The Best Travel Apps

When planning a trip, technology can relieve a lot of the stress that comes with the organization, planning, and actual travel. Many travelers already have some apps to assist them like Google Maps and Facebook, but there are some other apps available to make travel a breeze.

Flight Apps

Finding the best flight can be tricky, and there are a plethora of websites that all claim to give the best deal. Even on your phone, you can find free apps like Hopper that allow users to compare flights and save.

These apps work by comparing many airlines and different flights using artificial intelligence. That means a trip may start with Frontier and return with Allegiant Airlines, but the savings are for the consumer.

Lodging Apps

Modern travels have many options besides traditional hotels for lodging. Apps like VRBO and Airbnb have dominated the market by offering homeowners the ability to provide their own houses for guests. Apps like these or HotelTonight are a great way to find cheap lodging on spontaneous vacations or long-planned getaways.

Organization

TripIt, Roadtrippers, and PackPoint are all apps designed to take the hassle out of planning trips. From making sure luggage has all the necessities to plotting pit stops or bathroom breaks, these apps are handy tools built for travel. Users can upload specific dates and times to calendar sections, and even create helpful lists of places to visit and restaurants to enjoy.

Some apps require subscriptions, but the alternative of planning makes their small fee much more manageable.

Translation

Before the age of smartphones, a personal translator would have to be hired to make sure a Spanish backpacking trip went smoothly. Apps like Google Translate have eliminated that.

With the flick of a finger, the hundreds of languages can be translated with minimal difficulty. This means the days of struggling with translation books are over. And for those headed overseas, this app is a must.

In the age of smartphones, the traveler has many more tools at their disposal to make vacations run like clockwork. From planning to flying and lodging, there truly is an app for that.

The Importance of Changing Your Workout Routine

Exercise has numerous health benefits for those who do it consistently. What may not be as obvious is why varying workout routines are just as important and beneficial for getting the optimum results.

Here are some reasons to change up a workout routine:

Overcome Weight-Loss Plateaus

When doing the same exercises, the body has a habit of getting used to them. This translates to not working as hard or burning as many calories. Then results become minimal or nonexistent. Consistency in exercise is integral. Variety also helps get the best results.

Avoid Overuse Injury

If the same muscles are used daily in the same way, they may get a condition called “overuse injury”. Repetitive motions are quite taxing on the body. Changing up the workout routine to ensure different exercises and motions are used is a way to avoid repetitive injury and strain.

Work New Muscles

Another important reason to change up a workout routine is that it gives the opportunity to build a variety of muscles, instead of the same ones. Gaining muscle and strength throughout the body is the best outcome. To do that, all areas need to be used and worked equally.

Avoid Boredom

Exercise is much like any other task. If it’s the same routine over and over, it tends to become more of a chore for the person doing it. When the routine has variety and includes different challenges and experiences, it never reaches the stage of becoming a chore. It’s always exciting and something to look forward to.

Maintain Brain Health

Exercising the body can help with brain health. Learning new skills and challenging the body in various ways keeps the brain working well. Choosing workout routines that engage the mind as well as the body is ideal.

Meet New People

Finding new places and ways to work out gives opportunities to meet people to work out with. Taking yoga, tai chi, running classes, or other workout get-togethers can introduce people who will encourage each other’s progress.

Keep Motivation

If a person isn’t consistent with exercise, they might be more likely to give it up altogether. New, exciting exercise options can help alleviate that lack of motivation.

5 Tips for Group Travel

As fun as traveling with our friends and family may be, it also can be very stressful. Having more people means having more opinions, more personalities, and more conflicting interests. It’s important to make sure that everyone going on the trip has a meaningful experience. Here are a few tips to help you meet the needs of every person in your group.

Communicate

It’s important that each person in the group is heard. You may need to ask and answer tough questions (e.g. how much each person is willing to spend or what each person wants to do most). Be sure there is an open dialogue between each member of your party in person.

Organize Logistics

While you’re communicating, make sure everyone is on the same page. It may be helpful to create an itinerary describing how everyone will get to the destination, where they will each be staying, when they will all meet up, etc. Make it clear if travel will be booked individually or if someone will do it for everyone in the group.

Manage Money

If your group plans to split expenses, discuss up front how things will be paid for. Decide if one person will pay for everything or if receipts will be added up at the end. Figure out how expenses will be tracked and how they can be handled fairly. Remember that some people may want to buy their own food if they are trying to be cost conscious.

Group and Individual Activities

Though you will be traveling with others, it’s okay for party members to do activities separately. Figure out what the entire group wants to do together, but also designate some things to do on your own. If you like to be the boss, you can take ownership of planning an activity by making all the arrangements and saying others are welcome to join you. Focus on what things are most important to you and to the whole group.

