Tag Archives: travel

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Here Are 16 New Year’s Resolutions For 2016

Happy New Year 2016

This new year, I will ________________.
Fill in the blank. What will you do differently?
Here are 16 New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 to get you started.

1: Be More Positive
Be more positive not just with our words and actions, but also with our own thoughts. Focus on surrounding yourself with positive people, things and experiences. Do what makes you smile and get rid of the things that don’t. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

2: Practice Random Acts of Kindness
“It’s the little things that count.” Instead of saying you will stop doing certain bad habits, focus on the good things you want to do more.

3: Do Something Out of the Ordinary
Step out of your comfort zone, it could give you a thrill of a lifetime! Trying new things can help you not only discover different sides of yourself, but it will help you know what you don’t like. So if you’ve always wanted to try, say, a cooking class and you end up hating it, you can cross that off and move onto the next thing.

4: Read More Books
Because knowledge is power and with great power comes great responsibility. Reading is a great  past time, can help you relax and if you read before bed may even help you fall sleep.

5: Eat Healthier
Trying to tell yourself what you can and can not eat is a difficult task. Rather than attempting to stop yourself from eating all the “bad” foods, try focusing on eating the “good” ones. You could also eat several small meals a day instead of a few large ones. For Example: Instead of eating a bowl of ice cream swap it for a bowl or (frozen) yogurt.

6: Get Fit
Many of us say “I want to loose weight in the new year,” but not all of us follow through with it. Instead of forcing ourselves to go to gym, we could just wake up a few minutes earlier and exercise. That way, it doesn’t seem like a chore.

7: Learn Something New
Have a friend teach you something new and in return help them learn something new. Follow your passions because learning something new should be challenging, fun and exciting.

8: Get More Sleep
There’s the famous “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” quote, but it sneaks up on you if you’re only getting 2-4 hours of sleep. Think of it this way: the more sleep you get, the more energy you have to do the things you want to do!

9: Save More, Spend Less
If your goal in 2016 is the save more and spend less, then the 52-week money challenge is perfect for you. The concept is easy: you start with $1 in the first week, and then every week, you’ll put away an extra dollar (week 1: $1, Week 2: $2…. Week 52: $52). Before you know it, you’ll have an extra $1,378 saved up.

10: Less Text, More Talk
Put your phone down and look up. Sometimes, it’s difficult to disconnect from the digital world, but is it worth missing out on those special moments? Learning to be truly present in the moment, not only improves our relationships but also makes us more appreciative to what we do have.

11: Travel
Traveling has a special magic touch. Whether it’s taking a mini getaway or a that big vacation you’ve been saving up for go somewhere you’ve never gone before!

12: Be More Open-Minded
Everyone gets scared, nervous and doubtful at times. Accept it and challenge yourself to be more open-minded to new things, people and experiences that life throws at you. People usually only fear the things that they don’t fully understand? If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask!

13: Volunteer and Give Back to your Community
The beautiful thing about people is how much of a difference one person can make, let alone a group of people all working for the same cause. Once people gather together for something that they believe in, the outcome is incredible.

14: Be More Organized
Whether you want to cut back on clutter, organize your room, recycle and reuse some of your things, everyone needs their own system to get organized. That way if you ever need something, you’re not scrambling trying to look for it.

15: Saying no when you need to  & saying yes when you really should
You don’t have to say yes to everything. If you don’t feel like going to a party, listen to yourself and take a pass. If someone tries to dish out something that isn’t your job at work, tell them no. Just embrace the word “no.”
&
Maybe your friend impulsively suggests a concert, or someone’s had a bad day and needs to go for a drink — whatever the reason, if you feel it would make your or their night, you should do it. In the best case scenario, you’ll get a memory to keep forever; at worst, at least you tried something new!

16: Enjoy the Little Things.
Living life to the fullest doesn’t just mean setting big goals like going bungee jumping or learning to scuba dive. It also includes learning to enjoy the little things. That is, learning to appreciate life’s simple pleasures, such as the following:

  • Going outside at night to look at the stars.
  • Seeing a genuine smile on the face of a person you love.
  • Walking barefoot in the grass.

