora of options, while nearby Olympia offers budget-friendly hotels like Red Lion Hotelor the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites.

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Mt. Rainier National Park:

For aspiring mountain climbers, the three hour drive south to Mt. Rainier National Park is a must. Mt. Rainier is an iconic part of Washington state’s landscape, standing at 14,000 feet above sea level. An active volcano, Mt. Rainier has the largest glaciers in the U.S. outside of Alaska. Most climbers require two to three days to reach the summit, with experience in glacier travel and self-rescue required. About half of the 8,000-13,000 climb attempts per year are successful, so only the brave at heart should undertake the climb. Less experienced mountain climbers shouldn’t feel left out though, as the entire park is open for hiking, backcountry skiing, camping. Photographers should definitely pay a visit – you won’t see anything else like it in the U.S. Try staying in nearby Tacoma, at either the Hotel Murano or the Silver Cloud Inn, for affordable, modern luxury.

This post was posted by TheHipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on September 23th.


The Best Hotel Gyms for Fitness-Minded Travelers

The Best Hotel Gyms for Fitness-Minded Travelers

When choosing a hotel, we don’t always care about the workout facilities. A couple of free weights and a dusty elliptical may seem like no problem when you’re focused on vacation! But thanks to the rapid growth of wellness tourism, the hospitality industry is looking to up their game with more creative ways to meet their guests’ fitness needs. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the top hotel fitness centers that will make sure you leave in your best, most relaxed shape yet.

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1. The Venetian Hotel — Las Vegas, NV

This swanky Las Vegas hotel is home to Canyon Ranch SpaClub and its luxurious fitness center. In addition to high-end machines and equipment, the facility has an indoor cycling studio, Pilates and yoga rooms, and plenty of regularly scheduled fitness classes. You can even learn more about health and nutrition with wellness presentations on topics like power foods and maximizing your metabolism. Once you’ve worked up a sweat, sign up for an acupuncture session or take a dip in Aquavana, a European-inspired “thermal environments” designed to let you relax and take a load off. It’s bathing suit optional!

2. Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel – Chicago, IL

This architecturally inspiring hotel is also known for its extensive outdoor wellness space, the perfect location to exercise on those sunny Chicago summer days. The 80,000 square foot space includes a running track, lap pool, and yoga room. If the weather disagrees, move into the hotel’s indoor fitness center, complete with basketball court, indoor pool, and cycling room.

3. EPIC Hotel – Miami, FL

Located in downtown Miami, EPIC Hotel’s fitness center and Exhale spa have everything you need to get that beach body in top shape. The gym is filled with cardio and weight machines and offers plenty of classes like Core Fusion or vinyasa yoga. For those looking for something more specific, the Exhale Mind Body Program packages include private training programs, nutrition and wellness coaching, and even Bridal Bootcamp for those looking to get fit before heading down the aisle.

4. The George Hotel – Washington, D.C.

This Washington, D.C. hotel features a fitness center open 24 hours a day with state-of-the-art equipment. Each machine has its own personal flat-screen TV and complimentary headsets. A yoga room is available with all the essentials you’d need, from mats to blocks. They also offer hula-hoops for the kids to try. Ready to get out and explore the city? The hotel offers a complimentary bike program upon request, includes everything you’ll need to get around the city: helmets, locks, maps, and bikes.

5. The New York Palace – New York, NY

Forget the nice towels and luxury toiletries; The Palace fitness center takes hotel gyms to the next level by providing complimentary cotton workout clothes and sneakers to guests from a variety of brands. Gym goers can slip on their gear and hit the high-end training room with a personal trainer (available upon request). Cardio, weights, and yoga equipment are available for everyone, and make sure to slip into the Eucalyptus-infused steam room with your complimentary bottle of water post workout for some true relaxation.

This post was posted by TheHipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on September 29th.


Get The Facts About Breast Cancer

Get The Facts About Breast Cancer

It’s October 1st and that means its time to start talking about breast health.  Every year for Breast Cancer Awareness Month we wear our pink to show our support and raise awareness but that’s just a small part in bringing true awareness to Beast Cancer the disease.  This month I am partnering with Saint Agnes Hospital to share with you some of the facts about breast cancer and encourage you to find out What’s Your Month for obtaining a mammogram. 

Did you know that one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, however only 50% of women age 40 and over are getting mammograms.  What are you doing to encourage those you love to get checked?  In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month Saint Agnes Hospital is launching a breast cancer awareness campaign called “What’s Your Month”, to encourage women to get their yearly mammograms. The goal of this campaign is to encourage women 40 and over to proudly own their month and encourage other women to schedule their mammograms and identify their month as well.  Saint Agnes believes Breast Cancer Awareness expands beyond October and they are committed to engage women throughout the year, serving as a reminder of how important an annual mammogram is to their good health.  Check out the “What’s Your Month” campaign video below.

What Are the Stats?

  • African American women have a higher incidence rate of breast cancer before age 40
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the U.S., accounting for almost 30% of newly diagnosed cancers
  • In 2014, 32% of Saint Agnes’ breast cancer patients were African American
  • African American women are more likely to die from breast cancer at all ages

As an African American woman this is very alarming stats for me and for my family and friends.  I’m not old enough for yearly mammograms but my mother is and her month is her birthday month.  I’ll be sharing about her story next month so be sure to come back and read about it.