Compromise

Depending on how large your group is, it may be hard to please everyone. Remember to be flexible and willing to compromise.

To learn other tips and tricks to group travel, check out this post by Round the World Girl or this article on SmarterTravel.com.

Foods to Try in 2020

We saw so many food trends in 2019 that it is hard to believe there will be even more in 2020. 2019 was admittedly exciting for foodies. No one was spared of the constant social media posts of great plates of food. But things are going beyond plant-based burgers, bone broth, and sriracha everything. There are 5 interesting food trends to seek out in 2020.

Coconut Aminos

Soy sauce is a staple in most households. It is brewed from soybeans and wheat. Many have food sensitivities to both. You can find wheat free soy sauces that go by the names of tamari and liquid aminos.

There is an alternative that has been around for awhile that tastes like soy sauce and has no wheat or soy. This is called coconut aminos. While one product has been around for a few years, several companies are now making their own versions, making it more affordable.

Coconut aminos taste like mildly sweet soy sauce. It can be used just like soy sauce in stir fry dishes and sushi. It also makes for a great teriyaki sauce without all the sugar that is in teriyaki.

Plant-Based “Seafood”

You might be wondering why anyone would want to eat imitation seafood. Consider that much of the oceans are being depleted of essential fish species necessary for the health of our ecosystem. In addition, much of our seafood is contaminated with mercury. No one wants to deplete the oceans or eat poison.

If you enjoy the taste of fish, try plant-based seafood. Most of these are made with legumes and algal oil that is high in the omega-3 fatty acids that fish is a good source of. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for cardiovascular and brain health.

Tiger Nut Flour

Tiger nuts are tiny, pea shaped tubers that can be eaten like nuts, cooked like beans, or added to granola. These are naturally gluten-free. You can now find tiger nut flour online and in natural foods markets. This flour is a great substitute for grain based flours. This works well with the Whole 30, Paleo, and Keto diets.

Local Meal Delivery Kits

There has been a recent boom in meal delivery services. These used to be limited to prepared meals that you heated up in your microwave. A few companies ventured into the delivery of kits that include measured out ingredients and detailed instructions for you to cook a gourmet meal at home. These are convenient and often include high quality foods.

This year we are already seeing an upsurge in the number of companies putting together meal delivery kits. Many of these give you the option of choosing meals designed for specialty diets and allergies. The newest players in this market are what are called local meal delivery kits where smaller providers have partnered with local farms to source ingredients. Delivery is generally limited to a specific area to ensure freshness.

Vegan Scrambled Eggs

The best thing to come to market recently is a liquid egg alternative that scrambles just like eggs and even tastes like eggs. If you are vegan, concerned about cholesterol, or have an egg allergy, this might be a good option to scrambling crumbled tofu.

The “eggs” come in small pourable bottles that resemble mustard. The reason they are small is because these mung bean based eggs have a short shelf-life and should be used within 7 days. You can find them in the refrigerated section of your natural foods and specialty markets.

Workouts to Try in 2020

The “New Year, New Me” mentality is everywhere. Unfortunately, many people will sign up for a boring, run-of-the-mill gym membership and find themselves in a mundane workout cycle. A fitness routine that isn’t any fun is usually one that doesn’t stick around for long. Avoid the same, tired old routine! A new decade is a chance to get in shape and try new things. Knock out two birds with one stone by trying one of these exciting workouts.

Meditation

Yes, meditation is a workout! It may not burn a thousand calories, but it greatly improves overall health. This workout doesn’t require any equipment and can be done almost anywhere. Sitting in meditation during a class or in solitude re-centers mindfulness, reduces stress, and increases attention span. Focus on breathing and observing without thought or judgment of any kind. It is more difficult than it appears!

Classes

It doesn’t matter what type of fitness class is chosen. Just being around other people, participating as part of a group, is a great motivator. Classes have risen in popularity, especially in larger cities. Fitness enthusiasts can now choose from a wide range of classes like spinning, treadmill running, yoga, dance, and pilates to spice up their exercise routine.

Trampoline

Childhood memories come rushing back. Trampolines aren’t just for kids. Jumping on a mini-trampoline is a fantastic way to reduce impact on joints while getting an excellent cardio workout. Incorporate number two on this list as well by taking a trampoline class!

Try a Workout at Home

The thought of getting out of bed, getting dressed, trudging out to the car, and driving to the gym is often what stops most people from a good workout. Luckily, exercise is more accessible than ever in the twenty-first century. Leaving home isn’t necessary anymore. Find a workout video on YouTube, purchase a personal gym, or try some simple weight exercises with items found around the home.

Say Goodbye to the Comfort Zone

For those who are really up for trying something new, be adventurous! Think “out of the box” when it comes to exercise. Try rock-climbing, rowing, horseback riding, or aerial fitness! Exercise doesn’t have to happen in a traditional way.