Holiday Travel Preparation

With the holidays only a few short weeks away, it’s time to get plans for family visits and end of year trips finalized before the busy season is in full swing. Traveling with a disability that requires mobility equipment can quickly become a stressful task if proper accommodations have not been made in advance.  Preparing ahead of time can save you some headaches when it is time to board your plane. Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your upcoming vacations:

  • Be sure to inform your airline if you or someone you are traveling with uses a wheelchair, mobility equipment or will need to bring medical equipment onto the aircraft.
  • Ensure you have refilled prescriptions for any medications you may need throughout the duration of your trip.
  • If you need to rent a car, make these arrangements in advance to guarantee a handicap accessible vehicle.
  • If possible, bring any tools you might need in case you experience any issues with your wheelchair. If you have replacement parts, it might be a good idea to bring these along as well.
  • If your wheelchair must be checked for your flight, make sure to tag it as you would the rest of your luggage. Include your name and contact details, as well as those of your hotel or wherever else you may be staying.
  • Staying somewhere other than home can be a challenge so make sure your hotel or other arrangements are accessible by wheelchair (if necessary) and can otherwise accommodate you.
  • Plan to arrive at the airport as early as possible to ensure you have plenty of time to make your way through security and finalize any special accommodations you might require for your mobility equipment.
  • When booking your flights, know that passengers requiring a wheelchair are generally the first to board and last to leave the plane, meaning that connecting flights with short layovers may become difficult.

Despite having to take select special measures, those living with disabilities should not be apprehensive to fly or travel. Airlines have become more and more accommodating and understanding, making this the perfect time to book a vacation and get back in touch with faraway friends and family.

Holiday Travel Tips

Millions of people will take to the highways, skies, or rails to visit their loved ones over the upcoming holiday. With snow and sleet predicted for many parts of the country this weekend, here are some travel tips to help holiday travelers arrive safely at their destination:

Driving

  • Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Fill your gas tank, check the air pressure in your tires and make sure you have windshield fluid.
  • Buckle up, slow down, don’t drink and drive.
  • Avoid distractions such as cell phones – don’t text and drive.
  • Make frequent stops on long trips. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and rest.
  • If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

Flying and Riding Trains

  • It’s flu season. If you’ve been sick or been in contact with someone who is sick, consider postponing your trip. You could be contagious for a week before symptoms appear.
  • Remember that everything you touch has to be touched by someone else – luggage handlers, etc. Handle your own belongings as much as possible. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with you. You can use them to wash your hands or wipe down surfaces such as armrests.
  • Bring your own pillows and blankets – they can act as a shield against the seat itself.
  • Avoid touching your face or eyes. If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your sleeve.

Travel Tips

  • If you have diabetes or take medication using a syringe, get a signed letter from your doctor  explaining that your syringes are a medical necessity.
  • Know the generic names of your medications so you can replace them if they are lost or stolen. Your medication will have a different brand name in another country.
  • If you have any life-threatening allergies, wear a medical alert bracelet and bring an Epi-pen kit.
  • Travel light. Take only what you need and no more.
  • Make sure your children know their home address and telephone number. Show them where to go if you get separated, and review the procedure for dealing with strangers.
  • Leave the jewelry at home and reduce your risk of getting robbed. The same goes for expensive electronics such as iPods and digital cameras. Buy some disposable cameras to use.
  • Make photocopies of your passports, credit cards and other ID. Leave one copy with a relative at home, and keep another copy separate from your originals.
  • Travel with only one credit card. Bring a combination of traveller’s cheques and cash in small bills (American money is universally accepted). You should be able to use your debit card as long as the machine has the CIRRUS symbol. You will be charged for each transaction. Try to familiarize yourself with the local currency so your first transaction won’t be so confusing.
  • Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses as backup. You don’t want your vacation ruined because you can’t see anything.

Renting A Wheelchair Van

There are 3 key points that everyone looking to rent a wheelchair van should be aware of.

  • Rentals can be delivered – even to airports
    Having your vehicle with you is not always an option. Wheelchair van rentals just may be the right thing to make your travels, business functions, and more, easier.
  • Rentals come in both minivans and full-sized vans
    Wheelchair vans are rented for more reasons than vacation travel. Transportation for bigger chairs or multiple people may facilitate the need for different vans for different situations. Depending on your rental location, you have the option to rent either a full-size van or a mini-van.
  • Rental vehicles can be a good way to find the right vehicle for you
    Test drives are critical for determining what vehicle is right for you, but what if you want to make sure the vehicle will work perfectly for your day-to-day routine? Rent the wheelchair van! Renting different vehicles may help you truly determine what ramp style, vehicle type, or door height will give you the best results for your daily routine.

 

15 New Year’s Resolutions for 2015

This new year, I will ________________.
Fill in the blank. What will you do differently?
Here are 15 New Year’s Resolutions for 2015 to get you started.

