Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Big Subjects to Talk About Before the Big Day


Families in poppy field in summertime



Most couples will talk briefly about finances. Stuff like who will work, where the money will be spent, budgeting, common things like that. But, did you ever once mention who will be the main person to pay the bills? Is there going to be one joint bank account, or will each spouse keep separate bank accounts? It is important to decide just who will handle paying the bills and setting up the online accounts for those bills. This is very vital to discuss because of the confusion that can come if there is not a designated person. Now, just because one spouse is the designated bill payer that doesn’t mean that the other is completely cut off knowing anything about bills. They do have the right to know how much each monthly bill is and the password to those online accounts. Knowing the password is key because if something ever happens to the bill payer, then the other spouse will have immediate access to all that.  Also, the matter of separate or joint bank accounts is a personal one. Some people love joint accounts. It makes budgeting much easier and is very transparent. Joint bank accounts are more time consuming to budget. Remembering which account has which bill coming out or will the bills come out of one spouses account and the play money is from the other spouse. However you want to do it is fine as long as you can make it work for you.


Now on to the subject of children. You have probably discussed the number you would like to have. Did you discuss who will be their main caregiver? It used to be no question, Mom was in charge of the home and family and Dad worked. But, nowadays those roles are changing and so is the scope of the family. If both parents want to work that is great, but who will be the one to take the day off to take care of the sick child? Who will be the designated chauffeur when it comes to sports, ballet, school functions, etc.? It is also important to decide on the type of punishments you both find acceptable for your future children. Kids are notorious for pitting parent against parent. They love to play I asked mom and she said no so I’ll go ask dad because I know he’ll say yes (or vice versa). Deciding on how to handle those situations will save your sanity in the long run.


Religion is a tricky subject to converse about. If you are marrying a person of a different religion you want to make sure you respect their beliefs. Even though this is difficult to discuss it is a crucial conversation that you will both need to make time for. Some of the talking points could center on what religion your children will be raised in. How will you handle holidays and celebrating certain religious specific ones? How will you attend church, will you go together to one spouse’s specific church or will you go separately to your respective churches? Is converting to a different religion open for discussion and if so which spouse will convert?


Politics is a huge one that you need to talk about before the big day. Some thing to remember about voting is that when you go to vote, don’t cancel each other out. Take the time to discuss which candidate you like and why. This may be hard if you like opposite parties, but still try to do it. You don’t want to get into that booth and essentially have your vote not count because you voted against each other.

You love your spouse enough to stay with them until “death do you part”.  If you can talk to your spouse openly about these subjects your marriage will be all the better for it.

Six Tips For Creating An Innovative Business Card

Are you a new graduate on the job hunt? Are you in an established career and you’re looking for a new challenge?

If you’re getting ready to venture into the world of job searching, you need a great business card that will be memorable, is clear and will get you noticed.

Don’t know where to start? Follow our guide of creative ideas for business cards and get started on making an impression with your future employers.

The key to remember in deciding on a business card is to avoid cards that are too gimmicky or cute that they leave an impression that you shouldn’t be taken seriously. That’s a fine line to walk, but we’ll help you right now:

Increase the Weight of Your Card

There is something that happens in the psyche when you have a weightier card. It feels like more a library card or a credit card. It feels more serious.

Consider increasing the weight of your business card’s paper stock, and you’ll have an instant payoff in the minds of whomever is holding your card next.

Invest in Letter-pressing or Embossing

If you’ve got the budget for it, consider adding an element of letter-pressing or embossing to your card. It’s going to be a little pricey, as this is a craft, niche operation, but your card will look beautiful.

This is something for designers especially to consider. Your business card needs to match your profession or the field you hope to enter.

Try Out a Smaller Card

One trend in business cards today is to try an alternate shape from the traditional rectangle. A square card or even a smaller rectangle add interest and set your card apart from the pile of others.

Consider Wood

Are you going into a field involving sustainability or the environment? Are you a craft woodworker? Consider a wood business card.

These cards are made of layers of thin wood, but they are sturdy, creative and are much different than any other card your future employer may receive.

Die-Cut Cards

Add some creativity and professionalism to your card by adding a die-cut element to your business card. This could just be in the form of your business logo or the initial of your last name.

