Top 2014 NFL Training Camp Sites

NFLTrainingCampDiehard football fans look forward to August in much the same way that children look forward to Christmas morning.  After a five-month post-Super Bowl hiatus, the National Football League finally starts staging games again every August.  The slate begins, as always, on August 3 with the Hall of Fame Game, which features the New York Giants and the Buffalo Bills this year.  The 2014 NFL regular season kicks off a month later on Thursday, September 4, when the Green Bay Packers travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks.  If four weeks of exhibition games aren’t enough to satisfy your football urges, we recommend checking out the following NFL training camps:

Pittsburgh Steelers, Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, Pennsylvania

With six titles, the Steelers are the most successful team in the Super Bowl era.  Since 1967, they’ve been training in Latrobe, hometown of the first Rolling Rock brewery, golfer Arnold Palmer, and Fred Rogers (a.k.a. “Mr. Rogers”).  If you’re hoping to watch the Steelers train, consider staying in Pittsburgh, which is 40 miles from Latrobe and offers world-class attractions.

NFLTrainingCamp_FootballGreen Bay Packers, St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin

The Packers, the only publicly-owned team in the NFL, have captured four Super Bowl titles.  2014 marks their 57th straight year of training in De Pere, a suburb of Green Bay.  Visitors can take in all of the charms and amenities of the third-largest city in Wisconsin, including Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Botanical Garden, and more.

Oakland Raiders, Marriott Napa Valley Spa and Resort, Napa, California

The Raiders have three Super Bowl rings, not to mention perhaps the nicest training-camp location in the NFL.  Since their 1995 return to Oakland, the Raiders have been working out in Napa Valley, i.e., Wine Country, which boasts approximately 400 wineries across the county.  A renowned tourist destination, Napa offers plentiful accommodations to suit every taste.

Dallas Cowboys, River Ridge Playing Fields, Oxnard, California

The Cowboys, named “America’s Team” by NFL Films after losing Super Bowl XIII to the Steelers, have five Super Bowl titles, tied with San Francisco for second all-time.  They return to Oxnard in 2014, the ninth time they’ve held camp there.  A coastal city about 40 miles southeast of Santa Barbara, Oxnard visitors can catch the Ventura County Fair, Concerts by the Sea, and other events when they’re not watching the Cowboys train.

(Please note that public training sessions for the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in Renton, Washington, are already sold out.)

Travel Plus, Everywhere, USA

Whether you’re attending an NFL training camp or just getting away from it all, you can earn 5% cash back on flight, hotel, and rental-car reservations by making them through Travel Plus — plus you can get cash back on all sorts of travel services, including airline needs, hotel perks, rental-car extras, Wi-Fi, and more.  Wherever you go, there you are, but when you get there with Travel Plus, you know you’re saving on all your travel plans.

Advertisements

Save Money When You Travel with Your Pets

TravelPets_topMaking travel plans for your family (or any group) can be difficult and time-consuming, but when your travel party includes one or more pets, the degree of planning difficulty can seem Herculean.  While you consider your pets valued family members, worthy of top-notch treatment, many travel providers, hotels, and even rental-car agencies regard them as nuisances at best and as the animal equivalent of personae non gratae at worst.  As a result, the cost of traveling with your pets might seem so high that you begin to question the very idea of traveling with your pet.  Fear not, though:  Below are a few tips to help you save money when you travel with your pets.

DogCarHit the Road

We mean that (somewhat) literally.  Traveling by car is one of the surest ways to save on long-distance travel with pets.  You and your pet are presumably already familiar with road trip guidelines, and it’s easy to find a place to park and deal with urgent needs, which you can’t do in airports, planes, or trains.

CatPetTravelBeyond that, airlines aren’t required to let pets fly, and those that do sometimes charge such exorbitant fees that you may be tempted to buy Fido his own ticket.  There are also a variety of federal regulations, on top of the individual carrier’s policies, that you must follow when flying with a pet.