1: Learn Something New
Have a friend teach you something new and in return help them learn something new. Follow your passions because learning something new should be challenging, fun and exciting.

2: Eat Healthier
Trying to tell yourself what you can and can not eat is a difficult task. Rather than attempting to stop yourself from eating all the “bad” foods, try focusing on eating the “good” ones. You could also eat several small meals a day instead of a few large ones. For Example: Instead of eating a bowl of ice cream swap it for a bowl or (frozen) yogurt.

3: Get Fit
Many of us say “I want to loose weight in the new year,” but not all of us follow through with it. Instead of forcing ourselves to go to gym, we could just wake up a few minutes earlier and exercise. That way, it doesn’t seem like a chore.

4: Be More Positive
Be more positive not just with our words and actions, but also with our own thoughts. Focus on surrounding yourself with positive people, things and experiences. Do what makes you smile and get rid of the things that don’t. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

5: Practice Random Acts of Kindness
“It’s the little things that count.” Instead of saying you will stop doing certain bad habits, focus on the good things you want to do more.

6: Less Text, More Talk
Put your phone down and look up. Sometimes, it’s difficult to disconnect from the digital world, but is it worth missing out on those special moments? Learning to be truly present in the moment, not only improves our relationships but also makes us more appreciative to what we do have.

7: Travel
Traveling has a special magic touch. Whether it’s taking a mini getaway or a that big vacation you’ve been saving up for go somewhere you’ve never gone before!

8: Do Something Out of the Ordinary
Step out of your comfort zone, it could give you a thrill of a lifetime!

9: Volunteer and Give Back to your Community
The beautiful thing about people is how much of a difference one person can make, let alone a group of people all working for the same cause. Once people gather together for something that they believe in, the outcome is incredible.

10: Be More Open-Minded
Everyone gets scared, nervous and doubtful at times. Accept it and challenge yourself to be more open-minded to new things, people and experiences that life throws at you. People usually only fear the things that they don’t fully understand? If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask!

12: Get More Sleep
There’s the famous “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” quote, but it sneaks up on you if you’re only getting 2-4 hours of sleep. Think of it this way: the more sleep you get, the more energy you have to do the things you want to do!

13: Save More, Spend Less
If your goal in 2015 is the save more and spend less, then the 52-week money challenge is perfect for you. The concept is easy: you start with $1 in the first week, and then every week, you’ll put away an extra dollar (week 1: $1, Week 2: $2…. Week 52: $52). Before you know it, you’ll have an extra $1,378 saved up.

14: Read More Books
Because knowledge is power and with great power comes great responsibility. Reading is a great  past time, can help you relax and if you read before bed may even help you fall sleep.

15: Be More Organized
Whether you want to cut back on clutter, organize your room, recycle and reuse some of your things, everyone needs their own system to get organized. That way if you ever need something, you’re not scrambling trying to look for it.

Holiday Travel Safety Tips

With Christmas and New Year’s swiftly approaching, multitudes of people will be traveling.  AAA predicts 98.6 million Americans will travel this holiday season between December 23, 2014 and January 4, 2015.  The organization also anticipates that 91% will travel by car, truck, or van, 6% will travel by air, and 3% will take a bus or train.  All of this travel traffic can make it treacherous to get around if you are not paying attention.

In addition to the higher risk of traveling during the holidays with the extra people on the road, the weeks before can also be dangerous as many folks are out shopping and may be distracted as the frantically rush around searching for the perfect gifts.

Awareness of the days with the highest number of vehicles on the road and staying alert are extremely important strategies to staying safe while traveling.  Other strategies for staying safe are:

  • Try to travel on days and at times that are not peak travel days and times.  If most people will be traveling Wednesday through Sunday, try to travel Tuesday through Saturday.  Strive to travel early in the day and at times when traffic volume is the lowest.
  • Plan your route around malls, big stores, airports, and major sporting venues to avoid the crowds and congestion.
  • Before a long drive, make sure you get plenty of sleep and have something to eat.
  • Take breaks every few hours, even if you’re not sleepy. Get out and walk around to stretch your legs.  Play Frisbee or catch with the kids.  Have a snack.  It will keep you more alert.
  • Make sure your vehicle is in prime condition before the trip. Change the oil, if needed.  Make sure the fluid levels and gas tank are full and that tires are properly inflated.
  • Share the driving. If you are alone, turn on the music and crack the window to help stay alert.  You may want to use your foot on the gas pedal to control the speed and not the cruise control to keep yourself more vigilant.
  • Make sure everyone is buckled up.
  • Make sure the vehicle is stocked with a map or atlas, jumper cables, spare tire, wiper fluid, first aid kit, pillow, blanket, and snacks. Bringing snacks from home is usually healthier and cheaper than getting them from a vending machine.
  • If traveling with children, pack activities to entertain them such as movies, coloring books, toys, activity books, etc. Remember to stop for frequent breaks and to have some fun.
  • Start looking for a gas station when your gas gauge reads ¼ tank. Don’t wait until you are on empty to fill up. The next exit with a gas station may be quite a distance away.