It may be a little pricey to get a die-cut because it is a custom design element. However, it will add some style and interest to your card and make it memorable to future employers.

Digital Cards

A new trend in business cards is to forego paper altogether and make your business card digital. You can do this by making a digital card on your iPad.

Take the iPad with you to visits with employers. The card needs to have a QR code on it so that the person can scan your card with his or her smart phone and record the information about you.

An alternative is to keep the traditional business card but to include a QR code directly on the card. You’ll not only make it easy for a future employer to keep up with you, but you’ll score major cool points for being tech savvy.

Are you inspired yet? Use our guide of handy tips for finding an innovative business card that is professional and memorable. You’re on your way to finding a great job — or least leaving a really great impression by investing in a great card. Good luck in your search!

A Personal Story: Evaluating Your Investment Portfolio

Retire with peace of mind by making sacrifices at a young age and living a disciplined lifestyle. Once you get in the habit of saving and investing, you can expect to start increasing your personal wealth. Due diligence and regular inspections of your finances should ensure a promising retirement for you.

Funny Girl Student With Glasses Reading Books

The first thing I did was to determine what kind of retirement I wanted. This helped me to determine how much money I would need to make it happen. I started by calculating my daily expenses and increasing them every year of my life expectancy, a trick I learned from my grandfather and Next I determined what my portfolio should look like. From then on I checked on my investments regularly, just to see how they were doing, but a re-evaluation was not really necessary unless I intended to add, delete, or change my investments.

I was fortunate to learn a little about investing from my grandfather at an early age. He did not know a lot, but he did know the importance of saving money and not to just dabble in the stock market by jumping around from stock to stock. I filled in the blanks with my own research by asking experts and reading financial articles. All types of portfolios agree that the amount of risk I am willing to take, diversification of investments, and saving money are essential to having money for retirement, and that my age would determine how this would change over time.

Risk is a part of all investments. As a younger person in my twenties, I was willing to take a greater risks. I was in a position to buy into several different companies that seemed sound to me.  Stocks are more high-risk, but I made sure that I could afford to lose what I invested, that my livelihood did not depend on the performance of my investments. Some provided steady income, and some only showed a return when their value increased. I took Warren Buffett’s advice and did not invest in any company that I did not understand, and I slept great at night by avoiding those “hot tips” from other investors.

Preparing for the worst was the best way for me to diversify my portfolio. I looked to and to tell me about different types of investments, and turned to for specific definitions of terms when I needed it. Together they gave me free and solid advice and information. According to these sources, my investments should be designed to counter any losses that I may experience with any one of them, and provide other sources of revenue. I attempted to stabilize my portfolio by investing about 50 % of it in domestic and foreign exchanges, 40% in fixed-income securities, and the rest in cash.

By investing in domestic and foreign exchanges, I relied on different economies that usually were not directly connected to one another, like the United States and companies in other countries that do not depend on U.S. economy to thrive. I also chose to invest in real estate through mutual funds. I invested with others in office buildings, apartments, shopping malls, and warehouses in the United States and abroad.

My fixed-income securities were government bonds. I was practically guaranteed thousands of dollars in increase on tens of thousands of dollars of investments. I got a percentage of the investment in increase, plus the original investment of the bond.

I also learned from www.time. com/money that certain credit cards are better for loans, financing, bonus points, etc. I use them to purchase necessities like groceries and gasoline, utilities, etc., and pay them off every month. I save myself finance charges and consistently build my credit.

My cash assets were in CDs and savings accounts. I took advantage of a company-matched 401(K) and maximized my IRA, which allowed me to save a sizable amount to put in my personal savings or invest in my fixed-income securities. My grandfather was also wise enough to leave me money as a beneficiary of his life insurance policy. This allowed me to collect the full amount of my benefits without taxes or fees incurring. This is a part of the money I invested in my portfolio.

By the time I retired, my portfolio remained diversified, but reflected a shift in dynamics to roughly 20% in the exchanges, 45% in fixed-income securities, and the rest in cash. I was able to live in retirement instead of having to work to supplement it.