How Can You Take Control?

  • age 20-34: administer breast self-examination monthly; get physical examination of the breast by trained professional every 3 years
  • age 35-39: administer breast self-examination monthly; get physical examination of the breast by trained professional every 3 years; get baseline mammogram for reference
  • age 40+: administer breast self-examination monthly; get physical examination of the breast by trained professional yearly; get mammogram yearly

If you or someone you know is over the age of 40, I urge you to get a mammogram, October is a great month for your yearly mammogram, however you can also choose your birthday month.  No matter what month you choose getting a mammogram is important to breast health.

About Saint Agnes Hospital’s Comprehensive Breast Center

The Comprehensive Breast Center at Saint Agnes presents highly recognized physicians at the forefront of advanced techniques, equipment and clinical trials. The team is a trailblazer in breast cancer treatment:

  • One of the first in the state of Maryland to implement a multi-disciplinary team approach to breast cancer treatment, bringing together a variety of specialists to create one comprehensive plan, under one roof
  • The first center in Maryland to use Tomotherapy radiation technology, providing greater precision over older techniques where radiation would encompass the entire tumor but result in significantly more radiation to surrounding organs
  • One of the first 135 hospitals nationwide fully accredited by the National Accreditation Program of Breast Centers
  • The first and only breast center in Maryland to use Accuboost technology, providing a safer and more effective radiation option
  • Regularly participates in clinical trails, giving patients access to cutting edge treatment options

Enter to Win:

Saint Agnes Hospital is sponsoring a giveaway for a Vitamix Blender.  One lucky reader will win.  Open to US residents 18 and older, giveaway ends October 29th.  Enter via the tool below:

Vitamix Blender Giveaway


Nickida - is a wife and stay at home mother of four. She was born in Trinidad but moved to the US at age 14. She started blogging on an off for about three years and recently started writing more consistently. She enjoys sharing about her children, marriage, books, recipes, movies, reviews, giveaways and much more. She is working on improving her baking skills and building on her cake decorating business.

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New TB Blood Testing Available #TBBloodTest #IC #AD

New TB Blood Testing Available

I remember having to take TB tests when I was starting college.  It was required for students wanting to live in the dorms.  Back then the test was a skin test.  You would go to the doctor’s office and get a needle stick that was somewhat under your skin.  Then you have to wait three days to return for the results, if nothing happened at the injection site you were fine however if there was a bump or swelling then you required additional testing.  I’ve never had a skin test come back positive but I’ve heard horror stories of people who did and it ended up being nothing at all.

“I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for the TB Blood Test. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”

tb facts

My daughter has a skin condition that makes it difficult for her to have any skin tests done.  She would almost be guaranteed to end up with a false positive test.  Thanks to medical advances I don’t have to worry about that anymore in regards to my daughter.  The TB Blood Test only requires a little stick and it’s much more accurate than the traditional skin test.  No more waiting three days, trying to keep track of the injection site and going back to the doctor’s office for a five second read of the results.  This new way of testing saves time while helping to shave lives, according to the graphic every 21 seconds someone dies of TB.  I like knowing there is an easier way to get results you can trust.

The TB Blood Test can help diagnose tuberculosis (TB) infection and is a major scientific advance over the 110-year-old skin test, giving greater accuracy and a more reliable result. This blood test is the only available method of testing for TB with completely objective results. Other tests, such as the traditional skin test, are subjective and open to visual interpretation.  Did you know a previous TB vaccination is likely to cause a false-positive result and individuals may also experience severe itching at the puncture site?  The TB blood test allows you to get accurate results in just one visit leading to meaningful benefits – more ease, more time, more certainty.

By using the TB blood test you get:

  • The most accurate test for TB infection – no cross reaction with a previous TB vaccination
  • Only a 3ml draw of fresh blood – irrespective/regardless of patient age/immune status
  • The convenience for you and your patient of just 1 visit

To learn more visit the TB Blood Test website and see what others are staying about this new test.  So next time you need to get a test done ask your doctor about the blood test instead of the skin test.


Nickida - is a wife and stay at home mother of four. She was born in Trinidad but moved to the US at age 14. She started blogging on an off for about three years and recently started writing more consistently. She enjoys sharing about her children, marriage, books, recipes, movies, reviews, giveaways and much more. She is working on improving her baking skills and building on her cake decorating business.

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Boutique Style Hotels Across South Carolina

Boutique Style Hotels Across South Carolina

South Carolina is high on my bucket list of states I want to visit. I have driven through the state a few times on trips down south but never stopped. Being such a beautiful state, I expect them to have great hotels as well.  Here are some amazing boutique stays across South Carolina.

Elliot House Inn

Angel Oak Park

Photo by Eli Ditmore via Trover.

Enjoy the French Quarter area of Charleston, SC when staying at the Elliott House Inn. Enjoy the historic charm, local flavors, and southern hospitality while exploring the Charleston Harbor. Elliott House offers guests free Wi-Fi and breakfast. There is plenty of parking so guests can leave their cars while taking walking tours of the French Quarter. Rooms at Elliot House Inn average about $419 per night during peak season.