The Benefits of Group Fitness

Group fitness is an excellent way to begin your fitness journey to a healthier, happier you. With today’s busy lifestyle, staying healthy is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Getting and staying in shape, eating a healthy nutritious diet, and maintaining a consistent pattern of sleep is vitally important to maintaining good health. Participating in group fitness classes is an excellent way to accomplish these goals.

Fitness Journey

Starting a fitness journey can be an overwhelming task. It can include finding a diet plan, finding an exercise plan, learning how to implement these plans, and staying motivated enough to follow through and reach the results. While joining a gym can be helpful, participating in a group fitness class can make all of the difference in how the journey to a healthier you begins and ends.

Accountability

Attending a fitness class will force you to feel obligated to your classmates, instructor, and yourself to attend class routinely.

Guidance and Structure

The fitness instructor will plan the exercise routine daily and show you proper form and safe handling of exercise equipment. The routine will include a warm-up period, work-out period, and cool-down period. Often exercise instructors will be able to recommend diet or nutrition programs for you to consider.

Inspiration and Motivation

Getting in shape with a classroom of peers will allow you to make connections and motivate you to inspire your classmates as well as yourself. The fitness instructor will also keep you motivated during the class and continue to give and receive feedback so that she can help personalize your health journey.

Social Advantages

Joining a group fitness class will allow you to make connections with others that are on a health journey also. These friendships and connections can last a lifetime. It is a well-researched fact that exercise makes you feel good and look good giving you the confidence to conquer the world.

The benefits of group fitness can be monumental in reaching your health and fitness goals. It can allow you to create and maintain new friendships, promote feelings of belonging, and improve self-confidence. Fitness can improve your overall health, strengthen muscles and bones, and improve mental health.

5 Tips to Break Your Bad Eating Habits

Breaking bad eating habits is about far more than dropping pounds and getting a leaner and more streamlined physique. Limiting sugar and targeting fresh, nutrient-dense foods can be essential for protecting your overall health. With the right eating habits, it’s possible avoid a number of diet-related problems such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and more. Following are five easy and effective strategies for improving daily eating habits without feeling deprived.

Clean Out and Reorganize Your Pantry

Eating better won’t be easy if you’re constantly having to bypass a lot of unhealthy convenience foods. This is especially true if these are currently your favorite snacks to reach for. Get rid of empty-calorie treats that don’t provide any real nutritional value. If you must keep these in store for others in your household, try putting them out of reach. You should also line the front of your cabinets with a number of healthy food choices that will curb your hunger in a flash. Consider keeping canisters of roasted nuts in a prominent position along with whole grain snack bars or crackers. Packaged cookies, chips, snack cakes, and candies can be gotten rid of entirely, or stored up high and far in the back. It is also a good idea to keep a large basket of fresh produce in a prominent location.

Change Your Portion Sizes by Choosing Smaller Plates

Surprisingly, serving yourself on smaller plates is an easy and effective way to cut your portions. Numerous studies have shown that people tend to eat less and feel more satisfied when dining on smaller plate sizes that actually look full. Conversely, putting the same amount of food on a bigger plate can leave you feeling deprived. This incredible, visual trick is a great for achieving the calorie deficit that’s necessary for producing weight loss.

Get Smaller Glasses to Stop Drinking Excess Calories

If you’re pouring juice or other high-sugar beverages into large tumblers, you’re probably drinking far more calories than you should. To avoid consuming excess sugar and unnecessary calories, pour these beverages into small, juice glasses instead. Save tumblers and other large-sized vessels for fresh, pure water. When you make water your primary beverage choice, you can quickly shed pounds and achieve optimum levels of hydration.

Meal Prep With a Purpose

Advance meal preparation or meal prep can mean everything in your efforts to eat better. After all, many of the unhealthy eating choices that people typically occur when they’re hungry and lack better options. Keeping sliced vegetables, ready-made salads, grilled lean meats, and other pre-made options on hand is your best bet. When you come home from work, you can use your advance-prepped meals to avoid munching on empty calorie snacks that are packed with excess sugar, salt, and fat.

Know What Your Motivation is

Having clearly defined motives for healthier eating will help you stay on target. Try writing a list of your health goals and priorities, and then keeping this list at hand. Posting copies on the refrigerator and on the cupboard door is an excellent way to remind yourself of why good choices are so important, especially when temptation has just reared its head.

5 Tips to Get Into Running

Running can give you a sense of accomplishment. It allows you to stay in good physical condition, and gives you an opportunity to relieve stress. Even if you’ve never ran before, you can still build up your stamina enough to become a runner. Here are some tips to help you start running for the first time.

Get Support From Other Runners

It’s important that you get support from other runners. They can offer you tips and advice on how to begin running. They can also help you stay motivated along the way. If you don’t know anyone that’s a runner, turn to an online group or message board. Here you can find thousands of different runners that will be more than willing to provide you with support and answer any questions that you have.