The Coolest Summer Camps in The U.S.A

group of kids shouting or singing with cupped hands

Looking for something new and exciting for the kids to do this summer? Prepare for an amazing experience this summer at one of these intensive summer camps; from thrill rides to animal encounters and even a Major League Baseball experience, these are some of the best camps in the country.

8 of the Coolest Summer Camps in (and Near) the U.S.A.

Animation Camp at the Walt Disney Family Museum

Kids from age 8 -18 can learn about working in animation, from paper to screen at this delightful camp by the movie studio that started it all. Not a theme park, the Walt Disney Family Museum camp focuses on educating kids and teaching the ins and outs of animating. Depending on their age group, kids can learn to create their own short film, track the making of an animated movie from the initial sketch to the screen or learn about the artwork that goes into making an animated classic. Costs for these one week programs depend on the age group and program chosen, and range from $300 per young child to $900 for older teens.


Summer Camp at the San Diego Zoo

Kids from 1st to 12th grade can enjoy a diverse group of educational experiences at one of the top zoos in the world each summer. Programs focus on animal, their behaviors and habitats and instill a love of animals and learning that will last a lifetime.  Topics at Zoo Camp this year include Animal Outlaws, Backstage at the Zoo and Epic Survival of the Fittest.Each camp runs for a full week and  rates begin at $229 per student.


Space Camp at Kennedy Space Center

Learn about engineering and the marvels of outer space at this NASA approved STEM camp at Kennedy Space Center. Kids will learn about the rockets, robots and space stations that power our knowledge of the universe and get to explore everything the center has to offer. This weeklong camp is offered each summer and designed to develop interest in engineering, math and problem solving and is for grades 2-11. Tuition for Space Camp is $295 per child per week; this rate does not include tax.

Summer Explosives Camp at Missouri Science and Technology

Blowing things up – the right way. At this one of a kind camp experience, kids will learn all about explosions and safety. Designed with a strong STEM and safety focus, this unique Missouri S&T experience culminates in a student run fireworks display. Explosives Camp is a one of a kind program with a competitive entry process; once a student is accepted, the tuition is $1,400 per week, which includes room and board.


Fiji Shark Studies Camp by Broadreach

This camp combines the best of international travel with hands on learning about sharks and sea creatures. Designed for high school students, this once in a lifetime experience focuses on sharks and includes dives and research. Broadreach offers a variety of other summer camp programs, including some for families and adults. Ready to dive with the sharks? Expect to pay about $6,400 for the 24 day experience per camper; this camp offers optional school credit if desired.


Thrill Coaster Tours

This camp on wheels puts campers on board a luxury bus en route to some of the country’s best roller coaster rides. Thrill Coaster is offering two camp options this summer, each features a different itinerary and different coasters – both programs are all inclusive and include everything needed for a memorable and thrilling camp experience. Expect to pay from $1300 – $2995 per week, depending on your itinerary and how early you register; this all inclusive trip includes hotels, meals and extras, too.

A Thrill Coaster camp includes a stop in Busch Gardens in Williamsburg Virginia, shown here;


Residential Summer Camp at Sea World Orlando

Summer camps at Sea World offer kids from 7th through 12th grade the chance to interact with animals, learn about veterinary care and animal careers. These unique camps help kids develop a love of learning and cultivate an interest in zoo keeping and animal care as a career. While this camp is in Orlando, SeaWorld offers a similar program at each of its locations. Prices for residential SeaWorld camp begin at $1.200 per camper; register early to be sure to secure a place in this popular camp.

Sea World media room image – camp brochure;

Summer Baseball Camps with the Boston Red Sox

This major league team sponsored camp features an array of exciting baseball themed activities for kids of all ages; you don’t have to be a great player to attend, just have a love for the game. Each session features behind the scenes tours, field trips and even a kid’s sized uniform to wear each day. The camp focuses on teamwork and the essentials of sportsman (or –woman)ship and the love of baseball. Expect to pay $559 per camper for the Red Sox experience; there are several weeks and packages to choose from.

RedSox camp photos for the press;



Three Hurdles Every New Business Must Face


90% of new businesses fail within the first five years. Contrary to what you may believe, most of the failures are not because of faulty products.