Restoration on King

City market

Photo by Shelby Lehor via Trover.

Just a five-minute walk from Charleston City Market, the Restoration on King offers guests top amenities. Guests at ROK receive complimentary continental breakfast that arrives to you in a picnic basket each morning. They also offer rentals of iPads, beach towels, beach chairs, and boogie boards. Get up early and take a bike ride since ROK offers free bikes on a first come, first served basis. There are only 18 rooms at ROK but they are all suites (either one or two bedrooms).

Wild Dunes – Destination Hotels & Resorts

Isle of Palms

Photo by Abby BarCe via Trover.

Wild Dunes Destination Hotels and Resorts give guests prime access to the beach. Their rooms range in size and can accommodate individual and couples or larger parties in their five-room private homes. Each room includes free wi-fi and cable television. Wild Dunes has a full service spa on site. They also have ten outdoor tennis courts, a health club, and pool if you’re planning on being more active. If you like golf, you can also book a tee time on their 36-hole golf course during your stay. If you’re planning a stay at Wild Dunes, I suggest traveling during off-season to take advantage of their lowest possible rates.

Harbor Side at Charleston Harbor and Marina

Boone Hall Plantation

Photo via Amanda Williams via Trover.

The Harbor Side at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina offers fireplaces, balconies, and jetted tubes in some rooms, I recommend booking one of those special rooms if you stay at this resort. Great rooms are just a small portion of what this property has to offer guests. Soak up sun rays on their artificial beach or sit around the pool and enjoy the views of the marina. For activities, you can take a tour of the USS Yorktown historic ship or enjoy a complimentary trolley ride to Old City Market in Downtown Charleston. Rates for Harbor Side starts around $168 per night for a basic room. Guests can upgrade to suites with added amenities, marina views, and balconies.

Shem Creek Inn

USS Yorktown

Photo by Sue Cummings and Bruce Howard via Trover.

All the rooms are non-smoking at the Shem Creek Inn; some even feature stunning views of the creek. All rooms include basics like a refrigerator, microwave, cable television, and coffee maker. Shem Creek Inn offers guests complimentary wi-fi, parking and continental breakfast daily. Shem Creek Inn is located on the water so guests that enjoy seafood can visit one of the many restaurants. Guests traveling with family can visit Blackbeard’s Cove or Splash Island Waterpark for fun. Standard room rates start around $179 per night; upgrade to a premium room with a view for $239 per night.

Whether it’s for business or pleasure, any trip to South Carolina will be an enjoyable and relaxing trip. When you add in the history and amazing boutique hotels likes these, you’re in for a special treat.


Nickida - is a wife and stay at home mother of four. She was born in Trinidad but moved to the US at age 14. She started blogging on an off for about three years and recently started writing more consistently. She enjoys sharing about her children, marriage, books, recipes, movies, reviews, giveaways and much more. She is working on improving her baking skills and building on her cake decorating business.

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5 Ways to Involve the Kids in Christmas Prep

5 Ways to Involve the Kids in Christmas Prep

Traditionally the holidays have represented spending time with family and friends, new and old, a time to get together in a communal setting, and a time for sharing love, laughter, and the making of great food. Typically it’s a stressful time, from choosing the tree to purchasing gifts, but this holiday season leave the stress behind and get the children involved.

Choosing a Christmas Tree and Lights


Photo via Flickr by Jo Ann Deasy

Kids love to feel that their opinion counts. Have them help you decide, and you make the final decision, what type of tree and lights to get for the holidays. Discussing real trees versus artificial helps kids to make important comparisons. Once you’ve decided on the type of tree, shopping for the lights from Christmas Lights Etc., gets the kids involved in making good choices. They’ll learn about mini lights, incandescent, and LED lights. Finally, picking out either battery-powered, speed-controlled blinking lights, or continuously on lights is fun too.

Planning the Christmas Dinner

Involve children in planning the holiday meal. Have them find foods they would like to have on Christmas, plus new foods they’re willing to try. From there, have them use their best handwriting to make a grocery list. They can put foods into categories such as meat, fruit, and vegetables, helping them with organizational skills. Kids like being involved with food preparation and can help in various ways, depending on their age. Give the younger children easier tasks like counting out potatoes, peeling vegetables, and measuring. The older children get to chop and slice, then explore with the use of spices and oils.

Giving to Others

Some children and elderly people aren’t as fortunate as others during the holidays. One way your children can learn the spirit of giving is to make up a Charity Box. Choose a shoebox and let them decorate it depending on whether it’s going to a child or an elderly person. Next, choose some age-related gifts to place in the box, then wrap it. Finally, when the day comes to deliver their Charity Box, you’ll see a proud look of satisfaction on your child’s face.

Expanding Children’s Creativity

Have tech-savvy teens update your contact list from the Christmas cards you receive. Then, have them address cards to those on your list. Involve the younger children with coloring place cards for the table and coloring pre-printed black and white gift tags for presents. By making personalized Christmas cards for Mom and Dad, their imagination swells with color and style. Take a walk and find some pine cones. Show them how to paint the tips of the cone, giving it a snow-capped look. All ages can host a dance-a-thon, choosing music, snacks, and drinks.