Commit to Run on a Consistent Basis

Life can be busy, and it can become too easy to put off running. This is why you need to make a commitment to run on a consistent basis. Even just 20-30 minutes will be beneficial. After you build up your stamina, you can start running for longer periods of time.

Have the Right Gear

It’s difficult to run if you are wearing uncomfortable attire. Get shoes and clothing that’s made for runners. Pay attention to your socks. Many runners have issues with blisters because they wore the wrong socks. Choose a pair that wicks away moisture. Polyester tends to be a good choice.

Make it Fun

You are less likely to want to run if you are feeling bored. Make it fun when you run. Create a playlist of upbeat songs that you can play on you phone. If you don’t enjoy music that much, find a podcast that you can download. If you don’t want to disturb other runners, you should also have a pair of headphones or earbuds. Just make sure that they are comfortable to wear during a run.

Sign up For a Race

If you are new to the running world, you probably aren’t confident enough to run a race yet. However, by signing up for a race, it may give you the motivation that you need in order to succeed. Find a race that is at least 3-4 months away to train for. It should be 5K or less.

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Statistics show that the majority of Americans are overweight. Likewise, obesity is a contributing factor in increased levels of coronary artery disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Unfortunately, many people have a false belief that eating healthy is expensive. While eating fast food may be cheaper in the short term, the long term health effects, and the ensuing health care costs, can be devastating.

Eating healthy does not need to be costly or complicated. Let’s explore a few simple ways you can improve your health, while not breaking the bank.

Cook at Home

Creating your own simple meals from wholesome ingredients is certainly the best way to start eating healthy. Base your cooking on fresh vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. While shopping, read the labels; avoid any products that contain chemicals and artificial ingredients. Likewise, go organic as you can afford it.

Increase Your Intake of Fresh Fruits and Veggies

Incorporating more vegetables and fruits into your everyday diet can be a challenge. However, there are some easy ways to do it; you can easily blend baby spinach and any type of fruit into a smoothie. Likewise, you can add vegetables to your pasta dishes or an omelet. Get into the habit of snacking on fresh fruits. Your body will thank you!

Eat Whole Grains

Whole grains have not been stripped of their bran and germ, ensuring you get a daily dose of fiber. Switch to brown rice rather than white rice, and choose whole-grain bread over white bread. Also, if you suffer from digestive problems, you might look into going gluten free; gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. For some people, gluten can cause health issues. While gluten-free foods are more expensive, they may save you money medically in the long run, if you do have an issue with gluten intolerance.

Increase Your Protein

While a steak may have loads of protein, it also has lots of saturated fat, and it’s expensive. However, there are plenty of non-meat protein sources that are not only healthy, but also inexpensive. Eggs, beans, lentils, and dairy products are also good sources of protein and other nutrients that won’t break the bank.

A few simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference in your health, without breaking the bank.

The Benefits of Using a Travel Agent

30 years ago using a travel agent to book vacations was commonplace. The agent would book flights, arrange hotel reservations, and supply maps and brochures. However, with today’s advanced technology, many people are choosing to book their own trips online without the assistance of a travel agent. Even so, there are still many reasons that using a travel agent is a great idea.

Check out these 6 benefits to using a travel agent when planning a vacation.

Resort Access

Travel agents have access to resources that the average person doesn’t. They can find cheaper plane tickets, upgrade seats, upgrade hotel room amenities, and find great deals on event tickets. Without the use of a travel agent, travelers might not even know that these deals exist.

Convenience

It’s far more convenient to use a travel agent. Finding the cheapest plane tickets and best hotel room deals can be difficult and stressful. Planning a trip itinerary is something that many people just don’t enjoy doing. Why not allow a travel agent to take care of the difficult parts?

Cost

Travel agents can save travelers money. Agents often have access to great deals through supplier relationships, and they are able to pass these deals on to their clients. They can also find hidden savings wherever possible, such as suggesting alternative dates that may be cheaper.

Extra Support

Travelers will have someone to advocate for them if anything goes wrong. Whether it’s bad weather or canceled flights, having to stand in long lines or make dozens of phone calls to resolve an issue while on vacation is every traveler’s worst nightmare. When using a travel agent, they can handle these issues to get the vacation back on track.

Exclusive Travel Deals

 Travel agents have access to exclusive deals that aren’t available otherwise. Many companies have special offers such as exotic tours and private jets that are only available through the use of a travel agent.

Future Travels

Forming a relationship with a travel agent can be beneficial in the future. As an agent forms a strong client relationship, the travel agent can keep an eye out for future deals in destinations that they know their clients will love. Such attentive service is simply unmatched when travelers book vacations on their own.