Holiday Travel Tips

Millions of people will take to the highways, skies, or rails to visit their loved ones over the upcoming holiday. With snow and sleet predicted for many parts of the country this weekend, here are some travel tips to help holiday travelers arrive safely at their destination:

Driving

  • Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Fill your gas tank, check the air pressure in your tires and make sure you have windshield fluid.
  • Buckle up, slow down, don’t drink and drive.
  • Avoid distractions such as cell phones – don’t text and drive.
  • Make frequent stops on long trips. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and rest.
  • If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

Flying and Riding Trains

  • It’s flu season. If you’ve been sick or been in contact with someone who is sick, consider postponing your trip. You could be contagious for a week before symptoms appear.
  • Remember that everything you touch has to be touched by someone else – luggage handlers, etc. Handle your own belongings as much as possible. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with you. You can use them to wash your hands or wipe down surfaces such as armrests.
  • Bring your own pillows and blankets – they can act as a shield against the seat itself.
  • Avoid touching your face or eyes. If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your sleeve.

Travel Tips

  • If you have diabetes or take medication using a syringe, get a signed letter from your doctor  explaining that your syringes are a medical necessity.
  • Know the generic names of your medications so you can replace them if they are lost or stolen. Your medication will have a different brand name in another country.
  • If you have any life-threatening allergies, wear a medical alert bracelet and bring an Epi-pen kit.
  • Travel light. Take only what you need and no more.
  • Make sure your children know their home address and telephone number. Show them where to go if you get separated, and review the procedure for dealing with strangers.
  • Leave the jewelry at home and reduce your risk of getting robbed. The same goes for expensive electronics such as iPods and digital cameras. Buy some disposable cameras to use.
  • Make photocopies of your passports, credit cards and other ID. Leave one copy with a relative at home, and keep another copy separate from your originals.
  • Travel with only one credit card. Bring a combination of traveller’s cheques and cash in small bills (American money is universally accepted). You should be able to use your debit card as long as the machine has the CIRRUS symbol. You will be charged for each transaction. Try to familiarize yourself with the local currency so your first transaction won’t be so confusing.
  • Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses as backup. You don’t want your vacation ruined because you can’t see anything.

Service Dogs

Service dogs can build your independence by boosting your mobility. These four-legged friends pull wheelchairs, function as a mobile cane for balance, and even perform many of the daily tasks you may have difficulty with.

While these “working dogs” are trained to retrieve dropped items, pull clothing on and off, and bring medication, their canine capabilities also prove to be essential in an emergency. For all of the reasons your furry friend is important to your daily routine, it’s equally important to ensure their safety during travel. Properly securing your service animal correctly in your vehicle can be a matter of life and death for both of you.

Just as you would secure your wheelchair with straps and other devices, you should secure your service animal properly and comfortably in your vehicle, as well. Be sure the car is properly ventilated and that crates or units are secured.

As a service dog usually stays by the owner’s side, a belt usually proves as the best option in securing your dog in the vehicle to guarantee his/her safety. Help your hound out with a body harness specifically made for canine car travel. Service vests can even be custom-made to better suit your animal and your vehicle.

Some dogs may get uncomfortable not being able to look out of the window and see where they are going, especially small dogs. The Snoozer Lookout helps satisfy your pooch’s curiosity and need to see. The Snoozer Lookout is a seat that allows your pet to sit higher while staying safely strapped in.

It goes without saying that properly securing your service animal not only keeps them safe from harm on the roadways, but also makes for a comfortable ride along with you.

VA program fuels elite athletic careers for veterans and injured service members

VA program fuels elite athletic careers for veterans and injured service members

va program fuels elite athletic careers for veterans and injured service members

va program fuels elite athletic careers for veterans and injured service members

uis Puertas will fly to France soon as part of the U.S. team that will compete in the International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships in Lyon.