The reasons that many businesses fail have to do with a host of other issues, hurdles that every new business must face. Here are a few of those issues spelled out and how your company can face those challenges successfully.

Budgeting properly for the initial advertising campaigns

Your initial ad campaigns may not bring in the money to make your company solvent. This is not something to be afraid of; on Silicon Valley, this is par for the course.

It is expected that successful companies will require many rounds of funding in order to get into the black. Amazon has yet to turn a profit!

The initial ad campaigns are to raise awareness and create buzz for the brand. The challenge is to keep the business afloat while there is no money coming in. This requires a good relationship with your banker or other investors. It also requires proper budgeting that lowers your cost per conversion.

Keep budgets low, but let your financial partners know exactly what you need. Planning is more important than being cheap for no reason.

Finding the right partnerships

Unless you are doing all of your manufacturing, post-production, marketing and distribution in house, you will need other partnerships in order to make your business successful.

Finding the right partners can be just as challenging as coming up with the initial idea for your business. You may have to go through a few bad eggs before you find the people whom you can really trust.

You will need to do a great deal of research into the backgrounds of businesses that you need. You also need to ignore the solicitations of businesses that you do not need.

As soon as word hits the street that you have a line of credit with a reputable financial institution, there will be a line of businesses who will be trying to take that money from you. Say no three times as much as you say yes – this is the general rule of creating partnerships for yourself.

Creating the proper infrastructure

Perhaps the most important aspect of your business in its initial stages is finding the right team. You will need a management team that sticks through the tough times.

You will need a technical team that can handle being overloaded with work. You will need an administrative team that can organize files and financial records. For most small business startups, these three aspects of business will all fall on the same heads.

In short, you need people who are willing to give up outside activities and lots of sleep in order to handle all of the monotonous aspects of a new business. These people will also need to work incredibly well together, as they will be spending a great deal of time in the same room if the business is to work.

There will need to be decisions made on financing, taxes, hardware, health insurance, marketing, promotion and everything else that a business needs in order to operate.

Tame the Paper Chase Before You Drown in Paperwork


By MJ Plaster

Back in the 20th century, they promised us a paperless life. Can I get an LOL? Below you’ll find a complete guide to storing important papers and documents. Reading this and working through it will make watching paint dry an exciting alternative, but you know you need to get your papers organized, and I’m giving you a roadmap to do it–NOW.

Don’t leave home without them

Keep the following documents with you as indicated:

  • State-issued ID – Keep your photo driver’s license or state-issued photo ID on you at all times. Sometimes you can run into trouble with authorities for “walking/breathing without ID” even though there’s no law requiring you to carry ID at all times.
  • Gun permit – To carry a gun without a permit is insane and can get you killed.
  • Medical insurance/list of prescription drugs – Keep your medical insurance and drug prescription discount cards and a list of all currently prescribed drugs next to your insurance cards in your wallet. Note any drug allergies on the list of prescribed drugs. Dr. Welby doesn’t meet you at the hospital, so you have to act proactively.
  • One credit card, one bank ATM card and one check You don’t need to bring a truckload of credit cards, and if you need more than one check, plan ahead and bring only what you need. It’s a good idea to keep cards and checks separate from your wallet.
  • Important phone numbers – Keep a printed list in your wallet and a spare in your glove compartment (in case your wallet is stolen). If your phone is inoperable, you won’t be able to access your stored numbers. In addition to your doctor, lawyer, family, neighbors and friends, include numbers for your bank and credit card issuers.

Auto documents

  • Registration – In your glove compartment.
  • Auto insurance card – In your wallet, not your glove compartment. Your car could be gone for hours before you realize it’s stolen. What better way to give the middle finger to a fleeing auto thief if he or she is pulled over and can’t produce the insurance card!
  • Title –Store your car title away from your car.

Infrequently used IDs and documents

Keep originals of these documents in a safe place.