Traditional Ways to Involve Kids

In the past, kids had fun decorating their own small tree or making new Christmas cards from old ones. Although today’s possibilities seem endless compared to then, those simple traditions can still invoke the spirit of Christmas.  Having a plan to involve children with Christmas preparation takes some work on your part, but in the end, the feeling of usefulness and satisfaction shines through. Why not make this a family tradition year after year?


Nickida - is a wife and stay at home mother of four. She was born in Trinidad but moved to the US at age 14. She started blogging on an off for about three years and recently started writing more consistently. She enjoys sharing about her children, marriage, books, recipes, movies, reviews, giveaways and much more. She is working on improving her baking skills and building on her cake decorating business.

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6 Football Stadiums That Beat Watching the Game from the Couch

6 Football Stadiums That Beat Watching the Game from the Couch

Fans across the U.S. are rejoicing as football season finally gets underway (or, more accurately, they’re yelling at their TV screens and drinking a lot of beer). While many fans opt for the comfort of couch viewership, they don’t know what they’re missing live and in person. NFL stadiums around the country are vacation destinations in their own right, and each boasts a distinct vibe and set of amenities for a total experience that’s well worth the trip. Here are six stadiums to check out this season.

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1. AT&T Stadium (formerly Cowboys Stadium) – Arlington, TX

“Everything’s bigger in Texas,” indeed. The NFL’s largest venue can pack in more than 100,000 fans underneath its retractable roof. It boasts an HD Jumbotron that spans the entire distance between the 20-yard lines, luxury boxes level with the field, and unobstructed sightlines thanks to the stadium’s impressive construction, which avoided the use of pillars. And don’t miss the nearby Cowboys Hall of Fame.

Where to Stay

There are a number of hotels near the stadium that are cheap and decent at the same time. Check out the Rosewood Crescent if you’re feeling fancy, the MCM Elegante Hotel & Suites if you’re looking for affordable comfort, or the Courtyard by Marriott Dallas Central Expressway if you’re in the mood for a clean stay without any frills.

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2. Lambeau Field – Green Bay, WI

One of the most legendary (and loudest) stadiums in all of NFL history, Lambeau Field (named after the Green Bay Packers’ founder, E.L. Lambeau) has been making a name for itself since its opening in 1957. While it’s undergone several massive renovations in the years since—including expansions to the concourses, seating capacity, locker rooms, and luxury suites—the stadium is still beloved for its old-school feel. To visit Lambeau is to revisit football moments of yore, from 1967’s “Ice Bowl” to the legendary coaching of Vince Lombardi.

Where to Stay

The area outside of Lambeau Field includes a variety of hotels as well as bars and restaurants. The family-friendly Tundra Lodge includes access to a waterpark while the Motel 6 Green Bayoffers rock-bottom prices.

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3. Lucas Oil StadiumIndianapolis, IN

Those looking to enjoy the game from the lap of luxury should book a flight to Indianapolis, stat. Lucas Oil Stadium—home of the Colts—boasts state-of-the-art amenities at every turn, from the retractable roof (which is temporarily being kept shut) to the club lounges, field-level suites, spacious concourses, climate-controlled walkways, cushioned seats, accessible vendors, and a window wall that showcases downtown Indianapolis.

Where to Stay

Comfortable and affordable lodging abounds near the stadium. You can’t go wrong with the well-rated Hyatt Regency Indianapolis, the Westin Indianapolis, or the Embassy Suites Indianapolis Downtown.

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4. Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, CA

High-tech is the name of the game in Santa Clara, where the NFL’s newest stadium (home of the 49ers) is pioneering advances in technology. The $1.2 billion stadium includes a bridge made from solar panels, LED video boards, Wi-Fi that works throughout the whole stadium, an interactive museum, and a stadium-specific app that tells users where to find parking, provides real-time stats from other games, and lets fans order food directly to their seats. It’s also the first professional football stadium to earn LEED Gold certification in recognition of its energy-saving initiatives.

Where to Stay

Don’t confine yourself to the stadium—get out and explore all that nearby San Francisco has to offer. Stay in the middle of the action at the luxurious Fairmont San Francisco, historic and budget-friendly The Mosser, or the exclusive Park Central Hotel San Francisco.

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5. Soldier Field – Chicago, IL

The NFL’s oldest venue, Soldier Field was first constructed in 1924 and then extensively renovated in 2003. Its historic nature—this is the field where the “Monsters of the Midway” claimed four titles in seven years—makes it a must-see for any football devotee. Its views of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan aren’t bad, either.

Where to Stay

Chicago may be a pricey city, but it is possible to find affordable accommodations near Soldier Field. Check out the spacious River Hotel, the budget-friendly Inn of Chicago, or the swanky Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers.


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6. Sports Authority Field – Denver, CO

Opened in 2001, the newest home of the Broncos is almost twice as large as the team’s original stadium. Head to Sports Authority for the gorgeous views—not just of the Ring of Fame, which honors legendary Denver players and is visible from every seat, but also the Rocky Mountains (visible even from within the stadium) and the public works of art that line the pedestrian walkways.