It’s a journey that likely never would have happened if Puertas hadn’t been watching the London 2012 Paralympic Games on his computer at home in Orlando, Fla., last summer.

On that day, Puertas saw Great Britain’s Richard Whitehead sprint to a world record and a gold medal in the 200 meters (T42 class).

Puertas, a former specialist with the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division, already was living an active life — running 10Ks, marathons and swimming — after having lost both his legs above the knees in an explosion that tore apart his Humvee in Iraq in 2006. With the use of prostheses, Puertas was running again less than a year after his surgeries.

But when Puertas saw Whitehead rocket to a victory on new “running knees,” he knew he’d just seen his future. Whitehead, who also ran as a double above-the-knee amputee because of a congenital condition, “motivated me,” Puertas says.

“I want to be that guy,” Puertas said. “I want the crowd roaring for me.”

He wanted to be able to move the way Whitehead could move. So, Puertas picked up his phone.

“I was so excited, I immediately got on the phone with the Department of Defense and I told the people I wanted those knees so I could run, see how it works,” he recalled.

Almost nine months since beginning a new phase of serious training for 100- and 200-meter races, Puertas — who also is considering taking up the paratriathlon next year — is one of 10 military veterans (and two active-duty service members) on the 76-member U.S. track and field team that will compete in Lyon on July 19-28. He’ll be running the 200 meters in France.

The competition in Lyon comes almost a year after the London Games, in which 20 members of the U.S. Paralympic Team were either active-duty service members or military veterans.

More and more, veterans are becoming a key component of the U.S. Paralympic movement, and a partnership between the United States Olympic Committee and the Veterans Affairs’ Paralympic Program is helping these men and women excel.

The VA’s Paralympic Program helps in two ways. First, it provides $7.5 million to the USOC each year to aid in grassroots programs to help injured veterans and active-duty service members participate in adaptive sports and recreation. Second, it provides monthly stipends to qualified athletes to help defray costs for training, equipment, coaching, travel and competition.

Depending on their number of dependents and other factors, those athletes receive monthly checks that range from $566 to $1,070.

Puertas just recently hit the qualifying standards that allowed him to apply for those monthly benefits. He should start receiving them shortly and is looking forward to it.

“That allowance is great,” he said, after returning from England, where he participated in the IPC Grand Prix Finals June 29. “Because the amount of food you have to eat, and going to training every day, gas … the program is really set up (well). It’s out there so you don’t have any excuses of not going out there and doing it.”

Chris Nowak, the VA’s national director for veterans sports programs and special events, said the program is now in its fourth year. Numbers of participants among the elite athletes who have hit the standards to qualify for the monthly stipends continue to rise. Currently, says Nowak, more than 100 athletes have qualified.

“The USOC has established military standards (times, distances, performances) for veterans and members of the armed forces to meet, and once they meet those standards, and prove that they’re continually training, then they’re eligible for the allowance,” he said.

Jose Nieves, 54, a U.S. Army veteran, also will be on the U.S. team competing in France this month. He’s been a part of the VA’s elite-athlete support program since 2011 and said the monthly checks have helped greatly in his training.

He is ranked No. 2 in the world by the IPC in javelin (F55 class) and No. 4 in the discus.

“I’ve been able to get much better training, better techniques, more and better competition,” said Nieves, who lives in Puerto Rico.

For Nowak, who’s now in the 20th year with the VA, being a part of the program to help veterans and injured active-duty service members is incredibly gratifying.

In his capacity as national director of these sports programs, he’s had a chance to speak with the Paralympic athletes in London last year as well as athletes at the USOC’s Colorado Springs headquarters. It’s equally important to see veterans just regaining an active life as it is to see them win a medal in London.

“It’s just amazing,” he said. “And very rewarding.”

But the effort to help give veterans these opportunities is a team effort.

“I can’t emphasize enough how important the partnership is with the U.S. Olympic Committee,” Nowak said. “We couldn’t do this without their expertise and their leadership. We’re very fortunate to be working with an organization that cares so much about our nation’s veterans.”

In Puertas’ experience, the kindness and help he’s experienced since coming back from Iraq and embarking on what is now a very athletic life stretches much further.

“We get so much help,” said Puertas, who won the 100-, 200- and 1,500-meter races at this year’s Warrior Games presented by Deloitte in Colorado Springs, Colo. “Besides the VA, there are so many generous people out there. High schools, corporations want to help you. There’s just a lot of ways for us to go about our (athletic) careers.”