  • Birth certificate – You will need this when you least expect it, so keep a copy of your state’s latest version. Those old white on black birth certificates are no longer valid.
  • Voter registration card – You can’t vote in person without it. You’ll get a provisional ballot, but do you think those are counted?
  • Passport/passport card – The card allows you to enter Mexico, Canada Bermuda and the Caribbean. You’ll need the full passport to travel abroad. Make a color copy, keep the real thing in the hotel safe and keep the Memorex version on your person whenever you leave the hotel. Do not let the hotel desk personnel keep it. Never store documents, cash, etc., in a backpack while traveling. Pickpockets are notorious for robbing backpacks while you’re wearing them.
  • Death certificates (your parents’ or spouse’s) – Order extra copies from the state, not the funeral home. Extra death certificates are a profit center for funeral homes.
  • Personal documents – Keep original and official copies of adoption papers, marriage licenses, divorce decrees. Keep an electronic copy of baptismal certificates.

Home documents

  • House deed and real estate sale documentation – Keep original and electronic copies.
  • Homeowners’/renters’ insurance – Scan into a PDF and run through OCR to make the PDF searchable. When you have a claim, you can find everything you need without reading the entire document.
  • Flood/earthquake insurance, etc. – Same as above.
  • Warranties – Original and electronic copies.
  • User manuals – Keep all major and minor appliance guides together and easily accessible. Keep computer and small device guides together but separate from appliance guides.
  • Home inventory and photos – Electronic copy.

Financial instruments and documents

  • Cash – Keep a stash of emergency cash on hand and well hidden. You might stash a few Franklins and a spare key in a small OTC medicine bottle, place the bottle in a zipper bag and bury it in a planter or in the garden under a rock.
  • Checkbook and checks – Except for the emergency check in your wallet, keep the rest hidden at home.
  • Stock certificates (Yes, they’re still out there) – Under lock and key. Copies are worthless, and you have the only proof that you own the stock.
  • Bank and investment statements – Electronic copies.
  • Loan documents – Electronic copies.
  • Life Insurance and annuity policies and statements/pre-paid funeral policies, etc. – Keep electronic copies of policies and last statements.
  • Tax forms and receipts– Electronic copies.

Business and miscellaneous

For each of the following, store the originals in a safe place, and keep electronic copies indefinitely.

  • Articles of Incorporation/DBAs
  • Contracts
  • Court orders

Directives and estate planning

Keep the following until they are no longer valid. Give a copy of all of these to your attorney, and file a copy of any advance directives with your doctors and hospital. All of these documents except the powers of attorney are DO-ITNOW homework. You don’t need a lawyer; you can do it for a small fee at LegalZoom, or you might find your state’s documents online.

  • Powers of attorney (POA) — You’ll need to file many copies of powers of attorney to interact on behalf of the individual you represent—with banks and financial institutions, utilities, and doctors and hospitals. My father’s hospital required a copy of the POA even before they would accept payment.
  • Advance directives (living wills/health powers of attorney) – The designated agent makes health decisions once the person is no longer able to make these decision and/or in the event of a temporary incapacitation. Everyone needs an advanced directive because you don’t want the doctors, hospital administrators or the state making these decisions for you.
  • Wills and trusts – Give a copy of the will to your executor. If you don’t want the executor and/or heirs to know what’s in the will, give a copy to a trusted friend. Give a copy of trust papers to the trustee and/or alternate trustee.

What’s a Safe Place?

Identity theft is a blossoming business model, and in an economy with few viable business models, it’s big business. Just as you want to make your home unattractive to thieves, you want to make finding important documents an unattractive proposition.

Bank safety deposit boxes are available only during banking hours, and boxes are sealed upon the owner’s death—even if the box belongs to your spouse. And what if a bank holiday is declared? It happened during the Great Depression. Don’t make this mistake.

Some people bolt a safe to the floor. Some people bolt two safes to the floor—one for the thieves with junk and one for themselves with the real stash and well hidden.

A small lockbox is a terrible storage spot for valuable papers because thieves won’t waste time opening it. They’ll assume valuables are in it and grab it.

Keep electronic copies on an encrypted thumb drive, and you’re grab-and-go ready in case you have to make a hasty departure. Don’t keep identity information in the cloud. It defeats the whole purpose of this exercise.