Where to Stay

Peak travel season for Denver runs through October, so book hotels for November or later in order to get the best deals. Scope out good prices and great amenities at the Double Tree by Hilton Denver-Aurora, the Red Lion Hotel Denver Southeast, or the Hyatt Place Denver Airport.

Prices for flights and hotels will rise as the season kicks into high gear, so book early for the best deals. Whether in Indianapolis or San Francisco, enjoy the game!

This post was posted by TheHipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on September 25th.

Exploring Beyond the Wine in Napa, CA

Exploring Beyond the Wine in Napa, CA

The Northern California city of Napa is famous the world over for its tasty wines, but this scenic valley has plenty to offer visitors of all types, ranging from outdoor lovers to art enthusiasts. Napa’s food and art scene has thrived over the last few years, and many of its non-wine related activities remain relatively undiscovered by tourists.

If you have already booked a day tour through the famous Napa wineries, don’t just turn around and go home right away. Spend a full day exploring the wonderful trails, markets, restaurants, and art that Napa has to offer, and you will see a beautiful, lesser-known side of this stunning California city.

Drive the Scenic Silverado Trail 7:00 a.m.


Image via Trover by Girl Gone Travel

Most visitors to Napa take the busy and congested Highway 29 to explore the valley and its wineries, but a better option is to drive the back-door Silverado Trail. Start your day with a scenic morning country drive to see the valley in all its splendor before the roads become packed with locals and visitors. If you are feeling a bit more active and adventurous, rent a bike and follow the Silverado Trail bike path to explore the region at a slower pace and discover even more of the area’s nature. The trail also has plenty of smaller wineries that have retained some family-owned and -operated charm.

Eat a Hearty Breakfast at Alexis Baking Company 9:00 a.m.


Image via abcnapa.com

Prepare for a long day of exploring and sight-seeing by indulging in French toast, pancakes, and baked goods at the Alexis Baking Company. In addition to breakfast and lunch, the bakery and café offers a huge choice of scones, muffins, and cookies made fresh on site. It’s the perfect place to interact with Napa locals and take a bite out of the area’s rich cuisine.

Get in Touch With Your Artistic Side at the Napa Art Walk 11:00 a.m.


Image via Trover by Jacqueline Leigh

Take a stroll through downtown Napa on the Napa Art Walk route, and you will find plenty of intriguing and modern sculptures to admire on your way. All of the artists featured are from the Western U.S., as part of the art walk’s purpose is to promote regional artists and the Western aesthetic. The exhibits change every 18 months, so if you haven’t visited Napa in a while you will always have something new to see.

Take a Winery Tour at Artesa Vineyards & Winery 2:00 p.m.


Image via Trover by Jackie Grenier

For an alternative winery experience, take a wine-tasting break at Artesa Vineyards & Winery. A Spanish wine-making family built this off-the-beaten-path winery, and their influence is felt in the name itself (Artesa is Catalan for handcrafted). In addition to delicious wines, Artesa Vineyards offers a stunning hilltop view and incredible modern architecture throughout the property, which guests can explore for hours. Get there 10 to 15 minutes early for the 2 p.m. public tour and stay for a tasting with a view.

Shop and Eat at Oxbow Public Market 5:00 p.m.


Image via Trover by The Wellist Travels

After a day of walking and wine tasting, stop by Oxbow Public Market to get a bite to eat and pick up some artisanal products. Try the delicious pizza at Ca’ Momi and grab some chocolates from Anette’s. All the food at the market, from the oyster bar to the gourmet cupcakes, features options for vegetarians or those following a gluten-free diet. Find your favorite foods and sit at the community-style tables in the center of the market to mingle with the rest of the crowd.

Must Eat: Savor Local BBQ Specials at Bounty Hunter


Image via DoNapa

If you’re still hungry for a late dinner, head to local favorite Bounty Hunter, which serves mouth-watering BBQ specials ranging from pulled pork to smoked brisket. The restaurant’s warm, friendly atmosphere will make you feel right at home, and you can also pair your dinner with any of a number of rare local wines offered on the menu.

Find a Charming Napa Hotel

napa hotel

Image via Meritage Resort & Spa

The California capital of winemaking has plenty of cozy, inviting hotels for guests ranging from budget travelers to luxury-seekers. With a little searching and pre-planning, you can find Napa hotels from $92 a night. If you want to combine your Napa sightseeing with plenty of pampering and relaxation back at your hotel, book a few nights at The Meritage Resort & Spafrom $279 a night, or try a more budget-friendly option at Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Napa Valley from $132 a night.

Even if you’re only in Napa for a day, the above itinerary will provide you with a well-rounded appreciation for the local attractions.

This post was posted by TheHipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on September 22nd.

