Delaware Town Gives Beach Vacations To Wounded Vets

Bethany Beach week for military families
Flickr, Patrick Nouhailler

If you want to see the transformative power of travel, read this Washington Post story about the military families who’ve enjoyed this Labor Day week on the beach. The town of Bethany Beach, Delaware, not far from Washington D.C., coordinated with local homeowners to open their beach houses and small businesses to donate goods and services for 25 wounded military families. Each “VIF” (Very Important Family) has been treated to free meals and groceries, golf games, spa treatments and even family portraits.

For soldiers suffering from war injuries both visible and unseen like Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, a stress- and cost-free vacation can provide a great deal of comfort. This is the first year of Operation Seas the Day, and 70 families applied for the program, with more than 50 homeowners offering their homes to the veterans, but the town agreed to keep it small for the inaugural year of the program.

The military families will head home on Sunday, so if you are in the area this weekend, be sure to offer your thanks for their service. If you’d like to donate or volunteer for next year, sign up for news at OperationSeasTheDay.org

Photo Of The Day: Summer By The Seaside

Photo of the day - Antalya beach club
Matt Shalvatis

We like to find unusual and impressive photos to share for the Photo of the Day posts, bringing you to exotic and interesting places you don’t see every day. But sometimes, we just like pretty pictures. This shot from Flickr user Matt Shalvatis is the perfect visual vacation: a summer landscape on the Mediterranean seaside in Antalya, Turkey. The chairs look comfy, the light is perfect, and the water looks just fine. Feel free to stay awhile.

Add your travel photos to the Gadling Flickr pool to be chosen for the Photo of the Day.

Top Vacation Destinations For Cheating Spouses

holding hands
Bubble Fishh, Flickr

What do you think of when you hear the words “summer vacation”? Families going on camping trips, college students heading abroad and couples going on romantic getaways? Well what about cheating spouses sneaking off to vacation with their mistresses?

According to a poll by AshleyMadison.com, at least 50,000 people who are engaged in affairs said they were planning to take a vacation with their extra-marital partner this summer.

The founder of the dating website – which by the way, is designed for people who are already married – told ABC News that travel provides the perfect setting for cheaters. “There’s no better time to pursue a discreet affair than when you’re hundreds or even thousands of miles away from home. Our members have stated that the distance not only lessens their fear of getting caught, but also alleviates feelings of guilt.”Most of the dating site’s members said they would take short trips of 3-4 days to avoid raising suspicions of an affair. Another common anti-detection tactic was to add extra days to business trips or to pay for their trip using reward miles so there was no official record of their dalliance.

So where should you look if you’re trying to catch a cheating partner? Miami would be a good place to start with the city taking out second place on the list of top vacation spots. Meanwhile other cheaters sought the anonymity of big cities like New York and Los Angele, which took fourth and sixth place, respectively. More exotic destinations included Paradise Island in the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos, which both made the top five. So what was the number one destination for adulterers? Las Vegas. It seems as though a whole lot of people are hoping that what happens in Vegas stays there.

8 Strategies For Avoiding The Spring Break Crowds

For the college crowd, spring break typically means one thing: raging parties. For everyone else, however, spring break brings on more of a raging headache.

Those traveling at the same time as the party crowd are faced with a number of dramas, ranging from laying wide awake at night listening to thumping music piercing the paper-thin walls of their hotel room, to having to explain to their seven-year-old why those scantily-clad college kids are puking on the sidewalk. Put up with it long enough and spring break has the ability to break down even the most tolerant traveler.

Is there any hope of avoiding the chaos? Thankfully, the answer is yes – I’ve certainly done it and lived to tell the tale. So, whether you forgot to check the school calendar when making your travel plans or you simply want to take a relaxing family vacation while the little ones are off from school, the good news is there are lots of steps you can take to avoid running into the spring breakers.1. Head to a city. If you still have some flexibility in your travel plans, then pick a destination that’ll allow you to avoid the partygoers. The majority of spring breakers are fleeing the metropolises and heading to sunny, sandy spots, which means now is a great time to visit a city.

2. Steer clear of party beaches. If you’re headed to a seaside destination, beware that certain beaches will be packed with partygoers and plan your stay accordingly. For example, if you go to Miami, you’ll want to avoid South Beach or Miami Beach and pick a quieter spot like Key Biscayne or Mid Beach to base yourself in instead.