Save A Bundle On Your Kid’s Extra Curricular Activities: 9 Clever Tips


Sports and extracurricular activities can enhance your child’s education in many ways – from teaching valuable lessons about teamwork and sportsmanship to boosting problem solving and communication skills. While extracurricular activities add plenty of variety to your child’s schedule, they can get expensive. We’ve gathered a collection of great ideas designed to help you save on sports, lessons and activities – so you won’t have to make tough decisions or miss out on the fun of extracurricular programming.

Group of children having fun together in the park

If you have a skill, teach a class or program or own a business you may be able to barter with the individual or group offering the activity. Offer the drama class free sewing in exchange for lessons, provide update the business or group website in exchange for free or reduced lessons for a season.

Register Early:

Many teams and activities offer a reduced price for early birds – the team benefits by quickly filling up their season roster and you get the benefit of added savings. Review flyers or ads as soon as they arrive and make sure you sign up for mailing lists; you’ll get early notification of classes, and hopefully spot some great Early Bird specials, too.

Follow on Social Media

If the organization offering classes or programming has an online presence on Facebook or Twitter, make sure you follow them. Some businesses offer discounts to subscribers or followers only – so if you don’t follow, you may miss out on a deal when it is time to register for an activity.

Sign up as a Group and Save

If you have more than one child, ask for a discount on the second (or third, or fourth) child’s fees. In some cases, you may be able to pay a single family registration fee or pay a reduced amount for the youngest child.

Even if you only have a few kids in your family, joining up with a few other families could give you enough participants for a group discount. Some programs offer a discount to groups over a set number; don’t be shy about asking for a bulk discount and then recruiting other money savvy parents.

Scouting Discounts

Many programs offer discounts to Boy and Girl Scouts; these can be a considerable savings when compared to the regular prices. If you are already a scouting family, make sure you inquire about discounts before you register on your own.

Visit the Library

Your local library won’t be much help with sporting activities, but most offer comprehensive activities and programs for kids, from Lego classes to chess clubs. Sign up for your library’s mailing list and pre-register for classes that interest you; most libraries offer classes and clubs free or charge or for a minimal fee.

Shop Around

Check a variety of locations to find the best rates for the activities your children are interested in. Your local public school, community center or YMCA may all offer swimming lessons or baseball at different rates, so be aware of each program and choose the one that suits your family and your budget best.

Count the Entire Cost

The money you pay to participate in an activity may not be the only cost; make sure you are prepared for equipment and related costs. Purchasing some items second hand can help you save; gently used sports equipment can often be found at a significant discount at consignment or sports resale stores.


If you can, volunteer as an assistant or parent helper for your child’s team. Many organizations offer discounts for parents who commit to helping out on a regular weekly schedule. You’ll get the added bonus of meeting your child’s teammates and spending extra time with the group, too.

Three Small Changes That Can Make A Big Difference For Your Business

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If you are running a small business, then you are always looking for ways to save a bit of money. There are many small habits that can help you to create more leverage for your business if you look hard enough.

Here are some small business spending habits that you can take advantage of to save money for your company.

Any spending that is in the short term is potentially harmful.

If you are not investing in the long term aspects of your business, then you are harming your bottom line. There are many different ways that you can take advantage of the notion of investing to give yourself a leg up in the marketplace.

Start by investing in the niceties of your office. You can save yourself and your employees thousands of dollars per year as well as plenty of manhours if you simply buy a espresso machine.

This will keep your employees in the office during break time, creating more inter-office bonds and raising productivity – no one has to go anywhere for their next cup of coffee. They can stay, continue to discuss business strategy, and keep their ideas coming in continuance.

Make sure that your interior design is conducive to productive team based thinking and synergy.

As the business owner, you have the ability and the responsibility to create an environment that is geared towards group thought and camaraderie.

One of the easiest ways that you can do this is to arrange the furniture so that people can easily find and speak to each other about ideas that they have come up with. You can also create a group room that will allow ideas to grow as they are created by individuals that are in your company.

If you are not the boss, then you should ask for an environment like this. The best companies in the world create environments like this for their employees. Tell your bosses to look up companies such as Google and Apple to see the things that they do for their employees that are done in literally no other companies around the entire world.

These changes are not expensive; they simply require remodeling for the benefit of the employees. They can also save the average business a great deal of money in solutions that do not work when it comes to bringing people together inside the company.