Perhaps incredibly, trains are less pet-friendly than airlines.  Unless your pet is a service animal, it can’t enjoy passage on Amtrak, even if it’s a search-and-rescue dog.  Some city-specific train systems (e.g., Metro-North, which offers service to the north of New York City) allow small, controlled pets onboard, but that policy is of little use if pets can’t accompany their owners to those destinations.

Take Your Own Wheels

Most rental-car agencies allow their customers to take pets along as passengers, but some locations can be more restrictive.  However, if your pet has an accident (or simply sheds an excessive amount of fur), you’ll be liable for a cleaning charge.

hoteldogcheckinFind the Right Nest

Thankfully, hotels in recent years have become much more obliging to pet owners (and pets) than transportation providers, and identifying pet-friendly hotels can be done via simple online searches.  Certain hotels charge a pet fee (including a non-refundable deposit), though; to find the most affordable accommodations, be sure to inquire about the full cost of your pet’s stay before booking a room.  Once you arrive, just keep in mind the proper etiquette for visiting pets.

Join Travel Plus

Wherever you and your pet(s) go across the United States, you can earn 5% cash back on flight, hotel, and rental-car reservations when you make them through Travel Plus.  You can also claim rebates on all sorts of travel extras, from in-flight meals and entertainment to hotel perks, rental-car extras, and Wi-Fi service anywhere.  When you vacation with your pets, make sure you know and follow the rules of the road — and travel safely!

How to Stay Safe on Ocean Cruises

cruise_coverSummer is a popular season for family cruise vacations, although peak times for specific destinations vary according to their attractions.  (The busiest season for Canada and New England cruises, for instance, is in September and October, when fall foliage flourishes.)  More than 20 million people take cruise vacations every year, and the vast majority return with blissful memories and happy stories.  Cruises often travel outside the legal borders of individual countries, though (and, more specifically, outside the scope of U.S. laws), so wherever your voyage may lead, you’re responsible for your own safety.  To help you and your travel companions enjoy a safe, secure trip, we’ve put together a few tips on how to stay safe on ocean cruises.

Research Potential Ocean Liners

The Vessel Sanitation Program, run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tracks gastrointestinal illnesses aboard cruise ships.  CruiseJunkie.com compiles anecdotal information about Events at Sea (“All the Things that Can Go Wrong On A Cruise”) from media reports, passenger accounts, and messages sent to the website.  Review as much data as possible about potential ships before booking your cruise.

cruise_firstaidTake All Necessary Medical Precautions

Any reputable cruise ship offers qualified medical care, generally on par with ambulatory care centers.  Research your chosen ship — and its various ports of call — beforehand to ensure that it can provide the medical services and resources to handle any pre-existing condition(s) among the people in your party.  Also, stock up on all essential medications before boarding the ship; you should have enough on hand to last well beyond the scheduled cruise length, in case your return is delayed for some reason.

Use “Street Savvy”

Ocean liners are basically floating towns.  The largest ship in the world, Allure of the Seas, contains 16 passenger decks, 24 passenger elevators, and accommodations for up to 6,318 guests and 2,384 crew members.  It may be comforting to think that everyone is there to have (or contribute to) good clean fun, but most large groups include at least a few troublemakers.  Follow certain safety measures:

  • Know the ship’s emergency procedures
  • Travel in groups (or at least pairs)
  • Drink responsibly
  • Avoid (and report) shady behavior
  • Supervise children at all times
  • Leave valuables at home

cruise_oceanUse Common Sense

Beyond the usual risks that life offers anywhere, the hazards on a cruise ship include going overboard.  It’s been estimated that more than 200 people have fallen overboard since 1995, and rescue efforts in open water can be incredibly difficult.  Recognize and respect the potential perils of ocean travel, and make sure you don’t place yourself (or anyone else on the ship) in harm’s way.

Try Travel Plus

Through Travel Plus, you can earn 5% cash back on flight, hotel, and rental-car reservations to and from your cruise ship embarking and debarking destinations — and get rebates on all those perks that make vacation travel that much more enjoyable.  Be sure to leave us a comment to share your favorite cruise ship memories.