3. Choose your hotel wisely. Even if you’re headed to a destination known for attracting spring breakers, you can often avoid the revelry as long as you keep away from party hotels – venues full of college kids there to enjoy the pool parties, live entertainment, and music around the clock. You can figure out which hotels are geared specifically to the party crowd by hunting down the spring break website for that destination. For example, you can see which hotels are set up for the event in Cancun here, and at Daytona Beach here.

4. Arm yourself with noise-canceling devices. No matter how well you research your hotel, you might not be able to prevent a group of noisy merry-makers from setting up camp in the room above you. So to be on the safe side, bring along some earplugs and even a white noise machine to muffle any sound. If you’re a business traveler or need to get work done while you’re in your hotel, noise-canceling headphones can be a lifesaver. It’s also worth asking the hotel to put you in a quiet corner of the hotel, far from any college kids, when checking in.

5. Wake up early. If you want to sightsee and enjoy the destination in peace, get up before the spring break crowd. Most of the partiers stay up late and sleep in the next morning nursing their hangovers, so by getting up earlier you can beat the crowds. Morning is also a good time to enjoy the popular party beaches before the crowds, kegs and DJs invade later in the day.

6. Do activities spring breakers tend to avoid. While many attractions will appeal to spring breakers and ordinary travelers alike, there are still plenty of things you can do where you won’t find a partier for miles. Examples include enjoying a round of golf, a quiet afternoon of fishing, or a private boat ride.

7. Head to the quieter watering holes. The party crowd will be busy hitting up nightclubs and bars offering kegs of beer and mixed drinks by the yard glass, so if you’re looking to sip a quiet drink or two, steer clear of these venues. A much better option is to head to wine bars, intimate cocktail lounges, vineyards and bars attached to restaurants. If you really want to go to one of the popular clubs or bars in town, check their event schedule and those of nearby venues. Depending on where the spring break action is on a given night, some venues can be pulsating and others can become ghost towns – which might be exactly what you’re looking for.

8. Research where the locals hang out. Particularly when it comes to the international destinations, many cities have a main tourist drag that’s lined with resorts and entertainment geared towards travelers (and in the case of spring break, the partiers) and a separate part of the city where the locals tend to congregate. I once visited Cancun, Mexico, during spring break (but not actually for spring break) and was able to avoid the party crowd by spending time at the beaches frequented by the locals and the downtown plazas few tourists ventured into. As an added bonus, these areas had a more authentic vibe, and the food, drinks and accommodation were significantly cheaper.

Have you traveled during spring break? Were you able to escape the party crowds?

[Photo credit: Flickr user BluEyedA73; martinvarsavsky; Fevi Yu; alexbrn]

Haiti Bills Itself As The Next Caribbean Vacation Hotspot

The Caribbean nation of Haiti is launching an ambitious campaign to market the country as a vacation hotspot. Unlike other islands in the region, which draw huge numbers of leisure travelers seeking sun and surf, Haiti is largely overlooked by tourists.

The country is one of the poorest in the Western hemisphere with around 80 percent of its people living in extreme poverty. It was thrown under the spotlight three years ago when an earthquake measuring 7.0 shook the country to its core. The event was a devastating blow to a country already rife with political problems, corruption and natural disasters.

Haiti’s minister of tourism, Stephanie Villedrouin, told NPR that tourism could help locals rebuild their lives and boost the country’s economy.”These revenues for our economy will help us eradicate poverty, and take out people [earthquake victims] from the tents. That’s the message. Don’t just send money through a wire or through an NGO for us. Come and experience Haiti because we have so much to showcase.”

Some of the attraction on offer for visitors are a National Museum, a rum distillery, traditional art, voodoo ceremonies and, of course, miles of Caribbean beach.

Despite that, the country faces a lot of challenges when it comes to marketing itself as a vacation destination. Streets are overflowing with trash and sewage, medical facilities are few and far between, and travelers face a high risk of crime. The US State Department has even issued a travel warning for the country.

As a result, few tourists to Haiti ever leave the fenced-off beach resort built by a cruise company on the island’s north. Getting travelers to step out of the bubble and into the rest of the country will require a massive expansion of the country’s tourism infrastructure. The government hopes to do that by investing in new hotels, airports and a school to train workers in the hospitality industry.

Listen to the full story here:




[Photo credit: Flickr user MichelleWalz]