Consider virtual solutions rather than hardware solutions in order to save money.

Many of the most competitive companies around the globe have based their cost curve on having a virtual office rather than an office that is full of hardware that breaks down and is always in need of protection. The virtual office spreads the responsibility of security and maintenance around to larger companies who are much better equipped to handle the burden.

Putting your information in the cloud is a good start. Instead of having to rely on hardware options that can break down at any time, you gain the cutting edge solutions of the cloud that will give you more leverage to invest in true research and development rather than in safety and maintenance of your ideas.

Photo: Mick Baker / CC 2.0

6 Ways Baby Boomers Are Spending Their Kid’s Inheritance

Elderly woman wearing glamorous mask

By MJ Plaster

Today’s seniors have given the brushoff to “the home.” They’re too busy packing their bags for a vacation. According to The LA Times, many seniors place more importance on travel than leaving an inheritance to their children. (Say it ain’t so!) According to an AARP study, Baby Boomers will take 4–5 trips in 2015, so let’s look at some fun vacation ideas for seniors.

Rolling on the River

If you’ve taken a cruise, you likely loved it or hated it, but have you taken a cruise to Alaska or cruised down a river? These aren’t your typical sun ‘n’ fun cruises. A cruise to Alaska brings the natural beauty of the wilderness close enough to reach out and touch.

In the United States, passengers can meander down the Mississippi, Hudson and Snake Rivers. With smaller ships, you can easily strike up friendships with fellow cruisers. Can you think of a better way to catch the kaleidoscope of changing leaves as summer turns to autumn while making new friends?

If you’re a Downton Abbey fan, you’ve seen the breathtaking views in the sponsored European Viking River Cruises segments at the end of each episode. I have friends who wouldn’t dream of taking a cruise on another ocean liner once they had their first taste of a river cruise—which has become an annual affair for them. They love visiting different European capitals without the hassle of arranging transportation and changing hotels every few days. They say it’s the best way to see Eastern Europe and that the scenery is the best they’ve ever seen—much of it while nursing cocktails on their private balcony.

Dance the Night Away

Are you a solo traveler who happens to be a great dancer? Because women statistically outlive men, the cruise lines need dance partners for their single women. If you’re over 40, sociable and a Fred Astaire-in-waiting, you’re ripe for the picking; the cruise lines need you. In exchange for dancing the night away and mingling by day, you can earn a free or nearly free cruise and sail away to exotic ports of call on the cruise line’s dime. While “gentlemen dancers” have been a mainstay of the cruise line’s social scene, Crystal Cruises is just beginning to employ female dance partners on their transatlantic cruises.

Travelicious Vacations

Want to learn one of the secrets to unlocking the mysteries of foreign lands? Food is the window into the soul of a culture. In societies that shun fast foods, shop daily and prepare food for family meals, their lives revolve around food. You can learn how to reproduce some of your destination’s classic dishes when you book a domestic or international cooking vacation. Visit US News, USA Today and to see some of the many options for bringing home the ultimate souvenir—one that lasts a lifetime—the ability to show off classic dishes from tapas to spring rolls to your family, neighbors and friends.

What Have You Learned Today?

Maybe you weren’t a Rhodes scholar, but you can be a Roads Scholar. At this stage, who’s going to ask for your transcripts? RoadScholar offers a huge selection of educational travel opportunities for seniors across the globe, and the nonprofit offers more than 300 Enrichment Grants annually to allow lifelong learners without the means to participate in one of their learning adventures.

If you’ve always wanted to learn a second language, you no longer have to settle for “menu-qualified.” Take a total immersion language vacation, and come home speaking the language—maybe not perfectly, but far better than most people could teach themselves. You’ll also learn about the culture, explore the sounds and sites, and sample the delicacies of your destination. You’ll gain the experience of living the culture rather than just popping in for a visit.

Adventure Travel

Seniors are no longer content to lounge around the pool with a piña colada in one hand and a beach book in the other—with the roar or the ocean competing with the sound of the mariachi band—for a solid week. If you’re healthy and fit, you can join a safari, swim with the dolphins, kayak, parasail, or trek the Silk Road by camel. Begin your exploration by checking out these sites that cater to seniors in search of an adventure: RowAdventures, ElderTreks and ElderTrav.