Items to Include in a College Care Package

Items to Include in a College Care Package

When I was in college I loved getting packages from my parents with products I needed like personal care items, laundry products and snacks.  Getting items like these made it easy for me to keep the money I had in my pocket and just use what they would send to me.  My husband was a counselor at a high school in Washington, D.C. for a few years and he took on a few mentees.  When they went off to college we started to send them a care package over the holiday break.  It was our way of showing support and a reminder that we cared.  It’s been a while since I’ve had to make one of those packages but my nephew is heading to college soon so I am getting back in the habit of making them.

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Disclosure: I received these products for review, any opinions expressed are my own.

Snuggle Laundry Products

Snuggle Laundry Products

All college kids deal with laundry at some point doing their college years.  Laundry products can get expensive and they are perfect for care packages.  I love Snuggle products because they work great and they are very affordable.  The Exhilarations line adds a nice light scent to laundry.  The dryer sheets are my favorite to share because it’s usually the first product to get cut when budgeting for laundry.

Febreze Odor Eliminator


My husband played sports in college, he was on the football team, so he had lots of stinky laundry.  Another great product to add along with the laundry products is Febreze Odor Eliminator.  To help with mysterious odors clinging to clothes, Febreze created Febreze In-Wash Odor Eliminator. The formula works along with detergent and targets lingering odors while detergent focuses on cleaning away dirt and stains.  This works great on my kids clothing after they come home from gym days or long days outside for recess, they also help get rid of odors in stinky socks.

VO5 Salon Series


For the month of August I was testing Alberto VO5 Salon Series line of products and how they helped with frizzy hair.  As someone with natural hair frizz control is a major issue for me.  I have to say I loved the whole line of products and the prize makes it even better.  These products range in prices from $3 to $5 per product.  I would definitely recommend adding their whole line to a college care package but mainly adding the shampoo and conditioner.  It’s sure to save your college kid some time when getting ready for class, college events or the occasional party.  Learn more about product line below:

Did you know that 62% of women indicate frizzy hair as their #1 dreaded hair malfunction? And that 80% of women suffer from frizzy hair?

Frizz occurs when moisture from the air’s humidity infiltrates the cuticles on the head causing hair to literally spring out of control. To help fight all that frizz, Alberto VO5has created an easy and simple 3-step process with products under $5. 

  • 1x a week – Hot Oil Treatment ($4.79): Moisturize and condition hair before shampooing from roots to ends with VO5’s iconic Hot Oil Therapy treatment which helps restore shine, strength and silky softness. Use once a week.
  • 3x a week – Smooth + Sleek Shampoo and Conditioner ($2.49 each): Formulated with a unique smoothing complex that helps manage unruly hair, use the shampoo and conditioner together three times a week for best results in helping eliminate frizz, pronto!
  • 7x a week – Shine, Glow and Go Beauty Oil  ($4.99): Light, natural oil blend for both hair and body. This new innovative oil that’s mineral oil-free, quickly helps replenish dry hair and skin to help you feel soft, silky and look radiant. Apply once a day.

My stylish has given me compliments on my Shine, Glow and Go Beauty Oil for weeks, she loves it more than her current professional products in her kit.  I ended up getting her a bottle to use for finishing on her clients.

First Aid Products




These may not seem like the average products you would find in a care package but they are indeed essentials for college students.  Compeed Blister Cushion works great for students that live on big campuses.  All that walking around campus could cause some blisters and these works as a second skin to keep relieve blister pains.  Band-Aids are a must have for minor cuts and scrapes.  Now you can get them featuring your favorite characters like Darth Vader, Inside Out Character, and so much more.  Neosporin is a very handy product to keep on hand.  Its useful for so many reasons including minor cuts, minor burns, scratches, swelling and other minor injuries.  It helps prevents infection and minor pain associated with minor injuries.  Learn more about all three of these products below:

  • New! Gift fashionista’s the newest solution for relieving blister pain instantly — COMPEED® Blister Cushion, which uses hydrocolloid technology that fits like a second skin and stays on all day long, unlike ordinary bandages. SRP $8.99
  • New! BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages by Oh Joy! feature bright, colorful patterns and designs, offering a fun way to protect cuts and scrapes. Exclusively designed by leading DIY star Joy Cho, the bandages offer an assortment of 12 styles; available only at Target stores and Target.com; SRP $2.49
  • New! Make healing fun and entertaining with BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages featuring Star Wars, BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages featuring Peanuts and BAND-AID®Brand Adhesive Bandages featuring Inside Out. Kids can now cover up cuts and scrapes with designs featuring their favorite characters! SRP $2.49
  • Keep NEOSPORIN® + Pain Relief Ointment close by for easy application to unwanted minor cuts and scrapes from decoration or cooking mishaps this holiday season. It helps prevent infection and provides temporary pain relief. SRP $5.50

Jergens Wet Skin Moisturizer


New from Jergens Wet Skin moisturizer is an after shower/bath moisturizer that helps lock in moisture and keep skin soft and smooth.  I would add this to a care package especially for boys because if they are anything like my boys they don’t lotion after showering or bathing.  Or they don’t use enough moisture on their skins.

