LIVING WELL: Planning summer travel fun
by Cecelia Hostilo, Columnist
Apr 03, 2013 | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Following a long winter, many people are already thinking ahead to summer vacations. Trip Advisor conducted a survey of U. S. travelers in 2011, and found that despite economic uncertainty, Americans still traveled for leisure. Currently the most popular vacation destination is the beach, followed by cultural vacations and road trips. Trips to expensive theme parks seem to be declining, which may be a reflection of economic instability.

Family vacations offer the opportunity to rest, rejuvenate and spend quality time together. However, increasing prices for gasoline, airfare, lodging and entertainment might make this year’s summer getaway more difficult. To make the most of your summer vacation without breaking the bank, it is important to start planning and saving early.

As you begin to think about summer fun, consider the following tips to help trim your travel budget:

Reduce the length of your trip – Depending on your destination, reducing the number of days in your vacation from seven to five, can save you hundreds of dollars in hotels, food and entertainment costs.

Consider off-peak locations – Off-season locations tend to offer great travel deals. For example, consider visiting a ski lodge this summer. Although you will not be able to hit the slopes, you can still enjoy the resort atmosphere, restaurants and tourist locations.

• Look for last minute deals or specials – If your travel plans are flexible, many hotels and airlines offer discounts to fill vacant rooms and seats

• Consider becoming a tourist in your own city – A “staycation” can be a great, inexpensive alternative to a big family vacation. Check with your local visitors bureau about special summer events which may be happening locally.

If you are planning your own trip, the internet can be a wonderful resource to conduct research on the destination in which you are interested. Be sure to evaluate the content before making a purchase. Use only reputable internet sites to make online purchases. It is very easy to become the victim of a travel scam. Here are some simple guidelines :

• Travel deals received by e-mail are usually a scam.

• If it is too good to be true, it probably is—always read the fine print and keep copies.

• Never give your credit card to any travel company if they contacted you first.

• Always ask for what is not included in the deal—service fees, taxes, etc.

• Never dial a 900, 809, 758, or 664 number for a travel agency or customer service.

• Never make a payment until you receive all the information.

• Use a credit card to make your purchase so any scam can be disputed.

• As for references and contact them.

Remember, when traveling your personal safety should never be taken for granted. Some groups are particularly vulnerable, including single women, the elderly, and women alone with children. Precautions should be taken so that you are not a victim of crime while traveling. Some suggestions are:

• Stay in hotels in safer areas of the city.

• Avoid staying on the first floor of a hotel and stay in interior rooms to discourage burglary.

• Use the main entrance of the hotel at night.

• Be observant in parking lots

• Secure all doors and windows.

• Never allow strangers in your room.

• Use only well marked public transportation.

• Seek directions from hotels or the airport.

• Keep a low profile and avoid discussing your travel plans publicly.

• Do not display expensive jewelry or flash large amounts of cash.

• Discuss what to do as a family in the event of an emergency.

• Always use good common sense.

With good planning, you and your family can enjoy a safe, relaxing vacation and still stay within your budget!

For more information about this or other subjects, contact Cecelia Hostilo at the Trigg County Extension Office by calling 522-3269.

Information for this article was obtained from Jennifer L. Hunter, Extension Specialist for Family Financial Management, , and Brooke Jenkins-Howard, Magoffin County FCS Extension Agent, and Sally Mineer, Lewis County FCS Extension Agent, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

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Asian Barbecued Skirt Steak

1 beef skirt steak (about 1 1⁄2 pounds) cut into 4-6 pieces

1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce

1/3 cup dark brown barbecue sauce

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder

8 green onions cut crosswise in half

Combine soy sauce, barbecue sauce, peanut butter and garlic powder in a small bowl; blend thoroughly. Place beef steaks and soy sauce mixture in a food safe plastic bag; turn to coat steaks. Close bag securely and marinate steaks in the refrigerator for 6 hours, or as long as overnight, turning occasionally.

Remove steaks from the marinade and discard the marinade. Place steaks on the rack of a broiler pan so that the surface of the beef is 2 to 3 inches from the heat. Broil 10-13 minutes for medium rare (145 ̊F) to medium (160 ̊F) doneness, turning once. During the last 3 minutes of broiling, top the steaks with the green onions. Carve the steaks across the grain into thin slices and serve with the green onions.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 353 calories; 20 g total fat; 8 g saturated fat; 116 mg cholesterol; 845 sodium; 7 g total carbohydrate; 1.1 fiber; 34 g protein

Source: www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com

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St. Louis Style Pork Steaks

4 pork steaks, 1/2-inch thick

garlic salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

1/4 cup Dijon-style mustard

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

Prepare medium-hot fire in grill. Season pork with garlic salt and pepper; grill directly over fire, turning to cook and brown evenly, for a total of 20 minutes, until internal temperature on a thermometer reads 160 ̊F.

In small bowl stir together mustard, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. During last 5 minutes of grilling, brush sauce on all surfaces of pork steaks.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 150 calories; 4 g fat; 65 mg cholesterol; 450 mg sodium; 9 g carbohydrate; 23 g protein

Source: www.porkbeinspired.com

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Alamo Chicken

4 chicken breasts marinated in garlic flavored olive oil

3 large avocados, diced

1 large onion, diced

20 grape tomatoes

1 medium can of sliced black olives

1 can Mexican corn

1/3 cup Italian dressing

2 tablespoons garlic powder

Sour cream and paprika for garnish

In a small bowl, combine the avocados, onion, tomatoes, black olives, and corn. Stir in the Italian dressing and garlic powder. Store in the refrigerator until time to serve.

In a large skillet, sauté the chicken breasts over medium heat until cooked through. To serve, place a chicken breast on each plate. Top with the avocado mixture and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of paprika.

Yield: 4 servings

Source: www.eatchicken.com
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