Luck Be a Lady

If you “know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,” Las Vegas is calling your name. No longer exclusively the land of the “all you can buffet,” Las Vegas is “Celebrity Chef Central,” with restaurants serving up food for the eyes as well as the taste buds. You’ll see some of the best entertainment east of Southern California. Catch headliners such as Jay Leno, Rod Stewart, Celine Dion, David Copperfield, Penn and Teller, a tribute to the Bee Gees and many more. Only 300 miles from L.A., Las Vegas is easy to reach by car, bus or air—a great destination for a group of fun-loving friends. Feeling lucky but can’t get to Las Vegas? Check out this list of casinos for one near you.

For more vacation and getaway ideas, look into weekend getaways and volunteer vacations.

Travel the World with a Purpose: Vacation While You Volunteer


                                                    Team of volunteers gardening together on a sunny day


Seeing the world is on most bucket lists, as is doing good. With trips that combine both vacationing and volunteering, you can achieve these goals in one fell swoop, saving money and conserving your precious time off. Whether you choose to teach English in Asia or build homes in the Caribbean, take part in disaster relief in Nepal or share your medical expertise in Africa, volunteer vacations allow you to soak up another culture while giving back to the human race.

Common Misconceptions

Before we get started on the nitty-gritty of how, where and when you can volunteer, it will be helpful to clear up a few misconceptions. The first is that volunteer vacations are long-term assignments. In reality, however, they usually only last a few weeks to a few months.

The second is that you will be paid to travel. Usually that’s not the case; instead, you pay for your own ticket, and often room, board and transportation. As these are things you pay for on vacation anyway, however, most people aren’t put off by this and still choose to take the trip.

Types of Volunteering

Depending on your background and expertise, you will find many types of volunteer positions to suit your interests. If you are an architect, for instance, you might find Habitats for Humanity to be up your alley. With this international organization you can travel to countries as far-flung as Jordan, Malawi, Tajikistan and Paraguay, and several states.

Although organizations such as Doctors Without Borders have many full-time employment positions, those looking to make a shorter stint can also volunteer with them. Don’t feel left out, nurses: you can join Nurses Without Borders.

Is helping wildlife more your speed? You should check out the global sea turtle volunteering job board, with opportunities to work in coastal locations throughout the world protecting this rare species. A huge range of other opportunities exists, from teaching English to repairing park trails to farming organically in other countries. Run an online search with your interest and the words “volunteer vacation” and you’ll get some great ideas.

How to Get the “Job”

In order to land the opportunity, simply follow the instructions for sending in your application well ahead of the deadline. Most places will tell you when you’ll here back, but if you do not you can follow up. Normally you will not need to because humanitarian and environmental organizations are often so short-staffed and happy to have volunteers that they will take you up on your offer right away.

Setting Up Your Trip

Like any vacation, you’ll need to buy your ticket as well as set up room and board. Although some volunteer organizations offer food and lodging, few pay for your ticket too, but you can find budget tickets on sites like Expedia or Kayak.

Some opportunities, such as World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, do pay for your room and board in exchange for work. Others, like Conservation Volunteers, can set you up with a weeklong stay for a minimal fee (around $100). Do your research to see who will compensate you for your volunteer work. If you are interested in a more local volunteer experience, you can always try Workaway, a site that sets up host families with volunteers who work for that family for a few hours each day. This is a great way to see more of the place you’re visiting, because you have much more free time.

Well before you plan to leave, order your passport and ensure all your information is correct. Buy traveler’s insurance and alert your bank that you will be traveling abroad so they will not shut down your credit cards.

Countries in Which to Vacation/Volunteer

Although the list of countries in which you can vacation and volunteer is numerous, the majority of opportunities are in underserved countries along the equator, in South America, Asia and Africa. You can travel to several parts of Europe and North America as well, however, and many options also exist in New Zealand and Australia.

When combining vacationing and volunteering, it’s important to still have some fun! You can either set time aside for pure vacationing before or after you volunteer, or you can choose a volunteer opportunity that leaves you enough time during the day to see the sights. Whichever way you do it, have a blast and enjoy doing good in the world!