Softsoap Foaming Hand Soap



Hand soap is a must for the college care package, especially if you child is in a dorm setting.  When I lived in the dorms we shared a bathroom in our suite and there was never any hand soap in the bathroom.  These would made a great addition to any bathroom and add an extra touch of feeling at home.  The Softsoap Fragrant Foaming Collection make great home giving gifts, the bottles are already decorated so no need to wrap just drop them in a gift bag and give to your recipient.  My favorite is the Whipped Cocoa Butter scent.  It reminds me of a Chocolate Mousse.  The Kitchen Citrus Bliss is great for hand washing in the kitchen.  Learn more about the scents in the collection below:

  • Jasmine and White Cotton: Impress your guests with the fresh scent of Jasmine and White Cotton. Its airy aroma makes every hand wash sparkle, while lush foam gently purifies the skin.
  • Whipped Cocoa Butter: Pamper your skin with the rich foaming lather infused with real cocoa butter extracts. The decadent scent of Whipped Cocoa Butter makes every hand wash a treat.
  • Kitchen Citrus Bliss: Awaken your senses and brighten your home with the crisp, sun-drenched scent of Kitchen Citrus Bliss. Its vibrant aroma invigorates every hand wash, while lush foam gently cleans and soothes skin.




Nickida - is a wife and stay at home mother of four. She was born in Trinidad but moved to the US at age 14. She started blogging on an off for about three years and recently started writing more consistently. She enjoys sharing about her children, marriage, books, recipes, movies, reviews, giveaways and much more. She is working on improving her baking skills and building on her cake decorating business.

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The Traveler’s Guide to Tipping Internationally

The Traveler’s Guide to Tipping Internationally

Tipping is a hot topic in the United States these days, as rising minimum wages call into question the standard practice of making servers reliant on tips. For travelers abroad, tipping is an equally sticky issue. Figuring out what to tip when can all too quickly turn a relaxing vacation into a stressful one. Knowing what to tip, on the other hand, can empower travelers to navigate a foreign culture with ease.

Because tipping rules vary by country, region, and place of business, it’s important to research your destination’s customs prior to any trip. Start by consulting this guide, which outlines tipping customs in 20 countries around the world, for restaurants, hotels, and beyond!


Restaurants: While tipping at restaurants and bars isn’t considered a necessity, many tourists often tip around 10%.

Taxis: Tips aren’t expected, but consider rounding up to the nearest whole peso so the driver doesn’t have to sort out change. If they help you with your bags, add on a bit more as a token of appreciation.

Hospitality: Tip tour guides up to 20% and always give bag handlers a small bill or two.


Restaurants: Australian servers are paid decent wages and generally don’t expect tips. Recognize exceptional service by rounding up the bill. In upscale establishments only, tip 10%.

Taxis: While tipping isn’t expected, it’s common courtesy to round up to the nearest whole number.

Hospitality: For the most part, tips aren’t expected within the hospitality industry.


Restaurants: Canada’s tipping protocols are similar to those in the United States (although most Canadian servers are paid minimum wage before tips). Most restaurants expect aminimum 15% tip.

Taxis: It’s customary to tip cab drivers 10% upon arriving at your destination.

Hospitality: Tip concierges for exceptional service only, leave behind a few dollars (or more) for housekeeping, and give bag handlers $1-2 for each bag they carry.

The Caribbean

Restaurants: Most places in the Caribbean islands follow the same tipping standards as the United States, so in general plan to tip 15% or more. One possible exception: If you’re staying in an all-inclusive resort, check to see if the service charge is included.

Taxis: Plan to tip around $1-2 for in-town fares. Tack on a bit extra for late-night or long-distance rides.

Hospitality: Most hotels include a service charge in the bill. If this isn’t the case, be sure to tip bag handlers ($1-2 per bag) and housekeepers ($2 per day). Many resorts discourage tipping, so use your own discretion.


Restaurants: China has a fairly strict no-tipping culture (though some finer establishments may include a 10-15% service charge), so there’s no need to tip at restaurants. If you want to offer a tip for exceptional service, do so out of sight of the server’s employer.

Taxis: Tipping isn’t expected, but it is appreciated (especially in larger cities). Because there’s no customary rate, use your own discretion when deciding how much to tip.

Hospitality: Tipping is usually not expected, although this is changing in more westernized establishments. A good bet is to tip tour guides, housekeepers, and bag handlers a few dollars per day (or bag).

Costa Rica

Restaurants: Tip will be included in the bill at most Costa Rican restaurants. If you want to recognize exceptional service, add another 10% on top.

Taxis: Tips aren’t required, but it’s a friendly gesture to tip a few dollars or round up the fare to the nearest whole number.

Hospitality: Tip tour guides 10-15%, and give a few dollars to bag handlers and housekeeping.

Czech Republic

Restaurants: While tipping wasn’t always standard in the Czech Republic, the custom has been catching on. There’s no need to tip if the bill includes a service charge (though feel free to add on another 10% for great service). If no service charge is included in the bill, tip 10-15%.

Taxis: Round up the fare to the nearest whole number.

Hospitality: Give bag handlers $1-3 per bag, housekeepers $3-5 per day, and concierges $20 if they go above and beyond.


Restaurants: The government requires a 10% service charge on all bills at restaurants, bars, and hotels. While it’s not necessary to tip more than that, you’re free to hand over a few extra dirhams to the server.

Taxis: Cab drivers don’t expect tips, but it’s polite to round up to the nearest 5-dirham note.

Hospitality: Because service charges are included in the bill, there’s little need to tip hotel staff unless you want to recognize great service.


Restaurants: Tip will be included in the bill at most establishments, but plan to tack on another 5-10%.

Taxis: Pay cab drivers 10-15% beyond the stated fare.

Hospitality: Give housekeepers $1-2 per day throughout your stay, tip $1 per bag for bag handlers, and give the concierge $10-20 at the beginning of your stay to ensure great service.


Restaurants: French law requires that service be included in the price, but most locals round up their bills with small change (or up to 10% of the bill).

Taxis: Plan to tip cab drivers about 10%.

Hospitality: Give bag handlers $1-2 per bag and housekeepers around $2-3 per day. Exceptional service from the concierge should warrant 10 or more Euros.


Restaurants: Germany’s tipping customs work much like France’s: Service is included in the price, but it’s customary to round up the bill to an even figure (this usually amounts to 5-10% of the total bill).

Taxis: Round up to the nearest Euro or tack on an extra few Euros if you’re feeling generous.

Hospitality: While tips aren’t required, it’s courteous to leave behind a few Euros for housekeepers and to pay baggage handlers around 2 Euros per item. Slip the concierge 10 or more Euros for great service.


Restaurants: Tip 10% for the waiter, even at upscale restaurants (where a 10% service charge is included in the bill).

Taxis: Tips aren’t expected for short trips. If you hire a driver for a long trip or multiple days, tip around 150-300 rupees per day.

Hospitality: Tip bag handlers around 20 rupees per bag and offer tour guides several hundred rupees.


Restaurants: Tips aren’t expected, but feel free to round up the bill or tip 10% for exceptional service.

Taxis: Tips aren’t expected, but they are appreciated. Use your own discretion.

Hospitality: Ditto the above. Tipping really isn’t expected in Italy, but who doesn’t like being appreciated for good service?


Restaurants: It’s unlikely that a server will accept your tip, so it’s probably most polite not to offer one.

Taxis: Tips are not at all expected. A simple “thank you” will suffice.

Hospitality: Tour guides don’t expect tips but are likely to accept them. Hotel staff may refuse a tip if offered; you’re more likely to transfer cash if you put it in an envelope and leave it behind for staff, rather than foisting cash into their hands.


Restaurants: When service is included in the bill, there’s no need to tip. Otherwise, plan to leave 10-15%.

Taxis: While tips aren’t expected, it’s courteous to round up the fare.

Hospitality: Many hotel staff rely on tips as part of their take-home pay, so be generous. Bag handlers, housekeepers, the concierge, and anyone else who performs a service during your stay warrants a tip. The amount is up to your own discretion.

New Zealand

Restaurants: Like Australia, New Zealand doesn’t have much of a tipping culture. Service and sales tax are almost always included in the bill. Tip only for exceptional service or when the menu states that service is not included.

Taxis: Tipping isn’t expected, but acknowledge great service by rounding up the fair or leaving behind a few small bills.

Hospitality: Ditto the above. Tips aren’t expected, but they’re a nice way to express appreciation for a job well done.


Restaurants: Locals generally leave small change or round up to the nearest euro, so go ahead and follow suit. If you receive great service or are dining at an upscale establishment, leave a 5-10% tip.

Taxis: Small change, rounding up to the nearest Euro, or a couple of extra Euros are all acceptable tips.

Hospitality: Pay the bag handler up to five Euros, the person who delivers room service 1-2 Euros, and housekeepers a few Euros for the stay.

South Africa

Restaurants: In nearly all establishments, it’s customary to leave a 10-15% tip for the waiter.

Taxis: Plan to tip cab drivers around 10%.

Hospitality: Tip bag handlers around $1 per bag. Tip other hotel staff at your own discretion.


Restaurants: Expectations here vary widely: Some sources advocate for not leaving a tip, others suggest leaving 10-15%, and still others suggest leaving $1 per diner. Keep it simple by sticking with 10% or $1 per person, whichever is more generous.

Taxis: Tips aren’t encouraged, but a tip of 20 or 30 Baht is courteous.

Hospitality: It’s standard to tip bag handlers 20 Baht. While there’s no standard tip for housekeepers, it’s respectful to leave behind a tip (the size of which is up to you).

United Kingdom

Restaurants: If a service charge isn’t included in the bill, tip 10% (or higher for exceptional service).

Taxis: Tip 10-15% for black cabs and licensed minicabs, or just round up to the nearest Euro. Tip extra for help with loading or unloading baggage.

Hospitality: Most hotels include a service charge, but it’s still customary to offer small tips to bag handlers and housekeepers.

No matter where you are in the world, remember that servers, cab drivers, and hotel staff are performing a tough (and often thankless) job. Be both appreciative and thoughtful—try to tip in cash and in the local currency so your server can put the money to good use. And practice discretion when handing out tips, particularly in regions where tipping may be frowned upon. Respecting local customs will go a long way toward make any excursion a positive experience.

This post was posted by TheHipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on September 9th.